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I started off in 1999 with the free service provided by 50megs.com, which was initially very good, but it went rapidly downhill after they were taken over by about.com in spring 2001. First they introduced popups and started sending nagging emails on an almost daily basis, then they withdrew FTP for free sites, and finally they truncated the 50MB on offer (which I'd already filled) to 12MB.
(By March 2003 they seemed to have reinstated the 50MB of space and the FTP, so they might be back to being an OK host, but my site had by then reached around 70MB so even 50MB was no longer sufficient for my needs.)
My next host was eSmartStart (lynne.50g.com). I moved there circa May/June 2001, but by May 2002 the popup ads were so excessive that I was driven away again. Banner ads I can live with if necessary, but popups are another matter entirely.
Then I moved on to Batcave, which was one of ZeroCatch's affiliates. Great to begin with, but around September 2002 they - presumably along with the rest of the ZeroCatch group - also succumbed to the temptation of the evil popup. I don't know about you, but when I visit a site and am deluged by popup ads, I just want to get away as soon as possible, regardless of how good the site itself is. Surely these hosts must realise that they're shooting themselves in the foot?!
So in October 2002 I moved on to a new host called Fairmount, which accepted only approved existing sites for free hosting. It sounded too good to be true (by the standards of free hosting packages that were available at that time): 100MB of space, entirely ad-free (subsidised by the provider's paid services), with FTP and the option to use my own domain name. And it did prove to be very good - apart from a crisis of a few days when my site went down (which they did work hard to fix) and an unfortunate hacking incident. Unfortunately Fairmount went out of business around Christmas 2003, so I had to start looking for yet another host.
Next came AS Hosting, which offered everything I needed and loads more besides, and got excellent reviews from most of its users. Again the free hosting was subsidised by paid services. They were great until mid-May 2004, but then they withdrew their free hosting services and took down all the free sites.
In May/June 2004 I signed up with TheFreeWebhosting.com, which was very good while it lasted, but in October 2007 they stopped doing free hosting so I had to find a new home. By this time there was plenty of choice of free hosts offering over 100MB of space so it proved fairly easy to find something suitable... so next in line was X10Hosting.com, which was the top-rated host on www.free-webhosts.com. They were good but required me to log into the forum on a regular basis,and if I didn't meet the logging-in requirements then the site got suspended. I hadn't updated the site for a long time and didn't realise it had been suspended until it had been completely deleted, so I had to start again from scratch, and had trouble with the signup process so looked elsewhere... which is how I ended up, in March 2010, with Awardspace.
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