Ten Free Web Hosting Apps - dummies

Ten Free Web Hosting Apps

By Peter Pollock

There are hundreds of useful, free web hosting applications out there that are designed to make your life easier. Don’t just do a Google search for free FTP apps and install what comes up without knowing anything about an app’s reputation. There are a number of FTP apps out there which are wolves in sheep’s clothing and will steal your data and credentials.

MySQL workbench

MySQL Workbench is an app that you shouldn’t live without. In some ways, it is slightly trickier to use than phpMyAdmin. However, it’s located on your PC, and it gives you the power to do backups and repairs on your databases and enables you to make changes in a slightly different environment from phpMyAdmin through your browser.

You can download MySQL Workbench for Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X.


FileZilla is one of the best free File Transfer Protocol (FTP) clients available. There are other free ones and there are many that you can pay for, but FileZilla is a great go-to FTP client. It’s fast; it’s efficient; it can do Secure File Transfer Protocol or basic FTP; and it lays everything out in a simple, easy-to-use window.

One warning with FileZilla is that it stores your passwords in a non-protected file, which means virus and malware writers, if they write stuff which gets onto your computer, could theoretically read that file and get your FTP login details, including your password. You should remember to not store your passwords within FileZilla.

You can download it for Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X at http://filezilla-project.org.


Notepad++ is a wonderful editor for editing any kind of files: text files, PHP files, HTML files, CSS files. You name it, Notepad++ can read it. With PHP files, it includes color coding to delineate different types of elements and helps you see where you are in the file and identify where the code elements you are working on close.

Notepad++ is free. The speed, the ease of use, and the integration with FileZilla are all excellent. You can edit a file on your server by simply logging on using FileZilla, right-clicking on the file you want to edit, and clicking View/Edit.

The file downloads and opens in Notepad++ so you can make the changes you need. When you save it again, FileZilla automatically prompts you that the file has changed and asks if you want to re-upload it.

Notepad++ is available for Windows only.

CoffeeCup FTP

CoffeeCup makes a range of utilities, some of which are free, some of which aren’t. CoffeeCup FTP is free and is a very good alternative to FileZilla.

CoffeeCup has a premium version called Direct FTP that has some cool additional features. If you’re looking for CoffeeCup FTP, don’t accidentally download Direct FTP and have to pay for it by mistake. Oh, and you can expect CoffeeCup to periodically try to tempt you into buying the premium version.

CoffeeCup FTP is available for Windows only.


PuTTY is a powerful tool that enables you to connect to devices online, using a system called telnet, providing you have the correct login details. It is very useful to website owners, especially those with a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or dedicated server, because it enables you to open a command-line prompt on your server by logging in via Secure SHell (SSH), so that you can run commands as needed.

PuTTY comes with dire warnings that you must not use it anywhere where it’s illegal to use. The research suggests that it is legal to use it within the U.S., providing you’re using it for connection to a device that you own or have the right to connect to.

You do not need to install PuTTY if you don’t intend to connect by SSH and do not need to use the command line on your server. You should only open up your server to allow SSH connections if you know there is a good reason for using them.

PuTTY is available for Windows only.


Hailed as the number-one FTP client for Mac OS X, Transmit is a popular free FTP client for the Mac.

Transmit has a host of features and boasts super speeds especially for smaller files. It appears to be faster than FileZilla, although FileZilla’s screen layout is more user-friendly than Transmit.


Here’s the deal: FileZilla and CoffeeCup are the best options for Windows PCs. Transmit and Cyberduck are the best options for Mac OS X, even though there is now some crossover apps that are available for each OS.

Cyberduck has to get a mention, if nothing else, for its name. It’s also an incredibly full-featured piece of software.

Cyberduck is available for Mac OS X or Windows.

Komodo Edit

ActiveState produces two code editors in the Komodo range: Komodo Edit, which is free, and Komodo IDE, which is a premium version but adds lots of valuable features for more advanced designers.

One good thing about Komodo Edit is that there is a Linux version available, so if you have eschewed Windows and Mac for the joy of Linux, you can get a full-featured code editor that is designed to run on your system.

Komodo Edit is available for Mac, Windows, or Linux.


Terminal is built into all versions of Mac OS X and is a native telnet command-line interface that is similar to PuTTY for the PC.

You can use Terminal to connect to your server, providing you enable SSH connections and have the valid login details.


One of the easiest ways to make your website faster is to compress your images — and Caesium makes that easy to do.

Data compression is hard to understand, and even harder to explain, but Caesium basically uses some technical magic to make the file size of your pictures smaller without losing any visual quality.

This application can make your images up to 90% smaller and thus 90% faster to load.