One of the criteria for testing this project was whether the deployed application would work on free and low-cost hosting. To test that, I am assembling a number of free hosts here that will work with Missive.

I have no axe to grind here in recommending or warning about a particular host - they are my own experiences, and your own experience may be different. Common sense rules apply on the internet: if you want something for free, don’t give your payment card details.

Of course, these folks only stay in business if a proportion of their userbase upgrade to paid facilities, so if you like a host here and need more features, don’t be afraid to upgrade. Paid services are also more likely to be of better quality - a number of hosts I tried were way more trouble than they were worth.


  • Web server connection - ideally hosts will support SFTP or FTPS, which are encrypted protocols. The older protocol of FTP does not support encryption, but most free hosts only offer this. It really should be removed from the internet entirely, but we are where we are!
  • Sendmail - a local mail transport system that is easy to use. It does not require a hostname, username or password, which are used in SMTP configurations only. This is rarely offered by free hosts though, since such configurations can easily become a spam headache for them.
  • Host SMTP - whether the host offers SMTP accounts. These are usually offered on free hosts as a paid add-on option, partly to make life harder for spammers.
  • External SMTP allowed - whether external SMTP servers can be connected to. Some hosts set up firewall rules to prevent it, in which case, customers have no option but to use the (usually paid) host’s own sending systems.

Given the above, it’s worth noting that most Missive users on free hosts will need to use SMTP mail servers. You may be able to use a free one (e.g. a Yahoo account) or failing that, one from the host.


Web server connection FTPS, FTP
Sendmail Paid option
Host SMTP Paid option
External SMTP allowed Yes

The free version sleeps for one hour a day, but my experience of this host has been pretty good, and has been a useful part of my test toolkit. The feature-set is somewhat limited, but that makes this host much easier to set up than many others I tried.

The online support is more than one would expect from any hosting company, and they even delve into programming problems, which hosts normally don’t want to touch. I am happy to recommend this host.

Not presently working

Web server connection FTP
Sendmail Works occasionally
Host SMTP Paid option
External SMTP allowed No

The paid options for this host would probably be fine, but the free tier is a slog to use. External SMTP is not permitted, and support confirmed for me that their own SMTP does not work with free accounts. I got Sendmail sort-of working, but it did not feel reliable.

There was a lot of extra set-up required with this host. To use their SMTP servers, you’ll need to use your own domain or subdomain, which means editing DNS records with your DNS provider. You then need to add a sub-domain in the web interface, and then finally set up an email account for the SMTP.

When exploring the SMTP options in the free tier, I found that only port 25 was open, and the server certificates are unfortunately self-signed, so encryption and Auto TLS need to be disabled. However, it is possible the paid accounts have a better configuration.

Web server connection FTPS, FTP
Sendmail Paid option
Host SMTP Paid option
External SMTP allowed No

This host looks very promising, and the control panel is extensive, if rather busy for beginners. Free users will need to configure their own domain, which is not trivial on any host.

Unfortunately the lack of external SMTP connectivity means that no form-to-email solution will work unless one upgrades.

Web server connection FTP
Sendmail ?
Host SMTP ?
External SMTP allowed ?

Nope, nope, nope. The host sets their own cookies and inject this JavaScript:

<html><body><script type="text/javascript" src="/aes.js" ></script><script>function
toNumbers(d){var e=[];d.replace(/(..)/g,function(d){e.push(parseInt(d,16))});return e}
function toHex(){for(var d=[],d=1==arguments.length&&arguments[0].constructor==Array?
return e.toLowerCase()}var a=toNumbers("f655ba9d09a112d4968c63579db590b4"),b=
slowAES.decrypt(c,2,a,b))+"; expires=Thu, 31-Dec-37 23:55:55 GMT; path=/";
<noscript>This site requires Javascript to work, please enable Javascript
in your browser or use a browser with Javascript support</noscript></body>

Aside from behaving like malware, this corrupts the JSON answers from the various scripts deployed by Missive, and so is probably unusable. I contacted their support channel, and they said this is “caused by our anti bot / spam protection that is mandatory on free hosting”. They say their premium offering does not do this.

I couldn’t get any further than the Script Location tab with this host, which is where the first host test script is deployed.

Web server connection SFTP
Sendmail No, doesn’t allow popen()
Host SMTP ?
External SMTP allowed ?

This service is volunteer run and looks pretty good on the surface, including full cPanel provision. However I’ve had some difficulties with accounts locking on a very sensitive wrong-password trigger, as well as periods of server downtime. The default server for new users, “Johnny”, has an uptime of around 90%, and is really for testing only.

Presently this service needs file permission adjustments before they will run, so I’m regarding it as unsuitable for now. I will happily look again though in the future, in case the situation changes.