People have long since known where there is a right place for free cheese. Still, the poor mice don’t seem to ever learn a bit, and the promise of free happiness remains the most popular trick in the ads and the infallible methods of forming predilections. Just give people something for free, let them get accustomed to it, and then reap the harvest with the paid prolongation. People will heavily gasp, battle for a while, but, most probably, the majority will scrape up the money to pay for what they really need. This is essentially the same technique the drug pushers employ to recruit more victims; after a few free dopes, the brand new addicts will do anything to get more.
The Web business is no exclusion to the rule. Companies offer free services to attract customers, as a trial run, but they will immediately cut it as soon as the community swallows the bait. In particular, the era of free site hosting is inevitably coming to its end. The fate of Yahoo! Geocities shows the common future of the entire non-commercial Web. The users of Geocities experienced a shock, when severe traffic limitations were introduced, with most conveniences like mail forwarding and FTP reserved for commercial users; after a while, the project has been dismissed. Similarly, free Web statistics from the Webtrends has ended in a commercial service for 35 dollars per month per site. The transfer of a most popular free hosting from Yandex to Ucoz is nothing but the first step to complete commercialization. The same fate is to overtake all the other free services, and one does not need to be egg-headed to comprehend it. If you decide to use them for a while, be prepared to eventually switch to something else.
Of course, moving a site to a different hosting is often too complicated, especially for those non-experts who were seduced by the promise of a free user-friendly site constructor. Many of them will prefer to pay rather than develop their sites from scratch elsewhere, or gather the traffic once again in a new domain. The majority of sites may get neglected, but the rest will pay, and the companies will gain their profits anyway.
There were a few attempts to partially preserve the contents of the neglected sites (the Wayback Machine, the archives at Oocities.org, Reocities.com or Geocities.ws), but these dead heaps of data are ugly, inconsistent and heavily outdated, so that they often do more harm than render assistance. A galvanized corpse remains as dead.
The only consolation is that commercial services are no better, and paid hosting can collapse as easily as free sites, with no real reimbursement. The market has invented hundreds of tricks to quit without any obligations. Money paid, money lost. And probably, the mousetraps are not so bad to get one’s portion of cheese...