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​3 Ways to Get a Free Domain for Testing

Yes, you can find a free domain for testing and there are several ways to do it. Some are completely, 100% free. Others are free-ish. We’ll explain them all. Then you can use whichever one is best for you to test out various aspects of website creation, DNS management, or whatever other needs you might have.

📚 Table of contents:


What does a free domain for testing mean?

A free domain for testing is a domain name that developers can use to test their websites or applications. You can also use these free domains for learning in a live environment at no cost. Such a domain will provide control over the DNS zone. This means that the administrator will be able to fully manage the domain by adding and removing DNS records, allowing them to develop an understanding of these aspects of domain management.

While a normal .com domain is affordable at around $10 per year, some developers and IT students prefer to find a truly free domain. That way, they can use it for trying different configurations, adding or removing functionality, changing design elements, and more, before they commit to a permanent domain name.

A free domain for testing is usually a temporary solution and it will probably come with some limitations like limited DNS queries, a short expiry date (usually one year), or being restricted to a subdomain instead of a full domain.


Why do you need a live domain for testing?

Testing on a local machine has its limits. You can’t experience a real-world environment in terms of server configuration, network settings like DNS, and environmental factors. You also won’t be able to fully test APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) in real-life scenarios.

Testing with a live domain will provide you with information about addressing issues related to the server’s configuration, and external dependencies like APIs. Testing in a live environment can also help you gather information from different real users and understand the performance of your site or application.


How can you get a free domain for testing?

👉 There are three ways that you can get a free domain for testing:

  • Get a truly free domain name. Some domain registrars offer completely free domain names. These registrars are often community projects and suffer downtime more often than traditional domain registrars, but they are 100% free. 👉 Skip to this option.
  • Use a free subdomain for testing. Many companies offer free hosting and free subdomains for testing. If you choose this route, then your free domain will probably look something like “yoursubdomain.company.com”. You’ll be able to control the subdomain, but there will be limitations, such as limited hosting space, limited DNS queries, and a limited amount of subdomains you can create. 👉 Skip to this option.
  • Add subdomains to a domain you own. You can think of this one as being “at no extra cost”, rather than completely free. You will need to have a domain name already (that’s where the not-free comes in), but any additional subdomain created will be free (hence the “no extra cost”). Since many developers already own at least one domain name, this makes it an attractive option. It’s also fast and easy to implement. 👉 Skip to this option.

Get a free domain from either Freenom or Dot.tk

Freenom homepage for finding a free domain for testing.

Freenom is a free domain provider. You can get a domain name with one of the following extensions: .tk, .ml, .ga, .cf, and .gq. Freenom also lets you use their DNS service. However, you will need to manually renew the domain each year. This is different from paid registration, which usually offers automated renewals, but it’s not a major complication.

Alternatively, you can register a free domain with dot.tk.

Dot.tk free domain search.

Dot.tk is a part of Freenom, so you’ll get a very similar service. You’ll be able to register .tk, .ml, .ga, .cf, and .gq domains. Your initial registration can be up to one year long, and you can renew it after that. There are no limits on how many times you can renew it, but the maximum duration is one year each time you renew.

💡 If you’re wondering where .tk comes from, it’s the ccTLD (country code top-level domain) of Tokelau, a small nation in the South Pacific. Dot.tk claims it has DNS root servers all around the world, so the service should be good.

The one big caveat here with both Freenom and dot.tk is that neither one will give you free hosting for your site or application, which you’ll need of course, to make use of the free domain name. Don’t worry though. There is an easy, free solution to this problem.

Bring your free domain over to InfinityFree

To use your free domain with a free hosting account, you’ll need another service called InfinityFree. InfinityFree provides free hosting, without ads, no time limit, 5 GB of storage space, unlimited bandwidth, 400 databases, and PHP 8.2.

In summary, to get a free domain for testing that you can actually use, you’ll need to get the free domain first – from either Freenom or dot.tk – and then bring it over to InfinityFree to combine it with their free hosting plan. You can then start doing your testing.

Use a free subdomain

While some people might be initially put off at the thought of using a free subdomain for testing, the reality is that for the purpose of testing a website’s functionality, whether you use a domain or subdomain isn’t going to affect its behavior. What matters are the site’s codebase, server configuration, and interaction with browsers or APIs. A free subdomain can serve just as well as a free primary domain for these purposes.

If you wish to explore this avenue, you have two options open to you. The first is ClouDNS, and the second, which we just discussed above, is InfinityFree.

Get a free subdomain for testing from ClouDNS

ClouDNS homepage.

ClouDNS offers you a free subdomain that you can use for DDNS, DNS testing, and more. You can get a free domain for testing, which will be a subdomain of cloudns.net.

ClouDNS is a managed DNS service, so you can enjoy an easy-to-use control panel that will let you create a DNS zone, add DNS records, and edit different domain settings. The catch here is that there are limits: one DNS zone, 50 DNS records, and 500,000 DNS queries per month.

The company offers it as a testing environment for potential clients. After you reach the limits, you can easily upgrade to a paid plan.

As you can see, this option gives you a subdomain only. You’ll have to self-host your site or application or use a free hosting provider. Speaking of which…

Get a free subdomain for testing from InfinityFree

InfinityFree homepage for free web hosting.

We already mentioned that InfinityFree offers free hosting, but like a late night infomercial – that’s not all. You can also get a free subdomain like “yoursite.great-site.net” or “yoursite.rf.gd” for testing.

Plus you’ll benefit from the same hosting features we mentioned earlier: free hosting, without ads, no time limit, 5 GB of storage space, unlimited bandwidth, 400 databases, and PHP 8.2.

Use a subdomain of a domain you already own

Our third option is semi-free. While you will need to already own at least one domain name to go this route, the subdomain you’ll create won’t cost you anything extra. So in that sense it’s free.

One of the reasons this is an attractive route to take is because you can control the DNS zone of each of your subdomains separately. In practice, this means that each subdomain provides you with complete independent control, which makes it suitable for testing.

If you already have one domain (e.g., a blog, a portfolio site), you can create multiple subdomains and use them for testing or other experimental projects. Again, this option is not completely free, but it won’t cost you anything extra beyond what you’re already paying for your existing domain.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you are currently relying on shared hosting, that your resource needs might increase – depending on how many subdomains you create and how intensive your testing is going to be. It’s possible that you might need to upgrade to a higher hosting plan if you start exceeding the limits set out in your agreement with your provider.


Are there any cheap domains for testing?

Finally, while not exactly free, it’s also possible to get cheap domain names for testing. You can often take advantage of significant promotional discounts, paying as little as $0.99 for the first year. Hostinger often has these types of domain deals.

As long as you don’t intend to use the test domain for longer than a year, then you’ll only have to spend a single dollar. With inflation being the way it is these days, a dollar is basically free.

If you have a long-term testing project that you plan to work on, you can still find some registrars that will renew .com domains for as little as $10 per year. For example, Cloudflare is well-known for offering domain names at-cost (i.e., as cheap as you can get).

Choosing this option will provide you with a domain name, and the possibility to create countless subdomains for it. You can use each subdomain for a different project or client. The only limitation is that you’ll still need to get free hosting through a service like InfinityFree or sign up for cheap web hosting with another provider.


Conclusion 🧐

As you can see, there are several ways to get a free domain for testing. But what is the best option for you?

The best option for most users is to get a free domain from Freenom.com and use free hosting from InfinityFree.com.

You will be able to develop a site, application, or service and manage the DNS settings of the domain. It will also be independent from other projects you have.

If you are just exploring what it feels like to have a website and learning different features, then a subdomain from InfinityFree.com will be good enough. You’ll be faced with some limitations, but overall, you’ll have plenty of resources available for setting up a test site.

If you only need to test some new feature(s) for a client, then using a domain that you already own and creating a subdomain on it is the fastest method. It’s easy to do and you’ll be able to manage its DNS settings through a dedicated DNS zone. You can use your computer as a web server for the testing.

If you are not familiar with DNS, we strongly recommend you check out some DNS best practices and use your free testing domain to practice implementing them.