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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Liquid Web Hosting Review


PROS
Offers Linux- or Windows-based servers. Excellent VPS and dedicated hosting plans. Prorated VPS plans. High-end specs.


CONS
Lacks shared hosting plans. Expensive.


BOTTOM LINE
Liquid Web is expensive and lacks shared Web hosting, but it's a flexible, feature-packed online host with outstanding customer service and excellent dedicated and VPS packages.



 Editors' Choice

Big businesses require robust web hosting services to maintain their online presences, and Liquid Web is one that many of the largest brands trust. The company has a range of dedicated, reseller, virtual private server (VPS), and WordPress server packages with enough flexibility and muscle to power the likes of Eddie Bauer, Home Depot, National Geographic, Porsche, and Symantec. In fact, Liquid Web is our Editors' Choice for enterprise-level web hosting. Be prepared to pay premium prices for this premium service, however, and forget about the cheaper shared hosting tier of service: Liquid Web doesn't offer it. Smaller businesses may prefer PCMag's overall favorite web hosts, DreamHost. HostGator, and Hostwinds, which offer more affordably priced packages that include shared hosting plans.

No Shared Web Hosting

As mentioned, Liquid Web does not offer shared web hosting (which is generally used by individuals and the smallest of businesses), so if you want to dabble in that hosting category, you must look elsewhere. I recommend HostGator$2.78 at HostGator - Shared, the PCMag Editors' Choice for shared web hosting services. HostGator offers Linux- or Windows-based based shared hosting packages that give small- and medium-size business room to grow (starting at $3.95 per month).


Dedicated Web Hosting

If you're looking to build your website on the strongest possible foundation, however, you'll want to check out Liquid Web's dedicated server offerings. They come in a variety of configurations, ranging from a single processor (starting at $199 per month) to a high end, dual-core processor (starting at $859 per month). Clearly, Liquid Web's dedicated servers are aimed at businesses that want sharp website performance and that have the money to spend on it.
Liquid Web's well-rounded, enterprise-level dedicated server packages outclass Hostwinds' excellent, SMB-friendly plans. That said, the price and spec differences between the two are so large that Hostwinds$4.50 at Hostwinds - Shared remains the Editors' Choice for dedicated web hosting for personal use and SMBs. Hostwinds offers a choice of Linux- or Windows-based servers, up to 128GB of RAM, and unlimited monthly data transfers.



VPS Web Hosting

If you want a server with significant power, but without the high dedicated-server price tag, check out Liquid Web's VPS servers. Unlike many other VPS services I have reviewed, Liquid Web only charges for the number of days you use the service per month, which comes in handy if you decided to cancel your account.
The low-end Storm VPS plan (starting at $59 per month) includes 2GB of RAM, 0GB of solid-state drive storage, 5TB of monthly data transfers, unlimited domains, and unlimited email. On the other end of the spectrum, Liquid Web's high-end option (starting at $219 per month) ups the ante by including 256GB of RAM, 1.6TB of storage, and the option to use either Linux- or Windows-based servers. You can also contact Liquid Web if you want to spec out a more powerful server.

Liquid Web's RAM and storage totals are the best I've seen for their price point. That's a big qualifier, however, given Liquid Web's prices. Hostwinds is the Editors' Choice for VPS service for the SMBs that are our main audience, but if you're shopping for enterprise-level hosting, Liquid Web is definitely worth checking out. In fact, Hostwinds offers unlimited monthly data transfer across the board.



WordPress Web Hosting

Liquid Web also offers three tiers of managed WordPress web hosting, starting at $119 per month for 5TB of monthly data transfers, 10 domains, and a 100GB solid-state drive. As with other managed WordPress hosts, Liquid Web has one-click installs, automatic updates, and access to hundreds of apps and WordPress plug-ins, courtesy of its Fantastico library.
Liquid Web's managed hosting environment is specifically designed for installing WordPress and associated plug-ins. In fact, you don't have to install the CMS at all, as it comes preinstalled. Once you're logged into WordPress, you can create posts, pages, and galleries as you would with any other self-hosted WordPress site. I was able to quickly create a rudimentary test page that got the job done.

The WordPress installation's back end contains several themes you can apply to your site to give it an attractive look or extra functionality. You can, of course, use a theme that was purchased elsewhere.

Still, 1&1 remains the PCMag Editors' Choice for managed WordPress hosting. The web host has three managed WordPress packages: WP Basic ($6.99 per month), WP Plus ($9.99 per month), and WP Unlimited ($14.99 per month).

WP Basic offers 50GB of storage, unlimited visitors, and one free domain. WP Plus tosses in 250GB of storage and the ability to host five WordPress projects. WP Unlimited, the most feature-packed of the three options, boasts unlimited WordPress projects. All the plans have unlimited email, automatic malware detection and removal, automatic WordPress updates, and a curated list of recommended WordPress plug-ins and themes.



Reseller Web Hosting

 If you're looking to get into the web hosting business for yourself, but you don't want to deal with managing servers, bandwidth, and other infrastructure matters, check out Liquid Web's excellent reseller web hosting packages. Liquid Web's plans, starting at $59 per month, come with an exclusive WebHost Manager Complete Solution (or WHMCS) plug-in and instant provisioning.
The dedicated and VPS reseller packages are of both the Linux and Windows variety, and they have the same RAM, monthly data transfers, and storage amounts as those that Liquid Web supplies directly. There are, again, no shared reseller hosting plans. Liquid Web also lets you apply your own branding to the servers you rent, and it supplies 24/7 tech support, too.

Liquid Web offers well-rounded reseller plans, but Hostwinds goes the extra mile with stacked specs in a larger variety of server categories. As a result, Hostwinds is the Editors' Choice for reseller hosting.



Security Features

Want Security? Liquid Web's got you covered. The company offers firewalls, SSL, virtual private networks (VPN), malware scanning and removal, and much more.
Some features come bundled with specific packages, while others you'll need to purchase as add-ons. Liquid Web has free nightly backups, too, which will safeguard you should your site suffer massive damage.



Excellent Customer Service

Liquid Web boasts of its excellent Heroic Support customer service team, a squad of knowledgeable people who assist you in under a minute if you reach out by phone, under 30 minutes if you submit a help desk ticket, and under 59 seconds if you reach out by chat. Sounds good, yes? It is.
I fired up the web chat on a weekday afternoon to ask a representative about how to import my WordPress.com setup into Liquid Web. A rep came to my aid seconds later and gave me a friendly, thorough explanation. I was impressed with the speed and thoroughness of the response.



Money-Back Guarantee

 Since Liquid Web is pricey, it's good that the service's plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is usual in the web hosting industry. Still, considering the amount of money that a company is likely to spend for Liquid Web hosting, it would be nice to see a larger refund window. DreamHost$4.95 at DreamHost - Shared, for example, has an impressive 97-day money-back guarantee.


Expensive, but Powerful

Without question, Liquid Web is one of the most-powerful web hosts PCMag has reviewed, and it's a clear Editors' Choice for enterprise-level web hosting. It has numerous packages with absolutely killer specs—specs that will cost you a pretty penny. Liquid Web may not have shared hosting packages, but the company's excellent dedicated and VPS hosting are enough to place it among the web hosting elite.
That's not to say that DreamHost, HostGator, or Hostwinds are irrelevant—far from it. They remain Editors' Choice overall award-winners for those who need more wallet-friendly web hosting options. Still, if your business requires truly high-end web hosting, Liquid Web will do the job, and do the job very well.

DreamHost Web Hosting Review


PROS
Lots of security features. Extensive domain-management tools. Excellent VPS offering. Unlimited data transfers per month. Cloud storage plans. Generous money-back guarantee.


CONS
Lacks Windows-based servers. Just one managed WordPress hosting tier.


BOTTOM LINE
DreamHost boasts an outstanding set of features that should satisfy even the most expert users, and a new easy website builder tool makes the web host more welcoming to newbies, too.





DreamHost has a long list of features to satisfy your personal- and business-related web hosting needs. The company's shared, WordPress, virtual private server (VPS), and dedicated plans offer plenty of options for webmasters to create attractive, flexible sites. In addition, the host has added new website building software that makes creating a DreamHost-powered site easier than ever. As a result, DreamHost, along with HostGator and Hostwinds, leads the web hosting pack as a PCMag's overall Editors' Choice.



Shared Web Hosting

DreamHost's tierless shared web hosting plan (starting at $10.95 per month, or $9.95 per month with a one-year commitment) offers unlimited disk storage space, domains, email, and monthly data transfers. DreamHost gives you your first .com, .net, .org, or .info domain for free, but you have to pay the registration fee for additional domains.

Most competitors, including HostGator (the Editors' Choice for shared hosting), offer unlimited domains only as part of their higher-tier plans, which makes DreamHost particularly attractive.

That said, HostGator is one of the few web hosts I've reviewed that offers Windows-based shared Web hosting. That's a big deal, as there are many businesses that require Microsoft's operating system to run specific software. DreamHost, on the other hand, only offers Linux-based servers. HostGator also offers unlimited monthly data transfers, storage, and email.



VPS Web Hosting


DreamHost offers four Linux-based VPS web hosting plans (starting at $15 per month) for businesses that need more power or expect higher traffic volumes. DreamHost's VPS plans offer unlimited monthly data transfers and domains, which is a nice perk. However, the base memory and storage is quite low; the $15 per month plan offers only 1GB of RAM and a 30GB solid-state drive. On the other hand, the highest configuration ($120 per month) maxes out at 8GB of RAM and 240GB of solid-state storage.

Still, Hostwinds, PCMag's top pick for VPS hosting, has wallet-friendly, well-rounded VPS offerings that start at just $7.50 per month for 1GB of RAM, 25GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, and unlimited email. Hostwinds' plans scale to $129 per month for 18.5GB of RAM, 130GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, and unlimited email. Note: DreamHost lacks Windows-based VPS servers.




Dedicated Web Hosting

Dedicated server options (starting at $169 per month) on DreamHost aren't radically different from what many competing web hosting services offer—you get 1TB of storage and can configure the servers with up to 16GB of RAM—but you get a highly desired feature: unlimited data transfers.
Unfortunately, DreamHost lacks Windows-based dedicated servers; it's Linux or bust. If you want a build a website using Microsoft's operating system as the foundation, I suggest checking out Arvixe, PCMag's Editors' Choice for dedicated web hosting, which offers Linux and Windows dedicated server options.





Getting Started

Overall, I like DreamHost's user interface—it's simple and well laid out and made getting started on my test site easy. Instead of going the HostGator or iPage route with cute, screen-cluttering icons, DreamHost offers a tree of menu options on the left side of the screen. It's easy to find billing information, manage domains, and view the settings for VPS and dedicated servers. I had no trouble finding the security options or the third-party app marketplace.
DreamHost now offers the Remixer website builder, which lets you start building your site right away; you no longer endure a long wait time as your account gets approved. It's a great addition. Remixer comes with dozens of themes that you can alter using its simple drag-and-drop fucntionality. I found it incredibly simple to add photos (my own, or those from DreamHost's royalty-free gallery), text, and video. You also have the option of installing third-party applications to your account, such as concrete5, Joomla, MediaWiki, Piwigo, and, of course, WordPress.



WordPress Web Hosting

Like several of its competitors, DreamHost offers WordPress hosting, known here as DreamPress (starting at $16.95 per month). In fact, DreamPress is managed WordPress hosting, a service that gives your website the white-glove treatment by auto-updating the popular content management system software, performing automatic daily backups, and providing WordPress-specific security. The single-tier DreamPress also comes with 30GB of storage, unlimited email, and monthly data transfers, as well as a variety of free WordPress themes.
DreamPress lets you install any plug-in that you desire; Pagely and WP Engine, on the other hand, restrict you from installing a small number of plug-ins that may impact your site's performance.

That said, 1&1 remains the PCMag Editors' Choice in the category. Like DreamHost, 1&1 boasts a managed WordPress plan with unlimited email, unlimited storage, automatic malware detection and removal, automatic WordPress updates, and a curated list of recommended WordPress plug-ins and themes. It's great. 1&1 also offers three tiers of managed WordPress, which gives customers more hosting flexibility. It also gives 1&1 the edge in the WordPress hosting category.




E-Marketing and E-Commerce

DreamHost offers the free ZenCart, which you can access from the One Click Install menu. This open-source online shopping cart software lets users quickly check out the products that you have for sale. It also supports Woo Commerce.
Along a $100 Google AdWords credit, DreamHost lets you track site traffic and analytics via Chartbeat. This is different from most other services, which tend to focus only on Google Analytics.




Dreamhost OneClick

Security and Other FeaturesDreamHost offers antispam on its email, but no antimalware services. However, I like its attention to other aspects of website security. The control panel has an easy-to-find link for editing the .htaccess file to control access to the site or to set up a password. For parts of the site that shouldn't get indexed by search engines, you can block spiders. You can set up cron jobs (automated batch jobs) to schedule tasks and monitor processes on the site. DreamHost also offers free SSL certificates, which is a must-have addition for people who sell products online.

If you are a developer or manage a software development team, you will like the fact that DreamHost comes with Subversion, which can help you manage your source code files. Most web hosting providers restrict you to whatever applications are listed on its software marketplace. Version-control tools such as Subversion rarely make it onto these marketplaces, so it's nice to see the option to set up your own repository. Of course, that's assuming you don't just use Git repositories for your code.

What if you don't really want a website or a blog, but just a place to store your files? DreamHost also offers DreamObjects cloud storage plans, starting at 95 cents per month for 40GB and going up to 20TB for $299.95 per month.




Rock-Solid Uptime

Website uptime is a vital element of the web hosting experience. If your site goes down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services.
For this testing, I use a website monitoring tool to track my site's uptime over a 14-day period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings my website and sends me an email if it is unable to contact the site for at least one minute. The data revealed that DreamHost is incredibly stable. In fact, of the web hosting services I've reviewed, only a handful went down less often. You can count on DreamHost to be a rock-solid foundation for your website.




Customer Service

DreamHost offers email and ticket-based support, as well as online chat. I didn't see a way to make a phone call, which is too bad; sometimes you just want to deal with a human being. That said, the chat support is quite good. I tried it on a weekday afternoon and evening. In both instances, I waited less than a minute before someone fielded my questions.
I asked about the differences between VPS and dedicated hosting. The representative gave me a thorough, satisfying answer. I also asked the representative how to import my WordPress.com setup into DreamHost and received a very helpful link with step-by-step instructions. Again, I was quite pleased with the answers. DreamHost also offers a Knowledgebase that answers many commonly asked question.




Money-Back Guarantee

DreamHost has a very good money-back guarantee policy. According to its terms of service, you can cancel your shared web Hosting service within 97 days of the initial signup and have the money promptly refunded. Considering most hosts offer 15 to 30 days, this flexibility is welcome.



A Power User's Dream

Thanks to its extensive tools, including useful website-building software, security options, generous money-back guarantee, and unlimited storage, bandwidth, domains, and email, DreamHost is a top pick, and a PCMag overall Editors' Choice for web hosting services.

InMotion Web Hosting Review


PROS

Good uptime. All plans offer unlimited email. Lengthy money-back guarantee. Easy-to-use website-building software.

CONS

Lacks Windows servers. No managed WordPress hosting. Need to create separate logins for all add-ons.

BOTTOM LINE

InMotion is a feature-stacked web hosting service that offers many attractive features, but a few issues keep it from being the top dog.

If you're in search of a web host for either personal or professional websites, check out InMotion Hosting. This web hosting service boasts shared, dedicated, virtual private server (VPS), and WordPress hosting, as well as numerous free ecommerce tools. InMotion's lack of Windows servers and a few other minor issues prevent it from reaching the heights of DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds, the overall PCMag Editors' Choices for web hosting services, however.




Shared Web Hosting

InMotion offers three Linux-based shared web hosting plans. The most basic, Launch ($7.99 per month with an annual subscription), supports two websites and up to six domains. Power ($9.99 per month with an annual subscription) nets you six websites and up to 26 domains, while Pro ($15.99 per month with an annual subscription) offers unlimited websites and unlimited domains. All InMotion shared hosting plans include unlimited email, storage, and monthly data transfers, which is a nice touch.
That said, HostGator$2.78 at HostGator - Shared gets the nod as PCMag Editors' Choice award winner for shared web hosting services. InMotion's rival also offers unlimited domains, email, storage, and monthly data transfers, and it adds the choice of Linux- or Windows-based servers. The Windows option is an important one if your site has software that runs on an ASP.NET framework.



VPS Web Hosting

InMotion offers solid VPS hosting that starts at $44.99 per month and tops out at $154 per month. You get respectable top-level specs, including 8GB of RAM, 6TB of monthly data transfers, and 260GB of storage. Unlimited email, domains, websites, and MySQL databases are included, too. InMotion has a good VPS offering, but it isn't as robust as the PCMag VPS hosting Editors' Choice, Hostwinds.
Hostwinds$4.50 at Hostwinds - Shared has stacked and flexible VPS offerings that start at $7.50 per month for 1GB of RAM, 25GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, and unlimited email. Its offerings scale up to $129 per month for 18.5GB of RAM, 130GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, and unlimited email.


Dedicated Web Hosting

You can configure the company's Linux-based dedicated web servers (starting at $189 per month) with 3TB of storage, 15TB of monthly data transfers (which tops SiteGround's$3.95 at SiteGround - Shared 5TB), and an impressive 64GB of RAM. Many of web hosts I've tested offer just 16GB.
Inmotion has solid dedicated web hosting plans, but Hostwinds, the PCMag Editors' Choice for dedicated hosting, has better all-around packages. Hostwinds offers dedicated hosting packages (starting at $99) that can be outfitted with up to 3TB of storage, 128GB of RAM. They boast unlimited monthly data transfers, too. You even get a choice of Linux- or Windows-based servers.


WordPress Web Hosting

If you're looking for WordPress hosting, InMotion offers solid packages. The plans aren't true managed WordPress hosting, though they offer many of its elements. The web host's Linux-based, WordPress-optimized servers (starting at $6.99 per month) come with the content management system preinstalled, and offer free daily backups and automatic software updates. However, InMotion will not automatically update your third-party WordPress plug-ins, or provide WordPress-specific security or page caching.
On the plus side, InMotion's WordPress hosting tosses most of the usual limitations to the wind. It offers unlimited websites, disk space, and monthly data transfers. Many of the true managed WordPress hosts we've reviewed have caps in place that limit their plans in some regard. InMotion also offers the BoldGrid website builder for your convenience.

That said, 1&1 reigns as the WordPress hosting champ. The Editors' Choice award-winning service (starting at $6.99 per month) boasts Linux servers, Windows servers, and unlimited storage and monthly data transfers, as well as managed WordPress-specific features like automatic security updates and live staging (the ability to create and test your site on a free temporary domain that can not be accessed via search engines). It's also far easier to set up than GoDaddy's competing product.



Reseller Web Hosting

If you're looking to get into the web hosting game for yourself, but you don't want to spin up your own servers or worry about providing bandwidth for them, check out InMotion's reseller packages. The three plans, starting at $27.99 per month, don't offer unlimited monthly data transfers and storage as Hostwinds' plans do, but you do get unlimited email, which is a nice touch.
The entry-level R-1000S plan comes with 90GB of storage, 800GB of monthly data transfers, and unlimited cPanels. The mid-tier R-2000S plan ups the storage to 120GB, and the monthly data transfers to 1,200GB. R-3000S boasts 160GB of storage, and 1,600GB of monthly data transfers. InMotion provides 24/7 customer support, too, and gives you a choice of Linux- or Windows-based servers. The plans are quite respectable, though they don't quite measure up with Hostwinds' robust, Editors' Choice award-winning offerings.


Setting Up a Website

I chose the Launch plan for my testing but was disappointed to learn that I had to sign up for a full year. Like most web hosts, a discount is applied to the first term (for up to three years). InMotion discloses its renewal rates, so you don't get any surprises. There are no month-to-month options, unfortunately.
I was a bit dubious when the confirmation page said that an account specialist would contact me by phone to complete the setup process; I couldn't log until that happened. However, the call was prompt and quite helpful, and I wasn't pushed into making any additional purchases. The representative asked a few questions about the type of website I wanted to build, and then emailed me the appropriate welcome materials.


Lots of Log-Ins

You access your general account settings from the Account Management Panel (AMP), but managing the website requires a separate cPanel login. I had some trouble finding and installing the basic site builder, which is, oddly enough, called the Premium Website Builder. Eventually, I contacted web chat support, but the person I chatted with referred me to email support. Thankfully, I got a quick response, and after I supplied my AMP password, the support team was able to set me up.
The website builder requires yet another login and password, but building a website is an otherwise straightforward affair. You have three site types to choose from (site, blog, or photo gallery), you can select themes and colors, and you can pick the types of pages you'd like to include on your site. In addition to standard pages such as Contact Us and About Us, you can add special pages, such as Flash Intro and eShop. Next, you can add a map, poll, RSS reader, or script module into your pages. Unfortunately, the Premium Website Builder doesn't produce particularly attractive pages; my site looked dated. Alternatively, you can use WordPress to create your site.


E-Commerce

The service has many e-commerce options. You can add an eShop page using the Premium Web Builder and build a simple store. Payment options are limited, though. You can also download OpenCart or PrestaShop (both free) for a more robust store. I gave OpenCart a try; it offers a comprehensive dashboard for tracking customers and sales and multiple shipping and payment options. This beats other hosts like iPower and JustHost, which charge an extra monthly fee for e-commerce. Unfortunately, e-commerce isn't available with the basic Launch plan.

Security

InMotion offers several security features, including free remote backup services for accounts under 10GB in size. For WordPress sites, a free Sucuri Security plugin can be used to scan for malware and other security risks. McAfee spam and virus protection (starting at $1.39 per month) is also available for email accounts. You can purchase SSL certificates ($99.99 per year, with a $25 installation fee), which include a dedicated IP address.



Rock-Solid Uptime

Uptime is an incredibly important aspect of the hosting experience. If your website is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services. That is a nightmare scenario. Thankfully, InMotion showed dependable uptime in my testing.
I use a website monitoring tool to track my test sites' uptime over a 14-day period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings my website and sends me an email if it is unable to contact the site for at least one minute. The data revealed that my InMotion site went down briefly during the testing period. Overall, InMotion is stable and dependable, but it's worth noting that some services, including A2 web hosting, didn't go down at all during testing.



Customer Service

I fired up InMotion's web chat to learn how managed servers differ from non-managed servers. Before I exchanged words with a 24/7 customer service representative, the web chat prompted me to key in my question. It returned help links, but none were relevant. I started the human-based web chat, and was connected to a representative a few seconds later and got the information I needed.
I later called InMotion's customer support squad to learn the differences between shared and hosting. Someone quickly fielded my call and gently explained the differences in everyday language. I am very pleased with InMotion's customer service.



Money-Back Guarantee

InMotion has a very generous 90-day money-back guarantee that bests most other web hosts' refund policies. Dreamhost's 97-day money-back guarantee bests InMotion's offers by a week, however.

A Worthy Web Host

InMotion's lack of Windows servers and a complete managed WordPress hosting solution prevent it from entering our upper-echelon of top-rated web hosting services. Still, it's a solid pick thanks to good uptime, numerous free add-ons, free e-commerce features, unlimited email at all levels, and a lengthy 90-day money back guarantee. Check out the Editors' Choice winners, Dreamhost$4.95 at DreamHost - Shared HostGator, and Hostwinds, our very best overall web hosting services.



1 & 1 Web Hosting Review


PROS

Rock-solid uptime in testing. Good client support. Gives basic and enhanced hosting plans. Offers Linux- or -Windows-based hosts. Easy-to-use web site creation resources. No setup payment.

CONS

WebsiteBuilder Plus tier is needed to add code to website templates. Competitors provide lengthier money-back-guarantee periods. Lacks web chat.

BOTTOM LINE

1&1 is an inexpensive webhost that gives rich web site-creation tools, strong support, and amazing uptime. It's our top selection if you need WordPress web hosting.

If you're searching for a feature-rich, inexpensive webhost, 1&1 ought to be on your quick list. This webhost gives a broad variety of deals, including shared, virtual private server (VPS), WordPress, and dedicated web hosting. On the other hand, it's 1&1's WordPress support that helps make the company stand out, making it our top choice if you need WordPress web hosting. Just a couple of small problems prevent 1&1 from outclassing rivals DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds, our overall Editors' Selection winners. Still, it's a webhost that you should check out— particularly if you're going to run a self-hosted WordPress blog.


Shared Web Hosting

1&1 offers a standard month-to-month website hosting charge, but it decreases the price if you're ready to sign up for multi-month or annual plans. Unlike GoDaddy, 1&1 lets you select a one-month plan with any bundle tier. GoDaddy needs you to sign up for its more expensive Deluxe or Ultimate plans (starting at $8.99 and $14.99, respectively) to get a one-month choice. GoDaddy's pricing technique may not have much (if any) effect on large businesses, however a cash-strapped blogger will appreciate 1&1's one-month basic web hosting choice. The shared webhosting is offered in both the Linux or Windows flavors.

The Basic shared hosting bundle (priced from $7.99 per month) contains a free domain that you keep as long as you use 1&1. The plan also provides up to 2GB of RAM, 100GB of storage, 500 email addresses, unlimited monthly data transfers, and website-building tools. The Unlimited Plus plan (starting at $9.99 per 30 days) adds unlimited databases, limitless storage space, unlimited email, unlimited domain names, and up to 6GB of RAM. Unlimited Pro (starting at $14.99 per month) offers up to 9GB of RAM, a Content Delivery Network (a linked system of cached servers that deliver pages quicker), and 1&1 Mobile Website Builder.

All those are good plans, but HostGator provides superior shared web hosting deals. Not only does HostGator offer Linux and Windows servers, but it has endless storage, email, and monthly data transfers at each shared hosting tier. That's amazing.


VPS Web Hosting

1&1's VPS offerings (starting at a wallet-friendly $9.99 per month) give you the essential tools for building a website that can handle the rigors of the Internet better than traditional shared web hosting. You can outfit the Linux- or Windows-based servers with up to 8GB of RAM and 160GB of storage, which bests Arvixe's 4GB of RAM and 100GB of storage. You also get unlimited monthly data transfers.

1&1 has decent VPS web hosting packages, but Hostwinds, the Editors' Choice for VPS web hosting, tops it by offering unlimited storage and unlimited domain hosting. Hostwinds also offers Minecraft VPS hosting starting at $8 per month.



Dedicated Web Hosting

1&1 has three Linux- or Windows-based dedicated hosting tiers: Entry-Level, Performance, and Business Line. Entry-Level dedicated servers start at just $69.99 per month for 8GB of RAM, 1000GB of storage, and unlimited monthly data transfers.

Those specs are fine if you're managing a small, lightly trafficked website, but I suggest checking out the Performance (starting at $199 per month) and Business Line (starting at $449 per month) offerings for beefier CPU and storage options that begin to compete with Hostwinds, the Editors' Choice for dedicated web hosting.



Setting Up a 1&1 Hosted Site

A 1&1 subscription grants access to 1&1 WebsiteBuilder, the tool that I used to create a test site. WebsiteBuilder has many options, but they weren't overwhelming in my testing. The tool asked me to select the domain I planned to use, key in a title, tagline, and footer information, select a site category (I picked Electronics), and enter search keywords. I also created a rudimentary Flash-based intro that greeted visitors with welcoming text, as well as a description designed to let readers know what the site is about should they stumble across it in web search results.

Using 1&1's intuitive website builder to give my site a face was as simple as clicking icons, dragging-and-dropping boxes, selecting color schemes, entering text, and uploading images. If you've spent any amount of time using Facebook, you shouldn't have any problems creating a simple site.

Still, I prefer GoDaddy's flexible website builder. GoDaddy's tool makes it simple to add forms, social media links, Google Maps, slideshows, and other items by dragging them around on a template. On a purely superficial level (which counts for a lot on the web), GoDaddy's Website Builder produced a far more attractive site in my testing. My 1&1 test site looked a bit dated.

If you want more website-building flexibility with 1&1, you must subscribe to WebsiteBuilder Plus ($9.99 per month), which lets you add your own code. Using WebsiteBuilder Plus, you can insert HTML and YouTube video embeds—something Arvixe does by default. That said, I like that 1&1 includes website-building software at no extra charge; GoDaddy's Website Builder required me to shell out an extra $1 per month.

1&1 also has dozens of apps that can be used to improve your website, including Amazon Deals, Google+ badges, and OpenTable.



WordPress Web Hosting

There are two ways to get WordPress up and running on a 1&1 server. You can install WordPress on a standard Linux- or Windows-based server environment you get through the web hosting plan or you can sign up for managed WordPress. 1&1 has three Linux-based managed WordPress packages: WP Basic ($6.99 per month), WP Plus ($9.99 per month), and WP Unlimited ($14.99 per month).

WP Basic offers 50GB of storage, unlimited visitors, and one free domain. WP Plus tosses in 250GB of storage and the ability to host five WordPress projects. WP Unlimited, the most feature-packed of the three options, boasts unlimited WordPress projects. All the plans have unlimited email, automatic malware detection and removal, automatic WordPress updates, and a curated list of recommended WordPress plug-ins and themes. These packages surpass rival WordPress offerings from the likes of Arvixe, GoDaddy, and SiteGround. 1&1 also offers managed WordPress hosting, for those who want to give their sites the white-glove treatment. As a result, the flexible 1&1 is our Editors' Choice for WordPress hosting.


Email

You can't have a business without email. Fortunately, email comes with your hosting package. My 1&1 Basic web hosting plan came with 100 accounts. It was a straightforward setup process that occurred as part of signing up for my web hosting package. I later created a generic contact email address by clicking the Mail icon, creating a handle, selecting my domain, keying in a password, and enabling anti-spam and virus protection. GoDaddy has a very similar—and equally simple—email-setup procedures.

If you need email, but not web hosting, 1&1 has three packages designed to suit your needs. 1&1 Instant Mail ($1.99 per month) gives you five email accounts, each of which has a 2GB storage capacity. It also includes the free 1&1 WebsiteBuilder. Next up the ladder is the 1&1 Basic plan ($5.99 per month), which offers 100 email accounts, 2GB of storage per account, one free domain, and three 15-page WebsiteBuilder projects. The top-shelf package is 1&1 Unlimited ($8.99 per month). It has unlimited email accounts, 2GB of storage per account, and five 25-page WebsiteBuilder projects.


E-Commerce

Email marketing is an important business tool, so it's no surprise that 1&1 offers a dedicated 1&1 E-Mail Marketing Manager. This tool gives you an overview of your email traffic, address management, distribution information, and more. The 1&1 E-mail Marketing Manager is included with your hosting package and can send blasts to up to 100 recipients. Should you need to email more than 100 recipients, you can upgrade to one of 1&1's premium E-Mail Marketing Manager packages (starting at $9.99 per month for 6 months, or $12.99 per month for three months).

If you want to sell products, the 1&1 Online Store (starting at $9.99 per month) lets you pick one of several layouts and designs. This is not part of the basic web hosting plan, but rather an add-on. There's a lot of dragging-and-dropping and adding prefab elements, but there wasn't much I could manually tweak in my testing. 1&1 prompts you to (optionally) enter your sales tax ID and whether you want to display items with or without the sales tax included in the price. You can add products, list delivery methods and accepted payment types, and more. There's also a customer database for keeping track of your customers.


Security Features

1&1 includes a GeoTrust Dedicated SSL Certificate (encrypted website security that protects data exchanges between users and your site) free of charge with its server, Developer Shared Hosting, and Developer eShop packages. If you don't have one of those plans, you can purchase a GeoTrust Dedicated SSL Certificate for $49 per year.

SiteLock, available as a Basic package (99 cents per month) and a $4.99 per month Premium package ($4.99 per month), is a feature offered by 1&1.com to protect your website from hackers, malware, and unauthorized access. Depending on the package you select, SiteLock scans up to 500 of your website's sub-pages to find network vulnerabilities. If you opt to display the SiteLock Trust Seal on your website, your visitors will see real-time verification that the site is secure. According to 1&1, SiteLock's Trust Seal instills so much customer confidence that it'll boost your product sales by 10 percent.


Decent Uptime

Website uptime is one of the most important aspects of a hosting service. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services.

For this testing, I used a website monitoring tool to track my 1&1-hosted test site's uptime over a 14-day period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings my website and sends me an email if it is unable to contact the site for at least one minute. The data revealed that 1&1 went down a few times. That said, 1&1 was up the majority of the time during that two week time span, so consider it a decent foundation for building your website.



Satisfactory Customer Service

If you have any problems with your hosting plan, or simply have a question, rest easy in knowing that 1&1 has 24/7 email and telephone support. How a company's customer service department responds to your complaint or query is vital, so I tested 1&1's mettle by placing a call on a weekday afternoon. I wanted to know the difference—if any—between 1&1's regular web hosting and its WordPress hosting offering.

About one minute later, a 1&1 support person fielded my call. The rep correctly stated that the WordPress hosting lets 1&1 automatically update WordPress and any installed plug-ins—something that users would otherwise manually handle with regular 1&1 web hosting.

Unlike DreamHost, 1&1 lacks live customer support web chat. As a result, I decided to test the other side of 1&1's customer service by emailing this question on a weekday afternoon: How do I import my existing WordPress.com blog into a 1&1 account? About an hour later, a 1&1 reply that contained a detailed (and correct) answer was in my inbox.



Money-Back Guarantee

1&1 has a decent 30-day money-back guarantee, but DreamHost one-ups it with an impressive 97-day money-back guarantee.



The One

1&1 offers low-cost hosting, easy email setup, domain transfers, and website building—particularly in the WordPress category, for which it is our top pick. That said, some of 1&1's features could benefit from more flexibility. If you're looking for the best website-building tools and customer service overall, DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds, PCMag's Editors' Choices for web hosting services, are your best bets.

 
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