- Strengths & Weaknesses
- Alternatives for HostMonster
- HostMonster WordPress Features
- HostMonster Features Overview
HostMonster is an impressive web hosting provider, despite its dated website suggesting otherwise. That said, many of its strong points make it seem like its riding on the coattails of one of our best web hosting providers, Bluehost. That makes sense, too, considering both are owned by web hosting conglomerate Endurance International Group.
If cheap web hosting is what you’re after, you won’t find it here. HostMonster’s high price tag, spotty support and mismatched features leave more cons than pros, even though it shares the excellent guts that Bluehost has. Given that it’s more expensive than the EIG star child, there’s little incentive to choose HostMonster over its larger sibling.
That said, we’re here to provide our HostMonster review, detailing our experience after launching a website with its most inexpensive shared plan. We’ll talk about cPanel, webmail, features, speed and more before giving our verdict.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Excellent control panel
- Solid speed
- Included daily backups
- Free SSL certificate
- Domain privacy on certain tiers
- Free WordPress themes
- Lackluster Load Impact results
Alternatives for HostMonster
HostMonster is the same as Bluehost is almost every way, and that includes features. The list is long, especially for WordPress users, but the high price tag makes some of the features lose their luster.
Shared plans, which make up most of the lineup, come with impressive goodies. All tiers include an SSL certificate, which is nice to see, but you’ll need to jump to Plus or above to see the feature list come into its own. The Choice Plus plan, which sits at the top of the lineup, includes spam prevention, domain privacy, CodeGuard backups, marketing offers and more.
We don’t mind that HostMonster hides some features behind a paywall because we don’t consider the marketing credits or spam prevention essential. The basics are covered across tiers, including full cPanel backups and an SSL certificate, so we’re content.
HostMonster WordPress Features
Though no WordPress-specific plans are offered, HostMonster includes a lot for everyone’s favorite content management system. As we’ll discuss in the “ease of use” section below, HostMonster will ask you to choose a theme after you sign up for an account, which will be used on the preinstalled copy of WordPress your website uses.
If you don’t want to use WordPress, though, you’ll have problems. HostMonster is built around Bluehost’s excellent WordPress control panel and the MOJO Marketplace, which sells themes for, you guessed it, WordPress. Other installers are there, but HostMonster is focused on WordPress users.
HostMonster Features Overview
|Domain Privacy||Certain tiers|
|Web Application Firewall||n/a|
|Live Chat Support|
As we’ll see throughout this review, HostMonster has a lot in common with its EIG sibling, Bluehost. In fact, they’re the same in almost every regard. That said, though HostMonster borrows some of Bluehost’s deceptive pricing tactics, its price is even higher.
HostMonster isn’t as expensive as Arvixe, though. A comparison to our Arvixe review will show that HostMonster hasn’t gone off the deep end in terms of pricing, but you’ll end up spending $1-$2 more than you would with many shared options on the market.
We’re not opposed to spending more if the service is worth it — Kinsta, Pagely and MDDHosting fit in that category — but HostMonster doesn’t put your extra coin to good use. The plans are the same as Bluehost’s in terms of specs and features, just a dollar or two more expensive.
That’s ignoring that you can get shared hosting for cheaper, too. 1&1 IONOS, for example, offers a comprehensive shared package for around half the price of HostMonster (read our 1&1 IONOS review).
HostMonster isn’t too overpriced, but it’s hard to justify spending a few dollars more than you would with Bluehost when so much of the two services is the same. Even domains are more expensive, with HostMonster charging around $5-$6 more for a .com domain than GoDaddy (read our GoDaddy review).
Regardless, you’ll be covered for 30 days if you decide to pick up a hosting package at HostMonster. Though not as long as InMotion Hosting’s three-month refund window (read our InMotion Hosting review), a month is standard for most web hosts.
Ease of Use
HostMonster runs the same as most of its EIG siblings. You’ll choose a plan, enter a domain you own or want to register, fill out your personal information and wait for the payment to process. That said, the process is more annoying than it is with, say, Bluehost.
That’s because HostMonster uses a light font on a dark background. Though the aesthetic concerns start well before checkout, the eye-straining contrast makes it difficult to find where your total is, which is a metric that’s especially important considering HostMonster preselects extras at checkout.
Once you’ve been dredged through the checkout, you’ll be sent to an order confirmation page and asked to set a password. Though we’d prefer an updated checkout experience like you get with Hosting24 (read our Hosting24 review), the enclosed system HostMonster has works well.
After that, you can log in to cPanel or webmail using your domain and password. Alternatively, if you signed up using the Google single sign-on option, you can log in in that way.
If you opt for just logging in to the control panel directly you’ll be sent to a screen that asks you to pick out a theme. Though HostMonster doesn’t clarify it, your hosting package is automatically set up with the website builder if you select a theme. Thankfully, you can skip this step and continue to cPanel.
Dated website or not, HostMonster wins major points when it comes to the control panel. It uses the same interface as Bluehost, which focuses on usability and customizability simultaneously, a combination that’s difficult to pull off.
If you skipped selecting a theme, HostMonster will set up WordPress on a temporary domain. It’s a staged version of your website, meaning you can make changes to it before pushing the data to the live domain. While you’re doing so, the live domain will display a “coming soon” page.
You shouldn’t need to log in to WordPress when you’re getting started, but using the big, purple button in the center of the control panel makes it easy to do so. Instead, you can browse themes and plugins from the control panel, allowing you to set up your website without dealing with the, admittedly clunky, WordPress back-end.
If you want to dig into the details of cPanel, you can do so. The “advanced” tab shows the classic cPanel look, which earned Bluehost a spot in our best web hosting with cPanel guide.
Email is handled elsewhere, despite the fact that there’s an “email & office” tab in the control panel. Clicking that tab will bring up a couple of advertisements for Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite, as well as the option to create email addresses at your domain. To access webmail, you’ll need to back out of the control panel.
You’ll need to log out to access webmail if you want to do so through HostMonster’s website, which we don’t recommend, considering it constantly failed to log us in. Instead, it’s best to find the address for your webmail account and log in directly. Alternatively, you can use a webmail application.
That can be set up through the control panel by navigating through the “email & office” tab and clicking “check email” for the correct address. That’ll open the webmail setup page where you can configure Horde, Roundcube or SquirrelMail. There are also setup instructions for many local email clients, including Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook and Postbox.
HostMonster has multiple types of hosting, but that may not be apparent at first. Like its EIG sibling iPage (read our iPage review), HostMonster only shows its shared plans on its homepage. The other plans, which feature VPS and dedicated hosting, are relegated to the footer of the website.
If you’re unfamiliar with the types of hosting and what they mean, read our hosting types overview.
As is the case with most web hosts oriented toward beginners, HostMonster focuses on shared plans (read our JustHost review for another example). There are three tiers of shared hosting — Basic, Plus and Choice Plus — that mirror the naming scheme and general specs of the shared lineup at Bluehost.
Unlike Bluehost, though, HostMonster’s price is high. As you can read in our Bluehost review, we have issues with even its price, so HostMonster’s extra premium doesn’t look great for the shared plans.
Though the naming scheme and layout of plans is the same as Bluehost’s, the polish isn’t.
HostMonster also offers three tiers of shared hosting that have an advertisement to “go pro,” which adds a dedicated IP address and high-performance server. That said, it seems like HostMonster forgot to update the marketing copy because the ad says the plan includes everything that HostMonster’s Prime package includes. That Prime package doesn’t exist.
HostMonster VPS and Dedicated Hosting
The shared lineup isn’t impressive, and considering HostMonster focuses on it, we assumed the VPS and dedicated plans would be just as mediocre. Thankfully, that isn’t the case. Though HostMonster doesn’t provide the flexibility of A2 Hosting when it comes to VPS plans (read our A2 Hosting review), they aren’t too shabby.
Mainly, that’s because HostMonster offers cloud VPS plans, which can help your website with security and speed. The cloud-centric approach of MDDHosting and Kinsta works better (read our MDDHosting review and Kinsta review), but if you want to go with HostMonster, its VPS offering isn’t bad.
The same can’t be said for dedicated plans. They’re not bad, but we’ve seen the same song and dance at the same price from other providers. Even worse, the dedicated servers use traditional hard drives instead of solid-state drives, which are becoming commonplace among web hosts.
If you’re looking for dedicated hosting, WebHostingBuzz is a great way to get it for cheap because it offers clearance dedicated servers that start under $50 per month (read our WebHostingBuzz review). Alternatively, if you’re looking for more power, you can read our LunarPages review, but be warned, you’ll be spending a hefty premium for that power.
HostMonster Managed WordPress
Despite the fact that HostMonster offers more options than shared, it’s missing managed WordPress packages. These plans, which are common among our best web hosting for WordPress picks, allow you to launch a WordPress website without worrying about installing it or keeping it up to date.
The cloud VPS plans seem like a natural home for it because we’ve seen the structure put forward excellent performance with DreamHost’s DreamPress plans (read our DreamHost review). Unfortunately, that isn’t offered.
If you’re looking for a managed WordPress solution, there are a few options. We like SiteGround because it offers a comprehensive managed WordPress package for less than most (read our SiteGround review). That said, if you need more power, you can read our Pagely review.
Speed & Uptime
For speed testing, we use Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact. Using both these tools, we can gather a comprehensive view of speed and uptime. Pingdom Speed Test allows us to hone in on a single user and the speed they may experience and Load Impact shows us how the server performs under stress.
Unsurprisingly, HostMonster performed similarly to Bluehost. When reviewing JustHost, we spoke with support about the similarities between it and Bluehost. Though the rep dodged the question, it was clear that some amount of the architecture JustHost used was owned and operated by Bluehost.
That seems to be the case with HostMonster, too, considering we achieved the same results as we got in our Bluehost test on the same tier of hosting, as well as the mirrored control panel. Thankfully, those results are good, at least for our single-point test. HostMonster scored 94 out of 100, which isn’t as fast as Hostinger (read our Hostinger review), but it’s quicker than most.
Load Impact tells a different story, just as it did with Bluehost, though the lows are even lower with HostMonster. We use Load Impact as a stress testing tool, sending 50 virtual users to the website over five minutes to see how it performed. We’ve found those numbers to be the maximum for most low-tier shared plans.
Some HTTP errors or missed requests aren’t a big deal, but more than half of ours were met with errors when testing HostMonster (read our GreenGeeks review for another provider that struggles with this).
After 36 users, the response time dropped to zero, meaning the website didn’t load for anyone past that point. The elevated number of HTTP errors suggests that too many users are hosted on the same server.
The performance is the same as Bluehost’s, and so is the uptime guarantee. That is to say there isn’t one. In fact, the knowledgebase entry that addresses uptime is copy and pasted directly from Bluehost, which says that HostMonster will try to keep 100 percent uptime, but there’s no guarantee.
HostMonster has the three main security features we look for: an SSL certificate, daily backups and malware scanning. Bluehost has that trifecta, too, and just like our experience there, we were unable to verify the security of the Apache servers.
In almost all our reviews, we reach out to support to ask about security features on the server, which include distributed denial-of-service protection, ModSecurity, BitNinja and more. All those features are necessary for keeping web hosting servers protected, and though we suspect the Bluehost servers have some of them, we have no way of knowing for sure.
Calling them “Bluehost servers” isn’t a typo, either. As we’ll talk about in the “support” section, the HostMonster rep we spoke with referred to the servers in that way, suggesting that HostMonster is just a reskinned, overpriced version of Bluehost.
That aside, the security features are impressive. You get a free SSL certificate, which lets browsers visiting your website know that it’s safe. That allows the browser to open an encrypted connection between your website and the user, protecting the information passing between.
Plus, you get daily backups of your cPanel account that can be restored with a single click and a basic version of SiteLock. SiteLock is like an antivirus for your website, protecting it from any cybercrime that may come your way. The Lite version included provides basic scanning, but it won’t remove malware from your website.
Even so, we’re happy that those three security features are present. You can upgrade your version of SiteLock or purchase additional backups through CodeGuard, but HostMonster provides enough security features across plans for us to be content.
HostMonster is owned by EIG, which is a bad sign for privacy. If you’ve read our HostGator review, you’ll know that EIG owns web hosting companies, but it’s in the business of selling your data.
Starting with the lesser issue, HostMonster doesn’t include domain privacy across plans like WestHost does (read our WestHost review). That said, HostMonster is better than most in that it includes domain privacy with select shared plans. The top two tiers offer domain privacy, so though we’d prefer it across plans, it’s hard to complain.
Domain privacy hides your personal information from mass data harvesters by replacing the information you store in your WHOIS record with the information of the registrar. It’s the first step in protecting your identity when launching a website, and we’ve seen providers such as WestHost and DreamHost introduce it into their lineups for free.
That’s ignoring the internal trading that’s going on, too. EIG owns a lot of brands, many of which provide services for web hosting. For example, you’ll likely see an increase in SiteLock and MOJO Marketplace advertisements after purchasing a hosting package. As anecdotal evidence, as least, your reviewer certainly has.
Throughout this review, we’ve talked about how similar HostMonster is to Bluehost, but when testing support, we got our answer for sure. We asked about the security of servers, which was met with a similar response to when put the question to Bluehost. That said, after a decent amount of prying, the support rep referred to the servers as “Bluehost servers.”
The name at the top of the live chat window is different, but it appears that the rep is answering questions for HostMonster and Bluehost (and probably JustHost, too). Knowing that, our conclusion is the same. HostMonster has prompt support over phone and live chat, but the reps are more interested in providing small clarifications than helping you troubleshoot your website.
That said, the help center isn’t the same. We like Bluehost’s help center a lot, so seeing it here wouldn’t be bad. HostMonster decided not to steal the knowledgebase, though. Instead, it has a difficult to read and navigate collection of articles.
Plus, HostMonster doesn’t have the support resources Bluehost has. There are only a handful of knowledgebase articles, and though they have solid detail and instruction, the video tutorials, webinars and walkthrough guides that Bluehost has are more helpful.
This isn’t a Bluehost vs. HostMonster comparison piece (you can read our DreamHost vs. Bluehost match if you want to see it in the ring). That said, it’s hard not to set a baseline expectation when the two services are, for the most part, the same. When it comes to support, unfortunately, HostMonster has adopted the poor points of its sibling without the strong ones.
HostMonster is Bluehost — there’s no way around that — but it’s a slightly more clunky and expensive version of it. Though we appreciate the features, especially on the security end, some of the negatives are too big to overlook. Compared to Bluehost, HostMonster falls short.
As with all EIG brands, privacy and support are weak points, but HostMonster’s speed is better than most of its siblings’.
What do you think of HostMonster? Is it just a reskinned version of Bluehost? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.
- HostMonster is a web hosting provider owned by Endurance International Group. It features shared, dedicated and VPS hosting on Apache servers with cPanel.
- HostMonster struggled during our stress testing, suggesting there are too many users on a server and not enough resources. That could cause sites hosted with HostMonster to not load.
- You can set up email forwarding in the HostMonster control panel by clicking “email & office” and adding a new address. You can learn about setting it to forwarding by reading the cPanel documentation.
- You can find the domain name management area by clicking the “domains” tab in the HostMonster control panel. There, you can add an SSL certificate, manage the domain and more.