Every budding webmaster looks for a host that will treat their content with respect, provide solid security and not break the bank. HostMonster, a company providing web-hosting services since 1996, claims to do all three.
Well, putting their claims to the test, we’re going doing a thorough Hostmonster review today, to see if this budget-oriented and feature friendly web hosting company’s claims hold water, or hide a more sinister purpose.
HostMonster has been in the business since 1996, making it one of the oldest web-hosting companies. Based out of Utah, HostMonster is actually one of the many branded facets of a single mother company, which also owns BlueHost, iPage and FastDomain. In case you’re wondering, this mother company is called Endurance International Group.
Shared hosting is the most basic, cheapest and widely used plan that HostMonster has on offer. Shared hosting is designed to facilitate individuals with websites that see low traffic, or a small business. Absolutely no resources are assigned any strict limits, but getting more traffic or using up space and bandwidth than the shared hosting plan expects, will result in either:
- Cut in resources
- A request to go Pro
- Simple cut off
Either way, please keep in mind that no collective database should exceed 3GB, and no individual one should exceed 2GB. It’s not exclusively stated, but going above those two limits will result in a penalty for the user.
Pro hosting is essentially the same as Shared hosting, except there are more features, more privatized and faster servers, and of course, it’s more pricey. HostMonster generally advises customers to go pro hosting for a better, faster and more secure experience. Pro hosting also comes with a $15 Domain Registration coupon valid for the first 1-year of registration.
The Pro’s power comes from the fact that every server has 80% fewer users, and more resources of course. Unfortunately, a lot of basic add-ons are for purchase on any shared hosting plan (Starter, Plus or Pro). Here’s a list of the priced add-ons which HostMonster sells alongside their shared plans:
- Additional domain names: $14.99 per year of registration
- Dedicated IP: $3.33 per month
- SSL certificates: $49.00 per year
- SpamExperts mail filtering: $2.50 a month per domain name
- Privacy: $10.99 Domain Privacy per domain per year
- SiteLock: $19.99 per domain per year
- Site Backup and Restore Pro: $19.99 per year
- Expired Account Re-activations: $30.00
VPS hosting is of course an absolute must for developers looking to test and deploy their creations, and HostMonster caters for them by providing dedicated VPS hosting built upon a CentOS platform which is controllable via the cPanel. VPS hosting actually features four user levels, as opposed to Shared hosting’s three.
The four are:
And come with the following features:
Dedicated Hosting of course means customers do not have to share a server with anyone else, it’s your own private playground to do with as you please. Dedicated hosting features three tiers:
Dedicated hosting is built upon OpenStack, a cloud operating system that’s backed by the biggest names in computing, such as:
- Red Hat
An enhanced version of cPanel, alongside a custom domain manager and server management tools are also installed. The following tiers, prices and features make up HostMonster’s dedicated hosting service.
- Additional domain names: $14.99 per year of registration
- Privacy: $10.99 Domain Privacy per domain per year
- Dedicated IP: $2.50 per month
Extra storage is also available at the following prices, which are billed monthly:
- 500 GB: $50.00 per month
- 1 TB: $100.00 per month
- 2 TB: $200.00 per month
- 4 TB: $400.00 per month
Finally, before we move onto set-up, HostMonster offers an insanely large plethora of features catering to almost every website owner’s wishes. Check out this link for a full rundown of their feature set.
Setting up a web page from HostMonster’s cPanel is a really easy process, and the panel itself is helpfully divided into various levels of expertise. There’s drag-and-drop page builder for newbies, a simple script function for people with programming skills, and of course everything else an expert would need for scripting is also available.
But here’s where HostMonster really stands out. They offer a free, live demo of the cPanel back-end to absolutely everyone. Just go in, try it out and see if you like it or not. The panel also features a handy side-bar which shows the limits to your “unlimited” set of features, helpfully providing a guide to ensure you don’t step over the limits.
Really, even their VPS hosting was smooth and swift, alongside Dedicated hosting which was up and running in around 8 minutes. Also, domain names are registered pretty quickly and activate within about a day… at most. Since HostMonster comes with free sponsorship credits and a search engine submission, users can control their free sponsorship coupons using the bottom panel.
HostMonster has a lot of features, major ones of course include:
- Anti-spam filters
- FTP uploading
- Database management
WordPress installation is a click away, and WordPress themes are supported as well. HostMonster is fully equipped to host and run a WordPress blog, but be careful as certain plugins and add-ons to WP are not really supported by the host.
A file manager is also included, alongside Weebly, for anyone who’s absolutely brand new to web design. GoMobi Mobile is on board as well, in case anyone who wants to optimize their website for mobile devices.
POP and IMAP are fully supported, including their secure versions. And owning unlimited POP/IMAP email accounts is totally okay. Mojo marketplace is in charge of dealing with setting up a marketplace and checkout counter.
CloudFlare is also available, for anyone who needs a reverse proxy that will protect and speed up a website. The service is pretty useful when it comes to protecting a site from DoS attacks and also provides a strong firewall. Other features include a script installer, Google Apps, Domain privacy (which costs a money) and a domain manager, for there are no limits to the amount of domains one can own and park with HostMonster.
A password and web-mail manager are also part of the features offered by HostMonster. Media is a bit of a sticking point with the basic plan, or even the pro plan actually, as there’s not nearly enough bandwidth or server space to deal with websites which host a lot of pictures and videos.
Remember the server limit is 3GB in total and only around 2,000 MySQL scripts are allowed. But, a website with a few pictures and videos shouldn’t be an issue. Just don’t host a travel blog that features long videos of your journeys.
HostMonster promises 99.9% uptime, and according to Webhostingstuff.com, the company has been delivering on that promise consistently for the past 3,137 days. Or since 18th April, 2006. However, scouring through user generated reviews reveals that HostMonster does often suffer downtime, mostly regulated, and a lot of customers are not informed of this fact.
Also, there have been times when accidents and other issues have taken servers offline without warning for days, and the company has refused to reimburse users in anyway for these very unexpected downtimes. As for page load speeds, the company has had issues in the past with many, many customers. However, those who have not experienced such slow load times are generally very happy with the 1-2 second times shown on average.
However, there is an article written by HostMonster which is designed to help users deal with slow page loads, check it out here. However, it seems that telling the customer their website is badly optimized, is an auto-response which may hold little to no water, and HostMonster just generally does not optimize its servers very well.
A little bit of digging brought an interesting fact about how HostMonster runs its servers. The basic shared plan actually has far too many users on a single server, which triggers CPU throttling, which in turn slows down sites. It’s like crowding 10 felons into a prison designed for five, then only giving them enough food for two people, ensuring everyone goes pretty much hungry.
Then when a customer complains, they are prompted to go Pro, which costs more money of course. Very sneaky HostMonster, very sneaky indeed.
HostMonster does not offer a very robust security package, as a matter of fact, even SiteLock has to be bought separately. While the company claims its servers are designed to be secure, all users are responsible for the security of their own sites.
They advise you to keep a strong password, check files regularly and keep all add-ons and plugins up-to-date. But outside of a bare basic spam filter, customers are on their own.
HostMonster has pretty good customer support.
The company’s customer assistants are usually busy handling several chats at once, and let you know so upfront, but they still managed to reply quickly enough and serviced our queries efficiently. However, there have been numerous reports from long time customers of rude and unhelpful staff, but even these complaints took note that the replies were quick and to the point.
Email support was a hit and miss affair, one e-mail was answered within several hours, another took a full 24 hours. Overall, using email isn’t the quickest way to get a reply. But any lengthy and complicated problems should be sent via email, giving the company time to read it and see if they can solve the problem rather than engage in a back and forth with customers.
Support is divided along the four following sections:
- Technical Support
- Sales Support
- Billing Support
- Terms of Service Compliance Department
Each department can be accessed via chat, e-mail and phone of course. Separate phone numbers apply to customers calling from within and outside of the U.S. HostMonster’s knowledge base is also absolutely massive, and goes pretty in-depth.
So, while Hostmonster does have a responsive and all American customer care staff, they’re actually level of help fullness differs on a case-by-case basis.
HostMonster maybe among the oldest and most fairly priced website hosts out there, and they have a generous suite of services which can and will cater to absolutely any hosting need, and the company does maintain its uptime promise very well.
However, the company has a lot of complaints about overstuffed servers forcing people to pay for better tiers, slow websites and of course, a rather expensive post-offer pricing scheme and rather lackluster security features on the basic service.
Overall, while all looks great at the gate, the castle is a mess inside. HostMonster really doesn’t fare well against its competitors and there are a lot of failings which wholly overshadow the company’s positive positive features. While HostMonster is not a bad choice for someone’s first website, it’s not the ideal place to shop for a traffic intensive website which may also be a business.
There’s plenty of fish in the sea, so don’t feel shy about fishing, our HostMonster review has made it pretty clear the service isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.