HostMonster is an embarrassing attempt at web hosting. Its lackluster feature set, slow speeds and mediocre support structure left us asking how it could be a sister to Bluehost. HostMonster won’t run your wallet dry, but your money is better spent elsewhere.
In this HostMonster review, we’ll talk about the issues we had during our test run of the service. We’ll discuss features, pricing, server types and speeds, ease of use, security and support before giving our verdict.
We can’t fault anyone for looking at HostMonster for cheap web hosting. It falls behind in some areas and doesn’t do anything more than expected in others. We do, however, think there are better options on the market.
- cPanel integration
- Lots of storage space
- Broken support system
- Poor security features
HostMonster gives you a lot of features if evaluated in a vacuum. When compared to the rest of the web hosting market, though, it’s status quo. We don’t hate the feature set, but it would be nice for HostMonster to add more meat to the bone.
You get a free domain name and website builder on all plans. The domain name is expected, but the website builder is a nice addition. It’ll get you started on basic sites, but check out our website builder reviews if you need something with more depth.
As a sister company to Bluehost, HostMonster has integration with the MOJO Marketplace, a hub for building your website that offers one-click installs, themes, plugins and more. Its prices are high, but it’s still one of the go-to shopping centers for websites.
HostMonster also gives you $100 in Google AdWords and Bing Ad credits. That’ll get you started advertising through search engines, but we’ve seen this promotional package from other hosts.
More expensive plans bring security features like domain privacy, SpamExperts and Site Backup Pro. You can read about which plans come with these features in the pricing section below.
We’re not disappointed with what HostMonster offers, but what it doesn’t. It’s a basic lineup of features we’ve seen from nearly all hosts that doesn’t add anything special to the mix.
Five email addresses
|Up to 10 websites|
Site Backup Pro
|Same features as Prime
High performance server
HostMonster is cheap compared to prominent hosts like HostGator (read our HostGator review). For the inexpensive market it caters to, though, the prices don’t impress, especially with limited disk space and features on the low end.
A glance at the pricing model shows that HostMonster is pushing customers toward a Prime plan. It’s the same price as Plus, a couple of dollars more than Basic and comes with a better feature set.
Basic plans don’t make sense. You can get the same specs at Bluehost (read our Bluehost review) cheaper. That goes for the introductory and renewal rates. Plus, Bluehost gives you a free SSL certificate.
HostMonster’s entire lineup mirrors Bluehost, even the names. You get the same features, including SpamExperts and Site Backup Pro on their respective plans, for a couple of bucks cheaper per month.
Prime is the exception as it shares rates with Bluehost and comes with plenty of features. You get $200 in marketing credits when you sign up, as well as domain privacy, SpamExperts and Site Backup Pro.
It’s a nice balance of price to performance, but if you’re looking for the best cheap web hosting, we recommend a plan with iPage (read our iPage review). You’ll get many of the same features along with a website builder for only a couple of dollars per month.
On the top end of shared hosting is the Pro plan. It comes with the same feature set as Prime, but on a “high performance” server. HostMonster doesn’t specify what makes their performance better, but we assume it’s a combination of better hardware and fewer users.
HostMonster offers virtual private server plans, as well, starting at $19.99 per month. The base plan includes a dual core processor, 2GB of RAM, 30GB of disk space and up to 1TB of bandwidth per month. All VPS plans use CentOS 64-bit.
HostMonster offers shared and VPS hosting. We’ll give you a brief overview of each, but check out our best web hosting guide, which compares all types of hosting and give the pros and cons of each.
Shared hosting is when many sites are hosted on the same server. Because the resources are shared, you may have problems with speed and uptime. Still, it’s the cheapest way for a web host to offer its services.
A VPS is the the same as shared hosting, but with a set amount of resources. It’s a virtual machine put on a shared server, so, in theory, you have a small dedicated server.
We used a Basic plan to gauge speeds. HostMonster rates its performance as “standard” so it should provide a good baseline for comparison to other hosts. Our tests were done with Bitcatcha, a service that measures server response instead of page load time.
HostMonster’s performance was not standard, though. It scored a 54.7-millisecond response time in the U.S., longer than Arvixe’s 44 ms (read our Arvixe review). Despite being a sister company to Bluehost, HostMonster did 20 percent worse in our speed tests.
International speeds aren’t much better. HostMonster scored 292.9 ms when averaged between eight global locations. That’s half the speed of DreamHost (read our DreamHost review) and more than a third worse than Bluehost.
We used Load Impact to test real-world performance. It sends 50 virtual users to the domain over five minutes to see if speeds take a hit. HostMonster overcame its lackluster speeds and managed a consistent rate after the first few users.
HostMonster doesn’t have great performance, overall. It’s slower than most hosts, rating around 10-20 ms slower in the U.S.and 80-100 ms slower internationally. You should see a slight speed increase with a Pro or VPS plan, though we don’t see a reason for the latter as shared plans have enough consistency.
HostMonster is built with cPanel, but it didn’t make our best web hosting with cPanel list. That’s because it’s a dated version of the interface, lacking the punch of the spruced-up UI you get with HostGator and BlueHost.
It copies the green, black and grey color scheme with app icons that resemble a bad theme on a rooted Android phone. We appreciate the simple icons, but all the apps blend together at a glance.
You can collapse the categories in cPanel, but HostMonster has a surprising 14 sections to go through. Even with all the categories collapsed, cPanel barely fits on the webpage. Plus, ads at the top of the sidebar leave your system resources and usage out of frame.
HostMonster doesn’t have the worst implementation of cPanel we’ve seen, but it could use a facelift.
Most items will redirect you to the MOJO Marketplace which is better looking. There, you can access the one-click installers HostMonster offers like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. You can also find themes and plugins for your WordPress site.
If you’re planning to use WordPress, check out our best web hosting for WordPress, along with our three guides for the CMS.
- Beginner’s Guide to Using WordPress
- Intermediate Guide to Using WordPress
- Advanced Guide to Using WordPress
If you don’t want to use WordPress, HostMonster integrates with Weebly (read our Weebly review). This easy-to-use website builder ranked highly in our guide to the best website builders, HostMonster is the only host we’ve encountered with that integration.
Choosing to build your site with Weebly improves ease of use. cPanel isn’t great and doesn’t offer features that make it stand out from the crowd, but, if you’re using Weebly as your builder, HostMonster takes a win.
Security features are light. You can purchase a SSL certificate or SiteLock in your cPanel, but HostMonster doesn’t offer anything other than backup for securing your site.
Basic doesn’t come with security features, but Plus and up do. You get SpamExperts, which protects your email addresses from phishing schemes, from there on. The best antivirus software can handle that task, though.
Prime users will have access to domain privacy and Site Backup Pro. Domain privacy will keep the WHOIS information you register private and Site Backup helps if malware infects your site or you need to revert to a previous version. If you’re using WordPress, you can backup manually using a cloud storage provider.
Pro users have those same features along with a free SSL certificate, which is something DreamHost includes on all plans.
Our gripe with HostMonster is the lack of SSL certificates. Browsers are starting to display warnings on non-secure sites, which means you’ll have to pay out of pocket to get better traffic. HostMonster charges a lot for certificates, too, with rates starting at $5 per month.
HostMonster has Cloudflare built into cPanel, but disabled by default. This free CDN helps deter DDoS attacks and server outages, so we don’t understand why HostMonster wouldn’t turn it on for you. It’s free to sign up, but a paid plan is available, as well.
HostMonster offers phone and live chat support, as well as a knowledgebase, forums and video tutorials. Of the DIY bundle, only the knowledgebase functions, and barely so. Video links are dead and the forums won’t connect.
The knowledgebase is a list of articles with no category organization. You can search by tag, but it’s shooting in the dark to find the article you’re looking for.
Articles are full of useful information, almost to a fault. For example, HostMonster extensively covers all aspects of email hosting in its “email application setup” article. All the information is there, so it’s curious that there’s no screenshots to accompany it.
The “getting started” section is more useful. It categorizes articles chronologically for the steps a beginner should take to build a website. It’s not the best form of categorization we’ve seen, but we’d prefer this layout in the knowledgebase over the one that’s there.
We would normally point you toward the forums as a way to solve complex problems not answered in the knowledgebase. We’re not sure if HostMonster took them down or there were recent connection issues, but we couldn’t connect despite several attempts.
The video tutorials section is full of dead links. The articles that accompany them are much better than those in the knowledgebase, though. There are step-by-step instructions and plenty of screenshots to follow along. Like the “getting started” section, we’d like to see this article form in the knowledgebase.
HostMonster’s best form of support is direct. Chat and phone support are efficient, picking up and transferring you around with ease. We have no issues here.
That’s not enough for HostMonster to score well in this round, though. The forums are dead, video links are gone and the knowledgebase is a mess. HostMonster needs to fix these areas for support to be decent.
As a sister company to Bluehost, HostMonster is embarrassing. Prices are too high, speeds are too slow and support is too scarce to justify any plan. With all these issues, it may be better just to host your own website (check out our guide on how to host your own website if you want to learn that).
For a serious web host that doesn’t suffer from the issues HostMonster does, check out.