Midphase is a web hosting company owned by UK2 Group, which is a UK-based provider of internet services owned by The Hut Group. Corporate structuring aside, Midphase is a decent web hosting provider — almost a carbon copy of its sibling WestHost, in fact — but it won’t be making our best web hosting guide.
In this Midphase review, we’re going to walk through our experience after taking the host out for a test spin. Along the way, we’ll touch on features, pricing, user friendliness, speed, security and more before giving our verdict.
Midphase isn’t a bad provider. The prices are good, the features are plentiful and the privacy is excellent. That said, the mediocre speed results and disjointed user friendliness make it feel less than when pitted against our top dogs.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Excellent website building tools
- Full-featured WordPress plans
- Free domain privacy
- Prompt support
- Cloud hosting offered
- Ads in billing panel
- Little to no features on shared plans
Alternatives for Midphase
Midphase has a lot of features, but as we’ve noted with other UK2 Group products, they’re dispersed strangely. The shared plans are nearly devoid of features, or at least the ones we typically look for. Though a private .htaccess file and the Softaculous app installer are technically features, they’re standard on most shared plans.
Contrasted with the semi-managed WordPress plans, which are cheaper, it’s as if the shared plans don’t have features at all. WordPress plans come with a lot, including thousands of free themes, full solid-state drive storage, website backups and automatic malware detection and removal.
Fifty of the themes come from Midphase, and they’ve been “optimized” for that platform. While we’ll never turn down free CSS, most of the themes feel dated. There are gems among the lot, but if you’re looking for a design outside of those parameters, you’ll probably need to spring for a paid theme.
Groaning aside, the WordPress plans are the most impressive in the lineup. Midphase includes more features than most WordPress hosts, unless you’re going with a cloud WordPress solution, such as Pagely (read our Pagely review).
If you’d rather not build with WordPress, there’s a website builder available, but it’s no match for our best website builders. It’s better than GoDaddy GoCentral (read our GoDaddy GoCentral review), but it’s a country mile from our top-rated pick, Wix (read our Wix review).
That said, there’s a second “website builder” called StarterSite. It’s a website builder in that it’s a simple tool for launching a new page, but it isn’t as deep as the dedicated builder. StarterSite is focused on making single-page design as quick as possible, with Midphase claiming you can get online in as little as five minutes.
Plus, it’s included with every domain registration. If you register a new domain with Midphase, even if you don’t purchase web hosting, you can use StarterSite free of charge. Though it’s not an exceptional tool for building your website, the fact that you can use it with as little as a domain registration is nice.
Midphase Features Overview
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Midphase is cheaper than most web hosting providers, with its most inexpensive shared plan coming in around $7 at renewal. It doesn’t have as low of an initial price as Hostinger, but few web hosts do (read our Hostinger review). That said, some of the more expensive plans feel overpriced.
Shared hosting is offered in one, two or three-year durations, and you’ll have to purchase one of those to get the promotional price. The Personal and Business tiers offer a three-month subscription that’s priced at the renewal rate, as well, and all three tiers include a monthly option that’s $1 more.
We like that Midphase doesn’t force you into a multi-year contract like, say, Bluehost (read our Bluehost review). The transparency is nice, too. Midphase is clear about what you’ll pay when you sign up and when you renewal. Though it sounds small, being unclear about renewal rates can cause issues down the line (read our Arvixe review to see how).
Compared to the rest of the market, Midphase is cheap, but it still has an internal struggle. As mentioned, it’s light on features when it comes to shared plans, but the WordPress plans are impressive. Though it’s not unheard of to make the WordPress plans more well rounded than shared, the price for them at Midphase is cheaper.
You get many more features for less money, making the WordPress plans stand out in the lineup. That said, if you’re not interested in building on WordPress, you may have to settle for a more expensive, less feature-rich package.
Shared and WordPress plans are the focus of Midphase. Though the VPS plans aren’t bad, either, the cloud and dedicated packages are expensive, especially upon renewal. For example, the most expensive dedicated server starts at around $200, but it renews at nearly $500.
We try not to put too much weight on those expensive plans, though, because most people in the market for a dedicated server know what they’re looking for.
Your purchase is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is standard for most web hosts. Though we like to see longer refund windows, such as InMotion Hosting’s 90-day policy or A2 Hosting’s anytime policy, a month should be plenty to try the service (read our InMotion Hosting review).
Ease of Use
You’d be forgiven for thinking Midphase is WestHost. The sibling brands have a lot in common as is, but their websites are carbon copies of each other. The same navigation is present, as are the stock photos, and if you’ve read our WestHost review, you know that’s not necessarily a good thing.
It’s not a bad thing, either, though. Midphase suffers from similar issues to GoDaddy in that it offers a lot of services (read our GoDaddy review). Because of that, finding the hosting you want can be difficult, especially when equal weight is put on all the services.
Once you’ve found a plan, checkout is fluid. Midphase asks you to register a new domain or select one you already own and proceeds with processing your payment. You’ll also be asked to set a password immediately after checkout, much like Kinsta, meaning you won’t have to tab away to your email to find your login details (read our Kinsta review).
After that, you can log in to CHI, which is Midphase’s billing panel. It doesn’t look like that at first, though. CHI has a lot going on, so it’s easy to assume that it’s the main way you manage your website. If you want to get into the details on your databases, files and more, though, you’ll need to use cPanel (read our best web hosting with cPanel guide).
That said, navigating to cPanel is tricky. CHI has a large focus on selling you additional products, with the main form of navigation reserved for different product pages. The large icons contrasted with the tiny top menu in your web hosting management section shows what CHI’s focus is.
Even so, it’s hard to knock CHI, especially with how useful it is. Midphase is interested in advertising additional products to you, but CHI is intuitive and helpful. That said, there’s a lot of advertising fat that has yet to be trimmed, which makes CHI look like a more powerful tool than it is.
Much more powerful is cPanel, which is buried in the top menu of the web hosting management section. It’s a stock build of cPanel, so don’t expect deep integration with WordPress like you get with JustHost (read our JustHost review). Even so, it’s still cPanel, meaning it’s a powerful and intuitive dashboard for managing your website.
There’s a lot of good and a bit of bad when it comes to Midphase’s user-friendliness. We like the design of CHI, even if it’s bloated with advertisements, and using cPanel to manage your website is always a safe bet. It feels like Midphase has a solid foundation that has been overworked, so some stripping back could go a long way.
Midphase has every type of hosting we could ask for. Though the dedicated servers don’t impress, the shared and WordPress plans are great. The addition of cloud hosting is nice to see, too, because many of Midphase’s competitors don’t offer it.
Shared hosting is the core of the lineup. This type of hosting makes multiple websites share the resources of a single server. Because the web host can host more websites with fewer servers, shared plans are the most inexpensive of the bunch. Unfortunately, though, there are occasional speed and uptime issues.
The managed WordPress plans use a shared structure, but they’re built for WordPress. You’ll still run into the same pitfalls as you would with a normal shared plan, but if you use WordPress, you’ll get access to specific features, such as free templates.
It’s important to note, though, that Midphase’s WordPress plans are only semi-managed. They include a simple three step WordPress installer and automatic non-core updates, but getting your website running with WordPress and updating its core are still on you. If you’re looking for a fully managed WordPress plan, read our best web hosting for WordPress guide.
Midphase offers configurable VPS plans that aren’t great for the price, but at least you can choose the data center you’re hosted from. The dedicated servers are expensive, too, with similarly specced servers at other providers costing $20-$30 less.
The big addition to the lineup is cloud hosting. Your site is still hosted on a single server, but that server is connected to an underlying network of servers and has the ability to pull resources from them. In short, that means you’ll always have access to your set of computing resources, no matter if you’re experiencing an outage, distributed denial-of-service attack or traffic spike.
Speed & Uptime
We test web hosting speed using Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact. While there are a lot of factors that go into how fast your website loads, the host bears some responsibility. By testing a blank version of WordPress and using two tools to see the speed from different angles, we try to get as cohesive a grasp on speed as possible.
That due diligence isn’t doing favors for Midphase, though. It performed poorly across the board, earning an 84 out of 100 from Pingdom Speed Test. Though that score seems decent next to A2 Hosting’s 96 rating (read our A2 Hosting review), it’s important to remember that we tested a WordPress website that wasn’t loaded with anything but the default theme.
In short, that means any downward variation in score is a bad thing. Midphase took 1.95 seconds to load a 273.8KB page, with most of that time being spent on the browser waiting for data to flow from the server.
Load Impact wasn’t better. It sent 50 virtual users to the server over five minutes, measuring the requests fulfilled and response time for each user. Midphase started the test high, alternating between as low as 405 milliseconds and as high as 4.86 seconds for the few handfuls of virtual users.
As the test continued, the load time dropped off dramatically, stabilizing at around 500 ms. That’s because of responses not be fulfilled, though. Instead of attempting to fulfill the requests, they were met with errors, suggesting the server is at its breaking point.
When there aren’t enough resources for a website, there’s generally a lot of HTTP request failures. Our testing suggests that basic shared plans don’t have enough resources to go around, so any load of 50 simultaneous users or above would, at least based on our isolated example, break your website.
We couldn’t find an uptime guarantee, either. Despite claiming to offer your money back if you experience downtime in a 2015 blog post, we couldn’t find the clause in the terms and conditions that detail what uptime is guaranteed. We didn’t experience downtime, but Midphase doesn’t guarantee anything if you do in the terms and conditions.
Much like the regular features, the security features are good, if laid out strangely. The shared plans have little to nothing in the way of security, but the WordPress plans have a lot to offer. Even so, there’s one big hole in the security suite across both ranges.
Midphase doesn’t include an SSL/TLS certificate with your plan. That certificate basically tells the browser connecting to your website that it can be trusted. By confirming that, the browser is able to open an encrypted connection and protect the user data that’s being transferred to your website.
SSL/TLS certificates are essential for running a website because search engines will bury websites that don’t have one. Most web hosts include one for free — read our SIteGround review for an example — so Midphase’s omission is strange.
That said, Cloudflare is included across all plans. Our what is Cloudflare guide explains how the service works and its origins, but the short of it is that it can help make your website faster and more secure.
Basically, it’s a content delivery network, meaning it takes assets from your website and stores them on servers around the world. When someone tries to load your website, some assets will come from Cloudflare’s network rather than being fetched from the server.
By processing requests that way, it takes less time for your website to load because the physical distance of those assets is usually close to the user. It also makes your website more secure. The requests come through a network of servers, so DDoS attacks can be identified and stopped before reaching Midphase’s server.
That’s it for the shared plans, though. WordPress plans come with one solid security feature in the form of malware removal. Midphase includes a tool that’s basically an antivirus for your website, scanning and removing potential cybercrime-related garbage before it can take you offline.
The security suite is solid. Midphase includes malware removal, DDoS protection, backups and a CDN, but not all users will get those features. If you’re not interested in WordPress, you’re mostly out of luck when it comes to security. We like the features that are there, we’d just like to see more of them.
Midphase, like its sibling WestHost, cares about your privacy. It’s relieving to see a web hosting company that’s owned by a larger corporation still make the effort to conceal your personal information, unlike Endurance International Group (read our iPage review to learn about an EIG brand).
That starts with domain privacy. When you register a domain, you also register your personal information, including your email address, name, phone number and more. That information is stored in a database that’s publicly available online, making it a prime target for data mining.
That said, if you register your domain privately, you’ll bypass those issues. Your data is replaced with the registrar’s, meaning whenever someone looks up your domain record, they’ll see “Midphase” instead of your name. Midphase includes domain privacy with any new domain registration for the first year.
It’s not free like it is with DreamHost, though (read our DreamHost review). The first year is free, but you’ll be charged $10 per year after that. Despite that, Midphase is one of the few web hosts that offer domain privacy for any duration for free, which is a win in our book.
We use a different standard for web hosts’ privacy than we do for our VPN reviews, and Midphase is on the right side of the fence. Only a few brands seem concerned with privacy, with DreamHost and 1&1 IONOS at the forefront. It’s relieving to see Midphase join their ranks.
One of CHI’s strengths is that there’s a support button on the main screen. Navigating there will bring up your support page, which has links to submit an email request or start live chat and the hours of operation for each department. There’s also a section for your phone support PIN, should you need it.
Toward the bottom of the page is a recent support conversations section, which shows your correspondence with Midphase’s support over email. Though you can deal with the company directly via email, CHI gives you the ability to pull the record of your conversation and respond.
When we reached out, a rep got back to us in about four hours, which is good. Live chat is solid, too, even if it’s not on the level of SiteGround (read our SiteGround review). Direct contact is probably the best solution because the self-help resources, though useful, are clunky.
The knowledgebase is difficult to get around, despite the fact that the articles are detailed. Midphase has a solid knowledgebase from a content standpoint — articles are filled with screenshots, there’s step-by-step instruction, etc — but the dated navigation could use work.
Midphase is impressive when it comes to features if you choose the right plan. The price isn’t bad, either, but when speed is brought into the equation, it doesn’t look too hot. It’s not a bad web host, especially with the dedication to privacy and goodies with WordPress plans, but you can get a more well-rounded plan for the same price with another provider.
What do you think of Midphase? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.