WestHost is a UK-based web hosting provider owned by the UK2 Group. UK2 Group owns a few brands, including VPS.net and Midphase, but, thankfully, it doesn’t have the shady practices of Endurance International Group. Despite that, WestHost has a ways to go before being considered for our best web hosting guide.
In this WestHost review, we’re going to detail our experience with the service. We launched a website with its shared plan and installed a blank version of WordPress to test speed, usability and features. After talking about where it excels and lacks, we’ll give our verdict.
WestHost has pros, but the cons are too numerous to ignore. The speed needs work, as do the features, and though the price is low enough, you’ll end up spending extra to get a full plan. Even so, the WordPress packages are impressive, so it may be a contender for you.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Excellent managed WordPress plans
- Included search engine optimization tools
- Cloudflare integration
- Responsive support
- Free domain privacy
- Few features on shared plans
- Few security features
- Nagging to purchase add-ons
Alternatives for WestHost
WestHost has a lot of features, but depending on the plan you buy, many may not be included. Shared hosting is skimpy in that regard, providing only the bare minimum required to get you online. That said, if you jump for a WordPress plan or higher, you’ll enjoy a long list of features.
Starting with the shared plans, the features are more expectations than anything. You get unlimited email addresses, a free domain on shared plans above the first tier and an SSL/TLS certificate on the highest shared tier. The only feature of note is the search engine optimization tools, which, though useful, can be acquired on your own.
WordPress plans are more impressive, though, even rivaling some of the picks in our best web hosting for WordPress guide. You get full solid-state drive storage, Cloudflare, automatic malware removal, daily backups and a host of free WordPress themes. The themes are dated, but they’re free, so it’s hard to complain.
There’s also a website builder, and a basic version of it is included with all hosting packages. The free plan is restricted when it comes to pages, designs, email addresses and more, but it’s enough to get you off your feet. That said, the paid versions are expensive and not worth it.
If you’re looking for a website builder, read our best website builders guide. Wix ranks at the top of the list (read our Wix review).
WestHost is focused on the add-ons. They include SiteLock, managed malware removal services, SEO Guru and an advanced version of Cloudflare. Though those services are great, it’d be nice to see deeper integration with the hosting lineup.
For example, SiteLock Basic on all plans would make upgrades more attractive, especially after users see what the service does for their website. Instead, you get an a la carte experience in which you never feel like you’ve purchased a full package. The features aren’t lacking, they’re just introduced too high up the chain.
WestHost Features Overview
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As mentioned, WestHost’s shared plans are light on features, and that doesn’t bode well when it comes to price. The shared plans are much cheaper than Arvixe’s (read our Arvixe review), but you can get more for your money elsewhere.
Shared plans are offered in one, two and three-year durations, as well as three months. Thankfully, WestHost is transparent the listed price only being for the initial term and makes it clear throughout checkout what you’ll be paying upon renewal. Even so, it prices the three-month plan at $1 more than the renewal price with most providers.
The initial term is cheap enough, but you can get a steeper discount with Hostinger (read our Hostinger review). The basic plan renews at around $8 per month, which, though not bad, is a couple bucks more than the competition. If you’re looking for cheap web hosting, though, it’s best to go with a provider such as iPage (read our iPage review).
iPage is around the same price, but features make the difference. WestHost isn’t too far above market, but the fact that the shared plans feel barren when it comes to features makes them less attractive.
WordPress plans are a much better deal, considering they come in around the same price with many more features. Plus, there’s no price hike on WordPress plans if you go for less than a year, and they’re offered monthly.
Out of the lineup, WordPress and VPS plans are best, with the shared and dedicated options offering little value for their prices. Even so, transparency wins the day. WestHost is inexpensive enough to be competitive, while also being clear about its pricing scheme, which is a win in our book.
Plus, your purchase is backed for 30 days. Though InMotion Hosting offers a longer refund window, WestHost’s month-long period suffices (read our InMotion Hosting review).
Ease of Use
Signing up for WestHost is a breeze — after you choose a plan. Much like GoDaddy, WestHost has a lot going on, and that can make it difficult to find what you need (read our GoDaddy review). Even so, once you get your bearings, the website isn’t too hard to navigate.
Checkout from that point is standard. You’ll select the duration you want to purchase, choose add-ons and register or point to a domain. After completing the purchase, WestHost will send you to an order confirmation screen where you can set your password.
Like Kinsta, WestHost is an enclosed system, meaning you don’t need to tab away from the website to finish setting up your account (read our Kinsta review). WestHost will send you an order confirmation email, but you don’t need to open it to set up your account. Though that seems minor, it makes the user experience much more fluid.
You’ll then be directed to the control panel, which WestHost calls CHI. You won’t be able to use it immediately, though, because WestHost has to add your website to the server and configure the control panel, so it takes a few minutes for that information to update. You could sit and refresh the page, but WestHost will send you an email when CHI is set up.
CHI isn’t cPanel, which may be a negative if you’re familiar with that interface (read our best web hosting with cPanel guide). Still, WestHost’s proprietary design works well, even if it isn’t as fluid as, say, Pagely (read our Pagely review). cPanel is included, too, but tracking it down is difficult.
That’s because most of CHI is built around purchasing other products. The left-side menu has tabs for every product WestHost offers, and the ones you don’t have will be greyed out. Clicking them sends you to a product page.
We’re not saying WestHost is just advertising through CHI, but it’s unlikely you’ll have more than two or three enabled sections in the left-side menu. Focus is the problem. For web hosting management, you simply get a small, top menu that, once again, includes add-ons for your service.
In the end, it’s difficult to find the information that’s important, which means navigating to cPanel is a chore. There should be a button or quick link for website management, instead of a barrage of advertisements. For example, a newcomer may assume the “WordPress” tab is where you install WordPress, only to be met with a product page.
cPanel is the same as you’ve always known it. Tabs are easy to get around, and the icon-based listing of items makes it simple to find what you need. That said, the Softaculous app installer is buried toward the bottom, so it can be difficult to install the platform you want.
CHI is a billing panel, but it looks like more, and that can be deceiving. It’s almost all smoke and mirrors, redirecting you to checkout pages rather than showing the important information you need for managing your website. That’s no more clearly illustrated than it is with navigating to cPanel.
WestHost offers shared, VPS and dedicated hosting, along with a managed WordPress option. Though the lineup is comprehensive, it doesn’t reach the ranks of HostGator, mainly because it lacks cloud hosting (read our HostGator review). Even so, managed WordPress is nice to see.
Shared plans, which WestHost refers to as “web hosting,” put multiple websites on the same server. Those websites share the computing resources of the server, which saves the web host money. Though a great entry point into web hosting, shared hosting usually comes with speed and uptime limitations.
With WestHost, though, there are more limitations. As mentioned, the three tiers of shared hosting don’t include many goodies, making the already dull package even less attractive.
Much more attractive are the managed WordPress plans, which use a shared architecture, too. Once again, WestHost offers three tiers, but across them, there are features such as website backup, automatic malware removal and SSD storage. Though not quite as good as SiteGround’s managed plans (read our SiteGround review), WestHost is great for WordPress.
VPS plans are next in the chain, and WestHost allows for several configurations based on your needs. Virtual private servers, as they’re called, use a shared architecture, but allot your website a dedicated amount of resources. That means you benefit from the cost-saving measures of shared hosting while getting the resilience of dedicated hosting.
WestHost’s VPS plans are outfitted with full SSD storage, 200-gigabit network capacity and a dedicated IPv4 address (read our IPv4 vs. IPv6 guide). You have control over the operating system, too, so if you’re not a fan of Linux and cPanel, you can use Windows and VDesk.
At the top are dedicated servers, which WestHost calls “WestHost Pro.” Dedicated web hosting gives you a server all to yourself, allowing you to use its resources and network capacity. There are three dedicated options, but the split is strange. For example, the Xeon E3-1231v3 processor in the cheapest D2 server performs better than the Xeon E5-2620v2 in the flagship.
Cloud hosting, which allows your website to call upon a network of servers for additional resources as needed, is missing from the lineup. It’s an increasingly popular solution, especially for WordPress, so it’s a shame WestHost doesn’t offer it.
Speed & Uptime
We tested WestHost’s speed using Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact with a blank version of WordPress installed on the most inexpensive shared plan. Though our results show the low end of the service, they provide a solid baseline for how well you can expect it to perform.
Unfortunately, WestHost is a long way from A2 Hosting when it comes to speed (read our A2 Hosting review). It scored an 84 out of 100 from Pingdom Speed Test, which is unimpressive. Though a B sounds decent, we’re testing a blank version of WordPress, meaning there should be few hurdles on our end.
Digging into the data backs that up. The “wait” metric, which measures how long it takes for the browser to start receiving data after sending requests, accounted for most of the time. While that’s normally true, WestHost had a longer than average wait time.
Load Impact wasn’t much better. Though WestHost started strong, the response time became high after only a few virtual users. Load Impact sends virtual users to the server over a specified period of time to see how it performs when put under pressure. At five minutes long with 50 virtual users, our test is modest and, as such, suitable for testing inexpensive shared hosting.
WestHost couldn’t handle the pressure, though. The response time spiked at around 25 virtual users and flatlined from there. That suggests the server was overloaded with requests and unable to fulfill them.
That translates to slow speed under any traffic load. In some cases, that may mean your website will be unreachable. Though that’s expected on shared hosting for any substantial load, our modest simulation should be no problem. The fact that WestHost broke almost immediately isn’t a good sign.
Much like the rest of the features, the security features are good, but you probably won’t have access to them. The shared plans are almost devoid of security features, unless you’re buying the most expensive plan, and even then, the lineup isn’t too impressive.
The most expensive shared plan comes with an SSL/TLS certificate, which, though good, should be introduced earlier in the range. SSL/TLS certificates are becoming standard with most web hosting platforms, especially as browsers push to bury unsecure websites.
Oddly, all the WordPress plans include one, despite being cheaper than the shared range. In fact, all the WordPress security features are better. In addition to an SSL/TLS certificate, you get automatic malware scanning and removal, Cloudflare and backups.
Even so, there’s the issue of advertisements. Like SEO Guru, WestHost constantly asks if you want to purchase Cloudflare Plus or a version of SiteLock. Those are excellent tools for securing your website, and we wanted to see them included with at least a few plans.
Our conclusion for this section is similar to that of features. Everything is present, but you’ll end up paying more to gain access to the range. We’d like to see basic versions of the security features on the shared plans, especially when the cheaper WordPress plans include them.
Though it’d be great to just recommend the WordPress plans, that isn’t the platform for everyone, which limits the options at WestHost. The security features on shared plans are nearly non-existent, while the WordPress plans have an impressive lineup. If those features could carry to the shared plans, this section would be an easy win.
WestHost is one of only a few web hosts that understand how important privacy is to web hosting. In fact, WestHost points out a few of the many reasons you’d want to keep your web hosting information private, including business competitors, mass-scale data harvesting and, in some cases, even stalkers.
That starts with domain privacy, which replaces your personal information with information from the registrar. When you purchase a domain, you’re required to create a WHOIS record, which shows your name, email address, phone number and more. That information can be overwritten with domain privacy, though.
WestHost is among the few that include domain privacy for free. That shows that, like DreamHost, WestHost handles privacy as a right and not a service, which is good in our eyes (read our DreamHost review). It’s offered for the first year when you register a new domain with WestHost. Existing domains will still need to pay a $10 fee.
It makes it clear, though, that it doesn’t “sell User personal information to third parties.”
There’s a dedicated support section of CHI, which makes it easy to find the contact options and self-help resources WestHost offers. For contact, you get links to submit a ticket or start a live chat, with the department hours listed nearby. You also get a phone support PIN if you need to get on the phone with a rep.
Our experience with live chat was excellent. WestHost was prompt and accommodating, fixing the issues we had with DNS records without a second thought. Given how complex web hosting is, it’s nice to see support reps who are willing to go in and fix an issue rather than redirecting you to a knowledgebase entry.
That said, we had to talk to a rep a second time after our website didn’t go live. Rather than checking the DNS records to see if propagation was complete — which it wasn’t — the rep asked us about IP addresses of servers WestHost manages. Our two experiences show different sides of WestHost, so you may not get the best support.
Below the contact options, there’s a bar to search the knowledgebase, which, though useful, isn’t a suitable replacement for a link to the knowledgebase. The knowledgebase isn’t bad, but it looks unfinished. There’s a strange labeling system that pulls up related articles in an unattractive fashion, and each entry has the Google Docs logo next to it.
Aesthetic concerns aside, the articles are useful. WestHost includes a table of contents, step-by-step instructions and screenshots for the complex topics and straightforward answers for the simple ones. Plus, articles are organized into a hierarchy, so it’s simple to collapse a category and navigate elsewhere.
A few tutorials have videos, too. Thankfully, they’re recorded with good audio quality and clear instructions.
That said, the consistency of direct support could use work. Perhaps that’s just a consequence of trying to solve issues over live chat, but that should be a concern for WestHost, not you. Outside of that, the knowledgebase doesn’t look great, but it functions well, with clear navigation and detailed entries.
WestHost is difficult to evaluate. The prices aren’t bad, though the features aren’t impressive on shared plans, and the control panel is accessible, but it feels like a massive advertisement more than anything. WordPress users are in luck, though, with WestHost featuring one of the more impressive managed WordPress ranges we’ve seen.
Even so, that crowd should be narrow, especially with WestHost’s mediocre speed results. It’s not a bad provider, but you can get more for your money elsewhere.
What do you think of WestHost? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.