1&1 Web Hosting Review: Web Hosting
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|A good bargain with strong tools and Windows hosting, but the outsourced support is only average|
[Editor's Note: 1&1 is currently offering NextAdvisor readers a discount on all their plans, bringing the price of unlimited hosting down from $8.99 per month to $4.99 per month and a basic hosting plan down to just $1.99 per month for the first 3 years. Just click on any NextAdvisor link to 1&1 to take advantage of these great deals.]
With reasonable pricing and a long money-back guarantee period, 1&1 can be a good deal for hosting customers, particularly those who need the option of shared hosting on a Windows server. With 1&1's Unlimited plan, users get unlimited storage space and bandwidth, as well as a whole host of other options to further customize a website.
1&1 also offers a great user interface, free domain privacy, and an easy site builder. A bonus for some will be 1&1's commitment to green hosting through its purchase of renewable energy credits.
With our current discount, unlimited 1&1 hosting costs $4.99 per month for the first year, and $8.99 per month after that. 1&1 includes free domain registration for the first year, though you'll have to pay to renew your domain after that. The company offers free domain privacy, but they do charge a $4.99 set-up fee.
1&1's WebsiteBuilder is one of the smoothest and most intuitive site builders you're likely to find. There's a basic free version included with the plan that allows you to build a 12-page site. A more robust version is available for $9.99 per month, but we think most users will be satisfied with the free version. It's a truly WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) site constructor; click on a graphic or a piece of text you want to edit and you'll immediately be able to make changes. The website creator is so fully-featured that it feels (and looks) much more like a program on your PC than it does a web application. So you'll have plenty of options, though you will spend a bit of time learning how they all fit together. As a site creator, it's one of the top options available, right up there with Yahoo! and Hostgator.
1&1 only offers one tool for ecommerce, unlike some of the other hosts we've reviewed. That said, it's a pretty good option. There's a scaled-down free version, which does not include PayPal integration and a few other features, or you can pay $15.00 per month to upgrade to the full version. We found the free option to be very easy to use. Best of all, it works just like every other component available from 1&1. If you've already designed your site using their site builder, eZShop will be very familiar. On the downside, the design tool is a little slow, but the process is so intuitive that we don't consider it a big strike. That said, users who are serious about ecommerce may want to take a look at another hosting company with more store-building tools included.
1&1 is one of just a few hosting companies we've reviewed that gives users a choice of Windows or Linux servers for shared hosting. For most beginning users, this shouldn't matter, but for those who want to use Windows-only tools, it may be a valuable feature. 1&1 also gives users shell access (SSH), which means advanced webmasters have more flexibility. However, they may come up lacking for those who need a lot of MySQL databases, since these plans are limited to 25 databases. 1&1 also limits users to a generous 500 email addresses per account and up to 50 domains.
For the most part, 1&1 impressed us because it works so well in its own cohesive 1&1 universe. 1&1 does not offer a collection of third-party add-ons, but an integrated management environment (so much so that the Wordpress blogging app is not called Wordpress, but the 1&1 blog). While not as step-by-step intuitive as Yahoo! Small Business, it's very well thought-out. While there's a slight learning curve, it all makes sense.
For all these great features there are some problems. The add-ons can be a bit sluggish, but the features are nice enough that we don't mind. We're also not thrilled that 1&1 wants to create every component at a subdomain, instead of at a directory on the main domain. It's a small issue, but potential users should be aware that if they want to use multiple modules such as a gallery, blog, and a SiteBuilder site, they will have to be done on multiple subdomains, something easily done, but a little inconvenient.
One other minor caveat: 1&1 puts monetized error pages on your site by default. They're easy to turn off, and 1&1 is transparent about this, letting you know all about them in the sign-up letter. We wish we'd turned them off in the beginning as they did cause confusion for us, since 1&1 actually places its own index.html page in your web directory.
From a performance standpoint, 1&1 does rather well in all departments, but is particularly notable for its uptime. See the chart below for details. For uptime, higher percentages are better. For all others, lower numbers indicate better performance.
1&1 offers 24/7 support by phone and email. Though the lines were answered rather quickly, the quality and friendliness of the outsourced support varied the three times we called. While the support personnel were patient, the quality was not up to what we've encountered with other web hosts like Yahoo!, FatCow, or HostMonster.
1&1 does give you a 90-day money back guarantee, a pretty lengthy period of time to make your decision.
We like 1&1's user interface and performance, but the support quality is definitely something to consider, as are limitations on ecommerce tools and databases for advanced users. We were also unhappy that the host placed ads on our error pages without letting us know. That said, the company can be a solid choice for those who need Window hosting with high performance and can live with a the downsides.
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