iPage Review: Web Hosting
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|Inexpensive one-year plan and fast server response time; uptime not the best; exclusive discount|
[Editor's note: For a limited time only, iPage is discounting web hosting even further for our readers, offering $1.99/month for two or three years of hosting. There's no coupon necessary, just follow any of the links to iPage from NextAdvisor.com.]
Just like Hostmonster and BlueHost, iPage and FatCow are closely related, and the two hosts both offer many of the same tools, including a ShopSite ecommerce program and the CM4all WebsiteCreator. Though the interfaces may look nearly identical, there are a few differences, including price and performance.
At $1.99/month with our discount, iPage is among the cheapest of the web hosts we've reviewed. Domain registration is free for the first year, but if you want to keep your registration info out of the public record, domain privacy will cost you $9.99 per year. Still, it's good price, though the bargain comes at some hits to performance.
If you're not satisfied with the service, there's a 30-day money back guarantee for your hosting fees. If you do cancel in that period, you'll pay $35, mostly for the domain, which you will keep. If you cancel after 30 days, you'll get a refund for the remaining unused months, minus the above-mentioned fee.
iPage uses vDeck, a control panel based on Plesk for site management. Add-ons, such as blogs, galleries, and forums are implemented through InstallCentral. It offers a lot of what the ubiquitous Fantastico script manager does, but it's much easier on the eyes. We were able to install Wordpress, the popular blogging platform, with ease. iPage also incorporates Google's Webmaster tools into the control panel. This helps you manage your Google site map and spend the included Google ad credits.
Beginning web designers will love the Weebly Drag and Drop Builder. It's actually very fun to use, with animated WYSIWYG simplicity. The free version included with iPage limits you to 6 pages, and doesn't have built-in ecommerce capabilities. Still, it will have you up-and-running quickly with a nice-looking, feature-rich web site that can hold a blog, youtube videos, audio, and a Flickr slideshow.
There's also the capable but somewhat kludgy CM4all WebsiteCreator that you can use, but we like Weebly better. Alternately, of course, you can upload your own site. If you need to sell goods online, the included ShopSite program is extremely easy to use, and is great for novice web merchants.
For advanced users, iPage offers unlimited MySQL databases to power features, as well as support for Perl, SSI, PHP, CGI, ASP and Python programming. iPage shared hosting accounts use Linux servers and do not offer shell access (SSH). You can host unlimited domains with your iPage account.
iPage's most distinguishing feature is the incorporation of a basic SiteLock Security Suite. SiteLock bills itself as "Security for Small Business" and provides a badge indicating site trustworthiness (somewhat similar to TRUSTe or Verisign). SiteLock provides very basic verification of your credentials (via your phone number) and performs a daily scan for malware and one complimentary scan for SQL Injections and cross-site scripting vulnerabilities 90 days after activation. If your site is safe, you get to display the SiteLock badge. It's good peace of mind, though complete protection from these threats would probably require more frequent scanning (which is why they encourage you to upgrade to the $199 per year plan). Still, it's hard to complain as it's a free service not provided by other web hosts.
With an easy site-builder, a polished control panel, and simple one-click installations, iPage is very usable. iPage works a lot like FatCow, so if that is a familiar interface, you should be very happy with iPage. The vDeck control panel keeps frequently-used features front and center, and iPage's help documentation is thorough and well organized.
iPage is a mixed bag in the performance department. Its response time is better than average, but, rather paradoxically, its download speeds are disappointing. When we tested download speed for a 77 MB file, most of our top hosts completed the download in about a minute (you can see times for all the hosts we review in the web hosting report card). iPage took 4 minutes and 38 seconds to complete the download. Worse still are its uptime numbers, which are well below the average in our tests. See the chart below for details. For uptime, higher percentages are better. For all others, lower numbers indicate better performance.
iPage Web Hosting test data:
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- iPage Review
Here is NextAdvisor's review of iPage: http://www.nextadvisor.com/web_hosting/ipage_web_hosting_review.php