Lunarpages Review: Web Hosting
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|Easy online site builder for beginners but tricky control panel; strong performance, offers Windows hosting|
Lunarpages, while falling into the median price range for web hosting, has a pretty strong array of features. Beginners will appreciate a great sitebuilder, while more advanced users may take advantage of the choice in server operating systems and broad support for programming languages. However, we weren't in love with the in-house control panel and worry about usability issues and their lack of 24-hour support. A number of add-on charges, including the $7.95 annual charge for domain privacy (something we strongly recommend for individuals, and which some web hosts offer for free), may also be a stumbling block.
Hosting with the Lunarpages Basic Hosting Plan is $4.95 a month for five years, and free domain registration is included for the first year only; you'll be paying $19.95 per year after that. If five years is too long of a commitment, you can do one year at $8.95 per month for the web hosting.
The data storage and bandwidth are "unlimited", meaning that you can upload as much as you want, and take as many users as the web is likely to throw at you, provided the web host doesn't find it excessive. This is pretty standard with web hosts and shouldn't be a problem for casual users with personal sites or small businesses.
Lunarpages offers a fairly standard 30-day money-back guarantee, though after that there's no pro-rated refund offered. As with other web hosts, the refund policy does not include the cost of domain registration, which is $19.95 here. You will retain the domain name even if you cancel your hosting.
Lunarpages charges extra for a number of features we've found for free elsewhere. For example, advanced users who want shell access will pay $2 a month extra, and those who want to upgrade from the default Lunarpages Control Panel to a standard cPanel interface will also pay an additional charge.
Lunarpages' strongest offering is its Pagemason site builder that offers true WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) site design. Like all sitebuilders, it offers you a number of templates to drop your text into. Editing the text is easy and intuitive, though the templates aren't the nicest we've seen. Beginners could have a simple site up-and-running within an hour, and overall the sitebuilder experience was very positive.
Wordpress was also easily installed, as was Zen Cart. We had no trouble setting up a new email address through the Lunarpages Control Panel, but logging into webmail proved to be a challenge because of the tricky control panel interface.
For advanced users, Lunarpages offers a choice between Windows and Linux hosting, which is an unusual bonus for shared hosting accounts. For an additional $2 a month, experienced webmasters can also get shell access (SSH). Lunarpages hosting can support coding in PHP, CGI, Perl, Python, Ruby on Rails and SSI, and users have access to unlimited MySQL databases. Though you may pay a few additional charges, Lunarpages is a reasonably good choice for the advanced webmaster.
We have significant concerns about Lunarpages' standard control panel, the Lunarpages Control Panel (LPCP). Though we've spent a lot of time testing and using a wide range of web hosts, we had a very difficult time finding basic features like webmail with Lunarpages. Although customer support was friendly and helpful, we also had trouble retrieving lost login information and found the separate interfaces for billing, support and the control panel needlessly complex. If we were using Lunarpages on a personal site, we'd seriously consider paying the extra fee to upgrade to cPanel or switching to one of the many web hosts that offer it for free for all users.
In terms of reliability and bandwidth, Lunarpages is slightly better than average. See the chart below for details. For uptime, higher percentages are better. For all others, lower numbers indicate better performance.
Lunarpages test data:
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