Network Solutions Review: Web Hosting
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|Good price and great performance, but a few quirks keep it from being a gold standard; offers Windows hosting|
[Editor's note: Network Solutions is offering NextAdvisor visitors a discount on web hosting, bringing the price down from $12.95 to $3.99 per month for any term. Just enter the code HOST0006AF at checkout to take advantage of this offer.]
We can sum up Network Solutions in three simple words: Inexpensive. Reliable. Limited. It's a web hosting service with lots of useful, interesting features, but can be weighed down by a confusing user interface and a sometimes difficult site builder.
Basic web hosting with Network Solutions costs $2.99 per month with our NextAdvisor discount. The basic plan includes free domain registration for 10 years, though Network Solutions does charge $9.99/year for domain privacy, which will hide your personal information (address, e-mail and phone number).
For an additional $6.99/month, you can make your website mobile ready. ECommerce features do not come standard, so if you want to make an online store, you will have to either upgrade your package or consider a different hosting solution. Network Solutions also has a "Special Offers" tab that gives you updates on features that are currently being discounted.
Network Solutions offers a site builder that has a wide range of options, templates and features to help you build a somewhat robust website. Sadly, the builder lacks when it comes to response time and user friendliness. In some instances, we were unable to click on certain features, such as the text-editing tool, and had to refresh the entire page to gain access.
The other features range from RSS feeds to on-site blogs, and everything in between. The one thing that Network Solutions doesn't skimp on is features, although some do cost extra. The site includes site statistics to keep track of your traffic, and security to protect your site, rounding out the basic web hosting package.
Unlike other web hosts, Network Solutions doesn't offer a shopping cart option as part of its basic web hosting package. If you want to build an ecommerce site, there is a separate section with different pricing. The most basic online store on Network Solutions is $29.95/month.
Network Solutions has a few restrictions that may pose a problem for the most advanced users. Users are limited to hosting just three domains on a single account, and can use only 25 MySQL databases, which may restrict feature-heavy sites. Network Solutions does not offer shell access (SSH) for advanced administration.
On the plus side, Network Solutions allows each user 1000 email addresses and supports an unusually wide array of programming languages, including PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails, Zend, JSP, ASP, NET, Perl, CGI, SSI and Java. The company also offers users a choice between Windows and Linux hosting, which is very unusual in shared hosting.
One of the best things about Network Solutions is how simple the setup is. Pick your plan. Choose your domain, which is free for 10 years. Pay, and then you are ready to start building a website! The site even takes you to some FAQs about building your site that proved very informative. You also have the option to bypass those and dig right in.
Network Solutions' interface looks very sleek and user-friendly, and for the most part it is. But it is easy to get lost or confused with their wide range of options, many of which are labeled similarly. Also, many of the features use pop-up windows and software that doesn't always integrate well with the site, causing delays, work-arounds, and other inconveniences, especially for browsers that are not compatible. On the plus side, Network Solutions often goes out of its way to explain any issues or confusion with the interface, which makes the process a little easier.
Network Solutions did very well in our wide range of performance tests, although we have only been testing its performance for a short time. It recorded very little downtime, and had one of the fastest response times of all the web hosting services we reviewed. For uptime, higher percentages are better. For all others, lower numbers indicate better performance.
Support can be tricky with Network Solutions. On the plus side, they offer a wide range of ways to get in touch with their support team, as well as a detailed and organized interface to help you locate your problem more quickly. On the down side, their chat feature was down both times we tried to use it (but kept popping up asking if we needed help when we didn't), and you need to manage their maze of automated messages before you can get a live person. If you don't want to wait for a live person, Network Solutions offers MyTime Support, which is a paid service that connects you with a live support person who can help with issues that aren't covered by their basic support coverage. Between all of these features, the support we received was extensive and helpful.
Though it comes at a good price, there are a few quirks here and there when dealing with Network Solutions, including their sometimes hard to use website builder. But for the most part, Network Solutions is a solid web hosting service that performs well and is reliable, with exceptional programming language support and the option of Windows hosting. If you are looking for an inexpensive, reliable web hosting service or you need the option of a Windows host, check out Network Solutions.
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Here is NextAdvisor's review of Network Solutions: http://www.nextadvisor.com/web_hosting/networksolutions_web_hosting_review.php