Such a crazy and attractive name always manages to catch my attention. HostMonster’s cool factor doesn’t only rely on its name. Rather, it relies on years and years of experience, since the company was founded way back in 1996. That’s 21+ years of experience in providing people with web hosting services. It’s easy to think that these industry veterans know every knot and jolt of web hosting already and they really have their stuff together. Which is why we figured we should review them and see for ourselves, if so much experience is enough for them to come out on top of other industry leaders.
HostMonster is based in Provo, Utah, United States of America, where all support (phone, email and chat) and management is handled by their in-house team. Recently the company was purchased by the Endurance Group, who owns other big hosting companies and provide online services for over two million clients worldwide.
Now, let’s see what we have learnt!
So, what does a company learn and how does it establish itself after being around for 21 years? Did HostMonster put all that experience into coming out on top of other web hosts? Well, not really. Their services are decent but they don’t really compete with the new kids on the block. This dude has been around for quite some time, but youngsters like HostGator, InMotion and Siteground, far outweigh it in terms of service quality. Still, they’re worth taking a look at, because they might offer some services that will make launching and managing your website easier on the long term. I have pretty mixed feelings about HostMonster however. I’ll elaborate on them in the Pros and Cons sections below.
Plans & Pricing of HostMonster Plans
HostMonster has some pretty decent shared hosting plans. There are three of them, with each offering about what you would expect out of a not so mind-blowing company. They also provide managed VPS hosting from $19.99 to $59.99, which is a fair price if you’re running an online business and need the extra horsepower. But if you want to go all out, you can also check their dedicated hosting plans which have a price from $79.99 to $119.99 per month. In this article, I’ll be focusing more on their shared hosting plans, because that’s what most people are looking for.
HostMonster’s Shared Hosting
- Basic Plan – The simplest and cheapest hosting plan this company has to offer. It supports a single website, 5 email accounts, 25 subdomains, 50 GB of storage space and unlimited bandwidth. You can have it for $4.95 per month, which isn’t exactly the most cost effective solution I’ve seen.
- Plus Plan – This plan shows a sudden jump in the amount you’re offered. It provides you with support for 10 websites, 100 email accounts, and 50 sub domains and comes with 150 GB of storage space. This is quite impressive, considering that most companies provide support for only 2 websites within their second plan. You can get it for $6.95 per month, which is a reasonable offer.
- Prime Plan – This is HostMonster’s unlimited shared hosting plan, which offers unlimited storage, bandwidth, websites, sub domains and email accounts. It is on sale, so you can get this one too for $6.95 per month. It would regularly cost you $14.99 per month. It also comes with extra stuff such as $200 worth of Marketing offers and a few premium security options.
Like with any other hosting provider, you’ll also get a free domain name with any of the plans you buy.
These prices sound reasonable right? Yet, if have been looking around the web hosting market for long enough, you know that even okay prices are sometimes too good to be true. HostMonster is no different. They are full of pricing tricks that nobody likes. You’ll have to sign up for a three year term to get the advertised prices above. Otherwise the prices will be much higher. That’s a bummer huh? The sudden increase in price is enough to turn most people off. Also, these prices are only valid for “new” sign ups. If you’ll actually renew your plan, you’ll have to pay the “regular” inflated price every month, which just ends up making this company worse.
The quality of these services is quite decent. Server uptimes fall just past the industry standard, with an average uptime of 99.85%. It went as high as 100% in some months, but it never dropped from 99.80%. Like I said, this is decent enough to have your website running smoothly, but it isn’t a mind-blowing performance. The same is true for page loading times.
It takes about 1050 milliseconds for an average webpage to load on HostMonster’s servers which is lower than I would expect from a plan at this price. Some companies offer much faster loading times for a dollar less or more. So it’s worth looking around if you don’t want to settle for 1050 milliseconds.
HostMonster’s Customer Support
This is the spot where veterans really get to shine and show off that they know what they’re doing and what their customers want. Sadly, HostMonster doesn’t go that far. Instead they give us a decent, yet very inconsistent support. Although, they do know that they have to respond quickly in order to satisfy users. Which is why it doesn’t take them more than 5 minutes to respond on live chat. This tendency is rare among hosting companies and it should be well-respected.
The answers and conversations you’ll get from conversations with their representatives won’t exactly blow you away. But they will get the job done.
The only problem with HostMonster’s customer support, is the fact that they require you to go through a verification process before you can actually talk to somebody. It takes quite some time to do, which might turn many users off. These background checks have received mixed reviews from users, so I can’t say that they will be this reliable all the time. Be cautious and do your research if you’re looking to work with this company.
The Pros and Cons of Using HostMonster
I had high hopes for these veterans and saw their services as robust and reliable, but it’s important we base our opinions and decisions on facts. So, let’s see how my mixed feelings and opinions about HostMonster add up towards a conclusion.
Our experience with HostMonster is pretty decent, although their pricing leaves a lot to be desired. This is where things get interesting, as we try to uncover the negatives of using HostMonster’s services.
- Fast response from the customer support - I like it when a company treats every one of their clients as top priority. That's what we give them money for, right? HostMonster does well in this regard and responds very quickly once you've gone through a long verification process. Although, you should check out a few user reviews about it too.
- Solid security options - HostMonster has a nice lineup of security software to help you in the battle against the most common threats to a website. WordPress sites are one of the most frequently hacked ones, and it's important that you have all the protection you can get. For this, HostMonster offers features such as SSH Access, Hotlink Protection, regular site backups and Spam Assassin.
- Fast Account Setup and Easy Scaling - Setting up an account at HostMonster doesn't take long and it will be activated shortly after you're done with the process. Once you have access to your hosting and need extra server resources or would like to upgrade to something better, you can do it in a few clicks. Provisioning done instantly.
- The 'Standard' Pricing Tricks - The advertised prices are misleading. They require you to sign up for a 36 month term, which is a mighty tall order. If you would go for a year less, the basic plan will go up to $5.95/mo. If you would rather go with a single year subscription, then the basic plan will cost you $6.95 per month. So basically, this is HostMonster's way of saying that you'll pay the price amount of money they want, no matter what. This is quite sickening, considering that most companies do this. HostMonster didn't learn from people being disappointed after 21 years.
- Backups Aren't Free- They promise you'll get backups and you really will. Right after you pay a monthly $1.99 for it. Oh yeah, you fell for it!
- Hidden Fees - Sure, there's a short period when you can ask for your money back. Great. But if you're about a year in with your hosting service at HostMonster, things will get messy. As it turns out, your domain won't be free after you cancel your account. There are no free favors with HostMonster as it seems, so you'll have to pay a hefty price if you cancel the service. So HostMonster would like to say that they'll definitely turn you into their cash cow and milk you, whether you like it or not.
- An Average Service For a Lot of Money - Once you've coped with HostMonster's pricing tricks, you can move on with your life and get your damn website started already. If you don't use any extra services, you'll be fine with just paying the monthly price. But to me $4.95 seems like too much with a 3 year contract. You'll also be settling for an average uptime and page loading speed, while there are companies that offer so much more.
After getting a feel for HostMonster’s services, I’m not wondering why they managed to stay below the radar for more than 21 years. What you get for the money you pay isn’t bad at all, but it’s not enough with so many competitors offering better, faster and more reliable services for less money.
In short, I wouldn’t recommend using HostMonster. You’re better off checking out what InMotion, HostGator or SiteGround has going on, because they are the top players in my opinion. Their services are superior to anything that HostMonster can come up with, both in terms of quality and price, so there’s no question about it. HostMonster isn’t good enough.