One of the biggest and most well-known web hosting companies out there is iPage. It is a hosting provider with lots of complaints and lots of positive reviews. So, it is kind of hard to figure out what their service is all about between all of that.
I have tried iPage on both WordPress and Template based websites. And like all my reviews, I gave them at least 6 months to get a realistic view of their service.
Here is what I have seen as a real customer of this company using their service.
iPage is a web host and their specialization is in shared hosting. To entice new customers, the company gives away freebies and bonuses on signup, and they claim to have an ‘Anytime’ money-back policy. These two are perhaps the most prominent features of this web host.
It has been in the web hosting business from 1998, and the number of domains registered so far is an impressive 1.5 million, with over a million websites hosted at their data centers.
The company was originally a US company, but today boasts of international customers from 150 countries. The website mentions that it has 6 offices worldwide, but omits to make clear on the whereabouts of these offices.
This web hosting company was originally the brainchild of Thomas Gorny, but the Endurance International Group has since taken over ownership. EIG is, of course, the parent company of FatCow, BlueHost and a host of other web hosting companies.
The company claims that it supports green initiatives and it purchases Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) as part of conformance to the international guidelines with regards to carbon emissions.
As for their standing with the Better Business Bureau, they are not rated, instead, their parent company (EIG) is rated with an A- on a scale of A+ to F. Likewise, there are no reports of complaints on the BBB’s site against iPage, but as you can imagine there are a few when it comes to EIG.
iPage’s Hosting Plans & Pricing
It is clear enough that the company offers web hosting services, just that it seems to be kind of guided in dispensing information in the public domain.
The flagship service from the company is their Essential Hosting Plan – a simple enough shared hosting plan that promises users unlimited domains for $3.50 per month.
As with their “unlimited hosting services” providers, iPage has these to offer – unlimited add-on domains, unlimited disk storage, unlimited data transfers, unlimited webmail, unlimited FTP accounts, unlimited MySQL databases, one-click installation of 70+ popular web applications, and a couple of free marketing credits.
These are the same sorts of services featured by any budget shared hosting company; so there is no differentiation here and I won’t waste your time by telling you what these are all about.
If you are intrigued by these features, navigate to the right of this text where you see a table summarizing some of them or check out their official website (yes these are in the public domain). There is no point in going over features that are standard across providers in this review.
You have been warned here:
The prices published on their website are special introductory prices; they would charge higher fees upon renewal.
For Windows servers, the company claims it has a program that allows users to share Windows 2003 servers. But if you follow the link on their website, you would be led to a 404 page.
Apparently such plan is non-existent now. Looks like they discontinue not just only shared Windows Servers. I try to follow their VPS hosting link, and again it is another 404 page.
It also claims that it has a reseller hosting plan, but JustHost (another hosting company) is all I saw when I clicked the link.
- Money-back guarantee, anytime! The refund is on prorated basis. I got to say I am thankful for this feature.
- Every package comes with unlimited domains and emails.
- It says “unlimited bandwidth” but incredibly you can actually use too much of your “unlimited” bandwidth. Obviously, it is full of hot air.
- Upon the expiry of the initial hosting contract, the new bill is going to be $113.88 – a sum that is not backed up by decent quality on the host side, enough said!.
- It offers nothing more than shared hosting plan. Simply put, it does not have a plan for you as your business scales up.
- To be fair, they have a user-friendly control panel called vDeck. But the speed is amazingly slow and you wonder why it takes so long to complete even the simplest of tasks.
- They only offer shared IP, so there is no chance your website can obtain an SSL certificate. This effectively rules out any e-commerce stores being hosted here.
- Like other subsidiaries of EIG, all their servers have been upgraded recently. While there is a marked improvement on its previously mediocre uptime, its 99.70% uptime is still a long way off from its more established competitors.
- They outsource all their support services except phone support. There seem to be a language problem with the overseas support staff, an indication of poor English training by the company.
- Phone support fares slightly better. The support staffs are often prompt to attend to your call but somehow lack product knowledge.
iPage consolidated all its customers’ websites across 2 data centers located in Boston, MA. There are some 800 Dell servers installed inside the 2 facilities, which boast of 24/7 security, and N+1 AC and DC power.
In addition, the 2 data centers are built with identical infrastructure, so as to allow mirroring of customer data across clustered servers, which proven to be an effective way to minimize downtime. Moreover, the company also invests in UPS backup system and diesel generators as well.
The company does not publish information on uptime, thus no implicit guarantee on uptime. Backup on servers is performed through NetApp Snapshot.
At least, iPage is not evasive in revealing that their support staff is all North America based (some providers choose to be secretive here). They further claim that support calls are typically attended inside 1 minute, 24/7.
All hosting services are complemented with free rudimentary support, or one can also opt for Premium support (extra charge), which ensure speedier resolution. The extra expense is about fair value by industry standard.
Their website hosts support center that is open to both customers and non-customers. It is kind of sparse, though. There is a collection of knowledge base articles and tutorials, but nothing fantastic. But some users, especially new users, would find the video tutorials helpful.
They guide the beginners on how to use their file manager, Joomla, and WordPress (a CMS/ blog application). Support system also includes free live chat and ticket submission through their website.
iPage utilizes a proprietary control panel built with both scripts and tools to serve out information to its users. This custom made control panel is also your window to phpMyAdmin.
The knowledge base does cover some basic information on the control panel, but the coverage is pretty superficial. You may type in ‘control panel’ in the query box and you will be directed to articles on the appropriate browsers and navigation path to the admin area.
Strangely, the site does away with any working demo, this makes it difficult to gauge the kind of control users have over things like PHP resources.
Their plan does line up a number of goodies for new customers, but some argue that these “goodies” or incentives to lure new customers are actually the standard offerings from web hosting companies anyway.
A free Security Suite that encompasses a “highly secure data center” and daily spam and malware scans. Everyone else does that, but this company puts a price tag of $100 to its “premium service”.
A Marketing Suite package that covers $100 in Google Adwords credit, $25 in Yahoo!/Bing ad credit, $50 in Facebook ad credit, a free listing on YellowPages.com, analytics software, and an authentication seal. Their valuation? A neat $300!
Another package, called the Support Suite, covers 24/7 phone, chat, and email support, tutorials and help. The company thinks it is worth a cool $50. But is there any hosting plan that does not include support!?…
And the company claims to give away its Design Suite (valued at $50) that consists of scripts and software (blogs, galleries, e-commerce stores and website builders) plus Google Webmaster Tools. Amazing, as the other hosts never charge for these!
Perhaps a more authentic goodwill is its promise of access to SiteDelux, a free mobile site builder application complete with templates, for all new users who are in a (at least) two-years term.
Can You Get Your Money Back If Not Satisfied?
Frankly, not many providers can offer unlimited money-back guarantees, but this one sure promises that. According to its policy, any unhappy user can cancel his/her account and the billing system will work out a refund sum equivalent to the remaining period of the original contract.
But there are some non-refundable items. For example, domain fee of $15 is not refundable if you have gotten your domain through iPage. Any deduction would be applied only to the subscription fees for web hosting services, nothing more!
My Review of iPage
This company knows how to play the pricing game right. Set the barrier low enough, people will surely flock around for their hosting services. But these paying customers would get pissed off soon as they realized how iP has liberally taken down certain (some say every) critical features that are widely expected even at those low price points.
EIG runs this website, alongside with a host of junks like FatCow. In a pattern that is consistent with other EIG subsidiaries, iPage’s operation is seriously flawed and I would say people with the right mind would not go to them for web hosting services.
If you are committed to making good of your business, my sense is that this web host is not for you. Even if you are more like a casual business owner, just taking your chance, I am still hesitant to put up their name.
Lousy support, less than optimal uptime, limited plans, and exorbitant pricing scheme are not things associated with great companies.
The bottom line is: Just don’t bother.
Other than the cheap (predatory) introductory prices and decent (paltry) refund policy, I find there is little to like about this company, let alone recommend it to others.
We all have a choice (HostMonster perhaps!) and there are definitely a lot more credible web hosting companies outside iPage which you can find by reading my other reviews.