When I first tried my hand on online marketing, I was convinced that JustHost was right up there among the best hosting providers on the web, no thanks to loads of positive reviews making their rounds.
Painfully but surely, I realized soon that those supporters were actually affiliates, milking commission as they peddle JustHost. I was so pissed but that strengthened my resolve to come up with objective and appropriate reviews, which subsequently gave rise to HostDispatch.
Disappointment aside, I did give it my best shot over an extended period. As expected, JH just turned out to be a complete let down. They have since worked on incremental improvement, but they are still some way off before I would include them in my favorite list of hosting providers. (I should mention that I still do host 3 very small sites with them).
A Little Background on Justhost, the Company
This company and their hosting plan could be a draw for webmasters working on a shoestring budget. This web hosting company focuses on just shared hosting plans and reseller hosting. It tempts new customer with fabulous discounts and an attractive money back guarantee ‘Anytime’.
First established by the Just Develop It group of companies in 2008, JustHost was another brainchild of famous UK entrepreneur, Chris Phillips.
Phillips gained fame in the internet world with the sales of his popular Dot5 (another hosting company), and he would go on to strike a deal on JH with the US-based Endurance International Group. EIG is, of course, the owner of BlueHost, iPage, and a host of other web hosting businesses.
The new headquarters are now located in the US, the UK, and Australia, with hosting activities centered on an Illinois data center. The company once pledged its commitment to the green environment and had a Go Green program to boot. However these days, there is little, if any, being mentioned by the company to that effect.
As for JH’s profile on BBB, at the time of writing this post, there was no rating available. The Better Business Bureau explains:
BBB is currently updating its files on all businesses in the Greater Los Angeles area and pending that review, a BBB rating is unavailable.
I will, however, make sure to update this post once there is a rating available.
Hosting Plans & Pricing
JustHost has a pretty streamlined offering, i.e. Just Plan and Just Plan Premium. There is little to choose from between the 2 plans, as both offer similar features like unlimited disk space, bandwidth etc…
What makes the Premium stands out is that these subscribers get more of free for life domains.
The basic plan would cover 1 free for life domain, but the Just Plan Premium customers are given ownership of three. For the benefits of newbie internet businesses, the published rates are summarized here:
- Just Plan – 24 months: $4.45/mo.
- Just Plan Premium – 24 months: $6.95/mo.
The idea is to attract more customers of Just Plan Premium by enticing them with 3 free for life domains by getting them to part with extra $2.50.
Also, keep in mind that most companies, including JH, run promotions from time to time and so their prices change. At the time of writing this post, these were the prices. Depending on when you are reading this post, the price could be different.
It seems like they have consolidated the two plans into one calling it Just Plan which goes for $6.09 a month.
Is Justhost Reliable When It Comes to Uptime?
While JustHost claims that they strive for 24/7 uptime, it never gives a true uptime guarantee. Thankfully there is a way out for unsatisfied users. You can enforce cancellation anytime and have the remainder of the hosting term refunded. Someone blogged about a 99.5% uptime guarantee in 2010, but I did not find words to this effect from their official website.
Chicago, IL hosts the lone data center. JH likes to keep a lid on their data center, so nobody is sure about the makeup and specifications of equipment (and also their backup policy). But in a 2009 interview, Luke Kendall (product manager) conceded that there are over 2,000 running servers attended by 4 technicians at any time. Again this allegation is never reinforced on their website
The support structure is pretty standard. The company operates a support portal that allows users access to server status information, videos, a knowledge base, and tickets. Support interactions are through email, live chat, and phone and, of course, snail mail (to an address in Utah).
Their website show a US phone number for support but the company has never been upfront about the whereabouts of their support staff – the website only says that these support folks speak English when you call.
While there is a blog section on the website, the latest entry was made 15 months ago, last time I checked. I also found out the last tweet from the company was a good 2 ½ years ago at the time I wrote this review.
The control panel is called Cpanel, which is included as part of the package. Customers can have access to webmail, DNS, nameservers, addon domains and a host of facilities like to set up Google Apps and Gmail.
To access billing information and account management, users have to get to a different area of Cpanel and log in separately.
If you choose reseller hosting, you get WHM instead. The tool is helpful for creating, managing and deleting individual hosting accounts. In addition, JH also bundles in a free ClientExec package to help on invoicing and billing purposes. Resellers can suspend client accounts via ClientExec in the case of non-payment.
What Else Can You Expect?
JustHost offers a free domain name on registration for all it shared hosting plan users.
Additionally, there are free advertising credits: new UK users are entitled to £30 for Google’s Adwords program. It ups the game for the US, Europe, Canada and Australia users, at $100 a pop.
If you are present in both territories, there is also a $25 credit for Bing and Yahoo! ads.
Common scripts (WordPress, Joomla, eCommerce tools and message boards, etc) are made available with immediate effect. Installation is through SimpleScript, yet another free facility offered to customers.
Can You Get Your Money Back If Not Satisfied?
Fortunately, it is easy to cancel your account. Disgruntled customers will receive a refund amounting to outstanding months of the original contract when they choose to cancel their accounts.
If cancellation happens within the first month of your contract, you will get a full refund, no question asked.
The company allows you to cancel you account through a variety of ways: phone, chat or ticket. To make sure the refund process is in order, double check your account contact details are correct before you invoke the cancellation request.
The refund would not take into account payments like one-off account fees and domain name fees (take note that the domain name was originally disguised as a freebie when you register, but the company puts a $14.99 price tag to it and it will not be refunded on cancellation).
How you made the original payment would decide how you get your refund. Assuming you have paid through credit card earlier, the refund would be credited back to your credit card as well. It is the same with PayPal or cheque. If you are sure you no longer needs the domain names, remove all domain names from ‘auto-renew’ list.
Other Reviews of JustHost
As I always mention, just because I had a bad or good experience with a host, it doesn’t mean everybody else had the same experience, and vice versa. So, to get a better and a complete picture of their service I tried to find and read as many actual web hosting reviews I could.
Here is a quick run down of what I was able to gather reading reviews about this particular provider written by other customers:
- The lure of unlimited bandwidth, but seriously this is non-existent.
- Anytime money-back guarantee. The best thing from this web host!
- Entry level package that includes unlimited domains.
- Pricing is consistent with those of Bluehost and HostMonster ($71.40).
- Recent promotions also cover brand new dedicated and VPS packages.
- Customers can acquire optional dedicated IPs. So if you are running e-commerce stores, this additional purchase would be helpful to get an SSL certificate.
- The easy navigation of their Standard cPanel, for both novice and veterans.
- Upgrade of servers in 2013, to bring it more in line with BlueHost’s servers. There is really nothing to shout about but an improvement nevertheless.
- The way JH capitalizes on upsell opportunities (tons of banners and ads inside the cPanel).
- Support sucks big time; your tickets and chats would invariably be routed to India. They have made an improvement on support quality, but it is definitely not top notch.
- If you choose chat option rather than submitting support tickets, be ready for the long wait time. First off, you have to queue for a good 20 minutes to get into the chat room. The moment the session starts, you wonder if these folks really know what they are talking about.
- The reluctance on company’s part to issue any uptime guarantees. My first year was disastrous as I found my site to be down most of the time. My revisit (I ditched them for 2 years) showed that the uptime borders in the range of mediocre. Apparently, they are really hyping their services with no serious commitment!
Should You Choose Just Host?
A basic plan is just about decent for individuals and small startups while the reseller option tends to mix it up with more bells and whistles. But I found it perplexing that there isn’t much about the company on their website, and to locate their offices is not a straightforward task as well.
My deduction is that JustHost has changed their business model since the acquisition. From one that used to engage the market actively (through social media and their blog, for example) to just focus on no frill hosting, support, and domains.
Can’t say it turns out to be worse off as there are support channels if required. However, this definitely takes away the personal touch that used to define the company. In its place is yet another generic brand feel. You may get uncomfortable if you expect more intimate support with the hosting issues you are going to run into.
If you’re looking for business-class hosting, as you can tell from this review, this one is probably not the right choice. However, if you need a low-cost, unlimited hosting package which isn’t business-critical, you probably won’t mind the no-frills approach of JustHost.
Here is their official sign up page, where you can get a free domain just for signing up if you want to give them a try.