Dotster Review

Dotster Screen Shot

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Pros: Intuitive control panel

Cons: limited availability for live chat and telephone support, plans designed to severely limit features that are unlimited with most hosts

Bottomline: Dotster's plans are obviously targeted at a type of customer who only wants to create a simple web site. Those requiring serious features and capabilities should look elsewhere. doesn’t hide the fact that it is a domain registrar at heart. However, like most domain registrars, it has realized that the domain business is an intensively competitive, low margin commodity business. Also like most domain registrars, Dotster has entered into the equally competitive, equally commoditized, but far more profitable web hosting business.

Dotster Plans

Dotster’s space and bandwidth allocations for its shared plans are moderately competitive, but the plans do require a closer look. Those used to normal cPanel oversellers will notice a difference in Dotster’s plans: the company limits the number of email addresses and mailbox sizes. For heavy email users, this can be a serious problem. They also limit FTP accounts, databases, domains, and the like. It’s important to consider what extra features your web site will require before choosing a host like Dotster.

In addition to its standard plans, Dotster offers VPS hosting running on both Linux and Windows platforms. Email hosting is also offered and some plans come with and even focus around a SiteBuilder that makes it easy to create a simple web site.

Dotster adopts the standard industry practice of encouraging customers to pay in advance. They allow pre-payment of up to five years in advance, representing a 30% savings over the yearly plan. Comparatively, though, the savings that Dotster offers for paying so far in advance are relatively insignificant. This also means that you don’t have to pay too much extra if you want to signup for a shorter period of time.

As the plans get more expensive, the payment schedule gets more flexible. The most expensive plan (which is $25.95 a month when paid monthly) allows you to pay monthly, quarterly, yearly, every two years, every three years, and every five years.

Dotster uses a custom control panel. From the control panel, you can manage essentially every aspect of your account (including domain names). The control panel is surprisingly intuitive and offers all of the expected features. Email, FTP accounts, databases, etc. can all be managed as expected from Dotster’s custom control panel.

Testing Dotster

Upon testing, FTP speeds seemed to be reasonable and comparative to those of other hosts. The control panel loaded quickly and without errors.

Support at Dotster does not seem to be a top priority or a competitive differentiator; it seems to be more of an after thought. The company has an extensive knowledge base and provides support via a helpdesk, live chat, and the telephone. However, live chat and telephone support are only offered on weekdays during normal business hours. I sent a simple request to the company’s support team at 2:15 PM on a Sunday and received a reply Monday night at 8:03 PM. When it takes more than 24 hours to receive an email response, that does cause concern.

Price: $25.95

Disclosure: Clickfire has an affiliate advertising connection with Dotster

Shared Hosting Reviews

Douglas Hanna is a former writer for Clickfire and other publications who went on to become CEO of a major web hosting company.

28 Responded to this Dotster Review

  1. Emory Rowland says:

    Any Dotster users out there? What say you?

  2. Bill M says:

    We’ve been using Dotster for more than two years and are very satisfied. We’re a small organization without huge traffic, and we’ve mostly been able to take care of our needs with the control panels and explanations provided. Only one-two phone calls needed over the time. Occasionally we are having problems with email being blocked by providers due to “spam reputations” which we’re trying to find out about; that’s the biggest challenge at this point.

  3. Webster says:

    I think the advantage with going through Dotster is the variety of products and services they offer to small and medium sized businesses. Getting a bargain basement domain or hosting plan is nice, but getting a full suite of online marketing, SSL certs, domain tools, and other services to get your business website up and running is better in the long run when you’re searching for the right company to help you set up a larger website or blog.

  4. jz says:

    Dotster sucks

  5. Dave Prue says:

    I have been a subscriber to the top level VPS package for 3 years now. Normally, we never need support, but when it is necessary, it is generally non-existant.

    Last night our VPS went offline, and we immediately reported it via the phone support. After 12 hours, I contacted them again and was told that it would probably be another 24 to 48 hours. No explanation, other than “thats our policy”. I have numerous customers, with many domains. These are all businesses who have no website (read online stores) and no email for their employees. Not acceptable for a business. I cannot give better service than my supplier, and in this case my supplier is not giving adequate service. I simply need to move to a new supplier.

  6. RT Ideas says:

    Dotster is evil.

    I am switching all my registered clients away from Dotster. One client’s domain expired, and as such, they replaced the client’s site with a MENU OF COMPETITORS ADS. Not a temporary page for a day, right into competitor ads. That is abhorrent. Low beyond low. To me that is another form of cybersquatting.

    My client renewed with them — hoops to jump through since it was registered through another hosting company — for five years. Hours later and their site is still serving up competitors ads.

    Avoid Dotster at ALL costs.

  7. Jason says:

    i’m with dotster – it’s a sunday – all my sites are down for no reason, no one to talk to…
    i think the only hosting i hadn’t had any issues with is bluehost. I’d stay away from dotster – they are indifferent…and are’nt there to help (their support is a sad joke – you got half-witted buffoons trained at exhausting upset clients with idiotic suggestions).stay away from dotster hosting! I know i will from now on.

  8. David says:

    funny to see many people have same problems with dotster. i see 2 last comments are form yesterday – this will make it the third in 2 days. i think something is wrong with them – my site is down and only there instead of my site – a dotster page saying “site is missing index file” – that is not true as i have it. they just have my site go down for no reason – i try and try anmd try to contact the support via emails and i also called them on the telephone, but they do’nt care about my site. they say bla bla bla, and still my site is down and no one tells me why, or what i should do. they are terrible terrible in every way. i told them that i will take my site to a different company – but they no care. terrible business – it must be going down, oterwise i can’t imagine how they can be so rude and careless. if are even a little smart, read this: STAY AWAY FROM DOTSTER HOSTING. wish someone would tell me that 2 months ago

  9. S Roberts says:

    I had a frustrating experience with Dotster. I bought an Ultra hosting plan with 200GB storage, 2TB transfer, and unlimited domains and email.

    I had hoped for the amount of money I was spending that it would at least be reliable. Unfortunately, I suffered regular outages and aggravated customers.

    I called customer support and endured long delays. Even after I finally got a rep, he told me it was a problem with Dotster’s vendor and there was nothing he could do.

    I would not recommend Dotster hosting

  10. Guest Columnist says:

    Dotster should get a new name … like DisaSter.

    Service was terrible. No meaningful MySQL interface. Certainly no simple domain/hosting control panel and email programs are limited and push gmail as the primary solution.


  11. Joe says:

    You’re a bad company………your a very, very bad company. What tech support? What email support? What phone support? Don’t do it go with Go Daddy or anyone else but this company.

  12. Fred Rice says:

    FEB 12, 2010

    The WORST company i’ve delt with in years…
    been a customer with multiple e-mail/domain
    registrations for over five years…tech
    service is non existant, always has been…
    tolerated it ’cause I didn’t have time to mess
    with it…a week ago Dotster access goes down
    for two days…TWO DAYS. When it came back up
    I had a different interface, years of data gone.
    Contradictory explanations… don’t use Dotster.

  13. jeff says:

    I’ve been using dotster’s services for about five years now with no problems or complaints and no need for support. This is until last week when one of my sites and it’s related emails went down. After several requests for support I still haven’t heard any response from them and my site is still down. OVER A WEEK! Their customer support seams to be completely nonexistent. I will be transferring my all of my domains away from them and posting negative reviews wherever i can. Their lack of customer support is offensive.

  14. NN says:

    I register my domain thru Dotster for few years but never hosting w/ them

    When I decide to hosting w/ dotster. I found that Support service very poor and slow. It takes 5-7 to reply you email.

    After 3 week, I cancel hosting account they will not refund you. Also charge more for Domain register (that should free w/ hosting package.) I lost $240 for this stupid company.

  15. Alberto says:

    Steer away from Dotster!!!!

  16. khan says:

    they are worst company i have seen. they are same company of
    they change their name but service is same bad.
    many people have problems with them, so please never think for this company to get domain name or any other service.

    they dont have any customer support, they never reply your support tickets, for more information visit



  17. Roger Sandoval says:

    My company purchased 2 years in advance hosting with Dotster. We were happy with the service until a number of issues occurred.

    1) Support decided that we were using too much space and had to migrate us to a new server. They did not even bother coordinating with us and just sent us one email but again no coordination and we were down for days.

    2) After the move, we had to change all of our passwords and logins.

    3) Our stats were removed and we did not have stats for many months and when we kept trying to get those recovered, they were non responsive and basically in a round about way it was too bad so sad. We have clients that relied on those stats so we had to use other methods to product stats.

    4) I just tried to cancel my account and I was told that we would not receive a refund for any unused months in our plan. We have over 6 months left.

    I have dealt with many hosting companies in the past and I would rate Dotster as the worst. Buyer beware. I have never been in a situation where if I canceled early, I would not get a refund. I do not need to be hateful or anything but their plans are high and the service is not something I would recommend. At first things seemed great but after a while, service went down as well as speed. We were running a site with videos and the HD videos were so slow to load where Go Daddy has faster service and lower priced plans.

    This is just my 2 cents. I know reviews do help with so many hosting companies out there.

  18. Sweety says:

    I’m worried looking at these reviews… my client purchased a year’s worth of Dotster hosting because his domain with them and he, in his own words, wanted everything to be in the same place. I wasn’t sure about dotster at all and as a web designer I was hoping that my install of Joomla would go smoothly. Afterall, dotster states that their hosting supports Joomla websites.

    I used the built in installer to install Joomla – because I wasn’t able to install it otherwise – and it’s an older version that I can’t upgrade because I don’t have access to the installer’s directory.

    I added a shopping cart component to the joomla install and I can’t even resolve the issue because there’s no access to the directory that joomla was installed in. Everything is set up so weird. I’ve never run into the problems I’m running into. I’m patiently waiting for tech support to respond to my issue. I’m just wanting to get this resolved for the client.

    If anyone knows of any shopping cart system that would better work with Dotster hosting, please post it here!

  19. Ben Sykes says:

    Keep your money and use ANY OTHER HOSTING COMPANY

    We have a dotster vps, it was workng fine and then suddenly stopped, all the sites are down.

    Dotster ignored by support cases simply marking them closed
    After five days they asked for $75 for support (one hour)

    Three days later the technician said “wee cannot support this vps as it has too much traffic. This is not true as the sites on the server have virtually none!

    Now my cases are reassigned intead of closed. There telephone number does not work from abroad and we cannot log into our server to move the sites


    00590479 websites still down New 6/8/2011 1:00 PM Tier 1 (CARE)
    00589813 Please restart our server as we cannot access plesk Closed 6/8/2011 1:54 AM Tier 1 (CARE)
    00589786 We cannot log into our server and all of the websites are down Reassigned 6/8/2011 1:32 AM Tier 2 (NOC)
    00588945 [www] Closed 6/7/2011 8:54 AM Jocelyn
    00583420 Server keeps failing, we restart it and the websites come back but then it goes down again Closed 6/2/2011 8:13 AM DCart
    00584551 We have purchased a support ticket If you have any questions about this order, please contact our customer support. Please mention the following order code: order ID: 13010820 Closed 6/3/2011 2:22 AM Rob
    00584083 Plesk 100 unpaid bill Closed 6/2/2011 3:48 PM Joseph
    00584077 Server problems urgent, please stop marking case resolved Closed 6/2/2011 3:40 PM Joseph
    00584047 Server keeps failing, we restart it and the websites come back but then it goes down again Closed 6/2/2011 3:03 PM Joseph
    00576836 Server stopped Closed 5/27/2011 4:14 AM DCart

    Show 10 items

    Best choose a different

  20. Norman Schippert says:

    So I forgot to renew my domain that I had registered with Dotster like six years ago… I forgot my login and password too. I decide to call the 800# on their webpage and pay it… they wanted the normal registration fee that I would have paid anyways, PLUS $99 for a redemption fee!!! I only had one thing to say… Thankfully I don’t need that domain that bad. I’ll just do all my work with someone else now. Will tell everyone out there that I had previously recommended to dotster… to can it and use someone else. They’ve got real balls charging $99 for doing nothing!!! Listen world: Dotster sucks!!!! Run the other way!!!!

  21. Will Harris says:

    I was a loyal dotster customer, in fact I think my vps was one of their first. Recently dotster emailed me that they were decommissioning the box I was on(it was that old) and I needed to move my content to a new vps.
    I had over 100 sites, sql databases email etc. They would not provide any help, just told me to move it.
    When I didn’t move fast enough they shut off the box and I was screwed.
    I’d use anyone else

  22. shastina says:

    As you can read higher on this page “khan Says: April 26th, 2010: …they never reply your support tickets…” it’s true.
    I confirm this, but one little note: there’s no tickets, but “cases”. Their customers create the “cases” not the tickets. And there’s NO email addresses for support, like support@ or sales@ … AT ALL!!!
    Just go to their website and open “Contact Us” webpage where you can see: “Email Support: To submit a support case via email, please login to your account and click on Manage Cases.”

    This year I started the transfer of my domains from Gandi to Dotster.
    I recieve an email from Gandi that “Requesting registrar: Bearsdomain, LLC”
    I created the “case” about this issue, I did not recieve any responce for this!

    Next, once transfer complete I found (using whois service for .com domains) that my domains have been transfered to, not!
    I created another “case” and I did not recieve any responce again!

    Conclusion: there’s NO SUPPORT BY MAIL(OR CASES/TICKETS) AT ALL!!!

  23. Alex says:

    I would not suggest Dotster. They are not organized and do not have their records in order.

    My own troubles with Dotster started about two weeks ago when they closed my access to files. I realized that it was a surprising policy change and try to contact them. Then, I learned that their customer support team is helpless. They stopped writing me as soon as they realized that I a former fortunecity customer. All what I wanted from them was to withdraw my files. I was surprised how difficult it can be.

    After all, if you have choice and money and you respect yourself go somewhere else. Do not try “to save buck or two” especially with Dotster.

  24. Lance Byrd says:

    This weekend (5/20/2012) it appears Doster is in the process of a conversion to a new platform. I have been in the IT world long enough to know things can go wrong during these type of changes..

    However, when I called Saturday to say that the NS servers that I setup and use to point to my MX and Web server has been replaced by there default NS servers, I was told, “we will have it fixed in about two hours”.

    I called again on Sunday morning to say “whats the deal? I see this issue is not resolved.”

    I got, “we won’t have anyone be able to look at it till Monday”.

    I said, “Do you understand how disruptive this is?
    Do you understand what NS servers mean to a site?”

    To which I got, “Yes Sir I do”.

    At least lie to me and say “we are working to resolve this as quick as we can….”

    Well if they don’t care about my business, I will take my business somewhere else. It will take a couple of days for the replication to complete.

    For those of you who may not totally understand this issue, here is the problem:

    The authoritative NS servers that you tell the name registrar to use point people to your web site, mail servers, FTP, etc.. is a central choke point.

    When an end user types in, your authoritative name server is contacted to say what IP address your web server can be found at. Same for your mail server.

    With out the correct authoritative name server specified, your site and mail servers are effectively out of commission. Your servers run, but no one can reach them. End users are not able to find your services.


    You have been warned. Use them at your own risk.

  25. Motorsheep says:

    Dotster makes me sad. Back in 1999 we went with Dotster since it was a local (WA) company, and it turned out to be a very reliable service with good customer support. Over the years, this has eroded completely, and all the features that made them appealing to begin with have disappeared. They have abandoned email contact completely, their service announcements which used to inform customers of outages, scheduled maintenance, etc. have vanished. The only way to get ahold of them is by phone, which is a lengthy nightmare in itself, or if you manage to randomly find their sales chat window, which seems to have no fixed location on the site. On top of that, their prices, which were quite competitive in 2000, are now on the high end of the hosting/registrar scale. In short, they seem to have focused %100 of their effort on sales and zero percent on service. What was once a very good company is now a nightmare-inducing mess if you have ANY problem whatsoever, no matter how minor.

  26. John says:

    Dotster has proven quite unreliable with their mail hosting, and very unresponsive as far as customer support. I finally gave up and have transferred all of my domains to another registrar. Their basic email has a 5MB attachment limit, which would have been great in 1999, but now causes me to have to give customers my gmail address to send me attachments. Customer support’s answer to one of my email problem inquiries was “you could solve a problem by buying an email hosting package.” He clearly misunderstood my problem since we HAVE an email hosting package (or did before I fired them). Customer service messages were always quite rude.

    Long story short, if you don’t care about periodic email outages during business hours and unresponsive customer service, maybe Dotster is ok for you. But for anyone else, look elsewhere

  27. No Dotster says:

    Dotster sucks.

    And they killed all my files without any proper warning.

  28. Goodbye Dotster says:

    I have been using Dotster for about 6 years. Occasionally there have been issues but they were settled (not always as quickly as I would like).
    But what they have done now boggles my mind. I got a message at the beginning of December saying they were changing to a new platform.
    Then I got an email a few weeks ago saying they have tested all my sites on their new platform and there we issues. That I needed to use their manual migration tool to do this. I had until January 7th to do this.
    Yesterday I get an email informing me all my sites had been migrated. So much for January 7th. Out of the handful of sites I host only one is not working. Well, it works it just says I am not authorized to view it. ????
    The biggest issue I have is with the apps they no longer support and didn’t say anything about it. I have a friend who I recommended to Dotster. I built their eCommerce site (hosted on Dotster) using one of those apps. They don’t have a shopping cart anymore!!! Really, you just wipe out somebody’s eCommerce website without saying anything. All that work down the tubes not to mention loss of income and customer information. They destroyed their business. I hope they sue them!!!!!

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