HostMonster is an ancient leviathan of a web hosting company that has served the needs of value-seeking bloggers for many years. Since being in the business from the mid-ninety’s, they have racked up a huge customer base, resulting in one million websites! The company belongs to the Endurance International Group family of hosting brands. They have a simple website; the most important information displayed front and center. Yet, nothing too eye-grabbing aesthetically.
Features and Pricing
HostMonster is one of your average ‘Unlimited Everything’ hosts, which is definitely ideal for beginners and those who are looking to host on a simple shared hosting platform. These types of web hosting services allow customers to refrain from breaking the bank, which is ideal for a long-term affordable solution.
On their ‘Hosting Features’ page, the details are broken up into features tables (familiar, huh?). The first table states what every single customer is entitled to on the platform. This generally includes unlimited disk space and bandwidth, unlimited domains (sub, add-on, parked, etc) and e-mail accounts. I’d also assume the number of databases is unlimited as well, which come in form of MySQL and PostgreSQL. Another displays mainly the supported technologies on the platform, such as Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby and many more. Below this is your stated ecommerce entitlement, which includes SSL Secure Servers and free generated certificates, as well as free varied shopping cart software to get you started. They also offer you free courtesy backups with your account. Beginners get a site builder included to create your website, as well as a free domain name for the life of your account.
The pricing structure is normal, considering the type of host HostMonster is. It is split into 3 time frames of the following:
- 12 months – $6.95pm
- 24 months – $5.95pm
- 36 months – $4.95pm
HostMonster offers an add-on package of sorts. It is called the ‘Pro Package’ and includes increased power, speed and security for $19.95pm. However, the way they have worded it makes it seem like the Pro Package is really just a low-end VPS that they are trying to spring on their customers, and let me tell you, they haven’t came out as subtle as they’re trying to be. Personally, I think this package patronises potential customers and attempts to rope them into a commitment they most likely won’t need, for a much larger monthly cost, which quite frankly, is just not worth it.
There is, however, a free dedicated IP and SSL certification to go with this package, but seriously, why not be honest and just include these as potential add-ons for a reasonable charge? I would honestly presume that hosting companies that have been a part of this field for so long would have better business practices with its customers and not try to latch onto quick sales by offering these types of deals. Let me clarify however, that I’m not singling out HostMonster with this tactic; this is a common tactic used by several hosting companies and it works. It does in fact generate sales, but I honestly believe that a business would generate more revenue being honest with its customers rather than trying to make a quick sale with add-on packages.
Terms Of Service
HostMonster’s terms of service agreement is a medium sized document of legal jargon which is fairly easy to comprehend. It starts off by clarifying its renewal policies. It states that fifteen days prior to the end of the lifespan of the account, as a courtesy and not an obligation, HostMonster will renew any domains and hosting accounts registered by the subscriber. This is important to note so you can make sure you are not billed for any unwanted domains, or if you wish to terminate your account.
It goes on to state its cancellation policy; which allows customers to receive a refund of all goods purchased, including any add-ons, before 3 days. If you request a refund after 3 days and before 30 days, you will receive a refund of your hosting account, but not any additional services. This is known as the absolute standard for refund policies given by hosting companies who operate on a thirty day money back guarantee.
It also explains the terms Unlimited when purchasing their services, and this one is extremely important, as most will know, unlimited does not really mean ‘unlimited’. They state that unlimited means they do not have any sort of limit or cap on their services, and customers will not be charged extra. It goes on to say that they believe this is important so customers can easily power their websites without the worry of suspension or large bills. Below this, it states what unlimited does NOT mean; which is that they are a shared hosting platform which accommodates to individuals and small businesses, and is not intended for use by large enterprises and companies. It also states it cannot unfairly prioritize users over others and everyone should receive the same hosting experience.
The agreement also states the standard applicable rules, such as termination of accounts can occur when customers use the service for hosting illegal content, hacking and warez purposes and so on.
Putting HostMonster to the Test
After completion of the initial sign-up process, I was shot at with three information-stuffed e-mails from HostMonster. The first e-mail contained information about choosing my password for my account and the process of transferring my domain if I wanted to. It then displayed a list of potential tasks to complete to get the full extent of my hosting experience. To the right of the e-mail was a sidebar, containing a lot more useful information such as login information, temporary control panel and website URL’s, nameservers for my domains, and a short FAQ if I needed any further assistance.
The second e-mail was the official welcome e-mail which contained a more in-depth ‘Getting Started’ wizard and a link to their video tutorials site, which contains a lot of extremely helpful tutorials of completing common and difficult tasks. The third e-mail was essentially a mirror of the first, yet giving more in-depth information of e-mail accounts and FTP logins. There was also a very simple verification process to go through to make sure everything was in order.
HostMonster make use of the cPanel control panel, as most other web hosts do. They have branded it with their own theme and logo and have the standard features most web hosts offer. They also make use of a software installer called Simple Scripts. Personally, I prefer SimpleScripts over others such as Fantastico and Softaculous due to its aesthetically pleasing interface, which is also incredibly easy to use and offers a great variety of scripts to install. I also decided to test a script on the installer by installing two different forum software scripts. These were Vanilla Forums and SMF, both of which performed immensely. The speeds were extremely fast, no bugs were found and both were very easy to customize and play around with; which is great news for beginners.
As always with these reviews, we monitor the up-time to make sure you customers get the reliability from a web host that you deserve. We use an amazing service called Pingdom to monitor the up-time and downtime of different web hosts. After a two-week monitoring period, we received the results that there was absolutely no downtime at all. 100% up-time is wonderful news and definitely strengthens the host’s reputation when they can back-up a 99.99% up-time guarantee.
Stats courtesy of pingdom.com
HostMonster offer a bunch of different support options so each customer can receive assistance the way they want. They achieve this by allowing customers to e-mail them, contacting live-support as a quick solution, phoning them to get a more intimate support method or even by posting them a letter with your issues. They really have all bases covered here and the support they offer is quick and top notch. You can see an example of this through the chat transcript below:
Kevin: [1:24:46 PM] Welcome to our real-time support chat. I am taking multiple chats at a time. Please provide your domain name and the last four of the cpanel password or credit card to validate your hosting account if you have not yet provided it. How can I help you today?
Smair Habib: [1:24:46 PM] How do i add more domains onto my account!?
Kevin: [1:26:33 PM] An addon domain functions as it’s own website. It’s a domain that will operate as it’s own website but still be a part of the same hosting account. For example: if you owned abc.com and you just purchased xyz.com and you wanted to be able to host both domains on your HM account, then just assign it as an addon domain. This will create a folder inside of the public_html for this domain to enable you to store new content for this new domain. During this process the system will also need to create a subdomain for the addon domain to work properly.
[1:26:39 PM] In order to Addon or Park a domain please perform the following steps:
1- Login to cPanel
2- Click on either the “ADDON DOMAINS” or “PARKED DOMAINS” link
3- Click on the button that says “ADD DOMAIN” (if you’re not automatically directed there)
4- Carefully read and follow the instructions given on that page
NOTE – Remember the domain will not work through our servers until the name servers are pointing to our name servers.
[1:26:44 PM] HostMonster.com’s primary and secondary DNS (name servers) and their IP’s are as follows:
(case does not matter)
Once your name servers are modified it will take approximately 24-72 hours for your DNS to fully propagate to our servers.
During this period some people (including yourself) may be able to see your site while others cannot. This is perfectly normal as most Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) take 24-72 hours to clear their cache and update your DNS changes.
Please be patient during this propagation as there is nothing that can be done to speed the process along.
(Although rare, if your registrar also wants the associated IP addresses then ns1.hostmonster.com uses 184.108.40.206 and ns2.hostmonster.com uses 220.127.116.11)
Smair Habib: [1:27:20 PM] I see, that was extremely helpful.
[1:27:24 PM] Thank you for your help.
As you can see here, the chat was very quick and to the point. I think this is the best way of receiving support as its very fast, easy to understand, and there’s no tedious waiting or jumping through hoops to get answer. The representative also stated he was taking several calls, but the support answer he gave was almost instant. This is the kind of support that I think deserves a five star rating due to its informative nature.
Not quite a full kraken among monsters but far from Barney the dinosaur, HostMonster remains a well-defined unlimited feature host that has a lot of variety in what they offer and will fit the needs of most individuals and small businesses. Unfortunately, they offer silly add-on packages that will most likely deter future customers and should be more honest with their packages. Their TOS agreement was easy to comprehend and was not hiding any scary terms underneath! The three welcome emails you receive upon sign-up are very informative and offer good initial support. The technical support itself was extremely good too. Their website could definitely use a bit of an update to ease in new customers.
Bonus: Original Review by Doug Hanna
HostMonster is a hosting company that was founded more than ten years ago–in 1996. The company says they host more than 100,000 domains. They are a reputable company that isn’t going anywhere. HostMonster is actually owned by BlueHost, a large web hosting company which we reviewed a while back here. Both companies are now owned by EIG.
Have you ever had a web host that fit this image?
Image Credit: http://www.hostmovie.com/
As is often the case with web hosting companies that are owned by larger companies, the product and service offerings are nearly identical. Like BlueHost, HostMonster only offers one plan. Except for some minor differences with the number of databases and email accounts offered, the plan at BlueHost and at HostMonster are virtually the same. The features offered are also the same and actually listed in the same order on the two web sites.
The control panels offered by the two companies vary only slightly. The BlueHost control panel has a more standard cPanel skin with only minor edits/changes. The HostMonster control panel looks different than the traditional cPanel X theme, but has all of the same features. Everything to manage email accounts, subdomains, databases, etc. is there and works as expected.
At HostMonster, you get 300 GB of space and 3,000 GB of bandwidth for about $7.95 a month if you pay yearly. The pricing is hidden well within the signup form. If you want to signup for the minimum period (3 months), it is $7.95 a month and a $30 setup fee. Pricing goes down to $5.95 if you choose to pay 24 months in advance.
As far as incentives to signup go, HostMonster is not bad. They offer a sitebuilder, $50 in free ad credits from Yahoo, and a free domain name if you pay 12 or 24 months in advance. The company will not move your site for free, which is very disappointing.
Support at the two companies is also very similar. Like BlueHost, HostMonster requires you to submit your ticket using the company’s web based interface and also has many departments listed. I tried to submit a ticket, but it kept saying my domain and password were not valid. Needless to say, that was quite frustrating. I even found out that BlueHost and HosterMonster even have the same hold music.
A call to their support department was answered within about 3 minutes after dialing. The representative seemed friendly enough, but I did have to spell my domain name three times. Apparently, to submit a ticket, you have to register with their ticket system as well. This was an annoying process that took a good ten minutes. When I asked my actual question, he asked for my domain name again. I had to kindly remind him I already spelt it out three times two minutes before.
Later, when I went to login to Squirrel Mail, the interface was in Japanese. Since I still couldn’t submit a ticket online and had given up on that process, I called again. I was connected within about 5 minutes. The guy who picked up got the language changed to English fairly quickly, but seemed like a drone. “Domain please”, “Hold on please”, “It’s fixed”, and “You’re welcome” were basically the only words spoken throughout the whole call, which lasted about 10 minutes.
In researching HostMonster, I saw several complaints about spotty and sometimes unreliable FTP connections. Other customers also had problems running scripts on HostMonster’s servers. During my testing, the FTP seemed okay. I was able to install WordPress and a CMS without any trouble.
All and all, I wasn’t that impressed by HostMonster. It seems like the company is neglected. You basically get a lot of space and bandwidth and that’s it. If you are looking for an “upload and forget about it” host, HostMonster will work out just fine. If you want or require more, I’d suggest staying clear.