midPhase (www.midphase.com) is a fairly large and well known web host based in Chicago. The company, which was launched out of its founders’ dorm room, has been around since May 2003 and is adding over 4,000 new accounts per month. Some people I know say midPhase is the best host others, while others would never get near it. One would assume a company that is getting so many new customers per month is doing something right. This review will find out if they are, and if so, what.
The company’s offerings are pretty standard: midPhase offers Linux shared hosting (the subject of this review), Windows hosting plans, VPS plans, dedicated servers, and web design services. VPS hosting and web design services are both new offerings from midPhase.
midPhase wants your business. They will transfer your sites, domains, databases, and so on, buy out your old hosting contract (basically, up to a $50 credit on your bill), and renew your domain name as long as you have an account with them. midPhase also owns the smaller AN Hosting.
Signing up at midPhase was simple. All of the instructions and information was clearly stated and the first step took about 5 minutes. The second step required confirming your order (likely for fraud prevention purposes). As a new customer, your options are to confirm your order using the telephone or fax. A telephone call simply involved clicking the link to have a call placed and entering in a confirmation code. The verification call did not take more than 15 seconds. After that, the account was setup.
Shortly after receiving my welcome email, I received a phone call from midPhase. The message they left said (paraphrased):
“Hi, my name is … I’m working at midPhase and I’m a technical support manager. I’m trying to walk you through our hosting services and want to let you that we are here 24 hours/day to talk to you. For any contact support you need, you can reach us via email at email@example.com. You can also reach us via phone which is… You can also chat with us live and you can find that link on our main page www.midphase.com under live chat. If you have further questions, you can reach me at my personal extension… That would be all. Have a nice day.”
I’ve never heard of a budget hosting company doing something like this before and it was interesting. I’d be curious to see how much the technical support manager will walk you through the hosting process, but the personal call is definitely a nice tough.
As expected, the company offers 24/7 support over the phone and email, a 30 day money back guarantee, high quality servers in a secure datacenter, an uptime guarantee (99.9%), and all of the standard things. Nothing too amazing or spectacular, but midPhase is on or above par in all of those areas. All accounts also come up with varying ad credits from companies like Yahoo ($50) and Google ($25).
Be aware of some of midPhase’s terms of service clauses:
- They charge $21.95 per year for a domain name. If they register a domain name for you (as their promotion states) and you cancel within your 30 day period, they will charge you for that domain. It is obviously well above the ~$9.00 you pay for an average domain.
- Their site says to read their Terms of Service for details about their uptime guarantee. I could not find any specific details about the uptime guarantee besides a section of their TOS stating it is basically impossible to provide 100% uptime (“When the Services Will be Available”). If an uptime guarantee is important to you, I suggest reading and asking about this.
midPhase’s shared hosting plans are very competitive. They offer 200,000 MB of disk space and 3,000,000 MB of bandwidth on their smaller plan. Their larger plan has 250,000 MB of diskspace and “unmetered” (supposedly unlimited) bandwidth.
Their plan details page is fairly vague, but do note that their small account only includes 1 MySQL database (the larger one includes 3). Unlike most shared hosting companies that include it, midPhase charges you extra ($1.95/month if you signup during the ordering process) for AWstats. A lot of people like AWstats and I have never seen a hosting company charge extra for it.
Plans “start” at $7.95 a month for the smaller plan. The larger one “starts” at $11.95 a month. Be aware that you only get the advertised price of $7.95 a month if you signup for a year in advance. If you want to pay quarterly or semi-annually, expect to pay a higher monthly fee and a $29.95 setup fee.
Once you’re setup, midPhase is pretty much like any other shared host that uses cPanel. Their version of cPanel is slightly modified (read: a prettier template), but is easy to navigate and functional. It offered no notable features or addons that I noticed besides some promotional items.
Feature wise, midPhase provides what is expected. The control panel and FTP weren’t slow, nor were they ultra speedy. Using Fantastico, I was able to setup a basic WordPress blog quickly and without any problems. Everything seemed to work as expected. midPhase’s control panel was actually quite boring compared to all the fancy addons that 1&1 offered, for example. However, as a person quite used to cPanel and its offerings, I had no complaints.
I decided to give midPhase’s customer service a test. When going to check my email using NeoMail, I got an error. I knew the error was because cPanel essentially stopped offering NeoMail, but did midPhase? I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org A few seconds later, I got a confirmation email stating they had received my inquiry and a ticket had been created. I received a reply exactly an hour later (well past their “20 minute average response time”, but not bad). The reply said that NeoMail was no longer supported by cPanel.
There was no answer on their live chat (they don’t promise 24/7 live chat, though). I decided to give midPhase a call.
After about four minutes on hold, it seemed like I was disconnected. I called back and after about three minutes on hold, the elevator music stopped and I had no idea if their IVR had dropped my call again. I called back once again and waited on hold some more. After 3 minutes or so, sure enough the hold music stopped looping. A very easy problem for midPhase to fix, but quite annoying when it does happen. I tried again and waited on hold for technical support for 10 minutes before giving up. To ensure it wasn’t a problem with either of the two phones I used, I called another well known hosting company and was connected to a person within about a minute.
midPhase’s customer service was disappointing. The company mentions several places on their web site about how they are available 24/7 and you can call anytime and talk to a human. I didn’t get to the point where the human’s attitude or knowledge was even an issue.
My verdict is that midPhase is essentially an average host offering average features and average customer service. They don’t do anything spectacular, but regardless, it seems to be working for them.
Visit : MidPhase