15th June 2007

1&1 Web Site Hosting Review

I’ve often been asked about my choice of web site host company, which currently is 1&1 by people who are either looking to set up a new site or looking to change to a new web site hosting company, so it seems like the right time to write a review that might just help others.

I’ve been managing a large number of websites since early 2003, and in that time have been through a few different site hosting companies, including Host Rocket, iPowerWeb, IMHosted, and DellHost, amongst others. For the last two years I have been, for the most part, very happy with 1&1. I say “for the most part” because it hasn’t been a perfect relationship, but the few troubles I’ve had are certainly not bad enough to make me break up with them and seek a new hosting company.

What’s Good about 1&1?

  • Inexpensive domain registration/renewal fees, with from 1 to 5 free domains depending on the package you choose;
  • All their plans offer a generous amount of disk space, bandwidth, and email accounts, making it an excellent value;
  • Loads of useful “freebies” – bolt-on apps like forums, blogs, MySQL databases, an eCommerce shopping cart solution, a mailing list manager, newsletter tool, miscellaneous cgi scripts, and much more, all accessible through a very user friendly control panel. Also included are web-site creation tools to help you quickly get a site set up (if you are a raw beginner to web site design) complete with templates, graphics, photos and more. They also include a ton of free software on CD to help you improve your site’s design and marketing, along with free paid search marketing vouchers (aka PPC advertising) to help you get started marketing your site and getting traffic. You just can’t beat the overall high value of goods and services received for the small monthly fee;
  • Uptime is excellent – in the past two years I haven’t had any site downtime (I’m knocking on wood here in the hopes of not jinxing myself for saying that);
  • Did I mention the control panel is very user friendly? Regardless of how many domains you manage or packages you accumulate, you can access all functions through one very easy to use interface;

What’s not so good about 1&1?

  • Tech Support – on the plus side they do have toll-free 24 x 7 tech support, but on the minus side it pretty much sucks for anything but the most simplistic questions or needs. The folks who staff their tech support desk are friendly and professional, but simply not very well trained or even highly technically savvy, and for the most part their poor mastery of the english language means that communication often suffers. When I first started with 1&1 they had truly outstandingly good tech support. Then they outsourced it – we all know to where – and it went dramatically downhill at that point. Calling them now is an exercise in frustration that I generally try very hard to avoid. When I do have to call them, it generally ends with my slamming the phone down, very hard, multiple times, then pouring a stiff drink;
  • Email, Part 1 – 1& routinely has problems with their mail servers getting blacklisted by various anti-spam organizations and applications, resulting in email that gets rejected instead of to it’s intended recipient. They also have a rather laissez-faire attitude to rectifying the situation when it occurs. To be fair I can’t say it effects a huge percentage of the email I manage – probably only around 5% – but since all of the domains I manage are businesses, to them 5% is unacceptable. I had to solve this problem by moving the mx (mail server) records for my key accounts to a 3rd party email handling company, even though this adds a monthly expense;
  • Email, Part 2 – this may not be a problem for everyone – heck maybe only for me – but they use a redundant server set up that keeps a mirror image of all email on a second server as a “backup” – should the first email server go down for any reason, including scheduled maintenance, the switch to the backup email server. Sounds good on paper, right? Unfortunately the email client of choice for most of my business clients is Outlook, which then re-downloads all the email since the last change of servers, because the backup server considers it “unread” email. This can be a real nightmare if it’s been a few months since the last server change – and even more of a nightmare for those who routinely get a lot of email on a daily basis – one of my customers called to complain that her inbox just filled up with nearly 2,000 new emails that were 99% “old” emails – yikes! Calls to their Tech Support were, of course, frustrating and fruitless, since they aren’t about to change their backup policy for me – I’m only one of somewhere around 16 million customers of theirs;
  • Did I mention their tech support sucks?

The bottom line is this – I think 1&1 is an ideal web hosting company for two categories of “webmasters”: The small site owner who doesn’t need much advanced functionality and can stick to using several of their free bolt-on site creation tools (which really are easy to use and well documented in their support files and FAQs), OR the highly experienced site admin who doesn’t need much assistance in maintaining all levels of site functionality. If you want a web site hosting company that has excellent products at a great price and offers super-reliability in terms of uptime, but don’t need much in the way of advanced Tech Support, then 1&1 is probably a really good fit for you. If you need a lot of hand holding and help, you might want to consider hosting elsewhere until you can learn the technical ins and outs, or hire a trustworthy webmaster to help you.
Rating: ★★½☆☆

Share with others:
Please Rate this Post:

Leave a Reply

Add your own comment! Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses, so come on... let me know what you think.

**PLEASE NOTE:  Due to the high amount of comment spam I receive I am currently moderating ALL comments, so please be patient, and I WILL respond.  in addition I use Akismet and other spam-comment blockers.  If your comment does not eventually show up it may be that Akismet has determined that it is spam due to your IP address, your links, or the words you use.   If you're not a spammer, drop me a note via my Contact Form and I'll respond personally.

Your email address will never be displayed. Please use a name/pseudonym so that it is easier to distinguish between different anonymous comments. Thanks for commenting!