What do college students, nonprofits, and small businesses have in common? If you said, “tight budgets,” you’d win the teddy bear!
Short of visiting the midway at the Jersey Shore, you can still feel like a winner if you decide to get a hosting plan from InterServer.
That’s because the Secaucus, NJ, web hosting provider offers a unique “price lock guarantee,” meaning that the hosting rate you book now will never cost more in the future. What’s more, nonprofits can get hosting completely free and students can get their first year hosting fees waived.
Free is in my budget, as is fixed pricing, so I took a look at InterServer for this review.
Web Host Review: InterServer
InterServer’s Infrastructure Is Built for Speed
The first thing that impressed me about InterServer is its network. The company uses three Tier 1 IP backbone providers: Zayo, most heavily networked on the US East Coast; NTT Communications, a global provider with good Asia coverage; and Cogent, which favors European nodes.
It also boasts high-end routing and switching equipment from Cisco, Extreme Networks, and Riverstone, as well as an intelligent BGPv4 routing protocol.
VPS and Dedicated Hosting for Businesses
InterServer offers a full suite of hosting packages — everything from shared hosting to virtual private server (VPS) and dedicated hosting, where they also optimize for speed.
- Uptime Guarantee
- Phone Support
- PHP 5
Before going into more detail, let’s compare these options which InterServer offers:
|ASP.NET Hosting||VPS Hosting||Dedicated Hosting|
|Pricing||From $4.5/month||From $6/month||From $50/month|
They recently installed a new virtualization platform called Virtuozzo 7.
This brought a 60% performance boost on their virtual machines for VPS plans on Linux servers. Virtuozzo 7 also allows for access via to the VPS control panel by way of Virtual Network Computing (VNC).
Aside from the awesome features, take a look at the custom hosting package generator:
Windows and Linux VPS
VPS hosting comes in both Linux and Windows flavors. You can pick any number of slices you like for a fixed amount per slice. InterServer uses a VPS control panel called Bread Basket that appears to be proprietary. The panel also comes with hundreds of 1-click install apps.
Linux VPS Hosting starts at $6/month, whereas Windows VPS Hosting starts at $10/month.
InterServer’s Array of Linux Distributions
InterServer’s dedicated hosting plans are pretty beefy, featuring Intel Atom and Xeon CPUs.
They offer more operating systems than most web hosts. You can choose the usual Cloud Linux distro, or you can also opt for Centos, Ubuntu, Gentoo, and Red Hat Fedora.
Windows Servers With ASP.NET MVC
Some businesses prefer Windows hosting and InterServer features an ASP.NET Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework that comes with all the bells and whistles, including over 100 1-click installs.
How ASP.NET MVC Helps Development
You might need ASP.NET MVC to help you manage complexity when working on apps that are test-driven or require large development teams. It also gives you full design and behavior control over your application.
Five Reasons to Try InterServer’s Unlimited Shared Hosting
On its shared web hosting plans, InterServer offers unlimited storage, transfer, websites, and email, as well as free SSL certificates. That’s kind of a big deal.
You may think that other hosts also give unlimited storage and bandwidth — but you’d be wrong. So why is it a such a bargain?
Special Shared Features
- Free SSL Certificates
- Unlimited Storage
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- CloudFlare CDN
- Pricing and Value.
Free SSL Certificates
Some hosts offer free SSL certificates. But they are usually only on their higher-end plans
Otherwise, these certificates will usually cost you extra cash.
Unlimited Storage and Bandwidth
With some other hosting providers, “unlimited bandwidth” isn’t really unlimited. Although these other web host providers say their plans don’t have usage caps, if they find you hogging all the shared server’s resources, they’ll throttle you back or ask you to upgrade.
On the other hand, with InterServer shared plans, unlimited actually means unlimited. How can they offer this promise? Behind the scenes, they limit all their servers to run at 50% of the hardware’s capacity. You’ll never max it out because when capacity starts creeping over the halfway mark, they beef up the server.
The word “unlimited” is often thrown around, however InterServer actually back it up with some clever technology under the hood.
If your site will have visitors from all over the world, you will want a Content Delivery Netnetwork (CDN). It allows browsers from anywhere to connect to a server that is close to them.
InterServer’s shared hosting is boosted by Cloudflare’s content delivery network (CDN) for free. Cloudflare CDN makes your website load faster with caching and delivery optimization.
It also protects your site from a ton of security threats. You’ll need to sign up for a Cloudflare account to activate its benefits, but it’s completely free if you purchase a hosting package via InterServer.
Pricing and Value
Even if InterServer didn’t include all of these great features, it would be hard to beat at just $5 per month.
But given all the extras it provides, InterServer offers some of the best value on the internet.
SitePad Site Builder
I tried out the shared hosting plan and purchased a domain for it. Even though InterServer is a Drupal hosting partner and also offers WordPress installs, I opted to use their site builder, SitePad to create my website.
The InterServer dashboard is a layer above the cPanel dashboard. The domains dashboard was also on a separate page.
At first, it was a bit confusing finding my way around this maze. It was befuddling enough that I didn’t even realize that I hadn’t actually paid for my domain, even though I’d already purchased hosting.
When I ran into trouble with the domain purchasing issue, I had a less-than-stellar interaction with customer service live chat.
SitePad Is a Good Site Builder
SitePad doesn’t get much splashy coverage, but actually quite good at what it does.
There are almost 300 themes to choose from — and most of them look pretty slick.
Adding text, pages, and even a blog are a snap, just as you’d expect from a professional site builder.
Is InterServer Good for E-Commerce?
InterServer does offer e-commerce functionality through it’s 1-click add-ons and Softaculous. They also give you a free SSL certificate, but you’ll need to call support to get it turned on.
E-commerce functionality isn’t available in the SitePad site builder so you’ll have to do it from scratch.
Necessary E-Commerce Features
When selecting a host for e-commerce purposes, these are the key features and functionalities you should look for:
- E-commerce Plug-In Support
- Easy-Install Payment Systems
- PCI Compliance
E-commerce Plug-In Support
This feature eliminates a lot of hassle when setting up your shop.
One-click installs can be extremely useful for e-commerce projects, bear in mind this can cost $5/install, depending on which package you choose.
Easy-Install Payment Systems
You do not want to do this manually. It can be expensive and time-consuming.
So unless you are an expert, this is the way to go.
PCI compliance is short for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. If you are going to be taking credit cards (and you will be losing out on a lot of sales if you don’t), you need it.
So make sure your site is PCI compliant from the very beginning.
Note that PCI compliance isn’t part of InterServer’s shared hosting plans. You’ll need to get compliance from whichever add-on you use (eg, OpenCart) or from the WordPress e-commerce plug-in you choose.
Everyone knows that people online are impatient. But whereas a slow blog might lose you a few readers, a slow online store could cost you thousands of dollars.
As a result, you want your e-commerce website to be as fast as possible. You don’t want to give your customers time to change their minds just when their about to buy.
Customer and user data can take up tons of space. So you don’t want to have to worry about storage capacity on your store. Be ready!
InterServer for E-Commerce?
Considering all these things, I’d say that InterServer wouldn’t be my first choice for hosting an e-commerce site.
But you might be different. Setting up an e-commerce site is always a big decision that requires making a lot of choices.
Power and Uptime Guarantees
InterServer offers customers an uptime guarantee to a level of 99.9% and uninterrupted power 100% of the time. Their SLA defines downtime as being “unable to send data to or receive from a server.”
You can get up to 50% credit off the month’s cost of your hosting plan if they don’t deliver on their guarantee.
You’ll need to catch your site being down, however, because Interserver doesn’t offer a way to monitor uptime.
You can use a service like Uptime Robot’s free service to keep tabs on your site’s availability.
It’s actually very transparent of InterServer to allow you to monitor your own uptime since some web hosting providers use their own tools (which their customers aren’t privy to) in measuring uptime.
As soon as you experience an interruption in uptime, all you need to do is fill out a customer support ticket documenting the outage.
If you like digging into the grunty side of web hosting, you might be a good candidate for InterServers reseller hosting plan.
InterServer Marketing Materials
If you decide to partner up with either of their programs, InterServer gives you access to marketing materials and your own InterServer personal assistant.
Behind the Scenes
InterServer makes it really easy to control the part of your website that the public doesn’t see.
When you log into the InterServer dashboard, you can see all your plans and servers in one place — including shared, cloud, VPS, and dedicated servers.
A look at InterServer’s hosting dashboard, via WhoIsHostingThis
On the domains dashboard, you can see all the domains you’ve purchased from InterServer.
Unfortunately, that’s about all it shows; there’s no indication of which web hosting plan is associated with the domains, even if they’re hosted by InterServer.
InterServer’s domain registration dashboard, via WhoIsHostingThis
cPanel Control Panel
For cloud hosting, as well as VPS and dedicated server plans, you get cPanel when you choose a Linux server. (All shared hosting is on Linux, but you get a choice of OS with VPS and dedicated plans.)
It’s a very long control panel because there’s a lot of functionality here.
You can also launch SitePad, InterServer’s website builder from this panel or instigate Softaculous 1-click installs.
Cloudflare CDN Integration
You can log into your Cloudflare account via your hosting panel. (In my case, it was cPanel.) You’ll need to create an account with Cloudflare and then sign in from the web host panel.
Softaculous 1-Click Installs
You can add apps from Softaculous right from the cPanel dashboard, including e-commerce apps like OpenCart.
Site Builder Dashboard
From the SitePad dashboard, you can add pages to your site, change themes, upload media, and write blog posts.
Site Builder Themes
With almost 300 themes to choose from, SitePad can help you create a professional looking site in minutes.
Site Builder Content
Adding content is as easy as double-clicking to add text or dragging widgets to where you want them.
Site Builder Finished Site
Here’s what my site looked like after 15 minutes. Pretty slick! Of course, you’ll need additional time to personalize the copy and images, as well as adding your own offers or products.
One of Interserver’s standout features as a web host is providing 24/7 support service for its customers.
Even better, the level of support you get has nothing to do with which plan you choose. Everyone gets the same access to phone, ticket or chat support, regardless of plan.
InterServer will also migrate your existing site to their servers for free.
Liking This Host?
If InterServer looks interesting to you, check out these hosts who offer similar services and plans, like transparent pricing, fast servers, your choice of data centers, business focus, and domain purchasing.
|$.01 for the first month||1cent||Interserver.Net|
|66%||included with the link||Bluehost.Com|
|20%||included with the link||Mochahost.Com|
|10% (for domain)|
15% (for all shared hosting)
|included with the link||Namecheap.Com|
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is InterServer’s WordPress plan more expensive than its shared hosting plan?
When I asked the sales team this question, they explained that the increased price is due to the additional security measures required to prevent hacks on WordPress hosting.
These measures include “strong mod_security ruleset from Atomicorp, daily virus scanners on all internal pages, additional backups and blacklists some known bad WordPress plugins.”
- Are InterServer’s 1-click installs free on a shared hosting plan?
Some installs are free, like WordPress. Others, like OpenCart, carry an additional monthly cost (often $5/month), over and above your plan’s cost.
- Can I really get free InterServer hosting if I’m a student?
Yes. Students can get one year of the standard shared hosting plan for free. When the first year is over, you’ll be charged the $5/month plan fee.
- What’s the deal with free nonprofit hosting on Interserver?
Hosting is completely free for nonprofits who provide their 501(c)(3) information. All Interserver asks in return is a text link on the bottom of your homepage that says, “Powered by InterServer,” with a link back to their site.
- Do I get a free domain with my hosting plan?
No. InterServer doesn’t provide free domains.
- Does Interserver offer a way to get a server up quickly?
Yes. InterServer can get a dedicated “Quick Server” online in about 20 minutes.
- Does Interserver offer any additional perks?
Yes! All shared hosting plans come with $100 in Google Adwords Credits and a 20% Template Monster discount. VPS and Dedicated plans are excluded from these perks.
- Does InterServer really give you unlimited storage and bandwidth?
Yes. Their strategy is to continuously operate at 50% capacity, ensuring that you’ll always have the overhead you need for resources.
Money-back Guarantee Trial Period
Shared hosting and WordPress plans don’t have a free trial period but they are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked.
To initiate the refund, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, Interserver’s billing support email.
VPS, Quick Server and Dedicated hosting plans do not offer refunds after the server has been deployed.
InterServer also guarantees 99.5% uptime and 100% power.
If they fail to meet these standards, you can request a refund from support which can be up to 50% of your hosting fee.
Lowest Price for Shared Hosting or Other Cheapest Plans
InterServer’s shared hosting plans are quite cheap. The standard shared hosting plan costs $5/month and managed WordPress hosting costs $8/month.
If you pay for a year or more at a time, you’ll get a bit of a bulk discount. What’s more, thanks to their price lock guarantee, your plan price will never increase.
Also, if you click through from Micro Dollarz, you can get your first month for a penny ($0.01) with coupon code 1cent.
InterServer uses OpenStack to create redundancy on its systems, so every shared hosting plan comes with free weekly backups. They keep three copies of each backup for 60 days.
Restores are free and can be done from your control panel.
You can also initiate a manual backup or restore from cPanel (Linux servers) or Plesk (Windows servers).
For WordPress hosting, you can add additional backups with a free plugin like BackWPUp.
VPS and Dedicated Servers
For VPS and Dedicated servers, you must take care of your own backups, but there are good support articles to help you.
Site Builder Included?
InterServer uses SitePad as a site builder, which you’ll get access to after you purchase a hosting plan.
For e-commerce, you can choose add-ons from Softaculous like OpenCart or PrestaShop.
All shared hosting plans come with a free SSL certificate, but you must contact support to activate it.
PCI compliance comes with several of Interserver’s 1-click installs like OpenCart, Magento, and PrestaShop. Adding on one of these e-commerce platforms costs an extra $5/month on top of your hosting plan.
For WordPress plans, you’ll need to rely on your particular e-commerce and payment gateway plug-ins for PCI compliance.
Let’s take a final look at the key advantages and disadvantages of InterServer as a host.
Overall, InterServer boasts some brilliant features, however breaking down some of the below can act as an important reminder before committing to a package.
- Price Lock Guarantee: fair, transparent pricing which is guaranteed not to increase
- Legitimate unlimited storage and bandwidth with no caveats, as well as free migration
- Excellent online support articles.
- Flow for buying domains and hosting is somewhat crude and difficult to follow, as I learned firsthand
- One-click add-ons can get pricey ($5/month)
- Although some of the pages on InterServer’s website look sharp, there are a good number of other pages that have some formatting and typo issues, including low-res images and out-of-date comparisons to other hosts, that make it seem less professional than some of its competitors.
Is InterServer Right for You?
Here are some considerations if you’re considering InterServer as your next web host provider.
Are You Tech Savvy?
InterServer is best suited for businesses that are a bit of tech-savvy and want to lock in a great price for their yearly budgets.
Bona fide unlimited bandwidth and storage sweetens the deal on some of InterServer’s plans.
Great for Non-Profits
InterServer’s web hosting is also great for nonprofits and students, both of whom can get free services.
Steep Learning Curve
InterServer probably isn’t ideal for people who are unfamiliar with web technologies since they’ll struggle with a steep learning curve.
I’m not anywhere close to a newbie, but even I had trouble finding areas of the website I needed and figuring out what steps to take next.
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