I’m evaluating several web hosting companies for an upcoming class I’m teaching. Look for additional reviews in the near future as I wrap up my testing of the three I’ve narrowed it down to. Here’s the first of those.
I ran into the folks from Domain.com at SXSW in March. They’re pretty big in website hosting, but tend to fly under the radar compared to firms like Bluehost, HostGator and of course, GoDaddy. So after talking to them a bit, I made a note to check out their hosting and see how it measured up as far as cost, speed, and ease of use are concerned. Here’s how that shook out.
First off, Domain.com offers a single-domain hosting for under $4 a month, and that’s a price good for 1, 2 or 3 years. Many hosts tease with a low price but then you discoer the price is only good for a 3-year contract and rates go up a dollar a a month if the term is reduced to 2 years, and another dollar if you select a 1 year term. Domain.com didn’t play that game, so I was feeling pretty good so far.
The registration process was straightforward and they didn’t try to tack on a bunch of extras during the domain registration. They did add one up sell as a default, but it was apparent in the shopping cart process and easy to uncheck it. Since I only wanted to test this with a single domain, I opted for the lowest priced plan. The main differentiator between this and the next tier was the higher priced plan (at a $6.97 per month promo price) was the ability to add additional domains under the higher plan. Generally, I’d recommend you go for that option since you never know when you might want to launch a new website for a special project or sale promotion you’re running. But I digress. I competed the sign up, the account was provisioned almost instantly, and I was able to set up a test WordPress site right away.
The next day was the big shocker. I received a phone call from my Domain.com account rep. to introduce himself and make sure everything was going ok, and did I have any questions he could answer? He followed up with an email containing his contact info and direct phone number. Yes, I was impressed with this level of customer service.
Back to the hosting
Domain.com uses the bog standard cPanel interface but there’s quite a few additional icons in the top panel. They’re all links to other services, sometimes rather loosely related. There’s an icon for Grasshopper, the phone service. While I’m a fan of Grasshopper, I didn’t expect to run across them in my hosting control panel. So, not so much of an add-on sales push during the signup, but plenty of opportunities after the fact. To be fair, they’re not as bad as some of the hosts I looked at, and they’re just icons after all. They’re not animated, flashing, or otherwise annoying, so I can tune them out pretty easily. The rest of the screen has the expected full set of cPanel options for domains, databases, one-step installers, and email management.
In short, they’re pretty solid. In my testing, they scored equally with Bluehost, another hosting company known and well-regarded for WordPress hosting. Domain.com does have an added-cost feature that would help performance even more, and that’s the $12.99 per month CloudFlare content distribution network (CDN) service. I’ll talk more about this in an upcoming review. For now, just think of it as a speed boost for the time it takes your website to load in a customer’s browser.
[And this is where you’ll find the link to the next hosting review in the series. Don’t fret, it’ll be here in a few days. Check back then.]