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HostMonster is a decent hosting provider with quite a few likeable features but also a rather peculiar drawback. Check it out in the review below!
HostMonster is an established provider, so I had some expectations. When I opened the website, I couldn’t help but notice the somewhat dated design and the scarcity of info about the host.
Still, appearances can be deceiving. Thousands of customers can’t be wrong. Or can they?
I decided to do a HostMonster review and find out.
After extensive evaluation, I can say HostMonster performs alright.
Keep reading to find out what HostMonster does right and why you might want to consider an alternative anyway.
What Is HostMonster?
HostMonster web hosting ran solo for a while, but it eventually got acquired by the Endurance International Group in 2015. If you have been around the block a few times, you probably know what this means.
Today, it uses the infrastructure owned by Bluehost. They also share a few other things.
Bluehost has cutting-edge servers, which should work in HostMonster’s favor. But online HostMonster reviews haven’t been too kind to the provider lately.
We’ll jump straight to the review and see if HostMonster is worth the time.
The Essentials—Uptime, Speed, Support
The Big Three – uptime, speed, and support – are key factors in determining whether a provider is good or not.
HostMonster’s infrastructure scores reasonable results here, though there are a few things to watch out for. Here are the details:
1. Solid Uptime—99.98%
Websites live and die by uptime. Having a server go down is the same as having no functional website at all.
HostMonster runs its plans on Bluehost servers (the provider’s team says so itself). BH has impressive machines, which are a huge advantage.
My server was available 99.98% of the time, across several months. This means only eight minutes down per month.
HostMonster hosting has no uptime guarantee. The one it used to have has since been discontinued. The provider might have an outage, and it would in no way have to compensate you for the downtime. It’s not a comforting thought, especially considering EIG’s series of bad data center outages.
HostMonster has excellent uptime, but the lack of a legal guarantee doesn’t instill confidence.
2. Decent Frontend Speeds but a Shoddy Backend
Speed is the bread and butter of any website owner.
HostMonster runs on Bluehost’s servers, which perform well. That said, many HostMonster reviews complain about load issues. I wanted to measure the speeds for myself and put the question to rest.
I got a plan and hooked it up to various testing tools, including GTMetrix, Pingdom, and Load Impact. Several months of tests let me reliably measure how the host performs.
The frontend is okay. The time to first byte is only 0.350 seconds, putting HostMonster in the top five providers according to response times. The servers take around 1.01 to deliver a basic web page – a satisfactory result. An inevitable HostMonster vs. Bluehost comparison springs to mind (no surprise, since the hosts use the same servers).
Unfortunately, the infrastructure kind of flopped during backend testing. I sent out 50 virtual users that made 300 connections to my website. The response times jump to an average of 15 seconds.
For reference, fast providers see their times drop to anywhere from 0.120 seconds to a full second. HostMonster utterly failed to quickly process multiple requests and will likely have issues if you get a bunch of visitors at the same time.
HostMonster can get you quick load times, but the backend can’t handle an influx of traffic.
3. HostMonster Support
EIG-owned companies often have support problems. I tested the customer service department for this HostMonster review to see how it performs.
I have to say, the team had me in for a pleasant surprise.
The agent was even open about how servers are set up and the resources I’d be able to access. They also explained, in simple terms, how technologies like Site Backup Pro work. To top it off, they gave me pretty sound advice on picking the right HostMonster hosting plan.
HostMonster’s team is akin to Bluehost’s, which is laudable.
The provider maintains a rather extensive knowledge base. You can find a bunch of DIY tutorials on using software like WordPress and troubleshooting various problems. Admittedly, the navigation could be smoother, but you can find answers to the most common questions.
The HostMonster customer service is decent enough.
HostMonster is solid in the support department, and the knowledge base has a few helpful articles for beginners to get started.
The Pros of HostMonster
This HostMonster review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the key advantages of HostMonster.
1. Weebly Site Builder Access
Sometimes, you just want to design a website as quickly as possible.
HostMonster integrates Weebly into its service. It’s a user-friendly site builder with robust features and optional ecommerce capabilities. If you’re a beginner or just want a quick way to dish out websites, you can use it to great effect.
The free website builder is available through the HostMonster cPanel interface. Keep in mind you just get the basic version, so you would have to pay extra licensing fees for things like ecommerce features. You get the full resources and add-on features of HostMonster, though, which is a step up from hosting directly with Weebly.
It’s a pretty cool addition if you need a quick way to set up a few sites.
Backups are the last resort in the battle against data loss. Whatever happens to your server and the files on it, you should have a backup you can use to roll back the unwanted change. It provides peace of mind, and it’s something practically all website owners need.
You get Site Backup Basic with each HostMonster hosting plan. The solution makes daily backups of your setup and lets you quickly restore website files.
The catch is that the Basic version lacks the option to restore the database. If you need backups or advanced options like partial restorations, you would have to purchase Site Backup Pro.
Alternatively, HostMonster sells licenses for CodeGuard backups. Think about creating automated backups, compressing and exporting them remotely, and doing all kinds of restorations.
If you need to choose between the two, I would recommend CodeGuard. Both cost $2.99/month, but CodeGuard is free with the Choice Plus and Pro plans. That way, you won’t have to switch solutions if you upgrade your plan.
All in all, HostMonster web hosting takes care of your backup needs, though advanced options cost extra on the two smaller plans.
3. Free Domain
You can’t have a website without a domain name. If you prefer to get hosting and domain registration in one place, HostMonster has quite an offer.
The plans come with free domain registration. It saves you around $10 in your first year.
All good, but what about domain privacy?
Domain privacy is a service that keeps your personal info masked in the WHOIS directory, and it prevents data gatherers from using it to spam you.
You’ll get it for free only with the Choice Plus and Pro plans. It costs $0.99/month on the two smaller HostMonster plans. It might seem negligible, but this is actually pretty pricey. Many registrars offer the same for free or only a small administrative fee. Paying for a domain with free privacy protection would be more affordable.
If you don’t need WHOIS privacy or are on the larger plans, the domain registration is an okay freebie.
4. Free SSL
SSL certificates are pretty much essential. Without one, your website appears unsafe, and most browsers warn visitors not to enter. Not to mention the SEO penalties.
Like with most providers, you can automatically install free SSL on HostMonster plans. Businesses often want more than this, though. Paid SSL security can get you the benefit of a recognizable site seal. Plus, they tend to have a warranty in case the security fails. Paid certificates also often cover installation assistance and full technical support (which Let’s Encrypt lacks).
If you’re interested, the largest HostMonster hosting plan comes with a single-domain PositiveSSL by Sectigo (AKA Comodo). It’s a decent solution if you want to secure just one domain. It would otherwise cost you $60/year, so you’re getting a fair bit of value.
All in all, if you need premium encryption, you can get it bundled with HostMonster’s largest plan.
5. Lots of Additional Freebies
If you thought I was done with the free stuff, you’re in for a surprise.
The larger plans come with SpamExperts, which filters all incoming emails for unwanted content or malware. It would be a great addition to the smallest plan as well.
HostMonster plans have a huge plus – with Google and Bing ad credits. You will get around $200 worth of free ads on the platforms. A great way to get a few visitors in and jumpstart your website.
The largest hosting plan offers a free dedicated IP address. Aside from being useful for SSL security, it’s a useful addition to email hosting. Having your own IP address dramatically reduces the likelihood of being flagged for spam. Most hosting providers charge around $2-4 for a static IP, so getting a free one is a huge money-saver.
Even apart from HostMonster’s free SSL and domain name, you can use a few other handy services.
6. Money-back Guarantee
You wouldn’t walk a tightrope without a safety net, so you shouldn’t get hosting without a money-back guarantee. It’s your insurance if things go wrong.
Like most companies, HostMonster gets you 30 days to try out the platform risk-free. If you notice any deal-breakers or just dislike the platform, you can get a full refund.
It’s an industry-standard offer, but it’s still helpful. Only a few rare providers, like DreamHost, have a longer period. More time means seeing how the provider performs once you get a bit of traffic.
If you only want to test the features, though, one month is more than enough.
The Cons of HostMonster
Doing the HostMonster review revealed a few issues. This is what you should keep an eye out for.
1. Too Similar to Bluehost
The issue is that HostMonster has changed so much it’s practically indistinguishable from Bluehost. Most HostMonster reviews kind of gloss over it, but it’s a big deal.
The plans are all the same, including the names, and the features are identical. The providers even have similar performance results and lack the same tools.
Apart from the website, the only difference is Bluehost’s lower hosting fees. HostMonster is essentially a rebranded pricier version.
This makes it tough to recommend it over Bluehost. HostMonster pricing doesn’t do it a favor.
2. No Monthly Deals
Most providers let you choose the term of your hosting. Typically, you can pay for a year to three years and get a hefty discount for your first term. It costs you less in the long run, though you have to make a small investment upfront.
Alternatively, most hosts let you pay each month. Sure, it’s more expensive, but the payments are more manageable. Many users find it easier to scrounge up a few bucks each month than pay everything right away.
HostMonster takes away the dilemma and not in a good way. The shortest allowed term is one year, so you would have to pay at least $83.40 to get started.
Sure, it’s a relatively small investment, and most users go for a three-year subscription anyway. If you’re looking to pay monthly, though, HostMonster hosting is not the ideal choice.
If you’re interested in an alternative with completely the same features and month-to-month deals, you can check out JustHost. It’s another EIG provider with the same offer. Unlike HostMonster and Bluehost, it allows short-term payments.
3. Upsells Galore
HostMonster employs a bunch of sales tactics, which is pretty typical for someone under the management of Endurance International. Upsells are just the most annoying of the bunch, so they get their own section.
HostMonster will push features like domain protection, site security, and SEO tools. All the add-ons increase the total cost of the smallest plan nearly 2.5 times.
The provider adds a bunch of these to your shopping cart without checking with you. If you’re not paying attention, you might pay way over the regular HostMonster pricing.
Probably the most ridiculous part, though, is that HostMonster tries to sell you on CodeGuard and Site Backup Pro at the same time. Both are daily backup services that allow you to perform all sorts of different restorations. They have almost the same functions, so it makes no sense to get both.
All the purchases are optional, so the upsells aren’t a deal-breaker. Still, the practice gives you a glimpse of HostMonster’s priorities.
4. No Website Migrations
I usually bulk missing features together. That said, this one is such an essential aspect it deserves its own spot in the HostMonster review.
Professional migrations are a must if you already have a website and need to move it to a new provider. A migration-gone-wrong can be a proper headache to fix, so it’s best to let an expert take over. That’s why most hosts offer to move your website free of charge—a little thank-you for choosing their services.
HostMonster is not most providers. Migrations cost $149.99 for up to five sites. A far cry from a free transfer.
5. CPU Throttling
HostMonster employs a so-called “CPU protection system” on its shared plans. In actuality, this is called CPU throttling. If one HostMonster cPanel account puts too much strain on a server, the provider restricts its access to resources. This ensures one user doesn’t compromise the performance of others. It’s essential on operating systems like CentOS that won’t let you put a hard cap on shared resources.
The issue is that HostMonster has a reputation for playing fast and loose with the throttle button. Users have seen their CPU usage reduced for all kinds of reasons, including experiencing a DDoS attack and going over the inode limit. Even worse, HostMonster sometimes misidentifies the client abusing the resources, so some got penalized for no reason.
It’s hardly what you want to hear, but way too many HostMonster hosting reviews complain about it to ignore.
6. Poor Reputation
HostMonster’s clients don’t exactly love the service.
Most HostMonster user reviews complain about bugs, unauthorized credit card charges, and support agents dodging questions. Plus, you’ll find numerous feeds on sites like Reddit warning to stay away from the provider. It’s hardly a reassuring sight.
The slew of negative HostMonster reviews speaks volumes about the service.
HostMonster Plans at a Glance
HostMonster has four pricing plans. All but the smallest plan get you “unlimited” hosting, so you can access as much storage and bandwidth as you need. Keep in mind the prices are based on a three-year subscription. After the discounted period, the fees revert to regular pricing.
|The Basic plan starts at $3.95/month and gets you 50GB of SSD storage for a single site. It goes back to $11.99/month after the first term, which is still a reasonable price for the generous storage allocation. The plan is a bit bare-bones, so it’s best for simpler websites like blogs.||For $5.95/month ($14.99/month), the Choice plan lets you host multiple websites and gives you unmetered storage. It also adds spam protection to your HostMonster webmail. It’s a decent choice if you have a more complex project involving several websites.||The Choice Plus has the same starting price as the previous one, but the renewal cost is higher – $17.99/month. It adds a few premium features, like domain privacy and CodeGuard backups. If you need something more robust, but still want an affordable start, it’s the one for you.||The Pro plan would set you back $13.95/month ($29.99/month on renewal). It features a few more expensive tools, like a static IP address and a PositiveSSL certificate. It’s great for ecommerce sites and businesses that do a lot of emailing or need to appear legitimate in front of customers. Additionally, it’s a nice jumping-off point to HostMonster VPS services.|
Do We Recommend HostMonster
On the positive side, HostMonster has excellent uptime, frontend speeds, and support. Plus, it includes a few useful features and many otherwise expensive freebies. I was impressed by those when researching for this HostMonster review.
There are a few negatives too – a lot of upsells, for one, and the lack of features like migrations spring to mind.
However, the biggest issue is that HostMonster’s plans are the exact copy of Bluehost’s shared hosting. The support engineers even say the provider basically sells Bluehost plans. And that’s despite being slightly more expensive.
If you want to sign up for HostMonster plans, why not just purchase them from the sister company at lower rates? HostMonster is a decent provider, but I can’t recommend it with Bluehost in the game.
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