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20i review

Bountiful British provider that thinks outside the box

20i Review
(Image: © 20i)

Our Verdict

Based in the UK, 20i is the latest passion project by two long-standing veterans wanting to revolutionize web hosting as we know it. Although focused on reseller hosting solutions, they have put forward some of the finest shared, WordPress-oriented and VPS hosting packages, and all at a fair price.

For

  • Free daily backups and website migration
  • Easy-to-use website builder
  • More than 80 one-click installs
  • YouTube channel packed with how-tos

Against

  • No dedicated servers
  • There are cheaper options on the market

The company with the curious name of 20i was launched in 2016 by a dynamic duo consisting of two brothers, Tim and Jonathan Brealey. Although 20i is still basically a newborn in the trade, its creators are industry veterans, having gathered extensive web hosting experience while working on their previous creations.

The first in line was Webfusion, which was the first company to offer a customized version of a control panel called Virtual Control Panel. Three years later they founded 123-Reg, which remains a market leader in domain name registration in the UK. Another notable point in their professional biography was Heart Internet that was established in 2004 as one of the fastest growing internet companies in the UK. However, its story came to an end in 2014.

Finally, two years after their last project reached its end, the brothers made use of their two decades of experience to launch a hosting company that would (in their words) “break the mold” (let’s hope for the better).

20i’s head office is located in Ransom Wood (the UK) and instead of having servers all over the world (their data centers are based in Midlands, UK), they provide a global CDN (content delivery network) with twenty-one locations across Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa.

Like the company itself, 20i’s main website gives off an impression of novelty, which is a good thing. Everything you should know before taking your chance with 20i’s web hosting solutions (besides reading this remarkable review) can be found on their website and all without a hitch.

Their blog is everything a blog of a web hosting provider should be: informative, up-to-date and reader-friendly. In addition to this, 20i is rather active on several social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Pricing

While reseller hosting is 20i's main focus, they also offer shared hosting, managed WordPress hosting, VPS hosting and managed VPS hosting (Image credit: 20i)

Plans and pricing

20i has several packages for each of the hosting types it provides: three for shared hosting, three for managed WordPress hosting, six for VPS hosting, three for managed VPS (which is their latest product) and one-and-only for reseller hosting

Those who have a limited budget will most likely take an interest in their budget-friendly shared hosting plan suitably named “Startup”. For £4.99 ($6.93) per month, it will provide you with an ability to host one website, use up to 10GB of web space (SSD), 50GB of monthly bandwidth, utilize one MySQL database, 10GB of mailboxes, and get an access to more than 80 one-click installations and a free website builder. What is more, you will get a free Wildcard SSL certificate, daily backups, malware scanning and DDoS protection, so you don’t have to worry about the safety of your website on the web. 

All shared and reseller hosting packages come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, but here is none for VPS ones.

As for payment methods, 20i currently accepts all major credit cards, PayPal, direct debit and BACS (which is UK-exclusive). 

Ease of use

Even though 20i focuses on reseller hosting, its shared, WordPress and VPS packages offer a wide array of fantastic features such as free website migration, CDN, website acceleration suite and much more. All hosting plans are presented in a very detailed manner where you can  get all needed information about web hosting packages, their cloud platform, security measures, e-mail features, supported web hosting software and their promises (some of which are backed by a guarantee) within a few clicks.

After you select a plan, you’ll be provided with a few options regarding the domain name. Here, in addition to the typical options (register a new or use an old one), you can choose to feed the little master of procrastination that lives in all of us and decide to, well, decide later what to do about your domain.

In any case, the rest of the process is everything one might expect from it. You are required to provide a first round of personal data, opt for a payment frequency (monthly or annual, with the annual one getting you one month of free hosting) and go through 20i’s terms and conditions. Now it’s time for the second round of personal data and the content of a form slightly differs depending on whether you are acting as an individual or on behalf of a company.

Control Panel

This is the user interface of 20i's custom control panel My20i (Image credit: 20i)

Now let’s get to the most interesting part and that is 20i’s own control panel (named simply My20i) that, without much subtlety, proclaims its superiority over the fan-favorite “old-school” Linux-based cPanel. Funnily enough, My20i and cPanel look like chips off the same old block, which is something even the casual eye would take a notice of.

However, we have to admit, My20i is one of the most user-friendly tailor-made control panels we have seen and the one that will make everything you need readily available at your fingertips. It is a genuine one-stop solution for managing all of your web hosting, e-mails, databases and software. In addition to this, it has to be noted that My20i is included with all hosting packages, so you won’t be driven to pay extra just to enjoy its elegant simplicity and intuitive ease of use.

As an alternative (not that you will need one), you can use 20i’s drag-and-drop website builder,  but if you haven’t opted for their “Startup”, “Premium”, “Business” or any of the reseller plans, it will come at a price.

Performance

We used GTmetrix to measure the uptime and response time of 20i's main website (Image credit: GTmetrix)

Speed and experience

Considering that 20i utilizes worldwide CDN and their own website acceleration suite in order to improve your site speed and “make it fly”, we came with a certain set of expectations regarding the speed performance. After we performed a speed test on 20i’s main website (provided by GTmetrix), our expectations were pretty much justified.

The page fully loaded in just 1.8 seconds (the average result is 8.1) and it required 55 requests to do so (the average being 98 requests). In addition, all other vital web metrics were ahead of the curve i.e. all but one, and that is total blocking time that regrettably took 352 milliseconds, although ideally it should be less than 150. Nevertheless, GTmetrix rated the speed performance of 20i’s site with a B (86%), which is one of the better performances we have seen so far.

20i emphasizes security of their “state-of-the-art” data centers that are manned day-and-night and reinforced with high-level physical security measures that cover everything from backup power generators to advanced fire protection. However, oddly enough, they failed to say a lot about the uptime we can expect while doing business with them.

As per usual, we put the uptime of 20i’s main website to the test, so you don’t have to. After a month of steadfast monitoring (via tireless UptimeRobot), our efforts were rewarded by pretty promising results. There was no recorded downtime at all resulting in an impeccable 100% of uptime. 

Support

Although all visitors to 20i’s website have an option to reach its support staff via telephone, if you are looking for some good old customer support, you will notice that their help is primarily text-based. The first pick for most of us will be live chat, which seems available during the working hours at a minimum. Fortunately (for both parties), after testing the willingness of their helping hands, we were well pleased with all the hand-holding we got. 

Support

20i's knowledgebase can help you find the answers you need to common web hosting problems (Image credit: 20i)

If you’re not in a rush, you can get in touch with 20i’s technical team via support ticket or e-mail. However, if you want to remain as self-sufficient as humanly possible, there are some excellent options for you as well. The principal one is their knowledgebase (titled “Support Database”) as it manages to cover all key issues and concerns in an easy-to-understand way. On the other hand, if you are more into how-to video guides, 20i’s YouTube channel features a stack of them (actually, around sixty) and those we have checked out seem really handy. 

The competition

Most newcomers looking for a well-balanced reseller hosting solution are likely to consider web hosting providers like InMotion Hosting, HostGator and A2 Hosting at some point, and not without reason.

Since you are here, you are presumably taking 20i into consideration. And if you pick them out, you are right to expect a full list of features (many of which are unlimited), lightning speed and powerful performance in general, together with a standard 30-day money-back guarantee. However, if this should be your first close encounter with reseller web hosting, InMotion Hosting is most likely your safest bet. Their packages present a great value for money at a pocket-friendly price of $26.59 (with 20i it is about $49.50) per month, with cPanel, WHM and WHMCS  included together with an overgenerous 90-day money-back guarantee that will give you quite a bit of time to try them out before making any definitive decision.

Although HostGator is not as reseller-focused as 20i, its reseller plans can grab anyone’s attention, particularly in terms of features. For a really reasonable price HostGator will put no limitations on the number of domains, subdomains, email accounts, MySQL databases and FTP accounts. However, if you want an unlimited hosting in its true form, you’ll have to go with 20i for they will throw in an unlimited number of websites, unlimited storage space (100% SSD), unlimited bandwidth and unlimited Wildcard SSL certificates.

Bluehost is another popular alternative for those on the lookout for a novice-friendly hosting provider that has something to meet most needs. However, while Bluehost offers no reseller packages (which are 20i’s specialty), 20i doesn’t provide an option for demanding users in need of dedicated servers (and Bluehost does). This is one of those differences that can serve as a decisive point for certain types of users.

In terms of features, GreenGeeks is comparable with InMotion Hosting, but one feature that sets them apart from all the hosts above is (not hard to guess considering the name of the company is highly suggestive) their dedication to eco-friendly hosting. If we add that they guarantee 99.98% of uptime, provide 24/7 live support chat and all at a price starting at $10.95 (you can get about 80% off on sale), going green might sound even better.   

Final verdict

One of the hallmarks of hosting with 20i is their very own custom-made My20i control panel and it is the closest thing to an industry-standard control panel (such as cPanel and Plesk) we have seen since the Jurassic period of web hosting. Its beauty lies in its simplicity, intuitive design and sheer user-friendliness, which is something we seldom see with non-standard counterparts.

At the same time, 20i has been quietly gaining worldwide momentum thanks to its well-structured, feature-rich and easy-to-set up hosting solutions, a performance one can rely on and a professional and polite in-house support staff.

That being said, since a big part of our job is to look for flaws, we are obliged to mention the lack of dedicated servers as one of 20i’s weaknesses. Therefore, if you are in search of that, you’ll have to look elsewhere, and perhaps have a peek at what hosts such as HostGator, GoDaddy or DreamHost have to offer.  

Mirza Bahic is a freelance tech journalist and blogger from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the past four years, Mirza has been ghostwriting for a number of tech start-ups from various industries, including cloud, retail and B2B technology.