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HostMonster review

Should you entrust your website to this highly-experienced US host?

21:9 Hero
(Image: © HostMonster)

Our Verdict

HostMonster is a competent US-based web hosting provider offering sufficient hosting solutions to satisfy the needs of most users. Sadly, it is overshadowed by its many competitors, which offer the same or more at lower costs.

For

  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Customer support is available 24/7
  • One-click installations
  • Free domain registration for newcomers
  • Free website builder

Against

  • Windows hosting is not an option
  • No monthly billing
  • There is no official blog nor active presence on social networks

HostMonster is a web hosting company headquartered in Utah (USA). Founded in 1996, the business has since become a part of EIG (Endurance International Group), which through the years managed to gather a number of well-known web host providers (Bluehost, iPage, and HostGator, to name a few). For years now, HostMonster has been targeting individuals and small business owners alike with its affordable feature-packed shared hosting plans, adding a free domain name registration on top of everything. Beside that, they provide VPS and dedicated server hosting solutions for more ambitious businesses.

HostMonster has one data center and it shares location with their main office in Utah. The facility has UPS backup power supply, round-the-clock monitoring and offers an automatic backup system to all its users to ensure no data will ever be lost.

The “About” section of their website is lacking in information, so we had to seek more information about the company from other sources. However, in a few sentences they did provide, they claim to have been delivering hosting solutions to thousands of business and personal websites since their founding.

The HostMonster’s main website predominantly uses lime green color, is up-to-date, easy-to-use and its overall design is very reminiscent of websites from other hosting companies. Unfortunately, HostMonster doesn't seem to have an official blog and their Facebook and Twitter accounts have been abandoned for years. 

Pricing

HostMonster's prices start off cheap but increase to full price upon renewal (Image credit: HostMonster)

Plans and pricing

HostMonster offers three plans for shared hosting (Basic, Plus and Choice Plus), three for dedicated server hosting (Standard, Enhanced and Premium) and four for VPS hosting (Standard, Enhanced, Premium and Ultimate). The pricing of all hosting solutions ranges from $4.95 to $199.99 per month. All above-mentioned plans include a free domain name for one year and a SSL certificate, which is definitely a strong start.

Although at first this looks like a bargain, you should keep in mind that after a first year the prices will go up to their full-rate. For those who change their minds about HostMonster, there is a regular 30-day money-back guarantee. As expected, this doesn’t apply to domain names nor acquired add-ons.

Credit cards and PayPal are supported payment methods when doing business with HostMonster.

Ease of use

Upon reaching HostMonster’s website, you’ll be presented with a shared hosting plan at a promotional price with its main features highlighted. All plans come with an unmetered bandwidth, while Plus and Choice Plus offer unlimited web storage as well. The mid-level plan, Plus, goes for two dollar more per month than the first one, but it will allow you to host unlimited websites and provide you with pretty much unlimited everything. This plan, together with Plus Choice, also includes useful marketing packages so you can start promoting your website as fast as possible.

After selecting a plan, you can register a new domain (free-of-charge) or use the one you already own. When it's done, the process of creating your account with HostMonster begins. After filling out all the required fields with your personal data, you’ll have to choose the length of the plan. As expected, for the triennial one you’ll pay a dollar less per month than with biennial one and two dollars less than with the annual one. However, the monthly option is not on the offer.

Some of the extras will come automatically checked, but if you want to uncheck them, you can do it without much difficulty, one after another. After finally choosing the payment method and adding all the necessary data, you’ll proceed to checkout and wait for your new website to appear.

Control Panel

HostMonster allows you to manage your site using a modified version of cPanel (Image credit: HostMonster)

Since HostMonster offers a modified version of famously user-friendly cPanel, you can install all wanted apps manually through it. Alternatively, you can use Mojo Marketplace for quick-and-easy installations. Another thing you might appreciate is HostMonster’s drag-and-drop website builder which is geared towards retailers and packed with a whole variety of eCommerce features (shopping carts, SSL security, password-protected directories and more).

Performance

We used GTmetrix to test the uptime and response time of our HostMonster site (Image credit: GTmetrix)

Speed and experience

After testing speed performance of HostMonster’s main website, and all with the help of GTmetrix, we were presented with better-than-average results. The website took 4.9 seconds to fully load, which is twice as fast as the average result of 8.1. Additionally, it took 48 requests, which still looks good in comparison to the average of 89. Subsequently, the website's speed was ranked with a firm C (78%), which may not be ideal, but it is certainly far from a poor performance.

Instead of dealing with a specific percentage value, HostMonster promises a “maximum guaranteed uptime”, so we can only assume they imply a 100% uptime guarantee. Or it could be a bit more modest 99.9%? Nevertheless, the uptime test performed by UptimeRobot on HostMonster’s main website for more than a month presented us with pretty good results. There were two instances of downtime, both due to bad gateway, but none lasted more than five minutes. It seems they were speaking the truth when claiming that most of downtime will be fixed within 15 minutes.

Support

HostMonster proudly refers to its customer support as the “highest”, so we are left to hope they are not, in fact, implying that their support team is always “high” and to the highest extent. Now, seriously, HostMonster provides 24/7 technical support via telephone, live chat, ticket and e-mail, which is more than a decent selection. Inquiries’ related to sales, general terms and conditions, and verification can be made via an alternative telephone line and live chat, but only during business hours.

Support

HostMonster's knowledgebase may look dated but it contains plenty of useful tutorials (Image credit: HostMonster)

Choosing “Help Center'' will take you to their knowledgebase, which you can make use of by picking out some of the selected articles or by using the search box. When using the latter method, you can choose which criteria the articles will be sorted by (relevance, most recent, most view and so on). In any case, there are plenty of articles on most relevant subjects and they are mainly written in rather dry step-by-step manner. Even though they seem to be helpful enough, you can save some time (and avoid potential frustration) by using a chat option.

The competition

Just Host and HostMonster seem quite similar on the surface, which is not unusual since both hosts are the children of EIG. When it comes to shared hosting, HostMonster offers a free domain name with all of its plans, while Just Host’s entry-level plan excludes this. However, with Just Host the option for monthly billing is at your disposal, which cannot be said for HostMonster.

While HostMonster’s shared hosting plans might look similar to HostGator’s, there are things that make them quite different. Although HostGator is a bit friendlier to the budget, both hosts offer good value for money and a 30-day money-back guarantee, if you happen to disagree. However, when performance is in question, HostGator and its tier 3 data centers spread across the world win the day.

Neither HostMonster nor Bluehost offer an option for monthly billing, but they propose very attractive prices for those willing to commit for a few years, at least. However, Bluehost’s plans are slightly cheaper and they provide an option to register a domain later on, so if that matters to you, the decision is clear.

Both HostNine and HostMonster are US-based providers with more than two decades of experience behind them, and they are members of the same umbrella company (EIG). But if you are looking for an entry-level hosting plan, HostMonster can give you more and for a significantly lower cost.

Final verdict

Although a capable host by itself when seen from a wider perspective, HostMonster is yet another hosting provider squeezing its services in the budget-friendly category. The difficulty of recommending this host has less to do with what it lacks, and more with the fact that it doesn’t offer anything that distinguishes it from the rest of the competitors. If you want a decent alternative (even if it is for the sake of it) to more famous companies such as GoDaddy, Bluehost or Hostgator, give HostMonster a chance.