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  1. Founded by Mike Lavrik and John Quaglieri, InterServer is a New Jersey-based company that’s been in the game since 1999. Initially launching as a virtual hosting account re-seller, the hosting provider has grown over the past 17 years and now operates two data centers in New Jersey and is in the process of expanding to additional locations, including Los Angeles. Self-deemed (and widely proven) a budget-friendly provider, InterServer specializes in shared; VPS; and dedicated hosting and colocation solutions. The following review is based on a shared hosting account I’ve got from InterServer Director of Marketing, Stacey Talieres. For those who were looking for information on InterServer VPS or dedicated hosting deals – I tried their VPS hosting service and did a followup interview with Michael Lavrik (co-founder) in 2014; you might want to check that out instead. Interserver Special Discount ($0.01/mo Hosting) InterServer Hosting Plans: What’s in the Box? InterServer offers a variety of hosting options, including shared, VPS cloud, and dedicated server hosting. Here’s the scoop. Shared Hosting The InterServer shared hosting plan is a budget-friendly option, at just $5 per month with discounts available for longer-term contracts (using promo code WHSRPENNY and pre-order 3 years, price drops to $3.88/mo). The service includes a wealth of handy features, including one-click installs, 24/7 customer support, a free migration service, “unlimited” features (more on that later), and more. InterServer shared hosting features, server specifications and other details are shown in the table on right sidebar. VPS & Cloud hosting InterServer offers a variety of VPS and cloud hosting plans to provide the flexibility and scalability its clients are looking for. Linux cloud VPS begins at $6 per month, while Windows cloud VPS starts at $10 per month. Both offer a variety of options, based on your needs for CPU cores, memory, storage, and transfer caps. More details on InterServer VPS plans Features Linux Cloud (1) Linux Cloud (2) Windows Cloud (1) Windows Cloud (2) CPU Cores first 2 first 2 Memory 1024 MB 8192 GB 1024 MB 8192 GB SSD Storage 25 GB 200 GB 25 GB 200 GB Monthly Data Transfer 1 TB 8 TB 1 TB 8 TB cPanel Add $10/mo Add $10/mo Add $10/mo Add $10/mo Fantastic Add $4/mo Add $4/mo Add $4/mo Add $4/mo Unique IP Add $1/mo Add $1/mo Add $1/mo Add $1/mo Monthly Cost $ 6 / mo $ 48 / mo $ 10 / mo $ 80 / mo VPS Locations Secaucus, NJ / Los Angeles, CA / Houston, TX / London, UK / Paris, FR / Hong Kong, CN Full details, visit https://www.interserver.net/vps/ Dedicated Server Need your own dedicated resources? InterServer’s dedicated servers start at $59.95 per month (for an atom dedicated server). Other options range from $139 – $310 per month (see table below) and offer a variety of configuration options so that you can customize to your needs. CPU Memory Hard Drive Cost Xeon E3-1230 16 GB 250 GB $ 139 / mo Intel Dual-Core Atom 1 GB 250 GB $ 59 / mo 2 x 6-core E5-2620 8 GB 250 GB $ 310 / mo The 5 Highpoints: What I Like About InterServer? I’m not going to beat around the bush – there are plenty of good things to say about InterServer’s hosting services. Below are the main plus points. 1. Impressive hosting performance I run a dummy site on the InterServer shared hosting platform, and overall, I’ve been impressed with my site’s performance. While most hosting sites shoot for a 99.9% uptime (and many fall short of that), InterServer managed to keep my site up 100% most of the time. The uptime history (tracked since 2015) is published in the next section (under “Uptime Review”). Uptime Score Samples Recent Speed Test Results I’m also impressed with the hosting response speed. Here’s a recent speed test I did to to check the site’s performance. The test site response rate was beyond my expectations (see image below). Why InterServer is doing so well? I did a little digging to find out how InterServer manages to get such high marks regarding performance. First, the platform is built really well. The company uses an intelligent BGPv4 routing protocol. This allows it to route traffic to the closest backbone provider. That reduces latency while increasing speed. Second, the company doesn’t overload its servers. Many of the hosting companies out there load their servers to capacity, and that causes some serious latency. InterServer keeps its servers around 50 percent capacity. That means that when you use the servers, you have more resources at your disposal than you get with many of the other shared hosting companies out there. You might think that as this service gets more popular, the company will end up overtaxing its servers, but InterServer only allows 100 new customers a day. That way, it doesn’t grow too quickly so it never overburdens its servers. Michael Lavrik also had some input about his company’s performance. During our interview, he stated, “I think the difference is experience; we’ve been doing this for 15 years. We’ve made all our mistakes already. We follow a proven model for every aspect of the operation from running an Ethernet cable to installing software.” InterServer data center and builder’s room The data center power and cooling system is designed by Michael; all servers were built from scratch by InterServer team in this “Builders” room. One of the server blocks in Interserver’s data center. Michael and I. Photo taken during my visit to InterServer HQ in August 2016. 2. Highly customizable VPS hosting plan I tried InterServer’s VPS plan in 2014 and quickly appreciated how customizable it is. VPS clients can customize just about everything, from their preferred operating system to the software, control panels, and required CPU power (there are 16 sets of pre-configured plans right now where users get to choose the number of needed CPU cores, RAM, as well as storage and data transfer capacity). And if that’s not enough – unlike many other VPS hosting providers that require users to pay for bundled software and apps, InterServer only requires its clients to pay for what they need and use. VPS Upgrades Additional Cost VPS Upgrades Additional Cost Additional IP Add $1/mo/IP Fantastic Add $4/mo cPanel Add $10/mo Softculous Add $2/mo Direct Admin Add $8/mo ksplice Add $3.95/mo * Note: Usually what many other VPS hosting providers do is to include the cost of these features into their VPS plans and claim that they are free. With InterServer, you get the choice to go without these additional software. 3. Uptime guarantees Interserver office at Secaucus, New Jersey. You know my rule: don’t work with any provider that doesn’t promise at least a 99% uptime guarantee. InterServer delivers with a 99.5% uptime guarantee that is backed up in their SLA (read below). What’s more, should they fail to meet the guarantee in a given month, they’ll credit clients on a case by case basis. Going beyond the uptime guarantee, Interserver also gives a 100% guarantee of uninterrupted electricity. 4. Minimal unpleasant surprises + Price lock guarantee In this day and age, it’s hard to beat transparency. InterServer backs its hosting agreements with a clear SLA and ultra-transparent Terms of Service (TOS) that clearly defines pretty much every aspect of its service. The transparency, clarity, and upfrontness is typically a great indicator of an upstanding service. Also, many hosting providers lure in new customers with super low pricing for their initial term of service… and then jack the rate upon renewal. I love that InterServer avoids this practice and instead values loyalty; its price lock guarantee ensures that the price you start with will continue to be your price for as long as you keep your account. 5. Proven and here to stay Interserver office entrance. Perhaps one of the less (and yet more) tangible elements that I love about InterServer is its proven longevity. InterServer has been around for the better part of two decades – and in that time, has continued to grow and expand its services (not in a boom, but steadily and reliably). I have every reason to believe this provider will continue to deliver for years and years to come. InterServer Hosting Uptime Review InterServer Uptime Score (Feb/Mar 2017): 100% InterServer uptime score in the past 30 days (screen captured on Match 13th, 2017): 99.97%. InterServer Uptime Score (Jun/Jul 2016): 100% InterServer uptime data for the past 30 days (July 2016) InterServer Uptime Score (Feb 2016): 99.99% Test site hosted at InterServer scored 100% uptime in February 2016. InterServer Uptime Score (Sep 2015): 99.99% InterServer Uptime for the past 30 days (September 2015): 99.99% InterServer Server Speed Check (New Test) Recent server speed tests show that InterServer is one of the fastest budget hosting services around. We ping our test site from 8 different locations using Bitcatcha and compare the server response times with other websites. As you can see in images below, the results were pretty good. Test Result (Mar 2017): A+, Excellent Speed test, A+ (Mar 2017). Test Result (Sep 2016): B, Good Test Result (Feb 2016): B+, Very Good Important to know Of course, there is no such thing as a flawless provider… even InterServer has a couple of drawbacks. 1. InterServer now limits the number of new customers Interserver is now applying daily sales limit. InterServer has implemented a daily web hosting capacity limit to 100 in June 2016. The reason why this is implemented:
  2. DreamHost is one of the largest and most established hosting companies online. They have been operating since 1997 (positively ancient by digital standards) and have grown to serve more than 1.5 million websites and 400,000 customers across the globe. They are independent and employee owned (ie, they aren’t another Endurance International or GoDaddy brand). They are also one of the longest supporters of open source and community built software (ie, WordPress, etc). DreamHost offers a full-spectrum of hosting solutions from Shared (most common) to VPS to Cloud – and even a specialized WordPress offering along with complementary services like email and domain management. You can check out their plans here (use promo code SLEEPY20 to get $20 off). Check out DreamHost’s current plans & pricing here. But older and employee-owned doesn’t mean they are a best fit for everyone. While moving one of my side projects off an old HostGator VPS, I took the opportunity to give DreamHost’s shared hosting plan a try. Here’s my DreamHost Hosting review – structured with the pros, cons and direct comparisons to competitors based on my experience as a customer. Skip to direct comparisons or skip to the conclusion. Disclosure – I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All opinion and data is based on my experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer. Pros of DreamHost Hosting There are a lot of DreamHost reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a different approach. Like I’ve mentioned on other hosting reviews , there is no such thing as a “best” web host. It’s all about the best fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise. Here are the pros (advantages) for considering DreamHost. Pricing & Plan Simplicity Anyone who has shopped for shared hosting knows that plans can be confusing to say the least. One host will cap disk storage space, another will cap the number of websites and yet another will cap the number of databases you can use, and still another will offer zero “bonus” features. It’s maddening to figure out what’s the right plan for you from one company – much less compare them across other hosts to find the best value, but pricing is a huge consideration so you can’t avoid it. Although DreamHost offers a spectrum of specialized hosting services, their main shared hosting offering is one single plan. There are no tiers or upgrades. It’s one plan at a single price based on how many years you sign up for. DreamHost charges $8.95/mo for 2 year commitment; $9.95 for 1 year commitment and $10.95 for a monthly commitment (a rarity in the hosting industry). Their pricing is affordable and very competitive. There is also no deep discount bait and switch (for better or worse) where you get the first year for super cheap and renew at a very high price. Aside – you can get up to $20 off a plan with promo code SLEEPY20 Their one plan offers unlimited databases, unlimited disk space, unlimited email accounts and unlimited websites (*all subject to an abuse policy). If you are potentially in charge of multiple websites, you don’t have to worry about migrating or getting sticker shock at renewal. Core & Developer Feature Set Like I mentioned in pricing, DreamHost provides unlimited access to the “core” feature set of any good web host. That feature set is – the ability to point your domain to a server the storage of website files on a server the installation of a database/software to manage your website Unless you are running your email through a service like Google Apps or Outlook, hosting should also provide email functionality, and DreamHost provides the full core features set with no caps. DreamHost also provides a solid assortment of more advanced functionality – like full CGI access, raw server logs, cron jobs and subversion repository. They also allocate a solid default allocation of memory to your account. And they also have all shared hosting servers on SSD hard drives instead of traditional spinning disk hard drives. These should in theory create better long-term performance. (Nearly) Full Spectrum of Hosting Services As a related advantage, DreamHost provides a full-spectrum of hosting services for growing or specialized hosting needs. Most websites start off on a shared server since that makes the most sense based on traffic levels & budget. However, if you site ends up growing or expanding in ways that you hadn’t planned for, it helps to be able to expand with a company that you already have experience with. DreamHost’s Managed WordPress Hosting service is an offering that has truly WordPress-specific features, such as isolated databases on VPS servers and Varnish caching. Aside – Some hosting brands simply use the term, “WordPress Hosting” to charge more for shared hosting, which is perfectly adequate for most all websites running on WordPress. DreamHost, along with competitors like SiteGround and WP Engine provide managed hosting services tailored to WordPress. DreamHost also offers traditional upgrades to VPS and Dedicated servers (think upgrading to a townhome or a house from an apartment) for growing websites, and cloud hosting for app developers. Overall, DreamHost’s feature set and spectrum of services is a big advantage for them. Customer Support & Transparency Every hosting company claims to have stellar customer service. And every prospective customer ends up wondering if they really do – or just say they do. The trouble with judging customer service is that it’s defined by the extremes. That one careless, rookie employee paired with a demanding, unclear customer can create a meaningless “Worst Company in The World” review. On the flip side, a customer with a simple question of a single rockstar employee can create a meaningless “Best Company in the World” review. What I find useful is to look at how companies handle public portions of their customer service, and how much they invest in customer support infrastructure (ie, user guides, onboarding, knowledgebases, etc). Both can give you a decent idea of whether the company treats customer service as an investment or as a cost. Overall, I’ve been impressed with DreamHost’s customer support. Their onboarding process is plain text, but useful. They have a solid knowledgebase, forums and user guides. And even though they do not have phone support (see the cons section), their in-house team is available 24/7 via live chat, email, and Twitter. DreamHost also has a separate DreamHost status websitethat has running updates of critical issues, downtime and system updates. It allows DreamHost to be responsive and transparent with customers whenever something does happen. Money-back Guarantees DreamHost offers 97 day full money back guarantees. That’s a long time. It’s even longer than InMotion’s 90 days . Combined with DreamHost’s monthly pricing option , you aren’t putting any money at risk to give DreamHost a try. Independent & Employee Owned Being independent is not always a good thing – and being corporate owned is not always a bad thing. Sometimes independent companies are missing critical capital and expertise, and sometimes corporate owned companies take cost-cutting and management by numbers too far. However, given DreamHost’s stability and longevity, I think being independent and employee-owned is a solid advantage. Many brands that are owned by large corporations (ie, iPage) are focused on cost-cutting. DreamHost has repeatedly reinvested in their team and customers. Like their independent competitors such as InMotion and SiteGround , DreamHost seems to be a better company with a better product than many large corporate owned hosting brands. Cons of DreamHost Hosting Like any web host, DreamHost has disadvantages. Here are the cons that I found while using DreamHost for hosting . Pricing DreamHost’s shared hosting plan is simple and competitive. They also don’t do any deep short term discounts. That’s both a good thing – and a bad thing. The flip side of a single, unlimited plan with no deep discounts is that DreamHost is more expensive than competitors (like HostGator, InMotion or Web Hosting Hub) for small website owners. Not every website owner needs unlimited websites or unlimited databases. Tiered pricing allows customers to only pay for what they need. If you are trying to run a single site on a tight budget, paying more for unlimited everything is nice, but not necessary. Additionally, the deep discounts at other hosting companies save website owners real money. If the bill for 1 year’s hosting is $100, and you can save 30% – that’s still $30 saved. And if you can renew at the same rate that DreamHost renews at – then you’re even further ahead. Although DreamHost’s pricing is a pro overall, be sure to decide exactly what you need and look at pricing through your own budget & priorities. Asides – my hosting quidz can help you sort all your priorities quickly. You can also save a one-time $20 with promo code SLEEPY20 at DreamHost. Custom Backend At most hosting companies, you have an account area where you access to billing, account information, bonuses (ie, Google AdWords credits), etc – it will also have links to your actual server backend/dashboard. Most hosting companies use cPanel as the server backend/dashboard. cPanel is where you go to do anything with your hosting server – install any applications (ie, WordPress), set up email addresses, get your FTP information to upload files, etc. It’s simple, straightforward, and since most hosting companies use it, it’s sort of an industry standard that you can get help with anywhere online. DreamHost does not use that setup. They use a proprietary backend for both your account administration and your server administration. On one hand, it is simplified and allows DreamHost to provide a truly customized experience. On the other hand, the set up is confusing and feels limiting. Most of the core functionality is under “Goodies” – which groups everything from advanced features like Cron Jobs with bonuses like Google AdWords coupons. From what I can tell, most all the options that you would otherwise get in cPanel are either in the DreamHost dashboard, or they are in a series of emails that they send. It’s just that everything is buried somewhere instead of out in the open like cPanel. In theory, DreamHost could use the proprietary backend to create a better user experience, but I think they end up creating more work for their customer support system. Lack of Apps & Auto-Installs There are hundreds if not thousands of software apps that you can use on your hosting server. The most famous example is WordPress, which is a “content management system” to set up, run and edit a website. But there’s other software ranging from Joomla to PrestaShop to Wiki applications and more. All these application can be installed manually, however, many web hosting companies like InMotion have free installer scripts (the most well-known are Softaculous and Fantastico). These installer scripts automatically install your software with a couple clicks to so can get right down to building whatever you are trying to build. Aside – I show how one works on HostGator in my WordPress website set up guide here. DreamHost does not have that. They have a custom application that links to a few applications, and will get them ready. But they don’t actually install them for you. In the case of WordPress, it’s not too big of a deal. The install process just takes a couple extra steps. But for other applications, you’ll end up having to install them manually. No Phone Support I mentioned DreamHost’s support in the pros section. They are available 24/7 across a wide range of channels….except phone. From my research – it looks like they will do call-backs after you first go through another channel. Most customers are likely fine with that – and it may allow them to provide better service on other channels. But if you are the type of customer who just wants to get a person on the phone – this point will be a big disadvantage for DreamHost. Mediocre Performance In addition to hosting your website, you’ll want a host that can deliver your website files to whoever requests them as quickly as possible. Website speed – like customer support – has a whole world of variables that affect performance. There are often several dozen ways that you can improve the performance of your website. But your host is still going to be primary variable in the equation. I like to check the Time To First Byte (TTFB) on any web host I’m working with. It’s a measurement of how quickly the server returns the first byte of information after it receives a request from a browser. In other words, it’s server turnaround time. It’s not the only way to look at a web host’s performance, but it’s an easy way to get a ballpark estimate. My website on DreamHost gets an alright performance. Here’s the result – Their performance is better than cut-rate hosts like GoDaddy or iPage. But it’s nowhere near hosts like InMotionor even HostGator. The test is very odd given that DreamHost touts their new SSD servers. But even after several retests, the numbers are staying as they are. DreamHost’s performance is not horrible, but also not an advantage either. DreamHost Comparisons Out of the most well-known web hosts that I’ve used as a customer or consultant, here’s how DreamHost compares directly to each. Or skip to the conclusion. DreamHost vs. HostGator HostGator is one of the most well-known brands online. I have all many of my small personal projects with them (and reviewed them here and here). They beat DreamHost on pricing – especially if you only need a single website. They also beat DreamHost on performance based on my tests. HostGator also uses cPanel for a backend, though it has a few cluttering ads. HostGator is also owned by Endurance International – a major hosting corporation, and has alright support. They’re a bit of a toss up based on what you prioritize. If you trust independent companies more, DreamHost is fine . If you don’t care, then you’ll save some money with HostGator – see their plans here.