What is HostMonster?
The name says it all. HostMonster is a hosting company. It has been in existence since 1996. It eventually merged with Endurance International Group in 2015. The primary customers of the company are small businesses that require simple websites.
HostMonster’s age will make people believe that it will be offering the best possible hosting services because of its experience. But, that’s not the case. The company is laced with polite but ill-educated customer support, frequent downtimes (often reported by real users), and slow loading times.
It is wise to choose another web hosting company that is known for better customer services, respectable uptimes and faster page load speeds.
The Verdict – Avoid the Dated Dud
I won’t lie. HostMonster was once an excellent shared hosting provider with state-of-the-art servers and excellent support. Things have gone downhill and today; the company is riddled with three major problems that haunts some of its users. If you are lucky person, your website may not face a lot of issues with HostMonster hosting.
Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky. Some people are unlucky enough to leave the hosting provider even after purchasing long-term plans. Yes, they lost their money but they couldn’t be happier about their decision to leave the hosting company.
But what about my experience with HostMonster? I will tell you that in great details. However, what I found from the quick interaction with the hosting service is quite distressing.
Here is what I found:
- Website pages have slow load times.
- There are significant downtimes.
- Customer support team seems to be very ill-educated and often resort to canned answers without giving proper resolution.
Before I go ahead and give the full review, let us quickly go through the pros and cons of the hosting provider.
The Pros and Cons of HostMonster
I don’t remember who said this, but there is a saying – all shared hosting companies are evils, and you need to find the one that is the least evil. It turns out that HostMonster is not the least evil you are looking for.
Okay, now back to the topic, here are the strengths and weaknesses of HostMonster:
- Decently powerful to support basic websites with low traffic.
- Instant provisioning of server.
- Various security options available.
- One-click installations available.
- Free website builder.
- Free SSL.
- Free domain.
- Free ad credits.
- 24/7 support available with live chat support.
- Spinning drive storage (no SSD)
- Slow website load speed.
- No uptime guarantee.
- Backups are not free.
- Misleading pricing.
- Expensive migration.
- Hidden costs and fees.
- Support staff are pathetic.
- More than 100% hike in renewal price.
- No very cheap even with introductory offer.
Before I tell you about my experience with HostMonster, let me walk you through the core features of the hosting provider. Honestly, I didn’t find anything extraordinary with HostMonster. They are just an average shared hosting provider (or may I say, a below average shared hosting provider).
Here is what HostMonster has to offer to all its subscribers:
Spinning Drive Storage
HostMonster offers traditional storage. That’s a shame! We are in the era of SSD storage or Solid State Drive storage. SSDs are way faster that the spinning drives or the traditional hard drives with moving parts inside. SSDs play a vital role in speeding up the websites by reducing their average load times.
There are many factors that lead to quick server response time and SSD is one of those various reasons. The lack of SSD storage is one of the many reasons why you should try and avoid this hosting provider.
Unlimited Disk Storage
HostMonster offers unlimited disk storage. This may sound amazing, but there are limitations.
You need to stay within their acceptable usage range where the performance of their shared servers is not disturbed. Unfortunately, they don’t define what is the acceptable usage. This grey area can put you in trouble.
Unmetered or Unlimited Bandwidth
Yes, they don’t put any restriction on how many gigabytes of data can be transferred between your website and your site readers. But they also say that it has to be within the normal range. What defines the normal range? No one knows. This grey area is total unacceptable.
In my experience, shared hosting providers offering unmetered bandwidth do not allow traffic more than 10,000 to 20,000 visitors a month. Some will even restrict it to 5,000 visitors a month.
So, if your site hosted with HostMonster goes viral and starts getting a lot of traffic, rest assured that you will receive a warning mail from them asking you to upgrade to their VPS hosting. They may even shutdown your site without warning.
Free SSL Certificate
Personally, I believe that hosting providers should stop putting this option as a feature. The free SSL that they provide is anyway free and it comes from Let’s Encrypt. If you have a website and you need an SSL certificate, you can get one from Let’s Encrypt without incurring any cost.
No matter which shared hosting plan you purchase, you are eligible for a free domain name. You have a choice to accept the offer or decline it. If you accept the offer, you will get to register a domain name and you don’t have to pay a dime for it for the first year. Unfortunately, the second year onwards, you have to pay for the domain name.
You can create professional emails with your domain. It doesn’t matter which shared hosting plan you are choosing. You can always create domain-based emails (firstname.lastname@example.org). The number of email accounts you can create will depend on plan you select.
HostMonster will give access to cPanel which will allow performing various tasks including:
- Manage website files using File Manager.
- Create hotlink protection.
- Create, manage, or delete FTP and email accounts.
- Create custom cron jobs.
- Create/add subdomains, parked domains, add-on domains.
- Access phpMyAdmin and managed MySQL databases.
- Install various web applications using one-click installation.
In fact, you can all these features with any host offering access to cPanel. There is nothing new in all that you get.
You will get access to drag and drop site builders if you are hosting your website with HostMonster. In fact, you will get Weebly. Though I do not really suggest using a site builder, the choice is yours.
You will get $200 worth of marketing offers if you are selecting their Plus plan or above. The offers are not available with their Basic plan. The offer includes $100 ad credit for using Google Ads and anther $100 for using Bing Ads.
Plans and Pricing
HostMonster offer four different shared hosting plans. They are:
|Plan Name||Pricing per month (introductory)||Pricing per month (renewal)|
If you notice carefully, the introductory prices are way higher than some of best players in the Shared Hosting industry such as GreenGeeks ($2.95), Bluehost ($2.75), etc. In return of such high prices you get subpar services that will always keep you on your toes.
What’s more disturbing is that you will not get any monthly billing cycle. The bare minimum commitment from your end has to be for 12 months! That’s disgusting! Any hosting company should allow monthly billing cycle. This shows their confidence that people will like their services.
Keeping long-term plans as the only option says that the hosting company is all set to extract as much money as possible at the very beginning.
Server Uptime and Response Time
This is where everything goes downhill. Here is the speed test for a sample site hosted on HostMonster with no plugins, no CDN, no posts, no ads, no scripts:
Google PageSpeed Insights: Mobile
Google PageSpeed Insights: Desktop
In both cases, look at the server response time. For mobile, the server response time is 1.84 seconds, while for desktop, the server response times is 0.92. In both scenarios the data is disturbing. According to Google, the server response time should be below 500 milliseconds
Such high response times are further confirmed by the data from Pingdom which shows the server response time to be above one second for every month from February 2020 to November 2020. Here is a screenshot:
Now, take a close look at the uptime. Technically, anything below 99.99% uptime is not acceptable. Even with 99.99% uptime, you will have about 5 minutes of downtime a month. That translates into 60 minutes of downtime a year.
Observe the downtimes of 99.83, 99.85, etc. With 99.83% downtime, the server stays offline for nearly 75 minutes a month. This translates into 900 minutes (15 hours) of downtime in a year.
The uptimes keep fluctuating, but in the case of HostMonster, the fluctuations are too much to go unnoticed.
No wonder the company never gives any uptime guarantee. The absence of guarantee states that HostingMonster is not a very reliable hosting provider. And, it is needless to say that many customers have complained to long downtimes.
Here is one example:
And here is another…
Things Seriously Wrong with HostMonster
There are many things seriously wrong with HostMonster that you should know before you purchase a hosting plan with the company. Here is a quick list of things that are terrible:
Very High Prices and Long-Term Commitment Needed
This is perhaps the worst part in terms of pricing. HostMonster will charge 4.95 dollars for the most basic plan. Other hosting companies often charge as little as $2 a month.
While the prices are really high, you get their supposedly-low introductory price only if you purchase a plan for three years with full upfront payment.
That’s a long-term commitment especially when you don’t even know how good that service is! If you want to go for a smaller term, the price they will charge is even more.
The worst comes when you renew the plan. The renewal charges are just double (in fact, more than double) the introductory prices!
The do have a 30-day refund policy but their fine says that you can get refund only and only if you are paying using your credit card. If you are paying using a debit card or any other payment mode, you are not eligible for a refund considering the fact that refund processing for other modes attract a heavy fee!
Oh, you cannot get a refund for anything else apart from hosting. If you accepted their free domain offer, they will deduct the price for that domain when you ask for a refund and give back the remaining amount.
No Free Backups!
Most shared hosting companies offer free backups. You can forget about that. If you want the backup feature enabled, you have to pay an additional 2.99 dollars a month.
Very High Site Transfer Fee
If you are expecting a free migration, you couldn’t be more wrong. There is no free migration available. If you avail their paid site migration where you pay their team to complete the migration process, you have to pay a whopping $149.99. For that price, they will transfer 20 email accounts and 5 sites. If you don’t have so many emails or sites, you still need to pay that amount!
Though I never had to reach out to their customer support for anything whatsoever, I did find dozens of online reviews from real users who have time and again complained that their customer support team is horrible. They are often clueless of what’s wrong and they have an inclination to blame the customers for their errors and faults.
This is astounding! The PHP version they offer is PHP 5. That’s a dinosaur. We are currently on PHP 7.4! Don’t be surprised if you see certain plugins or applications not working. And did you know, older PHP versions are slower and they are one of the several reasons why websites get slow load time!
You don’t have to believe me. You can believe their words. Here is a screenshot:
A Terrible Clause
When you sign up for their hosting, you will be agreeing to give a royalty-free and non-exclusive license to them for using the content available on your account. Which means that they can use your content whenever and wherever they deem fit! That’s ridiculous!
Conclusion and Verdict
Overall, if you are lucky not to run into server issues with HostMonster, you can host your website with them provided:
- Your website is a very basic one with very little traffic.
- You don’t mind paying high prices.
- You don’t mind a slow website.
- You don’t care about their downtimes.
If none of these apply to you, YOU NEED TO AVOID THIS HOSTING PROVIDER. There are far better options like SiteGround, Bluehost, GreenGeeks, etc. Go for them. I personally recommend GreenGeeks and SiteGround. They are absolutely fantastic.