What is InterServer?
InterServer is hosting company that offers various types of hosting. The company boasts fast loading speeds for websites, and even takes pride in an in-house brew of a security solution to keep your website safe from malicious entities and programs intend to harm.
They are one of the very few hosting companies (perhaps, the only web hosting company) that offers a price lock guarantee, which means that you don’t have to pay higher prices on renewal. The price you get during registration is the price you pay for the entire lifespan of the account.
The company doesn’t engage in sneaky charges and offers excellent customer service that is more of a distant dream with majority of the web hosting companies that you will come across.
Finding a shared hosting company that is true to its words is like finding the Philosopher’s Stone. A good hosting company can help to boost your moral and keep you going. A bad one, on the other hand, will make you quickly give up your dream of building a successful online business or a successful blog.
That’s the reason why you need to tread carefully. Fancy words don’t define the strength of the façade that most web hosting companies display proudly. Eventually, almost all of them crumble down like a house of cards.
Only a few make it to the top. In my years of experience with web hosting companies, I recommended only a few shared hosting providers that include:
Can InterServer make inroads to this list? I am on a mission to find that out. So, if you have some time to spare, I have a whole review to offer. Read it carefully, and you should be able to know what InterServer is capable of, and what it cannot do for you.
Before taking a deep dive into the review, I believe, I should let you know about the strengths and weaknesses of the company. This will give you a quick idea of what you will get into, even before you start spending your valuable time in reading this boring review.
The Pros and Cons of InterServer Shared Hosting
Just like every shared hosting service I have reviewed so far, InterServer has its set of pros and cons. So, if you were expecting only goods, you were so very wrong! Here is what I think are the strengths and weaknesses of InterServer:
- They offer LiteSpeed web server.
- They offer SSD storage.
- Servers run at 50% capacity.
- They offer free SSL, and free email.
- They also offer a price lock guarantee, which means that the renewal prices will not be higher.
- They have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- They are among one of the cheapest web hosting companies globally.
- They offer free migration.
- Their servers use Cloud Linux for better stability and security.
- They offer unlimited storage and data transfer.
- They offer InterShield Security – an inhouse security solution.
- They offer global content caching through Cloudflare.
- They also include the SitePad Website Builder.
- They don’t offer multiple confusing plans.
- They allow purchasing a plan for only a month. No need for long-term commitment.
- The choice of data center is limited.
- Their customer service could have been better (more on this later).
Okay, now that you have learned about the pros and cons of InterServer, it is about time I walk you through the detailed review.
Let’s start with the features!
InterServer has quite some interesting features. Some of those features are quite unique, because you will usually not get those features with majority of the shared hosting providers. Let’s take a quick look at all the features that InterServer has to offer.
LiteSpeed Web Server
I couldn’t hold my excitement, and hence, I will speak of this first! When we say ‘server,’ we are usually referring to the metal server – the hardware. When we say ‘web server,’ we are usually referring to a software application that is responsible for handling the requests made by users. So, a server is the hardware and a web server is the software.
There are different types of web servers. You must have heard of Apache, which is a widely used web server. Then there is Nginx, IIS, and more. Apache and Nginx are the two most popularly used web servers when it comes to shared hosting.
LiteSpeed web server is a new entry in the market. It is built on latest cutting-edge technologies, and it is known to be the fastest know web servers. LiteSpeed is not an open-source web server like Apache. A web hosting company offering LiteSpeed server needs to get license. That’s one of the reasons why shared hosting providers often ignore it. Yes, they can use OpenLiteSpeed – the open-source version, but that doesn’t get as many updates and security patches as LiteSpeed.
InterServer is one of those rare unicorns that offer LiteSpeed web server for shared hosting (that they refer to as Standard hosting). Hosting your website with LiteSpeed can immensely improve your website loading time, making it fast!
Another factor that can vastly improve website speed is SSD storage. It is now a growing trend about shared hosting or web hosting providers to offer SSD storage. Since SSD storages are faster than the traditional spinning drive storages, and because they have higher IOPS (Input / Output per second, that is, they can read and write more data faster), they play a vital role in speeding up the website.
InterServer offers what they call ULTRA SSD storage. That’s latest tech in SSD from Microsoft, and you can rest assured that storage disk performance is not going to slow down your website.
Combine this with LiteSpeed server, and you will get ultrafast websites! That’s precisely what InterServer wants to achieve.
I love Cloudflare! It offers free CDN and free DDoS attack prevention. Cloudflare CDN is so effective that it can really speed up your website even if you are not using LiteSpeed web server. The combination of LiteSpeed web server, SSD storage, and Cloudflare CDN is a killer. Optimize your site properly, and you can score super high in both mobile and desktop speed tests using Google PageSpeed Insights, even when you are running ads, and adding scripts.
InterServer has developed its own security system that goes by the name Intershield. According to the company, it not only blocks web attacks, but also has an automatic virus scanner, a machine learning firewall, and an in-house malware database. They are so confident about the protection they offer that they are giving what is called Inter-Insurance to all shared hosting account holders.
If you are a new customer and you are migrating to InterServer, they will clean up your compromised website (if it is compromised) and then migrate the website manually. For existing customers, the company promises to cleanup accounts that are hacked, exploited or compromised.
But this is something they promise for WordPress sites only, because they see themselves as WordPress experts. That’s something you usually find in the case of managed WordPress hosting.
Under Inter-Insurance, InterServer will investigate the root cause of the problem, ensure that the problem is removed, and finally, make sure that the problem never recurs.
If you have already used shared hosting earlier, you have most likely encountered cPanel. It is a nice GUI-based control panel for your web hosting account from where you can control various aspects of your website including managing your files, installing SSL, changing PHP version, taking backups, creating email and FTP accounts, and much more. InterServer offers cPanel as a standard offering to all shared hosting accounts.
Price Lock Guarantee
I never found this with any other web hosting company. Every shared hosting provider resorts to the industry standard methodology of fooling people. They offer a ridiculously low introductory price for the first term and then charge an abnormally high rate starting from the second term.
This means that renewal prices are always higher. On top of that, you will get the lowest price only when you purchase their long-term hosting plans. Some providers will not even have a short-term plan.
With InterServer, the story is quite different. Not only do they offer one of the lowest prices in the industry, but also offer a price lock guarantee under which you will continue to pay the same price for as long as you stay with InterServer.
There will be no price hikes on renewals. Even better, you don’t have to commit to a long-term plan. In fact, there is no contract at all. You can cancel whenever you want without penalty.
Unlimited Storage and Unlimited Bandwidth
InterServer will offer unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth. This is where they don’t clarify things properly. There cannot be unlimited storage on shared hosting. Server resources are always limited. At the most, they will allow you to host only website files (as many of them as you want, because they don’t take too much of space). You most likely cannot store heavy files like videos.
However, one thing becomes dicey as they have an inode limit of 400,000. Inode is very similar to number of files allowed. 400,000 is quite a big number for a small blog, but for large websites, that’s peanuts!
So, you need to be careful about unlimited storage. Just make sure that you are not hosting something that is not allowed.
Coming to unlimited bandwidth, that too cannot be allowed on a shared hosting platform. You can expect to host your site with millions of monthly visitors on a shared hosting server. They will simply not allow that because your site will be consuming almost entire server resource.
I did ask their customer support staff and I received a very shady answer. The only thing that he or she (name was not available) said was that as long as the website is not impacting server performance, it will not be asked to move to an upgraded hosting plan. He or she never said at what point a site’s traffic starts impacting the server performance.
Do make sure that you try to clarify things from your end. In my experience, if your site is getting up to 10,000 monthly visits, there shouldn’t be any problem.
InterServer will offer free migration for your site. It will be a manual migration and the migration process will take anywhere between 24 and 48 hours. The company promises to migrate everything from emails to databases, and website files.
Of course, there will be a condition! Only cPanel to cPanel migration will be allowed. This means that if your site is hosted with a company that doesn’t offer cPanel (Bluehost for example), they will not migrate your site.
Yes, there will be some hand-holding during the migration process to make your experience as smooth as possible. They will assist you in changing the nameservers, and if you want, they will also assist you with domain registration or transfer.
With InterServer you can create as many email accounts as you want for your domain. There are absolutely no limits to that. Also, the company guarantees that all emails you send out will be delivered to the inbox of the intended recipient.
To achieve this guaranteed delivery, InterServer never sends the emails from the web hosting server. Instead, they make use of gateway server, and if needed, they send the emails through Amazon SES. Every message you send out will be scrubbed for spam. The company also maintains the reputation with other email services to ensure that emails are delivered where they should reach.
Free SSL Certificate
Well, this is a standard feature and there is nothing great about it. InterServer offers free SSL certificate through Let’s Encrypt and you can enable it direct from inside the cPanel. Implementation of the SSL certificate is easy, and it takes only a few clicks.
With the cPanel that you get against your InterServer account, you can install several web applications with a single click (technically, it takes more than a single click). 461 web application scripts are available for one-click installation. However, make sure that you are installing only the trusted ones. Not every web application you get will be well-coded!
Okay, now that you know the core features of InterServer, it is time to look at the performance of InterServer.
InterServer will not charge you for backups as many hosts do. You can take backups directly from the cPanel. You can even restore backups with a few clicks.
InterServer Performance – Website Speed
This is the big test! Everyone promises, but majority fails in delivering a truly fast-loading website. What will InterServer do? With LiteSpeed web server and SSD storage in place, it is quite natural to expect that the default WordPress site should have excellent speed.
When I say default WordPress site, I mean that the WordPress installation will have the default theme (Twenty Twenty-One) and no plugins installed. There will be no optimization of any form. There will be no CDN and no caching enabled.
That’s the default site. I wanted to test how the default site performs and find out the following:
- Google PageSpeed Insights Score on Mobile
- Google PageSpeed Insights Score on Desktop
- Initial Server Response Time
These are the three most important parameters. If the initial server response time is below 500 milliseconds, its excellent for shared hosting environments.
I don’t think I need to repeat again and again that speed is a crucial factor if you want to succeed online. Google has switched to Mobile-First indexing. If you site loads slow on mobile device, you will lose customers/readers and hence, revenue! Google will simply throw you off grid and gradually push you out of the search results.
So, here are my test results with a basic WordPress site built on InterServer:
Google PageSpeed Insights Score on Mobile
The basic site performed brilliantly! Here is what I found:
Remember that this basic site has nothing installed. No plugins, no scripts, no CDN, no caching – just nothing! If I enable caching and CDN, the score on mobile can shoot up to 100! However, the results will change when you start adding content, plugins, rich media, etc.
That’s where the art of optimizing your website comes in handy. You should settle for a very lightweight and well-coded theme. You should never use plugins that are really not necessary. Try not to use heavy images. Make sure you are optimizing all images and using webp versions.
There are many more optimizations that you can carry out to make sure that the mobile score remains above 90. Anything above 90 will be a great score.
Also, since you will be working with LiteSpeed web server, I will suggest that you use the LiteSpeed Cache plugin for your WordPress site. The duo of LiteSpeed web server and LiteSpeed Cache can do wonders.
On top of that, don’t forget to enable Cloudflare CDN. If possible, get the premium version of Cloudflare to get extra optimization features like automatic conversion of images to webp version, web application firewall, Brotli compression, and much more.
Google PageSpeed Insights Score on Desktop
Okay, the performance on mobile was excellent. What about desktop? Here is what I found for desktop:
Again, that’s a fascinating score, and you can further improve it using proper optimization. If you want to know how to optimize a WordPress site to get brilliant speed, here is a complete guide that you might want to read.
Server Response Time
Now, I wanted to know the initial server response time. The faster the server responds, the better it is! Here is what I found for both mobile and desktop queries (did I mention that Google PageSpeed Insights also give you the data on initial server response time?):
That’s way less than the 500-millisecond mark, and guess what? That’s remarkable for a shared hosting provider. Even some managed hosting providers fail to give such server response time. This can be rightly attributed to the following features:
- LiteSpeed web server.
- Ultra SSD storage.
- 50% server capacity (InterServer says that all their servers operate at only 50% capacity and this leaves more resources free to give better performance for the hosted sites).
GTmetrix Test Results
You really don’t need to take a look at GTmetrix results, because Google PageSpeed Insights is the ultimate thing. In case you didn’t know, GTmetrix has recently changed the way they used to test website speed. Now, they have integrated Lighthouse – the same thing that Google PageSpeed Insights introduced.
So, if Google PageSpeed Insights is telling good things, GTmetrix will say the same! Still, for your satisfaction, here is the test result:
Even GTmetrix says the same story. The performance grade is A and the server responds in only 270 milliseconds. That’s an astonishing achievement for a shared hosting server.
So yes, InterServer indeed keeps the promise of fast websites! The overall performance is excellent, and you can definitely count on it!
But can you count on their customer service?
InterServer Customer Service Needs to Improve
I will be honest! I did not encounter any technical issue with server. So, I did not require any support. The only interaction I had with their customer service is when I asked about the unlimited bandwidth and unlimited storage.
I am sorry to break the glass façade that InterServer builds and uses as a unique selling point. No, their customer service is not up to the mark. First thing first, they don’t show the name of their support staff in live chat. So, you don’t know whether they have human staff or robots.
Second thing of concern is that even if support agent is an actual human being capable of walking, talking, eating, sleeping, breathing, marrying, and reproducing, the response he or she will give you is just as robotic and scripted as it can get.
When I asked whether there was any restriction on the unlimited clause, all he or she could give me was that the inode limit is 400,000 and a link! That’s it!
Here is the chat transcript:
The only thing I could do was give a sarcastic smile (in form of a smiley) and close the chat! Trust me, there cannot be unlimited stuff! There will be a limit. The bad part here is that InterServer will not say a damn thing clearly. You need to know at what point you should expect an upgrade request! This will keep you mentally ready!
The whole approach that InterServer takes looks pretty faulty, but sadly enough that’s the industry style!
Talking of the various mediums of support, you can get email support, ticket support, and live chat. If you were expecting phone support, then TNA (That’s Not Available)!
For the basic shared hosting that they call Standard hosting, there is no plan to select from. You will have only and only one plan – pay $2.50 a month and get a shared hosting account. That’s it!
Since I reviewed only the basic shared hosting solution they have, I will stop here. If you want to check out the prices they have for other types of hosting they offer, you can always visit their site.
Do I recommend InterServer? Yes, I do! It is a fantastic web hosting company and it does deliver blazing fast websites. However, their customer service should improve. Instead of canned responses, they should start offering support that sounds more human and less robotic. Coming to the price, they are currently offering one of the lowest prices in the entire industry, and they will not even force you to buy a long-term plan.
Considering all factors, InterServer is an excellent choice. The small glitch in their customer service department is fine. You can squeeze them hard enough to get the answer you want (or need).