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IONOS 1&1 Shared Web Hosting Review – 2021 Updated

What is IONOS by 1&1?

IONOS by 1&1 is web hosting company that excels in offering various hosting solutions including the famous shared hosting solution. They also have Windows hosting, WordPress hosting, Cloud VPS hosting and Dedicated servers.

The service claims to have excellent customer service, 99.9% uptime, DDoS protection and much more. In fact, when it comes to the shared hosting solution, they don’t offer anything extraordinary that can be rightly called as their unique selling point or USP.

IONOS by 1&1 is Europe’s largest web hosting company and it positions itself as a one-stop-shop for various online solutions including email, ecommerce tools, website builder, domain names, and even marketing services.

The company claims to offer 24×7 customer support of highest quality and even promises a 99.9% uptime. According to them, they cannot do anything about natural disasters that can disrupt their services. However, to ensure that users do get the promised 99.9% promised uptime, they have put in place what they call georedundancy.

What exactly is georedundancy? How do they keep their uptime promise (if at all the keep it)? How does their shared hosting platform perform in terms of server load and website load time?

That’s what I intended to find out and hence, this review!

Let’s get started without further ado…

Features Offered by IONOS Shared Hosting

The company offers a number of features for its shared hosting plans. However, I cannot say that any of those features are unique. As a matter of fact, there are many shared hosting companies that offer similar features. Here is a quick list of features that you get with IONOS shared hosting plans (some are plan dependent):

SSD Storage:

They offer SSD storage for all their shared hosting (webhosting as they call it) plans. That’s good because solid state drives are faster than traditional spinning drives, allowing room for faster server response time and faster website load times.

CDN with Railgun:

In all likelihood you already know about CDN. You may not be aware of Railgun. It is a latest technology that allows caching static parts of a dynamic page, thereby speeding up their delivery through the CDN network. This feature is optional in two of their three plans, but it comes integrated with their top plan. The CDN provider is Cloudflare.

HTTP/2:

It is a revised version of HTTP network protocol that the World Wide Web uses. This revised protocol improves website performance. This feature is enabled in all of IONOS’ shared hosting plans.

Free SSL:

The company offers one SSL Wildcard Certificate in all plans. An SSL certificate is now considered as an important ranking factor by Google. You don’t have to pay anything extra for this.

Daily Backup:

The company throws in a daily backup feature without additional costs across all its shared hosting plans. The only things that are backed up are the website files and databases. That’s precisely what you need, right?

DDoS Protection:

DDoS attacks are awful. I know this because one of my production sites was hit by a massive DDoS attack originating from China. Those who initiated the attack were trying to get access to my website. Thousands of login attempts were taking place every single minute. The bandwidth consumption was so high that my website became literally dysfunctional.

Luckily, the site now sits behind Cloudflare that protects it 24×7. Good thing with IONOS hosting is that they offer DDoS protection for all their shared hosting plans for no extra cost.

Free Email Accounts:

You will also get email accounts with your shared hosting subscription. Number of email accounts you get and the amount of storage allowed for each email account depends on the plan you are purchasing.

Free Domain:

You are also entitled to get a free domain for a year with any shared hosting plan you decide to purchase. The TLDs you get to select from are very limited. The allowed TLDs are .us, .ca, .com, .net, .org, .online, .biz, and .me. The second year onwards, you have to pay for the domain name you select.

Money-Back Guarantee

The company offers a standard 30-day money-back guarantee. In case you are not satisfied with their services, you can ask for a complete refund.

99.9% Uptime Guarantee

IONOS promises an uptime of 99.9%. According to them, they cannot do anything about natural disasters, which account for any downtime that comes into play. Minus the natural disasters, the company promises no downtimes at all.

To prevent downtimes, the hosting company replicates the data at a separate data center. In case of one data center going down because of maintenance, the other data center serves the website or application keeping it always online.

PHP 8.0 (Beta)

Of all the hosts I have seen so far, IONOS is the only shared hosting provider who has support for PHP 8.0, which is in its beta stage. The most stable version so far is PHP 7.4, which is also available with IONOS hosting. In case you want to use an older version of PHP, the company also offers version 4! Again, that’s something you will not find with other shared hosting providers.

Plans and Pricing of IONOS Shared Hosting

When it comes to shared hosting, IONOS offers the following plans:

Essential Plan

Regular price$6 per month
Offer price$4 per month
Minimum tenure1 month
RAMUp to 512 MB
Storage10 GB
TrafficUnlimited
PHP Memory Limit384 MB
CDN with RailgunOptional
HTTP/2Available
SSLAvailable
Site ScanAvailable
DDoS protectionAvailable
Daily backupAvailable
One-click installationAvailable
Perfect forWebsites with up to 50 visitors per minute

Business Plan

Regular price$10 per month
Offer price$1 per month
Minimum tenure1 month
RAMUp to 6 GB
StorageUnlimited
TrafficUnlimited
PHP Memory Limit768 MB
CDN with RailgunOptional
HTTP/2Available
SSLAvailable
Site ScanAvailable
DDoS protectionAvailable
Daily backupAvailable
One-click installationAvailable
Perfect forWebsites with up to 200 visitors per minute

Expert Plan

Regular price$16 per month
Offer price$8 per month
Minimum tenure1 month
RAMUp to 19 GB
StorageUnlimited
TrafficUnlimited
PHP Memory Limit896 MB
CDN with RailgunAvailable
HTTP/2Available
SSLAvailable
Site ScanAvailable
DDoS protectionAvailable
Daily backupAvailable
One-click installationAvailable
Perfect forWebsites with up to 500 visitors per minute

It is interesting to note that they offer the lowest price for the second-highest plan that they offer. Also, the minimum tenure you can take even with the offer price is one month. This is something you don’t see every day!

User Interface and Ease of Use

IONOS ditches the traditional cPanel you get with other shared hosting services. This makes the over interface a little confusing. In fact, I believe that they need to overhaul the interface design for client area.

The absence of the cPanel is quite disturbing because it is often considered as a gold standard in shared hosting services.

Anyway, when you purchase a plan with IONOS and your account creation is completed, you will see the main dashboard of the client area which looks like this:

I will not say that it is extremely difficult or confusing but yes, it is slightly confusing. You will get details of Domains and SSL certificates from the first option which reads Domains & SSL.

The option which reads Websites & Stores will allow you to use one-click installations or purchase new products.

The Hosting option is where you will get the options of accessing your website files, creating FTP accounts, work with databases, and more. This is what you will see:

Under the Security Solutions option, you will get the options for setting up email accounts and even perform site scan. This is what you will see:

Overall, the interface is not very friendly, but it is not even very difficult. You have to click around and see what options are allowed or available.

At times things can get a bit complicated and you can perform the same task through two different places. For instance, you can install WordPress directly from Website & Security options or you can go to Domains & SSL >> Use Your Domain >> Create Website.

So, I do believe that IONOS did manage to complicate things a bit. That was absolutely not necessary and they could have done a better job in designing their client area.

Installing WordPress and Creating Site

As I said earlier, there are two ways you can install WordPress or any other web application you want to. Whichever method you select, you will see the website builder option on the top. This is what you will see:

If you want, you can always use that option. However, if you want to install WordPress, which is undoubtedly the most popular CMS in this world, you can select the next option.

Since I am not a big fan of website builders, I happily skipped it to install WordPress. Clicking on the Get Started button pulled up the next page where I was asked to enter a title for the website I wanted to build. This is what I saw:

Entering a name or site title and clicking on the Create Website button took me to the next page where I was asked to enter admin login details (username and password):

Providing the details and clicking on the Continue button took me to the next page where I found two options – Managed WordPress Installation and Simple or Clean WordPress Installation.

Honestly, this was unexpected. Anyway, I decided to opt for the Recommended option (Managed WordPress) to see how well does IONOS optimizes the site for me. I know that I can optimize my site for achieving blazing-fast websites. I wanted to know what IONOS was capable of.

Unfortunately, I had to agree to pay an additional $3 a month for installing Managed WordPress. Luckily the first 30 days of use were free. Once I accepted to pay $3 a month, this is what I found:

Clicking on Finish Installation button pulled up the next page where I saw this:

Once the installation was complete, I found something interesting. I had the option of switching from Managed WordPress to unmanaged or Standard WordPress installation. Check this out:

That was surprising!

Once the installation was complete, I went to the frontend of the website to find the basic Twenty Twenty theme installed on the site. This is what it looked like:

I really wanted to check what was installed under Managed installation. So, I logged in to find this as the welcome page:

Clicking on Let’s Go button opened up a theme selection page. This is what I found:

I selected a theme called Customizr to see whether the theme was a premium theme or not. I have used Customizr in the past and I know that it has both a free option and a premium version. Once the theme was installed, this is what I saw:

Post installation I found, to my horror, that the theme was none other than a free theme from the WordPress theme repository. In fact, all the themes that you see are free themes with limited capabilities. I was expecting to see a collection of premium themes because IONOS was charging me $3 a month.

Utterly disappointed, I decided to switch to the standard WordPress installation. However, before I made the switch, I wanted to see which plugins were installed under the Managed installation version. This is what I found:

Utterly disgusted by what they called Managed WordPress installation, I decided to make a switch to the standard installation, but not before testing the speed of the website. I will come to speed test results later.

Once I decided to switch to the Standard Mode, this is what I found:

Clicking on Switch to standard mode took me to the next screen where I was asked to provide some site information including site title, username, password, etc. This is what I saw:

Moving forward I had to provide a few more details to complete the switch. However, once the switch was completed, nothing changed. The theme installed previously was retained and so were the plugins. I, however, noticed another plugin. It was called Alfred, the Assistant and IONOS was company or organization that developed the plugin.

I decided to keep all plugins as is. I did not touch any of them. I then switched to the default Twenty Twenty theme with the motive of testing website speed. This is how the frontend of the website now looked like:

IONOS

I will say that the installation was not difficult, but their Managed installation was not really that great. You can do better with a clean installation.

Website Speed

This is the most important part. Your website needs to load quickly. Will IONOS hosting allow that to happen? Let’s find out…

Speed with Managed WordPress Installation

In managed installation, the company promised fast website speed among several other things. Unfortunately, the results were disappointing. This is what I found in Google PageSpeed Insights tests:

Mobile:

You are already aware of themes and plugins used. I gave you a screenshot of the list of plugins available after installation. The speed is disgusting!

Desktop:

This is what I found on desktop…

IONOS

That’s terrible!

What happens when I switched to unmanaged installation?

Speed with Unmanaged or Standard Installation

Mobile:

Desktop:

IONOS

One thing I can say for sure is that the themes offered by IONOS under managed hosting are terrible for speed. You will definitely be better-off with unmanaged or standard installation where you will have complete control over your WordPress site.

However, I do need to say that optimization is not a single thing. It is a collection of various steps and selection of the right theme is one of the important factors. The number of plugins you are using, the scripts and codes that you are using, web fonts, rich media, etc. are all important. You need to use them properly. Also, you cannot forget to use a good CDN.

Bottom line?

Take full control of your website and go for a standard installation instead of paying $3 per month for a managed installation. It doesn’t make sense. All the themes and plugins that the managed installation offers are available for free. I think you can invest a small amount of time to update your plugins and themes by yourself. You don’t need someone else to do that for you.

Overall, the performance is extremely satisfactory for a standard installation. The managed installation, however, did not make it.

Customer Support

IONOS offers 24×7 customer support. You can avail their support through live chat or you can call them or have them call you directly for support. The live chat is decently fast as all replies came within a minute’s time.

I never tried out their phone support because I am shy boy and I don’t like talking. One thing I noted about their live chat system is that it is not clearly visible. You need to dig a bit to get there.

The support members on live chat respond in somewhat mechanical fashion and it appears to be something obligatory rather than something that they do with pleasure. The chat support team I talked with sounded mundane and a bit reluctant to answer my queries right away. Sometimes I had to ask the same thing twice to squeeze an answer out of that person (who, I had no idea, was a female or a male).

Here is a live chat transcript:

The Pros & Cons of IONOS

Here is a quick list of pros and cons of IONOS 1&1 shared hosting:

The Pros

  • Fast SSD servers.
  • CDN from Cloudflare.
  • DDoS protection available.
  • Support for up to PHP 8.0.
  • Free domain, free SSL, and free email accounts.
  • Daily backups available.
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee (delivers more).
  • Provides 30-day money-back guarantee.

The Cons

  • The whole interface is slightly confusing.
  • Live chat is difficult to access.
  • Live chat support staff seem somewhat reluctant to help.
  • Very high renewal prices.
  • Managed WordPress installation is just bogus.

Conclusion & Verdict

If you keep aside the problem of mundane-sounding support, IONOS is a fantastic web hosting or shared hosting provider. Their SSD servers are fast, and your website can load fast. However, you need to carry out several optimizations by yourself.

Having said all that, I will not shy away from recommending this company if you are looking for a reliable shared hosting service. Yes, there will be some learning curve when it comes to mastering their overall user interface designed for account management.

Yes, you can use IONOS for shared hosting! I recommend it!