Network Solutions Web Hosting Review: An Ideal Choice For Small Businesses?
When looking for a web hosting provider, you need to look at a number of different things. For example, what hosting features do you need to get your site up and running? What is a web host’s uptime and performance like? Can you rely on their customer support? And of course, how do their plans and pricing compare to other web hosts? If you’re looking for a budget-friendly web host that allow you to grow your online presence alongside your brand or business, Network Solutions might just be your answer.
In this Network Solutions web hosting review, I’m going to give you the finer, nitty-gritty details you need to know before signing up and getting a hosting account with them. Are they really an ideal choice for small businesses or should you just move on to the next web hosting option in your list?
Let’s jump in!
Why Choose Network Solutions?
Network Solutions is one of the trailblazers of the Internet age, having been around since 1979. It’s one of the first companies to set a solid footing in the DNS registry business; starting out as a technology consulting company that focuses on systems programming services. In 1997, the company quickly grew and expanded into other areas, including web development and web hosting. Over the years, Network Solutions withstood a number of acquisitions and finally settled with Web.com in 2011 – a takeover that cost over $400 million and 18 million shares.
Though Network Solutions is better known for their domain registration services, they also provide a myriad of web hosting, web development, and email services, among many others. At the time of this review, the company is host to over 7 million domain names, 2 million email accounts, and over 300,000 websites, most of which are for small- and medium-scale businesses. The company is headquartered in Florida, USA, with more offices in 2 other US states and an additional office in Buenos Aires.
Whether you’re a newbie or a professional web developer, the tools and services offered by Network Solutions gives you the freedom to build and manage your website(s) from anywhere in the world. You don’t have to download or install any software package, so even those who have never built a site before can get one up and running in just a matter of hours.
Network Solutions Web Hosting Plans and Pricing
Network Solutions offers feature-rich web hosting solutions like shared web hosting, advanced hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting, and managed WordPress hosting (also called Secure WordPress). Not only these, the company also offers domain name registration, email hosting, website builders, SSL certificates, web marketing, as well as web design and development services. They’re pretty much a one-stop shop for developers and site owners.
It’s good to know that Network Solutions offers the two main types of operating system (OS) platform where you can host your site: Linux and Windows. These two platforms come with their own set of unique features. If you’re looking to add dynamic content on your website with the use of CGI or PHP scripts, as well as interface with a MySQL database, then Linux hosting is a better option since it’s more compatible with these applications. On the other hand, if you’re going to use ASP / Access scripting combinations, MSQL server database, or ColdFusion, then Windows hosting is the way to go.
Generally, Linux-based web hosting is more stable, performs faster, and is more secure since most malware and other malicious software are written to cause damage to Windows. But if you need to develop an app in .NET or Visual Basic, then Windows hosting is definitely a more likely option. I would usually recommend my readers to go for Linux hosting, unless you need to use specific features or apps that are only available on Windows. Take note that the OS you use on your desktop is completely independent of the OS that you choose to host your website on.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s delve deep into Network Solutions’ web hosting plans and pricing, which are as follows:
Basic Web Hosting
Network Solutions offers three different models for their shared hosting, namely Web Hosting, Professional Hosting, and Professional Plus. You can choose between Linux and Windows for these plans. Pricing starts at $9.96 per month for a 1-year term. Monthly data transfer is unlimited for all three models, although disk space is limited to 300 GB on the entry-level plan. Here’s a comparison of the three shared web hosting plans:
If you feel like you need more options, check out Network Solutions’ Advanced Hosting plans for more feature-rich basic web hosting plans.
Network Solutions’ plans and pricing for shared hosting can be a bit confusing, especially with their Advanced Hosting plans, which is pretty much similar to their basic web hosting offers, except for the pricing and a number of add-on features. Advanced Hosting also has three models: Essential, Professional, and Premium. All of these plans come with unlimited data transfer and high amount of bandwidth. The following are the key features of Network Solutions’ Advanced Hosting plans:
- Ample Disk Space and Bandwidth
Each Advanced Hosting package comes with just enough disk space and monthly data transfer to accommodate your website needs. You can start small and easily scale up whenever needed.
- Extensive Support for Scripting Languages
With Linux or Windows hosting, you can easily customize your site using some of the most popular scripting languages such as PHP, Ruby on Rails, Perl, JSP, ASP.NET, and more.
- FTP Access Made Easy
With the FTP File Manager, transferring files is a breeze. It allows you to quickly upload and download files to your site simply by dragging and dropping. With Secure FTP and Secure Copy, you have the ability to transfer sensitive files securely.
- WordPress Blog Hosting with 1-Click Installation
With Network Solutions’ 1-click install, you can easily add a blog to your website. A blog is like an interactive online forum where you get to encourage repeat visitors, gather useful feedback, and build a community to share thoughts and ideas. By adding content to your blog, you can boost your site’s SEO and be at the top of search engine results!
Apart from WordPress, Network Solutions also provides a whole library of scripting languages and open source applications that you can install and use with just a few mouse-clicks.
- User-Friendly Website Builder for Publishing Your Website
Each shared hosting plan comes with an innovative and extremely user-friendly website builder tool that you can use to create a website and publishing content online. And guess what? It’s absolutely FREE! You can opt to use their tools or get your own software with FTP access
Starting at a monthly price of $9.96, you can get Essential Hosting, which comes packed with 300 GB disk space, 1 free domain, 1000 emailboxes, and 25 FTP accounts, among others. Meanwhile, Professional Hosting costs $13.29 a month and builds upon Essential Hosting. However, it comes packed with 500 GB disk storage, 2500 emailboxes, and 5 FTP accounts. The high-tier Premium Hosting plan is at $29.13 a month and is packed with unlimited disk space, emailboxes, and FTP accounts – perfect for those who want the most out of a shared hosting account.
Check out this convenient web hosting comparison chart to see what’s included in each Advanced Hosting plan:
|ESSENTIAL HOSTING||PROFESSIONAL HOSTING||PREMIUM HOSTING|
|Disk Space||300 GB||500 GB||Unlimited|
|Email Storage||1 GB||1 GB||1 GB|
|Autoresponders per Emailbox||1||1||1|
|Linux Website Statistics||AWStats||AWStats||AWStats|
|Windows Website Statistics||AWStats||AWStats||AWStats|
|Ruby on Rails
|Java Servlets (Linux Only)|
|JSP (Linux Only)|
|ASP (Windows Only)|
|ASP.NET 2.0 & 4.0 (Windows Only)|
|MySQL Database||25 (300 MB)||50 (300 MB)||Unlimited|
|Cron Jobs (Linux Only)|
|5 DSN||7 DSN||10 DSN|
|MS SQL Database (Windows Only)||2 (200 MB)||3 (200 MB)||5 (300 MB)|
The good thing about Network Solutions’ web hosting packages is that they’re essentially a la carte. The entry-level plan offers standard features but from there, you can easily customize your package to include eCommerce features, additional domains, email options, SSL Certificates, and more. This web host’s most helpful asset is their versatility so if your audience grows along with your brand or business, Network Solutions will let you upgrade your plans at any time, effortlessly.
For many people, Network Solutions’ shared hosting plans already meet their needs, with plenty of features and options for building a website even with no system administration skills. But for advanced, tech-savvy users who want more control and flexibility over a hosting environment, Network Solutions’ VPS Hosting might just be the solution. It’s a lot like having your own dedicated server, but at a fraction of the price. With VPS Hosting, you can install applications and gain full control and access to your chosen OS, among many others.
Network Solutions offers two models: Essential Hosting and Professional Hosting. The price starts at $40 a month for the Essential plan and $80 a month for the Professional plan. Both include CentOS and guarantee full root access. Additionally, they come with support for most applications, with 1 GB guaranteed RAM, 10 GB or 50 GB disk space, and 500 GB or 2000 GB bandwidth. Also, the price for the plans gets cheaper the longer you stay with Network Solutions. For example, if you go for a 3-year plan, you can get the Essential or Professional plan for as low as $32.24 per month or $64.48 per month, respectively. Just imagine how much you can save for a long-term plan!
The following are key features that come included with VPS Hosting:
- 1 GB guaranteed RAM
- Up to 100 GB disk storage and up to 2000 GB monthly bandwidth
- Dedicated server-like functionality including root access, so you can easily install apps services, as well as run different OS
- Includes cutting-edge virtualization and automation software like Parallels Virtuozzo Containers and Parallels Plesk Panel software, allowing you to easily manage and monitor server resources
- FREE domain name for your brand or business
- Up to 200 nsMail emailboxes
Take note that both Essential and Professional plans have no setup fee, which is a huge plus for those who want to save up on web hosting costs. Check out the hosting comparison chart below to see what’s included with each plan:
|VPS ESSENTIAL HOSTING||VPS PROFESSIONAL HOSTING|
|Guaranteed RAM (Memory)||1 GB||1 GB|
|Disk Space||10 GB||50 GB|
|Bandwidth||500 GB||2000 GB|
|Control Panel||Parallels Plesk||Parallels Plesk|
|Parallels Virtuozzo Containers|
|Parallels Deluxe Software Pack (includes SpamAssassin, PostgreSQL, Tomcat Support, Helpdesk)|
|Maximum Managed Domains||10||100|
|FREE Domain Name||1||1|
Keep in mind that the CentOS operating system is only applicable to new VPS purchases. Existing clients who wish to upgrade from a small hosting package to a larger one will remain on the Fedora OS.
Network Solutions offers some of the most feature-rich VPS hosting packages in the market, but it’s not without shortcomings. For one, they are more expensive compared to other web hosts, and their disk space and bandwidth are limited. As such, don’t forget to compare them with VPS hosting plans offered by other popular options like iPage and BlueHost, before making the purchase.
Introducing Secure WordPress
For many years, WordPress remains to be one of the best website tools in the market. But without proper protection and security, you can leave your blog or website vulnerable to common attacks and malicious software. To solve your problem, Network Solutions has created Secure WordPress to address the growing market conditions that continue to threaten WordPress users. Network Solutions is one of the very few web hosts that offer this level of security for WordPress website owners.
With Secure WordPress, your website will be protected against many type of attacks, including SQL injections, Cross Site Scripting, and many other malicious attacks that threaten to redirect your site or compromise your business. Secure WordPress aims to reduce attacks to minute levels and drives hacker requirements to very high levels. So if your website gets infected, Secure WordPress will find it, fix it, and resolve the problem within minutes. It’s a worry-free way of managing your website; one that allows you to focus on growing your business.
Starting at $15 a month, you can get Secure WordPress. Just imagine being able to use the most popular platform, combined with premium level security, performance, and support! A team of WordPress experts constantly monitors and updates the network, web servers, and WordPress software so you can have the peace of mind knowing that your site is in good hands.
Secure WordPress automatically does the following:
- Scan for and remove malware
- Create daily backups
- Provide security updates to WordPress and plugins
How do they do it?
- Whitelist all WordPress themes and plugins
- Automatically updated plugins to avoid vulnerabilities
- Deploy multi-layered servers to guarantee business continuity
- Mitigate 0 day hacks
- Prevent DDOS attacks
By choosing Secure WordPress, you’ll get dedicated expert support, which is what any business needs in order to succeed online. Network Solutions boasts a team of professionals who know WordPress inside and out, and will be more than happy to be of assistance. With dedicated expert support, you have access to 60-day setup assistance, complete with consultative support. Professional agents are available by live chat or dedicated phone number, saving you from waiting in line just to get the support you need.
There wasn’t much information about the control panel used on Network Solutions’ shared hosting plans but as I dug into their knowledgebase, I found out that clients are provided with a custom control panel. So while other web hosts are using cPanel or Plesk for their control panel, this particular web host chose a different path and designed their own control panel. Judging by the screenshots provided, it’s safe to say that this custom control panel looks very basic. It gives you access to domain tools, FTP, emails, script and applications installs, website builder, and even lets you monitor your network resources. Network Solutions provides a number of useful tutorials that will teach you everything you could possibly want to know when navigating this control panel. It looks pretty easy to navigate, given its simplicity, but it’s obviously nowhere near as feature-rich as cPanel or Plesk.
As for VPS accounts, it’s great to know that Network Solutions provides Parallels Plesk Panel 10 as their choice of control panel, and it’s already included in the monthly billing.
Plesk is a more flexible and feature-rich control panel that lets you set up new websites, reseller accounts, email accounts, and DNS entries via a web-based interface. It gives you full control over your site and gives you access to just about everything, from scripts and applications, down to your network resources. Plesk even allows you to install custom versions of or managed versions of MySQL and PostgreSQL databases (and in the case of Windows hosting, MS SQL servers), Apaches, Tomcat, Java, and ColdFusion server. Those who are already familiar with popular control panels like cPanel will find Plesk extremely user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Uptime and Performance
As with any reliable web hosting provider, Network Solutions ensures that your website will be up and running optimally, and will remain trouble-free throughout the course of your subscription. The company features a 99.99% uptime rating for both Linux and Windows hosting. Their automatic backup and restore services will also give you peace of mind knowing your web presence is dependable and consistent.
Dig further into their Terms of Services, however, and you won’t find any details regarding an uptime guarantee at all. There’s no information on the compensation the company will provide should they fail to meet their promise of a 99.99% uptime. If this is a major factor you need to consider in a web hosting provider, then you’re probably better off with one that does offer an uptime guarantee, like iPage or eHost.
On the upside, it’s good to know that Network Solutions has state-of-the-art, proprietary data centers which are based in the US. This means that they have privately owned data centers and not just a rented space from some third-party company. This gives customers the reliability, redundancy, and scalability they need from a web host. Their maximum security carrier-class facilities are combined with cutting-edge network architecture that enable Network Solutions to deliver premium service and performance to their customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Find more details and specifications on their data centers here.
Network Solutions’ refund policy is an area they probably need to improve on because in my experience, it’s one of the most absurd I’ve seen so far. Yes, all hosting clients are provided with a standard 30-day money-back guarantee, but it comes with a significant catch. And by that, I mean if you ever want to leave and cancel your hosting account with them, you will have to pay a processing fee. This is stated on their Service Agreement page, which says:
“Network Solutions will charge you a processing fee if you terminate or cancel any package prior to the completion of any limited money-back guarantee time period for that package or service (the “Processing Fee”). A Processing Fee of $34.99 will be charged for the cancellation of any one-year annual hosting, ecommerce, or Website design package. The Processing Fees for cancellation of multi-year packages will be: $34.99 per year for two-year packages, $34.99 per year for three-year packages, $22.99 per year for five-year packages and $17.99 per year for ten-year packages.”
As you can see, the cancellation fee is calculated on a yearly basis. If you think about it, you could end up losing over $50 just for cancelling your account with them! I mean, who does that to their clients? Apparently, Network Solutions does!
Network Solutions customer support is somewhat of a mixed bag. Yes, they do offer decent support, but it’s only available via phone and email. There’s no live chat feature or ticketing system, which can be a deal-breaker for some people. On the upside, the company has a team of skilled and knowledgeable support reps who are ready to assist you 24/7. They’re a friendly bunch who are available round-the-clock to answer your questions and help find a solution to your problem.
Apart from phone and email support, you can also find plenty of useful tutorials and online user guides that will help you find the answers you need. They also have user forums and an extensive knowledgebase that will help you get started with your web project, from setting up your hosting account to managing your site with the control panel.
Also, Network Solutions offers priority support, called MyTime Support, although you have to pay an additional fee.
MyTime Support is an advanced help that goes beyond your usual phone or email support. Whether you need someone to help you set up your services or a website expert to do the heavy work for you, MyTime Support specialists are standing by to help you so you can focus on the most important thing: Your business! It’s a lot like having your own personal support staff. But again, this premium service comes with a price.
Pros and Cons
Like any other web hosting provider, Network Solutions has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s better to be aware of them before deciding to sign up for an account. Following are the platforms most significant pros and cons:
- Plenty of options for newbies and professional web developers alike
- Offers both Linux and Windows hosting
- Ideal for small businesses
- One-stop shop for everything you need to build an online presence
- Long-term plans are competitively priced
- Platform and plans can easily be adapted to your business’ growth
- Custom and advanced hosting options available
- Website builder tools included in the package
- Supports domain transfers
- Uses Plesk control panel for their VPS plans
- Has one of the best security services for WordPress (Secure WordPress)
- No setup fee
- 99% uptime guarantee
- Skilled and friendly customer support staff
- Extensive knowledgebase, with plenty of tutorials and user guides
- Does not offer dedicated server hosting
- Renewal rate skyrockets after the introductory price ends
- Frequent upselling
- Customer service could use some improvement (with the addition of a live chat feature and ticket submission)
- Custom control panel on shared hosting accounts isn’t as modern as many competitors
- No uptime guarantee
- Absurd money-back guarantee
Final Verdict – A Flexible Web Host, But Needs to Improve in Some Areas
Network Solutions’ offers pretty decent web hosting services that are meant to help you get started with hosting a website for your small business. They provide plenty of tools and options to build a snazzy website, with flexible and scalable hosting options where you can easily add lots of advanced features. However, this web host comes with plenty of drawbacks that they might not actually be able to compete with the likes of iPage, eHost, BlueHost, and other well-known web hosting providers. You can choose to sign up with a new or existing domain name, plus a few options to add extra features. However, these add-ons cost extra. And as with similar web hosting providers, the introductory price is quite attractive, but the regular renewal rate skyrockets.
So if you’re wondering whether or not Network Solutions is an ideal choice for small businesses, my answer is that it can be a good option for WordPress users, but it shouldn’t be your first choice for web hosting. They still need to improve in many different areas, including their customer service and their refund policy.