WestHost In-Depth Review – A Cost-Effective Web Hosting Choice?
Looking forward to starting your own website but can’t decide which web host to go with? You’re not alone! Nowadays, a lot of web hosts have popped up in the market, promising you with the “best hosting solutions money can buy”. But be warned – some of these companies will just rip you off and provide you with sub-par hosting services! What’s more, there are literally hundreds of thousands of web hosting companies out there, which makes the hunt for a good hosting provider even more challenging.
No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you’re going to need a web host if you want to establish an online presence. Some individuals and businesses maintain their own web server, but maintenance alone can be quite costly and time-consuming. This is why most of us invest in the services of a web hosting company instead.
WestHost isn’t exactly a household name in the web hosting service, and it’s not the cheapest either. But having been in business since 1998, you just have to wonder what they’re doing right to have stayed this long in such a fierce and ever-changing market. The company seems to have adjusted well to the battles in this industry, and is home to hundreds of thousands of websites owned by various individuals and businesses across the globe. But how do they fare against their competitors and what are the pros and cons of purchasing a hosting package with them? Are they really a cost-effective web hosting choice? Let’s find out the answers in this WestHost in-depth review.
WestHost Web Hosting – What’s Their Story?
WestHost was established in 1998 and is headquartered in Providence, Utah. 10 years after, the company was acquired by one of the largest global web hosting provider, UK2 Group, in its effort to further expand its already powerful global presence. Under the UK2 Group, WestHost is able to provide their clients with an exceptional web hosting experience.
Their singular focus is to provide a powerful and secure web hosting environment, at a reasonable cost. This company is one of the first to provide web hosting for clients all over the world, maintaining a solid reputation by providing the best and latest technology, with top-notch customer support. Today, they also provide domain registrations and hosting; on top of various hosting options including shared hosting, VPS cloud hosting, dedicated servers, etc.
WestHost have over a million client websites under their wings. The company claims that 50% of their employees are multi-lingual, with a good number having more than 5 years of experience in the IT industry.
WestHost Web Hosting Plans
WestHost have a diverse range of web hosting options for their large client base. They’ve tailored their services around the needs of their clients, providing flexible and scalable hosting solutions. Their hosting options include shared web hosting, VPS cloud hosting, and dedicated servers, just to name a few.
Which option you choose depends on your needs and preferences, whether you’re looking to build a simple personal blog or a much bigger eCommerce site for your business or company.
WestHost offers shared web hosting, which is the perfect solution for those who are new to building a website or just need to build a small and simple site. And by this, I mean a site that doesn’t need hundreds of web pages and is not expecting hundreds of thousands of site visitors. They offer three different plans: Personal, Preferred, and Business.
The first tier, the Personal plan, comes with just the right features and tools to get you started with your site. It comes in at a price starting from $40, which already includes 50 GB disk space, 1000 GB bandwidth, and 1 database. That’s a whole lot of data that you can use at such a low price!
For those who need more out of their hosting package, you might want to go for the Preferred plan, which now comes at $5.50 a month, from its regular price of $11 a month. It builds upon the Personal plan, although it comes with 200 GB disk space, 2500 GB bandwidth, unlimited databases, as well as free setup and a free domain.
From $12 a month, the final tier – the Business plan – is largely unlimited (disk space, bandwidth, databases), with a free domain and dedicated IP address. This is the perfect plan for those who want to start building a small eCommerce website.
At the time of writing, WestHost is offering a special Fall Offer where new customers can purchase an annual plan and get 1 year FREE on any of their chosen hosting plan. This promo is applicable to new .com, .co, .site, .online, and .me domain registrations on 1-year contracts between September 1 and November 30, 2016. There are a few more days left before this promo ends so if I were you, I’d take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save hundreds of bucks on quality web hosting!
If you’re still not sure which shared hosting plan to pick, the comparison chart below might just help you make the right choice:
|Monthly Price||$4||$5.50 (from $11)||$12|
|Disk Space||50 GB||200 GB||Unlimited|
|Bandwidth||1000 GB||2500 GB||Unlimited|
|Database (MySQL 5)||1||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Dedicated SSL Certificate||$33||$33||FREE|
|Dedicated IP Address||$2/month||$2/month|
|FREE File and Database Transfers|
|Emails per Hour||100||100||100|
(main domain only)
|Softaculous 1-Click Installer|
|24/7 Toll-Free US Support|
Depending on the type of site you wish to build, these shared hosting plans can handle decent amount of traffic. Performance shouldn’t be a problem as well, unless you’re using power-hungry web applications on your site. That and a high volume of traffic, of course.
Again, WestHost’s hosting plans are not the cheapest I’ve seen, and they’ve even placed some restrictions on the low-tier plan. It’s sparse on features, but it might just do the trick for personal users and small businesses on a budget. Still, it pales in comparison to other popular web hosting providers like BlueHost and iPage.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Cloud Hosting
Have you outgrown your shared hosting plan? Need more room for your ever-growing business? Perhaps it’s time to upgrade to a more powerful VPS cloud hosting plan. With WestHost’s VPS cloud hosting, you’ll get instant flexibility, security, scalability, and self-healing – all without being tied to a contract. It’s like getting the incredible power of a dedicated server, but for an exceptional value.
WestHost’s VPS cloud hosting is split into three packages: Burst, Storm, and Monsoon. At $50 a month, the lowest plan, Burst, provides you with 1128 MB RAM, 20 GB disk space and 500 GB bandwidth. The Storm plan, which is at $100, comes with 1880 MB RAM, 50 GB disk space and 1250 GB bandwidth. It’s just as powerful as a decent starter-level dedicated server. Meanwhile, the highest plan, the Monsoon plan, is at $150 per month. With this plan, you’ll get 3384 MB RAM, 90 GB disk space and 2250 GB bandwidth. All of these plans are powered by Xen and Linux virtualization technology which provide better failover and self-healing features. What’s more, each of these plans comes with 1 dedicated IP address.
Here’s a comparison chart to help you get a better view of the features that come with each of WestHost’s VPS cloud hosting plans, as well as their prices:
|RAM (Memory)||1128 MB||1880 MB||3384 MB|
|Dedicated CPU||1.2 GHz||3 GHz||5.4 GHz|
|Disk Space||20 GB||50 GB||90 GB|
|Bandwidth||500 GB||1250 GB||2250 GB|
|Network Speed||1 GIgE Port||1 GIgE Port||1 GIgE Port|
|Emails per Hour||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Dedicated IP Address||1||1||1|
|FREE Snapshot Backups|
|FREE SSL Certificate|
|FREE cPanel License|
|MySQL 5 Databases||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Softaculous 1-Click Installer|
|Blesta Billing Application||FREE||FREE||FREE|
|Proactive 24/7 Managed Support||FREE||FREE||FREE|
Unlike the usual VPS plans offered by other web hosts, WestHost doesn’t give you the option to choose the OS since it only comes with Linux. However, if you ever find yourself in need of more resources like disk space, RAM, bandwidth, or CPU, you can always contact the company for a hassle-free upgrade.
What I really like the most is that all VPS cloud hosting plans come with free cPanel license, which is a big plus in itself, considering just how much other people will have to pay for it in other web hosts. Apart from this, WestHost also offers free backups and SSL Certificate. Talk about value for money!
Dedicated Server Hosting
When shared or VPS hosting just isn’t enough to provide room for growth, it’s time to go for a dedicated server. It offers greater reliability, enhanced performance, and higher level of security because you’re not sharing your server with anyone else. With WestHost, you can choose between Unmanaged and Managed dedicated server hosting.
Unmanaged Server Hosting (from $95 to $330 per month) gives you complete control over your hosting account. This may take some time and getting used to, but Unmanaged hosting is one for advanced users who want a more hands-on approach to managing their websites. And even if WestHost doesn’t teach classes on unmanaged hosting administration, they still offer a slew of useful tools to help you save time with your unmanaged dedicated server.
As for Managed Server Hosting (from $195 to $430), WestHost takes a white-glove approach to a dedicated server. This means they’ll do all the heavy lifting for you; notifying you when there are updates and standing by 24/7 to answer your questions. This is perhaps the best managed Linux-based hosting solution this web host can offer, although you should really prepare for the high price point. Choosing this type of plan will give you the same level of freedom and capacity as in unmanaged hosting, except that you can focus more on running and growing your business without having to worry about certain tasks like regular maintenance of your web server. On the other hand, if you want to save a few bucks and you’re confident that you can manage your own server without professional help, Unmanaged Server Hosting might be a better option.
UNMANAGED SERVER HOSTING
MANAGED SERVER HOSTING
WestHost offers pretty solid dedicated hosting plans, and you get what you pay for. The downside here is that unlike other web hosts, you don’t get to choose the OS, since the company does it for you. WestHost offers Linux-only hosting plans so if you need to build a website or application that requires Windows hosting, you might have to look elsewhere.
Optimized WordPress Hosting
For those who want ease and flexibility, WordPress could be the solution to your problem. This highly popular CMS and blogging platform is fully loaded with themes and plugins – both free and premium – for you to build your own professional-looking website or blog. With WordPress’ powerful and user-friendly interface, free resources, and a dedicated community of developers and designers, you really can’t go wrong with a WordPress site. In fact, over 20% of websites on the World Wide Web are powered by this very platform! You don’t have to touch a single line of code. Simple installations make it a breeze to build a fully functional and beautifully designed site in no time at all.
If you want the best for your WordPress-based website, then you’re in luck because WestHost offers Optimized WordPress Hosting – unique hosting plans that are powered by ultra-fast WordPress optimized servers, secured in a dedicated hosting environment, and designed and optimized exclusively for the WordPress platform. What’s more, you’ll get over 50 free WordPress themes, free backups, malware protection, and many more!
WestHost lets you choose between two hosting plans: Primary and Pro. The main difference between these two plans is the resource allocation, as well as the number of website visits allowed per month. At the time of this review, WestHost is even offering a special 50% discount on their Optimized WordPress Hosting plans, but only customers who go for their annual plans are eligible for this introductory offer.
The Primary plan is currently a monthly price of $4.99 (previously at $9.99) and includes 10 GB SSD disk space, 25 included emails, and up to 25,000 monthly visits. On the other hand, the Pro plan is at $6.48 per month (previously at $12.99), and comes packed with 20 GB SSD disk space, 50 included emails, and up to 100,000 monthly visits. Both plans already come with 1 free domain name, 50 optimized WordPress themes, CloudFlare CDN, automatic malware removal, and many more.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the Primary and Pro plans:
|Monthly Price (50% OFF)||$4.99||$6.48|
|Annual Price (50% OFF)||$59.82||$77.78|
|Disk Space||10 GB SSD||20 GB SSD|
|Monthly Visits||Up to 25,000||Up to 100,000|
|50 FREE Optimized Themes|
|Automatic Malware Removal|
WestHost offers some pretty solid WordPress hosting plans, especially right now when they’re offering them at incredibly low prices. But of course, nothing else could beat the ones offered by WPEngine, which is a web host that’s solely dedicated to providing the best hosting solutions to WordPress users. Still, if you want a simple and straightforward WordPress hosting option that’s ideal for blogs or small businesses, WestHost’s offering is certainly worth a shot. It’s also good to know that the company has employed a team of WordPress experts who know the platform like the back of their hand. These people have been hosting WordPress around the world since the very beginning so you know that your site is in good hands. Combined with lightning-fast SSD SSD drives and CloudFlare CDN, you’ll be sure that your site will load in a flash from anywhere in the world. Top it with automatic non-core updates and malware removal (with patching) and you’re 100% sure your WordPress site is protected from attackers 24/7!
It’s good to know that WestHost chose to provide the industry-leading cPanel control panel on all their hosting plans. This control panel provides a rich and user-friendly environment where users can manage and update their hosting environment with simple point-and-click.
WestHost’s cPanel interface in each section is collapsible. This includes domains, preferences, mail, files, etc. With this, you can easily hide sections you don’t need, thus creating a clean and easy-to-navigate interface that shows only the features you require.
For the most part, this web host delivers simple and well-polished setup that makes navigation smooth and easy. From cPanel, you can also access your billing information, support options, and domain management. Additionally, it gives you access to an extremely user-friendly website builder, as well as access to third-party applications and platforms like WordPress, Joomla, phpBB, and many more. Many of the other web hosts I’ve previously reviewed also use cPanel and though the integrated platform is versatile and feature-rich, they can appear cluttered and overwhelming. Their interface is often laden with an endless collection of feature icons which could be daunting and difficult to navigate, especially for new users.
Make sure to check out WestHost’s cPanel demo and see for yourself just how easy it is to manage your hosting environment with this control panel.
Uptime and Performance
Uptime / Downtime Record
WestHost does not have an uptime guarantee, which is unfortunate since a lot of people consider uptime and performance as one of the most important things to look for in a web hosting provider. The company can assure you, however, that their servers are up and have never been down once for well over a year – a pretty mean feat if you ask me. You can see their server status for yourself, here.
According to various reviews and uptime analysis, WestHost has an average uptime of 99.98% and has remained so for the last 8 years. This sounds promising, though we could’ve been happier if this was set in stone and stated in their Service Level Agreement. Some companies like iPage and BlueHost, for instance, give credits to their customers’ account for every second or minute their website is down due to some unforeseen server issue. Doing so gives customers the peace of mind knowing that the company will take immediate action should there be any server issues and that they’ll be given due credit for every time their site is down. After all, what’s the use of a website if your customers and prospects won’t be able to access your goods? Lengthy downtime is equivalent to lost income.
WestHost’s performance is pretty impressive, thanks to their state-of-the-art equipment and use of the latest technology in their Tier-3 data center located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company, however, only rents out space there as part of a colocation program. However, that didn’t stop WestHost from providing only the best for their clients. They have everything a server should have in order for client websites to perform at peak levels.
Below are the specifications of WestHost’s data center:
- CentOS 5 with Apache 2
- Gigabit Ethernet
- RAID 10 Redundancy
- SAS 70 Type II Compliant
- Cold Aisle Containment and Cooling
- Multiple Network Carriers
WestHost also stresses the importance of their data center’s physical security by pointing out smoke protection (installation of VESDA Smoke Detection System), redundant power sources, and strategically placing the data center itself in a disaster-safe location; with 30” raised flooring to protect servers from possible flooding or storm surge. WestHost also employs on-site staff that are available 24/7 for monitoring and service, along with security and digital video surveillance to keep their clients’ data safe and secure.
WestHost lets you test-drive their hosting services with zero risk, by offering a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of their shared hosting plans. It’s not as lengthy as the one offered by Arvixe or A Small Orange but a full 30 days is just enough to let you test the waters and decide whether or not it’s the web host for you.
If, for some reason, you decide that WestHost’s service isn’t for you, they will give you your money back in full – no questions asked. Simply fill out the cancellation form within the specified time block and your money will be routed back to you. Take note, however, that the 30-day money-back guarantee only applies to shared hosting plans. Clients who purchased VPS Cloud hosting, Dedicated Server hosting, Reseller hosting, SSL certificates, domain name registration, or customs services are not eligible for the 30-day money-back guarantee.
WestHost only employs the best and most skilled technicians in the industry, which is why their services are reliable and will not let you down. With their budget-friendly and feature-rich web hosting solutions, you’ll get everything you need to make your stay with them as comfortable as possible. Should you need assistance with your website or hosting account, WestHost’s customer support team is standing by and ready to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whatever your question, they’re here to serve your needs via phone, live chat, or email. From the control panel, you can also easily access customer support where you can submit a ticket. From the support option, you can create new support tickets or view pending ones. This is also where you can have more direct methods of contact.
The thing with WestHost’s support quality is that it’s kind of a mixed bag, depending on the support method you choose. I’m not sure if this is a major downside to some but once, I had to wait about 30 minutes to get in touch with a customer rep. Yet in another instance, I was immediately connected with a helpful and friendly rep. Having said this, the support team is consistent with being friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. Whatever question or inquiry I throw at them, they’re able to give me the answer or solution I need, and I think that’s pretty impressive.
Apart from the usual support methods, WestHost also boasts a comprehensive FAQ section for those who need quick answers to basic questions. These questions are organized by popular topics such as general hosting, merchant account, eCommerce, etc. So far, WestHost has one of the best FAQ sections I came across. Additionally, they have a community forum and a blog to keep you updated with their services.
Pros and Cons
Below are the pros and cons you need to take note of before purchasing an account with WestHost:
- Straightforward, competitively priced web hosting services
- Room for growth, with numerous hosting plans and options
- Plenty of disk space and bandwidth on low-tier hosting plans
- Offers free setup
- Offers free website transfers
- Free backups and SSL Certificates on high-tier hosting plans
- Well-polished cPanel control panel (free license on higher plans)
- Provides free intuitive website builder
- Impressive uptime record
- Speedy page load speeds
- Robust, high-security data center
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Some customers have praised their friendly, knowledgeable, and responsive customer service
- Extensive knowledgebase and FAQ section, with forum and blog
- No unique feature to set it apart from the rest
- Clients need to sign up for annual plans to get the best possible price and perks
- Higher plans are generally more expensive than the competition
- Money-back guarantee is short and only covers shared hosting plans
- Some clients reported poor customer support and lengthy wait times
- Does not support Windows hosting
- Limited resource allocations (disk space and bandwidth)
- Rents out a space for their data center
- No uptime guarantee
Final Verdict – A Good Hosting Option, But with a Few Quirks
Overall, I can safely say that WestHost is a competitive and reliable web hosting provider, despite it not being a household name. They offer affordable web hosting services that come with just the right features and options, enough to make you not look for any other web host. They know what individuals and businesses want in a web host and that’s what they did: Tailoring products and services to suit any hosting need. You’ll fine services ranging from shared web hosting to dedicated server hosting. The package you choose depends entirely on your personal needs. Shared hosting plans are ideal for small businesses and personal blogs, while large corporations and eCommerce sites can benefit from a business hosting or dedicated server hosting plan.
But just like many other web hosts, WestHost’s “unlimited” plan isn’t really unlimited, since they cap your bandwidth, disk space, and databases. You could be asked to upgrade your plan or reduce your files and if you don’t, you’ll risk getting your account terminated. The same is true for many other web hosts and while I think WestHost is presenting a fair plan, it’s best to just cut it with the practice of giving unlimited features that actually have limits imposed on them.
That aside, I would still recommend WestHost to those who need a competent and cost-effective web hosting choice – but with reservations. Maybe if they stop upselling their services and focus more on improving customer support, I’d give them a solid 5-star rating and recommend them without hesitation.