WebFaction Hosting Review – Can You Rely On Their Shared and Cloud Hosting Plans?
There are some many web hosting providers offering extensive hosting plans at budget-friendly prices. These packages often include site-building tools, free domain registration, plenty of disk space and bandwidth, and even some useful eCommerce features to help make building an online shop a lot easier. But because there are literally hundreds of web hosting providers in the market, making the right hosting decision can be a challenge.
You’re probably new to web hosting or simply ready to take your brand or business up a notch, and you’re swamped with incredible income-generating ideas that need to be implemented ASAP. But do you really know what to look for in a web hosting provider? Do you have any real idea what your website needs to be able to gain some traction in the World Wide Web? If not, don’t panic because I’m going to make things much simpler for you.
With a web hosting company like WebFaction, you’ll never be unsure about web hosting again. It’s no doubt one of the more reliable names that belong to the upper echelon of web hosting, and one that’s definitely worth checking out. In the following WebFaction hosting review, we’re going to focus on a few important aspects like the plans and pricing, features, uptime and performance, customer support, and the possible pros and cons you may encounter. Can you rely on their shared and cloud hosting plans? Let’s find out!
Why Choose WebFaction?
WebFaction is a premium web hosting company that’s primarily based in London, United Kingdom. They’re a relatively new competitor in the web hosting market, which often results in a great deal of bewilderment among those who are looking for a reliable web host. They offer simple and affordable hosting packages that are tailored for web developers.
WebFaction offers basic features and a number of tools and applications that you can upgrade individually, making their offering unique. The company delivers top-notch hosting services from three data centers located in the Dallas (USA), Amsterdam (Europe), and Singapore (Asia). This allows you to have you site or apps hosted where your primary audience is. This is particularly important for applications that require rapid response times. It may not be as big as the more popular web hosting options out there but for what they offer, WebFaction is a pretty good choice for anyone looking to host their website or app online.
WebFaction Hosting Plans and Pricing
WebFaction provides managed shared hosting and cloud hosting packages. All of their packages are on CentOS 7 servers, complete with SSD storage. Some of the most notable features in their plans include control over DNS records, access to server side scripts, complete SSH access, and more. Additionally, you can install WordPress, Django, Rails, and Redmine, as well as a number of other popular applications and software with just a single click. This makes WebFaction an extremely user-friendly option for developers to manage their website and/or apps.
Introducing the All-New SSD Hosting
WebFaction recently introduced their next-generation hosting plans, with carefully selected high-performance, pure SSD servers. Today, all of their plans are built on a robust and highly secure software setup that’s based on CentOS 7.
As such, all existing clients can continue using their plans at the current price for as long as they like. Just like the old hosting packages, these new ones come with SSH access, fully managed servers, email, DNS hosting, and a feature-rich control panel that allow you to configure all aspects of your hosting.
Now that we got that out of the way, here are WebFaction’s new hosting plans:
Shared Web Hosting
WebFaction offers a single basic shared hosting plan, starting at a monthly price of $10. But what makes their shared hosting plan unique is that it’s customizable. Disk storage, bandwidth, and memory are limited with a basic plan, but you can choose to upgrade them individually. You can even add more dedicated IP addresses to your account, for an extra fee. Server memory is free, and you can have as many domains and apps you want in a single account.
Another thing that makes WebFaction’s shared hosting plan unique is that it separates your hosting into domains, applications, and websites. A “website” is comprised of an application (like WordPress) and a domain (www.yourdomain.com). With this, you have the flexibility to serve your apps through various domains and sites. The plan even comes with support for popular scripting languages such as Ruby, Perl, PHP, Python, Java, and C/C++. For databases, WebFaction supports MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, and MongoDB, just to name a few. You can also install your favorite scripting languages and other server tools if you want!
For a basic hosting plan, WebFaction offers a lot of awesome features that you won’t usually find with other shared hosting plans. It’s mainly geared towards developers, with features like full SSH access to servers, a custom API, as well as the ability to use custom frameworks and tools. Just imagine being able to use various frameworks through the control panel. You can save time installing and configuring them yourself, thus speeding up your work. And if the framework you want isn’t available from the installer, you can install it yourself. It’s that simple!
Fully Managed Cloud Hosting
WebFaction offers 5 different levels of fully managed cloud server plans, with varying RAM and storage allowances based on resource utilization by the server operating system and hosting infrastructure. The price for their cloud server plans ranges from $20 a month to $240 a month.
Although resources may appear limited, you can get unlimited number of accounts and applications for each account. The cloud plans are based on CentOS 7 and just like their shared hosting plan, they also come with a one-click installer that allows you to get dozens of popular applications and scripts installed with a single click. This includes support for scripting languages like Python, Perk, Ruby, and PHP; web servers like Nginx and Apache; databases like MyQSL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, and MongoDB; and project management tools like Git, Subversion, Bazaar, Redmine, Trac, and Mercurial.
cPanel and Plesk are two of the most popular control panels in the industry. But while most web hosts chose these mainstream control panels for their hosting services, WebFaction chose to build their own proprietary control panel that pretty much does everything cPanel or Plesk does, plus a few extra features that app developers will find useful.
From the control panel, you can monitor resource usage such as your memory, disk space, and bandwidth; access DNS records; as well as install popular applications and programs like WordPress, Django, Git, and more. You can even manage your account and billing information via the control panel. And while cPanel only has one static IP address for each account, there’s no such limitation imposed on this proprietary control panel.
While WebFaction’s control panel may seem bland and boring at first sight, a lot of users have reported flexibility and ease of use once they familiarized themselves with it. Those who are already familiar with cPanel and Plesk won’t have a difficult time getting used to this control panel as it’s easy to customize. You can have as many domains and applications as long as you don’t go beyond the limitations given to your account (i.e. disk space, RAM, bandwidth, etc.). What’s more, WebFaction offers server management such as daily backups, regular server monitoring, application of security patches, and more.
Uptime and Performance
Unfortunately, WebFaction doesn’t appear to have an uptime guarantee. However, this web host is known to have an excellent reputation in terms of stability and performance. No matter where you look (be it on social media sites or other review sites), a lot of people have expressed their satisfaction over WebFaction’s uptime and performance. This is most likely due to the fact that this web host’s services are aimed specifically at app developers, thus allowing them to focus on providing features and options based on their needs.
WebFaction comes equipped with minimum quad core 3.4 GHz CPUs and HDDs in a RAID-10 configuration. The company, however, doesn’t have privately owned data centers and instead rent from SoftLayer’s safe-harbor certified data centers located in the US, Europe, and Asia. Some people may be put off by the fact that WebFaction doesn’t have their own data centers but SoftLayer is known for their cutting-edge pod design, redundant architecture, high-performance rack infrastructure, and robust physical security. WebFaction also maintains a firewall that blocks connections on unauthorized incoming ports. They also provide regulate automatic remote backups on all data, although the company has clearly noted that these backups aren’t guaranteed and that clients are responsible for managing their own data.
For the past couple of months, I have closely monitored WebFaction’s uptime and performance. Here are the specific statistics that came out:
Average Uptime: 99.96%
Server Response Time: 790ms on average
Uptime is a tad bit lower than most web hosts but overall, WebFaction’s performance is excellent in this aspect. They are, however, a little sluggish compared to the industry average in terms of server response time.
It’s good to know that WebFaction offers a lengthy 60-day money-back guarantee for shared hosting accounts. This means that within the first 60 days, you can cancel your account at any time, for any reason, and receive a full refund – no questions asked! Take note, however, that after the 60-day trial period, you are no longer guaranteed with any refund.
As for cloud hosting accounts, clients can opt to cancel at any time. The only difference is that they will receive a refund for any unused portion of their initial payment, not including the current month’s payment. Setup fees cannot be refunded.
If you wish to cancel your account with WebFaction, you can request for a refund and/or cancellation via the web control panel.
Customer Support – Needs More Room for Improvement
Customer support is one area that WebFaction needs to improve on. There’s very little information available about their support on their website, and they don’t seem to focus on their support services in their marketing. They do have a ticket system, online forum, and email support; although customers who need prompt solutions to a problem could probably benefit more from phone support and/or live chat. On the other hand, the lack of support methods could be a good sign as it can be an indication that there are very few customers who have run into issues that require support from the staff.
WebFaction has a team of highly skilled, professional support engineers who are standing by to provide prompt and reliable solutions to all issues experience by their customers. On the website, you can also find quick and simple references which include a user guide, software documentation, as well as API documentation. As for their online forum, they do have an active, user-moderated community where customers can gain points called “karma”, for constructive participation. Some of WebFaction’s staff are also actively participating in discussions and publicly answer customer questions.
Pros and Cons
The following are pros and cons you need to be aware of before deciding to sign up with WebFaction:
- Affordable and customizable shared and cloud hosting plans
- Web hosting services are focused on a specific audience
- Lots of useful features for app developers
- Fast setup time with one-click installer
- Reliable uptime and performance
- Responsive email and ticket support
- Generous refund policy
- Provides quick tutorials and documentation
- Active online forums
- Multiple data centers located around the world
- Price can come across a bit high for cloud hosting
- Does not offer VPS and dedicated server hosting packages
- May not be the best choice if you’re not an app developer
- No cPanel/Plesk control panel
- No uptime guarantee
- Limited support (no phone and live chat support)
- Does not have their own data center
Final Verdict – A Great Hosting Option for App Developers
WebFaction is a premium web host that offers affordable hosting packages and services to their target audience. While they can host any type of website, most of the features they offer will be lost on non-developers. Features like one-click installation, the ability to run applications and scripts like Ruby and Python, and many more make this web host a more logical option for those in the app development niche.
This web host provides an incredible amount of control and flexibility in their shared hosting plan compared to most other hosting providers. And once you’ve outgrown your shared hosting account and need more resources, you can easily upgrade to one of their cloud servers, giving you the convenience of a fully managed yet customizable hosting environment.
If phone support and live chat are important factors in your search for a reliable web host, you might want to look elsewhere. On the other hand, WebFaction boasts an active online community where you can get the help you need both from the staff and your fellow customers. Many customers have also cited the speed and efficiency of their ticket support system.
Overall, WebFaction is a straightforward, unpretentious, and down-to-earth web hosting company that lives up to their promises. They deliver great value and performance, and I myself am truly impressed with the services they offer. So if you’re ever wondering whether you can rely on their shared and cloud hosting plans, my answer is a solid YES, and I highly recommend them!