Hostwinds review

If you want a powerful and flexible web hosting service, Hostwinds must be on your radar. Hostwinds offers a range of shared, VPS (virtual private server), dedicated, cloud, WordPress, and reseller hosting packages designed to appeal to mom and pop merchants as well as larger businesses. Hostwinds’ feature-packed VPS and reseller offerings make it one of the best web hosts we’ve reviewed. This is our Hostwinds review.

Getting started

The website of Hostwinds does not explain his plans well. There is little technical detail on what you get, and users let themselves be guessed at some products’ price. For example, go to the Shared Hosting page, and you will see that the Basic Plan is $3.29 per month, discounted at $8.99. However, you won’t be told how long you need to sign up to get this deal, and you won’t even be able to view your options in a shopping cart until you have created a Hostwinds account.

Hostwinds review

That isn’t good enough, and Hostwinds should be more transparent with its pricing. If the company doesn’t want to pollute its product page with a comprehensive comparison table, fine – add it to another page, and give the users a clear link. It’s not complicated. If you decide to create an account (providing your name, email, physical address, and phone number), you will generally find the grand prize for an annual plan.

Options include a daily cloud backup plan for an above-average $3 per month. Hostwinds added this to our shopping cart without us asking, but it was easy to recognize, and we removed it with a click. We paid for the registration form; the website confirmed our order and explained that there would be an activation email shortly.

Also, ‘Shortly’ was right. Some hosts keep us waiting for hours, but a Hostwinds email with our account details arrived before our PayPal bonus. That’s fast.

Hostwinds Review: Creating a website

Hostwinds uses the WHMCS platform for its account dashboard, just like many other providers. Although it’s not stylish, it’s generally easy to use, with areas to change your contact information, manage domains, open a support ticket, and much more. The basic website management options – creating email accounts, starting the file manager, adding subdomains – are just a click away.

The launch of cPanel gives you access to Softaculous, a popular platform that makes it easy to install WordPress and 400+ other big-name web applications. Hostwinds’ shared hosting plans include the Weebly website builder, an excellent template-based web designer with a stack of drag-and-drop widgets and UI elements.

However, there is a problem. What you get here is Weebly’s minimal free plan, which includes Weebly branding on the footer and limits your website to just 500MB. You can upgrade to more capable plans from Hostwinds, but from what we can see, you’ll pay much the same price as if you went to Weebly directly. (And don’t forget, this is an extra cost – you still pay your regular Hostwinds fees).

The service can still be useful in a few situations. If your plan supports multiple domains, Site Builder can help less technical family members create their own small personal sites. But there isn’t much value here for most users, and usually, you get better results by installing WordPress.

If WordPress and Weebly don’t interest you, there are all the usual tools to build and manage a website from scratch: FTP, SSH, a file manager, MySQL, phpMyAdmin, and more.

Hostwinds review: Performance

To get a basic idea of Hostwinds’ performance, we installed a simple static website on a Hostwinds shared hosting account and then used Uptime.com to monitor availability and response times for one week. This generated 2,000+ data points with an average response time of 285ms, roughly in the range we would expect for basic shared hosting (most providers average 200-400ms).

Hostwinds scored higher for consistency. While many providers have worst-case delays of a second or more and regular peaks in response time, Hostwinds’ slowest response time was only 524ms; in our last 30 reviews, only five providers have done better (Netfirms, Domain.com, Dotster, DreamHost, AccuWeb).

That’s good news, but be careful about how you interpret these figures. They compare the only baseline shared hosting products, and if you choose a cloud, VPS, dedicated, or other high-end plans, you can see very different results.

Hostwinds review: Pricing and plans

The Basic shared hosting plan starts at $3.29 per month on an annual subscription ($6.99 on renewal), $2.35 over three years ($4.99 on renewal), and comes with a surprising number of features. These include unlimited bandwidth, disk space, email accounts, databases, and subdomains. There is also access to cPanel, Weebly site builder, Softaculous one-click installations, nightly backups, a free domain for one year, and a free dedicated IP address.

The only limit we could see is that Basic accounts are limited to one domain each, but that’s the same for just about every starting hosting account, and it won’t be a problem for most customers.

With such a robust start-up plan, the rest of the shared hosting scope can’t do much more than adding support for hosting more sites. The Advanced package processes up to 4 domains for $4.23 per month paid annually ($8.99 on renewal). Simultaneously, the Ultimate plan supports hosting unrestricted domains for $5.17 ($10.99 on renewal) and places you on a server with fewer accounts, hopefully improving performance.

Unfortunately, Hostwinds does not offer managed WordPress hosting. Softaculous makes it easy to install and start using WordPress on any hosting package. Still, specialized WordPress plans from providers like Ionos and Bluehost give you more (speed optimizations, easy multi-site management, staging, development tools).

If you need more resources, Hostwinds’ flexible VPS hosting range offers everything from 1 vCPU and 1GB starting products to powerful 16 vCPU 96GB RAM 9TB bandwidth setups. You can choose from multiple Linux hosting distros or opt for Windows hosting, there are managed and unmanaged options and prices start from a low $4.49 per month ($4.99 on renewal, whatever the term).

Dedicated server support is a bit more basic, with only four primary servers. They are reasonably configurable, with the ability to choose the storage setting, operating system, and version you prefer, allocated bandwidth, and IPs. Again, prices are fair, starting from just $67.50 for the first term, $90 for the extension.

Hostwinds used to offer a generous 60-day money-back guarantee, twice what you’ll see with most hosts, but unfortunately, that has now been replaced by a complicated refund policy. The new rules reduce Hostwinds’ refund period to 30 days for products purchased with a year or longer subscription and only 48 hours for products with one, three, or six-month billing.

Hostwinds Review: Customer support

Hostwinds offers 24 hours a day, seven days a week telephone, webchat, and ticket-based customer support. I tested the chat support weekly morning and afternoon, and I never had to wait more than a minute or two before a Hostwinds representative responded to my questions. The person on the other side of the chat window explained to me in detail the differences between shared and VPS hosting.

I also called customer service on a weekday evening to find out more about Hostwinds’ Minecraft hosting. The friendly representative gave me the details in a way that was easy to understand. Overall, I enjoyed Hostwinds’ customer support.

Final words

We liked Hostwinds when we first looked at it, and the WebHost only got better over time. It has high-quality customer service, reliable uptime, and attractively priced hosting levels that appeal to many people and businesses. Hostwinds may not always have the lowest prices, but the plans with lots of features are of great value for what you get; the performance is consistent, and the extensive web knowledgebase and fast live chat support are always on hand if you run into problems.

8.5 Total Score
Our Verdict

Hostwinds is an excellent web hosting service with the tools you need to build attractive, functional websites. It is a top choice in general, and VPS and reseller hosting plans are solid.

PROS
  • Terrific uptime in testing.
  • Excellent dedicated, reseller, and VPS hosting plans.
  • Good customer service.
  • Minecraft server hosting.
CONS
  • Finding full pricing details can be tricky
  • No managed WordPress hosting
  • Support site might intimidate beginners
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