Businesses need complete web hosting services to maintain their online presence, and Liquid Web is one that many of the most influential brands trust. The company has an array of cloud, dedicated, reseller, virtual private server (VPS), and WordPress server packages with enough flexibility and power to power people like Eddie Bauer, Home Depot, National Geographic, Porsche, and Symantec. However, be prepared to pay premium prices for this managed, enterprise-class service and forget the cheaper shared hosting tier of service: Liquid Web does not offer it. Here is our Liquid Web review.
Liquid Web hosting may be aimed at professional users, but the service website goes to extraordinary efforts to explain the product offerings. Take, for example, the control panel of your VPS hosting. Most providers offer cPanel, but chances are you won’t find out until you sign up. Meanwhile, while we write, Liquid Web gives you a choice of three (cPanel, Plesk Web Pro, and InterWorx), and the website gives you a lot of details on how to compare them.
If you are still unsure what you need, the Liquid website offers live chat where you can ask a sales agent for more information. We tried it, and the agent quickly answered all our product and technical questions. When you’re done, choose a plan, provide your contact information (name, email and physical address, phone number), and pay by card or PayPal. It’s all effortless, and your account needs to be activated quickly.
We signed up for a managed WordPress plan. Within minutes, a welcome email arrived with our login details, advice on migrating from a previous website, links for our account, the WordPress console, billing area, and support resources.
Liquid Web review: Creating a website
The plans of Liquid Web offer different ways to build and manage your sites. What you see precisely depends on the product you buy and how it is configured. Choosing a managed WordPress account is the easiest option, as WordPress is pre-installed. If you have an existing site elsewhere, good news: even Liquid Web’s cheapest WordPress plans include a free migration where the company transfers the previous location for you.
Buy a VPS or a dedicated server with a control panel, and you get access to Softaculous. This excellent platform can automatically install WordPress and hundreds of other top apps. Liquid Web does not include website builders, but the free editions you get from some providers are generally very limited, with limits on site size, number of pages, and more. However, you can install your site builder or use an online service such as Wix or Weebly.
If you only have a simple static site or are setting something up yourself, SFTP and SSH access allow you to upload and manage all the files on your server. The management features you see depend on your plan and control panel. Ours had so many that we don’t even have the space to outline them, but these are just some of the items on the sidebar:
- Performance (caching, CDN).
- Access (SSH, FTP).
- Environment (PHP version, WordPress update settings).
- SSL (automatically install a free certificate).
- MySQL (create and manage databases).
- Email (create and manage email accounts).
- Backups, staging, and much more.
Smart touches include the Visual Comparison function. Automatically updating WordPress plugins can break your site if there is a bug, so Liquid Web takes excellent care of this: it makes a copy of your site, takes screenshots of essential pages, performs the update, and retakes screenshots. If something has changed visually, the service will increase a warning, and you will be able to view the screenshots and approve the update manually.
This is a big plus for busy sites that can’t afford a crash because an update fails. It’s also a feature you won’t often see elsewhere; many WordPress plans either don’t support automatic updates, only handle WordPress updates, or update some plugins without significant (or maybe some) tests. If you compare Liquid Web to others, don’t take an ‘automatic updates’ promise for granted: dig into the details and precisely determine what the provider is doing.
Liquid Web review: Performance
Reliability is a crucial element of hosting, especially for professional users. If your site is down or a bad performer, you will soon get a bad reputation with your visitors.
To measure reliability, we use Uptime.com to monitor a test site for one week. Every five minutes, Uptime visits a page on our site and then records the success (or failure) and the server’s response time. Liquid Web scored a perfect 100% uptime, without a single failure over our more than 2,000 checks. The average response time was excellent at 214 ms (most shared hosting servers reach 300 ms, some are 400 ms and more). Google’s PageSpeed Insights analysis and Bitcatcha’s server check also yielded very positive results.
Consistency is essential, and Liquid Web also scores well here. We saw a significant blip of 721ms, but typical response times surpassed many competitors at 200-300ms, suggesting that our site would provide consistent and reliable performance over time.
Liquid Web review: Pricing and plans
The company offers powerful, managed hosting products aimed at business and professional users. That means no free plans or basic shared hosting – Liquid Web is all about high performance, highly configurable cloud hosting along with managed applications and dedicated server products.
If you are used to consumer hosting providers, then prices can seem high. For example, the most basic Personal Managed WordPress plan costs $15.83 per month on the annual plan, giving you 15GB of SSD storage, 2TB bandwidth, and support for a single site. And the $65.83 per month Freelance plan still only provides 40GB of storage, 3TB bandwidth, and support for four sites.
Meanwhile, Bluehost‘s Build product provides unmeasured storage and bandwidth and support for unlimited sites for $24.95 on the annual plan, $29.95 on the renewal.
It’s a similar story elsewhere in the series. $39 a month for a starter cloud VPS product and $199 a month for a baseline dedicated server may seem expensive than budget providers, but the reality is a little different. Liquid Web’s prices are higher, but that’s mostly because it doesn’t offer substandard products to get a top prize. It doesn’t force you to pay in other ways with hidden costs and charges, and it gives you powerful features and quality support by default.
One of the best examples is Liquid Web’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) for its dedicated and VPS customers. This guarantees 100% network and power uptime, 59 seconds response time for phone and live chat, 59 minutes for the helpdesk. Once a problem is identified, the defective hardware must be replaced within 30 minutes. If this is missed, you will be credited for ten times the duration of your failure (up to a maximum of your monthly fee).
Liquid Web Review: Customer support
Liquid Web has an excellent customer service team from Heroic Support, a team of expert people who will assist you in less than a minute if you contact by phone, in less than 30 minutes if you submit a helpdesk ticket, and in less than 59 seconds if you contact by chat. I turned on the web chat on a weekday morning to ask a representative about the difference between cloud hosting and traditional hosting. A representative came to my rescue seconds later and gave me a friendly, thorough explanation. I was impressed with the speed and thoroughness of the answer.
Without a doubt, Liquid Web is one of the most powerful web hosts that we have reviewed, and it is a clear winner for the managed web hosting. It has numerous packages of absolutely killer specs that will cost you a decent penny. Liquid Web may not have shared hosting packages, but it’s excellent dedicated and VPS hosting are enough to place it among the web hosting elite. That doesn’t mean DreamHost, HostGator, or Hostwinds don’t matter. They remain the best web hosting options that you can choose from.
Liquid Web is expensive and lacks shared web hosting, but it's a flexible, feature-packed web host with excellent customer service.
- Excellent dedicated, VPS, cloud, and reseller packages.
- Prorated VPS plans.
- High-end specs.
- Terrific customer service and uptime in testing.
- Lacks shared hosting plans.