Article by Jerry Low
Geek dad, SEO data junkie, investor, and founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Jerry has been building Internet assets and making money online since 2004. He loves mindless doodling and trying new food.
When things first got started back in late 1990’s, there were very limited options in hosting. But as options diversified, hosting providers began to specialize, using a key differentiator to set them apart from the competition: such is the case with iPage, a budget hosting provider with more than 10 years in business that advertises rates less than $2 per month for its Essentials plan.
iPage is relatively well known in the hosting realm – particularly for its budget hosting offerings. At WHSR, iPage is five-stars rated and was selected as the best budget hosting option for 2013/2014.
That said, as is the case with any hosting provider, there are pros and cons to the iPage service. iPage is somewhat a case of “you get what you pay for” – after all, you can’t expect premium hosting services and support when you are paying just pennies for the service.
In this post, we are going to dive deep into iPage hosting and talk about some of the problems and complaints with the web host. I hope that by seeing both sides of things, you will be able to better decide whether iPage is a feasible hosting option for you.
One tactic that many hosting companies use to secure new customer is to advertise shockingly low rates and to sign new clients in to those rates for ust a limited time – this is the case with iPage.
iPage offers an incredibly budget friendly plan advertised at just $1.89 per month – however, that deal is only available to first-time clients, meaning that once your initial service is up, you are forced to sign at a higher monthly rate to continue your service. In the case of iPage, your rate will jump to $8.99 per month when you renew your hosting plan – not exactly the incredible deal that draws customers in, but in many cases, clients get “stuck” because of the hassle to find a new hosting provider and make the switch.
In fairness, this bait and switch is pretty common in the world of hosting. At WebHostingHub, confusion about renewal seems fairly common place – many clients sign up for their first year at a rate of $47.88 only to find their renewal jumping to $155.80. SiteGround customers, on the other hand, sign at a rate of $7.95/mo for their first year only to find that their second year rate skyrockets to $14.95/mo – not a bank breaker for that second year, but certainly sticker shock from that first year price.
FatCow does the same, offering discounts for the first year, then regular pricing from then on. After the first year, pricing goes to $113.88 per year for a 12-month term, $203.76 ($8.49 per month) for a 24-month term, or $269.64 per year ($7.49 per month) for a 36-month term. At GreenGeeks, first-time clients sign up for $5.90 per month, but renew at $7.95 or $6.95 per month, pending the contract length.
|Web Host||Sign Up Price *||Renewal Price|
The point is, most hosting providers offer first-time client discounts that are not maintained for renewals. It’s unfortunate and definitely causes confusion, but is not exactly out of the norm in the case of iPage.
Many hosting providers we reviewed here offer a variety of hosting options, such as shared hosting, dedicated server hosting, VPS hosting, etc. – but iPage offers only shared hosting only.
The benefit to this is that it makes shopping for hosting services with them fairly simple thanks to the limited options, however on the downside, it doesn’t offer a real hosting solution for more advanced users or for organizations with specialty or security needs. Additionally, it offers clients limited opportunities to scale their hosting solution in accordance with their organizational and website traffic growth.
Like many hosting organizations, iPage offers software upgrades to pair with its hosting solutions and your website platform. However, much of this software – which comes at a cost, by the way – is quite useless.
It works like this: you, the potential customer are shopping for hosting for your site. You’re a bit of a novice, but savvy enough to know how things work and the basics of what you need. You proceed through the iPage sign-up process and, during the course of your signup, are presented with a list of free trials to enhance your service and experience.
Some of these trials promise to simplify your marketing efforts, integrating programs like Constant Contact, Email Brain Small Business, Sponsored Search Credits, etc. Others, such as a free toll-free phone number, free YP.com listing, Google Webmaster tools, and more offer improved connectivity. And they may have benefit for you – but the way they are sold is a bit misleading.
These free services are free only during that initial trial period – you will need to pay if you continue the service once the trial period has ended (I am guessing that iPage earn referral fees in this). That said, most of these programs run with evergreen clauses which means you will never receive a notification when your trial period ends or your contract renews; it just keeps renewing… and you keep paying. These trials are so simple to sign up for that it’s all too easy to sign up accidentally – and then forget to cancel the services in time to avoid monetary charges.
According to iPage’s support statement, the service offers 24/7 support services and can be contacted via phone, live chat, or email – sounds great, right?
The reality is that there are times when it is incredibly difficult to actually reach support because of the sheer volume of requests to an infrastructure that has not kept up with the growth and expansion of its client base and nature of the industry.
iPage states that it is handling more than one million websites and that support requests can at times take “more time than usual due to congestion.” That said, there isn’t much of a guarantee and it’s great that they have a support center, but it doesn’t do a whole lot of good if you can’t ever actually reach someone. Some users have reported waiting more than 20 minutes to reach support staff via phone. Other users note confusion about the system to email ticketing support. Live chat is another option, but again – there is no guarantee as to the level of service within support.
Okay, okay. It probably sounds like I’m tearing iPage to pieces… so you might be a bit surprised that I’m still in the iPage corner for my budget hosting solution of choice. Why, you ask?
For one, most of the problems that iPage has exist with most any budget hosting provider; they are not unique to iPage. That said, if those problems exist with any budget hosting service, why not go with the cheapest? There are other budget hosting providers who offer similar features and quality – but they cost 100 to 200% more! Beyond the cost, the instant account activation and user-friendly hosting environment are nice touches and easy for those new to the hosting world.
The choice as to the right hosting provider for you is different for everyone – everyone has different needs and preferences.
I personally recommend iPage – particularly for those price shopping or at a beginner level. As for cost, given that iPage costs less than $50 per year, you could get two years of subscription hosting at iPage for less than one year with another provider… it’s hard to beat that.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and recommendations. Has your iPage experience been similar to mine or is there another hosting environment that offers similar service, features, and costs that you prefer?