Established in 1979, Network Solutions was one of the first companies to launch in the DNS registry business. Though it started out as a technology consulting company focused primarily on systems programming services, the company quickly grew and expanded into other areas, IPO-ing in 1997. Over the years, this Washington, D.C. metro area organization has withstood numerous acquisitions, including the most recent acquisition in 2011 by Web.com, a takeover that cost $405 million and 18 million shares.
Network Solution’s Service at a Glance
Though Network Solutions is most known for its domain registration services, the organization also provides a myriad of web solutions, including email solutions, website development, online marketing services, and hosting services.
Domain Name Registration
The full-scale domain hosting services provide more than 50 different extension options, including the standard .com, .net, and .biz extensions, as well as state and country-specific origin extensions, among others. The scalable price chart offers domain registrations for as little as a one-year term with options through a 100-year registration – price breaks are given for lengthier registration terms. Some extensions, such as .biz, .com, and .info come free with a one-year registration with the annual package, though of course other fees and charges are associated.
Network Solution’s email solutions are truly scalable to meet the needs of everyone from the sole proprietor to the corporate enterprise and everyone in between. The most basic level, nsMail™, includes 1GB of space per account, spam and virus protection, access through an internet connection, and compatibility with Outlook for pricing at just $1.75 per month. The mid-tier option, nsMail™ Pro, provides 2 GB space with shared calendars; tasks; and contacts, shared document management, and hassle-free management with Network Solutions’ managed servers for as little as $4.99 per mailbox per month. The top-tier plan, the Microsoft® Hosted Exchange, starts at $6.99 per month per mailbox and supports a complete Office Outlook® experience, ActiveSync® and BlackBerry® mobility, and built-in business continuity and disaster recovery.
In the website development arena, Network Solutions offers two options to create and launch a website in just moments. The Small plan ($6.95 per month) includes one free custom domain, 5 GB of storage space, and 10 email boxes. Alternately, the Large plan ($9.95/month) includes one free domain, 300 GB of storage, and more than 50 email boxes. Both include a free website builder with professional templates to make building and launching a custom website easy.
Network Solutions’ marketing services, dubbed nsMarketing™, include a variety of services, including SEO, pay per click advertising, a press release writing service, email marketing, Facebook presence support, and more.
But, as ever, my main interest lies in the provider’s hosting capabilities. Upon landing on Network Solutions’ webpage, I am immediately greeted by a clean interface with easy to understand pricing with easy to read solutions comparisons. I see three hosting options: Web hosting, a web hosting and marketing package, and a web hosting, marketing, and store package. Not as noticeable are the “advanced hosting” and “VPS hosting” options which are, of course, what we’re really interested in.
The “advanced hosting” is available in three different levels: Essential, Professional, or Premium.
Essential hosting starts at just $2.99 per month and includes 300 GB of disk space with unlimited data transfers. It includes 25 FTP accounts, 1,000 email boxes with 1 GB storage and three aliases per box, and statistics software.
Professional pricing starts at $3.99 per month and includes 500 GB of disk space with unlimited data transfers. It also provides 50 FTP accounts and 2,500 email boxes with 1 GB storage and three aliases per box – plus the statistics software.
Premium starts at $36.99 per month and includes unlimited disk space, unlimited data transfers, unlimited email boxes (same parameters as the other service levels), and unlimited FTP accounts.
All service levels include a free domain and 100 domain pointers.
As far as what the actual service provides, Network Solutions boasts a 99.9% Unix® uptime with automatic backups. It also provides a 24/7 phone and email support service, easy FTP access, the website builder tool, programming language support, one-click WordPress installation, and the ability to use your own domain name.
Virtual Private Server Hosting
The VPS hosting starts at $40 per month for the Essential package or $80 per month for Professional and guarantees full root-level control in addition to supporting most any application, 512 MB guaranteed RAM, 24/7 real person support, 10 GB or 50 GB disk space, and 500 GB or 20,000 GB transfers.
Network Solutions: The Good
Room to grow; instant account activation
In my opinion, Network Solutions seems to offer many of the features that organizations need to solidly host their websites.
The instant set-up tools are key for users who want to have a hosting account immediately without needing to wait for verifications, validations, and other pre-set-up requirements. I like the easy scalability from basic hosting to advanced or VPS hosting within the same provider.
Network Solutions: The Not-So-Good
However, Network Solutions is hardly a budget hosting provider – that low introductory cost per month for the basic hosting is only for the first month – after that, the annual rate starts at $119.50 ($9.95 per month).
Terrible Server Management and Customer Service
Additionally, there are some key service concerns, starting with the terrible server management – there is a known issue with lack of backups and server upgrades. Beyond that, Network Solutions is known for overselling the host – though they certainly are not the only ones to do it. The organization unfortunately has a very bad reputation for customer service – search the web and you will find customers consistently complaining about slow response times and ineffective support staff.
Web 2.0 takeover
Notably, during the Web.com takeover in 2011, Web.com laid off more than half of Network Solutions’ original staff, which explains why the complaint rats have steadily risen over the past several years.
It’s unfortunate, because there are some redeeming factors to Network Solutions’ hosting and other services – however, in this case, the negatives outweigh the positives. The most important thing to successfully running your website is to successfully keep it up and running reliably, consistently, and quickly – and, unfortunately, I just don’t feel confident that Network Solutions can deliver on those requirements.
Too much overselling
Though it does boast 99.9% uptime, the customer service issues and overselling the host are huge issues that the company needs to address. What happens in that .01 percent of downtime if you have questions? Or if the website creation tool isn’t working right and you can’t get your site up at all – who will help you? You need to work with a hosting provider who is able to provide the same great customer service and response times that your clients expect of you.
Network Solutions: The Ugly
Absurd cancellation policy
There’s one very, very serious issue with Network Solutions. If you read the company’s term of service, you’ll come to this at term #3:
Network Solutions will charge you a processing fee if you terminate or cancel any package prior to the completion of any limited money-back guarantee time period for that package or service (the “Processing Fee”). A Processing Fee of $34.99 will be charged for the cancellation of any one-year annual hosting, ecommerce, or Website design package. The Processing Fees for cancellation of multi-year packages will be: $34.99 per year for two-year packages, $34.99 per year for three-year packages, $22.99 per year for five-year packages and $17.99 per year for ten-year packages.
Note that Network Solutions cancellation fees is calculated on per year basis. If I understand this correctly, you could end up losing more than $50 to cancel a two year account (that cost $71.76 in total). Isn’t this absurd?
The following is from WHSR visitor Barry Tuber. Barry has a client whose site is hosted on Network Solutions, under IP 126.96.36.199 and the following is his email (unedited) sent to us on March 17, 2015.
Network Solutions broke my client’s site, and won’t/can’t fix it.
My client, who is a non-profit, had an old Front Page based site on a Windows shared host at Network Solutions, that for some reason they paid for the hosting fees 10 years in advance.
We built them a new WordPress based site, and when I asked Network Solutions if that could run ok on their Windows host, they said “sure”, then “maybe not”, then “try it and see”, then “well, you’d better switch to a Unix host”, then “we’ll let you out of the current hosting plan”, then “we won’t let you out of the current hosting plan, but we’ll let you switch the 10 year credit to a Unix plan”.
So the client agreed to get the Unix hosting, we copied the old site over, and we asked Network Solutions to flip thing over to Unix. They said they would do that last Wednesday, and they changed something which left the site totally unavailable (with an ugly 403 error page). First they said it would take 24-48 hours for the domain to resolve, then they said something was broken with the hosting setup and they would get back to us in 24-48 hours. It is now 6 days later and the site is still broken.
The last client before this one who hosted at Network Solutions had a shared server go down with a disk error. The site was down for a couple of days, and when it came back Network Solutions could only restore it from an old backup, so the client lost more than a day of paid transactions that they either had to reconstruct from credit card activity, and copies of emails, or in some cases completely lost.
I do not and would never recommend that any client host their web site at Network Solutions.
Bottom line: Do I Recommend Network Solutions Hosting?
The answer is NO – a big no. Terrible customer service, unreliable hosting servers, absurd cancellation policy – trust me, you don’t want any part of that in your life.