If you are looking for budget web hosting, PowWeb offers a “one plan, one price” package that is affordable for any budget (with a ‘special’ price as low as $3.15 per month). But, as the old adage goes, do you “get what you pay for” – in this case, not much? Read my review of PowWeb and decide for yourself if it is a worthwhile alternative to other website hosting companies in the budget category.
If all you did was read the “about us” info on PowWeb’s website, you would receive the impression that this company uses state-of-the-art technology and make a mission out of providing excellent customer support and service. Neither of those claims seems to be true, as you will find out by reading the rest of this review.
The company is located in Massachusetts, USA, and has been around since 1999. You would think that in all these years they would have worked to get things right, in terms of offering a great product backed by great support. However, that’s not the case. After starting out as a good budget hosting alternative, their acquisition by the big and powerful Endurance International Group (owner of many other web hosting services such as iPage, BlueHost, and HostGator) in 2006 seems to have reversed their progress.
In fact, PowWeb’s online presence is more like a ghost town than an example of a thriving company. Their blog has not been updated since a post in August of 2008 and the design is old school, with a link to their Flickr images (a total of six). PowWeb’s social media accounts do not get updated often, with sporadic posts aimed at advertising rather than relaying news. The corporate Facebook page has only 113 likes and their Twitter profile is even worse, with only 30 updates and a total of 48 followers.
One gets the sense that this company started out strong but has been fizzling in the past several years. It’s not an encouraging sign when staff members stop blogging and simply accept dismal social media performance as normal.
PowWeb Shared Hosting Service
PowWeb has created a reputation based on offering simple, low-cost services. There are no package choices; you simply pay one low fee and get shared hosting for your website’s files.
Note: PowWeb’s online Terms of Service (TOS) mentions VPS accounts, but there is no option to purchase such a package on the PowWeb website.
The shared hosting plan comes with the following features:
- Unlimited disk space, data transfer and bandwidth
- DNS management
- Unlimited FTP accounts
- Custom error pages
- Daily backups with instant click and restore access
- Script Instant Installer – to install WordPress, phpBB, osCommerce, Gallery 2 and more
- Supports PHP4, PHP5, Perl5, Sendmail and Zend Optimizer
- Supports Flash, Shockwave, midi and multimedia files
- Search engine advertising credits
- MySQL and phpMyAdmin
- Webalizer and AwStats
- Unlimited email accounts
- Shopping cart and shared SSL certificate
Apparently you also get unlimited domains to host with your account, although that is not readily apparent and not included on the list of features.
PowWeb Account Terms
In order to get the lowest price offered, you must commit to a two-year term with PowWeb. It doesn’t really make any sense, but if you add another 12 months and sign up for a three-year account, your web hosting service is offered at the same price. Why would anyone opt for that?
Like many other web hosting companies, PowWeb provides a 30-day trial period during which you can try the service and if you are not satisfied, request a refund of your money. And, just like most of their competitors, only hosting fees are refunded (not your domain name or any add-on services). Do be aware that this 30-day money back guarantee applies only to accounts paid for with a credit card. You can also cancel after the first month, but PowWeb will deduct a $35 early cancellation fee for doing so.
Another thing to note is the limits placed on “unlimited” disk space and bandwidth. This is quite common in the industry and it’s anyone guess as to how much space and bandwidth you can really use for your website. One customer claims that disk space is actually limited to about 25GB and bandwidth to 7GB, but that may just be what he experienced with PowWeb.
Throughout their website, there is no mention of average uptime (although I found a statistic from a website monitored over the past six years that showed 99.8% – more about this later) and they do not make any guarantees regarding uptime of your site.
What Kind of Control Panel Does PowWeb Offer?
Back in the old days, PowWeb users were equipped with an in-house control panel named OPS (see image above). Not now anymore. At time of writing, PowWeb is offering vDeck (currently on beta) to their users – which is something very similar like the popular cPanel and much better than the original OPS.
From our PowWeb test account, it seems that the vDeck platform is currently on beta. But as most EIG hosting brands are using vDeck, we strongly believe that the vDeck platform is here to stay.
A brief view on vDeck features:
- FTP Management
- FileManager (a web-based alternative to FTP)
- Simple Scripts– to install blogging platforms and other apps
- Mail Central
- Site Backups & Restore
- Domain Central
- Custom DNS (to create custom DNS records)
- MySQL Management
- Scheduled Jobs (for cron jobs – a nice feature)
- .htaccess Editor
Exchange Email Hosting
Although PowWeb doesn’t offer any other types of hosting packages, they do provide hosted Microsoft Exchange email accounts. According to their website, Exchange is “the latest in business-class email management and collaboration”, which is certainly outdated. There are lots of other enterprise-wide alternatives for email management and collaboration.
These accounts aren’t exactly cheap, either, with rates starting at about $9 per month (billed quarterly or annually) for 5GB mailboxes. That’s more expensive than website hosting!
PowWeb’s Datacenter and Server Technology
PowWeb takes pride in advertising their “load-balanced hosting technology” which provides true redundancy from Point A to Point B.
It’s just a fancy way of saying the load to their servers is balanced and your files may be located on more than one server in order to keep storage space evenly distributed and provide access in case of server failure. That’s not really very special as nearly every web hosting company provides some sort of redundancy and most balance their servers’ loads.
In their datacenter, PowWeb uses Tier 1 backbone providers, fiber optic connections, Cisco routers and NetApp storage clusters on the network. Their servers are manufactured by Dell and run Linux operating systems. Once again, nothing unique about this setup and certainly not quite as “state-of-the-art” as their website would lead you to believe.
Does PowWeb Really Support Their Customers?
Earlier in this review I mentioned PowWeb’s stress on providing excellent customer service and support. Let’s examine this a bit more closely.
Questions and problems can be resolved by using their online Knowledgebase, user guide, chat feature and video tutorials. Customers can also place a phone call to reach a customer support representative. PowWeb has their own user forum, which is fairly active with questions and answers from customers, but lacking in updates from company reps.
A nice touch is the inclusion of a generic form online which allows customers to submit suggestions to the company. However, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of feedback after submission so chances are your suggestions will end up in the “round file” (the trash bin) with no one the wiser.
I did some research online to determine what real customers think about PowWeb’s service. More than one person refers to PowWeb’s support as “non-existent” and mentioned that some support reps are located outside the U.S. It was extremely hard to find any positive comments from customers regarding support and that’s a big red flag.
PowWeb Uptime Review
BestHostRatings.com has been tracking one of the PowWeb-hosted websites since December 2005. At time of writing, the overall uptime score is 99.89% – which is very good for a budget host. If I could pin-point only one good thing about PowWeb, the strong uptime record would be it.
Have a look on the image at your right – it is PowWeb’s last 7 days uptime statistics.
PowWeb is really good! “I don’t know what those other folks have experienced but I’ve had only one problem with my support service between 2003 and 2013. In fact, if I think about my support questions before I “call” (I mostly use their Chat support,) my problems are usually taken care of on the first call. They’re good about bumping things up to higher levels and the responses are handled quickly. They’re NEVER down the hosting is Unlimited everything and the rates are good. I’ve got no beefs at all with these people. I have four sites of my own and manage 8 sites for clients.” – LG Baines @ March 16, 2013.
Be very careful with PowWeb
“I have used powweb since 2004 and up until the last 2 years their service has been satisfactory at best. If you are looking for a space to host a static site and you are not worried about page load times or if you don’t plan on using up more than 20 GB of disk space, you should be okay. Lets get some things clear:
- They DO NOT offer unlimited disk space. (After you hit 25GB they threaten to suspend your account)
- They DO NOT offer unlimited bandwidth.(After you hit 7GB they threaten to suspend your account)
- Their mysql databases are mediocre at best and only offer a meager amount of simultaneous connections. (So do not use powweb for forum hosting)
- No mysql external connections.
- Their support is nonexistent.
- They will shut all the domains on your account down for no reason just to get you to call in and try to up sell you to premium support and/or cross sell you to site lock.
- They auto-renew your account for over $200.00 even after you turn off auto renew then refuse to give you refund.
I would suggest doing research first before going with powweb because once you have a few domains and databases with them, they do whatever they can to trap you with them. RUN!!” – Richard deChevigny @ Oct 23, 2012
Worst Customer Experience “I have had the worst customer experience of my life with Powweb. 17 hours on the phone and counting and no one over there can do anything. Everyone has excuses and apologies, but no authority or knowledge to do anything. I am migrating my business off of their products and going elsewhere. If you are thinking of using Powweb, don’t. They suck!!! I hope anyone that reads this does not use them. I have spent 17 1/2 hours on the phone with them over the past 72 hours and still no one can help me. They lost hundreds of my emails, charged me money for services they did not provide, and constantly passed the buck to someone else just as incompetent as the person before them.” – J Khan @ Feb 12, 2012.
Let’s recap what we’ve learned about PowWeb.
The following are some of PowWeb’s hosting advantages:
- Strong hosting uptime
- Low price
- Some nice features, such as custom DNS and cron jobs
But…that’s about it. There are more negatives than positives with PowWeb’s web hosting service:
- No choice of hosting plans
- 30-day money back guarantee applies only to credit card payments
- Terrible customer service
- Stale blog content and infrequently updated social media presence
- Clunky OPS control panel
I simply cannot recommend PowWeb based on all the negative things I learned about this company. You would be much better off opting for a more stable company with better customer service, such as InMotion and A2 Hosting (for larger and more complex sites) or eHost and iPage (both EIG brands – better service and lower price). Also, there are more details and comprehensive features comparison in my Best 5 Hosting Picks – go check out.
For more details or to order PowWeb, visit (link opens in new window): http://www.powweb.com