Amazingly founded almost three decades before in 1988, 1&1 is owned by Germany-based United Internet. Employing over 7,000 staff across the globe, it is one of the largest web hosting companies alive today. The company is highly competitive in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Can it hold up to performance tests and does it have enough strong points to make the cut? Let's find out.
About 1&1 Hosting
Headquarters: Montabaur, Germany
CEO: Eric Tholomé
Services: Domain name registration, Email hosting, Web hosting (Linux and Windows platforms), eCommerce, Server solutions (dedicated, dynamic cloud server, virtual servers)
This is possibly 1&1 Hosting’s most unique selling point – a custom designed control panel where users can handle their account and services. However, if you’ve noticed, I have listed this as both a pro as well as con of their service.
As a plus point in their favour, it allows long-time users to have that distinguishing factor that separates them from the masses. It also includes other interesting service areas not usually found in cPanel or Plesk, such as Online Marketing and Website Checker.
Demo: Manage your domains in 1&1 Domain Centre
Purchase a new domain, or manage your domain names domains at 1&1 Domain Centre.
Your account name servers information, DNS settings, and MX records are available on this page.
Demo: Setting up your free SSL at 1&1
1&1 SSL Certificates is powered by DigiCert.
SSL Starter Plus is included (Free) in all 1&1 hosting plans. SSL Business (GeoTrust True BusinessID) costs £54.99/year; SSL Business Plus (Wildcard GeoTrust True BusinessID) costs £239.99/year.
* Click to enlarge image.
To activate your free SSL and switch to HTTPS:
Login to 1&1 Control Panel > SSL Certificates (sidebar) > Click “Not Setup Yet” in domain column > Click “Activate Now” SSL Starter Plus > Assign your domain.
* Click to enlarge image.
2. Scalable Performance Levels
While 1&1 Hosting may make this sound like something unique, it’s really no difference than other web hosts who offer different hardware at different price points. It should not be mistaken as being like the performance optimizations offered by hosts such as A2 Hosting for example.
However, it’s good to know that the option for scalability is there. This is especially true since 1&1 allows you to dial up and down the performance levels as required, independent of which package of hosting you’re subscribed on. This allows for a great deal of flexibility on the fly.
Scaling between the performance levels affect RAM, memory limits and number of concurrent processes.
3. Easy Performance Monitoring
Tied back to scalable performance levels, 1& 1 also comes with a special performance monitoring feature that lets you ensure your site is running smoothly. Interpretation is simple – As long as it’s green across the board, you’ll be fine.
However, if there are any delays in performance, these will show up as orange or red, letting you know there are problems. These might be overcome by fiddling with your performance level as necessary.
4. Free Domain for 12 months
Normally this wouldn’t really be counted as a big plus for web hosts since several them do package in free domains.
However, 1&1 Hosting packages it in with even their cheapest hosting deal which starts off (for first time customers) at a rock-bottom price of 99 cents a month.
5. Complimentary Marketing Tools
Buying a host and creating a website means nothing if the site in question doesn’t perform.
1&1 Hosting helps site owners here with a number of factors, including $100 in credits with Bing Ads as well as having a Mailing List feature*. Mailing lists help you to manage and maintain emails to your customer base, helping you keep in closer contact with them.
6. Green Energy Compliant
Although not a major selling point of theirs, I am personally supportive of web hosts who are at lest making some attempt at going green. 1&1 (in the United States at least) offsets all their data centre energy use through Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
For those who recall this being a point under the pros section, you’re not reading wrongly. I’m also including it as a con for a very simple reason. No matter the added functionality or power that the custom control panel 1&1 has offers, it violates a very basic rule of user interface design – have something that users are familiar with.
Almost the entire hosting world revolves primarily around cPanel or Plesk, so for 1&1 to waltz in with a custom design is slightly unusual. Users can expect to spend some time having to re-familiarize themselves with a new control interface and getting lost in the process.
Weighing the added functionality of the custom 1&1 control panel versus the cons of that time wasted, I’m not impressed. Yet for those who hang in there, it might be much more appreciated. Hence, I feel the custom control panel is a double-edged sword.
2. Low Rating on Consumer Satisfaction
I feel extremely sad when I come across poor customer ratings for any service, especially for web hosts, since I use them myself as well.
Very unfortunately, 1&1 has its fair share of negative reviews – many of which seem to be billing related.
All I can say is that when it comes to fees and payments, please do take care to read any documentation carefully and keep an open mind in case some line items may be open to misinterpretation – then clarify, just in case.
3. Paid Website Creation Tools
Website creation tools are fine, especially nifty drag and drop ones which come with templates for ultra-fast site construction. I must wonder in this particular case, why 1&1 is charging for this when in most of the known world it’s become a de facto standard of free. In fact, there are entire services such as SiteBuilder who’s business revolves around free, state-of-the-art site builders.
4. Limited Customer Support
A decent knowledge base and a live call helpline – what more could you ask for in terms of support? A lot more unfortunately. The most basic of all would be a ticketing system for assistance. We’ve all been there when the phone lines are clogged up and we can’t get through for help, which can be frustrating.
The company does have a support twitter channel, but that seems to be more of a service announcements page more than anything else.
1&1 Hosting Performance Review
I’ve kept performance of 1&1 out of the pros and cons simply because it seems to be a mixed bag of tricks. Varying tests and server locations have given varying results, which does not bode very well for the overall performance of their systems.
However, this might be taken with a pinch of salt since overall their service shows acceptable speeds across the board.
Server Speed Test at Bitcatcha
Time-to-First-Byte (TTFB) Based on Webpage Test from Chicago
Time-to-First-Byte (TTFB) Based on Webpage Test from Singapore
1&1 lays claim to seven data centre locations across the globe, with the key hubs being in the United States and Germany. This makes it even more unusual as to how performance varied so much. Perhaps the 70,000 servers in parallel operation, 19 million domains hosted and over 20,000 Terabytes of data transferred per month?
1&1 Hosting Uptime
1&1 Prices and Plans
While 1&1 offers a great deal of services and packages all round, for this review we’re looking at their shared website hosting plans. These start at the rock-bottom price of 99 cents and range up to $8.99 per month.
Before your jaws collectively drop in astonishment, those are for first-time customers for 12-month subscriptions. After that, prices go up to $7.99 ranging to $14.99 per month, which is around a 700% increase at the entry level.
The rate of increase becomes more reasonable as the plans increase, but for the 99 cent bargain hunters, you’re simply out of luck. You have been warned.
Verdict: Should You Host at 1&1
If you’ve survived from top of this article till now, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the pros and cons I’ve listed on 1&1 are around even. Of course, there’s the good and the bad, but I really would like to mention one thing here.
1&1 has not stood out remarkably in any of the areas I’ve listed as pros. This is eye raising, since usually a web host can offer an exceptional service level in at least one or two areas. I find myself disappointed at the lacklustre commitment of one of the oldest service providers around.
Key to that disappointment is barely average speed performance tempered by customer gripes on billing. I’ll leave it to you fine folks to decide if this is something that is acceptable or not.
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.
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