The brainchild of the founders of WebFusion (now TSO Host), 123-reg and Heart Internet, 20i is a relatively new contender in the web hosting industry space. Yet with only two years under their belt, the company has come to offer a remarkably resilient range of products.
20i is based in the United Kingdom and with most, if not all their resources there. Although it has plans to expand elsewhere, those will be ambitions for a later date. Meanwhile, it is still able to offers customers unlimited resources on premium shared hosting plans. This covers storage, bandwidth, databases, email and almost everything else too.
After fiddling around with 20i for some time now I have come to realize that this host has a very real skew to it. Most web hosting companies splash out a massive load of products and try to net the entire market. 20i on the other hand seems to have kept quite a good focus on what I would call its primary target – resellers.
According to them, their web hosting resellers are the ones who take up most of their resources, since they also make up most of their clients. In their very own words;
Our founders set up the first reseller hosting packages back in 1997, so we know our stuff when it comes to making resellers happy. Many of the biggest names in UK web hosting are actually resellers of 20i hosting – but because we offer of a ‘white label’ service, no one knows!
– Richard Chambers, Marketing Manager, 20i
With that in mind, 20i has kept thing as easy as possible for reselling and rebranding so many of their assets are setup for high-volume, bulk management of websites. They also include useful tools for resellers – from customer communications to a built-in Help Desk ticketing system.
Most normal sites MAY offer customers free migration for one site, but again, because they are reseller focussed, 20i has an automated Migration Centre which you can use to move multiple sites to 20i with ease. Resellers also get discounts on other products such as VPS and domain names.
2. 20i is Fast and Stable
A combination of factors resulted in 20i proving to be one of the more resilient hosts which I’ve had a chance to test to date. One thing I can say is that when looking at the selling points of any hosts – do try to see beyond the surface of what they’re telling you. Wording is very specific, so don’t assume anything!
Auto-scaling Load Balancing Capability
I’m usually not the biggest fan of proprietary uses of technology but admittedly, there are some cases where it can give both the business and its customers an advantage. One of the more interesting facets of 20i is its auto-scaling, load balancing servers. This feature has been built by their own developer team and is only available to their customers.
So, what is auto-scaling?
Most shared web hosting providers operate on precisely that – sharing. Once a server is as full of customers as the hosting company thinks it can stuff in, then new customers are placed on a new server.
Unfortunately, website traffic is very elastic and a site that has little traffic today may grow very rapidly for various reasons. This means that other customers on that server will suffer as its resources are consumed disproportionately.
In the case of auto-scaling and load balancing with 20i, websites aren’t limited to a single server. If an unusual amount of resources is being consumed by one site, then more resources can be made available from across their network of multiple 40-core servers. The idea is similar to that of Cloud technology, where everything from bandwidth to processing power and RAM can be easily scaled up or down instantly.
If a server goes down for any reasons, the sites hosted there can simple be moved.
100% SSD Storage
I’m certain you have seen this term plastered over many web hosting sites today: SSD. Solid State Drives, or SSDs can offer extremely fast performance compared to standard mechanical drives. In some cases, the speed difference can easily exceed ten time that of mechanical drives.
Unfortunately, this is one area where most hosting companies are unclear – do they use SSD technology only for their system drives, or do they use SSDs to store all their data? Although prices of SSD are dropping all the time, they are still significantly more expensive than standard drives.
20i has assured us that they use SSDs across the board (from their site documentation, apparently Samsung SSDs, which are some of the best in existence today). This move goes back to the company’s belief that they should always be using the best hardware and not to cut corners in this area.
If you know the least bit about websites and URLs, you would know that the domain name system (DNS) is a vital cog. 20i makes use of Google’s DNS so that you can enjoy fast response times no matter how heavy a traffic load your site gets.
Again, there is an added advantage here for resellers since you can take advantage of the company’s white-label Virtual Name Servers and pass of Google DNS under your own brand!
With their servers confined to UK data centres alone, I was initially a little skeptical about the performance 20i would be able offer. Being that the case, I ran a standard WebPage Speed test from three locations – the US, UK and Singapore.
As expected, the UK server showed good response times, but to be honest I was quite impressed at a host that could offer a TTFB of below 200ms. This is rarely seen and is far below the Google recommended 400ms.
US speeds also clocked in very well, although the timings out of the Asia region did drop a little. I know that Singapore usually has pretty good infrastructure for conducting speed tests out of, so I can only assume the slight drop was due to 20i for some reason.
Something new I’m adding in to web host testing is a load test. While speed may be important, it’s also vital to know if your site can perform consistently when it’s being swamped by many users at the same time.
As the guinea pig for my test, 20i performed well and was able to hold an introductory 25-concurrent-user load with no problem at all. In the figure below, the purple line which remains quite steady across is the server response time and the other two lines represent an increasing number of users and page requests.
Note: 20i Hosting Uptime – Re-Testing in Progress (Sorry!)
This was being run in the background for some time and unfortunately when I wanted to use it, we discovered we had pointed it at the wrong URL! My apologies, we’ll add this section in later once we’ve collected enough data.
3- Good Customer Support
Although live chat seems to be restricted to sales enquires only, 20i has a very easy to use ticketing system and it claims that support staff are UK-based experts.
@hostedby20i wow! can i just say i have been with #20i for 24 hours and your service is outstanding.. Instant support and easy migration with feature packed web hosting. Absolutely awesome.
With cyberthreats being what they are today along with Google now marking not HTTPS websites are insecure, you’ll be happy to know that 20i provides you with a free SSL certificate. These certificates help ensure that any data from a user connecting to your site remains secure. 20i uses Let’s Encrypt for its free certificates.
Auto Malware Scanning
Malware isn’t just harmful but it’s also very hard to get rid of. Even if you clear it today, there are instances where it can come back again – over and over. 20i can help with this since it offers daily anti-malware scanning for all its accounts. This might be something that’s easily overlooked, but trust me – it is very useful to have.
Cons: What I dislike about 20i
1. Servers only in the UK
Although speeds have not seemed to suffer as a result of having UK-only servers, I feel a bit uncomfortable having a lack of choice, so to speak. It is normal for a hosting company to have at least some form of choice (even if within the same country) but here it has been taken completely out of our hands.
Of course, it can be argued that it simplifies things, but still …
2. No Access to Apache or NGINX Settings
Most seasoned web hosting veterans will know that to be able to change certain settings in Apache or NGINX can mean a lot of difference. Here again (I am guessing in the name of simplification) it has been taken out of our hands.
I have no doubt that should you submit a support ticket and make the request, they will be able to make any changes you desire, but there is that human love for immediate gratification.
3. Simplified Control Panel
Although this should be good for many users, if you’re a little more experienced at using web hosting control panels you might find the one at 20i more restrictive.
I think that this is probably due to their having incorporated specialized technologies such as its StackCache plugin. If you’re allowed to simply tweak some settings for example, you might make a mess of things.
20i Hosting Plans & Pricing
With WordPress hosting starting at £4.99 per month (that’s about $6.50) 20i certainly isn’t the most expensive host out there. In fact, with all its hosting plans, I don’t feel that it’s expensive at all and would probably make a good buy.
20i WordPress Hosting Plans
10 GB Mailboxes
20i Shared Hosting Plans
10 GB Mailboxes
Caution: Your account will be automatically suspended if your monthly bandwidth allowance is exceeded. 20i does not state the terms “unlimited bandwidth” clearly in their ToS page; but users are allowed to use a maximum of 10% of server’s processing capacity (which in turn, limit the usage of “unlimited” bandwidth)*.
Feedback from Richard Chambers
Acceptable Usage Policy limit is specifically tied to CPU and across the entire platform. We haven’t ever enforced it to date, despite hosting websites that handle several million hits a day.
Conclusion: Who should host with 20i
Even though I have mentioned many times that 20i is very reseller focussed, that just means that they have features to offer resellers that are above the norm. It doesn’t mean their plans for regular web hosting users are any lesser.
In fact, given the price-feature balance that they have, 20i would make a very interesting starting proposition for almost anyone. Their load balancing features means that there is no real upper limit and that even businesses should feel safe here.
There is only one caveat to all the advantages I've seen at 20i so far, and that is the fact that even on their highest shared hosting plan (Business at £12.99/mo) you are limited to hosting a maximum of four sites. I know some people like to host a bunch of small sites all on one plan, so this probably won't be ideal for you.
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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Managed WordPress Hosting
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Custom Cron Jobs
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No. of Email Accounts
Zen Shopping Cart
Customer Care Policy
Server Usage Limitation
Bandwidth limit of 50GB per month for sites allowing video download; maximum of 10% of server’s processing capacity.
Additional Security Features
Brute force login protection, auto malware scanning