Please note: (eHost has recently shut down and has been replaced by iPage.)
In the following eHost review, I’ll take a look at how this unlimited hosting plan stacks up against its nearest rivals, and discuss the pros and cons of this popular shared hosting provider.
Once just another face in the crowd of competing web hosts, eHost were bought out by Endurance International several years ago and out swinging in their 2014 relaunch with low cost, unlimited shared hosting tailored to small businesses and individuals.
Pricing and Key Features
I have no problem admitting that one of the things I like the most about eHost is their price, especially when it comes to the long-term, regular renewal fees, which are marginally cheaper than some of their competitors and much cheaper than others.
For now, let’s talk about the first term price of £2.75 per month. Whilst you may be able to find bigger discounts elsewhere, only a handful of eHost’s competitors are able to match the amount of resources and features the company provides for such a small monthly fee.
Unlimited Web Hosting
There once was a time when most web hosting companies sold their shared plans tiered packages, where the more you paid, the more resources and features you had access to. Whilst some of those -such as Godaddy and HostGator– still exist, most top companies have shifted away from those models to offer unlimited hosting solutions, partly due to the lower costs of running a web server, but perhaps mostly due to taking note of the run-away success enjoyed by iPage and their game-changing Essentials unlimited package.
Falling squarely in the latter camp, there aren’t many restrictions on what you can do nor on how much resources you can use with eHost. All of the following are completely unlimited with the brand’s £2.75 per month shared hosting offer:
– Storage space
– Add on domains
– MySQL databases
– FTP accounts
– Email accounts
With the latter, it’s worth noting that although you can have as many email accounts as you like, each one is limited to 500MB.
500MB or 10,000 email messages, depending on which comes first. In my experience, this amount of storage space is on par with many of eHost’s competitors, and given that you can create as many POP3/IMAP addresses as you need, I doubt most small businesses or individual users will ever use more than the generous eHost email allowance.
Finding a shared hosting company that offers a free domain name isn’t rare these days. Yet finding one that won’t charge you to renew that domain name after your first term expires certainly is.
eHost are one of those rare companies, offering a ‘free domain for life,’ to all of their new customers. What this means, is that as long as you host your website on eHost’s servers, you’ll never have to pay for a domain name.
Issues with registering a domain name
Reports from angry eHost customers about having problems registering their desired domain name properly are in abundance on the web, and I can testify that this is a major chink in the company’s otherwise solid armour.
When I came to sign up for a new unlimited plan after the eHost relaunch, I found that the domain name I’d selected from the sign-up page hadn’t been registered properly. Several back-and-forths with the company’s largely inconsistent support team (more of whom later), and despite several promises to have my domain ready to use, it was still unavailable.
With time at the essence (this was a web project I was building for a client), I instead registered the domain name with a separate company and built the website elsewhere.
Getting the issue resolved
This was disappointing sure, and hardly made me enthusiastic about keeping my eHost package. Yet keep it I did, and after a few months, I went back to the customer support team to try and resolve the issue.
This time, they pointed me to a ‘free domain name’ credit in my account panel, and using this I was able to register an entirely new domain name without much hassle.
I say without much, because as we’ll discuss in the next section, eHost does have a few bugs to work out when it comes to navigating around its account management dashboard.
Ease of Use
Getting the domain name taken care of wasn’t the only time I had an issue with eHost. Some of the general account settings and the process of setting up a new site were also far more complicated than they perhaps need to be.
As I mentioned earlier in the introduction to this review, I’m no stranger to web hosting companies, and typically find that most of the common tasks involved in starting a website are pretty similar from one host to the next. With eHost however, it’s almost as if the brand wanted to re-invent the wheel, and I found I had a much harder time finding certain features than I would have done with another company.
Removing my first attempt at an eHost website (the one attached to the domain name that never was) and adding new ones (eHost allows you to build multiple websites on your shared hosting plan) were especially tricky.
It does get easier
Thankfully, that was about where the eHost-induced headaches ended for me. Once I’d set up some space to launch a new site (thanks to the customer support team), using both the cPanel dashboard and the company’s own drag-and-drop website builder were as easy as you could hope for, and provide simple, efficient ways of building websites for both advanced webmasters and complete novices alike.
Since everything is well laid out, it doesn’t take long to get to grips with managing your account, launching applications and developing your website, and I’d certainly have no problems recommending iPage Essentials for those of you new to web hosting.
Performance and Reliability
Arguably more important than even the price, the level of performance and reliability provided by a hosting company should be a critical factor when choosing where to host your new website.
After all, paying rock bottom prices is all well and good, but if all that gets you is space on an unreliable web server which performs slowly and is often offline, that’s hardly great value for money, is it?
Luckily, shoddy performance and unreliability aren’t things you’ll need to worry about with eHost.
Though I’ve found some companies that performed even better in the six-month monitoring experiment I carried out with all the hosts featured on this website (see the graph in the right-hand column of this page), eHost’s servers never wavered below 99.5% up time, and more often than not hovered between 99.9% and 100%, meaning that my website was down for no more than a total of a few seconds over several months.
In terms of performance, the company’s shared hosting servers delivered my pages to visitors’ web browsers at a faster-than-average rate, and I’m more than happy to recommend this company to anyone looking for solid, reliable hosting.
Building a Website
Now we’re getting to the really exciting part: Actually using your eHost plan to build and launch a new website. When you get to this stage, you’ll probably be glad to know that you have multiple options at your disposal.
First up, there’s the cPanel dashboard with one-click installation of many leading website platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. cPanel is one of the most widely used web hosting management tools on the web, gaining popularity and expert acclaim thanks to its simplicity and efficiency.
Using this, you can launch any of the aforementioned Content Management Systems, along with a host of smaller web building platforms, add-ons, and site builders, just by clicking on the appropriate icon and adding a few basic details about your site.
On the whole, this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to launch websites which look good, perform well, and include all kinds of user-interaction.
Drag-and-Drop Website Builder
Content Management Systems aren’t the only tools at your disposal, and are perhaps not the ideal ones to use if this is your first time building a website. For newcomers, I’m much more inclined to recommend the brand’s drag-and-drop website builder.
Based on the popular Weebly.com platform, this is the quickest and simplest way to launch professional looking websites, and involves nothing more complicated than choosing from a vast library of pre-designed templates and using your mouse to customise things like menus, images, text and colour schemes.
The quality level of these templates is a cut above those offered by some other leading hosting companies, and most are fully responsive, so you never have to worry about how your site will look when it’s viewed on a mobile phone or tablet rather than the traditional desktop computer.
I’ve got nothing but praise for eHost’s website building tools, especially since there’s a variety of options to suit webmasters of all levels of skill and technical know-how.
After building your website, the next big task is to go out and promote it. eHost, like many top companies, lends a hand with this by bundling £200 of search engine advertising credits in with their unlimited plan.
Before you use those credits to create paid advertisements on search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing, you can use the company’s free SEO and site analytics tools to assess what visitors are looking for from your site and tailor your ads accordingly.
Whilst most shared hosting providers offer some support with marketing and advertising, I personally think that eHost’s £300 suite is one of the better marketing bundles out there, and though it’s probably not a deciding factor for most of you, this is certainly something worth keeping in mind.
If you’re planning to launch an online store, my best advice is to look at other companies and seeing what’s available before committing to an eHost package.
The company do provide some basic selling tools, including a one-click installation of eCommerce website builders like Magento and PretaShop, as well as full PayPal integration and support for shopping carts like ZenCart and osCommerce, but there’s a lot more to building a successful online store than that.
To protect customer data and ensure your site is fully compliant with national online retail regulations, you may well need to invest in a SSL certificate and even a dedicated IP address. Whilst a small number of shared plans come with these included, eHost isn’t one of them.
These tools are available, but only at a premium rate cost of £99 per year each. You don’t need me to tell you that this dramatically increases the cost of your hosting plan, and may not be the most worthwhile investment, especially when you can get quality, eCommerce-focussed hosting for less elsewhere.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a disappointing level of inconsistency among eHost’s customer service team.
In some respects, it’s almost like a lottery, where depending on who you end up speaking to, you’ll either have a pleasant, satisfactory experience where your problem is solved right away with minimum hassle, or a long-winded, frustrating one requiring multiple back-and-forth emails and a lot of complication.
I’ve had my experience with both now, and I think the best way I can sum up the customer support is that when they’re good, they’re very, very good, but when they’re bad, man are they ever a nightmare.
If you want my recommendation for accessing customer support, I’d use the phone service rather than the live chat or email. Whilst live chat operators respond quicker, I ran into far fewer frustrations over the phone.
If you’d rather tackle something yourself first before reaching out for help, there is a solid library of how-to articles and tutorials available, though weirdly these tend to focus more on advanced, technical issues rather than guiding new customers through the basics.
eHost have come a long way in a short space of time, and when it comes to unlimited shared hosting that is both highly reliable and very low cost, they’re certainly one of the best of the bunch.
Yet I think it’s safe to say that the company still has a few teething problems to work out before their really ready to dethrone the likes of iPage from the top of the hosting industry mountain.
Better suited for small businesses and individuals, I’d recommend this one to those who have at least some experience in managing a hosting plan, as the complications with the account management and domain issues can be a huge headache for first-time site owners.
Still, if you’re up for the learning-curve, the low price of the company’s long-term fees may make this one a serious contender for your next hosting package.