You’re here because you’re an ecommerce store owner, either frustrated with your existing hosting service or just shopping around for a new option for your new store.
Either way, a quick Google search shows there are dozens of options out there, and that can feel daunting- wherever you are on the ecommerce experience barometer.
That’s why we’re reviewing just one web hosting provider: Hostwinds. Here, we’ll cover:
- Who Hostwinds is
- Hostwinds’s primary features
- Hostwinds's guarantees
- Hostwinds's core pricing plans
- Hostwinds's customer support
- Hostwinds's security
- Hostwinds's speed
- Hostwinds's interface
- Hostwinds's pros and cons
Hostwinds was founded back in 2010 by Peter Holden. He was working as a back end developer at a web development firm. Frustrated by the difficulties of moving his employer to a new hosting brand, he decided he could do better himself, and along came Hostwinds.
Hostwinds is a privately owned company that tells potential customers they “began changing the face of the hosting industry from the start with a new set of standards: offering quality hosting services at a reasonable price.”
Based in Seattle, WA, the company has several awards for customer service (see below) and was recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest-growing private companies. Not to mention, Entrepreneur also dubbed it the #1 Option for Hosting Your Startup Website, and according to the PC Magazine Editor's Choice, it's ‘one of the best overall tech products of 2018', and Pinterest places Hostwinds in its Top Five Best Affordable Web Hosting Companies.
The Hostwinds homepage asserts that it offers:
- Fast servers
- Low prices
- 99.99999% uptime
- Great customer service
It's also worth noting that Hostwinds boasts three data centers: Seattle, Dallas, and Amsterdam.
That's a lot of praise… so, let’s take a look at how that stands up to scrutiny!
Hostwinds’s Core Features
Hostwinds divides its features into four categories: Hosting, VPS, Cloud, and Dedicated. There are different sub-categories within these and separate sets of components within each sub-category.
If you select this option, you can choose from the Shared, Business, Reseller, or White Label options – and each has its own pricing structure and set of features.
These are too numerous to go into separately in this article. But, what we can say is whichever hosting option you go for, you'll definitely enjoy the following features:
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited disc space
- A free SSL certificate
- Solid-state drives
- Instant set up
- Unlimited subdomains
- Softaculous auto install
- A free IP address
The only variant to this rule is the White Label option. This is aimed at those who want to set up their own hosting company selling Hostwinds products.
For anyone considering the VPS option, there are four to choose from. Then, within each of these, there are different price plans and features.
The four options are:
- Managed Linux
- Unmanaged Linux
- Managed Windows
- Unmanaged Windows
Commonly shared features include:
- Solid-state drives
- Free website transfer
- Multiple locations
- Custom ISO’s
- Enterprise firewall
- 99.999% uptime
- 1 GBPS ports
After that, the features you get access to depend on the pricing plan you opt for, i.e., RAM, storage, disc space, data transfer, and bandwidth size all vary. But, as you've probably guessed, the more you pay, the more you get.
If you prefer cloud server hosting, Hostwinds tells us it takes no more than 20 seconds to deploy your cloud server. Again, CPU, storage, RAM, and bandwidth sizes vary according to which pricing structure you go for, but commonly shared features include:
- Flexible payment options from hourly to triennially
- Full management support 24/7/365 including live chat, phone or support tickets (with a real person)
- SSD drives to speed up your server, meaning faster data processing
- Custom templates you can configure yourself
- SSH key management, giving you the option to create your own or import SSH keys via the Hostwinds Cloud Control Portal.
- Instant scalability meaning you can increase your cloud server space anytime you want, e.g., more RAM or CPU in seconds.
The most bespoke option of them all is the Hostwinds Dedicated Server program. Here you get your own, fully managed server. It’s an option for someone who wants total control over their server at all times.
Hostwinds will build you a server that suits your needs. Just specify the amount of RAM and type of CPU(s) you need, and they'll handle the rest.
You can also customize the disk number and their configuration too. Here, the feature set is slightly different in that you choose the functionality you want. What Hostwinds does say, however, is that they offer everyone:
- Nightly backups
- Server monitoring in the rare case of glitches
- A fully managed service
Hostwinds Review: Hostwinds Guarantees
Irrespective of which Hostwinds package you choose, there are several guarantees the provider promises all customers:
- 99.9999% uptime
- Award-winning 24/7/365 customer service
- A wide choice of pricing plans
- A friendliness guarantee
- An excellence guarantee
- A zero-tolerance SPAM policy
- A prorated refund policy
Hostwinds Core Pricing Plans
As we’ve already mentioned, Hostwinds' pricing plans depend on the type of hosting you go for. So here we’ll run through the headlines to give you a sense of what you can expect to pay.
If you’re starting a new store and want something fast but cheap, the Hostwinds Shared Basic Plan is probably your best bet, starting at just $3.29/mo discounted down from $8.99/mo at the time of writing. For this, you get all the features mentioned above and one domain name.
Sticking with Shared hosting, if you were to upgrade to a bigger package as you grow your business, their most popular and best value package (according to Hostwinds) is their Shared Ultimate Plan. This starts at $5.17/mo, discounted from $12.09/mo. For this, you'll get all the features we mention above and unlimited domain names.
Prices start to go up in the Shared Business Web Hosting plans, but only by a fraction. The Basic package starts at a discounted rate of $5.64/mo (down from $13.99). Again this entitles you to just one domain, going up to unlimited domains if you opt for the Ultimate Plan at $7.99/mo down from $18.99/mo.
A quick tour around the VPS pricing plans tells us they’re more expensive, but not by much. Four plans start at $5.17/mo for Managed Linux or $7.99 for Managed Windows, rising to $23.97/mo or $26.99/mo, respectively. The Unmanaged plans are extensive and depend entirely on the amount of CPU, RAM, storage, and bandwidth you need for either Linux or Windows.
For Cloud Server Hosting, prices again depend on the CPU, RAM, storage, and bandwidth you need. For example, if you were to go for the cheapest option with 1 CPU, 1GB RAM, 30GB storage, and 1TB bandwidth, it’d cost you $0.006931/hr at the time of writing. The most expensive option is 16 CPU, 96 GB RAM, 750GB storage, and 9 TB bandwidth, which you'll have to shell $0.456931/hr out for (at the time of writing).
Lastly, if your ambitions are big and you want a Dedicated server, that’s going to cost you a lot more. The cheapest option is a discounted $79.50/mo down from $$106.00/mo, and the most expensive plan starts at $140.00/mo.
Hostwinds Review: Hostwinds Customer Support
Hostwinds has won multiple awards, including for its customer service, so much so that the FindMyHost.com Editors' Choice award went to Hostwind for their client support and positive business practices.
On top of that, multiple review sites give them 4-5 stars, including The Real Yellow Pages, Hostingadvice.com, Sitejabber, and Webhosting Geeks.
As we've already said, Hostwinds offers customers 24/7/365 support in the form of live chat, ticket support, email, and over-the-phone. There's also a Knowledge Base on their website where you can find answers to common questions. Topics include guides on storage, account questions, network, control panels, and so on.
A quick tour around Google tells us Hostwinds's users and reviewers are both fans of this hosting service. There are multiple five and 4-star reviews and many comments about the company’s friendliness and helpfulness.
Hostwinds Review: Hostwinds's Security
All Hostwinds's servers are protected with what they call a “Windshield Hardening Service.” Translated, this means for an extra $25, you can enhance your server’s security with even greater protection. Hostwinds techies carry out a security audit, set up your firewall, and conduct other server hardening methods to give your server extra security.
All the different hosting options come with a free SSL certificate as a matter of course with Shared, Business, Reseller, and White Label Web Hosting accounts. They also provide RapidSSL credentials and WildCard SSL through GeoTrust for an additional cost of $75 a year. Either way, installation is free with 24/7 tech support for any security issues and questions.
Also, its data centers boast their own security in the form of video surveillance, 24/7 staffed network operation centers, check-in stations at the entrances, and 24/7 armed security.
No ecommerce owner wants to sit with their head in their hands, frustrated at the slow speed of their hosting company’s servers. It doesn’t bode well for anyone's reputation and can potentially lose you, customers.
Hostwinds says it is “designed with speed in mind,” by offering the following:
- SSD drives with rapid read and writes speed
- Constant monitoring of its infrastructure and network
- The latest versions of PHP scripting language
- Cloudflare’s CDN which reduces the distance between your server and your site visitors.
- Litespeed Web Server that uses fewer resources, therefore faster speeds
Also, Hostwinds regularly scans its outbound network paths and picks the fastest so that traffic to your site is routed as quickly as possible. If you want to test the speed of Hostwinds' current data centers, there’s a dedicated page on their site that walks you through how to do that.
Whether you’re a newbie ecommerce entrepreneur or an old hand, you don’t want to wrestle with a clunky interface. As with most hosting platforms, users get access to a control panel where they can access their accounts, billing information, launch support tickets, and so on. Hostwinds calls this the CPanel.
You can also change your contact details here, manage your domains if you have more than one, add subdomains, create email accounts, etc.
We're unable to provide any further details because, unfortunately, when we tried to access the guide to the CPanel in the Hostwinds Knowledge Base, the link was broken, which is a bit of an oversight on their part.
Hostwinds Review: Hostwinds's Pros and Cons
Now we’ve covered the basics, here's a quick round-up of Hostwinds' pros and cons:
- It's an award-winning company
- They offer incredibly affordable prices, especially for newbies
- You get access to a generous number of features on all their plans
- Access to discounted prices (at time of writing)
- Great uptime guarantees
- Their servers are speedy
- Their pricing structure is overly complicated
- You have to pay extra for SSL on some hosting options.
- There are conditions attached to its refunds policies (see terms and conditions)
Are You Ready to Start Using Hostwinds?
So there you have it. Everything you need to know about Hostwinds: we believe that, at first glance, Hostwinds is an affordable, fast, and powerful option for any ecommerce store owner, whether you’re just starting and hope to expand, or you're an eCommerce veteran with an existing website. There's bound to be a plan to suit your hosting needs.
We hope having read this review; you can better decide if Hostwinds is the right web hosting provider for you and your business. We’d love to know your thoughts on Hostwinds in the comments box below. Let us know how you get on!