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They offer some good features (for first-time customers) and they’re great on price (initially), however they’re let down by customer service, a confusing and overly-litigious buying process and average response time.
They also neglect to offer some features which should be standard.
Average uptime for all hosts in January 2018 (to date) is 99.80% while average response time for all web hosts in January 2018 (to date) is 1,254ms.
Before we start we want to outline why we find it difficult to purchase from 1&1.
While their performance and features are acceptable, their sales process leaves a lot to be desired (and, as discerning buyers, it makes us slightly nervous about what we’re signing up for).
Many of their products are accompanied by a mountain of fine print. They also create new terms and conditions for their special offers and in the footer of a number of pages is concealed content which, when clicked, reveals a list of applicable terms for each product above.
Take these terms and conditions as an example:
Why do they create a distinction between payable in advance and payable yearly? Surely they’re the same thing but the distinction makes us think there’s something more to it.
At this point it’s probably also worth highlighting this line from their general terms and conditions:
This is what you’re ‘agreeing’ to when you sign-up for a hosting account with 1&1.
Another example is found in how they communicate the features of their products. Take this row on the price comparison page:
To some people this may mean a 1&1 SSL certificate is included in the package; why wouldn’t you think that when the word ‘included!’ appears next to the item with a yellow background?
Well, it isn’t ‘included’ (unless we’ve been using a different definition of the term ‘included’ all these years) – the link goes to a page detailing the cost of buying SSL.
The problem is the page lists so many features and conditions that less discerning buyers are unlikely to have the time, technical knowledge or inclination to review everything.
When you scroll further down the page you come to another SSL option, this time with a tick beside it. Apparently it is included (except what they’re referring to here is their ‘Starter SSL’ – and that actually is included ‘free of charge’).
While they offer ‘free’ domain privacy with new domain registrations – for certain extensions – they don’t state anywhere (from what we can see) what the renewal cost is for domain privacy (.com renewal costs are in the fine print).
We could list more examples, however all in all we feel 1&1 has created a confusing buying process for visitors and that doesn’t bode well for when visitors become customers.
Aside from this, 1&1 is, in some ways and by some distance, the cheapest web host we’ve reviewed. The introductory cost for one year of hosting on their ‘basic’ package is $11.88 (payable in advance).
This term will automatically renew the following year and for a cost of $7.99 per month (again, payable in advance). The total annual cost for renewal is $95.88.
All annual subscriptions qualify for a free domain name and a free domain privacy subscription for 1 year (this is another great offer).
You can pay monthly with 1&1, however the monthly cost is $8.99 and by paying monthly you lose the opportunity to register a free domain name. The total annual cost of the monthly subscription is $107.88.
The cost of a .com registration is also remarkably cheap – you can register a .com domain for $0.99 (the renewal fee is $14.99). All eligible domain registrations include free domain privacy (again, we couldn’t find the renewal rate for domain privacy).
We’ve looked fairly extensively however we couldn’t find any information on 1&1’s website about website migrations (a number of web hosts offer this service free of charge or charge a premium for it).
Setup was relatively simple. 1&1 has options in their custom control panel for setting-up externally registered domains and DNS propagated within 24 hours.
1&1 aren’t particularly forthcoming about usage restrictions they place on their user’s accounts (we didn’t notice any mention of CloudLinux on their website – there are ‘process’ and ‘RAM’ restrictions listed in their admin panel though – so it may be the case they aren’t actually monitoring or limiting usage on a per account basis).
According to our 1&1 admin panel, we have been assigned 20GB of storage. This is puzzling, considering we read on the feature comparison page we were entitled to 100GB (it’s not really puzzling, we read the general terms and conditions before we signed-up).
Their general terms and conditions state:
This sounds a bit sneaky.
In this instance, it appears as though our basic account has been set an initial limit of 20GB and it will increment 20GBs at a time when 1&1 deems we need it.
We figure it’s a bit like banks – when you deposit money in your account you no longer ‘technically’ own it, the bank does; and it will loan it out to other customers until you need it.
We’re not overly fanatical about this system. If we’ve paid for storage we’d like to be assigned the storage we’ve paid for.
As far as ‘bandwidth’ is concerned, 1&1 states within their feature list that they offer ‘unlimited traffic’ and this is on a row which includes a tooltip which contains the word ‘data transfer’.
However, in their general terms and conditions they state:
They apply a similar restriction to mailboxes (except bandwidth is set at 25GB per month).
We assume they have ‘provided otherwise’ by stating ‘unlimited traffic’ on their features comparison page, however in their general terms and conditions they define bandwidth as:
A lot of web hosts treat ‘bandwidth’ and ‘data transfer’ synonymously, however a ‘commonly accepted’ distinction is ‘bandwidth’ refers to the speed of transfer while ‘data transfer’ refers to the amount of data transfer. 1&1, by placing this definition in their general terms and conditions, doesn’t appear to be treating the two synonymously.
6GB sound like a data transfer restriction, however they’re referring to it as ‘bandwidth’, a term they previously defined as referring to the rate of data transfer, and they haven’t ‘provided otherwise’ on their features comparison page (ie mentioned ‘bandwidth’, they’ve only mentioned ‘data transfer’).
Colour us confused, however we thought it was worth drawing your attention to (particularly if you buy 1&1 services where ‘bandwidth’ isn’t specified up-front).
You may not think it to look at their website however 1&1 does offer a 30 day money back guarantee, however it’s buried in their general terms and conditions (there’s also a random landing page dedicated to it, however it’s divorced from the main navigation of the website).
According to their general terms and conditions you’ll receive a prorated refund of any pre-paid fees. We’re not sure if they refund partial months, however we doubt it.
1&1 also offers an 99.99% uptime guarantee (many web hosts only offer 99.9%), however, again, it’s only really mentioned in their general terms and conditions (they don’t seem to promote it).
It’s listed under section 4.6 and it asks you demonstrate to their ‘satisfaction’ that they’ve failed to honour the guaranteed uptime. Whether they’ve honoured their guarantee is a decision made solely at their discretion and it’s unlikely they’ll accept reports from third-party monitoring tools.
If it’s found they have failed to honour their uptime guarantee then compensation will come in the form of credit to purchase additional 1&1 services – they won’t provide cash. Any credits awarded will be ‘proportional to the amount of downtime’ (this is obviously highly subjective).
Like with most hosts, 1&1 does not deem that scheduled maintenance amounts to ‘downtime’ (the only host we’ve found which compensates for scheduled maintenance is GreenGeeks).
1&1, despite their confusing communications relating to this issue, does actually offer a free SSL certificate, however there a couple of problems:
To enable the certificate just login to the 1&1 control panel and browse to the ‘SSL’ option in the main sidebar navigation. Enabling it is as simple as assigning a domain and clicking a button (however unlike a number of other web hosts eg Siteground, setup isn’t instantaneous).
1&1 apparently offers daily backups, however we can’t find these in the admin panel so we assume they’re only available on request; all the information about backups on their website, apart from on their comparison page, point to how to perform manual backups on your database and web files.
You can purchase CodeGuard (daily backup and restore) for an additional cost.
1and1 utilises a custom admin panel for their accounts. The information architecture (labelling and navigation) is confusing and links jump off to different subdomains – it’s also lacking some of the basic functionality of cPanel (eg backups, hotlink protection, IP blocking etc).
The left sidebar hosts the navigation, which means a lot of the data and icons which are accessible from the standard cPanel ‘homepage’ can take a bit of time to find in 1and1’s admin panel. Everything feels a little bit disconnected.
This said, you can find a number of the standard options you’d expect to find including one-click installers for popular CMS like WordPress, Joomla, Magento or Drupal. They also offer additional scripts like chat and gallery scripts which you can add to your website.
You can also access PHPMyAdmin through the admin panel, as well as a rather cumbersome and unattractive file manager. They also offer options to increase your ‘performance level’ for an additional charge. This comprises increasing the amount of physical memory available to your account.
Live chat is available for sales however it doesn’t seem to be available for support.
1&1’s sales representatives were fairly responsive (as you’d expect), however being compelled to call their support team – rather than simply submitting a ticket or utilising live chat – when you’ve got a problem you need resolved is a major downside.
It’s worth noting the following from their general terms and conditions: