Saturday 18th August 2018

1&1 Review

Overview

Overall rating:

6.5/10

Price:

$0.99

Uptime (Jan 18):

99.93%

Visit Now

Compare web hosts

Select 4 web hosts and compare over 50 features

Disclosure: The content below may contain affiliate links. If you click on one of the links, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work. Click here for more information.

Overview

Overall rating:

6.5/10

Price:

$0.99

Setup:

12 hours

Visit Now

Overall

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.

  • According to their general terms and conditions ‘unless they provide otherwise’, 1&1 will restrict bandwidth to 6GB. There’s more information below.
  • 1&1 offers a free SSL certificate issued by GeoTrust, formerly a Symantec brand. Symantec has had issues with Google recently (see more below) however their – Symantec’s – SSL services have recently been acquired by another brand. The SSL certificate doesn’t automatically redirect either (unlike some hosts eg Siteground). You’ll need to configure .htaccess to redirect users to the HTTPS version of your pages (from HTTP).
  • They state they support HTTP/2 – and we’ve stated they do on our feature comparison pages – however after enabling their free SSL, a quick glance at the network tab in Chrome developer tools shows the SPDY protocol (Google’s precursor to HTTP/2) in action (and not HTTP/2). We’ve requested further information.
  • They state in their general terms and conditions that plans allotted ‘unlimited’ storage will initially only be allotted 50GB of storage (it will increase in increments of 20GBs when 1&1 determines a customer needs it).
  • It’s worth noting they also state this in their general terms and conditions: “1&1 does provide certain information in aggregate form collected from and relating to you to third persons such as advertisers.”
  • According to our internal tests, performance is acceptable but far from the best (they do outperform a number of other hosts on uptime though)
  • They have reported on their Twitter feed about their mail servers encountering problems. We ran some of their mail server IP addresses – pulled from their help pages – through a blacklist checker and found they were on a number of blacklists. Their general terms and conditions also state that if an email account is unused for 2 months then they reserve the right to delete it.
  • They offer a 30 day money back guarantee and a 99.9% uptime guarantee (however they don’t publicise either of these; they’re buried in their general terms and conditions)
  • They use a custom admin panel (not cPanel). This could prove problematic should you ever wish to migrate from 1&1’s servers (ie some web hosts only offer website migrations if your existing web host uses cPanel)
  • They offer remarkably cheap domain names (for the first year) and free domain privacy. Their introductory rates for web hosting are the best we’ve seen (but there are significant price hikes in year 2). There’s more information below.
  • With regards to customer service they only offer phone support and ‘email’ (their email address is remarkably difficult to find). They also state this in their general terms and conditions: “1&1, either directly or through its assignee or licensee, shall provide Technical Support relating to Your Web Site. Any and all requests for Technical Support may be refused by 1&1 with or without reason, in its sole discretion.”
  • You’re subject to a 12 month contract.
  • There’s no CDN (content delivery network) for the basic package.
  • Another advantage is they offer daily backups as standard (unlike a few web hosts eg Hostgator who only offer weekly backups and charge extra for daily backups). This said, we can’t find these backups in our admin panel so we assume they’re taken for internal restoration purposes (this is fairly standard with web hosts). They offer paid backup options for your own backups.

Features

7.5/10

service

4/10

Performance

7/10

Cost

8/10

Host overview

Performance: January 2018 (to date)

Response Time:

920ms

Uptime:

99.93%

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.

Cost, setup and website migrations

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:

1&1 Terms and Conditions

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:

1&1 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:

1&1 SSL

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’).

1&1 SSL

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.

Restrictions

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).

  • Storage is restricted to 100GB. However you don’t seemingly receive 100GB when you sign-up (more below) and they haven’t specified whether it’s SSD or HDD storage (however perhaps that’s an indication it’s the latter).
  • Data transfer is set at ‘unlimited’. More information below.
  • 1&1 state in their general terms and conditions that inodes are restricted at 250,000. This is about average relative to other web hosts (with the exception maybe of A2 Hosting, which sets a restriction at 600,000). An inode is just meta data for a file or ‘information’ about a file; 1 inode broadly equals 1 file (1 email also equals 1 inode). It’s unlikely the average user will ever exceed this restriction.
  • On their price comparison pages they state available RAM is ‘up to 2,048MB’, however the ‘limit’ is set at 512MB and we only discovered this on an upgrade page in their admin panel.

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:

  • Packages with ‘unlimited’ storage will initial be configured with 50GB of storage. 1&1 will check storage daily and in the event a user needs more storage they will increase it in increments of 20GB.
  • The same applies to ‘mail space’, however it’s increased in increments of 5GB

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:

1&1 Terms and Conditions

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:

1&1 Terms and Conditions

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).

Backups, guarantees and security

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:

  1. It’s issued by Symantec. Google Chrome will begin ‘distrusting’ Symantec SSL certificates from March 2018. Symantec’s ‘SSL services’ have recently been bought by DigiCert.
  2. It’s fairly easy to ‘enable’, however unlike a number of other web hosts the redirect from HTTP to HTTPS isn’t configured automatically so you’ll need to update your htaccess file (HTTP requests are made through port 80 while HTTPS requests are made through port 443)

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.

The admin panel

1&1 Admin Panel

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.

  • You can manage DNS however interaction is more limited than under cPanel (eg we went to look for an MX record and rather than display the IP address of the mail server they simply showed us a checkbox with the label ‘use 1and1’s mail server’). You can add new A Records and MX records though.
  • Unlike cPanel, there doesn’t appear to be a backup option (however you do have access to a file manager and PHPMyAdmin).
  • Aside from a ‘performance level’ and ‘quota’ option, there doesn’t seem to be any means to monitor resource usage for your account.
  • They have confusingly divided some web hosting option between two menus: “web hosting” and “websites.”
  • Inexplicably there’s a top-level navigation item labelled ‘Office 365’ in the menu (it takes you out of the control panel and to a landing page to purchase Office 365). Why would you dedicate a place in the top-level navigation to this? There are a number of such links in the top-level navigation (all trying to upsell additional services eg SSL certificates, online marketing services etc.)
  • There offer basic database management options (create and delete), FTP and SSH (Git version control is also available through SSH – they recommend you use PuTTY. We tried connecting via SSH and it was fairly simple.
  • You can create mailboxes and setup forwarding.

1&1 Customer Service

  • Live chat support: No
  • Ticketing support: No
  • Telephone support: Yes

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: 

1&1 Terms and Conditions

Pay monthly - basic

Price

$8.99

Bandwidth:

Unlimited

Storage:

100GB

Visit Now

12 month term - basic

Price

$0.99

Bandwidth:

Unlimited

Storage:

100GB

Visit Now

Pay monthly - unlimited plus

Price

$11.99

Bandwidth:

Unlimited

Storage:

Unlimited

Visit Now

12 month term - unlimited plus

Price

$59.88

Bandwidth:

Unlimited

Storage:

Unlimited

Visit Now