Monday 20th August 2018

iPage Review

Overview

Overall rating:

5.5/10

Price:

$1.99

Uptime (Jan 18):

100%

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Overview

Overall rating:

5.5/10

Price:

$1.99

Setup:

96 hours

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Overall

We don’t recommend iPage. They are part of EIG however their performance, relative to other web hosts, is slow. We also had issues setting our account up.

  • If your budget is on a budget then it’s worth noting iPage is one of the cheapest hosts we’ve reviewed. Their entry-level package will set you back $35.88 per year.
  • iPage’s service is broadly indistinguishable from FatCow’s service (they are both EIG brands). However, despite being nearly indistinguishable iPage charges a $119.88 renewal fee for the basic package while FatCow charges $179.40.
  • iPage offers scalable bandwidth. We’ve heard of unmetered and unlimited bandwidth, but now we’ve got ‘scalable’ bandwidth. In short, there are restrictions on your bandwidth but iPage won’t give you specifics on what they are (this is the case with many web hosts)
  • We got into a very interesting conversation with an iPage chat operative who told us iPage permits 100TB of data transfer – yes, 100TB – per month for shared hosting customers (we discovered the 100TB figure in their admin panel and questioned their operators about it). This is interesting as they limit their VPS customers ($79.99 per month) to 4TB of data transfer (we have a transcript of the conversation).
  • They don’t seem to offer website migration services.
  • iPage advertises that they offer ‘unlimited’ disk space. They state in their TOS ‘excessive usage’ isn’t permitted and they also talk about not setting ‘arbitrary limits’ while they proceed, a few paragraphs down, to arbitrarily list examples of what these ‘arbitrary limits’ may be if they were to ‘arbitrarily’ limit your usage.
  • iPage’s live chat operators claim they offer a 99% uptime guarantee, however we couldn’t spot any information about this in their terms of service or anywhere on their website or in their user agreement (so we work under the assumption they don’t).
  • They do support HTTP/2, apparently. It’s supported by default across all hosting packages according to their live chat operators (this contrasts with Hostgator, which doesn’t support it). This said, there’s no mention of HTTP/2 on their website (so we go under the assumption they don’t – and they don’t offer free SSL anyway).
  • They offer a 30 day money back guarantee (with caveats). This is about standard and what most web hosts offer (the best is Dreamhost which offers a 97 day money back guarantee)
  • Their live chat operators inform us they keep backups of web files and databases, however we’ve seen no mention of this in their user agreement or on their website (you can configure manual backups via their admin panel and there’s a premium backup and restore option for $16.99 per year)
  • To their credit, they give you an option to switch off automatic renewal in their admin panel (and it’s fairly prominent)
  • They offer a free domain name with every shared hosting package.

Features

5.5/10

service

4/10

Performance

6/10

Cost

6.5/10

Host overview

Performance: January 2018 (to date)

Response Time:

2133ms

Uptime:

100%

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

iPage’s entry-level hosting package – the ‘go plan’ – is advertised at a cost of $1.99 per month however you can only qualify for that rate if you’re willing to pay 36 months in advance. Despite advertising monthly costs you can’t actually pay iPage monthly for their ‘go’ shared hosting account.

The price is $2.99 per month if you want to pay 12 months (the shortest term you can select) in advance (total cost of $35.88).

There’s more information about renewals below, however at the end of you term they will charge you $119.88 for another 12 months of service. Your subscription will renew automatically (however you can disable automatic renewal in your admin panel).

It took us 4 days to setup our iPage hosting account. For some reason they weren’t able to point our A record to the correct IP address (at least we think that was the issue; we asked but they never responded).

We engaged in 3 chat sessions (and subsequently a few conversations by email), during which they asserted it was a nameserver propagation issue (despite the nameservers appearing in the WHOIS record and the website still being unavailable 72 hours after the nameservers were changed).

  • 1st chat: They told us it was an A record issue and it would take 1-12 hours for the change to propagate. 12 hours later the website was still unavailable.
  • 2nd chat: We contacted them again and they told us the A record was pointing to the wrong IP address. They changed it and told us it would take 1-12 hours for the change to propagate. 12 hours later the website was still unavailable.
  • 3rd chat: they told us it was an internal security issue and they’d get back to us in 24-48 hours with a solution. At this point we requested compensation – we were paying for a service they weren’t delivering. This chat representative was more helpful, however he told us we’d be able to download a transcript of the conversation once the chat ended (there was no option to do so; we always copy and paste though).
  • 1st email: they told us the issue was fixed and, to their credit, they provided us with one month of free hosting. We asked what the problem was but they never got back to us.

During the 3 conversations we had with iPage we had to explain at length what the issue was, and everything the previous chat representative had tried (this would have been a lot easier if we could have submitted a ticket but unfortunately we couldn’t find a ticketing platform – that’s because they don’t have one).

All in all, this wasted about 3 hours of our time. Suddenly, $35.88 per year isn’t looking so cheap.

While their support representatives are responsive – to an extent – they lacked the ability to resolve what should be a basic problem.

Restrictions

NOTE: we should be clear that the following restrictions aren’t specific to iPage, they are enforced by most web hosts.

iPage offers ‘scalable’ bandwidth.

Bandwidth usage is monitored and, according to their terms of service, they reserve the right to suspend a user’s account if the user violates section 15ai, which stipulates iPage expressly reserves the right to review each user’s account for ‘excessive usage’ of ‘CPU, bandwidth, disk space and other resources’.

They also have options in their admin panel to purchase additional bandwidth at a cost eg $5 for 5GB per month. Their admin panel lists a ‘bandwidth limit’ on their $35.88 per year account of 100000.00GB, which is almost equal to 100TB per month (which also seems like an ‘arbitrary limit’ to us – see below).

However, this leaves us with a nagging question: as iPage offers its shared hosting customers 100TB of data transfer, why do they only offer their far more lucrative VPS customers, at most, 4TB of data transfer (they refer to it as ‘bandwidth’) for $79.99 per month?

Our chat operative, after going away to check, told us that 100TB is the limit set for all shared hosting accounts on that server. Yet, our admin panel explicitly states your account’s bandwidth usage is as follows:”.

Colour us confused.

iPage stipulates again and again in their terms of service that they don’t set ‘arbitrary limits’ on resources.

Their terms of service continue by then – according to their own words – arbitrarily giving us arbitrary limits, including 200,000 inodes for disk space (an inode is meta data for a file, 1 inode broadly equals 1 file) or MySQL databases in excess of 1,000 tables or 3GB total size.

Of particular interest is section 15aiii, where they stipulate: “…iPage [does not] charge additional fees based on the increased use of bandwidth, as long as User’s use of the Services complies with this Agreement”

What are we complying with? We don’t know.

I think we’re complying with the notion there should no ‘excessive usage’ of CPU, bandwidth or disk space. What is excessive usage? It’s whatever iPage says it is, except they don’t tell us until it happens/

In short, like with most hosting companies, you’re buying a service you don’t know the limitations of. To be clear, we have no problem with hosting companies setting limitations. In fact we like it – nothing is ‘unlimited’ or infinitely ‘scalable’ and we all know that.

However, we do have an issue recommending services which prohibit ‘excessive usage’ while marketing their services using ‘excessive’ terminology like ‘unlimited’.

Backups, guarantees and security

The 30 day money back guarantee is fairly standard (with a few exceptions). The main exception is you’re only entitled to take advantage of the guarantee if you never hosted with iPage before and if you’ve paid by credit card or PayPal. Also, as is the case with most hosts, any other services are not included in the guarantee.

According to their TOS, if you’ve taken on their ‘free domain’ offer then the retail price of the domain (set by iPage as $15 excl. taxes) will be deducted from any refund you’re given ‘if you’d like to keep your domain’ (which suggests you don’t have to keep your domain but we find that unlikely).

Your account will renew automatically and it will renew at the far more expensive charge (currently $9.99 per month) and for the same term (total cost of $119.88). iPage will attempt to make this charge up to 15 days before your term expires.

You can switch off automatic renewal by clicking on your name in the top-right corner of your admin panel and selecting the option ‘account renewal’. iPage will also send you an email no more than 30 days before the expiration of your term to remind you a payment is due (unless you’ve switched off automatic renewal).

They claim to backup customer’s web files and databases but there’s no mention of this on their website (we had a conversation with their live chat operators).

Their operators assert they hold backups on web files going back 14 days and backups on databases going back 3 days and as soon as they put this on their website or in their user agreement we’ll be happy to mention it on this website.

They offer a premium backup and restore option for $16.99 per year (which is perhaps why they don’t mention anything about backups).

The admin panel

Like FatCow, iPage has gone rogue on us and decided to opt for something which isn’t cPanel – they offer vDeck.

We thought it may make a pleasant change from looking at so many cPanel installations but, in reality, it’s got most of what you’d expect from cPanel.

  • Full configuration over zone files (though this is less user-friendly than cPanel in our opinion, eg all of the records are subcategorised under a dropdown menu)
  • Full email management; you can create mailboxes, set up email autoresponders and apply filters
  • The option to edit .htaccess files from within the admin panel
  • The option to set-up MySQL databases
  • The option to monitor resource usage (disk usage)
  • A file manager (and FTP details if you’d prefer)
  • 1-click installation for WordPress and Weebly (but not much else)
  • As is specific to EIG, you’ve also got access to the MOJO Marketplace (Bluehost makes a big deal of this and as it should; it could be an excellent source of revenue for EIG)

We initially thought we were lacking some basic features however not everything on offer is display on the homepage of the control panel (click additional tools in the main navigation).

iPage also offers hotlink protection and IP address blocking as well as the ability to configure caching (we quite like this, you can set how often you’d like the server to configure certain filetypes).

iPage Customer Service

  • Live chat: yes
  • Ticketing support: no
  • Phone support: yes

iPage, like Just Host, Hostgator and Bluehost, is an EIG brand and thus doesn’t offer ticketing support.

As far as we’re concerned, that immediately signals a desire to compromise on customer service; in a lot of instances, ticketing is an essential component (particularly if you don’t want to be compelled to wait on live chat for upwards of 20-30 minutes, or if you have an issue that takes multiple conversations to resolve).

We’ve documented a lot of our support issues with iPage above. We’ve tested their live chat 4 times and while it can be responsive we’ve been compelled to wait for anywhere between 2-6 minutes between responses (meaning an entire conversation can take 30 minutes+).

To their credit, they did provide us with a credit on our hosting account for the issues caused; however, when they got back to us by email they didn’t tell us what the problem was (we responded to their email however they never got back to us).

All in all, we aren’t impressed and we don’t recommend iPage if you place an onus on good customer service.

Go Plan - 12 month term

Price

$2.99

Bandwidth:

Scalable

Storage:

Unlimited

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Go Plan - 24 month term

Price

$2.49

Bandwidth:

Scalable

Storage:

Unlimited

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Go plan - 36 month term

Price

$1.99

Bandwidth:

Scalable

Storage:

Unlimited

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Price

Bandwidth:

Storage:

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