iPage Review- you get what you pay for

And a lot more apparently. As a WordPress site developer managing hundreds of clients and their web sites on a daily basis, I’m in the unique position to have tried many web hosts during that time, and currently only hosts my own and clients’ sites on a very small handful of web hosts. These web hosts are the ones that have endured and not let me down throughout the years, and one of them is iPage. Here is my personal review of iPage as a customer of over 5 years.

iPage has become one of the most trusted names for shared and WordPress hosting, boasting over 1 million customers. They offer the 3 great pillars that make up a great web host- Reliable and speedy servers, 24/7 always on phone/email/chat support, and very reasonable cost for the features you get that usually cost many times over with other hosts. This is especially true when you take advantage of the special promotion. Lets examine each aspect of their hosting in more detail.

Reliable and speedy servers

A site that is down is a site that doesn’t exist, and that’s why uptime and fast page loads is critical when choosing any web host. iPage utilizes two data centers in the Boston, MA area with a solid network infrastructure consisting of a pooled server configuration to deliver client web sites in the fastest way possible. In layman’s terms, it enables all servers on their network to respond and deliver web site files when a request is made, with which the first machine available will be the one to do so. This type of distributed delivery enables all iPage’s customer sites to load much faster and with fewer service interruptions than traditional hosting infrastructures.

Next to site response time in importance is site up time, and iPage seems to have mastered reliable, consistent delivery of web sites as well. We subscribe to a few external uptime monitors to constantly monitor our clients web sites, and for those hosted on iPage, the overall downtime per year has been very minimal. The following is a recent uptime result for iPage we ran for the month of Feb, 2016:

iPage uptime report- Feb 2016

iPage uptime report- Feb 2016

As you can see, iPage passed with flying colors, with 0% downtime. All sites on iPage have 24×7 Network Monitoring enabled so system administrators are notified immediately when a site goes down; even when there’s a problem and your site goes down, you’ll most likely not even notice it before the problem is fixed.

24/7 always on phone/email/chat support

No host is perfect, and occasionally we’ve been unable to reach a client’s site due to an issue on iPage’s end, such as a routing issue. And then there are the numerous times when a client misconfigured something that resulted in Armageddon, requiring the web host to fix or reverse a setting. In both cases, we’ve found iPage’s support to be, in general, well above industry standard in response time and helpfulness. Their email support usually takes around 30 min to 1 hr to respond, but I’ve always  managed to get a hold of them in lightening speed on the phone, or these days my favorite way of contacting them, via online chat. Their chat system is incredible- I’ve rarely had to hold for more than 5 minutes before being able to talk to a technician live and have him/her resolve the most common types of issues for us on the spot:

iPage chat support demo

iPage chat support demo

Email support is useful for more complicated set up questions that require lots of details from us, while phone is awesome for emergency situations such as an inaccessible site- it’s such a relief to know there are so many channels we can reach iPage using based on the type of issue we’re been confronted with.

Tremendous value for the buck

When picking out a host, future-proofing is important in terms of the features available. While you may not need a particular functionality at the moment, it’s likely somewhere down the road you will, and changing hosts like moving can be a royal pain. With hundreds of sites under my care, I know this all too well. That’s another important reason I like iPage- their default shared package comes with all the essential features you’ll likely need now and in the future. Here’s a run down of the included features you get with iPage’s standard hosting plan:

  • Free domain for 1 year if you’re registering a new domain ($14.99/yr after)
  • Unlimited Sites under 1 account
  • Unlimited diskspace and bandwidth
  • WordPress friendly- 1 click install of WordPress and many other CMSes such as Joomla
  • Clean, user friendly vDeck Control Panel to configure every aspect of your account visually, without server admin knowledge
  • Free marketing coupons and credits- $100 Google coupon, $100 Bing coupon, and 1 free toll-free number (US only)
  • Built in e-commerce features to quickly set up an online store and start accepting credit cards on your new site
  • 24×7 phone, chat, and email support
  • 30 day true hassle free money back guarantee

– Free domain for 1 year = minimal risk for new sites

Many new sites never make it past the first year- I know this because I manage literally hundred of clients’ sites. That’s where a free domain for the 1st year as offered by iPage really comes in handy. For my clients, it really lowers the level of resistance to setting up new sites and testing out branding ideas.

– Unlimited Sites under one account = awesome!

This is my favorite feature by far- the ability to create as many sites under one account as I wish. Many web hosts short of getting a VPS or dedicated package restricts the number of sites you can host under one account. With iPage, there is no such limit, and that really spells freedom for me and my clients. It lets me freely experiment with putting up new sites, many of which frankly I know won’t last, without it eating into the number of available sites I can create. This enables me to move a lot faster- and more cost effectively – in testing out new ideas without being bogged down by my web host.

– Unlimited diskspace and bandwidth- truth or dare?

Lets address the pink elephant in the feature list above- “unlimited diskspace and bandwidth”. For anyone who’s been a webmaster for longer than a week can tell you, there is no such thing as unlimited. No host can realistically offer unlimited resources to every account holder without going bankrupt fast. So why does iPage- and so many other web hosts- use this type of language then? It’s a marketing term that essentially means that they do not hard cap the amount of diskspace nor bandwidth each account can utilize. To me in general this is a huge plus, as it means for the occasional times when my web site traffic spikes, I’m not worried about my site being inaccessible, having reached the host defined bandwidth allotment for that month. But make no mistake about it, unlimited diskspace and bandwidth does not truly mean unlimited, just within reasonable usage. If your site is extremely popular or resource intensive, you’ll not find refuge in iPage’s shared hosting plan- in that case a VPS or dedicated server is warranted. The good news is they will always send you a courtesy email first allowing a site that’s overly taxing a server 48 hours to try and rectify the problem, and will also assist  you in doing so.

– WordPress and newbie friendly

Most of my clients use WordPress to power their site, and while I’m in charge of setting things up for them, iPage makes the entire process easy with 1-click install of WordPress, plus a few other popular CMSes such as Joomla and Drupal. This is done inside their proprietary control panel called vDeck, which is where you can also configure almost all other aspects of your account such as adding sub domains, email accounts, password protecting directories, etc without knowing a lick of server administration. Now, if you’re a cPanel user like me, you may be concerned about just how functional vDeck is compared to cPanel. The good news is, the two control panels are very similar I’ve found, and you should be able to do almost everything in the former just as easily in vDeck:

vDeck control panel

iPage’s vDeck control panel

– Handy ecommerce features and Google/Bing coupons

iPage also makes it easy for those coming from a traditional business to quickly set up an online store front and start accepting credit cards on their site immediately.  If you’re using WordPress, you probably want to opt for a more dedicated e-commerce plugin such as WooCommerce, but for those of you with a static site, iPage makes it easy to add a storefront, a shopping cart, and process credit card payments using tools they offer at no charge, such as AcceptSafe and ShopSite:

Accepting credit card and Paypal payments is easy with iPage

Accepting credit card and Paypal payments is easy with iPage

Free tools like these lowers the barrier for anyone to start selling online, and has become a favorite for some of my clients.

iPage has also partnered up with Google and Bing to let you start promoting your site on these two search engine juggernauts for free, with a $100 voucher from each vendor. You may not need these coupons now, but it’s good to know when you’re ready to dip your toes in search engine marketing, you don’t have to look anywhere else to try it out for free.

Other things to know about iPage

Some other things that give me a warm and fuzzy feeling when reviewing iPage:

A+ rating on BBB (Better Business Bureau)

iPage is a subsidary of Endurance International Group, a company with several web sites and services under its wing. They have held a A+ rating on BBB for as long as I can remember now, which goes to show their overall reputation and commitment to their customers. It’s also added assurance that if you do experience a problem with iPage’s service, they will work diligently to resolve it for you.

– Completely powered by green energy

wind-energy-emblemThese days all of us try to reduce our footprint on the environment in our daily lives, and it’s just nice to know that we can also choose a host now to make our sites “green” as well. iPage is 100% wind powered, making their service and your web site effectively carbon neutral. You can display a “green” badge on your site when you’re hosted with iPage to proudly show your customers your commitment to the environment.

Some things I don’t like about iPage

While overall I’ve been very satisfied with iPage, there are a few things missing from their shared hosting package that are important enough I wish they came standard. Those things are a lack of SSH (Secure Shell Access) support and free daily site backups. The former is important if you’re more technical oriented and wish to run commands on your account via shell, while the later is important in general unless you remember to perform your own site backups regularily. iPage does offer a daily backup service, though it costs extra ($1.08/month more).

Final Verdict on iPage- overall awesome host

My overall experience with iPage, spanning 5 years now and with more than a dozen of my clients’ sites hosted there, has been nothing short of amazing. The monthly cost for their shared hosting account is at a very reasonable $11.95/mon $1.99/mon for a very limited time (coupon code here), combined with their 30 days no questioned asked money back guarantee, makes it simply a no brainer for anyone looking for a dependable host for their sites to give them a try.

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