InterServer Hosting Review 2017
Is InterServer The Right Host For You?
At Bitpak, we have a lot of time for InterServer. They are a modern, independent hosting provider, headquartered in New Jersey. Their shared hosting packages offer a lot of features and high spec at a great price point.
They have their own data center housed in their HQ in New York that’s both cutting edge and offers great technical support to customers. There are not many hosting providers that are only willing to offer one form of hosting solution and InterServer are no different, they offer the complete stable of hosting solutions, however, it’s their shared hosting solution that stands head and shoulders above their other packages.
The features that come as standard are the kinds of features you’d expect from premium packages. Features that include unlimited storage, bandwidth, email, SSL certification, SSDs and even free migration services. It's pretty impressive.
Starting at $5 a month, they are a serious player in the shared hosting market and if that’s what you’re looking for from your hosting solution, you have to read this review because InterServer Hosting is definitely worth taking the time to consider.
Detailed review of InterServer Hosting
The Shared Hosting marketplace is super competitive so if you haven’t heard much of InterServer then don’t think it’s because they are new to the game, because they are one of the more established hosting providers, having opened their doors back in 1999. The reason why they don’t shout as loud as HostGator or Ipage etc, is because they’re independent and don’t have the same marketing muscle. But that doesn’t mean they deliver a lesser hosting product because you’ll find from this review, that’s certainly not the case.
They are a great success story. 2 tech savvy students started out providing hosting services to supplement their studies, from there, the hosting business grew and grew. They opened their own datacenter in New Jersey then a second datacenter opened up over on the West Coast.
Having their own data centers allow them to set the standards when it comes to reliability and performance. It shows. They made the decision to run their servers at 50% capacity to allow for increased capacity as their customers sites grow in size and traffic. Their technical knowhow translates into a near perfect uptime score of 99.99%.
They offer the whole range of solutions. Cloud based solutions and dedicated servers, and they are good solutions but it’s really their shared hosting solution that is their flagship hosting solution.
Up time of a minimum of 99.5% guaranteed
Customer Service is Exceptional
Easy Signup, especially for novices
Easy to Install CMS and Third Party Integrations
Some hosting offer quicker page load speed
cPanel takes a little getting used to
Access After Payment is Not Instant
There’s a speed benchmark we look at when testing out a shared hosting solution. It’s a page load speed of 3 seconds. It’s because research has shown that a page load time that’s longer than 3 seconds, causes web visitors to become impatient and click away to another site. Results suggest up to 40% of visitors will click away and no business can afford to lose that much traffic.
When we looked at the page load speed of InterServer we found that they had a page load speed of 2.72 seconds so they come in under the 3 second benchmark. That’s a solid speed. Not spectacular, there are better on the market, but when you factor in all the other features and the level of reliability they offer, it’s definitely respectable. Especially at that price point.
As I just stated, for a shared hosting solution, they pass the speed test with a solid if not spectacular 2.72 seconds. For a business website or small blog, we would consider that fast enough for our own websites. If you have a bigger site then you probably shouldn’t be looking at a shared hosting solution anyway, you’d be better suited with a VPS or dedicated server.
For many website owners, poor reliability affects their bottom line. Fortunately, these days standards are pretty high, thanks largely to the technology available. Leading the way with near perfect uptime you have InterServer. It’s helps to having their own data centers, but it is also largely due to the choices they make in the hardware and software used in their data centers.
With a 99.9% guaranteed uptime you can bank of your website not having any issues, both with the server and the network. At the same time, they have N+1 redundancy in place meaning the whole data center could go down and they have a redundant system ready to take it’s place without having to suffer any downtime.
You can tell they take reliability seriously, it’s obvious in every technical decision they make. They don’t necessarily choose the cheapest solution even though their shared hosting packages start at $5 per month, but those decisions to not cut any corners means their customers get the kind of reliability that keeps them loyal to InterServer
They have an international customer base which they support with 24/7 service. They also don’t take the easy and more affordable route of not having live chat of phone support. You can be in contact with the support staff via chat, phone or ticket, plus they have a really extensive and well thought out knowledge base to search through, with well written ‘how to’ and guides. They have all bases covered.
What I like most about their support is that it’s onsite. It’s at the data center itself. So often hosting providers outsource their helpdesk support to Asia, to lower costs. Well, InterServer is as affordable as 95% of hosting providers on the market today and they keep their support onsite.
The results is, a much quicker resolution of problems. When a hosting provider has support offsite, the initial support is often quick, but when a technical problem arises, the inter communication is the biggest time burden when getting your problem fixed. Often they have to deal with time zone differences and communication problems, InterServer don’t have these issues to contend with.
First you should probably know what hosting package you want
Before you choose a host, it's good to know what the different packages they offer are. We think their VPS service is top notch, our favourite 3 options are the following.
Key features of the Starter VPS Hosting Package
- 1GB Ram
- 30 GB SSD Storage
- Unlimited Domains
- Unlimited Bandwidth
If you're looking for a hosting service that combines great quality with a really strong price point then you're i the right place. Especially if you want to work with an award winning hosting provider with an outstanding reputation online.
Key features of the most popular VPS Package
- 2GB RAM
- 60 GB SSD Storage
- Unlimited Domains
- Unlimited Bandwidth
If you are expecting more traffic or your audience is already building then you're going to need a little my might and power from your host without costing the earth. This is what they package offers and why it's the most popular.
Key features of the largest VPS Hosting Package
- 8GB RAM
- 120 GB SSD Storage
- Unlimited Domains
- Unlimited Bandwidth
If your website is eCommerce or has a well established audience then this is the perfect place to start looking. You get the extra performance which you need, but with a company you can trust and all at a reasonable price that offers value.
What other hosts provide similar services?
Another Hosting service worthy of your consideration is WP Engine. When it comes to specifically hosting WordPress websites they have no equal and also score a full 5 stars. Expect amazing site loading speeds and all the support you need to never have to worry about your WordPress website. Check out our WP Engine review right here.
InterServer Hosting: Other things to know
Average speed, amazing uptime, but noncompetitive pricing...
We've done a cross-comparison analysis of InterServer Hostings performance benchmarks vs the benchmarks of several other hosts in their bracket.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to pick the right host for you?
There is a popular saying “ there’s more than one way to skin a cat”. And I suppose choosing the right server holds true to the same principle, but you do need to have a system in place because surprisingly, too many people end up choosing a server that doesn’t fit their needs.
I’m going to share with you what’s important to us when we research and select our servers and it’s a process built on a lot of experience building and hosting sites for clients, running our own training and ecommerce stores, and reviewing hosting providers as a living.
Like with most things, we’ve learned through trial and error. We’ve made our mistakes, some of the mistakes we’d like to help you avoid, so you choose the right hosting solution for you with the right hosting provider.
First golden rule. Price is not a good reason to decide on a hosting provider. Obviously, it’s important. Most people reading this review will have a budget in mind, but if you have priced in mind, you’ll get wowed with great pricing that perhaps don’t deliver on more important areas which ultimately makes the ‘actual’ price something different altogether.
There are 3 important pillars to your decision. Performance, reliability, customer support.
Performance is the first pillar, we need to ensure we have a quick host, it can have a major impact on your website’s ability to convert sales or perform its main function.
Marketing experts have done extensive testing on page load speed and they have seen some really significant results. Any website page that loads slower than 3 seconds can expect over 40% of their visitors to click off and visit another site.
That’s the world we live in. Your online audience has a very short attention span and you have ensured you’re not losing visitors with your page load speed. The reality is, if they are clicking off from your website, you’re losing sales, and they are most likely clicking to your competitor's website and buying there.
So how fast should your website page load? It really depends on the hosting package you’re choosing. As a general rule of thumb, shared hosting will be the slowest, but also often the cheapest solution, followed by VPS (Virtual Private Server) and finally, the fastest should be a dedicated server.
For shared hosting, the benchmark is 3 seconds. There is absolutely no excuse for a page to load slower than 3 seconds, some shared hosting providers get it under 1 second. When doing your research, you should be satisfied with a load speed somewhere between 2-3 seconds.
The next set of packages is the cloud based on VPS hosting solutions. They are a touch more complicated, a little more expensive, but have more capacity and performance, at least they should. You are right to expect better performance and page load speed. Realistically, between 1 - 2 seconds is a good benchmark but there are some that are much quicker than that.
Finally, you have a dedicated server. You’re paying much more and you should have higher expectations. Page load should be near instantaneously.between 0-1 second and you should have very high expectations.
When considering page load speed, a general test is fine, but there is one critical piece of information you need to bear in mind. A variety of different factors affects page load speed, the quality of the hardware and software used, the infrastructure of the datacenters. However, the one variable is the location of the datacenter.
Generally speaking, the further away the datacenter is from the person accessing your website, the slower the page will load. If you are US based then it’s less of a critical factor. Most larger hosting providers have at least 1 datacenter in the US, normally a couple, however, if your audience is Europe and Asia based it becomes a more important factor.
If your audience is not US based, it’s a pretty good idea to check the location of the datacenter. More and more of the larger hosting providers or those providers actively seeking an international customer base will have datacenters in Asia and Europe but you should check.
So, a quick recap. You should want your page load speed to be as fast as possible. The faster it is, the less drop off of visitors you can expect. 3 seconds is a minimum page load speed for a shared hosting solution, 2 seconds for a VPS of cloud based hosting solution, and 1 second for a dedicated server.
Reliability comes next. The best way to measure it is Up-time. It’s important for every website owner but the truth is if you have a small business website or personal blog it matters less than if you have an ecommerce store or get a lot of traffic to your website. The main reason is that most hosting solutions have 95% uptime anyway. The more reliable hosting providers have 100% uptime. Sure they call it 99.99% because they don’t want to oversell it, but in many cases it’s perfect.
They have complete systems in place to take up the slack if something fails, it’s called redundancy. Their datacenters have their own power supplies and can withstand natural disasters just to ensure your uptime is perfect.
One of the main reasons you want to have near perfect uptime is that if any visitors click to your website and it’s down, that will negatively impact their trust in your website. Shockingly so. You’ll lose impulse purchases and you’ll lose future sales too.
If you have an ecommerce store that has thousands of visitors a day then the reality is, that’s directly impacting your bottom line. At the same time, if you offer a service such as a training course, expect a lot of customer service requests from frustrated users when it’s down. It will add to the workload of your customer support, often resulting in extra expense. The longer it goes down for, the more calls you can expect.
The final pillar that you need to factor in when choosing the right hosting solution is customer support. To honest, it’s often overlooked.
First, a disclaimer. If you have a small business website or a personal blog, it becomes less important. For a start, your website is likely to have a simple technical set up. Most likely WordPress, for example, which is a simple one click to install and then, your only issue would be any crashes, which happens very rarely. Your site is likely to have been backed up recently and all you’d need to do is reinstall a backed up version of your website.
In this case, I can’t imagine you’d need to be in touch with the customer support team very often at all. However, if your website is a little more complex, perhaps it sells products, offers training or has a members area, it’s much more likely to need the odd bit of technical support. Now the quality of customer support becomes critical.
Here’s an example why:
Hosting provider 1. They don’t have very good customer support. It’s not terrible but they outsource it to the lowest bidder. They offer cheap hosting and this is how they keep the price down. This is a scenario you can expect to see pretty regularly with cheaper hosting providers.
They don’t offer a live chat or have a phone number. They are not open 24 hours of the day, just general office hours. They have a good knowledge base, FAQs and use a ticketing system. You’ll submit your ticket and would expect plenty of back and forth before you finally get the problem solved. You are likely to have to do the work yourself too.
For example purposes, you value your time at $30 per hour. Experience tells us that you are going to need 4 hours at least, to send emails back and forth, go through the knowledge base, try and fix it yourself. That can double if you’ve very little technical knowledge with hosting.
It’s not unrealistic to expect to have to go through this process every 3 months or so. That means you’ve spent over 16 hours throughout the year dealing with your hosting. On the surface, it doesn’t sound a lot of time, but when you calculate the cost it’s an additional $480 in costs.
That’s a big deal. When a hosting provider is proposing that their package costs $5 per month / $60 per year, the reality is, it’s costing a lot more. It’s a false price.
Hosting provider 2. They really pay attention to customer support. They have instant chat, customer support to take phone calls 24/7 365 days a year. They offer a guarantee. They’ll answer you instant chat or call in 1 minute and answer your ticket or email in 30 minutes. Guaranteed. They offer a managed solution, so they’ll do a lot of the work for you. Perhaps their staff or located in their own data centers too.
With such support, you can expect to have your issue resolved in less than an hour, but for this example, let's say 2 hours. That’s a saving of $240 a year. Because it’s a managed solution it will be a lot quicker because they will fix it for you, no less.
A hosting provider may boast a really cost effective hosting package, but if the customer support is poor and you have the kind of site that might need a little support from time to time, then your actual cost is significantly more.
These are the 3 factors I think you should consider. They are what we check when you are selecting a hosting provider for our own websites and how we structure our reviews.
I check page load speed, both for my own testing and I check what other customers have said about page load speed in real reviews. If there’s no issue then you should expect no negative reviews. Similarly, check the website of the hosting provider what guarantees or claims they make regarding uptime. Many providers make brave claims that, when you check real reviews from customers, are not backed up by user experience. Always check both. Customers will complain pretty quickly if they have a lot of downtimes.
Lastly, but by no means least, customer support. Off the bat, check the site for what types of customer support they boast. I like to make sure they have some form of instant access. Either instant chat or a phone line, preferably both. Having either or both means they approach customer support properly. We like to test the support ourselves for our reviews, but you should do your own homework too. Go and check with real reviews to see the feedback related to customer support.
When checking what others have said, bear in mind that humans are quick to critique and not so quick to praise. Take what’s said with a pinch of salt unless you see a reoccurring theme. At the same time, with millions of customers, there might be the odd problem.
The last piece of advice I would give everyone deciding on a hosting provider is to make a checklist. What you need and why. Hosting companies are massive, they employ professional copywriters and sales conversion experts to persuade you that their hosting is best. It’s very easy to get sidetracked into purchasing hosting service that doesn’t really fit your needs. By staying focused on what you need, you’ll avoid that trap.
Why is speed so important?
Recent research has shown that when a page loads in 3 seconds or slower, over 40% of traffic are likely to switch away from impatience. That's getting close to half of traffic lost, and there is no website can afford to lose so much of their traffic, especially if your website is monetized in some way, which most websites are.
The faster your page loads, the less you lose. So better servers load at under 1 seconds, which feels instantaneous
But it's not just the direct loss of sales and revenue, it has a long term effect on your organic search. Google puts a lot of emphasis on content. If you stay on a page a long time, Google understands that you are enjoying the content and that page should be easier to find in it's search results. Therefore, if half of your visitors are clicking off your site in less than 3 seconds, that tells Google the opposite, your content is not valuable and will adjust your search result ranking.
What are Solid State Drives
Every 2 or 3 years, a new technology comes along that revolutionizes an industry. For the hosting industry that new technology is Solid State Drives, known as SSD and having it included in your hosting technology now means you are going to be ahead of the wave, leading the way.
With a traditional hard drive, when you ask it to load a website up, it has to retrieve the data which takes a little a time, especially if the web page has a lot of content like images or videos. With Solid State Drives, the data is ready immediately, no delay for retrieval, so page load speed is naturally a lot quicker.
What is their Unlimited Policy?
The term unlimited is thrown around loosely with hosting providers, unlimited means it doe not run out not that you can use as much as you want at that price. There is a difference. Imagine if a large website decided to use a cheaper 'unlimited' hosting package, they would take up most of the server capacity for peanuts, leaving other websites on the server, struggling for space. So no, unlimited is a little bit of a white lie. It normally means that you have a limit to your limit, but once you are close to the limit, they will contact you to upgrade your package to one that has the additional capacity that you now need.
Hosting companies dance around the actual understanding of what unlimited and fair use actually mean. To gain full understanding of the hosting companies policy you need to comb through their terms and conditions pages and Policy pages. But not with DreamHost, they are far more transparent with their limitations so you can see when and where you'll need an upgrade. There should be no hidden surprises which is always nice.
Not included with the standard purchase but available as an add on, important that you know that getting an SSL certificate is an extra payment.
What are people saying?
As part of any review process we always check what users are saying about their experience. You should too.
We checked in terms of performance, reliability and customer support and found that all in all, other users really enjoyed the experience in terms of performance and also reliability, not problems there. When it comes to customer support we found a lot of good feedback, but also a consistent amount of those who had average to poor customer support experience. That wasn't our experience, our experience was superb but you need to see the big picture.
Just a quick reminder though. Most people are more likely to complain than they are to say something positive. Don't be concerned with the odd complaint, it's a regular theme of complaints that you need to take note of.
Do they have a knowledge base and tutorials?
I always like to have a wander around the knowledge base of the hosting provider I'm reviewing. In this case, I found InterServer's knowledge base has functionality and pretty easy to navigate around. We are all used to using different knowledge bases by now, so all we need is for the website to be intuitive and we can do the rest, and that's exactly what InterServer provide. The actually information is well written, broken down into simple steps so that, in many cases, even beginners can follow.
How could InterServer improve?
All in all, InterServer are pretty good. When looking at the shared hosting they deliver really well with reliability and customer support, no real complaints there. With performance, it's not really a complaint as such, but an area they could improve is with the page load speed. It's quick enough, you shouldn't need any quicker, but we are very much in a culture where quicker is better and others have made the leap to offer fast page load speeds, sometimes 1 second faster, so I think if I was going to pinpoint an area I'd like to see looked at, it would be page load speed.
" if you want to know why InterServer are award winning then try them, you won't be disappointed"
InterServer are an independent and modern hosting provider that can boast of having their own data centers. They’ve been on the scene for 18+ years and it shows in the processes and attention to detail. They offer the complete range of hosting solutions, but it’s their shared hosting packages that really stand out largely thanks to the level of performance, reliability and features that come as standard.
The 3 main factors you want to consider, before looking at price, are performance, reliability and customer support. The 3 pillars to choosing the right hosting provider. They perform well in each category. The performance comfortably meets the 3 second benchmark for shared hosting. Their reliability is on a par with the very best hosting providers on the market and their customer support is no slouch either, thanks to being contactable via phone, chat and ticketing.
The big difference is that they run their own data centers and they keep their customer support in house and actually onsite. There are some shared hosting providers that are quicker, but as an overall solution, and especially at this price point, you’ll struggle to find a provider who offers the complete package as InterServer do. They have a lot of features, it can be intimidating to customers with limited website and server experience but most options are one click installs and if you’re not sure, the support is always happy to lend a hand.