HostNine is a young, Jupiter, FL web host offering shared, reseller, and dedicated hosting. It was founded in 2006 by individuals with hosting industry experience. The HostNine.com web site presents them as a good choice for hosting, but it is also valuable to consider personal experience, as presented in this HostNine review.
Features and Pricing
HostNine provides flexible choices offering four different plans for both shared and reseller hosting, and three plans to choose from for dedicated. These plan offerings allow customers to select the option that suits them best, without having to pay for space and bandwidth they don’t need. While many hosts offer large amounts of space and bandwidth that many individuals will never use, HostNine offers a realistic amount that is adequate for most. For example, at the time of writing, the basic shared plan included 5,000 MB of disk space and 100 GB of bandwidth. This is sufficient if the plan is not being utilized for video or volume image hosting – which many hosts that offer large plans block anyway.
The shared hosting plans offer quite a bit less space and bandwidth than the competition, but again the allocations are suitable for the average user. Although it does seem that they could provide a bit more for the price, what they charge is definitely acceptable for what they offer, as they provide countless features.
The reseller plans at HostNine include a unique feature. HostNine allows a customer to choose where they would like a reseller site to be physically hosted. A site may be hosted in one of eight U.S. or three global locations. Therefore, it allows the ability to manage multiple servers from one control panel. This relieves a reseller of the risk that all of their sites will go offline due to one server failure as sites are hosted across multiple servers. This is just one component of Reseller Central, which is HostNine’s proprietary reseller control panel. The reseller plans, like shared, offer slightly less than the competition in terms of disk space and bandwidth.
HostNine also provides hosting to those in need of dedicated servers. They have three different dedicated plans which are very comparable to those of other hosts, and which offer a good deal of features for the cost. The dedicated plans include WebHost Manager, the industry-standard control application for dedicated hosting administration. The dedicated plans are available with three choices of operating system: CentOS, RedHat, and Windows.
If the reason behind using a reseller or dedicated account is to resell hosting, a nice feature of HostNine is the ability to receive a complete reseller solution. They provide customers with ModernBill billing software, as well as a merchant and domain reseller account. Therefore, an individual is ready to effectively resell hosting without having to acquire the ancillary services elsewhere in order to do so.
Terms of Service
To demonstrate their responsibility for customer satisfaction, HostNine provides a 30 day money back guarantee on shared and reseller hosting, but not dedicated. The policy was once for 45 days, but has since been changed – a possible sign that too many customers cancelled between 30 and 45 days of service. When canceling an account, if it is canceled no sooner than 15 days before the next billing cycle a customer does not receive any penalty and they only lose the hosting fees that have already been paid. Therefore, if a customer thinks they may cancel for whatever reason, the monthly billing cycle should be selected as HostNine does not offer any discount for the selection of longer billing cycles. That way the customer would not be losing three, six, or twelve months of hosting that they prepaid for.
HostNine also guarantees industry-standard 99.9% uptime. In general, their terms are commonplace. They do explicitly state server limitations that users may not exceed, yet these are very reasonable. They do impose a “250 email limit per domain per hour” that applies to both shared and reseller hosting. Most individuals will fall well under this limit, yet this may pose a problem if the plan is to use the account to provide a help desk to service customers, or support a community – any situation where large volumes of emails may be sent or received through the server. In that case, it is required to make use of a dedicated plan, as their this email limit is not imposed on their dedicated hosting.
To allow a customer to effectively administrate their hosting account, HostNine provides the user with the industry standard cPanel control panel. cPanel allows for the easy administration of files, email, databases, domains, security, and more of the hosting account. It a commonly used application and provides excellent management features.
Reseller account customers are provided with the aforementioned Reseller Central control panel. This allows resellers the ability to easily manage their clients and control the sites they host.
Dedicated accounts are provided with the sister application of cPanel called WebHost Manager (WHM). WHM makes it just as easy as cPanel to manage an entire server and the hosting accounts that are served by it.
My tests of HostNine were favorable. My test site opened fast. When uploading a file, FTP responded quickly with the server. In a website speed test by HostPulse the test site ranked 10th among other hosting, with an average ping time of 21ms. On a traceroute test it required eight hops to reach the server, which compared to other hosts is good. During another speed test the speed of a page with a large amount of text yielded a rate of nearly 1,000 KB/s.
HostNine states that their sales, billing, and technical support services are provided 24 hours a day. Their toll free number is prominently displayed across their site. Some hosts force their customers to dial a local phone number, but HostNine does not. Although they claim 24/7 support via phone, live chat, email and instant messaging, I tested it on multiple occasions and found that it is not true 24/7 availability.
On one of my tests, I made a phone call at 9 PM on a Sunday. I was presented with a professional quality recording identifying the company as HostNine. After selecting the support extension, some annoying triumphant music filled my ear. After some time, the song replayed, and I waited, and it replayed yet again. Eight minutes went by before the system disconnected me and I was left without any service. I waited eight minutes only to be hung up on. It didn’t give me an option of any sort, or tell me to check the web site; I was just left staring at my phone! So much, I thought, for the 24/7 support via every possible medium. The instant message support was not available at that time either. So I tried the Live chat at 9:12 PM on that Sunday night. My approximate wait time was 4 seconds – perhaps I would get someone to answer my late night question. I had chatted with a sales representative half an hour earlier. This time I was connected to someone with that same name. Perhaps the support was understaffed that Sunday night? Maybe they just had the one guy at the time (the representative I later contacted could not say how many employees HostNine has on their support team).
After being connected with a representative this time, it took him 11 minutes to respond to my basic question with its obvious answer. He may have never responded if it wasn’t for me asking “Are you there?” after the first five minutes, which seemed to wake him from his late night slumber at the help desk. I do assume the support is in-house – he did have an American name and a good control of the English language.
The phone number, the live chat link, the screen names, and the email are all there, but it doesn’t mean you will get a timely response to any of them. They are available for you to contact 24/7 but it doesn’t mean you will get a response within a reasonable amount of time.
Later that night I tried sending them a support email. I sent the email at 9:28 PM and received a reply a 9:34 PM. That response time is good, but the reply was made by the same representative that managed the chat.
On a later date, I tested the phone support again. This time it was on a Saturday at around 3 PM. I placed a call at 2:57 PM and was connected after only a minute of hold music. The technical support representative I spoke to was clear, polite, and answered my question promptly without placing me on hold. This demonstrated to me that support is good during the day, but should not be relied upon late at night.
The overall support experience was good – though it was not truly provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week as claimed.
HostNine, as a whole, is a good host. They provide a good featuring offering for a competitive price and offer a wide array of services. They are especially a good choice for resellers as they provide a convenient, total solution through their Reseller Central control panel and merchant, domain, and billing services. The support is good, but is not available around the clock as claimed.
Bottomline: An overall good host backed by good support (when available) and a promising service
Pros: The ability to host sites on multiple servers with Reseller Central, complete reseller package
Cons: Support is not truly provided 24 hours a day as claimed, disk space and bandwidth is slightly more expensive than competition
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