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Fast-Loading Web Pages and Great Uptime – There Must Be a Catch, Right?
When you first land on iFastNet’s homepage, you’ll see that the website isn’t as polished as some of its rivals. It even looks a little… well, tacky.
Other than that, iFastNet seems to have a lot to offer. The company’s head office is located in Newcastle, and although there doesn’t seem to be any verifiable information about where its data centre is located, I’m assuming that its servers are also based in the north of England.
iFastNet offers a variety of hosting options, including a range of shared hosting plans, VPS, and dedicated servers (which all use NGINX and CloudLinux for better performance). I signed up for the Super Premium hosting plan to see for myself what it’s like to host a website with iFastNet – and spent several months evaluating everything from performance to customer support.
The TL;DR of my experience with iFastNet is that there’s a lot to love about this UK-based host, but its support is pretty basic. If you’re new to hosting and are looking for help getting started, iFastNet isn’t for you, I’m afraid. You’d be better off with a more user-friendly host, like Hostinger or GreenGeeks.
All the Essentials, but Nothing That Really Stands Out
iFastNet offers all of the features that I look for in a web host, including unlimited SSD storage on all plans except the Starter plan, which only offers 5GB. There is a bandwidth limit of 250GB on the Starter and Super Premium plans (which is pretty unusual these days). If you think you’ll need more, you’re best opting for Ultimate Premium, the only shared plan offering unlimited bandwidth.
You can host multiple websites on any plan except Starter, and basic security features are included with all of them. iFastNet uses ModSecurity to protect your account against malicious attacks and malware, and also enables Hotlink Protection on all domains. This means other websites can’t drain your bandwidth by embedding your files (particularly images) in their pages.
Free SSL Certificates
I’ve been surprised by how many UK web hosts don’t offer free SSL, so I was glad to see that all iFastNet hosting plans come with free SSL certificates provided by Let’s Encrypt. You can easily issue certificates to all the domains in your account.
Free Website Transfer
If you’ve already got a website hosted with another provider, you may appreciate iFastNet’s free website transfer service. Just note that your previous host must either use cPanel or allow you to make a full backup of your hosting space. Also, iFastNet doesn’t support transferring your website if it’s been built with a website builder.
If you’re not sure how to make a full backup of your existing hosting space, iFastNet will do this for you, but you’ll need to provide your FTP login credentials. This can all be arranged by submitting a support ticket.
All hosting plans with iFastNet include Cloudflare for faster page loading speeds and better protection from bots and DDoS attacks. This can easily be activated in cPanel.
Free Domain Name(s)
iFastNet advertises that you get up to 21(!) free domains, depending on the plan you choose – but before you get excited about such a bonus, you need to understand what it really means. First of all, if you already have a domain name, you can choose to forgo this perk and get about 20% off your plan – so this isn’t really “free”.
In addition, these free domain names don’t include domains with the .com extension, unless you opt for the yearly Ultimate Premium plan.
You can choose one standard domain extension (.biz, .eu, .info, .co.uk, or .us) and the remaining free domain names are bonus extensions of your main domain name, that include oo.gd, uk.nf, cc.nf, and other odd extensions that even I have never encountered before. You don’t actually get to choose 21 different domains.See full list of features
Ease of use
Frustrating Experience with Separate Support Registration
Signing up with iFastNet is straightforward, but it’s not particularly beginner-friendly. You’re responsible for installing WordPress and enabling SSL certificates. This isn’t managed hosting, of course, but many of the UK hosts I’ve tested offer automatic WordPress installation even on their unmanaged plans.
Managing Your Account and Using cPanel/Plesk
I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed by iFastNet’s account dashboard. It felt dated and too sparse. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (I hate a cluttered account dashboard), but there weren’t even any prompts to get me started when I first signed up.
I also didn’t like that you have to create a new, separate account at the support.ifastnet.com website to submit support tickets. It felt like an unnecessary extra step. If support needs to be on a separate site, iFastNet should at least offer single-click authentication from the dashboard.
For the management of your actual webspace, iFastNet uses cPanel, so if you’re familiar with that, you’ll have no problems. If you’re new to cPanel, however, iFastNet has a cPanel demo on its website that you can explore (risk-free!) before you decide to purchase web hosting. I like this feature because cPanel certainly isn’t right for everyone, and this way you’ll know before you commit.
Connecting a Domain and Installing WordPress
iFastNet uses the Softaculous installer. With the latest version, you have a couple of options: you can use the “Quick Install” option (which I don’t recommend unless you’re really short of time) or go through the standard installation process.
One thing I like about the standard installation process is that you can open the “Advanced Options” tab to set up automatic updates of WordPress core, plugins, and themes. You can also choose to pre-install one of a selection of pre-packaged themes. This method takes longer than the quick install but gives you more control over the setup of your website – and you don’t have to go back to set updates later.
I always spend a lot of time testing performance in order to judge the value of a web host. Most hosts make big claims about the speed of their hosting (iFastNet advertises its plans as “superfast”), so I like to challenge them with my own rigorous tests!
iFastNet actually lives up to its name. Overall, it was the second-fastest out of all the UK hosts I tested, delivering a very impressive page loading speed average of 0.7 seconds. Google recommends a maximum loading time of 3 seconds, and iFastNet is more than three times faster than that baseline. Its reliability is close to perfect, too, with an average of 99.998%!
Still here? Okay, so first I want to explain a little about how I test web hosts. (You can find a full guide with all the details about how we do performance tests here.) For my iFastNet tests, I purchased the Super Premium hosting plan and installed WordPress. I use the same customised theme to test all providers – it has non-optimized HD images and text and looks pretty much like your average landing page.
You’ll see some review websites that test performance based on the basic WordPress installation, but testing a blank website isn’t going to give accurate results. This is why I use a test website that looks and behaves like your website might. I use non-optimized images to see if the host’s support team will give me optimization advice. (Spoiler alert… iFastNet didn’t even bother to respond to my question!)
The website was online at autonomous-shoes-uk-q.co.uk for several months so I could repeat tests at different days and times. Our original plan was to keep all of our test websites online so you could run your own tests – but as one of our tech team pointed out, any of the hosts could have made behind-the-scenes changes to skew the results. To prevent this, we took our sites down once all the test results were in.
Gtmetrix is one of my favourite tools for testing website performance as it gives you the fully loaded time for your website as well as PageSpeed and YSlow scores. As you can see in the screenshot above, iFastNet performed very well in all tests.
To put the PageSpeed Score into context, the average score for website performance worldwide is 76% (or a C rating). iFastNet is one percentage point away from achieving an A rating (90%+) – and that’s without optimizing images. A WordPress optimization plugin could easily help to achieve that coveted A rating.
Sucuri Load Time Tester
I’ve tested many UK-based web hosting companies in the past few months, and they’ve usually earned a Global Performance Grade of “F” from Sucuri regardless of how well they’ve scored on GTmetrix. iFastNet is the only one that achieved a performance grade of “B.”
This represents a page loading speed of under two seconds in almost all locations around the world (except India, Australia, and Japan). iFastNet isn’t just ideal if you have a UK-based audience – it’s also suitable if your audience is international.
Performance is about more than just the speed of your website. Reliability, measured in uptime, is also a vital metric, because it doesn’t matter how fast your website loads if your visitors are unable to access it. The minimum uptime score for any decent host should be 99.9% (and I was shocked by the number of UK hosts that didn’t meet that minimum!).
With iFastNet, you’ve no need to worry about your website being unavailable as it scored an impressive 99.998%. That almost-perfect score equates to less than a minute of downtime per month!Check Out iFastNet Performance
Limited Support Options Can Leave You On Your Own
After those really impressive performance results, I found myself hugely disappointed by iFastNet’s support services. Or, should I say, lack of support services. There isn’t even an option for live chat or telephone support, leaving you reliant on an outdated knowledge base and the slow-to-respond ticket support.
Let’s talk about the knowledge base first. If you’re expecting to find all the help you need here, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. Not only does it offer very little help – it’s also very outdated. For example, an article entitled “Changing PHP version” lists PHP 5.3 as iFastNet’s default version. I sincerely hope this isn’t the case, as PHP 5.3 hasn’t been supported for years!
Likewise, when I searched for help with WordPress, I came upon the entry in the screenshot below. The advice isn’t terrible (W3 Total Cache has a lot of users and some great reviews), but the entry is years old and the link isn’t even clickable!
Next, onto the ticket support. In the screenshot below you’ll see my exchange with the support team when I (posing as a beginner) asked for help installing WordPress. First, I waited around fifteen hours for a response that wasn’t automated. Second, that response was virtually no help at all. I was just told to use Softaculous. Now, I know where to find Softaculous and how to use it, but if you’re new to WordPress, this response wouldn’t be helpful.
I contacted iFastNet’s support team on other occasions to ask about installing my theme and about optimizing my website. Unfortunately, iFastNet decided these questions weren’t worthy of a response.
Budget-Friendly Hosting with a Very Limited Refund Policy
Compared to other UK-based hosting companies, iFastNet is pretty average. Its hosting plans are affordable – and you can net even bigger savings if you opt to pay annually instead of monthly. You can also pay every three months or every six months, but there are no discounts to be gained from those options, so you’re better off choosing monthly if you don’t want to commit to a yearly plan.
iFastNet also has an option to buy your hosting without the free domain name included (which is useful if you already have a domain name and don’t need a new one). These plans are around 20% cheaper than the plans that include the domain name.
One thing to be aware of with iFastNet is that its prices are displayed in USD ($) and there’s no option to change the currency on the website, so you’ll need to factor in the fluctuating exchange rates if you choose to pay monthly.
iFastNet lacks a proper money-back guarantee. I mean, it does have one, but only for a week, after which there is a strict no-refund policy. Also,there are no refunds after your annual plan renews – not even during the first seven days – so don’t forget to disable auto-renewal if you want to end your annual contract.
Cancelling Your Account
Although it didn’t take long in the end, cancelling my account with iFastNet was not as straightforward as other UK hosts I’ve tested. At first, I couldn’t find any cancellation options in the account dashboard, nor was there any information in the knowledge base.
However, when I reached out to the support team, I received a swift response, and the cancellation was processed once I’d confirmed that I’d taken manual backups of my files. The whole process took less than 15 minutes – one of the fastest response times (for ticket support) out of all the UK hosts I’ve tested.
There is no support for any problem. I mean it. Any problem. If their servers down, then you have to wait 1-10 day without a single word. And there is nothing to do...Just "problem will be resolved soon". If you are working with a lot of clients don't choose them. Not reliable at all.
Soy Latino, desde República Dominicana, he usado Ifasnet por más de 1 año, y no me puedo enojar con el servicio que me brinda, soporte técnico y facilidad hasta para pagar. No me quejo del servicio y es increíble. Contestan hasta fines de semana
Worst hosting I ever used. It took them almost 4 days to get back to me with a partial refund. Poor service. Later in the month, we got some coding problems with their server. I called and they didn't respond until the 30th of the month. They then decided to only credit us $100 and made no effort to make it up to us. By that time we had already canceled. I called them once again and told them this was the 3rd time I had called about this problem and they said "you don't need to talk to us again"
iFastNet is super helpful and I've never had a problem with them. I've never found any hosting company that I like better and won't be switching any time soon. Support is fast, friendly and help solve every problem big or small. At only $7.99 a month pretty much everything is unlimited. I host 7 websites on one account and have never had a script slowed or disabled for taking up too many resources thanks to how generous the allowance is. Highly recommend.
I paid the same invoice twice yet my account remains suspended. Should have stuck with hostgator, an American company hosted in Texas. Who knows where ifast is located. All I know is they refuse to communicate with me. The stoled two payments
If you have used their free hosting for development, and decide to upgrade to paid hosting - you will WAIT FOR A LONG TIME TO GET it activated, and their support - doesn't support or reply to tickets. I have started developing a site, with their free hosting plan, cause they are false advertising that there is no LIMIT to it - but there is, cpu usage by developing with php suspends your website instantly. YOUR LIMIT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED. I was frustrated by it, but well, I decided to subscribe to the hosting plan, because my files were now locked for 24 hours. When I subscribed, - your order will not be PROCESSED FOR A LOOOOONG TIME, nor will support reply to your tickets. Scam.
I had a mixed experience with iFastNet. The performance was great, with all the essential features I look for in a host, but the customer service was usually off-putting. If you’ve got plenty of experience with web hosting and prefer the do-it-yourself approach, iFastNet might be an option.
If you’re new to web hosting or have only ever used website builders, I’d recommend you stay clear of iFastNet. You could opt for another UK-based host like eUKHost, or choose a beginner-friendly international host like Hostinger, that performs really well in the UK.
There is a wide range of hosting services available, from budget-friendly shared hosting to fancy dedicated servers. The best hosting for your website will depend on your specific needs. If shared hosting isn’t enough for you, there are several cheap and reliable VPS hosting services available.
How do I choose a hosting plan?
Try to estimate the size of your website, and how many visitors you think you’ll be getting each month. Since most web hosting providers will let you easily scale up your plan, it’s always the most cost-effective to start small and upgrade later.
Ari is passionate about web hosting and design and has been building websites with WordPress for over ten years. When he’s not testing web hosts, you’re likely to find him trying (in vain) to train his three beagles (who are better at training him than he is them!)