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Can InterServer Really Provide Your Website with the Power It Needs to Succeed?
Looking over InterServer’s affordable shared hosting plans, it’s easy to get suspicious. Can a low monthly price of $2.50 really net you unlimited resources, useful extra features, and powerful security tools? What’s the catch?
On paper, everything seems promising. InterServer boasts 19 years of experience in the web hosting business and a wide variety of plans, from shared hosting to reseller plans, VPS (virtual private server) machines, and dedicated servers. Plus, all four of InterServer’s data centers are located in the US, so North American users can reasonably expect great speeds.
Still, I had to see for myself how it actually performs. To find out, I signed up to InterServer myself, and tested it thoroughly for months.
Long story short? InterServer provides a great service that might be right for you. In my in-depth comparison of the best web hosts today, it came in at the very respectable third place, beating heavy-hitting competitors like the premium Kinsta. I did encounter some interesting surprises along the way, so read on to find out exactly what you can expect as a customer.
Unlimited Resources, Unlimited Domains, and Powerful Extras
InterServer’s shared hosting comes in two forms: Linux hosting, described simply as Standard Web Hosting, and Windows hosting, described as ASP.NET. WordPress and other popular CMS (content management systems) perform best on Linux hosting, which is based on the popular cPanel control panel. Windows hosting, on the other hand, is almost exclusively used for web projects dependent on Microsoft technologies, such as ASP.NET or MSSQL.
For the purpose of this review, I signed up for the Linux-based Standard Web Hosting plan for $2.50. It includes a lot of cool features, but first and foremost is the unlimited amount of resources.
Now, unlimited doesn’t mean you can park your entire media library on your account, or make it into a downloads portal. What it does mean is that as long as you adhere to a fair use policy, you don’t have to worry about running out of space or bandwidth ever again.
This is fantastic news, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to stick with shared hosting and let your website keep growing forever. A massively successful website will require more CPU and RAM resources, as many simultaneous visitors put a big strain on a shared server. If that happens, you’ll have to upgrade to a VPS.
What else does InterServer have for us? SSL certificates. Everybody gets one! The company includes a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate with each shared account, making sure you’re padlock protected. SSL is a must for running an e-commerce store, ensuring your visitors’ privacy, and getting better Google rankings. The certificate doesn’t come pre-installed, but the support agent I spoke with was more than happy to install it himself.
I proceeded to test InterServer’s SSL tech through the Qualys SSL test, where my website got a fantastic A ranking.
Next, all Linux accounts come with the Softaculous one-click installation tool. Use it to install WordPress, Joomla, the SitePad website builder, and hundreds of other CMS in a minute or two. If you’re switching to InterServer from a different web host, no need to do any of the work yourself. InterServer provides free website migrations with all accounts.
The one important feature that InterServer lacked was remote backups. You can set up a schedule and create backups on your local hosting drive, but I would’ve wanted to see an automatic remote option. You’ll just have to be a responsible adult and transfer these backups to a remote location yourself, to ensure that a dreaded security breach doesn’t cost you everything.
Alright, those were the basics. Now for some really cool features:
Ironclad Security Tools and Protocols
Keeping your website secure and free of malicious files is of the utmost importance, but most hosting companies are more like your fun uncle than your possibly overprotective parents. That is, some will try to upsell you with a security suite, others might give some helpful advice, but very few will provide you with everything you need to keep your website safe.
This is where InterServer truly shines. Its InterShield Security firewall blocks outside attackers, utilizing machine learning to stay ahead of the threats. This defense is automatically included with all plans. In addition, you’ll have access to the ModSecurity tool, providing another layer of firewall defenses, and to Imunify360, which will constantly scan your hosting drive for malicious files.
And the best part? Everything is included in your plan, free of charge.
LiteSpeed Caching and Cloudflare CDN
Your website’s speed can be vastly improved by using caching, a process that saves static copies of your pages for future use. LiteSpeed, one of the best web server technologies available today, provides all the caching tools needed to boost your performance.
You’ll get access to LiteSpeed caching through cPanel, and the integrated tool will quickly scan your drive and make cached copies of your pages. For advanced pages that require a good amount of computing power, this can save valuable seconds in loading time.
Another excellent integration is with Cloudflare’s CDN (content delivery network). Cloudflare’s global fleet of servers will cache copies of your website’s pages, and each one of your visitors will be served from a server location close to them. It’s like turning your website into McDonalds, with a location on every corner, but presumably offering better nutritional value.
That’s right, I said it.
Mostly static websites (like portfolios and business pages) will benefit the most out of a CDN, as it has the potential to significantly cut loading times for visitors far away from InterServer’s data centers. If your website is constantly updated and contains a lot of dynamic content, a CDN will have less of an effect.
Unlimited Domains and Websites
You’ll often find that there’s a limit on the number of separate websites you can build with a shared web hosting plan. You might have enough disk space available for another small project you want to bring online (like a cat sweater consulting firm) but you’ll either be limited to using subdomains, or not even have access to the databases needed to install more WordPress instances. Actually, this was the case with every other basic shared plan I tested.
Well, InterServer is different. Open as many databases as you want, and use the domain manager to add extra domains, running completely separate websites. This is great if you’re looking to make the most out of your unlimited plan and aren’t expecting massive traffic on any of your websites.See full list of features
Ease of use
A Few Hiccups Aside, It’s a Pretty Streamlined Process
Features-wise, it’s obvious that InterServer packs a serious punch. Are all these features as easy to use as they are powerful? Well, almost. A few issues were noted, but generally speaking, I didn’t encounter any major problems. Let’s take a closer look.
Choosing Your Plan
Ever wandered into a store looking for something but found yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of brands and options? Many hosting companies employ the same tactic and offer a confusing list of similar-sounding plans with minor differences, kind of like every boy band ever. I was so happy to see that InterServer did away with this and now offers only one shared plan. One!
All you need is Justin Timberlake.
Creating a New Account was the Aforementioned Hiccup
After choosing Standard Shared Hosting, it was time to create an account. The process was pretty generic, and after entering my domain name, details, and credit card information, my account was created. But my hosting wasn’t active.
I wasn’t sure why, and I couldn’t find any information in my account area. I figured I’d wait, thinking maybe the process takes time, but after two hours, everything remained the same.
I gave up and contacted support, which took over an hour to respond. The agent explained that my credit card needed to be verified and the payment hadn’t actually been made. I tried verifying it, but ended up just switching to PayPal instead. After that, the payment was immediately accepted and my hosting was activated. Total time from signup to activation? Four hours. I wish it was easier.
Connecting a Domain and Installing WordPress
After the account activation debacle, I found myself a little less enamored with the service. What else was going to go wrong? Luckily, it was smooth sailing from that point onward. I found InterServer’s nameservers in my account area, and after updating them in my Namecheap dashboard, my hosting was connected in no time.
Installing WordPress was easy with Softaculous, and the automatic installation took no longer than a minute.
The only annoying thing was that the default destination folder for WordPress is domain/wp/, so remember to remove the “wp” part. If you forget to do so, your domain name alone won’t direct to your site. Visitors will have to go to yourdomain.com/wp instead of just yourdomain.com.
To fix it, you’ll need to either reinstall WordPress, or delve into the MySQL database alone. For my less geeky readers, just know that this is a hassle and a pain. So delete those two letters, and you’ll be okay.
For visitors, it’s all about two things: page loading speed and server uptime. InterServer’s data centers are located on both coasts of the US, with three on the east coast and one in LA. I chose the Secaucus, NY data center as my location.
What’s the verdict? In short, I got a respectable average loading time of 1.94s, and a very dependable uptime of 99.953% over more than four months of testing. Speeds were best in the US and Europe, with other global locations taking longer to load my site.
To see how the service really performs, I uploaded my dependable test website – The Autonomous Shoes – onto a new WordPress installation. It’s still online, and you’re welcome to pay it a visit and run tests yourself:
You’ll notice that it’s very similar to what your own website might look like – a medium-sized homepage containing HD images, text, some cool animations, and a contact form. As such, the results I’ve gathered will give you a very close approximation of the performance you can expect from InterServer.
Now, I did give InterServer the same courtesy we give to all web hosting companies here at Website Planet, and asked support if they could do something to improve my site’s speed. Sadly, the agent told me to “contact the website developer.” As such, my website was tested in its original form, without any optimizations applied.
The tools I used were GTmetrix PRO, the Sucuri Load Time Tester, and UptimeRobot’s Pro plan. The Dallas, TX, GTmetrix server was used to measure speed and optimization scores in the US, Sucuri for global performance insights, and UptimeRobot for tracking uptime.
As I said before, I used the Dallas, TX server to test my loading speeds, but results were very similar on both the Vancouver and London GTmetrix testing servers.
I ran the test multiple times a day for multiple days, and calculated three figures: the average loading time, the best loading time, and the worst loading time. You generally want to keep your loading times under two seconds, as making users wait longer results in many of them skipping off to find another site that will load faster.
So, how did my website do? The average loading time was 1.94s. The fastest loading time was a whopping 1s, and the slowest recorded time was 3.4s. For your viewing pleasure, here’s the best recorded time:
As you can see, the B scores indicate that my website is in very good shape, despite not having any optimizations applied to it. Keep in mind that if you do optimize your website, you can expect significantly better loading times; not that there’s anything wrong with 1.94s.
Sucuri Load Time Tester
After running the Sucuri tool again and again, and collecting the results in my treasured Google Sheet – I said this was geeky stuff – I calculated three figures. First is the average loading time for the fastest-loading location (which is in the US, close to the data center), second is the average time for the slowest-loading location (Bangalore, India), and third is the average global loading time (Sucuri calculates global loading time as the average of all local loading times).
The average time for the fastest location was 0.282s. The average slowest time was 4.275s, and the average global time was 1.513s. Simply put, This makes InterServer a fantastic choice for where it’s fastest, which is North America.
As you can see from this sample test, the situation in Western Europe isn’t half bad, either:
If you want to see San Francisco in the green, remember to choose the LA data center as your hosting location. This greatly affects the results. What about the faraway global locations, like Singapore, India, and Brazil? Sadly, there’s nothing to do about that. Even a CDN didn’t make things much better. InterServer is just not a good choice for those locations.
First of all, let me just say that InterServer does provide a 99.9% uptime guarantee, with the terms clearly stated in the Service Level Agreement (SLA). I went over it, and it’s fair stuff.
Obviously though, we’d all prefer not to use that guarantee, and to just have our website reliably available online. Well, after more than four months of uptime tracking, these are the results:
At 99.953%, InterServer is being very true to its promises. You might notice that in the last 30 days, the figure dipped a bit below 99.9%. That’s cause for a refund, so always remember to track your uptime and monitor the situation!
To sum up the results – while InterServer might not be the fastest host I tested, speeds in the US were entirely acceptable. A bit of tweaking and optimizations can make InterServer an even faster host, and reliability-wise, it’s doing great.
Now, before we go over the support experience, I’d like to share with you something I discovered about Interserver. I snooped around a bit in my shared server, and found files that were unmistakably of an adult nature. Because adult websites are often sketchy and prone to getting blacklisted, it’s very dangerous to share an IP with them – but that’s exactly what can happen on a shared server.
Support Can and Should Be Better
InterServer presents itself as an all-American company and showcases pictures of its team all over the homepage. Support is available 24/7 through live chat, email, and support tickets. The company also operates native-speaking phone support centers in the US, England, Israel, Brazil, and Mexico. A knowledge base is available, but it’s not very well organized and I couldn’t find any relevant answers to my questions.
During my testing period, I contacted support quite frequently and ended up being quite disappointed with the general experience. As far as I could tell, support is divided into two tiers, and unless you get to speak with the true professionals in the upper tier, you’re not going to get much help.
I started with live chat, which isn’t actually 24/7. There were times when the service was completely offline, because the “team was unavailable”:
When I did get to talk with a live chat agent, they weren’t much help. I got the feeling that this service was outsourced far away from the US, and indeed, it’s provided by a manpower company by the name of Carmatec, based in India. In addition to InterServer, Carmatec’s other clients include gardening companies. Joke’s on us, I guess.
How does it feel to get support from such a company? Well, depends on how you generally feel about poor English and excessive use of the caps lock key:
But let’s back up a bit. It was clear that this was no award-winning support team, but I needed to check exactly what they were good for. I began my tests by having a pre-sales chat about what I can expect from the service.
I’m not sure if the agent was outright lying, or simply overselling the service, but this is pretty weak stuff. No, a US server will not serve your content quickly to visitors from Asia and Australia. Hosting support agents should be aware of this.
When I asked for help with installing WordPress, I got referred to a tutorial. I also requested assistance in installing a WordPress theme, but that proved to be too much. The answer the agent gave me made sense to me, but unless you’re experienced in the hosting world, it might not mean anything to you.
Requesting assistance in website optimization resulted in the agent telling me to go contact my website’s developer. InterServer’s chat is not the only support service that doesn’t help with optimizations, but it’s definitely one of the few services that doesn’t help at all.
So, the situation was basically as bad as I expected. Manpower companies that usually deal with gardening firms are apparently not the most qualified to give hosting advice.
Does that mean that the whole support experience is disastrous? Actually, no. Support through tickets and emails is much, much slower, but I did get to talk with some real professionals.
I asked for help in installing the SSL certificate, and the agent quickly took care of everything himself. Response time was about 20 minutes.
I also opened a ticket after finding adult content on my shared server. Again, the response was professional, and everything was handled swiftly. In a few hours’ time, the server was secured and the adult content removed.
To sum it up? Stay away from live chat. Email and tickets aren’t the fastest ways to get help, but at least you’ll get some actual help.
InterServer’s Affordable Plans Include Everything You Need
Price-wise, InterServer is one of the fairest companies I’ve had the pleasure of testing. There are so many ways web hosts can manipulate you into paying an extra dollar (or much, much more), and I was delighted to see that InterServer takes the honest approach; not a single upsell attempt or hidden setup fee was noted.
Another thing that differentiates InterServer from the competition is the company’s Price Lock Guarantee. Many other hosts lure you in with a low entry price, but charge up to four times more when it’s time for renewal. With InterServer, you simply never have to worry about that. The price you sign up for is the price you’ll continue paying.
Are these prices any good? Glad you asked. The one shared hosting plan, whether Linux or Windows, is extremely affordable, at $2.50 per month. It is possible to find cheaper plans with other hosts, but only if you sign up for a year or longer. InterServer is your best option for cheap and flexible hosting, especially when you consider all the extra features that the plan includes.
Basic VPS plans are not much more expensive than shared hosting, starting at $6.00 per month, but prices for advanced VPS and dedicated servers are more in line with what other companies in the industry offer. The prices for dedicated servers start at $49.00 per month.
Payment periods are one month, three months, six months, yearly, two years, and three years. You’ll get a discount when signing up for longer periods (up to 20%), but with the monthly plan being as great as it is, my recommendation is to stick with the monthly contract.
If you do decide to sign up for a year or longer, you will be presented with the option to purchase a heavily discounted domain name.
You can pay using Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, and PayPal. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee available for all plans.
Consistently terrible downtime and customer service not worth the price savings
I've been a customer of Interserver for well over ten years, and I've been slowly and painfully migrating my various websites to other hosts because Interserver has proven themselves to be maddeningly unreliable. All of my sites have gone down for hours and hours on multiple occasions, and after demanding an explanation, I was essentially told "whoops, we unplugged a machine and didn't realize it was important". Nearly every support ticket begins a chain of two, three, four, even SEVEN different outsourced support staffers replying to you without reading your ticket or understanding the problem. In all of my years, I've only seen evidence of there being a single knowledgeable in-house support staffer that tickets get escalated to, and half the time he just ignores requests and questions. These aren't a few isolated incidents, but rather a consistent pattern that I've observed over more than a decade of how this company operates. Sites go down randomly, they don't care how that affects the customer, their support staff is an absolute circus of an uncoordinated outsourced group and a single expert who seems to regard customers with contempt, and their own website is littered with bugs and incorrect information that they have no interest in correcting. Interserver is cheap, but it's not worth it.
Amazing service and support. they are dedicated, professional and friendly. server uptime is best. when you face any problem they will fix it immediately. i've some issue a few days ago, I have knocked them, they fix m problem within 20 minutes.
There are some good things about this service if you can deal with the terrible helpdesk communications process, but they may not out weight the aggravation. It can take hours or days to get answers or resolution. A simple question could take hours to receive a response-then more hours again to respond to any follow ups. Then expect a different team member which makes it impossible to efficiently resolve any solutions. I also tried calling the helpdesk twice and both times were on hold for 30+ minutes. This is not 24/7 customer service.
I have been very happy with the performance of my wordpress website on InterServer. It was very easy to set up and get going. When I did have a small issue/question, it was quickly answered by their support staff. I highly recommend them as a great hosting company.
InterServer does so many things right, from the super-useful extra features to the great performance in North America. It’s not always the easiest to use, and live chat isn’t exactly by your side 24/7, but I’d say that if you can comfortably use a smartphone – you can deal with InterServer.
If your target audience is located in North America, and especially if you need to host multiple domains, InterServer is a no-brainer. An excellent basic plan and a lot of room to grow are exactly what a fledgling blog or business needs. Coupled with the Price Lock Guarantee, you can rest assured knowing that you’ll always pay the same low price.
On the other hand, if you’re aiming at South America, Australia, or Asia, InterServer is a bit harder to recommend. Loading speeds in Western Europe are still decent, but for locations further away from the US, I suggest taking a look at Hostinger or Liquid Web (Nexcess)instead.
Ben is an avid web developer who really loves to tinker with code, whether in the back-end or in the front-end. He's searching for the world's best website host, but also tries to find time for his other interests - comics, traveling, and home cooking.