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 $1.00 really net you unlimited resources, useful extra features, and powerful security tools? What’s the catch?
InterServer has over 19 years of experience in the web hosting business. It offers everything from shared hosting to reseller plans, VPS (virtual private server) machines, and dedicated servers. All four of its data centers are located in the US.
Long story short? InterServer provides a great service that might be right for you. I did encounter some interesting surprises, so read on to find out exactly what you can expect as a customer.
InterServer Offers Unlimited Resources 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 perform best on Linux hosting, while Windows hosting 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 $1.00. 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 with each shared account, making sure you’re padlock protected. An 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.
All Linux accounts also have cPanel as their control panel, so you’ll have easy access to one-click installations of WordPress, Joomla, the SitePad website builder, and hundreds of other CMS (content management systems). If you’re switching to InterServer from another web host, no need to do any of the work yourself. InterServer provides free website migrations with all accounts.
And 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 don’t do much to help you with it. 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 whole 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 location close to them.
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, but you’ll either be limited to using subdomains, or not even have access to the databases needed to install more WordPress instances.
Well, no such limits here. 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.
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. There are a few hiccups, 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 similarly sounding plans with minor differences. I was so happy to see that InterServer did away with this and now offers only one shared plan. One!
Creating a New Account
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’ll 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 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 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 add “/wp” after the domain, and to fix it you’ll need to either reinstall, or delve into the MySQL database alone.
InterServer Provides Perfect Uptime, Fantastic Speeds in North America, and Decent Performance in Most of Western Europe
For visitors, it’s all about two things: page loading speed and uptime.
My website was a standard WordPress installation running a customized SimpleShift theme, hosted on InterServer’s Secaucus, New York, data center. It has a few non-optimized HD images, some text, and, in general, looks very much like most homepages on the internet. Testing it will give us a good idea of what you can expect from InterServer.
Now, I did test my website right after I uploaded it, but the results were sub-par, to say the least. I gave 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 speed.
The agent performed a number of optimizations, and, following his advice, I also activated the Cloudflare CDN integration. The results here are after those optimizations had taken place.
Let’s start with uptime. InterServer offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee, promising to reimburse you if it can’t live up to that figure. Using Uptime Robot, I tracked my website’s uptime for a week. The result was a perfect 100% uptime. So far, so good!
On to speed tests. I used GTmetrix and the Sucuri Load Time Tester to gauge the performance of my new website. The closest GTmetrix test server to Secaucus is in Dallas, Texas, but loading times were quite similar even when testing from Vancouver or London.
A “B” rating and a 0.9s loading time is indeed great, and it would’ve been possible to cut it down even more by optimizing images. Other than the images, all necessary optimizations took place on the server level, meaning InterServer did its part.
Running my website through the Sucuri Load Time Tester, which checks worldwide performance, I got the following results:
What do we make of the results? Well, first of all, for US and Canadian visitors, InterServer is an excellent choice. From initial connection to complete content loading, we’re getting amazing times.
Outside of North America, results vary. Western Europe still gets passable speeds, but for Asia, Australia, and South America, there’s very little hope. Keep in mind that these results were recorded with Cloudflare CDN active, and still Sydney and Tokyo aren’t getting any love.
To sum up all the results – perfect uptime and great loading times in North America and parts of Western Europe. For anywhere else, InterServer probably isn’t the best choice.
Now, I did discover another thing about InterServer that can severely hinder your performance. 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.
InterServer’s Support Isn’t Bad, but the Live Chat Isn’t Great
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 City. 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 impressed with some of the agents. 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 of much help. I got the feeling this service was outsourced far away from the US:
I asked the agent what kind of relationship InterServer has with its peering participants (the list includes such names as Google and Facebook) and got the same disappointing response, time and time again. Poor English goes a long way in lowering expectations, and indeed the agent ended up referring me to agents who could actually answer my question.
If you want to talk with a professional who can help you, you’ll have to do it through email or a support ticket. Live chat is not the way to go.
I was much more impressed with the responses I got through the support tickets, which are hilariously labeled List of Trouble Tickets. I’ve never seen anybody call them that before.
When I asked about installing an SSL, the agent quickly took care of everything himself. Response time was about 20 minutes.
When I asked about ways to make my site faster, the agent also took care of things himself, even though it took him longer than an hour to answer:
I was extremely happy to see him take initiative and solve my problems, and it added to my feeling that there’s something special about the InterServer service. It’s just too bad that the live chat doesn’t come close to this.
Support also proved itself worthy by handling the adult content issue quickly and efficiently. A team that listens to its customers and is willing to admit fault is one I can trust.
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 to talk with the real pros.
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 $1.00 per month. It is possible to find cheaper plans with other hosts, but given all the extra features included in the service, InterServer provides phenomenal value for money.
Basic VPS plans are available for not much more 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 $65.00 per month.
Payment periods are monthly, 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 – it’s best to keep things flexible.
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.
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 fantastic performance in North America. It’s not always the easiest to use, and live chat isn’t exactly by your side, but I’d say that if you can comfortably use a smartphone – you can easily deal with InterServer.
If your target audience is located in North America, InterServer is a no-brainer. An excellent basic plan and a lot of room to grow are exactly what a fledgling blog or business need. 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 SiteGround instead.
Does InterServer Have a Money-Back Guarantee?
Yes, InterServer offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. You just have to email the billing team to request your refund.
Does InterServer Offer Free Domains?
No, unfortunately not. You will have to pay a domain registration fee when you sign up (unless you already have a domain name). The fee for domain registration is heavily discounted, however.
What Is Included in the InterServer WordPress Hosting Plan?
The WordPress hosting plan includes unlimited storage space (SSD), unlimited data transfer, daily/weekly backups, speed optimization, CloudFlare CDN, and free website migration. In addition to free SSL certificates, you also get unlimited email accounts and free cleanup if you’re migrating a WordPress website that’s been hacked and infected with malware.
Which Control Panel Does InterServer Provide?
InterServer uses cPanel as its control panel for Linux-based hosting, and Plesk for its Windows VPS hosting.
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.