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Liquid Web doesn’t aim to provide average hosting at bargain prices. It’s expensive, period. But if you don’t mind paying more to know you’re going to get high-quality service, Liquid Web’s premium hosting plansare worth it in my opinion. This host guarantees you the stability that shared hosting services simply can’t.
Liquid Web specializes in managed VPS hosting (and dedicated servers) – so much so that it only offers shared hosting through its subsidiary company, Nexcess. Far from being an entry-level hosting provider, Liquid Web seems to fully believe in the idea that you get what you pay for. If you want quality hosting, you’re going to have to pay the price.
And sure, I’m fine with all of that in theory; I’d say most of us are. But does Liquid Web actually deliver that quality? And are the features on offer worth the price? Why shouldn’t you go for a much cheaper option like InterServer?
You know what? I’ll spoil it a bit for you: It’s not bad. I ran a test website on Liquid Web’s cheapest VPS server to get an idea of how much value you get for the money, and I was quite happy with my experience.
The actual features of the hosting are decent, but what you’re really paying for is quality support and the flexibility to (mostly) do what you want with your server. If that sounds good to you, Liquid Web might be the right fit.
It ain’t for beginners, though, and it’s not easy on the wallet.
There are a lot of things to like about Liquid Web. I could probably talk about its technical features for hours (but don’t worry, I’m not going to, my boss wouldn’t let me!) I’ll try to be brief – but heck, there’s a lot to talk about!
To do my testing, I chose the cheapest plan available, which is appropriately named “2GB RAM.” It’s useful to set expectations right up front. The plan comes with the aforementioned 2GB of RAM, 2 CPU cores, 40 GB of SSD space, and 10 TB of bandwidth. As starter plans go, that’s entirely respectable. While Windows servers are available, the cheapest plan is limited to Linux.
The best part is that you don’t necessarily have to switch to another plan when you need more resources. You can do that, but I find it easier just to upgrade the things that I need more of. You
have the option of upgrading your storage, CPUs, and bandwidth separately.
Want more RAM, though? Yeah… then you’ll have to upgrade your plan. It seems like an odd way to do things, but you’re not entirely locked into the pre-made plans, so I’m fine with it. You get more customization with alternatives like Kamatera, though.
Every plan comes with root access to your server, so if you want to manage things via the command line, you certainly have that option. They also all come with a solid firewall, DDoS protection, and all the standard security and stability features you’d expect.
There’s a 100% uptime guarantee, but it only covers server power and network access. In other words, making sure your site stays online is entirely your job. You can also make unlimited sites on your managed server, with one caveat: You need to pick a server image with InterWorx as your control panel. (The classic cPanel is limited to five site accounts per server.)
Oh, and there are free site migrations for everybody, as well as free SSL certificates via Let’s Encrypt. You may have to configure a few things before you can actually use the free SSL (I had to contact support, who told me how to find the right settings in Web Host Manager [WHM]), but it’s definitely there.
Lastly, all servers come with the Apache server by default, but you can install LiteSpeed (which is newer and faster) if you pay extra.
Okay, now on to the features that I thought were really cool.
You Get Your Choice of Server OS and Control Panel…
Within limits, of course. Liquid Web sticks to the fairly well-known Linux server distributions, including:
And then there’s Windows Server as well. It should be noted that Liquid Web doesn’t always have the latest versions of those OSs, preferring stability over cutting-edge features. I like that. Stability is a good thing – and I like to know that the bugs have been ironed out before I upgrade.
For control panels, you can choose from the old-fashioned WHM/cPanel combo, InterWorx, or Plesk. Heck, you can choose a server with no control panel, and (in theory) install your own. You have to really know what you’re doing with that option. I wasn’t that brave!
Two things to note here:
Control panels cost extra. Any server with a control panel is going to add a bit of extra money to your monthly fee. It’s just not included.
Not all control panels are supported by the actual support team on every OS. If you want a fully managed server with InterWorx, it has to be on CentOS.
Free Backups for Everyone
The cheaper plans all include 100GB of free backups. For people running smaller sites on a VPS, that’s enough to keep a good two or three backups around at any one time. Plus, you can always back up individual sites via cPanel, if it comes to that.
But yeah, free backups abound. More expensive plans give you a backup quota of 100GB per day. That’s pretty awesome – and makes the price tag a little easier to bear.
Do You Ever Feel Like Your Server’s Being Watched?
Well, that’s probably because every server is automatically monitored for problems. Depending on the kind of server you get (the ones labeled Core Managed and Fully Managed specifically), the staff will get your site back up and running without you lifting a finger to type in a ticket.
At least, that’s the ideal. Full disclosure, I never had the kind of server problems that required that sort of intervention. But it’s a cool concept. I’d like to believe that it works exactly as it’s advertised, but, short of deliberately sabotaging my server, I wasn’t going to find out.
Self-managed servers are, of course, left up to you. Liquid Web wishes you the best of luck with that, and for that matter, so do I!See full list of features
Ease of use
Your User Experience Will Vary
While signing up, choosing a plan, and choosing my server OS wasn’t too hard (aside from some abnormally small text I had to read), things got a little confusing once I actually had my hosting.
You see, aside from whatever control panel you install on your server, Liquid Web actually has two account control panels. It’s a bit like dating two people at the same time, and just as exhausting.
Anyway, first we have the old control panel:
This one is a bit dated and unintuitive. I ran into trouble figuring out how to attach my domain name to my hosting account, but in the end, I just had to look for the bit of the UI that said “DNS zones.”
The new UI is better, easier to navigate, and uses familiar user interface conventions. However, it doesn’t yet have all the features of the old UI, which is why there are still two of them. You can toggle between the two, depending on which you prefer. At some point, the old interface will probably be depreciated, but it was still there last time I checked!
Once I actually logged into my server, things got easier. I went with WHM and cPanel, because those are the UIs I’m most familiar with. I ended up having to update PHP and configure a few server things myself, but support would have done those things for me if I had asked.
Softaculous Can Still Install Everything for You
If you’ve chosen cPanel or Plesk as your control panel, you automatically get access to Softaculous, and thankfully, you don’t have to pay any more for it. At this point, you can just install WordPress or any of a hundred other CMSs with a click or two, just like you would on shared hosting.
Changing Plans Is Easy Enough
If you’ve had enough of 2GB of RAM and you want to scale up… that’s easy enough to do. Just select your server in the old UI and click on Resize. Then select your new plan and go! If you want more detailed information, there are tutorials about how to do all of this in the Liquid Web knowledge base.
And you might need that info, because getting more storage, bandwidth, or CPU cores without upgrading to a higher-RAM plan does take some digging around in the old UI.
Simple Cloudflare Integration
This one’s easy as pie to get started: In the old UI, go to Domains > Cloudflare, and put in the email address you want to use. (I’d recommend one that’s not already associated with a Cloudflare account.)
With data centers in Lansing (Michigan), Phoenix (Arizona), and Amsterdam (all the way over in the Netherlands), you can cover both US coasts with ease, and Europe too. If you anticipate having users in Asia or anywhere else, though, you might consider using a CDN, just so they get a good experience, too.
I set up a test website based on WordPress with all the trimmings: HD images, a slideshow, and somewhat sarcastic marketing copy. I enabled GZIP compression, optimized my images, and ran some tests to see how it performed over time. Y’know, all those things I do every time I test a web hosting service. If you want to read more about the testing process, you can check out our guide to how to really do performance testing.
I used GTmetrix several times over my weeks with Liquid Web to determine the average complete page load time. It was actually 1.4 seconds almost every time, with one test going up to 1.6s, which is what changed the average.
Since the ideal complete load time is under 2 seconds, this works out just fine, and it speaks to the general stability of Liquid Web’s VPS servers. Here’s one of my test results:
I used UptimeRobot to see just how well Liquid Web can keep the lights on. Turns out it’s pretty good at that too. Over the course of a few weeks, there was not one single bit of downtime, though there was one instance where the ping time went rather high.
While Liquid Web’s general services and features are good enough, they’re not always that exciting. So what sets Liquid Web apart? What are you actually paying all that money for? Well, it’s going to the support team, frankly, and that’s not a bad thing.
I started off my support experience with the live chat. In both instances, the response was fast and helpful, and the support people were kind to me even when I had kinda dumb questions.
First, I had a little trouble logging into my WHM panel. Turns out the main username for every account is “root.” Yeah… I was having one of those moments.
Then, I needed to install PHP 7.4, and I had trouble finding the Let’s Encrypt SSL functionality, because it was turned off in WHM. The team helped me find the right settings quickly and even enabled the SSL functionality for me. (What? I don’t use WHM that often.)
Later, I opened up a ticket just to ask when they’d have managed CentOS 8 servers available, because when I ran my tests, I couldn’t go higher than CentOS 7. In six minutes, I had a response that left me feeling hopeful.
Specifically, they said there would be CentOS 8 servers in a month or so. The good news is that by the time you read this review, CentOS 8 servers will be available. The bad news is that CentOS 8 is still only available as a self-managed server (y’know, without all those helpful ‘managed’ features that Liquid Web offers), so the sales team advise sticking with CentOS 7.
Since testing Liquid Web, the CentOS Project announced that CentOS 8 would have a really short lifecycle, reaching end-of-life at the end of 2021. CentOS 7 will continue to be updated until 2024, so Liquid Web’s decision not to offer fully managed support for CentOS 8 actually makes a lot of sense. The next version of CentOS is CentOS Stream, but I’d follow the advice Liquid Web gave me and stick with CentOS 7.
As well as the great support that I got from Liquid Web, there’s also a massive knowledge base with answers to most of the questions you could have about VPS hosting. I especially like the step-by-step tutorials – and there are over 750 articles in this category alone!
The knowledge base is arranged into categories including Getting Started, Common Fixes, Tutorials, Technical Support, Products, and Series. That last one sounds kinda mysterious, but is actually a collection of really detailed articles and tutorials, split into smaller, more manageable posts.
Again, All This Good Stuff Ain’t Cheap
You’d pay a lot less for good VPS hosting elsewhere, like at InterServer or Hostinger, but there’s a lot to be said for having good help on hand. The customer service I experienced was great, and that’s worth a lot. Combine that with the pretty good performance, and you might decide that Liquid Web is worth the money.
Still… plans that start at $59.00 per month, not counting the costs of control panels? That’s a hard sell. Unless Liquid Web’s feature set looks tailor-made for you, you might start off elsewhere.
You can pay via the usual major credit cards, of course, or you can use PayPal. As always, use PayPal if you can. Another writer here used a credit card with Liquid Web’s partner, Nexcess. They got flagged for fraud by an automated system, and it took two weeks to clear up the mess.
So yeah. PayPal is better and didn’t give me any problems.
Cancellation & Refunds (Sort Of)
Canceling your VPS is simple enough. You just have to open a ticket and say you want out. You can call them via phone or use the live chat, but in the end (after trying to convince you to stay), the sales team will just be opening a ticket for you. Might as well do it yourself.
And that’s what I did. I opened a ticket and got a request for confirmation via email about 15 minutes later. The whole process took no more than half an hour.
Liquid Web does offer a (sort-of) refund for VPS hosting (and only VPS hosting), but you only get a prorated amount back.
Let’s say you pay for a year but cancel after six months; you only have to pay for those first six months. It’s fair enough, as these things go, but it would have been nice to have, say, a full refund for the first 30 days.
I work with this company for quite a short time, 4 months, which is surprising-constant support, because I don't really pay for hosting, but the guys from the support are kind and prompt me. The price is satisfied, the site is stable. Thanks!
TERRIBLE COMPANY TERRIBLE SERVICE, IMPOSSIBLE DO CANCEL
THEIR SERVICE IS BELOW AVERAGE AND THEIR PRICE IS MUCH ABOVE AVERAGE. I CANCELLED THE SERVICE SEPTEMBER 2019 AND THEY KEPT CHARGING ME TILL MARCH 2020. I WILL HAVE TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION TO GET MY MONEY BACK. THERE ARE MANY OTHER COMPANIES THAT PROVIDE A BETTER SERVICE AND PRICE. BE SURE YOU MAKE A WISE DECISION.
Hi Yuri, we have seen all of your reviews and have attempted to reach you but have been unsuccessful. Are you available for a call? We would like to help you resolve the issues. Please email us at [email protected] as soon as you are able to.
Liquid Web is the only hosting company we will use, period. After bouncing around looking for the best price, we found Liquid Web and haven't looked back. We've been with them for 9 years and prize the swift, efficient, HEROIC support & uptime! Seriously, we have never had better service or support from any of the other companies we used. We've been with Liquid Web for 9 years now, and it would take something cataclysmic to get us to switch.
3 chats with exact specs specified, not delivered. I was told the server would be set up with cpanel/whm, then after I paid, they told me no it would not. Canceled 2nd day, never used it, and was told they would refund. 30 days later and lots of non-response to my emails, still no refund. Horrible company to misinform and then hold on to someone's money this long. Just not acceptable.
The Best Hosting Company! They take care of the customer 24/7 -365 days All experiences have been great, since transferring our account from the previous hosting company. Professional understanding and caring! In today's Universe hard to obtain. JB
Kristin F (Krissy) at Liquid Web is an awesome example of the type of personal and expert service that I've come to love and rely on for the success of my business. When I called in today, she came through for me in a big way to day and I appreciate it and my clients appreciate it. I've been through the hosting gauntlet and seen past the marketing promises made by other hosting providers, but Liquid Web delivers on the hardware side and especially on the service side. When I have an issue with my hosting, I know I have someone in my corner who cares about my issue and understands the impact it can have on my business, so it's refreshing and encouraging to know that I'm not alone when something happens. If you like your host or aren't sure if you like them, I'd definitely call Liquid Web and see if they might be a good fit. They won't be for everyone, but I have no hesitation in recommending them.
Liquid Web’s VPS plans are great for people like me. I am somewhat technical but not a developer or systems administrator. I can configure a server just fine if I have Google open in one tab and the support chat in another, and I like the amount of control you get over your server, even if you’re not configuring everything from scratch.
And still, you have a strong support system for when you feel out of your depth. Specifically, you have the support team, who were fantastic, in my book. In many ways, it’s the best of both worlds.
The actual hosting features are decent, but what you’re really paying for is quality support and the flexibility to (mostly) do what you want with your server. If that sounds good to you, Liquid Web is pretty good. Not cheap, but pretty good.
It ain’t for beginners, though, and it’s not easy on the wallet. If you think Liquid Web might not be right for you, check out our list of the absolute best web hosts.
What’s the difference between Liquid Web and Nexcess?
Liquid Web is a company that does VPS hosting and dedicated servers, and that’s it. It does not offer shared hosting… directly. A while back, Liquid Web actually bought a whole other company, Nexcess, which does offer classic shared hosting on powerful servers, with the same great support, while remaining mostly independent.
If you’re running a site that’s already making you a bit of money, or if you have some extra money to spend on good tech support, then yes. Liquid Web’s VPS packages are worth the price… but it’s certainly not the cheapest option.
Ezequiel Bruni is biologically Canadian, legally Mexican, and self identifies as a total nerd. He's been a web and experience designer off and on since he was a teenager, and loves sharing the kind of beginner's advice he really wishes he'd had when he first started. He also loves video games, tacos, open source software, video games, sci-fi and fantasy in all their forms, and video games. He does not love writing in the third person.