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Names.co.uk has great prices for domain names, but its web hosting plans are, unfortunately, not quite so great. While testing the hosting service, I came across a couple of serious issues with its support and performance, which are hard to disregard.
Maybe Not the Best Home for Your WordPress Website
Names.co.uk, also known as Namesco, has long been a popular choice for domain name registration in the UK, but it also offers a range of web hosting services.
Having put Namesco through some pretty intensive testing, I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed with what it has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the worst UK-based host that I’ve tested, but it’s got some serious downsides that put me off recommending it. Namesco isn’t a match for a brand like Hostinger, which offers excellent pricing and performance.
Namesco has a variety of web hosting solutions on offer, including standard shared hosting plans, WordPress hosting, VPS and dedicated server hosting, and a range of “we’ll build and manage your website for you” packages that I’ve not seen many web hosting providers offer. Really, Namesco seems to be a jack-of-all-trades kind of company, and that alone is a big red flag for me. Unfortunately, companies that spread themselves too thin rarely excel in what they offer.
The company claims that its data centres are located in the UK, but is suspiciously vague about where exactly. I can’t confirm whether or not Namesco actually has data centres in the UK, because they declined the opportunity to tell me the location.
Normally, this would be the point in the review where I tell you that if your target audience is in the UK, your visitors will benefit from faster page loading speeds with local data centres. But in this case, the performance was disappointing. You can find more details in the Performance section.
To test Namesco, I signed up for its WordPress hosting plan, built a simple one-page website, and monitored its performance over several months. I also evaluated the support team and checked if the pricing plans give you good value for your money.
As I’m reviewing UK hosts, I keep coming across the same issue, and it’s starting to bug me: if bigger, international web hosting providers seem to have no problem offering customers free SSL certificates (such as Let’s Encrypt and Comodo), why do so many UK-based hosts expect you to pay extra for SSL protection?
Namesco is guilty of this too, and although its SSL certificates aren’t terribly expensive, they still add a significant extra cost to prices that are already higher than many of its competitors’. An SSL certificate is no longer an optional extra (not having one can lose you customers and affect your search engine results page ranking), so unless you’re only running a very small personal website, you’re going to have to fork out for the SSL on top of the hosting.
What Namesco does offer is a decent amount of SSD storage (100GB for the WordPress plan), a free domain name for the first year when you pay upfront for 12 months or more, a decent array of security features, and UK-based customer support available 24/7.
This is one of my favourite features with Namesco, as it makes its WordPress hosting packages incredibly beginner-friendly. Even with 1-click installers, WordPress installation isn’t always as smooth as it should be, so having WordPress pre-installed for you is a big benefit. It means you can get started building your website faster, without any hassle at all.
Namesco’s WordPress hosting is a hybrid: it is marketed as unmanaged but it includes some features you’ll typically find with fully managed hosting, such as automatic updates.
Your WordPress installation will be updated automatically when new versions and/or security updates are released. It all happens behind the scenes, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Optimized for WordPress?
Namesco advertises its WordPress hosting as being optimized for WordPress. It’s well-known that WordPress can slow your website down, so hosts tend to use the latest server technologies and configurations to mitigate speed issues.
Unlike most hosts offering optimized WordPress hosting, Namesco doesn’t actually name the technologies that it uses – and, as you’ll see in the performance section, there’s little evidence of any optimization on Namesco’s servers.
One-Click Backup and Restore
The backup and restore feature that Namesco offers is not an automatic backup service (at least, not one you have a lot of control over). Your website is backed up automatically, but these are R2 snapshot backups (essentially copies of your entire web hosting space). They’re not off-site backups, either.
You can access the one-click backup and restore feature through cPanel, which allows you to manually make backups that you can download and store on your hard drive. I’m not a fan of manual backups because I’m incredibly forgetful, but it’s better than nothing. And being able to easily restore your website from a backup is a definite bonus.
There’s no doubt that Namesco is beginner-friendly. WordPress is already installed for the first website, and new ones are easy to add with the Softaculous 1-click installer, so Namesco absolutely comes out on top for ease of use out of all the UK hosts I’ve tested.
Even if you’re a complete beginner, you’ll be able to get started right away, without worrying about how to get your domain name linked to your WordPress website.
Choosing a Plan and Creating a New Account
Namesco has four web hosting plans to choose from and there’s a handy comparison table with all the features laid out to help you decide which one is right for you. All plans are compatible with WordPress and include the 1-click installer, but only the WordPress specific plancomes with WordPress pre-installed. So this is the plan I’d recommend if you’re a beginner.
Annual plans come with a free domain name, so you’ll be asked to choose your new domain name during the checkout process. I like the way that Namesco suggests a range of domain extensions, as well as alternatives if the domain name you’re looking for isn’t available. Usually, there are also special discounts on additional domain names.
What I didn’t like was the way that once you’ve added your domain names to your basket, Namesco takes you to the Domain Proxy service page, and this additional service is pre-selected by default. If you don’t want or need domain privacy, then you have to deselect this add-on.
Continuing further through the signup process, I arrived at a page with add-ons for security and backups. I was disappointed to find that the automated backup service was pre-selected by default, with an added monthly cost that’s almost half the monthly cost of the hosting itself. The total in your basket can quickly add up if you don’t spot the pre-selected add-ons.
Despite these upsell tactics (which many web hosting providers use, unfortunately), the whole signup process was simple and straightforward, taking less than five minutes to complete.
Managing Your Account and Using cPanel
The account management control panel (not to be confused with cPanel) is very easy to use and navigate. It uses a Windows-like tile format to display your current services and domains on the dashboard page, with links to your account settings, billing, and other services at the top.
You can access your cPanel easily from the dashboard. Don’t be put off by the sheer number of icons. The main features you’ll want to be using in cPanel are the backup and restore tools, and, in most cases, these will be located at the top of your cPanel.
Connecting a Domain and Installing WordPress
As I mentioned in the features section, the best thing about Namesco is that WordPress is pre-installed. Your WordPress installation will automatically be connected to the domain you chose during the signup process.
Disappointing Performance for So-Called Optimized Hosting
Every host I test seems to make the same bold claims about server optimization and fast page loading speeds. Unfortunately, few actually deliver on their promises. Despite being built on a WordPress-optimized hosting plan, my test website didn’t perform particularly well. In fact, Namesco was one of the worst-performing out of all the UK hosts I’ve tested.
With one test, Namesco delivered an average page loading speed of 1.2 seconds (well within Google’s recommendation of three seconds). But with another testing tool, it took 5 seconds for the page to load. That kind of performance is going to lose you visitors. The uptime average was also disappointing: 99.788%. I expect a minimum of 99.9% uptime from any web host.
To put Namesco to the test, I signed up for the WordPress hosting plan and built my WordPress website using a specifically customized SimpleShift website theme, which I use to test all hosts, to keep things fair. It’s a one-page website theme that emulates a regular landing page.
Some reviewers test performance using a virtually empty website (with nothing more than the basic WordPress installation and default theme). But who cares about how well an empty website performs? Your website is going to have content, right? That’s why the theme I use includes non-optimized HD images, text, and the average content you’d find on a landing page.
I use non-optimized images to see what help, if any, the support team may give regarding optimizing the performance of the website. To find out more about how we test web hosts at Website Planet, take a look at this article about our web performance testing process.
I kept the test website online for over three months, and was planning on leaving it up so that you could replicate my tests yourself. However, the powers-that-be (my boss) pointed out that if someone at Namesco were to happen upon this review, it would be easy enough for them to fiddle around behind the scenes to boost the performance and skew the test results. Consequently, we took the website down. It was available at autonomous-shoes-uk-m.co.uk.
I tested performance using three different tools – GTmetrix, Sucuri Load Time Tester, and Uptime Robot.
While the GTmetrix results for Namesco were not the worst out of all the UK hosts I’ve been testing, the average page loading time was around 1.2 seconds (the fastest was 0.9 and the slowest was 1.6 seconds). Yes, that’s within the three-second page loading time that Google recommends, but the best UK host I tested was at least two times faster than Namesco.
As well as page loading speed, GTmetrix also gives PageSpeed and YSlow Scores. YSlow is less important, but PageSpeed is a metric used by Google to rate your website’s performance and optimization. Namesco got a pretty poor D ranking (67%), which is well below the average score for a non-optimized website (B/75%). Using an optimization plugin for WordPress could improve this score, but it would be very difficult to achieve an A ranking.
Namesco wasn’t any help when it came to optimization advice, either.
Sucuri Load Time Tester
Instead of relying on a single performance testing tool, I also compared the results with Sucuri’s free Load Time Tester. As you can see in the screenshot below, the loading times in Sucuri are significantly worse than GTmetrix. A minor difference could be explained by the different server setups of these testing tools, but not such a huge difference.
I repeated the tests several times and still, the shortest page loading time was over 3.6 seconds. Page load times this long can increase bounce rate and lower SEO score, so, unfortunately, Namesco may lose you potential customers with its slowness.
Of course, performance isn’t all about speed. It doesn’t matter how fast your website loads if your web host is unreliable and has frequent periods of downtime. Like many web hosting companies, Namesco has a 99.99% uptime guarantee, but if you’re using your website for business, getting some credit back as compensation for downtime doesn’t make up for potential lost sales.
I monitored Namesco over a period of three months and was disappointed with the overall uptime score for that period. 99.788% is well below the uptime guarantee, but I encountered an issue with Namesco’s uptime guarantee that you need to know about.
I called Namesco to ask about getting credit for downtime but was told that, because the downtime had occurred more than 30 days ago, and I had failed to log the downtime by raising a support ticket, I wasn’t eligible for any credit under the uptime guarantee.
Yes, that’s right. You have to officially log a support ticket the moment downtime occurs if you want to claim compensation under the service level agreement. Plus, anything less than twelve hours of downtime in a month will only get you credit for 10% of your monthly hosting cost.
Namesco offers 24/7 support via ticket, as well as phone support during specific hours (see the screenshot above). It even tells you when its busiest hours are, so you can time your call for a quieter period (assuming your query isn’t super urgent). Unusually, however, Namesco doesn’t offer live chat support.
I tested out both phone support and ticket support, and I was far from impressed. When I phoned Namesco, I faced a long wait in a queue, only to be cut off abruptly. My second call connected in around ten minutes, but the support agent was not a native English speaker and communicating the issue was challenging at times. My third call, about the uptime guarantee credits, was also disappointing. The support agent was abrupt and almost hostile – not a great way to treat paying customers.
I used the ticketing system on several occasions. Normally, I would contact support regarding WordPress installation, but since WordPress was pre-installed, this wasn’t necessary. My next routine support query was to ask about the theme installation, but my ticket was closed without ever being answered.
Later, I enquired about WordPress optimization. Again, my query went unanswered, so I submitted it again a few months later. This time I did at least get an answer – not a particularly helpful one, but at least I wasn’t blatantly ignored! It took over 12 hours to get this response.
Caption: Although I did at least get a response with this ticket, it wasn’t much help.
All in all, I was shocked by the terrible support that I got from Namesco. Hands down, it was the worst technical support experience I’ve ever had with a web hosting provider.
Great Initial Discounts, but Not Great Value for Your Money
Namesco isn’t the cheapest UK hosting provider I’ve tested (or the most expensive), but it does have some appealing offers on its WordPress hosting plans. However, these big discounts don’t make up for the additional costs that can quickly add up to a price that you couldn’t call budget-friendly.
Firstly, there’s the domain privacy that gets selected automatically, then there’s the backup and restore feature that’s added automatically at checkout. Finally, there is the SSL certificate you’ll have to pay for every year. Sure, you can deselect the domain privacy and the backups addon, but if you forget, you’ll end up with a bill that’s more than double the cost of a year’s hosting.
When it’s time to renew, you will, of course, lose promotional pricing, and will see the monthly price increase by at least 50%. Oh, and unless you’re VAT registered, you’ll need to factor in an extra 20% on top of the advertised price.
Namesco accepts payment via credit cards (Visa or Mastercard) and you can set up a direct debit in your control panel later. There’s no support for PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Amazon Pay, unfortunately.
Namesco doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee, although you can request a refund during the first 14 days of your purchase under Consumer Contracts Regulations. This is considered to be a 14-day cooling-off period, and refunds are discretionary, not guaranteed.
Cancelling Your Account
When it comes to cancelling your account with Namesco, there’s no simple way to go about it. You could submit a support ticket or telephone to cancel, but because of my experience with ignored tickets and unhelpful agents, I chose to find a work-around that you can use instead.
Effectively, I cancelled my hosting plan with Namesco by turning off auto-renewal for both the domain name and the hosting plan. It took some figuring out, as we’d been paying for the plan monthly, and, strangely, there wasn’t an option to turn off auto-renewal. To be able to turn off auto-renewal, I had to go to the billing section, change the renewal period to one year, and then turn off auto-renewal.
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May 21, 2021
Don’t ever buy UK domains from them
Don't ever buy UK domains from them. At first, they will give eye-catching deals for new domains. Then they will not allow you to transfer it without a transfer out fee of £10/domain.
Domain transfer out is absolutely free at other registrars. You only pay when you renew them.
They simply blanked all my correspondence and auto-renewed. Couldn't find a way to delete my account, so went in there and used edit to change everything - seemed to be the only way to stop auto-renew. They also refused a refund, but my bank got that for me. Just avoid - not worth the hassle and effort involved in canceling things.
Got one site on Namesco (client choice) and never again. I use the same software/theme on all my sites and this Host is by far the slowest especially when updating just the text. Can't wait for the contract to end and move it off. Another client had a site on here too and it was constantly down.
I've still not had a refund after two domains failed to renew but they (Freeparking, now part of Namesco) took my money anyway. I've been chasing for a refund for over a year without success. The irony is that in the past Freeparking (which Namesco purchased in April 2020) used to be really helpful in resolving my queries. Now I would say avoid this company at all costs.
Shoddy technical support....you guys really do need to sort your act out!
Have waited days and paid for issues to be sorted out with website and email and still nothing. our business email has been down for over a week!
emails ignored, promises not kept. maybe we need to get solicitors involved!
Terrible experience to work with. The call center doesn't answer. They don't reply to emails. The took the money yet didn't register the domain. Right after purchase we couldn't log in to our account. Password renewal doesn't work.
Even the 90's brothels had better service than this company. Just stay away...
Customer 6 years and I have had enough, poor support, high pricing, they are useless............... Much better hosts out there. The control panel is limited and buggy, it will crash all the time.No more one-click support, FTP works when it feels like it wants to!! God it is so bad now
They won't let you transfer away even if you pay the transfer fee and when your domain expires they keep it to sell it back to you for an extortionate price, this has happened to me and it's in their terms, can't believe anyone uses them when they are like this
Although Namesco has some great deals on domain names, when I put its web hosting services to the test, I encountered more negatives than positives. And it isn’t even cheap, so I’m struggling to think of a situation where I would recommend it.
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!)