With its Australian data centre, you’d expect NetRegistry to offer blazing fast speeds in the southern hemisphere. But our tests tell a different story. Though NetRegistry might have been around for decades, we found it was light years behind the competition for performance. When you can get superb performance on Hostinger’s shared hosting plans, which also cost less, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to bother.
But is that bad performance a total deal breaker? What are NetRegistry’s redeeming features, if it has any? In any case, don’t sign up for a five-year contract until you’ve read this review.
Affordable Hosting for Australian Businesses
NetRegistry is a hosting dinosaur, as it’s been around for decades. The company is entirely based in Australia, with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Its data centre is Australian too.
The company has about half a million customers, many of them small businesses. As you can see, affordable hosting is the name of the game.
At NetRegistry, there are only shared hosting and VPS hosting packages to choose from. There are no modern managed WordPress or cloud hosting plans here. But is NetRegistry’s hosting really prehistoric, or is it a “clever girl” in the end? *
I signed up for NetRegistry and created a real, live website to test it out. I used its cheapest plan, cPanel Starter, and well… there are definitely some missing features you need to be aware of. Before you jump into any long-term commitments, you might want to check out Hostinger’s latest deals.
* For anyone who hasn’t seen it, that would be a Jurassic Park reference.
A Few Missing Features Spoil a Decent Hosting Plan
On all shared hosting plans, NetRegistry limits how many sites you can create. Specifically, the cheapest cPanel Starter plan allows you to create one database – so that’s one WordPress site. The Business plan allows for 3 databases, and Premium+ allows for 10.
Basic server resources are more generous. The cPanel Starter plan gives you 20GB of disk space and 500GB bandwidth. Okay, it’s not ‘unlimited’ as it would be with some hosts, but it’s plenty for a typical small site. Just don’t host the actual videos for your vlog on it, and you’ll be fine.
Nerd details incoming: Each shared hosting plan supports Python, Perl/CGI, PHP versions 5.2 to 7.0, plus various databases including MSSQL and MySQL. Other features include DNS zone management, web statistics, optional dedicated SSL, and multiple FTP users.
Basically, it’s all fairly standard hosting stuff, with no surprises so far.
But digging further into the details, I found a few issues that I just have to highlight:
NetRegistry doesn’t make any automatic backups. At the minimum, I would expect one automatic weekly backup, which is what competitors like Relentless Hosting offer. (VentraIP takes a backup every hour.) Having no backups at all will leave you in a bad place if you get hacked, or you accidentally overwrite a file, so this is a big omission.
There’s also no free SSL certificate with shared hosting. Without an SSL certificate, your visitors will see a warning when they visit your site saying it isn’t secure. Australian hosts in general do seem to be a little behind the curve with free SSL.
There’s no caching. Other hosts boast server-side caching to speed up page loading times. Unfortunately, NetRegistry doesn’t have any equivalent.
So those are the downsides. What features are included?
There is a Basic Website Builder
Every plan comes with a free website builder. Be warned: the site builder on shared hosting is very limited. You can only create a three-page site. Realistically, you could create a placeholder site with this (for example – Home, About, and Contact pages), but if you want a real, fully functional business website, it’s not very useful.
In the screenshot above, you can see that NetRegistry advertises the Ecommerce Add-on for full features. This add-on represents a significant increase in your monthly bill. In essence, they crippled what could have been a major selling point for their service in order to sell you an upgrade. This is a common practice on the shady side of the software industry, and should be left there.
There’s Email Hosting, but the Good Stuff is in a Separate Package
NetRegistry offers 50 email accounts on the cPanel Starter plan, but itlimits the size of your email mailboxes. On my chosen plan, the mailbox limit was 1GB.
Now imagine how annoying a 1GB email account would be if you were trying to run a business. After receiving a few PDFs or presentations, your mailbox would be overflowing. Honestly, I think NetRegistry is probably trying to push businesses into signing up for a separate email hosting plan by being so strict.
On the upside, there are some extras like Spamassassin, antivirus protection, an email auto-responder, and a catch-all email address for your domain, so I guess it’s not all bad.
One-Click Software Installation is Easy as It Ever Was
It’s always good to see cPanel on an affordable hosting plan. It means you can be reasonably sure of good management tools, and it also makes migration from another cPanel-based host really easy.
Within cPanel, NetRegistry includes one-click installers for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and various shopping cart scripts. I used its one-click installer to create my WordPress website, so I’ll show you that later in the review.
At Least It’s Easy to Sign up – with Just One Hiccup
NetRegistry’s platform is not too hard to learn. Anyone with previous hosting experience should feel more or less at home, and anyone without that experience should catch up quickly enough.
There are some potential problems with the UI (user interface), though. For example, NetRegistry won’t give you a free domain, so you’ll need to buy one during the checkout process, or use a name you already own.
The first time I attempted to sign up, I typed in the name of a domain that I own, but NetRegistry tried to charge me to register it. After removing everything from the cart and trying again, it seemed to recognise that my domain was already registered and it charged me the correct amount.
I don’t know if this is a bug in the sign-up form, but it’s just something to watch out for. Paying for a domain you already one would be like… getting very ripped off, I guess. There are few analogies that could do this situation justice.
You Can Have NetRegistry Build Your Website
Most web hosts primarily offer, well… hosting. But, just in case you skipped the whole “getting a site designed” part of the process, NetRegistry has a web design service at your disposal. What’s more, the team will also maintain and update your website as needed.
You’ll need to pay an initial fee for the site setup, and then a substantial monthly fee for the continued updates and maintenance, but it’s cheaper than what almost any agency would have you pay.
Installing WordPress is Dead Easy
WordPress is provided through a one-click installer. Again, it’s easy and fast. After sign up, you’ll need to log into the control panel with your brand new credentials, open cPanel, and then find the “Installatron”, which is an awesome name.
Once you’ve found WordPress in the Installatron, use the checkboxes to toggle WordPress options on and off, pick a username and password, click Install, and Installatron (that’s still awesome) will set up the site for you.
Free Website Health Checks
This is more of a sales tool intended to get you to sign up for a NetRegistry account, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use it on your NetRegistry site. The idea is that you provide the company with your contact info and URL, and you will receive a report analysing your site’s effectiveness.
The report includes information on speed, usability, an idea of how Google rates your site, and recommendations for how you can improve your site in all of those categories. If you’re looking for an easy way to make improvements, this might help.
I ran a real website for three months on NetRegistry’s cPanel Starter plan. During that time, I gathered tons of stats about its performance using global test servers. The stats were largely not encouraging.
In fact, after three months of testing just about every major Australian host, I can tell you that NetRegistry was the slowest of them all, with page loading times ranging from 3 to 21 seconds. 21 seconds!
My uptime records were pretty decent, but still… 21 seconds?
As previously mentioned, NetRegistry was the slowest Australian web host that I tested.
I mean, these speeds range from bad to disastrous. The fastest PageSpeed score was 2.9 seconds; the slowest came in at a massive 21 seconds. Marketing gurus recommend that you try to get your PageSpeed score under two seconds, so all of these results fall short of that.
All of the GTmetrix tests were run from a server in Sydney. Since NetRegistry makes a really big deal about having an Australian data centre, you’d expect much better performance than this.
Take a look at the page size too. At 1.22MB, it’s larger than the page size I recorded using GTmetrix for the other Australian hosts I looked at (which came in at around 1MB). This suggests that NetRegistry is using a less effective method of compression than its competitors.
Sucuri Load Time Tester
I ran nine Sucuri tests over a few days, but I didn’t get any usable data back, which is weird. Only one test resulted in a speed measurement. See the top line here:
It’s impossible to say what the issue is behind these failures, so it would be unfair to draw any conclusions from this test.
NetRegistry has a 99.9% uptime guarantee for VPS customers. But there is no uptime guarantee for shared hosting. (Don’t worry – I read the entire Terms and Conditions document so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.)
Despite the lack of a guarantee, my website’s uptime was actually pretty good:
My site has been up for 99.98% of the time. That’s a great result. It means we’re seeing 17.3 seconds of downtime a day according to UptimeRobot, which is next to nothing. (Remember: UptimeRobot only pings the site once each minute, so the actual uptime might have been even better.)Check Out NetRegistry Performance
Support is Spoiled by a Whopping Two-Day Delay
NetRegistry offers a good selection of contact methods: live chat, phone, and ticket. All support is provided 24/7, which sounds real good. But given how things have gone so far, you know there’s a drawback coming, right?
I waited two days for a reply to my first ticket.
Two days! Imagine that your website is down, your customers are complaining, and the host takes two days to even look at the issue. (At least my contact apologised for the wait.)
I asked a couple of other questions via ticket to see whether the response times would improve.
My enquiry about WordPress theme installation was answered after 17 hours. The operator didn’t seem to be familiar with WordPress, but they did their own research, so props to them for that:
And the final ticket (another theme question) was answered after around 8 hours:
In contrast, live chat response was almost instant. The quality of English here isn’t perfect, but Lowell was polite, friendly, and answered my question accurately. If you’ve ever been on hold with a bank for three hours, it’s hard to ask for more than promptness and politeness.
Here’s the first bit of our conversation.
And here’s the rest:
Clearly, live chat is the way to go if you need a quick answer from NetRegistry.
Compared with other Australian hosting companies, NetRegistry’s pricing is average. You can pay monthly on a rolling contract, or sign up for one, two, three, four, or five years. The best discount is over the four-year contract, which will save you 10.5% on the headline rate.
You can pay for your hosting using credit or debit card, prepay credits, or Bpay. NetRegistry doesn’t accept PayPal or bank transfer, when many other hosts do. So keep this in mind if you need to use one of those methods.
You’ll need a valid domain to sign up for a trial account. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee that will give you a full refund if you cancel before the end of the 30-day term.
Cancelling a NetRegistry Account
It’s super easy to close a NetRegistry account, which is something you might need to know if you signed up before reading this. Just click on Account, then Cancel Services, and select the service you want to cancel.
Click the Cancel Service button, and that’s it – you’re done.
NetRegistry offers value for money, but there’s room for improvement. It fell short of its competitors on ticket response time and page loading speeds – two critical categories in my testing.
Uptime is excellent, and live chat support was quick. Both setup and cancellation were very easy, and that money-back guarantee provides a welcome opportunity for a trial. The feature list lacks some basics, and it would be good to see NetRegistry update its plans to really compete.
I would not recommend jumping in for a five-year plan right away. First, check out my reviews of Crazy Domains and Relentless Hosting. Both scored better in my page speed testing, and could offer you some of those important missing features at a similar price.
Based in Melbourne, Jack is a long-time web developer and WordPress enthusiast, always interested not only in how things work, but how he can make them work better. You'll typically find him glued to his computer screen at all hours of the day and night, but he does go outside every once in a while - mainly to play squash or do some surfing (or at least pretend to).