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As a host that advertises cloud hosting even with its economy packages, you’d expect tsoHost to deliver on performance – after all, its website promises that “you can count on Mach speeds”. I never take web hosting claims at face value, however, and my thorough testing of tsoHost reveals some good points, but some (very) bad points too.
tsoHost is one of many smaller web hosting companies that have been overshadowed by bigger, international web hosting providers (with equally bigger advertising budgets!). Just because it doesn’t pop up at the top of recommended web host lists doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a top choice… or does it?
During my thorough testing of tsoHost, I encountered some pretty big issues concerning the hosting services advertised compared to what you actually get. It’s not all bad, but there are definitely some things you need to know before you consider signing up.
tsoHost is based in the UK, but its shared hosting plans offer a choice of four data centres, in Amsterdam, Strasbourg, North America, and Asia (no location specified). That means that as well as being ideal for a visitor base in the UK and Northern Europe, tsoHost also works well if you have an international target audience. The default/recommended data centre is Strasbourg, but you can request a different one.
There is a range of hosting types to choose from, including shared (cPanel) hosting, managed WordPress hosting, VPS (virtual private server) hosting, and dedicated server hosting – so no matter how big or small your business or blog is, tsoHost has a type of hosting to suit.
A word of caution, however: tsoHost claims to offer cloud hosting, but when I questioned this with the support team, it turns out that its servers use CloudLinux, which is NOT actual cloud hosting. Rather, CloudLinux is an operating system that web hosts can use on shared hosting servers to give you some of the benefits of cloud hosting (such as better reliability and allocated resources).
My review focuses on the Economy hosting plan that I signed up for, and I put every aspect of tsoHost’s service to the test. Over three months, I evaluated features, conducted in-depth performance tests, and contacted customer support to bring you a hands-on lowdown on what tsoHost is really like to host with.
The TL;DR of my experience with tsoHost is simple: it’s an average host with customer service that responds quickly, but it lacks some of the value-added features that other hosts (such as eUKHost ) offer. I also found its performance to be lacking, especially compared to Hostinger, which scored much higher in our performance tests .
Generous Hosting Plans – but Some Essentials Missing
If you need plenty of storage space for high-resolution images, digital downloads, or video files, then tsoHost’s generous hosting plans will seem pretty attractive. Even its Economy cPanel and WordPress hosting plans come with 100GB of storage, and all other plans have unlimited storage (subject to acceptable usage policies, of course).
You can host multiple websites on all plans except Economy (5 on Deluxe, 10 on Ultimate, and 200 on Maximum).
But it’s not all positives with tsoHost, I’m afraid. I was disappointed to find that it doesn’t support the use of free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates. This means that if you’re hosting multiple websites, you’ll have to purchase an SSL certificate for each one (which is hardly budget-friendly).
You don’t even get a free SSL certificate for the first year on some plans – this perk is only included with the Ultimate and Maximum plans.
There’s really no reason (other than to make more money) why tsoHost shouldn’t support free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates. The vast majority of web hosts support them or at least include other free SSL certificates on their plans.
My other major issue with tsoHost is that it advertises “managed WordPress hosting”, but on the features page for WordPress hosting, there’s no mention of optimisation, backups, or automatic updates. Turns out it’s not managed hosting at all. And when you click the “buy now” link on the sales page for WordPress hosting, what’s actually added to your basket is cPanel hosting.
To make things clear about this: “managed WordPress hosting” usually refers to a hosting package where your host will do daily or weekly backups, provide automatic updates for your WordPress installation(s), and include tools for optimising your website. SiteGround is a good example of actual managed hosting (check out our full SiteGround review if you want to know more).
Technically, you can set up things like automatic updates and backups for WordPress from the 1-click installer in cPanel, but it’s misleading to advertise managed WordPress hosting when it’s exactly the same as “regular” web hosting.
tsoHost’s web hosting plans are advertised as cloud-based, which (in theory) improves performance and reliability. As I mentioned above, the servers use an OS (operating system) called CloudLinux for better stability (less chance of experiencing downtime) and higher levels of security, including the use of CageFS to keep your web space isolated and protected from other users on the same server.
You also get “allocated resources” so that if another website on the same server experiences a sudden surge in traffic, your website won’t be affected. It’s not as good as actual cloud hosting, but it’s better than regular Linux OS servers.
Backup and Restore
tsoHost doesn’t advertise its backup and restore features for its WordPress plans, probably because this is a feature that’s included in cPanel rather than something that tsoHost provides itself. You can set up automatic backups via the settings panel in the Installatron 1-click installer section of cPanel.
You can easily restore backups, too – which I was glad to see! This means that if you install a plugin or theme that causes an issue, you can easily roll your website back to an earlier version.
Free Managed Migrations
When you sign up for any web hosting plan from tsoHost and pay for 12 months up-front, you’ll be prompted to add the free basic migration service to your order. This is ideal if you already have a website hosted elsewhere and want an expert to migrate it to your tsoHost account.
The number of migrations you can do depends on the plan you choose (one on the Economy plan, while the Maximum plan includes five basic migrations and three e-commerce migrations). You can purchase additional migrations for an extra cost.
tsoHost promises to complete the transfer as quickly as possible (usually within 24-48 hours) and to minimise any downtime. Although you can migrate a website yourself by taking a backup from your old hosting provider, I’d recommend taking advantage of this free migration service.
Free Premium Email Accounts
No matter which hosting plan you choose, you benefit from a year of free premium email accounts (e.g., [email protected]) powered by Flockmail. Even the Economy plan includes 100 premium mailboxes (each with 10GB of storage), and the Ultimate and Maximum plans have unlimited mailboxes.
Flockmail is incredibly user-friendly and includes an advanced address book, advanced calendar, and high-level spam and anti-virus protection. There are desktop and mobile (Android and iOS) apps you can download for free too.
One of the Best Setup Experiences – Perfect for Beginners
After the headaches I had setting up accounts with some other UK hosts I’ve reviewed recently, my experience with tsoHost was pretty good. The whole process – from choosing a plan to logging in to my new WordPress installation – literally took ten minutes.
Creating a New Account
As I was testing tsoHost’s signup process, I discovered some interesting things that you need to know about. Initially, I clicked the Buy Now button on the Compare Features page – only to find that I wasn’t getting the promotional price that was advertised on the previous page. I clicked back onto the main sales page, clicked Buy Now, and got the reduced price. Very sneaky, tsoHost!
The other thing I found was that unlike with many hosts, I wasn’t prompted to search for or add a domain name during the checkout process. There was a link to go back to add a domain name to my basket (and you can get the free domain name from your account dashboard later) but it’s not quite as smooth as when the domain selector is included in the checkout process.
Managing Your Account Using cPanel
I found it pretty easy to use the account dashboard and manage my webspace with cPanel. tsoHost includes a simple login button for direct access to your cPanel admin area (so you don’t need to remember a separate user name or password). The main page for your hosting is also really simple and great for beginners, since there’s an action centre with some recommended steps to complete.
Although tsoHost has a customised version of cPanel, it’s still basically the same as other hosts’ cPanels, so if you’re already familiar with cPanel you’ll be able to navigate it easily. If you’re a complete beginner, the sheer number of icons and options can be a little overwhelming, but it’s pretty well-organised.
Connecting a Domain and Installing WordPress
tsoHost has one of the fastest and easiest domain name setups and WordPress installations I’ve encountered. It uses Installatron for its 1-click app installations, and let me tell you, Installatron is way better than some other 1-click installers. Totally beginner-friendly and with extra settings that some installers just don’t offer (for example the automatic backups and updates settings).
When I’ve bought hosting and domain names at the same time with other hosts, I’ve sometimes had to wait up to 24 hours for the domain name to “resolve” (i.e., to be accessible by typing in the domain name) so I could log into my WordPress dashboard. Not with tsoHost. No, my new domain name literally resolved in minutes. I don’t know if that’s always the case, as I’ve only tried it once, but I was really impressed!
One of the most important things I look for in a good web hosting company is excellent performance. Of course, all hosts claim to deliver fast speeds (tsoHost claims to offer “Mach speed”), but I never take those claims at face value. Let’s get real: no host is going to claim to have bad, or even average, performance, are they?
To sum up tsoHost’s performance, the best word I can use is “average”. Its page loading speed was somewhere around the 1.2-second mark – which is fast and well below the three-seconds Google recommends – but other UK hosts could easily beat it. As for its reliability, well, it managed a decent 99.93% uptime over the monitoring period, so you don’t need to worry about your website being down for long periods.
To test tsoHost’s performance, I installed WordPress on the Economy plan and uploaded a customised SimpleShift one-page website theme. Some review sites use a virtually blank website, but that isn’t going to give accurate performance results – who cares about the performance of an empty website?
For accurate results about how your website might perform on tsoHost, the customised theme I used has text and non-optimised HD images, like you’d get with an average landing page website. (There’s a reason for using non-optimised images – I wanted to contact support for help with optimisation and see if they’d notice, and then test the website performance afterwards.) If you want the full details of how we test web hosts at Website Planet, you can check out this article.
I kept the test website online for several months – and initially, I intended to keep it online so that you could test it for yourself. The problem with that, though, is that it would be easy for tsoHost to find my review and manipulate the results (boosting the performance behind the scenes, for example). The website was available at autonomous-shoes-uk-k.co.uk.
I tested performance using three different tools – GTmetrix, Sucuri Load Time Tester, and UptimeRobot.
The GTmetrix tests showed the tsoHost test website loading in an average of 1.2 seconds (I tested multiple times) – way below the Google recommendation of 2-3 seconds. However, compared to other hosts that I’ve tested with the same landing page theme, this is one of the slower page loading speeds (the best had an average of 0.7 seconds).
A half-second difference hardly seems like much, but, be honest, how frustrating is it when you’re browsing on your smartphone and a web page doesn’t load instantly? In my tests, there were only two UK-based hosts that performed worse than tsoHost for average page loading speed.
Unfortunately, as you can see from the screenshot below, the GTmetrix tests resulted in a PageSpeed score of 68%, which is a D ranking. That’s not terrible (the average score is 75%),but the same test theme generated scores of 88-89%, a B ranking, with better hosts.
PageSpeed tells you how well-optimised a website is – so the D ranking reflects the fact that tsoHost’s servers aren’t optimised for WordPress. Since I tested after tsoHost’s support team said they’d performed optimisations on my website, the D ranking is quite disappointing. I’d have to install and use an optimisation plugin for WordPress to improve the PageSpeed score.
Sucuri Load Time Tester
I also tested using the Sucuri Load Time Tester to see how fast the website loads from different locations around the world as well as the UK. The results, as you can see below, are slightly different compared to those from GTmetrix, with a page load time of 0.389 seconds when tested from London. The variation in results is to be expected since each performance test tool has its own testing setup.
You’ll see that load times from test locations outside of Western Europe are significantly longer, so tsoHost is fine if your target audience is in the UK but not so great if you’re targeting an international audience. Compared to other UK-based hosts, tsoHost is fairly average.
My final performance test was to evaluate tsoHost’s reliability, measured by monitoring uptime over a period of three months. While the average over that period (99.93%) isn’t the best out of all the UK hosts I’ve tested, it’s still comfortably above the 99.9% uptime guarantee.
While we’re on the topic of uptime guarantees, there’s something a little different about tsoHost’s guarantee. Unlike many hosts, its reimbursement for failure to meet this guarantee in any calendar month is pretty generous. If your uptime drops below 99.9%, then you get a credit of a full week’s hosting cost to your account.
You do have to request it through a support ticket (it won’t be applied automatically) – but this is one of the best reimbursement SLAs (service level agreements) that I’ve come across.
Getting help when something goes wrong with your web hosting can be a bit hit-and-miss with some hosts – but tsoHost’s support team is quick to respond. Ticket support is available 24/7, while live chat and phone support are available 7am-midnight (UK time) seven days a week.
Testing the live chat support of web hosts is one of my top priorities, as this is the best way to gauge the quality of support – do the support agents understand my questions and give clear answers?
The tsoHost agent I chatted with seemed to be a native English speaker, and I was impressed by the clear and concise way that he explained things.Of course, my further investigation revealed that there’s no difference between cPanel and WordPress hosting with tsoHost. The agent’s comments about optimisation on WordPress plans were misleading, and I do not appreciate that.
I also used the ticket support to request help with WordPress installation, optimisation, and theme installation. You can see from the screenshots below that I received detailed replies to my questions – which is a refreshing change compared to hosts that simply direct you to a support article and offer no other help. However, the big issue that I have with tsoHost’s support is that one more than one occasion, the support agent seemed to outright lie!
You’ll see in the exchanges below that the support agents mention Softaculous, which was being used as the 1-click installer at the time; tsoHost has since moved away from using Softaculous in favour of Installatron, as I’ve mentioned in the features section above.
When I asked about WordPress optimisation, the support agent provided a detailed response, claimed to have made some changes to settings, and suggested I use an optimisation plugin. On the surface, this was more helpful than many of the hosts I’ve tested. However, when I looked further into the optimisations that the agent mentioned in the screenshot below, I couldn’t see any evidence of the actions actually being performed.
Although the support agent wasn’t able to help install my WordPress theme, this isn’t particularly unusual. However, if tsoHost’s WordPress hosting was actually managed as it claims, I would have expected a greater level of support with this issue.
Cheap Hosting, but Additional Costs Can Mount Up
With plans starting at less than the cost of a BigMac meal per month, tsoHost is pretty affordable, with plans to suit most budgets and needs. It’s not as cheap as the international giant Hostinger (which has servers in the Netherlands) – but Hostinger is hard to beat, price-wise. Compared to other UK-based hosting companies, tsoHost is pretty average.
There are some things to be aware of with tsoHost. Firstly, the prices advertised don’t include VAT, so you’ll need to factor in an extra 20% to the advertised costs. Secondly, as I’ve mentioned before, free SSL certificates are only available on the Ultimate and Maximum plans, and that’s only for the first year.
Having to purchase an SSL certificate will significantly increase your total price – and if you stay with tsoHost longer than a year, you can expect to pay double the advertised price for the Economy plan with SSL in year two. Other hosts who support free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt are much more affordable.
Free domains are included for the first year with all plans when you choose to pay for 12 months in advance. There is a monthly payment option, but it’s cheaper to pay for 12 months up-front. You can pay by PayPal or credit/debit card (card payments are processed by SagePay, and all major credit cards are accepted).
Like most hosts, there’s a money-back guarantee if you decide that tsoHost isn’t right for you. Simply request a cancellation and refund within the first 30 days of your plan (annual plans) or the first 48 hours (monthly plans). tsoHost promises that no questions will be asked and your refund will be processed quickly.
I tested this out by signing up with a different email address and then requesting a cancellation. The money was back in my bank account within three working days.
Cancelling Your Account
When I wanted to cancel my tsoHost account, I was happy to find that the process is pretty simple. The “request cancellation” button on the “product details” page isn’t hidden away like it is with some other hosts!
There’s a simple account cancellation request form that takes a few seconds to complete, and you can cancel your domain at the same time. There’s also a choice of when you want your hosting to be cancelled. If you choose “immediately”, you’ll see a popup window asking you to confirm, so there’s no chance of deleting your hosting account by mistake.
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July 23, 2021
SSL and TSO
The SSL team is VERY SLOW at responding and you often need to speak to their chat support (who are excellent) to get the SSL people to respond. The SSL process I have found really cumbersome and to date has not run smoothly. Emails are vague and plentiful and confusing. And when they do respond it is a link to an article and you are expected to work it out yourself. Before you paid your £50 and they helped you. Now you just pay your £50 and do the legwork and the chasing.
Should tsoHost be on your shortlist when choosing a web host? Well, I guess that depends. If you want truly managed WordPress hosting, then tsoHost isn’t for you. The lack of free SSLs is very problematic as well. Personally, I did not appreciate how the company oversells its services, which really didn’t include what was promised.
tsoHost isn’t all bad, however. I had a good experience with customer support, and setting up and managing my account was very easy. Ultimately, there are better UK hosting providers to choose from.
Before you make any final decisions, I suggest you check out Hostinger’s latest deals. This international host provides excellent performance for an unbelievably low price.
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!)