HostRocket might not be as famous as some of the bigger companies in the industry, but they have been around for more than two decades, which presents a considerable experience in the field. Founded in 1999 and located in an area known as New York’s Tech Valley (Clifton Park) today they provide web hosting services to approximately 50,000 websites from their US-based data centers. On top of that, HostRocket offers services such as dedicated server, reseller, collocation, e-commerce and application hosting to a large number of customers from all parts of the world.
Being a private company, HostRocket has certainly come a long way from its humble beginnings, and all without usage of venture capital, funds from outside investors or bank loans. Right from the start, they put a great emphasis on achieving a perfect balance between quality and affordability of their services. Although it all sounds good, HostRocket’s main website in its current state doesn’t inspire much confidence. Its layout, bleak color palette and overall style, together with a rather rough presentation of their services, feel outdated, uninspiring and not very user-friendly.
HostRocket’s customers are able to choose between four data centers, of which three are in the USA (each in New York, Chicago and San Jose), and the last one is found somewhere in the Netherlands.
The “About” section of the website provides a decent amount of information regarding the company and its data centres. However, HostRocket doesn’t have an official blog at the moment.
Plans and pricing
In comparison to other international providers, HostRocket’s prices for most of its plans are well above average. Fortunately, pricing of the most basic entry-level plan doesn’t fully fall into this category and will get you a free domain name as well. However, as the website is not intuitive enough nor is the presentation of their services linked to hosting, you might find yourself disoriented more often than not.
The essential shared hosting plan (and not an SSD one) will begin at $11.98 a month if you select monthly billing, but the charge will drop significantly if you choose an annual plan ($7.99 per month) or even more so with a biennial one ($5.99 for each month). As if this wasn’t enough, all plans shorter than the annual have additional setup fees, which can considerably drive up the price.
With each of these you will gain unlimited website storage, bandwidth and websites as well as unlimited e-mail accounts, all of which sounds pretty good.
All of HostRocket’s hosting plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee, which will give you plenty of time to make a final decision.
As for the types of payment, HostRocket accepts credit cards exclusively.
Ease of use
After selecting a hosting plan and its billing cycle, you’ll need to register a new domain (which is free for the first year) or to transfer an existing one to HostRocket. After this, you can check out the details regarding your plan and confirm the billing cycle once more, before proceeding to their shopping cart. If you have selected anything below the annual billing, this is where you notice that setup fees can cost one a small fortune, $29.99 at this point. If you’re lucky enough to have a promotional code, you may validate it here and apply it to your order.
Creating an account with HostRocket is a simple yet needlessly lengthy procedure when taken with the checkout process as a whole. After providing HostRocket with your personal data and coming up with a password, you can go ahead and select a card type with the required information, as it is the only available method of payment. In addition, if you want to receive marketing notifications via SMS, you may choose so by leaving a checkmark.
Once the entire process is finalized, you’ll have to wait an hour or two before being able to enter your newly-created website. After finally logging in to HostRocket's site, you’ll find yourself in a completely standard account management from where you can see your plans, domains and tickets, among other things.
Clicking on your hosting account will make a simplified control panel pop up. This panel will allow you to manage e-mail accounts and fire up a dedicated File Manager which is used to upload files for the website you want to create. As an alternative, if you are somewhat accustomed to cPanel, you can log into it and manage all aspects of your website from there. Using Softaculous you can have more than 250 applications installed without a hitch (such as WordPres, PrestaShop, Drupal, Joomla, Magento and more) and get things moving.
Speed and experience
As usual, we monitored the performance speed of HostRocket’s main website with the help of a test made possible by GTmetrix. And, to our satisfaction, it showed rather positive results. To completely load the page, it required merely 3.7 seconds, which looks even better in comparison to the average result of 8.1. Additionally, it took 51 requests, which is, again, pretty good in contrast to the average of 89. In the end, GTmetrix concluded that HostRocket’s website is worthy of a firm B (82%).
HostRocket promises a modest 99.5% of uptime and, according to UptimeRobot, is likely to deliver on its promise. The above mentioned test run for more than a month and recorded just one instance of downtime that lasted for 4 minutes. Thereby, the uptime in general was 99.98%, which is a bit better than promised. As for response time oscillations, there were barely any except for the referenced one, leaving an impression of stability.
When customer support is concerned, HostRocket's landing page features a “Support” menu which can take you to account management, knowledgebase, an option to submit a ticket and a choice to “contact them”, which is essentially the same as submitting a ticket. In addition to this, customers who choose a dedicated, reseller or colocation hosting type may get in touch with the support team via telephone which is available from 9 AM to 9 PM. However, there is a personnel at your disposal day-and-night in case of emergency. Additionally, there is a so-called “FAQ System”, but going for it will merely take you to their knowledgebase.
HostRocket’s knowledgebase is well organized into ten relevant categories and all of them are packed with a number of articles. However, if you can’t see what you’re looking for among them, there is an option to browse through the base by using the search box. The articles themselves are written in straight-to-the-point manner and seem to be helpful enough. Five of them are highlighted as the most popular ones and they cover some important topics for newcomers, such as creating an index page using .htaccess files, domain registry, creating e-mail accounts, using control panel and uploading files to one’s website.
Overall, HostRocket’s customer support seems to be very informative and helpful, so the only thing that is really lacking in that department (apart from the official forum) is the absence of live chat feature.
TMDHosting is one of HostRocket’s US-based competitors and an ambitious one to boot. Both of them offer free domain registration for first-time users, but each additional domain registration with HostRocket will cost as much as $20 for each year, which is twice the amount than what is found with most providers, TMDHosting included.
Hostgator includes all the essential features with all its plans, such as: SSL certificates, SpamAssassin and automatic backups, which isn’t something HostRocket will provide you with. Another good thing is HostGator’s website builder, which all users are entitled to without any charge. On the other hand, HostRocket does provide virtually unlimited everything (storage, bandwidth, websites and e-mail accounts) with its hosting plans.
While HostRocket tries to target all businesses regardless of their size, HostDime is more geared towards larger businesses and their needs. Although the latter can also supply a small business with everything, too much of a good thing might not be equally good for the budget.
Bluehost is another well-known host which offers a whole array of services, features and options in general. However, it doesn’t provide a monthly billing for its plans (which HostRocket does) although, honestly, these plans tend to be on the expensive side.
Truth be told, having in mind the fact that HostRocket hosts over 50,000 websites at this moment is a testament to their reliability and good performance. Their plans, for the most part, include many unlimited features and offer a decent value for money, yet there are exceptions. Their shared hosting isn’t bad in itself, but customers who go for a monthly or semi-annual billing system, will be taken by surprise with the charge for additional setup fees.
Although HostRocket represents a pretty fair price-performance ratio, there aren’t many things that make them stand out among competitors like Bluehost, Hostgator or DreamHost. All of them can get you this and better without breaking the bank.
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