Arsys review

Web hosting with an unusually Spanish flavor...

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Our Verdict

Overpriced, underpowered, and still not properly translated to English. Don't waste your time.

For

  • Lots of products
  • Decent performance
  • 24/7 email support

Against

  • Limited web space and email accounts
  • Overpriced
  • Only partly translated to English
  • No cPanel or 1-click app installs

You may not know the name, but Arsys is a Spanish web hosting provider that was involved in developing the first European cloud hosting platform, and now has more than 266,000 clients worldwide.

The company has a wide range of products covering just about everything you might need: domain registration, shared hosting, cloud products, application hosting, website building and e-commerce plans, virtual, dedicated and cloud servers, and high-end public and private cloud schemes.

Arsys' shared hosting plans all give you unlimited bandwidth and a free domain for a year. There's 'only' 10GB of web space, but that's going to be enough for most shared hosting customers, and there's a 30-day money-back guarantee if the service doesn't work for you.

The baseline Hosting Professional plan limits you to 1GB MySQL database, which could be an issue for some users. There's an even more significant issue in the maximum of five email accounts, although they do at least get a chunky 6GB per inbox. Prices start at what seems an appealing €3 per month (£2.66, $3.51) for the first year, although they rise to a more expensive €6.90 (£6.11, $8.08) on renewal.

The Hosting Avanzado plan provides 50GB web space, 50 email accounts and up to 50 MySQL databases, as well as supporting Windows hosting. Again, it's priced reasonably for the first year at just €4 (£3.54, $4.68) per month, but looks costly on renewal at €14.90 (£13.20, $17.44).

The high-end Hosting Unlimited plan gives you unlimited web space and databases, 250 email accounts, and throws a basic SSL certificate into the mix. It's priced at a low €5 a month (£4.43, $5.85) for year one, but that jumps to an unrealistically high €29.90 (£26.49, $34.99) after that. For comparison, the rival 1&1 Pro account includes unlimited emails, a wildcard SSL, SiteLock Basic to detect malware and integrated CDN to boost speeds, but costs only £6.99 ($9.23) a month for year one, £9.99 ($13.20) after that.

The Arsys website didn't do the company any favors, either, as we noticed several clumsy mistakes. Some were trivial spelling errors (the Professional plan is spelled 'Profesional' and 'Proffesional' on the same page), and there are lots of general translation issues, but some more fundamental problems with product descriptions (the summary feature list says the Professional plan supports no databases, the comparison table says you get one).

Anyone can make mistakes, but these are pretty basic. They give us an impression of a company which isn't focused on the details or properly checking what it's doing, and we're left wondering what else it might have got wrong.

Arsys

Account setup

It didn't take long for us to find the next website issue. Just one click on the hosting Buy button, and amongst the English language summary of our product, the web page told us that "Oferta: descuento el primer año (6,9 €/month ahora 3 €/month) + Dominio gratis". You don't need to read Spanish to realize that this is describing the first year offer and the free domain, but English-speaking customers shouldn't be left to decipher product descriptions – they should be properly translated in the first place.

The purchase process had further issues, starting with a prompt for us to enter our 'Tax ID'. If you're not in Spain, the website suggests you enter your "National ID or Passport number." That really didn't appeal to us – we don't want to be handing over that level of personal detail for a simple shared hosting package – but, fortunately, it wasn't necessary. We tried entering QWE123456 and the website accepted it without question.

There was more country-related clumsiness when entering our contact details. The Address form had a space for entering a postcode, but once we selected the UK as our country, this became greyed out. US users similarly aren't asked for their Zip code. We can't remember the last time we signed up for a web service which couldn't properly take our full address, but this simple task seemed beyond Arsys.

Finally, we reached the Payment screen, where we were prompted to hand over our credit card details or set up a bank transfer. There's no PayPal support, which is generally our preferred option, as it's easier to stop subscription payments. We clicked the "service terms and conditions" link to look for potential loopholes, but not only was this ridiculously lengthy at more than 10,000 words, it was written in Spanish.

We carried on anyway, entering our credit card details, and watching as they were processed as usual. The website redirected us to a web page where we were told that our account was being activated and it would be available shortly.

Creating a site

Arsys didn't waste any time creating our account, and moments after making our payment, an email arrived with product details. These included what it described as our 'contraseña', confusingly, but we were getting used to mixed-language messages, and the context told us this was our login password.

We used our contraseña to access the Arsys web console, and in a couple of clicks were looking at the company's custom website control panel. This looked a little like cPanel – small icons for common tasks, organized into categories – but had only a tiny fraction of cPanel's functions.

You won't find a bundled website builder, for instance, and unlike most of the hosting competition, there's no Softaculous for easy one-click installation of WordPress or other apps. Arsys does offer website builder and WordPress hosting, but only via separate plans.

You'll need to create your website offline, then, or install something like WordPress yourself. The Professional subscription provides a single FTP plan to help, or you can manage files from within your browser via WebFTP.

It's all very basic, and even the very few interesting-looking icons lose their appeal when you click them. There's a Kaspersky icon in the Email section, for instance, but it's just a 90-day trial of Kaspersky's spam filter – not anything bundled with your plan.

We tried creating an email account and noticed another issue with Arsys passwords: they don't support symbols. Not only does that make them less secure, it also means that any password manager you're using, such as Dashlane, may not immediately generate passwords you can use. You can work around this, but it's hard to see why it should be necessary – these are the web basics, not rocket science.

More problems appeared later, this time with the unexpected arrival of a second Arsys email. Here's the key text, entirely unedited.

"During the Arsys client activation process, we verified that you are a public administration. And, in agreement with Law 25/2013 dated 27th December, you may be obliged to receive electronic invoices.

"If this is the case, you must provide us with the necessary information to be able to issue electronic invoices: contact information, Facturae version, administrative centers or role types."

We're not a 'public administration', we had to use Google to find out what a "Facturae version" is (an electronic invoicing format), and we had no idea what "role types" we might need to enter. As this was a short-term review we could safely ignore the email for now, but a real customer may well be worried by this, and waste who knows how much time emailing the company to find out exactly what it’s talking about.

Performance

Support is a key ingredient of every good hosting package, so we were interested to see what Arsys might provide.

The website has a sort of knowledgebase, but it's hugely disappointing. Articles are generally basic, sometimes with broken links or references to options which don't exist in the interface. Other recommendations are seriously out-of-date, including a mention of downloading Outlook 2007 (the email interface gains more nostalgia bonus points with a mention of Outlook Express 6).  Oh, and there's not even a search engine to help find what you need.

Our Welcome email had a link to a PDF Quick Start Guide; would that help? No, and you might be able to guess the reason: it was in Spanish.

Arsys does offer 24/7 support via email, and that's a welcome plus. There's no way to be sure how this will perform in the long term, but we tried a simple product query and had an accurate reply within minutes.

We completed our review with some performance tests, and they more or less returned the results we expected. Arsys isn't going to break any speed records, but performance wasn't bad, either, and there should be more than enough power for most small websites.

Final verdict

Arsys has a decent range of products, but they're overpriced for what you get, and the company's frequently clumsy website and procedural errors make the service impossible to recommend.