InMotion is a popular US-based company that's provided a wide range of web hosting services for more than 15 years.
InMotion has several shared hosting plans, all marketed as ‘Business’ products. That might put you off if you're just a regular home user, but it's just a label – they could appeal to anyone.
The US$8 (about £6, AU$11) a month Launch plan offers unlimited disk space, email accounts and email storage. There's support for hosting two websites – a major plus when other starter accounts often just allow one.
The only significant limit is a maximum of two databases, but that's enough to power a couple of major websites, and there's one-click installation of over 400 apps to get you started.
InMotion also bundles several features which might be chargeable extras elsewhere. These include basic backups, a WordPress-based website builder, malware protection, and ‘spam-safe email’.
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Elsewhere, technical features include PHP, Ruby, Perl, Python and PHP 7 support. InMotion provides both MySQL and PostgreSQL databases. There's easy Google Apps integration, and 24/7, 365-day US-based support if anything goes wrong.
InMotion's Power and Pro plans – US$10 (about £8, AU$14) and $16 (about £12, AU$22) per month respectively – are mostly about lifting the database, website, parked domains and subdomain limits. The only extras are that the higher plans are ‘e-commerce ready’, and Pro offers an SLA that gives you a credit if the service doesn't hit 99.9% uptime (the small print is here).
There are similar plans around for less money. Hostgator's Hatchling plan gives you unlimited databases as well as disk space for US$10.95 (about £8, AU$15) a month initially, dropping to US$2.75 (about £2, AU$4) if you pay for three years upfront.
InMotion is competitive, though, with occasional discounts available, and when you factor in the exceptional 90-day money-back guarantee, it's an appealing service.
InMotion's website presents its shared hosting products in a clear and straightforward way. Prices and summary information are visible at a glance, there's a table with a more detailed feature list, and useful comparisons, FAQs and buyer’s guides are a click away.
We hit the Order Now button, and the site asked us to choose a domain name. All the plans allow registering a domain for free, or you can use one you own already.
The next page presented us with two interesting options. We were able to choose our preferred hosting centre – Washington DC or Los Angeles – or have WordPress, Joomla, PrestaShop or BoldGrid preinstalled with our account. That's a welcome step which cuts installation hassles to the absolute minimum, but if you prefer to keep control you can always install them later.
What we didn't see were any upselling attempts, extra items added to our cart by default, demands that we transfer our domain to the company, or anything else. That's a refreshing and welcome change, especially in this marketing-heavy and money-hungry industry.
Finally, we were prompted for our contact and billing details: email, name, address, phone number and so on. This looked straightforward, but for some reason the form kept rejecting our UK phone number as invalid. We played around with leading zeros, the +44 country code, brackets and dashes, before eventually giving up and using the sample US number instead.
Payment options are limited to credit or debit card, US purchase order or cheque. We took the credit card route and parted with our cash in the usual way. InMotion gave us a ‘thanks very much’ message, and told us that a welcome email was on the way.
Creating a website
Most hosting companies try to help you get started by pointing you to their support site. Others list specific issues in the welcome email. InMotion goes a step further, though, listing common starter topics (New customer’s guide; Pointing to our nameservers), allowing you to select the ones you need, and then sending links to your email address. It's a welcome touch which gives you speedy access to important details, without the need to find and navigate the support site.
We set up our password and logged into InMotion's customer portal, noticing other highlights on the way: links to relevant support articles, support email addresses and US phone numbers – even an ‘I'm not a robot’ recaptcha on the login form. (Anything which helps prevent an account being hacked works for us.)
InMotion's customer portal is another plus. Instead of drowning you in ads, you're presented with various icons which lead you to important account functions: payment details, password, contact information, support tickets and more. It's clear and well-presented.
Getting started wasn't quite as simple, unfortunately; at least for us. We wanted to use InMotion's free site builder, but this isn't the usual Weebly-type service – it's a set of WordPress plugins called BoldGrid. The system requires a separate installation, and this didn't work for us. We needed help from InMotion's support to get it running (more on that later).
Once BoldGrid is working, it's a definite plus for InMotion. The package is reasonably easy-to-use, has some good-looking templates and offers drag-and-drop editing. It doesn't integrate with as many services and sites as the competition, but it doesn't have their page limits, either – you can use it to build a site which is as large as you want.
If you're not in the mood to get creative, BoldGrid provides Softaculous, one of the best frameworks for finding, installing and managing hundreds of popular applications: WordPress, phpBB, Joomla, Drupal, PrestaShop, MyBB and more.
Access to cPanel means you also get all the standard tools for manually managing your web space, including FTP, a File Manager, SSH and more. Experienced users will feel at home right away, and beginners shouldn't be too far behind.
We're always keen to test the performance of a web host's support system, and InMotion impressed us right away. We could search the support database from the customer portal, and one click on the Support button gave us links to key guides, options to launch chat via a browser or Skype (if it's installed), a form to create a support ticket, US-based support phone numbers, and more.
This isn't quite as integrated as it seems. The search box lists articles from the support database, but to check it properly you have to open another browser tab – you're able to create a new support ticket, but can't see a history of what's gone before. Still, it's quick, easy to access, and a good starting point if you have a problem.
We headed off to the web support centre, where we found a huge list of InMotion's resources. There were links and sections for Tutorials, Product Guides, Frequently Asked Questions, Educational Channels, a YouTube channel, a community forum and more. We'd much rather have lots of content than none at all, but InMotion has so many sections and subsections that we weren't sure where to look first.
Fortunately, there's a search box, so we tried some of our regular test queries. Searching for ‘import WordPress’ delivered truly excellent results, with multiple related documents appearing at the top of the page, all of them detailed and well-written.
We tried searching on ‘transfer WordPress’ too, and got essentially the same results. That matters as it shows the search has some intelligence, for example understanding that keywords like ‘transfer’ and ‘import’ can both be matches for ‘migrate’ (some searches display literal matches only).
The good news continued with shorter keywords. Searching on ‘permissions’ gave us articles explaining file permissions and how to change them in cPanel. A query for ‘PHP’ produced articles on changing settings, PHP versions and more. ‘MySQL’, ‘Apache’ and more all returned multiple articles, and again these were well-written, with the most relevant near the top.
We weren't just impressed by the content. Each document also displays the date it was written or updated, giving you an idea of its likely usefulness. There's also a comments system, where readers can leave questions and get replies from InMotion staff. That's very handy for clarifying something in the original text.
We checked out the forum, and that was well above-average, too: a fair number of questions (more than 20 in the last week), all answered in detail by InMotion staff.
It's important to understand how the support team responds in a real-world situation, too, and our BoldGrid installation issues (see above) gave us the perfect opportunity to find out. We created a support ticket describing the problem and sent it off.
Within minutes a reply arrived acknowledging the issue, and asking for our credentials so they could fix the problem. We replied; they set the system up for us. However, login still didn't work, but they found the issue and it was quickly solved.
The experience left us with some technical concerns regarding the original problem. It wasn't somehow ‘our fault’ – the install just didn't work as it should. But what won us over is how the support people handled it. The staff were quick, helpful, took responsibility rather than pointing us elsewhere (“go away and look at this link") and did what they said they would do. We were left feeling we were talking to real people with significant technical knowledge who would be able to help us troubleshoot more complex issues, a huge improvement on the basic outsourced support teams you'll often find elsewhere.
To complete our tests, we used Bitcatcha and other benchmarks to assess our site speeds. Our allocated server appeared to be on the east side of the US, as we requested using our account setup, and connections from that side of America were blisteringly fast. There was fractionally more latency than we expected when connecting from the UK, but you wouldn't notice unless you were measuring it, and overall performance was well above-average.
We like the features, the speed, the support, but the best part of InMotion is it seems to be a reliable, professional, honest web hosting company, which isn't trying to rip you off.
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