Established in 2001, Webhosting UK (which refers to itself as WHUK for short) is an experienced website hosting company with a wide and keenly-priced product range.
Shared hosting starts at £2.49 ($3.10) a month, for instance, with cPanel, Windows, managed WordPress and Magento options, and a Website Builder.
The plan specification is mostly very impressive, with a 99.9% uptime SLA, unlimited bandwidth, emails and databases, support for hosting two websites (most budget plans restrict you to one) and a free domain with the annual plan.
The only real issue is a 5GB storage limit which seems low, although it's important to keep in mind that this figure is always for your website only – the web pages, data and any application code (WordPress or anything else you might use). Unless you're planning to host a couple of huge WordPress blogs that are going to get many thousands of visitors a day, it's unlikely to be a problem.
Support is well specified, especially if you're also in the UK. There's 24/7 telephone support on a free 0800 number, you can set up a call-back to avoid waiting, and there's live chat available whenever you need it. Customers can also opt to use Webhosting UK's contact form.
Power users can opt for managed VPS servers from £12.99 ($16.30) a month, cloud servers from £25 ($31.30) and dedicated servers from £69.99 ($87.70) for 10TB of monthly bandwidth. These aren't the cheapest prices we've seen, but they're competitive, the specs aren't bad, and the range could be appealing, especially if you're a UK-based user and looking for a host closer to home.
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WHUK makes it easy to view and understand what you are getting with each of its shared web hosting plans. Users can easily compare each plan as they are neatly laid out side-by-side on the page.
Some folks might find billing confusing. This is due to the main price plan page mentioning a 'per month' price, but then showing a quarterly billing period once you go to checkout.
Fortunately, WHUK doesn't seem to be trying to hide anything dubious, in fact quite the opposite. The baseline £2.49 ($3.10) shared hosting plan doesn't require signing up for three years or pull other tricks like tripling the price on renewal – it's the standard price, and gives you a bill of £8.97 ($11.20) to be paid every quarter. That's so much better than the competition, we're surprised that the company isn't boasting about it on the front page.
Decide to buy and as usual, you're asked to provide your personal details to create an account: email address, physical address, phone number and more. You are also asked whether you would like to ensure you're ‘compliant to PCI Standards’ for an extra $10 (£8) annually, just in case at any stage you end up handling sensitive information such as credit cards.
On the plus side, the company has an explicit option to ‘Disable Automatic CC Processing’, which is welcome if you'd prefer to keep control of account renewals. Webhosting UK accepts the usual credit cards but users can also choose to pay via PayPal.
Once we were happy with our details and payment choice, we were able to log in to our hosting panel.
Creating a site
Logging in to WHUK initially took us to a cluttered and largely pointless customer portal. We were hoping to see our hosting product listed up front with a Manage button – instead there was a silhouette, a button to upload an ‘avatar’, and an email icon displaying several unread messages.
We skipped all that and logged on to WHUK's familiar X3-themed cPanel. Experienced users will know where everything is immediately, but hosting newbies can switch to the Paper Lantern theme for a more up-to-date, less intimidating and better organized view.
Scrolling to the bottom of the screen reveals the Softaculous one-click installer. Icons for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, PrestaShop, Magento and others are displayed upfront, and clicking any of these displays its details in the excellent Softaculous interface. This organizes hundreds of apps into multiple categories, displays overviews, feature lists and screenshots, links to a demo, and user reviews.
Once you've found what you need, Softaculous enables installing it with a minimum of hassle. It's not quite ‘one-click’ – you should enter a strong password, a blog title and a few other basic details – but there are no database or other complications and even hosting newbies will get it done in a couple of minutes.
If a simple one-page site is enough for now, cPanel's Site Publisher handles the basics. It's very limited, offering just 12 templates – and mostly all you do is customize your contact data and an image – but it'll give you a quick and easy placeholder until you can come up with something else.
If you just need to upload a site you've created already, WHUK gives you speedy access to File Manager, FTP setup and other key features. These aren't quite as newbie-friendly as some custom host manager consoles, but there's more functionality, and because cPanel is such a standard there's a vast amount of help out there online. Enter something like ‘cPanel File Manager’ in Google to see what's available.
We began our WHUK tests by checking out its web support system. We found the quickest way to get issues resolved was through the live chat, which is par for the course. An agent was with us in less than a minute and was more than able to answer all of our many queries such as whether the Paper Lantern theme was offered and how to raise a support ticket.
We found our own way to the WHUK knowledgebase, which is not as impressive as some competitors. Although the Sales FAQ section had 218 articles, Shared Hosting had only 91, which maybe says something about the company's priorities. And it's hard to believe that the top-listed article titles really represent what users most want to know, such as "Using MySQLdump to Backup Single Table in MySQL Db" and "Is there an option so that I can specifically move emails marked as spam to a specific folder".
We ran assorted searches covering common tasks (‘Import WordPress’) and single keyword checks on key technologies (MySQL, PHP, Apache and so on). These resulted in some very useful results which left us satisfied we had found answers to our questions.
We were excited to see WHUK offered forum support and a blog site. However, there did not seem to be a huge amount of activity in the shared hosting forums and the blog section was non-existent. This left us feeling ever so slightly let down.
We tried the 0800 number and it was answered in under a minute by a very polite and helpful agent. We're less sure how they would cope with complex issues, but the typical shared hosting customer probably won't run into these very often, and overall the agents do a lot to make up for the feeble support website.
To complete our checks, we ran Bitcatcha and other performance benchmarks on our allocated server. UK response times were fast, which is to be expected from a local server, but we also witnessed relatively speedy connections from the US. Overall WHUK speeds were acceptable for most purposes.
Webhosting UK's basic plan seems good value if you can live with the 5GB storage limit, but certain areas of customer support leave a lot to be desired. Test the service in-depth if you buy.