You might think Yahoo (opens in new tab) is all about funky fonts, mega chat rooms and search features - and you might just have a point - but the internet giant has its own small business web hosting arm, too.
A simple template-based Starter plan (opens in new tab) gives you 3GB storage, SSL, a yahoosites.com subdomain and 24/7 phone and chat for free. There's no email support and your website has ads, but that's no surprise, and it does at least give you a risk-free way to sample the service.
The Basics and Professionals plans (opens in new tab) give you 5-10GB storage, unlimited bandwidth, a free domain (that's free for the lifetime of your subscription) and 1-10 email addresses and unlimited aliases. Prices of $4.99-$9.49 aren't bad for a drag-and-drop website builder, but the storage and email limits are an issue, and you don't have to live with them. HostGator's starter website builder plan (opens in new tab) supports custom domains, unmetered storage and no email account limits for $3.84 a month over the first two years, $7.68 on renewal.
The regular web hosting plans (opens in new tab) caught our eye with their low headline prices - from $2.59 a month, really? - but then we noticed these required signing up for five years. Sign up for a year and you'll pay $5.99 a month, and opt for monthly billing and the fee leaps to $10.99.
- Want to try Yahoo Web Hosting? Check out the website here (opens in new tab)
This gets you free SSL and, again, a free domain for the life of the plan (other providers usually give you one free year only), but otherwise there are limits everywhere: 10 site pages, 100GB storage, 100GB monthly bandwidth, 250 email addresses.
Lifting these limits requires upgrading to the Premier plan (opens in new tab). If you can live with the 5-year plan, $4.89 looks like decent value, but if 12 months is your maximum, expect to pay $11.99.
For comparison, Namecheap's Stellar Plus (opens in new tab) supports unmetered storage and bandwidth, unlimited domains and email addresses, a free domain and privacy protection for a year, and SSL thrown in. It's priced at a tiny $2.44 a month in year one, $4.88 on renewal. Paying for domain renewals will bump that up, but it's still significantly cheaper.
Elsewhere, Yahoo's WordPress hosting (opens in new tab) range supports unlimited website installations but doesn't have many WordPress specific features; no clever plugin updating scheme, no staging, no special performance optimizations or anything else. It's all fairly ordinary, but then so is the price: $6.49 a month on the annual plan.
The Web Store ecommerce hosting (opens in new tab) range is more interesting, especially the Starter plan (opens in new tab), which includes unlimited product listings, credit card and PayPal processing and UPS shipping integration for just $10.95 a month paid annually.
That's where Yahoo runs out of products, though, which could be bad news for power users. If you're after VPS (opens in new tab), cloud hosting (opens in new tab), dedicated servers (opens in new tab) or anything similar, then you're out of luck: there's nothing like that here.
The Yahoo website does a poor job of explaining what you get with its various plans. There's little technical detail, and what you do get is often poorly described. Hosting includes 'backup and restore tools', for instance, but are there automatic backups, are they on demand, both? Daily, weekly, more? Ten email addresses, great - what size of inbox do you get? Easy WordPress installations, good news - anything else? Yahoo isn't saying.
Pricing could benefit from a little more detail, too. The site explains that WordPress hosting is '$6.49 per month with an annual pre-paid plan', but that only left us with more questions. Is this an introductory discount? Are there monthly plans? Can we get a discount if we sign up for longer? What's that as a total? All of these could be answered in a line or two of text, but instead you must hit 'Choose plan', enter a domain and start the purchase process before you can find out.
Once you've figured out the detail, buying a plan works much like any other web host: choose a product, enter your details and pay via card or PayPal.
After signing up, Yahoo directed us to its very plain account dashboard, little more than a plain text list of service types - WordPress Hosting, Website Builder, Web Hosting and so on - where most say 'you don't have any of these services at this time', and one lists your product details.
It all looks horribly basic, but is at least easy to use. There's no need to hunt through sidebars and menus and tabs to find what you need, as there aren't anyway- just browse the list of links and click whatever looks relevant.
Creating a site
Launch Yahoo's web hosting panel for the first time and it gives you a handful of site-building options.
The 'Websites' button takes you to Yahoo's template-based website builder, where you're able to create a good-looking site within minutes.
A more advanced Dev Tools option allows you to 'choose from a list of preloaded apps or write your own', Yahoo explains.
If your hosting plan supports it, you'll also get an option to install and activate WordPress. This is quick and reasonably easy - the support site describes the process in this article (opens in new tab) - but Yahoo supports installing WordPress only. Other shared hosting packages often include Softaculous, a powerful platform which can set up WordPress and hundreds of other top apps.
Yahoo doesn't include cPanel, and instead has a hosting control panel of its own. This covers the basics, with a file manager, backup and restore module, and tools for setting up domains, managing databases, installing SSL certificates and so on, but it can't begin to match cPanel's power or range of features.
Be careful if you're hoping to build a website from scratch using Yahoo's starter hosting plan, too. Most web hosts give you the same cPanel features with every level of plan, if maybe with some restrictions (only one database supported with the cheapest plan, say.) Yahoo's baseline hosting plan doesn't allow you to manually work with databases at all, so your only options are to upload a static site or use the company's template-based site builder.
The process of getting started on your website is quick and painless. As the control panel is so neatly laid out, most users will have no trouble navigating around it. Users can access learning resources from the main dashboard. There is a web hosting glossary along with some ‘getting started’ guides. Underneath this you can choose to see the latest news and resources in Yahoo Small Business.
Yahoo Small Business Community help, which can be accessed via the main dashboard, allows you to view hundreds of answered questions. The ‘Web Hosting’ section offers information on File Manager, Malware, MySQL, PageBuilder, PERL, PHP and much more. If you still find this is not enough, you can choose to contact customer support, with live chat or phone support available 24/7. You can also open a support ticket for specific issues. We submitted a ticket to the team in relation to a query about the Control Panel. They come back in just under 2 hours and were more than helpful in their response. However, if you need a response quicker than that then speaking to a live agent is the speeder option.
As you’d expect from a major search engine, the Community Search feature is very helpful, displaying multiple useful articles for most queries.
Yahoo warns that it can take up to 24 hours for your site to become active after you choose to publish it. However, the site we published became active in less than two hours.
To complete the review, we used Uptime.com to monitor the availability and response time of our test site over seven days. Uptime was 100%, but average response time was below par at 403ms (the best providers are half that), and further performance checks with Dotcom-Tools' Website Speed Test (opens in new tab) and Bitcatcha (opens in new tab) also showed slower-than-most results.
Yahoo’s shared web hosting plans offer a great deal. However, they are only that: shared web hosting. The company doesn’t offer VPS, dedicated or WordPress hosting.
HostGator (opens in new tab), for example, offers a choice of Linux or Windows-based servers. All packages also come with unlimited data transfers and storage. HostGator, DreamHost and Hostwinds are better choices for more advanced users or those who want more variety when it comes to plans. Hostwinds (opens in new tab) has a range of plans starting at $3.29 per month depending on the duration of your subscription. It also offers VPS, dedicated servers and cloud services.
DreamHost (opens in new tab) starts at $2.59 per month with unlimited hosting and free domain registration. It also doesn’t charge for privacy protection (a paid extra with most domain registrars), and offers the choice of VPS hosting, shared hosting, dedicated hosting and cloud hosting.
Yahoo Web Hosting could be a decent choice for undemanding users with simple projects who may need a lot of in-house help. Speeds were below average in testing, though, and there are no VPS or dedicated server plans if you're looking for an upgrade later.