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Fasthosts review

We sample the veteran UK tech firm’s latest hosting plans

21:9 Hero
(Image: © Fasthosts)

Our Verdict

Fasthosts does offer a wide range of features but be prepared to pay for them after the company's promotional period has ended.

For

  • More features included than in most plans
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • SSL certificate included on every plan except the cheapest one

Against

  • No SSL certificate included in some plans
  • Significant price hikes after a certain period
  • Live chat only available during business hours

Fasthosts has been in the web hosting business since 1999 and is based in Gloucester, England. They also operate the domain name registrar UKreg. Interestingly, the company was started by a 17-year-old Andrew Michael as part of a school project, and was named the second fastest growing tech company in the UK in 2002. They were sold to German internet service provider United Internet in 2006. Nowadays, they claim to manage over 1.2 million domains and 42 million emails of daily traffic. As far as other services go, the company says they have over 320,000 websites hosted, and over 650,000 customer mailboxes. 

Although the company does not give the exact number of their data centers, they say that they’re “located alongside our offices in Gloucester, UK.” They’re also powered by renewable energy from Ørsted, a Danish multinational power company that is one of the few suppliers in the UK that only provides renewable energy. 

Fasthosts offersa wide range of hosting-related services including domain name registration. Each of the plans they offer include more than many similar ones from other providers, but the advertised prices are only valid through a promotional period and are subject to doubling after that time

Pricing

Fasthosts' plans start out cheap but there is a significant price hike after six months (Image credit: Fasthosts)

Pricing

Fasthosts offers relatively cheap web hosting plans, with the its cheapest Ignite plan starting from £2.50 ($3.26) per month for the first six months and includes one website, a free domain for a year, unlimited bandwidth, 10 GB SSD storage, two 1 GB databases, some basic SEO tools, and five 2GB mailboxes. 

The next cheapest plan, Momentum, goes for £5 ($6.52) per month and significantly increases some aspects: for example, you get 100 mailboxes, 20 databases, 20 GB SSD storage, and three websites, as well as advanced SEO tools. 

All prices exclude VAT and are doubled after the first half-year. WordPress hosting starts at £3.24 ($4.23) per month per website (for the first six months) and includes a discount if you need more websites. The company accepts credit/debit cards and PayPal and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Ease of use

Creating an account with Fasthosts is surprisingly simple: you only need to provide your full name, email address (which also acts as your username), and a (secure) password. 

Dashboard

You can manage all of your plans, domains and more from Fasthosts' dashboard (Image credit: Fasthosts)

Their Dashboard is a far cry from a cPanel, but it’s still pretty easy to navigate. When purchasing a plan, you’ll be prompted to add a year-long free SSL certificate to the basket. Even if you haven’t completed the purchase, you can log into your Dashboard and go from there, and it tends to give a better overview of their products than navigating through their website. However, if you already have your product and don’t plan on upgrading anytime soon, the rest of their tabs are pretty useless.

One Click Installer

You can easily install WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and other apps using Fasthosts' one click installer (Image credit: Fasthosts)

If you’re not interested in WordPress, you can always upload your own website through their pretty standard FTP. However, the fact that they don’t have the usual File Manager - commonly found with any cPanel interface - means that you’ll need slightly more technical knowhow to do this than you would otherwise. 

If you have no website at all, Fasthosts offers their own website builder for a free trial for up to three months. Bear in mind, however, that should you be unsatisfied with the feature, you can only cancel your contract within the first 30 days. The Essential package, which usually costs £4.99 per month, can only be used for free for one month, while the Complete one, which includes email and a shop, costs £9.99 per month and has a three-month free trial. The former only includes 10 pages, while the latter has no such limitations, and both include an SSL certificate.

Performance

We used GTmetrix to measure the performance of our Fasthosts site (Image credit: GTmetrix)

Speed and experience

According to a test run through GTmetrix, Fasthosts offers a reasonably good service, at least judging by their own main website. It took 4.5 seconds to fully load, which is almost half the time of the average 8 seconds -- 93 requests were slightly more than the average of 88, but nothing too extreme.

Interestingly, Fasthosts doesn’t make any promises regarding uptime - other than claiming to offer “reliable uptime” - but their status page says they roll out any updates on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays between 6 am and 8 am, but they add that the vast majority of their maintenance is done without any need for downtime. During our uptime test of their main website, which ran for two weeks, we recorded no downtime, but the website does take relatively long to respond to requests.

Support

Fasthosts offers support via live chat, email and over the phone (Image credit: Fasthosts)

Support

Fasthosts offers support through live chat but only during business hours. However, nobody prevents you from sending them an email or even calling their 24/7 phone number - should you choose the latter, be sure to have your account number and support code handy to speed up the process. But before you reach out to their support staff, you’re encouraged to check whether your problem is a known issue that is already being worked on (available under the system status tab in your control panel) or if your question has already been answered in some of their many guides. 

There is also a community available, but it is not very popular, and some of the days-old posts have not been tended to at the time of writing. Additionally, a Fasthosts blog offers general tips and advice on all things related to hosting.

The competition

A significant advantage of Catalyst2, compared to Fasthosts, is its straightforward pricing, which is also extremely cheap, but the product is much more limited than what Fasthosts offers. 

eUKhost is another UK-based hosting provider with dedicated WordPress hosting and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Most of their features are the same as the ones Fasthosts offers, but both could use some work in terms of support.

Although similar in price to Fasthosts, Hostgator has a significant price hike only after three years, instead of six months in the case of Fasthosts. They also offer many guides and articles designed to help even the least tech-savvy beginners find their way around.

Another hosting provider with a price hike, Bluehost also happens to increase its prices 36 months into your plan, instead of six. However, their data centers are notably in the US, instead of the UK as is the case with Fasthosts.

Final verdict

Fasthosts is a decent enough choice for many UK-based individuals and small businesses, but without any features that would make them a leader in the space. Many users could find a similar service with better features at either Hostgator or Bluehost.