The company doesn't waste your time with feeble shared hosting, or limited WordPress hosting plans. It's far more focused on power, with ranges including KVM-based managed VPS, co-location and bare metal servers.
These can look expensive, with for example HostDime's website highlighting its VPS hosting as starting from $75 (£57.70) for 1vCPU, 2GB RAM and 60GB storage. 1&1 can give you 4vCPU, 8GB RAM and 160GB of storage for £19.99 ($25.99) a month for the first year, and £29.99 ($38.99) afterwards.
There's a distinct shortage on bundled extras, too. No free SSL certificates here, for instance – prices start at a minimum of $30 (£23.07) a year.
The headline figures don't tell the full story, though. That HostDime $75 figure is for fully managed VPS hosting in the Orlando data center, billed monthly, and if you choose self-managed hosting, and pay annually, the price can drop to an effective $32.08 (£24.67) a month.
Even the most basic HostDime plans offer real advantages, including a choice of data centers spread across four continents, 15TB allocated bandwidth, a speedy 1Gb/s GigE uplink and a couple of usable IPs. 24/7/365 in-house support (no outsourcing here) is on hand to quickly solve any issues.
Dedicated servers offer better value. Even the baseline 4 core system comes with 16GB RAM, 480GB of SSD storage, 4 usable IP addresses and a very impressive 25TB bandwidth, for instance. The comparable Liquid Web plan gives you only 5TB for around the same price.
HostDime doesn't have any form of trial, unfortunately, but that's no great surprise for a business host. You still get a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, and that should be plenty of time to find out what the service can do.
HostDime has relatively few products, and at first glance they seem easy enough to compare. Browse the front page, click the Explore VPS Options button, and you're able to choose the amount of CPU power, RAM and storage you need.
Unfortunately, it's a little more complicated than that. As we've mentioned, prices vary depending on whether you're choosing managed or unmanaged hosting (HostDime looks after the server, or you do), and the server location you choose. For example, US unmanaged VPS starts at $35 (£26.92), UK managed VPS starts at $50 (£38.46), and US managed VPS starts at $75 (£57.69).
Features vary between locations, too. UK managed VPS is cheap in part because the baseline price doesn't include cPanel, and adding it will cost an additional $15 (£11.54). US VPS hosting is still more expensive, but it supports many more operating systems than the UK's CentOS 7, with options including Debian, Ubuntu and even Windows 2012 Server Standard, if you're willing to pay the $30 (£23.08) monthly premium.
The HostDime website doesn't provide any central way to clearly compare these, but if you choose your location first, or open a couple of locations side-by-side, it's easier to understand what's available.
We signed up for UK hosting within a couple of minutes, went on to complete a very long 'Create a new account' form, and finally handed over our cash (unusually, HostDime supports Bitcoin, as well as PayPal and credit cards.)
Some web hosts activate your account immediately, but HostDime is a little more relaxed, with our web space taking around seven hours to become available. That's not unusual for high-end hosting, though, and HostDime compensated by sending a very detailed Welcome email which came crammed with vital information: IP addresses, WHM/cPanel login URL, SSH credentials, name servers, support links, company policies and more.
Managing your site
HostDime provides multiple routes to access and manage your web space. Exactly what you'll get depends on the package, the control panel and the level of management you choose, but these were the three main options provided with our UK VPS product.
HostDime's CORE system is a proprietary console for handling some account and server management tasks. It created a poor first impression by immediately demanding we read and accept more than 14,000 words of poorly formatted small print, but picked up immediately afterwards.
CORE opens with the usual account and contact information, but there's plenty of other functionality. You can set up null routes, access a VNC console to manage the site, stop and restart a VPS, check bandwidth use, change passwords, make and manage support requests, and more.
WHM (Web Host Manager) is a powerful set of tools for managing servers and multiple websites. Many web hosting companies use WHM to divide up a server into multiple accounts, assign domains and DNS zones, create cPanel accounts, monitor performance, manage backups and more. Individuals can do so, too, although it's probably overkill for single sites.
If you're just looking for regular cPanel management, you could use WHM for long enough to create an account, then switch back to cPanel and use it as normal. It's not straightforward, but if you have enough web experience to register a domain and update your DNS records, you'll have no significant problems.
Alternatively, real experts who need the maximum flexibility get root access to the server via SSH.
Optional extras include the ability to buy Softaculous licenses ($5 a month), enabling easy installation of WordPress and other top web apps.
Overall, HostDime offers a good set of standard solutions which include all the high-end functionality you need to manage your VPS or server.
All web hosting plans need quality support, but it's particularly important when you're managing your own server and maybe using it to host multiple websites.
HostDime claims it offers a 'continued focus on personal customer care', and will 'treat customers as partners'. Many hosts say something similar, and it's often just marketing spin, but the HostDime website does have some unusual and interesting touches.
When we signed up for our VPS, for instance, a web form prompted us to enter any custom Apache modules we'd like the company to install, or any other special setup instructions. We didn't test that so can't be sure exactly what HostDime will do, but it does indicate the company is trying to provide a truly personal service, and it deserves some credit for that.
There's good news on tech support, too, with HostDime's in-house team available 24/7/365 by phone, live chat and a well-designed ticket system. All these support routes don't seem to be equal, and for instance the live chat window suggests its support agents mainly help "if your hosting service is unavailable" or "you have other basic technical support issues." Still, our intentionally vague support ticket received a helpful and detailed response in less than 30 minutes, significantly better than you'll see with many of HostDime's budget competition.
Running server performance tests doesn't mean very much when HostDime has so many servers and data centers to choose from, but we checked out our UK location anyway, and found it delivered above average speeds to just about everywhere. Your mileage may vary, but that's a very good start.
HostDime isn't cheap, but the well-specified products and powerful management tools could provide the ideal solution for demanding business users.
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