Skip to main content

Liquid Web review

Premium web hosting for professional users

Hero
(Image: © Liquid Web)

Our Verdict

Liquid Web offers polished and professional hosting. It’s a smart choice for anyone who's more interested in service quality than price.

For

  • Advanced features
  • Solid and reliable platform
  • Professional support team
  • 100% network/power uptime guarantee

Against

  • Above average prices
  • No free trial

Founded more than 20 years ago, US-based Liquid Web has grown into a $100 million web hosting business which now manages 500,000+ sites for 30,000+ customers across its five global data centers.

The company offers powerful managed hosting products targeted squarely at business and professional users. That means no free plans or basic shared hosting products – Liquid Web is far more focused on high performance, highly configurable cloud, managed application and dedicated server products.

Prices can seem high, at least initially. The most basic Personal Managed WordPress plan costs $24.17 a month on the annual plan, for instance, which gets you 20GB SSD storage, 5TB bandwidth and support for a single site. And the $57.50 a month Freelance plan still only provides a basic 40GB storage, 5TB bandwidth and support for four sites.

Meanwhile Bluehost's Build product offers unmetered storage and bandwidth and support for unlimited websites for $24.95 on the annual plan, $29.95 on renewal.

Look at the small print, though, and you'll generally find Liquid Web is offering plenty for your money. There's full access to the server and database, for instance. Automatic daily backups. High-end speedup technologies – PHP 7, Nginx, Varnish, intelligent image optimizations – are included for everyone. The company handles WordPress and plugin updates for you, and if there are still any issues, there's an excellent in-house support team available 24/7 via phone (toll-free in the US), live chat and email.

It's a similar story elsewhere in the range. $29 per month for a starter cloud VPS product and $149 a month for a baseline dedicated server can appear expensive when compared to budget providers, but the reality is a little different.

Liquid Web prices are higher, but that's largely because the company doesn't offer underpowered products to try and hit a headline price. It doesn't force you to pay in other ways with hidden costs and charges, and it gives you powerful features and quality support as standard.

One of the best examples is Liquid Web's service level agreement (SLA) for its dedicated and VPS customers. This guarantees 100% network and power uptime, 59 second response times for help desk, phone and live chat, and once a problem is identified, the faulty hardware should be replaced within 30 minutes. If this is missed you'll be credited for 10 times the amount of the length of your outage.

That's significantly better than you'll usually see elsewhere, and if you're running a business-critical site, this could justify the cost of Liquid Web all on its own.

Product Comparison

(Image credit: Liquid Web)

Account setup

Liquid Web hosting may be aimed at professional users, but the service website goes to unusual efforts to explain its product range and point you in the right direction. You're not left to figure out the difference between Dedicated and Cloud Dedicated plans, for instance: a well-written 'Help Me Choose' section clearly describes each product type, explains its most common applications and links you to a page with more details.

Select the type of product you need, and the website presents you with a clear and simple comparison of the various plans. There's plenty of information on the features you get, and useful FAQs give you instant answers to questions like 'How do I move my site?' and 'Can I upgrade my VPS?'

Liquid Web isn't trying to market its products solely on price, too, which makes for a refreshing lack of marketing trickery. You don't have to sign up for years to get the headline deal, for instance – there are only monthly and annual plans, and the site clearly quotes both.

When you get to the product page, you might find hosting can be even cheaper than the headline rate. Managed VPS is advertised as 'from' $59 a month, for example, but if you're happy to look after more of the server yourself, you can get a plan from as little as $49 per month.

If you're still unsure what you need, the Liquid Web site offers live chat where you can ask a sales agent for more information. We gave this a try and the agent quickly answered all our product and technical questions.

Account Setup

(Image credit: Liquid Web)

Once you're ready, choose a plan, hand over your contact details (name, email and physical address, phone number) and pay via card or PayPal. It's all very straightforward, and your account should be activated at speed.

We signed up for a managed WordPress plan, and within minutes a welcome email arrived including our login credentials, advice on migrating a previous website, and links for our account, the WordPress console, Liquid Web's billing area and support resources.

The website suggested that we would also get a phone call from our 'personal Sales Engineer' to introduce themselves, verify our order and answer any questions. Some might see this as intrusive, but the engineer isn't pushy, in our experience, and if you're not interested, the conversation can be over in under a minute. If you're unsure about anything, though, the engineers have a good level of technical knowledge, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Creating a Site

(Image credit: Liquid Web)

Creating a site

LiquidWeb's web management portal is a comprehensive dashboard that's absolutely stuffed with hosting management details: account profile, billing details, payment information, account history, domain management, firewall settings, server images, support tickets, a web knowledgebase and more.

There's real depth here, too. The History area doesn't just report when you signed for a new server, for instance - it includes a log of significant server events, too (checking for licenses, configuring the operating system, shutdowns, reboots and more.)

Refreshingly, there's a distinct lack of upselling. Our portal had one tiny ad at the bottom left of the sidebar, effectively invisible as we would never scroll down far enough to see it. 

If you have an existing site, the Migration Center enables requesting a free migration from LiquidWeb's support team. We didn't test this service, but our positive experiences with LiquidWeb support and the detailed guidance on the support site leave us thinking they'll do a better import job than most competitors.

A Manage link took us to the console for our managed WordPress account. This included some unusual but welcome extras, including the ability to save our existing WordPress site as a 'stencil' (a template for creating future sites), and option to add users, individuals with their own login credentials, who could help us with site development.

The standard WordPress Dashboard is just a click away. We were able to install our preferred plugins, choose a theme, tweak site settings and create and publish posts as usual.

That's probably enough functionality to create and manage a WordPress site, but if you need more, SFTP and SSH support enables managing your project at the file and folder level.

Support

(Image credit: Liquid Web)

Support

Checking out the support a web host offers can tell you a lot about the company, so it's wise to take a closer look before you buy.

Liquid Web's support website impressed us immediately with its depth and range. The opening pages clearly explained what was on offer, listed the support available with various levels of plans, provided a searchable knowledgebase crammed with tutorials and guides, and even pointed us to some useful custom tools (an SSL certificate checker, a DNS record viewer and more).

The knowledgebase organizes its articles into 4 categories: Getting Started, Tutorials, Series (we're not sure what that means, either) and Common Fixes.

These may not be as helpful as you hope. We clicked Common Fixes and the first page had articles like 'How to enable EPEL repository' and 'How to use the Mail Queue Manager in WHM', neither of which sound like a common fix to us.

For some reason the knowledgebase displays hundreds of words of some of these articles, too, forcing you to scroll down to look for anything that might be useful. It would make much more sense to limit the summary to a couple of lines, enabling users to see more articles at a glance.

There are smarter ways to try and find the articles you need, including a search box and a blog-like tag cloud. Results don't always have the most likely useful articles at the top of the list, but this time they're summarized in a few lines, making it easy to scroll the list and find whatever you need.

We browsed the knowledgebase and found plenty of well-written content covering everything from the setup basics to helpful advice on topics from 'How to use Remote Desktop to transfer files to your Windows Server' to 'Using Stripe as a payment gateway in WooCommerce'.

If you can't find what you need, Liquid Web's support team is available 24/7 via live chat, telephone and email. There's no outsourcing support to the lowest bidder, either: the company has its own large team of Windows, Cisco and Red Hat Linux-certified technicians on hand to help you out.

It's not practical to reliably assess this level of professional support in a short-term review, but in our experience the Liquid Web team performs very well, showing a depth of knowledge which goes far beyond what you would see with budget hosting providers.

Performance

(Image credit: Uptime.com)

Performance

Reliability is a critical element of hosting, especially for professional users. If your site is down or a poor performer, that'll quickly get you a poor reputation with your visitors.

To measure reliability, we use Uptime.com to monitor a test site over a period of a week. Every five minutes, Uptime accesses a page on our site, then logs its success (or failure) and the server response time.

LiquidWeb scored a perfect 100% uptime, without a single failure over our more than 2,000 checks.

Average response time was unspectacular at 372ms. We've seen better - WP Engine managed 149ms - but we've also seen a lot worse, and it's worth keeping in mind that these are default settings. Apply a few optimizations, set up a CDN and it's likely to be very different.

What's more interesting here is how consistent the response times are. As you can see on the chart, there were a few blips across the week, with one delay reaching 950ms, but most of the time our server response times varied by little more than 20ms. That's an excellent record, and suggests our site would deliver consistent and reliable performance over time.

Final verdict

Liquid Web hosting costs more than most, but you get more, too – powerful features, solid and reliable servers and excellent support available 24/7.