California-based Arvixe has been providing web hosting for personal and business websites since 2003, and is now owned by Endurance International Group, the power behind tech names like Domain.com, Bluehost, iPage, SiteBuilder.com and more.
Arvixe creates a poor first impression, with a dated-looking website and strong indications that the company isn't very interested, any more.
The front page of the site still has a link for Google+, for instance, more than a year after it was discontinued.
Its Facebook and LinkedIn icons point to subdomains of Arvixe with an invalid certificate. We chose to ignore the browser warning, just to see what would happen, and were redirected to the customer account area.
The Twitter link was the only one that worked, but it's hardly worth the visit; Arvixe's page has had only two tweets since September 2016.
Arvixe does at least have a wide range of products, including shared and application hosting, VPS, dedicated servers, reseller accounts and more.
There's 24/7 support on hand to keep your site up and running, and shared, reseller and VPS products are protected by a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
- Want to try Arvixe? Check out the website here
Shared hosting is priced from $7.70 a month over two years, $10 billed monthly. (There's no introductory discount, so you won't get any nasty surprises with price hikes at renewal time.)
The starter plan has some appealing features: unmetered bandwidth, storage, databases and email addresses; support for hosting up to six domains; easy installation of WordPress and 400+ other apps via Softaculous, and free domain registration for a year.
SSL is $25 a year extra, though. There are plenty of similar plans which include SSL, and offer special introductory prices that could save you even more money.
HostGator's Baby plan supports hosting unlimited domains from $3.95 a month over the first three years, for instance, $9.95 on renewal.
Or if price is your top priority, Namecheap provides 20GB storage and support for hosting three domains for $1.44 a month in year one, $2.88 afterwards.
Arvixe' VPS plans start at what looks like an expensive $58.30 a month, until we scanned the feature list and realized when we were getting.
Resources were higher than most starter plans at 4 cores and 1.5GB RAM, with unlimited bandwidth and SSL thrown in.
This is a managed plan, too, which means Arvixe will take care of most of the low-level server technicalities (setup, updates and so on.)
There's also a cPanel license, which makes running your VPS almost as straightforward as a shared hosting account.
If you need cPanel and the support, Arvixe is decent value. But if you don't, there are big savings to be made with other providers. For example, Namecheap charges $19.88 a month over a year for a 4 core, 6GB RAM, 120GB storage, 3TB bandwidth VPS.
The Arvixe website lists three dedicated servers starting from $89.99 a month. That's not as cheap as it sounds, though, because you need to sign up for three years to get that deal, and it doubles on renewal to $189. They're HostGator plans, too - Arvixe is just linking to them - so if you're interested, you'll find more details on HostGator's own Dedicated Server pages.)
The Arvixe website provides much more detail than many hosts on the low-level specs of its plans. You don't have to wonder whether the company restricts the number of subdomains or FTP accounts you can create, for instance, because the details are right there on the list (they're both unlimited).
Choose a plan and you're presented with a range of optional extras: $100 Bing and Google AdWords credits for free (US and Canadian customers only), $25 for a one-year AlphaSSL certificate and $149 for a Wildcard SSL Certificate.
Creating an account requires handing over your personal contact details, and Arvixe supports payments via card and PayPal. We took the PayPal route, paid as usual, and within seconds the company confirmed our order and redirected us to its client area.
Some providers force customers to wait while they prepare and activate your account, but not Arvixe; a Welcome email arrived with login links, credentials and other details within two minutes of receiving our PayPal payment confirmation.
Creating a site
Arvixe's web dashboard is powered by WHMCS, the industry-standard platform for web hosting management. It's not our favorite interface, but it's used by most smaller web hosts, and anyone who's used a few providers will probably recognize it right away.
Heading off to cPanel got us access to Softaculous, a powerful but easy-to-use auto-installer. It set up WordPress for us in a couple of minutes and with minimal hassle, but there are hundreds of other apps available, covering everything from web stores and image galleries to wikis, portals and forums.
Arvixe has a free SiteBuilder, too. We clicked its link and the site presented us with a choice of 191 templates. These were decent quality, but what caught our attention was the browser 'Not secure' warning. Checking more closely, the sitepro.arvixe.com URL wasn't able to use HTTPS because its certificate was from sitepro.arvixevps.com.
We raised a support ticket about SiteBuilder's problems. The response time was a lengthy 36 hours, and the agent told us
"The Arvixe Builder tool in cPanel was a part of our legacy site builder which we have stopped providing support for, as there are many CMS applications that can be used to build the site, preferably WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and more. Unfortunately, for some reason, the tool was not removed from the cPanel and is still shown, as such there's SSL certificate error."
The Builder isn't just included in cPanel, it's also advertised as a part of the package on the Arvixe website. It's really not good enough to tell customers, once they've signed up, that this is a legacy feature which isn't supported any more. If the company can 'forget' to update its website about as fundamental a detail as this, how can we trust anything else it says?
Still, there's better news elsewhere. If you're not interested in WordPress or the SiteBuilder, maybe because you've built your site already, cPanel provides everything you need to get it uploaded and set up: FTP, File Manager, SSH, MySQL database management and more.
We weren't impressed by the 36 hour delay in responding to our support ticket, but still wanted to check out how the rest of the support system works.
Arvixe' cPanel setup includes what look like handy options to search the knowledgebase and open a support ticket, but they're not quite as useful as you might think.
The 'Search' option takes you to what claims to be a Knowledgebase, but it has no categories, and no articles. Whatever keywords you type in the search box, it always displays 'no articles found.'
Open a ticket, maybe? We clicked the link and a prompt told us 'you can submit a ticket by selecting the appropriate department below.' But immediately below, a message warned: 'No support departments found. Please try again later.'
We tried the Knowledgebase link in the customer portal, and this time the site directed us to the Arvixe support site.
The site got off to a poor start when we noticed its large 'Latest Update' panel was almost empty, apart from six slightly depressing words: 'We've got nothing to display here.'
The Knowledgebase has more than 350 articles, but it's not easy to find the content you need. Click a category like 'cPanel/WHM/Linux', for instance, and articles are presented in alphabetical order than sorted by relevance, or the number of views.
We tried the search box, but with very disappointing results. For example, entering WordPress returned only five mostly useless articles on the 2018 release of WordPress 5.0, troubleshooting the 'blank page' issue, installing apps from Plesk, running backups from Softaculous and how to change the PHP version on your site. If you've the tiniest amount of WordPress experience, you could come up with a better collection of articles in a couple of hours.
The main website has a 'Discussion Board' link; maybe that would help. Oh, okay, no - a URL of 'forum.arvixe.com' suggests there was a web forum there, once, but now it redirects to a service status page.
Live chat is available 24/7, and although the chat window suggested we might have to wait up to five minutes, an agent joined the chat within seconds, and answered our test questions within a couple of minutes. There is help available if you need it, then, but we'd like to see the support site fixed and extended, too. Live chat is useful, but it's no substitute for having a set of quality tutorials and guides you can follow at your own pace.
Arvixe hadn't impressed us so far, but maybe our performance tests would deliver better results.
After setting up a simple static site on a regular shared hosting account, we configured Uptime.com to check its availability and response time at five-minute intervals over a 7-day period.
Uptime was 100%, a welcome plus for the service. It's what we expect for short-term tests, but not everyone achieves it, so Arvixe deserves some credit.
Response times averaged a creditable 253ms. As we write, that placed Arvixe in 9th place out of more than 30 starter shared hosting packages. Our server was relatively consistent, too, with a response time range of 225-477ms. Only five of our 30 test sites had a lower 'worst case' time, and six had some responses delayed for more than a second.
Dotcom-Tools' Website Speed Test measures page load time from 16 locations around the USA and Europe. It calculated an average load time of 829ms for Arvixe, again making the company faster than most (most providers hit 700ms-1.2s, although some stretch to 1.5s or more.)
While that's good news, keep in mind that we're comparing basic shared hosting products only, and our results can't tell you what you'll see with VPS, dedicated or other high-end plans.
Arvixe's performance is better than most, but that can't quite make up for its many problems: the basic product range, above average prices, and the mess of a website with its broken links and distinct lack of maintenance. If a web host doesn't have the resources to manage its own website, what other tasks might it be skipping?
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