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PlanetHippo review

The cheap prices might draw you in but what is on offer may not make you stay in the long run

21:9 Hero
(Image: © Planet Hippo)

Our Verdict

Planet Hippo is good for those looking for a bargain, but definitely not suited for anyone still learning.

For

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Great choice of one-click install apps
  • Decent uptime

Against

  • Plaintext password storage
  • Subpar support
  • Cheapest plan has extreme restrictions

Planet Hippo was founded back in 2006 in Oswestry, England (which is also the birthplace of Certa Hosting). They were the first web hosting provider in the UK to offer cloud Energy Management capabilities to their customers through a partnership with Cisco Energy Management. The company is otherwise very tight-lipped when it comes to information about them, as even the About section of their website is completely empty - hand-typing “about” into the URL bar returns a Lorem ipsum page, obviously incomplete.

The company’s website is equally unhelpful when it comes to data centers, other than revealing they’re based in the UK (the number being unknown). Turns out that many sections of the website still have a Lorem ipsum, presumably because they’re in the middle of a visual overhaul.

Planet Hippo's biggest advantage is the extremely low prices, and in this review, we’ll check whether the rest of their services match our standards. For users who want to try with no strings attached, they can receive their money back within the first month in case of dissatisfaction.

Pricing

Planet Hippo's shared hosting plans start off quite cheap (Image credit: PlanetHippo)

Pricing

Planet Hippo starts out very cheap: their most basic plan called One Account will cost you £1.00/mo and includes 1GB web space, 1 website, 1 email account, and 1 MySQL database, with unlimited data transfer (as is the case with every plan). 

The next cheapest is their Pro Account, at £3.50/mo, which also includes a free .co.uk domain, 100GB SSD web space, 2 websites, 25 email addresses, and 5 MySQL databases. 

The other two plans (Unlimited, £5.99/mo and Unlimited+SSL, £7.99/mo) remove all these limitations, the former includes a free .co.uk domain, while the latter has a free .com domain. It's worth noting that all prices exclude VAT. 

The company accepts cards and PayPal and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Ease of Use

When selecting a plan with Planet Hippo, you’ll be prompted to choose a domain, transfer an existing one, or simply update your name servers. You’ll also have to give them your name, address, and phone number to set up an account. Unfortunately, a confirmation email with your login credentials shows that they store their passwords in plaintext, which is never a good thing from a security standpoint.

Dashboard

Manage your account with a WHMCS dashboard (Image credit: Planet Hippo)

Planet Hippo sports the relatively common WHMCS client management platform for general issues like account management, invoice overview, and customer support. To actually use the service you’ve purchased, you’ll have to navigate through the Services tab to the cPanel. Experienced users who have seen cPanel before won’t have any issues using it - but newcomers shouldn’t either, since the CMS is revered as one of the most intuitive in the market.

To make a website, users can install WordPress (all their plans even claim to be WordPress optimized) through Softaculous in a single click. cPanel also has its own web-based file manager, meaning you can upload your website without a hitch. They don’t seem to offer a drag and drop website builder outside of this, though, although some old articles in their Knowledgebase imply that this used to be available through more expensive plans.

For users looking to host more than just a website, Softaculous offers other apps as well, including ecommerce apps. However, even before this, when purchasing a plan, users should keep in mind that ecommerce sites tend to need much more storage space than websites or blogs.

Performance

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

Speed and experience

Unfortunately, Planet Hippo disappoints on a GTmetrix speed test as well. It takes 9.9 seconds to load their main website, whereas the average is 8.1 seconds, but as a consolation, only 48 requests (the average being 89). 

As for uptime, Planet Hippo’s Service Level Agreement guarantees at least 99.9% of uptime and promises users will be credited for every minute of downtime, adding that “the amount of credit can vary between 2% and 100% of your invoice.” In reality, this translated to up to 9 hours of annual downtime, or 20 minutes of biweekly downtime. However, our two-week-long test of their main website’s uptime did not yield satisfactory results: they spent a total of 33 minutes down, putting their percentage at 99.831% of uptime, which is already lower than the guaranteed yearly amount.

Support

From the main website, Planet Hippo offers a simple contact form for customer inquiries, as well as a physical address - no phone number or email to be seen. Registered users can send a support ticket through the WHMCS platform, a live chat, or a phone number (that is only available during work hours). 

When it comes to helping yourself, Planet Hippo has a knowledgebase that is, unfortunately, only accessible through WHMCS. Strictly speaking, it is not restricted to registered users only, as it can be found through a Google search, but there is no link from the main website. Furthermore, it is not exactly helpful: the articles cover a number of highly specific issues and many of them are extremely out of date, like a whole section devoted to Outlook 2010 issues. 

The competition

Planet Hippo and Certa Hosting share the same town: Oswestry, on the English-Welsh border. Both have 30-day money-back guarantees and use cPanel, and Certa Hosting is still slightly more expensive, but it also offers better support.

For users looking for beginner-friendly options that are still relatively cheap, Bluehost is a great alternative. The biggest snag for many might be the data center location, which is in the US, while Planet Hippo caters to UK-based customers.

Hostgator is another great choice for customers looking for incredible support. They are, however, slightly more expensive than Planet Hippo at first, but that difference becomes especially obvious once their price jumps after your first three years with them.

123 Reg is another UK hosting provider, but it is significantly more expensive than Planet Hippo in the long run. However, even its cheapest plan includes a free .co.uk domain for the first year, something that is only available on the second plan with Planet Hippo, putting them on a similar level.

Final verdict

Although the extremely low prices seem incredibly enticing, Planet Hippo’s plans come with several catches and snags that the price can’t make up for, and the incomplete website makes it hard to know who it is you’re doing business with. For users looking for alternatives, Bluehost and Hostgator both offer low prices, but vastly better service than this.