If you run a blog or business, web hosting is the foundation upon which you’ll build your online presence. But which service should you choose? Enter Domain.com, a contender within the crowded website hosting space that delivers a useful suite of tools to make your website dreams a reality. The service lacks the advanced hosting options and flexible plan offerings that the top competition offers, but it is nevertheless a capable and reliable web host, especially for beginners.
Shared Web Hosting
Like HostMonster, Domain.com doesn’t offer month-to-month options for most of its plans. Instead, even its most basic shared hosting plan requires an annual commitment. Furthermore, Domain.com lacks discounts for longer-term contracts, unlike other hosting services. You pay the same amount of money annually, regardless of whether you commit to a yearly or three-year subscription.
Domain.com’s entry-level shared package, Basic, starts at $3.75 per month with a one-year contract, adding up to $45 annually. Basic includes unlimited disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, unlimited email inboxes, 10 databases, five FTP log-ins, and the ability to host a single site. The Deluxe package, which starts at $6.75 per month with a one-year contract, adds unlimited domain hosting, and ups the databases and log-ins to 25. The Ultra package, priced at $13.75 per month, boasts unlimited databases and log-ins.
It is important to note that these offers require the purchase of a domain. If you wish to use a domain from another registrar you must contact support for assistance. To streamline the process online, Domain.com offers a discount code for a free, one-year domain registration. This is nice if you are looking to start from scratch, but less convenient if you already own an address and are shopping for a host. Lastly, the prices listed above reflect the introductory rates for your first term of service: the renewal rates are higher once the term is over. For example, the Basic plan costs $59.88 per year upon renewal. It’s not free web hosting, but it’s relatively cheap web hosting.
If you do not want an annual web hosting commitment, keep HostGator (the Editors’ Choice pick for shared hosting) on your radar. It offers hosting plans starting at $10.95 per month. If, on the other hand, you are ready to commit, you can drive the price down to $2.75 per month with a three-year plan. HostGator also tosses in unlimited email, storage, and monthly data transfers with all of its shared hosting plans. This is a nice touch, which makes HostGator quite a bit more attractive than Domain.com when it comes to shared hosting.
WordPress Web Hosting
Domain.com has two WordPress hosting plans: WP Starter and WP Essential. WP Starter (starting at $3.75 per month with an annual contract) offers unlimited storage, monthly data transfers, email, and a handpicked selection of WordPress themes and plug-ins. WP Essential (starting at $6.95 per month with an annual contract) adds expert WordPress support, automatic malware removal, and enhanced site security. Like Domain.com’s shared plans, these WordPress plans don’t give you a discount for an annual sign up.
These are fine packages, but you may want to check out A2, BlueHost, and WP Engine, our Editors’ Choice picks for WordPress Hosting. A2 specializes in small-business friendly WordPress packages; BlueHost has a built-in, WordPress-enhancing toolset; and WP Engine caters to enterprise-class WordPress hosting.
What It Lacks
Domain.com has solid shared and WordPress hosting plans worth checking out, but it lacks the cloud, dedicated, VPS, and reseller options that you’ll find in our highly recommended picks. Domain.com has no Windows server options, either. A Domain.com customer service rep suggested that we check out FatCow, the company’s sister site, for reseller and VPS plans.
Because of its shared-hosting focus, Domain.com doesn’t give you much room to expand into other web hosting tiers, which is a significant ding against the service. If you want to reap the benefits that a dedicated server offers, for example, you’ll need to migrate your site elsewhere. A growing business might not want to waste time doing so, especially when many providers offer various web hosting options, and an easy way to upgrade when needed. Still, if you’re fine with the idea of building a Linux-based site using shared or WordPress hosting, Domain.com is a fine option.
Building a Website
Domain.com has several tools for building a website, including its own website builder. Its drag-and-drop functionality let us quickly build an attractive test page complete with slideshows, contact forms, social media links, and more.
The Starter plan (starting at $1.99 per month) lets you create up to six pages, but upgrading to the Business plan (starting at $6.99 per month) lets you create unlimited pages. The eCommerce plan (starting at $12.99 per month) adds PayPal integration, inventory management and tracking, and the ability to sell products online. All plans include unlimited storage and a free SSL certificate.
Weebly is another website-builder worth considering. Weebly’s free version gives you basic functionality (you can create unlimited pages and add custom HTML), but upgrading to the Professional tier ($12 per month) offers even more flexibility (custom themes, password protected pages, and more).
Domain.com’s web hosting packages come with a slew of security features, including 24/7 network monitoring, DDoS protection, and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) support. An SSL certificate acts as a digital passport that lets data travel through secure networks and protects valuable information, such as financial and credit card transactions, signups, and so on. If you plan to sell products, SSL should be considered an essential add-on.
Website uptime is one of the most important aspects of a hosting service. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services. You do not want that.
We used a website monitoring tool to track our Domain.com-hosted test site’s uptime over a two-week period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings our website and sends us an email if it is unable to contact the site for at least one minute. Over the last two weeks, the data revealed that Domain.com is fairly reliable; it went down once during a 14-day period. Admittedly, no downtime is ideal, but based on our tests, Domain.com was up 98 percent of the time.
Domain.com has both 24/7 telephone support and online web chat—we tested both help methods. We dialed Domain.com’s telephone tech support on a weekday morning to ask a representative about the differences between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. There is an automated computer system to navigate, but we were speaking with a rep in under three minutes who gave us an informative answer.
We later fired up the web chat on a weekday afternoon to ask a representative about how to import my WordPress.com setup into Domain.com. We waited just under two minutes before a technician fielded our call. He gave us a walkthrough that let us quickly import an existing blog. On a subsequent web chat, we asked how to purchase hosting if we owned a domain from a different registrar, which was answered in detail. Overall, the customer service reps were pleasant and informative, with the only caveat being that web chat asks that you submit your name and email address before you can ask questions. Other providers have web chat services that are over-eager to answer your queries on the spot, regardless of whether you’re an anonymous browser or a long-time client.
Domain.com lets you cancel a hosting package at any time, and it issues a refund for the remainder of your current payment term. If you cancel the service within the first 30 days of signing up, Domain.com refunds your hosting fees in full. That’s a good offering, but DreamHost outdoes it with its impressive 97-day money-back guarantee window.
A Solid Service
There is a lot to like about Domain.com, particularly its convenient shared, e-commerce, and WordPress hosting plans. That said, Domain.com lacks options for VPS, dedicated, and cloud servers, or reseller options. There are no Windows-based servers options, either. For beefier web hosting services that feature most (if not all) of these tiers, take a look at DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds. These three, affordable Editors’ Choice winners offer varied hosting plans that make site-building a breeze.
Should you need help getting your site up and running, we can tell you How to Build a Website. If it’s WordPress you want, we can also show you How to Get Started With WordPress. If you’re business-oriented, here are 7 Things You Need to Know When Building an E-Commerce Website.
The Bottom Line
Domain.com gives you many of the tools you need to create a basic online presence, but it lacks the advanced hosting tiers that larger or burgeoning websites may eventually want.
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