Google web hosting and you’ll get, literally, hundreds of hits, making it difficult to choose a provider for this all-important service. One name that stands out, however, is 1&1 Internet which, as part of its 10th birthday celebrations, recently revamped an already impressive line-up of hosting packages to deliver even better value for money.
1&1 sells hosting to both personal and business users, starting from £2.49 + VAT per month for its entry-level Beginner package. For our review, however, we concentrated on the 1&1 Business product, aimed at small to medium sized companies and currently available from £6.99 per month for those prepared to sign up for a 12-month contract.
Available on either Linux or Windows, what you get is quite remarkable, especially when compared with services from other providers, starting with a massive 40GB of web space and no limit in terms of monthly traffic. That’s more than enough for most business websites, added to which Linux customers get 10 MySQL databases and Windows users get 3 SQL Server databases. We used one to support a WordPress blog, although that’s far from the only option. Indeed most of the leading blogging and content management systems can be hosted by the 1&1 Business service, the company providing support for PHP, Perl and most other common pre-requisites as standard.
Up to 100 domains can be hosted altogether, with do-it-yourself domain and DNS management using tools in a comprehensive web-based control panel through which other services and add-ons can be also configured. Up to three domain names come bundled in the price with free renewals for the life of the package. These are limited to .co.uk, .org.uk and .me.uk suffixes, but for most home-grown companies that shouldn’t be an issue and other domains can always be purchased and managed from the 1&1 Control Panel if needed. Plus it’s now possible to configure up to 500 sub-domains, to make those names go even further.
Up to 20 FTP users can be configured and virtually any FTP software used to upload files and manage websites hosted by the 1&1 servers. Alternatively there’s a tool called WebSpace Explorer which can do much the same via a browser, while, for the absolute beginner, WebSiteBuilder can create a starter 20-page site, simply by answering a few questions. Similarly easy to use blogging, photo gallery and Flash programming tools are also included, all of which we found straightforward if a little limited for those looking for an individual look and feel.
On the email front the updated Business service now comes with support for up to 3,000 POP3/IMAP email accounts, with anti-virus protection and spam filtering plus auto-responders, message forwarding and Webmail as standard. On the downside, inbox storage is just 2GB with no shared contacts, calendars or other groupware features. All of which is fine when using email to support hosted websites, but companies looking for hosted messaging and collaboration tools will be better off with a more scalable and complete email service.
Among a raft of other bundled applications, 1&1 Business includes easyShop – to create a basic online store – plus tools to market and promote hosted sites, manage mailing lists, send out newsletters and so on. Added to which all 1&1 customers also get access to hosted word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs as part of a new Online Office product. Based on Zoho technology this proves to be much like Google Docs and Microsoft’s Web Apps, with 2GB of online storage space plus tools to create and edit documents and share them via a browser.
In order to appeal to as many buyers as possible 1&1 crams a huge amount of functionality into its Business package; a lot more, in fact, than most will ever need. But that’s not a major concern as everything works, is easy to manage and you can pick and mix the bits that really matter. It’s also good value for money with an even more scalable Business Pro product (from £16.99 + VAT per month) for those still wanting more.
Company: 1&1 Internet
Contact: 0871 641 21 21