Contabo Review: You may have heard, But We have Tested it! (2020)

Contabo is one of those hosting companies you MAY have heard about…

And it’s one of those companies that, if you haven’t heard of it, you SHOULD be familiar with.

Am I saying you should all rush to buy it?

No…

Simply that Contabo is a promising option for quite a few of you.

It’s a German host that’s been around forever in internet years, and while it may not be a huge hosting company, it’s certainly held its own over the years.

So let’s get straight to the good and the bad on this host.

Starting us off:

Pros of using Contabo

Pro #1: Good prices

The best way to explain is to just show you:

contabo price

Now, these aren’t crazy low or anything. They’re generally comparable to typical web hosting plans.

Especially if you convert from Euros to dollars:

At the time of this writing, the first tier (Webspace M) is $3.25 a month, which is pretty normal for a first tier.

What stands out for me are the latter two plans: Webspace XL is about $8.67 a month and XXL is $10.85.

As far as third and fourth tier packages go, these are pretty low prices.

Dedicated servers also have low prices: they start at around $50 and go to $110 a month on the high end.

And VPS hosting, which combines aspects of having a dedicated server and shared web hosting, starts at just over $4 a month on the low end. At the high end, it goes to just under $30.

So the shared hosting packages are overall good in terms of price, but the dedicated servers and VPS plans are super low priced.

Of course, what makes prices GOOD is what you can get for them. So let me talk about that next:

Pro #2: Shared hosting GENUINELY has a lot of space

In most reviews, I talk about storage allotments in the context of features.

And while I certainly consider storage a feature under consideration with Contabo, there’s something unique going on here that makes me think it’s worth listing as a separate positive.

Basically, you get a lot of storage at every tier. Have a look:

contabo storage

Now, at first glance, you might not think so. A lot of hosts will say there is unlimited storage space from the second or third tier onwards, sometimes even the first tier.

And that’s definitely great when it’s the case…

But the thing is, “unlimited” storage in shared web hosting packages isn’t literal. It’s closer to meaning there are no hard limits.

But shared hosting only works because a lot of people pay a lower cost to share server space. If everyone took full advantage of the “unlimited” storage in their plans, web hosting plans wouldn’t work.

Most sites on entry level packages or 2nd-tier packages won’t use up a ton of space. But in the event that one really toes the line, a company will ask the user to upgrade.

But Contabo sets clear allotments of storage…that are super high.

Basically, 50GB is much more than most users of entry level web hosting will need. Same with 100GB for the second tier.

Meaning you can pay a low price for tons of storage that you KNOW you can use.

This is also true for the Virtual Private Server packages, by the way. The VPS hosting combines the affordability of shared hosting with the quality and personalization of a dedicated server.

Here’s what the storage features are like for Contabo’s VPS options:

contabo storage vps

This is pretty crazy, because the prices are so low. In fact, the prices are on-par with the shared hosting, but guarantee tons of space.

Yep, Contabo is good with storage allotments. But that’s not all it can do:

Pro #3: Overall, strong features (especially shared hosting)

This of course includes those strong storage allowances I just talked about. But there’s a lot more with each plan that makes the prices stand out even more.

Here’s a look at some of the basics:

contabo features

Yep, tons of space as covered, plus generous maximum limits on MySQL databases, unmetered bandwidth, DDoS protection, and a website builder.

Just as how even the cheap plans get tons of storage, they also get high limits on email and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) accounts:

contabo features

1,000 email accounts is crazy high, much more than most. I’ve seen hosts charge more for 5-10 email accounts at the first tier. Or less.

Same goes for the max number of FTP users.

Now in fairness, it’s hard to imagine an entry-level user needing anywhere close to 1,000 email boxes or FTP accounts.

And keep in mind that all of this is part of the given storage space: in this case, 50GB.

So actually going to these limits is a little impractical.

However, I can tell you why I’m STILL impressed by these numbers:

This is one of the few hosts that makes its cheapest option viable for established businesses and organizations.

Usually, a first-tier hosting plan is good for individuals, hobbyists, and businesses that don’t need to conduct business on their site so much as they just need A site.

But the amount of storage, email boxes, and general array of more advanced features available for the first tier alone make it very powerful.

Of course, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tiers stand out as attractive options by doubling down on the already massive basic features, like storage and MySQL databases.

Plus, they get more domains (though the 2nd tier only gets 1 free domain as well).

But the main differences are the massive array of scripts available for installation:

contabo features

I know, it’s a lot to look at—you don’t need to see everything, just look at the gist.

Now of course, even the first tier can get blog, ecommerce, survey tools—but just not through scripts directly added to the site.

Instead you’d need to download a content management system (CMS) like WordPress and install extensions through that.

But even so, it’s impressive and quite handy for those who are paying.

That wraps up the bulk of the features.

But Contabo has another sort of indirect feature…the feature of flexibility:

Pro #4: Customizable hosting packages (especially for VPS and dedicated servers)

In all fairness, it’s hardly uncommon for VPS and dedicated packages to be customizable. They’re naturally more complicated than shared hosting.

But because Contabo’s prices are so low for these more robust options, one may expect them to be quite simple.

Not so:

contabo vps customization

Users can customize their orders quite a bit: they can choose from a range of operating systems, control panels (primarily cPanel and Plesk), the amount of desired backup space, upgrades, and so on.

Users can also control the prepayment period, allowing them to save money in the long run by committing to a longer period of service or save money in the short term by paying for shorter periods of service.

contabo vps customization

Customers can also customize their shared hosting orders, though less so:

One can still add to the basics, like additional GB of space, databases, or email addresses for certain prices.

However, you can’t choose prepayment periods with the shared hosting options, unfortunately.

Pro #5: Support articles are detailed

I have some criticisms of the overall customer support set-up Contabo has going on, but we can get to that later.

The support articles themselves though? They’re solid.

Usually the tutorials are what you expect: Text with lot of screenshots, like this:

contabo support article

But they’re pretty long. I’ve found these articles to be more in-depth than a lot of competitors.

Additionally, they cover a lot of advanced subjects, making them great for people with some level of proficiency or who need to make more advanced changes to their hosting.

There’s some stuff I wish the support articles covered more, but again, I’ll get to it later. For now, let’s cover our last pro:

Pro #6: Transparent about security, plus good security

Contabo definitely isn’t afraid to talk about the details of its security, which is a great thing:

Contabo’s open to scrutiny because it knows it can withstand it.

Here’s a snippet of the infrastructure around Contabo’s data centers:

contabo security

And that’s not even everything. Aside from thorough physical security measures and energy safety measures, internet and air conditioning are locked down as best can be for a data center.

Contabo only has two data centers (one in Munich, one in Nuremberg), but frankly, I’d rather have a host with a small number of data centers in limited locations with GOOD SECURITY, compared to a sprawling network with bad security.

It’s worth noting here that Contabo only has 2 data centers because it directly OWNS them. Many other hosts lease data center space from other companies.

Contabo’s data centers have even been lauded as the best data centers in Germany, by an independent panel of experts:

contabo security

That’s a pretty good way of wrapping up the good news on Contabo.

Ready to get to the bad?

Cons of using Contabo

Con #1: Uptime is…okay?

This isn’t quite a flaw, but it can’t really be a positive either.

Contabo does not have flawless uptime, but the uptime is still on the stronger side.

Contabo is almost always hitting the 99.9% industry standard, but it may often be on the lower side of that, or even dip below 99.9% from time to time.

As far as speeds go, it’s definitely not the fastest host. Not the slowest, but most major hosts have at LEAST comparable speeds.

This is mostly applicable to shared hosting. You can always invest more to get stronger performance out of the higher end packages.

Con #2: No live chat support, and phone support is limited

Luckily, Contabo does let you contact support through a couple other ways:

contabo support

Unfortunately, the phone support is limited, and operates on European hours, which can make things a little difficult for those outside Europe.

And some people may not want to call international numbers.

In terms of quality, the email and phone support is fine!

So that’s a relief, but the lack of options for immediate contact are unfortunate.

Con #3: Not enough support material for beginners

If you look at Contabo’s list of tutorials (the step-by-step articles I talked about earlier), you’ll quickly find that there are almost none suitable for beginners just trying to get started with a basic package.

Granted, if beginners have to do something more complex, these articles are great.

But there aren’t enough articles focusing on getting started and the basics.

You might wonder if the FAQ page is any better:

contabo support faq

The answer is sort of, but not really.

Yes, some basic questions are answered. But they’re very brief:

contabo support faq

And a lot of them are frankly better suited for those who want to know more before purchasing an account.

So while the onsite information is overall good, especially for users with some experience or hosting proficiency, it’s not great for beginners or those with limited tech proficiency.

Con #4: Flawed English and outdated user-interface

I know this may sound like a weird complaint, but I think it’s worth mentioning because it makes the company look a little shoddy and may make visitors nervous.

I know, it’s Anglo-centric. This is a German company, and as they’re not a huge hosting company, I think it’s good they’ve translated so much to an English version of their site.

Even so, some will be a little skeptical because of this.

And while, for the most part, stuff on the site makes sense, I will admit that I have had trouble understanding what Contabo has been trying to say in certain parts.

That’s not a good thing, from a purely practical standpoint.

And the interface—well, that’s just subjective. Personally, I dislike using web hosts with outdated looking interfaces.

But the navigation and use of the software itself isn’t overly complicated, which is what matters.

In other words, I stand by this negative point, but I wouldn’t say it’s a deal breaker for most people (or should be).

Con #5: Setup fees for VPS and dedicated hosting add up quickly

The VPS and dedicated hosting packages are customizable, and as I said earlier, that’s a great thing.

But they come with extra costs depending on the amount of time you want to prepay for the service.

Let me show you what I mean. Suppose I want the cheapest dedicated server, which is just under 50€ a month.

So if I want to prepay for 12 months of service, it’ll be just under 600€ total, right?

Like this:

contabo setup fees

Makes sense.

But suppose I want to prepay for just one month. It should be about 50€ for the month, right?

Well, there’s a setup fee if you prepay for less than a year of service.

But it can’t be that much, right?

Wrong:

contabo setup fees

As you can see, the setup fee for a prepaid month is about the same price as renting the actual server.

Which effectively DOUBLES the price.

The setup fee goes down as you prepay for longer periods of time, so it’s not so bad. A lot of people are willing to invest some money into their dedicated server purchases.

But the thing is, the VPS options are like this too.

So while the VPS and dedicated server packages are STILL very affordable compared to the competition, they’re less affordable if you’re financing in the short-term.

Okay, looks like we’re good on the pros AND cons. Ready to wrap up?

Do we recommend Contabo?

I do recommend Contabo, but not to everyone.

Basically, I wouldn’t recommend it to beginners or those who prize performance in entry-level hosting.

Most of the time the performance is fine, but if it’s your priority, other hosts do better.

However, Contabo offers some great deals—prices that are low proportionate to the amount of resources and features they get, including for the shared hosting options.

So if you are familiar with how hosting works and you need to get something with good value, Contabo is a great option.

It’s also great if you want a higher-end hosting service—like VPS or dedicated plans—and all the flexibility that comes with it, without going broke.

So Contabo may not be for everyone, particularly beginners who need simplicity AND performance, but it’s great for people looking at value and who have some experience.

That’s all from me, folks. Happy hosting!

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