This HostWinds Review was revised and updated on June 10, 2019.
Hostwinds is a company that I’m willing to bet a lot of you don’t know much about.
You may have heard of it…but even so, Hostwinds isn’t super famous to a lot of people. Even among people who are familiar with hosting.
And that’s not surprising—Hostwinds was founded in 2010, which makes it a younger hosting company compared to some bigger names that are close to the twenty-year mark.
But the deeper you get into the hosting world, the more you’ll find Hostwinds has a strong reputation.
I guess you could say Hostwinds has been well-received:
But of course, this doesn’t mean Hostwinds is good for everyone. And to be fair, I’ve seen highly rated companies turn out to be…well, severely overrated.
The good news is that I’ve been testing Hostwinds personally, and taking notes on the experience.
And after investigating this acclaimed underdog, I’ve got a lot to tell you.
Let’s start with the fundamentals:
Naturally, this is the part that a lot of people want to know first, and for good reason.
After all, the whole point of hosting is to have your space on the internet…um…hosted. Taken care of.
And if your site is always down, that kind of defeats the point.
Hostwinds is well aware of this and starts with an intense promise.
Not 99% uptime, or 99.9% uptime, or even 99.99% uptime.
No, this is Hostwinds’ guarantee:
You’re probably skeptical. I was, too.
But in the months that I’ve had Hostwinds, it’s never dropped below 99.99% uptime—so at least for myself, this promise has been kept. Yes, even with the shared web hosting plan.
Now, I’ve seen companies break promises before—to be honest, those uptime guarantees aren’t universally met.
But I, and the people I know who use Hostwinds, have had a great uptime experience.
As far as site response times go, they’re not bad, but not crazy low either. Faster than average, I’d say.
So in all, I think Hostwinds really nails uptime and performance. With the response time being average-better than average consistently, and the uptime SLA always super high—yeah, we’re off to a good start.
But just a good start—we’ve got a whole journey ahead:
Ease of Use
Ease of use isn’t a huge priority to everyone the way uptime is, and fair enough.
But even if you think you don’t prioritize it as much, ease of use can be a huge lifesaver.
Yes, even if you’re an expert—an intuitive user interface will save you tons of time. And if you’re a beginner…well, kind of obvious why you’d want the ease of use.
Anyway, Hostwinds falls short of some industry leaders when it comes to ease of use. Having said that, it’s not exactly difficult to use either, but sort of in-between.
Let’s start with the good stuff:
I’ll get into it more real soon, but something neat about Hostwinds is the shared hosting plans give you a lot of features.
Sometimes features make things more complicated (which is okay), but in this case, some of the features actually make things WAY easier.
Take this, for example:
Every shared web hosting plan gets the Weebly website builder.
So you can just get started on setting up your website without needing to deal with WordPress (though you can if you want).
Keep in mind that Weebly is intended to make website building super easy. Even if the controls aren’t for you, or you want more complexity, there’s no denying that it’s quite usable.
So that’s a significant “plus” for Hostwinds in terms of ease of use.
Speaking of WordPress though—is it easy to install WordPress?
Well, to be honest, Hostwinds doesn’t really have all the WordPress features that some bigger hosts offer.
I think it’ll still be easy enough to figure out how to install WordPress—as long as you have Google—but it’s still too bad Hostwinds doesn’t have more features for making WordPress easy.
On the bright side, some general aspects of site creation are made easy. For example:
Free/included website transfers are becoming increasingly common, but they’re not universal yet. And as with Weebly, Hostwinds includes this for the first tier of shared hosting, onwards.
So that’s pretty good for user-friendliness. And in fact, that really is one area where Hostwinds is easier than a lot of other hosts.
But beyond that, Hostwinds doesn’t do much. Setting up your account is fine, and you’ll be using cPanel, so that’s pretty standard and about as easy as any other host would be.
Actually using Hostwinds’ interface to manage your hosting account settings and such—it’s about the standard.
Can’t lie, Hostwinds’ isn’t one for the fantastic interface. It looks and sometimes feels a little clunky and outdated.
But the key thing is, it’s not difficult to use.
So I think the best way to place Hostwinds is this:
It’s not super beginner friendly, but a beginner can still figure it out. Again, the Weebly builder is a huge plus.
And anyone with some experience with another host will probably not have any real problems.
Hostwinds doesn’t cater to beginners as much as some other companies like GoDaddy or Bluehost do, so if having a clear and easy onboarding is your priority, you may want to look into the simpler and more popular hosts.
But like I said, Hostwinds isn’t difficult. While a better user interface and more CMS-friendly features would be good, Hostwinds is still quite usable.
Speaking of features…
Pricing and Features
You might have been more ambivalent about user-friendliness, but I can pretty much guarantee you care a lot about price and features.
You’ll see shortly what I’m talking about, but one thing I can say right off the bat:
Hostwinds offers a BIG assortment of products. Seriously, there’s no shortage of options with Hostwinds.
As such, I can only zoom in so much. And as usual, I’ll be paying more attention to the shared hosting—since that’s what most of you are the most about.
Okay, no need to waste your time any more. Here’s what the entry level plans look like:
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This is the shared web hosting that everyone is used to looking at.
I’ll get into the details soon, but real quick—those are some really low prices. Even for Hostwinds’ larger competitors, this is pretty low.
Sure, the prices renew at higher prices—but they renew at pretty standard prices. So it’s okay.
Now, Hostwinds also offers shared web hosting for businesses, with higher performance:
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I know what you’re thinking—wait, isn’t this still just shared web hosting?
Yeah, technically. But:
It’s less shared. Meaning you get more of the server resources and thus a more powerful package.
To be honest, these prices are ASTONISHINGLY low. I’ve seen plenty of “higher end” shared web hosting packages, but they never go for those prices.
The renewal prices are completely standard and even lower than some competitors. The first term prices…are just insanely low.
This trend actually continues. Check out the reseller hosting:
I know, I know. I keep repeating myself.
The first-term prices are incredibly low for reseller hosting. The renewal prices are also low. I mean, I’m kind of amazed Hostwinds is able to make money at all by this point.
Before we move onto the higher end hosting options, let’s dissect what’s going on here with the shared servers:
The normal shared web hosting plans, the entry level, are pretty affordable, as discussed.
But naturally, most of you will care about what you get for the price. After all, sometimes hosting plans seem cheap…but end up costing you time, energy, or even more money through flaws.
Here’s what ALL the shared web plans give you:
True, Hostwinds isn’t packing crazy amounts of features into the hosting plans.
But if you really take a look, you get a really great deal in terms of resources. Unlimited subdomains, unlimited email accounts, unlimited databases, and SSD storage.
No to mention, that storage is unlimited.
And you get a dedicated IP and Weebly’s website builder included.
All of that comes with the FIRST tier onwards.
So why even get a second or third tier shared web hosting plan?
Because you can get more domains. From 1 to 4, to unlimited.
A good reason to upgrade, of course. But basically, everything else is the same—which means that Hostwinds’ shared web hosting plan is one of the BEST-FEATURED plans I’ve seen, at least for these prices.
Now, the business shared hosting is similar in that moving across tiers gives you more domains.
And most of the core features—unlimited bandwidth, SSD storage, etc, are still there:
So most of the stuff is the same. But you probably noticed a few things are different:
You get unlimited FTP accounts, optimized MySQL, and probably most important…the “Litespeed web server.”
This basically boosts your performance. The shared web plans are already reliable, but the Litespeed servers give you an extra dose of speed.
And a note on that Weebly site builder: I mentioned it before, but it’s a great point towards user-friendliness. More importantly, though, it has a lot of value.
Because a lot of hosts offer integration with Weebly or Wix—but those platforms aren’t included for free. This gives you access to a super usable and pretty powerful website builder, but without the added cost.
So I definitely consider this one of the stronger features/more attractive points.
Now, the reseller plans are basically the shared web hosting plans—they come with more or less the same features.
After all, you’d basically be reselling the shared hosting plans.
On some level, the price might actually be a little higher than on some other platforms—considering that Hostwinds’ reseller plans are basically their shared web plans verbatim, and other hosting companies sometimes lower the prices.
Nonetheless, it’s a good deal considering all the features I already talked about.
Also, Hostwinds brings this into the reseller picture:
So I think everyone wins with that.
One last note on the shared web hosting plans. All the shared web hosting plans get this:
Pretty essential, but as has been the case with Hostwinds…it’s nice to see such a good feature awarded to even the entry-level plans.
Okay, let’s move onto more premium types of hosting.
First up, there’s cloud hosting. Hostwinds is more unique when it comes to cloud pricing:
I know, it’s not super easy on the eyes.
The essential thing to understand is that you pay per hour for cloud hosting. Although you don’t have to pay that way:
But supposing you do pay per hour: the lowest price is less than $0.01 an hour (more like $0.01 every two hours), and the highest price is $0.45 an hour.
The lowest price gives you 1 CPU, 1GB of RAM, 30GB of storage, and 1TB of bandwidth—a pretty reliable and hefty amount for the price.
Then you can scale from 1 CPU to 12 or 16, and 1GB of RAM to 64GB or 96GB.
Storage maxes out at 750GB and bandwidth maxes out at 9TB.
So what’s impressive isn’t really the price, but that Hostwinds comfortably offers a HUGE range of resources for all manner of projects.
Not to mention, the quality of those resources doesn’t really suffer—storage is still SSD, for example.
One of the great advantages of cloud hosting is the scalability—and Hostwinds embraces that as well as the best companies do.
Moving on—related to cloud options, Hostwinds has VPS (virtual private server) options as well:
Quite a few options, as you can see. Some consider this range standard for quality VPS, but a lot of popular hosts don’t offer so many options—so I give props to Hostwinds.
I won’t go into every single pricing point, but generally speaking plans range from a few bucks a month on the first year to over $20 a month on the 4th tier. They renew at $10 to $51 a month, roughly speaking:
Of course, it depends on whether you’re doing Linux or Windows and managed or unmanaged hosting.
But I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the managed and unmanaged hosting weren’t that different in price. The above is for managed Linux plans.
And this is for unmanaged Linux plans:
I know, I know—it’s an eyesore. But you can see that the prices aren’t that different on the starting end.
The bigger takeaway is that you have a lot more options if you choose to handle your VPS on your own, with a sizeable range of CPU cores, RAM, storage, and bandwidth to choose from.
The Windows plans are a little more expensive, but to be honest, not that much more so. The range of resources available is the same.
And last, but certainly not least, Hostwinds sells dedicated servers too. And if you thought the other plans had a wide range of options…the dedicated servers are even more up to your discretion.
There are a few different types of servers to choose from, with different starting prices:
But you can customize many different aspects of the plan:
Dang. You can control practically everything you care about—the OS, the version, you can add resources, RAID, and so on.
And what’s kind of mind-blowing is that the prices are relatively low, despite being dedicated servers.
And yeah, usually that means the quality is suspect—but to be honest, Hostwinds doesn’t really suffer that much as far as quality goes.
In fact, that’s kind of the case overall for Hostwinds. Hostwinds has many different hosting plans to choose from, many of them tweakable if you wish.
But, they all tend to be priced either normally or lower than usual…without seriously suffering in performance.
And don’t even get me started on features. Hostwinds has seriously blown my mind by offering such a wide range of power.
And if you’re really looking at those shared hosting plans, I’ve got to say that Hostwinds has some of the best bargains around. The prices are, as stated, on the low end, but you get a lot of advanced features.
To put it succinctly, Hostwinds has nailed the pricing and features of its hosting plans.
Of course, the story isn’t over yet:
Like the ease of use, not everyone gives top priority to customer support. But I don’t think anyone can really say it’s unimportant, either.
At the end of the day, a beginner will need it for…uh, beginning. And even a pro will need it for the unexpected technical glitches that come up.
So let’s take a look at Hostwinds’ customer support.
Here’s one example of a live chat conversation:
As you can see, the representative was very quick to respond.
Granted, the question was simple—but it was still a fine response.
Of course, more complicated questions would be best for ticket or phone support. And Hostwinds offers both:
Now, I have the same general opinion for all the methods of Hostwinds’ methods of contacting support.
The support is good in that it passes the bare minimum, but it’s never super stellar or memorable. A lot of people don’t care about that extra mile of support, and some do.
Of course, sometimes you get a great rep, but usually, it’s pretty standard. So while contacting support staff isn’t bad, it’s really just average.
That’s not the end of Hostwinds’ support though. There’s a lot of on-site information:
Hostwinds’ knowledge base is simple and clearly organized.
It’s easy and effective to search:
And the articles are usually very in-depth, or at least suitably in-depth:
Now, remember that ease of use section? Remember how I said that Hostwinds isn’t difficult, but also isn’t as catered to beginners?
You can see that in the support system too.
For example, Hostwinds does have support for people who are getting started, as you’d expect:
But it’s not super intuitive or accessible. It’s not as clear cut as, for example, Bluehost’s support is.
So total beginners will probably have to do a little more reading and navigation on Hostwinds’ knowledge base.
But overall, I think Hostwinds’ onsite support is pretty good. Contacting reps is reliable, if not stellar. The onsite info may not be organized to everyone’s liking, but there’s a lot of great detail and diversity of topics.
Which leads us to one of the last legs in our journey:
Ah, security. It’s one of those things we all know we need to care about, but in practice, only a few really do.
Well, I don’t want to be a buzz-kill but security is super important for just about everything online.
And if we’re talking about the resources your website is using, and the information traveling to and from your site, then security only gets much more essential.
As I said, I know not everyone cares about security. But the good news is…
Hostwinds does. So even if you don’t care, you can pat yourself on the shoulder if you use Hostwinds (kind of, don’t take that too seriously).
Hostwinds has three data centers: one in Seattle, one in Dallas, and one in Amsterdam.
Right off the bat, that’s great news. It means there’s a backup handy even in the case of a natural disaster.
And, the data centers have all been audited—a huge plus.
The Amsterdam data center doesn’t appear to have a ton of physical security the way the Seattle and Dallas locations do, unfortunately.
But, those American locations do seem to be pretty well-equipped. This is how the Seattle center is protected, for example:
The Seattle and Amsterdam centers seem to have the best redundancy in power and cooling, but the Dallas data center is still pretty secure.
A lot of hosting companies talk about how secure they are. But when Hostwinds says this:
I believe them. After all, my uptime has been fantastic, and they seem pretty confident in their uptime guarantee.
I wish there was more information on the digital security infrastructure, but at the same time, Hostwinds does seem the type of hosting company you can trust a little more. At least, with those results.
So all in all, I’d say Hostwinds is pretty secure, even if more information would be ideal.
- Fantastic uptime and performance.
- Really great entry-level prices (shared web hosting packages) for the first year, normal prices afterwards.
- Building on that: across the board, Hostwinds has some of the LOWEST PRICES I’ve seen on a range of hosting products, from high-end shared hosting to reseller hosting, and even VPS. The renewals tend to be pretty normal or on the cheaper end.
- Despite the low prices, the shared server plans come with a lot of great features—including unlimited SSD storage, dedicated IPs, nightly backups, and Weebly’s website builder.
- Wide range of options for premium hosting, such as Cloud, VPS, and dedicated hosting. This means a wide range of resources/power as well. Plus, the pricing is decent.
- In particular, the dedicated servers are highly customizable.
- Overall solid customer support.
- Good security, with lots of redundancy and multiple data centers.
- Not as focused on beginners and newbies, not the simplest host.
- Not a ton of special features for installing or integrating with popular CMS like WordPress.
- The on-site information/support could be more beginner-friendly.
- The Amsterdam data center seems like it could use better physical security.
- Most of the info about Hostwinds’ security concerns physical security and redundancy. That’s great, but I want to know more about digital protection against hackers and the like.
Conclusion: Do I Recommend Hostwinds?
So I think it’s time we wrap up here.
Before I started using Hostwinds, I was a bit skeptical. The website was lackluster, the company was a bit young, and I didn’t know much about it.
But then I actually gave it a shot. And I realized that even if it’s not for everyone, Hostwinds is easily one of the MOST UNDERRATED hosts out there right now.
I say this for a few reasons, but basically:
It does everything right, and it’s not too above the budget.
Hostwinds has a huge range of products available. Just about all of them are at least reasonably priced, if not a bit less expensive than average.
On top of that, many of them come with great features or are highly customizable.
The shared web hosting in particular has fantastic features at the entry level—one of the best deals I’ve seen for shared web hosting.
Not to mention, the performance is spectacular—or at least it was for me and for most people—and the security seems solid.
So when it comes to Hostwinds, the real question is:
Who do I not recommend Hostwinds to?
And the answer would basically be total beginners or people who want a super easy and simple time hosting.
Hostwinds might be overkill on performance and features for people who don’t care about that stuff, and other hosts could be easier in terms of onboarding and daily use.
Although, that Weebly website builder is a pretty solid incentive for beginners…
Anyway, Hostwinds now stands in my book as one of the best hosts I’ve reviewed—and definitely one with fantastic bargains.
If you’re not sure, that’s understandable—but you can always try it, risk-free!
Basically every web host says that certain shared hosting plans have unlimited storage and bandwidth.
What this really means is that there aren’t stringent limits on your resources, because you’re unlikely to really use too much on a shared hosting plan.
But if you really pushed it—if you tried to use up as much space as possible, or if your site became massively successful and started driving tons of traffic—practically every host would have you upgrade your plan.
It’s just practical, as a shared server system can’t really work if everyone uses too much of the shared resource.
In contrast, higher tier plans devote more resources to you. As a result, the limits are set more clearly, but it’s more reliable to be resource-intensive with a more premium version of hosting than shared web hosting.
Well, they’re essentially the same thing, in that both types of hosting are shared hosting.
Meaning, you’re sharing a server with other customers and other sites.
But, the shared business plans have LESS sharing per server, meaning you can use more resources more freely.
If you read my above answer, a good way to think of the shared business plans is as an intermediary between the entry level—shared web hosting—and premium hosting like cloud or VPS.
It’s an understandable point of confusion. Lots of hosts have partnerships with Weebly and Wix, but you still have to pay for the site builder in addition to hosting.
Not in this case!