The first time I checked out SmarterASP.net’s website, I was a little sketched out. I mean, can you blame me?
SmarterASP.net looks a little scammy at first glance, but a deeper dive reveals that it’s actually a fairly reputable hosting company.
Case in point: SmarterASP has had over 430,000 customers to date. This is a very small number compared to bigger hosting companies, who rack up millions of customers.
But in absolute terms, SmarterASP.net has still got a lot of people to pay for its services. They claim they mostly gain customers through word-of-mouth, and don’t advertise much (which may explain why a lot of you haven’t heard of it before).
And even more impressive? SmarterASP.net has been around since 1999, making it 20 years old—much older than a lot of other, more popular hosting companies.
So evidently, SmarterASP is a ‘real’ hosting service. But is it really worth your time or money?
At this point, it’s easy to see SmarterASP as a poor hosting service that a few hundred thousand people have paid for and then decided to leave (thus explaining its small size)…or as a hidden gem of the hosting world that only a few have found.
Well, I had some of those questions in mind when I first checked out SmarterASP.net. And then I answered them, by testing out SmarterASP myself.
Ready to hear about what I learned? Let’s get started with the first thing on most of our minds:
Uptime is the biggest concern for most of us. Whether you’re running an online store that needs to be up and fast all the time or a personal blog, you’re paying to have your site up.
Because SmarterASP.net is a smaller company, you might wonder how reliable the uptime is. With small hosting companies, there’s always a risk—some are shoddy, others are spectacular.
Having tested SmarterASP.net, I can say it’s more towards the latter. Not 100% every month, but usually upwards of 99.95% at least.
SmarterASP.net is like many other hosts in having an uptime guarantee, at 99.9%.
But SmarterASP is so confident in its ability to deliver on it, that it offers you this:
Yep. For every hour of downtime you experience, you get a free MONTH of hosting. Of course, even at 99.9%, it’ll take a while to get to an hour of downtime.
You can check out the full details here using our uptime calculator, but 99.9% uptime over the course of a month amounts to a total of 43 minutes of downtime.
Nonetheless, two key things to note: First, 99.9% is not a number to strive for, even if it sounds high. I’d say 99.95% and upwards is good.
Second, SmarterASP rarely dips to 99.9% even though it guarantees at least that much.
And as with its solid uptime record, SmarterASP.net has also been pretty fast for me.
Overall, SmarterASP.net is off to a great start with strong uptime and response times, not to mention a compensation when the uptime dips below 99.9%.
So far, so good, right?
Well, there’s a lot left for SmarterASP to do poorly on. So let’s keep up the investigation!
Ease of Use
Ease of use is a mixed bag. Some of you will be tempted to skip this section (some of you probably already have skipped this part).
Others really need it and know it. And some people need an easier host, but don’t know it.
The takeaway here is that ease of use is generally important, though to varying degrees.
Now, let me give you the answer: SmarterASP.net is not the most user-friendly web host.
Part of the reason why lies in its name. ASP.NET is actually a certain type of hosting—you can read more about it in full detail here.
Here’s the short version: Most shared web hosting services use PHP. ASP.NET is distinct from PHP, but it’s basically a framework for building dynamic websites or apps.
ASP.NET is an open source framework, meaning any developer can see it and make changes to it, and it’s particularly used by web designers.
It’s also known for being generally faster and lower cost.
Here’s the thing: if you didn’t know any of that already, consider that SmarterASP.net’s main premise might have flown over your head.
Now before you get scared, don’t worry—SmarterASP.net still works like most other hosting company as far as fundamentals go.
You choose your package, purchase it, connect a domain you have somewhere else or purchase one through SmarterASP, and you’re good to go.
But the key thing is that SmarterASP.net is made with more technically skilled people in mind.
So with that being the case, the feature setup isn’t as geared to beginners. I’ll talk more about it later, but a free domain isn’t included, for example.
Perhaps more importantly, SmarterASP.net doesn’t include a native website builder application. Most larger hosts do, and even if their builders aren’t the best in the world, they tend to make things very easy for users.
Don’t worry—you can still use a one-click install to get a content management system (like WordPress) fairly easily.
Plus, the control panel will keep things overall simple. Though on that note…
Yeah, it’s not the common brand cPanel, but a native control panel.
This won’t really affect you too much, as the basics are the same…but if you’re used to cPanel (which is what most other hosts use), you’ll need to readjust.
However, while SmarterASP doesn’t have a ton of user-friendly stuff, they do have an interesting service available.
Look at this:
Yep, this is the type of unusual service you’d expect a smaller hosting company to offer.
In short, basic programming jobs can be handled for free by SmarterASP.net’s developers.
Once again, BASIC jobs. This means you can’t ask their support staff to build your website for you from scratch.
But, there’s a fair chance you have little to no programming knowledge and could use a few tweaks here and there on your WordPress site, for example.
That’s the type of thing you can get from SmarterASP.net for free, which is super useful. Moreover, this hosting company has pretty solid and attentive customer support…but more on that later!
Overall, SmarterASP.net is not strong on ease of use, but it does provide good resources if you’re more of an intermediate user.
That’s not terrible, as its target audience will have no real complaints, but people who want a more intuitive platform or easier set-up may struggle.
At this point, SmarterASP.net isn’t looking too bad even if it’s not for everyone. Ready to dive deeper into something important?
Pricing and Features
Uptime is important, and ease of use is good to know, but I bet the other thing you want to know is what SmarterASP costs, and what features you get with those prices.
I won’t make you wait. Let’s start with the prices:
Okay, let’s be honest: that’s insanely low. I mean, it’s the same price range as GoDaddy or Bluehost, which are famous for being affordable.
Basic is pretty standard for an entry level plan. But Premium is pretty low for a third-tier shared hosting plan, and getting straight up free hosting for being an affiliate is pretty cool.
There is something really important to point out here though: SmarterASP.net’s prices are cheap compared to many other hosting companies’ shared plans.
But the prices are even cheaper after the first year. Here’s why:
The VAST majority of hosting companies have low shared hosting prices for the first year, and then increase the prices significantly upon renewal. For example, typically an entry level plan will be $2-3 a month the first year and $7-$10 a month the second year onwards.
But that is NOT the case with SmarterASP.net. The price you see is what you get until you terminate your contract.
That means that this is by far one of the cheapest sets of hosting plans available. The only other established company I know of that does this is FastComet, so SmarterASP.net is very rare here.
The question now is what we get for those low prices. Here’s the overview:
It’s actually not too bad! The Basic plan is sort of what you expect: one site, standard hosting specs.
But the Advance plan (second tier) allows up to 6 websites, which is more than some larger companies offer for a second tier.
Getting unlimited storage and bandwidth is great, especially as it’s granted for the first tier onwards. But it’s unfortunate SSL is only included for free from the second and third tier.
Unlimited storage/bandwidth might sound like a worthy tradeoff at the entry level, but the truth is, most people on an entry level plan with other hosting companies won’t run up against their plan’s limits.
That’s because “unlimited storage” on a shared hosting plan is actually an exaggeration. If everyone took advantage of unlimited hosting on a shared server, the whole service wouldn’t work, and companies ask people who push the limits to upgrade.
In contrast, SSL is standard nowadays. Most sites you visit, at least the larger ones, use SSL and browsers generally note when a site doesn’t have SSL protection.
The short version is that while the entry plan may seem great because it has unlimited storage, it’s not such a wonderful deal for that alone…and lacking SSL is really unfortunate.
Onto other features, though.
Domain names aren’t included for free as they are with many other hosting companies. However, you can still purchase them through SmarterASP.net, for $12 a year (which isn’t bad), or connect your own.
Something that IS great is all paid plans get unlimited email boxes. Only the latter two plans get email list features, but not being constrained by email from the beginning is nice anyway.
And while I might have downplayed the unlimited storage thing, THIS is pretty significant:
All that storage is SSD, which is faster and more secure.
Although SSD storage is getting more popular, a lot of companies will restrict storage limits if storage is SSD and keep it ‘unlimited’ if it’s regular HD storage.
So, this is a pretty solid perk of SmarterASP.net.
Some other perks of SmarterASP.net are the one-click installer (which is pretty standard, remember), and CloudFlare CDN, which seriously boosts your site’s performance.
I’m focusing on shared hosting because that’s where most of your interests are, but there are some other types of hosting available as well.
SmarterASP is unique in offering “semi-dedicated” hosting plans.
Other hosting companies would call this a “business shared hosting” plan or something like that—it’s still a shared server, but shared between 5-10 people max, allowing you a lot more resources. Prices range from $29.95 to $129.95 a month.
The VPS plans start at just under $100 a month for a 30GB SSD and 2GB of RAM, and extend to just under $400 a month for 120GB of storage and 16GB of RAM.
Cloud server plans range from just under $200 to just under $400 a month in price and 200GB to 800GB in storage (and 8-32GB of RAM).
Reseller hosting goes for $30 to $60 and grants between 50 to 180GB of space and 500 to 1,800GB of bandwidth. There are no limits to the number of hosting accounts or sites you can resell with any given plan.
Last but not least, there’s also a Linux plan to rival the shared hosting plans, which run on Windows.
The Linux plans have comparable pricing, at $2-$4 a month, and are pretty generous: unlimited sites, storage, databases, email, etc.
Okay, now let’s put everything together:
The higher-end plans are not bad, but they’re not particularly standout. One area that’s solid is they’re more customizable than some competitors’, but that’s about it.
The real area where SmarterASP.net stands out is in its shared hosting plans (and to an extent, Linux hosting plans).
These plans aren’t loaded with features the way many competing shared hosting services are, but they are among the LOWEST PRICED plans you’ll ever find.
In short, the features are okay, but the prices are fantastic.
Customer support is always important. You might be confident in yourself, and know you will rarely need to rely on customer support.
But when you do rely on customer support, you want to know you can count on it. And besides, it can be a way of solving problems quickly.
And as I’ve already established, SmarterASP.net is a bit rougher for beginners.
So if you’re not already used to hosting, and you’re interested in the prices, you’ll want this customer support to be pretty good.
I’ll start us off by showing you the live chat. I haven’t often needed the chat, but this is from right when I started testing SmarterASP.
The results are pretty close to what I experienced throughout my use. Check it out:
I got a reply within seconds:
That’s pretty good. Of course this was for a simpler question, but you get the idea.
That’s not all SmarterASP.net offers, of course:
SmarterASP.net will let you email for sales question, and use support tickets for technical support for existing customers (and billing support, but again, the focus is existing users).
They also have a phone number you can call, but there are often long wait times and live chat is significantly more reliable.
Now, the other main component of a hosting company’s support is the knowledge base and documentation.
SmarterASP’s knowledge base isn’t pretty, but it’s effective:
Yep. Plain and to the point. Some people may not like the interface, but there’s no denying that it will save you time.
You barely have to navigate, as you can just scroll until you find the topic you need in bold, and then click on it to find the relevant article.
Because it’s all out on the table, it might seem like a smaller knowledge base, but the truth is that there are over 700 articles in the knowledge base.
They cover a wide range of topics, including more technical ones. In fact, there are over 100 articles just related to the Control Panel, and 59 related to DNS and domain names.
While they vary in length, most of them are detailed with step-by-step instructions and pictures.
It may not be the most impressive knowledge base I’ve ever seen, but it can rival some of the best.
When I take the knowledge base together with the options for contacting support, I’ve got to say I’m pretty impressed with SmarterASP.net’s customer service setup.
Phone calls may be unreliable, but at least the option is there. Live chat performs consistently well, as does the ticket system.
And the knowledge base is comprehensive and quick to navigate or search through.
The result is that SmarterASP has one of the most competitive customer support systems around. It’s particularly impressive that such a small hosting company can rival its largest competitors!
But up next, we’ve got one last major test for SmarterASP to pass:
Security is a big deal in web hosting. Hosting isn’t a one-time purchase, physical good—the whole premise is you pay to get your websites powered.
And that means you’re trusting a company to handle your site, your data, and the data of your visitors/customers—not only with good performance, but with protection from bad actors.
You might be wondering if a small hosting company like SmarterASP.net can really afford to give its customers top-notch security.
Believe it or not, some of the largest hosting companies have more security flaws than smaller ones.
Part of this is because they’re targeted more often, but part of it is that they cut costs by neglecting more secure approaches, counting on their large customer bases.
But SmarterASP.net is the opposite. Check this out:
Yep, SmarterASP.net has three data centers that each have high standards. It does seem the data centers are third parties, but that’s sometimes to be expected for smaller companies.
Even big companies do this, and again, SmarterASP.net has taken precautions to make sure its secure as possible.
As you can see, the power and network infrastructure is redundant—meaning if one thing fails, you’ve got a backup. The premises are constantly maintained, with all the necessary temperature control.
And coolest of all, they’re highly locked down. You can’t even get into an entryway unless you scan your approved thumb print.
So overall it’s not the most intense security I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely one of the better set-ups.
The main precautions are taken with some extra ones, so overall security looks pretty good with SmarterASP.net (especially given its size)!
Before I conclude, let’s summarize some of the major good and bad points so far:
- Specialty in ASP.NET hosting, of course.
- Strong uptime and response times.
- Although not super easy to use, SmarterASP.net’s developers will handle smaller programming tasks for you free of charge.
- Incredible prices: one of the cheapest hosts around, because renewing after the first year has no price increase. In other words, year-after-year, the cost is the same as the first year for other hosting companies.
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth for entry-level accounts onwards.
- Overall, very good customer support. Phones may take a while, but live chat is speedy and reliable, as are the ticket system. The knowledge base is very informative as well.
- Very good security as well, with redundant power and biometric scans at all data centers.
- Not very beginner-friendly, and generally more oriented for people who are used to hosting.
- Not many features, compared to a lot of big names. Domain names and SSL aren’t included for free, for example, and there’s no native site builder.
Conclusion: Do I Recommend SmarterASP.net?
That ratio of pros to cons may seem to answer the question. Yes, I admit it:
SmarterASP.net is overall a really good web host.
But it’s important to note that I don’t recommend it to everyone. I would recommend it to a lot of people, but there’s an important subset who might not be a good fit for SmarterASP.
This would first and foremost be people who want an easier way to setup a website, and people who want all-in-one packages (or close to it) that have lots of features and add-ons.
However, SmarterASP.net is absolutely a hidden GEM in hosting. I can’t say it enough times: it’s one of the cheapest hosts out there, period.
Sure, you lose some features, but here’s the bottom line:
Very affordable hosting packages will provide you with solid resources in terms of storage and bandwidth, really good performance, great customer support, and solid security.
You may lose out on ease of use and features, but it’s just a great bargain period.
And if you’re technically minded and intend to use SmarterASP.net so you can build a site or application using ASP.NET, you’ll find SmarterASP.net isn’t so feature-less after all.
The ultimate result is that I definitely recommend SmarterASP.net to just about everyone, with the exception of people prioritizing user-friendliness and all-in-one platforms.
But if you’re not sure, don’t fret!
Yep, SmarterASP.net’s free trial doesn’t need a card and is twice as long as most other hosts. What are you waiting for?
Short version: Yes.
Longer answer: Yes, but you’ll get the most out of this web host if you want to build with the ASP.NET framework.
That’s because while the basic features, as I discussed, are lackluster compared to some larger companies, SmarterASP has extra focus on ASP.NET scripting features and other tools useful for ASP.NET sites/applications.
So if you’re looking for hosts that cater to ASP.NET sites and applications, SmarterASP.net is especially great.
But if you just want a web host in general, SmarterASP.net is really good but not excellent.
However, to do this you would need to use the one-click installer to set up a CMS, or content management system.
The most popular of these is WordPress, which isn’t as easy as a website builder, but is overall user-friendly and quite capable as far as site customization goes.
The answer to the first question is yes. Technically no, insofar as you can set up a site without it.
But practically speaking, visitors are not going to trust your site as much if it doesn’t have an SSL certificate. Their browsers will tell them your site is less trustworthy, and search engines will prioritize more secure sites over you.
For the second question—kind of. The thing is, it IS included for free for the latter two tiers. It’s only the entry level plan that doesn’t come with SSL.
That’s still unfortunate given the fact that the majority of hosting plans include SSL for free even at the entry level. But it is what it is, and there’s nothing stopping you from purchasing SSL separately.
Also, I’d like to point out that SmarterASP.net’s second tier may be more expensive than the entry tier on another platform for the first year, but because SmarterASP doesn’t increase renewal prices, even the second tier is still cheaper overall than most entry plans elsewhere.
Think about it: the first tier with another host would be $2-$4 a month for a year and then $7-$9 a month every year after that. On SmarterASP, your second tier plan would be just under $5 a month period.
All of this is to say that if you want your site to have SSL, and you should, you should look more at the second or third hosting plans.