This Liquid Web Hosting Review was revised and updated on December 27, 2018.
Most prominent hosting companies are flexible in what they offer: they can provide hosting for individuals or even large businesses. While they may be good, this of course means that some degree of specialization might be lost.
Enter Liquid Web: founded in 1997, Liquid Web has become a leading brand in managed hosting products. Managed hosting is basically high-end hosting: akin to dedicated hosting, the company leases servers (or server space in the case of VPS hosting) to clients, but the company also handles a lot more on their end than in normal hosting options.
Managed hosting typically costs more because the company is providing a lot more for its customers. It’s especially sought after by small or midsized businesses (also known as SMBs).
As such, Liquid Web only has 30,000 customers (though in 130 countries) and helps manage half a million sites—nothing compared to the millions the big names in hosting count. But again—Liquid Web only offers managed hosting.
In other words, unless you’ve got a lot to throw down, Liquid Web isn’t the best option for most hobbyists or individuals. If you run a small or medium sized business, or if you’re a designer or developer with heavy needs, or a digital agency—well, Liquid Web is probably perfect.
So how does Liquid Web do in this niche?
After testing out Liquid Web for a few months, I can say that Liquid Web truly has managed to make itself a great option for its target. However, I don’t think it’s for all SMBs—so let’s jump into the details.
Let’s start with some of the good news: what does Liquid Web do well?
The first thing I would mention is Liquid Web has overall very good products. Seriously, I wouldn’t doubt the quality of the service you get: products are loaded with features and resources, and they perform well.
Part of this quality entails excellent customer support. If Liquid Web doesn’t have the best customer support in hosting, it has among the best for sure.
As Liquid Web is offering managed hosting services, customer support is everything.
And boy, do they deliver on that. It’s one of the things they’re proudest of as a company.
Connected but not fully the same is ease of use: Liquid Web is not the easiest hosting service to use by its very nature and target customer, but it’s still as easy as more serious hosting can get.
Lastly, in addition to Liquid Web’s good performance, Liquid Web’s security is definitely up to the industry’s gold standards.
All of that sounds great—and it is—but it leaves us with one big drawback: price.
There isn’t a very easy way to say this: Liquid Web can be a bit expensive. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the major problem. Most other aspects of Liquid Web are fine, but the price can certainly be restricting for some.
Even if you keep in mind that a large target of Liquid Web is SMBs and customers with stringent hosting specifications, some other providers can offer similar services at lower prices.
I think it’s fair to say that Liquid Web is hard to beat in how much it specializes in premium managed hosting. However, not everyone needs such premium service—many can get by on products of similar quality for lower prices.
The other problem with Liquid Web would be that it doesn’t offer shared web hosting. It could be potentially a solid mix of Liquid Web’s quality but at more affordable prices. On the other hand, Liquid Web doesn’t seem to want customers who want shared hosting, so it might not be an issue.
That’s mostly it! Naturally, everyone will have their own complaints specific to this or that hosting plan, but broadly speaking, these are the primary drawbacks to Liquid Web.
Even so, Liquid Web will be a great option for some businesses—so let’s keep discussing the specifics of Liquid Web.
Pricing and Features
Liquid Web’s pricing is one of the first things people will talk about. That’s because outwardly, Liquid Web is easily one of the priciest hosting companies.
“Outwardly” is the key word here. Remember that Liquid Web isn’t offering shared hosting products, which are always going to be cheaper and targeted towards those with lighter hosting needs.
When you look at what even major hosting companies—such as GoDaddy, Bluehost, or HostGator—offer for their managed products, things aren’t too different. There are always some discrepancies between products but overall Liquid Web is still within a reasonable range.
Although having said that…yeah, quite a few products are on the pricier side. Dedicated hosting starts at $199 a month and continues to $599 a month with additional custom solutions available, for example.
Despite some of the prices, Liquid Web has a strength in the variety it offers. To use dedicated hosting as an example again: the aforementioned price range spreads across 7 products. These products range from having 4 cores and 16 GB of RAM (the first tier) to 24 cores and 64 GB of RAM.
You can choose between having a single processor or a dual processor, choose what backup drives you want, and you can even choose from servers in the central or Eastern United States, or in Europe (though the latter two have less products to choose from).
Liquid Web also has really good cloud options: Cloud VPS, Cloud Dedicated, Private Cloud, or Cloud Sites. Note on the last one: Cloud Sites span physical and virtual servers, which let them scale easily if you’re anticipating growth.
Cloud Sites lets you go with unlimited sites, and the Cloud Dedicated Servers are also highly scalable. I think the Cloud VPS products are a bit pricey, but the features are pretty solid with a lot of SSD disk space and bandwidth, plus unlimited sites, root access, CDN, and more.
Private Cloud is something you don’t see every day, and it gives you a ton of control over the cloud environment—frankly I don’t think there are many other great options for private clouds tailored to SMBs.
Liquid Web also offers WordPress and WooCommerce hosting. Liquid Web’s WordPress hosting is very good, with a couple unique points: automatic plugin updates, and iThemes Sync included.
Liquid Web staff will make sure plugins update in separate environments so they don’t conflict, which is why a lot of hosts won’t automatically update plugins even if they automatically update WordPress itself.
As for iThemes Sync, it’s a tool that makes managing themes for multiple sites much more centralized by putting everything in a single dashboard. It’s not essential, but once you have it, you’ll feel like you were missing something before.
Anyway, WordPress hosting is pretty good but a bit pricey, starting at $99 and for 10 sites. I personally think that you should get a few more sites for that price, but the features are incredible and the resources allocated are decent, so it’s not a major complaint.
While I think Liquid Web’s WordPress, Cloud, and Dedicated hosting products are pretty solid, I feel iffy about its WooCommerce hosting. Yes, the service is good, but it starts at $39 a month—that entry level tier limits the number of orders your store can handle to 150 a month. For some that might be fine, but it doesn’t strike me as such a necessary service.
While specifics might vary package to package, pretty much all hosting products include DDoS protection, CDN, on top of other security measures and backup tools.
The last hosting service offered by Liquid Web is email hosting. On the Liquid Web scale, this is pretty affordable: the first tier is $1 per mailbox per month, and then there are a couple more tiers that raise the dollar per mailbox but come with more space and features.
If you’re thinking of running mailboxes for dozens of employees, then you might be able to find a better deal with another company, but if not I think this is one of Liquid Web’s more price-conscious features.
All in all, Liquid Web does a lot. It offers all the usual things you’d expect with hosting, but the key with Liquid Web is you’re pretty much guaranteed a high quality server and a solid allocation of resources.
It is admittedly pricey, but it won’t be unreasonably so for all businesses—some will find Liquid Web has perfectly hit the mark. But hey, having tons of features means nothing if you can’t make the most of them, and if you want managed hosting, that management better be good. So let’s look at how easy to use Liquid Web is.
Ease of Use
As I’ve said, and as the name implies, managed hosting means a certain level of extra involvement from the company at hand. In this case, Liquid Web puts a strong emphasis on not only taking care of your servers well, but of simplifying the process.
I’ll get to this more in the next section, but one example of this is Liquid Web’s customer support. Aside from quality hosting, Liquid Web’s other selling point (seriously, visit their website and you’ll see what I mean) is stellar customer service.
Basically, Liquid Web has people on hand who can be consulted with, aside from providing basic technical support. This means that if, for example, your business has been growing and you need to reallocate or otherwise scale your digital infrastructure, you can easily talk to a Liquid Web rep to get the job done efficiently.
So that’s one part of Liquid Web’s ease of use. Another is some basic automated tools they include with their packages. A great example of this is their WordPress packages. Having an option for accurately auto-installing WordPress plugins and having iThemes Sync Pro makes managing multiple WordPress sites significantly easier, especially if you have a smaller team.
This is what makes the “managed” part of Liquid Web’s hosting apparatus more concrete. Other platforms might offer managed hosting services but not invest significantly in ease of use, and simply take care of simpler things.
Liquid Web goes out of its way to make all its hosting products easy to control. Another nice point is that helpful staff keep the set-up process efficient.
Ultimately, I would say that any SMB, especially one dealing with more complex online infrastructure, will run into the difficulties and tedium of complexity. However, Liquid Web reduces that as much as is presently conceivable.
Customer support and ease of use always go hand in hand, but this is especially true for Liquid Web. As I’ve said: a large part of Liquid Web’s ease of use, and a large part of the “managed” part of its hosting is excellent customer support.
What do I mean by this? You could consider the staff monitoring and maintaining your servers a form of customer support, albeit a basic one to all of hosting. Well, Liquid Web does put (as far as I can infer) some extra work into monitoring the hardware.
Liquid Web’s main strength is in its customer service representatives. With other hosting platforms, you’ll go to representatives if you have a technical problem or a question about your account. You can still do that with Liquid Web, but you can also go to them for advice or to just generally get more out of your account.
Representatives are available 24/7 through phone, chat, ticket, or help desk. They guarantee a 59 second response time for phone and live chat. Here’s a brief example of how they measured up.
It’s good to see that Liquid Web wasn’t bluffing—that they didn’t mean “you’ll get an automated response in 59 seconds.” In this example, they only took about 30 seconds to answer my question (granted, it was simple).
The other means of contacting representatives are similarly helpful and responsive. Although the ticket system isn’t as immediate, I’ve still found replies come relatively shortly.
The online informational material is all centered in the knowledge base, unlike other companies which separate the knowledge base from other types of material.
The knowledge base is well-organized and very comprehensive. A highlight is that the information comes in a variety of formats—it’s not all just plain text articles—and covers a healthy span of topics with a range of difficulty.
Not all articles are comprehensive, but some are pretty detailed.
Another strong feature of Liquid Web’s customer support: custom solutions. If one of the preset packages does not fit your business, the representatives you’ll consult with are very helpful.
They’re also helpful if you need to rearrange your service. So I would say that another highlight of Liquid Web’s customer support is the custom product process.
It’s difficult to understate how important customer support is for Liquid Web—a good chunk of its business model relies on it. As such, Liquid Web heavily promotes its customer support, and I think it’s warranted.
Liquid Web has probably the best customer support in the hosting industry (though again, that’s by necessity).
Security and Reliability
If you’re like me, you’d expect Liquid Web to have pretty darn good security and top notch reliability. After all, they’re not dealing with shared web hosting, or individuals who are pretty lax about their security requirements.
Liquid Web is aiming their service at businesses and higher-paying clients, people who count on tightly managed hardware and top-notch service. So, they couldn’t have any failings here, right? Right?!
Actually, right. Liquid Web does manage to fulfill these expectations.
I’ll address the first thing you probably want to know: how’s the uptime? It’s very good, as are the response times.
Day to day, how is managing the software? It’s not too different from any other hosting service from a user experience end: the basic parts are all there, but you’ll feel an extra layer of support from the company. I haven’t noticed any glitches or malfunctions in the administrative software or cPanel.
As far as security goes, let me rattle off some certifications: Liquid Web is HITECH certified (which means it complies with HIPAA, a 1996 American accountability law); compliant with the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework; PCI compliant; and compliant with Europe’s recent General Data Protection Regulation.
In addition, Liquid Web uses firewalls and VPN technology, compliance assistance, DDoS attack prevention, server protection, and web application protection.
Liquid Web also offers storage and backup services, including off-site backups and cloud back-ups, among other forms.
My conclusion for security and reliability would be this: if you have high expectations for Liquid Web, they’ll probably be met.
Conclusion: Do I Recommend Liquid Web?
Clearly, there’s a lot going on with Liquid Web. So here’s our moment of truth: do I recommend Liquid Web?
Yes…kind of. If I haven’t made this point enough times: Liquid Web is not for everyone. If your business doesn’t have the resources to taking managing hosting into its own hands, Liquid Web is a good option. This is especially true for businesses with more complex—or simply heavier—hosting needs.
Liquid Web is a particularly good option for resellers, who can rest assured they’ll be providing their clients with a top notch service. It can even be fine for individual freelancers, provided they’re successful and need the specifications Liquid Web provides best.
It’s not for hobbyists or small-time freelancers, who can get by just fine with shared web hosting or even cheaper versions of managed hosting with other companies. The same is true for some small businesses, even those with ecommerce needs.
Having said all that, Liquid Web is certainly one of the best hosting companies around, with excellent performance, security, features, and customer support. At least you get what you pay for!