1&1 hosting is made by people who know the Internet inside out. After all, United Internet, a corporation which owns this provider, has been around since 1988. It wasn't only doing hosting. One of their other products is Mail.com, one of the biggest email services on the planet.
And in late 2018, we were greeted with the blockbuster news. 1&1 bought and merged with Profitbricks, an enterprise cloud solution. This is how 1&1 IONOS was born: even bigger and more powerful than ever before.
Considering that, my expectations were simple - I fully expected 1&1 IONOS to blow me away. After all, one doesn't get to stay in the business for 30 years (and even expand!) without being brilliant at it. With all that in my mind, it was time to put this provider to the test.
With nearly 20 million domain names under its belt and three decades of international Internet services experience, is 1&1 hosting the best there is? We will see while we evaluate the service in this 1and1 review.
1&1 Hosting Services
- Shared web hosting
- VPS hosting
- Cloud hosting
- Dedicated hosting
- Custom business server solutions
- Domain names
1and1 focuses mostly on beginner and intermediate users. Like many providers, the host also offers dedicated and virtual private servers. However, majority of the services include shared web servers, hidden under the buzzwords of "WordPress hosting" or "online store hosting".
After the merger with Profitbricks, however, now there are also plenty of genuine enterprise cloud solutions (which is always welcomed!)
And of course, it shouldn't be forgotten that there's one thing, needed for small and big businesses alike, in which 1&1 IONOS are total experts.
That's domain names, and 1and1 deliver in that - the company is a part of the ICANN Accreditation list, making it a full-fledged domain reseller, not relying on any other companies.
This is not the only interesting thing about this provider. These are some extra features that set 1and1 hosting apart from the rest:
Sometimes, your website requires more performance than it has. 1&1 knows that, and offer Scalable Performance, which allows you to easily increase the performance of your server with just a few clicks.
HTTP/2 Network Protocol and an SSL Certificate
The HTTP/2 network protocol helps to optimize the Web. It reduces load times and makes pages easier to display on nearly every available modern browser. HTTP/2 is a protocol from the future, with only around 15% of the web pages currently using it. However, that is about to change very soon, as the number is steadily increasing. With 1and1 hosting, you can get ahead of the competition. In addition to that, the host also provides every one of its clients with a free SSL certificate which adds extra security. 1and1 hosting is both secure and modern.
There are plenty of plans and plenty of options to choose from. The most interesting of them all, however, is shared web hosting. With a plan that costs only $1 a month and includes a free SSL certificate, it is certainly a product hard to beat. So let's check it.
What’s included in the 1&1 Hosting packages?
These are the three shared web hosting packages you can choose from:
- Basic - a plan which includes 100GB of storage, 2.5GB of RAM and only allows 1 website.
- Unlimited Plus - a plan offering 250GB storage, 6GB of RAM and multiple websites.
- Unlimited Pro - the best of the three plan, which includes 500GB of storage, 9GB of RAM and also adds SiteLock security features as well as its content delivery network, which is supposed to increase load speeds for your visitors all around the world.
These plans have plenty of differences between them - here they are, put in a convenient table form.
|Basic||Unlimited Plus||Unlimited Pro|
|Disk space limit||100GB||250GB||500GB|
|How many domains allowed||1||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|SSD or HDD used in servers||SSD||SSD||SSD|
|SSL||Supported, included in the plan||Supported, included in the plan||Supported, included in the plan|
|Anti-DDoS protection||Included (server level)||Included (server level)||Included (server level)|
|Anti-malware protection||Not included in the package||Not included in the package||Included (SiteLock)|
|Website Builder||Available as a separate purchase||Available as a separate purchase||Available as a separate purchase|
|Assisted Website Transfer||No||No||No|
|Money back guarantee||30 days||30 days||30 days|
|Customer Support||24/7 phone, tickets, email, Twitter||24/7 phone, tickets, email, Twitter||24/7 phone, tickets, email, Twitter|
|Choice for server location||No||No||No|
|Free Automated Backups||Yes||Yes||Yes|
In these reviews I always like to do a little "reality check". By that, I mean busting the myth of "monthly" introductory prices. If you ever saw an ad for hosting (you did, just a good minute ago) you probably noticed that most of the time, the prices are being described as monthly. In reality, you are usually paying for the entire period in advance, at once, in checkout.
Let's see how 1&1 hosting do that.
Technically speaking, 1and1 do the same thing most of the providers do and charge you for the entire period in advance. However, $12 per year for an entry plan is a great price already - no surprise you can't pay 99 cents every month.
In the table below, here are all the possible payment periods for the plans.
|Payment Period / Plan||Basic||Unlimited Plus||Unlimited Pro|
|12 months||$12 ($8 monthly renewal)||$60 ($10 monthly renewal)||$108 ($14 monthly renewal)|
1&1 Hosting has a pretty stacked lineup, with even the cheapest plan offering reputable 100GB of disk space and a free SSL certificate. However, lack of cPanel and a fairly small amount of auto-installer scripts available makes it a difficult option for the more experienced users.
Very straightforward. Only two payment periods to choose from. 1&1 wants you to choose the 12-month plan - just look at the renewal prices.
After your starting package runs out, you will be prompted to pay $8/$10/$14 monthly renewal fees for ‘Basic’, ‘Unlimited Plus’ and ‘Unlimited Pro’ plans respectively.
If you choose a monthly plan instead, the fees will increase. And for a 12-month 'Basic' plan, the price is difficult to beat.
$12 for a year of hosting is one of the best prices in the business. Prices become more regular if you choose one of the 'Unlimited' plans.
Later, after your starting package runs out, you will be subject to pretty high renewal prices. With other providers, people avoid paying them for longer by picking a 36 month or even lengthier plans. But here, most you can get is 12 months.
1and1 Customer Service
Like most providers, 1and1 offers a 24/7 customer support service as well as plenty of additional tutorials and articles. The articles you see in the picture above are put in multiple categories. There's not many of them provided but most of the simple questions are answered there. For everything else, there's direct support. 1and1 offer three main channels you can use to contact a customer service representative.
- Live Chat
In order to get a fair evaluation, I tested all three of them extensively. These are the results:
Phone Service Evaluation
It takes around 2 minutes to get connected to an agent. That is one of the better results from all the hosts tested. Sadly, the praise stops here. The agents lack a lot of general knowledge and after asking simple technical things (i.e. "What are the shared hosting server locations?") I was transferred to a different agent.
Such a thing was nearly a rule, with me speaking to 2 or even 3 agents during one phone call. The transfer times took around a minute or two as well. For the simple questions, including billing or plans, 1and1 phone support has been pretty good. Just don't expect to get the answers you failed to find in its Knowledge Base.
Chat Service Evaluation
When testing chat service, I always look into three things. First one is wait times - the shorter is my wait, the better is my day. Then, I look into the knowledge of the agents. This one is obvious - I hope for the representative to know more about the services than I do. Finally, I evaluate the human factor. The more courteous and familiar the representative is, the better. We all hope for the people working in customer support to be as pleasant to talk to as possible.
This part of the 1and1 review is dedicated solely to chat service: so let's see how it does!
My 1and1 analysis ran into a big problem. This is seriously concerning. The chat service agents appear to have little to none interest in whatever they're doing. Every single even slightly technical question has been met with either a message to contact someone else or the agent leaving.
Of course, I don't blame the agents themselves - it appears that they are simply not allowed to answer technical inquiries, despite the clients asking them. This, however, is not the worst of 1and1 problems. It is very rare to catch a chat in when it's available in the first place.
The wait times when you finally succeed are great. Yet when you take all the things in concern, it provides no solace.
The only saving grace in this entire situation came in early 2018. Several months after the initial review I've reattempted to get at least one solid answer from the 1&1 chat support.
And I did!
Despite being told the service was unavailable at first, a few minutes later I was prompted to talk to someone in charge.
It worked out much, much better.
And yet, I still can't recommend this as a great chat service - but it's definitely a step to the right direction. We will see how everything pans out in the future.
Email Service Evaluation
During the live chat, agent Darrell offered me to contact the 1&1 email support - I've done just that. It is great to see companies still providing email support and that is helpful if you have some serious technical problems. Often companies choose to provide ticket support but it is commonly available only for the registered clients. In the case of this host, email support is available for everyone. This is how 1and1 email support handles technical questions:
I was slightly disappointed to only receive a link to a support article instead of getting a small tutorial. Other questions have been answered similarly, some responses them were more in-depth than others. Overall, it took from 10 to 20 hours to get an answer, which is a decent result. All in all, email service seems to be the best way to receive technical support. It is available for everyone and is sufficiently quick.
However, I find it discouraging that email is the only reputable way to get technical assistance. It was great some years ago but with live chat services so prominent and genuinely good in most top hosting providers, there's no reason for 1&1 to not follow.
First Impressions During and After the Purchase
Immediately after sending my details, I ran into some trouble with the payment process. Usually, those can get fixed up by going to a live chat - it wasn't working and frankly, I don't think they could've helped me in the first place. Luckily, a phone call has solved it through. Soon after, I was still able to login to my account and see the dashboard as well as the panel.
1&1 does not use cPanel. Therefore, its dashboard is also a panel. I must say that it is highly unintuitive and I was unable to complete a majority of the tasks without the help of Google. There is no such thing as a 'File Manager', instead there is a web-based FTP client, named "WebSpace Explorer". It took a while to do as simple a task as creating a subdomain and uploading an HTML website to it. In moments like this, I wish more providers stuck to a simple panel. In a market where cPanel or Plesk are seen as industry standards, anything else massively different creates more problems than it solves. I am sure that after some getting used to, 1and1 panel can be as intuitive as anyone. But if you can transition from Hostinger to A2 Hosting to BlueHost with little to no problem, why would you bother with 1and1? Well, maybe there could be a reason...
It is worth dealing with the confusing panel and the customer service which doesn't like you if the host's performance is impeccable. This is precisely what I'll be looking into in this part of the 1&1 review. Here are the four main things I'll be testing:
- Host’s speed during low upkeep
- Host’s speed with a website created with 1&1 website builder
- Server’s overall uptime
- Anti-theft security evaluation
These tests will go on for several months. The results you'll see posted below will be the most recent ones.
IMPORTANT NOTICE - we do not claim for the tools to be a 100% accurate representation of the host's datacenters. What we test here is the performance of the server the company has allocated to us at random. The speeds also depend on the Bitcatcha tool's access points. That means the results may be affected by the tool as well. However, after extensive tested we found Bitcatcha to be the most consistent in terms of speeds. Since all of the hosts go through the same testing procedure, we can have pretty accurate representations on how they perform against each other.
It is also worth noting, that despite 1and1 having worldwide datacenters, in shared hosting you are not given an option to choose the one you want. You get a server allocated - the one you receive is the one closest to your billing address. Closest one to us was the server in Kansas, USA. Therefore, this was the server tested. Results from different datacenters may differ.
Host Speed During Low Upkeep
In order to see the best possible results, I set up the simplest website possible - an HTML one. The website you see below contains less than 30 lines of code and only includes a background picture, link, and a simple animation.
These are the results of this website:
The results are fairly stable - US servers response times are not as quick as in some other competitors but still pretty great. Bangalore, often a neglected server in these reviews, goes from 300 to 500 ms, which is not bad. The biggest problem is Singapore, its response times go from 700 ms to 3 or even more seconds! There are clear problems 1and1 hosting needs to address here, as other hosts tested at exactly the same time had no noticeable issues with that server.
Host Speed With 1&1 Website Builder
Before we start, I have to tell an extra word about the website builder. It is not included with hosting and you have to purchase separately, for $4.99 a month. If you are looking for a cheap website builder solution, 1&1 is not going to be ideal. In addition to that, the builder followed the footsteps of the panel. By that, I mean that it was confusing to use. Overall, it is not a builder I strongly recommend - but if it's quick, it may be worth it. Let's check how it does:
Just like in the HTML website, the Singapore server is lacking behind. All of the others are doing very well but it's always that one which drags the overall performance grade down. There is a clear problem - either from 1&1 or Bitcatcha.
1&1 IONOS Server Overall Uptime
In this test, I set up a WordPress website which was monitored once every minute. This is going to show the host's overall availability - response times show how quick it is and uptime percentages show how often it is down.
These are the results from more than 15 months of continuous testing!
Overall, very good performance. In addition to good response times, there was also 99.98% uptime. Which is not perfect but there's not much to complain about.
1&1 may have its quirks but if you're looking for performance issues, I'm afraid you simply won't find them. The German provider is comfortably in the top 10 of the quickest hosts we have tested.
In the 1&1 vs. Hostinger comparison article, I have noticed the amazing speeds this host is putting up. 1&1 still isn't the greatest of them all - but it's close.
Of course, it wouldn't be a fair review if we didn't dig deeper and tried finding some genuine issues. So we did - turns out that during the testing period, 1and1 hosting suffered from one major downtime. It happened on the 24th of August, 2017 and was pretty - took 51 minutes on our server. It appears to have been a pretty big outage, as many people have reported their websites going offline on that day.
Such as occasion had a tendency of repeating once every few months. That being said, it's still pretty uncommon - yet still it's something worthy of talking about.
Therefore, it can be concluded that 1and1 is not exempt from problems - but most of the time it delivers stable speeds and decent uptimes.
Anti-Theft Protection Evaluation
For the final test, I've attempted to steal my own account. For the first part, I've attempted a brute-force login. For that, I logged out, changed my IP and incorrectly guessed my password multiple times. If 1and1 have some sort of a security system implemented, I was supposed to be unable to get into my account even after finally 'guessing' the password.
It took only 10 attempts for 1&1 to clock that something was wrong. I was locked out of many any more attempts and this screen opened.
That means if someone tries to use brute-force software to gain access to your account, they won't be allowed to do it. That is certainly a good thing.
For the second test, I took the role of a person who tries to gain access to someone's account without providing any proof of ownership. At first, I attempted to do this via live chat. The outcome was somewhat predictable.
Then, I decided to pick the first offered option and make a phone call - the system immediately connected the dots (presumably, from my previous brute-force attempt) and asked whether I was writing about the hacking problem. I picked the 'Yes' option and was informed that the customer security agents only work from 9 to 5 - I called before 9 AM, so had to wait a while. Afterwards, I made a call and was connected to an agent. This time, there were no questions about my account getting hacked.
I was connected to John - a real gentleman, I will add. He listened to my acting performance and reassured me that it's going to be okay and I will get my account back. After multiple questions (I only told them the e-mail) I was guided through the 1and1 website until I made my way to the Account Change Request form. This is what it looks like:
John didn't know how much information is "enough" for me to get into the account - but he told me that each entry is treated manually and the account is not going to be given away easily.
All in all, there are plenty of security mechanisms implemented into 1and1 in order to assure the safety of your account. There is a very low chance that some ill-meaning people are going to get into your account. On the other hand, if you are going to run into serious verification problems, it's going to take a while to get everything back.
NOTE - keep your personal information safe. Use different passwords, don't pick easy combinations. Also, have account information and invoices available in person so you can't prove your ownership even in the worst of scenarios.
1and1 Review: Conclusion
Overall, 1&1 IONOS offers a very nice web hosting service. However, I don't think that there has been a host that confused me so much.
On one hand, you get really solid and stable performance, a terrific price, good account safety, HTTP/2, and a free SSL certificate. When you think about it, there is not much more you could ever want. On the other hand, you get a very confusing panel, an expensive website builder, chat support which probably hates you and servers who hate Singapore.
After this evaluation, I can say that I certainly like 1and1 hosting for what it is trying to do. Decent performance and plenty of tools for a great price are all admirable. Yet perhaps going more simple - implementing cPanel and putting extra emphasis on live chat - would benefit this host greatly. There are plenty of reasons to love 1&1 hosting - it just needs a couple more.
- Scalable performance allows to adjust everything to your needs.
- Very low introductory price.
- Very good performance.
- Great account security.
- Subpar customer service.
- Panel very difficult to use.
- Website builder expensive, unintuitive.