2019 October 4th
Looking for a reliable web hosting provider with affordable hosting packages, located in the heart of Europe? It looks like Contabo, a German-based hosting company could be exactly what you need.
In this short Contabo review we’ll see whether this is a hosting provider worth your money!
What Is Contabo?
Contabo, founded in 2003, is a German company specialized in shared hosting packages and dedicated servers. Their offer is aimed at both business and individual customers. As of now, they run two data centers – in Munich (4,000 servers, their headquarters) and Nuremberg (10,000 servers) – both of which are operated by IT professionals 365 days a year to ensure quick and reliable customer service.
At first glance, Contabo’s offers don’t look much different from your typical web hosting company. They have the standard groups of hosting services:
- Shared hosting services
- Virtual Private Servers
- Dedicated servers
On top of standard hosting services, the company offers colocation – which is hosting of your own servers in their data centers in either Munich or Nuremberg. If you choose it instead of paying for the server, you will be paying for housing, bandwidth, and power:
I must say that colocation is quite a unique service – but this is because Contabo is a regional web host, which makes it easier for them to cater to local businesses.
But for this Contabo review, I will stick with what most people start with – basic shared hosting.
All three shared hosting plans are available in four different pricing tiers, and their cheapest shared hosting is available for just €2.99 per month (no setup fee). I will take a closer look at it later in this Contabo review.
In short, you can choose between four plans, the main limitations of which are disk space and MySQL databases:
- Package M – available for €2.99 per month (€35.88 upfront), 50GB, and 20 MySQL databases
- Package L – available for €4.99 per month (€59.88 upfront), 100GB, and 50 MySQL databases
- Package XL – available for €7.99 per month (€95.88 upfront), 250GB, and 100 MySQL databases
- Package XXL – available for €9.99 per month (€119.88 upfront), 500GB, and unlimited MySQL databases
Why did I emphasize MySQL databases in my Contabo review? This is because they constitute the limit of websites that you can host. Technically, Contabo doesn’t have an artificial limit on the number of websites that you can have – but, if you’re working with, for example, WordPress, it needs a MySQL database to work.
But, in my opinion, it’s actually a very good deal. I believe no beginner will exceed the 50GB disk space limit, and for just €2.99 they can have plenty of websites. Not many shared web hosts are so generous.
But, as usual, there is a catch. With Contabo, I would call it a fine print pricing.
According to the company’s General Terms of Service, all packages are sold for a minimum of 12 months. So, in the €2.99 example, you will need to pay €35.88 upfront. Why did I call it a pricing fine print? Well, because it really is written in the fine print – both on the page where you choose the pricing tier:
And in the next step:
Not the best practice customer-experience-wise. One needs to be very careful to spot it before the checkout (when it’s time to pay the 12-month price).
Contabo Plans in More Detail
Knowing the differences between pricing and the main features, it’s time to dig a little bit more in-depth in the features in this Contabo review. In the below table, you can see how the plans compare to each other:
|Package M||Package L||Package XL||Package XXL|
|Free automated back-ups||No||No||No||No|
In order to keep my Contabo review short and concise, I’ll try to focus on the most important features.
To secure your website, Contabo plans have the SSL certificate included as well as anti-DDoS protection. Moreover, for the hosting control panel, you get the cPanel. This one is very intuitive, making it easy to administer your websites.
Also, there is an in-house website builder with 200 templates included with each plan.
Sadly, when it comes to company’s drawbacks, it doesn’t offer assisted website transfers.
This means it’s not the best choice for someone who wants to move from another hosting and doesn’t know how to do that. It also doesn’t provide automated backups or malware scans – but each of them can be done manually.
The hosting speed is great in Europe, but overall speed test evaluation is not so excellent due to other regions. The reason is very simple - the company is based in Germany and that hurts the performance in the locations of Bangalore or Singapore.
However, keeping in mind that the average speed among hosting providers is 500 ms, Contabo is keeping up well!
A sort of a red flag performance-wise which I had to mention in my Contabo review is their uptime. The Service Level Agreement guarantees only a mean 95% availability of physical connection. If you check that figure using our uptime calculator, you’ll quickly see that this amounts to a staggering 1h 12m of daily downtime (and over 18 days every year):
Luckily, the actual uptime is a lot better and hasn’t been below 99.9% in the past few years.
If they keep their uptime at 99.9% - then you’ve got yourself a good deal. But if it ever falls to their guaranteed 95% (which is quite low by industry standards), you’d be better off changing your hosting provider.
Contabo Pros – What Makes It a Good Pick?
It’s time to wrap up my Contabo review. Let’s see their main advantages and whether the benefits can outweigh some of the company’s negatives.
Excellent customer support
The company boasts numerous recent awards for its hotline customer support – which is a standard landline, with no annoying automated waiting loops. On top of that, any time I contacted them, they always answered all my questions promptly and thoroughly. The downside is, they don’t offer a live chat.
This might sound weird to some, used to the fact that one company offers servers in 20 or more locations all around the world. But I believe this is a good thing.
A web host that’s focused on providing the best hosting in the biggest European economy is an excellent gateway to the old continent for anyone doing international business. Moreover, according to our tests, USA speeds are great anyway, making it a really good host to serve visitors from anywhere around the world.
Efficient and environment-friendly
The company is regularly awarded for its environment-friendly infrastructure. Most recently, they received the German Data Center Award 2018 for their increase in energy efficiency. Saving polar bears while hosting your site on a reliable and affordable hosting? Sign me up!
Although there are some strong points with Contabo, there are also several dealbreakers.
This is something I have already mentioned in this Contabo review. I really didn’t like the fact that you need to read their offer so carefully to find the info about an obligatory 12 months contract. While charging for long-term contracts upfront is a common practice for the web hosting industry, it was really hard to spot that fact this time. It makes me wonder whether they play the same tricks on business customers, where contracts and pricing get more complicated.
No live chat
I liked the email support. I really did. But sometimes you need support in real time. That’s why live chats are so popular. And this is why I listed it as a big drawback. Especially compared to some of their competitors offering 24/7 support.
While the base plans provide users with free DDoS protection, they don’t offer automated backups or malware scans. In reality, only a small fraction of users will remember to click those buttons frequently enough to keep their website safe. We live in the 21st century, security is a must!
No trial or money back guarantee!
Surprisingly, the company doesn’t give you an option to test their basic hosting service. While you can order their VPS for just one month, all their shared hosting services come with a minimum 12-month long contract. Not the best way to encourage newcomers to sign up!
Contabo Review Summary – Would I Recommend It To A Friend?
Yes and no. I think I would recommend them to a friend who has a Germany-based business. Or who has his own server and is looking for a colocation service. But when it comes to someone who is a newbie, I believe there are much better options. Especially for beginners who could use a trial period.
In the end, I think the Contabo aims its offer to business customers anyway. If you’re someone starting out, there are better options for you – such as Hostinger or Siteground, just to name the two popular and reliable hosting providers.