FastComet has been established in 2010. Yet it was only 2014 when this company started being known outside its home city of San Francisco. Since then, FastComet did all it could to establish itself as an international superpower. Offices in Europe (Bulgaria) and servers in different nations show just how high this company is really aiming.
Still relatively small, the host has a great reputation of focusing on customer service and superior performance. Caring for its clients and its websites, FastComet also expects for them to return the favor - it's one of the first companies I've encountered with a very strong and clear "zero tolerance" policy, openly condemning the hosting of child abusive, violent, racist or other harmful material. FastComet sure does give off an impression of a very interesting, modern, up-and-coming hosting provider. It has huge goals and expectations. Therefore, I was very excited to do a review, just to see how it performs. Here's what I found out:
- Shared web hosting
- Cloud VPS hosting
- Dedicated hosting
- Domain names (reseller of Public Domain)
- SSL certificates (GlobalSign, Wildcard)
Lacking a couple of services, such as Reseller, regular VPS or shared Cloud hosting, FastComet still has a very solid lineup. In a way, there appears to be a very clear progression - beginner users are expected to take up shared hosting, intermediate users - Cloud VPS, web experts - dedicated servers. The fact you can buy a separate domain or an SSL certificate is also very pleasing. Most of the users will find everything they need for their website without once leaving the host's ecosystem. While there are some omissions, they are not crucial.
On top of that, FastComet also has some features which make it a very interesting and a fairly unique provider. Here's what they are:
True International Servers
With 8 data centers nicely spread all over the world, FastComet offers a fitting server location for pretty much anyone. The host says it has clients in over 80 countries. It should come as no surprise - with location options so widespread, it is more than ready to rival even the world's biggest hosts. Many of them, mind you, don't even have servers outside of the US. For FastComet, going global is a great thing to do in an increasingly globalized world.
Let's be real for a second. Hosting business is a serious battlefield - every company fights for paying clients as well as it can. FastComet does that as well - by providing its new customers with an incredibly simple transfer process.
Extensive tutorials, free website/domain transfer, and full 24/7 support are all incredibly important if you're switching hosts.
FastComet appears to be taking a page out of all the world's best providers. Proactive 24/7 customer service and worldwide servers all come together to make this Californian host a very exciting option for different kinds of users. So - I bought myself FastComet shared web hosting services and started my testing.
What's included in FastComet packages?
As it appears to be the norm in web hosting, FastComet offers three different kinds of shared plans.
- StartSmart - a one-website plan, with 15GB of space. Suited for 25,000 monthly visitors.
- ScaleRight - a multiple-website plan, with 25GB of space. Suited for 50,000 monthly visitors.
- SpeedUp - a multiple-website plan, with 35GB of space. Suited for 100,000 monthly visitors, also includes plenty of premium features.
In the table below you will see all of the main features, compared to each plan.
|Disk space limit||15GB||25GB||35GB|
|How many domains allowed||1||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|SSD or HDD used in servers||SSD||SSD||SSD|
|SSL||Supported, included in the package. (Wildcard)||Supported, included in the package. (Wildcard for life, GlobalSign for 1 year)||Supported, included in the package. (GlobalSign for life)|
|Anti-DDoS protection||Included (CloudFlare)||Included (CloudFlare)||Included (CloudFlare)|
|Assisted Website Transfer||Included||Included||Included|
|Auto-installer scripts||450+ (Softaculous)||450+ (Softaculous)||450+ (Softaculous)|
|Money back guarantee||45 days||45 days||45 days|
|Customer Support||24/7 live chat, email, phone||24/7 live chat, email, phone||24/7 live chat, email, phone|
|Choice for server location||Included||Included||Included|
|Free Automated Backups||Daily, kept for 7 days.||Daily, kept for 7 days.||Daily, kept for 30 days.|
Now, let's head to the prices. FastComet states - its hosting plans cost $2.95, $5.95 and $9.95 a month respectively.
However, as you may know, the displayed prices are often only partially true. There are always little things to be wary of. To see how it all works, have a look at the purchasing screen:
These are the prices for the entry "StartSmart" plan. The "$2.95" monthly fee is only valid if you pay for 3 years in advance.
So, in order to have more clarity just how much everything costs, here's another table - showing how much will you have to pay for every period in each plan.
|Payment Period / Plan||StartSmart||ScaleRight||SpeedUp|
*The prices already have VAT included. Your experience may vary, depending on your locale.
Starting with the first minutes and going through the entire period, I kept going back to my previous SiteGround review. FastComet does a lot of the things similarly to SiteGround - and it's not exactly a bad thing. The Bulgarian provider is most definitely one of the best companies in this business. All of the FastComet plans include a lot of the key features - SSL certificates, malware and anti-DDoS protection, and there are no domain/website transfer fees.
The key difference between the three packages is the number of advanced features and disk space. 15, 25 and 35GB in each of the plans may be quite limiting to some, so keep that in mind.
Once again - the similarities to SiteGround are dazzling. Prices are incredibly similar and even a little bit higher on FastComet. The company has little to no intentions of being a "cheap hosting provider" - you may need to pay a lot. On the other hand, FastComet really comes through if you plan to stay a little longer with them. Thanks to renewal prices.
When I was looking at all the fancy tricks hosting providers do to make you pay more, I made sure to put a lot of focus on how the prices increase after the starting period. Often, after your initial package runs out, you suddenly get charged a whole lot more. Not quite nice, isn't it?
FastComet did its clients a solid favor. By not increasing the renewal prices, it has shown its clients a little sign of respect. After your hosting package runs out, you will have to pay exactly as much as you paid the first time. Except with the one-month package. The monthly package prices you see on the table also include a $19.95 setup fee. It's a one-time payment and later you won't need to pay it again. The monthly prices are $5.95 for StartSmart, $8.95 for ScaleRight and $12.95 for SpeedUp.
FastComet Customer Service
So far, I did not shy away from the comparisons with SiteGround - similar plans, pricing and features all point towards that. Well - SiteGround is known for its superior customer service. Let's see if FastComet can keep up! They provide three main types of customer support:
- Live Chat
Let's see how they fare:
Phone Service Evaluation
Well...If there ever was an awkward phone service experience, it's one right here. FastComet does say it provides phone support. In fact, there's even a number you can easily find:
Yet...Do you know what happened when I tried calling that number? This.
That is odd. Three full days of attempting to get a call - nothing. Naturally, it's not good. Several live chats I've fired up had agents reassuring me that everything fully works and there's probably a mistake. At the end of the year, I simply told you all that I was unable to reach FastComet.
But everything's changed in 2018. "New year, new me"? Indeed. In January, I tried again. Ten seconds of dialing sound and I've been connected to an agent. He was knowledgeable enough and knew a thing or two about the technical things that bothered me.
There was no menu to select, no custom elevator music to endure - it felt just like calling a friend who knows all about hosting. Simple and efficient. Yet I was still puzzled.
What happened in December? Why was the support "receiving calls" but I got told it's busy? Is it because the lines were so full I didn't manage to sneak in? If so, that's a poor showing. But I can only guess. What I can say for sure is that when it works, FastComet phone support is absolutely fine.
The months went by and I kept trying and investigating. And now, in late February 2018, I can come to a proper conclusion. At the end of 2017, I made a promise I'll keep nagging FastComet phone support to find out whether those weird few days in December were anything to judge it by. FastComet passed this test in flying colors - not being "Busy" for any of the calls that I made. So while my experiences in December won't get deleted and replaced yet, I will offer FastComet some redemption. It takes a good company to address its problems.
Ticket Service Evaluation
Now it's time to see how does FastComet handle ticket requests. Considering it's based in California, I did a few of the requests at different times of the day, just to see if there's a solid difference in response times. Well, here's what I noticed:
Ticket responses tend to be the slowest in night/early morning (Pacific time). The times were still quite decent - 35 minutes or less.
In peak times (lunchtime, PST) the response times dropped to very respectable 10-20 minutes. In the tickets themselves, the representatives were proactive. They did not send in dry answers - and followed my questions up with further inquiries, so they could help me better. Overall - I was quite impressed.
Chat Service Evaluation
In this part of the FastComet review, I'll look into quite possibly the most popular way of contacting customer support - live chats. The way I see it, there are 3 main things that add up and make a great live chat. It's response time, knowledge and familiarity. Combination of all of those would make chat service easy to use, helpful and very friendly. Let's see how FastComet handles it.
Chat wait times are almost non-existent. All of the times I tried, I was always #1 in the queue. In that regard, it's perfect. FastComet appears to be very confident in having enough resources, as the chats are often prompted without me even starting them! Chances are, if you just go on and click the "Visit FastComet" link to your right, it won't take 2 minutes until you're having a lovely chat with someone.
Now, let's talk about the knowledge and the human factor. Things have been quite interesting here. As I asked Anna about how many auto-installer scripts does this host have, I haven't been given the answer clearly visible on their website. Instead, I've been told that everything will be installed to me - manually. So basically, sometimes I didn't get the answers I needed. Instead - I've been offered something that was way above my expectations. A bit weird, isn't it? I'm not complaining though.
The oddities didn't stop there either. Look at another chat I've had:
Damn Daniel, back at it again with domain plans.
While trying to collect information on the provider, I came across this case where the agent simply didn't have the information required. Instead of maybe asking for extra time and trying to find out the answer, Daniel seems to have played stupid. He said that the completely public information is 'confidential' and later attempted to save face. While a completely minor non-issue, this is a practice that can't continue. Clients' questions, even if weird or borderline stupid, have to be answered with a maximum level of respect. What we see here is not good - what if other clients now actually believe that the questions they have can't be answered? Not nice.
Some other issues have happened as well. A seemingly simple inquiry has pretty much left one of the chat representatives literally speechless.
Shame I can't show you the times but I started worrying about 15-20 minutes into Emma's "Just a moment" message. Later then, it took another 5-10 minutes to respond fully to my question. Although first message times are incredible, it may take a while to get a full answer. It's growing increasingly clear that a lot of the chat representatives simply don't have the required knowledge to answer a lot of the questions and that either makes them play stupid or take a lot of extra time.
This leads to perhaps the main takeaway I've had with FastComet. Despite the host being incredibly proactive and prompting chats at every opportunity possible, they can't always keep up with the demand. A case of Emma reflects badly not on her but on FastComet itself. With offices in Bulgaria and a huge emphasis on customer support, FastComet draws a lot of similarities to SiteGround. FastComet wants to copy its competition, then beat it up and take its lunch money. Now, however? It appears to be too big of a bite to chew. There should be fewer chats - but better ones.
Phone support, or lack of it, is also a serious issue. I hope it's been fixed - if it works like it does now, there's nothing to complain about. We will see what happens in the future.
Overall though, I am happy FastComet is attempting to have great support. And to be quite fair, ticket support is absolutely great. Other two options still need some improving. Maybe the current problems are due to lack of business experience? If so, the only way is up.
First Impressions During and After the Purchase
FastComet has a somewhat solid lineup of payment options. This means several credit card companies and PayPal - just about enough for an absolute majority of clients.
As you can see, you can also choose the server location right from the very start. I decided to choose Chicago.
The purchase process itself was quite pleasant but still a little bit of a mixed bag. Instead of simply allowing me in, FastComet has asked for further identification.
Funny enough, you actually have to verify yourself - instead of receiving a phone call, I myself popped into the chat and asked to be examined. After a few questions (where are you, what do you do, what is your mother's maiden name?) I only had the final trial waiting for me.
The same agent who has been chatting with me called me to the number I provided. After a few questions, we bid each other goodbye. I sent a photo of my ID to the Sales email and the hosting account was all set up and ready. From start to finish, the whole process took around 20 minutes. Definitely not bad.
This is the dashboard that I discovered.
Very plain and lacking a lot of information (the sidebar is pretty much all you get!). However, this is not where the magic happens. After a couple clicks, I found what I wanted - the link to cPanel. Here it is:
The classical look. cPanel with paper_lantern is a simple option, you can't possibly go wrong with this. FastComet played it safe and there's no reason not to. Overall, it's quite decent. The payment options are adequate, the fraud check process, albeit frustrating, didn't take long, and the panel is a great safe choice. My mind is not blown but it is completely fine.
So, let's recap. FastComet is simple to use - the panel is the easiest thing ever. The prices are definitely on the high side but you get plenty of features for it. The purchase process is only slightly frustrating but the whole "Fraud Check" process is as swift as it can be. However, while all of that has been great, I felt seriously let down by the very promising customer support department.
Now, this part of the review is going to evaluate perhaps the most important thing of them all - performance. There will be 4 total things I'll be looking into.
- Host's speed during low upkeep
- Host's speed with a website created using FastComet website builder
- Server's overall uptime
- Anti-theft security evaluation
This is going to ultimately decide just how good FastComet is when comparing it to the other providers. Let's roll.
IMPORTANT NOTICE - as much as we'd love that, the tools are never 100% correct. We use our favorite - the Bitcatcha testing tool to see the response times all over the world and Uptime Robot to see the uptime statistics. While close to actual numbers, these tools still have the results affected by their own access points. We recommend comparing the speeds from all of our reviews - they've all been tested using the same methodology with the same flaws, so that may give you the clearest picture of who is best.
Host Speed During Low Upkeep
Simple HTML websites require little to no resources. They put a minimal strain on the server they're in. Therefore, a simple HTML website should show the theoretical highest results possible. To see just how Fast the Comet really is, I uploaded this 20-line masterpiece.
Here's how it did:
This is a good time to remind you that I hosted the website in Chicago. In the results...it absolutely shows. During 10 of the tests, I have never seen the US East server clock speeds over 1 millisecond. Lovely!
Other locations have been thoroughly decent as well. Singapore has been slightly behind but even there, response times have never exceeded 1 second. Elsewhere, times hovered around the Google-recommended 200 ms mark. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Host Speed With FastComet Website Builder
FastComet uses a drag-and-drop HTML website builder. Basically, it is expected to be similar but way, way more clunky than the page we tested just previously. I've made a builder site, put loads of random information and let it out to the wild.
This is the result:
Borderline criminal speeds in US East again. Everywhere else, it's as balanced as it was last time. Of course, it's slower - that is fully expected. However, it's a good testament to FastComet optimizing its software well enough to work with the servers. And if you plan to have a graphics-heavy website, FastComet will be able to deal with it just fine.
Server Overall Uptime
NOTE - this section will get constant updates
An uptime status tracking tool has been put on a basic WordPress website. Then, we tracked server's every step - once a minute. This helps us to see the host's overall availability and peaks in performance. Here are the results:
This was the first week of testing and it's quite nice to see FastComet hit the ground running. Speeds very constant on the 300 mark is nothing to frown at. Also, there have been no spikes in performance, response time has never reached 2 seconds, and there were no downtimes, of course. Overall, everything was really quite impressive.
Fast forward to February and a different picture emerges.
Notice the sneaky upwards trend? Going from early 300s up to 400-500 ms, FastComet server our website is in appears to be getting slightly slower! That is not good, you don't need me to tell you that.
Luckily, there is still something to be happy about. From early December, to mid-February, FastComet server was only down once - and only for 9 minutes. This is in our lists as one of the best results ever recorded. Nice one.
Anti-Theft Protection Evaluation
As every other anti-theft system test on this website, this was conducted in two parts. At the beginning, I changed my IP, logged from a different browser and simulated a brute-force break-in. This meant guessing the password incorrectly 20 times in the row, as quickly as possible. On my 21st attempt, I finally wrote the correct password in. Much to my surprise, I was allowed inside with no hassle.
Later I contacted FastComet - their representatives swore that there is a brute-force protection system applied to their website. Maybe I wasn't quick enough - maybe the system is onlty meant to stop a script from guessing your password through numerous incorrect attempts? That being said, if you made someone angry and they have a clue of what your password may be, it can be guessed without much resistance. Decent? Yes. Could still be better.
For the second part, I had to put on my secret agent garments and go on a mission. After changing my IP and browser again, I pretended to be the righteous owner of my hosting account. My mission was to get the live chat to give me access to the client panel. That is, without offering any substantial evidence of being the owner. This is what they asked me to do:
A modern hosting provider, no doubt. This is the first host which has asked me to take a selfie! Usually, the hosts ask for your ID (I sent mine via email!) - this one also asks for your picture holding an ID card. This is perhaps the best combination of speed and security. Personally, I thought it was pretty cool - and the whole process took no time at all. Overall, this could've gone much worse. I'm glad.
NOTE - keep your personal information safe! Use different passwords, consider using additional security software and whatever you do, don't take pictures of yourself holding an ID card unless you ABSOLUTELY have to.
FastComet Review - Conclusion
This provider is brimming with promise. Amazing performance, an easy-to-use interface and decent security measures are all lovely. FastComet isn't attempting to woo its clients with low prices - instead, it aims to please using advanced features. That is really quite pleasant. In many ways, you can sense FastComet attempting to copy all the best players in the game - it almost works.
There are still some shortcomings - mostly, in the support department. The chat agents still appear to lack the required knowledge in certain questions - and this hurts the company's goal of providing chat support to literally everyone. Phone support also has its problems - we'll get to it in the later updates.
For now, though, I believe that FastComet is a very interesting new provider. Many of the shortcomings can be forgiven if the host intends to fix them. For the most part, FastComet is actually quite brilliant, providing really good performance. Many of the users will find it being just what they need. So it is definitely a host I can recommend.
- Easy-to-use interface
- All the plans have a lot of great features
- Solid uptimes
- Fair and low renewal prices.
- Customer support ambitious, has its shortcomings.
- Expensive entry plans.