Founded in 1979, Network Solutions is one of the USA's true Internet pioneers. A popular domain name registrar and a hosting provider, this company has millions of users and is one of the big fishes in the online service business. The new millennium, however, brought Network Solutions some new challenges. Registrars and hosting providers from all around the world have flooded the industry and now, the competition for each dollar is tougher than ever. Does NetworkSolutions still have what it takes to repel the rivals? This is what we'll find out together in this Network Solutions review.
Network Solutions Services
- Shared Web Hosting
- VPS Hosting
- SSL Certificates
- Domain Names (ICANN Certified)
Network Solutions doesn't seem to have fully adopted dedicated or cloud servers yet - but even without that, it's a decent lineup. Domain names and SSL certificates are always needed and depending on the size of their projects, clients can choose between shared and VPS hosting options.
In that case, it's perfectly enough for most of the regular users. May not be suited for businesses - but this is not what this company is targeting anyway.
When it comes to hosting, there are a couple of things Network Solutions are pretty proud of:
Automatic Daily Backups
At all times, Network Solutions will keep a snapshot of your website from each of the last 14 days. If you make any bad changes or something unexpected happens, you can always restore the page back to where it was. Some providers do it weekly, some don't do the backups at all - and it may turn into a disaster you will avoid with Network Solutions.
Plenty of Resources
Even the entry plan includes a hefty 300GB of allowed disk space. This trumps a lot of competition, which often tends to offer way less than that. This is a great option for the people looking to build extensive databases full of information. In addition to that, the cheapest plan also allows for 1000 mailboxes and 25 MySQL databases. You are unlikely to run out of that anytime soon.
What’s included in Network Solutions packages?
There are 3 plans you can pick from.
|Web Hosting||Professional Hosting||Professional Plus|
|Disk space limit||300GB||500GB||30GB|
|How many domains allowed||3||5||10|
|SSD or HDD used in servers||HDD||HDD||HDD|
|SSL||Supported, not included in the package||Supported, not included in the package||Supported, included in the package|
|Anti-DDoS protection||Included (server-level)||Included (server-level)||Included (server-level)|
|Anti-malware protection||Included (automatic scanning)||Included (automatic removal)||Included (automatic removal)|
|Assisted Website Transfer||Yes (custom price, not available on all platforms)||Yes (custom price, not available on all platforms)||Yes (custom price, not available on all platforms)|
|cPanel||Not included||Not included||Not included|
|Money back guarantee||30 days||30 days||30 days|
|Customer Support||Ticket, phone||Ticket, phone||Ticket, phone|
|Choice for server location||No||No||No|
|Free Automated Backups||Yes (daily, 14 days)||Yes (daily, 14 days)||Yes (daily, 14 days)|
Now, let's have a look at the prices. And here is where the fun part of this review starts.
|Payment Period / Plan||Web Hosting||Professional Hosting||Professional Plus|
*Additional taxes not included - they may differ with your locale.
What is all that about? You see, Professional Plus doesn't really exist as plan. I mean sure, Network Solutions speak of it, they put it in its promo posters, all looks super legit. But what happens if you try to purchase that plan or at least see the real price?
In fact, let's bring it down a notch. Let's do a yearly plan, alright?
Now. Remember the picture with the prices of the plans? The price of the "Professional" plan is $21.62 a month. Multiple it by 12 and you get $259.39 - the exact same price here.
There appears to be no such thing as the "Professional Plus" plan - what I was given, was an entry plan with a bunch of add-ons in the basket! Not even the "Professional" plan, which is quite concerning.
In the table above, I added information the provider itself has given me. However, I had no chance of even testing whether all of that is correct. For what we should care about, Network Solutions only has two plans, regular and professional.
At first, Network Solutions makes a solid start. As mentioned earlier, daily backups and plenty of resources are the highlights in all of these plans. There's no "single website" option either - even the entry one allowed 3. So that's pretty nice.
Elsewhere, however, it was not good. Only 28 available auto-installer scripts are pretty limiting - the list misses a lot of very important names. Furthermore, SSL is available only as a separate purchase (it's technically included with Professional Plus but we all saw how that went!)
Expensive. Weirdly expensive, at that. When we've done a review for Web.com, Network Solutions' parent company, we noticed the website builder suffering from very similar pricing problems. There are alternatives way cheaper than anything NetworkSolutions offers. That being said, even at the first glance, this provider doesn't offer anything that would make the price "worth it".
But maybe it has something going on for itself? Let's actually buy the services and see how that goes for us.
First Impressions During and After the Purchase
Networks Solutions accepts both a plethora of credit cards and PayPal. This is a typical selection of payment options, which is more than enough for most users.
Upon choosing my plan and its duration, I had to go through Network Solutions' upselling efforts: for both SSL and its parent company's, Web.com builder.
Then, the account information. Network Solutions asks you to add a security question which will, presumably, be used for account recovery. Luckily enough, the list is pretty good and you can also add your own. Questions such as "what is your favorite movie?" or "what city were you born in?" are simply not safe enough to stop people from taking you down.
Speaking of safety: the password system in Network Solutions is archaic, to say the least. Have a look:
More than 16 letters not allowed? There is no logic in that - passwords with additional symbols are exponentially more difficult to crack. In an age where users are more and more concerned with the security of their data, this kind of a limitation doesn't sound right. Oh, speaking of security...
How lovely it is to transition to this topic. There's something fundamentally wrong with the security systems Network Solutions use in the purchasing process. Have a look at this error message I received after typing in my credit card information.
Oooooompf. That doesn't sound good. So far though, I didn't suspect anything unusual. Many hosting providers attempt to stop credit card fraud at all costs, so it is common for them to ask for additional verification. Often this means stuff like sending in your ID information - a driver's license or something like that.
So I called the customer support - still blissfully unaware of what was about to happen.
In my 13 minutes of conversation, I had experienced a stunning approach to personal security management as we know it. Instead of having to send my ID or whatever, I had to repeat my personal information and credit card details.
On phone. To a complete stranger. Numbers, one by one. Despite the fact, I just wrote them in on a page with SSL, which helps to encrypt and secure such information, this was the preferred method.
Absolutely incredible and astonishing and not in a good way. Such information should be treated very carefully and Network Solutions do not value it like it should. If you're looking for personal security tips, here's your first one - do not use this hosting provider.
However, for the sake of exploration, I decided to dive in anyway. After I told my card details to some random guy on the phone, the purchase process was instantaneous and I got to see the dashboard immediately. Here it is:
It is only slightly confusing - while it takes some time getting used to, essentially it's not much more complicated than most of its competition. In the login screen, you can even choose exactly where to log in, so you can avoid using it in the first place.
Here is the panel that you will eventually visit, if you wanted to manage your hosting:
Network Solutions does not use cPanel. Instead, it has its own panel which looked pretty good from the outside. However, once I started using it, glaring errors have started appearing.
For instance, let's take a very simple operation, such as creating a subdomain. While many other providers make that a very basic operation, requiring little to no assistance, in Network Solutions I had to Google a solution. Even then, the best I found was this:
This is unnecessarily complicated. What's more, even by following the actions I was unable to create a subdomain, as some buttons were clearly not where they were supposed to be.
And even if they were, in most cases, you just have to locate a "Subdomains" option in the panel, write your desired name and hey presto, it's there. Network Solutions offers very complicated network solutions.
Anyway, once I was finally done and attempted to install WordPress, I was met with a yet another upselling attempt.
Network Solutions may be behind in terms of usability, but when it comes to upselling, it's on top of the game.
Network Solutions Customer Service
Network Solutions offers two main types of customer support - phone and tickets. Sadly, a simple list of options did not translate to simplicity when I tried accessing it. For example, here's a list of all numbers and options the host itself presents to you.
That's confusing. Anyway, I mentioned you can do tickets. Do you have an idea where on this screen you can find the menu?
Look at the picture once more and make your guess.
Okay, got it? Here's where you can find it:
It's the "Email Us" link in the "E-commerce Support" part of the table:
That's what happens when you click it.
This is neither E-commerce nor emails. Ah well. Since we're here, let's do some testing:
Ticket Service Evaluation
Despite the awkward location, ticket screen itself (pictured above) is actually quite comfortable and nice to use. You can also add additional comments right after your original inquiry, which is very thoughtful.
What I was let down with, however, was the response times. While a lot of the competition manages to close tickets in less than 6 hours or even an hour - Network Solutions needs an entire day!
Maybe company's agents also have trouble finding the ticket screen? That's certainly not out of the question.
The responses themselves were alright though. And I managed to receive the answers that I needed. However, the additional comments that I made were not always addressed. Also, sometimes the replies felt like they were pre-written and taken directly out of the internal knowledge base (but it's perfectly alright in most cases anyway).
Phone Service Evaluation
Finally, I picked out one of many phone numbers and made a call. Despite having a serious array of options, all tailored to a specific problem, NetworkSolutions still led me through an extensive in-call menu in order to talk to someone. It makes you think - what's the point of having multiple numbers if you are going to direct the people anyway?
Anyway though, after a couple menus and several upsell attempts, I was finally connected to the agent. In all of the cases, it took around or less than 1 minute of waiting, which is absolutely fine. Then, I had a yet another revelation. Despite me choosing a specific number and going through a menu, I wasn't guaranteed that I will speak to an expert in the field. During my calls, customer support passed me around like I’m a blunt in a frat party.
Often I had to go through 2 or 3 people to get an issue solved. Each connection had its own waiting time and had recorded attempts to sell me something. The entire situation felt a bit weird. When possible, the number of transfers to a different agent should be minimized. Although it's always great to talk to someone who's an expert, transfers are stressful. I believe Network Solutions should work on reducing them.
Overall though, the phone support wasn't half bad. The agents themselves attempted to help me as much as they could and wait times were okay. This provider has enough problems, phone service probably isn't one of them.
At this point of the review, I often like to go through what I saw earlier. Put some points for and against purchasing the services, based solely on the first impressions that I've had. However, in Network Solutions, there is not much saving it.
The plans themselves may be powerful in theory but they're very expensive and don't stack well against the competition. The customer support is only just "satisfactory", so not good enough. And of course, all is crowned by security methods so frugal, it makes this web hosting look like an elaborate credit card scam project.
But enough of this. Every review has to be fair and so in this part, we will test the performance of Network Solutions servers and overall security. These are the things we'll be checking here:
- Host's speed during low upkeep
- Host's speed with a website created using Network Solutions' (Neo) website builder
- Server's overall uptime
- Anti-theft security measures
IMPORTANT - we cannot guarantee the performance evaluation tests to be 100% correct. However, they are being done using the most reliable 3rd party tests we were capable of finding. Even then, though, the results fluctuate depending on the access points of the tools, but every single hosting provider tested in this website goes through the same measures. Therefore, we draw conclusions about this provider by comparing it to the competition.
Host Speed During Low Upkeep
In theory, an HTML website is supposed to be the quickest thing a hosting provider could ever run. After all, this specific page consists only of 20 or so lines of code and a server should crunch such a task in no time at all:
Here are the speeds of it:
Generally not good but not bad either. BitCatcha tool, that is used here, often comes across as very forgiving and showing pretty decent results. Yet even here, you can see that USA users will be enjoying pretty decent speeds, South America will be fine as well and elsewhere, the quality drops off.
Host Speed During High Upkeep
This is bound to be more of a challenge for Network Solutions - I have created a Neo website builder website, which is definitely going to be slower than the HTML. But by how much? If this builder is well-optimized we shouldn't see a massive difference.
Here's the website that I made and just below are its results:
Nothing great but nothing tragic once more. When it comes to BitCatcha, this hosting provider doesn't get the good marks and there appears to be a serious performance difference between the US and Asia. However, it's nothing unusual. To have a clear picture, we'll need opinions of a second expert.
Server's Overall Uptime
In this section, we will look at the data we've gathered from multiple days of constant monitoring. Our custom Uptime Robot tool has been tracking a regular WordPress website. Here, we have been able to see the fluctuations in performance and downtimes of the service, if there happen to be any. Here's the data we got.
Sure, it was only a few days but it is still great to see a full 100% uptime. Many providers tend to suffer from common "mini downtimes" - periods during which the server is reported to be down for up to 2-3 minutes or even less. No such thing here - it was smooth sailing. However, there was another thing that I noticed.
The response time trends.
When you check the times every minute, you can see just how slow the servers can really get. A provider like Hostinger clocks speeds at around 100 ms. 1&1 is often below 200 ms, SiteGround is slightly slower than the two at 350 ms but just compare it to the Network Solutions here! This is the first hosting provider we've tested which constantly exceeds 1 second in response time - and by what margin! This is not good at all. Not one bit. What a disappointment!
Anti-Theft Protection Evaluation
Here we are - it's time for the final test. During this evaluation, we will see just how much does Network Solutions value security of its clients' data. Judging by what I endured during the purchase process, I have my reservations. But this test is slightly different, and it's going to consist of these two parts:
- Manual brute-force break-in attempt
- Luring out the account password from the Network Solutions' customer service representatives
So, for the first test, I changed my IP and browser, then attempted to log into my account. But I wrote the incorrect passwords in for 20 times in the row and then, only guessed it right on my 21st attempt. This way, I managed to replicate an experience of someone guessing an account's password, either by hand or using software.
On my 21st time, I wasn't allowed in.
Despite definitely guessing the password right, I was blocked by the system. Then, I changed my IP and browser back to what I was using earlier. To no success - my account was very much locked out, with no indication that the password I wrote in was right.
What would an ill-wishing person do then? Go and lure the password away from the customer service, of course! So this is what I've done.
I called the customer support once more and dramatically (tears and everything) pretended to be the rightful owner of an account, who was unlawfully locked away from his server space. Network Solutions agent has asked me these questions:
- Number associated with the account
- Name associated with the account
- Domain connected to the account
- Answer to my security question
Once you answer to all four, it's jackpot! Your password can now be overridden!
Truth be told, this is a great security measure. Most of the "weekend hackers" won't have information to all of the first three questions. And if your security question is a good one, you're in business. Just make sure to take the question seriously and don't forget the answer!
IMPORTANT - keep your personal information safe! Use original, secure passwords (we have a Random Password Generator tool which can help you with that!) and always type in genuine information you would be able to use to your favor should it be needed!
Network Solutions Review - Conclusion
Network Solutions is like The Simpsons - alright in the 90s but completely lacking substance and edge in today's changing world.
The panel is very unintuitive and lags behind most of the competition. Performance is unsatisfactory, as the response times look like they're taken straight from a 2007 hosting review. A complete disregard for credit card security also shouldn't be forgotten. All of that - for a price point way above most of the competition.
I'll have to be blunt - there is not one reason you should consider Network Solutions as your next hosting provider. Whatever it can do, others can do better. You can do better. This provider needs a massive refresh in its services - for now, Network Solutions is not the solution you need.
- No recorded downtimes.
- Performance is good - for a year, starting with a "1".
- Panel very unintuitive, website itself appears to have issues.
- There are some genuine security concerns.