OVH is a true international hosting company. Founded by a Polish family in France, this host now operates in 5 continents and has 19 localized countries. With more than 260,000 servers in 22 datacenters, this company has a well-earned reputation of a 'business giant'. Millions of users all around the world use OVH shared, VPS, cloud or dedicated hosting services, as well as purchase domain names. Between them, there are beginners, professionals, family businesses and huge companies. All of them trust this provider to be secure and fast - after all, OVH host WikiLeaks, a world-famous secret information organization.
These things make this host a very interesting one to inspect and analyze. In this OVH review, I will see whether this company provides high-quality hosting and do so securely.
Shared web hosting
NOTE - some OVH services may not be available in certain locations. For example, as of September 2017, shared web hosting is unavailable for the United States.
As many big providers would, OVH offers a great array of services for many types of clients. They are at different price points and have varying strengths and weaknesses. You can also clearly see the host putting a lot of emphasis on new, developing projects. If you are a part of one, you may love these great features of OVH hosting.
Digital Launch Pad
OVH is not a product of a huge corporation. It was born as a startup which gradually made its way up. That legacy can still be seen, as OVH offers its support to small businesses looking to achieve success. Professional help and expert software are two very important ways to reach that. If you are a small company that has promise, OVH may select you - and you don't even need to buy a hosting plan.
Even the best websites can go down or lose their data. To make sure your valuable information stays put, OVH has your backups at the ready. Do not worry if something bad happens, as there is always a way to get back your files. It may not restore independent databases or multi-domains but that is a good feature nonetheless.
GeoCache CDN Solution
A content delivery network (CDN) is a series of servers which deliver information to a user, depending on their geographic location. OVH has wide networks in both Europe and USA, making sure your visitors from these continents get the best possible load times.
OVH attempts to be international, quick, secure and care for the emerging new clients and companies. It provides multiple plans and tries to deliver them at the best price possible. In order to see, whether with good price comes good quality, in this OVH review I've decided to test its web hosting services. Let's get right into it.
What’s included in OVH hosting packages?
As it is pretty much a rule between the companies, OVH offers 3 shared web hosting plans. Although it is a bit different - here's how:
Personal - a simple 5-website plan with 100GB of space and just enough resources to run regular projects.
Professional - a more advanced 10-website plan with 250GB of space, extra databases, and configurations for IPv6.
Performance - the best of them all, this plan provides many extra small features, unlimited websites, 500GB of disk space and scalable performance.
It is important to note that the 'Performance' plan only starts at €9.99. This plan has four different plans, their price going up to a hefty €33.99 a month. With each upgrade, you get an extra CPU core and extra 2GB of RAM. Other features do not change - the real difference is in the performance (hence the name).
In this table you will see the key differences between the three main shared hosting plans:
Disk space limit
How many domains allowed
SSD or HDD used in servers
Supported, included in the plan
Supported, included in the plan
Supported, included in the plan
Assisted Website Transfer
Money back guarantee
Choice for server location
Free Automated Backups
Payment Period / Plan
*VAT not included, additional charges may be applied to your purchase.
**Prices may slightly differ, depending on your region.
There are plenty of great things included, even if you are picking the least expensive shared hosting package. DDoS and malware protection come as standard and there are free automated backups. A fixed amount of space is very nice too. Although many providers offer "unmetered" space, you can still get suspended for using too much of it. Knowing the exact limits may prove beneficial to you, as there will be a clear amount of space for you to work with. You won't have to be afraid of losing access to your files.
On the other hand, there are serious concerns about some other things. For example, you only have 4 auto-installer scripts you can work with. There is no File Manager you can use as well, which means that for most of the part, you may be setting up databases and working with FTP servers. Also, there is no true 24/7 support. Phone service works during regular work hours and there is no live chat.
In many ways, it feels like OVH hosting is working more to please the clients who have solid experience in the field and are not expected to require constant help.
There is only one plan length to choose from - that is quite disappointing, considering sometimes you may just want a couple months or would instead like to extend your hosting to multiple years. Only one option is quite limiting.
Renewal prices are a pleasant surprise. As your initial year is about to run out, you will be prompted to renew your services. The prices won't increase. The current offers are not "deals" or "promotional discounts" - they are genuine prices of the web hosting. When taking that into consideration, OVH is very cheap. £1.69/€1.99 a month for 5 websites and 100GB of space is very good.
OVH Customer Service
Customer service is an important measure of how a company values its clients. If it's good, helpful and always available, that means the company is doing everything to keep the paying subscribers together with it. In this part of the OVH review, we will test what customer support does this host provide. Currently, there are only two methods of contacting OVH.
This is how the host did:
Ticket Service Evaluation
It is important to remember than OVH hosting doesn't have a 24/7 support - which means that if you send your ticket request at 6PM, you can at best expect an answer by about 10AM the next day. When sending a ticket early in the day, it tooks about 2-3 hours to get a response. During daytime, it took around an hour. Time of the day when you send a request is quite important. Also, it is interesting that even if you send a request in another language, you will get a response in a language of a country you registered with. If you live in a country whose language you don't understand, this may prove to be a slight problem. =
Phone Service Evaluation
OVH is localized in 19 countries. In each of them, there is a separate phone number you have to call to get the support you need. Here is a list of all 19 countries with their separate phone lines:
(phone line for 'World' direct you to Ireland)
Such a wide array of phone lines offering their support meant that I needed to do some extensive testing. In order to see how does the system operate, I've decided to call the US, the UK and two European phone lines with the same shared web hosting problem and see how it's going to work out. I wasn't able to do an analysis of all OVH phone lines - that is because I simply don't speak Czech or Portuguese!
Regardless of that, I was still able to do enough testing. In all of the cases, the menu was virtually the same. After picking the option I needed, it took around 1 minute to get connected.
There is no shared hosting available for the United States customers and after telling the agent I have a problem with shared hosting, I was not transferred elsewhere. Instead, I got told to call a different number.
The three European phone lines were able to help me, despite me not calling to a country I registered with. Hypothetically, if you are a British customer who lives in Germany but doesn't speak German, you would be able to call the German OVH support and get the full needed help.
It is worth noticing, that in different countries, support is also behaving differently. I was mostly impressed by the British customer service representatives. They were courteous, knowledgeable and I felt like they knew the panel inside out. Other countries performed slightly worse.
First Impressions During and After the Purchase
You can pay for your services with a credit card and PayPal. There also may be some other options, depending on your locale.
OVH account purchase was quite simple. I was not required to send in some additional documents or wait for a long time to start using everything. Everything felt as simple as it can be. There was a little bit of upselling but it wasn't annoying. No options were preselected for me.
After a fairly quick process, I was directed to the dashboard, which also acts as a panel. Here it is:
For most of the part, this panel feels needlessly complicated. It is text-based and completely custom. There is no File Manager to sort your files with - not even a web-based FTP client! One of the simple tests I like to do was finding nameservers and then creating a subdomain. Nameservers were relatively easy to find but creating a subdomain required a lot of failed attempts and even a bit of guesswork. I believe that using cPanel would have been a better option.
So far, I've been impressed by OVH localizations - it is great to see a company attempting to tailor their websites to many different customers speaking many different languages. Phone support in many languages is something more hosts should be looking into. Furthermore, low prices are always very good.
On the other hand, I've been disappointed with a lack of a File Manager, a difficult to use host panel and only 4 available auto-installer scripts.
This is why this next part of the OVH review is going to be very important. Here we are going to test its performance. This is what we are going to measure:
Host’s speed during low upkeep
Host’s speed with a website created with a website builder
Server’s overall uptime
Anti-theft security evaluation
These tests will go on for several months. The review is going to get constant updates, highlighting the most recent results and giving you the clearest possible picture.
The server our website was in is located in France.
IMPORTANT NOTICE - the tools are never 100% correct. What they can show is tendencies between the hosts. For that reason, we always use the Bitcatcha website tool, which we found the most consistent in its results. We have done 10 tests each in quick succession - what you see posted here are the average results.
Host Speed During Low Upkeep
HTML websites tend to yield the best performance results. After all, a simple HTML website contains only a dozen or so lines of code. A website this small loads very quickly - that helps us to see the best theoretical results of the host's services. In order to see just that, I created a simple HTML page with OVH - analysis of it will help us know more about the host:
This is how OVH did:
During multiple tests, I have spotted some tendencies. US, UK and Brazil speeds remain very stable. India, Australia, and Japan are almost always around the 260-500 ms mark. Singapore is the most unpredictable server, speeds go from 800 ms to around 2 seconds. Overall, performance could be improved on many worldwide servers. USA and UK are good already, others could do with some more polishing.
Host Speed With a Website Builder
As we have already established, OVH has no website builder. Therefore, I manually installed ImpressPages - our go-to website software which is very similar to a regular builder. This is a website that I made:
This is how it did:
The results are quite similar to the ones of an HTML website, only slightly worse. The UK and the US are both doing quite well but it's Singapore that keeps lagging behind. Considering the server is in France, great results in the States are much appreciated but overall, the speeds are not ideal.
In order to see whether the host is responsive and always available, I created a WordPress website and monitored it with an uptime tool. This is going to help us see whether the host is reliable. Click the link above to see the current status of the website.
It took several months of testing but currently, I must admit that OVH is one of the surprise packages. 55 total minutes of downtime from September 2017 to January 2018. No outages over 10 minutes. Decent? Absolutely.
The fluctuations of the response times are actually pretty good too. Here's what they look like, with pretty much no spikes going over 3 seconds.
And here are the full response times: a full progression of speed and uptime since the day we started to the day of the latest update:
Apart from the suspiciously weak period during Christmas (hey, you don't work during holidays, why should their sysadmins?), OVH had an overall solid run. Under 600 ms on a regular day, this host lags behind the best ones in the business but it's definitely not bad. Stability should also be appreciated. Overall it's a decent performance, combining good uptimes and reputable speeds. Not a world-beater but fine for most operations.
June 2018 update: Since we last checked in on OVH, we were hoping to see some performance increases. Well, we were pleasantly surprised by this!
200ms faster than previously! Uptimes are solid for the most part too. It's really nice to see a host actually improve over time, as we have seen plenty of hosts do the exact opposite.
Anti-Theft Protection Evaluation
You should be expecting superior security from a provider which has been chosen to host WikiLeaks. However, this wouldn't be a proper OVH review if I didn't try to steal my own account. Therefore, I've devised two simple methods people use to break into an account that doesn't belong to them.
First, I've attempted to simulate a brute-force break-in. That means typing an incorrect password in for numerous times and eventually guessing it right. Usually, I do it for 20 times and then guess it right on the 21st. However, on my 11th attempt, OVH has stopped me in my tracks:
This is a simple but a very effective method. If someone set up a piece of software that attempted to guess your password thousands of times, it would get stopped almost immediately. It's good to see a provider do that.
Secondly, I've attempted to contact customer support and lure my own password out of them without providing any tangible proof that I actually own the account.
Upon calling, I was asked for the email address I registered with. Then, I got asked for the address in the file and a postal code. When I told them that, I was informed that I need to send a copy of my photographic ID and a copy of a utility bill, sent to the address I typed in my registration form.
All things considered, that appears to be a solid security system. The person who has access to all of these things should be no one else but the real owner of the account. I was unable to get access to my account without providing substantial proof of ownership.
NOTE - keep your personal information safe! Use different passwords, change them often and use genuine personal information when registering to service providers. All of that could save your account one day.
OVH Review - Conclusion
OVH hosting provides inexpensive services and has plenty of worldwide databases. That by itself makes this host worth attention. However, there are some problems. A frustrating panel and only decent performance are the first ones that spring to mind.
This provider offers a decent combination of price and quality if you know exactly what you're doing. Choose OVH if you can handle manual installs with no additional support required. This host is decent but is not suited for beginners.
Low price - $1.99 a month with no increase after your package runs out.
Plans include DDoS protection, SSL package, there are also CDN services easily available.
Vast localisation - 19 countries and multiple languages.
Panel very difficult to use.
Performance should be better.
Support not available 24/7, only has two options.
No website builder, only 4 total auto-installer scripts.
Prices range from €1.99 to €9.99 on following 3 hosting plan offers
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