When you’re a beginner in the online world, every penny counts and being able to get started without spending a dime on hosting sounds like a dream come true. SmarterASP.NET offers a 60-day free trial (no credit card required), an instant activation and a free temporary URL (so you don’t even have to wait for the DNS to propagate). But is their hosting as good as their offer for new customers and is their trial plan worth trying out? Let’s find out in this in-depth SmarterASP.NET review.
Who is SmarterASP.NET?
Although you might think that company, offering such a generous free trial package must be a new player, trying to get the attraction, SmarterASP.NET is an experienced company that was established almost 20 years ago – back in 1999.
Their goal is to offer a maximum efficiency at full privacy and security for the user. They strive to achieve it by having round-the-clock management and one of the most powerful physical data center security in the business. Obviously, in this SmarterASP.NET review I won’t be looking at their data centers – what’s important to me is their offer.
Services Offered by SmarterASP.NET
Just as the name suggests, the company core hosting offer consists of 4-tier Superior Shared ASP.NET Hosting. ASP.NET is an open source application framework developed by Microsoft – no surprise then, that this package offers Windows servers.
Speaking of the offer, I could not write this SmarterASP.NET review without mentioning their whole lineup:
- Windows Server 2012/2008 R2 (4 tiers)
- Semi-Dedicated ASP.NET Hosting – servers shared between max 5 to 10 customers (4 tiers)
- Linux Plan (4 tiers)
- Windows SSD + VPS (4 tiers)
- Reseller Plans (4 tiers)
On top of the above, the company offers domain registration – both global and country-specific TLDs.
While the offer looks pretty standard, what distinguishes it are the ASP.NET packages.
I, personally, believe that Linux plans offer more features, are more versatile, and much more popular (they are also more affordable), but keeping in mind that SmarterASP.NET is developed by Microsoft we just can't skip the Windows plans.
So, in this SmarterASP.NET review, I'll take a look at both Windows and Linux web hosting plans.
SmarterASP.NET Linux Pricing & Plans
The company has an unusual pricing structure for both Windows and Linux hosting. This is because their first tier is completely free for the first 60 days – you don’t even need a credit card to sign up. How good is that?
Let’s see what are the main differences between the plans:
- 60 Days Trial - $0, 1 website, 1GB storage, 1 domain, 1 database.
- Linux PRO - $2/month, all of the above unlimited.
- Linux TURBO - $4/month, all of the above unlimited.
If both PRO and TURBO offered the same unlimited basics, what’s the main difference?
The TURBO plan offers the so-called Turbo Server which can provide you with up to 20 times faster page loads, SSH access and more mailing features:
Linux Package Pricing Breakdown
On top of covering the main features, I could not write a SmarterASP.NET review if I didn’t point out the usual pricing catch. The advertised price for these plans was, as mentioned above, $2 and $4 per month respectively.
Depending on the period, the Pro Plan will cost you $2 - $3 a month, and the Turbo plan $4 - $5 per month. All prices are paid upfront, so if you choose the 3-years-long plan, that’ll be $72 and $144 respectively:
This is how the offer presents for each duration:
|Duration||Linux Pro||Linux Turbo|
|3 months||$3/month ($9 upfront)||$5/month ($15 upfront)|
|6 months||$3/month ($18 upfront)||$5/month ($30 upfront)|
|12 months||$3/month ($36 upfront)||$5/month ($60 upfront)|
|24 months||$2.5/month ($60 upfront)||$4.5/month ($108 upfront)|
|36 months||$2/month ($72 upfront)||$4/month ($144 upfront)|
I didn’t list the trial period in the table above – as it’s just for the first 60 days. And the best about it is that it can be used separately from the 60 days money back guarantee. If you were to refund, this would give you four months of free hosting!
Linux Plans in More Detail
In my SmarterASP.NET review, I have already mentioned the primary differences between the trial and paid plans. I also went over some of the technical differences between the PRO and TURBO plans. Because of that, let’s take a quick look at the comparison of the critical features of each of the plans:
|60 Days Trial||LINUX PRO||LINUX TURBO|
|How many domains allowed?||1||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|HDD or SSD used in servers?||SSD||SSD||SSD|
|Assisted website transfer||$49.95||$49.95||$49.95|
|Money-back guarantee||60 days||60 days||60 days|
|Choice of server location||US & Netherlands||US & Netherlands||US & Netherlands|
|Free automated back-ups||No||Yes||Yes|
As said earlier, the differences between the two paid plans are not that big – unless you need SSH access or want all the pro mailing capabilities. Interestingly, the trial plan doesn’t even allow you to set up an email!
SmarterASP.NET Windows Pricing & Plans
Therefore, we just can't skip Windows plans as they are flagmen of SmarterASP.NET:
Let's now take a look what's the difference between these plans and how (or if) the more expensive ones are superior :
- 60 DAYS Trial - $0, 1 website, 1GB storage, 1 domain, 1 database, 10GB bandwidth.
- .NET BASIC - $2.95/month, all of the above unlimited.
- .NET ADVANCE - $4.95/month, all of the above unlimited.
- .NET PREMIUM - $7.95/month, all of the above unlimited.
Again, three paid plans have the same unlimited basics and that means that we need to dive a little bit deeper:
There are various characteristics that differ amongst these plans but the most obvious are in MSSQL & MySQL features:
As you can see the difference between the number of MSSQL & MySQL server databases and disk space varies significantly.
Free plan doesn't offer any email features but that's understandable for a free plan, I guess. On the other hand, Basic plan is cut down on some quite essential email features (like Mailing List, Auto Subscribe and UnSubscribe):
I recommend carefully looking into the features when deciding what plan to get.
Windows Package Pricing Breakdown
Of course, the pricing pattern is the same as in Linux packages. Again, there's the same catch as seen in many other web hosting providers ant the advertised price is only available with long-termed billing cycle.
Depending on the period, the Basic plan will cost you $2.5 (36-months billing cycle) - $4.5 (3-months billing cycle) a month, Advance plan $4.2 - $6.5 per month and Premium - $6.76 - $9.5 per month. All prices are paid upfront, so if you choose the 3-years-long plan, that’ll be $90.27, $151.47 and $243.27 respectively:
Let's see how offer presents for each term:
|Duration||Basic .NET||Advance .NET||Premium .NET|
|3 months||$4.5/month ($13.5 upfront)||$6.5/month ($19.5 upfront)||$9.5/month ($28.5 upfront)|
|6 months||$3.95/month ($23.7 upfront)||$5.95/month ($35.7 upfront)||$8.95/month ($53.7 upfront)|
|12 months||$2.95/month ($35.4 upfront)||$4.95/month ($59.4 upfront)||$7.95/month ($95.4 upfront)|
|24 months||$2.65/month ($63.72 upfront)||$4.45/month ($106.92 upfront)||$7.15/month ($171.72 upfront)|
|36 months||$2.5/month ($90.27 upfront)||$4.2/month ($151.47 upfront)||$6.76/month ($243.27 upfront)|
Windows Plans in More Detail
It may be not obvious what's the difference between these plans, so let's make a quick break-down to see a clearer view. These are the essential features:
|60 Days Trial||.NET|
|How many domains allowed?||1||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|HDD or SSD used in servers?||SSD||SSD||SSD||SSD|
|Assisted website transfer||$49.95||$49.95||$49.95||$49.95|
|Money-back guarantee||60 days||60 days||60 days||60 days|
|Choice of server location||US & Netherlands||US & Netherlands||US & Netherlands||US & Netherlands|
|Free automated back-ups||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Again, differences between the two paid plans are not at big there are some interesting features included in paid plans that you may need.
Interestingly, all benefits that I picked for my SmarterASP.NET review are related to the features that are quite uncommon for other budget web hosts.
This is a huge benefit for someone who is looking for an affordable ASP.NET shared hosting package. They support the latest ASP.NET versions of 4.6 and 4.5, as well as MVC 5 and 4.0 hosting. All that for a very affordable price of $2.95/month ($35.4 upfront for 12 months) for the basic plan, not to mention the 60-day free trial. A highly competitive offer.
Great Trial & Money Back
To attract new customers, some web hosting companies offer free trials (usually 7, 14 or 30-days long). Other companies don’t offer them at all and instead offer a 30-day or 60-day money back guarantee. The latter makes it harder for the user to change their mind as they have to pay upfront.
Compared to all that, the offer of a 60-day free trial (no cc required) is a steal. And yet they still give their clients a 60-day money back guarantee which starts only after they finished the trial!
Built-in Cloudflare Integration
If your website is hosted in one location but is accessed by people from all around the world, those who live further from your data center will suffer. Luckily for all those who operate internationally, SmarterASP.NET offers a Cloudflare CDN (content delivery network) integration out of the box. Thanks to that, your website can load up to 4 times faster! And you don’t even need to be a pro to set it up.
Naturally, there are some negatives – but naturally, SmarterASP.NET review is not unique in it, as every web hosting company has some weaker spots.
Low Performance – A Bit behind Industry Leaders
Unfortunately, the performance lacks compared to some of the more popular web hosting options – such as Hostinger. SmarterASP.NET was graded C, which is below the average:
But, this should not be surprising – in the end, it’s one of the more affordable web hosts. They are offering 99.9% uptime guarantee – according to our Uptime Calculator, but it may be not enough to keep your website online as much as you want. Other providers can guarantee 99.99% or even 100% uptime which is quite significant difference keeping in mind long time period.
Just Two Server Locations
In the era of budget $1 or $2 web hosts that offer data centers in multiple locations all around the world, being present just in Europe and the US (Amsterdam & downtown LA) is far from enough. Especially considering the rapid growth of online businesses in the Asian markets. Hopefully, their CDN can speed up your site enough to offset that.
Complicated Choice – Especially for Beginners
Although their advertising is pretty clear right from the moment you enter the site, once you try to sign up, it’s not that easy to pick the right server – Linux or ASP.NET. In the end, the majority of beginners will look for the most affordable option to host a WordPress site or two. Scanning them could lead to losing customers.
On the other hand, I can’t forget that the target audience of this web host is different than that of a typical budget web host. That’s why I don’t think in this case it’s that a big drawback.
SmarterASP.Net Review Summary
To sum it up, I believe that SmarterASP.NET offer is excellent for anyone who wants to get their feet wet. Without spending a dime on hosting, you can have a fully functional website. All that with cPanel and 1-click WordPress installation. Naturally, as your business starts growing, you might look after something better tailored to your needs. But for a newcomer? A perfect playground I can sincerely recommend.
- 60 Day Trial
- 60 Days Money Back Guarantee
- Built-in CDN
- Affordable ASP.NET Hosting
- Subpar Performance
- Just Two Server Locations
- Overwhelming Hosting Offer for a Beginner