2020 January 20th
tsoHost is a British hosting provider, aiming to make web hosting simple and very scalable. Trusted by over 250,000 customers, it's one of the biggest hosting providers in the country.
In this tsoHost review, we'll be putting this company to the test - and see how it performs to the worldwide giants.
What is tsoHost?
Tsohost has actually been around for quite some time, since 2003, in fact. Frustrated at the fact that high-performance hosting at an affordable price didn't seem to exist, founder Darren Lingham decided to make it possible. UK based web hosting is a competitive market, and Tsohost hopes to be a company that not only attracts customers from the UK but from all over the world with their attractive pricing model and 24/7 customer support.
Let's find out how it does, shall we?
*This review is based on the 'Startup' package*
Tsohost Hosting Services
What does Tsohost offer? Well, hosting, obviously. But let's look a little more deeply into exactly which options we have available to us.
- Domain names
- Web hosting
- Virtual private servers
- Dedicated servers
Strong options! Nothing out of the ordinary, but it's nice to see Tsohost offering more than just simple web hosting.
However, web hosting will be the thing we take a look at in depth today. It is worth mentioning though, that the first thing you'll find after landing on the Tsohost homepage, is a big old search box for domain names. Take a look.
Well, it's a good start, at least aesthetically. It's always a nice treat when a hosting provider puts some effort into their website design. Looking at you, Arvixe...
Moving on to the next part of the Tsohost review, we'll take a look at the packages on offer.
What’s Included In The Tsohost Hosting Packages?
Four in total.
With prices ranging from £1.34 per month to £18.02, Tsohost have an option for almost everyone. It's a welcome thing to see a package that is aimed primarily at eCommerce sites, too!
I'll now go ahead and break down the plans in a little more detail in the table below:
|Disk Space Limit||500MB||15GB||50GB||100GB|
|How Many Domains Allowed||1||3||8||20|
|SSD Or HDD Used In Servers?||HDD for Shared Hosting, SDD for VPS & Dedicated Servers||HDD for Shared Hosting, SDD for VPS & Dedicated Servers||HDD for Shared Hosting, SDD for VPS & Dedicated Servers||HDD for Shared Hosting, SDD for VPS & Dedicated Servers|
|SSL||Let's Encrypt SSL Support||Let's Encrypt SSL Support||Let's Encrypt SSL Support||Let's Encrypt SSL Support|
|Email Accounts||5 x 200MB Mailboxes||100 x 200MB Mailboxes||100 x 1GB Mailboxes||Unlimited x 10GB Mailboxes|
|Assisted Website Transfer||Free||Free||Free||Free|
|Money Back Guarantee||60 days||60 days||60 days||60 days|
|Customer Support||24/7 Live chat, Ticket, Phone||24/7 Live chat, Ticket, Phone||24/7 Live chat, Ticket, Phone||24/7 Live chat, Ticket, Phone|
|Choice Of Server Location||No||No||No||No|
|Free Automated Backups||Daily||Daily||Daily||Daily|
Well, lots to talk about! Let's get on with it.
Features, features, features!
Starting with the good points. Unlimited bandwidth on all plans. This is pretty great, as you won't be capped or slowed down if your bandwidth is exceeded, as is the case with some other providers.
You also get unlimited FTP accounts, as well as free automated backups daily on every plan.
In terms of storage space, things scale as you go up in price. Starting with 500MB for the Personal plan, and ending with 100GB for the eCommerce plan. Good stuff, most people won't be exceeding 15GB of disk space, let alone 100GB unless your site is incredibly graphics and video heavy.
'Let’s Encrypt SSL Support' is included on all plans, too.
Now onto the not so good stuff.
There is no built-in Anti-DDoS or Anti-Malware protection. It's down to you, the user, to ensure the security of your site through PHP and plugins. There is no included website builder or website templates and you also cannot choose your server location.
Now the biggest downsides, to me at least are the following:
On all web hosting services, only Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are used. You only have access to Solid State Drives (SSD) when purchasing VPS hosting or Dedicated Server hosting.
This is pretty disappointing, as a modern and seemingly forward thinking company should really be using SSDs for their web hosting, at the very least on the £18 per month eCommerce package. SSDs are much faster at responding and far less prone to being damaged than HDDs.
The next incredibly disappointing thing is the lack of cPanel. Tsohost include their own control panel, named 'Tsohost Cloud Hosting Platform' which is accessible through your account on the Tsohost website. In theory, this is fine, but in practice, things are quite different.
Above you can see the dashboard presented to you immediately after logging in. Pretty standard so far. I imagine this is particularly useful for users that have more than one website, as you can easily choose to manage whichever site you have from here.
For people with one site, like we have here, just going directly to 'Manage website' after login would be a smarter way of doing things, I believe. Still, it's only a small issue, not much to complain about so far.
The issues become a little more evident once we jump into managing our website.
See the problem? It's just a lack of features. If you take a look at something like ResellerClub, you'll see cPanel in its glory. Full of features and very easy to understand. Sadly, it's not the case here.
I still am not quite sure why Tsohost decided to implement their own control panel instead of just using cPanel, but each to their own, I suppose.
There is an auto-installer present, but quite frankly it is dreadful. It just installs/uninstalls applications in the background. There is no visual clue of how the installation is going, and other than an 'installing, please wait' message, you just have to sit and wait for the page to refresh once it's done.
tsoHost has 3 main plans - starting at £2.92 per month, and going all the way to £18.02 per month. Plus, you will also have to pay taxes, depending on the location you are in. All of the plans include unlimited bandwidth and can host multiple websites.
But the numbers are not as simple as they may look.
Let's break them down completely, and find out exactly what you'd be paying for each plan in the cart.
|Payment Period / Plan||Startup||Business||eCommerce|
So there it all is. These are the prices you'll be paying at check out. Because, oh yes, you pay up front. Even though the prices you see in the promotional plans are monthly costs, you don't have the option to pay monthly, you have to pay it all right at the start. This is typical for hosting providers, so not much room for complaints.
Tsohost Customer Service
Those are some pretty great options. A knowledge base is always a welcome thing to see when checking out the support section of a hosting provider, as it shows they have thought not only about proactive but preventative support, too.
The rest of the support options are fairly standard, you have the following:
- Live chat (available from 7AM - Midnight, GMT)
- Phone support (available from 7AM - Midnight, GMT)
- Ticket support (available 24/7 through your Tsohost account)
Like I said, pretty standard. It's a little disappointing, however, that the live chat is not available 24/7. This is a problem, as let's say you have an issue that comes up at 1AM GMT. You can go ahead and submit a ticket, but chances are the ticket support will take a long time to get a resolution. Or, you can wait for 6 hours before being able to talk to someone live, either by chat or by phone.
Live chat in action
I've had a fair few issues that needed support since purchasing Tsohost, so it gave me a great chance to put their live chat support to the test.
In this part, I will take a look at the chat services and see how they perform on the 3 main qualities every good company should be striving for:
- Response times. Live chat is supposed to be quick and 'live' – people starting them often don’t want to wait.
- General knowledge of the agents. They should know the nooks and crannies of their company better than anyone else.
- Human factor. The agents are supposed to act like real human beings and be emphatic. It’s expected, considering a lot of people who come to them will be angry and want their problems to be resolved.
✓ Good response time
✓ Knowledgeable agent
✓ Friendly and human
Just a quick section here. I pretended to be having issues with the control panel not responding and giving me error messages, just to see if the technician would check it out and offer any kind of advice or solution.
Well, there is good news and bad news. Which would you like first? Hmm, sadly I can't hear your answer, so let's go good first, bad second.
The good: The response I received was professional, personable and offered a solution that probably would help if I was, in fact, facing this issue. (Clearing the browser's cache)
The bad: Response time was pretty poor. I must say that the first thing the technician wrote was 'I apologize for the delayed response!', which was welcome. But still, the fact I had to wait over 8 hours for a response to a technical issue is pretty disappointing. There is always the live chat, though!
Support is really where Tsohost shines. I can honestly say I haven't come across any better service in the world of hosting providers. The only downside here is the lack of 24/7 chat support, which hopefully they will change soon!
First Impressions During And After Purchase
Before making your purchase, you are prompted to either log into an existing Tsohost account, or create a new one.
You have three payment options when purchasing a Tsohost plan. Paypal, BACS (Bankers' Automated Clearing Services), and Credit/Debit card. Pretty standard options, but it would have been nice to see cryptocurrencies available as a selection.
Anyway, moving on.
After paying for your desired package, you'll find yourself on the Tsohost dashboard.
Not much interesting to talk about here. You have the options to see your products (hosting etc), your invoices, domains and tickets. Up top, you also are able to see all control options.
After we hit the 'Products' tab, we are taken to this page.
From here, you can see your domain, username and some other useful information like server name, IP address and nameservers.
More interestingly, though, is that here is where you access the aforementioned control panel. Now we have already talked about the control panel and my frustrations with its limitations, so let's talk about webmail instead.
Like we saw from the table earlier, the startup plan comes with allowances for 100 200MB Mailboxes. Now, you'd think after clicking that link 'Login to Webmail' for the first time, you would be prompted to create a mailbox or at least a username/password to access it, right? Well, no. It turns out, you do it like this.
Firstly, you have to login to the control panel. From there, head to 'manage my website' and you'll find this list of 'Basic Management Tools'. You'll next want to hit 'Email Accounts' and you will be onto...
Here is where the magic happens. You'll have to hit the 'Create Mailbox' tab, and from there you'll be prompted to create an email address (****@yourdomainname.***) and a password for said account.
And finally, you can login with the credentials you just created. It's a bit of a shame that this isn't more streamlined. Tsohost could pretty easily implement the email account creation into their webmail application, or at the very least, have the link to webmail inside the control panel. It feels disjointed.
Now you have already seen the 2/10 rating in regards to reliability, so you can probably tell that the performance section of this Tsohost review is going to be, well, interesting, to say the least.
I can sum it up in one word. Terrible.
Here are the 4 things we will be testing in terms of performance:
- Host’s speed during low upkeep
- Host’s speed with a website created using concrete5 website builder
- Server’s overall uptime
- Anti-theft security strength
Host Speed During Low Upkeep
This test shouldn't be difficult at all, it's a really simple HTML page that I quickly created. Sure, there are some links and CSS in there, but anything other than the absolute worst servers should handle this with ease.
And let's take a look at how it performed:
Honestly, pretty great! Some of the response times are pretty weak, but overall not bad. Don't put too much stock into that 'A+' rating, as I've seen scores almost identical get rated anywhere from B to D+. So take it with a pinch of salt. The actual ms' though, those are accurate!
Host Speed During High Upkeep
A little more complex, but still something that should be not bogging down a server much at all. Here is how it performed:
Not great. These speeds are again, kinda decent, but we can clearly see a slow down when compared to the simple HTML site. A quick note on the concrete5 builder, by the way. It's not bad at all! For a free add-on, I would say it's probably one of the best things that Tsohost offer.
Server Overall Uptime
For this part, as always, I set up a simple WordPress site and popped it into our handy friend Uptime Robot for tracking. This gives us a detailed breakdown of any and all downtimes, server response speeds and current server status.
Here is how it has performed over the last few days of monitoring:
I don't even know what to say here. This kind of performance is not something I expected in any way at all. Peaks and troughs all over the place. Only 95% uptime over the last week! And where do I even begin when we look at the average response time?
Over 7500ms. Touching 8000ms. With spikes up to and exceeding 30000ms. That is 30 seconds of waiting time. Quite frankly, it's unacceptable to charge people for this kind of dreadful performance.
These kind of results are not something I expected from a company that boldly proclaims:
'Super fast speeds and highest reliability...'
Uh, well, either Tsohost are lying to us, or they really aren't aware of just how bad their servers actually are.
However, after a few more days of monitoring things have improved dramatically. I won't get ahead of myself, the average response times are still weak, very weak, but nothing like what we were seeing at first.
As you can see, things have improved. The average response time over the past 24 hours has been around the 2000ms mark. Still poor, but much better than almost 8000ms!
Sadly, there has still been some downtime present, the most recent one lasting almost 2 hours.
Anti-Theft Security Evaluation
Now it's time to take a look at how much impotence Tsohost put on security.
First up, a brute-force protection check. Imagine someone that may have an idea of what your password is – but doesn't know the entire thing. Maybe even an automated script that tries out all possible combinations until the password is guessed correctly.
I attempted to replicate these things by changing my IP and browser before quickly entering the incorrect password 20 times, and finally entering the correct one on the 21st attempt. I was allowed in.
This is poor. Tsohost could easily implement an additional step after incorrectly guessing say, 5 or 10 times. A Captcha, answering the security question you are made to choose when signing up? Anything is better than nothing.
The second test involved connecting to the live chat and trying to convince the agents that I had lost access to both my email account and my Tsohost credentials, and I attempted to get the logins from them with no solid evidence from my side.
No luck. Nothing, zilch. Without knowing anything about myself, Tsohost wouldn't give anything away. They would only provide my username and logins if I provided my ID, proof of the card number I used to purchase, my address, as well as the answer to the security question I set up. Good stuff, finally!
tsoHost Review - Conclusion
In short - tsoHost isn't a great hosting provider. The performance is woeful - you just cannot charge paying consumers for a web hosting service that has frequent downtimes. The response time is among the worst we've ever come across, and I'm truly shocked that things turned out this way.
You look at tsoHost's home page, their ethos and the clear effort that has gone into their site; and you assume that they really are a great provider. Clearly, this has taught us to never judge a book by it's cover.
To sum things up, Tsohost is like a car that looks great on the outside but has the performance of a desert jellyfish. You're better off buying literally any other provider in our best web hosting list. With the possible exception of Network Solutions, of course.
- Good pricing options
- Great customer support
- Free daily backups
- No SSD servers
- Dreadful performance
- Lack of cPanel