1&1 IONOS review | TechRadar

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Founded in Germany way back in 1988, 1&1 IONOS is now Europe’s largest web hosting provider, hosting more than 12 million domains in its data centers around the world.

There are products covering every area (Image credit: 1&1 IONOS)

The company has a vast range of products covering just about every possible need: regular shared hosting, website builder plans, simple and managed WordPress products, professional ecommerce platforms and some very capable VPS, cloud and dedicated servers.

There’s real depth here, too. The 1&1 IONOS ecommerce Website Builder plan isn’t just the company’s regular shared hosting with PrestaShop pre-installed, for instance, as you’ll see with many providers. It’s a full-featured service which works for everyone from web store newbies to big established businesses, with catalogues of up to a million products, and the ability to sell on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Instagram and more.

At the budget end of the range, 1&1 IONOS shared hosting scores for some unusual but capable features, available in even the low-end $4-a-month Essential plan.

This limits you to 10GB storage space, but supports 10 email addresses with up to 2GB storage each, includes unlimited traffic, auto-installation of WordPress and 70+ other top web apps, and throws in a free domain for a year. Daily backups, often a premium extra, are available as standard. And all shared hosting plans come with a free wildcard SSL certificate, allowing you to secure all the subdomains for your site (login.mydomain.com, download.mydomain.com, anythingelse.mydomain.com), a very unusual touch.

The $8 a month Business shared hosting plan ramps up performance, supports unlimited storage, 50 email addresses and can host unlimited sites.

The top-of-the-range $14-a-month Expert plan includes unlimited storage and 100 email addresses. Valuable extras include SiteLock malware protection and a performance-boosting integrated Content Delivery Network.

Pricing is refreshingly simple. There are no lengthy contracts, no complicated introductory discounts, so you won’t find your costs doubling on renewal. 1&1 IONOS only offers monthly billing for shared hosting (there are more options for some other products), so you just pay your $4, $8 and $14 every month and cancel whenever you like.

(Beware, this isn’t the case in all countries. In the UK, the Business hosting plan costs £1 a month for the first twelve months on the annual plan, but £6 a month billed monthly. Check the small print before you sign up.)

WordPress plans range from seriously cheap to very powerful (Image credit: 1&1 IONOS)WordPress

If you’re looking for WordPress hosting then any of the shared plans will get you started, but 1&1 IONOS also offers capable managed WordPress packages. These get you easier setup, preinstalled and recommended plugins, automatic updates and improved support, and are priced from $3 a month billed monthly (that’s the standard price, so it’s not going to double after a year or two.)

Still not enough? 1&1 IONOS WordPress Pro plans take the technology to the next level with low-level performance optimizations (Varnish-based caching, CDN), intelligent automatic updates, staging environments to test updates without changing the live site, and much more. Prices range from $18 (one site, 10GB storage) to $120 (more resources, up to ten sites, 100GB storage) billed monthly.

The simple managed plans are great value and trample all over many competitors, at least on the fundamentals. GoDaddy has managed WordPress plans that score for including daily backups and malware scans with even the cheapest products, for instance, but they start at $6.99 a month, even that requires a three-year subscription, and it renews at $9.99.)

WordPress Pro comparisons are more difficult, as professional users will have very specific requirements. Bluehost has WordPress Pro plans that support unlimited websites and storage, for instance, come with an integrated marketing center and include valuable extras including Jetpack Premium/ Pro and (in the high-end Scale plan) unlimited video compression. The starting price of $19.95 a month over three years is much higher, but there’s plenty of extra functionality, too, and the plans may be a better option to you. So while 1&1 IONOS prices are appealing, don’t buy on those alone; shop around, look at other top providers, and check exactly what you get with each plan.

Dedicated servers are cheap but a little short on power and configurability (Image credit: 1&1 IONOS)Servers

1&1 IONOS has a decent range of five VPS plans, not very configurable, but with one surprising bonus: they all support unlimited traffic.

The low-end VPS S plan is horribly underpowered with just 1vCore CPU, 512MB RAM and 10GB storage, but it’s hard to complain when it costs only $2 a month billed monthly.

Other plans give you from two to six cores, 2GB to 12GB RAM, and are priced from $10 to $40 billed monthly (again, not a special deal which jumps up later – it’s the standard price.)

Configuration options are limited, but include a choice of operating system (CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu or Windows) and data center (US, UK, Germany, Spain.) The Plesk control panel is available at extra cost ($5 a month), and backups cost from $0.12 per GB per month.

Again, these packages are great value, and the monthly billing in particular enables trying them out for minimal cost.

The lack of an introductory discount means there might be better deals to be found, though, especially if you’re willing to sign up for long periods. For example, Hostinger can give you a 3 vCPU, 3GB RAM, 60GB storage and 3TB traffic plan for an initial $12.95 a month over four years ($39.95 on renewal); IONOS 2 core, 4GB RAM and 120GB storage plan is a monthly $20.

1&1 IONOS a handful of dedicated server plans, and again price is the highlight: an 8 core Intel Atom system with 8GB RAM is just $45 a month over six months, $65 on renewal.

There isn’t the power you’ll see with the top competition, (the high-end plan has only a 4 core CPU), and they have barely any configuration options. Meanwhile InMotion Hosting enables choosing your preferred operating system, add secondary or backup drives, add a hardware firewall, remote KVM management and more.

Most competitors also charge considerably higher prices, though, and if you’re just looking to dip your toe in the dedicated server waters, 1&1 IONOS looks like a sensible place to start.

Creating a website

Signing up with 1&1 IONOS is easy. Choose a plan, fill in a few forms with your details and pay via card or PayPal – no surprises at all. After handing over our cash, the website activated our account, redirected us to our control panel, and sent us a Welcome email, all in under 60 seconds. 

It’s not cPanel but the IONOS account panel is simple and easy to use (Image credit: 1&1 IONOS)

1&1 IONOS web dashboard is a simple front end to your account, with large tiles pointing to key functions areas: Domains, Email, Websites, Hosting, My Account and so on.

With no cPanel on the shared hosting packages, your options are limited. The Hosting area includes a file manager, FTP support, phpMyAdmin for database management, an option to change your domain PHP version, and that’s about it.

The file manager is so basic you can only drag and drop one file at a time (Image credit: 1&1 IONOS)

These aren’t the most capable of tools, either. When we hit Upload in the file manager, for instance, it displayed a prompt telling us to ‘Add files using drag and drop.’ That’s ‘files’ – plural. But when we dragged and dropped our website files onto the file manager, for instance, it warned that we could only transfer one file at a time. Hardly convenient, though of course you can use FTP to upload as many files as you need.

1&1 IONOS does make it easy to install WordPress. Enter your site name, choose an admin login and password, and the company sets everything up within a couple of minutes.

Install WordPress and 75 plus other apps from the App Center (Image credit: 1&1 IONOS)

If you’re looking for something else, 1&1 IONOS Installatron-powered App Center enables installing 75 other top apps, including Joomla!, Drupal, PrestaShop, MediaWiki, Magento and more.

This can’t match the 400+ apps supported by Softaculous, but it’ll cover most users, and overall, 1&1 IONOS gives you enough setup basics to get by.

The company follows that ‘enough to get by’ approach for its other shared hosting management tools, too. If you’re just looking to upload a static site, or maybe create a WordPress blog, you shouldn’t have any major problems. But old hosting hands are likely to miss the capable file manager, detailed site metrics and other more advanced options you get with cPanel management.

Support is available via phone and live chat (Image credit: 1&1 IONOS)Support

As we’ve seen, 1&1 IONOS’ website isn’t always the most intuitive, and even experienced users are likely to need occasional help.

Fortunately, the company appears to realize this, and it’s taken some smart measures to point puzzled users in the right direction.

If you can’t find a particular feature, for instance, or you’re unsure how something works, you don’t have to head off to a separate support site to find the answers. Just type a keyword into the search box at the top of the control panel, and some generally well-chosen matches will point you in the right direction. (Usually, anyway.)

This works well as a simple way to access general help documents. Typing WordPress gave us links to articles on setting it up, enabling an SSL certificate, installing plugins and themes, using the Gutenberg editor, and more. All articles are neatly displayed in a sidebar, rather than a separate page, allowing you to see in-depth instructions alongside whatever part of the 1&1 IONOS interface you’re trying to understand.

What’s more unusual is that 1&1 IONOS site search can also help you navigate its features. If you can’t find your FTP password, or you’re looking for the ‘restore backup’ function, or you’re wondering where to go to create a subdomain, just enter a keyword like ‘FTP’, ‘backup’ or ‘subdomain’ and you’ll get matching links. Click one and you’re taken direct to that area of the site.

This applies to account management functions, too. Ever struggled to find how to cancel a web hosting contract? It’s not an issue here: just type ‘cancel’ in the search box, click ‘Cancel Contract’ and you’re presented with the cancel form. Much easier.

If you prefer to browse a central support site, 1&1 IONOS enables that, too. There’s a lot of worthwhile content here, but it’s mostly about standard feature setup and configuration options. Searching for ‘WordPress’ gets you articles on installing WordPress, plugins and themes, for instance, but there’s nothing on importing a site from another host, a major topic which the best hosts cover in-depth.

1&1 IONOS also offers multiple ways to contact its support team, including telephone and live chat.

In our experience, responses can take fractionally longer than some other providers, but not enough to be a big issue (we might occasionally wait for 5 minutes on live chat, rather than two.)

The agents aren’t the best we’ve seen, and if you give them a response or a problem which is out of the ordinary, they won’t always handle it well.

But they’re also friendly, helpful in most situations, and happy to stick with you for as long as it takes to resolve the problem (or discover that they can’t), and considering the price you’re paying, that’s very good news.

1&1 IONOS did better than most in our performance tests (Image credit: Uptime.com)Performance

Speed matters, even with budget shared hosting, so we were keen to find out how our 1&1 IONOS server performed.

After publishing a simple test site, we had Uptime.com constantly check its availability and response times over a seven-day period.

Average response time for our server was a faster-than-most 248ms. The best providers are just a little better at around 200ms, but the worst can be 400ms or longer.

Results ranged from 218-779ms, wider than we’d like. The graph shows only a handful of significantly slower responses, though, and our server typically managed times of under 400ms, again better than most.

(When interpreting these results, keep in mind that they cover basic shared hosting plans only. They give us no information on what you might see from a VPS, a dedicated server or any other high-end product.)

Final verdict

1&1 IONOS has great value plans for first-time users and plenty of more powerful products for everyone else. The shared hosting management console isn’t a patch on cPanel, but once our site was up and running, we found it was faster than most.

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