123 Reg was founded in 2000 as a domain registrar, but has since evolved to offer a myriad of web hosting-related options. They claim to have registered over 3.5 million domains in the UK, making them the biggest provider there, and they’re hosting north of a million sites. Over the years, they have received a number of awards, and they have a section of their website dedicated to them. 123 Reg was part of the Host Europe Group (HEG) until 2017, when the latter was purchased by American hosting company GoDaddy.
Although 123 Reg does not disclose the location of its data centers, they do reveal that those used for shared hosting, VPS, WordPress hosting, and dedicated servers are EU-based, while email hosting data is stored in their data center in Leeds. UK-based cloud backup users have their data stored in the UK. They also add that their data centers are green and strive to minimize their carbon footprint.
At first glance, their plans seem relatively cheap, but if you need more than the bare bones, you will need to pay significantly more. The provider is mostly geared towards small and medium-sized businesses, as large enterprises would fare distinctly better somewhere else.
This web host’s pricing starts out cheap but your plan can get expensive once you take into account extras like adding a website builder (Image credit: 123 Reg)Pricing
123 Reg is a seemingly budget-friendly option that adds up quickly, with plans starting as low as £2.99 ($3.93) per month when paid annually. The Starter plan includes a free .co.uk domain for a year, one mailbox, one website, and 100 GB of web space, as well as 10 MySQL databases of 1 GB each.
Other plans don’t have a limit on the number of websites, and only the second-cheapest plan, Standard, has limited MySQL databases (25 to be exact). The price increases after a year and excludes 20% VAT.
123 Reg also has a 14-day money back guarantee, excluding any additional domain fees, but no trial option. They accept cards and PayPal.
Ease of use
When purchasing a plan, 123 Reg prompts you to pick your free domain as well, and tries to add extra features to your basket. Before checking out, you’ll need to create an account with your full name, address, and phone number. Once you’ve completed the purchase, you’ll be able to access your Control Panel.
The Control Panel is easy to navigate, and wherever there is a button with a question mark, you can click it to open a support page filled with questions related to the term. For example, the Domain term has a full 125 different guides and explanations, separated into sections like Troubleshooting, Basics, etc.
You can use 123 Reg’s website builder or its Make me a Website feature to build your website but you’ll need to pay extra for either (Image credit: 123 Reg)
As far as creating a website goes, 123 Reg offers two different options: a Website Builder and Make me a Website, each of which costs extra to add. The Website Builder will set you back an additional £2.50 ($3.29) per month (billed annually) for the cheapest option, while having a team build you a website has no costs publicly posted, most likely due to differing needs and wants clients may have, meaning you’ll need to get in touch with them through an advertised phone number. Your Control Panel also lets you add new features at a price, like an online shop, a search engine optimiser, and site lock, as well as manage your SSL (or renew it if necessary).
We used GTmetrix to measure the performance of our 123 Reg site (Image credit: GTmetrix)Speed and experience
The main website of 123 Reg performed disappointingly badly in our GTmetrix speed test, taking 11.6 seconds to fully load the website (below the average of 7.9 seconds) and a whopping 106 requests. Although this may not be strictly indicative of their performance when it comes to hosted websites, it is not a good look in either case.
As for uptime, although 123 Reg doesn’t make any promises in numbers, they do say that their “latest Cisco architecture using 10 Gigabit connections […] with different backbone providers” mean that “you’re unlikely to experience any network downtime.” During our two-week long uptime test, however, 123 Reg’s main website had absolutely no downtime at all. While two weeks is a relatively short time to judge, they’re still off to a good start.
You can find a great deal of useful information by searching 123 Reg’s support page (Image credit: 123 Reg)Support
123 Reg offers live chat, support tickets, a phone number, and even a post address for any customer queries, but they urge their users to first check whether their question was already addressed in one of their numerous guides and articles. However, to get access to their live chat service, you’ll have to register with them first. Otherwise, you’re free to call their number, although standard rates apply.
123 Reg doesn’t have a forum, meaning there is no way for users to get together and brainstorm a solution – or for a user to check whether someone else has had the same issue resolved. However, their blog also offers a lot of useful general advice, like how to sell online or what ecommerce metrics you should be monitoring.
The biggest difference between Bluehost and 123 Reg is their location. Both are budget-friendly options, but Bluehost includes a wider array of features in its advertised price, while 123 Reg tends to charge extra for those.
123 Reg is slightly cheaper than Hostgator, but some features may come at an extra price. They both offer excellent customer support, but Hostgator doesn’t have a contact email, while 123 Reg does.
Although Beget offers a decent range of features at a bargain price, their focus on the Russian market may turn away international users, and 123 Reg is definitely better geared towards UK-based clients.
Cloudways offers a far wider range of features and extras, each of which are charged on an hourly basis. 123 Reg, meanwhile, requires either monthly or annual contracts. However, Cloudways is slightly more technical and better suited for more advanced users than 123 Reg.
123 Reg is a great option for UK-based users who can take advantage of the free .co.uk domain, but both their pricing and the lack of free features leave a lot to be desired. For cheaper, more accessible web hosting providers, Bluehost or Hostgator could be the better options.