Omnis Network (www.omnis.com) is a host that has been around for a while. According to their site, they’ve been around since 1999 with over 200,000 served (accounts, not fast food). Omnis has a team of “very successful and proven industry veterans, intent on delivering the best value in Internet hosting.” Marketing hype? We’ll see if it’s true during this hands on Omnis review. At first glance, the company seems just fine. The Omnis.com site isn’t bad, but I doubt it’ll win any awards, same with the text on their site. All of their policies seem pretty standard and straight forward and for the most part, it’s pretty easy to find what you need on the Omnis site.
Omnis’ web hosting plans are very generous (1,000 MB storage/100 GB bandwidth for $8.95/month). However, from looking at their web site, I couldn’t tell how many MySQL databases were included–it said “MySQL Database” as in one database, but that seemed kind of weird, so I decided to give Omnis a call and ask.
What about Omnis customer support? I pushed the number to be connected to sales, and no one picked up-–it just kept ringing. I called back and tried to get through to Omnis technical support and the same thing happened. Hmm… What if my site was down? Pretty disappointing. I emailed them with my question along with two other questions (do you support mod_rewrite and mod_security as well as Ruby on Rails and PHP5) at 12:50 PM EST on a Saturday. I got an auto-response confirming the ticket had been received and I would get a reply shortly. By Friday (yes, almost a week later), I hadn’t heard a word back from Omnis. I gave them a call again and was connected to a person in about a minute. He had no problem answering the mod_rewrite, mod_security, PHP5 questions, but stumbled on the Ruby on Rails one. Before I could even say “that’s okay,” I was put on hold while he checked. Motivation appreciated but not good customer service etiquette. I sent the questions again via email at about 4:00 PM on Friday, received the auto-response, and heard back about 15 minutes later. The reply: “i just spoke with you on the phone thank you.” Again, gets the point across, but not very good customer service etiquette. I never identified myself in either correspondence, so he assumed it was the same person (and in most cases, chances are it will be).
Getting back to the signup process at Omnis, it is kind of awkward. Normally, a signup process will lead you along by the hand, but the one at Omnis is a bit less “flowing.” It took a bit longer than normal, but I eventually got it and it worked out just fine. When you get your welcome email from Omnis, it explains what you need to know. Omnis has a gigantic FAQ/knowledge base (about 1,200 articles) and the welcome email tells you how to get in touch, get started with your FTP accounts, and all of those things.
Omnis has what appears to be a custom control panel. It has the basic features such as database and email management, statistic programs, and billing management, but what’s really nice is some of the extra features. There’s a way to control some of the PHP tasks, ASP components, a site builder (extra), streaming media manager, free web site templates, search engine optimizations (free for 90 days), an interesting account linker, and a PERL script management tool. These features can be pretty useful if you’re a technical user and wish to have a bit more control over your web sites.
During my tests, FTP speed for Omnis is about average–nothing spectacular, but not slow. All the features in their control panel loaded pretty quickly and once uploaded and installed, my uploaded CMS and forums all loaded quickly and without errors.
All in all, Omnis seems like a decent web host. The fact that they didn’t pick up the phone or reply to their emails the first time is a bit scary, but if you’re looking for a host and need to host a web site that isn’t mission-critical, Omnis isn’t a bad choice.