Web.com is a host providing a wide range of solutions for individuals looking to begin a web presence with simplicity in mind.
Features and Pricing
Web.com provides web hosting, email hosting, as well as domain name registration services.
Their web hosting selection consists of both Linux and Windows web hosting, along with a separate eCommerce distinction. All hosting includes unlimited storage space and bandwidth; a free domain for the first year; site statistics; a control panel; unlimited email accounts; site builder tools; support for PERL, Python, and PHP; FTP access; and an unlimited number of MySQL databases for Linux or MS SQL for Windows.
Like many other hosts, Web.com also offers free Google AdWords and Yahoo Certificate advertising credits. A $50 credit is given for each service, resulting in a total of $100 that can be used to promote one’s website with these two ad services.
Web.com does also offer some eCommerce features available as ad-ons to one’s standard hosting account.
The Linux and Windows hosting are priced equally at $11.95/month.
While many hosts only limit their email and database storage by the total storage space, Web.com restricts email storage to 10 GB and database storage to 1 GB overall. For most individuals, this is unlikely to impose a problem, but for some it very well may. If an email account receives a high volume of large attachments, if there are many email accounts, or if databases contain thousands of entries collectively it may very well be possible to reach these limits.
Terms of Service
Web.com’s terms of service, for the most part, are largely generic. Yet there are a few things to keep in mind. For one, domain names registered through Web.com are automatically renewed unless this renewal is deactivated at least thirty days before. It is often possible to decide not to renew up until the renewal date, but not with Web.com. Web.com also states in their terms that they “bear no responsibility or obligation to notify” an individual of the date their domain name will expire. The registrar may still notify the customer, but if they do not, then the customer may very well be left unaware if they do not acknowledge the renewal date. This may result in paying for the renewal of a domain they no longer wish to have.
Like various other hosts, Web.com forces a default page upon customers before their site is active with content. This contains advertising of products and services related to the domain name and promotion of their hosting service through a link to their website. To many, this may be greatly unwanted as it can initially drive traffic from the domain to third-parties and even competitors. This is a standard practice, and can be disabled through the control panel.
Their cancellation policy is not made explicitly clear in their terms of service. I did find some record of the procedure in a knowledge base article though. The article informed me that cancellation must be made by phone, yet the instructions for entering the prompts were likely outdated as they were incorrect with my experience. I did happen upon a prompt connecting me to the billing department for cancellations.
Although the article stated that requests for cancellation must be made “at least 30 days prior to the renewal date on the account” (in effect prohibiting someone from canceling a new account), I faced no problem. Luckily the representative I spoke to appeared to be in-house and was therefore straightforward and easy to understand. I received a ticket confirming my request and my account was cancelled without any issues.
When I logged into the control panel, the first thing I noticed was a giant banner ad down the right side of the page for a company selling business cards. Generally individuals don’t appreciate seeing advertisements within a service that they pay for and I surely did not. Along the bottom of the control panel homepage I was greeted by “Special Offers!”, a.k.a. more ads! This ad-ridden mentality exists across every page of the control panel that I saw.
The control panel is not the industry-standard cPanel, but rather a proprietary, or simply less common, piece of software that to me seemed sparse in functionality, only covering the absolute basics. This includes pages for domain administration, password protection, user creation, database management, site statistics, and email.
Kicking the Tires
The sign-up process was guided, quick, and easy. At the end, I was informed that “within one business day” I would receive an email with instructions. Within minutes I had received the email and it provided me with information for getting started.
After that I was required to agree to the terms. I then proceeded to test out the control panel.
I visited the email section. I discovered through setting up an email address that it appears the email username must be unique to the entire hosting base, not just the individual account, although the email address itself does not have this limitation.
I then wanted to upload a homepage for my site to replace the Web.com default ad-covered page. I had to dig a bit and then discovered the information was in another email. Web.com sent me three different emails in all for my account setup. I was able to log-in to FTP without any issues using the information provided. My site responded quickly when I tested it for the new homepage.
While I was looking at the Web.com hosting plans page, I had a question so I decided to engage in the online chat.
I found the chat to be rather unprofessional, with an automated response initially when you first open the online chat window. It as if you are getting one of those spontaneous chat windows when a website doesn’t want you to leave, especially given the title of the window: “Wait before you go!” It’s as if they are using a bit of software designed for proactive marketing to handle their site support.
The representative in the chat was unnamed, and the one I chatted with was very short with their responses.
The representative responded within 30 seconds or so initially, although their answers thereafter were not very constructive.
When asking what PayPal gateway they specifically used (PayPal has two “Payflow” gateway plans, “Pro” and “Link”) they told me “PayPal” and that I would have to ask PayPal for more information.
This didn’t actually answer my question. I then proceeded to sit for several minutes while the agent did who knows what. After I clarified my question, they didn’t inform me they whether or not they were researching it for me. Five minutes went by and I gave up on their online chat.
Most individuals don’t wish to sign up and then find out later about the true specifics of a feature. Yet this seems to be the case for Web.com.
I also asked the representative a question regarding the 1 GB limit on databases and 10 GB on email and asked if this was total or per database and account, respectively. He informed me it was per database, yet it turns out it is in total, which makes a significant difference in the offering. That can be quite limiting. Unfortunately, I was also misinformed about the email accounts as the 10 GB is the overall limit, and not per email account.
I attempted to call customer support at 10 PM on a Thursday night and discovered that their support services are only available from 8 AM to 8 PM. After being funneled through several prompts, I was greeted by a message stating this and asking that I leave a voicemail to which they would respond within one business day. A 12 hour time-span of service is a reasonable amount of time to be available, but in an industry where 24/7 support is often the standard, especially at their price point, it is a bit discouraging. What is a bit frustrating is that these hours are not made explicitly clear across their website, so one may very well only discover it when calling.
Besides the misinforming online chat and the twelve-hour phone support, a customer is left to submit a ticket. The ticket form has a very comprehensive slew of options to narrow down the topic. I decided to test out the ticket support, so at 10:18 PM on that Thursday night I sent a ticket in regards to the question I had involving the PayPal payment gateway. I was informed that I would receive an email when there was an update.
At around 9:30 AM the next day I received a reply back to my ticket, with it being marked as “resolved.” The response stated
“Thank you for contacting Web.com Sales Department regarding your account. Please contact me directly so that I can explain the service.”
I didn’t understand how the service offering could not be explained in writing, and I preferred not to have to call them in regards to it, even though there appeared no other way to actually answer my question.
At around noon the next day, I decided to call their customer support to see if they could clarify the online chat representative’s misinformation for me in regards to the storage limitation.
When calling I was presented with a myriad of options. I went through three or four prompts before it began ringing through, only for me to be presented with another prompt. It seems like Web.com has consolidated several services and is attempting to provide support for all of them together, though lacking cohesion in doing so. I was provided prompts for services I wasn’t aware of, and which may have left some callers confused.
Once I was connected to a representative, I had a simple question that was not specific to my account, yet they had to look up the account. They required the phone number, which then required me to check which number I used to sign up.
The representative was somewhat hard to understand and did not seem to fully grasp what I was asking. I had a feeling they were outsourced, yet I initially gave them the benefit of the doubt since the accent wasn’t too extreme.
At the end of the call I asked where the phone support was located and the representative informed me that it was in the Philippines. I had to confirm this because the pronunciation was not very clear. Unfortunately, like with many outsourced support options, the quality of Web.com’s phone support can suffer due to the communication difficulties inherent to such outsourcing. Also, if I understood him correctly, the representative said his name was Phil. So I was speaking with Phil from the Philippines, which I highly doubted was correct.
The representative’s answer in regards to the database storage limit appeared to be consistent with the service, yet their consideration of my email question seemed misunderstood and the answer therefore inconsistent. They kept reiterating that the size of email attachments should be lower than 10 MB when I kept asking about the 10 GB limit imposed on email storage, not attachment size. At the end of the call, I was still left without a clear answer and it was one of the longest support calls I have made for such a simple support issue. It took ten minutes of going back and forth, trying to make myself clear while gathering some sort of understanding from the representative.
Customer support can really make or break a web hosting company as customers can often turn to a live person for help with their issues. Unfortunately with Web.com, their support isn’t at a competitive standard for the price they charge. It really does impose a disadvantage, and although outsourcing can be successfully implemented for some companies, Web.com simply isn’t one of them.
If their support was of a high quality, it may have justified the price given their only adequate service; yet, it really was not.
Web.com, although providing a functional service, does not stand as a competitive entity in the web hosting industry.