Whether you need simple pages with basic business details or a full e-commerce store, choosing the right web hosting service is an essential part of the site-building experience. Register.com offers hosting plans for both site types, in addition to the domain-registration features for which it is best known. Unfortunately, the service lacks many higher-end features (dedicated, VPS, and reseller hosting, for example) offered by top, recommended web hosts, such as DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds. Worse, Register.com demonstrated unreliable uptime in our tests.
Cloud-Powered Shared Hosting
Since our last review, Register.com added cloud-based flexibility to its shared hosting plans. With shared hosting, your site shares server resources with other websites. The result is cheap hosting, but you may deal with resource-hogging neighbors that overburden the server. That would lead to slower data transfers or even downtime. Fortunately, Register.com’s cloud-based infrastructure mitigates those potential cons by storing your site data in various virtual machines that share the load. With multiple servers carrying the data, your website should be accessible if a server fails—at least in theory. Register.com’s is surprisingly spotty, as we’ll discuss later.
Register.com offers four tiers of Linux-based cloud hosting, without a Windows hosting option: Starter (starting at $8 per month), Essential (starting at $12 per month), Professional (starting at $15.95 per month), and Premium (starting at $36.95 per month). You won’t easily find these prices on the Register.com’s site. Instead, the web host displays its limited-time promotional prices. You don’t see the true prices until you’re checking out, a tactic we don’t like. That’s just one of several bewildering interface-design choices. We’ll take a deeper dive into Register.com’s UI problems later in this review.
If you can overlook the obscure price listings, you’ll find fairly ordinary hosting packages (outside of the pedestrian entry-level tier). Starter offers 15GB of storage, a skimpy single email account, and the ability to host one website. It’s unclear how much monthly data transfers you get with a Starter account; we reached out to support, and are awaiting a response. Essential offers 300GB of storage, three email accounts, unlimited monthly data transfers, a free domain and the ability to host three websites. Professional builds on Essential by boosting the storage capacity to 500GB, emails to 10, and websites to 10. Lastly, Premium ups the ante by offering unlimited storage and includes a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate.
Register.com’s shared hosting options don’t stack up to what’s offered by HostGator, our Editors’ Choice pick for shared hosting that offers more bang for the buck. HostGator dominates the category thanks to its varied and powerful packages, choice of Linux- or Windows-based servers, and unlimited storage, monthly data transfers, and email addresses—even with its entry-level plan. For the same price as Register.com’s $12-per-month Essential plan, Hostgator offers unlimited websites and emails, and includes a free SSL certificate.
Register.com also offers WordPress hosting. Starting at $7 per month, the WordPress Basic plan delivers 50GB of storage; 10 email addresses; on-demand, cloud-based backups; a domain name; and the ability to host one website. The $13-per-month WordPress Plus offers 100GB of storage, 25 emails, the ability to host three sites, and a SSL certificate. Finally, WordPress Premium bumps the storage to 200GB, the emails to 50, and lets you host 5 sites for $18 per month. Monthly data transfers are not made clear on the WordPress package page, unfortunately: support clarified that these include 3000GB of monthly data transfers.
These are decent offerings, but don’t quite stack up to Bluehost, a web host that has several excellent WordPress plans. The co-Editors’ Choice pick for WordPress hosting offers unlimited bandwidth and website hosting across the board. It leaves a lot of room to grow. Its WordPress Plus plan, for example, offers unlimited storage, unlimited websites, a free SSL certificate and a free domain, and renews at $13.99 per month with an annual plan.
Lacks VPS, Dedicated, and Reseller Hosting
Sometimes you need more control over your hosting, or expect high traffic volumes. As a result, many companies offer dedicated or VPS hosting that supplies the muscle and flexibility that highly trafficked websites need. Sadly, Register.com doesn’t offer these common services, or the niche, but still important, reseller hosting.
Sure, you may not need these higher-end or specialty ties right now, but what if you want to expand in the future? In that case, we recommend checking out AccuWeb (the Editors’ Choice pick for dedicated hosting) or Hostwinds (the Editors’ Choice pick for VPS and reseller hosting).
Building a Website
The Neo Website Builder requires some hunting to find, much like the service’s shared hosting pricing and WordPress monthly data transfer information. You log in, click My Account, and then click Edit Your Website. Many competing web hosts make their site-editing tools available on a higher-level page. That’s not a great start to the experience, especially if you’re a novice.
On the upside, the website builder’s drag-and-drop functionality makes it a breeze to create an attractive website. You select a template, modify layouts and colors, add new pages, and publish. We like that you can add contact forms, social media links, and images, as well. The Neo Website Builder lacks Wix’s muscle, but it’s a dependable, useful tool.
E-Commerce and Security Options
Register.com’s templates make it easy to create a business-friendly website, but if you want e-commerce functionality, you need to shell out a few extra bucks per months. A basic online store costs $7 per month (with a one-year commitment), but renews at $19 per month after the promotional period expires. This add-on lets you sell 25 products, and it comes with customizable design templates, a domain name, support for most shipping and payment providers, and 10 email addresses. The $9-per-month (with a one-year commitment) Online Store Plus bumps the product limit to 300 and email addresses to 25. It renews at $55 per month. Finally, Online Store Premium costs $19 per month (with a one-year commitment), and offers a 100,000 product limit, plus all the previously mentioned features. The service renews at $99 per month once the introductory price offer expires.
Register.com offers many security perks, but Secure Sockets Layer protection is a must if you plan to sell products. Thankfully, a license is included with all annual Register.com plans except for the Starter tier. Your customers will be happy to see the security symbol in their browsers’ address bars when they visit your website.
If you have hosting elsewhere, but you’re looking for SSL, Register.com has four plans. The entry-level SSL Xpress starts at $49.50 per year (with a two-year term), while the highest-end SSL starts at $342 per year (with a two-year term). GoDaddy offers SSL, too, but doesn’t lock you into multi-year agreements; you pay $94.99 annually (with discounts for signing up for two years).
Website uptime is one of the most important aspects of a hosting service. When your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services—and they might not come back. Unfortunately, Register.com didn’t do well in our uptime testing.
To measure uptime, we use a website monitoring tool to track our Register.com-hosted test site’s stability. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings our website and alerts us if it is unable to contact the site for longer than one minute. We look at the data for the most recent 14 days for each site’s review.
Register.com states that you can count on your website to be up and running “99.9% of the time,” which is par for the web hosting course. However, it proved surprisingly unreliable in our newest tests. Register.com went down frequently during that two-week period, sometimes for hours at a time, or multiple times per day. This is unacceptable.
For comparison, the recently reviewed host Domain.com displayed outstanding uptime. It didn’t go down once during the 14-day test period. Check it out if you want a reliable web hosting service. To be fair, these two-week test periods are relatively small snapshots of a larger picture. Still, they can sometimes point out stability issues, so the fewer downtime incidents, the better.
Helpful Customer Service
Register.com offers 24/7 web chat and telephone support—which is good—and a ticket-based system. We dialed the telephone tech support on a weekday morning, and waited just under five minutes to speak with someone about the differences between Linux and Windows hosting. The representative explained that Linux-based hosting is good for general web hosting use, while Windows-based hosting is good for those who build sites using Microsoft FrontPage. We were pleased with the clear response we got.
We later web chatted with a customer service representative on a weekday afternoon to ask how to properly import our WordPress.com setup into Register.com. This time, we waited for less than a minute. The rep walked us through the steps, and did a good job doing so.
If you are curious about Register.com’s money-back guarantee, you’ll need to hunt a bit, as it’s not readily available. In fact, we had to Google “register.com money back guarantee” to find the information. Making your money-back guarantee hard to find is definitely not a best practice for web hosting services.
Register.com offers a 30-day refund window for its hosting plans, which is typical, but nowhere near as generous as DreamHost’s 97-day money-back guarantee. That 30 days applies only to web hosting, however; when it comes to domain registration, the refund period shrinks to five days.
There are Better Web Hosting Options
Register.com’s web hosting offerings are clearly an extension of its primary business, which is domain registration. As a result, the hosting options and dashboard interface feel like afterthoughts. However, the web host’s biggest issue is its uptime; the service went down far too often during our test period—sometimes multiple times per day. Instead, we recommend checking out our Editors’ Choice picks that provide all-around superior web hosting experiences, such as HostGator for excellent shared hosting and A2 or Bluehost for top WordPress hosting. They have the power and flexibility to act as rock-solid foundations for your website.
Should you need help getting your site up and running, we can show you How to Build a Website. If it’s WordPress you want, we can also show you How to Get Started With WordPress. If you have business on the brain, here are 7 Things You Need to Know When Building an E-Commerce Website.