Can InterServer really provide your website with the power it needs to succeed?
Taking a look at InterServer ‘s affordable shared hosting packages, it’s natural to be wary. Can a monthly price of just $2.07 really provide you with unlimited resources, useful extra features and powerful security tools? What’s the catch?
At first glance, everything looks promising. With 19 years of experience in the web hosting industry, InterServer offers a wide variety of packages, from shared hosting to reseller packages and VPS (virtual private server) machines to dedicated servers. In addition, all four of InterServer’s data centers are located in the United States, so North American users can expect high speed.
Still, I wanted to check out the provider’s true performance. So I signed up for an InterServer package, and I tested it in great detail for several months.
In short, InterServer provides an excellent service that may be right for you. In my in-depth comparison of the best web hosts today, it came in third place, beating out strong competitors like premium provider Kinsta. I did, however, encounter a few interesting surprises along the way. Read on to find out exactly what you can expect as a customer.
Features of InterServer
Unlimited resources and domains, coupled with powerful extras
InterServer ‘s shared hosting comes in two forms: Linux hosting, described simply as standard web hosting, and Windows hosting, described as ASP.NET. WordPress and other popular CMS (content management systems) work best on Linux hosting, based on the popular cPanel control panel. As for Windows hosting, it is almost exclusively used for web projects depending on Microsoft technologies such as ASP.NET or MSSQL.
For the purpose of this review, I subscribed to the standard Linux-based web hosting package for $2.07. It includes a lot of great features, but mostly unlimited resources.
Well, unlimited doesn’t mean you can add your entire media library to your account or make it a download portal. It means that as long as you adhere to a fair usage policy, you’ll never have to worry about running out of space or bandwidth again.
This is great news, but it doesn’t mean you can stick with shared hosting and let your website grow indefinitely. In fact, a successful website will require more CPU and RAM resources, as many simultaneous visitors may saturate a shared server. If this happens, you will need to switch to a VPS.
What else can InterServer offer you? SSL certificates. Everyone gets one! The company includes a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate with every shared account, to ensure that you are protected by a padlock. SSL is essential for running an e-commerce store, guaranteeing the privacy of your visitors and getting a better Google ranking. The certificate is not pre-installed, but the support agent I spoke with was happy to install it himself.
I put InterServer’s SSL technology to the test via the Qualys SSL test, where my website got a fantastic A rating.
Also, all Linux accounts include the Softaculous one-click installation tool. You can use it to install WordPress, Joomla, SitePad website builder and hundreds of other CMS in just a few minutes. If you switch to InterServer from another web host, you won’t need to bother because InterServer offers free website migrations with all accounts.
The only important feature that InterServer seems to lack is remote backup. You can schedule it and create backups on your local hosting drive, but an automatic remote option would be very nice. So it will behoove you to be a responsible adult and transfer those backups to a remote location yourself, to make sure you don’t lose everything in case of a security breach.
Well, we’ve seen the basics. Now let’s move on to the really interesting features:
Fail-safe security tools and protocols
Keeping your website secure and free of malicious files is essential. However, most hosting companies are more like a fun uncle than overprotective parents. In other words, some will try to sell you a security suite, some will give you helpful tips, but very few will provide you with everything you need to keep your website secure.
And that’s where InterServer really stands out. Its InterShield Security firewall blocks outside attackers, using machine learning to stay one step ahead of threats. This defense is automatically included with all packages. In addition, you’ll have access to the ModSecurity tool, which provides an extra layer of firewall defense, as well as Imunify360, which will constantly scan your hosting drive for malicious files.
And the icing on the cake? Everything is included in the package for free!
LiteSpeed Caching and Cloudflare CND
The speed of your website can be greatly improved by using caching, a process that saves static copies of your pages for later use. LiteSpeed, one of the best web server technologies available today, provides all the caching tools necessary to boost your performance.
You’ll have access to LiteSpeed caching via cPanel, and the built-in tool will quickly scan your player and make cached copies of your pages. For advanced pages that require a lot of computing power, this can save valuable seconds in load time.
Another great integration is Cloudflare’s CDN (content delivery network). Cloudflare’s global fleet of servers will cache copies of your website pages, and each of your visitors will be served from a nearby server location. It’s kind of like turning your website into McDonalds, with a location on every corner, but certainly offering better nutritional value!
A CDN is particularly interesting for static websites (such as portfolios and business pages), as it has the potential to significantly reduce load times for visitors far from InterServer’s data centers. On the other hand, if your Web site is constantly updated and contains a lot of dynamic content, the effect of a CDN will be more limited.
Unlimited domains and websites
The number of websites you can create with a shared web hosting package is often limited. You may have enough disk space for another small project you want to put online (such as a cat fashion consultancy), but you’ll either be limited to using subdomains, or you won’t even have access to the databases needed to install more WordPress instances. By the way, this was the case for all the other basic shared packages I tested.
Well, InterServer is different. That’s because you can open as many databases as you want and use the domain manager to add additional domains corresponding to entirely separate websites. This is great if you’re looking to get the most out of your unlimited plan and don’t expect a lot of traffic to your websites.
Apart from a few hiccups, the process is relatively simple
In terms of functionality, it’s clear that InterServer does very well. But are all these features as easy to use as they are powerful? Well… more or less. Apart from a few hiccups, I haven’t encountered any major problems. Let’s take a closer look.
Choosing a package
Ever go to a store looking for something, only to find yourself completely lost among the countless brands and options? Many hosting companies use the same tactic and offer an unclear list of similar packages with minor differences. Kind of like boy bands. I might as well tell you that I was really happy to see that InterServer has done away with all their shared packages and only offers one. Yes, only one!
Create a new account… one of the hiccups mentioned above
After choosing the standard shared hosting, it was time to create an account. The process turned out to be pretty generic, and after entering my domain name, details and credit card information, my account was created. The only problem was that my hosting was not active.
I didn’t know why and I couldn’t find any information in my account area. I waited, thinking that the process might take a little while. But two hours later, still nothing.
I gave up and contacted support, which took over an hour to respond. The agent explained that my credit card needed to be verified and that the payment had not been made. I tried to verify it, but ended up using PayPal. The payment was immediately accepted and my hosting was activated. Time from registration to activation? Four hours. I wish it was easier.
Connecting a domain and installing WordPress
After my setbacks with account activation, I was a little chilled. What would be the next problem? Fortunately, the rest went smoothly. I found the InterServer nameservers in my account area, and after updating them in my Namecheap dashboard, my hosting was connected in no time.
Installing WordPress was no problem for me with Softaculous, and the automatic installation took less than a minute.
The only minor issue? The default destination folder for WordPress is domain/wp/, so remember to delete the “wp” part. If you forget to do this, your domain name alone will not redirect to your site. Visitors will have to access your domain.com/wp instead of your domain.com.
To solve this problem, you’ll need to either reinstall WordPress or dive into the MySQL database. For my less “geeky” readers, just know that this is a real headache. So I suggest you remember to delete those two letters, and you’ll be fine.
Excellent speed in North America and Western Europe
For visitors, two things are essential: page load speed and server availability. InterServer’s data centers are located on both coasts of the United States, specifically three on the East Coast and one in Los Angeles. I chose the data center in Secaucus, New York.
And the verdict? To cut a long story short, I found a respectable average load time of 1.94 seconds and a very reliable availability of 99.953% over four months of testing. The speed was higher in the US and Europe, while the load time was longer for other locations.
I invite you to read on to learn more about my testing methodology and the “geeky” data I collected. However, if you think that’s not necessary, you can also skip ahead to my adventures with InterServer support.
To see how the service really performs, I loaded my reliable test website – The Autonomous Shoes – onto a fresh WordPress installation. It’s still up and running, and you can check it out and do some testing yourself: autonomous-shoes-nj-is.com
You’ll probably notice that it looks like your own website: a medium-sized homepage with HD images, text, cool animations and a contact form. So the results I’ve gathered will give you a very accurate approximation of the performance you can expect from InterServer.
Well, I extended the same courtesy to InterServer that we extend to all web hosting companies at Website Planet, and asked support if my site speed could be improved. Unfortunately, the agent told me to “contact the website developer”. So my website was tested in its original version, without any optimization.
I used the GTmetrix PRO tools, the Sucuri load time tester and the UptimeRobot Pro package. The GTmetrix server in Dallas, Texas was used to measure speed and optimization scores in the United States, Sucuri for overall performance information and UptimeRobot for uptime monitoring.
As mentioned earlier, I used the Dallas, Texas server to test my load speed. However, the results were very similar on the Vancouver and London GTmetrix test servers.
I ran the test several times a day for several days and calculated three numbers: average load time, best load time and worst load time. As a general rule, it is advisable to have a loading time of less than two seconds. Otherwise, many users will end up abandoning the site to find another site that loads faster.
So how did my website do? The average load time was 1.94 seconds. The fastest load time was 1 s, and the slowest time recorded was 3.4 s.
Sucuri Load Time Tester
After running the Sucuri tool many times and collecting the results in my precious Google spreadsheet (I warned you I was a “geek”), I calculated three numbers. The first is the average load time for the fastest load location (which is in the U.S., close to the data center), the second is the average time for the slowest load location (Bangalore, India), and the third is the average overall load time (Sucuri calculates the overall load time as the average of all local load times).
The average time for the fastest location was 0.282 s. The slowest average time was 4.275s, and the overall average time was 1.513s. Simply put, this makes InterServer an excellent option for the continent where it is fastest, North America.
If you want to see San Francisco in green, remember to select the Los Angeles data center for hosting. This affects the results considerably. What about more remote regions, such as Singapore, India and Brazil? Unfortunately, there is nothing to be done about this. Even a CDN didn’t really improve things. InterServer is simply not an interesting option for these locations.
First, let me say that InterServer provides a 99.9% uptime guarantee, the terms of which are clearly specified in the service level agreement (SLA). I’ve read it carefully, and it seems fair.
Of course, we would all prefer to avoid this guarantee and just have a consistently available website online.
With an actual availability of 99.953%, InterServer is truly living up to its promise. You may notice that over the past 30 days, this number was slightly below 99.9%. That’s grounds for a refund, so remember to always monitor your availability and keep an eye on things!
To summarize the results, while InterServer may not be the fastest host I’ve tested, the speed in the US was quite acceptable. With a few tweaks and optimizations, InterServer could be an even faster host, and it is really reliable.
Well, before I review my experience with support, I want to share an important piece of information I discovered about Interserver. While poking around a bit in my shared server, I found files that were undeniably adult in nature. Since adult websites are often shady and susceptible to blacklisting, it is very dangerous to share an IP address with them. Unfortunately, this is exactly what can happen on a shared server.
Support can and should do better
InterServer presents itself as a 100% American company, with photos of the team all over the homepage. Support is available 24/7 via live chat, email and support tickets. The company also has phone support centers in the U.S., England, Israel, Brazil and Mexico (native-speaking agents, respectively). A knowledge base is available, but it is poorly organized and I did not find any relevant answers to my questions.
During my testing, I contacted support relatively often and ended up being relatively disappointed with the overall experience. As far as I know, the support is divided into two levels and unless you are connected to the real professionals at the top level, you won’t get much help.
I started with the live chat, which is not really available 24/7. In fact, the service was sometimes downright offline, because “the team was not available.”
When I was finally able to speak to a live chat agent, it was not very helpful. I was under the impression that this service was outsourced far from the United States, and indeed, it is provided by a temporary staffing agency called Carmatec, based in India. In addition to InterServer, Carmatec’s other clients include gardening companies. The good joke.
So what about the support provided by this type of company? Well, that depends on how you feel about bad English and excessive use of the caps lock key
But let’s back up a bit. It was clear that this was not an award-winning support team, but I wanted to know exactly what it was for. I began my testing by discussing my expectations for the service before I signed up.
Frankly, I wonder if the agent was outright lying to me or just exaggerating to sell the service, but either way, it’s not great. No, an American server will not load your content quickly for visitors from Asia and Australia. Support agents for a hosting service should know this.
When I asked for help installing WordPress, I was referred to a tutorial. I also asked for help installing a WordPress theme, but that was too much to ask. The agent’s answer made sense to me, but unless you have experience in the hosting world, you might not understand anything.
And when I asked for help with website optimization, the agent told me to contact my website developer. Granted, InterServer chat isn’t the only support service that isn’t very helpful when it comes to optimization, but it’s certainly one of the few services that doesn’t help you at all.
Okay basically, my fears have proven to be true. The labor companies that typically deal with gardening companies are apparently not the most qualified to give housing advice.
Does this mean that the entire support experience is disastrous? Well, no. Support via tickets and email is much, much slower, but I was able to speak with real professionals.
I asked for help installing the SSL certificate, and the agent quickly took care of everything for me. The response time was about 20 minutes.
I also opened a ticket after finding adult content on my shared server. Again, the response was professional and everything was handled quickly. Within hours, the server was secured and the adult content was removed.
In summary: Forget live chat. Emails and tickets aren’t the fastest way to get help, but at least you’ll get useful help.
InterServer’s affordable packages include everything you need
When it comes to pricing, InterServer is one of the fairest companies I’ve had the pleasure of testing. Indeed, there are many ways that hosting companies can manipulate you into shelling out an extra dollar (or even much more), and I was pleased to find that InterServer takes an honest approach. I haven’t seen a single attempt at upselling or hidden setup fees.
InterServer also stands out from the competition is its Price Lock guarantee. Many other hosting companies lure you in with a low entry price, which they quadruple at renewal time. With InterServer, you never have to worry about that. Indeed, the price applied at the time of registration will remain the same afterwards.
But are these rates worth it? Good question. The only shared hosting package, whether Linux or Windows, is extremely affordable, at €2.07 per month. It is possible to find cheaper packages from other hosting companies, but only if you sign up for a year or more. InterServer is your best option for cheap yet flexible hosting, especially when you consider all the extra features included in the package.
Basic VPS packages are not much more expensive than shared hosting, starting at €4.97 per month, but advanced VPS and dedicated server prices are in line with those charged by other companies in the industry. Dedicated server prices start at €40.57 per month.
The payment periods offered are: one month, three months, six months, one year, two years and three years. Note that you will receive a discount for any long-term subscription (up to 20%). However, the monthly plan is really excellent and I recommend you to choose it.
If you decide to sign up for a year or more, you will have the opportunity to buy a domain name at a really low price.
You can pay with Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover and PayPal. All packages come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Conclusion about InterServer
InterServer is towards the bottom of the market and knows it. This means it’s the perfect choice for beginners, but less suitable for expert web developers with specific needs. This provider will struggle to handle high-traffic sites and e-commerce stores, unless you’re willing to spend a little more for one of its dedicated servers.
Would I use it? It depends. I’m having trouble with my email at GoDaddy, and InterServer’s promise of email delivery is very attractive. It could also power some of my “hobby” sites. But it wouldn’t be my first choice for hosting e-commerce or enterprise sites.