Hawk Host Review – Cheap Shared Hosting, along with VPS, Semi-Dedicated Servers and More!
Hawk Host has been gaining a lot of traction lately, they’re not as well-known as bigger brands like HostGator or BlueHost, but they are a very solid host who seems to focus more on providing a reasonable service for their users than spending a fortune on advertising. They’re doing a good job, and have been for many years, so if they haven’t been on your radar yet, the next time you’re looking for a shared hosting company, they definitely should be considered. In this Hawk Host review, we’re going to be covering all of the important aspects of this brand, what they offer, and what sets them apart.
A lot of the most popular hosting companies you’ll hear about also have a massive list of past customers who had awful experiences, because there’s a certain point where a host becomes so huge that they aren’t really able to take care of their customers properly anymore. Also, many other hosting brands have been bought-up by massive conglomerates who are focused solely on trimming away as many expenses as possible, which almost always means that once a hosting company gets bought-out, their support and quality instantly goes down the drain. Hawk Host, on the other hand, has not sold out to one of those notorious corporations, and they continue to do what they do best, which is offering very affordable hosting for when you just need something very basic and cheap.
It's always interesting to compare price and value because these can mean different things to different people. For all intents and purposes, let's sum it up as “Are you getting your money's worth?” and the short answer is: Yes, but there's a little more to it than that, since this is a very inexpensive host, so getting your money's worth isn't always the full story. Getting your money's worth on a $2.24/mo server, or a $500/mo server are two very different levels of service.
Let's break down the different offerings from Hawk Host in order to help you decide two things. First of all, is Hawk Host right for you? And secondly, which one of their packages should you go with?
HawkHost is most well-known for their shared hosting servers, but they also offer semi-dedicated, reseller packages, and VPS packages. Their shared hosting is super reasonably priced, and their VPS’ start at $18 per month.
Their shared packages start at around $3 and provides you with 10,000MB of high-speed SSD storage space for your websites and important files. They offer unlimited bandwidth, unlimited databases, unlimited domains, and unlimited free SSL certificates. It’s worth noting that with any host that claims something is “unlimited” that usually means “unless you're using an incredible amount of it, in which case it's no longer unlimited.”
If you fall under normal to slightly higher usage, you’re all set, but if you have a super busy website and are using way more than your “fair share”, it’s probably time to upgrade to a more powerful server anyways. Some people are weary of hosts that promise “unlimited” resources, but basically if your site becomes incredibly popular, you’ll want a more advanced server than a shared one anyways, and it’s easy to upgrade. It’s generally just in very extreme cases that you may get cut off for using too many resources, and that’s something that applies to any company that goes the unlimited route as opposed to setting strict and specific limits on their servers. In either case, the limits are there, whether or not the host is upfront about them.
HawkHost review of Speed/Performance
Hawk Host has a number of features for their shared hosting that help to ensure you’re getting peak performance. For starters, all of their servers use SSD storage. With some hosts, this is an option you have to pay extra for, but with HawkHost it’s included in their very most basic plan.
Hawk Host is a CloudFlare partner which means that their datacenters are optimized to work flawlessly with the world’s most popular CDN for website owners to achieve great performance boosts for free, and very easy, too.
Despite these features, you still need to be realistic. This is cheap shared hosting. Don't expect something perfect, and you won't be disappointed. It does what it's supposed to do, but again, for really busy websites or resource-intensive sites, a shared host probabally won't be a good fit. If you need a more modest webhost for websites that don't necessarily need 100% performance at any given moment, and it's worth it to you to save some cash in the process and you're willing to sacrifice things like more control and breakneck speed, a decent shared host can be a very viable option.
Hawk Host has a standard service level agreement (SLA) which dictates that if your server is down for an unreasonable amount of time, you'll be compensated according to the chart below. While this is good, it's worth mentioning that this ultimately results in a very small amount of money, even with a full refund in any given month, since it's only a few dollars per month anyways, and chances are those few dollars won't be worth the experience of having your website down. So, you've still got the weigh the pros and cons between lower-tier hosting and a more expensive plan that you may find elsewhere.
Ease of Use
The sign-up process is standard for most shared hosting companies, and the cPanel is familiar. You enter in the exostomg domain you want to use, or transfer over, or register a new one but we advise against transferring your domains over and having them with your hosting companies or registering new domains through your host, some things are just better kept separate. After that, you'll be emailed log-in info to access your cPanel and get right down to business with installing WordPress, or whatever other scripts you'd like to use.
There's nothing that really stands out good or bad here, it's all just what you'd expect. With shared hosts, most of them are quite similar, the one aspect that really makes a big difference is their support staff. With Hawk Host, they use a tiered systed for their support, which isn't always ideal, but it does save you money as a customer. We'll discuss that more in-depth right now…
Support is what really sets a lower quality host apart from a high end host, assuming they have similar hardware available. It's rare to find great support from a really cheap host, since hosts with great support staff have to pay them well, and that means your server is going to cost more. Whether or not that's worth it for you is a personal decision that really comes down to weighing what your priorities are from your server.
In this case, we've got a personal anecdote to help illustrate that point. Of course, your mileage may vary. You may never end up having to contact their support at all, or they may take care of you right away, so don't take the following experience as the be-all-end-all, it's just an illustration of what's possible.
Hawk Host offers around the clock support via email. They told me that their average ticket time was 15 minutes, however in my experience that is on the optimistic side. They offer live chat during certain windows of time, and very limited phone support that operates on a call-back basis, so you would need to schedule the call ahead of time. If you want to get on the phone and actually talk to someone when something is going wrong, Hawk Host isn't the host for you.
In preparing this review, I needed to reach out to Hawk Host's support. This is where things get a little dicey. I wanted to log-in to my client area to take some screenshots to share with you, but my password wasn't working. No big deal, right? You should be able to click ‘Forgot Password', enter your email address, and be back in action right away, right? Not in this case. After entering your email for a password reset, you're prompted by an additional security question and if you can't remember your answer, you're in for a long process of trying to recover your account.
This is certainly an annoyance, however it does provide an extra layer of security to potentially protect your hosting account in the event that your email address is ever compromised.
Within six minutes, I had an initial response from Hawk Host who let me know that they were transferring the support ticket over to the billing department. It took about 45 minutes until we were even on the right track, however their solution to me needing to reset my password to the client area was that I would have to provide my support pin, which is available inside of the client's section, so you can see how things were going in circles. It ended up requiring Level 2 support, who weren't on shift for another 4 hours.
This is for something that should be relatively simple and routine, so I'm kind of afraid to imagine how things would be handled if this was an actual emergency, like if my website was being attacked and I needed immediate and effective support. 4 hours is an eternity if your site is down, or being used by spammers to send out massive amounts of email and potentially poisoning your domain.
Remember we talked about value and getting what you pay for? Cheap hosts are able to offer their services for so inexpensive partially because they save money on their support staff by using this tiered system. By not having fully 100% trained and qualified support staff available around the clock who can handle any possible issue, this leaves you vulnerable and potentially waiting hours for a solution during an emergency.
If your site isn't very important, that can be a great option because you'll save a lot of money. If you don't mind having to wait a couple of hours to resolve an issue, or wait until the higher-tier support staff are online (however long that may take), and your site isn't something that is critical, you may still want to consider a lower-tier shared host. If you need any hosting issues that may arise to be resolved instantly, you'll want to look elsewhere. We have many other recommendations of hosts that score very high when it comes to their support.
Overall / Final Thoughts (Summary of the Hawk Host Review)
Despite a soured experience with their support and billing departments over a relatively simple issue, they are still a viable option if you're looking for a cheap, affordable host and you don't have very heavy resource requirements. If you have a very busy or a very important site, I would have to recommend looking elsewhere for a higher-end hosting solution, however for basic sites, like for a hobby or a small club, for sites that aren't mission-critical, Hawk Host is an affordable option.
If you aren't on a super tight budget, you can find better versions of everything Hawk Host offers for a little more money from other providers. Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for, so if you don't mind paying a little extra, you can find hosts with better support, which counts for a lot at the end of the day. It's also important to remember that it can be hit or miss, sometimes the combination of your specific support ticket and the person assigned to answer it just ends up with some wires crossed for one reason or another. The next person in line could end up getting flawless support. It's about choosing the hosts where the flawless is most common.
At the end of our HawkHost review we want to remind you that, most of the time, your server will be chugging along just fine, but it's when things aren't working that you'll really appreciate expert level support staff who take the time to really read and understand what's going on, and offer practical solutions and then get things resolved in a very short amount of time.