iPage Review – Good for Beginners, Hard to Recommend for Advanced Users
iPage is one of those hosting providers that has been around forever but never quite managed to make it all the way to the very top. This is despite the fact that the company has been operating for longer than most of its competitors. Initially established way back in 1998, iPage’s rise to popularity was a slow one, marked by plenty of ups and downs along the way. In 2020 iPage is estimated to host over 1 million websites, which isn’t bad but isn’t great either given the company’s 20+ years in the business. By now you might be wondering, why is iPage overlooked by so many webmasters? That’s exactly what we were wondering as well, which is why we decide to take a closer look at the company and see if we can give an informed answer to that question.
At first glance, iPage seems like a very appealing option for novice webmasters thanks to its incredibly low entry price, simple hosting plan structure, and straightforward control panel. First impressions are definitely good but there are some downsides here as well. The renewal costs of hosting plans are very high, the performance is pretty average, and the company can be quite aggressive when trying to sell you extra services and add-ons. So do the pros outweigh the cons in the case of iPage? Take a look at our in-depth iPage review down below to find out what we think about the company and whether or not it gets our recommendation.
Navigation and Ease of Use
iPage’s website looks remarkably minimalistic. The company advertises its cheapest product, the shared hosting plan, front and center and you can find some information related to the features if you scroll down a bit. Additional products like WordPress plans and domain registrations are listed at the top of the home page but, strangely enough, you need to check the footer to find out that the company also offers VPS packages and dedicated servers. Most providers make it clear right away that they are offering more than two types of hosting so the choice to hide some of the products at the bottom of the page is a very odd one. And not to mention, bad for business.
At least signing up for a shared hosting plan is pretty straightforward. Once you click the “Get Started” button you are redirected to a different page where you can register a new domain name or transfer an existing one. Next, it’s time to choose the billing cycle and this is where you’ll start to notice a major issue. iPage only works with yearly and multi-annual billing cycles so it’s impossible to pay for your hosting on a month-by-month basis. So even though the hosting is cheap, it’s not the best choice for those on a budget because iPage demands a rather large upfront investment. While companies like InMotion also work with a similar system, most hosting providers, including big names like DreamHost, HostGator, and A2 Hosting, tend to accept monthly payments.
The next step of the checkout process gives you the opportunity of customizing your package and there are quite a few options to choose from. While having choices is rarely a bad thing, in this case, it is a bit of a problem because all the optional tools and services are paid and some of them are automatically added to your cart. It’s probably a good idea to pay close attention during the checkout process because the total value of these add-ons is close to $70. That’s not exactly pocket change, especially if you’re on a budget.
Managing your iPage account works a bit differently than you might expect. While most hosting providers let you manage things using cPanel, iPage has a custom control panel known as vDeck. The vDeck is essentially a simplified version of cPanel that’s easier to navigate but doesn’t come with nearly as many features and options. The interface looks very outdated but it can definitely get the job done. Still, you’ll probably find the lack of advanced features a bit disappointing if you’re an advanced user. vDeck is one of the most unimpressive custom control panels we’ve seen in a while. If you’re looking for a provider that uses a good custom control panel, make sure to check out DreamHost.
iPage mentions that it includes a site builder with every hosting package but it turns out that it’s just the free version of Weebly. Don’t get me wrong, Weebly is a very good site builder, but the free version has many limitations and we wouldn’t recommend it for anything more than a simple blog. The free version of Weebly comes with ads, limited resources, and doesn’t let you build websites that have more than 6 pages, to name just a few of the drawbacks.
Luckily, iPage also provides a 1-click installer for WordPress, which is a much more flexible builder. There are also 1-click installers for other content management platforms like Joomla and Drupal along with installers for forums, photo galleries, shopping carts, and more. The only problem is that all these apps are handled by Mojo Marketplace, which tries its best to convince you to buy some products while you’re there. But the good news is that once you install the apps you want there’s no need to visit the marketplace anymore.
Plans and Pricing
iPage only offers one shared hosting plan, which is meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution for your hosting needs. The plan will only cost you $1.99 per month on a 3-year contract, which is one of the best prices on the market right now. Just to give you an idea of what the competition charges, a basic shared hosting plan from Bluehost or HostGator will set you back $2.75 per month while DreamHost is a bit cheaper at $2.59 per month. Meanwhile, most providers charge closer to $4 per month, including SiteGround ($3.95/mo), InMotion Hosting ($3.99/mo), and A2 Hosting ($3.92/mo).
The hosting package offered by iPage is very appealing thanks to the low price tag, however, there is a catch. The company charges quite a bit more than others for renewals. The $1.99/mo price only applies during your first term, after which you can expect to pay $7.99 per month moving forward. That said, this is still a good deal considering that we’re specifically talking about prices for a 3-year contract. Once those 3 years are up, however, iPage all of a sudden becomes a much less budget-friendly option.
But while the renewal costs are extremely high in our opinion, there’s not much to complain about when it comes to the core features included with the plan. iPage offers unlimited storage and MySQL databases, a free SSL certificate, free domain name for 1 year, free email account, eCommerce functionality, and more. We appreciate that iPage makes it clear that it offers scalable bandwidth instead of unlimited bandwidth, which is a term most other providers use and is a bit misleading when taken at face value.
Even though iPage doesn’t offer as many features and tools as some of its rivals, we think it offers enough to justify the $1.99 or even $2.99 (with a 1-year contract) price tag of the plan. However, recommending the plan past the first term is a lot more difficult.
iPage also likes to keep things simple when it comes to its WordPress packages and only offers two of them to choose from. The prices are pretty good but these aren’t managed plans and the features are a bit underwhelming. The WP Starter package only costs $3.75/mo ($7.39/mo on renewal) and comes with a free domain name for 1 year, unlimited storage, and a few pre-installed themes and plugins. Interestingly enough, in this case iPage mentions that the bandwidth is unlimited, even though it shows the same description you can see if you look at the shared hosting plan’s scalable bandwidth.
The WP Essential package will set you back $6.95 per month ($10.39 upon renewal) and includes all of the above along with expert WordPress support, automatic malware removal, and SiteLock professional security. You can get those last two features with the Starter package as well if you buy an optional add-on that costs $1.99 per month. That would bring the total price to $5.75 per month, which is cheaper than the price of the Essential plan. Presumably, the price difference comes from the fact that the more expensive plan also includes expert WordPress support. If you don’t need the support, however, we recommend buying the cheaper plan and getting the add-on because it would cost you less.
Unlike the shared hosting plans, WordPress packages have the same introductory prices regardless of which billing cycle you choose. Whether you sign up for 1 year or 3 years, you’re still going to pay $3.75 per month for the Starter plan. And, iPage even supports monthly billing cycles for these plans as well. Normally, you would expect these to be more expensive than the yearly plans but that’s not the case here. Monthly Starter plans only cost $3.75 as well and renew at $9.49 per month. Yearly plans also renew at the exact same rate, which is fairly unusual.
If you’re in the market for a VPS (virtual private server) you have three different packages at your disposal. Prices here range between $16.99 and $67.99 per month on a 2-year contract but you can also pay on a yearly or monthly basis. The cheapest package is pretty standard and comes with a single-core CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 1 TB of bandwidth, 40 GB of storage, and 1 dedicated IP address. You won’t get any extra features by upgrading to one of the more expensive plans but you can expect them to include better resources and an additional dedicated IP.
The core features found in the VPS plans include a free domain name for 1 year, free email address, SSL certificate, support for an unlimited number of websites, and access to the site builder. The plans come with cPanel by default but users can be granted full root access upon request. iPage’s virtual private servers run on a cloud-based environment and support instant provisioning along with easy scalability. However, you only get ‘semi-private’ access to the resources, which means you may have to share them with other users on occasion.
If you got the gist of how virtual private servers work you’ll know exactly what to expect here. There are once again three plans to choose from, this time around with prices ranging between $119.99 and $191.99 per month. The prices here are a bit higher than the market average when you take into account the amount of resources you get in exchange. Namely, the starter package comes with a dual-core CPU, 4 GB of RAM, 500 GB of storage, 5 TB of bandwidth, and 3 dedicated IP addresses.
That’s not terrible but you can get a dedicated server from HostGator with double the amount of resources for an almost identical price. Meanwhile, other rivals like DreamHost, inMotion, and A2 Hosting also offer servers with more resources at similar or even cheaper prices.
The core features included with dedicated servers are the same found in the VPS plans so we’re not going to mention them again. The only real difference between iPage’s dedicated servers and virtual private servers is that the former come with dedicated resources. These servers also run on a cloud-based environment but in this case, resources are never shared between users.
Key Tools and Features
The hosting plans offered by iPage don’t come with as many tools and features as we would have liked but you do get the essentials. If you’re willing to spend a little bit extra, you can also buy a few optional services that unlock additional functionality. We don’t particularly like this type of business model but it does allow iPage to offer hosting plans that are pretty cheap, at least during the first term.
While you can get a domain for free by simply buying a hosting plan, this offer only applies if you opt for a yearly or multi-annual billing cycle. If you decide to pay on a month-by-month basis instead (for the plans that support this option), you’re going to have to purchase a domain name for $10.99 per year, which renews for $17.99/year. Not that bad of a price, but iPage sells domain privacy protection separately for $9.99 per year so the total cost goes up to well over $20/year.
While registering a new domain with iPage you’ll need to be very careful because the company has a habit of automatically adding extra services to your cart. The fact that privacy protection is added automatically is understandable, however, you may also end up with SiteLock and a backup tool in your cart. Not great.
As far as transfers are concerned, it won’t cost you anything to transfer a domain to iPage but entire websites are a different story altogether. The company charges no less than $150 for each site you want to migrate. That’s quite a lot. Usually hosting providers will either charge much less for site migrations or they will migrate multiple sites for a similar price.
iPage allows users to create and manage an unlimited number of databases. The company only supports MySQL databases and doesn’t provide an easy way of managing them directly from the vDeck control panel. Instead, you’ll have to work with a phpMyAdmin interface. Working with the interface isn’t necessarily complicated but it can be a bit annoying, especially since most other providers let you manage databases from the cPanel.
Backup and Restore
Backing up your website at regular intervals is very important so it’s a bit unfortunate to see that iPage doesn’t have a built-in backup & restore system in place. Instead, you’re going to have to buy an optional add-on in order to unlock that functionality. The add-on only costs $1 per month and provides daily automatic backups, which doesn’t sound like a bad deal all things considered. However, there is a pretty big caveat you should be aware of.
The site backup & restore add-on only supports yearly and multi-annual billing cycles so you’ll actually need to pay between $14.99 and $35.98 upfront if you want to buy it. By extension, that means that the add-on isn’t available to users who want to pay for their hosting plan on a monthly basis. That’s a pretty big problem because you’re essentially forced into investing a lot of money upfront if you want to be able to back up your files, which you definitely want to. Also, the add-on only works for a single website so if you want to back up multiple sites, you’ll need to pay even more.
It’s worth noting that iPage does perform its own backups but it only holds onto the files for up to 14 days. Generally speaking, providers store such backups for at least 30 days. Another thing that didn’t sit well with us is the fact that iPage charges no less than $100 for restoring your site from one of its backups. That’s a ridiculously high price as far as we’re concerned and the only alternative is to buy the aforementioned add-on. Not exactly customer-friendly.
iPage is a bit stingy when it comes to emails but at least you do get an @yourdomain mailbox for free. The company only gives out a single address per domain so if you want more than that, you’re going to have to buy them. Conveniently, iPage gives users the option of adding a professional G Suite account to their plan. For an extra fee of course. Adding a G Suite account will set you back $6 per month, per user. G Suite lets you create as many domain emails as you want and includes a whole bunch of other useful features but the add-on is certainly not cheap.
It’s pretty difficult to recommend iPage for eCommerce enthusiasts seeing as how the company offers very few tools and features designed specifically for online stores. You do get 1-click installs for a variety of third-party eCommerce platforms and shopping carts along with PayPal integration, but there’s not much else beyond that.
If you want to build a full-fledged online store you’ll need to either use Weebly and upgrade it to the professional version or install WordPress and pair it with a plugin like WooCommerce. Doing so will allow you to take advantage of the advanced functionality offered by those third-party platforms while still being hosted at iPage. Alternatively, you could go directly with something like Shopify if you’re looking for a more robust eCommerce solution.
By this point we expected iPage to offer a paid third-party SEO add-on but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The company doesn’t have any in-house tools either so you’ll need to take care of the search engine optimization on your own. If you choose to design your website using the included site builder (Weebly) you will be able to take advantage of some of the SEO tools included there. Keep in mind, though, that this is the free version of Weebly, which is a lot more limited than the paid one. A better choice would be to just go with WordPress and install an SEO plugin like Yoast on top.
iPage’s location coverage is pretty underwhelming. The provider only has two data centers and it doesn’t let you choose between them when you sign up for a hosting plan. On the other hand, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if you could because both data centers are located in Boston, which is pretty unusual. Most hosting companies build their data centers in multiple locations, and preferably on multiple continents, in order to provide better coverage. SiteGround, Bluehost and A2 Hosting are just a few examples of hosting providers with data centers found on multiple continents.
Performance and Reliability
If you’re an experienced webmaster you’re likely well aware of how important it is to have a fast website. Not just because it greatly improves the user experience but also because it improves the site’s chances of ranking higher on search engines. There are plenty of ways to optimize a website so that it runs faster but at the end of the day, your hosting provider has the final say in the matter. With that in mind, we tested iPage’s servers to see how much they help (or hinder) a website’s performance and reliability.
Page Loading Speed
iPage didn’t make a great impression during our first round of tests. For this test, we set up a simple WordPress website hosted on a shared plan and performed speed checks over several weeks. The site used the default WordPress theme and didn’t feature a lot of content so we expected the page loading speeds to be pretty decent. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Our site took around 2.5 seconds to load on average, which was way below our expectations.
Most of the hosting providers we have tested in the past using this method yielded much better results, usually hovering around the 1-second mark. Our sites hosted with InMotion Hosting, A2 Hosting, and HostGator were all able to load in either around or just a little over 1 second. Meanwhile, SiteGround and DreamHost sites took less than 1 second to load. All in all, iPage was one of the slowest providers we’ve tested recently. You’re likely to get significantly better results with a VPS or dedicated server but as far as shared hosting is concerned, don’t expect great speeds here.
Server Response Times
Even though our website was very simple and we didn’t have a lot of traffic, we couldn’t ignore the possibility that maybe the slow speeds were the result of something we were doing wrong on our end. In order to rule out that possibility, we decided to use Bitcatcha to test iPage’s servers in a more direct way. Bitcatcha is a tool that tests server response times from various locations around the world. As expected, we got much better results when testing from the US (where both data centers are located) compared to any other region.
On average, the server response times hovered around the 60 ms mark when tested from the US. That’s quite good and similar to most of the other providers we’ve tested. The response times continued to be decent when testing from Europe (150 ms), South America (240 ms), and Singapore (330 ms) but started to slow down significantly by the time we got to Australia (nearly 600 ms). When testing from Japan, iPage’s servers took a whopping 3.5 seconds to respond. If you’re planning to build a website that primarily targets users located in Japan, you’ll definitely want to look for a different provider.
Unlike most other hosting providers, iPage doesn’t make any guarantees when it comes to the uptime of its servers. Some users may find this a little suspicious but there’s nothing to worry about for the most part. While not fantastic, iPage’s uptime was overall pretty good during our testing. By the end of the testing period, the average uptime of our site was at 99.96%, which is slightly above the industry standard. Most providers aim for 99.99%, and a handful of them even succeed, but anything over 99.95% is generally considered good.
iPage has pretty solid customer support, with live chat, phone, and a ticket system being available 24/7. The company only has a US phone number so that can be a problem for some users. On the other hand, iPage primarily targets US customers so we can’t be too hard on them for not providing an international number. The live chat comes with a very useful share screen feature, which is something more providers should think about implementing.
If you don’t feel like chatting to an agent you can try fixing the problem yourself by consulting the knowledge base. There you can find many useful articles neatly sorted by category and there’s even a search function to help you find what you’re looking for faster. iPage doesn’t have as many guides as other providers and many of them are not very detailed but they can still be helpful on occasion. The company doesn’t have a YouTube and the only social media platform where it remains active is Twitter. If you can’t get in touch with support agents via the usual channels, we recommend reaching out to them on Twitter.
Is iPage a Good Choice for WordPress?
Yes and no. The company’s specialized WordPress plans are cheaper than those of its competitors so iPage is definitely a good option if you’re on a budget and want to build your first WordPress website. Otherwise, we recommend looking at other alternatives because iPage doesn’t offer a lot of features that benefit WordPress sites in any meaningful way.
Does iPage Have Its Own Site Builder?
iPage includes the free version of Weebly with many of its hosting plans but the company also has its own site builder. The site builder comes with drag-and-drop functionality and is just as easy to use as Wix, Squarespace, or any of the other popular builders. iPage’s website builder is available as an additional service that costs $10.99 per month (billed annually at $131.88).
Does iPage Offer Any Other Paid Add-ons?
There are a total of six paid add-ons available, some of which we’ve already mentioned in the main portion of the review. In addition to domain privacy, G Suite, website builder, and a backup & restore tool, iPage also offers an all-in-one WordPress optimization bundle and a website security suite. These two add-ons are priced at $3 and $1.99 per month, respectively.
Does iPage Offer Any Additional Types of Hosting?
iPage doesn’t mention this on its website but the company also offers reseller hosting thanks to a partnership with the WholesalePlus Reseller Program.
What is iPage’s Refund Policy?
The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee with all hosting plans. The refund policy doesn’t cover any other services like domain registration and optional paid add-ons. If you obtain a free domain name by signing up for a yearly hosting plan, you can keep the domain even if you cancel your hosting but only if you pay a fee of $15.
iPage is a very easy hosting provider to recommend for users who are on a budget. Its shared hosting plans are some of the cheapest on the market right now and while they don’t include many advanced features, you do get the basics like free domain name, unlimited storage, email, SSL certificate, site builder, eCommerce functionality, and more. iPage is also a good option for newcomers thanks to its minimalistic control panel and solid customer support.
If you’re an experienced webmaster, on the other hand, you may want to look elsewhere for hosting. The company isn’t a good fit for developers, online stores or any sort of website that relies heavily on speed and performance. In addition, poor location coverage makes iPage unsuitable for hosting websites that attract users from all over the world.
At the end of the day, you could do worse than iPage but you could also do a lot better. Pricing aside, the company gets average scores in most other areas and even the prices aren’t that great past the first term. While we can’t give iPage our full recommendation, we do think they are worth checking out if you’re looking for cheap shared hosting and don’t mind switching to a different provider once your first term expires.