InterServer is hardly a household name. There are many bigger and more popular website hosting providers out there, but size and popularity don’t necessarily mean good service.
For its part, InterServer looks like a family-run business with a strong emphasis on technical perfection and fair service. The company has an interesting approach and very fair pricing policy, which made me sign up for its shared hosting plan. I created a basic WordPress site and hooked it up to my favorite monitoring tools to test it for real.
The result is this extensive InterServer review, which reveals the considerable company strengths and its few flaws.
What is InterServer?
Founded back in 1999 by two techy teenagers, InterServer is growing ever since. Over these couple of decades, the focus of the company was on technological expansion and building quality infrastructure instead of marketing and promotion, which is clearly evident from four data centers InterServer owns and operates.
The two founders still run the company. One of them, Mike Lavrik is the brain behind the design of the company’s data centers; he is often the hands implementing his vision, too.
John Quagliery is running the InterServer technical support team and makes sure the network of the company works flawlessly.
One of the good things of having a small company is the personal touch and immediate attention customers can expect. My research confirmed this sentiment, but practically all InterServer reviews online also praiseful of the support. The customer service is quick and friendly.
But is that enough?
Can InterServer compete with the best hosting providers despite its small size?
Let’s see what the numbers have to say.
The Essentials – InterServer Uptime, Speed, and Support
1. Excellent Uptime – 99.9%
Delivery is the most important quality of any service provider. In the case of website hosts, delivery means site availability; everything else comes after.
The service level agreement published on InterServer.net promises 99.9% uptime per month. So far, so good, InterServer delivers.
During the first month of monitoring (in all fairness, September 2018 wasn’t a complete month) the uptime was impeccable. 100% is always nice to see.
In October 2018 the InterServer record dropped slightly, but it is still at a very respectable level.
99.95% uptime falls well within the promised SLA.
Verdict: InterServer is a very reliable host, boasting over 99.9% uptime.
2. Insane Speed
- Very fast response time – 0.18s
- Very vast loading time – 0.71s
- Sluggish under load – 47.18s
Note: If you run speed tests on my domain, results might fluctuate a bit. Even from the same testing platform two tests normally display slightly different results. My InterServer site is hosted in NY, so I tested it from US locations. All plugins and server-side caching were disabled.
Speed can make or break your online presence. If you are managing a website just for fun, then it doesn’t really matter, but in case you wish to create something meaningful on the internet, speed matters a lot.
A single second delay can cause massive drop in conversions and sales.
That’s why having the server power behind your web page is crucial. For this InterServer review, I ran three separate benchmark tests to get the average response and fully loaded time of my basic WordPress site.
On top of that, I tested it with Load Impact, to make sure the backend handles traffic well.
The frontend speed tests were, hands down, the fastest times I have seen to this day. TTFB stays constantly, over time and across testing platforms, below 0.20 seconds, while the time necessary the page to load fully is merely 0.72 seconds, which is insanely fast.
Now, when I ran the Load Impact test, the results were weird. The server response time skyrocketed the second that 26th virtual users hit it. Up until that moment it was reacting faster than I thought possible, but then something happened.
Maybe the host has a security system in place that deters too many simultaneous connections from the same source, maybe it is something else.
I sent a request for server logs to see what might be causing such a massive discrepancy.
Until I get the logs, though, I must say that under stress the results are stressful.
Verdict: Lightning fast frontend, very questionable backend results.
3. Decent Support
One of the things I realized while working on my Hosting Tribunal reviews is the tendency for smaller companies to provide better, more reliable support.
I guess this is mainly due to the fact that they have the adequate manpower for the amount of customers. Also, few support agents are easier to train than a hundred or more representatives.
Anyway, enough speculations.
The fact is that InterServer has a very adequate support team. I had a handful of interactions with them over chat and got fast responses from knowledgeable and courteous agents.
I am still waiting for the server logs to determine what is causing the strange behavior when testing with Load Impact, but this is hardly an emergency and was addressed by John Quagliery himself. Feeling VIP already.
What stops me from dubbing the InterServer support as stellar is the somewhat clunky database. It has a decent amount of useful resources but navigation is not the easiest.
Generally, one of the main InterServer complaints I have concerns the company website, which could use some proofreading and better navigation.
Verdict: Very good and friendly support with slightly lacking knowledge base.
The Pros of InterServer
Despite its relative lack of popularity, InterServer provides certain features that I’d like to see more often in the hosting industry.
Here are the company’s main strengths.
1. Price Lock Guarantee
InterServer is extremely transparent about its pricing. So much so that it becomes one of the major selling points of the company.
In all fairness, it can hardly be otherwise. InterServer promises the same price for as long as you continue using its services. If you start with $5 per month, then you’ll be paying the same 10 or 20 years down the road.
How awesome is that?
Honestly, I was genuinely surprised that this was not the main talking point of all InterServer customer reviews I went through while researching the company.
2. Tight Security
Security is a topic you see over and over at Interserver.net. The site of the company might need some tidying up, but the fact that security is taken seriously is undisputed.
InterServer offers some unique security features.
For starters, the company has proprietary defense tool called InterShield. It maintains a database of bad IPs and blocks automatically access requests from them. InterShield blocks all known hacking strings and also scans any uploaded content to ensure its integrity.
That’s not all.
All data is stored on RAID-10 disks.
That’s not all either.
3. Great Infrastructure
InsterService has been built from the ground up by its two creators, who seem to be moved by their love for technology and quality service rather than tricky marketing and maximizing profits.
I am saying this based on the fact that InterServer has no less than four data centers with some impressive specs and network to match them.
For comparison, the massive HostGator has two, as you can find out in our detailed review.
Three of the InterServer data centers are located in the state of New York, while the fourth is in Los Angeles. In other words, the coverage they provide is excellent for US-based customers.
All data centers are connected through 10 Gbps Tier 1 networks and rely on heavy-duty infrastructure from Cisco, Riverstone, and Extreme Networks. Smart BGPv4 routing ensures redundancy and speed throughout, making the InterServer data centers highly accessible and secure.
4. Guaranteed Email Delivery
One of the major downsides of using a shared server is the harm it can do to your emails. All it takes is one idiot on the server to start spamming and then all IP addresses get compromised.
Suddenly, emails sent to good ole recipients end up in spam folders or are blacklisted altogether.
InterServer claims to have found a solution to this. I say “claims” because I am yet to devise a reliable way to test this, but what InterServer has created seems like a legit solution to the issue.
Working together with spam vigilantes, the company checks proactively spam signatures to prevent spam from ever being sent. If efficient, this technology would increase the health of outbound mail server- and company-wide.
Overall, it sounds like an excellent solution to a perennial problem that plagues the internet as a whole.
5. Free Migrations
InterServer migrates sites for free toward its cPanel servers, but the company creates additional value for its new customers. Every migrated site is examined thoroughly for malware and if something awry is detected is cleaned manually.
6. Free Weekly Backups
I count backups as an additional security feature, as they can come to the rescue when all other means have failed.
InterServer provides regular weekly backups. That’s not so spectacular in itself but the fact that you access them easily through the cPanel interface makes them a pretty decent service.
7. Optimized for WordPress
InterServer has managed WordPress platform, but that’s a story for another time. I am still maintaining my WordPress case study and am planning to add a dedicated InterServer WordPress review to it in the near future.
For the time being, though, let me tell you that InterServer will update WordPress automatically for you. It is an awesome perk that enhances security and saves plenty of time. WordPress is updated several times per year, after all.
8. Abundant Free Scripts
Do you remember how I was rendered speechless by the infinite apps InMotion Hosting offers? Well, it seems that it found its match in the face of InterServer, who has over 450 apps waiting to be installed.
That’s a LOT of free scripts!
And we are talking only about Linux hosting here. InterServer offers a fully functional Windows hosting platform, too, and it has more than 150 as well.
9. Prorated Refunds
InterServer has the standard 30 day money back guarantee but prepaying customers are covered further. If you decide to cancel the service midway through its term, you can contact billing and ask for refund for the remainder of the period.
Generally, your request will be approved. As long as you have stayed within the terms of service, you will get your money back.
That’s pretty sweet, especially coupled with the price lock guarantee. I must say that the guys behind InterServer put their money where their mouth is and really aspire to provide an honest and straightforward service.
The Cons of InterServer
However many merits it may have, InterServer is not perfect. The company has its flaws. They aren’t super glaring or particularly hindering but definitely put a dent in the end-user experience.
1. Poor Website
If this was an Interserver.net review, it would have ended up being quite negative. The site of the company is not the worst web page I’ve seen, but as far as web hosts go it is not far from the bottom of the list.
The site navigation is OK-ish but I can’t shake the feeling that things are way too cluttered.
Another thing that bothered me immensely are the many typos and the general formatting Bacchanalia. I didn’t choose the grammar Nazi life, the grammar Nazi chose me. But still.
If you never read an InterServer review in your life and simply visited the company’s website, you’d probably navigate away before realizing the other qualities of the service.
I mean, the website is the face of the company. Leaving it in disarray or simply below par betrays sloppiness. Luckily, I know better than judging a book by its cover.
All the same, I hope the company addresses the issue and polishes its website.
2. Confusing Customer Area
The InterServer login area is not that bad, but it inherits some of the drawbacks of the main webpage. It can come off as cluttered, with way too many options presented at the main navigation bar. Then, most of them are empty by default.
Additionally, not all controls function well.
For instance, there is a button to download your backups. I fully expected a downloadable file to be at my mercy upon pressing it but nothing like this happened. Actually, nothing happened. There was no list of files, zipped or not, to download. Just a blank screen.
I promptly checked with the support team where my backups were. Turned out, the backups exist (phew!) but they are firmly lodged within cPanel. Which is fine, cPanel is good at keeping file copies.
But why would you have a “Download backups” button then?
InterServer Hosting Plans at a Glance
Well, the subheading is a bit misleading. Because InterServer, just like iPage, is one of these weird hosting providers that create a single shared plan. At least here it makes sense because the company has very respectable VPS and dedicated solutions.
- Standard Web Hosting – For $5 per month – or less if you prepay – you get a very decent shared hosting plan. Unlimited everything: email addresses, storage, bandwidth, databases, hosted domains on a LiteSpeed server.
Domain names: $1.99 for the first registration.
Control panel: cPanel, fast and responsive.
Software installation: Over 450 applications available.
Migration: Free, with courtesy malware inspection.
Payment options: Credit and debit cards.
Account setup: Fast and simple.
InsterServer Review In a Nutshell
- Very good uptime
- Lightning fast servers
- Good support
- Cheap domain names
- Weekly backups
- Excellent security
- Top-notch infrastructure
- Price lock
- Pro-rated refunds
- Cluttered site
- Crappy user area
Do We Recommend InterServer?
Yes, we do.
It is a small but reliable company, with strong technical aptitude.
And while there are certain areas that it can improve – knowledge base, site, the InterServer login area – where it counts the most the company delivers. Strong uptime, excellent speed, and a very good support team, together with the locked price for life make it a top choice for more technically inclined webmasters.
More technically inclined, because technology is what InterServer is all about.
It is not the most user-friendly interface out there but the infrastructure and the people behind it help a ton.
What is more, if you need to go to the next level – VPS – this seems like the likeliest company that can handle it. I am eager to start out next InterServer review to see how its VPS service fairs.