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...
Scalahosting is a relatively unknown provider that is putting forward an impressive set of technologies. It just had to get its own review.
Naturally, I contacted the support and requested more info. Minutes later, I had my hosting plan and was ready to review Scalahosting.
I must admit, it has been a pleasant surprise. Considering the quality of the service, the provider is bound to make it big in the hosting world sooner rather than later.
You heard it here first: Scalahosting is the next big thing.
As is customary, our Scala review relies on in-depth testing results, real-time monitoring, and weeks of probing and studying the shared hosting of the company.
With around 50,000 customers and 700,000 hosted domains, Scalahosting is a compact, independent provider from the US.
It has two data centers, one in its native country and the other in EU. A second North American facility is under construction.
Still, we’re not talking about a newcomer to the hosting world. On the contrary, Scala has 13 years of experience under its belt and quite a few technologies to show for it.
Unlike most competitors, though, Scala invests more in research and development and less in marketing. The result is some rather robust shared plans and probably the best-value VPS deals in the market.
The policy is laudable and explains why the provider is so good while much less popular than some.
Enough talk of the background, though—let’s get down to brass tacks and see what sets Scalahosting apart.
Uptime is one of those things you don’t notice when everything is working. Despite that, it’s probably the most important factor in hosting.
Simply, when you purchase hosting, you expect your site to be available all the time.
That’s why, as soon as I got my Scala login, I set up a simple WordPress site and hooked it up to my real-time monitoring tools. With a few weeks worth of data, you can get a pretty good idea of the availability you can expect.
As for Scala, it offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee, which is the industry standard. This limits the total monthly downtime to about 43 minutes, or under 1.5 minutes per day. It’s a reasonable guarantee, all in all.
If Scalahosting violates the policy, you can get hosting credits. The provider will even accept your own logs as proof, so you can use a tool like StatusCake and track your Scala server’s availability.
You might think all providers would let you do that. However, the majority only accept their own logs, meaning the provider decides what counts as an outage (looking at you, HostGator).
The actual uptime, though, is where Scala’s cloud infrastructure really shines. During the writing of this Scalahosting review, the provider recorded near-perfect availability. The servers get an average downtime of a minute per month, which is excellent.
It’s always reassuring to see a provider keep its infrastructure in top-notch condition. We’re off to an excellent start, now let’s move on to speed.
"Scala displays nigh impeccable uptime and promises adequate reimbursement if the SLA is ever breached."
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 site is hosted in the US, so I tested it from US locations for this Scala review. All plugins and server-side caching were disabled.
Study after study shows speed is a great determiner of website success. Faster websites engage visitors more efficiently, get more recurring visitors, and sell more products. As for slow sites, well, let’s just say they don’t last long.
Needless to say, your choice of hosting plays a major part here. A website can only be as fast as its server allows, so you should choose wisely.
For the Scalahosting review, I checked how fast the servers can respond and deliver a page, and how they perform under heavy traffic. To make testing fair, I turned off the extra speed optimization tools and only benchmarked the base setup.
The frontend performs stunningly. The servers take, on average, 0.295 seconds to respond, putting Scalahosting in the top five hosts in this category—no small feat, considering it is up against providers like SiteGround.
The time it takes to load a full document is even more impressive. It averages at 0.766 seconds, making Scalahosting the fastest provider to date. No other host performs this well consistently.
Scala’s frontend setup is laudable. All the Scalahosting reviews from end users praising it are definitely on point.
I did run into trouble during backend testing. The Load Impact test goes fine until about 18 virtual users. Then, the servers start dropping HTTP connections, and the response times spike dramatically.
This isn’t a rare event for a hosting provider—a similar thing happens with HostGators’s and GreenGeeks’s backend. A possibility is that some security system sees the activity as a DDoS attack and limits the connection count from the same IP address.
I did contact the tech support about this. Although the agents did their best to help, they are still working to find a solution.
The servers are otherwise fast, and Scalahosting is entirely capable of handling a decent amount of traffic.
"Scalahosting boasts irresistibly fast frontend speed but the backed poses some questions"
What stood out the most during the initial screening was the high client satisfaction rate. Most of all, user reviews praise the Scalahosting support team. I was eager to check it out for myself and see if the support is really all that.
I contacted them a few times and started off with simple questions. The first positive was that all queries got an instant response, regardless of the time of day. This indicates the support team is well-staffed.
The agents are also fairly knowledgeable. Scalahosting customer support can answer most questions about the platform and provide accurate advice on website optimization.
So far, so good. It was time to bring out the big guns.
I contacted the support once more and asked for assistance resolving the Load Impact issue—most other providers failed miserably at addressing. To my surprise, the agent was enthusiastic and started bouncing ideas off me right away.
We stayed on call for well over an hour, trying out different configurations to fix the issue. The level of dedication from simple frontline agents is impressive, even though the problem eventually got escalated to a server administrator.
" All things considered, Scalahosting support is well-trained and eager to help. The provider obviously doesn’t joke around when it comes to its choice of employees, and it leaves its customers in good hands."
The provider’s main advantage is proprietary software. SShield Security is the first tool we’ll cover in this Scalahosting review.
Quite simply, SShield is a security suite.
On one end, it serves to block incoming threats. Scalahosting boasts its SShield can block 99.998% of attacks.
The other component of SShield is the 24/7 monitoring. In addition to running a database of known malware, the security system uses machine learning to discover potentially unidentified threats. This gives it a much better chance to catch any attacks before they become a serious problem for your Scala server.
One advantage of the system is that it gives you ample time to fix any malicious activity (in case your server does get infected). Instead of immediately shutting down your website, it will send you a detailed report. This gives you the best chance to fix the issue without damage to yourself.
You might expect this from every host, but I’ve seen providers panic and shut down a site at first sight of malware. It’s helpful that Scala only takes appropriate measures instead of causing unnecessary damage.
All in all, it’s reassuring to see Scalahosting has robust technology with a fresh take on website security.
When I started this Scalahosting review, I was keen to see how the company handles WordPres.
Scalahosting offers a special WordPress-focused “flavor” of the standard hosting plans at no extra charge. A big chunk of Scala’s customers are WordPress users, so it makes a lot of sense.
A big part of this is the SWordPress Manager, which is Scala’s proprietary management tool. This lets you easily add WordPress sites, optimize their security, and enable automatic WordPress updates.
One cool option is to enable a security lock, which prevents server-side scripting attacks. Just don’t forget to disable it when you want to add any plugins.
More tools like cloning to a staging environment are in the works. For now, though, you get all the key features of managed shared hosting for WordPress.
And that’s just part of it. Scalahosting adds custom security rules, a dedicated firewall, and malware scanning to all WordPress plans. Security-wise, it’s one of the most thorough hosts out there.
It gets even better if you go for the Start plan. Scalahosting will give you time with its WordPress engineers, and they can help you optimize your website. Getting such assistance otherwise is expensive, so Scalahosting’s value is impressive.
In fact, the extra tools are so robust, Scalahosting is a strong candidate for the best WordPress hosting of 2020.
Website owners spend a lot of time in the customer area and the control panel. Ideally, you want those to be easy to navigate and to have all the critical options available in one or two clicks.
Fortunately, Scalahosting does reasonably well here. You can access the most important areas from the sidebar at all times. These include DNS management, billing, and ticketing.
Admittedly, it took me a bit of clicking around to find the management tools for my actual control panel. Once I did, though, it was fairly easy to get around and use tools like the SWordPress Manager.
As for the actual control panel, shared hosting plans use cPanel, which is the industry standard. Once you upgrade to the Scala hosting VPS package, though, you can opt for SPanel. This is Scala’s proprietary cPanel alternative.
Proprietary control panels are usually somewhat poor, but SPanel is a fortunate exception. It handles everything cPanel can—database management, SSL setup, emails, and it even lets you resell hosting. Plus, it’s easy to navigate, and all the functions work well.
The main advantages of SPanel are that it works in a separate environment, so it won’t eat away your server resources. It is also free to use. In contrast, cPanel can be rather costly, especially for a cloud hosting reseller, or those who need lots of addons. Since SPanel includes many of the features by default, it can save you hundreds of dollars per month.
Now, you can pay for a cPanel license and use it if you upgrade to VPS. That said, SPanel makes the upgrade way smoother and adds more value.
Admittedly, SPanel is not a benefit for shared hosting users, but many website owners eventually upgrade to VPS for added resources and flexibility. That’s when SPanel becomes a way more affordable cPanel alternative.
Speaking of upgrades, Scalahosting makes it beyond easy to get your own virtual server with all the accompanying benefits.
You can get a fully-managed VPS for only $2/month more than what you’d pay for the largest shared plan. You don’t have to subscribe for a longer period to get the best price—you can get the full value while paying month-to-month.
Of course, SPanel plays a part here. Since there’s no cPanel license to account for, the VPS plans end up more affordable than what most competitors offer.
Just comparing base SPanel vs. cPanel, Scala saves you at least $15/month, especially if you consider the numerous powerful features SPanel has out of the box. If you need cPanel addons or want to resell hosting, the savings can be even higher.
Even if you start on shared plans, this is a massive advantage waiting for you as your website grows.
Backups are a necessary safety net for website owners. If you make a mistake or anything else goes wrong, you should have a backup of your site to roll back to.
Although Scalahosting doesn’t really make this clear, you can take advantage of daily backups. The provider keeps the backups for a week, so you’ll always have seven versions of your site to rely upon.
As long as you check your website regularly (i.e., once a week), you’ll be safe.
If you already have a website, you can still move to Scala’s web server. You don’t have to worry about the nitty-gritty of migrating your site, since the tech team will do it for you.
Some providers, like Bluehost, charge around $150 for this kind of service. In contrast, Scalahosting is doing its users a solid and providing it for free.
Web hosting pricing conversions are a pet peeve of thousands of webmasters. If you’ve ever owned a website, you’re likely familiar with the gist of it.
The provider invites you to sign up for two or three years of hosting to get an amazingly affordable deal with dozens of fantastic benefits.
Once the initial term is up, though, it’s time to renew. That’s when the provider hits you with three or four times higher fees—and you better purchase three more years if you want to stay online.
Some providers do their best to hide the higher renewal costs. Heck, some don’t even show them on the product page.
Now, fair is fair, Scala does raise its prices on renewal, but not nearly as much as most providers. The Starter plan costs just $3.95/month if you prepay for three years and only goes up by $2 afterward. Contrast this with A2 Hosting that starts around the same price and then doubles it on renewal (or SiteGround that triples it).
Scalahosting, on the other hand, has very reasonable pricing. The provider is entirely transparent about how the pricing works, and the initial discount can be helpful when you’re just starting out.
More importantly, the renewal costs fully reflect the quality of the service instead of being unreasonably high to compensate for the discounts. In fact, many users sing praises of its transparent pricing in their Scalahosting reviews.
It’s always nice to get a bit of extra value for free. Scalahosting lets users who sign up for six months of hosting register a domain name at no extra cost. This is a service that would otherwise cost you $10-15, so you’re saving a few bucks here.
Keep in mind this isn’t available on all plans. You would have to go for the Advanced plan to take advantage of the free registration. It’s also not available on any Scala hosting VPS.
Most hosting providers extend a 30-day money-back guarantee to let you try out the platform. Scalahosting is no exception: you can pay for their service and later get a full refund if it’s not to your liking. Should it get that far, just keep in mind to request a refund before the first month is up.
You also have the option to pay $0.99 for a one-month trial of any shared Scala pricing plan. You may prefer this route if you don’t want Scalahosting to hold your money while you’re trying it out. You can also do it so you don’t have to worry about requesting a refund.
You may prefer this fresh approach to hosting, though it’s not really a groundbreaking feature.
Although most of the Scala web service runs on SSD, shared hosting includes HDD as well.
Namely, old accounts run on a mixture of SSD and HDD. While the files that are in use are on solid-state drives, enabling faster access, system files reside on HDD.
Fortunately, since January 2020, all new clients get hosted on purely SSD servers. Essentially, the old server setup won’t affect you if you’ve just discovered the provider. I discussed it with Scala’s team, and the host even started migrating old accounts to the same environment, so existing clients will soon enjoy the same benefits.
Although the hosting is fast, even impressively so, a complete switch to SSD would improve the service. It’s not a huge con for Scala, especially since even older clients can easily scale into SSD-powered VPS hosting. It’s something still worth mentioning, though.
There’s little to say here, save that Scala doesn’t have the most extensive set of articles out there. They cover only 80 common questions in total, and many of the answers are rather brief.
The knowledge base makes for a good FAQ section. You’ll have to do a bit of Googling if you’re the do-it-yourself type, though.
I should preface this by saying this isn’t misleading marketing, as Scala isn’t hiding any obvious problems. That said, both the website and Scalahosting support can’t explain some of their features all that well.
For instance, Scala doesn’t really mention any backups on the standard web hosting page, although the WordPress version of the plans clearly has daily backups.. When I reached out to a sales representative, though, they assured me I would have weekly backups—a bit odd. Only when I got through to tech support, I got an explanation they are daily backups, with each version saved for a week. It can be confusing and time-consuming to figure this out.
Now, this is a fairly small problem and it’s simple to correct. Still, it warrants a mention.
You can choose from three shared Scala pricing plans and their WordPress-ready variants. All the key features are available across the board, though the larger plans include more resources, a few advanced tools, and a free domain registration.
Contrary to the name, the Mini plan isn’t that small. $3.95/month gets you 10GB of storage and lets you handle an estimated 90,000 monthly visitors. There is no limit on the number of websites, and WordPress users can get extra optimization tools by going for the WP Mini variant.Add to Cart
The Start plan is a beefed-up version of the Mini plan. For a marginally higher price of $5.95/month, it lifts the storage limit and can handle about 150,000 monthly visitors.Add to Cart
The Advanced plan is a little more, well, advanced. $9.95/month gets you enough resources for about 270,000 monthly visitors. Also, you can take advantage of a free domain name and an SEO analysis by Scalahosting support experts.Add to Cart
|Email:||Free emailing through cPanel, paid plans available.|
|Database:||MySQL/MariaDB and PostgreSQL.|
|Domain names:||Available, free registration on the Advanced plan.|
|Control panel:||cPanel on shared hosting, SPanel – a cPanel alternative - afterward.|
|Software installation:||1-click installation via Softaculous.|
|Payment options:||PayPal, credit/debit card, bank transfer.|
|Other hosting solutions:||Excellent cloud VPS, dedicated, and reseller plans.|
|Scalahosting user reviews:||Stellar.|
Do we ever!
Scalahosting covers the basics better than most hosts, and it spices up the offer with robust tools. It’s excellent for WordPress users, priced well, and makes it beyond easy to steadily grow a website without bottlenecks. Plus, it’s one of the more secure platforms on the market.
There’s undeniably a lot to love about it. So, is Scalahosting the next big thing?
It just might be.
If it keeps developing technologies at the current rate and adds a few more data centers to the fold, it should have little trouble expanding its influence. There are a few things I got nitpicky over in the Scalahosting review, but you could say at least as much about any host.
In short, Scalahosting is an overall excellent performer. It’s a host that’s definitely worth a go.