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123-reg are the largest domain provider in the UK, and host over 1.7 million sites. Their datacenters are UK based and eco-friendly, with low energy systems powering their servers, so they can host your website and give you a clear conscience! 123-reg’s hosting deals are all shared, and they have four options covering a range of needs. However, as well as hosting, they are able to provide cheap domain names and ‘search engine optimization’, a service you can include with any hosting package that ensures maximum traffic to your site through search engines. Depending on which level of optimization you go for - they start at just £1.67 a month - this may include a guaranteed listing on Google, an optimization guide and even analysis of your competition.
The first shared hosting option, ‘Starter’, costs just £2.49 a month, but it is quickly clear why the price is so low. A storage limit of 1GB and a 5GB monthly data allowance will suffice for only very small personal sites, especially as there are no databases included, and no capabilities for applications such as WordPress, Joomla or BlogEngine. In short, if you want a website consisting of anything more than simple text and pictures, you will need to upgrade, and the £4.99 ‘Plus’ plan will give you access to databases, as well as a host of free apps. The limits on disk space and bandwidth are also up to reasonable levels, though for the given price it still isn’t a great deal. You can at least choose your operating system, however, with Windows added to the previous choice of Linux. Unfortunately, the ‘Pro’ plan offers further unimpressive stats, and even with a free domain thrown in as well as use of a shared SSL from 123-reg, it still fails to make the grade. If you can manage to design a website requiring virtually no storage that will rake in the customers, then the ‘Business Pro’ plan may be for you, but we think you will probably want to go for a plan that offers superior specifications at a much lower price. £14.99 a month for a mere 20 GB of disk space is easily three times the going rate you might see from big US companies and though there is a dedicated SSL thrown in, this is still not an attractive plan.
Support can make all the difference, though, as working through problems on your own can be difficult, if not impossible, for many users. Fair to say then, that an excellent support infrastructure can justify slightly higher prices; unfortunately, however, 123-reg are not the people to provide this excellent support structure. They offer a thinly populated FAQ section, and the ability to send an online question to their support staff if you require direct contact. The phone lines operate only 9-7 on weekdays, and so the potential wait between a site crashing at 8pm on a Friday and its reinstatement online Monday morning could not only be infuriating but very costly for a small business.
123-reg do little to make themselves stand out from the competition, and, in fact, their support is conspicuous only by its absence. When you consider this, it is certainly a surprise to see that they still hold so many users’ accounts, particularly given their less-than-generous pricing. We see no reason why anyone else should join this crowd, however, so we suggest you check out our Top 10 list for superior hosting.
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