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Bravenet is one of the veterans of the hosting world, having been established in 1997 to provide "tools for webmasters of all skill levels". Now, the site is geared more towards free and budget shared web hosting, and the ethos of providing for all skill levels has almost entirely disappeared. Unless you are a complete novice in web hosting, Bravenet's offering is likely to feel inadequate fairly quickly, as there is little in the way of functionality for advanced users. And even those with no previous web experience can do a lot better, as the company's poor support system and high pricing fail to keep it competitive.
There was a time when any free web hosting plan was worth getting excited over, but that time has long gone. Bravenet's free offering is weak by any standards and certainly offers nothing to persuade users of other free hosting providers to switch. The plan is ad-supported, meaning that your website will be cluttered by the ads of other companies, and with a meager 5 MB of disk space, it is to all intents and purposes useless except for the most basic of websites. Users of the plan are also restricted as to what file types they can upload, with only the most common extensions accepted, and with no databases and very limited script support, it is hard to imagine how Bravenet's free hosting could be any use at all.
So, what about their Premium plan? Unfortunately, 30 GB is still not generous as far as disk space goes, and in other areas Bravenet's Premium plan simply fails to perform. While there is certainly increased functionality in almost all areas, and extra features such as email and traffic statistics, compared to the competition the Premium plan barely makes an impression. One thing that might have redeemed it was the cost, and the company proudly boasts of monthly fees of only $4.99. However, to get the Bravenet's shared hosting at this advertised price, you must sign up for an unbelievable five years - that equates to a down payment of $299.00! Few individuals starting small personal sites, or for that matter, small business sites, will want to invest that amount of money from the start. Besides, if your business is successful, you might hope that at some stage during those five years you may have to upgrade your hosting.
This brings us on to another of Bravenet's flaws: specializing as it does in basic shared plans, there is nothing here for customers looking for virtual private or dedicated servers. This means that if you ever need to upgrade, you'll have to transfer to another company, which will involve time and possibly money. Admittedly, customers can increase their disk space, bandwidth and domain allowance, but at considerable cost and only to a very limited degree. In terms of scalability, Bravenet is therefore very limited.
Considering it primarily gears its products towards relative novices, Bravenet really does not provide adequate technical support. In the world of web hosting, few things are more important than a strong support system, and so this downfall is a major one. The online area is confusing to navigate, with too many options for browsing and searching between help files and forums. And, should you require direct contact with a technical advisor, the only available method is via the company's ticketing system. This can be laborious and slow, and your website could suffer unnecessarily long downtime as a consequence. In an age when most competent hosting companies offer facilities for telephone, email and live chat contact, Bravenet has failed to move with the times.
Overall, then, there are few good things to be said for Bravenet's shared hosting plans. With limited functionality, outdated provision, poor quality support and high prices, you shouldn't need any more reasons to stay away. So to see what you could be getting for your money, check out our Top 10.
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