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Homestead.com is one of a number of companies offering basic shared hosting plans aimed at the beginner market. With tools for easy website creation but without the specifications that larger sites would require, Homestead is most suited to individuals creating small personal sites. However, its unnecessarily high prices make it extremely poor value for money, with its only justification being its focus on making life easier for website beginners. But lack of knowledge about web hosting is no reason to settle for second best, and many of the companies that have the best technology and the most powerful hosting plans will also provide more than sufficiently for technology novices.
Homestead's strengths lie in website design, and if you want what is, in effect, an all-in-one package you may be impressed by the company's approach. Even those with the least of technical expertise can create an attractive and fully functional website within minutes, and start uploading content from the outset. Anyone with prior experience in website design will feel frustrated, however, by the compulsion to use the company's own design software, and this can also lead you to spend considerably more than you might hope. To receive blogging capabilities, for instance, you must upgrade to the company's Business plan, which will cost nearly $20 per month. To compare, with most web hosting companies, you can use blogging applications such as WordPress for free, and only pay for your basic hosting. Although this will require marginally more technical knowledge and a little more time, the money saved over a year will be considerable.
Focusing as it does on website design, Homestead's raw specifications are fairly unimpressive; hard disk limits are particularly severe, and bandwidth allowances are not much better. The company also offers extremely limited functionality on its Starter plan, which is the only plan truly comparable in cost to the majority of other shared hosting plans on the web. Unless you make additional purchases, the plan will not offer email, the use of a personalized domain name, or even more than five pages on your website. Unless you are uploading a minimal amount of content and have no desire to give your website the professional feel that a dedicated email address and domain name provide, you will not be happy with what the Starter plan provides.
For a company specializing in web hosting for those with little or no previous hosting experience, Homestead does not offer a particularly impressive support system. The toll-free phone support and email facilities will enable a level of personal support, and this is to be applauded; however, the lack of any sufficient online materials leaves customers a little in the dark as to how to solve minor problems by themselves.
Homestead is certainly not for those who have previous experience in hosting, designing or managing a website. Whilst for some, it may provide the tools and support to get their business online quickly, these customers can do better by shopping around. So, for an idea of what else is available, check out our Top 10.
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