A feature-rich web hosting package with the tools required to support extensive, ambitious sites
- Huge amount of web space, subdomains and databases
- Free domain in your first year
- Loads of help in a well-thought-out dashboard
- Only one email address included
- Frequent inducements to upgrade
Ionos is a web hosting heavyweight. Founded and headquartered in Germany and the US, it manages more than 12 million domains for eight million customers across multiple regional data centres. Alongside registration services, it offers a range of Linux- and Windows-based hosting packages, Hosted Microsoft Exchange, managed and cloud servers, and dedicated server rental.
Here, we’re looking at its Linux-based ‘Premium’ tier hosting product, which starts at £8.40 per month for the first six months, rising to £16.80 for the remainder of your contract, giving you a total first-year cost of £151.20. In year two, the cost is £201.60, as you don’t benefit from the introductory rate.
Ionos Premium hosting review: What do you get for the money?
The Premium plan gives you 350GB to play with, mirrored across two data centres. This is more than enough for a regular site, and plenty for photo and video hosting. The server is shared, giving you access to one vCPU and 15GB of RAM. Bandwidth is unmetered, so in the unlikely event that your site goes viral it shouldn’t fall over – and you won’t be surcharged.
You can create a maximum of 10,000 subdomains for any account, which is so generous a number it’s barely a restriction at all. You could use these to host different apps, set up multiple instances of the same app within a single domain, or allocate individual subdomains to subjects or departments. There’s support for both MySQL and MariaDB, with Premium accounts capped at 350 databases storing up to 2GB apiece.
PHP support covers 7.4 to 8.2, with 8.0 recommended. If you’re running an application that requires an outdated version, you can add extended support for versions as far back as 4.0, for which community support ran out in August 2008. This is chargeable, which isn’t unreasonable, and prices vary depending on age. Support for PHP 7.3 costs £8.44 a month, rising to £16.87 for PHP 4.0.
Behind the scenes, there’s a well-thought-out dashboard that centralises your invoices, messages, contracts and terms, so they’re always easy to find. Technical admin also has a centralised home here, and if you prefer to manage your sites on the move, Ionos has a dedicated app that replicates the functions of the browser-based dashboard in an interface better suited to mobiles.
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Ionos Premium hosting review: How easy is it to set up?
If you don’t have your own domain, Ionos includes one for your first year, after which renewal is charged at the prevailing rate. At the time of writing, a .co.uk domain costs £12 a year and a .com domain is £15.60.
If you already have a domain, you can transfer it easily, or point it to Ionos and leave it with an external registrar. Whichever you choose, the process is intuitive, with plenty of help and single-option screens along the way to avoid confusion. Repointing an external domain, as we did for our tests, requires an update to your remote DNS settings, which can take between a few minutes and 48 hours to fully propagate but, again, Ionos simplifies the process by performing the necessary checks in the background, leaving you free to get on with other jobs.
Everything is explained in plain English, too, and where necessary brought to your attention. Once you’ve set up your domain, you’re prompted to set up SSL, which will be well understood by experienced users, but is helpfully explained for first-timers as a way to prevent insecure site notifications. The SSL certificate itself is included as part of the package.
Ionos Premium hosting review: Is it easy to build a website?
You can, naturally, upload pages developed offline via SFTP, or install WordPress and more than 50 other applications using the back-end installer. The full catalogue includes Joomla, Typo3, Drupal, MediaWiki and phpBB. Installation is form-based and includes creating and configuring the associated database, so there’s no need to get your hands dirty, nor even understand what’s going on in the background if you’re a novice.
Initially, no SFTP (SSH FTP) accounts are set up but these are easy to create through the dashboard, and you can define up to 100 distinct users.
In addition, Ionos also has its own website builder, available with or without an online store as a charged-for bolt-on. Without the store, it starts at £10.80 a month; with the store it’s £22.80 per month, in each case after a month’s free use. The builder is drag-and-drop, so you don’t need coding skills. The results are optimised for mobile browsers, and you have access to pre-built layouts and more than 17,000 royalty-free images. If you opt for the version including the store, you can sell up to 500 products and services.
Ionos Premium hosting review: Is email included?
Premium hosting includes a single email address at your own domain, and the form for setting this up is pre-populated with the first part of a suggested address, based on the account owner’s name. When you create the address, you need to pick which kind of account you want, with two options bundled – email forwarding or Mail Basic with 2GB of storage (for a maximum of 100,000 messages). If they won’t do, there are two premium options, at £4.80 and £18 per month. Hosted Microsoft Exchange (£4.80) gives you 50GB of storage, virus protection and spam filtering. Mail Business (£18) gets you the same 50GB, virus protection and spam filtering, plus team-working tools.
If you opt for the free Mail Basic service, there’s further inducement to pay an additional £1.20 per month for virus protection and £3 a month for email archiving. Although these are unticked, they are accompanied by a warning that your email security level is low.
You can also upgrade to ten mailboxes for £1.20 a month, and 100 for £3.60 per month. IMAP and POP3 mail handling are both enabled by default for use with external clients and there’s a webmail interface at mail.ionos.co.uk. As well as your email, this includes a calendar, contacts and to-do list. Stored email doesn’t count against the space you can use for web hosting.
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Ionos Premium hosting review: How much do other options cost?
While the Premium tier package isn’t cheap, it’s not bad value. For your £151, rising to £201, you’re getting an awful lot of space, SSL, a huge number of databases, redundancy, a smartly designed back end, and an email address. That last point is the only one on which I feel Ionos could have gone further: I’d have preferred unlimited addresses with storage counting against the 350GB webspace.
If this is too rich for you, there are two downgrade options, which are well suited to home and small business users. “Standard” gets you 100GB of storage and ten databases for just over £50 in year one and £72 in year two. “Plus” gets you 250GB of storage and 250 databases for a bargain £14.40 in year one, and £115.20 from year two onwards. Each includes unmetered bandwidth, a free domain and SSL certificate, and a single email address.
There are frequent inducements to upgrade to paid options in the back end. For example, a few days after pointing our domain at Ionos’ servers, the dashboard warned us that its systems had prevented two attempted attacks and that “Since your domain is now known to the attackers, we recommend that you also secure your website with the Site Scan & Repair security feature”. This attracts a £5 per month charge, discounted by 50% for the first year.
You can ignore all of these upgrade suggestions if you want, and still have all the features you need to set up anything from a blog to an extensive business website. It’s not the cheapest hosting package, by any means, but you do get a lot for your money, the back end is simple to navigate, and there are cheaper packages for those who need them.
Ionos Premium hosting review: Should you sign up?
With a huge chunk of web space, capacity for thousands of subdomains, and an extensive library of ready-to-install applications to call on, Ionos Premium hosting has everything you need to build a whole network of ambitious websites from day one.
While I often came across inducements to upgrade our bundle, ignoring them in no way limited what I could do and, if anything, they point to an offering that you can grow over time, which is ideal for publishers looking for a long-term home for their site.