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Hostwinds standout features
Email includedYes. Web hosting plans include email hosting
Average load timeApproximately 700ms
Average responseApproximately 450ms
Free domain nameDomain name registration is a separate purchase
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) includedNo, SSL is an additional purchase
Support24/7 support via email and live chat

Hostwinds landing page

What Are the Pros and Cons of Hostwinds?

Hostwinds’ primary focus is small-scale hosting, and that shows in the plans and pricing structures offered. While Hostwinds does not offer phone support, free domain name system (DNS), or free SSL, both options can be purchased directly from Hostwinds, so you won’t need to go elsewhere. Most other hosting providers only offer these for “free” for the first year and then charge you on renewal.

Hostwinds, in contrast, is very upfront about what is or isn’t included in every plan.

Pros of Hostwinds

  1. Depth and breadth of options: Multiple plans with numerous sizing options and add-ons means you can find the right hosting for you.
  2. Mostly upfront and straightforward pricing: Many providers offer an introductory price and obscure the true cost of a service, but I was pleased to find out that while Hostwinds offers introductory pricing, the true cost (after the introductory period) is readily visible.
  3. Free migration: Every plan — surprisingly, even the dedicated and VPS plans — comes with free migration.
  4. Application-specific hosting available: It’s a little hidden on Hostwinds’ front page, but when you create a cloud server on your account, there’s a myriad of pre-configured server packages available, including Minecraft. This menu of options is more available after you create an account.

Cons of Hostwinds

  1. Pricier DNS registration: A .com domain is $16.80 per year at Hostwinds, but these domains can be found cheaper elsewhere.
  2. Some plan options can be confusing: Each hosting plan only has three size options, and the only thing they vary in is the number of sites supported. But across plans, different features aren’t well-surfaced.
  3. No phone support: 24/7/year-round email and live chat support are included, but no phone support is provided at any plan level.
  4. Backups are not included: Hostwinds has a backup feature available but at an extra charge.

Hostwinds plans and pricing

1. Depth of hosting plan customization

I was pleased to see all of Hostwinds’ website hosting plans (shared, business, and reseller) offer unlimited bandwidth and storage at their base levels. Each plan has three price points: one, four, and unlimited domains. Having unlimited storage and bandwidth is great because these figures are often difficult to guess when starting, and most (other) hosting providers use these factors to create different pricing tiers.

The business plan adds to the shared plan by including solid-state drive (SSD) disks, CloudFlare, constant monitoring, and the LiteSpeed HTTP server (a highly customized version of Apache).

For VPS hosting and dedicated, choices are similarly precise: Do you want managed or unmanaged, Linux or Windows, and how much server do you want? It’s all laid out very clearly, and selecting an option takes you to a customization page with your option filled in for you.

Cloud hosting provides a menu of central processing unit (CPU) and memory combinations, and dedicated hosting allows you to create a fully customized server with a server builder tool.

Hostwinds managed Linux VPS plans
Hostwinds dedicated server options

2. Many value-added features available

After you create an account, the customer portal reveals several more services and features that you can add onto your plan that aren’t displayed on Hostwinds’ front pages. These include:

  • SSD cloud server
  • Unmanaged SSD cloud
  • Software licenses for virtual private cloud (VPC)
  • Monitoring services
  • SSL certificates
  • DNS name registration and hosting
  • Backups

It’s great to see that if you want one of these services, it’s as easy as adding it to your plan.

Hostwinds add-ons

Shoutcast, Enterprise Email, and VPN services don’t have any products that Hostwinds sells, but the other categories listed here are full of products and options to add on.

3. 99.9999% uptime with mostly reasonable restrictions

This is a big guarantee of uptime on Hostwinds’ SLA, beating out many competitors. And unlike some other hosting providers that advertise 100% uptime, the restrictions on this 99.9999% (called “six nines” in the industry) uptime are mostly reasonable, quoted below:

  • Any scheduled or emergency maintenance
  • Any internet service provider (ISP) or other third parties blocking connectivity in any way
  • Configurations as set by default or the account owner on a given service
  • Actions taken or requested by an account owner
  • Suspensions/terminations as resulting from a lack of payment, violations of HostwindsTerms of Service, or possible fraud

Of these conditions, the only two that seem a bit weaselly to me are “… or emergency maintenance” and “third parties blocking connectivity.” I could envision these potentially being used to get out of compensating you in the event of an incident such as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) ) attack, depending on how honest Hostwinds is regarding when to uphold these terms.

The rest of these terms are quite normal and expected, and in my opinion, basically boil down to scheduled maintenance or anything that may be self-inflicted, for instance, if you accidentally delete some key files on your server. Test results suggest a 99.96% true uptime rating over the past 30 days, which doesn’t account for these exclusions, so this number isn’t that much of a surprise.

Hostwinds Uptime score

4. Application-specific cloud hosting

Hostwinds also offers application-specific hosting within its cloud offering. This isn’t the most advertised feature on the homepage, but when selecting a cloud server, you also have the option of several pre-configured server images set up for a specific application. The full list is available within Hostwinds’ cloud control panel after you set up an account.

Hostwinds Cloud Control

5. Fast and knowledgeable live chat

While Hostwinds does not offer phone support, it does have live chat and email (ticket-based) support. I asked for a phone number over live chat and couldn’t get one.

But the live chat was very helpful. I got a quick response time (under a minute in every instance) and a solution or answer without being shuffled around to multiple support staff. Most individuals probably won’t miss the lack of phone support.

What Are Some Good Alternatives to Hostwinds?

When comparing Hostwinds to other providers, I selected hosts that offer at least one — if not more — services comparable to those Hostwinds offers in the following priority order:

  • Website /shared hosting, including managed WordPress
  • VPS and dedicated hosting
  • Application-specific hosting

I then considered each provider’s plans, uptime guarantee (if any), and how these compared to Hostwinds’ offerings.

See below to learn about the best competing hosting providers the team here at Digital.com recommends:

Web hostPricingHosting packagesBasic plan featuresCompare
Hostwinds

Overall rating
(4.0)

$6.99 to $1,633 per month
  • Website hosting
  • VPS hosting
  • Cloud hosting
  • Dedicated hosting
  • 1 website
  • Unlimited storage
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Free email
Liquid Web

Overall rating
(4.3)
Read our full Liquid Web review.

Consider Liquid Web if: You want VPS, cloud, or a dedicated server, and incredible support.

$59 to $699 per month
  • VPS hosting
  • Cloud hosting
  • Dedicated hosting
  • 2 vCPUs
  • 40GB SSD storage
  • 10 TB bandwidth
  • 100GB of backups included
Liquid Web’s main specialty is fast VPS and dedicated servers. It doesn’t compete with Hostwinds’ less expensive offerings, but on the more expensive side, it is very competitive. Liquid Web’s customer support is the best I’ve experienced and the speed is much better.
IONOS

Overall rating
(3.0)

Read our full IONOS review.

Consider Ionos if: You’re interested in making use of multiple components of Hostwinds’ product portfolio and want to comparison shop.

$9 to $160 per month
  • Website hosting
  • E-commerce hosting
  • Shared hosting
  • Dedicated hosting
  • VPS hosting
  • 10GB storage
  • Free domain for 1 year
  • 10 webpages
  • Wildcard SSL certificate
  • 24/7 email, phone, and chat support
IONOS is probably the closest match to Hostwinds when it comes to options. Much like Hostwinds, the plans that IONOS offers at a few straightforward levels, but it’s a bit less customizable on the purchase screens.
HostGator

Overall rating
(4.7)

Read our full HostGator review.

Consider HostGator if: Choosing a company that’s been around longer is important to you.

$7.99 to $289 per month
  • Shared hosting
  • WordPress hosting
  • Dedicated hosting
  • VPS hosting
  • Reseller hosting
  • 1 website
  • Unlimited storage
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Free email
  • Free SSL certificate
HostGator has been in the business since 2002. It has a slightly limited product portfolio compared to Hostwinds, but most comparable options are available.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hostwinds

Who owns Hostwinds?

Hostwinds is self-owned, not a subsidiary of another company or under another brand’s banner.

What kind of support does Hostwinds offer?

24/7/year-round live chat and ticket support. Phone support is not available at this time.

Where are the Hostwinds servers located?

  • Seattle, Washington, U.S.
  • Dallas, Texas, U.S.
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

What are the best alternatives to Hostwinds?

While Hostwinds has an excellent set of products that could meet your needs, some alternatives you may want to consider are Liquid Web, HostGator, and IONOS.

How I Rated Hostwinds

Hostwinds is one of those hosting providers offering a bit of everything, but what struck me the most is it doesn’t have a lot of fluff among its plans. While other hosting providers have multiple breakdown levels between plan sizes and quantities, Hostwinds has a fairly flat list of plans and then allows you to add on extra features as you need them.

I was a bit disappointed with the performance primarily, and I had some minor issues with how security is handled with Hostwinds. But I feel like it earned high marks in every other category. Some competitors outperform Hostwinds in some categories, but I’d struggle to say that any hosting providers in the same space as Hostwinds beat the company in every category.

Considering all of this, I feel that Hostwinds has handily earned its 4/5.