FastDomain Review: Promising Simplified Hosting for Bloggers
If your goals in finding web hosting are to keep the search simple, make a choice quickly, and get your site up and running quickly, there are hosts that deliver that. FastDomain is a host that promises a streamlined, simplified hosting process. Let’s take look at what’s under FastDomain’s hood and see whether it’s a good fit for bloggers.
FastDomain: Company Profile
FastDomain was founded in 2005 and is now headquartered in Utah. Along with its sibling companies, BlueHost and HostGator, FastDomain is a subsidiary of well-known hosting mega-company Endurance International Group (EIG).
EIG, of course, is a huge publicly traded web services and hosting giant, serving over three million customers through its member brands.
Each EIG brand targets itself towards slightly different slices of the hosting market. The FastDomain brand aims at helping consumers, solopreneurs, and small business owners getting their blogs and sites up as quickly as possible.
The promise is a simplified, streamlined process for customers — but it also means that you have fewer choices. So it’s a good idea to examine the available features carefully before making a decision.
Does FastDomain Deliver a Simplified Choice?
FastDomain simplifies (or attempts to simplify) your choices by offering only 2 shared hosting plans: “Basic” and “Pro.” We like the idea of narrowing choices down.
Unfortunately, while FastDomain seeks to simplify your choices, their plan information is scattered and confusing.
Realize that the “Basic” plan is sometimes referred to on their site as the “Shared hosting” plan. If you attempt to purchase this plan, in checkout it’s just referred to by the length of the plan period, e.g. “12-month” plan and so on. Additionally, the “Pro” plan is sometimes referred to on the site as “Business Pro” or at other times “Pro Package.”
To see what the two plans offer go here. Be aware that on the home page, there’s a box that says “Web hosting plans include” and if you click on the “Tell me more” button, you’ll see an enticing list of “unlimited” this and “unlimited” that. You’re not going to get all of that if you sign up for their “Basic” plan. This confusing page is simply a list of every single feature available — all of which you can only get with their top plan … thus the asterisk followed by the phrase “*Features vary according to product offer selected.”
- The Basic shared hosting plan covers 1 website and “standard” (not defined) performance. The Pro plan offers an unlimited number of websites you can host and promises “high” (not defined). performance. (This page cites “quad processor performance servers” and “world class technology.”)
- Basic gives you 5 email accounts. Pro gives you unlimited email.
- Basic offers 50 GB in storage, while Pro offers unlimited. (Note: these amounts have an asterisk by them directing the reader to some small type about what they consider “unlimited.” We recommend you read that small type.)
- Pro comes with a free SSL certificate, Basic doesn’t.
- Both plans offers a product called “Site BackUp Pro” but confusingly, this is listed under the Basic plan as “Basic” and under the “Pro” plan as “Pro.” Huh? What’s a “Basic SiteBack Up Pro” and what’s a “Pro SiteBackUp Pro”?
There are a handful of a la carte add-ons that Basic plan buyer can select, like:
- additional domain names
- dedicated IP
- and “Site BackUp and Restore Pro.”
Wait a minute, doesn’t the Basic plan come with “Site BackUp Pro”? If so, why do I need to pay extra for “Site BackUp and Restore Pro”? Well, we couldn’t makes sense of what was really being offered here.
A prospective customer could be forgiven for thinking the lack of clarity might translate, down the road, to lack of attention to the customer.
One feature bloggers will appreciate though, especially those who are interested in expanding into membership or online course products, is the access to a variety of helpful apps, including online learning platform Moodle and a message board program.
Infrastructure and Performance
FastDomain’s network is built with quad processor servers exclusively running the Linux operating system.
So if you’re set on a Windows server, you’ll need to keep shopping, because FastDomain won’t be able to help. But if Linux is acceptable, you’ll also benefit from redundancy in power systems, including both uninterruptible power supplies and a backup generator for stable performance.
The company also provides around-the-clock monitoring for the servers, so if a problem does arise that could potentially compromise the performance or stability of your site, it should be noted fairly promptly to minimize downtime and damage.
Additional Features & Services
In addition to the access to Moodle and other helpful software, FastDomain offers an affiliate program to help you add recurring revenue to your blogging business model. In exchange for promoting FastDomain’s plan and services to your audience, you’ll receive a percentage of the purchase price for any resulting sale.
While affiliate programs can help busy bloggers stabilize what can often be an uneven cash flow, it’s important to make sure you’re promoting a company and service that you believe in and about which you can write or speak with some authority.
That’s why it makes the most sense for ethical bloggers to serve as affiliates only for brands from which they themselves have made past purchases. It’s also a good idea to review the FTC guidelines applicable to affiliate marketing if you’re not already familiar with them.
Additionally, FastDomain includes some basic e-commerce tools in its plan features. You’ll get a choice of at least two shopping cart applications. You’ll also get access to an SSL security certificate, PGP/GPG encryption and password protection for server directories to ensure site and data security.
As most hosting providers do, FastDomain offers customers a number of ways to secure support. The help center is the first stop for self-directed assistance, and it contains a number of resources that bear mentioning.
The knowledgebase has several hundred articles, but there doesn’t seem to be any categorical or topical organization. Instead, you have to rely on search results to find the right answer for whatever problem you’re facing.
The help center also offers a handful of video tutorials as well as a selection of “getting started” guides for new customers that cover most of the basics.
If the self-directed options aren’t sufficient to resolve your issues,FastDomain provides individualized assistance through three methods: a toll-free telephone number, a ticket-based system, and a live chat tool.
However, it doesn’t appear to be a social-media-savvy brand: there’s a single, blank Facebook page and a Twitter feed that’s only slightly less sporadically used. So if that kind of access is important to you, you’ll want to consider other options.
Billing and Guarantees
Hosting can be a significant investment for any small business, include bloggers. That’s why it’s a good idea to investigate the terms of any company’s guarantee or refund policy.
FastDomain offers a generous thirty-day money-back guarantee period, which should be sufficient to evaluate your domain management tools and server performance. At any point within that period, if you’re not satisfied withFastDomain’s services, you can get a full refund for whatever term you paid for initially.
The refund will only apply to the fees you paid that are applicable to your hosting service. It won’t include the costs of most of FastDomain’s add-on services and products.
If your plan included a free domain, the company will deduct a flat fee equal to the approximate cost of one domain registration to cover its own costs. Thereafter, you’ll still have the right to use the domain and transfer it to a new host provider, should you wish.
It’s also a good idea to review the FastDomain terms and conditions of service before you complete the checkout process to make sure they won’t interfere with your plans.
Is FastDomain the Right Host for Bloggers?
FastDomain may not be the most technologically advanced hosting company around, and it certainly won’t win any prizes for the variety of products offered or for clarity on its website.
FastDomain’s affiliation with EIG suggests it’s no fly-by-night provider that’ll disappear; it has been in business for 10 years.
But if you’re a blogger who needs to spend time and energy focused on writing and promotion, not on selecting from an endless menu of hosting choices, the Basic plan might work for you. Still, there are other hosts offering basic plans at lower cost and with far greater clarity about their product(s).