Network Solutions Review: Simple Hosting Plans for Bloggers
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When starting a new blog, you want to focus on writing content.
That’s why it’s important to find a web hosting company that makes it easy to get your site online and doesn’t require that you tinker with technical details.
The Network Solutions website presents services in a complicated format, but this is compensated for with an unbaffling and straightforward variety of hosting plans.
Our first concern was the quality of customer support, which we have reviewed comprehensively. You can read this after we dig into the nitty-gritty details of Network Solution’s hosting plans and features.
While this isn’t the cheapest hosting provider you’ll find, it is a great easy option for bloggers looking to get started quick and hassle-free.
So, let’s sort through what exactly Network Solutions does, which parts of the site you should ignore, and which services are definitely worth paying attention to.
- First Impressions
- The History and Many Sides of Network Solutions
- Hosting Plans
- Network Solutions’ Features and Services
- Security and Guarantees
- Customer Support
- Pros and Cons of Network Solutions
- Alternative Hosting Providers to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Network Solutions: The Good and the Bad
The History and Many Sides of Network Solutions
When you think of web hosting companies, or even domain name providers, it’s safe to assume each has its origins in the late ‘90s or early ‘00s. That’s not so with Network Solutions.
The company began back in 1979 as an engineering company in Tysons Corner, VA.
Fast forward to 1993 and the early days of the internet, and Network Solutions made moves to acquire a contract with the National Science Foundation to work as a domain name registry.
And, not only that, it won the contract to be the only company to register the .com, .net, .org, and .edu extensions.
The Start of Web Hosting
Nearly a decade later in 2005, Network Solutions began selling web hosting packages to customers. In 2006, e-commerce was added. Along the way, the company also became:
- A J.D. Power and Associates Certified Call Center
- An authorized Google AdWords Reseller
- Microsoft Gold Certified
While some of these accolades won’t matter if all you’re trying to do is secure web hosting, it does speak volumes to the reliability and quality of services that Network Solutions offers.
Network Solutions is owned by Web.com and as a result, a large majority of their plans are offered with the latter’s infrastructure in place.
The total list of hosting plan types is:
- Web hosting (shared)
- WordPress hosting (shared)
- VPS hosting
An Alarmingly Bad Presentation of Hosting Plans
At first, I struggled to find all the available hosting plans as the Network Solutions menu fails to offer appropriate navigation.
Google saved the day when I resorted to searching “network solutions VPS plan” and “network solutions dedicated server” to find out what the hosting provider truly offers.
I’d certainly expect a hosting provider to have a cleaner, easy-to-navigate website.
Nevertheless, the company offers a decent variety of hosting services and undoubtedly cater to any bloggers wanting to get set up and posting in just a few hours.
Web hosting plans available from Network Solutions are offered in three different tiers – it isn’t the greatest variety they should do the trick for bloggers.
There are three shared web hosting services offered under the names of:
- Essential hosting
- Professional hosting
- Premium hosting
The comparison page seems to have more extensive resource allocation details than the marketing page (which conflicts with the comparison page), so in that respect, we will stick to the comparison page while reviewing the plans.
Shared Web Hosting Freebies
All plans come with one free domain name included, though the terms for this freemium offer state it is only valid until the time of the hosting plan.
There is a further restriction on premium domains, although the domain extension allowances are not fully clarified. If you have a website name or idea in mind for your new blog, this could affect your plans.
Malware scanning and protection is likewise included in all shared hosting plans.
What Do The Three Web Hosting Plans Have In Common?
All three tiers of shared web hosting come with:
- Unlimited data transfer allowance
- 1 GB email storage
- 3 email aliases per mailbox
- Catch-all email address feature
- 1 autoresponder per mailbox
- IMAP integration
- Spam protection
- Website builder
- FTP access
- Backup and restoration manager
- UNIX AWS website statistics
- Windows website statistics
The above features are in contention with other shared hosting plans offered by competitors with bloggers in mind.
How Do The Three Shared Hosting Plans Vary?
The plans, however, vary in disk space, domain allowance, mailbox allowance, and FTP account limitation:
|Storage||300 GB||500 GB||Unlimited|
The Premium plan (highest) offers the perk of unlimited storage, but the two lower plans offering 300 GB and 500 GB storage space will also suffice for the majority of new bloggers.
Other than that, the difference in pricing is difficult to justify – the Essential plan should be more than enough to get a blog up and running.
There are three WordPress plans on offer, priced significantly cheaper than its’ shared hosting alternatives.
All plans come with:
- A free domain
- Unlimited bandwidth (no visitor limitations)
- Secure FTP access
- Staging environment
- CodeGuard cloud backup (on demand)
- The usual perks of WordPress (themes, plugins)
The WordPress plans have less storage, though looking at the difference in price, it is a worthy compromise.
Variation In WordPress Plans
As said, there is slightly less storage with WordPress plans, along with a handful of other differing factors seen in the comparison table below:
|Storage||50 GB||100 GB||200 GB|
Growing bloggers or businesses reliant on multiple mailboxes may be put off by the tight allowances, though even 10 included in the basic plan should be enough for those starting out.
A starting price of $5.33/month is more than fair for what is offered.
Is The WordPress Plan Managed?
If you want WordPress hosting, but don’t want to be limited by the plans Network Solutions offers, then you can further opt into its Managed WordPress Hosting plan instead.
Network Solutions will take care of
- Automatic updates
- Security maintenance
This plan’s managed version also comes with unlimited storage and bandwidth.
For larger, higher-traffic blogs, a virtual private server (VPS) may be a good choice.
There are two plans – VPS Essential and VPS Professional. The Essential plan starts at $40.00/mo along with the following resources and perks:
- 512 MB RAM
- 10 GB Disk space
- 500 GB Bandwidth
- Plesk control panel
- Direct root access
- Linux operating system
- Up to 10 domains (allowance)
- Free domain
- 50 Email boxes
- 5-page malware scan (daily)
- One-hour of set-up assistance from a Network Solutions expert
Does a Blogger Really Need a VPS Plan? Is It Worth It?
Pricing on VPS hosting is affordable from Network Solutions as well. There are no standout perks you wouldn’t expect from a competitor, nor are there exceptional freebies included.
Of course, there still isn’t insight into the actual server infrastructure that you’d have more control over, so that is something to think about.
However, bloggers typically don’t need VPS hosting, at least right away. So, for now, we’d suggest you focus on the more affordable shared and WordPress hosting options.
Network Solutions’ Features and Services
The Network Solutions’ website does a thorough job of laying out each of its services. However, it’s important to reiterate here that Network Solutions is currently owned by Web.com.
Because of this, many of its services actually aren’t it’s own; those services instead are offered by Web.com and other third-party providers — most of which are pricey.
So, let’s break down which of these services offered by Network Solutions and are worthwhile investments for bloggers:
- Domain Registrar
- Site Builder
- Custom Emails
- SSL Certificates
- Responsive Sites
Network Solutions was once an exclusive domain registrar.
Domain registration is front and center on the website, which makes sense considering Network Solutions’ history.
You can do anything and everything you could ever want with domains through Network Solutions, including:
- Search for and register domains.
- Bid on and purchase “premium” domain names (ones that are currently owned by someone else).
- Transfer domains from another provider.
- Domain forwarding (you likely won’t need this unless you own a number of domains that you want to be pointed to your main blog).
- Private domain registration to protect your personal information from leaking out on the web.
- Domain expiration protection (which you shouldn’t need).
How Much Do Domain Services Cost?
The one thing that isn’t so great about Network Solutions’ domain services is that pricing is unavailable (at least for registration) until you get to the checkout.
However, if you’re planning on getting web hosting too, that won’t be a problem since a free domain comes with all hosting plans.
Network Solution claims no programming skills or technical knowledge is a pre-requisite for using their website builder.
Along with an online tool accessible from anywhere, you get:
- Professional templates
- Directory of royalty free images
- Customizable drag-and-drop interface
- Thousands of color combinations
- Unlimited page allowance (subject to storage limits)
- Media support (photos, videos, documents, multimedia)
- Built-in applications (calendar, RSS feed, maps, polls, forms)
- PayPal support
- Password protection
- Website analytics
Useful Website Builder Functionalities for Bloggers
The network solutions website builder further offers a handy preview functionality. While you edit your page, you can check out how it looks on the go and make any necessary changes.
Once click publishing is another handy feature to get your site up and running in a matter of minutes.
Email Hosting and Custom Mail
Network Solutions offers three different email hosting plans. All plans come with a set of inclusive features:
- Customizable personal email addresses
- Email client support (Outlook, Netscape, Eudora)
- 15 GB Storage
- Mobile responsive emails
- Webmail access from anywhere online
- Integrations (Google, Yahoo, MSN)
- RSS feeds
- Google calendar synchronization
- Spam and virus protection
The cheapest plan starts at $1.42/month and offers an additional 10 GB of shared file storage on top of the 15 GB standard storage space.
There are five types of SSL certificates available, all of which offer:
- 256-bit encryption
- Guarantees from $10,000 to $1m
- 99% browser recognition guarantee
- Domain validation
Network Solution’s site seal protection is further included with four out of five plans.
What is Site Seal?
The description of this add-on is very vague, though what it looks like is an instant private SSL installation by Network Solutions.
Other Services via Web.com
Due to Web.com’s nature of marketing services, costs are high.
In addition to offering a site builder tool, custom email, and SSL certificates as most web hosting companies do, Network Solutions also has a number of premium services available.
As mentioned before, however, many of these actually come from Web.com — which acts more like a marketing agency than an Internet services company.
However, if you find that you’re ready to take your blog to the next level, you don’t have time to manage these, and you have extra money to throw around, then these services might be worth looking into:
- Web Design Services
- Premium Marketing Services
Web Design Services
These are advertised as “free”, though that’s not totally accurate. There’s nothing to pay upfront, but you will have to pay for any work Web.com does on maintaining, hosting, or marketing on your website.
But this does mean that Network Solutions/Web.com will design, write, and develop your website for you (within reason, of course).
Also, if you decide to take your site elsewhere, you will have to “buy” your site from Network Solutions or lose it entirely.
This e-commerce builder probably isn’t a smart investment for anyone, blogger or otherwise.
Features included are:
- Customizable store-front
- Product management dashboard
- Real-time inventory and shipping management
- Responsive dashboard
- Built-in marketing tools
It’s an expensive shop builder tool, and there are a lot of extras you have to additionally purchase to make it worthwhile, which is vaguely described on the website and can be misleading.
Think twice about this one.
Premium Marketing Services
If you decide you want assistance with custom web design or marketing, you can pay for those types of services through Web.com.
Security and Guarantees
One thing you should be aware of, however, is that no specific information is available regarding its datacenters or server infrastructure.
The Network Solutions reseller FAQ gives vague details about their “typical” datacenter with an apparent “zero downtime” and 24-hour monitoring, but this obviously cannot be verified.
Website Security Add-Ons
By now the myriad of add-on options should not come as a surprise. Network Solutions further offers a handful of security add-ons for hosting customers in the form of a four-tier SiteLock guarantee price plan.
It starts at $6.99 per month and includes daily malware scans (already included in selected plans), daily vulnerability scans and the site-lock guarantee logo on your blog.
While a 99.9% uptime is guaranteed on web hosting and support is available 24/7, that does cause some concern as most trustworthy web hosting companies will be transparent about where its servers are located or who is responsible for hosting and securing them.
So, if this bit of information matters to you, you may want to look elsewhere.
There is a 30-day money-back guarantee offered with all newly purchased hosting plans – renewals are not included in this offer.
At first sight, the 24/7 customer support options look intriguing and even attractive. You have the options to either:
- Email a representative
- Phone up via multiple extensions depending on your query
The only letdown is the lack of live chat.
Having live support is quickly becoming a necessity and standard feature with hosting providers – for bloggers, this should be an absolute priority.
Is The Support a Total Deal Breaker?
If you are happy to phone up or wait for your email to be picked up, don’t worry. However, if you prefer to have someone on your case immediately, this should be a fair warning.
Premium support is available from Web.com (called MyTime Support), but you’ll have to pay for that sort of assistance. Otherwise, you’re left with making a phone call or visiting the help center (which is actually a pretty robust solution).
Pros and Cons of Network Solutions
Before we wrap up the review of this host, here are a few upsides and downsides to consider as a blogger and webmaster when looking to purchase one of Network Solutions’ plans.
- Good value WordPress plan with fair resource allocations
- Free domain included with most plans
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Free website builder included with all plans
- No live chat support (only email and phone)
- Lack of freebies across all hosting plans
- Heavily marketed add-ons across all service types
- Lack of transparency with datacenters and hardware security
Alternative Hosting Providers to Consider
I have prepared three alternative options which deliver in the areas Network Solutions doesn’t fulfill.
These are Bluehost, SiteGround, and HostPapa – all offering a range of cheap high-performance plans for bloggers and small businesses. Here is a side-by-side comparison of their basic shared hosting plans:
|Storage||50 GB||10 GB||200 GB|
|Free CDN||Advanced plans only||Yes||Yes|
|Daily (automatic)||30 backups||Advanced plans only|
Maybe Network Solutions has some aspects you are looking for in a host but is lacking in a few areas? If so, try these.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is fair to say that the Network Solutions website is far from helpful. As a result, you may find yourself looking for information about their plans that should be easy to find.
Here are a few questions and answers to ease the pain:
Does Network Solutions offer a money-back guarantee?
Yes – they offer a standard 30-day money-back guarantee on all newly purchased hosting plans. Renewals are exempt from this guarantee.
What is Network Solutions’ uptime guarantee?
Network Solutions offers an uptime guarantee of 99.9%. There is a caveat in their terms and conditions, however.
Any downtime falling under scheduled maintenance excluded from the uptime for UNIX and Windows users is not included in the uptime guarantee calculation.
Where are Network Solutions’ datacenters located?
There are no exact datacenter specifications or locations declared on the company’s official website.
Do I get to keep my free domain if I leave Network Solutions?
The terms and conditions for the free domain specifically state that domains are only yours for the time of the newly purchased plan term. In other words, if you leave, you have to re-purchase the domain.
Furthermore, renewals also require you to re-purchase your domain name for the following term.
Does Network Solutions include a CDN with their shared and VPS plans?
No, Network Solution does not refer to or state any inclusions of a content distribution network.
Network Solutions: The Good and the Bad
It is clear that Network Solutions has learned a lot since its entry into domain name services back in the early ‘90s.
What it offers in terms of domains and web hosting does appear to be ideal for both bloggers and small business owners; however, the lack of transparency regarding its infrastructure is a little worrisome.
There’s also the matter of support. Network Solutions does offer what it calls 24/7 Real Person Support, but it appears to only be available by phone.
It’s not a total deal breaker, but it’s a bit disappointing since fantastic customer service would’ve made this a no-brainer for bloggers.