Network Solutions Review: Simple Hosting Plans for Bloggers
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 doesn’t leave you in the lurch, wasting time on tinkering with the backend of your site or spending too much time getting it set up in the first place.
That’s why Network Solutions is a good option for bloggers that want a no-hassle web hosting service.
There are, however, two problems that might complicate this decision: one is the type and quality of support provided by Network Solutions; the other is the overcomplicated way it presents its services on the website.
So, let’s sort through what exactly Network Solutions does, which parts of the site you should ignore, and which ones are definitely worth paying attention to.
A Surprisingly Lengthy History for 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.
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’ Services & Products
The Network Solutions’ website does a thorough job of laying out each of its services. However, it’s important to clarify here that Network Solutions is currently owned by Web.com. Because of this, many of its services actually aren’t its 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 belong to Network Solutions and are worthwhile investments for bloggers:
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).
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 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.
Web hosting plans available from Network Solutions are limited in terms of the type of hosting you can get, but they should do the trick for bloggers.
One thing you should be aware of, however, is that no information is available regarding its datacenters or server infrastructure. 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.
If you’re not too concerned with the details, especially because of the uptime guarantee, then let’s look at what exactly you can get:
- Free domain with all plans.
- Every package gets a technical adviser who helps with setup.
- Malware scanning, SFTP, and email inboxes are included on basic plans.
- Premium upgrades will include a CDN, malware removal, and SSL certificate.
- Free domain comes with all plans.
- It is cheaper than standard hosting, but there is a compromise (i.e. limited storage and bandwidth).
If you want WordPress hosting, but don’t want to be limited by the plans Network Solutions offers, then you can opt into its Managed WordPress Hosting plan instead. Network Solutions will take care of setup, automatic updates, security maintenance, and backups. This plan also comes with unlimited storage and bandwidth.
For larger, higher-traffic blogs, virtual private server (VPS) may be a good choice as it comes with:
- Increased disk space and RAM
- Greater data transfer speeds
- Direct root access
- Linux operating system
- Plesk control panel
Pricing on VPS hosting is also pretty affordable from Network Solutions as well. 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.
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 — and so pricing is expensive for each.
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
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. It’s an expensive shop builder tool, and there are a lot of extras you have to pay for to make it worthwhile.
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.
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. 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).
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.