StableHost Review: Web Hosting, Tools & Support for Bloggers
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No matter what kind of site you run, stability is almost certainly a key component of your ideal hosting package.
After all, if your blog doesn’t stay up and perform well even under the pressure of traffic spikes, that reflects poorly on you and your brand. Your visitors may ultimately decide to go somewhere else — perhaps to your competitor’s site instead.
Of course, merely including the word “stable” in your web hosting company’s name isn’t necessarily an indication that the hosting service you provide follows suit.
So what’s the bottom line with popular U.S. hosting company StableHost? Is it stable enough for demanding bloggers and site owners? Or should you look elsewhere for your hosting needs?
Our StableHost review takes a closer look at the company and its plans.
StableHost: About the Company
With headquarters and offices located in Gilbert, Arizona, StableHost prides itself on standing out in this crowded industry via its strong focus on quality customer service. It employs a small team of around fifteen employees and professes to treat all of its customers like family members.
A privately owned limited liability company, StableHost has been in the hosting solutions business since 2009. The company asserts that it reinvests all profit revenue back into itself to improve infrastructure and offer new features.
StableHost seems to primarily target small to mid-sized businesses and bloggers who need enhanced server performance compared to most shared hosting providers’ services and plans.
Basic Hosting Options With StableHost
StableHost offers four types of hosting services:
- Shared hosting
- VPS (virtual private server) hosting
- Reseller hosting
- Dedicated servers
For those just getting started or have smaller websites, a shared hosting plan might be the right option. With shared hosting, web hosts can place many websites onto a single server with each site drawing from a communal pool of resources. While the overall performance for each website isn’t the best, shared plans have the perk of being the most inexpensive option around.
For shared hosting, StableHost offers a few different hosting plans targeted towards small business and individual customers with lower traffic and storage needs. The majority of bloggers would probably find one of these plans sufficient.
The entry-level Starter plan offers you support for one blog, while upgrading to the Pro or Platinum plans gets you support for an unlimited number of blogs. Upgrading also gets your blog placed on a server with fewer websites — while you are still drawing on a common pool of server resources, you would be competing with fewer websites.
All three plans include unlimited bandwidth and storage, while the premium plans also include unlimited domains. Each plan also provides DDoS protection.
Manage Your Account with cPanel
Finally, all plans come with the industry-standard cPanel, which allows you to do things like:
- Create new email accounts and check existing email accounts
- Setup and manage your databases
- Install new software, such as your WordPress core or add-ons to make your blog better
- Upload and download files needed for your blog
Clustered Web Hosting
If you need an additional guarantee that your blog stays available to your readers no matter what, consider StableHost’s Clustered Web Hosting. In short, this is an infrastructure setup that is reminiscent of cloud-based implementations.
What does this mean for you?
You get smart storage of your data files, as StableHost takes care of determining which of its solid-state (SSD) drives to store your files, and you get automatic failover in case any single server becomes unavailable. This ensures that your site is always accessible to visitors.
StableHost has a separate page geared toward WordPress users, but these plans are essentially the shared hosting options. Regardless of which page you use, you will get a web hosting package that supports WordPress and offers one-click WordPress installation to get you up and running as quickly as possible.
You can install WordPress with one simple click.
VPS hosting is also available for those bloggers who find shared hosting inadequate. Virtual private servers provide greater flexibility and enhanced performance metrics. It is very similar to shared hosting plans, but your site is granted a specific allocation of resources and only you can use it.
StableHost offers tiered VPS plans at various price points. These plans offer enterprise-level hardware — specifically, dual E5-2620 SSD hard drives with 96 GBs of RAM. VPS customers will also enjoy priority support from advanced Level 3 technicians and can even install their own operating systems using KVM virtual machines for no extra cost.
StableHost also offers VPS hosting customers the choice of hosting their sites at datacenters located in Phoenix, Chicago, and Amsterdam.
If you need more than VPS provides, StableHost also offers enterprise-level packages that are more configurable and customizable than other plans and levels. These plans offer greater site speed and resource capacity but probably exceed the requirements of most bloggers.
Bloggers in technology-related niches may be interested in using their hosting provider as an additional source of revenue through tools such as reseller hosting and affiliate programs. StableHost offers available reseller hosting plans at three tiered levels.
The nerdy bits:
- All StableHost reseller hosting plans include high-quality performance-enhanced SSD drives and unlimited bandwidth.
- LiteSpeed PHP caching is also available to speed up site performance up to nine times faster than other servers.
- Reseller plans also include cPanel (an online control panel), daily backups, and an online drag-and-drop site builder that makes site creation easy.
The plans are private-labeled so that your customers see your brand name, not StableHost.
Finally, if you’re already enrolled on a different hosting provider’s reseller plan, StableHost may even be able to help you transfer your existing customers to the StableHost servers.
For those with blogs that need the most, StableHost offers three different dedicated server options from which you can choose. Because dedicated servers offer an exclusive environment for your blog, you will pay more for these services. Prices begin at $145 and quickly go up from there.
If you need a fully custom solution, StableHost can work with you to craft a package that meets your need exactly.
Does Unlimited Really Mean Unlimited?
A lot of StableHost’s plans boast an unlimited allocation of a resource, such as bandwidth and disk space, but is this really true?
Well, yes and no.
Most users will not have to worry about restrictions when it comes to resource usage. However, some sites, which require an extreme amount of resources, might find themselves in hot water with StableHost. There are definitely some rules by which you must abide, and these are spelled out in the Terms of Service.
Essentially, if you purchase the plan that is best for your needs (e.g., do not try to host a large, heavily-trafficked website that needs dedicated hosting on a shared plan), you will be fine.
Specific Features For Bloggers
StableHost provides a number of content management systems (CMSs) to customers with simple one-click installation. This is offered through Softaculous, which gives you access to a number of apps that are highly popular with bloggers, including WordPress and more. Other apps available through Softaculous include:
StableHost does not offer any e-commerce features above and beyond supporting e-commerce platforms (for example, you can use StableHost to run an online store you built using Magento). It is the complete opposite of an all-in-one platform like Shopify, so if you plan on working with StableHost, you are responsible for everything needed to launch an online store.
Remember, this is no easy feat. Some of the things you have to do include:
- Set up your product pages and make them findable by your users
- Set up an inventory management system so that your site doesn’t display out-of-stock goods as in stock
- Implement a shopping cart and checkout system
- Handle payments securely
If you are interested in selling only digital goods, you will need to secure this process as well.
As you can see, doing things piecemeal can be quite a bit of work when working with a host that doesn’t offer a lot of built-in support for e-commerce.
What Kind of Customer Support Does StableHost Provide?
StableHost offers a handful of ways to find customer support and help, both self-directed and assisted.
You may want to start with the published knowledgebase that offers several pages of written help on a variety of account management and technical topics.
A collection of video tutorials is also available on YouTube. These cover a number of topics, including the installation of apps and using FTP clients to configure and set up your website files.
In addition, you may also find peer support from other customers in the StableHost user forums.
Getting in Touch with StableHost
While StableHost offers around-the-clock technical support, your level and method of access to that support will depend on the plan and account you select. While this tiered system is not unheard of, many other providers have moved to a one-size-fits-all model where you can get in touch with the hosting company using the method of your choice (regardless of the plan you have).
Certain premium-level accounts, including the enterprise-level plans, will entitle you to priority assistance ahead of other customers. You’ll also be able to access technical support by telephone; other plans are limited to ticket-based email requests.
Finally, StableHost has a Facebook page and Twitter account, both of which are updated somewhat sporadically. You may find some information and access to customer service here, but responses will probably be limited to general inquiries.
Refunds and Guarantees
For all new hosting customers, StableHost offers a generous 45-day money-back guarantee period. If for any reason you are not satisfied with the services and hosting platform, within 45 days after your initial purchase you can cancel and receive a full refund for any amounts you paid.
StableHost Network and Uptime
The StableHost network employs solid-state drives with 96 GB of RAM and dual E5 CPUs.
In addition, StableHost uses clustered hosting for select plans. This is a server and network configuration that aims to reduce the load demands on any single server by reallocating resources among all servers in a cluster in a balanced way.
Clustered hosting also helps reduce the chance that heavy demand on one digital service, such as FTP, will negatively impact another service, such as email.
StableHost employs clustered hosting among over 100 clustered SSD drives with automatic node failover, IO re-allocation, and load balancing technology.
Service Level Agreement and Uptime Guarantee
The company guarantees 99.9% uptime for hosting customers, which increases to 99.99% for premium subscribers. If the company does not meet this guarantee, it will compensate you with one month of service.
The level of security offered by StableHost varies based on the plan you choose.
All plans come with protection against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which is when malicious parties flood your site with traffic with the goal of overwhelming your server and having your site go offline.
However, if you want more, such as spam filtering for your email accounts or assistance with repairs to your site after it has been compromised, you’ll need to upgrade to the top-tier plan.
Be aware, however, that you are responsible for your own website backups. Per StableHost’s Terms of Service:
StableHost is not responsible for files and/or data residing on your account. You agree to take full responsibility for files and data transferred and to maintain all appropriate backup of files and data stored on StableHost servers. You can generate your own backups via the cPanel interface.
Backing up your blog regularly is important — after all, you worked hard on your posts, images, and other content — so if this limitation proves to become a stumbling block for you, consider going with another host that offers automated backups.
There are certain things StableHost does to ensure that your site performs as well as possible.
First, the company maintains multiple data centers capable of servicing your visitor’s requests for your blog. By minimizing the distance between reader and server, the reader will see faster page load speeds.
Next, StableHost offers the infrastructure you need to handle varying loads. If you opt for more premium options, your site will be hosted on a server in an environment that can effectively manage usage across multiple servers so that no single server becomes overwhelmed.
If StableHost looks intriguing, but you’re not sold on the company, consider some of the following alternatives:
- Bluehost, which is known for its WordPress-friendly hosting options
- InMotion Hosting, which is known for its wide variety of hosting options and good customer service
- FastComet, which offers more premium SSD, cloud-based hosting plans
- DreamHost, a bargain provider of entry-level shared and WordPress hosting
The Bottom Line for Bloggers
Wherever you are on the hosting spectrum — just starting out with a brand new blog or an existing e-commerce brand with hundreds of items and serious traffic — StableHost provides a reliable, scalable product that can grow with your site.
For the vast majority of bloggers, StableHost’s shared and VPS hosting solutions will probably fit the bill in terms of bandwidth, storage, and other required features. Those who need more specialized or robust solutions will find the reseller plans and dedicated servers appropriate.
Contributing writer: Katie Horne