Strato: High Value, Low Cost Hosting for Bloggers
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Hosting a blog can be expensive, especially when you consider the apps and add-ons required. A higher price tag certainly doesn’t mean better, but low-cost hosting tends to be regarded with suspicion.
“You get what you pay for” is a common mantra, and often with good reason. Super inexpensive hosts might offer services that are buggy or slow, or they might have unresponsive support departments.
Is it possible to find cheap hosting that’s reliable, too?
Germany-based Strato says it is. Using its position as a top international host, this provider has some of the lowest prices in the business. If money is your number one concern, you can stop reading right now and go pick out a plan.
But for most, great prices don’t make the host; speed, uptime, and features do. Does Strato deliver, or is this just another cheap, low-quality host? Let’s find out.
Low-Cost Web Hosting
Inexpensive pricing isn’t Strato’s only perk. This shared hosting also includes a surprising amount of free stuff. Unlimited bandwidth and generous amounts of storage, a one-click installer for a handful of select apps, and free backups are just the beginning. There’s much more hidden underneath that tiny price tag.
The smallest of websites will benefit most from Strato’s prices. The most inexpensive plan comes with a free domain and SSL certificate. As you scale up toward more expensive shared plans, the cost evens out a bit and becomes more typical. Still, Strato is cheap.
While a one-year minimum contract is unfortunately mandatory, there are no attempts made to hide this fact. Rather than getting a nasty surprise on the checkout screen, it’s listed right on the plan page. Same goes for the renewal rates, which are displayed clearly below the first-term prices, and are just a few dollars higher, anyway.
Small to mid-sized WordPress sites will make great use of Strato’s specialized hosting. You can choose to have WordPress update and backup automatically for maximum security, or install updates at your discretion with a single click. The same unlimited traffic, SSL certificate, and domain are included here as well. But there are only a few low-level plans, so high-popularity sites might need to use normal shared hosting.
On these servers, security is a big deal. Germany has vigorous data protection laws, so if keeping your or your users’ sensitive data safe is of large concern, you can rest easy. SiteLock is also available for a small fee, but Strato’s SiteGuard comes free with all plans.
There’s a sound set of features here. The only major problem is that there’s little mention of support anywhere on the site. No standard 24/7 guarantee, only a vague mention of “first-class service.” Even the ticket system is difficult to find from the homepage. Besides this flaw, Strato seems like a good option.
Strato doesn’t just offer cheap shared hosting. VPS (virtual private servers) and dedicated servers are just as affordable. Like the shared plans, these plans offer a true deal. Even the more expensive options rival the prices of competitors. All of Strato’s plans come with unlimited traffic, which is a necessity for popular blogs.
Both types of servers run on Plesk rather than cPanel. Note that when purchasing dedicated server hosting, Plesk is an add-on with a fee attached to it. All the dedicated hosting plans come with a variety of different add-ons. VPS servers come with a lot of free additions as well, including backups and a traffic analyzer, while dedicated hosting customers can purchase advanced tools like a gigabit uplink or a load balancer. Unlike shared hosting, you can choose either a 12-month contract or a month-to-month plan, though the latter is more expensive.
Windows VPS servers are at a big disadvantage, however. The Linux counterparts are both cheaper and have more RAM at a lower price, while the free backup service is simply not available. Luckily, Windows and Linux dedicated servers appear to be identical, though expect to pay $30 extra along with a setup fee.
Inexpensive Strato Services and Add-ons
In the market for a domain as cheap as the hosting? Not only are the prices low, but you get a huge domain package that includes many features other registrars make you pay for. Or you could purchase cloud storage with shareable links, backups, and unlimited traffic. Use it for file sharing, archives, or simple website backups.
If you’re just delving into your new blog, investing in a website builder might come in handy. The cheapest plan allows just a few pages, but for this sort of website, the premium plan and its extra pages might be more appropriate. Choose a template and get to work. You can even edit your site on your phone. There aren’t many screenshots, or a demo, but the themes appear to be aesthetically pleasing and well laid out.
Though not listed on the site, there are also “hidden” services you can buy last-minute at checkout. Advanced monitoring services for dedicated and VPS servers, or SiteLock for web hosting. Should you purchase these services and add-ons, you’ll end up paying more than you would have for normal hosting, but you will save money overall.
Cheap Hosting, Without the Catch
So, does Strato live up to its promises? A host that’s just as fast and reliable as it is cheap, with no hidden fees or drawbacks? It certainly seems so. The features offered are solid and this company gets points for implementing a transparent pricing model.
While its speed and reliability don’t appear to be attached to specific guarantees, Strato deserves a chance. More likely than not, these servers are quick. And with the top-notch security afforded by Germany’s unique privacy laws, there’s nothing to worry about on that front, either.
This is a decent-to-great host, made exceptional by its low prices. Why get the same features at double the cost from a different host? Bloggers on strict budgets or who just want the best deal will love Strato. And even the average user, balancing price and performance equally, will find that this host works very well. Give it a try; a tiny investment could lead to great things.