WebFaction Review: UK-Based Hosting Designed for Developers
WebFaction belongs to a different class of hosting company. It doesn’t cater to novice bloggers or new site owners, and it doesn’t attempt to distinguish itself based on ease-of-use or low price.
Rather, it explicitly aims itself at developers. If you’re building a brand based on a web-deployed app or SaaS (software-as-a-service), and you’re looking for a UK-based hosting provider that can provide the right structure for your needs, WebFaction may be a good fit for you.
If you’re an established blogger, you may want to explore WebFaction’s affiliate program; it could open up a new online revenue stream for you.
WebFaction does not seem to offer an “about” page or any official corporate history on its website.
The company was founded in the early 2000’s (possibly as early as 2003), in London. It recently relocated to Hayes in the UK.
Part of the Paragon Internet Group, WebFaction focuses on hosting and does not seem to offer any significant digital services except those directly associated with its hosting plans.
WebFaction’s Plans and Features
WebFaction offers two types of plans: shared and cloud. There’s just a single shared hosting plan, but it does offer some measure of customization by allowing customers to pay extra for upgrades to major features (disk storage, bandwidth, and memory). Customers can add an unlimited number of domains to a single account, up to the specified feature restrictions.
The WebFaction version comes with developer-centric features you don’t normally expect in shared hosting plans. You’ll get full shell access, access to a custom API, and the ability to customize and deploy your own apps. What’s more, the WebFaction network automatically balances your application’s resource usage across servers and data centers to increase its stability and improve performance.
WebFaction also offers five cloud-based hosting plans with stair-step levels of access to various features, such as bandwidth, storage, and memory.
All WebFaction plans come with fully managed servers. The company also asserts that it keeps the latest version of all languages enabled on its servers, including Python, PHP, Ruby, Node.js, and more. This will help keep your software, as well as your site or blog, running efficiently and at optimal levels, no matter what demands are being placed on it from traffic spikes or usage.
WebFaction’s network employs quad-core 3.4Ghz CPUs and HDD disks in a RAID-10 configuration. The servers are housed in data centers located in multiple locations globally, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America.
The company continually monitors its servers’ performance to address any issues as quickly as possible. It also routinely updates the tools installed on the servers as soon as new versions are released.
Blogging-Specific Features in WebFaction Plans
Bloggers with audiences interested in hosting recommendations may find the affiliate program useful in establishing supplemental revenue streams for their brands.
As do many hosting companies, WebFaction offers an affiliate program for customers who are happy with the services and promote WebFaction to their own audiences and readers. For promotional efforts that result in sales, an affiliate will receive 10% of the amount spent in the prior month.
Over 200,000 apps are already available with WebFaction. However, this isn’t a hosting company that relies on one-click scripts for installation of those apps.
WebFaction provides a specific written guide for migrating a WordPress site to its servers from a different web hosting provider. However, it’s fairly technical and may intimidate many WordPress bloggers.
Of course, this hosting provider isn’t really designed for the technical novice in the first place. But just in case, WebFaction also offers one-click installations for WordPress, as well as some other popular apps.
While WebFaction does have profiles on both Twitter and Facebook, neither account is terribly active or well-maintained, so don’t expect to get any significant customer service attention on either social media site.
WebFaction also does not offer an extensive knowledgebase the way many other competitors do. There is, however, a thorough, if somewhat confusingly organized, user’s guide.
Your main option for individualized support is the company’s ticket-based system accessed through your customer control panel. There, you can set the priority to assist in getting the appropriate level of response. Low priority requests are those defined as being “of a speculative or informative nature,” while urgent ones include items that result in data loss, server crashes, and other issues that prevent access to your site or data.
You may also find it worthwhile to explore your issue in the user community forums provided by WebFaction. There you can find discussions of a range of topics and problems, with commentary and suggestions offered both by other users as well as WebFaction staff.
There is no support offered via telephone or live-chat so if that is important to you, you should look elsewhere.
Billing and Guarantees
WebFaction offers a free trial period with no credit card required on sign-up, which should be helpful. However, the trial period is only two days — forty-eight hours — and that fact is not disclosed anywhere on the site as far as we can tell. To get that information, you’ll have to go through the enrollment process.
You will select a contract period length when you sign up for service (i.e., not for the trial period). You can choose either a month-to-month term, or alternatively select an annual basis (one to three years at a time).
If you want to terminate your service with WebFaction, you can do so at any time through your account’s control panel.
Payment is accepted from major credit cards as well as through PayPal. You can pay monthly on a regular basis, or you can prepay. The company permits one-off prepayments one, three, six, or twelve months in advance. Alternatively, you can add any amount to your balance to cover any part of future invoices.
WebFaction for Bloggers: The Bottom Line
WebFaction’s targets customers are developers and site owners who are building out apps and other kinds of tech-functional websites.
If that description fits your brand, and you’d like to farm out server maintenance to a hosting company so you’re free to work on development and deployment of your app or SaaS site, WebFaction may offer the right mix of control, hardware infrastructure, and value for your needs.
If your needs are simpler — a straightforward WordPress blog, for example, with no additional needs to deploy and support an app — WebFaction may be more than you need. However, it may not hurt to have additional resources available should the need arise down the road for you.