Just Host may not have the brand recognition of the top web hosting providers, but don’t be fooled: the company has been around for a decade, and now hosts over a million sites across its shared, VPS and dedicated hosting products.
The Just Host website aims to win new customers with the sheer length of its feature list: you get a free domain name, unlimited email addresses, bundled website builder, 1-click WordPress install, an e-commerce store, free SSL, cPanel site management, $200 of Bing and Google advertising credits, and more.
Some of the descriptions are a little vague, though – you get ‘plenty’ of disk space, apparently – and when we drilled down to the details, the reality was a little more disappointing.
Just Host’s Basic plan – from $3.95 a month over three years, renewing at a chunky $9.49 – supports 50GB storage, unlimited bandwidth, includes just five email accounts with tiny 100MB inboxes, and hosts a single website.
The Plus plan – $6.95 a month initially, $10.99 on renewal – gets you 150GB storage, 100 email accounts with 500MB storage and support for hosting 10 sites, along with extras include SpamExperts mail filtering.
The Choice Plus plan – also $6.95 initially, but $14.99 on renewal – offers unlimited everything, and adds domain privacy and CodeGuard Basic backups.
The range looks a little underpowered for the price you’re paying, especially when you check out the competition. For example, iPage supports unmetered storage and unlimited domains, and has no fixed limit on email accounts or inboxes, but costs only $1.99 a month over three years, $7.99 on renewal.
HostGator’s Baby plan is a close price match to Just Host’s Basic – $3.95 a month over three years, $9.95 on renewal – but also offers unmetered storage, and supports unlimited email addresses, domains, subdomains and more.
Just Host does at least protect you with a very fair 30-day money-back guarantee. As usual, this doesn’t include add-ons like domain registration, but there are none of the annoying catches we’ve sometimes seen elsewhere (like GoDaddy’s drop to a 48-hour guarantee period for billing frequencies of less than a year). Just cancel and you’ll get your money back.
Just Host’s product range seems to vary depending on your location. We noticed that if we accessed the site from a UK IP address, Just Host only displayed shared hosting plans, but US customers get VPS and dedicated products, too.
If you can access them, Just Host’s four managed VPS plans give you guaranteed server resources, avoiding the fighting for CPU time you’ll get with shared hosting products.
The Starter plan is a basic dual-core setup with 2GB RAM, 30GB storage and 1TB a month bandwidth, and it’s priced at $19.99 a month over three years, $29.99 billed monthly.
The top-of-the-range Ultimate plan offers 4 CPU cores, 8GB RAM, 120GB storage and 3TB bandwidth for $59.99 a month on the three-year plan, $119.99 billed monthly.
These are decent prices for the resources you’re getting, but they’re not very configurable. Hostwinds’ VPS range has many more setup options, a steep 50%+ introductory discount, and supports Windows as well as Linux hosting.
If you have the technical knowledge to cope with unmanaged VPS hosting, where you’ll have to deal with updates and low-level technical tasks, you should be able to find cheaper options elsewhere.
IONOS VPS M plan is just $10 billed monthly for 2 cores, 2GB RAM and 80GB storage, and its $30 VPS XL product includes 4 cores, 8GB RAM and 160GB storage (bandwidth is unmetered).
Just Host has similar issues with its dedicated server range. Its headline prices aren’t bad, with a starting point of $79.99 a month, $109.99 on renewal, but that only gets you 4GB RAM and 5TB bandwidth. As with VPS, Hostwinds offers more options, including Windows hosting, and unmanaged servers from providers like IONOS can give you higher specs for a much lower price.
Creating a website
If you’ve ever bought web hosting from anyone else, Just Host’s signup procedure will seem very familiar.
Choose a plan, check. Enter your contact details, check. Choose a payment method (card or PayPal), check. Hand over your cash in the usual way, and moments later, an email arrives from Just Host with all the relevant details.
The Just Host website is a little more helpful than most, immediately pointing new customers to its WordPress installer and drag-and-drop website builder.
WordPress setup is as simple as choosing a WordPress theme, and… That’s it. No settings to look at, no username or password to create or admin email to enter, just wait for a few seconds and it’s done.
Just Host spoiled the effect a little when we clicked a ‘Start Building’ button and got a ‘404 Not Found’ error, but this wasn’t a big deal. Closing that window, we returned to Just Host’s portal, clicked ‘Log in to WordPress’ and the regular WordPress dashboard appeared.
If you’re not familiar with WordPress yet, Just Host’s portal gives you easy access to some useful settings. You’re able to enable or disable plugins, tweak update settings, set your preferred comment rules and more, without having to find your away around the sometimes cluttered WordPress interface.
Satisfied with Just Host’s WordPress features, we deleted the WordPress site, hoping to try out the drag-and-drop site builder. But, for some reason, even though the portal told us we now had no sites, it continued to display a ‘Log in to WordPress’ button, which now took us to a blank page.
The Create a Site tab featured a ‘Start Building’ link for the website builder, but after choosing a domain, that just took us back to the portal and its ‘Log in to WordPress’ button.
We opened a live chat session, and a support agent responded right away. But he didn’t have a lot to say, unfortunately, beyond telling us that the ‘Create a Site’ tab was just for WordPress sites. We asked if the site builder function worked and he didn’t reply, but after persisting, he eventually admitted ‘I could see that there is issue with the Builder tool, if you wish to create the website using Builder tool I will need to escalate this to my technical specialists.’
Advertising a major feature like this, which doesn’t actually work, is always bad news. And the picture didn’t improve when we searched Just Host’s knowledgebase and found an article promising Builder would be ‘coming soon’ in… ‘Winter 2018’ (not exactly ‘soon’ when it’s October 2019).
The Builder option is best ignored, then, but Just Host does at least have a full-featured cPanel setup with all the usual file, database, domain and email management tools. Whether you’re uploading a simple static site, backing up a database or creating an entirely new site as a subdomain, there’s something for you here.
It’s tempting to choose hosting based on a simple mix of price and the length of the feature list, but uptime matters, too. Regular outages stop people finding you and drive existing users away, both of which are obviously very bad news.
We use Uptime.com to check the availability and response time of a test site. Every five minutes, over a seven-day period, we had Uptime.com access a static web page from multiple locations around the world, and log its successes, failures and the response times.
Just Host’s average response time was a disappointing 659ms. The best hosts manage 150-200ms, most of the rest are somewhere in the 200-350ms range, and that’s typically under half the Just Host average.
Consistency was another issue, with response times reaching a second or more, several times a week. That suggests our server, Just Host’s network (or both) are regularly overloaded, with too many websites competing for too few resources, and sometimes there’s just not enough to go around.
While these results were poor, keep in mind that this was a test of Just Host’s cheapest shared hosting account, and as such it can’t be used to indicate the speeds you might see from a VPS, dedicated server or any other plan.
Just Host looks great at first glance, but dig a little deeper and the cracks appear: limits with the plans, a broken website builder, feeble performance and prices that jump at renewal times. Don’t bother, Just Host has nothing that you can’t find in a better form elsewhere.