HostMetro’s tagline is “affordable web hosting”, and they boast that you get affordable hosting with cPanel web hosting. They also have an attractive “Price Lock Guarantee”, which means you’ll be locked into a lifetime hosting price, without big rate increases down the road (think Comcast). But is an affordable, cPanel licensed price lock guarantee too good to be true? Well, unfortunately yes. As my late grandfather used to say, “You get what you pay for!”
HostMetro - An Independent Web Host
There isn’t too much info out there on the group behind HostMetro, but they do state that they are independent of EIG, the publicly traded conglomerate that owns half the hosting companies out there. Which is good. I’m all for independent go-getters who want to “stick it to the man” and “fight the machine” with your superior offering. But undercutting the big dog in price, cutting features on the backend, and then trying to upsell to rates higher than the big guys once you’re locked in isn’t the best approach, in my humble opinion.
MAXIMUM Hosting Space and Bandwidth
Maximum! This is good, right? Note that “Maximum” is different than “Unlimited” or “Unmetered” – which is what most other hosts tend to offer for a slightly higher price, such as Bluehost or HostGator.
I went to setup simple HTTP monitoring (basic ping check) to calculate my demo site’s uptime. Within 20-minutes my server resources had hit their max for the 24hr period. I was pinging the demo site at once per minute, from two dozen locations worldwide, in round-robin fashion. So the site had received approximately 20 “visitors”, all from different IPs, and it crashes the site? This test wasn’t even utilizing full-browser download scripts for website performance – it was simply server uptime/response checks.
Ugh… that’s frustrating.
So if you’re planning to do any marketing to your HostMetro website, you may want to reconsider. That email blast to a measly list of 100 subscribers? What if you generate 20 click-throughs in 20-minutes? Apparently you’d be “S.O.L.”.
HostMetro Uptime and Speed
24hrs later, I tried website monitoring again, this time with a 15-minute delay between uptime checks. I ran the testing for 7-days, and found HostMetro to have a 97% uptime, significantly less than their 99% uptime guarantee.
frequent 500 errors on basic shared hosting…
HostMetro cPanel - Less is... worse!
HostMetro has recently pulled the backup functionality from cPanel, and are funneling users into paid premium backup service. This is absolutely ridiculous, as the default cPanel software has a backups manager built right in. They have purposely stripped this functionality from their cPanel installation, and are nickeling-and-diming their customers into unneeded and completely unnecessary up-sells.
Additionally, as of June 2016, their knowledgebase has an article entitled, “How do I use the backup utility?” The directions read as follows:
To download a backup file:
- Click on the Backup button in the Control Panel.
- Click on the Weekly backup file to download the entire system backup for the indicated time, or click on the link
underneath the required area to download an SQL, Alias, or Filter backup file. Refer to Generating a backup if you need to generate
a backup first before downloading it.
Note: To download any previous stored backups, click on the Generate/Download a Full Backup link, and click on any backup that is listed.
- Save the file to disk.
Well, HostMetro, that’s rather difficult to do since you’ve purposely removed this default cPanel button, and are wanting your customers to purchase your ridiculously unnecessary “Account Backup Service” for $19.95 annually.
“Account Backup Service
The account backup service will backup and store your website files on a weekly basis for you. This also bypasses our standard 3GB backup limit, accounts of any size will be automatically backed up. All backups are stored on our secure backup server. You also are given a backup-on-demand option that allows you to take your own backups and restore them at any time through your cPanel.”
Then in order to restore the backup, they want you to purchase their “Backup Restore” for $39.95!
“Our support team will restore a backup of your hosting account from a previous date. This will replace any unwanted changes that have taken place on your account.”
And if that’s not enough, they even have a “Premium Account Backup Service” for only $24.95 annually.
“You get everything from the Account Backup service plus we will restore any automated backups we’ve taken for you for free!”
What a deal!!
Keep in mind that none of these backup options are listed on the front-end of their website, mind you, this is only visible after hosting has been purchased, and you’re logged into their billing area as a paid client.
The “addons” contain 12 upsells, such as Primary Domain Name Change – $15, which the vast majority of hosting providers will simply do for free if you open a support ticket.
Pitching yourself as one of the most affordable hosts out there, then pressuring your clients into these unecessary upsells just irks me.
HostMetro even has video tutorials of the standard exceptions of a cPanel host, before they decided to strip functionality and create more upsells, without telling anyone.
This video is prominent in their public facing knowledgebase as of June 2016, supposedly showing the features of the HostMetro cPanel.
And check out the Google AdSense ads they’re running on their own video tutorials. Now there’s a company that is after every penny they can squeeze out of their audience. (Is it just me, or is this just a little desperate when you’re letting competitors advertise on your own customer videos in the hopes of earning a few extra bucks).
Yes, yes, you can still go into phpMyAdmin and export your SQL database, and access your site via FTP, downloading a copy of your public_html folder from the web root… but this is about principle! Stripping default cPanel features, using sneaky terminology like “Maximum”, all with a low cost entry point designed to pressure upsells on your customers down the road is just downright deceptive. Especially to those entry level target customers who don’t know any better.
Do I Recommend HostMetro?
Simply put, no.
If you’re looking for a run-of-the-mill platform that utilizes a stripped down version of cPanel, has “support” that is more sales/upsell pushing than anything, and has intermittent server issues, but the lifetime price lock of $2.95/mo or $35.40/year affordability outweighs the bad, then go for it.
But even with a small budget of $35/year there are plenty of better hosts out there to choose from, such as A Small Orange.
My Mama always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…” Well, then what would the point of an honest hosting review be, if I wasn’t willing to tell it like it is.
I end this HostMetro review with an exposé, my adaptation of the HostMetro About Us page… Yes, it is humorous satire, but it’s also indented to summarize my straightforward review and experience as a client of HostMetro.
Either way, before you jump into bed with a hosting provider, be sure to read my Best WordPress Hosting post, which showcases the best of the best, for any needs and budget.
“Simply put, we believe in providing top quality [average] support and service, and believe in our product [will make us tons of money with the right commission structure for our hungry sales reps]. Our goal is to make it affordable, easy to create, manage, and maintain your website and hosting account [once you buy our upsells sprinkled throughout the system]. Not only do we offer tools [at a price] to help you create and maintain your website, we also have a technical support [sales] team [masked as technical support] filled with knowledgeable individuals who meet the high standard [sales quotas] that we have for all of our employees. That’s why our clients [our marketing department] rated us as reliable web host. When you contact us you will always be talking to someone who will be willing and able to help [sell you] with whatever [our system doesn’t provide that] you need.”