There are many options when it comes to web hosting providers. In my article “The best web hosting providers”, I reviewed 15 providers offering a wide variety of plans.
To get a better understanding of each provider, I created a basic account and ran a series test. InMotion Hosting’s offerings will be discussed in this article. Keep checking back for future articles that will provide in-depth reviews of other providers.
It can be difficult to compare the plans and offerings of different hosting providers as there are so many variables. One of the best ways I have found to gauge the performance of a provider is to compare their least expensive plan. The plan with the lowest price tag will provide the lowest quality, most attention to detail, as well as the lowest performance.
You can usually assume that the lower-shelf plans will be of similar quality if the vendor offers good customer service. InMotion Hosting provided a good level of quality.
How pricing works
In my current series of hosting reviews, I am testing basic entry-level plans. InMotion Hosting refers to this as their Launch Plan. To see pricing information, I just went to InMotionHosting.com.
You can save money by reading this section.
Their offering is misleading, as it is with almost every other hosting provider. You cannot get $4.99 per month as a flat rate.
Although it seems like the Launch plan is available for $4.99 per monthly, this only applies if you prepay for three years. That means that you will actually be paying $179.64. You’ll be charged $83.88 per month if you only want one year. That’s $6.99 per monthly.
However, there’s a catch: If you renew your hosting plan, you will pay more. This is quite common with hosting plans. I wish this would be stopped. Instead of $179.64 per year, you pay $359.64. This is a 100 percent increase.
If you are looking to save money, you can use the ‘Sales chat’ button at InMotion’s top before you place your order. After I asked for clarification, the agent offered me some money off the advertised price. Although it wasn’t much it was well worth the five minutes.
For two reasons, I criticize high renewal fees in my coverage on hosting vendors. It can be very unpleasant to receive unexpected bills that are hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, depending on which plan you choose. Switching from one hosting provider provider to another can be time-consuming, expensive, and potentially dangerous.
Although not an accepted practice, it is a common practice among hosting vendors.
What is the base Launch Plan?
Many bottom-end plans only allow one website. InMotion Launch plans allow for two websites, which was something I was surprised by. Most people start with one site. However, having a second site allows you to experiment and grow.
The second site can be used as a staging area or to test new ideas, without compromising the functionality and performance of your main site.
InMotion offers unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth and unlimited email, as do most hosting providers these days. These unlimited values can be limited in terms service. Your unlimited storage cannot be used as a backup for video dumps, such as gigabits. The company also stated that accounts that negatively affect the server or network performance will need to correct them or be asked to upgrade to virtual or dedicated servers.
Also, your site could become a huge viral success.You’ll likely have to pay more for your site to continue to function.
InMotion’s basic plan has a few more wins. InMotion hosts all their plans on SSDs. Even if a site uses caching (which reduces server load), having fast drives will always be a plus.
SSH access is available for all plans, even the basic. SSH allows you to access a website from command-line. Most entry-level website operators don’t need SSH. Trust me, sometimes command-line access can be the only way to solve a problem. SSH is something that I consider essential for sites that are important to me. But not all hosting companies offer it.
Third, all accounts are eligible for a free SSL encryption certificate. Although the offered certificate isn’t as comprehensive as a professional certificate, it will work for most browsers that access your site. Chrome won’t flag your site as non-secure.
Fourth, and most importantly: The company offers a money-back guarantee of up to 90 days. This is fantastic. This gives you the opportunity to not only learn about their service and create a website, but also allows you to test it out for yourself and ensure it works for you. This guarantee is something I want all hosting providers should offer.
The Launch program also offers email and a website builder for free.
My first instinct when I look at a new provider of hosting is to check out their dashboard. Is it a friend like cPanel or a newbie? Or is it a poorly-configured, janky open source or homegrown mess. Or is it a well-crafted custom dashboard? These are the ones I worry about the most. They almost always conceal restrictions that I will have to work around.
InMotion’s account management panel is displayed when you first log in to their dashboard. You can access your credit card information and get support. Each account is also listed as a section of the panel.
You’ll use this dashboard but not the only one. The main dashboard is cPanel. This is the common dashboard for many sites on the web. There are some management options available both in the main panel as well as in cPanel. It elevates some of more important tasks (like installing apps), to the account panels. However, it can be confusing.
Fortunately, cPanel is available. While cPanel may be frustrating at times it is a highly capable interface that allows for you to manage all aspects your site. InMotion appears to have all of the main capabilities of cPanel, so even with a basic Account, I didn’t feel restricted in any way. That’s a pleasant feeling for an entry-level account.
WordPress is not the only content management and blogging application you have. It’s an excellent place to begin, as WordPress is used by 32% of all web users. WordPress sites can easily be moved from one hosting provider to another, meaning there’s no lock-in. By testing WordPress sites, we can ensure that our testing is consistent between hosting providers.
InMotion had already created a WordPress website for me. This surprised me a bit. It was then that I deleted it.
Softaculous, a standard app installation tool, makes it as simple to install a web app as it does to install one on your smartphone. After I was certain that all the WordPress files had been deleted and the database had been removed, I clicked on the Softaculous icon. The installation was easy and quick. I had my WordPress site up in no time.
Softaculous is what I use most often. Even though installing WordPress can be done by hand, there’s still text files to edit, permissions that need to be set up correctly and other fiddling. Softaculous takes care of all that.
Next, I used cPanel to access the MySQL panel. There, I created my database, created a user and then assigned that user to the database. Connecting to the database was the only problem I encountered. Instead of using localhost, I had localhost:3306, which specifies the port to access the database.
Overall, the process of adding an app to InMotion’s cPanel was very smooth.
Quick security checks
Security is an important aspect of website management. If you run an ecommerce site, you need to ensure your site is secure from hackers, does not flag Google and can securely connect to payment engines.
Although this article is not intended to cover all aspects of security, it can provide some quick indicators that InMotion’s most cost-effective platform is one that has a secure foundation.
Multi-factor authentication is the most common. It is too easy for hackers just to hack at a website’s login screen and force a password. My site has been attacked by hackers for several weeks. However, because I have strong protections, the bad actor was unable to gain access.
InMotion has a serious security problem that I must ding. All you have to enter when you log in to their AMP, Account Management Panel, is your username and password. You cannot set up multi-factor authentication (MFA) in this instance.
You can create MFA in cPanel if your log into it. cPanel’s authentication is what makes this possible. The cPanel MFA has no value as you can access cPanel via your main AMP login. Ouch.
InMotion offers a free SSL certificate. I already mentioned this. SSL setup can be quite difficult. Google is now starting to flag sites without SSL (i.e. http ://),) if they are going to be used to accept payments.
If you use WordPress, one quick tip is to install the Really Simple SSL plug-in. It is easy to add SSL to WordPress sites with this plugin.
As a final security check, it is a good idea to inspect the versions of major components that run web apps. I selected four components that are essential to secure WordPress operation. Other apps may have other components. However, I find that they are usually up-to date if the components are current for one set.
These are my findings, using the WordPress Health Check plugin as of the date I tested it for InMotion’s launch plan.
How old are you?
Versions are constantly updated, so what I found could change for you. You can use the Health Check plugin to verify versions. Then compare the version to see if InMotion has the latest. However, my testing should give us an indication of how current their servers are.
These results are generally not bad. To be able to interpret these results, you will need to know what component it is. WordPress, for example, prefers PHP 7.2. This means that PHP, even though it is only one month old and needs to be upgraded. However, the cURL library, although it is three years old (used in ecommerce), is up-to-date enough for TLS 1.2 transactions to be supported safely.
OpenSSL 1.0.2k is supported by the company. The absolute most recent version of OpenSSL is 1.1.1. OpenSSL 1.1 broke many code pieces. OpenSSL is currently updating both the 1.0.2 and 1.1 branches. It’s enough to cause headaches, I know. InMotion’s system components are all up to par.
Next, I used online performance testing tools to test how the site performed. These tests should not be taken too seriously. The sites that they create are likely to be slow because we’re only looking at the lowest-end hosting options.
It is helpful to know what to expect. My test method is to first test WordPress on a fresh installation. Then, I use the Hello, World page which is mostly text with a header image. We can focus on the responsiveness of a page and not worry about media overhead.
I first ran two Pingdom Tools testing, one from San Francisco, and the other from Germany. Here’s the San Francisco test rating.
Here’s another site from Germany:
Next, I ran another similar test with Bitchatcha.
Finally, I finally hit the site with Load Impact. This sends 25 users virtual to the site over three minutes, then measures responsiveness.
The Load Impact test is pretty consistent with what you would expect. The responsiveness of the site becomes less consistent as more users visit it simultaneously. At the start of the test, response time was around 33ms. The test ended with a response time of 228ms.
This is a sign of a low-cost hosting plan. If your business model isn’t capable of supporting a decrease in responsiveness, you will pay more for hosting plans.
Although none of the tests demonstrated exceptional performance, I wouldn’t have expected that from a low-end plan. Despite receiving C grades on the first set of tests, they were not terrible.
I can say it in five words: This is way better than what I had expected. There were two reasons that I wanted to contact you during testing. To gauge support and to learn more about backup options, I also use a standardized test across hosting providers.
Chat was the first method of contact. The chat was the first contact. I couldn’t log in to AMP suddenly and kept receiving error messages. I reached out to Sales Chat to be transferred to a tech support chat operator who suggested that I try another browser. It was a Chrome issue. The problem was solved by clearing cookies. The chat took only a minute.
My second attempt was to determine if multi-factor authentication was available for the main dashboard. I couldn’t find it. It took me about 10 minutes for that one to connect. Unfortunately, the other one told me that there was no MFA.
The third attempt was made via voice. Initial concerns were that there was no phone support as ticket systems and chatting can sometimes take too long. There is a Skype account to connect to, even though there is no telephone number. I called inMotion Support and was connected in under two minutes.
The agent that I spoke to was reasonable in his answers. I first asked, “How often do backups of my account occur?” His reply was that he backups my account every day, but each new backup overwrites the last one.
My second question was: “Do you back up my databases?” How can I create daily backups of both my files and my databases? He sent me to cPanel and gave me a description on how to set it all up.
Unfortunately, cPanel is unable to offer an automatic, daily and incremental backup. You can, however, restore from last Tuesday. I was not able to get the instructions or refer me to scripts.
There are many options. To backup WordPress sites, I use ManageWP.com from GoDaddy. WordPress plugins can do the same.
Although the agent suggested that it may be possible to create a cron job for such an automatic backup, he didn’t share any resources to get the job done. For the record, here’s one method.
Overall, particularly for the InMotion cheap seats plan, I thought support was excellent.
For a low-end plan, you don’t want to set unrealistic expectations. It is not economically feasible to offer such a low-priced service. The provider must make up for it in volume. Enterprise and professional hosting plans that have high traffic and perform well must be more expensive.
Only by running a live website for several years can you really get a feel for how it feels to use a service. InMotion’s service was excellent. Based on my basic testing, I found that InMotion’s service was very well-equipped with support and upgrades.
Combining that with a guarantee of 90 days, I don’t see any reason to not recommend it.
You can follow me on social media for my project updates. Follow me on Twitter @ @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.