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HostMetro Review 2017

Is HostMetro a good web host? Read our full HostMetro review with pros & cons, FAQs, recommended use, performance stats, screenshots & more.

HostMetro Review

Server O/S:CloudLinux
Control Panel:cPanel
Auto-Installer:Softaculous
Data center location:Arlington Heights, IL
Shared Hosting:Yes
VPS Hosting:No
Dedicated Hosting:No
Reseller Hosting:No
Cloud Hosting:No

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A Quick Overview:

HostMetro is a small, independently-owned web hosting company in the “bargain web host” category which is recommended for those looking for the cheapest overall rates on services. HostMetro only offers shared Linux hosting plans, with no VPS, cloud, or dedicated server options available. Although it is not a high performance web host, we still recommend HostMetro when you need to lock into solid web hosting services on a shared Linux platform for less than $3 per month and not have to worry about the price changing on the renewal rates. Where other companies charge 3x to 4x per month for the same services and platform, HostMetro stands out as a good deal.

Why choose HostMetro:

  • Bargain web hosting rates with no price increase on renewal charges & long term contracts
  • Everything required for LAMP stack development and PHP script deployment with MySQL databases
  • cPanel administration of server settings and domains without bloatware, advertisements, or promotions
  • SSL Certificates, Anti-Spam, Anti-Malware, Backup, & SEO tools provided on higher cost hosting plans
  • Independent company dedicated to customer service with support agents who assist to solve problems
  • Knowledgebase of information, “how to” articles, and guides to help with account management & publishing
  • Improve pageload speeds with CloudFlare CDN integration through cPanel – cache website pages internationally

What are the disadvantages:

  • We've been tracking frequent downtime and poor performance with this host
  • Shared cPanel hosting only – no VPS, dedicated, or reseller web hosting plans available
  • Server hardware is somewhat old and is not designed to support high traffic websites
  • Lowest prices on three year contracts with more expensive rates on one & two year deals
  • Lags other companies in platform innovation & web standards implementation vs. budget framework
  • GeoTrust SSL & SiteLock Security Seal priced at $4 per month vs. free “Let's Encrypt” SSL at other hosts
  • Strict server resource usage policy that can lead to high-traffic sites being suspended or shut down

The bottom line:

With shared Linux web hosting running cPanel, there are basically only two options for the web server operating system: CentOS and CloudLinux. HostMetro's web servers run CloudLinux with Apache, MySQL, PHP, Python, Perl, & Ruby supported – and you can lock into a price of $2.95 per month for unlimited domain cPanel hosting for 3 years. Since this is everything you need to run most sites including WordPress, Drupal, Magento, Joomla, MediaWiki, etc. and includes the Softaculous app to install the scripts easily, it is clearly an excellent deal. The only problem is the benchmark of the underlying hardware, the Intel Xeon L5520 @ 2.27GHz, which is an older quad-core server with SSD storage and 200 GB of RAM per unit. The offset is that with a new or continual cutting-edge hardware investment, the price dynamic would not be present for a budget web host business model, so the older hardware is still optimized to perform at a high level. Most people will not notice the difference, due to HostMetro's strict CPU throttling and server resource allocation policies on their hosting plans. HostMetro is not recommended for high traffic websites or popular blogs, nor can site owners just upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server on the platform if their website scales. Consequently, HostMetro is recommended for those seeking a bargain web host with solid service, everything required for LAMP web development, and CloudFlare CDN integration for less than $3 per month, including the ability to host unlimited domains on the account. Many other web hosting companies offer the same service at 3x to 4x the monthly price with no discernible difference in service quality.

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HostMetro User Reviews

Customer reviews are always good. Here are some reviews submitted to us by real HostMetro customers. Keep in mind, customers typically only send us reviews when they are dissatisfied with the company and their complaints may be warranted or not.

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  • HTGO

    Michael

    |
    United States
    |
    July 20, 2017
    |
    Customer Rating:
    Buyer Beware

    The real positive about Hostmetro is the 2.95 per month – if your buy 3 year plan – price tag. I have 9 domains hosted through Hostmetro and I am in the process of moving them all. Here's why: Customer service is poor. Online chat techs always have to call someone else to fix the problem and it usually gets turned into a support ticket. Uptime has dropped off recently. Its below 98 percent. Servers are SLOW. Mark O'Donnell, a member of the support team has a temper. When you complain about the problems not being taken care of in a timely manner he send you scathing emails. At one point he demanded that I provide proof that I didn't file a dispute with my credit card company about a charge. How can I prove something DIDN'T happen? So, Buyer beware. Don't be blinded by low prices.

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Expert Opinion – Our In-Depth Review of HostMetro

Many review sites online report that HostMetro was founded in 2005 or in 2012, but this information is actually incorrect. HostMetro was founded in 2008 by Gary Chon. Because HostMetro is still a small company in the web hosting sector, there is not a lot of information on the founder and start-up available online. HostMetro has never made it a point to widely publicize information about the company's founding like GoDaddy has with their Superbowl commercials and the much larger reach of their marketing campaigns. The truth of the matter is that HostMetro was founded on the idea that ordinary people should find it easy, affordable, and reliable to create and manage their own website. HostMetro refuses to hide behind renewal rates just to get the first sale. Rather than deceptive advertising, the company posits: “what you see is what you get.” HostMetro holds their support techs to high standards because they believe people should have access to quality help if they need it. In summary, HostMetro works to provide their customers with the best tools possible to host their websites while maintaining an independent position on a competitive footing against much larger companies in the sector.

HostMetro is not a white-label reseller hosting company, but rather maintains an independently owned data center in Illinois. The company does not have any hardware in colocation centers or international locations.The company offers a LAMP platform with CloudLinux, Apache servers, and cPanel administration of accounts. HostMetro supports PHP, Python, Ruby, & Perl for web programming with unlimited MySQL databases available for script deployment. Softaculous is provided in cPanel for one-click script installation along with MySQL database creation wizards. The main difference between the Mega Max Plan and the Super Max Plan at HostMetro is the inclusion of a SSL certificate, SEO tools, and a daily security scan. As both accounts support unlimited domains with similar allocations of server resources, we recommend taking advantage of the cost savings on the Mega Max Plan and using HostMetro as a cheap hosting solution for multiple domain portfolio publishing.

HostMetro is a bargain web host, which provides a standard level of shared Linux hosting resources to customers at rock-bottom prices to challenge the larger cloud companies in the industry. Why pay three or four times the price for the same service at GoDaddy, Bluehost, or GreenGeeks? Bargain web hosts are also able to take advantage of utilizing older hardware more efficiently. For example, HostMetro's data center is based on Intel Xeon L5520 @ 2.27GHz servers, which were top of the line in 2012, but still perform well with SSD storage drives in 2017. However, we would still like to see a hardware upgrade and more development of cloud platform options at HostMetro, even at a higher price level, to balance their budget accounts.

HostMetro has transparently stated standards about server CPU throttling limits and file storage policies related to their hosting plans. The customer service agents are quick to reply, knowledgeable, and friendly about helping to solve problems. With the servers running CloudLinux, Apache, cPanel, and the latest versions of MySQL, PHP, Perl, Python, etc., HostMetro is providing some of the best value in the hosting industry at the price level, with free CloudFlare CDN integration available on every plan.

Hosting Plans & Features – Which One is Right For Me?

HostMetro has made the decision to concentrate on providing two unlimited domain shared hosting plans under cPanel, along with domain name registration services and secure email hosting, as their core company service offerings. You will not find any dedicated servers, VPS plans, or reseller hosting accounts on their website. HostMetro only offers two plans: the Mega Max Plan and the Super Max Plan. Between the two plans, most of the stack software on the platform is the same. The main differences are the provision of a GeoTrust SSL/TLS certificate with the Super Max Plan and also domain privacy, SEO tools, and a daily malware scan. HostMetro values the upgrade at $5 per month but offers it at $4 per month extra on a three year deal. Additional GeoTrust certificates for domains are $12.50 per year. Otherwise, both accounts provide an industry standard cPanel on CloudLinux unlimited domain hosting platform with email, FTP, MySQL databases, Softaculous, File Manager, CloudFlare CDN, etc. Because HostMetro does not increase the price on renewals, site owners are getting the same service as they would from Bluehost, HostGator, or GreenGeeks at around 75% discount per month. The price is $4.95 per month over 1 year, $3.95 per month over 2 years, and $2.95 per month over 3 years with $4 extra per month for the Super Max upgrade. Both plans include a free domain name registration and website transfer.

Overview of HostMetro's Shared Hosting Plans

Shared Plans:Introductory Price:Renewal Price:Compare:
Mega Max Plan$2.95/mo$4.95/moView Details
Super Max Plan$6.95/mo$8.95/moView Details

Most people will appreciate the simplicity and ease of use of HostMetro's service offerings. The pricing structure and tier levels on their web hosting plans is also easy to understand. The Mega Max Plan will support unlimited domain names, MySQL databases, and email accounts. HostMetro has clearly delineated their CPU throttling and storage restrictions in the terms of service. As long as the domains in your portfolio do not exceed 10% total use allocation of CPU resources over 90 seconds, or exceed over 200,000 total files, there should be no problems with hosting on the plan. Multimedia storage is technically limited to 2 GB and personal file storage is not permitted on the servers. HostMetro states that over 95% of their clients never exceed these plan limits, so that is their basic business model. Clients should be prepared to optimize CMS driven websites built on WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc. with file and database caching in order to get the best performance out of the server resources provided on the plans.

With the SEO tools and daily malware scan offered on the Super Max upgrade, most users will not likely find these overly useful. It may be marginally cheaper just to order SSL/TLS certificates at $12.50 per year from the company for every domain required vs. the $4 per month for a single GeoTrust Certificate with the Super Max plan. Fortunately, the HostMetro price for SSL certificates is still cheaper than many other companies. In summary, we recommend the rock-bottom pricing of the Mega Max plan and much of the value of this is lost when adding $4 for the SSL certificate with upgrade to the Super Max plan. If your multi-domain portfolio requires many SSL certificates for each site, it may be better to seek out a web host that offers free “Let's Encrypt” certificates with every registered domain. Otherwise, we highly recommend HostMetro for low-cost multi-domain shared Linux hosting with cPanel with their Mega Max plans priced at the lowest rates in the industry.

Shared Hosting – Mega Max Plan: Free domain registration, unlimited websites, maximum storage & bandwidth, unlimited email accounts & MySQL databases

The Mega Max plan provides a rock-solid CloudLinux server with cPanel administration and the ability to host unlimited domains, MySQL databases, and email accounts. This is everything most people require for web hosting and development with open source scripts through Softaculous. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, etc. will all run well on this account, even multi-site installations, though the more traffic each domain receives will increase the strain on server load. The unfortunate aspect is that popular domains running on CMS sites will quickly exceed the account limits for the Mega Max plan, but since 95% of websites are not popular and many not even profitable, then the need for reliable hosting in the $3 per month range becomes more important. Independent publishers and bloggers can make great use of HostMetro's Mega Max plan, which is also adequate for many small business site solutions. The important point to note is that since there is not a major functional difference between HostMetro's unlimited domain shared Linux plans and those offered by the big name companies like Bluehost, GoDaddy, HostGator, etc. why pay 3x to 4x more for the same product and level of service? HostMetro's discount rates here are best in the industry and do not change on renewal. However, site owners do need to lock into a 3 year contract for the lowest monthly rates.

Shared Hosting – Super Max Plan: Same as unlimited Mega Max plan with extras of GeoTrust SSL Certificate, Domain Privacy, SEO tools, & daily malware scan

The GeoTrust SSL/TLS Certificate is valued at $2.50 per month and the SiteLock Security Seal is also valued at $2.50 per month, making the SEO tools, SEO ebook, and daily malware scan also provided in the Super Max plan upgrade technically free. Most website owners will need the SSL/TLS certificate for https encryption but the other parts of this plan are not so useful. The main problem is how many domains in a multi-domain portfolio will need a SSL/TLS certificate. If your business includes many ecommerce websites or if you encrypt every domain, etc. the prices can obviously add up and make hosting plans at other web hosting companies more appropriate. We would not actually recommend these plans (at a bargain host) to clients with demanding ecommerce applications for web hosting. Rather, we would recommend them for people who needed to host a portfolio of low traffic domains under development at the lowest price on a reliable Linux server with cPanel administration. Plans with “Let's Encrypt” certificates are a better option for multiple-domain portfolio owners who require https across many different ecommerce websites along with the lowest pricing on hosting. “Let's Encrypt” SSL/TLS certificates are free.

In summary, the Mega Max plan can be singled out for recommendation for those looking for shared Linux web hosting at the lowest price and from an honest company not trying to practice deceptive advertising through renewal rate changes. That is one of the aspects that most distinguishes the HostMetro plans – no nonsense on the billing, discounts, and renewal rates at all. Instead, a focus on bringing a rock-solid, industry standard shared Linux hosting account to anybody at $2.95 per month. The renewal rates for a similar plan at any of the most popular companies is frequently around $12.95 per month for the same level of service. HostMetro uses quad-core Intel servers with 200 GB of RAM and SSD storage on every unit. We recommend HostMetro to small business owners, web developers, and independent publishers who need the lowest rates on reliable shared Linux hosting for developing a portfolio of domains. However, site owners should have pre-prepared options available for migrating popular sites to cloud, VPS, or dedicated server solutions at other web hosts.

Ease of Use – Account Management & Control Panel

The HostMetro Account Management Panel (AMP) can be used for account billing and technical support issues while providing quick navigation to cPanel for server administration and domain name control. HostMetro has an issue ticket system, as well as phone and live chat support, which can be accessed from the customer portal. The company is phenomenally quick in responding to user problems, and helpful in all regards at offering solutions to technical issues. The AMP is easy to navigate, simple and minimally designed like most of the HostMetro website. The AMP/cPanel navigation suite is designed for beginners, everyday users, and web professionals. Developers can also search the Knowledgebase for articles, tutorials, and FAQ pages on account management issues.

Screenshot of the HostMetro AMP (Account Management Panel)

Review of the Control Panel

The HostMetro cPanel install is a simple, clean and easy to use navigation for domain name settings and server administration. Super Max plan holders will find their SEO tools and book in special icons here in the cPanel. The developer tool set includes File Manager, MySQL database wizards, email, FTP, PHP settings, statistics, analytics, subdomains, and phpMyAdmin. Site owners have the option to turn on CloudFlare CDN support through cPanel, although that will change the DNS records to point to CloudFlare's servers. There are also tools to change the PHP version and add or remove various packages to the PHP install. Overall, this is a fairly routine cPanel installation that anyone who has used the software should be familiar with and is an industry-wide standard in web hosting plans on CentOS/CloudLinux + Apache web servers.

Screenshot of the HostMetro cPanel

Servers, Network, & Performance

Servers: HostMetro is based in a Arlington Heights, IL data center with a central U.S. location and no international branches. The company is privately owned, maintains its own hardware, and does not lease space in a colocation facility. Web server hardware configurations used on the shared hosting accounts are:

Processing
Type: Intel Xeon L5520
Cores: 4
Speed: 2.27 GHz

Memory
Amount: 200 GB

Storage
Type: SSD

Network: HostMetro uses older quad-core Intel server hardware with fast SSD drives and large RAM installations to perform moderately well. Although recent speed tests indicate frequent downtime and poor performance from our HostMetro test sites.

Performance: We continually test and monitor the performance of HostMetro with Pingdom site monitoring tools to get a more technical measure of performance data. The results below are dynamically pulled from Pingdom:

Server Uptime & Response Report – October 2017

Hosting Type Tested: Shared

Hosting Plan: Mega Max

Location Tested: North America

Description: Performance stats of the last 30 days from our HostMetro test account.

Server uptime: 99.87%
Response Time: 673 ms
# of outages: 20

NOTE ABOUT TEST STATS: The above data may not be fully 100% representative of all the websites hosted on HostMetro. There are too many factors that influence performance stats. Read our notes here on this.

Helpful FAQs About HostMetro

Here are some frequently asked questions about HostMetro you may find helpful:

You can order a web hosting plan from HostMetro by visiting their website, www.hostmetro.com. New users need to choose a new domain name or transfer an existing domain to the platform. You can choose either the Mega Max or Super Max plan and add domain privacy, secure email, etc. to the account.

HostMetro accepts all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, & Discover) as well as PayPal.

You can cancel your account at any time. Simply call, email, or live chat their billing department and fill out a cancellation form.

Yes. HostMetro offers a 30 day money back guarantee. If you cancel after 30 days, you won't be eligible for a refund. Also note, if you register a domain name through HostMetro, there is a non-refundable $14.95 fee. You do keep the domain name and can transfer it or point it somewhere else. Other non-refundable purchases include the GeoTrust SSL/TLS certificates, SiteLock Security Seal, website transfer fees, & domain privacy services.

Disadvantages Explained – Things HostMetro Could Improve

As with any web host, there are pros and cons. We’ve discussed many of the pros for HostMetro, but here’s a further explanation of the cons:

Server CPU Speeds: In benchmark tests, Intel's E3 series server chips perform a full 2x faster (200%+) than the Xeon L5520 @ 2.27GHz, while the latest E5 series tests out at 3x faster (300%+). Although it can be argued that it simply takes a larger number of the older servers to accomplish what a single one of the newer servers can manage with domain traffic, the point is there is also some performance difference that will accumulate between use of the two different hardware configurations in web hosting based on database and script processing. HostMetro is not providing elite hardware configurations but rather using the older hardware for budget hosting at highly optimized speeds with SSD storage, so in this instance the disadvantage can also be seen as an advantage if the priority is overall cost savings on the hosting plans.

Account Throttle Limits: While every web host has account limits and website throttling procedures based on the over-use of CPU resources, HostMetro has a fairly strict policy of 90 seconds only over the 10% CPU limit. This means any traffic spike or even development work could lead to the website being taken offline if it exceeds these levels. Because websites cannot be expected to scale with viral activity, social media promotions, or advertising campaigns, and will have to be moved to another host entirely if they become popular, HostMetro's entire platform gets a downgrade.

Domain Pricing: At $14.95 for .com and other TLD registrations, most users will be better off to seek lower prices elsewhere on domain names. Namecheap and GoDaddy both average between $.99 and $9.99 on gTLD registration costs. There is no advantage to transferring a domain name to HostMetro, however, because the company includes free domain names with every new account registration. The $2.50 per month privacy charge on the domain pro-rated into the Super Max upgrade can also be seen as excessive in many ways.

Charges Extra for Secure Email: Rather than making all email services secure on their platform, HostMetro charges $2.50 per month for a “Secure Email” upgrade account. While we agree with the need for enhanced security on email data, it would be better for this to be a default option rather than at extra cost. Basically, it comes down to buying and maintaining an extra SSL certificate at the $2.50 per month price level and using that for email server transmissions.

DID YOU KNOW? All web hosting accounts at HostMetro are covered by the Exclusive Metro Max Guarantee of customer service.

Additional Features Worth Mentioning

Recognizing that shared Linux web hosting running CentOS or CloudLinux and cPanel is the most popular product in the web hosting industry, HostMetro has made a business decision to focus on providing that “Platform as a Service” offering to its clients at the cheapest costs, further making the service simple, reliable, and easy to use. Most website owners use exactly what HostMetro provides on the shared hosting accounts and do not require more. The bargain host approach combined with a small business outlook towards customer service relations makes HostMetro a strong choice for those looking to host multiple domain portfolios at a rock-bottom cost.

Discount Rates on SSL/TLS Certificates: While they quote the GeoTrust SSL/TLS certificate at $2.50 per month in the Super Max upgrade, a single certificate is available at $12.50 per year. This is a fairly standard price and can be used to estimate the costs for multi-domain hosting with https on all websites using the service.

Free Website Transfers on Sign-up: HostMetro offers customers a free website transfer when signing up for a new account. This can be worth taking advantage of due to the time involved in packing the files and database. Otherwise, it makes set up of a new account easier and helps make the transition between companies simple.

Small Business Approach to Customer Service: HostMetro has a skilled technical support team who operate with a small business approach of valuing customers more than just numbers in a large corporate system. They are actively excepting customers who want to stay away from GoDaddy & EIG brands.

Best Platform as a Service Costs: Since CloudLinux and cPanel provide the same product across different hardware standards, and Apache, PHP, MySQL, etc. are the core of the platform software being used in web hosting, it doesn't make sense to pay more for the same product at other companies.

Conclusion – To Host or Not to Host?

As we reach the conclusion of our HostMetro review, we hope that it helped you decide whether or not you should host your site with them. HostMetro is a popular choice, but not always the best one. Every site is different and you’ll need to determine the right balance between price, features, and performance. For a full list of all HostMetro supported features, you can visit their website at www.hostmetro.com.

Let Us Know Your Thoughts

Have you used HostMetro before? Have any positive or negative experience you’d like to share with us? Email us your honest feedback at