Like most things in life, you get what you pay for in the Web hosting world; with Hostway, you pay more, but you get more, too. The company sells several hosting packages with varying degrees of storage and bandwidth. Each comes with Hostway's comprehensive site-design tool, and all but the most basic bundle offers an e-commerce option. Though Hostway's packages cost a few bucks more per month (and provide a bit less storage and bandwidth) than those of its low-cost and no-cost competitors, such as Brinkster and EarthLink, the added features and the excellent service and support make sense for those who want more than a mere warehouse for their site.
Hostway offers four different flavors of its shared Web hosting packages. The first, Personal, costs $8.95 per month (and you must commit to at least 12 months) for 150MB of storage, 10GB of bandwidth, 5 e-mail accounts, and SiteBlog blogging software. The next step up is Gold, which goes for $15.95 if you pay per month or $13.95 per month if you sign up for a year. The Gold plan consists of 600MB of storage, 50GB of bandwidth, and 25 e-mail addresses. Third in line, at $21.95 per month or $19.95 per month for 12 months, is Gold Plus, which features 800MB of storage, 100GB of bandwidth, and 60 e-mail addresses. Lastly, the Platinum plan gives you unlimited bandwidth plus 1.2GB of storage and 200 e-mail accounts for $26.95 per month, based on a yearlong term. All but the Personal plan supply an e-commerce option and the opportunity to host your site on a Windows server (at an additional cost). Moreover, the Gold Plus and Platinum plans offer a MySQL database and PHP support. For companies with heavy-duty data-storage and bandwidth needs, Hostway also offers dedicated hosting (that is, hosting where your content resides on its own server).
|Domain registration included||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Data transfer per month||10GB||30GB||100GB||Unlimited|
|Phone and e-mail support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
The Hostway site-design tool, SiteBuilder, impressed us with plenty of feature and design choices in an easy-to-understand format. You start by picking a template from the dozens available, which are all categorized by industry, such as auto, travel, and art. You then alter the template's color, graphics, text, and arrangement of items. Finally, you can choose several bonus features for your site, such as a flash intro page, a guestbook, and a photo album. More expensive packages include an even more full-featured version of SiteBuilder, which lets you build user forums, maps, and other elements into your site. Hostway protects your finished masterpiece with e-mail aliases and automatic backups.
You use the control panel on Hostway's site to adjust most of the settings on your site. Through the panel, you can access the site-design tool to build and publish your site; you can then manage the site throughout its life cycle by performing tasks such as creating a database, establishing new e-mail accounts, setting up autoresponders, and directing your e-mail to be forwarded while you're away. If you host multiple sites with Hostway, you can conveniently manage them through this single control panel. Another welcome feature is the ability to view detailed reports on visitors and traffic to your site. We also liked the Web-based e-mail client, which lets you check your e-mail from any computer with a Web connection.
Hostway does an excellent job of providing service and support to its customers. Its toll-free phone lines are open 24/7, and we never encountered a phone queue that lasted longer than five minutes. Even the calls we placed on a Sunday were answered promptly. If you choose to seek out your own answers, you can consult the online FAQs and the electronic manual posted on the company's site. The only way Hostway could improve in this area is to offer a live-chat feature through its Web site.