For remote hosting of your Web site, iPowerWeb gives you almost everything you need with its Business Pro and Windows Pro packages. Unfortunately, the site's design tools are buggy, and its tech support is mediocre at best. iPowerWeb is not for newbies or anyone who needs help building or managing a site; those users should look to user-friendly Web hosts such as Yahoo or EarthLink instead. That said, savvy Netizens will appreciate the overall bang iPowerWeb gives for the buck.
iPowerWeb prices its services based on the length of a contract. For example, a 12-month contract is $7.95 per month and buys you 3GB of storage and 50GB of bandwidth, along with 500 e-mail in-boxes, a free domain name with five subdomains, and a mess of e-commerce and database tools. A 24-month contract costs $6.95 per month for the same package. For Windows Server hosting, the prices are $9.95 per month with a 12-month contract and $8.95 per month with a 24-month contract. With all of these services, you also get detailed statistics and lots of help with promoting your site, such as submitting it to search engines. Many à la carte services, such as extra domain names or a dedicated server, are available for a few dollars more.
|Business Pro||Windows Pro|
|Domain registration included||Yes||Yes|
|Data transfer per month||50GB||50GB|
|Phone and e-mail support||Telephone support; e-mail||Telephone support; e-mail|
* The example price above is based on a 12-month contract. The iPowerWeb rate varies by terms of contract service; for example, a 3-month Business Pro contract runs $9.95 plus a $30 setup fee.
But don't expect a lot of hand-holding while building your site from scratch. iPowerWeb offers hundreds of page templates, all of them virtually identical--and not in a good way. And while the company's online Web-site creator comes with a ton of tools for customizing pages, they don't always work. For example, we were unable to insert images into our page designs, page previews didn't always reflect the changes we made, and there was no way to alter the size of text boxes within a template. So if, say, the title of your home page contains more than 29 characters, you'll have to manually edit the HTML inside the template or shorten the title. However, the company says that by the time you read this, it will be offering a new site-builder application that should remedy some of these issues.
iPowerWeb's phone-support line offers a fine selection of on-hold music, which is good because you'll be hearing a lot of it. On average, we waited between 10 and 20 minutes every time we called. Even worse, once a technician came on the line, the help was often less than helpful. Most of the answers were some variation on "our site-builder software isn't able to do this, but if you know HTML code..." One technician recommended using Microsoft Office FrontPage or Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 to build our site, which was the best advice we got.
You can also submit a question via a Web form; iPowerWeb promises to answer within one business day. You must also supply your password or part of your credit card number, which travels unencrypted across the Net. We got our responses within one day, but the answers didn't always solve our problems.