iPage offers a shared hosting plan that – to judge by the feature page – rivals many of its competitors. iPage divides its features into seven categories:
- Core Features
- Designing & Building Your Site
- Selling Online
- World-Class Technology
- Marketing Your Site
- Sending & Receiving Email
Let’s review the features included in the iPage essential plan by reviewing each section. Note that for some sections, you cannot see all the features unless you click on the “Features for Geeks” button at the bottom of the feature list.
iPage Core Features
iPage considers disk space, transfer, domains allowed and MySQL databases to be its core features. The term disk space refers to the amount of storage you have on a web server to store your web files and “anything else you wish to load to your account with iPage.” Transfer refers to data transfer, also called bandwidth. Bandwidth is used every time a file is uploaded to your account or downloaded from your account. Bandwidth is used both by the site owner and by site visitors. Domains allowed refers to the number of different sites you can have. And MySQL databases are used for websites and embedded applications.
Many web hosts offer “unlimited” disk space and bandwidth. iPage also refers to “unlimited disk space, bandwidth” on its home page, but prefers to refer to “loads” of disk space and bandwidth, on the features page. In a linked page http://www.ipage.com/legal/legal_unlimited.bml?type=details
it is explained that while there is no number provided, there are finite resources allocated, which “99.95% of all customers” have no problem with. However, it also says, “Typically, customers who fall outside the normal range are using their accounts for file storage or sharing rather than hosting.” This directly contradicts the note that says you can upload “anything else you wish to load.” It is recommended that you clarify this point prior to obtaining hosting.
Designing and Building Your iPage Site
First, there is a drag-and-drop site builder, with which you can build a 6-page site, and a template-based site builder, with which you can only build a 9-page site without paying extra, a fact that this page fails to mention. You can also build a site using a number of content management systems (such as Drupal, e107, Joomla!, and Mambo), as well as blogging software (b2evolution, PixelPost, or WordPress), but this is only mentioned in the “Features for Geeks” section, though it does specify that you get a blog set-up wizard. You also get a personalized domain name free for a year, a photo gallery setup wizard (for Coppermine, Gallery2, or ZenPhoto), and a Google Custom Search Engine.
In the Features for Geeks section, you can also see the available Hosting Utilities and Settings, including secure FTP and an FTP manager, custom error pages, URL redirect services, FrontPage Extensions, and MIME types. In the Supported Software and Scripts section, it notes that PERL support, Server Side Includes (SSI), and Website backup are included.
The Multimedia Features section in Features for Geeks specifies that in addition to text files, there is also support for Real Audio & Video, Flash, Macromedia Shockwave, and MIDI files.
iPage offers a free online store, a choice of shopping carts, PayPal integration for accepting payments, as well as a variety of shopping carts (a “starter” cart through ShopSite, as well as osCommerce and AgoraCart) and a shared SSL certificate.
It goes without saying that iPage offers a web hosting control panel, but they list this as a feature without specifying which one. They offer an “enhanced security suite,” which seems to refer to SiteLock.. The plan also includes site traffic reporting and visitor statistics, monitors for bandwidth and disk storage usage, and access logs and error logs.
As far as their facilities go, iPage provides 24/7 network monitoring, high-performance, load-balanced servers, multiple Gigabit and fiberoptic connections, two data center locations with onsite security, NetApp snapshot data backups, and both UPS power backup and a diesel backup generator.
Marketing Your iPage Site
iPage provides its customers with online marketing guides and Google webmaster tools, and 100 minutes per month of free local or toll-free business telephone service. Also included in the essentials plan are a $100 Google AdWords credit, a $25 Yahoo!/Bing sponsored search credit and a $50 Facebook advertising credit., as well as a free Yellowpages.com listing.
Sending & Receiving Email
The iPage essential hosting plan provides unlimited POP3 email addresses at your domain, the ability to check your mail online, email forwarding, autoresponders, customizable spam filters, and virus checking, IMAP email accounts are also available.
iPage customer support includes 24/7 email, chat, and phone support with North American phone agents who answer calls in one minute, on average. There is an online help center with a ticketing system, and step-by-step tutorials for setting up and using your account. A good portion of the user guide consists of knowledgebase articles or tutorials, with short introductions. There are 22 video tutorial categories.