It's a bit difficult to make a review, because I've never used another company. But I feel that I should write a review because of the reasons I've never used another company:
- Others I've researched were unaffordable (sometimes an order of magnitude more than 1&1)
- Many had bandwidth restrictions
- Some offered low speed
- Some were really slow when we tested from particular countries where we have customers and staff (eg. China)
- Few of them actually advertised a serial console access (invaluable to log-in "as if" from a keyboard plugged-in to the back of the server)
- And I guess "better the devil you know".
Anyway, here goes a review:
First I should say that I use them for dedicated server hosting. Quite likely the service is much different for web hosting. And I bring my own sys-admin: we make bespoke web applications and configure a server from scratch. We don't avail ourselves of the server management Plesk control panel or their expensive back-up storage or their limited (and limiting) firewall provision. Rather, we start by installing our own OS, usually with Xen virtualisation (to make five-servers-for-the-price-of-one), and lease a second dedicated server to make the backups (much more flexible and cheaper than buying 1&1 backup space as an entity). So perhaps we use 1&1 in a different way to most of the reviewers.
Ok, the bad things:
- They're really inflexible. Although I can't compare with other providers, I found them very limiting in ways that they could use to their own advantage.
-- I can't choose the data centre (they don't even tell me where it is). Clearly I want a back-up server in a different data centre than the main server, but that's very difficult to guarantee.
-- I want a choice of languages in their Control Panel. And they operate in different countries with different languages so they could offer that; but they don't.
-- They limit a contract to 8 IP addresses. And they're not in a continuous range, and sometimes they've had some system bug and couldn't provide any.
-- And of course if you want some remotely "custom" option (like a SAN storage device) you're out of luck!
-- When we change server package (upgrade to another server, for example) all the domains for which 1&1 are the registrar have to be moved over (takes 1-2 days, or longer if you make some small mistake!). You have to make new e-mail accounts in the new contract... no way to move them over. No way to take IP addresses to the new server either. (Are these kind of restrictions common to all providers? I don't know. Anyway, I could probably go on a long time about their lack of flexibility.)
- They have no Service Level Agreement. Often, if there is some hardware problem, it's dealt with pretty quickly. But there's no guarantee. They can't tell you when it will be replaced, how long the queue is, etc. It could be an hour, it could be a few days for all you know.
- Their security is very poor on different levels. When you phone-up for support (unless they changed recently) they can sometimes ask you to confirm your Control Panel password. That means the support team have access to it... that means it's stored on their server rather than hashed. It's mind-bogglingly poor!!! SSH hacking attempts often rattle through their entire server storage: a single IP address can make automated attacks against all our servers hosted across Europe and America, and 1&1 do nothing to stop them.
- Oh yeah, although they provide RAID redundancy as standard on every dedicated server, there's no monitoring for when a drive reports an error, save the monitoring we put in place ourselves. (Not on the servers with Software RAID, and neither on their servers with hardware RAID.)
- Their sales transparency is an utter disgrace, to be frank. They're something comparable to the worst of budget airlines. With a claim like that, an example is in order. A dedicated server is advertised "from £39.99 ex VAT, with Free SSD". (That's actually an improvement, perhaps as a result of me reporting them in the past to the authorities... they didn't used to say "from" or "ex VAT".) Anyway, at the end of the configuration process, you learn that the price is just for the first three months - it's actually £59.99. And the Free SSD: that's also just for the first 3 months, after that it's an additional £20 per month. Total cost (without any selected options) is now £80 VAT per month. It's still cheaper than anywhere else I've seen (for the spec), so I don't know why they aren't just up-front about it.
- Last thing I'll mention is their Control Panel. Again, I have no experience of anybody else's, but anyway it sucks. They change the options around regularly, so you never get used to it. Always to sell you rubbish. I habitually use my ad-block software to ban DIVs of junk. But the worst thing is, because it's so unclear, it's really easy to make a mistake. I once re-imaged the wrong server because their Control Panel had suddenly switched away from the physical server configuration I'd been working on, and such as it has names displayed for the selected server, they are convoluted names difficult to differentiate, and anyway only half-or-less visible. I'd say their Control Pannel is the suckiest part of a generally sucky service.
- That would be their support. Again, speaking for dedicated server support, there are some really pretty competent guys; and also some rubbish ones who don't listen and don't address themselves to a problem, giving a bundle of excuses and speaking a lot of nonsense.
- The people who've complained about 1&1 billing: well, they're right. At one point I sent them an automatic letter once-a-week to ask whether my account was in good standing, or whether there had been some problem they hadn't communicated. And one key to the poor communication of their billing team is that they insist on registering the same e-mail address for communication as on the DNS records of domains registered with them... which of course is a spam magnet.
- Transparency notwithstanding, price is really competitive. And for dedicated servers, every contract is unlimited bandwidth and reasonable speed of at least 100 Mbps.
- Data centres seem state-of-the-art. (I haven't visited, but as far as I can tell.)
- Serial console is like a get-out-of-jail free card. It means we rarely have to resort to calling Support.
- Connectivity around the world is generally pretty good.
- Network uptime is almost always excellent. (There have been only a handful of outages in more than 15 years that I've been using 1&1.)
Actually what I'm describing is, I think, the stereotypical German company: like Print24 or a German supermarket: efficient and cheap if you can accommodate themselves to their inflexibility.