If you're looking to create an online destination, you need a Web hosting service to lay the foundation. Domain.com gives you the storage, email, a choice of Linux- or Windows-based hosting, and other tools to do just that, but the service lacks some essential features and pricing options offered by competitors, such as DreamHost and HostGator, the PCMag Editors' Choice winners for Web hosting services.
Shared Web Hosting
Like HostMonster, Domain.com doesn't offer month-to-month shared Web hosting options. Instead, you must sign up for one of Domain.com's annual plans. Oddly enough, unlike the other Web hosting services I've reviewed, Domain.com offers no discount for signing up for a long-term plan. In other words, you pay the same amount of money per year committing with an one-year contract that you do for a three-year contract.
Domain.com's entry-level shared package, Basic, starts at $3.75 per month with a one-year contract. It includes 1GB of cloud storage, unlimited disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, 100 email addresses, and the ability to host a single website. The Deluxe package ($6.75 per month with a one-year contract) adds unlimited domain hosting and 250 email addresses. The Ultra package ($13.75 per month) has unlimited email.
If you don't want an annual Web hosting commitment, HostGator, the Editors' Choice for shared hosting, should be on your radar. Its plans have monthly hosting plans that start at $10.95 for a single month. You can drive the price down to $3.45 per month, a bit less than a similar Domain.com package, if you sign up for three years. HostGator also tosses in unlimited email, storage, and monthly data transfers with all of its shared hosting plans. That's a nice touch that enables the Web host to top Domain.com.
VPS Web Hosting
Domain.com also offers virtual private server (VPS) hosting. These servers have more power than shared servers, and they should be considered must-have investments if you're expecting high traffic volumes.
The entry-level Standard plan (starting at $34.95 per month, or $29.97 per month with a one-year commitment) includes a scant 512MB of RAM, 20GB of storage, 100GB of monthly data transfers, and unlimited email. Pro (starting at $48.95 per month, or $41.60 per month with a one-year commitment) ups the RAM to 1GB, the disk space to 40GB, and monthly data transfers to 1.5TB. Premium (starting at $79.95 per month, or $67.95 per month with a one-year commitment) boasts 2GB of RAM, 60GB of storage, and 2TB of monthly data transfers.
Still, Hostwinds remains the category's Editors' Choice. Its high-end SSD Windows plan starts at $13.50 per month (for 1GB of RAM, 25GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, unlimited email, and one CPU core) and maxes out at $209 per month (35GB of RAM, 170GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers, unlimited email, and eight CPU cores). Hostwinds is the Web host to turn to when you need VPS server muscle.
No Dedicated Web Hosting
Unfortunately, Domain.com doesn't offer dedicated Web hosting packages. If you need that type of plan, HostGator has many affordable and flexible options. In fact, HostGator is PCMag's Editors' Choice for dedicated Web hosting services.
Building a Website
Domain.com has several tools for building a website, including Weebly, a highly rated Web-based site builder. Weebly's drag-and-drop functionality let me quickly build an attractive page complete with slideshows, contact forms, social media links, and more.
Weebly's free version gives you basic functionality (you can create unlimited pages and add custom HTML), but upgrading to the Professional tier ($8.95 per month) offers even more flexibility (custom themes, password protected pages, and more). Check out our Weebly review for a deeper dive into its offerings.
Domain.com offers WordPress hosting that's optimized to enhance the blogging platform's performance and enables automatic software and plug-in updates. It isn't, however, the managed variety that gives your installation that white-glove treatment like you get with 1&1 or Media Temple. Still, Domain.com's WordPress hosting includes a theme library, plug-in library, and spam protection. Curious about its pricing? It costs the same as shared Web hosting.
Still, 1&1 remains the PCMag Editors' Choice for WordPress hosting. Starting at $6.99 per month, 1&1 offers tons of flexibility. All of its managed WordPress plans have unlimited email, unlimited visitors, automatic malware detection and removal, automatic WordPress updates, and a curated list of recommended WordPress plug-ins and themes. Plus, 1&1's managed WordPress plans offer far more storage than Domain.com's. In fact, the fittingly named Unlimited plan boasts bottomless SSD-based disk space.
E-Marketing and E-Commerce
When it comes to getting your message out there, Domain.com offers EmailBrain ($99.50 per year), an e-marketing tool. The software lets you create email lists, send email newsletters, track marketing results, and more.
After I installed the service's free ShopSite ecommerce application, I created an attractive store in just a few minutes by dragging and dropping website elements. The basic version has many options, but it also has many limitations. You would do well to buy the ShopSite Manager ($79.95 per quarter or $299 per year) or ShopSite Pro ($139 per quarter or $539 per year) packages, which remove product and page limits, let you preview pages before publishing, and more.
Domain.com's Web hosting packages come with a slew of security features, including a password-protected directory and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) support. An SSL certificate acts as a digital passport that lets data travel through secure networks and protects valuable information, such as financial and credit card transactions, signups, and so on. If you plan to sell products, SSL should be considered an essential add-on.
Website uptime is one of the most important aspects of a hosting service. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services. You do not want that.
I used a website monitoring tool to track my Domain.com-hosted test site's uptime over a two-week period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings my website and sends me an email if it is unable to contact the site for at least one minute. The data revealed that Domain.com is highly reliable.
Domain.com has both 24/7 telephone support and online Web chat—I tested both help methods. I dialed Domain.com's telephone tech support at 11 a.m. on a weekday to ask a representative about the differences between regular Web hosting and optimized WordPress hosting. The rep came to my aid 10 minutes later and stated that optimized WordPress Web hosting is designed to help WordPress-powered blogs automatically update plug-ins and run more smoothly.
I later fired up the Web chat at 3:30 p.m. to ask a representative about how to import my WordPress.com setup into Domain.com. I waited just under 2 minutes before a phone technician fielded my call. He gave me a walkthrough that let me quickly import an existing blog. Overall, I was pleased with Domain.com's customer service squad.
Domain.com lets you cancel a hosting package at any time, and it issues a refund for the remainder of your current payment term. If you cancel the service within the first 30 days of signing up, Domain.com refunds your hosting fees in full. That said, DreamHost has an incredible 97-day money-back guarantee window.
Better Hosting Choices
Counterbalancing its helpful customer support team and simple Weebly-powered site creation, Domain.com lacks month-to-month payment options and dedicated servers. If you want a robust Web hosting experience, HostGator and DreamHost, PCMag's overall Editors' Choice winners for Web hosting, are excellent options.