PlanetHost Review: Do They Live Up To Their Tagline?

PlanetHost’s splash page is like looking at a throwback to mid-2000’s era web design

PlanetHost’s official tagline is “Simple. Reliable. Professional.” and they seem to take the simplicity very seriously. In a number of ways, PlanetHost almost feels like a relic of a previous era in web hosting history. Their website is (mostly) static HTML/CSS, not clogged up with the mountains and mountains of pointless jQuery that make many modern pages unnavigable.

Their prices are reasonable, competitive even. However, even exploring some of the basic components of the site leave one with the indelible sense that this company perhaps takes its maxim of simplicity way too far. PlanetHost has a rough, “unrefined” quality, as though someone set up half of the company half a decade ago and never got around to finishing up the process.

  • What Makes This Hosting Company Unique?
  • HostPlanet’s Online Reputation
  • Types of Hosting Packages Offered
  • Features and Tools Offered
  • Current Pricing Options for PlanetHost
  • Customer Service Review
  • Who is the Ideal Customer for PlanetHost?
  • Final Verdict

What Makes This Hosting Company Unique?

I hate to say it, but probably the most striking attribute of PlanetHost that sets it apart from other web hosting companies is the blatantly unprofessional quality of a number of parts of their website. One of the more egregious examples can be found by going to Services and clicking on apps. See for yourself what I’m talking about:

According to WayBackMachine, this page has been like this for several years!

At least they made me laugh! They did not even bother pasting in real Lorem Ipsum text. I am not trying to pick on the web designers who made these pages, because everyone has left a page blank, or forgotten to update some content at least once in their career.

But the PlanetHost site is actually replete with little mistakes like this (and many others not quite so little), to the point where it is kind of concerning. After all, these folks are going to be controlling your website! Is this the kind of attention to detail and quality that we can expect from PlanetHost? I mean, their copyright at the page footer is still set to 2013. For the non-technical types out there, you can set the copyright to always display as the current year with literally one very basic line of PHP code. It looks like this:

That’s all they have to do. It’s not like this is obscure information; that exact line of PHP code (or something very similar) is standard practice. Leaving the copyright date at 2013 makes me wonder if they’ve updated their website since…well, 2013. So I decided to investigate exactly that. I went to Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and searched planethost.com. The oldest 2013-and-later snapshot was of June, 2013, so I went ahead and clicked it, and what did I find?

You guessed it, an exact replica of the current site! Virtually no changes. PlanetHost simply does not seem to care very much, if at all, about the abundance of holes and flaws in its web presence.

HostPlanet boasts strongly about speed, so I decided to test that out as well. Here you can see me pinging them versus a couple of other major hosting providers to test their network response time:

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Well, they aren’t the best, but they are at least average. Then again, who knows if they even use the same datacenter/network for their own site that they do for their customers!

HostPlanet’s Online Reputation

I’ve been picking a lot on PlanetHost’s terrible website, which definitely discredits the “Professional” part of their motto (“Simple. Reliable. Professional”). So let’s be fair and investigate whether their customers and other reviewers have at least found them to have excellent reliability or simplicity.

Now, the first thing you’ll notice when you try to look up reviews of PlanetHost online is that most of the results are for a much better company called PlanetHoster. There is no connection (other than nominally) between the two, so we have to sift through all the PlanetHoster stuff to find what we are really looking for. And the results are…nothing. I could not find even a single review of PlanetHost on any of the major web hosting review sites.

This is worse than bad, especially considering PlanetHost has been in business under that name since 1998. On their About Us page they claim to have been operating since only 2004, but using Wayback Machine again they have clearly been around since at least ’98.

For them to have literally zero online reputation is a massive red flag. Just based off of that fact alone I would never recommend anyone to use this hosting service. It would be better to go with a poorly rated service that had some benefit (for example, irresistibly low prices) that justified the low reviews, than to take a chance on this company that no one has said anything about. The whole thing is just way too suspicious and weird.

Types of Hosting Packages Offered

For the brave, adventurous, or merely masochistic souls out there who do decide for some reason to jump aboard the sinking (if not fully sunk) PlanetHost ship despite the many red flags, the company does offer some seemingly pretty okay packages. PlanetHost’s Packages page has four hosting plans, detailed below.

The 3.95 a month plan is affordable and offers decent features – if you’re crazy enough to buy it.

That’s it! No Virtual Private Servers, no dedicated servers. Cloud support? Reseller hosting? Nope and nope. If it’s not basic shared hosting, PlanetHost does not offer support for it. Apparently, even if you wanted to pay them more money to get more resources than their 4th tier plan offers, you would not be able to, because that’s as high as it goes. There isn’t even a section to request a bigger, custom order.

They do offer something they call ‘Application Hosting,’ which sounded intriguing at first glance. I was hoping it would be an alternative set of packages and plans for web applications hosted on PlanetHost, but it turns out to mean that they let you install a small subset of popular web applications (such as WordPress, Joomla, etc) using Softaculous. In reality, however, this ends up being a kind of anti-feature, since Softwaculous really only supports a pretty small subset of the array of applications I would want to use, and it seems like PlanetHost really discourages installing applications outside of the Softaculous walled garden.

Features and Tools Offered

PlanetHost has a few sections offering custom application and software development, which I would not touch with a ten-foot pole. Considering the sad state of their own site, would you really want them developing one for you? But other than that laughable service, PlanetHost does offer decent, mainstream features. cPanel is included for free, as are Python, Ruby, PHP of course, and all of the common things you would expect at any major hosting provider. They don’t really offer any special, cool features. But they aren’t missing any, either.

I should mention one more red flag (among the many, many others in this review alone) is the way their DNS is set up for mail. You see, PlanetHost claims to be a mail host. Yet their own MX records in their DNS all point to Google, which means that they use Gmail for their own mail. Why would they rely on Gmail if they literally own and operate their own email servers? I suspect it’s a matter of trust. That is, they know that their servers are unreliable and barely operational at this point, and correctly trust Google’s mail servers well above their own rickety system.

Current Pricing Options for PlanetHost

If you take a look at the image of their various packages in the Hosting Packages section of this review, it lists prices, but I would be very hesitant to buy any package from them beyond their most basic, 3.95 a month plan. In fact, I’d be pretty hesitant to pay even for that just because this company is so sketchy, but if you’re going to use them at least don’t go farther than their cheaper option until they’ve proven themselves to you.

One bizarre thing about PlanetHost’s pricing is that it actually punishes you for upgrading. Unlike the vast majority of companies, which give a discount for larger orders to encourage you to spend, PlanetHost becomes slightly more expensive per gig as you go higher up in their plans. The second package tier offers twice the resources of the first tier, yet is more than twice the price! A strange way to do business, to say the least.

Customer Service Review

Curious about what kind of support PlanetHost provides for customers, I clicked the Support link on their front page. This is what happened:

Their installation of Zendesk is broken and blatantly displays important security details of their local MySQL installation (including the login credentials for kayako_user). How they even let something like this happen just blows my mind.

This is so phenomenally bad that I actually contacted PlanetHost via their contact page to let them know. It blows my mind that their site could be this broken and they don’t know about it. Maybe they do and they actually do not care. Or maybe no one actually uses PlanetHost and it has been abandoned for a long time now. In either case, I think it is pretty glaringly obvious that you cannot expect to receive much, if any, customer support from this provider.

By the way, if you are feeling sympathetic towards PlanetHost because we all have error pages sometimes and they are probably going to fix it and so on; well, I thought the same thing. So for a third time today I hopped on the Wayback Machine.

My theory was that I could be as fair as possible by seeing what their support page normally looks like so I could tell you what kinds of support they at least purport to offer. The result was frankly shocking. Their support page has had that error message for about two years. I had to go back to 2014 to find a working support page, and even that was nothing but a default Zendesk install with no information whatsoever about the type of support the company offers.

By the way, just as an extra slap in the face to customers, the website does offer a little support panel with a Live Support chat section. But there is no button, just text advertising a chat button that does not and probably never did exist.

Who is the Ideal Customer for PlanetHost?

No one. Literally no one should use this company. If you are looking for the kind of low-price, basic shared hosting that PlanetHost claims to provide, I suggest checking out one of the larger shared hosting providers like HostGator or HostRocket.

I mean, HostRocket’s biennial plan offers vastly better features and resources for a mere two dollars more a month. And for that small extra price, you can get hosting from a company that is, you know, real. And even if you were absolutely stuck on PlanetHost because of their cheap prices, HostGator currently offers shared hosting for a whopping deal of 2.78 a month! So by going with PlanetHost, you’d be taking all of the risk of signing up with an extremely shady, risky provider, all at a price far worse than the equivalent offering from a larger, more respectable company.

The only feasible reason I can imagine someone signing up for PlanetHost after being made aware of their incredible failings is if they wanted to exploit the company’s terrible security to get more features than they are supposed to. I wouldn’t be surprised if spammers and botnet masters take advantage of PlanetHost for exactly that purpose. So I will modify my original statement and merely say that no legitimate user should ever pay PlanetHost for anything. And given HostPlanet’s atrocious security and probable userbase of script kiddies, hosting with them is basically asking for other users to take a peak at whatever data you do store on their servers.

Final Verdict

Stay far, far away from PlanetHost. I wouldn’t go as far as to accuse them of being an outright scam, because I think their many flaws are more so the products of long term negligence and technical incompetence on the part of their system administrators rather than outright malicious intent. But the end result for us users is exactly the same either way: this is a hosting service that you and everyone else who wants a quality, legitimate hosting provider should avoid like the plague. I recommend strongly against paying for any service that PlanetHost claims to offer.

My all-time favorite host is Kinsta. They are pricey, but freakin’ fast, fast and the support is rock-solid. The STARTER plan is great for one website, but I recommend the BUSINESS 1 if you want to build multiple websites

What’s up ladies and dudes! Great to finally meet you, and I hope you enjoyed this post. Sign up for my #1 recommended training course and learn how to start your business for FREE!

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