1&1 Professional review

Price when reviewed

1&1 is a large ISP – the world’s biggest, as its ubiquitous adverts like to mention – and offers a huge range of services from simple web hosting to Microsoft SharePoint and Exchange servers. It’s suitable for all sizes of businesses too: for example, you can rent space and bandwidth on either 1&1’s virtual servers or have your own server in its racks. There’s also a wide choice of packages: the basic 1&1 Business costs £8.99 per month, but here we look at its top-of-the-range 1&1 Professional package.

1&1 Professional review

1&1 Professional gives the user 20GB of web space, 200GB of monthly traffic with ten free .co.uk domains as well as 1&1’s usual generous selection of tools, including an RSS creator, a blogging tool, plus SimpleSubmission, search marketing and banner advertising tools.

The most important question to ask, though, is about connectivity: 1&1’s hosting is in Germany and we were concerned there might be some latency between there and the UK. To check, we set up a selection of monitoring tools. We tested the connectivity from an ADSL connection in deepest Suffolk, another from the centre of Red Bus in Canary Wharf (one of the main internet connection points for the UK) and finally using the Bello monitoring system, which is based in Texas, USA.

We found the connectivity was very good, with only one small outage of 30 seconds during our two-week testing period. The ping times were very stable from the server room in London, with transatlantic times a little more variable. We compared the transatlantic response with a similar test to our own servers: the ping times from the USA to 1&1 were a little slower than from the USA to our servers in London, but that was caused by an extra hop. The important thing is they were consistent.

These results mirror those of the PC Pro Reliability & Service survey, where more than 5,000 readers rated their web host. 1&1 scored well for reliability, earning a highly commendable five-star rating. It didn’t shine so brightly for customer support, only gaining three stars out of six; however, it’s notable that the two top scorers were Memset and Zen Internet, both of which are business-focused, and smaller than 1&1: of the larger ISP hosting companies, 1&1 is evidently one of the best, and the Professional package includes 24/7 free telephone support too.

1&1 is also one of the best when it comes to usability. While its web front end – the Control Panel – can hardly be described as easy to use, this is more a reflection of the complexity of hosting a website than any failure on the company’s part. One major plus is the lack of annoying login prompts: once you’re signed in to the service, you’re signed in.

What you may find initially bewildering is the sheer array of options and extras. It’s all too easy to get side tracked to try out some new and glittering feature. Of course, you can do the usual setting up of FTP accounts to upload your website files, as well as setting SSH areas for e-commerce and protected directories to enable private areas of your website, but that’s only the start of the offerings.

Not only is the usual 1&1 template-driven website builder on offer but also a tool to build a Flash-based site. There are many more features too: databases, CGI scripts, chatrooms, photo galleries, blogging tools, an SMS manager, PDF creators and RSS feed generators just to give you a taste. There’s even an e-commerce shop-building tool. Your creation won’t have Amazon quaking in its boots, but if you just need a front end to sell a few dozen items then it makes sense to use this rather than invest £20 per month in Actinic Express, for example.

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