screenshot image from ovh

​Screenshot Image via ovh.com

When deciding what web hosting provider to use for yourself or your small business, the array and variety of choices can be overwhelming. In order to help you make an informed decision, we take a look at a handful of web hosts, with an emphasis on OVH hosting.

We'll go into details about OVH and the services they offer and then compare and contrast this them with a handful of other web hosting providers so you can see how they stack up against the competition. 

What Is OVH?

OVH, though international in scope and scale, is a European web hosting provider with predominantly European customers.

OVH maintains data centers in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Singapore, and Australia, though the majority of those data centers are in the European countries.

cloud hosting

Image via Pixabay

They offer a variety of web hosting solutions, from dedicated servers for those who need the kind of muscle a private hardware server can provide to various VPS and Cloud-based hosting platforms at a variety of price points.

OVH has been in business since 1999 and is a survivor of the first dot com bubble, which few web hosting companies can say.

OVH has been designing and maintaining their own data centers since 2003 and has grown in that time from their headquarters in France to maintain a presence on four continents.

Customers who wish to reach audiences in Europe may find their many data centers there an attractive option though customers in the US or in Asia may want to check out speeds before committing to a service contract.

What OVH Offers

Web hosting solutions from OVH run from dedicated servers, as we mentioned above, to Virtual Private Servers, Cloud-hosting solutions, and even Cloud-based virtual desktop computing, which allows any user with web access the ability to connect to and run software on a remote machine as if it was in their physical location.

This is a great solution for companies that wish to keep their data safe and secure on private servers or companies that have employees in various places and wish to allow them to work from home or while on the road.

Pricing

OVH offers service as cheaply as around $3.50 per month, all the way up to around $880 per month for cloud desktop computing.

For the purposes of this review, we'll be focusing on what OVH offers to the typical web hosting customer—an individual or small business that needs robust, fast hosting but not the high-dollar, top end services that OVH offers.

Looking at their hosting packages, the most expensive is around $630 per month for private cloud-based servers.

How It Compares

We hand-selected a few similar web hosting providers with the same sort of services as OVH offers to see how OVH compares to their competition.

Those web hosting providers are:

  • DigitalOcean
  • Hetzner
  • Linode

OVH


screenshot image from ovh-world

Screenshot image from ovh-world

Price

Ease of Use

Uptime

Features

Customer Support

$-$$$

Price                                                           

Though their starter package is only around $3.50 per month, similar services can be purchased for less from other providers, and their higher-end offerings (which run approximately $620) are arguably overpriced.

While some customers have pointed out that due to being a European company OVH has higher operating costs, this shouldn't necessarily translate into higher costs for customers, as there are plenty of competitors who offer the same level of service for less.

Ease of Use                               

It isn't immediately apparent what OVH includes with their basic hosting packages other than storage space and hardware specifics. No mention is made of bandwidth allowance, support for server-side scripts or databases, or things like WordPress support, etc.

As such, OVH misses the mark here, and apparently is catering to a customer base that either doesn't require the usual sort of software ubiquitous to web hosting or is expected to install, maintain, and manage all of the above on their own.

Uptime                        

OVH has their uptime guarantees available in the short description of their hosting packages.

For all but the basic package, uptime is claimed to be 99.99%, but no information is available on what compensation they may offer to customers who experience outages.

For their basic web hosting package, OVH promises an uptime of 99.95%, which may seem to be a negligible difference, but which is below the industry "four nines" standard.

Features                              

OVH offers robust cloud computing, VPS hosting, and a plethora of other business-oriented services, but in terms of basic features most web hosting customers might expect, there is little there to be recommended.

OVH seems to be predominantly in the business of providing the hardware—for the software side of things, beyond the operating system, customers appear to be on their own.

Customer Support                                     

Customer support is tricky to review without being a long-term customer of companies like OVH, so we are mainly reliant on the reports of existing customers to judge the level of service and expertise offered.

There are many accounts of OVH support being poor, slow to respond, and even slower to address or resolve problems.

They offer no trouble-ticket system but instead provide toll-free numbers and email support, which is a bit strange but may make sense when considering the international basis of their offerings.

Even stranger is the fact that there is no 24/7 support, despite locations across the globe.

Pros

  • Extensive cloud-based hosting options
  • DDoS protection
  • Datacenters in many different countries

Cons

  • Control panel is not intuitive or easy to use
  • Servers are somewhat slow compared to their competition
  • Support is not available 24/7

DigitalOcean


screenshot image from digital ocean

Screenshot image from digitalocean.com

Like OVH, DigitalOcean caters primarily to web professionals, people for whom the layman-bewildering array of hosting packages and site-specific lingo (they call VPS hosting iterations "droplets," which we unanimously found twee and a bit of a stretch) are not only intimidating but slightly incomprehensible.

Their service plans alone—which are billed not in flat monthly fees but by the hour of processor time—are next to impossible to understand (or predict) even for development experts.

Price

Ease of Use

Uptime

Features

Customer Support

$-$$$

Price                                                           

DigitalOcean is difficult to grade in terms of pricing as they don't offer a typical pricing model, but rather fees based on hours of processor use.

Still, they offer approximations ranging from around $5 per month all the way up to approximately $960 per month, which is stunning and almost beyond belief. One would have to be a very, very high-end user to require hosting at that level.

Ease of Use                               

DigitalOcean is geared toward app and web developers and presents features and usability geared toward people who know the ins and outs of server software and what the internet and web development atmosphere is like.

If you're not a software developer or someone who is highly adept with this kind of internet technology, you will find yourself scratching your head in confusion much of the time.

Uptime                        

DigitalOcean boasts very good uptime, in excess of 99.99% for the period of time we monitored. While this is impressive, it is also becoming industry standard as web server hardware and software become more and more reliable.

Furthermore, there is no readily available information regarding what they offer customers in case of downtime. Still, for the period of time our reviewers studied, DigitalOcean had 99.999% uptime.

Features                              

DigitalOcean, like OVH, caters to the technically proficient. Due to that reasoning, there is very little information available on their website regarding features. They boast a "one-click install" element which, while it does work, is a bit opaque to most users.

We would have liked to have seen a little more effort put toward helping those who aren't web developers—but then again, that isn't the focus of their business model.

Customer Support                                     

Their customer support is limited to a ticket-based system, with no phone or email support offered. While this is certainly streamlined, it results in longer wait times than we felt was necessary or helpful, and again, if you're not a technical expert, you're out of luck.

You basically have to be able to explain exactly what the problem is in order to have it resolved—not a good option for the average blogger or small business owner.

Pros

  • Allows customers to network virtual servers
  • One click installation of common software applications
  • Great uptime

Cons

  • Caters primarily to developers and other technically savvy users
  • Only offers ticket-based support
  • Predominantly European-based data centers

Hetzner


screenshot image from hetzner

Screenshot image from hetzner.com

Have we mentioned that most of Hetzner's hosting customers are European? They only offer price in euros, which is bound to confuse (and perhaps put off) customers in the US and other places where the euro isn't the default currency.

That said, their basic hosting package will run you around $3 per month, and of course, the prices increase from there. Hetzner's service offerings top out at around $200.

Price

Ease of Use

Uptime

Features

Customer Support

$-$$

Price                                                           

Have we mentioned that most of Hetzner's hosting customers are European? They only offer price in euros, which is bound to confuse (and perhaps put off) customers in the US and other places where the euro isn't the default currency.

That said, their basic hosting package will run you around $3 per month, and of course, the prices increase from there. Hetzner's service offerings top out at around $200.

Ease of Use                               

While easier to understand and navigate on their "new customer" and sign up pages, many of Hetzner's more in-depth documentation is in German.

Why they haven't bothered to translate much of that documentation to other languages is baffling unless they intend to exclude customers who don't understand German.

Uptime                        

Hetzner doesn't offer any uptime guarantee or compensation for downtime, but in independent monitoring, we discovered that their uptime is in excess of 99.99% over the past six months, which is becoming more and more the standard in the web hosting industry.

We would have liked to have seen more information about their uptime and policies.

Features                              

Hetzner offers robust cloud, VPS, and even dedicated server hosting, but does not offer any information about server-side software or what they are capable of providing to non-managed hosting customers.

We would have thought this was perhaps intended to drive customers to their managed hosting solutions, but there is very little information about what's included in those packages, so this seems more of an oversight than anything else.

Customer Support                                     

They offer no phone support and instead rely on a trouble ticket system (which they call Konsole H) and email for customer support needs.

While most of their customers report satisfactory or positive opinions of their technical support, others cite long wait times and replies that seem to indicate the presence of a language barrier. 

Pros

  • More affordable hosting options
  • Datacenter uses state-of-the-art technology
  • Generous bandwidth allotments

Cons

  • Most of their documentation is in German
  • Limited technical support
  • Predominantly European-based data centers

Linode


screenshot image from linode

Screenshot image from linode.com

Linode is a US-based web hosting provider that has been around since 2003. They offer VPS and cloud-based hosting at various service levels and for various prices, and while they don't put a fancy GUI on anything, they do offer well-written and comprehensive guides to what it takes to admin a web hosting platform on your own.

While most people may not feel comfortable attempting this, the guides are so well done that even a comparative novice would be able to get up and running in very little time.

Price

Ease of Use

Uptime

Features

Customer Support

$-$$

Price                                                           

Linode offers service from around $5 per month all the way up to approximately $960 for very high-end, server intensive applications.

Ease of Use                               

Unlike the other service providers we've taken a look at in this article, Linode is relatively novice-friendly. If you've never used command line prompts before, you may find it intimidating, but their guides literally walk you through virtually every step necessary to launch, manage, and maintain a web hosting server.

Uptime                        

Linode features a status page with the current condition of their servers as well as comprehensive incident reports, all available to the public (you don't even need to be a customer). Combined with 99.999% uptime, Linode earns high marks in this category.

Features                              

While Linode doesn't hand-hold the way some web hosting providers do, for the relatively high-end offerings they make, they do have comprehensive and accurate FAQs and manuals offering the end user a considerable amount of power over how and what they install in their web hosting environment.

Customer Support                                     

Linode offers 24/7 phone, email, or trouble ticket support and by all accounts are able to address and resolve issues in generally less than an hour.

Pros

  • Good server documentation
  • Comprehensive monitoring available
  • Free upgrades

Cons

  • Intimidating for users not used to text-based interfaces
  • No Windows-based hosting available
  • No GUI control panel

Conclusion

The web hosting providers we've looked at here are generally for professional developers or web gurus who know what they're doing, and all but Linode have a substantial barrier to entry in the knowledge required to use their services.

As for OVH, if you're looking for a European-based hosting provider, you could do worse. We rate them a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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