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★★☆☆☆

“I've been a Fasthosts customer myself for about three...”

Written on: 22/10/2005 by lesleydoogan (3 reviews written)

Good Points
Up-time is very good.

Bad Points
Expensive
The control panel has errors
Very poor customer service

General Comments
I've been a Fasthosts customer myself for about three years now and prior to this my employer was also a customer after my colleague and I did some research and recommended Fasthosts to him - so overall, I've been dealing with Fasthosts for about five years.



In their early days Fasthosts were terrible; my employer had a reseller account and he allowed my colleague and I to put our own sites onto his account. Some weekends my site used to go down about lunchtime on a Saturday and would be down for the rest of the weekend so in the early days there used to be no tech support over the weekend. These days however, things have improved a lot. They do offer a reliable service and tech support is always there if you need help. But there are a few things that you need to be aware of if you are thinking about hosting with Fasthosts:



Fasthosts make a big deal about their bandwidth but I've duplicated my own site with another hosting company and there's never been any noticeable difference. For example, before opening my own account with Fasthosts I opened one with Webfusion. I then had my site running on my employer's Fasthosts account and on the Webfusion account under a different url. I couldn't notice any difference in load times and that was over a period of at least three months - every time I went to my website I went to the alternative website on Webfusion because I was checking really to see if Webfusion was any better than Fasthosts but there was no difference; Fasthosts weren't any better than Webfusion when it came to load times.



I've had problems with the Fasthosts control panel on a number of occasions. For example, one of the packages that Fasthosts offers comes complete with SQL Server. So I took out the package, and then followed the procedure to create the SQL Server database. A notice then appeared saying that I was going to be charged £180 or so for the SQL Server database but I ignored it because my account included a SQL database. The charge went through though and I had to contact them and ask for a refund which was quite annoying. This has happened with something else too but I can't remember what it was.



Customer service is very poor in my opinion. Okay, most of the time this doesn't matter but if you ever receive an e-mail from Fasthosts concerning your account it's one of those no reply e-mails so you can't reply to it. At the bottom of the e-mail there's a list of links to hosting and broadband etc, but no link to customer services and there's no link to customer services on their website either as of 22/10/05. I find this really annoying - you have a web-based company that you can't even contact by e-mail. Their sales support isn't much better. I contacted sales recently to ask whether the 5Gig limit on my webspace was fixed or could I purchase more space. Quite a straightforward question but it took three weeks to get an answer and that was only because I contacted them about four times to repeat the question. Please don't confuse customer service with Tech support - I've never had any problems with tech support.



The other thing to watch is that Fasthosts tend to send out a lot of promotional e-mails and allegedly didn't respond as they should have when I asked them, on numerous occasions, not to process my personal data for marketing purposes. Having said that, I find that the majority of companies in the UK ignore data protection requests anyway until you threaten to submit a request for assessment to the Information Commissioner's office.



Finally, Fasthosts are expensive! Their broadband prices are a joke and they charge quite a bit for My SQL databases compared to other companies that I've looked at. Their reseller account is really expensive and it's all based on this claim that they have the fastest pipe whatever in the country. In practice it doesn't make that much difference if any as I've already said - it's just a bit of hype to justify their prices in my opinion.



The trouble with Fasthosts is that they have automated their service too much and there are problems with the automated system. So, if you don't need to contact customer services often and if you're happy paying their prices, and if you don't need to make any changes to your account then their hosting service is very reliable. Just be warned though that things will go wrong, it is virtually impossible to contact customer service by e-mail and you're paying a premium price; for example, the cost of their reseller package has hardly changed from five years ago but the technology has become a lot cheaper.



I'm not just having a go at them, this is a fair report based on my five years experience. I used to recommend Fasthosts to friends and colleagues but not any more. It's not one thing in particular but there must be companies offering a similar service with better customer service and cheaper prices.