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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    The Midwest
    Posts
    1,458

    * [review] netfirms.

    this is a couple of months past due but will hopefully provide some info for users considering netfirms - and more specifically, their $10/yr 'MAX' offer.

    ---

    i posted it in another thread, but it got buried so heeeeeeeeere we go:

    i used netfirms (via the 'max' deal) for a year to host some static pages as well as a fair deal of large mp3 files and it fit my needs. i used around 30gb of disk space and an average of 225-250gb of bandwidth per month and never had any trouble or heard so much as a peep from netfirms.

    Uptime -

    uptime was inconsistent, but decent for what i was paying. some months, the server would cruise along at 99.something, then other months there would be several short outages (30min-1hr) or one or two large (5+hr) outages. the actual figures are long gone, but if i recall correctly, the average for the one year period was 98% +some change. my big concern here was the POP server. it was consistent..consistently bad..in the 97% range for the full term.

    Speed -

    a mixed bag.

    good news - static files were sent really fast. downloading larger files would see consistent transfer rates of 750kb/s (cable).

    bad news - any sort of dynamic site (blog, forum, etc) was slow. i take that back, they were slooooooooooooooooooooooow. loading up the front page of a fresh wordpress install would take anywhere from 5 to 20 seconds.

    Features, control panel and such -

    netfirms' feature set is pretty standard-fare but is severely lacking in the variety of apps you can 'one-click' install. you get the minimum - blog, forum, photo gallery and maybe one or two others. you are also solely responsible for your own back-ups (they do not take them).

    being a 'cpanel-ite', netfirms' control panel personally left a lot to be desired. it's definitely designed for someone who is a beginner with web hosting so for simple tasks like basic file managing, setting up e-mail accounts, ftp accounts, viewing stats, etc it does the job. while it's possible to do more 'advanced' things in their cp, it was usually a PITA to find the tool/function i needed. tools and functions seemed to often be located in the most illogical place imaginable.

    one thing in netfirms' control panel's favor - it does not use a different port like cpanel does and therefore is accessible behind (the majority) of strict firewalls/content filtering systems.

    and on a somewhat related note, i did like their webmail app. it is also accessible behind a corporate firewall, is easy to use and well designed. the majority of 'included' webmail apps, in general, are lacking..netfirm's was better than most.

    Support-

    support is.. well.. what you'd likely expect - poor. they have a decent sized "knowledge" (note the quotations) base that proved helpful once or twice, but infuriatingly frustrating other times. anything that does require submitting a ticket is probably going to take awhile.

    i submitted maybe 5 or so tickets over the course of my year and all were answered initially within 12 hours or so. sadly, i don't think i ever had an issue (nothing complicated) resolved in the first exchange. i can't think of an instance where it took less than 24 hours to resolve whatever was up.

    i also noticed that the first response to each of my tickets would ask me for essentially the exact same information and description of the problem that i had already provided in my initial request.

    annoying.

    Gettin outta dodge -

    at the end of the year, cancellation was not difficult. however, i did have it marked on the calendar when my year was ending, so i initiated the cancellation process about 2 weeks ahead of time just in case things got shaky.

    Summary -

    all in all, i feel that i got my 10 dollars worth...take that for what you will. i was pleasantly surprised in some areas, and predictably displeased in others.

    from my experiences, i would say that if you fall into one of these categories:

    you have a dynamic site (blog, forum, whatever), especially one that pulls a fair amount of traffic and/or is consistently busy.

    you are planning on using the account to host your company/business' web site/email and as a result require excellent, consistent uptime.

    you will require frequent interaction with support or demand swift action in the resolution of issues ----

    this is not the place or deal for you.

    if you are looking to host a personal web site or a small hobby site, this is an option. although, you could still likely do much better in finding a different host that serves your realistic needs, provides a more reliable service and offers faster, friendlier, more competent support.

    this could also be a viable option if you are looking to do as i did and serve large files. this activity/use is not expressly forbidden in their TOS but i could see where it would have the possibility of falling into the 'abuse' category at some stage.

    Final Score -
    3 out of 10.

    I didn't think I would "get away" with pushing large files, almost exclusively, and download speeds were fast. unfortunately, the uptime and support was a serious detractor from the end result.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Chattanooga
    Posts
    8,985
    Dave,

    Excellent, thorough review. I'd have to second you on the dynamic page loading problems at Netfirms, if you've got anything static that isn't business critical they're great -- but the moment you get a community or proper blog rolling, expect pain.

    One thing you can do to minimize the delays is 'caching', especially in Wordpress with a couple of plugins like 'supercache'. Overall for the price, they do a decent job.

    Let us know how your next provider goes!
    David
    Web hosting by Fused For businesses with more important things to do than worry about their hosting.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    The Midwest
    Posts
    1,458
    the netfirms thing was a 'what the heck, why not!' decision.

    i have been with a few others in the meantime.. holding off until i've stayed put for 6 months before reviewing.

    just a hint - all 3 have been outstanding.


  4. #4
    Hi db09,
    The old 'bottom line' would say that you got a very good deal for 10 bucks. Are there any cheaper, besides 'free' with various constraints and limitations and/or advertising; especially if you have large files to download.

    I am interested to hear about your other hosts, as I have my shortlist, and am about to try one, who I have been signed up with, but was informed I needed to change my plan with them. In assisting me with that, they have been both courteous and fast, although I am not (yet) sure about some of the advice I have been given. Until I am clearer on what is needed, AND have tried them out,I can't talk about them one way or the other. However it would be good to have a plan B should it all fall apart.
    Looking forward to your follo-up

    Regards

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Hiding under your bed
    Posts
    1,275
    The thing is they are pretty slow (server wise and bandwidth wise as well), but their sql runs very fast. They are probably slow cuz they aren't paying much attention on how much u use. I had a friend which was running a very resource intensive site and that site would bring the server down at about 50 users online. He managed 300 without any slowdown or complaint from Netfirms!
    Cheapest Multiple C Class IP Hosting

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    771
    Nice review! As long as you feel you got what you paid for, it doesn't really matter.

    Do you still have the account there, just out of interest?

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