A Linux-based server is the most popular choice for those who are looking to build a website using open source applications and scripts like PHP and Perl. But if you need a specific script to work, like ASP or ASP.net, you need to build a site based on the Windows platform. The thing is, not all web hosting providers give you this option. If you need a web host that offers reliable Linux or Windows hosting that won’t break your budget, you might want to take a look at EasyCGI web hosting.
EasyCGI may not be the first option that comes to mind when looking for a web hosting provider, but it’s one of those choices that’s worth taking a closer look. It’s a pretty decent sized company, and has been in business for well over a decade. They mostly cater to small- and medium-sized websites, with their packages comprising of shared and VPS hosting services.
With hundreds – possibly thousands – of web hosting choices out there, what are the things that would make you sign up (or not sign up) with EasyCGI? What are its standout features? What are the issues currently faced by the company? In this in-depth EasyCGI web hosting review, we’re going to talk about the features and services offered by the company, as well as a few important things you should know before deciding to purchase a plan with them.
But first, a little background history…
A Glimpse at EasyCGI Web Hosting
EasyCGI is, by most standards, a fairly large web hosting company. It was established in 1994 initially as an Internet service provider, but has quickly expanded their services to email hosting, web forwarding, web hosting, and many other products and services. The company has been offering Windows shared hosting and Linux VPS hosting plans for a number of years.
Today, EasyCGI is home to over half a million client websites owned by individual webmasters and small- to medium-sized businesses from 30 different countries. But with the multitude of competitors penetrating the market, will this web host be able to keep a loyal customer base? Let’s find out…
EasyCGI Web Hosting Plans
EasyCGI offers reliable, flexible, and powerful shared hosting and VPS hosting plans. The web host gears it web hosting solutions to small to medium sized businesses, offering hosting packages at competitive prices. They have designed a platform that enables the scalability and flexibility individuals and businesses need in order to survive today’s fierce economy. EasyCGI is one of a handful of web hosts that specialize in Windows hosting, offering all the power and functionality of Microsoft products, alongside many industry-standard open source technologies.
Windows Shared Web Hosting Plans
At the time of writing, EasyCGI offer three levels of shared hosting: Advanced X, Advanced X2, and Advanced X4. All of these plans are based on the Windows platform, and provides you with all the necessary tools and features for building a simple yet fully functional website. You can opt to order with either Windows 2003 or the recently added Windows 2008.
The main difference between these plans is the amount of disk space and bandwidth with in a single hosting account. While most web hosts only allow you to run a single domain under one account, EasyCGI lets you run unlimited domains, as well as subdomains and parked domains. You can even create unlimited FTP accounts.
EasyCGI’s basic shared hosting plan, Advanced X ($7.96/month) is ideal for websites that require just enough disk space and bandwidth. The plan supports popular scripting and database platforms. It also includes 500 email accounts, 50 MySQL databases, 128 bit SSL certificate, as well as the EasyCGI Control Panel for easy account and website administration. It even comes packed with a free CM4All website builder and AWStats website analytics tool for monitoring your site’s statistics. On the other hand, the Advanced X2 plan builds upon the Advanced X plan, but has 1000 email accounts and 100 MySQL databases. The high-tier plan, Advanced X4 ($21.56/month), comes with unlimited email accounts and unlimited MySQL databases. Additionally, it includes Microsoft SQL 2005 database and premium customer support.
Find out which one suits your needs best. Here’s a full comparison of EasyCGI’s full-featured Windows shared hosting plans:
|ADVANCED X||ADVANCED X2||ADVANCED X4|
|Hosting Environment||Windows 2003 / Windows 2008||Windows 2003 / Windows 2008||Windows 2003 / Windows 2008|
|Web Server||IIS7 / IIS6||IIS7 / IIS6||IIS7 / IIS6|
|Disk Space||350 GB||500 GB||750 GB|
|Bandwidth||3,500 GB||5,000 GB||7,500 GB|
|No Setup Fee|
|POP3 Email Accounts||500||1,000||Unlimited|
|EasyCGI Control Panel|
|Host Unlimited Domains|
|CM4All Website Builder|
|AWStats Website Analysis Tool|
|MS SQL Server 2005 Database||X||X|
|Spam and Malware Blocking|
|Access to128 bit Shared SSL|
|$100 Google AdWords Bonus|
|$100 Yahoo! / Bing Search marketing Credit|
EasyCGI is quite generous in terms of what it provides for disk space and bandwidth. However, it doesn’t give you free rein of features, which is where they fall far behind the competition. Their plans are also a few bucks more expensive than other budget shared hosting plans.
Simply put, their hosting plan isn’t cut out for bigger websites that require more robust features. It is, however, an ideal choice for small business hosting and limited sites. If you have something bigger in mind, it’s best to go for a VPS plan or choose a bigger web hosting provider, like BlueHost or iPage.
Linux Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting Plans
While shared hosting is only available on the Windows platform, EasyCGI’s VPS hosting plans are exclusively provided on Linux. So if you’re looking to host an ASP.net website, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
EasyCGI promise to provide a flexible and secure hosting solution with their Linux VPS plans. With Linux VPS hosting, you can manage your own server and deploy web applications and scripts with technologies like MySQL, PHP, and Perl, among many others. You can allocate separate resources for each of your clients, run your very own nameservers, set up mail servers and database servers, and more. It’s a lot like owning a dedicated server, except that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg!
You can choose from a number of Linux hosting variants. There are 4 options available: Linux VPS X, Linux VPS X2, Linux VPS X4, and Linux VPS X10.
With Linux VPS X ($39.96/month), you’ll get 20 GB disk space, 500 GB bandwidth, 256 MB RAM (512 MB burstable), and 1 dedicated IP address. What’s more, you’ll get unlimited email accounts, FTP accounts, and MySQL databases. Linux VPS X2 ($55.96/month) almost shares the same features as the Linux VPS X plan, except that it comes with 30 GB disk space, 1000 bandwidth, 512 MB RAM (1 GB burstable). The Linux VPS X4 plan ($95.96/month) offers all of the same great features of the X2 plan, but with 50 GB worth of disk space, 2000 GB bandwidth, and 1 GB RAM (2 GB burstable). The hosting possibilities are endless if you opt for this plan. But if you want to take it up a notch and get more freedom and flexibility that’s almost like a dedicated server, you can opt for EasyCGI’s most powerful VPS plan, Linux VPS X10. With it, you’ll get 100 GB disk space, 2000 GB bandwidth, and 2 GB RAM (4 GB burstable).
Here’s a comparison of EasyCGI’s Linux VPS hosting plans:
|LINUX VPS X||LINUX VPS X2||LINUX VPS X4||LINUX VPS X10|
|Server Environment||Choice of Linux OS||Choice of Linux OS||Choice of Linux OS||Choice of Linux OS|
|CPU||Quad-Core Xeon||Quad-Core Xeon||Quad-Core Xeon||Quad-Core Xeon|
|Disk Space||20 GB||30 GB||50 GB||100 GB|
|Bandwidth||500 GB||1000 GB||2000 GB||2000 GB|
|Memory (RAM)||256 MB||512 MB||1 GB||2 GB|
|Burstable Memory||512 MB||1 GB||2 GB||4 GB|
|Dedicated IP Address||1||1||1||1|
|No Setup Fee|
Again, EasyCGI is generous in terms of the amount of storage and bandwidth, but they may be a tad limited depending on your requirements. Their offerings are almost on-par with BlueHost’s VPS hosting plans, but EasyCGI have placed quite a hefty price tag on their packages. Either way, it’s a good choice if you’re looking to build static sites with a large number of visitors as well as user-driver text, like a community forum. You can work with 500 GB to 2 TB for this type of site. But if you’re planning to build a user-driven site with more media and less text, I suggest you look somewhere else.
The rest of the features offered by EasyCGI include a range of services and tools typically offered by most VPS servers. Looking at the chart above, you’ll notice that there aren’t any unique features offered by this web host. In terms of pricing, their VPS plans are relatively more expensive than the competition. While it’s undoubtedly worthwhile to pay for an annual or multi-year term, it’s always a good idea to test their service for at least a month before deciding to make a long-term commitment.
EasyCGI Email Only Hosting
One slightly unpopular hosting plan offered by EasyCGI is their Email Only Hosting plan, which is ideal for those looking to get in touch with their clients and prospects for their online business before launching a site. With it, you can start advertising your domain name in your email address and establish an online presence as early as possible.
The Email Only Hosting plan is available for $3.96 a month if you commit to an annual or multi-year term. You’ll have 500 email accounts and you’ll even have access to the EasyCGI Control Panel.
Building a WordPress Blog with EasyCGI
EasyCGI offers the convenience of building a WordPress-based website or blog with their managed WordPress hosting packages. You can choose between two plans: WP Starter and WP Essential.
With managed WordPress hosting, you’ll get the following perks and benefits:
- Popular WordPress themes that are carefully handpicked to help spice up your blog or website.
- Pre-installed WordPress plugins to further expand your site’s functionality, from the extra momentum of W3 Total Cache, to the all-inclusive social media powerhouse, Jetpack.
- A customized control panel that’s tailored for your convenience. Here, you can easily access the WordPress tools you use the most.
And if you choose the WP Essential package, you can take your WordPress site to the next level and enjoy the following features and services:
- Recently reconfigured SSD-based infrastructure and ramped up servers to maximize your site uptime, with site speeds up to 60% faster than with standard hosting.
- Added layer of security brought to you by SiteLock’s trusted security experts. This deluxe security suite will scan your site for malware, eliminate any threats, and adds a firewall to protect your site from issues like comment spam.
- Access to an expert team of support agents who are trained in all things WordPress. Connect with them fast via direct phone line and get answers to all your questions.
Other great alternatives for managed WordPress hosting include BlueHost and iPage. Don’t forget to check out my in-depth reviews on these web hosts to find out whether or not they’re a good choice for you!
eCommerce Features and Services
All of EasyCGI’s hosting plans already come with eCommerce features, but there really aren’t a lot if you compare it with hosting plans offered by other web hosts. If want more tools and services for building a full-blown eCommerce site, you might want to consider these add-on features offered by the web host:
With Ecwid E-Commerce, you can start promoting and selling your goods online. This premium shopping cart from Ecwid is easy to use and packed with all the necessary features to help your online business succeed.
Credit Card Processing
With EasyCGI, you can easily and securely receive credit card, debit card, and bank account payments online. This is done via PayPal payment services. PayPal is one of the most trusted names on the Web so rest assured that processing payments and transactions with your clients are always safe!
If you want the ultimate protection for your site, a shared SSL certificate just won’t do. EasyCGI lets you choose between Positive SSL Certificate and Extended Validation SSL Certificate. Having either of these lets you achieve the highest level of security during online transactions.
Other eCommerce Services
Doba is the ultimate dropshipping marketplace, where you have access to over a million products that you can sell right on your eCommerce site. With the help of Doba, you no longer have to worry about shipping or inventory management. Simply choose which products to sell, and the suppliers will handle the rest. It’s product sourcing – simplified!
Doing business online wouldn’t be so complicated with EasyCGI, but that’s if you’re willing to shell out a few extra bucks for add-ons like these eCommerce products. So if you really need them for running a successful eCommerce site, then they’re not to be missed.
Easy-to-Use In-House Control Panel
Whether you’re looking for a new web host or are planning to switch from one hosting provider to another, the control panel is one of the most important factors to consider before signing up. The rule of thumb is that a control panel must be user-friendly and packed with the necessary tools and services.
While many web hosts go for the popular cPanel control panel, EasyCGI chose to provide their clients with a customized proprietary control panel that gives them complete control over their hosting experience. It doesn’t have any special name (it’s simply called “Control Panel”), and it’s not as feature-rich as other software. However, it has received a lot of enhancements over the years and covers basic site management. It’s slightly slower and clunky compared to cPanel and vDeck, but it manages to get the job done without too much hassle. It even integrates nicely with the Windows environment and provides access to a number of useful support resources.
From the control panel, you can set up email accounts, FTP accounts, add domains, and do just about anything that has to do with your hosting account. You can even make changes to the user information, as well as view billing information and pay invoices. Additionally, the Control Panel is packed with a FREE website builder tool that allows you to build sites without touching a single line of code. Fantastico, a popular tool for easy, one-click app installations, is also available through the Control Panel.
There’s a slight learning curve if you’re used to other control panels, but you can make use of the available tutorials to familiarize yourself with this control panel. But with literally no eye-catching graphics in its interface, EasyCGI’s control panel looks pretty ugly and obsolete. Again, it’s still functional. You can learn the ropes within 15 minutes, without any problems.
Uptime and Performance – Do They Live Up to Their Promises?
EasyCGI offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee with all their hosting plans, including shared hosting. However, they have not published any uptime statistics to indicate that they can stick with this guarantee. They don’t offer a set refund or discount if they fall below this level, either. From research, I haven’t seen a lot of negative feedbacks regarding performance and reliability, and most of their customers don’t complain about downtime. For me, that’s a good indication that EasyCGI indeed have a stable hosting environment.
For the record, EasyCGI have two data centers based in Boston, MA. They are well-maintained, have 24/7 security, and host servers that work in a pooled environment, protected by two firewalls. A high-speed network is also connected with their data centers so there are multiple routes for information transmission. If one route within the network malfunctions, the data can follow an alternate path. This means that your hosted site will always be up and running and available to your customers.
In terms of performance, EasyCGI also manages to deliver. With the help of IsItDownRightNow.com, I went to test their servers and the response times. This gave me a readout of their servers’ speed, and I must admit that I was impressed with the results.
From the test I conducted, I have found that their average response time is 13.42 ms, which is pretty damn good! In fact, they have some of the fastest servers I’ve tested so far.
Industry-Standard 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
EasyCGI is confident that you’ll be satisfied with their services. They come with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee and no setup fees. The money-back guarantee matched the industry standard, which is what most web hosts usually offer. I especially like the fact that there are no setup fees included with all their hosting plans. Many other web hosting providers will charge an additional cost for setup, which you later find out about when it’s time to check out. With EasyCGI, you can save a few bucks!
Take note, however, that if you register a free domain name through this web host, there will be a non-refundable $15 domain fee if you’d like to keep it. This not only covers their own costs, but also ensures that even if you wish to cancel your account with them, you can still keep your domain name. Also, the 30-day money-back guarantee only applies to credit card payments. At the time of writing, EasyCGI couldn’t offer the money-back guarantee for other payment methods. This is mainly due to the costs that are often associated with processing payments made by other methods.
24/7 Live Customer Support
EasyCGI offer plenty of ways for you to reach their team of skilled and knowledgeable customer support staff. You can reach them via telephone, email, and online tickets. They even have a live chat system where you can get instant help. From their website, you’ll also find helpful tutorials, as well as an extensive knowledgebase and user guides. They’ve also added a feedback form for clients to provide suggestions. They also have social media accounts, though they don’t seem to be very active in these platforms.
There aren’t a lot of complaints regarding EasyCGI’s customer support, but I went ahead and tested some of their support methods myself. Their toll-free telephone support is available from 9AM to 5PM, and it’s the fastest way to get in touch with a customer support rep for pre-sales queries and technical questions. Their email support is also top-notch, with an average response time of 2 hours. As for live chat support, it took 6 minutes before I got in touch with a live chat staff, and about 3 minutes between responses.
Pros and Cons
By now, you’d think that EasyCGI isn’t such a bad choice for web hosting. But before choosing to sign up with them, you must first consider the following pros and cons in deciding to go with their services:
- Long and storied history in providing reliable web solutions
- Excellent choice for those who prefer Windows-based shared hosting
- Provides managed WordPress hosting plans
- Offers shared SSL on all hosting packages
- Includes a few useful extras to help newbies get started
- Responsive and knowledgeable customer support staff
- Live chat system available
- Impressive uptime and performance
- Services are a few dollars higher than average pricing
- No Linux-based server for shared hosting plans
- Does not offer dedicated hosting packages
- Troublesome one-click install
- Add-ons and extras are costly
- Lacks free eCommerce tools
- Does not offer cPanel or vDeck control panel
- Basic-looking proprietary control panel that lacks a number of features
- Not a lot of applications available
Final Verdict – A Good Choice for Individuals and Small Businesses
At first glance, EasyCGI’s site isn’t bad. It’s navigable, easy to get the information you need, and comes with all of the things you’d expect from a web hosting provider. While it’s not exactly visually stunning, it does work.
As for their hosting plans, it’s a viable solution if you’re looking for something simple. An informative blog or website wouldn’t have any issue with their services. But if you’re expecting growth to your site, you might start to run into a few problems. There are strict data limitations, scripts must be installed manually, and there’s only one shopping cart available with the basic hosting plan.
However, there are a few good things to consider, including their stellar customer support and the excellent uptime track record. Not all web hosts are able to deliver an amazing performance and reliability, so it’s a big plus for me. This mark of authenticity goes a long way, making EasyCGI one of the more appealing choices for budget web hosting.
EasyCGI’s hosting plans may be a few bucks more expensive than the competition, but they compensate for it by providing top-notch customer support and an impressive uptime track record.