Ionos? No, that’s not some remote Greek island – it’s the new name of 1&1 (also spelled 1and1), one of the biggest hosting providers in the world. As the company celebrates its 30th birthday with a /slightly/ funky rebranding, we will take our time to thoroughly examine 1&1 Ionos from a customer’s perspective and answer the following question:

Should you choose Ionos to host your websites, domains, and other online assets – or are there better alternatives?

Apart from that, by the end of this review you will get a clearer picture of 1&1’s product range, allowing you to make a better choice if you do decide to become their client. In other words, you will learn..

  • 👍What is the best hosting plan for new Ionos clients?
  • 🔧Which extras are worth using and which aren’t?
  • 💳Are there any hidden fees you should know about?
  • 💬How good is 1&1 support and personal consultants?

We will also solve some of the “mysteries” which might have left you puzzled after exploring the Ionos website. For example, what’s the difference between “WordPress Hosting” and a simple “Web Hosting” where you can also install WordPress.

One more thing before we dive in: we think it’s fair to let you know that some of the links (not necessarily to Ionos) in this article are affiliate links, meaning that we might get a commission if a person clicks on such link and makes a purchase. However, the good news is that –

– a) this does not increase the price you pay at Ionos or elsewhere (in fact, thanks to partnerships we can offer better deals to our visitors), and b) we value our long-term reputation more than short-term gains and do not recommend something sub-par just for the sake of earning an additional penny.

Alright, now that that’s been clarified, let’s take a short trip in a time machine to understand the origins and background of 1&1 Ionos –

From Ads to Hosting: The 30-Year Journey of 1&1

With more than three decades under its belt, Ionos can be considered a true mastodon of the online services industry. Let’s admit it: even just surviving for that long in such a rapidly changing market is an achievement in itself, let alone growing into one of the largest global players.

From its humble beginnings in 1988 as an online ad seller called 1&1 EDV Marketing, the company has made many strategic switches over the years, eventually expanding on the international arena and focusing almost entirely on web hosting services.

Just by briefly examining the official website, one can make a good guess about the origins of the company: true to its German roots, 1&1 Ionos pays a great deal of attention to transparency, privacy, and quality. There are hardly any footnotes or extra-fine print – all details are made clear right where you’d expect to see that information.

The sheer range of available services might get overwhelming, though: there’s web hosting, cloud hosting, dedicated hosting, “online starter kits”, website builders, HiDrive storage, Kubernetes as a service.. Say what?!

In order to not go into stupor over this abundance of options, let’s take a step back and agree on the major user categories we’re interested in: a private person, a small/medium business, and a developer/freelancer. In the next chapters of this guide we will discuss which Ionos services are most suitable for each of these use cases.

You might have noticed we didn’t mention large businesses among our user groups, and that’s intentional – if you are a big, established enterprise, you probably know what you want or can afford to hire expensive consultants to tell you what you want. In any case, discussing this segment is unlikely to add value to this humble review :)

Choosing a Hosting Plan at Ionos, Based on Your Needs

If you’re making a website for yourself (your uncle, your friend, etc) or for your moderately sized business, there are basically two product ranges for you at 1&1 Ionos: the standard shared hosting (they call it simply “Web Hosting”) as well as WordPress Hosting.

This division might seem a bit artificial, because it’s also quite easy to install WordPress (below also WP) on their shared hosting – there’s even an automated system for doing just that included with any Web Hosting package.

To help you (and ourselves) figure this out, we have put together a table of the most important differences between the Web Hosting and WordPress Hosting product lines at Ionos:

Web Hosting WordPress Hosting
File storage HDD (slower) SSD (faster)
Number of websites No restrictions Limited per account
Automatic WP updates Need to set up yourself Included
WP auto-installer Basic Advanced
Pricing after the 12-month promo period Slightly less expensive Slightly more expensive

It’s worth stressing that these are the only real differences we could identify. In other words, we did not include any features that are mentioned as advantages on their WP hosting promo page but which are actually also available for Web Hosting packages.

Can you set up automatic updates on your own? Of course. Do you really need an advanced auto-installer which adds extra plugins and themes right away? Probably not. There’s one thing in the WordPress Hosting packages that you do want, though!

SSD (Solid State Drive) is a relatively new type of storage which works like a flash memory stick rather than a rotating aluminium disk used in the traditional hard drives (HDD). Thanks to its design SSD is way, way faster than HDD, and this difference matters quite a lot for your website speed.

To be clear – there’s no particular advantage to using SSD specifically with WordPress, as Ionos’ website might lead to believe – but it does help to make your website faster, regardless of which content management system you are using.

To sum up, if you need one or two websites and have already considered using WP, go for the WordPress Hosting, choosing the package according to how many websites you need. The speed advantage of SSD is worth it.

If you’re planning to use another site engine or if you need to spin up dozens of WP websites on a single hosting account, the Web Hosting packages might be a better alternative.

What about their website builder, you might ask – seems easier than learning to use a content management system – just choose a template and replace the text with your own, right?

While it does offer a somewhat faster way to a completed website, there are a couple of things that make it less attractive if you think about it:

  • If you go with WordPress, your choice will be much, much wider in just about every aspect. While the number of available templates (over 400) in the Ionos Site Builder is quite impressive, most of them look dated in terms of both design and features, at least in comparison to most of the modern WordPress themes (even the free ones like Bento, we’re not even talking about hyper-advanced paid themes like Avada).
  • On the same note, the choice of features and extras in the Site Builder is incomparable with the 50,000+ plugins available for WP. And those are only the free ones! Since developing website builders is not the main focus of Ionos (and probably never will be), this product is just unable to compete with specialized platforms like WordPress or even Wix in terms of power and flexibility.
  • If you’re using Ionos Site Builder, you are bound to that platform for as long as your website exists – there’s no option of migrating to another content management system later on, even the open-source ones. This means that if Ionos decides to change something later on or increase prices, you won’t have any alternatives other than completely re-creating your website from scratch somewhere else.

Unlike other providers like e.g. Hostinger, Ionos does not allow you to actually try the website builder before you pay for it, so you’ll have to just trust me on this one: it’s not worth your time. Taking into account the above arguments, I don’t see why anyone would choose the Ionos proprietary site builder over a full-fledged WordPress.

Alright, alright. What about the Website Starter Kit? Well, it’s essentially a simplified version of the website builder which tries to make additional upsells along the way. After what I’ve stated in the previous paragraph it would be inconsistent to recommend this one.

This was a long explainer, I agree. And it’s still not over, because we promised to also look at Ionos products for more advanced users! So go stretch, grab a coffee maybe, and come back for the second part. Or, if you’ve seen everything you need already, you can use this in-text link to scroll down to the next section which summarizes the pros and cons of 1&1 Ionos.
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If websites and web applications is what you do for a living (i.e. you’re a freelancer, a developer, an online entrepreneur, etc) – you might need something more powerful and customizable than simple shared hosting. Which means you have the following Ionos offers to choose from:

  • Virtual Private Server (VPS), or vServer, offering dedicated resources and root-level access so that you can configure each detail exactly as you need. Here’s where all the advantages of Ionos as an international giant really shine: solid infrastructure and built-in security, 100% SSD storage, as well as 24/7 personalized support make for a fairly attractive package. As an added bonus, you can choose between European, UK, and US data centers for optimal performance.
  • Cloud Hosting comes in various flavours at Ionos, which can be rather confusing until you realize that the Cloud Hosting offers are exactly the same as IONOS Cloud, plus free domains on top. In any case, the specs look good until you start comparing the offers with companies which actually specialize on cloud hosting: very similar plans cost significantly less at Digital Ocean, which has more data centers and arguably more features for professional users.
  • Dedicated Servers, suitable for the most demanding projects, is another example of a product which uses the competitive advantages and the sheer scale of Ionos to the fullest extent. If you’re sure you need dedicated hardware, there’s no reason not to choose one of Ionos’ packages (also, if you’re not sure, then probably you don’t; a VPS might be a more suitable solution).

By the way, if you’re still a bit confused about the differences between shared, VPS, cloud, and dedicated – or just want to refresh your memory, there’s a summary table in our in-depth guide on choosing hosting in the Satori Webmaster Academy.

Let’s summarize what we’ve discussed above: if you just need a more powerful and flexible hosting, go for Ionos vServer, they have very decent offers which fully take advantage of the state-of-the-art infrastructure and international scale.

To reiterate – the other hosting types are usually worth considering only if you know that you specifically need cloud or dedicated.

Regarding the first one, I’d recommend going with the industry leader rather than Ionos, because cloud hosting is Digital Ocean’s flagship product and they clearly invest more time and money into continuously improving it. For the same reason, they are able to offer superior cloud quality for lower prices.

As for dedicated hosting, Ionos is a perfectly fine choice, considering their focus on hardware quality and security.

Alright, the logic behind their product range seems clearer now. In the next chapter we will share our overall impressions from using 1&1 Ionos, before wrapping up with pros and cons as well as the final verdict.

Our Impressions Of Ionos

Apart from features and specs, customer support is a vital part of any hosting offer. Regardless of your proficiency level, you will have questions sooner or later, be it silly rookie mistakes or something not working fine on their end.

From what we’ve seen, Ionos does take support seriously, judging by their move towards the concept of a personal consultant – a company representative who acts as your primary point of contact with the hosting, and knows your situation in more detail than a random support officer.

The personal consultant thing works like this: once you register an account at Ionos, you are able to “activate” this feature from your hosting admin panel. Once you click the activation button, you will see the name and the direct phone number of your direct contact at Ionos.

One might think that a company with several million clients is just physically unable to pull this off, but let’s do a quick calculation:

Ionos claims to have over 8 million clients and 7000 employees in total. Even if just half of them work in the client support function, and assuming each client makes 3 support requests per year, every year, we arrive at an estimate of 25 support requests per specialist per day, or 3 per hour – quite manageable.

Having said that, of course it’s still not possible to ensure you’ll always be talking to your manager when you contact Ionos (not even mentioning that servers can also misbehave in the evening or at night, for example) – but it’s a nice touch and a laudable attempt nevertheless – especially in an industry which mostly looks the opposite way when it comes to support (i.e. trying to get rid of human interaction as much as possible).

On the other hand, there’s no live chat option at Ionos like e.g. at GoDaddy, which is a pity because being able to write in real time, to a real person, can sometimes be a real time-saver. We feel like a chat (or a hybrid chat-email system) would be a welcome addition to Ionos’ already strong support offer, even if you won’t be chatting with your personal consultant most of the time.

Apart from tete-a-tete support, Ionos has made sure that as many standard questions as possible are covered by its written guides. In fact, they took it so seriously that they’ve created three separate environments for that: the Community, which is a collection of general hosting-related articles, the Startup Guide specifically for new businesses, as well as the Digital Guide which covers a wider range of topics from promoting your website to digital laws and regulations.

Are those really useful? Absolutely. Why did Ionos need three separate knowledge bases instead of a single massive archive of useful materials? Beats me.

Since it’s not the first time we’re observing something like that (remember the multitude of re-packaged site builders and cloud hosting?), maybe it’s just what Ionos likes to do – puffing up like an alpha-male pigeon to look big and serious.

While it’s a perfectly reasonable compulsion for a multinational company with millions of clients (and most other large hosting providers do that too, of course), I still feel like in this day and age, focussing on being lean and easy to use is even cooler. Just a personal opinion.

But I digress!

You might have noticed that Ionos even has a mobile app which allows managing your hosting account from any Android or iOS device:

And it’s a pretty decent app, by any standard – you can use it to check if everything’s alright with your server, ask for support, view invoices, change your account details, and even get automated advice for improving your website.

With that being said, it still doesn’t feel like a very essential component – I mean, if managing a website is not your primary occupation, you won’t be using the hosting admin panel too often in any form. If, on the other hand, most of your work revolves around websites, you are already online most of the time from your primary device.

Or maybe it’s just me being old-school, who knows. In any case – a hosting panel app is not something I would download on my phone, because I’m totally fine with the online hosting panel.

Pros and Cons of 1&1 Ionos

Alright, now that we’ve examined Ionos from various perspectives, it’s time to summarize its advantages and weaker points. We will not mention the obvious things and only focus on the real differences compared to other hosting providers:

  • State-of-the-art hardware: over 90,000 powerful servers in 10 data centers in Europe and the US. Installed and managed by Ionos, no outsourcing.
  • High security standards on both hardware and software levels. All EU data centers of 1&1 Ionos have ISO 27001:2013 certificates.
  • Close to 100% availability for your website thanks to geographically redundant architecture, as well as high speeds thanks to 360 Gbit/s data center connectivity.
  • Flexible scaling system for server performance: you can add more processing power or memory in a click and get billed by the day. If you afterwards feel that the extra resources are not needed anymore, downgrading is also surprisingly easy.
  • Some of the best value for money WordPress hosting packages with fast SSD file storage you can get anywhere on the web right now.
  • Each Ionos client gets a personal assistant to help with any questions and issues. While the quality of support can still be improved, this is definitely a positive approach for a large international hosting provider.
  • SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate included with each hosting plan, allowing you to make your website safer for visitors by encrypting traffic. Sites with SSL use the https:// handle in front of their addresses and display a friendly green lock in the browser address bar.
  • A built-in CDN (Content Delivery Network) with some hosting plans: your website automatically gets distributed between several data centers in different parts of the world, thus maximizing page load speed regardless of where your visitors are physically located.
  • While their site builder looks more modern than other similar offers by hosting companies, it’s still far behind even the free content builders available for WordPress or other popular site engines.
  • Ionos’ custom-built hosting control panel looks clean and works smoothly enough, but it’s still not cPanel or Plesk, so if you’ve already dealt with any of the popular hosting admins, you’ll need to get used to a completely new one.
  • The process of creating a new account could be made smoother, especially the personal details form which consists mostly of free-form text fields like postal index and street address which only get validated after you try to submit the form.
  • Live chat could arguably be a welcome addition to the support options, even if you wouldn’t be talking to your personal consultant most of the time.
  • The product range seems bloated at the moment, with some near-identical offers re-packaged as different products, for example Website Builder vs Website Starter Kit, or Cloud Hosting vs Ionos Cloud.

Whew, that’s a lot to take in! So what’s the bottom line? Is the 30-year-old hosting provider still on top of its game – or is your money better spent elsewhere?

Our Verdict on Ionos + Discussion

As you might have noticed, we haven’t tried to evaluate 1&1 Ionos as a whole so far. And that’s a conscious choice: when a company gets as large as that, there will inevitably be some really strong products as well as some offers which are meant to just pluck holes in the product portfolio.

So we could, of course, say that Ionos is a respectable international hosting giant which top-notch infrastructure and support, and that it will probably keep offering reliable services for another 30 years (and probably 30 more)..

..but such superficial characteristic, albeit true, would not help you much in deciding whether to spend your actual money at Ionos or take it elsewhere. Because everyone is interested in solving their specific problem, hence the need to look deeper.

With that in mind, here are the main takeaways from the more detailed analysis above:

  • If you want to build a relatively simple website (1-50 pages) for personal use or as a small/medium enterprise, their WordPress Hosting offer is the best solution, with its fast SSD storage and other optimizations that can mean higher load speed and therefore more satisfied visitors.
  • If your work is tightly connected with websites and web apps (e.g. you’re a freelancer or a part of a developer team), go for one of Ionos VPS packages. These successfully leverage all the strong sides of this well-capitalized multinational hosting provider.
  • The plethora of cloud services at Ionos seems more like a catching-up attempt on their part than a flagship product, so you might consider Digital Ocean hosting instead – at least for the time being, DO is way ahead in terms of both features and value for money.

Still perplexed? Not sure if one of Ionos products is a good fit with your project? You know what to do! Just scroll down to the comments section below and tell us what’s bothering you. Personal opinions and real-life experiences with Ionos are also very welcome, of course. Let’s discuss!

Pour your heart out

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2 comments

Seriously, even Godaddy doesn’t have SO many upsell banners in its hosting admin :)

4/5

thanks for the heads-up about managed wordpress hosting, so far haven’t regretted choosing it over shared hsoting

5/5