2016 WebFaction review: Everything you need to know

Overview: WebFaction provides affordable hosting for developers.

Pricing:

Webfaction: $8.50/mo for shared hosting.

Shared 1: $9.50/mo for shared hosting.

Shared 2: $14.50/mo for shared hosting.

Ideal Customer: A great option for fledgling developers looking for affordable, but reliable hosting with a company that understands your needs.

Trends:

Unique Features:

Q & A Community Site: WebFaction is primarily geared towards developers. Customer support is limited to a ticket system and Q & A Community Site. Although there is no phone or live chat support, you won’t even miss it as knowledgeable developers run WebFaction’s community site. Users gain karma for answering questions and public participations. It’s an active forum where most questions are likely to be answered within a few hours. Because WebFaction’s hosting plans are mainly for developers, most of the questions are related to specific languages, databases, or scripts like PHP, Django, Node, PostgreSQL, etc. WebFaction staff members also answer any questions on the public forum, so if you’re too impatient to wait for your ticket to be processed, you might have better luck in the forum.

Proprietary Control Panel: cPanel and Plesk are two of the most mainstream control panels available. cPanel especially is praised for its efficiency and intuitive interface. But WebFaction doesn’t have the industry-standard cPanel. They have their own control panel that does everything cPanel does and then some. From this control panel, you can monitor your memory and bandwidth usage, access your DNS records, and use one-click installations to install common applications such as Git, WordPress, Django, and more. On cPanel, you can only have one static IP address for each account, but there is no such restriction on WebFaction’s proprietary control panel. It may seem strange and backwards at first to create an application, then a site, then a domain, but users have reported flexibility and ease of use once they get used to the control panel. It’s easy to customize with as many domains, subdomains, and applications, as long as you stay within the limitations given to your account (bandwidth, memory, disk, etc.).

Django-Friendly: WebFaction is rated very highly among Django developers on websites that list Django-friendly hosting plans. They were one of the very first hosts to support Django on Python 3, way back in 2013. There is a one-click installer for Django, which makes everything neat and easy for the developers. The amount of flexibility is almost unheard of when compared to other similar companies. WebFaction lets you run any instances of web servers you want, including Apache and NGINX. Along with the one-click installer, open shell environment, staff and forum members who are knowledgeable in Django, and support for various environments, WebFaction has put together a nice package that appeals to Django developers.

Reviews:

We check several online sources looking for honest reviews for Webfaction. We found that customers are very positive about their hosting platforms and features.

One happy customer raves: “Webfaction is the closest you can get to a private server while still being reasonably priced and comparable to shared hosting platforms.”

Another reviewer agrees saying: “It’s rare to have all this quality in one place, but WebFaction manages it. Unlike many hosting services which only offer PHP and/or .NET, WebFaction offers a diversity of languages and platforms: Python, Ruby and Perl. It’s the best hosting for Django I’ve heard of.”

Not all reviews were positive however. We found negative comments from customers about Webfaction’s uptime.

Here one reviewer who’s business is being impacted says: “Their mail server uptime is terrible. I have two clients with email hosted at WebFaction, and both of them experience regular (i.e. every one or two weeks) mail server outages. WebFaction always posts about the issues on their status blog, which is nice, but that’s still way too often to be having mailserver issues.”

Another frustrated client writes: “Intermittent downtime for the past 48 hours due to hardware failure. Really shouldn’t have taken that long to sort out. Usually sing Webfactions praises, but that’s unacceptable.”

We also looked at Twitter to see what customers were saying about Webfaction. Here one customer is very happy to have made the move to the host:

This user is frustrated at the constant downtime:

Pros:

  • Generous Refund Policy: WebFaction has two separate refund policies for shared hosting plans and cloud server plans. For shared hosting, you have up to 60 days to get a refund. There is no deadline on cloud accounts. You’ll receive a refund for the unused portion of service.
  • Multiple Plans: WebFaction currently offers 1 shared plan and 4 cloud server plans to suit different development needs.
  • Fast Setup Time: With one-click installers for almost all software imaginable, you’ll be up and running in no time.
  • Excellent Documentation: Their documentation repository has detailed online user guides that can also be downloaded.
  • Multiple Data Centers: WebFaction has multiple data centers spanning across several continents, so load-balancing is easily achieved.

Cons:

  • Limited Support: There is no phone support or live chat. Support is done strictly through a ticketing system and community forum.
  • Pricing: Pricing for the shared plan is reasonable, but can come across a bit high for cloud accounts especially when there is a cap on disk space, memory, and bandwidth.
  • No cPanel: If you prefer the ease and familiarity of cPanel, you might not like WebFaction’s proprietary control panel.

Summary:

WebFaction offers a lot of flexibility for developers. While there is no promise of “unlimited” bandwidth or storage, their plans should be suitable for hobbyists to serious developers. WebFaction is highly regarded among Django developers and there is an active community forum to compensate for the lack of phone or live support. There is a lot of flexibility with what scripting languages or databases you can use. One-click installers exist for a wide range of applications. If you are looking for a hosting option that provides multiple tech support options or the familiar cPanel then you may want to look someplace else.

Takeaway: If you’re looking for a hassle-free hosting plan for developers, WebFaction will certainly make your life easy. It’s especially suitable for Django developers who want flexibility at a reasonable cost.

JP Smooth
 

"JP Smooth" is a tech entrepreneur and owner of too many websites lol. After using over 50 hosts in his day, he recommends this host because their hosting is faster than 99% of other hosts (and they answer support calls in under a minute).

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