Pricing and Features
HostWinds offers some of the most competitively priced packages on the dedicated server market. While not always on the bleeding edge in terms of specifications, the company’s servers run on solid hardware. The company’s modular approach to server configuration is a double-edged sword, though: it can save you money if you want the power to select your server’s trimmings, but the additional fees for even key options like Windows or cPanel add up quickly if you want a fully tricked-out server.
Before we get into the different features and services available, though, let’s look at the server configurations that form the base of HostWinds’ monthly plans. You can choose to customize your own server, or you can select from HostWinds’ range of pre-configured server options (which it inexplicably calls “bargain bin servers”). Both choices still lead you to a menu of optional software/service add-ons, which might be confusing, especially for dedicated hosting novices. To be clear, the difference lies in how much control you have over the server’s actual hardware.
Build Your Own Server
If you choose to configure your server, you’re looking at base costs of $100-$175. At the $100 point, you start with a quad-core Intel Xeon E3 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 2 drive bays that you can stuff with up to 3 TB of storage each. Jumping up to the next tier, $165 monthly, moves you up to a quad-core Intel Xeon E5 processor and a default 48 GB of RAM. The highest tier, $175 monthly, gets you a hexa-core Intel Xeon E5 processor and a default 48 GB of RAM. Like previous tiers, you get 2 drive bays that can hold up to 3 TB of storage each.
Regardless of the base price you choose, you can upgrade different aspects for additional fees: RAM in the two higher tiers can go up to an astronomical 96 GB for an extra $50 per month, for example, or you can switch to SSD storage for at most $30 per month. HostWind doesn’t impose limits on your inbound bandwidth, while outbound holds steady at a default 10 TB across all your plan options. Like other aspects of your server, you can pay extra to ramp up your bandwidth, from the lowest-priced jump to 30 TB at $60 monthly, all the way up to unmetered bandwidth at $750 monthly. Likewise, you can get more IP addresses beyond the default 8, by shelling out either $24 or $64 for 16 or 32 total IP addresses, respectively.
The same menu of optional network attribute upgrades greets you if you opt for pre-designed servers instead. Prices here range from a base of $120-$1250 per month, with server specifications ranging from dual-processor Intel Xeon X5355s (at the lowest tier) up to dual-processor 16-core AMD Opterons (at the highest tier). RAM ranges from 16 GB up to 128 GB, while storage can be SATA or SSD and goes from 2 TB – 12 TB on SATA or 240 GB up to 4 TB on SSD. You can’t choose to upgrade specific hardware aspects of each pre-designed server, though, and specifications vary across price points — the most expensive plan doesn’t necessarily chalk up the highest numbers across the board in terms of processing power, RAM, and available storage. If you’re looking for optimal hardware, remember to look beyond list price and examine your available options carefully.
Whether pre-designed or self-configured, each server comes with a menu of additional features. HostWinds’ servers can be outfitted with a number of possible operating systems: Linux CentOS 5.x, 6.x, or 7.x; Debian; Ubuntu; Open SUSE; FreeBSD; Gentoo. These come free. If you want to run a Windows server, though, you’ll have to pay either $15 (for Standard) or $110 (for Datacenter) in licensing fees. Similarly, the cPanel software costs an additional $35 per month (or $350 annually). The Softaculous platform isn’t available as an option for some servers, but for the ones where it does appear as an add-on, usage costs an additional $2 monthly, $6 quarterly, $12 semiannually, or $24 annually.
Aside from these software features, HostWinds also offers a number of services for your consideration. Some of these are more crucial than others: there are nightly dedicated server backups and security services, which any server needs; there are also basic server management services, which more experienced users can opt not to get without any trouble. These add-ons range in price from $5 (for basic server monitoring) up to $50 (for premium monitoring services) monthly. There are also add-ons that only require one-time fees, such as the WindSpeed server optimization service ($40) or the Windshield security service suite ($25).
HostWinds explicitly stipulates a 99.9% uptime guarantee, which pales in comparison to other providers’ 99.99% or 100% guarantees. Nevertheless, various blurbs from the company itself talk up a 99.99% uptime rate anyway. More importantly, various HostWinds users report reliable uptime, with no outages or significant stretches of downtime over the long term.
In contrast to a lot of other providers, HostWinds also offers a lengthier 60-day money-back guarantee. This is double the standard 30-day period that many providers offer users for service refunds. If you’re unsure about going for HostWinds as your dedicated server host, the guarantee gives you a safety net and ample time to check out the service’s quality for yourself.
HostWinds’ support team can be contacted through live chat, phone, or the company’s dedicated ticketing system. All of these channels are available to you 24/7/365, with HostWinds reporting relatively short average response times for each: 7 minutes for support tickets, 60 seconds for chat, and 15 seconds for phone.
What's the Verdict on HostWinds?
HostWinds Dedicated Hosting Review 2020 – Conclusion
If you’re looking for a low-cost but reliable dedicated server hosting option, then BlueWinds might be the one for you. The company offers both pre-designed and fully configurable servers for as low as $100, with solid hardware specifications and decent network allocations free with each plan. You should take care to examine your available choices, though, because HostWinds’ modular approach to server features and services can easily translate to higher fees without you noticing. If you want a fully feature-packed server, you might be better off with pre-set packages from other providers. But if you want the flexibility to choose your server’s feature set, and you want a company that gives you solid uptime and a generous money-back guarantee, then HostWinds is worth a look.