If you're looking for a feature-rich, affordable web host, 1&1 should be on your short list. This web host offers a wide array of packages, including shared, virtual private server (VPS), WordPress, and dedicated hosting. However, it's 1&1's WordPress support that makes the company stand out, making it our top pick if you need WordPress hosting. Just a few minor issues prevent 1&1 from outclassing competitors DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds, our overall Editors' Choice winners. Still, it's a web host that you should check out—especially if you're going to run a self-hosted WordPress blog.
1&1 has decent VPS web hosting packages, but Hostwinds, the Editors' Choice for VPS web hosting, tops it by offering unlimited storage and unlimited domain hosting. Hostwinds also offers Minecraft VPS hosting starting at $8 per month.
Dedicated Web Hosting
1&1 has three Linux- or Windows-based dedicated hosting tiers: Entry-Level, Performance, and Business Line. Entry-Level dedicated servers start at just $69.99 per month for 8GB of RAM, 1000GB of storage, and unlimited monthly data transfers.
Those specs are fine if you're managing a small, lightly trafficked website, but I suggest checking out the Performance (starting at $199 per month) and Business Line (starting at $449 per month) offerings for beefier CPU and storage options that begin to compete with Hostwinds, the Editors' Choice for dedicated web hosting.
Setting Up a 1&1 Hosted Site
A 1&1 subscription grants access to 1&1 WebsiteBuilder, the tool that I used to create a test site. WebsiteBuilder has many options, but they weren't overwhelming in my testing. The tool asked me to select the domain I planned to use, key in a title, tagline, and footer information, select a site category (I picked Electronics), and enter search keywords. I also created a rudimentary Flash-based intro that greeted visitors with welcoming text, as well as a description designed to let readers know what the site is about should they stumble across it in web search results.
Using 1&1's intuitive website builder to give my site a face was as simple as clicking icons, dragging-and-dropping boxes, selecting color schemes, entering text, and uploading images. If you've spent any amount of time using Facebook, you shouldn't have any problems creating a simple site.
Still, I prefer GoDaddy's flexible website builder. GoDaddy's tool makes it simple to add forms, social media links, Google Maps, slideshows, and other items by dragging them around on a template. On a purely superficial level (which counts for a lot on the web), GoDaddy's Website Builder produced a far more attractive site in my testing. My 1&1 test site looked a bit dated.
If you want more website-building flexibility with 1&1, you must subscribe to WebsiteBuilder Plus ($9.99 per month), which lets you add your own code. Using WebsiteBuilder Plus, you can insert HTML and YouTube video embeds—something Arvixe does by default. That said, I like that 1&1 includes website-building software at no extra charge; GoDaddy's Website Builder required me to shell out an extra $1 per month.
1&1 also has dozens of apps that can be used to improve your website, including Amazon Deals, Google+ badges, and OpenTable.
WordPress Web Hosting
There are two ways to get WordPress up and running on a 1&1 server. You can install WordPress on a standard Linux- or Windows-based server environment you get through the web hosting plan or you can sign up for managed WordPress. 1&1 has three Linux-based managed WordPress packages: WP Basic ($6.99 per month), WP Plus ($9.99 per month), and WP Unlimited ($14.99 per month).
WP Basic offers 50GB of storage, unlimited visitors, and one free domain. WP Plus tosses in 250GB of storage and the ability to host five WordPress projects. WP Unlimited, the most feature-packed of the three options, boasts unlimited WordPress projects. All the plans have unlimited email, automatic malware detection and removal, automatic WordPress updates, and a curated list of recommended WordPress plug-ins and themes. These packages surpass rival WordPress offerings from the likes of Arvixe, GoDaddy, and SiteGround. 1&1 also offers managed WordPress hosting, for those who want to give their sites the white-glove treatment. As a result, the flexible 1&1 is our Editors' Choice for WordPress hosting.
You can't have a business without email. Fortunately, email comes with your hosting package. My 1&1 Basic web hosting plan came with 100 accounts. It was a straightforward setup process that occurred as part of signing up for my web hosting package. I later created a generic contact email address by clicking the Mail icon, creating a handle, selecting my domain, keying in a password, and enabling anti-spam and virus protection. GoDaddy has a very similar—and equally simple—email-setup procedures.
If you need email, but not web hosting, 1&1 has three packages designed to suit your needs. 1&1 Instant Mail ($1.99 per month) gives you five email accounts, each of which has a 2GB storage capacity. It also includes the free 1&1 WebsiteBuilder. Next up the ladder is the 1&1 Basic plan ($5.99 per month), which offers 100 email accounts, 2GB of storage per account, one free domain, and three 15-page WebsiteBuilder projects. The top-shelf package is 1&1 Unlimited ($8.99 per month). It has unlimited email accounts, 2GB of storage per account, and five 25-page WebsiteBuilder projects.
Email marketing is an important business tool, so it's no surprise that 1&1 offers a dedicated 1&1 E-Mail Marketing Manager. This tool gives you an overview of your email traffic, address management, distribution information, and more. The 1&1 E-mail Marketing Manager is included with your hosting package and can send blasts to up to 100 recipients. Should you need to email more than 100 recipients, you can upgrade to one of 1&1's premium E-Mail Marketing Manager packages (starting at $9.99 per month for 6 months, or $12.99 per month for three months).
If you want to sell products, the 1&1 Online Store (starting at $9.99 per month) lets you pick one of several layouts and designs. This is not part of the basic web hosting plan, but rather an add-on. There's a lot of dragging-and-dropping and adding prefab elements, but there wasn't much I could manually tweak in my testing. 1&1 prompts you to (optionally) enter your sales tax ID and whether you want to display items with or without the sales tax included in the price. You can add products, list delivery methods and accepted payment types, and more. There's also a customer database for keeping track of your customers.
1&1 includes a GeoTrust Dedicated SSL Certificate (encrypted website security that protects data exchanges between users and your site) free of charge with its server, Developer Shared Hosting, and Developer eShop packages. If you don't have one of those plans, you can purchase a GeoTrust Dedicated SSL Certificate for $49 per year.
SiteLock, available as a Basic package (99 cents per month) and a $4.99 per month Premium package ($4.99 per month), is a feature offered by 1&1.com to protect your website from hackers, malware, and unauthorized access. Depending on the package you select, SiteLock scans up to 500 of your website's sub-pages to find network vulnerabilities. If you opt to display the SiteLock Trust Seal on your website, your visitors will see real-time verification that the site is secure. According to 1&1, SiteLock's Trust Seal instills so much customer confidence that it'll boost your product sales by 10 percent.
Website uptime is one of the most important aspects of a hosting service. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services.
For this testing, I used a website monitoring tool to track my 1&1-hosted test site's uptime over a 14-day period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings my website and sends me an email if it is unable to contact the site for at least one minute. The data revealed that 1&1 went down a few times. That said, 1&1 was up the majority of the time during that two week time span, so consider it a decent foundation for building your website.
Satisfactory Customer Service
If you have any problems with your hosting plan, or simply have a question, rest easy in knowing that 1&1 has 24/7 email and telephone support. How a company's customer service department responds to your complaint or query is vital, so I tested 1&1's mettle by placing a call on a weekday afternoon. I wanted to know the difference—if any—between 1&1's regular web hosting and its WordPress hosting offering.
About one minute later, a 1&1 support person fielded my call. The rep correctly stated that the WordPress hosting lets 1&1 automatically update WordPress and any installed plug-ins—something that users would otherwise manually handle with regular 1&1 web hosting.
Unlike DreamHost, 1&1 lacks live customer support web chat. As a result, I decided to test the other side of 1&1's customer service by emailing this question on a weekday afternoon: How do I import my existing WordPress.com blog into a 1&1 account? About an hour later, a 1&1 reply that contained a detailed (and correct) answer was in my inbox.
1&1 has a decent 30-day money-back guarantee, but DreamHost one-ups it with an impressive 97-day money-back guarantee.
1&1 offers low-cost hosting, easy email setup, domain transfers, and website building—particularly in the WordPress category, for which it is our top pick. That said, some of 1&1's features could benefit from more flexibility. If you're looking for the best website-building tools and customer service overall, DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds, PCMag's Editors' Choices for web hosting services, are your best bets.
If you need tips on creating your website, please read our primer. You might also want to check out our story on how to register a domain name for your website.