Founded in Vancouver in 1999, Dotster was the brainchild of George De Carlo - a webmaster by profession and an enthusiast for modern technology. The company is popular for its versatility and flexibility in provision of services. Besides domain registration, which is its main provision, it offers multiple hosting infrastructures, web design services, email and competitive business solutions including SEO marketing, local site promotion, and business hosting.
Moreover, it is one of the few firms that provide a one-month instant website for free. Essentially, this is a hosting solution for anyone looking for a temporary site to get the word out about a business, event, or idea. With fully automated social media tools and embeddable web elements including maps and images, it is a service truly worth consideration.
Since its inception, Dotster’s mission has been to empower businesses and individuals by delivering high-quality web services and solutions. With their all-round tools, they’ve facilitated a successful subscription of over three million clients to their rapidly-growing online space. In fact, the firm is among the top-rated domain name registrars in the world.
A while ago, Dotster was purchased by Endurance International Group (EIG); a company established to network hosting providers and build collectively their brand names. Other companies owned by EIG include HostGator, Small Orange, Arvixe, and Site5.
Another outstanding feature of Dotster is its enthused advocacy for Green Hosting Movement. Fundamentally, this is an initiative to facilitate renewable energy consumption and elimination of excess carbon emissions from the environment. Every year, it dedicates a large chunk of its resources to buying trees and planting them to rapidly purify the air.
Dotster is quite diverse when it comes to hosting packages, offering everything from simple Linux web hosting, content management system hosting, to VPS hosting. For people who’d like to run their web projects on Windows platform, this too is available on a fully-managed system.
Another important package by Dotster is in the line of business solutions. The company commits its resources to growing a variety of business setups by providing tools and an infrastructure to market brands. It offers hosting services, search engine optimizations, email marketing, and local site promotion. We shall cover each service in detail later on in our 2018 Dotster review.
As earlier mentioned, Dotster is a fully-certified domain registrar offering Top Level Domains (TLDs) such as .com, .co, .info, .biz, .me, etc. On their website, you can look up for new domain names, renew existing ones, and transfer/sell your domain name. Additionally, they have a comprehensively detailed section on the domain subject with frequently asked questions and helpful links to further reading.
Before we cover individual hosting packages, let’s see what makes Dotster’s web infrastructure remarkable. First of all, its datacenter resides in Massachusetts under direct supervision of Certified Network Engineers (CNEs). The server center has features fully optimized to enhance reliability, security, flexibility, and redundancy. Inside it are seismically-braced server cabinets, temperature & humidity monitors, fire detection alarm systems, video surveillance cameras, power backup generators, and network redundant setups.
This is Dotster’s simplest web hosting package boasting short term commitment on pricing plans and free setup of the web space. Users of this package share server hardware resources as well as the data relay infrastructure to the outside world or the internet. In turn, this minimizes the cost of operation and consequently the charges on every billing plan.
On normal operation of a website, bandwidth and disk space will remain unmetered. However, the two are still subjected to conditional terms of service which permit only fair usage. In other words, you can store an unlimited number of web files and exchange them over the internet as long as you’re within the fair usage limit.
Did you also know you can monitor the performance of your web project against its competitors? Well, Dotster offers for free Web Analytics Tool that’s capable of assessing rank on popular search engines, visitors’ IP addresses, and general traffic info. Also, you can customize the domain name server to quicken resolving of your web URL into an IP address.
Furthermore, you can utilize MySQL database for data entry as it is fully supported under this package. Computer languages inherently supported here include PHP 5 & 7, Python, and Perl. Luckily, every plan comes with a free domain name which is ideal for anyone without a budget to purchase a new one.
- Basic Hosting
Ideal for startups and small businesses, this plan offers unlimited disk space and bandwidth. It supports hosting of only a single website with a maximum of 10 MySQL databases, 100 email accounts, and 5 FTP logins. You can use unlimited subdomains while under this plan.
Basic hosting costs $3.75 per month on an annual basis.
- Deluxe Hosting
This plan offers the best value for your money charging $6.75 per month on annual basis and $7.99 on a monthly term. It offers an unlimited disk space, scalable bandwidth, and capacity to store any number of websites in your account’s space. It supports up to 250 email accounts, 25 FTP logins, unlimited subdomains, and 25 MySQL databases.
- Ultra Hosting
This plan suits accounts with sites needing high-speed bandwidth and more storage space. It comes with an unlimited disk space, scalable high-speed bandwidth, unlimited FTP logins, capacity to house unlimited number of MySQL databases, and unlimited number of sites. Although you can host as many email accounts as you want, each mailbox can only hold 10,000 messages since the storage capacity is 500MBs.
Ultra hosting plan costs $13.75 per month on an annual subscription term.
This package serves as an alternative to Linux hosting by providing a Windows-based web hosting platform. It comes with monthly, quarterly, and annual plans which are slightly costly compared to those of Linux hosting. In terms of features, this package comes with servers supporting multi-platform programming languages as well as Windows-only site building tools.
Like Linux hosting package, a free domain name is issued to every new account using Windows hosting package. Additionally, web disk space and bandwidth are totally unmetered as long as the sites remain compliant to the fair usage policy. Note that server resources such as the processor and the bandwidth are shared amongst a group of users. As such, during high-traffic seasons fluctuations in site speeds may be noticeable.
The environment permits you to forward the hosted domains to an already existing site in what is known as standard forwarding. Moreover, you can view or monitor the activities of your site by utilizing the freely available web analytics tool. The Windows servers run on PHP5 and ActivePerl scripting languages which are optimized for speed and stability.
- Basic Hosting
This plan works best for small blogs, private sites, and startup businesses. The company provides unlimited disk space as well as bandwidth on a shared platform. You can only host a single website as the number of permitted domains for each account subscribed to this plan is one. You can integrate up to 100 email accounts to your site, use 5 FTP logins, and a run a maximum of 10 MySQL databases.
Basic Hosting costs $4.75 per month irrespective of the subscription term that you prefer.
- Deluxe Hosting
Charging $7.75 per month, this plan is the most preferable for anyone running an established online business. Almost all the allocations are unmetered except for the email accounts and MySQL databases which are 250 and 25 respectively. Disk space, bandwidth, subdomains, FTP logins, and number of sites to include in your account are unmetered. Moreover, you can customize the domain name servers which resolve your URLs for faster access to your site by visitors.
- Ultra Hosting
This is the top-end plan offering unlimited everything except number of databases hostable. The maximum MySQL databases that you can use on an account under this plan are 50. Disk space, bandwidth, subdomains, email accounts, ftp logins, and number of sites to host are completely unlimited. It is ideal for high-traffic sites that have outgrown Deluxe hosting plan allocations. Subscription is available on an annual, biannual, and triannual term.
Ultra hosting plan costs $14.75 per month with coupons and discounts available occasionally.
A virtual private server mimics the functionality of a dedicated server but without the big price tag. Dotster offers this kind of hosting by splitting one physical server into several dedicated units. Then on each unit, a single customer account is hosted thereby utilizing the virtual resources dedicated to it. The plans for VPS hosting are completely customizable meaning every account pays for the resources that it actually uses over a given period.
The virtual private servers operate on Linux or Windows operating systems. Bandwidth is completely uncapped meaning your web projects can exchange data with outside world without any limit. The main benefit of using this type of hosting is that you’ll scale the environment to suit your specific needs. It works best for business setups which exhaust resources provided for in the business solution package.
Dotster provides a bridge of marketing your business brand to potential customers via their online infrastructure. The aim is to build any size business into a fierce competitor by reaching out to target audience more fluidly. The solutions are subdivided into four main categories:
- Business Hosting Package
Designed for small and medium-sized business setups, the package offers a dedicated virtual server at a friendly price. It also comes with domain registration option for common extensions including .com, .org, .biz, .net, etc. The registrar will assist with domain name suggestions if you have not already decided which to use on your site.
Another important feature is the premium access to cPanel that lets you configure the virtual private server to your flavor. Importantly, you gain full root access to the machine as well as stability, speed, and 24-hour customer support services.
Dotster’s business hosting package costs $29.70 per month.
- SEO Marketing
SEO Marketing package aims at optimizing your site’s content to be easily indexed by popular search engines on the internet. This way, the site ranks high on the search engine results, grows popular over time, and ultimately sell its ideas to a wide range of customers out there. Included in the package are:
- Marketing consultation services
- Detailed analysis and report of your site’s performance at several intervals
- Keyword research and optimization
- Submission of site’s URL to major search engines
- Content optimization for your website to increase indexing by search engines
For $99 per month, the company does the writing of the site’s content, distributing link URLs of the content, and the reporting monthly performance to you. Dotster has a dedicated team of professional SEO copywriters who are well-versed with creation of original content as well as social media marketing. Their goal is to increase your traffic, revenue, and ultimately drive your business to great success heights.
- Local Site Promotion
This business solution aims to promote your website to the geographical areas where the target audience reside. With this, small and medium businesses can increase their visibility to potential customers in their select areas as well as cut the cost of land-based marketing. So, how does this package work?
- Targets specified geographical areas
The promotion will market the site to specific regions, neighborhoods, and cities where potential customers are in plenty.
- Pay for results as opposed to impressions
Dotster will charge you only for customers who view and follow the advertisement to your website. Whatever budget you have, the company distributes it over a given period to ensure the ad remains displayed on the promotion platforms.
- Employs search engines to work for you
Essentially, the local website promotion optimizes your ads to be visible to interested groups of people by recruiting major search engines to advertise it.
- Low customer acquisition cost
This marketing solution charges a less fee than would be required by other advertising channels.
- Option to create discounts and other online offers in real time
If you have any upcoming offers, the local site promotion team will include it in your existing ads.
- Campaign tracking
The marketing team at Dotster sends you activity reports including traffic generated by your site over a given period.
Basically, this service involves creation of business email accounts which enhance communication between you and your clients. You can publicize offers, coupons, and products or services that your business provides through their web-based email marketing infrastructure. The team will ensure your emails are trusted by potential clients and arriving at the right time to avoid being marked as spam.
Besides web hosting, Dotster optimizes its infrastructure to support content management systems which are increasingly being utilized in blogging. One of the popularly used CMS is WordPress which the company supports out of the box. You can install the open-source application from the inbuilt Mojo app store that’s accessible from the cPanel. Some of the features which your WordPress account will get include:
- Spam protection
- Online store for WP themes and plugin
- Password protected posts
- Intelligent text formatting for multi-device compatibility
- Visitor comment control to avoid spamming
- Server-level WP version updates
- Ability to import templates from other sources
WordPress hosting at Dotster costs $3.75 per month an annual subscription.
- Web Design
Besides hosting, Dotster provides web design services as well as marketing opportunities for the sites they’ve created for you. For a full service design and marketing, they charge $249.95 per month. So, what’s in this package for you?
- 5-page site
The designers will create a maximum of five pages in your website with ready content that’s optimized for majority of the search engines.
- Drag and drop site builder
Your account will have this tool to allow you make changes to the web project before it goes live.
- Full site functionality
Here, the designers will include high-definition photo galleries, your contact forms, and platforms to post blog articles.
- Free branding
In addition to your existing logos and colors, the company will improve sections of branding that better market your business or idea.
Besides designing the site, Dotster implements professional traffic-generating tactics to attract visitors to your site. Here are some of the methods they use:
- Search engine optimization
On your behalf, they’ll research on the keywords, add optimized meta descriptions, and insert attractive title tags to improve site rank on popular search engines.
- Monthly content authoring
The marketing team writes quality content and creates social bookmarks which are essential in popularizing a site.
- Free consultations
In case you have queries or concerns, the team of marketing experts are available to talk to.
|Plan Name||Disk Space||Bandwidth||Currency||Admin panel||OS||Websites||Scripting||Email-Transport||Database||SSH||Databackups||Free Domain||1-Click Installer||Websites Builder||Location||Price|
|Ultra Hosting - Windows||-||15GB||USD||Admin panel||1||Perl,PHP||POP3, SMTP||MySQL||$ 14.75|
|Deluxe Hosting - Windows||-||-||USD||Admin panel||1||Perl,PHP||POP3, SMTP||-||$ 7.75|
|Basic Hosting - Windows||-||-||USD||Admin panel||1||Perl,PHP||POP3, SMTP||MySQL||$ 4.75|
|Ultra Hosting||-||-||USD||Admin panel||1||Perl,Python,PHP||POP3, SMTP||MySQL||$ 13.75|
|Deluxe Hosting||-||-||USD||Admin panel||1||Perl,Python,PHP||POP3, SMTP||MySQL||$ 6.75|
|Basic Hosting||-||-||USD||Admin panel||1||Perl,Python,PHP||POP3, SMTP||MySQL||$ 3.75|
|Plan Name||Disk Space||Bandwidth||Admin panel||OS||Cores||RAM||Core Speed||Backups||Managed||Location||Price|
Even with its lowly-priced packages, Dotster is excitingly very robust when it comes to the features it puts out there. In this section, we shall categorize them into six classes namely performance & speed, security, account control & management, customer support system, money-back guarantee policy, and extras.
Dotster offers various types of hosting and as such performance and speed varies from one environment to the next. In our experience though, a web project hosted on the Linux shared environment performed better. This was mostly because of the server side scripting languages supported by the platform. Windows hosting is okay too but the slightly high prices on the plans don’t offer any extra value in performance or speed. Besides, it has several compatibility issues with websites built to work with PHP version 7. Anyways, here are several features related to this class:
- Support for PHP 5 and 7
Dotster servers use PHP server scripting language by default in the flavors of version 5 and 7. The two are highly compatible with most web projects and can be customized to offer better security and stability to most site elements.
- MySQL databases
All Dotster’s hosting plans accommodate at least 10 MySQL databases. MySQL is lightweight, quick to take in or share data in it, and can accommodate a wide range of data types. Again, it works on both Windows and Linux platforms which Dotster uses for its servers.
- Custom DNS management
Domain Name Servers are the backbone of every network activity. They affect how quickly URLs are converted into machine understandable addresses. Dotster’s account provide a custom DNS management portal where you can decide which name server engines resolve the URLs of your websites. You can set multiple DNS engines to act as backup in case one goes offline.
- Mojo Marketplace
The downside of this app store is that it has lots of ads which may be annoying or misleading to new users. Nevertheless, it works quite effectively in installing WordPress alongside other useful applications. It would be better if Dotster included Softaculous which is much easier to use.
- VDeck FTP and File Manager
If you wish to manually manage your site or upload elements, these two tools are freely provided by the hosting provider. They offer a quick way to make changes to a website before taking it live.
- Web Analytics Tool
This tool is handy in monitoring how a website performs over a certain period. All accounts at Dotster servers can access it for free which is beneficial in assessing value addition stats of your site.
Any web project residing on an infrastructure with weak security is vulnerable to compromises and attacks. Dotster applies various measures to guard against such possibilities. These include:
- Datacenter guards
Besides being run by certified network engineers, the datacenter boasts various measures to improve reliability and security. These include dual independent power grids (HVAC power systems), temperature & humidity monitors, fire detection sensor units, braced racks and cabinets that are foolproof to seismic attacks, video surveillance systems, and monitored access to the datacenter.
All projects hosted on Dotster network are automatically mirrored to an offsite location that serves as a restoration center in case of loss and damages. You can actually request for migration of your backup image to a location of choice and the company will provide a link to it within 48 hours.
- Network optimization
Since its establishment, Dotster has always monitored its network infrastructure via a multi-layered firewall at the server level. The measure employs inbuilt content delivery networks and traffic filtering software to guard against DDOS and other server-directed attacks.
- Spam Filtering
Their emailing package comes with advanced spam filtering tools which are integrated with webmail check-ins. You can control the messages that reach your inbox via custom keywords as well as broadcast notifications to your audience via email.
- SSL addition
Dotster’s hosting environment supports a wide range of Secure Socket Layer certificates from companies such as Domain Validated SSL, Enhanced Ecommerce, and Wildcard SSL. All these certificates come at an additional fee. You can try Comodo SSL which Dotster recommends on its site for better Google rankings and its high encryption algorithms.
For Linux and Windows web hosting accounts, the default control panel is vDeck. As for the VPS users, they can use vDeck or cPanel to manage the account. VDeck is quite basic but still offers straightforward configurations and information on the account. You can use it to manage databases, emails, FTP transactions all in a single dashboard. It also includes a searchable interface that you can use to locate settings under the menus in the main interface.
CPanel, on the other hand, is not free for VPS users but still it’s very handy when it comes to account management. You can use the dashboard to manage billing plan, scale VPS resources accordingly, access FAQs, manage background jobs on your VPS unit, schedule tasks, and view domain name subscription status. It offers significantly more control functions than vDeck.
Importantly, the two panels allow users to access Mojo Marketplace that hosts applications such as WordPress and File Managers. Also, you can reach the inbuilt site builder for editing web projects before actual deployment.
When it comes to support, Dotster is very resourceful on that front. It offers extensive documentation on various subjects and features they advertise on their website. Additionally, their answer to customer queries and concerns are hands-on as opposed to being automated. Communication with the customer care staff via the chat support system takes on average 3 minutes. Except for technical questions, solutions to everyday questions are quickly provided and further reading links forwarded for better comprehension of the subject. The main communication channels are:
- Ticketing system
This involves creation of a ticket by the customer via a set of guidelines to help in problem resolution. The system then scans the site’s database for related problems and then decides the direction to take to offer a solution. We posed a presale question and it took just six minutes to get a complete documentation on the subject.
- Chat support system
This works instantly in the same way as live chat. The elimination of automated responses ensures issues raised are addressed after a thorough review. Nevertheless, sometimes the support staff take too long to answer back which might frustrate potential customers.
- Phone Support
Dotster website has their contact number which allows users within the US to reach them easily via phone calls.
The frequently asked questions database is very resourceful even though some of its resources is too old. Since 2011, the hosting provider has done little overhaul to the database to conform to current issues. All the same, their Facebook and Twitter pages are extremely active and great for real-time interactions.
Refunds are available at Dotster in two ways: following cancellation of the hosting contract or when the monthly average uptime isn’t 99.9%. Cancellation of the hosting contract should be within 30 days after registering an account with them to be valid. They charge $35 which they term as an early cancellation fee. Their terms of service state that payment of the contract must have been made via a credit card for an account to be considered eligible for refunds.
As for the uptime guarantee, if it goes below 99.9% on a monthly assessment, you’ll qualify for receipt of service credits.
- Free domain names
Every new account receives a free domain name valid for a year and ability to include unlimited subdomains.
- $100 AdWords
These advertising credits can be used in Bing, Google, and Yahoo.
- Free 1GB cloud storage for media
Your account will have 1GB cloud space to store videos, music, or images that you intend to use on your web project. You can synchronize the data automatically to the cloud storage through standard forwarding.
Is Dotster worth considering an ideal hosting provider for you? Well, it has its own share of strengths and weaknesses but generally, it is an inexpensive hosting option. It works for all levels of business setups but mostly focuses its resources on startups and medium-scale enterprises.
Consider some of the pros and cons below to help you in making a more informed decision:
- Highly affordable plans
With the cheapest plan going at $3.75 per month, it’s truly a hosting provider you can use if an entrant in web hosting field.
- Multiple hosting types
Dotster features shared web and virtual private server hosting as its main packages. Additionally, it offers a wide array of business solutions enabling enterprises to increase their visibility online.
- Trusted domain registrar
Ever since its launch, Dotster has been a great platform to register, renew, sell, and replace domain names. It offers almost all top-level domains (TLDs) ranging from .com, .biz, .info, to .net. Its huge database allows new users to look up for domain names already in use as well as get new suggestions.
- Committed to the green movement
This company has been on the forefront fighting global warming and carbon pollution. As such, it participates in green movements by planting trees for every customer registered with them.
- Keen on data security
Besides applying attack-thwarting measures on their network, Dotster employs a number of physical guards against unauthorized access to the datacenter. Fire, temperature changes, and seismic occurrences are kept under check with powerful sensors. Moreover, power backup systems exist to ensure uptime remains 99.9%.
- Resourceful software marketplace
Dotster offers Mojo, which despite many ads, features lots of useful applications, add-ons, and modules. You can install popular CMS in one click and get started on the World Wide Web.
- Free site stats tool
All plans come with Web Analytics which is a reporting tool for assessing website performance and popularity.
- Professional web designers
Besides hosting, Dotster offers affordable web design services as well as marketing of the designed sites. They create content and optimize the site for major search engines which in turn grow your enterprise.
- Unmetered server resources
Web projects using shared servers have unlimited storage and bandwidth. The resources are great jump starters for growing a brand online.
- Dead links
Several pages on Dotster no longer work yet the management hasn’t provided a fix for that. Also, navigating it is problematic since some elements are incompatible with modern browsers.
- Generic answers to specific issues
Although the chat support system connects users to human assistance, some responses are very generic. Also, the FAQs contain archaic info that’s irrelevant in modern web setups.
- Limited optimized environments for CMS
Dotster only offers a package for WordPress leaving out popular ecommerce CMS like Drupal and Joomla. Again, the server resource allocations are optimal for only small blogs.
Below are the frequently asked questions about the hosting provider - Dotster:
- Which hosting types are available at Dotster?
Shared and Virtual Private Server hosting are the main hosting types at Dotster. In shared web hosting, Dotster has Windows, Linux, WordPress, and Business hosting packages.
- Which plan is ideal for a small blog at Dotster?
Basic hosting and WordPress hosting are the two plans that are optimized for small blogs. They have the necessary server resources as well as features to grow simple blogs into authoritative info platforms.
- Can I renew a domain I registered elsewhere at Dotster?
Yes. Dotster offers domain renewal and domain registration services. You can renew an existing domain name with them.
- Can I search a domain name I want to use for my website?
Yes. Dotster offers a large database of domain names currently in use and unused. It is a certified domain name registrar thus will assist in finding the ideal domain name for your website.
- Which hosting providers are the best alternatives to Dotster?
HostGator, Arvixe, Site5, and BlueHost are great alternatives to Dotster. They have all features offered by this company plus other extra ones which are essential in running modern websites.
- Which control panels are supported by Dotster accounts?
VDeck and cPanel are the two control panels available to accounts registered at Dotster. cPanel is for VPS users while vDeck for shared web hosting accounts.
- Which operating environments does this hosting company use?
Windows and Linux are the two main operating environments which the servers at Dotster are based.
- I need an SSL certificate, does Dotster provide it?
Not exactly but the company recommends Comodo, Domain Validated, and Wildcard SSL as the companies to acquire the certificate from. The protocols will secure your customer data and tunnel payments via a safe gateway.
- How long is the money back guarantee on Dotster?The money back guarantee period lasts for 30 days. Within the period, you can cancel the hosting contract but the company charges an early cancellation fee. Read the Dotster’s terms of service for more details.