Network Solutions is one of a growing list of companies that started out registering domain names and has since expanded into Web hosting and more. The company sells three basic hosting plans that offer a lot of bang for the buck, including generous storage and bandwidth; free domain name registration for the first year; support for commonly used scripts, databases, and security certificates; and a nice Web site design tool. But when it comes to e-commerce, Network Solutions' single package costs double that of many other providers, such as Hostway. If your site requires sales of goods and services, check out Hostway; otherwise, Network Solutions stands as a good choice for non-e-commerce sites.
Network Solutions keeps things simple by offering just three variations on its basic Web hosting package. The entry-level Standard plan costs $9.96 per month for 7GB of storage, 150GB of bandwidth, and 50 e-mail accounts. The $14.96, midrange Advanced package includes 15GB of storage, 400GB of bandwidth, and 100 e-mail addresses. Finally, the Pro plan goes for $29.13 and provides 30GB of storage, 500GB of bandwidth, and 200 e-mail addresses. We should note that all of these prices are based on a one-year sign-up, with prepayment for the full year. All three plans include one year of free domain registration (with a one-year purchase), FTP access, site backups every 24 hours, and support for SSL certificates. Unix packages feature MySQL databases and CGI, PHP, and Perl scripts. Windows packages features include .Net, ASP, CGI, and Perl scripts.
What you won't find with any of Network Solutions' basic plans is the option to add an online storefront, credit-card payment gateway, or merchant account. For these features, you must choose the expensive, $99.95 Pro E-Commerce plan, which offers e-commerce services courtesy of Network Solutions' own MonsterCommerce.
|Domain registration included||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Data transfer per month||150GB||400GB||500GB|
|Phone and e-mail support||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Like most Web hosting providers, Network Solutions gives its customers access to a simple Web site design tool--a handy option for those who lack programming and design skills. The company's useful ImageCafe Web Site Creator tool offers the industry-standard design templates, categorized by business-type, to use as a base for building your site. Once you decide on a template, you can personalize it with your own text, images, colors, and more. We also like the Web-based control panel that you can use to monitor and manipulate your site's settings. The panel's well-organized screens make it easy to locate and access the features you seek, including your available storage and bandwidth, as well as file, e-mail, and password managers.
Network Solutions' toll-free telephone support lines are available around-the-clock for all of its Web hosting customers--no matter which package they purchase. All of our calls to the line were answered in only a couple minutes each time. The company also lists a form on its Web support site where you can enter your question and receive a response via e-mail within 24 hours. While we appreciate these features, the ability to chat in real time with a tech support rep is noticeably absent from the company's support repertoire. You can always surf for your own answers inside the company's searchable FAQ database.