For anyone looking to host a site with lots of multimedia or huge databases, Aplus.Net's Web hosting plans offer tons of storage and bandwidth at very reasonable prices. A year's free registration for most domain names, lots of e-mail accounts, a no-cost Web design tool, and a free e-commerce gateway are a few of the additional benefits associated with its plans. While the company's entry-level package lacks support for a few critical features, including SSL and MySQL, it remains a smart choice for very basic site hosting. Aplus.Net's high-end packages are also good buys, but for unlimited bandwidth with an e-commerce site, try Hostway.
With Aplus.Net, you have your choice of four levels of hosting for the Unix platform (Aplus.Net also offers Windows hosting), all of which offer unlimited subdomains. The $5.95 Solo plan comes with an excellent 300MB of storage, 25GB of bandwidth, and five e-mail accounts. The $9.95 Solo XR plan jumps to 12GB of storage, 500GB of bandwidth, and 500 e-mail addresses. Both the $19.95 Pro and $34.95 ePro packages provide 600GB of bandwidth and 1,000 e-mail accounts. However, the ePro plan offers 5GB more storage than the Pro version's 15GB, as well as the two key e-commerce components: a Miva Merchant online storefront and a credit-card payment gateway. For the first three months, Aplus.Net knocks a few bucks off all but the Solo plan for new customers. It also lets you register any domain name (except those ending in .tv and .cc) for free for at least the first year (longer for Solo XR and above); after that, you're charged an average $7.95 per year (on sale right now for $6.95). And if you agree to pay for an entire year up front, Aplus.Net will waive its setup fees. If you don't, the company charges incremental setup fees starting at $10 for the Solo plan and maxing out at a whopping $75 for the ePro package.
|Domain registration included||Free for 1 year, $7.95 thereafter||Free for 2 years, $7.95 thereafter||Free for 2 years, $7.95 thereafter||Free for 3 years, $7.95 thereafter|
|Data transfer per month||25GB||500GB||600GB||600GB|
|Daily site backups||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Phone and e-mail support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Though Aplus.Net's Solo plan provides a lot of storage and bandwidth, we should note that it lacks features that are indispensable to some sites. The package does not support often-used scripts such as CGI, PHP, and PERL. It also fails to support SSL certificates and MySQL databases. Finally, Aplus.Net backs up Solo sites only once a week. Fortunately, what the Solo plan leaves out, the company's more expensive packages deliver. And Aplus.Net performs backups on its Solo XR, Pro, and ePro plans every 24 hours.
Building and maintaining a Web site is never a walk in the park, but Aplus.Net attempts to make it easier by offering site design and management tools that are simpler than most. The CM4all WebsiteCreator design tool (available for free in all but the Solo plan) takes the same basic approach as other tools, letting you choose a template that you can then customize with your own text, images, and extra features such as blogs and guest books. However, the tool talks you through each step along the way with painstaking explanations. The control panel takes a similar tack, associating large, colorful icons and straightforward, drill-down menus with its main management categories to help you navigate to the areas you need. Those categories include a Usage Meter for displaying your data storage stats; an Archive Manager for orchestrating your own site backups; an FTP Account Manager for manipulating your FTP accounts and files; and an Email Manager for checking each e-mail box, forwarding mail, and performing other e-mail-related tasks.
Service and support is an Aplus.Net strong suit. In addition to providing the requisite toll-free phone number that's available 24/7, the company posts chat links to live reps all over its Web site. We experienced rapid responses via both phone and chatting each time we initiated contact. You can also tap the company's public forums and online support site, which includes 46 pages of searchable FAQs.