Brinkster can get you set up on the Web pretty quickly, with a decent amount of storage and bandwidth and some easy-to-use tools at an attractive price. But you'll want to bring your own design software, e-commerce tools, and technical expertise to this party. A discount host such as iPowerWeb gives you more storage, bandwidth, and tools for your money, while Brinkster gives EarthLink's hosting service fair competition for best technical support.
For $4.95 a month, Brinkster's Personal package offers 500MB of storage, 7GB of bandwidth, and 50 e-mail accounts. At $7.95 a month, the Professional package provides 1GB of storage, 30GB of bandwidth, and 400 POP3 e-mail in-boxes along with support for SQL databases and scripting. For $17.95 a month for the Developer package, you get twice the storage and bandwidth of the Professional edition, plus support for SSL certificates. All three packages include a free domain registration (if you sign up for 12 months), virus scanning, support for Microsoft FrontPage 2003, and 24/7 technical help. But if you want to add a shopping cart or get help marketing your site, you're out of luck--Brinkster doesn't offer those tools. At the time of this review, Brinkster's new Linux packages were still in beta.
|Domain registration included||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Data transfer per month||7GB||30GB||Unlimited|
|Phone and e-mail support||Yes||Yes||Yes|
You access the Brinkster site through a slick control panel on the site where you can register your domain, build your site, set up e-mail accounts, upload and download files, and manage your site's database, if it has one. Most of the tools are a breeze to use, though for reasons we never discovered, we couldn't register a new URL through the Domain Manager (a support technician did it for us).
Brinkster's Web Site Builder tool looks like a real WYSIWYG HTML editor at first, but looks can be deceiving. While you can choose from 20 similar templates, you can't modify them much. The online site-building app works only with Internet Explorer 5.5, and it's buggy--in our tests, it crashed IE repeatedly. Brinkster is working on a new site builder that works in alternate browsers, but perhaps it should work on improving the tools it already has. Brinkster does offer antivirus scans, e-mail aliases, and automatic backups, providing some of the best security features we've seen from a Web host. And, as mentioned above, the new Linux packages will soon give users even more features.
Technical support is where Brinkster really shines. We called tech support's 24/7 toll-free number, and we were talking to a live human in just under one minute. Brinkster also offers live chat, where again, the response was speedy and courteous. The company also maintains online FAQs for do-it-yourself help. In the time between when we originally reviewed Brinkster to the time when this review posted, the company improved its customer-service support offerings dramatically, and we hope that the company continues to innovate.