I’ve had my site hosted by a friend for a while. It was usually fine, but I’ve had a few outages and some more problems once he moved. Then I was directed to http://order.1and1.com/xml/static/Home. They’re just getting into personal hosting, and rather than spend a ton of money on advertising, they’re giving away accounts and relying on word of mouth for it to spread. I’ve used it for a little while now, so I have a few comments. I most likely wouldn’t pay for this service, but it sure is better than GeoCities and all the other free webhosts like it.
They seemed to be aimed more at the novice. Everything is done via a web interface, which isn’t 100% configurable. However, they do have some additional features that are nice, and not too common, even with paid hosts. http://order.1and1.com/xml/static/Faq is a FAQ about this promotion, and I’ve put up a copy of their terms of service if you want to see them before you go through the other stuff.
Here are the main features…
* 12Gb connection
* FTP, PHP, Perl, MySQL, CGI, SSH, and Cron Jobs
* 50 POP3 e-mail accounts, offering 50MB each, 500 e-mail forwarding accounts, Virus Scanning, auto-responders, and webmail via your own domain name
* 500MB of space
* 5GB of traffic allowed, $.99/GB for over 5GB
They do have a few limits on the free account. Only one SSL cert for the whole site and one MySQL database of 100MB. However, most “free webhost” users don’t need this stuff at all anyway. The virus scanning is only free for the first mailbox also. Additional mailboxes are $1.99, to be paid 3 months in advance, unused time not refundable. The 5GB limit is pretty good too, and $.99 per extra GB over that is pretty cheap. Even if you double your allowed traffic, that’s still only $5. One horror story showed that a customer managed to consume 234GB of traffic with his site, and was billed over $16,000. In trying to refute his claim, another person posted that he appeared to be hosted by rackspace.com, who charges $4/GB for overage (lowering his cost to $936). With 1&1, 234GB would cost you $226.71. Still quite a bill from a “free” hosting service, but a lot better than $900, and a whole lot better than $16,000.
They give you a xxxxxxxxxx.onlinehome.us domain name. I haven’t tried it, but I believe that should work as your domain name if you don’t want to pay the extra $5.99 to get your own domain name. I think you could have firstname.lastname@example.org for example. It’d be a bit annoying, but it would work.
The email setup is a bit weird also. They give you another xxxxxxxxxx name for your mail stuff. You can create up to 50 mailboxes, but the names are all xxxxxxxxxx-____. They start with that xxxxxxxxxx, and you can choose 4 characters to stick on the end, like xxxxxxxxxx-1 and xxxxxxxxxx-2 for example. You can still choose any name to use for the email address (like email@example.com), but the mailbox account itself is named xxxxxxxxxx-1. xxxxxxxxxx-1 is the username you would enter into your mail client for checking the mail account.
It also takes a while for changes made in their web interface to go into effect. When you change a subdomain setting, it says that the change will take place within the next three hours. Again, not a huge deal, but it can be annoying at times if you’re trying to get something working and have to wait that long to test it.
When you sign up, you have to provide a phone number for them to call. Their automated confirmation system calls you a few minutes later with a PIN. You put that number into a web form to confirm your identity. Once that’s done, they send you the final confirmation so you can access your account.
Overall, not a bad host. Their configuration stuff seems lacking to me, and it can be time-consuming and a bit confusing to get everything set up and working. As I said, I don’t think I’d pay for this service, but it’s leaps and bounds above the other free hosts out there. Might as well give it a try. They don’t ask for a credit card number or anything, so it is absolutely free. If you don’t like it, just stop using it before the 3 year promo is up.