Disclosure: I was given a 1 month free Linux shared hosting account by People’s Host for the purposes of testing it out and writing this review. Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links.
People's Host is a slightly newer host than many others, so you may not have heard as much about them before. I was eager to try out this host, because the only way to know for sure the quality of a web host is to actually use it. I approached People’s Host asking if they would be willing to give me 1 month’s free Linux shared hosting so I could test it out and report back here, and they accepted.
What is People’s Host?
People’s Host is a non-EIG host (good news for those who wish to avoid EIG). Although based in the US, they offer excellent language support in the Customer Area for 26 languages, including some non-Latin languages. They offer shared Linux hosting plans, plus all of the higher-end options such as VPS and dedicated hosting plans; all at affordable price points. They also offer Windows hosting options for all of these too. cPanel and Softaculous are included in all of the Linux shared hosting plans.
You have multiple options for SSL there – it’s one of the rare hosts that support the free Let’s Encrypt Project SSL certificates on shared hosting. Or if you prefer, you also have the option for them to install your own pre-purchased 3rd party SSL certificate, or you can purchase SSL directly from People’s Host as an add-on to your plan (this latter is the simplest of all the options for you since they do every step of the work). It’s rare to find this many choices for SSL on shared hosting, which is one of the reasons I wanted to try out People’s Host.
People’s Host is somewhat unusual in that it offers the ability to host unlimited domains even on the lowest level shared hosting plan. This is good news if you are a domainer or otherwise handle multiple sites. By contrast, most other hosts require you to upgrade to the next level before you they let you host more than one domain.
My experiences on People’s Host
I put my People’s Host account through a lot of tests during the month I had it, installing and uninstalling 5 different CMS’s sequentially to create landing pages, creating and testing email account functionality, looking into my customer area, checking the server stats etc. I also simulated a catastrophic total data loss to see if I could easily restore a previous version of my site through an off-site backup I had previously saved (yes, I had the functional site back up and running in well under 5 minutes). During all of this I did not encounter any problems at all, which was impressive. By contrast at my other two hosts I had to put in a couple of support tickets in my first month or two during the natural course of things.
I was very impressed with People’s Host, and definitely recommend it based on my experiences there.
The bottom line
If you don’t have time to read further, that’s fine; you can take a look at the People's Host plans and pricing here, and be secure in the knowledge that it is a high-quality host. For those seeking a fuller picture of my experiences using shared hosting at this host, read on below.
People’s Host in detail:
The hosting plan I used
People’s Host gave me a choice of what plan I wanted to try for the 1 month testing period; I picked the cheapest shared Linux hosting plan. Why? Because I wanted to try it out under the most basic conditions, and especially the conditions a beginner user might start out with. If the server was going to feel constrained, I wanted it to show up (good news: I never had any issues with that).
Handles all 5 CMS’s I tested
I installed and uninstalled (sequentially) the following CMS’s and created landing pages each time to check that everything was functioning properly: WordPress, Concrete 5, Subrion, Microweber, and ImpressPages. I did this using the built-in one-click Softaculous installer, and had absolutely no problems.
With 5 CMS’s including several unusual ones (some of which require certain things of the hosting environment), if any problems were going to show up they would have done so already. So, rest assured you can host pretty much anything on People’s Host; it’s set up ideally for you to do that.
I went on to live chat anonymously to test out their response time. With the majority of other hosts taking more than 1 minute to respond (and many well over 5 minutes), I was pleasantly surprised with the almost instantaneous response time. Their staff was very knowledgeable.
Customer Area – user-friendly; superb features
Next I inspected the Customer Area; see my screenshot below.
For those new to web hosting, that’s NOT where you manage your software or websites, but instead where you deal with your support tickets, update your billing address, etc etc.
Older hosts tend to have a Customer Area that is, well, older – and as a consequence, not as user-friendly. People’s Host being newer has been built to today’s increased user-friendliness standards.
Here are features in the People’s Host Customer Area that stand out compared to many other hosts:
- Security Settings – provides you with the option to set a security question (you don’t need to turn it on if you don’t want to); if you use it, this will help protect against unauthorized password resets, etc.
- Email History – This is a history of communications you’ve had with your host, all in one place. I wish more hosts would implement this – it saves you from having to search your regular mail to hunt down an answer you want to re-read to a question you gave earlier.
- Languages – 26 languages are supported in Customer Area, including some non-Latin alphabets (see ‘choose language’ menu at top right of the screenshot). So if you want to see your customer area in a language other than English, you can do so.
- You can seamlessly access the host’s KnowledgeBase tutorials while you’re still logged into the Customer Area (i.e. the top menu remains the same). This is a huge plus for security purposes: it’s less likely that you’ll close your tutorial window without remembering to log out of your hosting account first. This is another feature which I feel is sorely lacking at many other hosts.
Email checks out properly
I set up and tested out an email address for my domain, everything went smoothly. I included sending to a Gmail recipient in my testing, because Gmail will tell you if the message a) is encrypted via TSL (which you want) and b) passes SPF tests (more in paragraph below).
On all counts, People’s Host passed with flying colors: I could send and receive into inboxes (nothing went to spam), and the gmail recipient saw that the message was encrypted with TSL, and it passed the SPF test.
SPF: All too many other hosts use 3rd party mail servers, resulting in the red question mark on Gmail recipients saying it’s not sure if it was really sent from that domain, which means you have to customize your SPF records to overcome that. So, if you go with People’s Host, relax: you won’t have to deal with setting up your SPF records to make your emails look trustworthy to Gmail recipients (like I had to deal with at my other host).
After installing and uninstalling my last CMS, I simulated a catastrophic data loss to test out the restoration process for you. I made sure I first had no backups on-site, no site database, and no site directory – basically, nothing already there that it could get the data from. My object was to restore the WordPress version of my test website (from 2 CMS’s ago) from an off-site backup that I had previously created via Softaculous. The restoration process worked smoothly and perfectly, resulting in the fully functional site that I had expected, and took well under 5 minutes. I can therefore attest that backup restoration on People’s Host via Softaculous works properly.
Rest assured though that if you did not happen to have an off-site (or on-site) backup handy, you can always request a restore of your site from People’s Host from their daily server backups. And as another option for restoring, they keep R1Soft backups in addition to any of your own Softaculous backups. You can restore via R1Soft by simply logging into your cPanel and navigating to the R1Soft icon and restoring from that.
Next I set out to address the question: “How safe is the neighborhood?” This was important for me to investigate, because not all cheap hosts are reliable and high-quality; at some hosts you’ll have to worry about spammy sites residing on the same server as your legitimate site, and as a consequence your site’s IP address could become blacklisted through no fault of your own. Likewise, abuse of server resources by another site on your shared server can cause your site to slow down.
I found that People’s Host is a high-quality reliable host with a safe neighborhood. Here is the evidence in support of that:
Server stats are great. In cPanel, it’s possible to look at the server stats of your shared server to see if it’s overloaded. When I looked into this, everything looked great. FYI – the plans themselves are limited on bandwidth and disk space, so your site won’t be slowed even if your neighbor reaches their limit. The limits are generous; unless you’re doing something highly unusual or have a ton of traffic, you needn’t be worried about reaching your limits; if you do, you can always upgrade to the next level of shared hosting. If that’s the case, by then you ought to easily have enough traffic that your site should be earning enough that it more than pays its own way for the upgrade.
IP space monitored closely to detect abuse. I reached out for you to Brian Moore at People’s Host, to find out what features are in place to ensure a high-quality environment. He said:
“In the past, we’ve found that allowing customers to bulk email blast on a shared server caused issues for other customers on the same shared environment. To ensure a reliable hosting experience we do not allow bulk email blasts on our shared hosting environments to protect our customers and IP’s from getting blacklisted for spam abuse. We monitor our IP space very closely to ensure there is no interruptions with our services.
Our email limits are fairly strict when compared to most providers. Though, we do make exceptions and are willing to work with customers who may need outgoing mail limits increased to support their day to day operations.”
– Brian Moore, Quality Assurance Supervisor, People’s Host, March 2017
Their hosting plans include your own domain’s email there along with your website as you would normally want to, but they’ve taken steps to protect you and the shared IP space from people who are trying to find ways to send email spam or who might get the IP blacklisted.
No re-seller hosting allowed; alternatives exist instead. Reseller plans are a great option if you and a few trusted friends want to split a hosting plan together, or if you want extra isolation between a bunch of your own sites. But the flip side of that is that shady operators might choose to become re-sellers and purposely overload a server to maximize their profit, causing issues for legitimate shared hosting customers. So to protect their customers, People’s Host does not allow reseller hosting. Instead, if you want to do reseller types of activities, People’s Host will happily set up a VPS plan for you that is ideal for reseller purposes (with more privileges than you might have elsewhere on shared reseller plans). This is set up in a separate environment away from shared hosting. This ensures that resellers and shared hosting customers experience excellent performance.
A "coming soon" page for your site
When you first have your domain pointed to it, People’s Host has a basic default “coming soon / under construction” page ready and waiting there until you install your CMS (see screenshot below). This page is a huge positive which you REALLY WANT, since many hosts lack this and in those cases anyone browsing it will see “Index of: cgi-bin”, making your site appear abandoned (which I tend to see as a little bit of a security risk).
As you know, starting at any host you could have to wait an unknown amount of time anywhere from a few minutes to 48 hours for DNS changes you make at your registrar to propagate until you can install your CMS. Because of this timing variation I really love the peace of mind that comes with having a default page like the one above, so that you don’t then have a time-sensitive rush to get your CMS installed the minute propagation has occurred.
Upon examining the root directory of my hosting account at People’s Host, I noticed their default page is accomplished via a single index.html file. I went ahead and installed my CMS over the top like a beginner might, without trying to move the index file out of the way first, to see if it the host could handle that, which it did. I noticed the index.html file automagically became renamed during that process to get it out of the way. So, it’s there until you don’t need it any more, at which stage it gets itself out of the way for you. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that!
I put People's Host through a number of tests, and it performed flawlessly. I was impressed; this host definitely stands out above and beyond many other hosts and I highly recommend it.
From both a short-term and long-term perspective, I liked the economical price points and the fact that there were no large pricing jumps between different plan levels, leaving you room to grow affordably in the future as your websites grow.
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