If you’re building a new website, whether personally or for your business, it’s essential to choose a reliable web hosting service.
You want maximum uptime, fast speeds, and fast server performance. Depending on your needs, you might also need some extra tools.
For instance, if you have no experience with website management, you’re probably going to want to use a service with WordPress hosting.
The format is just that easy to use. On the other hand, if you’re running a small business site, you’re going to want to have some security features, such as an SSL certificate.
We’re about to look at one of the UK’s most popular web hosting services, 123-Reg. But just because a web host is popular doesn’t mean that it’s a good value.
With a big enough marketing budget, just about any business can get new customers and become successful. We’ll take a deep dive into 123-Reg’s prices, services, and features, and tell you how they stack up to the competition.
Our Verdict ⚖️
Overall, 123-reg is neither one of the best hosts out there, nor one of the worst ones.
Their server performance & speed is quite decent and they offer some attractive and unique features to both new and old customers.
On the other hand, they've made some embarrassing mistakes in the past and you'll have to pay extra for many basic features.
123-Reg Pros and Cons
Basic Plans Come With a Free Domain
123-Reg includes a free domain name with their most basic web hosting plan, and 3 domains with their “unlimited” basic plan. Depending on the cost of your domain, this can be a great value.
Virtually Zero Latency
123-Reg performs exceptionally well on internet speed and latency tests. Websites and pages load quickly, as soon as you click the link.
Basic Plans are WordPress Ready
The basic plans on 123-Reg are ready to go for WordPress use. You’ll have to import your own templates, but the ability to use WordPress without paying for a WordPress host is a nice touch.
Discounted Office 365 Access
123-Reg customers get discounted access to Office 365. However, the monthly rate is fairly steep. If you’re going to use this option, stick with the yearly subscription.
The Plans are Barebones
While the basic plans are in line with the rest of the market, 123-Reg charges a steep premium for business and SSL sites. There are plenty of cheap hosting companies that offer the same service for less.
They Have a History of Mismanaging Their Servers
In 2016, 123-Reg had an embarrassing incident where they accidentally deleted hundreds of websites while performing routine server maintenance.
They Charge Extra For Basic Features
Full-featured malware protection costs £29.99 per month. This is well outside the range of what the competition offers. The absolute best UK web hosts even offer this feature for free.
Uptime Guarantee is Limited to Premium Plans
Basic website plans on 123-Reg receive no uptime protection whatsoever. To get uptime protection, you have to pay for one of their more expensive premium plans.
123-Reg Review (UK 🇬🇧)
We’ve taken a top-level view of 123-Reg’s good and bad points. But how good is their service really, and what do they have to offer? Let’s take a closer look at the pricing, plans, service speed, uptime, and free extras.
123-Reg Pricing 💰
As with any web host, the price for using 123-Reg is going to depend on the service level you’re using. You expect to pay less for a personal blog than you would for an enterprise-scale site. But the one thing you expect from any hosting service is value.
If you’re spending your hard-earned money, you want to get some bang for your buck. So how are the rates?
Basic plans, at first glance, are very reasonably-priced. Their “essentials” plan costs only £2.99 per month, and the “unlimited” plan is almost as affordable, at £7.79 per month. Looks pretty good, right?
And none of the basic plans allow you to have more than one email address. Even for the smallest of small businesses, this is simply a non-starter.
123-Reg WordPress Hosting
WordPress sites are also reasonably priced if you just take a passing glance at them. The “business” plan costs £7.79, and the “premium” plan is £14.99. But once again, you’re not getting a lot of value.
These plans don’t come with any email address, and your database size is limited to 1GB. In addition, only the premium plan supports SSL encryption, and it’s limited to a single domain.
Surprisingly enough, additional SSL certificates cost £59.99 per year, significantly increasing the price.
At the next service level, their premium plans are priced from £29.99 to £119.99. The lowest tier offers 100 GB of storage, while the higher tiers provide unlimited storage and some minor bonuses.
That’s actually quite decent value if you’re storing a lot of data or hosting a lot of media. However, they don’t actually offer any information about their server CPUs.
They simply provide a quality rating on a scale of 1 to 10. If you need your server to meet specific demands, you shouldn’t have to sign up for a year of service just to find out whether it works or not.
123-Reg VPS Hosting
Virtual private server (VPS) prices on 123-Reg range from £9.99 to £44.99 per month. However, the servers are totally barebones. There’s no free domain name and no SSL certificate. In addition, they charge a one-time “setup fee” of £9.99.
This is absurd. The whole idea of a VPS is that you’re setting up your own server. Essentially, they’re charging you £9.99 for absolutely no reason.
123-Reg also charges extra for malware protection across all of their services. The base plan costs only 99p per month, but all it does is let you know that your server is infected. That’s not very helpful.
To actually remove any malware, you need to sign up for their £4.99 a month “fix” plan. For proactive protection – the kind you expect from any modern service – you’re looking at a whopping £29.99 per month. Ouch!
It doesn’t matter how good your website is if nobody can access it.
For this reason, most web hosts offer a guarantee for a certain amount of uptime, typically 99.98% or 99.99%.
123-Reg does this differently, and not in a good way. They only offer this guarantee for their more expensive, premium plans.
To be fair, the guarantee is quite good, at 99.99%. But it comes with a few caveats that are painful, to say the least.
For one thing, according to their terms of service, it doesn’t cover “downtime due to pre-planned maintenance work notified to the Customer in advance”.
The terms also state that credit eligibility “shall be assessed on network connectivity to the platform and the platform delivering the website(s), and not the speed of delivery”.
So if your website slows to a crawl for days on end, you get no credit.
It Gets Worse
Going even further, 123-Reg also states that customers “may use this credit for new purchases or renewal fees only”.
In other words, on a yearly plan, you won’t get to use your credit until you renew. If you want to switch to a different web host, you won’t get to use your credit at all.
These terms are distressing, but the most disappointing part is that the credits aren’t available at all for most accounts. We can’t stress this enough.
All the best hosting services will provide their uptime guarantee to all customers. The fact that 123-Reg does not makes us question their commitment to small and mid-sized customers.
Website speed is equally as important as uptime. If your site doesn’t load quickly, customers and viewers are going to get frustrated.
Worse, slow loading times can lose you money.
For example, if someone found your site through a Google search, the next link is just a click away. If your site takes forever to load, that potential customer is just going to move on to the next link.
With regard to speed, 123-Reg performs better than most web hosting services.
When accessing their servers from North America, the latency ranges from 62ms to 467ms. The lower end of this range is quite exceptional, while the higher end isn't the best, but still far from terrible.
That said, for some reason, HTTPS response times are fairly slow.
You’re looking at about 1,200ms, which is bad. It’s still probably not enough to cause someone to leave your site, but it’s enough to cause some irritation if you’ve got a lot of secure forms.
But ping response is only a part of the equation.
The other half of that is your actual download speed. On this metric, we’d consider 123-Reg as slightly slower than average. Download speeds range from 0.5 to 1.5 Mbps, which is acceptable, but not terribly fast.
We should point out two things about these ratings. First, they’re based on North American response and download times. If you’re running a site for an UK audience, you’re probably most concerned about performance for that audience.
Second, actual download and response times are going to depend on your customers’ home internet speeds. If they have a naturally slow connection, it’s going to create a bottleneck that slows down the overall performance.
123-Reg Bonus Features
As we’ve already mentioned, 123-Reg likes to charge an extra fee for most of their extras. However, there are still a few bonuses that are worth taking a look at.
To begin with, their basic plans come ready for WordPress. To be clear, this isn’t the same as paying for a quality WordPress host.
You won’t find any built-in templates, so you’re going to have to import your own. Still, this is a nice feature, particularly if you’re trying to run your website for as little money as possible.
The basic plans on 123-Reg also come with SQL databases. They’re small – the “essentials” plan only provides 500 MB – but they still allow you to build a dynamic site for as little as £2.99 per month.
Then again, you’ll either need to be an expert or hire one to get any benefit out of this feature.
The WordPress plans are totally unmetered. To be fair, they cost a bit more than you’ll get from most other web host services. But unmetered traffic allows your audience to grow organically, without requiring you to upgrade your service plan.
Hosting Dashboard Choices
123-Reg’s VPS plans come with your choice of control panel: Plesk or cPanel. Most VPS services limit you to one or the other.
Keep in mind, though, that the lowest starter tier limits you to cPanel only. This is an option that only experts will care about, but if you’re married to one control panel or the other it’s nice to have options.
In my opinion, learning to use cPanel is not complicated at all, and you'll be ready to manage your website in just a few days if you study it thoroughly.
Office 365 Discount
123-Reg also offers access to Office 365. For £7.99 per month, you get access to almost all Microsoft Office apps, with the exception of MileIQ, Bookings, and Microsoft Invoicing.
For £11.99 per month, you get access to the full Office 365 suite, as well as the desktop versions of all the apps.
You can also pay £71.88 per year for full access, which is actually less than you’d pay for buying directly from Microsoft.
Finally, 123-Reg has their own dedicated email service, 123 Mail. Prices range from £1.50 to £5.99 per month depending on how much storage you need.
If all you need is a personal, professional email address and a quality email host, not a full website, it’s not a bad deal.
Where Are 123-Reg’s Servers Located?
123-Reg’s servers are located in the UK, as befits a UK-based web-hosting company. In 2009, they opened a new £2.5 million data center in Leeds.
Is 123-Reg Safe?
123-Reg does not provide any malware protection with any of their plans.
To protect your site and server, you’re going to need to sign up for malware protection, which costs a minimum of £4.99 per month.
They also suffered a major data breach in 2016. This happened at the same time as they accidentally deleted hundreds of websites.
What Types of Hosting Does 123-Reg Offer
123-Reg offers four types of hosting, each of which has its own service tiers. They fall into two broad categories: shared and dedicated. Shared hosting is more affordable, but your site is stored on the same server as several other websites.
Dedicated hosting costs more, but you get your own server. This lets you to configure all of your own settings, and allows for more powerful and functional websites.
123-Reg Basic Options
The basic shared hosting ranges in price from £2.99 to £7.79. They include up to 3 domains, depending on which tier you buy. You’ll need someone to build your site, or you can pay for 123-Reg’s website builder if you want help doing it yourself.
The higher tiers include several options for analytics, as well as directory listings for businesses and a single email account.
123-Reg WordPress Hosting
Shared WordPress hosting is a bit pricier, at £7.99 to £14.99 per month. The advantage of WordPress hosting is that it comes with a variety of ready-made WordPress templates.
This allows even a total amateur to build a professional-looking site.
You get 1 or 2 free domains depending on the tier, as well as SQL support. The top tier also comes with 2 GB of dedicated RAM, giving you one of the best benefits of a dedicated server.
123-Reg Dedicated Hosting
The premium dedicated hosting option provides you with a ready-made server to host your website.
Pricing ranges from £29.99 to £119.99, with unmetered traffic and unlimited SQL databases. Much like the basic hosting, non-experts will need to use the website builder or hire a webmaster.
VPS servers will run you £9.99 to £44.99 per month. They offer similar benefits to the premium servers, but the server is “virtual”, meaning it’s a separate partition on a shared machine.
Compared to the best VPS hosts UK has to offer, 123-Reg could do better.
You also get your choice of operating system, so you can even set up a Linux server if you so desire.
Does 123-Reg Come With a Website Builder?
123-Reg does have a website builder available. However, it doesn’t come for free. The basic service costs £2.50 per month, but it includes a 123-Reg-branded watermark that doesn’t look good on a professional website.
Their higher tiers cost £5.00 and £10.04 per month, remove the watermark, and add a variety of extra features to help you build a better website. That said, there are better, more affordable quality website builders out there.
Does 123-Reg Come With a Free Domain?
It depends on the service tier. Ironically, their “premium” and VPS plans do not come with a free domain. Since these are the priciest plans, we’d expect a little more value.
On the other hand, their basic and WordPress plans come with up to 3 free domains, depending on the exact plan.
123-Reg offers fast download speeds and minimal latency. They provide some worthwhile basic plans that are competitive with many others on the market. The standalone email service and discounted Office 365 access are also a good value.
Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough features to make most of their plans worthwhile. By packaging most of their services separately, they end up charging significantly more than the competition.
We were particularly disappointed by the way they price their malware protection. The year is 2021, not 2000. Malware protection should be a standard feature.
If all you need is a standalone basic plan, they’re worth using. For any serious website, there are much better services on the market.
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