If you’re looking for a web hosting service which offers unlimited everything for the lowest price, Media Temple is likely to disappoint. The company sells itself on quality, not price, and its starter shared hosting Deluxe package looks very different to most of the competition.
The plan supports unlimited storage and websites, includes unmetered bandwidth and 100 email inboxes for, gulp, $16.67 a month on the annual plan, $20 billed monthly.
Meanwhile, HostGator’s Baby plan, with similar specs, is $5.95 a month on the annual plan, $11.95 on renewal, and InterServer has an unlimited websites package available from an initial $5 a month.
Media Temple can look expensive, then, but the company argues that you’re getting valuable extras, too. Its clustered server architecture gives you faster, more scalable and reliable hosting, for instance; even the shared hosting includes a 99.9% uptime guarantee, and the company gives you 24/7 support from its US-based agents via phone, chat, Twitter or tickets.
Media Temple’s managed WordPress range starts with 50GB storage space, support for two sites and up to 250,000 visitors a month. A welcome Staging feature enables testing an updated version of your site before you publish it online, ideal for busy professional sites, but it’s a little disappointing to see there’s no free domain or SSL. The service only updates WordPress, too, too – not your plugins.
Pricing is reasonable at $15 a month over three years or $20 billed monthly, though. IONOS has an $18 a month WordPress hosting plan that gives you a smarter update scheme which includes plugins, but it includes only 10GB storage and supports just one site.
VPS plans include self-managed VPS hosting from $30 a month, and managed VPS from $55 (both basic systems with 2GB RAM and 2TB bandwidth.) These are also more expensive than usual, but there are some unusual extras, too. Media Temple doesn’t just have a 99.99% uptime guarantee, for instance: it gives you 20% of your monthly hosting cost back for each 20 minutes of downtime that month.
If you’re not quite convinced, Media Temple offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. This is for hosting fees only – domain registrations, setup charges and premium services aren’t covered – but it does let you check out the service without any significant risk.
Media Temple’s prices may seem high, but that’s partly because the company isn’t trying to fool you with misleading headline figures. When the website says, ‘shared hosting, $20 a month’, that doesn’t mean ‘this is the price you’ll pay if you sign up for three months, which then doubles on renewal.’ It means exactly what it says: this is the price you’ll pay if you choose monthly billing.
There are small discounts available on some products if you sign up for longer – typically an annual plan gives you twelve months for the price of ten, for instance – but the company doesn’t highlight these. You have to do the math yourself to figure out any potential savings. That makes Media Temple one of the few hosts we’ve ever reviewed who quotes the maximum price of its products, rather than the minimum. Might not be the best marketing move, but we have to applaud any host who so clearly puts customer interests ahead of its own.
If you find a product you like, the purchase process is simple and straightforward. We entered our details, paid via card (there are no other options), the payment was processed as usual and the website provided a link which took us directly to the Media Temple customer portal – no further login required.
The portal is clean, straightforward and professional, a world away from the cluttered mess you’ll often see elsewhere. There are no massive banner ads, and you don’t have to fight your way through ‘buy more stuff’ marketing to find your management options. Instead, whatever product you’ve purchased is clearly displayed, any account or invoice details are visible at a glance, and you can head off to the console with a click of the Admin button.
Creating a site
Media Temple’s custom console offers simple shortcuts to common site creation and management tasks, a welcome touch which makes life easier for hosting newbies.
Looking to install WordPress or some other app, for instance? Just hit the Install Application button and an Installatron-powered module enables easy setup of WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, PrestaShop, MediaWiki, phpBB and 70+ other apps. We prefer Softaculous as it supports more applications and gives you additional help to find whatever you need, but Installatron covers the app you’re most likely to need, and includes plenty of advanced tools to help manage your installation.
Media Temple’s console also provides shortcuts to cPanel’s File Manager and FTP Manager, handy if you’re looking to upload a static site or other files, while phpMyAdmin is available to handle all your database management needs.
That’s where the console’s functionality ends, unfortunately, so if you want to perform any other setup task – create some email accounts, for instance – you’ll need to hit the cPanel Admin button and browse cPanel for the relevant module.
CPanel isn’t particularly difficult to use, though, and it comes packed with all the email, domain, database and file management tools you’ll need to get your site online, and keep it running smoothly.
Our Media Temple tests got off to a great start with its one-stop web support center. Along with the standard link to a knowledgebase, this stores your current and previous support tickets, service diagnostics and a system page to check the current network status. There’s even a complete history of your current and past chat transcripts, which could be invaluable if you’re diagnosing tricky problems, or want to make a complaint about what seems to be poor service.
The web knowledgebase is another highlight. We tried our ‘import WordPress’ test query and received very relevant results which were well-ordered. Entering ‘transfer WordPress’ also gave us the best article at the top, and the content was thorough, well-written, and provided plenty of valuable tips and guidance throughout the process (check it out here).
We tried some single keyword searches (MySQL, PHP, Apache) to check the number of articles and how well they’re prioritized. The most relevant articles didn’t always appear at, or even near the top of the list, but there are compensations. The site does offer a huge amount of excellent content, and if you search on two or more keywords there’s a good chance of locating whatever you need.
There are plenty of other support options, including 24/7 live chat, Twitter, tickets (the best route for anything technical) and telephone. US customers do best with a toll-free number and an option to book a support call online, and response times elsewhere are more acceptable than lightning-fast (when we checked the company was saying tickets should get a response within two hours). But in our experience the quality of the support agents is much higher than you’ll usually see elsewhere, and that’s what really matters.
We finished our checks by creating a test site using Media Temple’s most basic shared hosting plan, then using Uptime.com to monitor its availability and response time over a seven-day period.
Results were reasonable with an average response time of 272ms. Basic shared hosting plans typically average 200-400ms, so Media Temple is marginally faster than usual, although not so much that you’re likely to notice.
Our site didn’t score as well for consistency, with a range of 212-825ms, and a relatively spiky chart, but it’s still a reasonable performer overall.
(Keep in mind that our test only covered server response times for basic shared hosting products. They don’t take account of page load times, database performance and other key factors, and they don’t tell us anything about high-end cloud, VPS or dedicated products might perform.)
Media Temple offers a professional service with solid performance and excellent support, but often for a very high price. This host could still be a good choice for demanding users who put quality first, but everyone else will find better deals elsewhere.