Founded in 1999, Pickaweb was one of the very first web hosting providers in the UK. As they point out, their main goal was a simple yet ambitious one, that is to offer services they would want for themselves while focusing on power, reliability, security and support. They are mostly geared towards small to medium-sized businesses, as well as freelancers. Today the company serves over 20,000 seemingly happy customers and the number continues to grow, although not as fast as in its heyday.
Pickaweb is headquartered in London (the UK) together with its one-and-only data center (which is not good news for customers elsewhere). They claim that the facility offers full redundancy in protected power, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), fire suppression, network connectivity, and on-site security staff. They also add that their data center exceeds tier 3 standards and operates on 100% renewable energy as their part in facilitating the worldwide green revolution.
Pickaweb’s official site is simple to use and its “About” section provides plenty of information about the company itself. If you feel particularly curious, you can also listen to a story of Pickaweb as spoken by its co-founder Tony Messer or watch a video presentation about their data center, which is a nice little touch. There’s also a blog with some well-written articles, although it doesn’t seem to be updated often enough.
As for social media, you can find Pickaweb on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Eager to please everyone, Pickaweb provides a good variety of web hosting solutions including shared, email, WordPress, reseller, VPS, and dedicated server hosting. Although the prices are a bit higher than it is the case with similar providers, they are rather reasonable in comparison to other hosts from the UK, or Europe in general.
Most of Pickaweb’s plans have established the right balance between features and affordability. However, its entry-level plan called “Budget” is so stingy on features that we are questioning its right to exist in the first place. For the price of £4.99 ($6.90) per month, it includes 5GB of storage space, 30GB of monthly bandwidth, a single email account, and a single site, but no MySQL databases, no PhpMyAdmin, no SSH access, no add-on or parked domains, and (if it wasn’t bad enough already) no apps can be installed. This means, no WordPress, no Joomla, no Drupal, no Magento, no OpenCart, nor any other popular app you can think of, so you better forget about the “Budget” plan.
If you’re looking for a pocket-friendly plan that won’t hold you back, your best bet is the plan called “Starter” which will give you 8GB of storage space, 50GB of bandwidth, and one free domain name, all with an ability to host multiple sites, unlimited email accounts and MySQL databases, plenty of apps for easy installation, and even a coupon for six months of free hosting (with annual contracts). All of this will cost you £8.99 ($12.40) per month if you opt for a monthly contract, or a bit less if you go for a full year.
Pickaweb provides a 30-day money-back guarantee with all its shared and email hosting packages.
When it comes to payment methods, Pickaweb accepts all major credit/debit cards, and PayPal.
Ease of use
Finding the right plan for what you had in mind shouldn’t be a problem with Pickaweb, since it provides plenty of properly presented information about its hosting plans. Just make sure to pass up the entry-level plan for there are even some free hosts (such as Infinity Free) that are less stingy on features.
Right after picking out a plan, you’ll be prompted to choose what to do about the domain name, where you can register a new one (it is free for the first year with most of the plans), transfer an existing one, or use it as it is by updating your nameservers. After this, you can decide about the billing cycle, and a few add-ons including several SSL certificates, SpamExpert, and Weebly’s drag-and-drop website builder. Before checking out you’ll be asked to create an account with Pickaweb (nothing out of the ordinary here), or simply log in if you already have one.
After the purchase is complete, you’ll get a welcome email together with login information, with which you’ll easily access Pickaweb’s easy-to-use UI. From there you’ll want to enter your control panel, and, in our case, it is a user-friendly Linux-based cPanel. However, if you choose to use a Windows server (you can do so with VPS and enterprise-level plans), you’ll receive a custom Windows-based control panel.
From cPanel you can manage the details about your account, seek support, or get right to business and launch a Softaculous one-click app installer to get your hands on WordPress, Joomla, Magento, or other useful apps (there are about 100 of them).
A free website builder from Weebly is included in every plan, and it will get you a decent amount of templates, drag-and-drop functionality, and gadgets you can use to create content, embed social media posts, YouTube videos, and much more.
Speed and experience
After putting the speed of Pickaweb’s main site to the test, we got pretty good results, although nothing exceptional. A test via GTmetrix showed that it took 3.6 seconds to fully load the site, which is one second away from the recommended loading time (that is, 3.5 seconds) but significantly better than the average one of 8.1 seconds. All other speed measuring metrics showed average or above-average results concluding in a respectable B (88%) as a final grade.
Pickaweb offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee with most plans, while the offer stands for 99.99% of it with VPS and dedicated server ones. During our two-week-long test (provided by UptimeRobot), we couldn’t catch a single second of downtime whatsoever, which means that they are likely to deliver the goods.
There are a few ways you can request assistance from Pickaweb’s support staff and they include live chat, email, and UK-based telephone number, but you’re also welcome to reach them via Facebook and Twitter. Although all options are available round-the-clock in theory, in practice they aren’t. Sometimes the telephone won’t be accessible, so you’ll have to request a callback, and the staff promises to call you “ASAP”. What is more, the round-the-clock doesn’t apply if you need technical assistance, so you’re better off calling them during the UK working hours.
As for self-help, Pickaweb offers a well-stocked knowledgebase, plenty of hosting-related video tutorials, links to cPanel and Plesk manuals, and a resources library that is mostly filled with different marketing guides. All in all, there are more than a few alternatives and most of these how-tos seem notably user-friendly.
When entry-level hosting plans are concerned, Pickaweb simply can’t top Infinity Free. On top of supplying you with unlimited disk space, unmetered bandwidth, 400 MySQL databases, free SSL on all your domains, and free DNS services, Infinity Free’s plan comes completely free-of-charge (and no, there are no forced ads). However, if you need anything more than shared hosting, Infinity Free will not cut it.
Like Pickaweb, Catalyst2 is a UK-based host which offers a fine range of hosting solutions for individuals, small and mid-sized businesses. In terms of pricing, Catalyst2 comes a bit cheaper in every single aspect, but its hosting packages are even tighter on freebies than those of Pickaweb.
If having a host in the UK is not a must, US-based hosts like HostGator and Bluehost will barely do any damage to your budget but will still provide you with lots of freebies which most hosts would make you pay for. Both of them offer one-year domain registration with their annual plans, free domain and site transfer, unmetered bandwidth, free SSL certificate, and plenty of apps for easy installation. However, HostGator scores even more by throwing in a user-friendly website builder, and a liberal 45-day money-back guarantee.
Pickaweb offers a nice variety of hosting solutions packed with a decent amount of freebies, however, their services can barely justify the price you’ll have to pay for them, not to mention that the entry-level plan is eligible to be erased from existence. Another challenge you might face when hosting with Pickaweb seems to be the sluggishness of their customer support, which will likely discourage less experienced users.
If you still want to check out what Pickaweb has to offer, worry not, as its 30-day money-back guarantee will have you covered. However, if having a host from the UK is not essential, with HostGator and Bluehost you can find the same features (and more) but at a lower cost.