Timeweb

From Russia with love comes Timeweb, one of major players in the web hosting industry of its motherland. The company was founded in 2006 and since then it has hosted more than 400.000 websites and registered over 800.000 domain names, mostly in Russia and other former Soviet republics. They claim to have a capacity to supply a set of services and solutions for any hosting project regardless of its complexity.     

Timeweb’s main office is situated in Saint Petersburg (Russia) together with two of their “modern” data centers, which are powered by a set of standby diesel generators with an automatic start system and run on uninterruptible and redundant power supplies. They are monitored and maintained around-the-clock by the on-site specialists and all recordings (such as surveillance videos and data storages) are kept for 30 days at a minimum.

Timeweb’s official site is pretty cut-and-dry, both in appearance and functionality, but it offers a decent amount of information about its hosting infrastructure and all available services. However, if you are not familiar with Russian language, you’ll have to translate the site into your own language all by yourself (or use Google Chrome, as we did). In any case, the fact that Timeweb’s official site is not available in English suggests that their intended audience seldom crosses the borders of Russia.

The same goes for Timeweb’s official blog, where you’ll find a great deal of inviting, interesting and interrelated articles that seem to be updated with almost palpable enthusiasm. Timeweb is also present on Viber, Facebook, VK, Telegram, Instagram and YouTube platforms.

Pricing

Timeweb offers a variety of web hosting plans as well as a website builder (Image credit: Timeweb)

Plans and pricing

With Timeweb, you can choose several shared hosting, VPS/VDS and dedicated server solutions. All prices are displayed in Russian rubles (₽) exclusively and they go from extremely budget-friendly to extremely expensive, while providing an excellent value for money all around.

At the moment, there are four shared hosting plans and the smallest one comes cheerfully cheap at mere ₽169 ($2.40) per month (if you go for a year) and it will allow you to create one website, use up to 10GB of storage (NVMe) and one database, but with unmetered bandwidth and unlimited add-on domains. You’ll also get a free SSL certificate and (if you subscribe for a year at least) a free domain name in the .ru, .рф zone.

Timeweb provides a 10-day free trial with its shared hosting packages and their website builder.

The billing cycle with Timeweb is fairly flexible and you can choose between a monthly, an annual or a biennial option. The supported methods of payment include credit/debit card (Visa), bank receipt (Sberbank only), Webmoney, YuMoney, QIWI, Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Ease of use

There is a reward for all of those who decide to transfer their website and domain to Timeweb’s platform for a period of at least six month. It includes three months of free hosting and the transfer itself is free-of-charge and carried out by the top technicians from Timeweb’s team.

To get started with Timeweb, you’ll be required to check in via VK, GitHub, Google, or provide your name and an email address. Before submitting those, you’ll probably want to give the terms of service a close read. In an instant and without a need for verification (although you’ll get a welcome email from the team), you’ll be shifted to Timeweb’s own custom-made control panel.

Control Panel

This is the user interface of Timeweb's custom control panel (Image credit: Timeweb)

It functions as a one-stop solution for monitoring and managing all hosting-related aspects of your account with Timeweb. It also feels modern (although it looks a bit dated), easy to understand and use, and (or so they claim) it has been designed and redesigned in accordance with customer feedback that Timeweb has been receiving over the years.

From here you can manage domains and subdomains, create websites, select a CMS from a catalogue, manage files, backups, contact customer support, monitor visitor analytics, upscale/downscale your hosting plan and much more. CMSs can be installed automatically, but not all of them are free-of-cost. For instance, you can install WordPress, Drupal 7 and 8, and Joomla for free, but opting for UMI.CMS, 1C-Bitrix and HostCMS will cost you a few thousand rubles, which sounds like a lot but actually this is a rather reasonable price.

For those who would rather build a site without having to code, there is Timeweb's own website builder that comes with a wide variety of professional-looking templates, ready-made blocks and an opportunity for you to build everything from scratch. It costs ₽197 ($2.80) or ₽169 ($2.40) per month (if you commit for a year) and while there is a 10-day free trial, you’ll have to purchase a hosting plan to try it out.  

Performance

We tried to use GTmetrix to measure the uptime and response time of Timeweb's main site but were unsuccessful in doing so (Image credit: GTmetrix)

Speed and experience

Timeweb answers the “why choose us” question by listing several of their selling points though it doesn’t go into many details. On the subject of dependability they stress out the “modernity and reliability” of their data centers, their “most productive” servers, “best network availability” and round-the-clock monitoring. However, there are no straightforward promises regarding the speed performance, which is why we were obliged to test it ourselves.

Given that GTmetrix (a tool we usually use) bailed on us, we sought the help of another popular speed testing tool by the name Pingdom and checked out the speed of Timeweb’s official site. The results were outright underwhelming and crowned with a D (68%), with an entire list of suggestions on how to improve the site's performance. On the positive side, the load time was 1.8 seconds, which is pretty fast.

Timeweb provides a 99.9% uptime guarantee, which is pretty standard in the web hosting industry. However, after monitoring their main site (via UptimeRobot) for a period of one month, we got some rather troubling results. There were (we kid you not) over thirty instances of downtime, although (to their defense) most of them lasted from five to ten minutes. In the end, and as a consequence of this modest showing, uptime results for the last 30 days were 99.74%, which is nothing to boast about.

Support

Timeweb’s support staff can be reached via a toll-free Russian telephone number, live chat, e-mail and Skype, but you are also invited to get in touch through social media. Unfortunately for non-Russian speakers, since their support is (as is the company itself) first and foremost focused on the Russian market, the availability of these services in English (or any other language) depends on the staff members themselves. Nevertheless, the support is at hand 24/7 and seems ready and willing to aid you with every stage of website creation.

FAQ

You can find some answers to common hosting questions in the FAQ section on Timeweb's site (Image credit: Timeweb)

There are several self-service options with Timeweb and they include FAQ section, “Questions and Answers” (which is their community forum) and “Useful Articles”, which will take you to their blog. Some of the most common issues have step-by-step video guides on Timeweb’s YouTube channel, so make sure you check it out.

Timeweb’s community forum seems fairly active and most of the questions have been answered or at least received some kind of advice by fellow users.

The competition

All those looking for a cheap and cheerful host from Russia will find an excellent alternative to Timeweb in a host known as Beget. Both hosts are quite similar in terms of hosting services, options, and features and they both provide free trials. That being said, Beget’s free trial period goes for 30 days, while with Timeweb you’ll have to settle for 10 days. In addition, if you are not familiar with Russian language, you are bound to find Beget’s site more accessible, since it is available in English as well (although the translation itself is imperfect).

Another popular Russian (and Russia-oriented) host with a similar collection of hosting-related services is SpaceWeb, a web hosting veteran from Moscow. However, if you’re looking to save a buck or two, Timeweb might be a better option out of the two.

Both Timeweb and Bluehost offer services at attractive prices, a selection of superb features and competent customer support. The one major difference between the two is that Timeweb is geared towards Russian clients beyond any doubt, while Bluehost offers all of its services in English, making them more attractive to international audiences.

Much like Bluehost, HostGator is one of the most popular options for people looking for a web hosting provider outside of Russia. While both HostGator and Timeweb have a lot to offer, since neither of them provides a worldwide network of data centers, the location stays a key factor when deciding between two quite similar providers.

Final verdict

If you come from one of the Russian-speaking countries, and are on the lookout for a well-structured yet budget-friendly solution from a competent and successful web hosting company, Timeweb is one of your safest bets. Since all of their data centers are situated in Saint Petersburg, if you don’t hail from one of Russia’s neighboring countries (or if you are not in Europe at all), you’ll have to compromise with the speed performance in order to utilize their services.

Those who can’t look past all of this, HostGator, Hostinger and Bluehost might represent more favorable choices.

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