123 Reg web hosting

Initially launched as a domain registrar by Jonathan and Tim Beresford-Brealey in 2000, 123 Reg has since evolved to provide a variety of hosting-related services. The company was acquired by Host Europe Group (HEG) in 2003 and a year later it became UK’s number one domain register. Fast-forward to 2017 and HEG itself gets acquired by GoDaddy, a US-based domain registrar and web hosting company. 

Presently, 123 Reg claims to have registered over 3.5 million domains and hosted over a million websites across the UK. They have received many awards during the two decades they’ve been around and a whole section of their site presents them with pride. 

Although 123 Reg doesn’t reveal the precise locations of its servers, it suggests that if you are using shared, WordPress-optimized, VPS, or dedicated server hosting services, all of your data will be stored in their EU-based data centers. However, if you opted for an email hosting solution, you’ll be utilizing their Leeds (the UK) data center. They claim that their UK-based data centers are powered by low-energy systems showing their eco-friendly approach, which simultaneously helps protect the environment while cutting costs for their customers. 

Blog

You'll find a number of useful articles in the 123 Reg blog (Image credit: 123 Reg)

123 Reg’s official site utilizes a bit tacky three-color scheme and an intuitive page design promising an easygoing user experience. The official blog benefits from the same simple design and it’s loaded with well-written articles including some videos, infographics, and practical guides.

As for social networking sites, you’ll find 123 Reg on Facebook and Twitter, with both accounts being seemingly alive and pretty active.

Pricing

This web host's pricing starts out cheap but your plan can get expensive once you take into account extras like adding a website builder (Image credit: 123 Reg)

Plans and pricing

On the surface, 123 Reg’s web hosting packages seem particularly pocket-friendly, but if you need more than the bare bones you’ll have to shell out a bit more than you thought at first. At this time, 123 Reg offers several shared, WordPress-specific, email, VPS, and so-called premium (in other words, dedicated) hosting solutions.

At a promotional price, the “Starter” plan will cost you £2.99 ($4.10) per month and supply you with one free domain for the first year (you can choose between co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .uk and .com), a single site, 100GB of storage space, unlimited bandwidth, 10 MySQL databases and one-click apps among other things. Although this is not a bad deal, going for a “Pro” or even “Ultimate” will provide so much more, if you are willing to pay for it.

In addition to web hosting, with 123 Reg you can also purchase a domain name, Microsoft 365 office suites (online and full), SSL certificates, SiteLock, a user-friendly website builder, and some sweet marketing tools such as an ad builder and SEO.

123 Reg offers no free trial but provides a 14-day money-back guarantee, which is significantly shorter than an industry standard of 30 days.

The acceptable payment methods with 123 Reg are all major credit/debit cards and PayPal.

cPanel

Manage your 123 Reg site with the industry standard cPanel (Image credit: cPanel)

Ease of use

After picking out a plan, 123 Reg will prompt you to choose one free domain name for the first year of hosting out of the available ones (.co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .uk or .com). Other domains can cost you anything from the promotional £1.99 ($2.80) to £149.99 ($205) per year, where (depending on the name) renewal rates may significantly spike up the price in the future.

Along the way, 123 Reg will suggest that you should add some extra features to your basket, for extra cash naturally. Here, you’ll also be able to choose what billing cycle to use (one month, three months, or a year). Before checking out, you’ll have to create your account with 123 Reg (or log in if you already have one). Creating a new account will take just a couple of minutes and you’ll be asked to give your full name, phone number, both email and physical address, to come up with a safe password, and go through the terms of service.

Your account should be activated within seconds. Straight after completing the purchase, you will gain access to your control panel. We got the latest version of industry-standard cPanel thanks to which we could manage and monitor all areas of our newly created website with ease. 

One-Click Installs

One-click installs of many popular apps also make it easy to get started (Image credit: 123 Reg)

Both experienced users who had seen cPanel in action before and those who haven’t should be glad to see it here since it is one of the most user-friendly CMS’ one the market. From there you’ll get access to over 125 useful apps (WordPress, Joomla, Magento, OpenCart, SilverStripe, and so forth) thanks to a one-click installer.

To get a hold of a website builder, you’ll have to pay £2.50 ($3.40) for the cheapest plan, and if you want 123 Reg’s team to build a website for you, you’ll have to get in touch with them to find out how much it will set you back.

Performance

We used GTmetrix to measure the uptime and response time of 123 Reg's main site (Image credit: GTmetrix)

Speed and experience

123 Reg’s official site performed pretty well on the GTmetrix speed test, taking mere 1.9 seconds to fully load (well above the average of 8.1 seconds). As for the core website metrics, some of them were right on point while others totally flopped leaving us with a B (77%) as a conclusive score. Nevertheless, this is a big step forward from the speed test results we have got in the past.

When it comes to uptime it’s a bit of a mixed bag. While 123 Reg provides an SLA-backed 99.99% uptime guarantee, it applies to premium hosting packages only. After a two-week test trial (performed via UptimeRobot) of 123 Reg’s official site, we could see why this was the case. There were two cases of downtime, the first one lasting for 3 minutes and the other one going for (we kid you not) 54 minutes straight. This means that the total uptime for these two weeks was 99.71%, which doesn’t look too good for 123 Reg. 

Support

In terms of support, 123 Reg will supply you with everything one would usually expect to get: a telephone number (for UK customers only), a live chat, and a ticket system. However, to get access to their live chat, you’ll have to register first. The telephone support is available for all users from 8 AM to 10 PM on weekdays and 9 AM to 5 PM on weekends, although standard rates apply. The live chat is available every day from 9 AM to 7 PM.

123 Reg’s support is completely UK-based, which could be quite inconvenient to customers living in other time zones. For instance, if someone from the USA (let’s say Los Angeles) were to get in touch with 123 Reg’s support staff via chat, they would have to do so between 1 AM and 11 AM.

Support

You can find a great deal of useful information by searching 123 Reg's support page (Image credit: 123 Reg)

Fortunately, 123 Reg offers superb self-help options as well, including a knowledgebase and a short FAQ section. If you don’t find this sufficient, 123 Reg’s blog offers lots of useful tips and tricks. 

The competition

The first difference you’ll notice between HostGator and 123 Reg is their location. Both hosts are budget-friendly, but HostGator is less stingy on features with its entry-level hosting solution as well as with its money-back guarantee which, generously, goes for 45 days.

Much the same as HostGator, Bluehost is a US-based budget-friendly host offering a myriad of hosting solutions and hosting-related services. When compared with 123 Reg, Bluehost comes stronger in terms of choices, free features, and customer support which stays at hand 24/7. That being said, all of its data centers are in the USA, which makes it less convenient for users elsewhere.  

Planet Hippo and 123 Reg share a homeland and a similar scope of hosting options, but what else? Planet Hippo’s plans are as cheap as they can get, and (unlike 123 Reg) it provides reseller hosting packages as well. Hence, if you are working on a terribly tight budget or want to be a reseller, Planet Hippo is the way to go.

Certa Hosting is a good UK-based alternative to 123 Reg, especially if you are ready to invest your money into “ultra-fast” and powerful performance and superb 24/7 live support. Although the entry-level plans will cost you pretty much the same with both hosts, Certa Hosting will throw in more features including free backups and a 30-day money-back guarantee. On the other hand, with 123 Reg you can get a free domain name but not with Certa Hosting.

Final verdict

While 123 Reg offers some of the most budget-friendly hosting and website building tools on the UK market, we wouldn’t go as far as to call it “UK’s #1”, as the host boastfully calls itself. The lack of free features on its starter packages (such as SSL and backups) and relatively high renewal rates make it hard to place 123 Reg into our top 10 list of the UK’s best web hosting services. Nevertheless, if you are targeting a UK audience and want a well-rounded host with servers in this country, 123 Reg might be worth a look.

If this is not the case, hosts like HostGator and Bluehost will give you a few free features you would otherwise have to pay for with 123 Reg.

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