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Is Names.co.uk the host for you?
$ 2.79 / Month
Names.co.uk was originally branded Namesco and was founded in 2000. It is now part of the Dada Group, a European company that owns a variety of hosting and advertising companies. Names.co.uk is based in the UK, but Dada has offices for other arms of the company in Italy, Spain, Ireland, France, Portugal and the Netherlands. Previously, Names.co.uk has been associated with other brands such as Simply Names, Register365 and UKdomains.
The hosting available at Names.co.uk has been designed with British small businesses in mind: customers can toggle VAT on and off, which is a pretty solid indicator of its target market. All packages are essentially shared hosting plans.
Names.co.uk Hosting Plans
Names.co.uk’s hosting packages are described in straightforward language, with plenty of help to assist non-technical users. It focuses mainly on shared hosting. Names.co.uk’s packages have a few quirks you might not have seen elsewhere.
● The Starter and Professional plans are fairly standard plans with limits on storage, bandwidth, databases and email accounts. Both are available on Linux or Windows and come with a custom control panel. The Premium and Platinum plans are, strangely, available as dual platform plans. Essentially, you get the option of Windows and Linux under the same package, which is an oddity. Platinum is also a reseller plan. Again, both platforms have a custom control panel that’s unique to Names.co.uk.
● Names.co.uk also offers a SiteMarker website builder plan. There are two versions, SiteMaker and SiteMaker Pro. Both offer 100 templates, a shop builder module and a mobile site creator module.
● There are four ecommerce plans - these are essentially site builder plans skewed towards online retail. The features are not dissimilar to something like Magento; customers are essentially charged in terms of the number of products they want to sell.
● Under the Servers menu, you’ll find dedicated servers and VPS hosting. Both are available with Linux or Window, and Plesk comes with all plans as standard.
Despite being very simplified, the content on the site is generally pretty solid and novices would be able to get their head around hosting pretty quickly. There are some strange phrases in use - WordPress is described as an ‘external app’, for example - but if you have a basic grounding in hosting, you’d be able to find what you’re looking for.
Names.co.uk customers benefit from a 99.99% uptime guarantee. When you check the technical data for a hosting package, you might see this listed as 99%, but the smallprint confirms that it’s 99.99%. Presumably the alternative figure is a typo.
The company uses cloud technology so I’d expect them to meet this uptime promise without too much trouble. The Network Status page shows current availability across all servers, but it doesn’t provide any archived or historical uptime data.
All of Names.co.uk’s data centres are in the UK, which is another good reason for UK businesses to look into hosting with them. It has space in the Tier 4 Pulsant facility in Milton Keynes, and it also uses some Telehouse data centres (presumably in London). The information about its data centres is fairly scant, but if you’re interested in knowing more about them, you can research them directly on the Pulsant or Telehouse websites.
There’s no mention of any backup provision, so we’ll have to assume that backups are not provided as part of the deal.
When it comes to support, it’s important to note that technicians are not available round the clock. Support is only available Monday to Friday, 8am until 7pm, and 10am until 6pm on weekends.
Dedicated server and VPS support is only available on weekdays, which is pretty poor considering that these are the most expensive plans on offer.
Customers can contact Names.co.uk’s support departments via an 0845 number. This isn’t free to call. There is an ordinary UK telephone number too, but this is only supplied for non-UK customers, which is a bit of a shame.
The support page is essentially a large knowledgebase with some video tutorials and Quick Start documents. There is a ticketing system which appears to be tucked away in the control panel. Limited support is also provided on the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Its Google+ page is not regular use.
Names.co.uk in the News
In January 2012, hackers gained access to the Names.co.uk billing system. The hackers stole credit card details and personal information belonging to 178 customers.
There’s more information about the hack on The Register. Customers were dismayed at the way Names.co.uk handled the credit card hack.
Names.co.uk Control Panel
Shared hosting customers are provisioned with the Names.co.uk custom control panel. The control panel offers users access to most basic account functions: email account management, access to bandwidth reports and basic analytics, an online file manager tool and basic reseller functionality. Users can also install one-click applications.
VPS hosting and dedicated server customers get access to Plesk - this is included in the account subscription fee, so there’s no licence fee on top.
Many Names.co.uk plans include a free domain name, but you’ll need to pay annually to claim yours. Only co.uk domain names are eligible for the offer.
Customers also receive 5 free stock photo credits and 25% off Names.co.uk’s PPC management service. (Don’t confuse this with a genuine Google AdWords voucher).
In the one-click installer tool, Softaculous, you’ll find a range of handy scripts including WordPress, Joomla, Piwik, Coppermine and more.
Names.co.uk Money Back Guarantee / Cancellation Policy
I searched the Names.co.uk website for a money-back guarantee, but I couldn’t find any reference to one. Its Terms and Conditions are split into several small documents, and that made it difficult for me to search for any references to a guarantee, but it’s probably best to assume that there isn’t one seeing as it’s not advertised anywhere.
Names.co.uk has a refunds policy, but it’s pretty vague - it basically says that refund requests will be decided on merit. If you do want to cancel, you’ll need to send your request from the control panel.
Names.co.uk has a very clearly defined target market: UK small businesses with non-technical staff. Although its packages do cover the fringes of that sector as well, it’s primarily interested in attracting sole traders and business people who don’t have time to get too involved in the technical aspects of running a website.
When hosts target this market, it’s fairly normal to see corners cut in terms of support, and that’s clearly the case here: full support is really only provided on weekdays during office hours, which doesn’t inspire confidence, particularly when there doesn’t seem to be a money-back guarantee to fall back on if you find the support isn’t up to scratch.
Having said that, Names.co.uk have put together an attractive series of hosting packages that will tick all the boxes for many inexperienced users.
Yes, they offer Windows and Linux hosting plans. Four tiers are available, in both platforms, as well as dual-platform plans.
Not really. However, the quoted prices on the frontpage do not include value added tax (VAT), which is 20% in the UK.
Cloud, virtual and dedicated servers are available, and names.co.uk specializes in cloud-based hosting shared plans.
Yes, ".com" and most ".uk" domains are free with sign-up, for the first year. After that, you will have to renew them.
Yes, the company also handles domain registrations.
Refunds are discretionary and all requests will be dealt within 10 working days. There is no “no questions asked” policy.
Yes, the company offers three managed VPS hosting plans.
A phone number is listed, but 24/7 support is not available.
Support appears to be available only in English.
The company is registered in England and Wales, as Namesco Ltd. The head office is in Worcester.
All names.co.uk servers appear to be located in the UK, at the Tier 4 Pulsant facility in Milton Keynes, and in Telehouse facilities.
Python, Perl, Ruby and PHP, along with ASP.NET 4.0, MySQL and Microsoft SQL databases.
Yes, dual-platform Platinum packages are available for resellers and developers.
Yes, Names.co.uk has a simple affiliate program and offers up to £90 commission on product sales to new customers.
Inward transfers of ".co.uk" domains are free, but you will have to seek pre-sale advice for other domains.
WordPress is available as a 1-click install, and if you are just starting your business, you should have no trouble finding an adequate plan.
The Starter plan for personal websites only supports one domain, while the Professional plan supports five domains. Premium packages can host an unlimited number of domains.
Yes, SiteMaker and SiteMakerPRO are available as an add-ons. Royalty free photos are available, too.
Security is more or less industry standard. SiteLock scanners are available on Premium and Platinum plans.
Namesco currently offers three e-commerce plans, all of which are cloud-based site builder plans.
While Joomla is available as a one-click install, we found no information on auto transfer support.
No automated transfers are currently available, but WordPress is available as a one-click install.
Yes, Namesco offers four different SSL plans, from GeoTrust and Norton.
The focus is on small businesses, but you could customize one of the VPS or dedicated plans to meet your needs.
Magento sites are supported, but you will have to inquire about Magento-specific support.
Plesk and cPanel are available, and Namesco also offers a proprietary web-based control panel.
PayPal is not supported. You can use direct debit, along with major credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and American Express. Payments via BACS and postal order are also accepted.
Namesco promises 99.99% up-time on cloud-based hosting plans.
Daily backups are employed on all servers, and the data centers have 24/7 physical security. SiteLock scanning is also part of some hosting plans.
Content Delivery Netowrk (CDN) services are not mentioned in Namesco plans.
The minimum contract for most plans hosting is one year and a few different billing cycles are available, depending on the hosting plan or service you choose.
Yes, domain privacy services are available.
All shared hosting plans come with daily backups.
You can forget about the entry-level Starter plan, and probably the Professional plan – so you will have to get the Premium and Platinum shared hosting plans, with support for an unlimited number of domains.
The entry-level Starter plan offers 10 email addresses and 1GB of storage. Additional addresses and storage can be ordered as add-ons on most plans.
Namesco reserves the right to reduce bandwidth if high volume starts to have an adverse impact other users. However, the company states that it never had to resort to this.
No such discounts appear to be available at this time.
It used to, but no Adwords credits are available now.
Most Namesco hosting plans are designed for individual users and small businesses. However, you could get a dedicated server, customise the plan and hardware, and use it for video streaming.
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