SingleHop is a web hosting company that’s aimed entirely at the premium end of the hosting market. From dedicated servers to public and private clouds, SingleHop is purely a business and enterprise host: you won’t find any low-cost shared hosting here.
Formed in 2006, SingleHop employs more than 100 people across multiple locations. It has offices in Chicago, IL, Phoenix, AZ and Columbus, OH which serve more than 3,500 customers. The company was co-founded by Zak Boca and Dan Ushman who now sit on the leadership team as CEO and CMO respectively. The two men previously founded midPhase which went on to be acquired by the UK2 Group.
Although SingleHop’s client base may appear to be small, the high value of its packages means it is still a notable, fast-growing contender in the hosting market. SingleHop’s track record is fantastic as far as uptime and reliability are concerned, and the company is keen to market its SLAs, apps and superb support.
SingleHop Hosting Plans
The company offers a huge array of hardware combinations, memory allocations and disk sizes, so anyone in the market for a dedicated hosting provider would be undoubtedly spoilt for choice. The long list of dedicated server plans can be filtered by processor type, data centre location and other factors, and servers can also be compared side-by-side. All dedicated servers include unlimited inbound bandwidth. Once selected, the company says it will get your server online within the hour (well, 42 minutes, to be precise).
As far as cloud hosting goes, customers can opt to set up a public or private cloud with SingleHop. Again, plans are highly customisable, with storage, data centre location, OS, bandwidth and CPU varying depending on the cost. Cloud plans can actually be customised by the user, right down to a very granular level. Users can also opt to purchase add-on managed services, such as virus scanning, OS updates and backups.
Reseller plans for both dedicated and cloud hosting are available, and clients are free to white-label these as they see fit. Reseller plans are offered under the Tandem brand, and clients can deploy cloud instances for clients, built a private cloud for users or resell entire servers with custom configurations.
SingleHop doesn’t advertise any form of shared hosting whatsoever.
Unlike the majority of web hosts I’ve reviewed, SingleHop publishes its uptime history in fantastic detail. The company boasts three years of continuous 100% uptime and provides statistics about its individual data centres alongside average ticket response times and traffic graphs. There’s a 100% uptime guarantee for all customers.
The company runs three data centres. CHI-2, in Chicago, is the largest of the three, with 8,000 servers. CHI-1 is located nearby and houses 2,200 servers. PHX-1 is located in Phoenix, Arizona. All data centres are state-of-the-art, as you would expect, with biometric locks, CCTV and secure entry systems; there’s plenty of additional technical information about each one on the SingleHop website (far too much to recall here). SingleHop take great pride in their robust disaster planning: data centres are equipped with multiple layers of backup power should the original backups fail, for example.
The host publishes detailed diagrams, specs and photos about all three facilities. The host even offers the chance for customers to book a tour so they can see the data centre in person.
SingleHop provides multiple contact numbers which cover the USA, Australia, Bulgaria, France, Mexico, the UK and Canada. All appear to be local, toll-free numbers, and SingleHop promise that calls will never be routed to a call centre, no matter what.
The company’s ticketing system is located within the customer administration panel, LEAP. Tickets are given the same priority as telephone support requests, which is a good sign, and the response statistics at the time of this review suggest that ticket response time was under ten minutes. Live chat is also offered 24/7.
All support requests are dealt with internally by the SingleHop team who are physically located near the hardware they’re supporting, and technical help is not outsourced or routed to other countries. Again, it’s rare to see a host make a point of declaring this on its website, but it’s clearly something the team are proud of.
Unusually, SingleHop lay out their SLA in a customer charter, the SingleHop Bill of Rights. This specifies timescales for hardware replacement, uptime and other important factors. Additionally, customers can ask to see custom account statistics to see how quickly their issues are being dealt with, and how these response times compare with the average. This is called a Report Card.
The tech team also appear to deal with customer support enquiries via Facebook and SingleHop has an active Twitter account. There’s also a community forum, accessed through the LEAP control panel.
SingleHop in the News
The SingleHop status blog makes mention to occasional DDOS attacks which appear to have passed without major incident. One on July 7th 2010 was dealt with within an hour and a half, for example. There are seemingly no adverse reports on major tech or news blogs about the host’s performance.
SingleHop Control Panel
SingleHop clients are free to use whatever software they wish on dedicated server plans. As the host doesn’t provide shared hosting, there’s no need to be concerned about being tied into a control panel you’d prefer not to use: Cpanel, Plesk etc are all options.
In addition, all payment, tickets and forums are accessed through LEAP, a secondary control panel. LEAP also allows clients to design custom packages, deploy new servers with a click, add widgets and manage their account using iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry apps. There’s even an API for developers. Even if you’re not a client, you can sign up for a free LEAP account and have a look around at the various options to see if you like it.
SingleHop doesn’t offer any free gifts or incentives to woo new clients. This is mainly because it doesn’t offer shared hosting as such, so many of its clients will be corporate customers who are looking for performance rather than sign-up bonuses.
SingleHop Money Back Guarantee / Cancellation Policy
All services ordered through SingleHop are paid for on a rolling monthly contract, rather than being billed ahead of time. If a customer wishes to cancel, they must notify SingleHop in writing three days before their next billing date and their service will cease. There’s no money-back guarantee, but as no money is taken for long periods of service, this is unlikely to be an issue.
No refunds are issued for part-months at SingleHop. If you want to cancel, you’ll need to contact the billing department rather than technical support.
SingleHop’s multiple guarantees speak volumes about the quality of its services. Customers who are looking for SLAs that are set in stone simply can’t go wrong with this host. Support appears to be top-class when it comes to their service history, with tickets being responded to within minutes, not hours. In addition, little things like local freephone numbers will appeal to businesses who need problems to be resolved quickly.
At the time of writing, the host had not experienced any loss of service in more than three years, and that says a lot for its commitment to reliability. I was impressed with SingleHop - particularly the data centre tours which are really novel. I imagine future customers will be impressed with its services too.
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