A bit of background
We’ve been a paying customer for LunarPages for 17 months. During that time, we’ve monitored their performance.
This review relies strongly on data, such as uptime, load time (speed) and customer support experience.
Lunarpages is one of the oldest web hosts in existence.
Starting from humble beginnings in a garage in California (isn’t that how this story always goes?!) in 1998, to growing a customer base of over 150,000 people, including clients such as Microsoft, BlackBerry, Cisco, Sony, Caesar’s Entertainment, and more.
They were founded by Maximillian Andersen and Ron Riddle, a Harley Davidson-riding former brick mason (yes, you read that right).
Today, Lunarpages has data centers in California, Arizona, and Nevada.
A quick glance at that illustrious client list gives you the impression they know what they’re doing. So, do they?
To find out, we set up a basic WordPress website on the Lunarpages ‘Starter Web Hosting Plan’ in June 2015. Since then, we’ve been analyzing performance like uptime & speed (click “History” to see the data for yourself).
Here’s what we found.
PROS of using LunarPages Hosting:
Lunarpages has a few great things going for it. Speed, for one. Nightly backups too. Here’s a snapshot.
1. 20% Faster Page Loads than Competition
Lunarpages came out of the gate with average page loading times of 562ms, about 20% faster than the average 700ms we’ve seen.
That’s important, because speed also had a huge bearing on other factors like where you rank in search engines and the number of people converting on your site (in addition to the obvious user experience).See previous load time - 2015 (expands)
- June average speed: 600ms
- July average speed: 660ms
- August average speed: 614ms
- September average speed: 580ms
- October average speed: 608ms
Last 12 month average load time (2015 – 2016):
- November (2015) average speed: 624ms
- December (2015) average speed: 615ms
- January average speed: 590ms
- February average speed: 594ms
- March average speed: 558ms
- April average speed: 561ms
- May average speed: 537ms
- June average speed: 523ms
- July average speed: 520ms
- August average speed: 544ms
- September average speed: 556ms
- October average speed: 512ms
LunarPages: Page Load Speed and Uptime (Last 12 months, full data can be found here.)
2. Premium Backup & Restoration Service
Your site is almost finished.
You just need that one extra plugin to power that special functionality you’re lacking.
Problem is, it doesn’t play well with others. The minute you hit ‘install’, the screen goes white. And… nothing.
This is an all-too-familiar occurrence for most site owners, as different third-party tools (like plugins) don’t play well together.
The good news, is that Lunarpages will run automated nightly backups of your server. Their Premium Restore Service will also restore files for you — on a priority basis — and at no cost.
3. No Pricing Games on ‘Starter’ Plan
Many web hosts will play this game of offering a low monthly rate on their website, only to reveal the real terms of that pricing in the final checkout process.
Often, you’ll have to purchase three years, upfront all at once if you’d like to lock that low pricing in. And many times, upon plan renewal, your pricing will jump back up to the ‘normal’ rate (which can sometimes be 2x the price!).
While Lunarpages doesn’t offer a true month-to-month plan (which is kinda a bummer), their Starter ‘monthly’ pricing is the same for 12 months as it is for 24 months.
4. Free Domain Name & Site Migration
Some of Lunarpages’ plans come with a free domain name registration (that needs to be redeemed within 30 days of signup). Please note that like other hosts, this only covers the first year of the domain name (and any renewals will come out of your pocket).
And if your existing website is currently being hosted somewhere else, Lunarpages will help you transfer it to their servers for free.
5. 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
Lunarpages’ plans are also backed by a standard 30-day money back guarantee.
CONS of using LunarPages Hosting:
Lunarpages provided great page loading times. They also threw in a few helpful features.
Unfortunately, though, there are some grievances we can’t overlook. Here are the grim details.
1. Uptime is Below Average
After first signing up, Lunarpages delivered respectable uptime stats. However, that performance has slipped to below average (clocking in at only 99.90% instead of the industry average 99.94%).
Sure, speed is important. But only if the website is UP and available for visitors in the first place!See previous uptime - 2015 (expands)
- June average uptime: 99.99%
- July average uptime: 99.99%
- August average uptime: 100%
- September average uptime: 99.93%
- October average uptime: 100%
Last 12 month average uptime (2015 – 2016):
- November (2015) average uptime: 100%
- December (2015) average uptime: 98.99%
- January average uptime: 99.93%
- February average uptime: 99.94%
- March average uptime: 100%
- April average uptime: 99.98%
- May average uptime: 99.99%
- June average uptime: 99.97%
- July average uptime: 100%
- August average uptime: 100%
- September average uptime: 99.99%
- October average uptime: 100%
2. Slow, Limited Support Options
Almost every other host we’ve reviewed provides a HUGE variety of ways to get in touch with them for fast customer support.
Almost every single one offers live chat for instance, so you can reach out and get in touch ASAP if there’s a problem.
After all, responding to issues quickly and efficiently to keep your site up-and-running is an integral part of what you’re paying them for.
Lunarpages has live chat… but it’s only available for sales – not customer support. The only way we could reach out to them was through their archaic ticketing system.
Their ticketing responses were great, but it took 12 hours to hear back from them!
That’s a LONG time on the internet, and if a website was down and not making money during that entire 12-hour window, it could have serious ramifications for many businesses.
A background check revealed that many existing customers were also not very satisfied with their support either.
3. Poor Website Experience
Lunarpages was founded back in 1998 and honestly, it seems like their website hasn’t been updated very much since then.
It’s difficult to navigate and find helpful (read: usable) information. Most of the content on their site is very technical and unusuable for many outside of IT (read: the majority of their Shared hosting customers).
Overall, finding what you need on their site is a very frustrating, tedious process.
4. Setup Fee!
Almost all the companies we’ve reviewed (going on ~30 now) will help you setup your site for free.
But not Lunarpages, who will charge you a fee.
5. They Charge for cPanel
cPanel access on most shared hosting plans is almost a given, considering it appears literally everywhere and is pretty standard.
But Lunarpages will charge you for it if required. It’s only two bucks a month, however, this is still a complementary feature with most other hosts.
6. Possibility of User Suspension
Most hosts promise ‘unlimited’ features. But that’s rarely the case.
Lunarpages is no different, with our research uncovering that users can be suspended due to ‘high resource usage’.
While their server configuration reasons might be valid, it would still come as quite a shock to wake up one morning, attempt to login to your website and notice that your site’s been suspended with no notice.
7. Expensive Pricing Tricks on Basic Hosting Options
It seems like just a minute ago we were singing Lunarpages’ praises because of no pricing games on their ‘Starter Plan’.
Unfortunately, these do show up on their Basic Website Hosting, which is considered a ‘step-up’ from their Starter Plan.
It’s also worth noting that the pricing for the Basic plans, relative to other companies, is expensive.
Overview on LunarPages shared Hosting Plans
Here’s a quick overview of the hosting plans offered by LunarPages:
Shared Hosting: Here’s an overview of their shared hosting plans:
- Windows Web Hosting: Their “Windows” web hosting starts at $9.95 per month. It comes with unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited email accounts, unlimited MySQL databases, and unlimited sub domains. It comes with Plesk Control Panel included.
- Starter Web Hosting: Their “Starter” hosting starts at $3.95 per month. It comes with 5GB storage, 50GB bandwidth, 1 MySQL database, 5 email accounts, unlimited sub domains and a free site seal.
- Basic Web Hosting: Their “Basic” hosting starts at $4.95 per month and includes unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited email accounts and unlimited MySQL databases. It also comes with a free domain name. You need to pay for 60 months at once to enjoy the $4.95 per month rate: the minimum term you can pay for is three months, which costs $10.95 and a $30 setup fee.
- Free Domain: Yes.
- Ease of Signup: Lengthy signup process.
- Payment Methods: Credit Card, PayPal, Alipay, Check, Money Order.
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: An account may be suspended if it is using “too many server resources.” Unfortunately, they do not seem to explain what they mean by “too many server resources” anywhere on their site.
- Upsells: Lots of upsells.
- Account Activation: Quick activation.
- Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: cPanel. Which you have to pay for.
- Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): Quick and easy installation of popular apps and CMSs with Softaculous.
Do We Recommend LunarPages?
We do not.
While they provided great page loading times and throw in a few extra, ‘nice-to-haves’ like free backups, their lengthy CONS list is just too much to bear.
Have you used LunarPages? If so, please leave your LunarPages review below! Good or Bad – doesn’t really matter as we try to keep our reviews unbiased and transparent.
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4 user reviews for LunarPages
Works great for me, but ...
I have been with LunarPages for 12+ years, and it has never let me down. No issues with uptime, my site is very fast for shared hosting, good customer service with one or two rare exceptions, low cost since I have no problem with subscribing for 3 years at a time. I am “grandfathered” and get cPanel at no extra charge. I expect to remain a loyal customer for many more years.
But … I no longer use or recommend LunarPages for new sites. Many other providers offer cPanel hosting with as good or better service at lower prices. To the best of my knowledge LunarPages does not offer CloudLinux, another of my essentials for new sites.
Outdated and poor service
I inherited Lunarpages as a host when I took over a website. PHP, mySQL, Apache, were several iterations out of date. They were windows 98 versions vs windows 10. They had gone extinct, beyond life support from their makers. I’m surprised they let the website owner ever keep those versions running. My positive experience with other host companies have led me to expect pro-active host providers to keep security holes plugged…
Working with LunarPages customer service to get these infrastructure items upgraded was not an easy experience. 72 hour+ response times on support tickets, a broken website, all make for a poor experience, meanwhile a user base is not able to do anything and complaining to me. I could only say, “I’m waiting for . . . . ”
Lunarpages in decline
We had been with Lunar for over ten years, but switched a few months ago to a different hosting company.
Lunarpages used to be one of the better priced options for the features provided, even if cPanel and backup services were extra (which they still are). For a while, they were one of the best, and I should have been paid by them for how enthusiastically I promoted them to friends and colleagues.
Over the years, performance on shared hosting has suffered, the pricing has failed to match the competition, and support response has taken longer. Our site began being slower to load and downtimes were more frequent.
We switched to a managed WordPress plan elsewhere and saw response times almost three times better than when we were on Lunarpages. Yes, the managed plan is on an optimized for WordPress server, but we are able to get that for less than what we were paying for basic shared hosting on Lunarpages. I must apologize to all those I persuaded to choose Lunarpages. They are far from the best option available today.
Shared hosting with premium support
LunarPages is great for a small website and their customer service is outstanding. I have had a few incidents where my account on the shared server was hacked. Even though it might have been an exploit in one of my scripts (but it could have been any number of things on my account or another account) Lunarpages worked with me to get the site restored and secure. Since my site is a small one, the first people to notice the issue were LunarPages and they notified me in a quick and professional manner.
I currently use LunarPages for a personal site and a small business domain on the same hosting plan. The “Basic Hosting” plan with unlimited bandwidth and storage is perfect price point and service for a personal website or small business website.
Of course there are terms for the “unlimited” but it means that I never have to worry that my business site will get popular and cause huge overage charges. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend LunarPages to anyone looking to start a shared hosting account and I have no doubt their other offerings come with the same high level of personal support.