Just Host Com – Similar to the world-famous sportswear brand, Just Host seems to be telling you with its brand name: “Just do it, host your website with us.”
In this in-depth analysis, we’ll go beyond the superficial list of JustHost features: our goal here is to find out if Just Host is worth your time and money.
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TL; DR – Not so: behind the facade of simplicity hides a large number of dark patterns designed to extract as much money from you as possible. For those looking for real value hosts, we recommend Warpgate.
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As we dig deeper into this topic, we’ll also be looking for answers to the most pressing questions about this hosting provider:
From where we start? Well, in our analyzes we usually start by looking at the source of the company to better understand its current situation and future prospects…
…but in the case of Just Host, this seemingly simple task turns out to be a rather odd challenge:
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This legal entity is called the Endurance Group – which you may be familiar with from our other reviews, for example PureHost.
Endurance specializes in web-based services, primarily hosting and domains. Currently, the group owns more than 80 (!) Brands through its international corporate structure.
Most of these brands are very similar hosting providers you may not have heard of, but there are also some big names, like BlueHost and HostGator (yes, they belong to the same legal entity).
Oddly enough, even though BlueHost and HostGator are mentioned prominently on Endurance’s official website, you won’t find any mention of Just Host.
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The only way to find out Endurance and Just Host are related is to use some advanced Google search patterns, such as searching for full phrase matching within a given website:
To understand what’s going on, we need to take a closer look at the ability itself. As you can see, it’s not just a bunch of self-developed hosting brands: it specializes in purchasing hosting providers.
It acquires mid-sized hosting companies and maintains their brands while moving the core infrastructure to larger server farms in lower cost countries like India. Support and tech teams can also be outsourced to areas with cheaper labor, of course.
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There he is! You get a hosting asset that continues to see some demand from users who still recognize its brand, while cutting hardware and staff costs. good job!
Well, it depends. According to the group’s official SEC filings, it hasn’t seen a single profitable year since 2010, aside from a small token profit in 2018 resulting solely from negative taxes.
Wait, so Endurance is a publicly traded company? Shouldn’t the company’s stock reflect its financial performance? Oh yes, you should:
Incorporating everything we just learned, the situation with JustHost’s apparent reluctance to show off its assets and corporate identity becomes even clearer:
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Just Host is just another random brand in the vast (but unprofitable) Endurance Group portfolio. The group is not really interested in developing Just Host as a separate entity, they just want to benefit from existing users while keeping costs as low as possible.
Oh yeah, and the whole “buy and exploit” scheme allows Endurance to continue to pay out millions of dollars in salaries and stock bonuses to its senior management.
Now that we understand how JustHost’s parent company works, let’s put that aside for a while and focus on what it actually has to offer its customers:
For a brand with “just” in its name, the product offering actually looks pretty complicated if you start digging into it.
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From the JustHost homepage, one might get the impression that they offer one “all-in-one” hosting plan:
There are 3 types of hosting you can choose from: standard shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting (the last two can only be found via the website footer).
Depending on the amount of computing resources and other features, you can choose between 4 different plans for shared hosting and VPS hosting; Dedicated servers come in 3 varieties.
Each of the 11 plans can be purchased on 4-6 different billing cycles, from payments every month to every 3 years.
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The good news is – we can ignore VPS and dedicated hosting for now, leaving us with shared hosting.
First, Just Host doesn’t seem too keen on showing off its more advanced options: the only place on its official front page where you can see VPS and custom mentions is in the footer at the bottom of the page, next to boring stuff like terms and conditions.
Second, even if you can find pages describing VPS and dedicated hosting services, you’ll likely find them… quite similar. So much so that it looks like a single template with slight differences in content.
Even if these hints aren’t enough to convince you that everything else outside of shared hosting isn’t quite the focus of Just Host, here’s another consideration:
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If you’re not quite sure what VPS and dedicated mean, there’s a good chance you don’t need them.
The reverse is also true: professional developers looking for advanced features should not consider JustHost; There are plenty of niche providers, like Digital Ocean, who don’t treat them as an afterthought.
Okay, so we’re sticking to shared hosting, with its four plans: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro. The main points of differentiation are:
As you may have noticed, there are asterisks next to the prices for Just Host’s packages. This usually means that there is some kind of special condition or, in simpler terms, a problem.
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Since we’ve dealt with Endurance-owned hosting providers in the past, our first reaction was to ask support for real pricing. Here’s how it happened:
Hopefully, by pure coincidence, this coincidence is lower than the actual renewal prices mentioned in the depth of the Help Center docs.
So, how much does JustHost really cost? Let’s examine the pricing charts to get a more realistic assessment of this provider’s pricing levels:
To recap what we found out in the previous section: The prices indicated on the JustHost homepage and shared hosting plans page are
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If you want to know what those prices are, the best way is to look for the footnote corresponding to those asterisks we mentioned earlier –
Otherwise, good luck finding the desired page from the website navigation menus or directly through the Help Center.
See if you can find the footnote on the shared hosting page… right there, at the bottom, in the smallest legally acceptable font:
In this footnote we find the link to the actual prices – here they are for the cheapest basic plan, for our convenience:
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Yes, you got it right: even with a monthly billing cycle, your second hosting bills (and all subsequent bills) will be 50% higher.
These price hikes get so ridiculous very quickly – that buyers of the longest 3-year plan can expect their subsequent bills to be 140% more expensive.
And no, the problem isn’t the price increase per se: after all, Just Host is free to choose whatever pricing structure they see fit.
This is where things really start to smell – but it’s not the only way JustHost ensures that you leave as much money as possible on the table.
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When it comes to so-called dark patterns, JustHost seems to use every trick in the book to ensure you don’t underpay.
Dark pattern is a term from user experience design: it describes questionable psychological techniques that influence your behavior, and most importantly – your willingness to pay.
In other words – it’s the closest thing to a scam that’s still nominally legal. Dark styles shift blame for errors (such as overpaying) from the creators of a web page to its users:
It’s your fault you didn’t notice that asterisk! Yeah, we’re sorry you forgot to uncheck that checkbox, but it was on the page, right?
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Navigating to the page showing shared hosting plans (eg, assuming we clicked the big “Get Started Now” read button on the front page):
This last point can be better understood with a simplified example. Imagine being given three options: a bag of broccoli for $10, a bag of strawberries for $15, or two bags of strawberries for $15.
Regardless of the fact that you may already be a huge fan of broccoli, this is a no-brainer: Of course, you get to choose which option you get.
Except it’s not: As mentioned above, Choice Plus renews at a 20% higher rate than a Plus plan that has the same promotional price.
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So, not only do the quoted prices deceive you about your future payments – the pricing structure itself is designed in such a way as to make it even more confusing!
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