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InMotion Hosting review: This capable provider offers a 90-day guarantee

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Why open standards are essential for the internet of the future
Identity provider Okta’s choice of open standards for its new integration service is the right choice for the modern cloud.

If you’re looking for a web hosting provider, you have a tremendous number of choices. In my The best web hosting providers article, I looked at 15 providers who offer a wide range of plans.

To get a better feel for each individual provider, I set up the most basic account possible and performed a series of tests. In this article, we’re going to dive into InMotion Hosting’s offerings. Stay tuned for in-depth looks at other providers in future articles.


InMotion Hosting


Because there’s such variability among plans and offerings among hosting providers, it’s hard to get a good comparison. I’ve found that one of the best ways to see how a provider performs is to look at the least expensive plan they offer. You can expect the least quality, the least attention to detail, and the least performance from such a plan.

If the vendor provides good service for the bottom-shelf plans, you can generally assume the better plans will also benefit from similar quality. In the case of InMotion Hosting, the quality was quite reasonable.

How pricing really works

For the series of hosting reviews I’m doing now, I’m testing the most basic, most entry-level plan a vendor is offering. In the case of InMotion Hosting, that’s what they call their Launch Plan. To get pricing, I simply went to the company’s main site at InMotionHosting.com. If you want to save some money, though, read to the end of this section.

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Like nearly every hosting provider in the business, their offering is somewhat misleading. There is no option to just get billed $6.39 per month.

While it looks like you can get the Launch plan for $6.39 per month, that’s only if you prepay for two full years, which means you’re actually paying $153.36. If you want only one year, you’re charging $89.52 to your card (which is $7.46 per month).

There’s a gotcha, though: When you renew, you’re going to pay more. This, too, is not uncommon for hosting plans and is a practice I strongly wish the hosting industry would stop. Fortunately, InMotion’s renewal surcharge doesn’t increase as much as many. Instead of paying $153.36 for two years, you’re paying $191.76, which is about a 25% increase.

I’ve seen hosting providers ding their customers at two and three times their original rate, and InMotion doesn’t do that.

By the way, if you want to save some money, use the Sales Chat button at the top of the InMotion site before you place an order. Just as soon as I asked for clarification, the agent offered me that same two-year plan for $143.76. Hey, 10 bucks is 10 bucks.

Here’s another way to save money. If you come in through this link, you get access to prices that are substantially lower.

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Be careful reading this, though. Even though you can get a great deal through that affiliate link, when your initial period ends, you’ll still be expected to pay the full renewal price — which, after the better-than-posted discount for the first period, is nearly double the price of the first period.

I harp on high renewal fees in my coverage of hosting vendors for two key reasons. First, it’s a really nasty feeling suddenly getting a bill that’s hundreds or even thousands of dollars (depending on the plan) more than you expect. Second, switching from one hosting provider to another hosting provider can be a very time-consuming and possibly expensive job, fraught with hassles and potential points of failure.

Unfortunately, while not a universal practice, at least half of the hosting vendors I’ve looked at over the years do these promo deals, with big jumps in renewal fees.

What the base plan includes

Most bottom-end plans are for one website, and one site only. I was pleasantly surprised to find that InMotion’s Launch plan allows for two sites. While most folks starting out with their first website will only need one site, having a second site allows for both growth and experimentation.

You can use the second site as a staging site, or use it to try out new ideas without risking the performance and functionality of your main site.

As with most hosting vendors these days, InMotion claims unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited email. In practice, these unlimited values are limited in the terms of service. You can’t use your unlimited storage as a giant backup tank where you dump gigabits of video, for example. They also state, “accounts that adversely affect server or network performance must correct these issues or will be asked to upgrade to a virtual or dedicated server.”

In other words, if your site suddenly becomes some sort of viral hit (you lucky thing!), you’re probably going to have to pay more to keep your site running.

There are a few other wins in InMotion’s most basic plan. First, they host all their plans on SSDs. Even if a site is using caching (which reduces the load on a server), having fast drives is always a plus.

Second, the company offers SSH access for even the basic plan. SSH is command-line shell access to a site. Most entry-level website operators don’t need SSH. Trust me, there are times that command-line access is the only thing that will fix a problem. Having SSH is something I consider necessary table stakes if you’re running a site you care about, but not all hosting providers offer it.

Third, the company offers a free SSL encryption certificate for all accounts. While the certificate offered isn’t as complete as a fully professional certificate, it will do for most browsers accessing your site, and you won’t have to worry about Chrome flagging your site as “non-secure”.

Fourth, and this is big: The company offers a 90-day money back guarantee. This is great. This not only gives you enough time to learn their service and set up a site, but run it for a while and make sure it works well for you. This level of guarantee is something I’d like all hosting providers to offer.

Finally, the Launch program offers free email, a website builder, and some free ad and marketing credits.

Dashboard access

The first thing I like to do when looking at a new hosting provider is explore their dashboard. Is an old friend, like cPanel? Is it some sort of janky, barely configured open source or home grown mess? Or is it a carefully crafted custom dashboard? These are often the ones that worry me the most, because they almost always hide restrictions that I’m going to have to work around somehow.

When you first log into InMotion’s dashboard, you’re greeted with their account management panel. Here, you can manage your credit card information, get support, and so on. Each account is also presented as a section in the panel.

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This is not the only dashboard you’ll be using. The main dashboard is cPanel, which is common to many, many sites across the web. Some management features are available in the main panel and in cPanel. On one hand, that elevates some of the more major tasks (like installing apps) to the account panel. On the other hand, that can get confusing.

That said, there’s cPanel. While cPanel can be frustrating at times, it’s a very capable interface that lets you manage all aspects of your site. InMotion seems to have enabled all of cPanel’s main capabilities, so even with a basic account, I didn’t find myself restricted in any way, and that’s a nice feeling on an entry-level account.

Installing WordPress

There are certainly other content management and blogging applications you can use besides WordPress. That said, since 32% of the entire web uses WordPress, it’s a good place to start. WordPress sites can be moved from hosting provider to hosting provider, so there’s no lock-in. And by testing a site built with WordPress, we can get some consistency in our testing between hosting providers.

I was a little surprised to see that a WordPress site had already been built for me by InMotion. So the very first thing I did was delete it.

Softaculous is a standard app installer that makes it about as easy to install a web application as it is to install an app on your phone. Once I was sure that the previous WordPress files were gone and the database was eliminated, I clicked the Softaculous icon. Installation was quick and painless, and in about five minutes, I had a WordPress site up and running.

I prefer using Softaculous when it’s available because, although installing WordPress is generally easy even by hand, there are text files that need to be edited, permissions that have to be gotten right, and some general fiddling. Softaculous does that all for you.

Then, in cPanel, I dropped into the MySQL panel and created my database, created a database user, and assigned the user to the database. The only gotcha I found was connecting to the database. Rather than specifying localhost, I had to specify localhost:3306, which is the port used to access the database.

Overall, adding an app using InMotion’s cPanel went very smoothly.

Quick security checks

Security is one of the biggest issues when it comes to operating a website. You want to make sure your site is safe from hackers, doesn’t flag Google, and can connect securely to payment engines if you’re running an e-commerce site of any kind.

While the scope of this article doesn’t allow for exhaustive security testing, there are a few quick checks that can help indicate whether InMotion’s most inexpensive platform is starting with a secure foundation.

The first of these is multi-factor authentication. It’s way too easy for hackers to just bang away at a website’s login screen and bruteforce a password. One of my sites has been pounded on by weeks from some hacker or another, but because I have some relatively strong protections in place, the bad actor hasn’t been able to get in.

Unfortunately, I have to ding InMotion for what I consider a pretty serious security flaw. When you log into their AMP (Account Management Panel), all you need to provide is a username and password. There is no option to set up any form of multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Weirdly enough, if you log directly into your cPanel, you can set up MFA there. That’s most likely because cPanel has authentication built into it. But the cPanel MFA is essentially worthless, because you can get into cPanel from your main AMP login. Ouch.

I mentioned earlier that InMotion does provide a free SSL certificate, which is definitely a point in the provider’s favor. Even so, SSL is somewhat difficult to set up. The thing is, you’re going to want SSL because Google is starting to flag sites that don’t have secure HTTP connections (i.e., https://), whether or not they’re going to be used for anything that accepts payments.

One quick trick on that front, if you use WordPress, is to install the Really Simple SSL plugin. This plugin makes it nearly effortless to add SSL to your WordPress site.

As my last quick security check, I like to look at the versions of some of the main system components that run web applications. To make things easy, I chose four components necessary to safe WordPress operation. While other apps may use other components, I’ve found that if components are up-to-date for one set of needs, they’re usually up to date across the board.

Here are my findings (using the WordPress Health Check plugin), as of the day I tested, for InMotion’s Launch plan:

Component

Version Provided

Current Version

How Old

PHP

7.032

7.2.11

One month

MySQL

MariaDB 10.2.17

MariaDB 10.3.10

One month

cURL

7.45.0

7.61.1

3 years

OpenSSL

1.0.2k-fips

1.0.2p (and 1.1.1)

18 months

In general, these results aren’t bad. You kind of need to know the component to know how to read these results. For example, WordPress prefers PHP 7.2, so even though PHP is only one month old, it’s due for an upgrade. On the other hand, even though the cURL library is three years old, it’s up-to-date enough to safely support TLS 1.2 transactions (used in e-commerce).

Also, the company supports OpenSSL 1.0.2k, where the absolutely most current version is 1.1.1. The gotcha is that when OpenSSL went to 1.1, it broke a lot of code. As a result, the OpenSSL project is updating both the 1.0.2 branch and the 1.1 branch. I know, it’s enough to give you a headache. The bottom line is that InMotion is pretty much where it should be in terms of the system components they’re offering on their platform.

Performance testing

Next, I wanted to see how the site performed using some online performance testing tools. It’s important not to take these tests too seriously. We’re purposely looking at the most low-end offerings of hosting vendors, so the sites they produce are expected to be relatively slow.

That said, it’s nice to have an idea what to expect, and that’s what we’re doing here. The way I test is to use the fresh install of WordPress and then test the “Hello, world” page, which is mostly text, with just an image header. That way, we’re able to focus on the responsiveness of a basic page without being too concerned about media overhead.

First, I ran two Pingdom Tools tests, one hitting the site from San Francisco and the second from Germany. Here’s the San Francisco test rating:

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And here’s the same site from Germany:

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Next, I ran a similar test using the Bitchatcha service:

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Finally, I hit the site with Load Impact, which sends 25 virtual users over the course of three minutes to the site, and then measures the responsiveness.

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The Load Impact test shows pretty much what you’d expect. As more users are concurrently hitting the site, the responsiveness becomes more irregular. At the beginning of the test, response time was about 33ms. By the end of the test, response time got as bad as 228ms.

This is definitely a characteristic of a lower-cost hosting plan. One of the reasons you pay more for a hosting plan is if your business model can’t sustain a reduction of responsiveness.

None of the tests showed spectacular performance, but I wouldn’t expect that for a low-end plan. None of them was terrible, despite the C grades shown in the first set of tests.

Support responsiveness

In a word (well, five words): Way better than I expected. During testing, I had two reasons to reach out in just getting information for this article, and then one standardized test I use across hosting providers to both gauge support and learn about their backup offerings.

The first contact was via chat. I suddenly couldn’t log into the AMP and kept getting error messages. I reached out through Sales Chat and was transferred to a tech support chat operator, who asked me to try a different browser. It turned out to be a Chrome issue. Clearing cookies solved the problem. That chat took less than a minute to connect.

My second attempt was trying to find out if there was a multi-factor authentication option for the main dashboard, and I just couldn’t find it. That one took 10 minutes to connect. Sadly, that one also told me there was no MFA.

The third attempt was via voice. I was initially concerned that there wasn’t any phone support, because sometimes chatting and ticket systems can take forever. As it turns out, while there isn’t a phone number to call, there are Skype accounts to connect to. I reached out to inMotion-support, and much to my surprise, I was connected in less than two minutes.

The agent I spoke to had some reasonable answers. My first question was “How often do you backup my account?” His answer: Daily, but each new day overwrites the previous day’s backup.

My second question was “Do you backup my databases? How do I set up daily backups for both files and databases?” For this, he sent me to the cPanel backup option and offered to send me a description of how to set it up.

Unfortunately, cPanel doesn’t offer an automatic, daily, incremental backup (so you can restore from last Tuesday, for example). He was unable to tell me how to do that, or even refer me to some scripts to do so.

There are actually a ton of options. I use the ManageWP.com service from GoDaddy to backup my WordPress sites, but there are also WordPress plugins that do the same thing.

The agent did mention it might be possible to setup a cron job to do such an automatic backup, but didn’t share any resources for getting the job done. Here’s one way to do it, just for the record.

Overall, especially for the cheap seats plan offered by InMotion, I thought support was just fine.

Overall conclusion

You never want to get your expectations too high for a bottom-end plan. The economics of running such a super-cheap offering is that the provider has to make it up on volume. Professional and enterprise hosting plans with lots of traffic and performance must, out of necessity, cost more.

The only way to truly know what it’s like to use a service is to run a live website on it for a few years. That said, I was quite pleased with InMotion’s offering. The basic tests I performed indicated a well-equipped service with attention to upgrades and support.

Combine that with a 90-day guarantee, and I can’t think of a reason not to recommend you try it out.

See all InMotion plans and deal here


You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.


Disclosure: ZDNet may earn a commission on services featured on this page. Neither the author nor ZDNet were compensated by InMotion for this independent, unbiased review.



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Callaway Chevy Silverado SC602 Signature Edition trounces Ram TRX in a drag race

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American performance vehicle builder Callaway Cars has debuted its newest creation: The Chevy Silverado SC602 Signature Edition, now officially the best sleeper truck on the road. How fast? Hold your breath: This Chevy Silverado has trounced the mighty RAM TRX in a drag race. That’s saying a lot since Ram made it clear the TRX is “the quickest, fastest, and most powerful mass-produced truck in the world.”

But as it turns out, Callaway has other plans. The company has a long and cherished history of building quirky yet high-end performance cars like the C4 Corvette Sledgehammer and C7 Corvette AeroWagen. However, what we really love about the Silverado SC602 is the way it looks.

It may resemble a factory-stock Chevy Silverado from some angles, but there are telltale signs of the truck’s outstanding stoplight-to-stoplight ability. Like those 20 or 22-inch Callaway lightweight wheels, for instance, or the bevy of chrome Callaway exterior badging, including a bold CALLAWAY script on the carbon fiber front grille.

As with any Callaway vehicle, what matters most is hiding under the sheet metal. The SC602 starts life as a Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss, RST, LTZ, or High Country with a standard 6.2-liter V8 motor and four-wheel drive. Next, Callway installs a GenThree Eaton TVS R2650 Supercharger with a TripleCooled intercooler. The blower offers 15-percent more displacement yet requiring 18-percent less power output.

It doesn’t stop there. The truck also gets a high-flow intake, low-restriction stainless steel dual outlet exhausts with quad exhaust tips, and a bespoke Callaway ECU with custom tuning. After all the dirty engine work is complete, the Callaway Silverado SC60’s blown V8 is now pumping out 602 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque.

But wait, the Ram TRX’s Hellcat V8 makes 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, 100 more horses (and 90 more torques) than Callaway’s truck, so how did it trounce the Ram? Two words: weight and tires. The Silverado SC602 tips the scales at only 5,820 pounds (2640 kg), while the Ram TRX weighs around 7,080 (3,211 kg) pounds.

The result is nothing short of astonishing. The SC602 goes from zero to 60 mph in 4.3-seconds, zero to 100 mph in 9.80-seconds, and breaks the quarter-mile in 12.5-seconds @ 113 mph. Meanwhile, the Ram TRX goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.99-seconds, a bit quicker than the Chevy.

But the latter is faster from zero to 100 mph as the Ram needed 10.14 seconds to perform the deed, proof of the Callaway Silverado SC60’s mid to high-range pulling power. And yeah, those sticky performance tires were partly responsible for the Callaway’s drag strip prowess.

What’s more, the Silverado SC602 is 50-state emissions compliant and carries a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty to supplement Chevy’s bumper-to-bumper warranty. Other goodies include aluminum door sills, billet aluminum pedals, an Alcantara-covered horn cover, and ID plaques to let other people know you’re driving the genuine article.

How much? We have no idea. But you can get in touch with Callaway if you fancy the ultimate Ram-beating sleeper truck.

Callaway Chevy Silverado SC602 Signature Edition Gallery

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Ford reveals the custom 2021 Mustang Mach-E to be given away for charity

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Ford has supported various charities for a long time, often donating customized automobiles to be auctioned off. Each year Ford offers a customized car for the AirVenture charity, and typically that car is a Ford Mustang of some sort with a big V8 engine under the hood. This year, the car Ford is donating to the charity is a different kind of Mustang.

Ford has revealed the customized electric 2021 Mustang Mach-E that will be auctioned off this year. The vehicle was built to honor the sacrifices of Women Air Force Service Pilots. The special Mach-E is inspired by the female volunteer pilots and the planes they flew during World War II.

Proceeds from the vehicle auction support the EAA initiative to provide young women and underserved youths more access to careers in the aviation industry. Ford notes that it has worked with AirVenture for more than two decades and has donated 12 custom aviation-themed performance vehicles so far, raising a total of more than $4 million. 2021 marks the first year Ford has donated an electric vehicle.

The custom Mach-E was designed by Ford and has a custom paint scheme with military badging inspired by the warplanes the volunteers flew. Women Air Force Service Pilots flew almost every type of military aircraft in World War II as they rolled off the factory floor after assembly. Ford put badges, including the US Army Air Force star on both sides, wings logos on the hood and fender, and No. 38 on the front fascia, rear bumper, and inside the cabin.

That number represents the 38 volunteers who died serving their country. Women Air Force Service Pilots are a group of American volunteers who transported warplanes to US Army bases worldwide to be used in combat. The female pilots flew more than 60 million miles during the war and weren’t recognized as active military personnel until 1977 when the pilots were granted retroactive military status.

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This Porsche 911 Turbo S pays homage to Mexican driving ace Pedro Rodriguez

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In collaboration with Porsche Latin America, Porsche Mexico, and Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur, German automaker Porsche has built a custom 911 Turbo S in memory of the late, great Pedro Rodriguez. Rodriguez is the most successful Mexican racing driver of all time.

He walked away with 11 titles in the World Championship of Makes – now known as the World Endurance Championship – and helped Porsche capture the crown in 1970 and 1971 aboard a Porsche 917 KH in Gulf Oil livery. Rodriguez claimed two Formula Grand Prix wins, four wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona, and a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans before losing his life in 1971 at the Norising street circuit in Nuremberg, Germany.

Fifty years on after that fateful and deadly crash, Porsche is reliving the glory days with a custom 911 Turbo S ‘One of a Kind’ Pedro Rodriguez. The car debuted at a Sportscar Together Day event at the Centro Alto Rendimineto in Toluca, Mexico, where it drew oohs and ahhs with its custom Gulf attire.

Porsche claims the 911 Turbo S ‘One of a Kind’ Pedro Rodriguez is, well, genuinely one of a kind. “This configuration, with these specific details and equipment, has been locked in the Porsche configurator, as well as in the production system, so that this car is literally unrepeatable,” said Camilo San Martin, Director of Porsche Mexico.

Wearing the iconic Gulf Blue paint with single orange striping, it also has custom high-gloss black wheels, an aluminum center lock, and a black number 2 in a white circle graphic on the doors and front hood. Look closely at the B-pillar and you’ll find a silhouette of the 917 KH race car wearing the colors off the Mexican flag, complete with the name and signature of Pedro Rodriguez.

Other bespoke elements include unique carbon moldings on the lower door frames (which illuminate when the doors are open), Graphite Blue leather seats with orange stitching, and an engraved tribute of the eight races that Rodriguez won aboard the Porsche 917 KH under the rear spoiler.

Also included are a Gulf Blue key fob (with Rodriguez’s signature) and a luggage set wearing the same blue and orange colors. It still has a turbocharged 3.8-liter flat-six pumping out 640 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox under the hood.

The Porsche 911 Turbo S Pedro Rodriguez will hit the auction block later this year. Porsche will donate the auction proceeds to various charities.

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