ScalaHosting has a number of strong selling points in its favour. Across the board, this host offers superior performance and an abundance of features. Above all, they offer VPS users an affordable yet impressive control panel option. SPanel is packed with everything you need to move away from cPanel in peace of mind. Learn more.
September 29, 2020•
The competition among web hosting service providers has always been a tentative thing. With the exception of certain large-scale service providers, many others are either niche or simply unable to scale up for various reasons.
Today we’ll be exploring a host with lots of experience in the field – ScalaHosting. Is this service worth your time, effort, and most importantly, money? Let’s find out.
Pros of ScalaHosting
Cons of ScalaHosting
ScalaHosting Plans & Features
How Does ScalaHosting Hold Up Against Competition?
ScalaHosting has been on the go for over a decade now. It’s a US-based host which has been seen as a reliable hosting solution in the past. Today, their reliability is not in doubt, but their innovations have been something of note.
I see so many web hosting solution providers that at times it becomes hard to distinguish them. Many prefer to compete along traditional lines such as in cost, resources, or simply variances in a few other features.
ScalaHosting is highly notable because they are one of the few that truly act as an innovator of sorts. A big part of this review will be looking into some of their self-developed technologies such as SPanel, SShield, and SWordpress.
Above all, one of the most vital elements that contributes to excellent hosting is speed. In the dog-eat-dog world of website rankings, speed contributes strongly to how well search engines index your site. It also affects your visitor’s user experience as well.
In our tests for ScalaHosting, their servers showed consistently strong results. Our primary tests were performed with BitCatcha’s own speed test utility, with fastest speeds shown from Germany at an excellent 37ms.
|US (W)||US (E)||London||Singapore||Sao Paulo|
|178 ms||119 ms||43 ms||183 ms||228 ms|
|147 ms||286 ms||250 ms||116 ms||37 ms|
We also tested the performance of their VPS servers. Results on ScalaHosting’s VPS servers were even faster, with speeds from Germany inching down to 30ms. The results on both sets of tests gained ScalaHosting a solid A+ rating on BitCatcha tests.
|US (W)||US (E)||London||Singapore||Sao Paulo|
|178 ms||120 ms||45 ms||165 ms||232 ms|
|144 ms||285 ms||202 ms||116 ms||30 ms|
The demands that search engines like Google are placing on websites has been ever-increasing. To compete well, you need to host with a service provider like Scala. Their low TTFB capability is a strong decision influencer here.
All of these tests were run multiple times just to confirm the results. I can expect that in general this rate of performance is pretty much a norm that most users can expect from them.
Do note though that there are many variables involved when it comes to hosting server speed, so no results will be 100% accurate.
Putting their money where their mouth is, ScalaHosting offers users a 99.9% uptime guarantee spelled out in black and white. Part of their Terms of Service, this assures users that downtime will be offset with credits into their account if the site goes down too much.
The system is scalable, meaning the higher the outage period, the more liable Scala is – and the more credit it will add to the users accounts in event of outages. If users suffer downtime of more than 1%, they will receive full refunds (in credits).
It’s important to note that downtime is only considered for unplanned outages and does not include maintenance periods.
Regardless, we established two sites on ScalaHosting, one for shared hosting and another on their VPS servers. Since the setup of these sites, we’ve used uptimerobot.com to track their uptime which has remained at a solid 100% since.
Uptime since June 2020
Monitoring tests for their shared hosting server indicate that since we established them in June, there have been zero downtime incidences on their server. This is far in excess of their published uptime guarantee.
Uptime since June 2020
Likewise, ScalaHosting VPS servers were rock steady and also tracked at 100% uptime so far.
Finally, we come to what I consider the crown jewel of ScalaHosting – SPanel. SPanel is wholly developed and owned by Scala as an alternative to cPanel.
This segment is longer since SPanel is a strongly viable option as a cPanel alternative.
The most popular web hosting control panel (WHCP) around, cPanel, decided in 2019 to raise licensing prices across the board. They felt this was a good idea since almost everyone used their platform and would either think they had no real options, or be too concerned about compatibility to try and migrate.
Luckily, Scala stepped in with SPanel, which it had been developing for a number of years on its own. SPanel is a fully compatible and viable alternative to cPanel and Scala charges much less in terms of licensing.
This WHCP is an all-in-one solution, which means the buck stops here. From a single interface, you will have control over your entire account – from email management to handling DNS configurations.
SPanel also has several advanced features which offer great benefit to users. In all, the company has been building on these over a period of three years – and still continues to do so. Yet aside from the norm, some features clearly stand out on SPanel.
Two of these are SShield and SWordpress.
For instance, installation and uninstallation of WordPress, password administration, updating, cloning, and staging, plus more. Most interestingly, SWordpress claims to enhance the security of WordPress sites significantly as well.
Finally, there’s the issue of migration, or should I say non-issue. As long as you sign up for ScalaHosting VPS plans run on SPanel, you get free migration for as many of your sites as you want.
Since SPanel is fully cPanel compatible, the process is fast and painless. It will virtually be like moving from one cPanel host to another. The interface is just as intuitive, if not more, so you should feel right at home.
Although the allocation of most main resources varies depending on plan, in general ScalaHosting is quite generous in their provision. For example, shared hosting plans all get unmetered bandwidth and only the cheapest one is limited to 50GB of storage space (more about this below).
I’ve seen many other web hosts that try to trim the resources available to shared hosting plans and this can be quite a pain. As an example of this, WordPress.com offers a measly 3GB of space on their starter paid plans.
Interestingly, the Inode provision on Scala is also pretty generous. In layman speak, Inode count is actually just the number of allowable files (and directories) on your hosting account. Too many slows server performance, so typically all hosts limit the number per account.
150,000 on Scala’s Mini plan is still generous and under normal circumstances, more than sufficient for a single website. I’d say if you were exceeding your Inode count here, you have far more problems that account limitations with your site.
HTTP/2 was introduced years ago and in my opinion is one of the most overlooked things in hosting. Despite it being easily available, there are still many web hosts which only provide this on premium plans.
Faster and more secure than the previous standard, HTTP/2 is also mobile friendly and is available on all ScalaHosting plans, even the cheapest. Sites which are HTTP/2 enabled are able to load some resources in parallel.
There’s also another unspoken area of concern, which is that hosts not offering HTTP/2 may be relying on older servers for those accounts. This is one reason why some hosts offer HTTP/2 only on their more expensive plans.
Ultimately, the provision of HTTP/2 access on all Scala plans is very positive. Even though you can get this for free if you hook up your site to Cloudflare, it does seem to show that Scala is using newer equipment in their server boxes.
ScalaHosting performs automated backups for all accounts – seven images for seven days worth of backups. While that might not seem like much, remember that it’s across the board. This means that every single Scala customer benefits from this.
Aside from those images, you can also perform on-demand backups as well as implement your own backup system. Combined, there is very little to worry about if you make use of all of them.
Who doesn’t love freebies? As with their generosity in other areas, ScalaHosting has great giveaways as well for new sign-ons. What’s included in your hosting package is a free domain name, Let’s Encrypt SSL, plus CDN integration.
The free domain name offer is even included in their starter plan which of course, boosts the value immensely. The highest tier of shared hosting plan also gets live cybersecurity protection included.
Remember that if you’re not getting these features included in your plan for free, you will have to fork out significantly more to get them on your own. For example, a domain name might set you back an extra $10, and some security plugins can run into the hundreds of dollars as well.
While this might not be something that everyone needs, it is an interesting provision for those who do. Website designers, developers, and so one typically offer hosting packed in with their designs.
By offering white label hosting for all their plans, Scala turns them into their own web hosting providers as well. This let’s them charge their own fees for hosting without being openly associated with ScalaHosting at all.
Web or app developers typically rely on hosting service providers to equip the environment they use. Unfortunately, most developer environments or tools typically only come with VPS plans.
ScalaHosting has made many of those tools available on shared hosting as well. Examples of these include Git, Perl, Python, access to cron jobs, and more. In my eye it’s something that more hosting providers should do since it doesn’t cost them anything more except perhaps a bit more investment in support from time to time.
Although I did go on a bit about how generous ScalaHosting is with their resources, there are a few small caveats. One of the most important in my eyes is that unless you’re on their expensive plans, Scala only offers limited SSD functionality.
SSDs are much faster than traditional hard drives, so sites hosted on them naturally will perform better. They are, however, more expensive. To cut cost, on their lower priced plans Scala only puts the server Operating System and databases on SSD storage.
This means that your website files may be served off traditional drives and not perform as well as their might otherwise.
I find that the choice ScalaHosting made here slightly questionable, since the price of SSDs has been dropping a lot over the years. However, those drops do apply to consumer SSDs, so I am not too certain about variations for enterprise-scale SSD solutions.
For users like us, the difference will be noticeable though. I’ve used both and can say that if you’re not used SSD hosting before – it certainly is something to look out for!
Admittedly, this is something that all web hosting users will ultimately face most of the time. Almost without exception, web hosts entice users in with slashed down pricing and bump those up when it’s time to renew the plans.
My guess is that they’re hoping most users won’t want to go through the hassle of migration when the time comes. This isn’t something I really approve of, although it is a common reality. Expect to see significant price hikes here when it’s time to renew.
This is honestly one of the most surprising things I noted about ScalaHosting. Almost every Tom, Dick, and Harry hosting service today offers the use of a website builder. It’s true that some are really crappy – but the option is there.
Scala seems to be relying on the fact that WordPress is turning into its own website builder thanks to Gutenberg. Aside from that, you’re on your own. Even if resources were limited, I would expect them to invest in some sort of licensing scheme at least, for an external tool or something.
Although ScalaHosting has a few categories of plans, we’ll remain focused on their Shared Hosting and VPS solutions.
Scala has three shared hosting plans, with the entry level plan being the most limited. Despite that, in reality the feature set of all three plans are almost identical. The few variances are interesting though, as some would consider them well worth the price.
For example, the Start plan adds on SShield functionality, and the slight bump in price more than justifies having access to a real-time cyber security solution. Moving past that it’s more a matter of getting more vital resources such as CPU and memory.
There are two flavours of Cloud hosting at scala – Managed and Unmanaged, each with a set of four plans. Among each of the sets, key differences lie mostly in the amount of resources available on them.
More notable is the difference between ScalaHosting’s Managed and Unmanaged segments. Managed VPS Cloud hosting at Scala is the most interesting as it comes with their own SPanel WHCP.
Unmanaged VPS Cloud plans here offer much more in terms of resources for lower prices compared to Managed VPS plans. However, do bear in mind that you’ll have to manage your WHCP yourself and if you opt for cPanel, there are other fees involved.
HostGator is one of the larger web hosting service providers around. It holds an estimated 1% market share – which in this industry is still pretty significant. This means that it competes with many companies across a broad front.
While it’s expected that HostGator prices their shared plans more cheaply (starting at $2.75/mo as compared to Scala starting at $3.95/mo), they have managed to keep things fairly competitive in features.
The most notable exception comes in when we look past entry level plans, since the unique technology of ScalaHosting comes into play. For example, their Start plans at $5.95/mo is much more favorable due to SSheild compared to what HostGator offers for $3.95/mo.
Inmotion has been hailed for its VPS hosting plans which start off fairly reasonably priced but quickly reach into ‘ouch’ space. While these are all great plans and managed as well, they don’t offer users one key element – the possibility of moving away from cPanel.
SPanel makes ScalaHosting’s Managed VPS plans very unique and proves to be a major selling point. Its extended functionality and ease of use, plus the fact that it belongs to Scala – is simply too good.
By now, you can see that there’s nothing really over-the-top about most of ScalaHosting’s plans. The key differentiator lies in a few technologies that make a very big plus point in their favour.
Personally, I think that SShield is a very good proposition for many users. For the price of hosting, you’re getting a powerful, secure solution that you would otherwise have to not just pay more for – but also install and configure on your own.
In terms of VPS accounts, SPanel isn’t a game changer, but it gives users something that isn’t really available elsewhere. That is, a truly viable option if they want to move away from the higher prices cPanel is charging.
While I have nothing against cPanel, as an individual customer, I do not like to see technologies cornering a market segment. It too often leads to complacent and increases the possibility of price gouging.
ScalaHosting isn’t the cheapest nor the best, but it offers solid, well-rounded offerings. Their introduction of self developed technology is just what consumers like us need today, and I encourage you to support their endeavours. We will all benefit in the end.