Russian web hosting provider Beget may not have the highest of profiles, but the company does its best to catch your eye, anyway, with some very low headline prices. Shared hosting from $2 a month? Really?

Well, no. We headed off to the product page and found the cheapest plan was priced at $2.90 (£2.23) a month or $28.90 (£22.23) a year, but scanning down the feature list suggested it was still good value.

Beget has four plans, all with the same strong set of core features. There’s unlimited traffic, email accounts and MySQL databases. There’s automatic setup of WordPress and other popular apps. Alternatively, the company will migrate your current site to Beget for free, and there’s 24/7 support if you run into any problems.

What you don’t get in any of these plans is a free domain or a bundled SSL certificate, but that’s no surprise at this price point.

The only difference between plans is the disk space you get, and the number of websites you can host.

The Blog plan gives you 3GB storage and supports 2 websites with the same plan, and that’s very unusual for budget shared hosting. It’s yours for $28.90 (£22.23) a year.

The Start plan offers 10GB storage and support for up to 5 sites for $37.20 (£28.61) a year. The Noble plan doubles up to 20GB disk space and 10 sites for $60 (£46.15), and the Great plan provides 25GB storage and allows up to 25 sites for an annual $91 (£70).

While this sounds great, there’s a very big issue with Beget’s usage limits. All plans get a maximum load of 65 CP a day, or 2500 CP a day for MySQL. The website doesn’t define a CP, so we fired off an email to the support team, and soon afterwards received this reply.

“CP is an abstract value that is approximately equal to one minute of processor time consumed by the script. Therefore, your site should not consume more than 65 minutes of CPU time per day (not to be confused with the time the scripts work).”

That helps a little, but what it means in practical terms depends very much on how CPU-intensive your site might be. As an example, for the first part of our review we installed WordPress twice and ran some performance tests, something which would create a much higher load than viewing a few simple web pages. The Beget control panel told us our efforts had used 0.9 CPs, or 1.4% of our daily limit.

If your website visitors each used an equivalent amount of CPU power as we did in our tests, which seems unlikely, you’d be limited to around 71 a day. We suspect a more straightforward site would allow you at least 10 times that number. That’s just a guess, but even if you can manage a hundred times as many – 7,100 daily visitors – that’s not a lot if you spread it over 10 or 20 websites. None of these plans will be up to handling heavy-duty projects.

If you do find you need more resources, a Premier hosting range provides seven times the load limits, and gets you extra RAM and CPU time. These are significantly more expensive, though, with prices starting at $185.10 (£142.38) a year for 30GB disk space and up to 50 sites.

Demanding users get a couple of highly configurable dedicated server plans to choose from. These are reasonable value with a 4-core CPU, 32GB RAM and 2 x 240GB storage server priced from $150 (£115.38) a month, but this only gets you 40Mb/s dedicated bandwidth, and ramping up to a more normal 100Mb/s will cost you another $110 (£84.62).

Account setup

Beget’s various plans are mostly easy to understand and compare, so the chances are that you’ll have no problem finding the right product for you

The Order page is unusually simple, too, as you get to select your plan, enter your contact details and your payment information (credit card only).

We filled in and submitted the forms, and immediately the website presented us with our control panel URL, username and password. An excellent Welcome email arrived moments later with even more essential information: FTP server details, SSH credentials (you must ask for SSH to be activated, first), name servers for DNS management, pointers to useful documentation, and a list of the many ways you can contact support (email, ICQ, Skype, Telegram, and various Russian phone numbers).

In one especially convenient touch, Beget gives your site a free subdomain based on your username. If this is JoeSmith15, for instance, you’ll be able to immediately access your site via joesmith15.beget.com, very handy if you’ve not got a domain yet.

There are a few small quirks in Beget’s presentation – a non-critical line or two not translated from the original Russian – but overall the signup procedure makes a good first impression.

Creating a site

Logging onto Beget takes you straight to its own custom service control panel. This isn’t a patch on cPanel, but then neither is anything else, and Beget has managed to squeeze in some valuable features.

A dual-pane file manager proves surprisingly powerful. You can upload files or folders, view, edit, rename, copy, or delete files, play with attributes, search for files by name and even content.  FTP is also available, if you prefer it. There’s one significant catch – you must install Java to upload files from your local file system – but if you can live with that, it’s a definite plus for Beget.

There’s automated installation of 29 big-name CMS and web apps: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, phpBB, Magento, osCommerce, MediaWiki, OpenCart, PrestaShop and more.

We chose WordPress, filled in the usual details – default domain, administrator login – and the installer told us WordPress would be set up within a couple of minutes. And it was, although with a default language setting of Russian. That’s clumsy and annoying, but it didn’t stop us logging in, and with some help from Chrome’s right-click ‘Translate to English’ feature we were able to quickly find and change our blog’s language settings.

Useful supporting features include phpMyAdmin to handle your MySQL databases, simple email account creation, domain and subdomain management and a DNS record editor.

There’s not much else, and experienced cPanel users will be quickly frustrated by the lack of functionality. But the Beget control panel does a reasonable job with its file manager and application installer, and there should be enough power here to help you build and manage straightforward blogs and personal sites.

Performance

Beget may not offer much in the way of website creation power, but it does have some interesting features to help you manage your account and website over the longer term.

You get a lot of control over account access, for instance. You can require authorization via email as well as password, permit access for specific IP addresses only, and block access to other IPs. A History panel displays a list of recent logins by IP address and shows the actions taken in each session.

Beget asks for your phone number during signup, but this isn’t just as a form of ID. The control panel can use this to send you SMS notifications of your account status, PHP session locks and other details. (These aren’t compulsory, fortunately – you can enable or disable each notification type as required.)

Support is important, whatever your level of hosting experience, and Beget didn’t initially impress us. An odd menu structure has two almost identical links (‘Support’ and ‘Help and Support’) but both point to the same contact form – a paragraph of untranslated Russian text left us feeling more confused than helped, and at one point we somehow ended up in a Russian language-only manual.

Once we found the real manual, though, our opinion improved. Control panel sections are clearly defined, articles are long enough to cover the basics, but not so lengthy to be intimidating. There’s nothing to help with troubleshooting or more general topics, and you don’t get a search tool, but there’s enough detail to help you understand the Beget interface basics.

If the manual isn’t enough, 24/7 support is available via email or ticket. It took just under four hours to get a response to our test question, but that’s not bad for budget hosting, and the reply was friendly, detailed and clear.

To complete the review we ran our usual performance tests, and found that Beget’s budget servers were a little slower than most, especially over long distances. This wasn’t a significant issue with connections from the US or Europe, though, and if you’re running a simple blog or ordinary static website, speed isn’t likely to be a big issue.

Final verdict

Beget provides a very cheap way to build multiple small sites in a single account, but beware the CPU usage limits – the budget plans don’t have the power to handle busy websites.



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