Why You Should Avoid 123-Reg At All Costs

Nowadays, if you aren't opting for a cloud-hosted CMS or website builder, there are a few key names that (should) spring to mind when it comes to website hosting.

Bluehost, Inmotion, and Godaddy for example are three capable companies. 123-Reg.co.uk? Not so much.

And yet, I've come across more than one web design client in my time who, to my frustration, relies on 123-Reg for their website hosting needs.

In my personal experience with the company, I have been left disappointed. And it's safe to say that I'm not alone.

Who are 123-Reg?

123-Reg is a web hosting company based in the United Kingdom. Founded in 2000, it's technically the largest domain provider in the UK. Which is some feat.

But sometimes the numbers can tell a misleading story, because on top of a relatively dated user dashboard, 123-Reg has a few issues.

Here's three reasons to steer clear.

Reason #1: The Horror Stories

Most website hosting companies have their fair share of disgruntled ex-customers ranting about their services, but 123-Reg's share is beyond what one might call fair.

Some of the stories online are enough to make you run for the hills. I can't testify that the following claims are true, but what I do know, is that they're common:

  1. How 123-Reg Nearly Crippled My Business
  2. [Stay] as far away from 123-Reg as possible!
  3. 123-Reg lost my domain
  4. 123-Reg stole my money

Now those are some grisly tales, to say the least.

Reason #2: Iffy Marketing Packages

If you've had a look through 123-Reg's website and decided that it's geared towards those who aren't so tech-savvy, you would be correct. And their marketing packages give it away big time.

They have something called, “Instant Traffic” which is supposed to bring your website traffic from Google, simply by 123-Reg submitting your site to the search engine. Anybody who knows anything about SEO knows this is utter garbage.

It's worth noting that, upon investigation, there doesn't seem to be a way to sign up to InstantTraffic anymore, but it is still present in customer's dashboards

Reason #3: Poor Customer Service

123-Reg boasts a notoriously poor customer service.

Firstly, they have a phone line for sales, but not for support. Live chat is available, but only during UK working hours.

That lack of 24/7 support is a huge issue, and one which I discuss in my article, “Why You Shouldn't Use Your Friend's Website Hosting Company“.

Imagine your website goes down at 9pm London-time. You'd have a 12-hour wait before you can actually chat to your website host. That's a long time to wait if your website is anywhere near successful.

Avoid, Or Jump Ship

Quite frankly, you can pay the same money (or even less in some cases) for a web host that doesn't have an awful reputation, doesn't promote bogus SEO schemes, and has a decent level of round-the-clock customer service.

Based on all of the above, I'd strongly recommend that you avoid 123-Reg for hosting your website. Try either one of Bluehost, Inmotion, or Godaddy instead, all of which have far better track records.

And if you're already using 123-Reg, I'd think about moving to one of those names above, even if its only for the 24-hour support – which is an industry-standard when it comes to web hosting.

Update by Mike J: On April 16th, 2016 a major issue occurred at 123-reg, the details of which are outlined in this email that was sent out to their customers:

Dear Customer.

I am writing to you to explain what happened to some VPS services on 16.04.16. This email is to detail what our steps have been. I am committed to open communication with all customers and would like to take this opportunity to explain in detail.

So what happened to some services? As part of a clean-up process on the 123-reg VPS platform, a script was run at 7am on 16.04.16. This script is run to show us the number of machines active against the master database. An error on the script showed ‘zero-records' response from the database for some live VPS. For those customers, this created a ‘failure' scenario – showing no VM's and effectively deleting what was on the host. As a result of our team's investigations, we can conclude that the issues faced having resulted in some data loss for some customers. Our teams have been and continue to work to restore. What have we done? We have been working with an extended team of experts and have left no stone unturned. Our teams have been working long into the night to restore as much as we possibly can. We have also invested in external consultants to recover, in the best way possible.

We have recovery running on the VPS servers and some are restoring to new disks. We have also begun copying recovered VPS images to new hosts and we expect some VPS to be back up and running throughout the night and into tomorrow.

Our teams have worked for more than 24 hours and will continue to do so. No stone is being left unturned.

As the technical teams come back with updates for individual VPS we will communicate updates to customers.

For those customers with their own backup of their settings and data, if you wish to restore services yourself you can do this by issuing a reimage command through your 123 Reg control panel, this will give you a freshly installed VPS on a new cluster, where you can restore your service.

I understand that some customers may have lost some confidence in the service that we offer. So, I want to explain what we have done to prevent this happening again. We have started an audit on all cron-jobs and scripts controlling the platform, and associated architecture, so that no script will have ability to delete images, only suspend. For image deletion for those suspended over 28 days we will have a human eye to double check. A new platform will be available by the end of the year for customers which we will provide self-managed and automated snapshot backups, in addition to architecture technology to backup the whole platform, something that is not available on the current platform. I hope this goes some way to win back your confidence.

Richard Winslow,
123 Reg Brand Director

Following this email, Twitter has gone absolutely nuts with furious customers who have not only lost their websites but, in some cases, their businesses as well. This type of experience is the nightmare of every business owner that relies on their website and our hearts go out to the poor people who have been affected by this horrible hosting nightmare.

I don't know about you, but I can't imagine how 123-Reg is going to win back anyone's confidence after this debacle. If I was a customer, I'd be insulted by the suggestion that they could. We will be staying on top of this story and updating this post with any developments. In the meantime, however, please let us know about your experiences in the comments below.