When you hear the name BigScoots, you might expect the company to sell scooters rather than web hosting services. Don’t let the name fool you. BigScoots (or Big Scoots) was founded back in 2010 in Chicago and has been providing fast and reliable web hosting ever since.
Packages & Pricing
BigScoots offers your typical shared hosting packages with CPanel, appropriately named in variations of scooter engine sizes, such as “50cc” for low-end hosting up to “155cc” and “Turbo Diesel” on the high-end service tiers. Shared hosting plans run on solid state drives (SSD). If you need more storage, you can choose one of the SSD-Accelerated plans, which offers roughly double the storage space for the same price. However, data is stored on hard drives and the SSD is used for caching.
The pricing structure is very clear. They advertise the monthly, annual, and bi-annual pricing on the same page in the same font size. There was no need to read the fine print to figure what the cost of the service would be if I wanted to pay monthly rather than annually. Other web hosts will advertise a low monthly price but require a year’s worth of payments up front during the signup process (which you don’t realize immediately).
For the 155cc plan, the pricing is $10.95/month, $9.95/month if you pay for a year up-front, and $8.95/month if you pay for two years upfront. You get 10GB of SSD storage, 200GB of bandwidth, and the ability to host unlimited domains. The SSD Accelerated option gives you 20GB of storage for the same price.
If you aren’t ready to commit to anything, BigScoots offers a 45-day money back guarantee.
Dashboard & CPanel
The BigScoots dashboard provides you with the latest news as soon as you log in. Fortunately, the only information on the dashboard is from prior network maintenance.
While hosting companies advertise storage space and bandwidth, there are other crucial limitations you must be aware of. Some hosts will offer SSD storage but throttle disk speed to a small fraction of its total ability, which will make importing and exporting sites a huge pain. In fact, one well-reviewed hosting company told me that throttling disk speed to 1MB/s was normal! I wound up closing my account after waiting 15 minutes for a WordPress site to finish unzipping, something that only would have taken under a minute with BigScoots. The limitations imposed by BigScoots are very generous.
On the 155cc tier, you are allowed 20 “Entry Processes” (concurrent PHP scripts), 1GB of RAM, 20MB/s of disk I/O, and 100 concurrent processes.
The BigScoots CPanel Provides Softaculous, which makes installing web applications a breeze. I routinely get email updates when a new version of WordPress is available for any of my installed sites. I can also update my WordPress installations directly from Softaculous instead of logging into each installation individually.
BigScoots also lets you change your PHP version on-the-fly, with versions 5.2-5.6 available along with the new PHP 7.0
The server load and additional details about the server your account is hosted on are available when you login into CPanel. For example, in the account I setup, I can see that my server (Cleveland) has 8 CPU cores with a load average around 1.92. Linux server load is based on the number of processor cores available. In this case, the maximum server load on a system with 8 cores would be 8.00. If it goes over 8.00, things will become very slow. Fortunately, that’s never happened.
Because our server memory usage is normal, we can safely ignore the scary red exclamation point in the first screenshot below.
SSH access is not available by default, but you can easily contact support to activate it. Sometimes nothing beats the command line.
BigScoots Hosting has been known by its customers for reliability. That said, there have recently been hiccups in their reliability due to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against their network. Unless you’re an exceedingly large company that can afford lots of bandwidth, DDoS attacks are difficult to prevent. Even the largest of corporations have suffered from these types of attacks.
What matters most during these events is how the company responds. I was unaware my (low traffic) sites were being affected by a DDoS until I received an email from BigScoots informing me that 1) They were being affected by a DDoS attack and 2) They were actively working around the clock to stop it. And within a day or so, they got it under control. They routinely published updates to their blog as well, which can be viewed here:
Aside from this well-handled attack, BigScoots reliability has been both positive and public. You can view the uptime for all of their servers (and services within) on their website:
You’ll notice two things about their netstat page. First, their servers are named after Family Guy characters. Second (and possibly more importantly), they only offer service in Chicago. If you need true geographic redundancy, you won’t be able to use BigScoots in multiple regions like some other hosts offer.
BigScoots network speeds were excellent. I downloaded the BigScoots 1GB test file using two different VPS providers in the New York City area. Keep in mind these speed tests are between New York City and Chicago, not between two data centers in New York City alone.
Average speed of 1GB download from BigScoots to two Virtual Private Servers
I also have a modest site (with some graphics) on this server. I tested the load time using Pingdom Website Test tool, which showed good page response times
The nice thing about a data center in Chicago is its relative central location in the United States, which allows for good latency from both the west coast and the east coast. I used looking glass portals by Level3 and Hurricane Electric to test the latency to my BigScoots server in Chicago. For each location, I ran 10 pings. As expected, latency from Asia was particularly high. It should go without saying that your content should be hosted in the geographic region of the majority of your visitors. If you have an increasing amount of North American visitors to your site, using BigScoots to host a copy for those users would be a good option.
BigScoots offers 24×7 customer service and free site migration. Fortunately, I have only had to use customer service twice, and neither were because of a show-stopping issue. In both cases, customer service responded within 15 minutes with helpful information. Since BigScoots is still a small operation, you will almost always be speaking with someone that knows the ins and outs of the system.
You can easily see your open support tickets on your dashboard when you log in. You don’t have to dig around on the website to open a ticket or see its status. You will also receive an email each time a ticket is updated. Their phone number is prominently displayed at the top of every page. You can’t miss it!
Baked into the BigScoots CPanel, some nice features stand out. If you are concerned about your site’s ability to handle traffic spikes, you can use Cloudflare right within CPanel. If you are not running a busy site, such as website for a small business or personal blog, Cloudflare adds an additional layer of complexity. Only you can decide if it’s worth it to setup.
The nice thing about the Cloudflare integration was how I remained within CPanel. I did not have to go to Cloudfare’s website directly. All of my CPanel add-on domains were automatically added into Cloudflare once I created my account. This doesn’t activate Cloudflare, but it made it easy to get started. Keep in mind there are DNS considerations to take into account when utilizing Cloudflare.
You can register and signup for CloudFlare directly from CPanel
Your website should still remain fast under normal conditions (even without Cloudflare), as BigScoots optimizes their servers for content management systems. The technical details on how they optimize their servers are sparse, but taking into account their reliability and performance, what they are doing works.
A critical part of web hosting is ensuring your data is backed up. The BigScoots CPanel makes it extremely easy to backup and restore your data. You can generate a zip file containing all of your data within a minute (the download itself will take longer).
In the “Restore Manager” section of CPanel, you can restore your data from previous snapshots taken by BigScoots. That said, this was written in early July and the last backup I could restore from was early May. Another backup was listed in the “Backups” section of CPanel from just 12 hours before this was written. While BigScoots appears to make regular backups, you should always have another copy of your data somewhere else – such as on your own computer or hosted on a reliable cloud service.
You can export your data in 3 steps
Oddly, the latest restore date is two months old.
However, through the “Backup” section, I can restore from an automatic backup made last night.
The only questionable experience I had with CPanel was the Attracta SEO service. I had no intention of using it but simply clicked on it out of curiosity. I was redirected to the SEO company’s website. I simply closed out the page once it opened as it appeared to be a dashboard. However, I wound up on their mailing list without entering my email. It was easy to unsubscribe, but I was disappointed that I was automatically signed up by just clicking on the link.
If you are looking for reliable shared hosting in North America, BigScoots is a solid choice. Their central location in Chicago ensures excellent network latency and bandwidth. Their customer service responds quickly and helpfully, and their resource limits are very generous for the price offered.
BigScoots provides both fast and reliable shared hosting services at a competitive price. You can pay monthly, annually, or biennially, and all shared hosting comes with a 45-day money back guarantee. Use our discount code: SUN50 to receive 50% off your first month when buying any shared SSD or Wordpress Optimized hosting packages.
- Quick and helpful customer service
- Generous resource limits
- Communicative and Transparent
- Limited to one geographic location (Chicago)
- Not quite suitable for large sized corporation web enterprises