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As a company, Laughing Squid stands out for more than just its name. The company is also one of the oldest independently owned and operated web hosts in the country. Unlike many other web hosting providers, Laughing Squid supports open source software.
But Laughing Squid has not worked entirely alone for the entire time. Since 1999, they’ve hosted their cloud services via Rackspace. In some ways, signing up for Laughing Squid is also signing up for Rackspace and other third-party web host providers. They are also a blog, publishing posts on topics that include arts and culture as well as technology.
Laughing Squid's History
Laughing Squid also didn’t start out as a web hosting provider. Rather, it began as a video production company. When they started out as a hosting provider in 1998, Laughing Squid catered to artists to help them promote their work.
The company started local, creating an events mailing list for the Bay Area. They also provided publicity and design for local artists. Now, the hosting services that Laughing Squid provides help to supplement the blog.
The company has recently launched a web store, to further offset the costs of running the blog and the hosting service. This store sells various items such as headphones, smart watches, and geeky-themed gift items. With their eggs in so many baskets, does Laughing Squid really provide fast and reliable web hosting?
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Laughing Squid is great if you’re looking for budget services that still pack a punch. You can host a site that you built offline for as low as $1.99/month with their intro pricing.
You can register a domain, you can create an online store, and you get access to their drag-and-drop builder, which will be the primary focus of our Laughing Squid hosting review.
Review of Laughing Squid: pros & cons
If there’s one thing Laughing Squid can boast about, it’s affordability. Their cheapest plan, dubbed “Simple Squid,” starts at only $4 a month. The most expensive, Mega Squid, is just double that, at $8 a month.
The Mega Squid plan offers more than double the features for the money. For instance, with a Simple Squid plan, you get no mailboxes and 1 GB of disk space. With the Mega Squid plan, you get 10 mailboxes and 3 GB of disk space.
Honest about the limits
They’re up front about the limitations, too. Exactly how much disk space and bandwidth you are allowed per plan is outlined in their page of listed plans. What’s more, each plan is month to month, so you don’t have to commit to an entire year of hosting.
If you do want to expand your disk space and bandwidth, you have options with LaughingSquid hosting. You can purchase add on packages that are available in $4 increments. So for every $4 you add to your account, you get another 1GB of disk space, 10GB of bandwidth, and 250 additional compute cycles. There are also options to add on email and MySQL databases for $1 each.
Helpful for beginners
Laughing Squid appears to lend an eager helping hand for the neophyte web developer. They have an extensive FAQ page that covers the control panel configuration, FTP, and email setup, among other topics.
They also have a few video tutorials that go more in-depth on billing, installing WordPress, and database creation. You can view their video on using FTP here:
Limited room to grow
If you want to grow your website to reach more than a few hundred or a few thousand customers, Laughing Squid may not be the web host for you. Even their Mega Squid plan only allows 50 GB of bandwidth. And the 3GB of allowable disk space is pretty small potatoes compared to some competitors.
Nor is Laughing Squid’s service a good value for your money. While you pay only $4 for the Simple Squid plan, you get a single gigabyte of disk space, and no mailboxes whatsoever. This is poor value compared to competitors with similar pricing. The add-on value doesn’t fare much better, either.
If you exceed your existing resources, you won’t have your website flagged or your account suspended. But you will be automatically charged an add-on package, whether you want it or not. So you may find that your bill suddenly shot up $4 in the next billing cycle.
Laughing Squid web hosting only offers the most basic features that you need to run a WordPress site. There’s no auto script installer for WordPress, for starters. So you have to install WordPress manually. A bit inconvenient, to say the least, considering how WordPress compatible the site is.
Nor is SSH or Ruby on Rails supported. Additionally, domain name registration, a basic service most web hosts provide, is not available through the Laughing Squid. You get no refund guarantee, either, even minutes after payment processing. So if you do sign up for Laughing Squid, you better be sure it’s the service you want.
Their uptime is not so great, either. Monthly uptime often averages out to be about 99.7%, which isn’t bad. But sometimes uptime can dip below the 99.9% mark – the industry standard – with downtimes as high as ten minutes at a time. For the services that they’re selling, the value looks less good by the minute.
Their server response time is far from the fastest out there. Over six months, response times averaged out to over 3000ms. Response times also varied greatly, at times falling below 500ms and shooting up to a whopping 15000 ms. Even for a shared hosting provider one expects better consistency.
There’s nothing wrong with a reseller platform. Plenty of decent web hosts resell hosting servers. Laughing Squid utilizes the Rackspace Cloud Sites cloud hosting platform for its hosting. This platform is perfectly functional, as many users would attest.
But for those who want an all in one provider, Laughing Squid may not be the right fit. Some would rather have as few third parties involved as possible in their web hosting. At least Laughing Squid is transparent about their business model.
Decline in Quality
As with many longtime hosting companies, Laughing Squid is not what it used to be. Some customers have noted a steep decline in the quality of hosting services. While Laughing Squid was featured on WordPress’s recommended hosts page, it no longer holds that honor. This was due to the large number of customer complaints about the service.
Poor customer support
One of the biggest sources of ire for customers is customer support. Here, too, the Laughing Squid falters. Unlike most other web hosts, customer support is not available 24/7. Whether you email or call, support is only reachable during typical working hours.
If you try and contact them on the weekends or Monday through Friday after 6 PM Pacific Time, you won’t hear from them until the next business day. Customer support is also unreachable during several major US holidays, including Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Labor Day.
Even if you do call during office hours, you might not get a callback until several hours or even days after you first contact them. This makes the process even less efficient than a ticketing system. What’s more, live chat support is not offered.
Our laughing squid review verdict
In all honesty, there are far better web hosting providers out there for a similar price. Among the alternatives, I’d suggest HostGator. Offering shared hosting plans at similar prices to Laughing Squid, HostGator allows your dollar to stretch a lot further as well as having greater speed, reliability, and even plans offering unlimited bandwidth.
If you find your website getting too big for a host like Laughing Squid, HostGator may be the better option for you.
Our Laughing Squid review final rating
Laughing Squid has put its tentacles in a lot of different baskets and now it looks like that attempt to diversify is weakening rather than strengthening their business.
The company still has a lot to offer for those small-time bloggers and website builders. Other Laughing Squid reviews indicate that as the competition has grown around them, the company can’t seem to keep up
If you want more bang for your buck, you’re likely better off looking at some of the other web hosting providers out there.