Our Honest Assessment of Kinsta WordPress Hosting After 4 Months

TL;DR: We moved the CodeinWP blog over to Kinsta WordPress hosting a couple of months ago. In this post, we’d like to give you our honest assessment of Kinsta‘s platform, being the result of our four-month, first-hand experience with it. In other words, we try to answer the question of whether Kinsta WordPress hosting really is as awesome as everybody says.

We’ve had our fair share of hosting experiments here at CodeinWP. Back when we started in early 2013, like most blogs, we didn’t pay much attention to the hosting setup that we were on. Since the traffic was low anyway, we didn’t see the value in investing much in hosting.

But our needs have grown over the years, and with 10,000+ people visiting the blog every day on the average, it has become clear that we should really rethink how the site is hosted, how it can be optimized, and what we can do to give our users a consistent experience no matter the load.

Kinsta WordPress hosting

Fast forward a bit, our previous host immediately before Kinsta WordPress hosting was WiredTree. And I honestly can’t say anything bad about the company, nor was there anything wrong with the hosting platform itself.

It’s just that over time, and with more sites joining our portfolio, we’ve found Kinsta’s offering to be more tempting.

A handful of factors contributed to that. For instance, with no server-side caching, the site started running really slow at some point, and the TTFB (time to first byte) was rather not stunning. So we needed a change.

 
We also considered Pagely when thinking about the move. However, eventually, we decided to go with Kinsta because they allowed us to set up a reverse-proxy for the blog for free. Pagely put a $200/month price tag on that.

Overall, we’ve just gotten convinced by Kinsta’s great reputation and their focus on the “managed WordPress hosting + ease of use” combo. Additionally, the user input we were getting from our last WordPress hosting survey also pointed out Kinsta WordPress hosting as one of the top-quality solutions.

But let’s start at the beginning:

What’s Kinsta WordPress hosting anyway?

So what is Kinsta and their Kinsta WordPress hosting package anyway? Also, what makes them different from every other web hosting plan for WordPress out there?

 

Kinsta WordPress hosting

 
For me, the one sentence summary of Kinsta’s offering would be: The power of Google Cloud Platform hosting made accessible and easy to grasp for anyone.

And sorry if that sounds a bit promotional on my part, but that’s honestly how I feel. Just to give you one quick example of what I mean (before we get into it more deeply later on), Kinsta doesn’t seem to believe in the traditional cPanel admin for managing your hosting account. Instead, they give you their own custom solution, which is much easier to use, and gets you straight to the most important details/metrics.

But let’s start at the beginning. Under the hood, Kinsta WordPress hosting is:

  • A fully managed WordPress hosting platform. And I know that “managed” is a label that many hosts like to use, but with Kinsta, their focus on handling everything management-related for you is very apparent. For example, the aforementioned admin panel doesn’t even have any purely management-like options in it.
  • It runs on Google Cloud Platform.
  • It offers Business, Enterprise, and Custom hosting solutions based on your needs.
  • The most basic plan gives you:
    • The ability to run one WordPress site
    • 5 GB of SSD storage
    • 50 GB server bandwidth + unlimited pageviews & visitors
    • 1 free site migration
    • 1440 daily uptime checks per site
    • The ability to hook up a CDN of your choice
    • Let’s Encrypt support
    • HTTP/2 support, PHP 7, HHVM
    • SSH, WP-CLI, Git support
    • Multisite support
    • Premium DNS management
    • (learn more about Kinsta’s core features here)
  • You get to choose your data center location
  • Staging areas available
  • Extensive knowledge base available

For us, the features of Kinsta that stood up the most were these four:

 
Their SSL support through Let’s Encrypt. Basically, from your Kinsta WordPress hosting admin panel, you can easily install an SSL certificate on your site, and it’s all free (part of your current plan). Plus, since it’s Let’s Encrypt we’re talking about, this also means that you don’t need to go through the whole old-school (and time-consuming) process of obtaining your certificate keys, etc.
You can use a CDN of your choice. It’s often with hosting firms that they have some restrictions as to which other solutions you’re allowed to use with their servers (for example, WP Engine even has a list of banned WordPress plugins), so it’s nice to see that Kinsta is willing to work with your current CDN.
Optimized and thought-through backups. Daily backups are somewhat of a standard feature these days among hosting firms, but Kinsta still manages to stand out with their specific implementation of that. Backups are created instantly and with no server overhead. Plus, instead of those being backups of your website elements separately (e.g. database, files, settings, etc.), it’s actually a backup of your whole isolated system. Because of that, the backups can be then restored with a single click.
Free migration. This one is obvious. When switching hosts, you really don’t want to pay for the migration, nor have to do it by yourself. In our case, I can only confirm that Kinsta’s migration works without any hiccups.
 

What does the Kinsta dashboard look like

I’ve mentioned the nature of the dashboard briefly above, but now let’s take a glance at what it actually looks like from a user’s point of view:

 
kinsta dashboard
kinsta dashboard
kinsta dashboard
kinsta dashboard
 
As you can see, it’s very different from what solutions like cPanel got us used to. To say it simply, Kinsta’s panel focuses more on your daily/regular tasks as related to your hosting platform, rather than on server administration per se.

Through the panel, you can easily access:

  • Your sites – it’s also where you can tune the initial setup, create new FTP accounts, see your past backups, add HTTPS, etc.
  • Site migrations – a nice overview of all site migrations done on your account + the ability to perform more.
  • DNS settings.
  • Analytics – this section I really like. It’s a nice addition on top of what you get from a third-party analytics script.

kinsta stats

There are also sections for Billing, Settings, Activity Log, and User Guide.

Our initial impression of Kinsta WordPress hosting

Overall, the impression has been positive, but there were some minor issues along the way.

First of all, the setup and the migration itself were done with no trouble. One day the site was on Pagely, the other it was on Kinsta.

(Personally, I wasn’t involved in the migration process at all, and the only reason I noticed something had changed was because I was, unfortunately, editing a post right during the time of the migration. So I did my work, saved everything, refreshed the page … and the changes were gone. As it turned out, I worked on those changes on the old version, and then saw Kinsta’s when I refreshed the whole thing.)

Right after the move, we saw a nice drop in response times, from around 400 ms to circa 50 ms.

kinsta response time

The performance was strong, to say the least, with noticeable improvements even when accessing the site manually without any measuring tools.

But not to make the story too perfect, we also experienced some unexpected downtime. In total, that downtime added up to 1:30h over the span of just one month.

Some of our UptimeRobot stats:

 
uptime 1
uptime 2
 
No matter how you look at it, 1:30h is a lot. If we do some math, that 1:30h translates into 99.79% of overall uptime, which is not a result you’d be satisfied with immediately after moving to a new host.

In the end, the issue has been resolved, and we haven’t seen any significant downtimes since that first month (September 2016). Overall, we’ve been happy with Kinsta’s performance ever since.

Around a month after the move, we also decided to switch the site to SSL. The process itself was handled smoothly, but this did in the end bump our response times back to slightly below the 100 ms mark (you can see this in one of the screenshots above).

This is somewhat expected, though. SSL is always more resource intensive, as the software/browser on the other end has to decode the answer each time before displaying it.

Performance of Kinsta WordPress hosting

Performance is perhaps the second most important characteristic of a good WordPress host – the first one being reliability.

And site speed in itself has gotten a lot of press in the recent years. Some believe that it’s crucial for SEO, while others aren’t as convinced. However, everyone is absolutely convinced that a quick-loading site is essential for user experience, and that cannot be challenged.

So naturally, we expected Kinsta to give us top performance!

And right off the bat, I have to admit that we messed this part up a bit. I mean, the blog isn’t a particularly optimized one when it comes to the source code it uses and the various hand-made tweaks that have been done to it over the years.

Nevertheless, even with a handful of F’s awarded to us by Pingdom, Kinsta WordPress hosting still somehow manages to load everything in 2 seconds. Plus, something I showed you earlier – our TTFB – has been cut by 50% (and that including the increase we experienced when switching to SSL).

What hosting survey data says about Kinsta

A while ago, we ran what turned out to be the biggest WordPress hosting survey out there. The results have been really insightful, and we’ve used them as a data foundation for a couple of articles since.

Granted, Kinsta only got a handful of responses in that survey, but they were all really positive. In fact, they were so positive that we even looked into where those entries were coming from, and if there was perhaps anything fishy going on behind the curtain. There wasn’t.

Here are Kinsta’s ratings according to the respondents in our survey:

 

(Charts by Visualizer Lite.)

 

How easy it is to get started with Kinsta

Once you sign up, you have two options: you can either start a new site or migrate an existing one.

Starting a new one is extremely simple. You just go to your user panel > Sites > and click on “Add Site.” At this stage, you need to provide some basic info:

Kinsta install new WordPress site

Migrating an existing site is nearly just as simple, but it does involve giving Kinsta more details about your current installation. But that’s actually a good thing; it only means that Kinsta wants to learn all the ins and outs of your site before migrating it onto their servers, hence minimizing any failure probability.

Kinsta migrate

Once you fill out that form, Kinsta picks up and takes care of the whole process for you.

What makes Kinsta different from the competition

In my opinion, it comes down to the following:

  • Kinsta gives you the power of a large hosting platform – Google Cloud Platform – yet does so in a very easy-to-use way, so that you don’t even have to be aware of everything that’s going on under the hood.
  • Kinsta WordPress hosting is performance-optimized and ready for any traffic spikes you might throw at it.
  • It offers great security, while at the same time keeping everything backed up.
  • Last but not least, they also seem to have a no-nonsense approach when it comes to their server parameters, promised performance and bandwidth metrics.

One of the few weak points that we’ve noticed with Kinsta is their rather basic staging environment. In short, the only option is to migrate everything to live. You can’t, for instance, move just the files or the database. This isn’t that usable if you’re working on an existing site and just want to change a thing or two about it. For new sites, though, I guess it’s cool.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of some of the popular managed hosting solutions, just to give you a better overview of Kinsta’s place at the table:

 
How Kinsta WordPress hosting compares to the competition
KinstaPagelyWP EngineSynthesisFlywheel
kinsta wordpress hosting logoPagelyWP EngineSynthesisFlywheel
Price (monthly)
  • $100,
  • $200,
  • $300,
  • $400,
  • $600,
  • $900,
  • $1200,
  • $1500.
  • $99,
  • $499,
  • $999,
  • $1249,
  • $1999,
  • $2249.
  • $29,
  • $99,
  • $249.
  • $47,
  • $97,
  • $147,
  • $300.
  • $15,
  • $30,
  • $75,
  • $100,
  • $250.
Suitable for *not disclosednot disclosed~ 25,000 visits monthly~ 10,000 visits daily~ 5,000 visits monthly
Disk space *5GB20GB10GB20GB5GB
# websites allowed *15111
Support *24/7 chat and ticket support24/7 ticket support24/7 chat and ticket support24/7 help desk support24/7 online support, phone support 9am-7pm CDT
VISIT:
* on the cheapest plan

 

How much it costs in practice

You might have noticed the pricing column in the table above…

Yes, Kinsta WordPress hosting is a bit more costly compared to other hosting providers.

The cheapest plan will set you back at least $100 a month, and the progression later on is pretty steep as well.

 

kinsta pricing

 
Also, the thing worth noticing in these pricing tables is the allowed free bandwidth. We’re on the Business 2 plan, so we get 100GB. Speaking from experience, this is really not a lot, and for a site that gets significant traffic, it might get drained very quickly. And since this plan allows you to have up to 5 sites, the bandwidth problem becomes even more serious.

Anyway, what this basically means is that you are forced to hook everything up to a CDN, which will also contribute to your overall costs. That way, you get most of the static traffic through the CDN and hence not consume your valuable Kinsta bandwidth.

Either way, what you save with Kinsta, you then have to pay to your CDN. For us, the CodeinWP blog alone consumes 241GB of CDN data a month. (We’re on MaxCDN, by the way.)

When it comes to what’s often the quiet killer of hosting bills – overage charges – those are not that brutal with Kinsta. If you go over your allowed bandwidth, you don’t get cut off or anything, but just get charged $1/GB. (Our previous hosting setup was a VPS with 4TB of bandwidth, so we didn’t really have to worry about going over that.)

In the end, if your site is small enough, you should do okay with just the free bandwidth in your Kinsta account, but if it’s an established site, you will very quickly find out how little 100GB actually is.

Alternatively, you can try using some of the free CDN solutions out there… There’s always a way to reduce your bills.

Should you choose Kinsta?

Obviously, Kinsta WordPress hosting is not for everyone.

In all honesty, it’s probably not the best option for sites that are just starting out or sites that have a low traffic volume.

There are specific scenarios, however, where you will be able to benefit from Kinsta’s offering greatly.

 Use Kinsta WordPress hosting if: 

 
If you run a site that’s on the rise and has a nice steady (or rapid) growth month after month.
If you run an established website with consistent, big traffic, and you simply don’t like surprises regarding outages, fails, and other fun things.
If you run a direct online business, like an e-commerce store, where good site performance is of the essence … since it translates into dollars pretty directly.
If your site tends to experience sudden spikes in traffic – be it a result of a viral promotion or anything else – and if being able to handle those spikes is essential to your business (for example, if it leads to sales).
 
If any of the above sound like something you’d need, feel free to give Kinsta a try. If the price is a no-go for you, consider looking through our other WordPress hosting comparison – the one focused on slightly more budget-friendly solutions.
We’re curious to know what you think of Kinsta and their WordPress hosting packages. Have you tested their platform yet?

* This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and then purchase the product, we’ll receive a small fee. No worries though, you’ll still pay the standard amount so there’s no cost on your part.

 

Karol K

Creates content, manages CodeinWP's team of writers and makes sure that every piece of content you see on this blog looks great! / Author of "WordPress Complete" / Professional yerba mate drinker / @carlosinho
  • Gary | Pathmark Digital

    Great article, thanks. Had not even heard of Kinsta. I am always searching for faster servers for our WP sites and the load speeds are attractive but the downtime and cost is not. Our highest volume sites are Magento but those clients would have my head if I had anywhere near that downtime. I wonder how Kinsta and the Google cloud would compare to Amazon’s web hosting.

    • It’s not the Google cloud vs. Amazon for uptime it is the configuration 99% of the time I use mgt-commerce

  • Terrific article, thanks for sharing. I’m curious to know how much of a difference in page load speed you noticed with and without CDN. Is that something you measured?

    • I know kinsta recommends KeyCDN if you need to speed things up all over the world. it is a deal and a very good CDN if you’re going to be outside of your data center you can load balance with incapula truly magnificent when it comes to load-balancing and speed. If you want a very good price on a fast WAF StackPath ( is Maxcdn enterprise they purchased Mac CDN and two other CDN’s they are fast)

  • Kinsta is fantastic hosting company I use them along with Pagely VPS-1 HA ( more money but amazing) as well as Pantheon ( similar in cost and performance with the best development backend of any company.) I recommend Kinsta to so many people and they all love it. Google and AWS are too big to compare side to side. If you tweak something enough you will get a good load time and performance on any of the back ends. Uptime is good on all who listed