TL;DR: We moved the CodeinWP blog over to Kinsta WordPress hosting a couple of years ago. In this post, we’d like to give you our honest assessment of Kinsta‘s platform, being the result of our 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.
⚠️ Note; We’ve migrated to a different host since this review was first published.
We’ve had our fair share of WordPress 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.
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?
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
- 10 GB of SSD storage
- Upto 25,000 unique visits/month
- 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
- SSH, WP-CLI, Git support
- Automatic database optimization per week to boost the performance.
- Self-healing PHP technology
- 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:
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.
There are also sections for Billing, Settings, Activity Log, and User Guide.
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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.
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:
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.
Summary. Kinsta offers fast, reliable managed WordPress hosting based on the Google Cloud Platform. Users seem to love it and it is probably among the fastest-growing WordPress companies in the past two years.
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:
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.
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:
|Price (monthly)||$29.17, $58.33 , $95.83, $187.50, $283.33, $375, $562.50, $833.33, $1125, $1375 / month.||$199, $299 , $499, $999, $1249, $2249 / month.||$20, $115 , $290 / month.||$13, $115 , $290 / month.|
|Suitable for *||~ 25,000 visits monthly||not disclosed||~ 25,000 visits monthly||~ 25,000 visits monthly|
|Disk space *||10GB||30GB||10GB||10GB|
|# websites allowed *||1||10||1||1|
|Support *||24/7 chat and ticket support||24/7 ticket support||24/7 chat and ticket support||24/7 online support, limited phone support|
* 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 $29.17 a month, and the progression later on is pretty steep as well.
Also, the thing worth noticing in these pricing tables is the allowed free bandwidth. We’re on the Business 2 plan, so we get up to 250,000 monthly visits. Speaking from experience, this is not that much for the price, and for a site that gets significant traffic, it might get drained very quickly. And since this plan allows you to have up to 10 sites, the bandwidth problem becomes even more serious.
Luckily, you do get some CDN integration with your plan, which will help, since you get most of the static traffic through the CDN and hence not consume your valuable Kinsta bandwidth. For us, the CodeinWP blog alone consumes 241GB of CDN data a month.
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 $1/1,000 visits. (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 100,000 or 200,000 UVs actually is.
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. See what motivates other users to pick a host in this infographic.
We’re curious to know what you think of Kinsta and their WordPress hosting packages. Have you tested their platform yet?
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