WordPress is now used by over 27% of all websites on the web. Because of this, many different WordPress focused hosting companies have emerged as they want to grab a piece of this ever-growing pie. Today in this Kinsta review we are going to take a deep dive into a relatively newer managed WordPress host that is taking a slightly different approach to the market!
We'll focus this Kinsta review of the how and why of using managed WordPress hosting and what benefits this can bring to your site. Because your natural question would be
Why should I even consider managed WordPress hosting? Why shouldn't I stick to my normal shared WordPress hosting?
Why You Should Consider Managed WordPress Hosting
When you hear the term "managed" WordPress hosting, this is slightly different than those $3/month shared hosting plans you see floating around the web.
With managed hosting all the technical aspects of running your WordPress site is handled the provider. It sometimes varies, but this typically includes WordPress security, malware and hack cleanups, backups, responsibility for your uptime, WordPress updates, scalability and a multitude of other things.
These aspects of your website are things many of us fail to consider, until something goes really really wrong. Like your WordPress site getting hacked.
Managed WordPress hosting is of course great for those with a less technical background as well as business that don't have time to manage it.
Our Kinsta review will show exactly what benefits managed WordPress hosting will bring to your website (and by extension) your business.
Get Premium Support From Actual WordPress Experts
There are usually two main reasons though people choose managed WordPress hosting, and the first is premium support.
We rarely think about the necessity of a good support team, right until the moment things go belly up.
Of course, Murphy's law will ensure that things will go wrong, just at that very moment where things really need to be right (like for example when you've just launched a huge marketing campaign, or the moment your content goes viral).
Most shared hosting companies will not provide a premium level of support, you'd have to go through multiple levels of support until you get to somebody who can really fix your website issues.
With managed hosting you can open a ticket, chat, or call your host 24x7 and get your questions answered by a team of WordPress experts immediately. They will go the extra mile to ensure your WordPress site is running smoothly.
Having an issue with a plugin slowing down your site or taking a backup of your site? They can help you with that. Site is suffering from performance issues, they'll be glad to help your identify and fix the problem.
Whatever the ailment of your website, with premium support, you know you've get a resolution at hand.
Fine-Tuned Environment Specifically for WordPress Platform
The second is that managed WordPress hosts have environments that are fine-tuned specifically to work with WordPress.
This means you will almost always see performance improvements as opposed to an unmanaged or shared host.
Shared hosts typically will pile as many people onto one server as they can to save money and then the server's performance will start to slow down, affecting everyone on it.
This is particularly evident at peak traffic times. In essence, at the moment where your site needs the best performance, is the point where it will be suffering the most.
It's been proven time and time again that a website which loads slowly will affect your business. If it loads after 3 seconds, your users will start to get itchy fingers on the back button on their browser. Also, each 1-second delay in loading decreases your conversion ratio by about 7%.
Managed hosts typically have more isolated systems which prevent overcrowding from causing performance issues. Other features such as server-level caching and disallowed plugin lists are also in the website owner's favor as these all add up to a much faster website.
Is Managed Hosting Worth the Price?
Of course, the one caveat to managed WordPress hosting is that it does cost more, and sometimes a lot more. Base plans for managed hosting range anywhere from $25 - $100+ a month.
But the question you should ask yourself is "how much is your website and or business worth to you?"
Hassling with subpar support, performance, and downtime issues in the long run could cost you more than the difference you pay for managed hosting.
If you are just starting out as a brand new blogger or are on a strict budget, then shared hosting might be the right route.
But if you are earning money with your site and or business, then you should treat managed hosting as an investment.
Kinsta was launched in 2013 by a WordPress developer, Mark Galvada, and a small team of WordPress experts.
It has since rapidly grown into one of the most popular choices for high-performance managed WordPress hosting among enterprises, startups, e-commerce sites, and high-traffic blogs.
Some of their clients include Ubisoft, Intuit, AdEspresso, Mint.com, ASOS, Swagway, and Polk State College.
They have achieved "top tier" status for three years in a row by ReviewSignal and were also named the most reliable hosting company in 2016 by codeinwp.com. That's of course one of the reasons we decided to investigate these claims and perform this full Kinsta review.
Kinsta Review Summary Box
Our overall rating: (4.9 out of 5) - Excellent - highly recommended
How You Can Save Money With Bandwidth Pricing Rather Than Traffic
Typically when you are shopping around for managed WordPress hosting you will see that they charge you by how much traffic you get. This is how they do it at WP Engine, Flywheel, Pressidium, etc. Kinsta actually charges by how much bandwidth you use, not by the number of visitors to your site.
In this part of the Kinsta review, we'll show you how this route can save you a lot of money as a customer!
Let's do a bit of a comparison.
You've built a site which gets a constant stream of traffic. Maybe you've built a course or membership site which keeps getting return visitors.
Say your WordPress site gets 405,000 visitors on average per month and uses 45GB of bandwidth. Below are the plans you would need and the costs.
- Kinsta (Business 1 Plan) - $100 a month
- Flywheel (Requires Custom Plan) - Going to be much more than $100 a month
- WP Engine (Business Plan) - $249 a month
- Pressidum (Business Plan) - $299.90 a month
So as you can see, the bandwidth pricing method can definitely work in your favor! If you are operating one large site with the above usage, Kinsta is 60% cheaper than WP Engine.
Of course, this will vary based upon your website's usage. But even large traffic sites normally don't use a large amount of bandwidth unless they are serving up downloads.
Combine your site with a CDN or proxy service like CloudFlare and you could save even more on bandwidth, meaning the Business 1 plan could hold you up to 2x the amount of visitors.
Google Cloud Platform - Cloud Computing at the Speed of Google
Another huge advantage that Kinsta has is that they were the first managed WordPress host to exclusively use Google Cloud Platform, which has one of the biggest and fastest networks in the world.
As part of our Kinsta review, we could see how customers can even choose which data center location (US, Europe, Asia) they want per individual WordPress site! Google Cloud Platform also has numerous other advantages when it comes to hosting:
- Multi-regional deployment mode allows for automated replication of data across regions.
- Live migrations of virtual machines ensure less downtime and better security patching.
- State of the art security backed by the team at Google.
- Rapid expansion into new locations for even lower latency.
- Google Compute Engine servers allow for automatic scalability for traffic spikes.
And as far as performance goes, Kinsta has stated that some customers saw decreases in load times of up to 50% after migrating to Google Cloud Platform (see example below of before and after).
Some might be thinking that they could just host on Google Cloud directly, but Kinsta also takes a unique approach to the implementation.
They use Linux containers (LXC), and LXD to orchestrate them, on top of Google Cloud Platform which enables them to completely isolate not just each account, but each separate WordPress site. This is better for WordPress security and performance.
Doing this on your own would be very complicated.
Laser-Focused Support When You Need it the Most
You can't have a Kinsta review without talking about an essential factor in choosing a web hosting company - support.
Another great advantage of using a managed WordPress host such as Kinsta is that they have a laser focused support team.
They don't care about other platforms such as Drupal, Joomla!, or Magento. Their support team does one thing, and does it well, and that is provide support for WordPress.
If you go look at managed DIY providers such as CloudWays, because of so many different technologies and architectures being used, they will never be as good as a team that only focuses on one thing.
The support team at Kinsta are all WordPress developers, contribute to WordPress Core and other open source projects, and live and breath WordPress 24x7.
Was your site hacked? They will fix it.
Plugin slowing down your site? They will fix it.
According to their website, their average support response time in Q1 2016 was 8 minutes! That's an amazingly fast response time!
Setting up Kinsta Account
Now that we've explored some advantages of Kinsta and differences between other managed WordPress hosts, in the next part of this Kinsta review, let's take a deep dive into setting up an account.
- The first thing you will need to do is go signup for an account.
- Click the confirmation email you get to confirm your account.
- Login to the dashboard and select a "plan."
Bulletproof Security for Your Web Hosting Account with Two-Factor Authentication
Kinsta offers two-factor authentication to add an additional layer of security on your hosting account.
It does this by requiring an additional security code to login. The last thing you want is someone hacking into your hosting account as they could delete websites, names DNS records, all sorts of horrible things.
Never use a provider that doesn't offer this very important security feature.
To enable this feature simply click into the "Settings" area of the My Kinsta dashboard and click on "Enable Two-Factor Authentication."
With account takeovers becoming more and more common, we think that this need as part of our Kinsta review, can be said to be fulfilled.
Get your WordPress Sites up and Running in Seconds
It wouldn't be a full Kinsta review if we didn't test a couple of WordPress sites.
To add a website, you can click into "Sites" in the My Kinsta dashboard and click on "Add Site." You can add as many sites as your plan allows for. You can then choose from the three Google Cloud Platform multi-regional deployment locations:
- US Central – Council Bluffs, Iowa (us-central1)
- Europe – St. Ghislain, Belgium (europe-west1)
- Asia-Pacific – Changhua County, Taiwan (asia-east1)
(To make your site load as fast as possible, always choose a location which is physically closest to the location you expect your visitors to be coming from).
You can do a fresh install of WordPress with a single click, as well as simple options for enabling multisite and WooCommerce. And we all know how complex multisite installations can be. So this is definitely a plus.
Then simply point your DNS over to them and you're good to go!
Get Help With Migrating Your WordPress Site
Migrating a site from one hosting server to another is one of the biggest showstoppers.
The hassle, potential downtime, risks and just the fact that there is so much to do makes even the thought of migrating quite a burden. Or perhaps you aren't the most technical person.
Don't worry about it, they will do it all for you. Kinsta offers you FULL assistance in migrating your WordPress site.
So don't hesitate switching hosts simply because you might not know how.
On their Business 1 Plan they offer one free migration and more depending on the plan you select. You can easily monitor the migration status from within the My Kinsta dashboard.
What better than a bunch of WordPress experts to actually perform the migration of your site? This is definitely something to taken into consideration when you're doing your own Kinsta review.
And of course, you can always follow our in-depth WordPress migration guide if you are impatient or want to do it yourself.
Taking Kinsta One Step Further
Below are some additional features and ways that Kinsta can help take your WordPress site to the next level.
How Premier DNS Resolution Brings Resilience to Your Site
Utilizing Included Premium Amazon Route 53 DNS
Remember on October 21st, 2016, it seemed like the entire internet went down. Some were even calling it DNS Doomsday. DDoS attacks are growing every year and so it is important to implement extra strategies to ensure better uptime.
Using a premium DNS provider will help keep your WordPress site online 24x7.
Kinsta includes Amazon Route 53 DNS for all of its customers free of charge.
Amazon has a very large infrastructure and a good long-standing reputation for handling large-scale DDoS attacks. It also offers great performance! That's right, there is both slow and fast DNS out there.
Free DNS from providers like GoDaddy and NameCheap is actually very slow - it creates a few hundred millisecond latency to your first-time visitors (the last thing you need when you're trying to make the best impression).
So not only can premium DNS ensure better uptime but it can also improve your DNS lookup times.
You can manage all of your Amazon DNS records easily from right within the My Kinsta dashboard. And of course, this is optional. Some might have their own 3rd party DNS services which they already use.
You can see with this Kinsta review, that Kinsta has already identified and provides a solution for all of the needs of a website with high demands.
SEO Boost + Security for Your Users with SSL Certificates to Encrypt Traffic
And you can't forget HTTPS! This is a pretty hot topic right now on the web as Google is pushing for HTTPS everywhere. There are a multitude of reasons why you should consider HTTPS for your WordPress site. Some of them include:
- Better security (all your data is encrypted, even login forms to your WordPress site).
- Google has said that HTTPS is a ranking factor.
- Better referral data in Google analytics.
- Builds trust and credibility with visitors by having that green padlock in your browser.
- With the new HTTP/2 protocol, it can sometimes even make your site faster than with HTTP
Kinsta offer Let's Encrypt integration. Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority that officially launched in April 2016. This of course means you can enjoy the benefits of HTTPS on your WordPress websites for free!
Moreover Let's Encrypt integration with the service means there's no need to get your server verified and approved by a Certificate Authority, then have to retrieve the keys, install them on your server and then make sure everything is up and running ok. If you've done this before, you'll know the procedure is quite error-prone. An expired SSL certificate is also quite annoying and huge UX problem.
The direct integration of Kinsta with Let's Encrypt means you don't have to worry about any of that. The process is easy, just click an button and you're good to go - it's fully automated.
All Your Team Members Working Together with Additional User Account Access
If you are a business or agency, working with multiple team members and developers is very common.
As our Kinsta review can show, Kinsta allows you to easily add new "Companies" and then assign additional user accounts per company. This allows you to separate out clients and workflows.
Note: currently there isn't a way to do more restrictive permissions yet, but they are currently working on adding that. Simply click into the settings on your site and click on "Grant New Access."
You can even enable two-factor authentication on an individual basis for each user. Which we definitely recommend doing!
You'll also know what changes have been made with "Activity log"
And when working with multiple people, an activity log also comes in very handy.
Kinsta allows you to see every change that has happened on your account. Changes such as adding new sites, clearing the cache, adding domains, etc. are all logged away for easy access and viewing at any time.
No longer will you have the problem of forgetting who changed what setting. The Activity log will guide you, to all of the changes which have been done, when, and by whom.
Fast Execution Engines (for sites running at the speed of Google!) PHP vs HHVM
With CollectiveRay being serious fans of speeding up WordPress, we can't complete our Kinsta review without speaking about the extreme performance options available with Kinsta managed WordPress hosting.
Because Kinsta focuses on high-performance, they offer both the latest version of PHP 7 and HHVM. For most, PHP 7 has proven to be incredibly fast for hosting WordPress. But once your site starts growing, HHVM can really show even greater performance improvements! HHVM is basically a virtual machine that executes PHP even faster.
Check out these PHP vs HHVM benchmarks.
Not a lot of managed WordPress hosts out there offer both PHP 7 and HHVM. So this is definitely another advantage for you if you host with Kinsta. You can easily change between PHP 5.6, PHP 7, and HHVM with a click of a button in the My Kinsta dashboard.
Test Plugins, Updates, and Fixes Without Breaking your Live Site: The Kinsta Staging Environment
When it comes to working with WordPress it seems like there is always something to update. That notification at the top never seems to go away!
Whether it be your WordPress installation or a plugin, it is important to update on a regular basis as many of them contain security enhancements and bug fixes.
The one issue that many business owners have is that they are unsure what might break when they do an update, and in the end ignore updates altogether. This is a huge WordPress security risk and could end in a disaster.
What is the solution? The solution is to test things before updating so that you can ensure nothing breaks.
Kinsta has a staging environment in which you can clone your current website with one-click. You can then run all the destructive tests you want and simply delete it when you are finished. Or you can test something and then one-click migrate the changes back to the live site.
You can create a staging site by simply clicking into Info on your site and click on "Create Staging." And the beauty is that each staging site has its own database, connection information, DNS, backups, and URLs. This way everything is separate from your live site and not confusing.
Have a Fail-safe Solution with a Full Website Backup Infrastructure
You have probably heard this many many times when working with your WordPress site... and that is that you need to have WordPress backups!
We can't stress just how important this really is. In fact, this is one of the most important aspects you should consider when choosing a managed WordPress hosting provider.
If they don't have backups run away!
Kinsta has automated backups which allow you to do a one-click restore if something goes wrong.
Perhaps you were lazy and didn't test with that awesome staging environment we just mentioned above. Well, not to fear, if you just broke your site and are seeing that infamous "white screen of death", you can always revert to a previous backup.
In the My Kinsta dashboard simply click into "Backups" and click on the backup you want to restore.
You can also create backups from within the dashboard as well, at any point in time.
More Granular Caching Control + Multiple levels of caching
Clearing Server-Level Cache on Your WordPress Site
It's the thing nobody loves messing around with but knows they must in order to speed up WordPress. PHP by default is not always the fastest performer. Static sites of course are always going to be faster.
Caching gets you as close as possible in resemblance to a static site.
With managed WordPress hosts like Kinsta, they provide server-level caching.
This means they don't actually allow caching plugins to be installed at all. In many scenarios, server-level caching is much faster than any plugin and just think of all the time you can save from not having to fiddle with WP Rocket or WP Super Cache, trying to find that perfect setting.
You can easily clear the server-level full page cache on your WordPress site from within the My Kinsta dashboard. Simply click into Tools on your site and click on "Delete Full Page Cache." By default, the cache expires every hour.
They also have a custom built WordPress plugin which allows for automatic purging of cache when new posts are created, etc.
Developer Friendly to Get More Work Done
Perhaps you are a more advanced WordPress user or developer.
Thankfully Kinsta offers a lot of features which speeds up development while still ensuring security. This includes features such as SSH access, Composer, HeidiSQL, Sequel Pro, and Git. Normally shared hosts won’t give you SSH access, meaning you can’t use any of the above features.
WordPress Speed Tests
At CollectiveRay, we like to put our money where our mouth is, so as part of this Kinsta review, we're going to show you the performance results of managed WordPress hosting powered by Kinsta.
We ran a few speed tests so that you can see what type of results to expect when hosting with Kinsta.
Remember, Google loves speed!
We first installed a fresh copy of WordPress with their one-click install. It is running on PHP 7 and is using the default Twenty Sixteen theme. We ran 5 speed tests on Pingdom and took the average one. A fresh install clocked in at under 300 ms!
We then enabled HHVM, instead of PHP 7, and ran another 5 speed tests.
Normally you won't see much improvement on small sites with HHVM, as the real power comes when they grow larger. However, we were able to consistently beat PHP 7 just slightly on every test.
We then installed the popular Total WordPress theme from the team over at WPExplorer.
If you aren't familiar with it, it is comparable in size and features as Avada, Divi or the X theme. We imported the entire XML dummy data for "Base Lite", and installed the following recommend plugins from the developer:
- Contact Form 7
- Slider Revolution
- WPBakery Visual Composer
We then ran 5 speeds tests on Pingdom again and took the average. As you can see we are still under 1 second load times with the full dummy data imported. And that is without any image optimization, premium DNS running, or a CDN.
You could easily get it down to the 600-700ms range with a little work.
That is an amazing load time - even at DART Creations, where we make it our mission to make websites fast, this is a truly impressive result.
And here is an example of a WordPress site running on Kinsta that is fully optimized, uses a CDN and premium DNS, and scores 100/100 on Pingdom.
Wow - just wow. The results above speak for themselves. You've got a Grade A performance, a load time of less than 500ms which is faster than 98% of websites tested.
If you're a speed fanatic, you can't really get any better than this!
What do other people say about Kinsta?
the fastest of the bunch
I was impressed with the hosting product Kinsta has put together.
Here's also some of the comments from people who are actual customers of Kinsta.
Kinsta Review Conclusion
Hopefully this Kinsta review has been helpful! If you are looking for a managed WordPress host that offers great high-end performance, knowledgeable support, and an overall abundance of features, then you simply can't really go wrong with these guys. Combining the power of Google Cloud Platform with PHP 7/HHVM brings together a perfect WordPress hosting solution for enterprises, businesses, and e-commerce sites.