Kinsta Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives

This post originally appeared at Kinsta Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives via ShivarWeb

Kinsta Hosting Review

Kinsta Hosting is a rapidly growing, independent hosting company founded in 2013. Kinsta is focused exclusively on managed WordPress hosting with reliable customer support and Google Cloud-driven performance.

See Kinsta’s Current Plans & Pricing

What is Kinsta Hosting?

Kinsta is a non-traditional hosting company only offers one service – managed hosting for WordPress on cloud servers. They don’t offer email, reseller, or any other type of hosting. They do integrate some 3rd-party tools like DNS (from Amazon) and SSL (from LetsEncrypt) and CDN (configured on their Google Cloud network). Here’s their pricing chart.

Kinsta was founded in 2013 to meet the increased demand for managed WordPress hosting services (which I’ll touch on in the next section). They are a remote-first company with an emphasis on global service with support provided in 7 languages.

Their service is provided via Google’s Cloud Platform, and they have an exclusive focus on WordPress.

I’ve had a long-standing client who uses WP Engine (Kinsta’s direct competitor), and have had experience using the various managed WordPress hosting products across the hosting industry.

Background on Kinsta Hosting

To understand Kinsta’s product, you need to understand four concepts.

First, WordPress is the most popular content management system software on the Internet. People use it to run websites. It can run on any hosting setup with PHP, MySQL, and Linux. In other words, it can run on almost any web host.

Second, Web Hosting is space on a computer server that can run web applications and serve data to browsers (aka, it’s where a website lives). Web hosting can come in various setups, depending on the configuration. Shared hosting is the most common where a single server that can run PHP, MySQL, and Linux is “shared” among various hosting accounts. I explain more here.

Third, WordPress Hosting is space on a web hosting account that is specifically configured in some way to help WordPress software run better. I explain more here. The definition of “run better” can vary wildly depending on the hosting company since technically WordPress can run on almost any web hosting account. I wrote about the differences between Web and WordPress hosting here.

Fourth, Cloud Hosting is a large network of data centers configured so that customers can lease computing power & storage for web applications on demand, anywhere in the network instead of using space on a single web server. The largest cloud networks are run by Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Digital Ocean, IBM, and Oracle. I explain more here.

With those four background concepts in place, I can explain Kinsta’s unique position in the hosting world.

Kinsta runs managed WordPress hosting on the Google Cloud Platform. They actively lease computing power & storage on Google’s Cloud, configure it to run WordPress quickly & efficiently, and manage & support each installation.

In other words, they offer a niche but also potentially powerful platform. Because of how they mix & match all these services, they don’t compete head to head with many providers. But they compete indirectly with *a lot*.

How Kinsta Hosting Works

In some ways, Kinsta works just like any other hosting company. You sign up and pay every month. In exchange, your WordPress website runs quickly and efficiently.

But behind the scenes, their setup is a bit more complicated.

First, you’ll technically lease your hosting from Google, so unless Google goes down…your site isn’t going to go down. There’s no “crashing” like there could be on a typical web server.

Second, Kinsta has its cloud access explicitly configured for WordPress with things like server-side caching, security rules, staging environments, and more so that your site is faster than it could be on a vanilla Linux web server.

Third, Kinsta blends several 3rd party services for DNS (connects your domain to the host), SSL (secures your connection), and CDN (content distribution network) to make everything your website needs to work together.

Since they only have one product with no upsells, the signup is straightforward.

1 Kinsta Signup

The entire setup operates from a single account dashboard where you control your WordPress installs.

2 Kinsta Account Dashboard

I’ve been considering Kinsta for a client’s site, and decided to give them a try with a small site that I’m looking to consolidate.

Here’s my Kinsta Hosting review structured with pros, cons, ideal use cases, and alternatives based on my experience as a customer.

Pros of Using Kinsta Hosting

There are a lot of Kinsta Hosting reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine, but I take a different approach.

Like I mention in all my hosting reviews, there is no such thing as a “best” web host. It’s all about the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise. Here are the pros (advantages) for considering Kinsta Hosting.

Cloud Hosting Benefits

Since Kinsta uses the Google Cloud Platform, you get many of the benefits of cloud hosting without many of the downsides.

Speed

A hosting account can be a lot of things to your business, but the core function of a hosting server is to serve your website files whenever someone requests them. But – the implied adverb there is to serve those files quickly.

In an age of global audiences and multi-device connections, speed matters more than ever. While there are a lot of variables in play with website speed, it’s primarily your hosting server’s job to send the requested files to the visitor’s browser as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

So here’s the thing – Kinsta uses the same servers that you use to access Google.com and YouTube.com. With Kinsta, as long as they are configured well, they are going to be fast.

Additionally, with server-side caching, your WordPress website will be ready to go. Now, there are still plenty of issues that can slow your site down, but they likely won’t be Kinsta’s fault.

Here’s my first test with my Kinsta website –

9 Kinsta Speed Test

Again, if your site is loading slowly – it’s not Kinsta’s fault. It’s something with your site.

Geography

With the Google Cloud Platform, Kinsta can also offer data centers around the world. They have more than 23 at the time of writing ranging from Iowa to Southeast Asia and everywhere in between.

Their CDN runs on a global CDN network (KeyCDN) as well, so website assets can be staged close to any website visitor in the world.

It’s rare and expensive to build & maintain data centers around the world, so using Google’s infrastructure provides an advantage that a traditional hosting company can’t match.

Uptime

Remember the last time Google went down? Yes, it happens. But it’s rare. And when it happens, it’s a newsworthy event. With Kinsta, that means that, outside of a bad configuration on their part, your site is not going to go down unless Google goes down.

Consistent performance and reliability are the main advantages of Kinsta since they can take Google Cloud and make it accessible and WordPress-friendly to regular customers.*

*Yes, you can go to Google and sign up for cloud hosting yourself. In fact, I have a non-WordPress site running there now. But to setup & run a database-driven CMS with integrated file storage takes some…patience and wherewithal. It’s not a simple one-click WordPress install. Also, Google does not provide support or configuration help. So, still a considerable advantage for Kinsta.

Configuration, Focus, & Usability

Kinsta built their Dashboard from scratch. Their signup is simple and straightforward. There are some hiccups that I’ll get to in the downsides, but overall, their configuration and usability is amazing.

Their focus on WordPress and simple plan structure also makes onboarding (i.e., going from a new signup to active customer) straightforward. The design is uncluttered, minimalist, and well-designed.

6 Kinsta Easy Install

Their setup had jargon and technical information present, but it isn’t overwhelming and daunting like other managed WordPress hosting companies.

User-friendly Add-on Tools

While Kinsta does not have all the tools that traditional hosts make available, they do bundle several tools that are critical to running a fast, effective website. And again, unlike other managed WordPress hosting providers, they bundle them seamlessly in their dashboard.

DNS

DNS is the roadmap of instructions that connects your registered domain to your hosting, where your website lives.

Kinsta includes Premium DNS with all their plan levels, which makes setting up your website much simpler. Plenty of managed hosting companies (and even some website builders) leave the DNS up to their customers to figure out – leaving plenty of customers fiddling with TXT records, CNAMEs and MX records in vain.

4 Kinsta Built-in DNS

Amazon provides Kinsta’s DNS. It’s reliable and integrated directly in their Dashboard.

CDN

A content distribution network (CDN) allows you to take the load off your main server by distributing media files and scripts around the world so that your website can load faster and with fewer resources on your server.

Again, not every hosting company includes this option, but Kinsta integrates it directly within their Dashboard.

SSL

An SSL allows your website to provide an encrypted connection between itself and your visitor’s browser. It’s an essential part of every website. Again, it’s something that Kinsta provides directly in their dashboard via LetsEncrypt. It’s not the best or name-brand SSL, but it does the job.

Migration

Kinsta provides website migration services to its platform. It can be confusing enough, moving an existing WordPress website from one shared hosting account to another. But moving it to a managed cloud platform can create all kinds of hiccups.

3 Kinsta Migration

It’s a free service that would typically cost hundreds of dollars with a WordPress consultant.

Developer & Agency Tools

Kinsta provides a range of developer and agency tools that all sound either too dull or technical until you need them & use them.

They have well-implemented basics like built-in staging and user management so that developers can build client sites and hand them over with no hiccups or maverick approval processes.

5 Kinsta User Management

Additionally, they have SSH access, WP-CLI, and allow different versions of PHP.

But the most interesting piece for me is the fact that they don’t lock customers into a single WordPress configuration AND they’ll support non-traditional setups like reverse-proxy configurations.

8 Kinsta Staging Environment

As an SEO consultant, having the flexibility of configurations is critical for working with large clients who want WordPress for their blog…but, not their main site. It makes a big content marketing sell much simpler since developer time can be outsourced to Kinsta.

Customer Support

Most customer support stories are either *really* bad or *really* good. It’s the one-star vs. five-star problem. Like I’ve said in most of my hosting reviews, I try to look and see if the company treats customer support as a cost center, a profit center, or an investment center.

Based on how they’ve integrated their knowledge base throughout their Dashboard (rather than stashing it somewhere), and the fact that they’ve grown their team mainly with support team around the world – it seems like they’ve deemed customer support as an investment center.

And that’s a good thing if you are a customer. You know they aren’t looking to make a buck off you, or push you off. Instead, they are trying to develop goodwill and increase word of mouth. Kinsta’s main “thing” is customer support, since it makes their whole product run.

Cons / Disadvantages of Using Kinsta Hosting

Like any web host, Kinsta has disadvantages. There are plenty of Kinsta complaints online. But remember, that like the pros, these are all in the context of your goals & priorities. With that said, here are the cons that I found while using Kinsta Hosting.

Pricing

Kinsta is expensive.

1-Kinsta-Pricing-Chart

No matter how you measure it – by WordPress installs, visits allowed, storage allocated, indirect competitor pricing, indirect competitor pricing – Kinsta is going to be competitive…but still the expensive option.

WP Engine is its most direct competitor. Kinsta does have more intermediate plans…but WP Engine has a pricing setup that can be a bit cheaper than Kinsta.

Competitors like InMotion Hosting and SiteGround offer comparable products for much cheaper (though they aren’t on Google’s Cloud). LiquidWeb does the same for managed WooCommerce websites.

And other indirect competitors like WPMU Dev do bundled cloud hosting with their plugin subscription that is competitive for agencies / developers.

There are two things pushing back on this disadvantage.

First, Kinsta is super-transparent about their pricing. There are no add-ons or excluded features like on WP Engine. There are no slight apples to oranges comparisons like you’d find with InMotion or SiteGround or LiquidWeb.

Two, expensive is a relative concept to value. Depending on the value that your website is generating, a few hundred dollars may or may not matter. If a few hours of downtime or a support misstep can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars, then “expensive” is the wrong metric to look at.

On the flip side, hosting is a business cost. Any dollar that you save goes right to your bottom line. If you are on the fence about some of Kinsta’s features or have other website needs (see Feature bundles below), then Kinsta’s price is going to be a disadvantage.

Feature Caps

Kinsta has some pretty low caps, especially compared to non-cloud competitors. Since they are working with leased infrastructure, they have to pass along any and all of their hosting costs.

If you’ve run a rapidly growing website, you’ll know just how quickly visits, storage, and bandwidth needs can escalate. If you are on Kinsta, you’ll never have to worry about needs taking your website offline. But you may have to worry about those needs hitting your bottom-line.

I have one client who built a silly side-project on his website (hosted on WP Engine with similar caps to Kinsta). The silly side-project took off – in a big way.

In some ways, the project brought in indirect revenue with backlinks, brand awareness, etc. But in concrete terms, it single-handedly tripled his monthly hosting costs because it blew past every visitor cap…and then the bots & spammers showed up. He’s on an enterprise plan with the same amount of “real” traffic that should put him on a basic plan.

Now, that’s a good problem to have. But it’s created decisions that honestly would not need to be made if he were using a Kinsta competitor with a managed VPS or managed WordPress hosting product like InMotion or SiteGround.

In fact, some of Kinsta’s features are capped at lower levels than you’d expect with their marketing. For example, think about WooCommerce and membership sites. They recommend PHP Workers that can handle excess queries. Here’s an explainer on how they work. But basically they help with the shopping cart / user roles while the server cache loads the rest of the page.

For their Starter and Pro plans, Kinsta only provides 2 PHP Workers…which is not recommended for ecommerce websites. In comparison, InMotion’s cheapest managed WordPress plan comes with a limit of 4 PHP Workers.

And again – many of these limitations come not from Kinsta (they are transparent about all this) but from their product structure…which is the next disadvantage.

Size & Company Structure

In a lot of ways, Kinsta is my kind of company. They are founder owned & operated. They are boot-strapped with zero investor funding. They are product-focused with a smart, thoughtful marketing strategy.

They are small enough to have direct contact with customers and processes. They are remote-first, global, and diverse. I’m glad to spend money with them.

But the hosting industry is structured the way it’s structured for a reason. And Kinsta is moving in the opposite direction of the rest of the industry.

Web hosting business is built based on the depreciation of fixed assets and high customer retention. It’s similar in many ways to the physical real estate industry. Almost every hosting company is away from pure-play hosting to becoming a hosting “platform” with lots of amenities.

Since Kinsta leases its infrastructure from Google, they use an entirely different business model. They have to have low overhead costs (ie, remote-first is a must), low acquisition costs (ie, their inbound marketing strategy), low labor costs and high pricing. Additionally, they are completely dependent on Google staying competitive & in the Cloud hosting business.

In other words, Kinsta is kind of like the WeWork of the hosting world (in a good way). Kinsta has avoided most of WeWork’s mistakes. But the core business model of sub-leasing servers while adding value via convenience, accessibility, and support is tricky.

WP Engine made it by using investor money to acquire market share and big amenities while building a hybrid data center. But others have failed or have been bought out – like FlyWheel and Nexcess.

Right now, Kinsta is committed to organic, long-term growth. But if you are looking for a 5+ year host, I’d pause and look around the industry before committing.

Feature Bundles & Add-Ons

Most direct and indirect competitors are moving to a “hosting platform” model with bundled plugins, themes, and other amenities. Almost all of Kinsta’s direct and indirect competitors bundle some sort of WordPress amenity with their managed WordPress hosting product.

  • WP Engine bundles StudioPress themes & products.
  • LiquidWeb bundles iThemes plugins & themes.
  • InMotion bundles JetPack and the BoldGrid website builder.
  • WPMU Dev bundles its premium plugins.
  • SiteGround bundles custom amenities like developer toolkits and email.
  • Pressable bundles JetPack and WP101 Training.

The flipside of this disadvantage is that Kinsta is truly focused on WordPress and hosting – they aren’t trying to compete with amenities and bonuses. They are just doing what they promise to do.

That’s great – and certainly a strength. But it’s also a downside for some customers.

Kinsta Hosting Alternatives & Use Cases

Just like cars, houses, appliances, etc – there is no such thing as a “best” host. There are just better & worse hosts for different customers with different needs. Here are some ideal use cases for Kinsta, along with some direct alternatives.

Growing Ecommerce or Membership Site

A growing ecommerce or membership website built with WordPress can create resource strains and technical demands. Kinsta’s architecture and support experience are really made for both types of sites (especially at higher pricing tiers).

Kinsta is a solid, straightforward, but still affordable option for ecommerce / membership websites that can pay a premium to have things “just work” with no troubleshooting. View Kinsta’s plans here.

Developer or Agency w/ Premium Clients

Kinsta is a great option for developers or agencies that build high-quality websites for premium clients with ongoing maintenance budgets.

Kinsta has the social proof, technical specs, pricing, and management tools that will assure brand name clients while still sticking with their budget expectations. View Kinsta’s plans here.

Premium Support & All-in-One Needs

Kinsta is ideal for DIY customers who run a high-margin website that needs premium support and/or all-in-one hosting needs. Kinsta’s monthly costs are high, but nothing considering the costs of hiring a WordPress developer to solve intermediate issues for a day (i.e., installing a new SSL certificate or repointing a subdomain). View Kinsta’s plans here.

Out of all the hosting companies that I’ve used myself or via a client, here’s how Kinsta compares directly with a few select ones.

Kinsta Hosting vs. WP Engine

WP Engine was the first company to offer a managed WordPress hosting product, and they’ve been the market leader ever since. They focus on the same customers as Kinsta. I’ve reviewed WP Engine here.

They have some advantages over Kinsta, including more features & amenities. But they are also more technically oriented with a more confusing backend. Kinsta is cleaner and simpler.

If you are a solo DIYer, developer, or small agency, you’ll likely gravitate towards Kinsta. If you are a corporate-type, you’ll likely gravitate towards WP Engine.

Kinsta Hosting vs. LiquidWeb

LiquidWeb moved into the managed WordPress space with their Nexcess acquisition. LiquidWeb is one of the largest independent hosting companies and has a specific focus on agencies and developers. They run their own data centers and have been around for a long time. They really excel with ecommerce websites.

Since they operate their own data centers, they have major price & feature advantages over Kinsta. But Kinsta’s setup runs on the Google Cloud and has better focus & usability since they *only* do WordPress.

If you are looking at cost but still want a lot of the developer features of Kinsta, you’ll likely go for LiquidWeb. If you like Kinsta’s focus & cloud setup, you’ll likely go for them instead.

Kinsta Hosting vs. SiteGround

SiteGround has been a rapidly growing host in the WordPress space. They have a big appeal among developers. They also have a global reach with data centers in the US, Europe, and Asia.

Since they operate their own data centers, they have a big cost advantage over Kinsta with managed WordPress hosting. They also bundle a lot of the same features as Kinsta including CDN, SSL, DNS, migration service, and user management. But again, Kinsta will likely still have some advantage with speed & performance since they run on Google’s Cloud.

If you are looking to save money but still have a developer-oriented company, SiteGround will likely be a better choice. If you prize speed & performance and have budget for Kinsta, you’ll likely go for Kinsta’s plans.

Kinsta Hosting vs. InMotion Hosting

InMotion Hosting is one of the most consistently growing hosting companies on the Internet. They are independent and have grown organically over the course of 20+ years. They offer a wide range of hosting products, including managed WordPress hosting, with a focus on small businesses.

Since they run their own data centers, they have a big advantage over Kinsta with pricing. They are able to offer much higher caps on features compared to Kinsta. For example, remember the PHP Workers mentioned earlier? Kinsta provides 2 PHP Workers compared to InMotion’s 4 Workers on their cheapest $8.99/mo plan. They also bundle a lot of business-friendly amenities with their plans (like JetPack for security).

If you are looking at the overall value of features & support for the price, InMotion Hosting would be a better fit. If you like Kinsta’s exclusive focus on cloud & WordPress, then they would be a better fit.

Kinsta Hosting Review Next Steps

Kinsta Hosting is an amazing option to have in the world of WordPress hosting. They have a fast, simple, solid product in a competitive field. If you have budget for a managed host and like the appeal of using the cloud, then Kinsta is likely an excellent fit for you.

See Kinsta’s Current Plans & Pricing

If you are looking for other options, check out the ones listed above, or explore my WordPress Hosting page.

Kinsta Hosting

Kinsta Hosting is a rapidly growing managed WordPress hosting service built on the Google Cloud.

Application Category: Managed WordPress Hosing

Editor's Rating:
4

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GreenGeeks Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives

This post originally appeared at GreenGeeks Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives via ShivarWeb

GreenGeeks Hosting Review

GreenGeeks is an independent, rapidly growing hosting company based in California, but with data centers across the US and Europe. GreenGeeks positions itself as a more environmentally friendly host with a focus on customer support.

See GreenGeeks’ Current Plans & Pricing

What is GreenGeeks Hosting?

GreenGeeks is a traditional web hosting company that offers a range of hosting services, including Shared, VPS, and Reseller products, along with complementary products such as domain registration, website builder, and (nominal) WordPress hosting. Here is their pricing chart.

GreenGeeks Pricing

GreenGeeks was founded in 2008 by a veteran of the hosting industry with a then-novel promise of environmental friendliness in an increasingly dirty industry.

GreenGeeks also has a unique focus on simplicity in an increasingly complex industry. Along with InMotion, HostPapa, A2, and SiteGround, GreenGeeks is one of the fewer remaining large hosts that is not owned by Endurance International, the GoDaddy Group, or the Web.com Group.

I recently had a couple of small websites that needed their own hosting accounts. Since I’ve had readers ask about GreenGeeks, I decided to give them a try.

Here’s my GreenGeeks Hosting review structured with pros, cons, and alternatives based on my experience as a customer.

Pros of Using GreenGeeks

There are a lot of GreenGeeks Hosting reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine, but I take a different approach. Like I mention in all my hosting reviews, there is no such thing as a “best” web host. It’s all about the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise. Here are the pros (advantages) for considering GreenGeeks Hosting.

Speed & Performance

A hosting account can be a lot of things to your business, but the core function of a hosting server is to serve your website files whenever someone requests them. But – the implied adverb there is to serve those files quickly.

In an age of global audiences and multi-device connections, speed matters more than ever. While there are a lot of variables in play with website speed, it’s primarily your hosting server’s job to send the requested files to the visitor’s browser as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

GreenGeeks Hosting makes a lot of claims about their speed.

Some of those claims are just marketing claims that are true across all hosting providers (we’ll cover in the downsides).

But overall, GreenGeeks Hosting does live up to their promises.

One of the main factors of site speed is Time To First Byte (TTFB) – ie, how quickly the server sends the first byte of the first file in response to a request. Here’s how my GreenGeeks Hosting website tested out with a standardized install

GreenGeeks Speed

Their TTFB was much better than some of their big brand competitors like Bluehost or GoDaddy and competitive with other companies that focus on speed. For example, here’s my TTFB report from tests that I did on my SiteGround website.

SiteGround Speed

A bit faster – but in the same ballpark – especially given the variance that can happen with TTFB tests. And of course, if you have a good server setup, you can do even more (with GreenGeeks Hosting or any other fast hosting company). For example, here’s my TTFB test with an optimized InMotion server.

Overall, GreenGeeks Hosting excels in one of their main claims to fame – speed & performance. If that’s your priority, then they are certainly in the running with other direct competitors.

Company Structure & Mission

First off, I don’t think that a company is “good” or “bad” simply due to its size or customer focus. It’s all about tradeoffs.

There are a lot of major advantages to using a big company. They usually have the resources to provide big comprehensive solutions. They typically have lower unit costs that can be passed to the customer. They are also usually more stable than small, upstart companies.

That said, small companies are usually able to be more agile, closer & more responsive to the customer, and less likely to view customers solely through the lens of a Net Promoter Score.

In the world of hosting – it really depends on your goals & preferences. There is no right answer.

That said, GreenGeeks does have two things going for it.

First, it’s a big advantage that GreenGeeks Hosting is a founder-owned, independent company – simply because that is so rare now. Most hosting companies are brands of Endurance International, GoDaddy or the Web.com group.

And not only is GreenGeeks Hosting independent, but they are also stable and growing and really use their independence to promote transparency and accessibility that a big brand simply can’t match.

If you are someone looking for a hosting company rather than a hosting brand – GreenGeeks Hosting will tick that box. If not, you can ignore this section and keep focusing on your priorities.

Second, is GreenGeeks’ sustainability mission that is built into their business & corporate mission. Web hosting is a pretty carbon-intensive industry. It is responsible for an increasing amount of carbon emissions at a time when our carbon use needs to go down.

GreenGeeks purchases 3x the electricity that they consume in the form of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation – in addition to conservation measures at data centers.

Now – carbon accounting is outside of the scope of this review. However, RECs are pretty legit from a climate perspective compared to the iffy accounting of the more common “carbon offsets”. Here’s the difference if you’re interested. But the short version is that even though GreenGeeks’ data centers are powered in states with pretty dirty grid power, they purchase 300% of the equivalent electricity consumed from clean grid sources. The end result is that they are putting more clean energy back into the grid than the dirty energy that they are consuming.

The short version – GreenGeeks is an indie company that is more environmentally friendly than other hosting companies. They aren’t merely greenwashing for sales.

Product Simplicity & Transparency

GreenGeeks is simple. They have a few different plans. They have few, if any, upsells. The WordPress auto-install creates a blank, default install with no additional plugins or anything.

GreenGeeks Simple Install

GreenGeeks is as transparent as they can be about what equipment you are receiving and why you are getting what you are getting.

GreenGeeks has some elements of marketing-speak that I’ll cover in the downsides (e.g., WordPress hosting vs. Web hosting), but by in large, they run a simple, straightforward operation. As a customer, it’s refreshing and…nice. Big upside for GreenGeeks.

Support Access & Options

Like I’ve mentioned in other hosting reviews, reviewing customer support is tricky. Just like your local restaurant on Yelp, the most positive and most negative reviews are generally worthless.

You never know when issues are customer-caused or when someone simply encountered that one amazing/horrible employee.

I’ve had a good experience with GreenGeeks Hosting. But that’s very anecdotal. So, I also like to look at “proxies” for customer support. In other words, things that indicate something about the culture & processes of customer support.

First – GreenGeeks Hosting provides a lot of different channels for customer support.

GreenGeeks Support

They have a phone number front and center. They have an extensive knowledgebase, and live chat. They do well triaging requests via social media.

Second, GreenGeeks’s reps are pretty hands-on – they’ll log into your account and attempt real fixes before having to escalate the issue. While some customers may or may not like that option, it does signal that they see customer support as an investment rather than a cost. That’s the type of general conclusion that I look for – and the one that I think matters in the long-term over a one-off experience.

Like their independent competitors in InMotion and SiteGround, GreenGeek’s customer support is a major pro to choosing them over a big brand hosting company (like GoDaddy) that may or may not prioritize support in the same way. This point segues into another big advantage for GreenGeeks Hosting.

Data Centers & Industry Contrasts

On a related but different note than speed & performance, GreenGeeks scores well as a globally oriented host that can efficiently serve websites around the world.

While there are lots of factors in website speed (like TTFB), the physical location of your server matters a lot. Requests for information travel over physical wires to a physical server. Even at lightspeed, distance matters, especially if you own/maintain a site or if your visitors need to load up many different files.

If you and your audience are on one side of the globe, it’s good to host your files near both you and your audience.

*Note – if you are in one country, but your audience is spread out, most sites solve this problem with a CDN.

Until recently, most cutting edge hosting companies were based & focused on the US market. If you were in Asia or Europe -then you might be stuck with lackluster local hosting and/or slow connection times.

GreenGeeks Data Centers

GreenGeeks allows you to select your datacenter among the four that they operate in the US, Canada, and Europe. As long as you aren’t in Austral-Asia, you’ll be set with GreenGeeks.

But second, GreenGeeks is incredibly transparent and normal compared to industry peers. Part of this relates to the simplicity that I already mentioned. But, they are refreshingly straightforward. You can see in the screenshot above that they tell what their data centers’ IP addresses are. They tell you what they can and cannot do.

They provide an ad and upsell-free WordPress auto-install.

GreenGeeks Simple Install

Their account management is so simple that it’s boring.

GreenGeeks Account Management

And it’s not really about the simplicity that is attractive per se – it can also have downsides – but it’s about what it says about the company.

GreenGeeks seems to be the type of company that sells a good product. They are proud of it. And that is all. For a product like web hosting, that type of company is usually good to work with.

Cons / Disadvantages of Using GreenGeeks

Like any web host, GreenGeeks has disadvantages. There are plenty of GreenGeeks complaints online. But remember, that like the pros, these are all in the context of your goals & priorities. With that said, here are the cons that I found while using GreenGeeks Hosting.

Price Point

Like I’ve mentioned in other hosting reviews, comparing pricing across hosting companies can be maddening. It’s very difficult to compare apples to oranges because plans generally come with various caps.

That said, I try to look at compare pricing based on the 3 “D’s” of core hosting features –

  • Domains – how many websites you can run on your account
  • Databases – how many software installs you can run
  • Disk Space – how many files you can upload to your account

After looking at “core” hosting features, I like to factor all the possible “bonus” features. Bonus features are features that you should only factor in if they pertain to your goals.  For example, if you plan on running Google Ads, then a credit there might be worthwhile, but if not, then it’s something to ignore completely.

Either way, GreenGeeks Hosting has 3 main tiers for shared Linux hosting – the Lite ($9.95/mo at renewal), Pro ($14.95/mo at renewal), and Premium ($24.95/mo at renewal).

GreenGeeks Pricing

With heavy discounting, their plans are not too bad compared to both competitors and discount brands.

That said – they are definitely pricier than most hosting companies that I’ve looked at for a few reasons.

First, their promotional pricing is only valid for 3-year plans. If you only want to pay annually – their renewal pricing is much higher.

GreenGeeks Monthly Pricing

Second, their Lite plan is pretty heavily capped. It’s really suitable for literally one website with no additional use cases.

Third, while they do provide some bonuses, they all have some strings attached and may or may not be worth the price jump between tiers.

Now – to be clear, that’s not a bad thing. Price is not a particularly good metric. Every customer should look at overall value for their needs. But either way, GreenGeeks Hosting works at a higher price point than other hosts, and I’m not sure their raw features meet the price point….which segues into the next section.

Product Selection & Feature Set

GreenGeeks keeps their product line-up simple. Even their “WordPress Hosting” is just plain Shared hosting with dedicated support reps.

They don’t have cloud hosting or managed WordPress hosting, or multiple flavors of shared or VPS hosting.

Among their features, they don’t have NGINX, built-in staging, or their own CDN network. They don’t bundle plugins or brand-name SSLs. They use a standard off-the-shelf cPanel and Softaculous installer.

GreenGeeks cPanel
GreenGeeks Web Apps

And they set pretty low default memory limits on new WordPress installs.

GreenGeeks Memory Limits

The ironic thing is that this lack of product features is simply the flip-side of their simplicity and straightforward approach. Most of these features can be changed (like the low default memory allocation) or can be solved in other ways.

However, for customers who are expecting all the things to be pre-bundled and convenient – it’s a downside compared to other competitors.

Think about your local grocery store. Costco is able to keep stuff in stock and to keep low prices low because they have a shockingly low number of SKUs. You won’t find 26 brands of hot sauce in Costco. That would drive me nuts. I love going to my local Super Kroger with dozens of national and local brands…that might sometimes be out of stock or more expensive.

In the analogy, GreenGeeks is Costco. They have what you need, just don’t expect dozens of add-ons and bells and whistles. For example, they don’t have Bluehost’s super easy and custom cPanel and they don’t have InMotion’s custom WordPress plans. But that’s also not GreenGeeks’ thing.

Onboarding & Product Setup

In a similar fashion to feature simplicity, GreenGeeks has a pretty plain, vanilla process of onboarding and product setup.

Sure, they don’t have lots of upsells and clutter, but it’s also more old-school than other hosting brands. Here are their account setup emails.

GreenGeeks New Account
GreenGeeks New Account Info

As you can see, it’s solidly fine. They give you what you need. But there’s also no hand-holding. That’s great…unless you find hosting to be daunting and need some help / pointers.

Bundles & Bonuses

Lastly, and on a very similar note, is their lack of bundles and bonuses. Most hosting companies are racing to become “platforms”. And part of that is a push to bundle products to keep your customers around.

WP Engine bundles high-quality themes. InMotion bundles high-quality JetPack plugins and caching plugins. Bluehost has an entire theme / app marketplace. HostGator has a top-notch drag and drop builder.

And even among other hosting companies that aren’t bundling, they are providing more bonuses or carving out a unique position. SiteGround has a suite of developer tools. HostPapa has a range of international support options, etc.

GreenGeeks’ “thing” seems to just be their sustainability pitch. That’s great – and I certainly applaud that. But as a customer, it’s important to be aware of what you need & don’t need before you make that tradeoff. Individual action on climate is a must, but society-level action is still the most critical piece. I bought a used Nissan Leaf even though it has less range and less space than a petroleum powered car. But also…I don’t need lots of range or a lot of hauling space for my day to day use. The consideration should be the same with GreenGeeks.

GreenGeeks Alternatives & Comparisons

Out of all the hosting companies that I’ve used myself or via a client, here’s how GreenGeeks compares with a few select ones.

GreenGeeks vs. SiteGround

SiteGround is one of GreenGeek’s big independent (ie, also not owned by a big holding company) competitors. They both have a focus on speed with reputations for solid support. SiteGround shares many of GreenGeek’s positives (including speed, support, and data centers) with some of the same downsides. You can read my full SiteGround Hosting review here. If you are in Asia or Africa are looking for more hosting bonuses, then I’d use SiteGround. If you are in the US or Europe and want a straightforward host (or like GreenGeeks’ mission), then I’d go with GreenGeeks.

GreenGeeks vs. Bluehost

Bluehost is one of Endurance International’s most well-known brands. They beat GreenGeeks on pricing and onboarding. However, GreenGeeks does somewhat better with performance and core hosting features whereas Bluehost has better “bonuses” and onboarding. If GreenGeeks’ mission or independence matters more to you – then pay a bit extra for GreenGeeks Hosting. If you’re just running a project on a budget or need better Getting Started guidance, then go sign up for Bluehost.

GreenGeeks vs. GoDaddy

GoDaddy is the giant of the web hosting world. In fact, they have tried to go beyond hosting to become more of a platform. Their actual hosting products are sort of buried among all their other offerings. But in general, they’ll have better short-term pricing and better complementary products than GreenGeeks. But they’ll lag on customer support, core hosting features, performance, and long-term pricing. They also have a history of brand controversies that directly contrasts with GreenGeeks’ brand and transparency. Unless you have a specific reason to use GoDaddy, you should sign up for GreenGeeks.

GreenGeeks vs. A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting is one of GreenGeek’s big independent (ie, also not owned by a big holding company) competitors. They both have a focus on speed with reputations for solid support. A2 Hosting shares many of GreenGeek’s positives (including speed, support, and data centers) with some of the same downsides. You can read my full A2 Hosting review here. A2 Hosting has some additional upsides like Windows hosting, but also many more downsides like upsells and complexity. If you are in the US or Europe and want a straightforward host (or like GreenGeeks’ mission), then I’d go with GreenGeeks. If you have a reason to use A2 Hosting (ie, sale pricing or Windows hosting), then A2 Hosting would be fine.

GreenGeeks vs. InMotion Hosting

InMotion Hosting is one of GreenGeeks’s big independent (ie, also not owned by a big holding company) competitors. GreenGeeks offers global data centers and a simplicity in plan structure that InMotion does not. Beyond that, I’ve found that InMotion provides all of GreenGeeks’s benefits (even some of their environmental commitments & a cleaner grid source) without the downsides. InMotion has very involved support and a solid pricing structure. You can read my full review of InMotion Hosting here, but unless you need European data centers or GreenGeeks’ structure, I would recommend signing up for InMotion Hosting.

Next Steps & Conclusion

There’s a reason GreenGeeks is one of the fastest growing independent hosting companies. They have a solid product and a great support.

If you are looking for a full service hosting company with solid support, good performance, and a green mission, then – See GreenGeek’s Current Plans & Pricing

If you are looking for a hosting company with all the benefits of GreenGeeks Hosting – but with better pricing and product bonuses, I’d go with InMotion Hosting. See InMotion’s plans & pricing here.

If you are more confused than ever – then take my Web Hosting Quiz here or use my website setup guide here!

GreenGeeks Reader FAQs

What is GreenGeeks?

GreenGeeks is an independent web hosting service based in Los Angeles. They offer products ranging from Shared to Dedicated servers in addition to complementary products such as domain registration and website builders.

Is GreenGeeks Good?

GreenGeeks has strengths in product performance, customer support, simplicity, and their environmental commitment. They are a bit pricier and lack advanced hosting plans of some competitors.

How do I install WordPress on GreenGeeks?

After purchasing a plan (shared, VPS, or WordPress) on GreenGeeks, access your cPanel (server software) via your account dashboard. Browse to web apps, select WordPress QuickInstall. Fill out the fields, and wait while WordPress is auto-installed on your account. Explore screenshots at this WordPress set up guide.

Who owns GreenGeeks?

GreenGeeks was founded by and privately held by Trey Gardner since 2006.

GreenGeeks Hosting

GreenGeeks is a solid, independent hosting company with a focus on product performance, customer support, and environmental sustainability.

Application Category: Web Hosting

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WPMU Dev Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives

This post originally appeared at WPMU Dev Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives via ShivarWeb

WPMU Dev Hosting Review

WPMU Dev is a long-time member of the premium WordPress software community. While they are best known for their plugins, they recently launched a new WordPress hosting product.

See WPMU Dev’s Current Plans & Pricing

I’m currently a WPMU Dev member and had free access to the new hosting product. The WordPress & web hosting world is constantly evolving with new & interesting products.

Given that I use & love some of their plugins, I tried out the hosting product as well. Here are the pros, cons, use cases & alternatives for WPMU Dev hosting.

What is WPMU Dev & WPMU Dev Hosting?

WPMU Dev launched their first major plugin years ago. They became best-known for their multisite & network plugins.

A couple of years ago, they open-sourced most of their smaller, outdated plugins and doubled-down on a suite of premium plugins focused on agencies, web consultants, designers & developers.

The suite includes security, backup, SEO, and form plugins. They all work well and integrate together. I personally use the Video Tutorials plugin and their Forminator Pro plugin.

Their hosting product is just another part of that product suite. In the flight to platforms, hosting is WPMU Dev’s flight to be the platform of choice for premium WordPress developers and site owners.

Background on WPMU Dev Hosting

Like most WordPress plugins & theme makers, WPMU Dev has been constantly reworking their business model to keep up not only with the Internet but also with software and open-source trends.

Years ago, they sold premium plugins a la carte for a support subscription.

Then they moved to a library subscription model. Then they made all their small plugins free and switched to a subscription for plugin services model.

As hosting companies moved in on plugin & theme makers’ territory, WPMU has moved into hosting companies’ territory by bundling hosting with their plugins.

Whatever the business model, WPMU Dev has always focused on super-high quality code & support. They have always focused exclusively on the WordPress world. I use their plugins for critical parts of my website, and lean on their support for especially tricky code questions.

How WPMU Dev Hosting Works

WPMU Dev hosting, though, is a bit of a hosting hybrid. It’s hard to compare the product to anything else on the market.

When you sign up for WPMU Dev, you get 3 hosting accounts bundled with unlimited access to their plugins. A WPMU Dev subscription is $49/mo.

Their hosting product is neither true cloud hosting, nor true WordPress hosting, nor true web hosting. I’ll get into all these in the pros & cons, but here’s the short version.

They use Digital Ocean’s cloud to actually run your website. But it’s not true cloud hosting….because, well, it’s a flat rate and you don’t run the containers.

They have it pre-configured for WordPress. But it’s not true WordPress hosting…because, well, there’s no real definition for WordPress hosting. It’s one way to host some WordPress websites for sure…but the point of WordPress is that it can run fine in a variety of environments depending on your needs & resources.

And they have it marketed as web hosting. But it’s not true web hosting…because, well, it’s managed cloud hosting with all the limitations that come with it.

But it does have some upsides & use cases, especially in a world of platforms. So let’s look at the pros.

Pros of Using WPMU Dev Hosting

WPMU Dev hosting has a lot going for it. They are a bit of a hidden gem. They aren’t the biggest brand on the Internet, and not even a big brand in the WordPress world. But their size & focus creates a lot of advantages.

Platform Quality & Performance

WPMU Dev is already known for their high-quality plugins. They are also known for their high-quality WordPress support.

Their hosting product actually lives on Digital Ocean’s cloud infrastructure. Digital Ocean is one of the “name-brands” of cloud hosting along with Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

Between WPMU’s WordPress expertise and Digital Ocean’s performance, you really don’t have to worry about your website install. Here’s a speed test from the first, unoptimized install.

Here’s a screenshot of the backend. It’s clean and fast.

WPMU-Dev-Hosting

Overall, the quality & performance of the product itself is right on.

Total Platform Pricing & Value

WPMU Dev structures their pricing with hosting credits. To be a WPMU Dev member, you pay $49/mo. You get access to full-versions of all their plugins, plus support, plus 3 credits per month for hosting.

WPMU Dev Hosting Price

Now, $49/month for just a single managed hosting account is super-expensive. $49/month for 3 managed hosting accounts is super-expensive. In fact, I’ll get to this part in the disadvantages. But WPMU Dev isn’t selling hosting. They are selling hosting as part of a platform.

So, looking at the whole platform, $49/month for 3 managed hosting accounts plus full versions of all their premium plugins plus support plus all the built-in services that come with their premium plugins brings the total value well past $49/mo.

For example, a subscription to a security plugin, backup plugin, and form plugin can all run ~$20/month. Competitive managed WordPress hosting can run ~$20/month – even more for 3+ sites. Add in a CDN, backup storage, etc – and you’ll likely end up well over $49/month.

Now, you might see where I’m going with this, and I will address the pricing assumptions in the disadvantages. But, for now, the hosting product makes WPMU Dev’s platform an excellent value.

Integrations & Simplicity

WPMU Dev has all the must-have plugins for WordPress taken care of. One of the biggest obstacles for running a self-hosted WordPress website is simply making everything work well together.

If you buy into WPMU Dev’s platform, all the plugins work together, which all work well on their hosting configuration.

You won’t have to worry about your SEO plugin conflicting with your backup plugin and both of them burning through your server limits.

Data Centers & Features

WPMU Dev has a whole suite of “sweet” hosting features. By using Digital Ocean, you get a choice of data center location for each website. That’s a huge appeal for anyone & everyone ex-US or with a global readership.

They have plenty of advanced developer-friendly features like staging. migration tools, free SSLs, etc.

If you build WordPress websites for clients, they are a very appealing option. All their features are a value-add for the client but don’t add to your workload at all.

Customer Support

Even though they do not have phone support…and their knowledgebase is still getting built out. They do have stellar chat & forum support.

Every interaction that I’ve had over the years has resulted in above & beyond support. All the support agents specialize in WordPress and have the actual developers who build the plugins on call.

Like I’ve said in other hosting reviews, support is a bit anecdotal. Usually, I try to look for a “proxy” for good customer support. Here though, I’ve been a customer of WPMU’s plugins for so long that I feel like I can say that their support is solidly top notch.

Cons / Disadvantages of Using WPMU Dev Hosting

Every product is going to have complaints online. Every product will have tradeoffs. Sometimes complaints & tradeoffs come from a poorly designed or executed product. But often it’s because the product does not fit the customers’ needs, goals & resources.

That’s especially true with WPMU Dev’s hosting product. The product is well-designed & well-executed. But…it has quite a few disadvantages when it comes to customer fit. Let’s dive in.

Use Cases & Pricing

Like I said in the pros section, WPMU Dev’s pricing is expensive for hosting. But their pitch is that they are more than hosting. They make plugins, have add-on services, and amazing general WordPress support.

But all of that assumes that you’ll actually be using their plugins and add-on services.

I’m a long-time customer, but I don’t use many of their plugins & services…because I don’t like some of them.

Their SEO plugin is solidly fine….but anyone serious about SEO will be using RankMath or Yoast at the very least.

Their Hummingbird / CDN plugin is solidly fine…but I find it to be clunky and not comprehensive. I pair WP Fastest Cache with MaxCDN / Stackpath.

I use JetPack for security & backups instead of WPMU Dev…because I use it anyway because they have a WordPress Android app in addition to Related Posts and more.

And I still don’t use their hosting, even though it’s technically “free” for me, because I just don’t like the limits or workflows…and I don’t want to get locked into a platform anyway.

Platforms are great…but the big reason I use self-hosted WordPress instead of a website builder or even WordPress.com is because I don’t want to be locked into a platform.

Once you start to add up WPMU Dev’s pricing with other services…it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

And even for stand-alone pricing, it’s expensive. Hosts like InMotion have true, managed WordPress hosting with staging, developer features and everything else (including a JetPack subscription) for half the price of WPMU Dev’s member price.

There’s only one use case where WPMU Dev’s pricing makes sense – and that’s for a consultant, agency, designer (or solo site operator) who has several sites (ie, for clients) and wants to dramatically simplify site management.

In fact, if I was still doing pure-play WordPress web design for clients, I would likely just run the whole thing on WPMU Dev. They would allow me to white-label and bill out everything under my name, and it would reduce my workload.

That use case makes a lot of sense…but I don’t think that use case is too common.

But outside of that use case, the whole single price for a single membership to get bundled hosting is just not a good value.

Upgrades & Pricing

All that said, their hosting upgrades & pricing are still expensive regardless of use case.

WPMU Dev Hosting Price

You can get fully-featured managed WordPress hosting elsewhere for a much better price…or at least more flexible.

The sites that fit their hosting specs are pretty specific. For example, If you run a media-heavy blog, you’ll have to pay extra attention to your WordPress settings to keep your install in line….which leads to the next disadvantage.

Jargon & User-friendliness

To be “easy” and common website software, WordPress has a lot of jargon. Most hosts lean into removing that jargon and making it user-friendly.

WPMU Dev’s hosting product is clean and well-thought-out…but it still puts a lot of trust in their average user’s knowledge. I even had to look up terms when working with my install.

Additionally, since it’s hosted with Digital Ocean…and they don’t operate their own DNS…there’s an extra layer of setup to connect the domain to the DNS to the actual website.

Many of the features that could make operating a site for a non-developer or non-advanced WordPress use (like site staging) still come with prompts that assume knowledge or direct to a concise, but not quite comprehensive knowledgebase.

Like the value pricing, the product is user-friendly….for a certain type of user. For a broad market appeal, it has a bit too much jargon to truly be user-friendly.

Versatility & Usefulness

Since WPMU Dev’s hosting product is part of their platform and not a stand-alone product…it does not have the versatility or usefulness that a Linux web hosting account or even a stand-alone WordPress hosting account would have.

Since the entire product is built around the primary use case that I mentioned earlier, they prioritize the non-sharing of resources as the main priority. That’s fine and all, but it leads to tradeoffs that not everyone may realize. For example, here’s what they say in regards to the low storage limits.

It’s also important to understand that the speed, security and stability of WPMU DEV hosting relies heavily on a highly-structured server environment in which each member’s files exist in a dedicated virtual private server. When we refer to “your files” we’re not talking simply about your content, but also your WordPress core files, backups, staging sites, plugins, integrations and themes—all of which are protected in their own virtual world with zero shared resources.

Again, that’s fine. And it’s a pretty typical setup for cloud & VPS plans. But their plans are very low considering the price point that they are operating at ($49/mo)…that it’s hard to decide how much it’s truly worth paying.

Stand-alone hosting products have known limits that you can cross-compare. You can factor in offloading email to Google or running local scripts elsewhere…but since WPMU’s product is so focused and so specific, it’s hard to really judge versatility and usefulness with costs.

Product Novelty & Company Structure

While WPMU Dev has been around as a plugin and theme maker for years, their hosting product is very new. They launched it in 2019, and still seem to be making changes to the product based on customer feedback.

In fact, their system of hosting credits is even more recent than the product itself. Since the company is originally a plugin maker, not a hosting company, I would expect a continued learning curve as they understand the market better.

Additionally, WPMU Dev as a company has been continually moving upmarket and up the pricing ladder in the past few years. My pricing has been grandfathered in thanks to a Black Friday deal several years ago (I pay $19/mo for my plugins). Hosting seems to have been paired with a push to the $49/month pricing tier.

Again, I think the value is still there for many use cases but I am curious just how much further they will try to push the membership fee. Price increases and constant business model changes are part of any Internet business. But for a product like hosting where I just want it to work – and work for a long-time, it’s a bit disconcerting.

WPMU Dev Hosting Alternatives & Use Cases

Here’s who I think WPMU Dev is a good fit for.

WPMU Dev Fans & Multisite Owners

WPMU Dev makes some super-useful and high-quality plugins. I use & love the Forminator Pro plugin on multiple websites. If you are already planning on using (and paying) for their plugins, their hosting product makes sense – if only because it’s already bundled.

Just be aware of the limitations and tradeoffs.

WordPress Website Designers

If you run a WordPress shop and want a fast, standard, quality all-in-one package to present to clients, WPMU Dev’s hosting makes a ton of sense.

You can pay the single membership fee for your shop, but then sell a recurring all-in-one website hosting / maintenance / security package to your clients.

If you stick with WPMU Dev’s plugins, you could easily have a single client “pay” for the membership fee every month, while pocketing additional client retainers. You could manage all the sites from a single dashboard with auto-updates.

Now, for everyone else, I think there are a few other options that would give you all the benefits of WPMU Dev without the downsides.

Managed WordPress Hosting w/ Bundled Plugins

If WPMU Dev is a plugin maker that offers hosting, this alternative is to find a hosting company that offers bundled plugins. This setup is actually quite common, especially among hosting companies that offer “true” WordPress hosting, rather than just web hosting with WordPress trained support.

The upside is that you get all the managed parts of hosting, high-quality plugins, all bundled into a better price point.

The best alternatives here are –

InMotion Hosting – They offer managed WordPress hosting with built-in staging, CDN, NGINX, and more – just like WPMU Dev. They also bundle the JetPack suite of plugins (what I use for security & more). Their interface also offers a WebPro linking feature so that agencies & designers can resell white label hosting options. All this ends up at a much better price point than WPMU Dev. See InMotion Hosting’s WordPress plans here.

WP Engine – They offer highly managed WordPress hosting with built-in staging, CDN, NGINX, and more. They also specialize in highly technical support. While they don’t bundle any plugins, they do bundle the super-high quality StudioPress themes (which I use on this site). They also have unique tools for designers and white-label options. All this ends up being right around WPMU Dev’s price point but with arguably more value and less lock-in. See WP Engine’s plans here.

WordPress.com – Technically, this isn’t a hosting company. WordPress.com is a website builder platform that uses self-hosted WordPress software. This means that they have all the benefits of a full-platform with much of the versatility of WordPress software. Their Business Plan allows 3rd party plugins but also comes with a huge range of built-in functionality. They operate at a lower price point that WPMU Dev. See WordPress.com’s plans here – though do note that this option is not “apples to oranges”.

Bundled Plugin Maker w/ choice of hosting

This option is what WPMU Dev used to be (and technically still is). Here, you’d commit to a maker of a suite of plugins such as WPMU Dev, iThemes, OptinMonster, JetPack, Elegant, etc to keep you costs consistent and then pair it with a WordPress host that fits your budget.

Your costs will be your costs – they might be higher than WPMU Dev with hosting, but they will likely be lower and you’ll have the versatility to move & switch as needed.

A la Carte Everything based on Needs / Budget

If reading this has made you budget-conscious and worried about the costs of running your website, don’t worry. The beauty of WordPress is that the software is free. All you need is a good host that fits your budget, a domain name, and the wherewithal to build your site and purchase premium products as needed. There are more than enough free themes & plugins out there to run a solid website.

And if you are a budding developer or designer, note that you can give Digital Ocean a run on their own – or through a cloud hosting manager like Cloudways.

Next Steps & Conclusion

WPMU Dev hosting is an interesting & welcome addition to the web hosting world. If you fit in the right use cases, it’s an incredible product. But if you aren’t in their target market, you will likely find more affordable and more versatile options elsewhere.

Explore their product line here.

Check out other WordPress hosting options here and other premium plugin makers here.

WPMU Dev Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives

WPMU Dev is a long-time member of the premium WordPress software community. While they are best known for their plugins, they recently launched a new WordP

Application Category: Web Hosting

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Cloudways Hosting Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Cloudways Hosting Review_ Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

So you’re looking into using Cloudways as your hosting provider, and you’re wondering how they stack up against the competition.

But hold on one second.

I tested out Cloudways for a client project because they have gotten really good press for creating a truly unique product in a pretty staid industry.

As with any unique product, they’ll need a bit of background on the web hosting spectrum.

Let’s talk about the difference between cloud hosting and traditional shared hosting.

Usually your website files live on a part of a server that you rent from a hosting company (hence “shared” hosting). A cloud is an entire network of data centers that host website files in a distributed & decentralized fashion. Your files are deployed “everywhere” in a way of speaking. You just rent the resources on the network needed to host & deliver your files.

Imagine real-world housing for a second. Traditional hosting is like buying a house, townhouse or condominium. You buy it and you can do whatever you want. It’s cheap and predictable. But if your entire extended family shows up one day – you might have some issues hosting everyone. Cloud hosting is like having access to any house anywhere in the world whenever and wherever – you just have to pay per night for whatever house you use. It’s more expensive day to day, but when your entire extended family shows up one day – it’s a pretty simple, quick fix. You just get the 12 bedroom house for the night and no one is the wiser.

The actual cloud is built by the biggest tech companies in the world. There are not that many. Amazon is the biggest. They are closely followed by Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM along with a few smaller ones like Digital Ocean.

With cloud hosting, you have more access to guaranteed resources than on shared hosting.

On shared hosting, you have a set amount of resources on a specific server that also has a set amount of resources. For example, you might have 1GB of Memory dedicated to you on a server that has 10GB of memory in total.

But suppose there are 10 customers on that shared server, each with 1GB of memory. 9 of those customers start using a full 1GB of their allocation – sometimes a little bit over. Well, now, you can’t actually use your 1GB of memory without bringing the server done. In that case, you might get throttled or one customer’s site might get taken down. Now, a good shared hosting will have network engineers who have built out ways of balancing, but it’s the core tradeoff with the setup.

On cloud hosting, you pay per use of resources on a distributed network of servers that has basically infinite resources. Your data doesn’t live on a single server. Instead, it’s copied on a whole network all around the world. If a single server gets overloaded, another server starts returning the the data.

This is the reason why NetFlix runs on Amazon’s cloud and why Twitter runs on Google’s Cloud. Those are extreme but illustrative examples. They see huge spikes at random times during the day that only a cloud can handle.

This makes cloud hosting a great option for websites that have spiky traffic (like viral news sites or a site that goes through regular launches) and doesn’t want to commit to a set amount of resources that may or may not be guaranteed.

But cloud hosting is traditionally expensive and very technical to set up, which can make it not make sense for a lot of DIYers and small businesses. The time & money to get it configured *just* right is out of reach for most businesses.

And that’s where Cloudways comes in.

What is Cloudways?

Cloudways is what’s known as a “managed cloud hosting company” headquartered in Malta. They offer hosting via the big cloud companies, but they manage the process by providing custom setup software, support, and some price smoothing to make cloud hosting more accessible to small businesses and DIYers.

See Cloudways Current Plans & Pricing.

Cloudways competes directly with other hosting companies with managed cloud-based products, like HostGator Cloud, WP Engine, and SiteGround Cloud.

However, they also compete indirectly with the cloud companies themselves like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Digital Ocean, and Linode since anyone can buy directly from them.

But Cloudways also compete with traditional shared hosting companies like Bluehost, SiteGround, Hostwinds, Hostinger, Dreamhost, InMotion, etc. because of their pricing model & price point.

Confused yet? Yeah – me too, and I’m the one trying to write this review and explain it to my clients.

In some ways, this point is a pro for Cloudways. They are trying to do something truly unique in the hosting industry. Anything truly novel is hard to figure out. That doesn’t come along often, and it’s worth pointing that out.

Essentially Cloudways provides the guaranteed resources of cloud hosting with the guaranteed pricing of shared hosting. For a lot of businesses, this deal does not make sense — but if you know you’ll have really high highs and really low lows in your website traffic and don’t want to commit to (or deal with the technicalities of) direct cloud hosting with Google, Amazon, etc., it’s a fairly interesting set-up.

So with that said, let’s look at the Pros and Cons of Cloudways hosting.

Pros of Cloudways

There are a lot of Cloudways reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a different approach. As I’ve said in other hosting reviews, there is no such thing as a “best” web host. The “best” is the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise. Here are the pros (advantages) for considering Cloudways.

Simplified Pricing

One of the biggest advantages of using Cloudways as your cloud hosting provider is their simplified pricing packages. Traditionally, cloud hosting pricing is pretty complex. Because you pay for what you use, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what you’re going to end up owing. Just look at Google Cloud’s pricing calculator:

Google Cloud Pricing Calculator

Cloudways has simple, monthly pay-as-you-go plans. There’s no calculating, no guessing — just straightforward monthly rates that you can choose based on your needs.

Cloudways monthly pricing

They also have a chat bot that will recommend a specific plan for you based on the number of websites you have, your traffic volume, and the purpose of your site (i.e. blog, digital agency, etc.).

Cloudways Pricing Suggestions

All in all, the pricing structure is straightforward and pretty hassle-free, which is a huge competitive advantage when comparing Cloudways to other cloud hosting providers.

Cloud Host Variety

Another interesting advantage of Cloudways is the ability to choose your Cloud Host. Cloudways offers hosting with several big cloud hosts, from DigitalOcean to Amazon to Google.

Cloudways Hosting Variety

Again, this makes Cloudways the middle man of sorts. You’re not actually hosting on their platform — they serve as the intermediary between you and the cloud hosting platforms.

Having the choice of cloud hosts in a more simplified pricing structure is definitely a pro… but again, it really only makes sense if you know you’ll have highs and lows in your website traffic and don’t want to commit to (or deal with the technicalities of) direct cloud hosting with Google, Amazon, etc.

Performance

In addition to hosting your website files, a good hosting server will also deliver those files as quickly as possible every time a visitor goes to your domain name address.

There are a lot of variables that go into how fast your website is. You can have the fastest server in the world and still have an incredibly slow website due to issues on your end. But either way, you want to have a hosting server that is fast so that you can work on your side of the equation.

One of the best measurements for approximating performance is TTFB or Time to First Byte. Again, I know that network engineers throw a lot of asterisks here and if you know *exactly* what type of website you are running – you can absolutely ask for detailed allocated specs. My goal with my hosting reviews is to provide a narrative of tradeoffs so that you can make the call for your website.

But here’s how DigitalOcean performed via Cloudways with my website when I first set it up on a clean WordPress install –

speed test for website on Cloudways

.0127s for TTFB is pretty speedy, especially when you compare it to the performance of budget shared hosts like Web Hosting Hub, Hostinger, iPage, or even GoDaddy. Actually, it’s really fast no matter who you compare it to.

Again, there are tradeoffs here. The more your use on Cloudways, the more you’re going to pay. But if you’re looking for a hosting platform that can handle spikes of traffic without throttling your performance, Cloudways gives you some great options.

Cons of Cloudways

Like any web host, Cloudways has disadvantages. There are plenty of Cloudways complaints to be found online. Plenty are valid, and some are simply anecdotal. Here are the cons that I found while using Cloudways for hosting.

Complex Set Up

Perhaps the biggest con of Cloudways is how complex it can be to get up and running.

As much as Cloudways positions themselves as the ones who take care of the complexities of cloud hosting, making it easy for business owners to get set up and focus on their actual business… the set up of hosting with Cloudways is far more complex than traditional hosting.

For starters, aside from a video on how to migrate your WordPress website and some articles, there isn’t much in the way of onboarding (AKA guiding you through getting set up on their platform). We did get a few emails from customer support, but if you wanted to dive in and get started yourself, it’s a bit like navigating a maze.

cloudways migration instructions

We also had some trouble getting our account up and running. The sign up process isn’t as simple as entering your information and diving in. Cloudways has to confirm your details, and it took a few different conversations with support to get access to our account.

Lastly, after the three day trial (more on that in a minute), we had to remigrate our account. Now – this could have been user error, but it was so complicated – even for someone who has written a ton of reviews of hosting companies. I couldn’t even tell if it had worked the first time.

Limited Trial Period

Despite their simplified pricing structure, Cloudways does have one main con in the pricing area… and that’s their limited trial period.

Usually hosting platforms will come with some sort of guarantee or trial period, so you can test them out before you commit. Cloudways offers three days — and if you’re having difficulty figuring out the migration and set up, those three days go pretty fast.

Again, if you’re committed to cloud hosting, this probably doesn’t matter to you. But if you’re testing it out, it’s a short period.

Custom Backend

At most hosting companies, you have an account area where you access to billing, account information, bonuses (ie, Google Ads credits), etc – it will also have links to your actual server backend/dashboard.

Most hosting companies use cPanel as the server backend/dashboard. cPanel is where you go to do anything with your hosting server – install any applications (ie, WordPress), set up email addresses, get your FTP information to upload files, etc. It’s simple, straightforward, and since most hosting companies use it, it’s sort of an industry standard that you can get help with anywhere online.

Cloudways does not use that setup. They use a proprietary backend for both your account administration and your server administration. It’s seamless for what they do…but it’s not really something you can Google or DIY troubleshoot.

Cloudways Database

On one hand, it is simplified and allows Cloudways to provide a truly customized experience. On the other hand, the set up is confusing and feels limiting. It’s difficult to sort through where things are, and everything feels overly technical (which really doesn’t help me “focus” on what I do best, AKA run my business).

It adds to the complexity of the platform, rather than making it more streamlined and simple.

Conclusion & Next Steps

Overall, I found Cloudways to be a unique solution for those who need the benefits of cloud hosting without the complete complexity of it. While Cloudways still isn’t as straightforward as traditional hosting companies, it does streamline the process of getting set up with a cloud host.

See Cloudways Current Plans & Pricing.

If you’re looking for the benefits of cloud hosting, but don’t want to deal with the overly technical set up, fluctuating payments, etc., go ahead and sign up for Cloudways here.

However, if you just need a solid hosting company that’s straight forward, easy to use, and can handle steady website traffic, you’re better of with a traditional hosting platform like InMotion Hosting. I’ve used them for years – and they fit most small business sites’ need for a balance between price, performance & support.

If you are more confused than ever – then take my Web Hosting Quiz here or use my website setup guide here!

The post Cloudways Hosting Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Hostwinds Hosting Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Hostwinds Review

Hostwinds is an independent, US-based web hosting company who’s been around since 2010. They boast inexpensive pricing and excellent customer service, and like most hosting companies, also provide email, website builders, and domain services in addition to basic web hosting.

You can check out Hostwinds plans and current pricing here.

I’ve had several readers email to ask my opinion about Hostwinds, so I decided to give them a shot for a small project.

Here’s my Hostwinds review — structured with pros & cons based on my experience as a customer.

Disclosure – I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All opinion and data are based on my experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pros of Using Hostwinds Hosting

There are a lot of Hostwinds reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a different approach. As I’ve said in other hosting reviews, there is no such thing as a “best” web host. The “best” is the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise. Here are the pros (advantages) for considering Hostwinds.

Simple Plan Structure

When it comes to choosing a hosting plan, things can get pretty muddy pretty quickly depending on the hosting company. Hostwinds’ biggest pro is that their plan structure is incredibly simple.

There are three levels: Basic, Advanced, and Ultimate

Hostwinds Pricing

The only difference among the three is the number of domains you get. All plans include unlimited bandwidth and disk space (a huge pro), in addition to a bunch of bonus features:

Hostwinds Features

Of course, there are some cons to this setup (which I’ll get to in a bit), but the simplicity is a really strong selling point for Hostwinds.

Support Channels

Like I’ve mentioned in other hosting reviews, declaring that a company provides amazing or horrible customer service to every single customer is impossible. It’s hard to know as a single customer if you are dealing with the one amazing or the one horrible employee or if it’s the general culture of a company.

I have limited experience with customer service reps at Hostwinds. We reached out due to an issue getting WordPress installed on a transferred domain, and they were quick to reply and helpful.

Here’s something that’s non-anecdotal though: they are they are available 24/7 across multiple support channels – email, tickets, chat, and phone. They make all their support channels easy to find and simple to use.

Hostwinds Support Channels

Compared to budget market competitors like NameCheap, Hostinger, and iPage, that range of support channels is useful and a good way to stand out.

They also check in on you as soon as start looking at pricing plans — which is a nice bonus feature if you’re new to purchasing a hosting package and have questions about finding a best fit.

Cons of Hostwinds

Like any web host, Hostwinds has disadvantages. There are plenty of Hostwinds complaints to be found online. Plenty are valid, and some are simply anecdotal. Here are the cons that I found while using Hostwinds for hosting.

Credibility Gap

One of the biggest cons I found with Hostwinds is their credibility gap – the difference between what they say about themselves…and what is actually true.

The industry background is that there are a ton of “fly by night” hosting companies that put customers in a bad spot once things go south. Any hosting company that goes for the business market needs to have a track-record and some credibility from 3rd-parties. Usually this comes from press, events, awards, testimonials, a well-known company story, etc.

Hostwinds seems to be trying to establish credibility exclusively with a few badges from pay-to-play review websites.

Hostwinds Credibility

On its face, this is fine… but when you dig deeper, it becomes a bit odd.

Hostwinds really doesn’t have a lot of information about their company – anywhere…not even on well-known business databases or tech company write-ups or common industry forums.

Their About page is pretty generic, they have no real press or company story, there’s not much about the people behind the company, no events or behind-the-scenes tours… nothing. They even have conflicting addresses on their legal page vs. business registration.

It’s all a bit odd and makes you wonder how credible Hostwinds really is.

Because here’s the thing. I’m not questioning that they are or aren’t a real, stable company. They probably are. But it’s the seeming lack of effort that makes this a disadvantage. They are in a notorious industry, so the fact that they aren’t trying to differentiate themselves makes me curious about their internal culture and how that translates to support & performance.

Plan Differentiation + Pricing

As I mentioned earlier, Hostwinds plan simplicity is a major pro. At the time of writing this, there was a discount across all plans (TK Nate – is this typical and portraying current vs. renewals?), and you renew at the higher rate. Each price is associated with a package that comes with some set features.

And the only difference in the features? The number of domains you get.

Hostwinds Pricing Differences

Simple, right?

It’s easy to understand and is an obvious way to make people who want to use more resources… pay for more resources.

But then there’s this in the FAQs:

Hostwinds Business FAQs

This starts to send up red flags about what you’re really paying for, and how exactly they’re load balancing it (if at all). Every shared hosting company has to balance performance across all their accounts. The definition of shared hosting is that the server is…shared. The challenge is to give every account the resources that they need without limiting the other accounts…while also being forthright with what the limits truly are.

Most hosting companies will limit domains, databases or disk space to indirectly limit accounts. Hostwinds does that via domains…but they also seem to allocate resources in other ways and they seem to have two flavors of shared hosting. All of which is confusing. It’s not bad in and of itself…but it does go against their main advantage.

Then when you actually go to purchase a plan, things get a bit muddier. Check out what happens when we tried to sign up for the Basic plan:

Hostwinds Pricing Breakdown

Turns out the advertised pricing on the homepage is only applicable to the 12 month plan — and there doesn’t seem to be a trial period, so once you’re committed, you’re committed.

They also add on web hosting cloud backups automatically, which is a bit annoying (and is usually bundled for free by other companies like InMotion).

Hostinger Upsells

And there’s also not much out there about the domain only being available with the 12-month+ plans. We actually got through the whole sign up process before realizing that we couldn’t get a free domain because we didn’t join the 12-month plan. This could have been user error, but I didn’t see anything about it when I was signing up.

Hostwinds Domains

So again. The ruthless math of hosting returns. Hostwinds isn’t alone in this — but with their positioning of “remarkably low price”… they do leave something to be desired with their limitations.

That’s not to say that Hostwinds pricing is bad per se… it’s just that many other hosts offer money-back guarantees (like InMotion and DreamHost), and if you’re not concerned with having unlimited disk space, you can find a better deal on price elsewhere.

Limited Data Centers

In addition to hosting your website files, a good hosting server will also deliver those files as quickly as possible every time a visitor goes to your domain name address.

There are a lot of variables that go into how fast your website is. You can have the fastest server in the world and still have an incredibly slow website due to issues on your end. But either way, you want to have a hosting server that is fast so that you can work on your side of the equation.

One of the variables that can affect performance is server location. Having multiple server locations allows website owners to choose the closest location to their customers, so their website can load faster.

Now, if your customers are all in the US, this doesn’t matter for you.

But if you are in Africa, Asia, or Australia – this setup can be especially useful — and it’s a setup that Hostwinds is lacking in.

Hostwinds Server Locations

They have the US and Western Europe covered, but that’s it. Again, if you’re not ex-US, it doesn’t matter to you. But if you are, it can be a disadvantage.

Mediocre Performance

In addition to hosting your website files, a good hosting server will also deliver those files as quickly as possible every time a visitor goes to your domain name address.

There are a lot of variables that go into how fast your website is. You can have the fastest server in the world and still have an incredibly slow website due to issues on your end. But either way, you want to have a hosting server that is fast so that you can work on your side of the equation.

One of the best measurements for approximating performance is TTFB or Time to First Byte. Again, I know that network engineers throw a lot of asterisks here and if you know *exactly* what type of website you are running – you can absolutely ask for detailed allocated specs. My goal with my hosting reviews is to provide a narrative of tradeoffs so that you can make the call for your website.

But here’s how their data center performed with my website when I first set it up on a clean WordPress install –

0.9s for TTFB isn’t terrible, but also not in the top tier that I’ve seen. So Hostwinds is not the best performer, but it’s not the worst. If you’re looking for better performance and have a more complex website, you may want to look elsewhere.

Hostwinds Comparisons

Out of the most well-known web hosts that I’ve used as a customer or consultant, here’s how Hostwinds compares directly to each. Or skip to the conclusion.

Hostwinds vs. GoDaddy

GoDaddy is the industry brand name, even though they are primarily a domain registrar, not a hosting company. They’re much improved as a web host since 2013, but their only real selling point is their deeply discounted introductory pricing,. And on that point – GoDaddy definitely beats Hostwinds in terms of pricing. If you’re looking to save some money and get similar features with a hosting company that has an established reputation, GoDaddy is the choice. Between GoDaddy and Hostwinds, I would choose GoDaddy.

Hostwinds vs. HostGator

Hostwinds and HostGator have some key differences. HostGator is a much larger organization and operates out of Endurance’s Houston and Utah data centers. They have very affordable upfront pricing, and are on par with Hostwinds there.

But pricing aside, HostGator has a more established reputation. Most site owners would like HostGator better. I run most personal projects on HostGator.

Hostwinds vs. Bluehost

Like HostGator, Bluehost is another larger competitor. Behind GoDaddy, they are one of the biggest brands in hosting. They used to (pre-2015) have a very similar pricing setup to Hostwinds (TK Nate, I’m assuming yes again?). However, they’ve changed up their plans and moved “upmarket.” On raw pricing and basic features, Hostwinds is a better choice. However, Bluehost is good if you’re looking for higher quality, better options, and an established brand.

Hostwinds vs. Siteground

SiteGround is one of the fastest growing independent hosting providers. They operate out of Bulgaria with regional data centers, and have a better data center reach that Hostwinds. Hostwinds offers unlimited storage and cheaper pricing, so if you want to save money and store a lot of files, it’s the better choice for you. If you can pay a bit more, SiteGround is a much, more established company with better performance.

Hostwinds vs. InMotion

InMotion Hosting is one of the largest and fastest growing hosting providers. They offer the full-spectrum of hosting services. This website uses a VPS server from InMotion. They’re more expensive than Hostwinds’ pricing specials, but offer a much better product on every consideration. InMotion also has a brand called Web Hosting Hub that offers entry-level shared hosting plans. They are more expensive than Hostwinds, but provide a much better product and more options inside their plans. Check out Web Hosting Hub here (review here) and InMotion here(review here).

Conclusion & Next Steps

Overall, I found Hostwinds hosting to be so-so. Their plans are simple and offer good features, but the lack of credibility left me feeling uneasy. There were a few things about the whole process that were just… off.

If you want a simple plan structure that offers unlimited storage and bandwidth, you can check out Hostwinds features here.

If you are looking for an affordable shared hosting company similar intro pricing and a much better product, then go check out InMotion Hosting here. You can also check out HostGator here if you want the option to pay monthly.

If you are more confused than ever – then take my BuzzFeed style WordPress Hosting quiz here, the Web Hosting Quiz here or use my website setup guide here!

The post Hostwinds Hosting Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Hostinger Hosting Review: Pros, Cons, & Alternatives

Hostinger Hosting Review_ Pros, Cons, & Alternatives

Hostinger is an independent, European web hosting company who has grown rapidly in just over a decade. They are also the parent company of the 000Webhost, Niagahoster and Weblink brands. In 2017, Hostinger reported 29 million users.

Like most hosting companies, Hostinger also provides email, a website builder, and various complementary services with 24-hour support and a 30-day money back guarantee.

You can check out Hostinger’s plans and current pricing here.

I’ve had several readers email to ask my opinion about Hostinger, so I decided to give them a shot for a small project.

Here’s my Hostinger review — structured with pros & cons based on my experience as a customer.

Skip to direct comparisons or skip to the conclusion.

Disclosure – I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All opinion and data are based on my experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pros of Using Hostinger Hosting

There are a lot of Hostinger reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a different approach. As I’ve said in other hosting reviews, there is no such thing as a “best” web host. The “best” is the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise. Here are the pros (advantages) for considering Hostinger.

Excellent Onboarding

When you’re using a piece of software, there’s always that point where you wonder, “Okay… what’s next?”

There’s a certain amount of education / how-to needed, especially if you’re a new user. This is known as onboarding – AKA the process of getting a new user set up and using the software they’ve just signed up for.

Hostinger has an amazing onboarding process. There was never a moment where we had to wonder what we were supposed to do next.

In fact, the entire process is laid out step-by-step.

Hostinger Onboarding

They even build in educational content for users who may be new to creating a website and are unsure of certain terms:

Hostinger Onboarding Education

For website owners who are new to hosting, this step-by-step process and additional information is extremely helpful throughout the sign up. It’s helpful without being overwhelming or “sales-y”, and helps ensure you actually finish the set-up process.

Competitive Pricing

At first glance, Hostinger’s pricing looks pretty hard to beat. Their pricing is their claim to fame in the hosting industry.

Hostinger pricing

Granted, this super-cheap pricing comes with some strings attached. When you look at the full pricing structure, you actually on lock in their advertised rates if you commit to a 48-month plan (and renewals are almost double).

Hostinger Pricing Breakdown

But still… less than $40 for two years of hosting is incredible. They also offer a full refund within your first 30-days, and there aren’t any hidden fees or surprises (like set-up fees, etc.)*.

*There are some missing essential extras though that I’ll cover in the cons.

While pricing definitely isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing your hosting company, if you’re looking for a company you can try out but ultimately want to commit to for the long-term, Hostinger isn’t a bad option.

Multiple Data Centers

Another pro of Hostinger is that they offer multiple server locations, allowing website owners to choose the closest location to their customers, so their website can load faster.

Hostinger is on par with other brand names (like SiteGround) that maintain data centers in these regions. If you have customers in Europe or Asia, this is a huge pro. If you’re just looking to serve those in the US, then it probably doesn’t matter much to you.

Cons of Hostinger

Like any web host, Hostinger has disadvantages. There are plenty of Hostinger complaints to be found online. Plenty are valid, and some are simply anecdotal. Here are the cons that I found while using Hostinger for hosting.

Mediocre / Inconsistent Performance

In addition to hosting your website files, a good hosting server will also deliver those files as quickly as possible every time a visitor goes to your domain name address.

There are a lot of variables that go into how fast your website is. You can have the fastest server in the world and still have an incredibly slow website due to issues on your end. But either way, you want to have a hosting server that is fast so that you can work on your side of the equation.

One of the best measurements for approximating performance is TTFB or Time to First Byte. Again, I know that network engineers throw a lot of asterisks here and if you know *exactly* what type of website you are running – you can absolutely ask for detailed allocated specs. My goal with my hosting reviews is to provide a narrative of tradeoffs so that you can make the call for your website.

But here’s how their data center performed with my website when I first set it up on a clean WordPress install –

Hostinger Speed Test

1.308s for TTFB isn’t horrendous…but it’s not good at all. In fact, I’d usually dismiss that score as a mis-test for a well-known hosting company.

But what I found was that more than anything, Hostinger’s tests simply varied wildly. I had to double-check stats with Pingdom Tools before pulling this test as the most representative (I got fast and slow speeds until getting this consistently). Their default memory allocations were fine. And if you are going to be serving lots of images directly from your website, then their SSD drives are plus – but they seem to have quite a few configurations that are off for brand new users.

So Hostinger is not the best performer, but it’s not the worst. If anything, I found them to be inconsistent, which can be risky.

Limited Disk Space

Web hosting companies are all selling the same thing – a physical home for your website connected to the Internet – but they all have different plans with different caps, different bonuses, and different renewal prices.

For most, figuring out their true value requires a breakdown into different parts.

To compare “apples to apples” among hosting companies, I break things down into Core hosting features and Bonus hosting features.

Core hosting features are the “3 D’s” – domains, databases and disk space. The core purpose of a hosting server is to serve website files when someone types in your domain name.

  • Domains are how many domain names you can point to your hosting account. If you want multiple websites, you’ll want to have multiple domains allowed. You’ll also need to look at email addresses per domain – sometimes those are capped as well.
  • Databases are how many pieces of website software you can run on your hosting server. A WordPress install requires one database. If you have any apps, Listservs, etc – you’ll need more.
  • Disk space is how many files you can put on your server – images, text, PDFs, etc.
  • Other features could include anything from website builder software to advertising credits to backend software, etc.

One of Hostinger’s cons is its plan limitations — specifically its caps across disk space.

With their Single Plan, you’re limited to one website and domain and 10GB of disk space. If you have one small website, this isn’t a huge problem. But if you want to scale (or if you are in an image heavy category like beauty or travel), it can be limiting.

Hostinger also limits disk space on their mid-tier and higher-tier plan, too.

Hostinger Plan LimitationsAgain, if you’re planning on creating a smaller site (AKA you won’t have much need for disk space to store images, files, etc.), then this isn’t a huge problem for you. But if you’re looking to add advanced functionality to your site — like PDF downloads on an educational website — or store a ton of images (like a beauty website) you’re going to want to make sure your hosting plan has the capacity to handle it.

Limited Support

Like I’ve mentioned in other hosting reviews, declaring that a company provides amazing or horrible customer service to every single customer is impossible. It’s hard to know as a single customer if you are dealing with the one amazing or the one horrible employee or if it’s the general culture of a company.

I have limited experience with customer service at Hostinger, but here’s what I do know: they are they are available 24/7/365, but only via chat.

Hostinger Support Channels

There’s no email or phone support, and compared to competitors, those lack of channels hurt them. Even with their “Priority Support” add-on, you don’t have the ability to hop on the phone with a REAL, LIVE person.

Hostinger Priority SupportThis is one of those things that doesn’t matter until it does… and then it really matters (i.e. if your site were to go down and you needed immediate assistance). It’s not a deal breaker, but it is a pretty big con.

Limited Essential Extras

There are lots of extras in web hosting that while they are technically not necessary, are all but necessary to run a safe & secure website in a world of constant cyberattacks and automated hacking.

While most hosting companies are moving towards bundling basic security extras, Hostinger charges for them individually.

Backups are a paid feature and they oddly charge for a basic LetsEncrypt SSL that you can get for free on your own. The contrast is especially sharp against companies like InMotion Hosting that bundle brand-name Comodo SSLs and backups with plans.

As mentioned before, Hostinger charges for Priority Support. On its own, that’s not odd. But what is odd is that you don’t get any additional channels. And the price is 4x what you are paying for your actual hosting.

Hostinger Paid Extras

All in all, their upcharges are not a huge deal if you simply factor them in your your total price (which would still beat a lot of competitors). But it does remind me of those super-cheap budget airlines like RyanAir or Spirit Airlines who sell you a cheap ticket but then charge at the last minute for things like overhead bin space, tray tables, and other assumed basics.

Company History / Reputation

Every company has growth pains. And no company should be held to its past sins forever. Nobody hesitates to buy Tylenol or Ford cars. However, I do think that customers should be aware of past happenings to make an all-around decision.

While the Hostinger brand is pretty clean, the company Hostinger has quite a history of growth at any costs and corner-cutting. They had a massive customer hack in 2015.

That in and of itself isn’t super-noteworthy. But for a hosting company, the shortcuts that came to light were pretty eye-brow raising.

Across customer forums, the have had some notoriety for inconsistent performance.

And on a purely personal note, their marketing team ignored my requests for more than 18 months for them to stop regularly bulk emailing me.

I understand fast growth and they do seem to have professionalized their approach recently. But if you have an important, long-term project to commit to an established hosting provider, then Hostinger does not fit that bill.

Hostinger Comparisons

Out of the most well-known web hosts that I’ve used as a customer or consultant, here’s how Hostinger compares directly to each.

Hostinger vs. GoDaddy

GoDaddy is the industry brand name, even though they are primarily a domain registrar, not a hosting company. They’re much improved as a web host since 2013, but their only real selling point is their deeply discounted introductory pricing,. And on that point – Hostinger competes head-on with them – but GoDaddy provides more features. Between GoDaddy and Hostinger, I would choose GoDaddy.

Hostinger vs. HostGator

Hostinger and HostGator have some key differences. HostGator is a much larger organization and operates out of Endurance’s Houston and Utah data centers. They have very affordable upfront pricing, but Hostinger is cheaper.

But pricing aside, HostGator has more features and support channels. Most site owners would like HostGator better. I run most personal projects on HostGator.

Hostinger vs. Bluehost

Like HostGator, Bluehost is another larger competitor. Behind GoDaddy, they are one of the biggest brands in hosting. They used to (pre-2015) have a very similar pricing setup to Hostinger but with better support. However, they’ve changed up their plans and moved “upmarket.” On raw pricing and basic features, Hostinger is a better choice. However, Bluehost is good if you’re looking for higher quality, better options, and better branding.

Hostinger vs. Siteground

SiteGround is one of the fastest growing independent hosting providers. They operate out of Bulgaria with regional data centers, and have similar data center reach. If you want similar features at a very cheap price, Hostinger is for you. If you can pay a bit more, SiteGround is a much, more established company with better performance and more support channels.

Hostinger vs. InMotion

InMotion Hosting is one of the largest and fastest growing hosting providers. They offer the full-spectrum of hosting services. This website uses a VPS server from InMotion. They’re more expensive than Hostinger’s pricing specials, but offer a much better product on every consideration. InMotion also has a brand called Web Hosting Hub that offers entry-level shared hosting plans. They are more expensive than Hostinger, but provide a much better product and more options inside their plans. Check out Web Hosting Hub here (review here) and InMotion here (review here).

Conclusion & Next Steps

Overall, I found Hostinger hosting to be good for what they are. If you have a small website, they’ll do just fine and they’re inexpensive. And if you are ex-US, they’ll be a solid option with data centers closer to your audience.

If pricing is your main consideration (and you don’t mind the plan limitations), you can sign up for Hostinger here.

If you are looking for an affordable shared hosting company with almost as intro pricing, better long term pricing and a much better product, then go check out InMotion Hosting here. You can also check out HostGator here if you want the option to pay monthly or iPage if you want extreme discounts and a good brand name.

If you are more confused than ever – then take my BuzzFeed style WordPress Hosting quiz here, the Web Hosting Quiz here or use my website setup guide here!

The post Hostinger Hosting Review: Pros, Cons, & Alternatives appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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FastComet Hosting Review: Pros and Cons of Using FastComet

FastComet HostingCheck out FastComet’s current plans & pricing here.

FastComet has been in the hosting business for over 9 years, first providing professional services to private and business clients before launching their own public cloud hosting service in 2013. Their core offering is an SSD Cloud Hosting solution that is “one of the most accessible and affordable on the Web Hosting Market”, and are backed by a 24/7 support team of real people.

Due to their pricing and rapid growth, I’ve had a few readers asking what I thought of them, so while shopping for a new budget host for a side project, I decided to sign up and give them a try.

Here’s my FastComet Hosting review – structured with pros & cons based on my experience as a customer.

Disclosure – I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All opinion and data are based on my experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pros of FastComet Hosting

There are a lot of FastComet hosting reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a different approach. Like I mention in all my hosting reviews, there is no such thing as a “best” web host. It’s all about the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise.

Here are the pros (advantages) for considering FastComet.

Support Channels

Like I’ve mentioned in other hosting reviews, declaring that a company provides amazing or horrible customer service to every single customer is impossible. It’s hard to know as a single customer if you are dealing with the one amazing or the one horrible employee or if it’s the general culture of a company.

I have limited experience with customer service reps at FastComet, but here’s what I do know: they are they are available 24/7 across multiple support channels – email, tickets, chat, and phone. They make all their support channels easy to find and simple to use.

Compared to direct budget market competitors like NameCheap and iPage, that range of support channels is useful and a good way to stand out.

They also check in on you as soon as start looking at pricing plans — which is a nice bonus feature if you’re new to purchasing a hosting package and have questions about finding a best fit.

Additionally, all of their support team is listed on their website.

FastComet Support Team

Usually, when I see “24/7” support and instant chat, I think bot… but from the looks of it, FastComet is actually using a live support team to handle requests, which is a solid pro. They are likely able to provide true 24/7 support because they have an unusually global customer base.

Their customers span every continent with data centers spread out from Chicago to Singapore. There’s always someone working and someone available to help.

Relevant Hosting Extras

FastComet is fairly young for a hosting company. And you can tell with how they’ve planned out their hosting extras. Instead of emphasizing things like ad credits, guestbooks, and dedicated IPs – they have things like free daily backups, free transfers, free (and convenient) CDN and SSL integration, diverse data centers, and free self-installers with no upsells / ads.

But their best “extra” that is most relevant is their plan structure with no contract and 45 day money-back guarantee.

There’s nothing worse than being locked into a long, pre-paid hosting package only to find out that you don’t like the host you’re using.

FastComet doesn’t require a 1 or 3 year commitment. It’s all month to month. And if you want to move, you get the previous 45 days payments back. It’s a bold move and shows FastComet is confident that they can deliver on their promise of reliable hosting with great customer service. One of the toughest parts of a host is predicting customer churn (losing future revenue) and balancing that with ongoing investment (buying ever more powerful servers).

In some ways, FastComet’s extras are a a bit of a yellow flag for long-term websites (see cons) but in other ways, it makes total sense. In a world of cloud computing and super-cheap storage, their “extras” should be what you have in 2019.

Fixed Pricing

One of the biggest frustrations in the hosting industry is the confusing pricing plans. Company plans rarely match plan-for-plan so it’s hard to make direct comparisons.

Some companies cap the number of websites on the lower end, others add a bunch of bonuses to their high-end pricing. The middle (aka “Best Value!!!”) is usually a mix meant to get you to make a decision.

There are pros and cons to FastComet’s pricing. In terms of pros, the biggest is their fixed pricing models.

Most hosting companies have standard pricing that they discount based on how long you sign up for. And most hosting companies also provide a discount for the first year, and then renew you for a higher price in the 2nd year. It provides a better deal for you upfront and provides better lifetime customer value for them if you are happy with the service.

FastComet offers an upfront price and renews for that same price. It’s simple and straightforward.*

FastComet Pricing Renewals

*Now…there’s always an asterisk 🙂

FastComet does offer steeper discounts for the longer you sign up for…but they also keep your renewal rate fixed, meaning you pay the same rate you signed up at when it’s time to renew.

There are a couple of catches that I’ll mention in the cons section, but regardless, the deep discounting for a long period of time without having to worry about confusing renewal rates is a pretty solid pro.

Cons of FastComet

Like any web host, FastComet has disadvantages. There are plenty of FastComet complaints to be found online. Plenty are valid, and some are simply anecdotal. Here are the cons that I found while using FastComet for hosting.

Mediocre Performance

In addition to hosting your website files, a good hosting server will also deliver those files as quickly as possible every time a visitor goes to your domain name address.

There are a lot of variables that go into how fast your website is. You can have the fastest server in the world and still have an incredibly slow website due to issues on your end. But either way, you want to have a hosting server that is fast so that you can work on your side of the equation.

One of the best measurements for approximating performance is TTFB or Time to First Byte. Again, I know that network engineers throw a lot of asterisks here and if you know *exactly* what type of website you are running – you can absolutely ask for detailed allocated specs. My goal with my hosting reviews is to provide a narrative of tradeoffs so that you can make the call for your website.

But here’s how their data center performed with my website when I first set it up on a clean WordPress install –

Web Page Performance Test FastComet

0.612s for TTFB is fairly good, but also not in the top tier that I’ve seen. Additionally, FastComet’s tests varied wildly. I had to double-check stats with Pingdom Tools before pulling this test as the most representative. Their default memory allocations were fine. And if you are going to be serving lots of images directly from your website, then their SSD drives are a huge plus.

So FastComet is not the best performer, but it’s not the worst.

Now – there is a FastComet offers multiple server locations, allowing website owners to choose the closest location to their customers, so their website can load faster.

This is absolutely a pro for FastComet. There are not a lot of name-brand hosts (others include SiteGround) that maintain this many datacenters. If you are in Africa, Asia, or Australia – this setup can be especially useful.

Data Centers

However, I am also very curious as to why they have so many, so close together. Data centers really only matter on the continent-scale. Having 3 centers east of the Rockies in the US is not the huge benefit that they want it to be. And also, their headquarters is nowhere near any of their datacenters.

On the face of it, none of this matters – in fact, it’s a plus. They have fine performance, and everything else is a bonus. But between the price structure, inconsistent TTFB, large number of data centers – I do have concerns about whether their current structure will last for the long-haul. The hosting industry has ruthless tradeoffs and fairly thin margins unless you have lots of value-add.

If you are looking for a truly long-term host that has consistent performance over the course of years into the future, I would be wary of FastComet. But if you are ex-US and like some of their other features, then I’d take their performance & features as is and use it for your advantage.

Plan Limitations

Web hosting companies are all selling the same thing – a physical home for your website connected to the Internet – but they all have different plans with different caps, different bonuses, and different renewal prices.

For most, figuring out their true value requires a breakdown into different parts.

To compare “apples to apples” among hosting companies, I break things down into Core hosting features and Bonus hosting features. We’ve talked about how FastComet does really well on Bonus hosting features.

Core hosting features are the “3 D’s” – domains, databases and disk space. The core purpose of a hosting server is to serve website files when someone types in your domain name.

  • Domains are how many domain names you can point to your hosting account. If you want multiple websites, you’ll want to have multiple domains allowed. You’ll also need to look at email addresses per domain – sometimes those are capped as well.
  • Databases are how many pieces of website software you can run on your hosting server. A WordPress install requires one database. If you have any apps, Listservs, etc – you’ll need more.
  • Disk space is how many files you can put on your server – images, text, PDFs, etc.
  • Other features could include anything from website builder software to advertising credits to backend software, etc.

One of FastComet’s biggest cons is its plan limitations — specifically its caps across domains and disk space.

With their Starter Plan, you’re limited to one website and domain and 15GB of disk space. If you have one small website, this isn’t a huge problem. But if you want to scale, it can be limiting.

FastComet also limits disk space on their mid-tier and higher-tier plan, too.

Plan Limitations FastComet

Again, if you’re planning on creating a smaller site (AKA you won’t have much need for disk space to store images, files, etc.), then this isn’t a huge problem for you. But if you’re looking to add advanced functionality to your site — like ecommerce — or store a ton of images (like a beauty website) you’re going to want to make sure your hosting plan has the capacity to handle it.

Pricing Confusion

At first glance, FastComet’s pricing seems pretty straightforward. The price you pay now is what you renew at, and each price is associated with a package that comes with some set features. Simple, right? In fact – I count that as a strong pro in their favor.

But when you actually go to purchase a plan, things get a bit muddier. Check out what happens when we tried to sign up for the StartSmart plan:

FastComet Fees

Suddenly there’s a setup fee and the monthly price is actually higher unless you sign up for a longer-term plan. It can be pretty confusing if you’re coming directly from the pricing plan page.

FastComet Fees

So again. The ruthless math of hosting returns. FastComet is trying to position their pricing so that it’s “No Contract” and transparent…while also finding tactical ways to prevent churn (committing to a year+) and reduce trial customers (the setup fee).

All that is fair…but also makes their pricing structure a bit less innovative. After all, many other hosts will stop charging you after cancellation. And plenty of others offer an even longer money-back guarantee (like InMotion and DreamHost). And others do multi-year discounts (SiteGround).

Anyway, it’s not a huge deal in and of itself. They still have excellent pricing. But like the peformance disadvantage, there’s all these small mini-flags that make me wonder whether they have truly figured out their positioning, business model and future.

FastComet Comparisons

Out of the most well-known web hosts that I’ve used as a customer or consultant, here’s how FastComet compares directly to each. Or skip to the conclusion.

FastComet vs. GoDaddy

GoDaddy is the industry brand name, even though they are primarily a domain registrar, not a hosting company. They’re much improved as a web host since 2013, but their only real selling point is their deeply discounted introductory pricing. And on that point – FastComet competes head-on with them – but GoDaddy provides more features. Between GoDaddy and FastComet, I would choose GoDaddy.

FastComet vs. HostGator

FastComet and HostGator have some key differences. HostGator is a much larger organization and operates out of Endurance’s Houston and Utah data centers. They have very affordable upfront pricing, but raise the renewal price so that FastComet would eventually be cheaper. FastComet has more international datacenters.

If pricing is your main consideration, HostGator has cheaper medium-term pricing and deep introductory prices with more features than FastComet. Most site owners would like HostGator better. I run most personal projects on HostGator. FastComet would be better for ex-US customers.

FastComet vs. Bluehost

Like HostGator, Bluehost is another larger competitor. Behind GoDaddy, they are one of the biggest brands in hosting. They used to (pre-2015) have a very similar pricing setup to FastComet but with a cleaner backend and better support. However, they’ve changed up their plans and moved “upmarket.” On raw pricing and basic features, FastComet is a better choice. However, Bluehost is good if you’re looking for higher quality and better options.

FastComet vs. Siteground

SiteGround is one of the fastest growing independent hosting providers. They operate out of Bulgaria with regional data centers, and have similar datacenter reach. If you want similar features at a very cheap price, FastComet is for you. If you can pay a bit more, SiteGround is a much, more established company with better performance.

FastComet vs. InMotion

InMotion Hosting is one of the largest and fastest growing hosting providers. They offer the full-spectrum of hosting services. This website uses a VPS server from InMotion. They’re more expensive than FastComet’s pricing specials, but offer a much better product on every consideration. InMotion also has a brand called Web Hosting Hub that offers entry-level shared hosting plans. They are competitive with FastComet on price (slightly more expensive), but provide a much better product and more options inside their plans. Check out Web Hosting Hub here (review here) and InMotion here(review here).

Conclusion & Next Steps

Overall, I found FastComet hosting to be good for what they are. If you have a small website, they’ll do just fine. And if you are ex-US, they’ll be a solid option with datacenters closer to your audience.

If that pricing is your main consideration (and you don’t mind the plan limitations), you can sign up for FastComet here.

If you are looking for an affordable shared hosting company with almost as intro pricing, better long term pricing and a much better product, then go check out InMotion Hosting here. You can also check out HostGator here if you want the option to pay monthly.

If you are more confused than ever – then take my BuzzFeed style WordPress Hosting quiz here, the Web Hosting Quiz here or use my website setup guide here!

The post FastComet Hosting Review: Pros and Cons of Using FastComet appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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