Kinsta - Is It Really “Premium Hosting for Everyone”?
Kinsta is a managed WordPress-only hosting service built on the Google Cloud Platform. It uses infrastructure optimized for stable and scalable WordPress hosting.
Let’s face it: on the surface, Kinsta looks good. And I mean really good. Their list of star features reads like the shopping cart of the world’s most enthusiastic hosting connoisseur: the Google Cloud Platform, 18 global data center locations, Amazon Route 53, KeyCDN, four types of caching, and more…
Based in Los Angeles, and founded in 2013, Kinsta is a relatively new kid on the block, but one that’s made the ambitious move of targeting the high end of the managed WordPress industry. By providing only managed WordPress hosting, they claim to be able to provide expert support and an optimal infrastructure for WordPress.
It’s also interesting to note that the Kinsta website is available in 12 different languages, including English, French, Japanese, and Spanish.
The company’s features and pricing make it clear that it is a premium WordPress host. However, in spite of this, it also makes the bold claim of being a “WordPress host for everyone.”
Having reviewed many hosts and having spent my fair share of time in the hosting industry, I’m immediately skeptical. Can a younger company deliver the kind of complete solution that their target customer base is looking for? Is it possible to package all these features in a single product that’s easy enough for anyone to use?
Can Kinsta match (or outdo) its more widely known or long-lived competition, such as WP Engine or Liquid Web?
Well, it’s time to see whether they live up to the hype. Let’s take an in-depth look at Kinsta in terms of their features, ease of use, support, and pricing.
Truly Powerful Features Give You Peace of Mind
Kinsta provides hard-hitting features that should deliver enough in terms of performance, security, and WordPress management so that you can focus on mission-critical tasks.
As you can expect from a managed WordPress hosting service with a premium price tag, Kinsta takes care of the basics of everyday hosting so you can focus on your website and business. They also have a tasty list of premium features that are built-in and will help you take your hosting to the next level in terms of performance and security.
Kinsta focuses solely on managed WordPress hosting and don’t offer any type of website builder.
With all their hosting plans, you get these features for free:
- An SSL certificate
- Automatic and manual backups plus one-click restores with 14-30 days retention depending on your plan
- Four different types of caching
- A multiuser environment where you can create users with certain permissions
- Website analytics
- Staging and site cloning tools
- Multisite hosting up to 80 WordPress sites, depending on your plan
If you need to transfer your website from your previous host, you can take advantage of the free, white-glove migrations by Kinsta’s WordPress technicians. You can also opt to have Jetpack and WooCommerce automatically installed, although this doesn’t include a free Jetpack plan.
There are one or two things I found slightly disappointing. For one, Kinsta doesn’t provide any email hosting, which means you’ll have to come up with your own solution.
You’ll also be blocked from using some WordPress plugins, as the company claims these plugins can interfere with their security and performance measures. These are mostly caching, backup, migration, and performance plugins, as you can see on the list in the knowledge base on Kinsta’s website.
However, the good news is that you get most of these features already built-in. You just don’t get the option to use your own preferred plugin.
If you want a scalable cloud hosting solution with fast routing for increased performance across the world, then there are few (if any) better options than the Google Cloud Platform. It’s no wonder that Kinsta shows this off any chance they get. It’s also a very secure platform which you can improve even more with some of Kinsta’s other security features.
The best about this partnership is that you can pick from a outstanding list of 18 global locations, across all continents, interconnected by premium tier networks. Wherever your target audience is, you should be able to pick a data center that gives them the best possible page loading performance.
Infrastructure Built for Speed and Security
Kinsta doesn’t rely on Google Cloud Platform to do all the work – it has an impressive infrastructure of its own. It’s built on technologies like LXD containers, which means your resources will be completely isolated from other Kinsta customers. This means security breaches elsewhere won’t spread to your hosting and other resource-hungry customers won’t affect your performance or stability.
Nginx, the latest PHP versions, and support for scalable and fast software like MariaDB take care of the rest.
On top of this, Kinsta takes security very seriously. Their engineers constantly monitor for signs of downtime or security breaches. All the must-haves you’d expect are provided, such as hardware and software firewalls, DDoS countermeasures, and SSL certificates. If you still somehow get hacked, the company guarantees to personally fix your hosting with immediate priority.
Don’t let Kinsta’s user-friendly dashboard fool you – if you’re a developer, you get the tools to manage your hosting on a deeper level. You’ll have SSH access, which means you’ll be able to run various tools like Git and create tunnels to your databases via MySQL Workbench, HeidiSQL, Sequel Pro, and, of course, phpMyAdmin. You can also make command-line changes to your WordPress site using WP-CLI.
You can also take advantage of the staging, production, and live environments that you can easily switch between at any time from within the dashboard. Another handy feature is that you can switch PHP versions with just a click, without having to restart your server.
KeyCDN and Amazon Route 53
Other hosts usually charge extra for these premium features elsewhere, but Kinsta includes them in all their plans for free. KeyCDN is a HTTP/2 and IPv6-enabled content delivery network with a presence in 35 global locations. It provides an added layer of efficient routing that should help your content and assets load even faster anywhere in the world. You can set up KeyCDN for your site in just two clicks.
Amazon Route 53 is a global Anycast network that comes with a DNS failover and another layer of geolocation routing. This is another awesome tool that will allow you to provide faster page load speeds for your visitors. If you’d like to manage your DNS in your Kinsta dashboard too, you can conveniently set it up as well.
Ease of use
The Perfect Balance of Power and Ease of Use
MyKinsta, your hosting and WordPress dashboard, boasts a sleek and structured interface similar to modern CMSs. The navigation between the all the different features couldn’t be easier.
When I logged into Kinsta’s dashboard for the first time, I was feeling a bit skeptical. I’ve seen my share of custom dashboards that were clumsy and confusing.
I’m glad to report that Kinsta’s dashboard is nothing like that. In fact, my user experience was almost flawless.
If I really had to nitpick to find something to complain about, it’s that your SSL certificate (and HTTPS) isn’t automatically activated. However, I understand how this could be good for customers who come with their own premium SSL certificates.
These are the elements I was most impressed with:
First of all, I have to give credit where it’s due. Kinsta’s management dashboard is incredible. You’ll find this dashboard has a very familiar layout, especially if you’ve used WordPress:
I found the design exceptionally clean and professional. I love the illustrative graphs that display your website and hosting statistics.
A second left hand menu with tabs makes it easy to switch between the different aspects of site management:
With a dashboard so intuitive and neatly organized, you’ll never feel lost.
If you’re a developer, you’ll appreciate the staging and production environments you can use to implement workflows and work on your site without affecting the live version. You’re probably thinking this is nothing special, but take a look below at how intuitive Kinsta has made it.
You can always see which site you’re working on (and in which environment). There’s a handy drop-down to switch between environments:
Managing Hosting Features
To make managing your WordPress website even simpler, Kinsta has arranged the bulk of your website management tools on a single page in the dashboard. You can clear cache, enable or disable force HTTPS or SSL certificates, switch PHP versions (shown below), restart PHP, and more with just one or two clicks:
Having all these features in one place saves you a lot of time. You’ll find even more managed features, such as automatic backups, restore, and updating plugins, are still only a click away:
Creating an Account
When I signed up with Kinsta, there were only two steps. You can see me going through it step-by-step here. I found the pricing to be 100% transparent and there were no upsells.
I also only received a single email during the whole process with very useful links to documentation which I also got via live chat when first logging in. The biggest flaw I could find was that they don’t email you a receipt. However, you can find it in your billing information panel within the dashboard.
The whole thing took me less than three minutes which is probably one of the fastest signups around, and surprising for a premium host.
Connecting a Domain, Installing WordPress, and Setting up a CDN
Once again, I was expecting a long and tedious process – but despite all the complex features, I still found the process of installing and using these tools very straightforward.
You can install a new WordPress website with just a few clicks. Similarly, you can install KeyCDN and all its features with two clicks.
If you’re a new user, you won’t find any clear guidance on how to connect your domain. For me, it was easy enough to figure out.
I appreciated the small touches, like that Kinsta updates you on the progress of installing your CDN.
In this guide, you can see how to install of these features. It took me roughly 20 minutes. If you have some extra time to invest, you can spend another 20 or so minutes transferring your DNS management to Kinsta. You will be able to benefit from this by taking advantage of Amazon’s Route 53 features, such as DNS failover and geolocation routing.
Kinsta’s Performance Consistently Tops the Charts
Kinsta’s investment in the Google Cloud Platform as well as their own infrastructure and premium CDN/DNS services have paid off, with outstanding results that are independently proven.
I had very high expectations from Kinsta’s performance. The company is known for its stability and fast page loading times. Not only that, but most of the star features are meant to provide even better performance.
Never mind the fact that they serve up 18 global data center locations as well as that their hosting runs on the Google Cloud Platform which is the platform for speed at the moment.
Kinsta backs up their stability with a pretty standard 99.9% SLA-backed uptime guarantee (meaning you’ll receive credits for downtime beyond that point), but I expected their actual performance to be higher. They also publish their own uptime statistics which show 100% for most months with the (very) occasional month at 99.95% or 99.96%.
Not content with taking Kinsta’s word for it, I did run some of my own tests as well as checked the data from other independent reviews. Firstly, according to a massive WordPress hosting performance benchmark survey by ReviewSignal, Kinsta fell within Top Tier status in nearly every category. That means 100% (or close to it) uptime and impressive load handling scores.
Although there are few other long-term records of their uptimes, the almost complete lack of customer complaints is telling. Most reviews from customers who switched over from other hosts to Kinsta say they’ve experienced improved performance.
As for my own tests, Kinsta was almost flawless as far as actually using WordPress was concerned. Even installing huge plugins like Jetpack and WooCommerce was almost instantaneous – something I’ve rarely encountered. I also ran a Sucuri page load time test which you can see below. Keep in mind that Jetpack, WooCommerce and a theme were installed and activated during the test, and that the CDN was enabled:
Kinsta’s average load time was 0.465 seconds across the globe with an overall grading of A+! Some hosts I’ve reviewed didn’t even manage that in the U.S. alone. I chose a server located in L.A., and as you can see, my site loaded in almost no time (0.070 seconds). Even India, which routinely scores above 1 second (or worse) only took 0.867 seconds.
Some European locations were slightly disappointing, such as Paris and Germany. However, overall there seems to be few faster and more reliable hosts than Kinsta.
World-Class Live Chat Support and Training Material
Kinsta focuses on amazing live chat support and self-help resources – but at the expense of other support channels?
One thing Kinsta really talks up is their support, claiming their focus on managed WordPress hosting allows their support team to consist solely of “veteran WordPress developers and engineers.” All plans come with 24/7/365 support availability.
One thing that did surprise me though is that Kinsta doesn’t offer phone support. I personally prefer live chat, but I know some people still prefer phone communication.
The company does offer 24/7 live chat with an integrated ticketing system, so that you can continue the same conversation via chat or email. You can also email them from outside your hosting dashboard.
Kinsta is also available on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. They’re active on all three, and you can expect a quick reply.
Live Chat Support
Of course, the quickest and easiest to get in contact with support is via live chat. No matter where you are in your dashboard, you’ll find a button in the bottom right hand corner where you can open a conversation with support agent.
One nice thing I noticed about live chat support was that they save all your conversations. This means you can contact the same agent that helped you with an earlier issue. It also means you can contact an agent you’ve worked with before and prefer to work with again:
You can even send and receive images, links, and videos, as the chat widget is multimedia enabled.
My first interaction with support came almost immediately after I signed up. I hadn’t receive a receipt to confirm my purchase, so I was worried the transaction may not had been successful.
I was contacted back almost immediately. The agent reassured me that everything was okay, and I was provided with a link to the billing and invoices page in my dashboard:
On another occasion, I wanted to know how to connect my domain to Kinsta. Again, I got an almost instant reply. This time it was another agent, Thoriq, who gave me a quick explanation of the process and provided a link to full instructions within the documentation:
I also had a follow up question regarding the two different ways in which you can set up your DNS in the Kinsta documentation. Just like before, Thoriq provided a short answer as well as a link to more complete documentation regarding the premium feature, Amazon’s Route 53:
Each time you talk with live chat support, you’ll be asked to rate your overall experience and comment if you like. You’ll also usually be emailed a chat transcript:
So, as far as chat support goes, I couldn’t find anything to complain about. I never had to wait long for a response, the support I received from agents was outstanding, and Kinsta makes sure agents can be held accountable. I especially like the fact that you can choose which support agent to contact, so that you can work with someone familiar.
Email support with Kinsta didn’t start off too well. It took 20 minutes of uncertainty just for me to get confirmation that my email was received.
As you can see, even here Kinsta encourages you to reach out via live chat if you’re a customer. And they’re right – the live chat is far superior and they’re playing to their strengths trying to get you to use it.
However, I did get a response about six hours after my initial query. This is in stark contrast to their prompt live chat support, and shows that Kinsta’s priorities are with chat support. Still, the quality of the support was still on par and they gave me all the info I was looking for:
Expensive - But Totally Worth It
Kinsta isn’t cheap, but you get value for your money in terms of performance, quality features, and support.
The first thing you’ll notice when looking at Kinsta’s pricing is that it’s not the cheapest. Kinsta does target a higher-end market, and if you’re looking for budget-friendly managed WordPress hosting, you’re better off elsewhere. For example, the Starter plan is only slightly cheaper than GoDaddy’s most expensive plan and double the price of Flywheel’s Tiny plan.
However, compared to WP Engine, which is the most similar to Kinsta in terms of features, Kinsta actually has the more affordable entry level plan.
Kinsta limits you to between 20,000 to 1,500,000 visitors depending on your plan. Except for the Starter plan, Kinsta and WP Engine offers the same amount of visits for similarly priced plans. However, Kinsta only charges overage fees of $1 per 1,000 visits once you go past your limit, whereas WP Engine charges $2 per 1,000 visits.
If you’re have a high-volume website, this could be a very important factor.
However, WP Engine gives you 1,000 GB of free CDN bandwidth from the entry-level plan while Kinsta starts you off with only 50 GB. For 1,000 GB, you’ll need on of Kinsta’s Enterprise plans. You’ll also get charged an overage fee of $0.10 per GB if you go over this limit.
You can choose from eight hosting packages. There are month-to-month options, but if you’re willing to pay annually upfront, Kinsta will discount two months of your hosting.
Their no-contract hosting means you can cancel your hosting any time after that and still receive a prorated refund for the unused part of your billing period.
There are also some premium add-ons you can purchase, such as CloudFlare Railgun, Elasticsearch, Redis, Nginx reverse proxy, and more frequent backups.
The only accepted payment method is a credit card, but you can also arrange a bank transfer with support for long-term hosting.
Although Kinsta’s pricing may seem steep, I think it’s more than worth it. There are a number of premium features included for free, such as KeyCDN, Amazon Route 53, SSD storage, comprehensive developer tools as well as the fact that it runs on the Google Cloud Platform. In my opinion, the overall quality of the service as well as the fantastic support is well worth of the price tag.
Cancellation and Refund
First of all, the big news is that Kinsta offers an unconditional 30-day money back guarantee for your hosting. What makes it even better is it is a no-contract service, which means you can still cancel any time after that and receive a prorated refund for the unused part of your billing term.
All of the company’s addons are also covered by the same guarantee from the date of purchase. Most other hosts don’t extend their money-back guarantees to addons.
Keep in mind that if you did incur overage fees, the sum will be automatically deducted from your refund or charged to your credit card if it exceeds your refund amount. All one-time fees for technical services such as malware removal, paid migrations, special-case infrastructure are also non-refundable. This is pretty standard, and Kinsta are very transparent about it in their refund policy.
The only bad news is that Kinsta doesn’t let you automatically cancel your hosting and you’ll have to chat with a support agent to initiate it. The good news is that it’s only a short chat, after which they will immediately process your refund. In fact, my case was resolved with the money back in my account in less than two days.
Read more about the cancellation process here.
A Step Up from Ordinary Managed WordPress Hosting
Kinsta delivers on its promises when it comes to performance, support, and premium managed WordPress features, and rounds it off with superb support and a great user experience.
As I sum up my thoughts regarding Kinsta, I’m faced with one big problem. I can’t find anything wrong with this host to balance all the positive things I’ve said about it. I’m not the only reviewer that’s found it hard to do this — Kinsta’s just that good.
I can start off by saying that Kinsta isn’t the most suitable host for everyone’s needs. You can definitely find much cheaper hosting if the only thing you’re looking for is managed WordPress hosting with a superb, custom dashboard and solid performance. You might also be disappointed by their lack of phone support.
However, Kinsta is so much more than that. In terms of performance, it’s consistently scored among the top hosts for a number of years in a row. It provides all the managed WordPress features you could hope for as well as more advanced developer tools. And, the live chat is so good that you’ll barely miss any other support channel.
To top it off, it provides incredible infrastructure which guarantees the highest levels of security and stability.
Yes, Kinsta might be expensive, but you certainly get your money’s worth.