Fast and Easy to Use, Perfect for Beginners and Basic Websites
Namecheap is widely known for its discounted domain names, but like many other registrars, it has also branched out into hosting. Are the hosting solutions on par with the best of the best the internet has to offer? I signed up to find out.
Namecheap has been in the business since 2000 and has over 10 million active domains registered. It’s website hosting plans cover most hosting types and include shared, managed WordPress, VPS (virtual private server) machines, dedicated servers, and even private email hosting. All services are available in English.
Now, while it’s extremely tempting to purchase your domain name and hosting plan from the same provider, you should be wary of doing so. An all-in-one solution simplifies everything – from management to support and billing – but a jack of all trades is (usually) a master of none.
Laughing in the face of danger, I took the risk upon myself and signed up for managed WordPress hosting. To my surprise, I found a managed WordPress platform like few others, seamlessly designed and providing a fantastic user experience.
Still, does that ease of use come at the cost of features? Can the service really answer advanced needs, or will you find yourself limited and unable to grow? Well, read on and see for yourself!
Great Basic Features, but also Serious Limitations
Namecheap provides powerhouse VPS and dedicated servers, but we’ll focus on the shared hosting side of things. Shared hosting is the simplest, cheapest form of hosting, and in my opinion, there’s no better place to start.
With Namecheap, shared hosting includes two subcategories: Regular shared hosting and managed WordPress hosting.
I signed up for WordPress hosting, which is provided through Namecheap’s proprietary platform – EasyWP. EasyWP is a WordPress-only cloud-based plan and can’t be used with any other CMS (content management system). Regular shared hosting, on the other hand, lets you install any CMS through the use of Softaculous.
In terms of storage space and bandwidth, the basic EasyWP plan, Starter, has 10 GB SSD storage and allows for 50,000 monthly visitors. The mid-level plan, Turbo, comes with 50 GB of SSD space and about 200,000 monthly visitors. The most advanced plan, Supersonic, has 100 GB of space and about 500,000 monthly visitors.
This “monthly visitors” metric is confusing, as bandwidth is usually measured in GBs. I tried to get an answer from support, but they kept claiming that there’s really a “visitor counter” working in the background. Either way, your site will have a lot of room to grow.
On to regular shared hosting. The basic Stellar plan has 20 GB of SSD space, the second plan has unlimited space, and the last one is capped at 50 GB. Bandwidth is unmetered for all three.
You must be thinking – how come the mid-tier plan comes with more space than the most advanced one? According to Namecheap, it has something to do with “premium support” and “extra caching.” I think it’s just cheap.
Anyway, let’s go deeper, into features that can make or break your site.
The EasyWP Platform Includes One-Click Backups and SFTP Access
We’ll go over the EasyWP interface in the Ease of Use section, and there’s a lot to say about it. For now, you need to realize that it’s a replacement for the cPanel hosting management panel. It’s not as complex and advanced in its offerings, but it does provide a few cool options.
The first one is backups. A one-click tool allows you to instantly back up your entire site, and you’ll be able to easily restore it in the future if needed. If you want to download the site files and/or database to your local machine, it can also be done.
Second is the database and SFTP access. By default, you won’t have any accounts for these options, but by using the EasyWP dashboard, you can easily create temporary or permanent logins.
The SFTP option is my personal favorite. While you may be used to just getting your FTP details off cPanel and logging onto your website’s folders and files, there’s a huge risk involved in doing things this way: FTP is neither secured or encrypted, and using it leaves you vulnerable to malicious hackers who can get access to your account.
SFTP, on the other hand, poses no such risk. It usually requires a longer and quite tedious process to be set up, which is why many choose to skip it. Namecheap’s EasyWP goes the extra mile, providing SFTP out the box. Kudos.
The EasyWP Plugin Saves Time and Effort
There are a lot of plugins that end up being installed on a WordPress website, with caching and optimization plugins being some of the most sought-after ones. There are dozens of available options, so it’s easy to get lost.
That’s why I was extremely happy with Namecheap’s EasyWP plugin. It comes pre-installed with your WordPress installation and includes many of the speed-boosting options you’d otherwise be searching for.
It provides three levels of advanced caching – a technique used to create temporary copies of your site’s pages and data. As a result, your server will be more efficient and your visitors will enjoy faster loading times. If you want to clear the cache, just click:
Now, the weird thing is that Namecheap also blocks many other plugins that it has deemed to be “unnecessary” or “potentially harmful.” Even if you want to install a different caching plugin, you won’t be able to do so.
It’s convenience at the cost of freedom, I guess. Anyway, the regular shared hosting plans include neither the plugins nor the limitations, and you’re free to choose whatever option you like best.
An SSL Is “Supported” on EasyWP, Included with Regular Shared Hosting
I’ll tell you, there’s always something funny going on with the SSLs. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, an SSL is a security certificate that proves the authenticity of your website and protects your visitors’ data. It’s that little padlock to the left of your address bar.
If you want to rank well on Google, give your visitors peace of mind, and accept payments on your site – you need an SSL.
Some hosts charge extra for it, trying to get a few extra bucks out of you. At first sight, it seemed that Namecheap is different and includes SSLs in the EasyWP plans:
Unfortunately, that’s just not the way it is. You see how it says “Give another layer of security…” but not that it’s provided? This fiendish use of words is meant to disguise that fact that no SSLs are included with any EasyWP plan. I found this out the hard way, only after purchasing my plan.
In your account area, you’ll be presented with the option to purchase an SSL from Namecheap. It’s cheap alright, but I just can’t condone this trickery. Learn from this, and don’t be fooled into thinking your EasyWP plan comes with an SSL!
For whatever reason, Namecheap does provide SSLs with all regular shared hosting plans. Get it? If you choose the more expensive managed platform, EasyWP, you’ll have less security than in the cheaper plan – unless you pay even more.
Support for Namecheap Domains Only
Meh. There’s no justifying this. EasyWP plans can only work with Namecheap registered domains. What’s the difference between a domain from Namecheap and one from GoDaddy, you might ask? Well, Namecheap doesn’t make money off domains you buy from GoDaddy.
I had no idea this limitation existed before signing up. The “feature” is sneakily described as “Your Namecheap domains will show up right on EasyWP.” I did not think it was impossible to connect other domains – just that it wasn’t as easy.
Luckily, the domain I was using was from Namecheap. Had it not been, I would’ve had two options: use an ugly-looking subdomain or transfer my domain to Namecheap at an extra cost. Not cool guys, not cool.
The regular shared hosting plans come with none of these limitations, and you’ll be able to simply point your current domain to the nameservers.
Ease of use
What Can Be Done Is Super Easy to Do
I mentioned that Namecheap’s EasyWP is easy, but that’s an understatement. The whole process, from signup till WordPress, is lightning fast and requires almost nothing out of you. The management dashboard is streamlined to perfection, and everything is a one-click joy.
But… it doesn’t really contain everything. It’s actually limited to a few actions you can one-click your way through, and no others. These include deleting your website, connecting a Namecheap domain, uploading an SSL, backups, SFTP access, and database access.
What about everything that’s so easy to do with cPanel, like setting up DNS (Domain Name System) configurations, email accounts and mailboxes, subdomains, a browser file manager, logs, and timed tasks? These options just don’t exist.
And that’s the major tradeoff with EasyWP. The things that you can do are ridiculously easy to do. The rest is impossible.
Anyway, let’s see how it all looks:
Signing Up and Installing WordPress
Signup involves selecting your plan, signing up, and entering payment details. You’ll be asked for your personal details – nothing special – and after paying you’ll immediately be directed to creating your website:
If you already have a Namecheap domain, you can connect it now. If not, feel free to use the EasyWP subdomain for now and change it later.
After entering your desired website name and choosing a username and password, your new WordPress installation will be ready to proceed:
And that’s it. Everything is installed, and you’ll be redirected to your EasyWP dashboard. You can find a detailed description of the domain and WordPress installation process (including one problem I encountered) with Namecheap here.
Using the EasyWP Dashboard
Use the dashboard’s tabs to easily navigate between the different options. To enter your WordPress administrator panel, for example, just click WP Admin on the upper right corner:
If you want to enable SFTP access, all you need to do is enter the Files & Database and activate the option:
Connecting the Domain
Connecting your domain is obviously done from the Domains tab. Remember – it’s Namecheap domains or bust. Because I already had a domain registered with Namecheap, it appeared in the dropdown menu.
Select your domain, press Change, and the process will start. It shouldn’t take longer than half an hour, and mine was connected in less than five minutes.
Now, I want to reiterate: I’ve never seen such an easy-to-use WordPress platform. It’s just not possible to go wrong, and the few advanced features available are foolproof.
If this is all you need, I can’t recommend it enough. If you require even a single thing that’s not available here, opt for regular shared hosting instead. It comes with cPanel, and while it’s a few steps up in terms of complexity, it’s a much fuller hosting experience.
Blazing Fast and Extremely Reliable
So my EasyWP was super easy to set up, and it’s packed with some great features – while also limited in terms of advanced possibilities. That’s all ok. In the end, I got a working WordPress website in about a minute and a half. It’s time to take it for a drive.
I started by using Sucuri Load Time Tester to check my page loading speeds across the globe:
Vavoom! Without any optimization whatsoever, my test website got an A+ performance grade and is in the green almost all over the globe!
It is a bare-bones WordPress installation, containing only the Twenty Nineteen theme and boosted by EasyWP’s caching, but this is impressive. From the US and South America to Europe and even Singapore, everything in the green!
After uploading pictures and content to your website, it will be slower, but this is one of the best starting points I’ve seen for shared hosting. Unless your audience is located in East Asia, I’d say you’re good to go.
Let’s see what GTmetrix has to say about our website:
I don’t know what to say – the people at Namecheap are doing their job. All server optimizations have been done beforehand, the caching plugin is working overtime, and the only points off are for the lack of a CDN (content delivery network).
If we can just add a CDN, we’d have a perfect score! But… we can’t. EasyWP simply doesn’t support CDN networks.
And still, this level of performance deserves a special mention. I researched Namecheap’s server infrastructure and only managed to find allusions to the ever-mysterious “cloud.” I asked support for clarification and found out that this specific cloud hovers over Phoenix, Arizona.
I’m not sure what they feed their servers in Phoenix, but they should share it. I tested my website’s uptime for more than two weeks and was very happy to see a 99.92% result:
Not the Best, Not the Worst
It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions up until now! After performance, you must be wondering what’s support like? Is it fantastic? Abysmal?
Well, support is just kind of there. Not bad, rude, or completely unknowledgeable, but the support agents sometimes require your… support.
First of all, support is available 24/7. There are no phone numbers or emails you can contact, but live chat is accessible from almost any screen, and there’s also a support center with a ticket system.
My first interaction with support was before purchasing my plan. I opened a live chat session and an agent was with me in about a minute. I asked general questions about the difference between EasyWP and regular shared hosting, and it took him about a minute or two to respond to my messages.
When we got to the subject of SSLs not being included with EasyWP, Ruslan agreed with me that it wasn’t described well in the features. Points for candor.
My second interaction with support came after I was unable to connect my Namecheap domain to the plan. I knew the reason – I changed the nameservers for my Bluehost review – but I wanted to see if support could figure it out.
The agent did understand that the problem rested with the nameservers, but proceeded to point me to the wrong tab. I sent a screenshot of that page, and she realized her mistake. She then pointed me to the right tab.
My experience with the ticketing system was less successful, as it took over an hour to get a reply. The agent did not respond to my last question, but in general, her response was satisfactory.
In my last live chat interaction, I attempted to ask about the difference between “monthly visitors” and “bandwidth” in the EasyWP plan. While the representative attempted to give complete answers, he did need some time to get the information, and he didn’t fully understand the questions.
All in all? If you stick to live chat and are patient enough, support can help you out with the basics. If you’re planning to rely on them for advanced issues, you might not be so lucky.
Affordable Prices and Free Extras
Namecheap is true to its name. Regular shared hosting is cheap, and so is the managed EasyWP platform. Even the more advanced plans, like VPS and dedicated servers, are available for relatively affordable prices.
While all shared and EasyWP plans are available on US servers, you can opt for shared UK hosting at an extra cost.
In terms of subscription periods, you’ll have a choice between monthly and yearly plans. This is really great, because unlike Hostinger, where you need to sign up for 3-4 years to get the best prices, Namecheap provides a combination of great prices and flexibility.
The checkout page for EasyWP includes no automatic upsells or other sketchy business practices, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally purchasing an unnecessary service. Just remember that there’s no SSL included – you’ll have to buy it separately.
Namecheap does provide a free domain with all yearly regular shared hosting plans (but not with EasyWP). Not only that, your domain also includes WhoisGuard, a feature that ensures your private details remain hidden from the nosy public.
All plans are protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you’ll have ample time to check out the services yourself.
In terms of payment options, Namecheap accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. You can also pay for your account using PayPal and cryptocurrencies.
The cryptocurrency option is especially interesting, as Namecheap is currently one of the few big hosting companies to accept cryptocoins, like bitcoin and Ethereum.
If privacy is a major concern for you, paying with bitcoin and using the WhoisGuard can provide you with almost complete anonymity.
Canceling Your Account
After I finished testing the service, it was time to say goodbye. I looked around my Namecheap and EasyWP user dashboards but couldn’t find any cancellation option. Wanting to make sure I could cancel and claim my 30-day refund, I contacted support.
An agent was with me in a few minutes and explained that EasyWP plans need to be canceled by support. There’s no way of doing this yourself.
I was verified using my domain, username, and support PIN. As I was asking about cancellation, I suppose the extra verification was necessary.
When asked about my reason for canceling, I answered that I didn’t need the site. The agent promptly proceeded to take care of things on her side. After 10 minutes, everything was done, and she confirmed the cancellation was successful and that my refund should be coming in 2-10 business days.
I was credited the full amount in three days. All in all, everything went smoothly and the whole thing took about 20 minutes. Pretty good, although an automatic cancellation would’ve been even better.