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Nexcess is basically Liquid Web’s little brother, specializing in managed WordPress, Magento, and WooCommerce hosting. It has pretty interesting features, a fairly decent server infrastructure, and good support. There’s a lot to like, and it makes running an online WordPress-based business convenient. It’s still shared hosting, though, and it’s kinda expensive. Do I recommend it? Well, you’ll have to keep reading to find out!
Nexcess is an interesting beast. Once its own company, it’s now a subsidiary of sorts, and it offers services that its parent company (Liquid Web) does not. Liquid Web does servers, both virtual and physical. For the most part, Nexcess does classic shared hosting with an emphasis on keeping things simple and fast infrastructure.
While it has other services like flexible cloud hosting and enterprise hosting, Nexcess’ flagship offering is managed hosting for WordPress, Magento, and WooCommerce. There’s also support for Drupal, Craft CMS, and good old ExpressionEngine.*
So basically, it’s all about publishing and online stores, at fairly reasonable prices. Well, they’re reasonable if your site is making money, because this hosting is not too cheap. So, should you fork out your hard-earned cash on premium WordPress hosting?
That’s why I went undercover to test Nexcess’ WordPress plans specifically. All in all, things turned out pretty well, though of course no host is perfect. Read on to see if Nexcess’ WordPress plans are right for you.
*Obi Wan voice: ExpressionEngine. Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time.
Nexcess doesn’t have a bunch of fancy WordPress-specific features (like InMotion Hosting’s BoldGrid site builder plugin), instead relying on its server infrastructure and a mostly vanilla WordPress experience. This isn’t a bad thing, as such, just a factor to keep in mind as you make your choices.
All in all, I like the features Nexcess does have.
I signed up for the cheapest plan, called Spark. Nexcess’ Spark plansupports 1 website/domain, 15GB storage, and 2TB bandwidth. This is all pretty reasonable for the price, and more than enough resources to get most websites up and running.
All WordPress plans come with:
A free CDN – pre-configured on all WordPress and WooCommerce plans
Unlimited email accounts
Free SSL certificates
A caching plugin installed in WordPress automatically
Automatic image compression and lazy loading – can drastically improve site performance
But those aren’t the most interesting features you’ll get from a Nexcess plan. These are:
It’s Managed Hosting Through and Through
Nexcess takes this part of the service very seriously. Sure, you get the standard (for managed services) automatic plugin and core updates to WordPress, which is great. But you also get a lot of specialized support whenever you need it.
The support team includes a bunch of, as the marketing says, “WordPress Experts.” Go ahead and ask them anything about your WordPress site. If they don’t know how to answer you or fix the problem, then it’s their job to find out.
For people new to running websites, this sort of support is invaluable to learning and growing as a webmaster.*
*An old catch-all term for people who run websites. I love it.
Free Daily Backups
Plenty of hosts don’t offer backups at all unless you pay for them. Others do weekly, or, in some cases, monthly backups. If you’re constantly adding new content to your site, none of those solutions are acceptable.
Nexcess makes daily backups, which are kept for 30 days each. This is huge. This means you’ll never lose more than 24 hours’ worth of content or updates. That can be annoying, but it’s nothing you can’t recover from with a few coffees and some relentlessly happy pop music in the background as you work.
I cannot overstate how amazing it is to have daily backups included. This is one of the biggest reasons to go with Nexcess. Back up everything, all the time, and you will reach nerdvana, my pupils.
If your website gets hit with a huge influx of users all at once, more resources will automatically be allocated to your website, for free, for 24 hours. This is great for dealing with things like “the Reddit effect” (which, fun fact, was previously known as “the Digg effect”). Getting a little extra attention on your site won’t cause your site to get suspended or shut down.
However, if the steady stream of traffic continues, and it’s not a DDoS attack, then you’ll probably need to upgrade your plan to handle the extra site users. But hey, if you’re making money from your now-famous site, that works out!
Multiple User Accounts
I think this is an underappreciated feature. You can create multiple user accounts to give other people varying degrees of access to your hosting account. This is just plain fantastic for teams, agencies, and any other situation where you might want to have more than one person working on your website.
I keep wondering why I don’t see this feature with more web hosts. Or if it’s there, why is it so well-hidden?
Honestly, Nexcess has set a new bar for me in terms of simple, obvious features that… you know… why isn’t anyone else doing this?See full list of features
Ease of use
Nexcess Has a Minimal Learning Curve
Overall, Nexcess isn’t terribly difficult to use, but there’s little hand-holding. The whole service kinda needs you to know what you’re doing, hosting-wise. If you’ve ever built a website with traditional hosting, you’ll find your way around quickly enough. If you haven’t, well, services like Hostinger are a lot easier to start with.
I can’t dock the company any points for this, though. Nexcess is clearly aimed at professionals at every level, from the marketing to the pricing to the UI. And if you need help figuring things out, the support staff is pretty good. (More on that later.)
My experience was mostly smooth and quick, with little to complain about, which may explain why this review feels shorter than others.
The company has its own hosting administration panel to manage your account, billing, and so on. It’s got the usual handy dashboard that shows you what’s going on with your account, if anything.
And then there’s the actual hosting account management UI:
It’s no cPanel, but all the options you’ll need are there. Well, most of them, anyway. Beyond that, you’re just using WordPress, right? That’s a familiar experience for tons of people in publishing.
There are a couple of extra cool features, though:
Stencil sites are like super complicated templates for, you know, entire websites. Except you can manage them really easily on Nexcess. Here’s the idea: Say you want to make a bunch of fairly similar sites, with the same WordPress theme framework, the same plugins, maybe even built-in shopping carts, and so on.
Instead of installing WordPress and all of those plugins manually each time, you can set up one site, then save it as a “stencil site.”
Then, you just create a new website from your hosting panel, choose your stencil, and boom! About half of your work is done for you. This is great if you manage multiple personal projects or make a lot of sites that function in similar ways for clients.
Make a stencil for restaurant sites, another for gardening businesses, and so on to save yourself time.
Free Site Migrations
Have a WordPress site hosted elsewhere? Wish it were on Nexcess instead? Really don’t feel like manually importing your site and checking every image and link to make sure it all works? Well, neither do I.
That’s why Nexcess offers free site migrations. This feature is actually becoming fairly standard across the industry, but it sure makes life easier. And so, it gets a mention here.
Want to try out some new things in WordPress but don’t want to accidentally mess up your existing site? You’re just one click away from creating a “staging” version of your site, where you can experiment to your heart’s content, add a whole bunch of new content at once, and generally mess around.
Then, if you like the changes you’ve made, it just takes another click to merge all of those changes into your existing site. Staging sites are also great for getting feedback on new content, design choices, and site features without exposing them to the general public.
Nexcess is a reasonably global-business-friendly host, with eight data centers all over the world and a built-in content delivery network. The servers run NGINX for the actual hosting, so they’re not slow in the software department. Thus, it all comes down to the hardware.
I installed my favorite testing theme on the WordPress installation and ran a little experiment. This theme comes with all the usual bells and whistles: slideshows and animations, fancy layouts, and images that aren’t quite as optimized as they should be. Yes, that’s on purpose, because most consumer-made websites are not perfectly optimized.
Not too bad. Complete page load time averaged a respectable 1.65 seconds, though there were temporary spikes where things went a lot slower. Uptime maintained a consistent 100% average.
All in all, decent, semi-consistent performance. I’m gonna go into the numbers a bit more, but if you’d rather just see what happened when I actually had to talk to a person, here’s a link to the Support section.
This is what we use to test page load time and general efficiency.
I’ll be honest, I’d have been happier if the servers were a bit more stable. The fastest complete page load time was 1.1 seconds, and the worst was a rotten 2.8s. That said, most of my tests were in the 1.1s-1.5s range, so it’s generally not that bad.
That’s the downfall of shared hosting. Not having properly dedicated resources for your site means you’re at the mercy of other sites on the server and the traffic they’re getting.
Here’s the best test result we got during the testing period:
UptimeRobot did, at least, show a pretty consistent ping rate, so actually connecting to the server is not an issue. One-hundred percent uptime looks impressive (and it mostly is), but keep in mind that we didn’t run this test for months on end.
Pretty Great, Except for Nexcess’ Bad Phone Connection
The support team is generally great to interact with. Nexcess advertises the fact that it has WordPress experts on call for all of your needs, and for a WordPress-focused service, that’s exactly what I like to hear.
I had to put the customer support systems through their paces, though, and I got mixed results. I want to be clear that the actual people I interacted with were great. The systems they have to work with, though… that’s where I ended up with mixed results.
You’ll see what I mean down below.
This went well. I got a response in minutes when I asked if I could move a site between data centers. I admit, I was tired that day and didn’t express myself too clearly, but the agent figured out my question quickly enough and responded with a helpful link.
Their English wasn’t perfect, but they got the job done.
I didn’t get the nameservers sent to me in any of the welcome emails, and the documentation had wording that made me wonder if I should be using the nameservers listed there. So I opened up a ticket to ask which nameserver I should use.
I got a perfectly efficient and informative response in nine minutes. As usual, the ticket system is also connected to the email support.
I decided to put the WordPress Experts to the test, so I called the American support line. I told the agent that I wanted to build a membership site, and I asked what the best/safest membership plugin to use would be. He was responsive and ready to at least Google me an answer, but alas, it was not meant to be.
The call dropped after a few minutes, before I got my question fully answered. I will say the agent was polite and doing his best to be helpful, but technical issues got in the way. It could be Skype’s fault, but it could also be a problem on their end.
Called again, and the call dropped before I could talk to anyone.
Ah, heck. I’ll give this interaction half of a perfect score. Before the call dropped, the conversation was going really well. And it was a conversation, rather than someone following a script or anything annoying like that.
Fair Prices for Decent Service, but No More Than That
Like I said in the beginning: Nexcess is not the cheapest option. For the features it provides, the prices are OK, even pretty fair. This is clearly a service you’re meant to use to make money.
That said, I’d rather pay those prices for a VPS and get more stable performance… and then I’d have to configure and manage everything myself. It’s all about the tradeoffs, right? If Nexcess sounds right for you, you can pay via PayPal and most major credit cards.
Cancellations & Refunds
This could be a lot better, but… if you start with the cheapest plan, you can also get a 14-day free trial. It’s only available on that one plan, and if you accidentally sign up and pay instead of specifically signing up for the free trial, no refund for you.
Well, guess what I did by accident.
You can request cancellation at any time via the admin panel. I did, and things went seamlessly. Didn’t get that refund, though.
I've been with Nexcess for about a year. They have made progress over the last several months and are continuing to improve. The backend admin panel lacks some features common at other hosts (like the ability to manage domain redirects or access a file manager). Reliability has been strong. Support is good most of the time, though out of the couple dozen times I have contacted them, on 2 or 3 occasions I didn't hear from them until I sent another email to remind them of the issue. When they do respond, the support team is helpful and friendly.
Nothing but the highest praise for the entire Nexcess platform + support personnel. We've been with them for 8+ years. Every hosting provider will have hiccups. Where Nexcess excels is in helping resolve issues with us when we need them most.
I have been with Nexcess for several years and they have been fantastic to work with. Magento really requires specialized knowledge and they have it. Their support understands Magento and has bailed me out of quite a few situations. I would highly recommend.
We started with Nexcess and they were great!!! when we started but now. Horrible stay far away it has been a nightmare the last few months can't even put in a support ticket and (NO ONE WILL ANSWER A PHONE NOW!) Very upset that this company has failed big time! I would give a ZERO STAR BUT IT WILL NOT LET ME.
This host may not be the least expensive but the quality of the support has been far and above anything I've seen elsewhere and has more than paid for itself over time. The techs here go above and have even helped me troubleshoot issues caused by my own code. If you are tech-savvy without being an expert these guys are perfect for you.
I requested a cancellation of my hosting and they charged me twice. When I asked why they charged me they said they will send instructions on how to cancel and never did. Then they charged me again. I don't recommend anyone to work with Nexcess. Very bad support.
Nexcess has pretty interesting features, a fairly decent server infrastructure, and good support, for premium prices. There’s a lot to like, and it makes running an online WordPress-based business convenient… if you already sort of know what you’re doing and don’t mind the performance pitfalls of shared hosting.
It’s sort of intermediate-level hosting.
However, if you’re looking for a more beginner-friendly experience for cheap, Hostinger’s a better option. If you want a full enterprise solution, Nexcess’ parent company, Liquid Web, is worth a look.
Is managed WordPress hosting better than unmanaged?
That depends on what you want. Want complete control over your data and greater privacy? Then doing everything yourself is better, with the only tradeoff being your time or money spent on a WordPress professional. And hey, WordPress can pretty much just update itself these days in any case.
You can get unmanaged hosting a lot cheaper at a company like Hostinger. Use the money you save on a WordPress course, maybe.
The advantage of proper managed WordPress hosting is that you can set up your site and forget about it. I’d update the blog now and then for SEO and to keep in touch with your users, but other than that, you’re home free.
Nexcess is decent for that, but if you have the money to spare, I’d check out Kinsta, which has the best managed WordPress hosting I’ve encountered so far.
What performance tools for WordPress does Nexcess have?
There are two big performance-related features… well, two that mean anything for WordPress. The first is a built-in caching system integrated right into Nexcess’ server technology. All you have to do is hit a button, and parts of your website will be stored (or “cached”) both on special parts of the server itself and on the user’s computer to make your site load faster.
There’s also a built-in content delivery network (CDN), which will basically store copies of your site all over the world, so international users can load the site faster.
As far as I can tell, the price stays the same no matter what. Nexcess certainly charges enough right off the bat that raising renewal prices would just be greedy. All things considered, I prefer this approach.
You do get a discount for paying for a year at a time, of course. And hey, if you’re looking for discounts on Nexcess or any other host, you should have a look at our hosting coupon page.
Does Nexcess have an uptime guarantee?
This is a tricky one. Nexcess only promises to have 100% “transit to the internet,” and 100% “uninterrupted electricity.” That does not mean that your website itself is guaranteed to be up for any percentage of time. It’s a sneaky bit of wording, if I’m honest.
That said, we’ve had few actual problems in our testing. Just know that if your website goes down and stays down a while, you have no legal recourse or compensation due. If your site goes down, and it’s a software issue of any kind, the best you can hope for is that tech support will help you fix it.
Is Nexcess easy to use?
Mostly yes. As always, it helps a bit if you already know a bit about web hosting, but I wouldn’t say that the system is hard to learn. Helpful information is presented in an at-a-glance format, and all the tools you need are there.
If you’re looking for a super beginner-friendly experience, though, I’m going to recommend Hostinger again.
Ezequiel Bruni is biologically Canadian, legally Mexican, and self identifies as a total nerd. He's been a web and experience designer off and on since he was a teenager, and loves sharing the kind of beginner's advice he really wishes he'd had when he first started. He also loves video games, tacos, open source software, video games, sci-fi and fantasy in all their forms, and video games. He does not love writing in the third person.