Kinsta Review: Is it the Best Managed WordPress Web Hosting?

Web hosting is the lifeblood of any online business.

It’s a platform that allows people from all around the world to consume your content, find your products and services, and ultimately become paying customers.

Ironically, it’s also a service we often forget we’re using until something goes wrong.

When your usual flow of traffic is suddenly suffocated by a slow server, security breach or complete system failure is when you start to go into a deep panic.

Kinsta Review

Last updated: July 23, 2018
Initially published on: July 23, 2018

tl;dr Summary
Kinsta managed WordPress hosting service is impressively fast and packed full of features you’d want for a serious website.
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The truth?

Web hosting is among the first and perhaps most important investments you’ll make in your online venture, so it’s worth taking the time to properly weigh up your options.

In this Kinsta review, we’re going to take an in-depth look at one of the most popular, WordPress hosting solutions on the market.

What is Kinsta?

Kinsta is a managed WordPress hosting company which started back in 2013.

Managed WordPress hosting means that Kinsta handles all the technical aspects of hosting your WordPress site, including performing updates, backups, security, uptime, and scaling.

Kinsta’s hosting platform is built on top of the Google Cloud Platform. Each WordPress site you host gets its own isolated container which contains all the software needed to run it.

This means you will avoid issues that have plagued shared web hosting plans for eternity where you have hundreds of customers on a single server sharing the same resources.

Part 1: What are some of my favorite features of Kinsta?

Cool Feature #1: The UI is better looking than my girlfriend
From the second you load up Kinsta’s website you get an immediate sense that these guys aren’t messing around.

I mean, you expect as much from a company offering a “premium hosting service”, but I still couldn’t help but be in awe of their design.

Kinsta UI

But it doesn’t stop at their website.

As soon as I chose a plan and made payment, I was taken to the dashboard area where the real magic happens.

Check this bad boy out:

Kinsta Dashboard

Most hosting providers rely heavily on cPanel for most of this functionality — and I’m sure you’ll agree that cPanel’s interface looks like it came straight out of the 90’s.

This custom built solution is infinitely more appealing and much easier to use and includes everything from 1-click WordPress installation to resource usage and website analytics.

Cool Feature #2: The servers are blaaazing fast

Site speed has always been an important factor for site owners.

If not for the user experience, site speed is also believed to have an influence over your rankings in search engines like Google (albeit to a small degree).

And while much of that burden would typically rests on the quality and efficiency of your themes, plugins and other external scripts, the hosting server does play a key role in that as well.

As a SiteGround user myself, you’ll be pleased to know that Kinsta absolutely destroyed SiteGround’s shared hosting on the speed test.

Here’s what I did on both hosts:

  • Installed a fresh copy of WordPress
  • Installed and activated Astra theme
  • Installed and activated Elementor page builder
  • Create a page and loaded an Elementor page template
  • Set that page as the home page
  • Ran the site through Pingdom

Note: The page template used was specifically chosen because it was rich in content, including plenty of text, images, videos and a Google maps embed.

This was the result for Siteground:

Siteground Results

And this was the result for Kinsta:

Kinsta Results

Keep in mind though, this test was performed without any additional optimization and is by no means a reflection of the best possible load time.

I’ll get into the specifics of how they manage to pull this off later in the review.

Cool Feature #3: Backups are done automagically

You know the age-old advice of making regular backups of your site?

Yeah, let’s be honest, most of us don’t.

Nobody would argue the benefit of having a backup on hand if something goes wrong with your site, but running manual backups is so 2015.

Kinsta, like a select few other web hosts, creates automatic daily backups of your site while you sleep.

Kinsta auto daily backups

These backups will be capped at 14 days, at which points newer backup copies will begin replacing them.

The best part?

As long as it’s within that time period, you can restore any backup in a heartbeat if necessary.

Oh, and you can also restore these backups to your staging environment instead, but more on that in a sec.

Cool Feature #4: You can set up 1-click staging sites

Making changes to a live site is like rolling around in a mirror store, you never know what you might break. #7yearsbadluck

And even though automatic backups are a great safety net to have, there’s a much more efficient way to test changes, troubleshoot plugin issues and even do complete redesigns of your site.

Yep, a staging site.

A staging site is essentially an offline copy of your live site, and Kinsta lets you create one of these at the click of a button.

Kinsta one click staging

The staging environment will look function exactly like your actual site, except nothing you do will have an impact on the main site.

You can make any number of changes to it, and when you’re ready, instantly push those changes to the live site.

Again, in typical Kinsta fashion, this is a 1-click action.

Kinsta staging part 2

Cool Feature #5: The live chat is SUPER responsive

Web hosting is easily one of the most support-focused industries online today.

Of course, that’s not surprising given the role of a web host, where even slightest server issue can cause significant financial loss — not to mention the stress implications.

Kinsta’s claim to fame is the quality of their support, so I was quick to jump into the live chat and see for myself.

I tested the response time throughout various times of the day, on various days of the week, including Sunday.

A direct and comprehensive response came back within 2-3 minutes every time. It was beautiful.

Here’s me asking about Kinsta’s security features:

Kinsta live chat support

Of course, support isn’t all about response time, but also how knowledgeable the support agents are when it comes to the more difficult questions.

So I decided to dig a little deeper on one of the points he gave me:

Kinsta live chat part 2

Of course, Lauri didn’t hesitate to answer for a second.

Very impressive indeed.

Part 2: What I don’t like about Kinsta

Bad Part #1: Limited staging options

As I said above, Kinsta’s 1-click staging environment is a great little addition to their suite of tools.

But it’s fair to say it’s still lacking in some of the more precise features, and that could be an issue for advanced users.

For example, unlike some staging environments, you can’t be selective about what files or database tables to push.

Instead, with Kinsta, the process of pushing changes from staging to live will always send across ALL changes. That’s every file along with your entire database.

Why does that matter?

Well, if new comments or blog content has been published on the live site since creating your staging environment, you risk losing that content when pushing changes from your staging site.

Bad Part #2: No free webmail

If you’re familiar with hosts that use cPanel, you’ve likely set up an email account through webmail at some point.

Here’s what it looks like:

Cpanel webmail interface

Most people use this as a free alternative to GSuite because it allows you to create an unlimited number of domain-level emails at no extra cost.

Kinsta doesn’t have this option.

Instead, they recommend paying for GSuite account if you want a professional email address.

Kinsta (lack of) email service

Granted, cPanel’s webmail comes with it’s own problems and limitations so it’ll never be a complete replacement for a dedicated email service.

Even still, a native solution within Kinsta would’ve been convenient.

Bad Part #3: Traffic Limits across all plans

One thing I didn’t like about Kinsta’s plans is that they all have traffic limits to them.  So for the low-end Starter plan, you’re limited to 20,000 visits a month.  With their Pro plan you’d get 40,000 limits a month.

While the limits are fairly reasonable, I just dislike knowing I’m limited in general.

If you do happen to go over your plan’s traffic limit, Kinsta charges you $1 per 1000 visitors as an overage.

Part 3: A Look Inside Kinsta

Setup & Management

If you’re starting from scratch with Kinsta, you’ll probably want to start with a fresh WordPress installation, right?

As I touched on earlier, Kinsta’s UI brings with it a few improvements to the usual cPanel experience, and the streamlined WordPress installation is one of my favorite aspects.

Clicking on the ‘Sites’ menu item will bring up your list of sites along with a button to install a new one.

Kinsta Site Management

Clicking this button opens the installation popup.

From here, you can configure your server location, site name, domain preferences, and WordPress installation.

I didn’t have a domain, so Kinsta kindly gave me a temporary subdomain at ‘sitename.kinsta.com’.

Kinsta domain setup

Once added, Kinsta will take a couple minutes to get everything set up.

So you can either wait for email confirmation or just hit refresh like a madman until you see the ‘Manage’ button appear. (I chose the latter, hehe)

Kinsta domain setup part 2

Now, this is where things get a little more technical.

The management options give you access to a slew of information and settings, all neatly organized into the following sections:

  • Information
  • Domains
  • Backups
  • Tools
  • Redirects
  • Plugins
  • IP Deny
  • CDN
  • Logs

At this point, if you already have an existing site and you want to move it over, you can attempt to do a manual migration.

A popular option is to use something like the All-In-One WP Migration plugin, which I’ve used in the past with success.

That said, Kinsta also offers a “White Glove” migration service as part of their Pro plan ($60/month), or you can pay a one-off $120 fee for the same thing.

Perhaps a little pricey when you consider the relatively low difficulty of DIY solutions, but then a bad migration could end up costing you a lot more, so… I get it.

Overall I felt Kinsta’s custom UI and 1-click WordPress installation made the site setup process a breeze, even without a domain handy.

Website Security

With hack attempts happening about every 39 seconds, there’s a reason cybersecurity is a hot topic in the web hosting community.

So, aside from being compatible with tools like WordFence or Sucuri, how do the guys over at Kinsta do their part in protecting your business?

For starters, their system continuously monitors your sites, with checks happening as often as every 5 minutes. This notifies you of any issues with uptime, potential DDoS attacks, firewalls, and more.

Someone trying to gain access to your account?

Kinsta’s uses a detection system that blocks any IP addresses with more than 6 failed login attempts per minute, and they disable commonly exploited PHP functions from the PHP7 engine that aren’t necessary for WordPress sites.

They also run all sites in an Ubuntu LXD container, meaning each one runs it’s own instance of Ubuntu, PHP, MySQL, etc. Basically, it’s in an isolated environment which prevents spreading of malicious code on the server.

Then there’s SSL. Kinsta integrates with a free SSL service called LetsEncrypt, so you can go “https” without having to pony up any additional cash.

Kinsta SSL

But wait, there’s more. 😉

Kinsta offers a somewhat unique “Security Guarantee“.

If for some reason the unthinkable happens and your site is hacked (guessed password, insecure plugin, etc), they’ll help you put the pieces back together.

And let’s not forget, you can always fall back on your automatic daily site backups which are available for up to 14 days.

If that wasn’t enough, Kinsta alsocreatese mirrors of their virtual machines so there’s a complete server backup as well if necessary.

Phew… I think that covers it.

I don’t know about you, but I’d say that’s a pretty thorough list of reasons to trust Kinsta with your website security.

Speed and Performance

As I mentioned at the start of this review, Kinsta undoubtedly lives up to its promise when it comes to speed and performance.

In fact, they’ve been named the fastest web hosting company for the last 4 years running, and that’s no easy feat.

Kinsta speed comparison

The question is, how do they do it?

Warning: This is about to get pretty technical.

Well, the most significant factor would likely be that Kinsta runs exclusively on the Google Cloud Platform, which is one of the most highly rated hosting infrastructures in the biz.

They also use optimized, server-level caching to increase load times and reduce bandwidth. This is all set up on installation by default with no configuration required.

For you curious tech-nerds, it utilizes the following four cache types:

  • Bytecode cache
  • Object cache
  • Page cache
  • CDN cache

If you know WordPress, you’ll likely know that it’s a PHP based platform which means it can only function as fast as the PHP code can execute.

Fortunately, the latest version (PHP7) brought with it a significant speed increase, which is why Kinsta uses this version for all accounts by default. (You can easily change this if you want)

What about your WordPress database?

With Kinsta, your database is stored on the same server as your website (referred to as “localhost”), and this ensures the fastest possible connections between the two.

Speaking of servers, you can choose the server location when installing WordPress, putting your data in the best physical location to reach your audience in the shortest possible time.

Kinsta server location

For example, if most of your traffic originates from the UK, you’ll want to choose a UK-based server.

But wherever you are, the list of options include everything from the US to Sydney and everything in between, so you should always have something within reasonable distance.

We’re not done yet.

A Content Delivery Network (or CDN) is a network of servers in different geographical locations and it stores cached version of your content.

As you can imagine, this is yet another tool used to reduce page load time and bandwidth cost, and Kinsta gives you free integration with KeyCDN.

This allows you to add new locations directly from your Kinsta dashboard:

Kinsta CDN

And finally, to top it all off…

Kinsta automatically allocates CPU and RAM to your site as needed so your site always has server resources it needs — even in the event of a huge traffic spike.

So, as you can see, Kinsta tackles speed and performance from a number of angles, and it’s these combined factors that result in some of the fastest loading speeds in the industry today.

Kinsta Pingdom speed test

Pingdom speed test on a base WordPress installation hosted by Kinsta.

Support & Documentation

Again, I already gave my thoughts on the (excellent) live chat support earlier in this review, so I won’t go over that again here.

What I will do, however, is talk about the other support options, because live chat isn’t always the best route.

Let’s start with the obvious, the Knowledge Base.

Kinsta knowledge base

A lot of times this is where Kinsta’s live chat agents will send you for more information, and it seemed like every answer was riddled with strategically placed hyperlinks to the knowledge base.

(Yes, that’s a very good thing.)

But that wasn’t all they linked to. In fact, many of the links also pointed to a resource section as well as their blog.

Here’s the resource section:

Kinsta resources section

As you can see, this is largely focused on learning how to use WordPress, along with some other marketing material to help customers get more traction.

Perhaps more surprisingly though, was how often I was pointed to the blog.

It’s clear that Kinsta’s content strategy is built heavily around their product, and it’s an approach that evidently serves new years as well as existing ones.

One thing Kinsta doesn’t offer is phone support, and interestingly, this is something they’re also very intentional about.

Googling “Kinsta phone support” takes me to this article explaining it:

Kinsta phone support

Personally, I’d say their justification makes sense.

As someone who’s used both forms of support in the past (with a web hosting company no less), I can honestly say that it’s less effective than live chat, or even email in most cases.

I won’t reiterate the points they made, but just know that I agree with them.

Overall, I’d say the sheer quality of Kinsta’s live chat and documentation library eliminates the need for any other support channels. Yep, it’s THAT good.

Part 4: Kinsta Pricing

Kinsta offers a wide variety of pricing plans. At the low end, you can get the Starter plan which lets you host 1 WordPress site and limits you to 20,000 visits. At the upper end are the Enterprise plans which can get up to $900 a month and host up to 80 WP installs.

Kinsta Pricing Table

All plans let you choose between Kinsta’s 17 different data center locations, auto daily backups, free CDN and more.

You will have to upgrade to a business plan and above to get SSH access though.

If you’re searching around, you won’t find any Kinsta coupon codes out there.

Kinsta explicitly prevents affiliates from offering any sort of coupons or discounts when promoting their service. However, they do run some occasional Holiday discounts like on Black Friday.

The best way to get a Kinsta discount is to pay annually on any plan. Doing this will essentially get you 2 months of service free.

Also nice is that Kinsta offers a full 30-day money back guarantee for all their plans.

Part 5: Everything else you need to know about Kinsta

Does Kinsta have an affiliate program?

Yes, Kinsta has one of the better web hosting affiliate programs I’ve seen. Depending on which plan you refer, you can earn between $50 and $500 one time commission.

You’ll also earn 10% recurring commissions for as long as the customer remains on the plan. Which is great for you, because Kinsta boasts of a churn rate under 5%.

Kinsta vs WP Engine

WP Engine is probably the most well known managed WordPress web hosting companies out there since it was the first to market. However, I personally feel that Kinsta is a superior alternative to WP Engine.

First, all of WP Engine’s main plans use shared hosting servers. So you can easily run into a situation where another customer might affect the resources on your own site. Kinsta shields you from this with its container technology.

Kinsta also has more flexibility in plan types, has been proven to be faster in various tests, and has just better features overall than WP Engine.

You can get a full comparison between WP Engine and Kinsta on this comparison page.

Kinsta vs Hostgator/Bluehost

Hostgator and Bluehost are two of the most popular shared web hosting companies. And if you’re looking for a cheap solution to build a few sites on, then they will work well. Both hosts are much cheaper options than Kinsta.

But if you’re building a serious business or e-commerce WordPress site, then Kinsta will be much better overall for your business.

Their servers are much faster and the ability to autoscale to accommodate the needs of your business is invaluable.

Plus their Kinsta’s support is responsive and top-notch, which is what you want if anything ever goes wrong.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Kinsta is one of the best web hosting providers we’ve tested. Sure, it’s not the cheapest web hosting around, but it’s packed with features you’re going to need for any serious website.

Kinsta gives you peace of mind by managing your site’s security, providing automatic backups, and uptime monitoring.

Plus, the service is blazing fast and you know you’re going to run into less issues because your site is isolated in its own container.

Honestly, the only thing I don’t like about Kinsta is their traffic limits for each plan. But these traffic limits seem to be standard for most Managed WordPress hosting solutions.

If you’re looking for a web host that gives you performance, and a headache free experience, I would definitely recommend giving Kinsta a shot.

Host your next WordPress site with Kinsta Today

Kinsta Pros

  • Amazing UI/UX
  • 1-click staging for both setup and pushing changes.
  • Optimized for speed (inc. server level caching + CDN integration).
  • Strong focus on website security (+ free SSL).
  • Continuous uptime monitoring and attack detection.
  • Automatic daily backups for up to 2 weeks.
  • Free CDN with KeyCDN.
  • Outstanding live chat support.
  • A plethora of additional written resources.

Kinsta Cons

  • Staging environment could be more flexible.
  • Doesn’t include free webmail like many other hosts.
  • No phone support (to focus more on online support)
  • No SSH access for Starter and Pro plans.
  • Plans have specific traffic limits.
  • More expensive than standard shared hosting.
Affiliate Disclaimer: I hope you enjoyed this Kinsta review. Please note that some of the links inside this post may be affiliate links for Kinsta’s web hosting service. That means that if you click on one of those links and sign up, we will earn some money for it. If you do click through, we really appreciate it! Any money we make keeps this site running smoothly and allows us to continue producing these high-quality reviews.
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