They are a ICANN accredited domain registrar and web hosting company based in Los Angeles, California founded by Richard Kirkendall in 2000. They claim to have over 800,000 clients and manage over 3 million domains. See all Offers, and purchase hosting.
SSD or SSD Database
Not EIG Owned
Ruby on Rails
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OUR NAMECHEAP SHARED HOSTING REVIEW
We have been a big fan of theirs for many years, but not because of their shared hosting. Nope,… They are well known (and highly respected) for their domain registration services, and we have a separate domain review coming very soon. This does not mean that they are novices when it comes to web hosting though and this is what our Namecheap Review will seek to demonstrate.
The management team responsible, are the very same management team (or at least some of) that manages Webhostingbuzz, a very well thought of hosting company. We must add that they and Webhostingbuzz are different companies despite being run by the same people, and we cannot say whether they share the same support teams or datacenters etc. Either way, the point is that they have much experience behind it in the web hosting field and that is reflected both by our editorial review and our Readers reviews in the comments below.
The Different Plans
There are 4 different shared hosting plans, but really these need to be divided into two different types; normal shared hosting and their much higher specification Business SSD hosting.
The normal shared hosting plans are the following:
- Value – This comes with 20GB disk space and can host up to 3 domains. It costs $9.88 for the first year, and $38.88 per year thereafter.
- Professional – This comes with 50GB disk space and can host up to 10 domains. It costs $19.88 for the first year, and $78.88 per year thereafter.
- Ultimate – This is an unlimited disk space plan, and can host up to 50 domains. It costs $29.88 for the first year, and $129.88 per year thereafter.
The SSD Hosting Plan is called the “Business SSD”. It is significantly more than other hosting plans, but comes with some very cool specifications. It includes SSD storage (much faster than standard disks), 5GB Bandwidth, Cloudflare Railgun, PCI Compliance (required if storing credit card details on your server) and hosts fewer users per server. It costs $19.88 if paying monthly, or $17.98 per ,month when paying yearly.
The Control Panel
When you manage your services you will find that there are a mix of different systems used to manage your account. This was somewhat made a little complicated when the website redesign happened, and you have the domain management still being on their old design, a somewhat more recently modified Hosting dashboard (which seems to incorporate Invoices and billing) and their Support department using the excellent Kayako support system. To be honest it does feel a little muddily, but it does seem they are still in the process of updating it all so we won’t dwell too much about it at this stage. These things do take time to roll out.
You can see a screenshot below of a hosting account we got cheap that we use as a backup hosting for this site (we have never needed to use it though). At $9.88 for the year you can’t really go wrong!
The actual Hosting Management Control Panel is cPanel. They have not modified the actual branding or cPanel interface, nor have they disabled any of its functionality. Some hosts will limit backup functionality, so it is good to know that they do not do this. You can see a screenshot of the cPanel dashboard below:
One interesting thing we noticed from the Stats bar, is that they use Cloudlinux. Cloudlinux not only isolates each cPanel account for greater security, but it allows a host to set usage limits on RAM and CPU. This ensures no one account can bring the server to a standstill due a bad script, or simply overuse. We are big fans of Cloudlinux, and have extensive experience with this OS. We looked into the actual limits they set within Cloudlinux, and found some interesting things in their knowledgebase:
Shared hosting Limits:
- Maximal number of concurrent web-server requests: 20
- Maximal amount of RAM all client’s processes can use: 4Gb (virtual), 1GB Physical
- Maximal percentage of CPU time: 100 % (8 Core Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E3-1230 @ 3.2GHz)
Ultimate hosting servers Limit:
- Maximal number of concurrent web-server requests: 30
- Maximal amount of RAM all client’s processes can use: 6Gb (virtual)
- Maximal percentage of CPU time: 200% (8 Core Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E3-1230 @ 3.2GHz)
Business hosting servers:
- Maximal number of concurrent web-server requests: 40
- Maximal amount of RAM all client’s processes can use: 8Gb (Virtual)
- Maximal percentage of CPU time: 400% (8 Core Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E3-1230 @ 3.2GHz)
The biggest surprise was the extra resources allocated to their Ultimate and Business hosting plans. Note that the RAM usage is pretty deceptive, as the important figure is Physical Memory and not Virtual memory that they have specified. We know from our own hosting account with them that the Limits for the Shared Hosting plan is just 1GB of Physical Memory. We say “just”, but that is actually very respectable and pretty much standard for normal shared hosting accounts running Cloud Linux.
In addition, we believe the knowledgebase specifying what hardware they use is slightly out of date, as a recent blog post seems to make much of their new Dell M1000E bladecenter chassis with M620 Dell servers with E5 CPU’s, not the E3 CPU’s listed above.
With regard the CPU time, we suspect each 100% relates to one core of CPU. When an account reaches the limit of their CPU usages the server throttles the usage. A higher CPU setting can make larger or busier sites feel more responsive. Of course, this is a shared hosting server, so you won’t be entitled to use that amount of CPU all the time, and the acceptable usage policy should be read.
They offer support via Livechat and Ticket. Unfortunately there appears to be no telephone support available. It very much comes down to personal choice what type of support people prefer, and for us telephone support is not that important. They also have a very busy community forum which typically receive helpful support from staff within about 3-4 hours. In addition, you will find a representative (Matthew Russell) ready to help with any issues on popular web hosting forums such as Webhostingtalk.
They use a fairly sophisticated third party support system called Kayako, which for the amount of customers they service is a must. This helps them keep wait times low, as well as prioritize, followup and generally monitor their response times.
It is always difficult to assess how good, or bad, a web hosting company’s support is unless you have used them for a long time. Fortunately, in their case we have been a customer for many years. Of course, our main dealings have been in relation to domain registration and SSL certificates, but over the last 4-5 months we have also had a Shared Hosting Account with them.
Take one example. We recently had a very quick query relating to our hosting account login URL and login details. Within 6 minutes of needing help, we had requested live support, had our query dealt with and finished the livechat conversation. Having an effective means to get quick answers is incredibly important, and they appear to tick all the boxes in how they deal with that. Our experience with their ticket support has sometimes kept us waiting for 5-6 hours, but equally we have queries dealt with within the hour. Overall, those kind of response times for ticket support are adequate, and a certainly over the many years we have dealt with them we have never had any problems.
We had a quick search around the web for some third party Reviews (avoiding fake review sites). This review on the Warrior Forum for example gives a glowing review of their Support, saying that WordPress help was forthcoming within 3-4 hours.
Overall though, there were not many independent sources around the web that particularly commented on their shared hosting. There were many positive comments relating to their domain business though, particular with regard to the domain prices, support and interface. As a large company you would expect many negative reviews (people are more likely to post reviews due to a negative experience), but indeed these were similarly lacking in presence. They have of course, like any host had a few issues, but their community representatives are quick to follow up and assist on public third party forums, and generally the issues are minor and of a limited nature.
As far as features go, they offer pretty standard hosting unless you go for their Business plan (when you get full SSD and xCache opcode caching (see our W3 Total Cache Tutorial on why xCache is so good, and it is the reason we use it on this site). There is nothing wrong with that if they do it well, which they do, but you won’t find anything particularly special that makes you go “wow”. Of course, introductory pricing excepted. There are however several more standard common features which are worthy of comment:
- Softaculous – This is our favorite one-click installer, and allows over 100 applications to be installed in just a couple of clicks.
- Daily Backups – Whilst many hosts now do daily backups, their Business plan backs up twice a day with weekly backups available as well. Like all hosts, you shouldn’t rely on the backups from a host but you will also find a link in the cPanel to CodeGuard. Of course, anyone can sign up with CodeGuard but we are a big fan of hosts who promote third party backups. It is all too often people lose their data due to not backing up their data away from their host.
- Cloudflare integration – We love Cloudflare for speeding up websites. Just check out our W3TC and Cloudflare tutorial.
- Google Apps integration – If you are a Google Apps fan (for business), then they allow easy integration with automatic configuration tools for email, documents and calendar. Check out the screenshot below:
Uptime is probably one of the most important things when it comes to choosing a web host. The problem is, is that it is very difficult to ascertain how reliable a host is. Sure, you will see the Uptime Guarantee’s but all that does is guarantee a few dollars if your website is down for the day. We would rather see actual uptime figures over guarantees. The problem with this though is that larger hosts will always be prone to issues, and you may have some servers that never go offline and some that do, so it can be very hit and miss just monitoring one particular server as an example.
So, instead we think it is much better to look on the web for complaints about sites being down, as well as looking at how they deal with problems when they occur. It is much better to see them resolving problematic servers within 5-10 minutes, than seeing a smaller host have less problems but take hours or even days to fix the issue.
So with that in mind, how do they Fair?
For a host of their size we do not see that many problems of downtime. Of course, there has been isolated incidents, and they have been the subject of some DDoS attacks the last year, but overall our opinion is fairly positive about their uptime figures. To get a sense, and to make up your own mind about this, you can check their Status page, as well as their Twitter account (where they are very active in dealing with any issues). The fact that they are actively reaching out to customers to try and resolve issues is a very positive sign. Just check out the example below, where a problem was responded to and subsequently resolved in minutes, all via twitter:
— Stephen Peasley (@stephenpeasley) January 1, 2015
We have changed our test slightly for testing the website speed. Whilst we are using the same theme as we have done for our other tests, we think it is useful to give an average Pingdom speed for all the different locations. In addition, we feel it is a little more revealing if we do the test three times. Once with no performance optimizations, the second with W3TC installed, and the third with W3TC and Cloudflare installed. You can find a detailed tutorial of the W3 Total Cache and Cloudflare settings we use here. We feel this will help uncover the raw speed of the server as well as what is technically possible. Of course, every website is different and indeed web hosting providers have many different servers and performance can vary depending on which one you are assigned. Hopefully though, this will serve as a useful indication of what you might expect.
|W3 Total Cache||3.69s||2.07s||1.90s||2.55s|
|W3TC & Cloudflare||TBC||TBC||TBC||TBC|
You can see a screenshot of the fastest Pingdom Tools test result below, which was for the W3TC and Cloudflare setup. (coming soon)
Well, $9.88 for a year of hosting, and we have to talk about Value… This one is a slam dunk for incredible value.
Of course, make sure you check the renewal prices, as the introductory pricing is only for one year. But, what we particularly like about them is the upsell (it feels odd to applaud upselling) of their SSL certificates when you purchase either hosting or a domain. They always seem to have an offer for SSL for just $1.99, and of course their domain prices are some of the lowest around (with free Whois for one year). Unlike other hosts, they won’t charge you a fortune for helping you install your SSL on their hosting either!
The change to their aggressive introductory pricing only occurred in the last quarter of 2015, and has rapidly in our view made them one of the cheapest and best budget hosting providers out there. That being said, we wouldn’t class these guys as a budget host as their service is way above that.
Namecheap Review – Summary
- Reliable web hosting services – As far as we can see when problems occur they work hard to resolve the issues, and are very proactive in reaching out to people in the community who are experiencing issues.
- CPanel – They use the standard cPanel, which is extremely user friendly, and has all the tools and features that make managing your site very easy.
- Great Upsells – Fantastic pricing on SSL certificates and domains.
- Great customer support – Their support staff know what they are doing. They have been around for a while, and you won’t find much bad against them precisely because their support is so good.
- Experienced Domain Registrar – This used to be their core business (and we guess still is). They have developed a comprehensive interface to manage your domains that you will find easy to use. After using them you won’t ever want to leave.
- Integrated Cloudflare – We are a big fan of Cloudflare in combination with shared hosting. Cloudflare can increase your site’s performance, whilst reducing the strain on your server, which for shared hosting matters. We particularly like it when Cloudflare is able to be setup via a one-click install solution via the cPanel. Cloudflare is one of the first things we recommend to implement when hosting providers try to get you to upgrade to a VPS due to CPU over usage.
- Cloudlinux – Added security and stability due to isolation and limiting of hosting accounts.
- XCache – On their Business plan you can use xCache for Opcode Caching, which if you see our example W3 Total Cache settings and guide will make your WordPress installation fly.
- SSD’s with Business Plan – Again, their premium Business plan is where it is all at, and why they got such a high recommendation from us.
- Short Money Back Guarantee – They only offer a 14 day money back guarantee which is far less than many other hosts. We don’t think that you can truly evaluate a host in just 14 days, and if this were a less well known brand we would certainly advise you to proceed with caution. They are however, are well established, and extremely well known for their domain registration services so we don’t think you need to be overly worried about this. We have used them for domain registration for years.
- Value Plan limitations – Be sure to check all the specifications of each shared hosting plan to ensure to get all the features you might expect from a cPanel host. Their Value plan has several limitations, although most in all our time of hosting we have never used anyway. So whilst it is worth checking, we doubt you will be worried about this.
Namecheap Review – Final Thoughts
They are a well renowned company with a rock solid reputation. You cannot go wrong hosting with this company, and we even use them ourselves for domain name registration. Their support is great, and you will find their online chat support staff very knowledgeable. They don’t offer anything spectacular, or innovative, but they seem to be fairly reliable and they offer superb value.
Whilst our Namecheap review seem very positive, we would be hesitant to say WOW, you must host with them unless you go for their Business plan, and our recommendation really is weighted in favor of their low pricing for their standard plans, and their SSD Business Plan. Equally though, we would find it very hard to say anything bad about them, and if you are looking for reliable and secure hosting then this should definitely be on the list of hosts to consider.
For more opinions check out what our readers have to say in the user reviews below in the comments.
As a final point, we currently have some exclusive Coupons giving not only discounts on their domain names, but up to 40% off their hosting plans. You will find all our offers here.