Hosting has come a long way since I originally get involved with my first website and subsequent web hosting company I started back in late 1996.
There were no control panels, no packages to install software and certainly no WordPress! If you wanted a website – you needed to know a lot of technical knowledge to get up and running.
These days there are reportedly upwards of 300,000 web hosting companies split between “Tier 1” (that is companies that actually own their own hardware and in some instances, datacenters), “Tier 2” (Virtual Private Servers) and then “Tier 3” (Resellers of Shared Hosting). The number might be actually even more when you consider how many people resell web hosting.
What are the different types of hosting?
Let’s take a quick breakdown of the different types of web hosting and what they look like:
This is the most common type of web hosting – usually ranging from $1/month upwards.
Your account will be on a server (physical or dedicated) with many many other accounts and websites – anything from 100 to 10,000 possibly.
Your site might be allocated strict resources. However, not all companies are equal and some just allow each website to fight for resources that the server has. This generally means very poor performance for your website. Slow database access, lack of memory and in some cases not much storage!
You usually find poorer security in shared hosting environments too, if the platform isn’t set up correctly, one infected website can infect everyone else on the server too!
A step up from shared hosting is VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting. Resellers commonly use this platform for offering their own hosting company. A VPS is just a segmented section of a physical dedicated server.
Depending on the company that provides the VPS they may have allocated resources to them which match the host dedicated server or they may oversell by means of offering more VPS resources than the dedicated server has, hoping that not everyone needs them all at once.
Again, you’ll have an account on the VPS amongst other accounts and your website could be amongst 100s or 1000s of sites depending on the VPS server size. VPS Hosting commonly starts at anything from $5-10/month upwards.
You are right at the top of the food chain now! If your site is hosted on a physical dedicated server just for your site – you have access to all of the resources that server has. All of its memory, CPU, disk space and so on.
This has great upsides for power and performance – but downsides can be pretty bad – including if the server fails, your site will be offline until it is fixed. Additionally, you’ll need to know plenty (or hire someone) to keep your server operating in its prime.
Dedicated Servers commonly run on Linux of which there are several different distributions and a lot use a common control panel, such as cPanel. This allows you to host your site, host email and other domain-related apps and also offer reseller opportunities too if you wish.
Dedicated Servers usually start from upwards of $50-100/month plus control panel licensing fees.
What is Managed WordPress Hosting?
Okay, so we’ve talked about the different types of web hosting out there. But, what is ‘Managed WordPress Hosting’ compared to ‘web hosting’?
Well in summary, ‘managed’ is basically certain elements of running a website taken care of for you by the hosting company. Think of it as the extra value offered for your monthly fee compared to just a place to serve your webpages from.
Commonly, Managed WordPress Hosting services offer some or all of these features:
- Fewer websites per server
- Greater resources per website
- WordPress-specific/only hosting
- Automatic backups
- WordPress-specific caching
- One-click staging sites
- One-click WordPress installers
- Automatic SSL (https://) certificate creation
- Support staff who know WordPress in greater detail
- Security systems designed to stop WordPress-specific attacks
- Automatic updates (in varying forms)
Not all hosts offer the above features and some hosts offer some of them in varying levels of detail, it can be a confusing world out there for sure!
Generally, Managed WordPress hosting is usually more expensive because of what is offered. If you are a serious WordPress site owner that perhaps relies on their website for business then you should really consider hosting your site with a Managed WordPress provider rather than just using standard shared hosting. Pricing can usually start from around $20/month per site with some providers and go up to $100 or per month per site.
Note: One thing to take into account regarding Managed WordPress Hosting is that email hosting for your domain is generally not included. Personally, I have never understood why you’d host your email on the same server as your website – this can never be a good thing – imagine losing sales due to emails not getting delivered or delays for example. Managed WordPress Hosting companies and ourselves suggest you use Google gSuite or Office365 for your email hosting.
Table of Contents
- Kinsta Hosting: Introduction
- Kinsta Hosting: Standard Features
- Kinsta Hosting: Addon Features
- Kinsta Hosting: Setting up a new website
- Kinsta Hosting: Performance
- Kinsta Hosting: Pricing
- Kinsta Hosting: Final Thoughts
Kinsta Hosting: Introduction
So, now we know what Managed WordPress Hosting is – let us introduce to you Kinsta!
Kinsta was founded in 2003 and currently has three physical offices around the world. It is very well-known in the WordPress industry and is deemed one of the top players when it comes to Managed WordPress Hosting.
You can commonly see them at many WordCamps across the world, mentioned on Podcasts, articles, YouTube videos and are frequently mentioned on many social media platforms too.
They are an independent company and as you can see – have quite a well-sized team! The majority work remotely – which is fairly common for WordPress-related companies and allows all timezones to be covered easier.
Kinsta’s ethos is to bring ‘reliable WordPress hosting built on cutting-edge technology with a focus on speed, security, and stability‘ – something they say didn’t really exist until they came along.
They operate on the back of the Google Cloud Platform (yes, the very same platform that powers Google’s web properties – more on that later) and have very straightforward pricing plans with no minimum contract (and a rather good refund guarantee too!)
Kinsta Hosting: Standard Features
We’ve already covered briefly what Managed WordPress Hosting usually offers. As with all hosts, there are varying different degrees of what is on offer depending on the host and of course what plan you choose for your website.
Kinsta offers a lot of standard features from their lowest plan (Starter) right up to their Enterprise and Custom plans, below we break-down all the standard features they offer for your Managed WordPress website.
Speed Obsessive Architecture
Something they reinforce pretty much repeatedly across their site is the fact that they have this obsessive nature to provide the quickest architecture available for your website. We’re talking heaps of memory, fast CPUs and WordPress-bespoke caching facilities.
So, how does this fit in with our explanation of web hosting above? Are they shared hosting? VPS? Dedicated or something else? Well, they are something else actually – they use what are called ‘LXD containers’ what in essence this means is that your website resides on its own flexible ‘cloud server’ – complete with its own copy of the operating system, PHP, Nginx and local MariaDB services.
This means all the resources for your website are hosted locally, including your database. Having all the elements of your website first-hand cuts down on the ‘lag’ that would be required for a database connection to another server or files retrieved over a network as just one benefit.
With Kinsta using the Google Cloud Platform for all their infrastructure, they get to take advantage of real enterprise-level security features that you usually wouldn’t find in your average hosting company set up.
For example, they have built-in DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack detection which will stop DDoS attacks way before they even come close to your website and are filtered out at the hardware level, leaving your resources to power your website, not fight off the unwanted visitors.
We’ve found from our testing (and our long-term experience, our very own site is hosted with Kinsta!) that the number of ‘brute-force’ logins and other attacks is minuscule to zero most days compared to other hosting companies or having our own servers.
Additionally, Kinsta use the well-known SSL provider, Let’s Encrypt to automatically provide all sites hosted on their platform a free SSL (https://) secure certificate. We’ve talked about this previously, but SSL is an absolute must these days – even if you don’t provide eCommerce facilities on your website.
Kinsta also allows the uploading of purchased EV (Extended Verification) SSL certificates to their platform too. So if you do wish to have an even higher-level of SSL (or the ‘green bar’ as it is sometimes called) then you can use this option too.
Because of the high-security they already offer, certain plugins such as WordFence won’t work fully on Kinsta’s platform. For example, the IP-blocking portion of the plugin won’t work as your site is already behind several firewalls and load-balancers. You can still block IPs if needed via the Kinsta dashboard.
Next Generation Infrastructure & Google Cloud Platform
When Kinsta talks about the Next Generation Infrastructure they are talking about the hardware that powers all the ‘LXD containers’ that the websites run on.
By utilising the Google Cloud Platform they get to use the latest CPU and memory technology as soon as it is rolled out to the datacentres. This means that you almost always have the latest and fastest high-quality hardware providing the infrastructure for your website.
Unlike having your own Dedicated Server, which can of course quickly become out of date (like your home computer or phone) – using Google Cloud means that Kinsta can swap out/retire older architecture and replace with new with very little downtime and/or cost to the end-users.
Additionally, when it comes to software – Kinsta is also pushing the boundaries when it comes to the latest versions.
When PHP 7.3 was released in 2018, Kinsta was one of the first (if not the first) Managed WordPress Hosting companies to offer this new release to website owners. With a click in the MyKinsta dashboard, you can change PHP version very quickly – no other configuration is needed.
There are still hosting providers out there that offer up PHP 5.6 as the latest version – it makes us cry – those websites are running software that was retired in January 2017 and is incredibly slow and cumbersome for your website. Just changing to PHP 7.x onwards makes a massive difference like you wouldn’t believe!
Currently, Kinsta is allowing sites to change to PHP 7.4 RC before it rolls out as final more than likely the last week of November 2019.
Free site migrations
This is something a few hosts offer, but many don’t (quick tip: we offer it as standard for all our WordPress Care Plan customers – moving from whichever host they want!)
Kinsta actually has several team members that just migrate sites all day long (that actually must be a very satisfying experience taking a site from a slow host and putting it on the latest infrastructure and watching it INSTANTLY be faster and more stable – we get that same feeling when we do it too!)
The site migrations are usually limited per account (that match the number of websites you can host in your plan) and your account must be open for 30 days for the migration fees to be waived. You can, of course, order additional migrations for $100 each if needed.
Regular uptime checks
Kinsta’s internal systems check your website is online every 2 minutes all day, every day (that’s a cool 720 times a day if you are bad at maths). If something is broken (like your PHP-workers get stuck) or your database server crashes (both unlikely, but feasible when it comes to all the different variations of WordPress and plugins used) – then their systems will attempt to automatically restart the services that are affected and alert you to the issue at hand.
Always backed up
When it comes to backups – Kinsta performs an automatic backup of your entire ‘server’ daily. This includes all your hosting files (any scripts in your root directory) and of course, your WordPress database.
You can pay for additional backup slots too – they offer as standard backups every 24 hours, but also available is every 6-hours and even hourly backups if your site really needs it! (Note: Our plans also offer additional backup slots as standard too!)
Backups can also be performed manually by yourself (5 slots available via the MyKinsta dashboard) and you can also request a downloadable backup to your desktop. Backups are also created during staging changes and restoring a backup to your live site (i.e. it backs up the site you are about to overwrite first).
Now, this is where Kinsta really comes in with some ground-breaking technology that sets it apart from other Web Hosting and Managed WordPress Hosting companies.
We’ve already talked about Kinsta offers LXD Containers as a way of providing you with your own ‘server’ to run your website.
Well, one of the more common problems people have when choosing a web hosting company is what specifications should they pick? How much memory do they need? What CPU power will they need?
With Kinsta – you don’t need to worry about that – they’ll handle it for you. Yes, that’s right. They manage all of that automatically for you. That means your site’s resources flex automatically depending on how busy it is.
Middle of a Sunday night? – your site will require probably hardly any resources with just the odd visitor or GoogleBot crawling your site.
Monday morning when you launch your newsletter and a sale? Up go the resources for your site automatically! This is an incredible feature and it saves you having to pay out for resources which may sit there idle when unused. At the same time, it also means you don’t need to worry if you get a sudden spike of traffic – they’ll handle it!
But it can’t all be that simple you say? Right? Well, there is one element you need to take into consideration – that is the number of PHP Workers that are going to service your site.
What are PHP Workers you ask? They basically sit there waiting for web requests to come in. When they get one they go off and execute the WordPress code which queries your database and delivers your webpage (complete with images and such) to the end-user.
You need a sufficient number of PHP Workers to answer all your requests. Some PHP Workers may take longer to finish their task too (for example, eCommerce – processing a credit card or a membership site – processing a login)
Kinsta’s Starter Plan comes with 2 PHP workers – which although doesn’t sound much, is more than enough for your standard non-major-functionality website (i.e. Not a learning platform or WooCommerce). If you want more PHP workers, then you can upgrade your account to get more (each upgrade adds more sites and each site gets a minimum amount of PHP workers each too – even better, they don’t share them across your account!).
Hack fix guarantee
If your site gets hacked whilst on the Kinsta platform – their engineers promise to restore it and fix it to the non-hacked state. This is a brilliant and bold feature and shows you how much faith they have in their security measures.
You can also bring a previously hacked site across to Kinsta if you wish, however, there is a one-off fee for doing this. They’ll then clean it up before they put it live in your account – perfect!
Remember, because your site isn’t sharing a server or platform with other websites – your site is isolated from everyone else, so if someone’s site does get infected it won’t harm you.
One of the things that Kinsta shares in common with us at mintWP are the staff you speak to are WordPress Experts. They don’t have first-line support – you speak to someone who is a WordPress Expert themselves – no need to repeatedly explain over and over again like other technical support services you may have encountered elsewhere.
This is something that Kinsta is very proud of, and, from testing from basic to advanced questions they passed with flying colors!
All Kinsta Support is done via 24/7 live chat accessed via the MyKinsta dashboard. They don’t provide phone support (nor do we) – and we agree, it is old-fashioned, wastes time (for both parties) and is useless if you ever need to refer back to an issue you had in the past!
The MyKinsta Dashboard allows you an overview of all your sites, analytics for each site, tools (such as MySQL admin, SSL certificates, caching and more) and is a general hub of all things useful when it comes to managing your website!
Additionally, there is an Activity Log – so you can see when major events happened (like another user created a staging site or changed the live website’s PHP version for example)
Choice of data centers
Because Kinsta uses the Google Cloud Platform for all of its infrastructures, you benefit from choosing where you want to host your website.
In the past, your website would be located wherever your web hosting company was based. So, you’d pick a European host if you website visitors were likely to be mainly from Europe or a North American host if you visitors were from America or Canada (or perhaps – you’d not even know where your site was going to be based – eek!)
With Kinsta you have a choice of a staggering 20 global data centers, they include:
- Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA
- St. Ghislain, Belgium
- Changhua County, Taiwan
- Sydney, Australia
- The Dalles, Oregon, USA
- Ashburn, Virginia, USA
- South Carolina, USA
- São Paulo, Brazil
- London, United Kingdom
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Jurong West, Singapore
- Tokyo, Japan
- Mumbai, India
- Montréal, Canada
- Hamina, Finland
- Los Angeles, California
- Hong Kong
- Zürich, Switzerland
- Osaka, Japan
Best yet – if your hosting plan with Kinsta supports more than one website – you don’t have to host them all in the same datacentre. You could have one website based in Los Angeles and another in London!
One thing that is becoming increasingly common as a ‘must’ for website developers and agencies – is a staging area for website development.
A staging area is basically a separate area for you to work on your website where it isn’t public. This allows you to make changes, introduce new features and test services before putting it live. This is especially important when it comes to a website property that is already live.
With Kinsta’s staging service you can make a copy of your live website with one click and deploy it to the staging platform. From here, you log in as you would normally to your WordPress dashboard (but on the staging URL) and make any changes you wish.
When you are happy with the changes you have made you can then push all the changes across to the live version of your website within a few minutes – simple! (Note: there is a bit more to this if your site is an eCommerce site of course!)
The features keep on coming! Additional (included) features built into every Kinsta hosting account include:
Need to see behind the scenes of your WordPress website? Well, with SSH access you can. You can literally open a terminal and have direct access to the command line of your LXD Container that your website runs in.
Aside from using the bash shell for creating handy automation scripts, you can use the pre-installed WP-CLI to perform WordPress commands from the command line and also use the ever-popular GIT version control system to pull or push software revisions to/from your site.
You can also use the shell to stream your log files in real-time if you wish and Kinsta offers SSH keys linked to each user you create in the MyKinsta dashboard for added security.
If you ever needed to edit something directly in the WordPress database, you’ve probably heard of or used phpMyAdmin. This trusted age-old software is available directly via a private URL and credentials from your MyKinsta dashboard.
You can edit your database for whatever needs you have and of course, execute direct SQL queries from here on your WordPress database too.
Individual Website Dashboard
Each website in your MyKinsta dashboard has it’s own site mini-dashboard, allowing you to perform specific functions related only to that website (the options are also duplicated for the staging version of the site too).
Clear Site Cache
Kinsta’s static file cache is managed completely by them – however, there is a plugin automatically installed on every WordPress website at Kinsta which allows you to set any pages you don’t want caching and also send a signal to empty the cache. The same button to empty the cache is also available via the MyKinsta dashboard and a quick click empties the cache within a matter of seconds.
Something not working right? It happens. With the myriad of plugins and different WordPress versions out there, we’ve all come across a site that isn’t quite acting how it should be!
Head to the MyKinsta dashboard and activate the WordPress debugging option and you’ll see the error messages that WordPress usually suppresses and instead it’ll print them on the page you are accessing on the site.
We recommend you only activate this option on the Staging URL of your website – otherwise, your website visitors will also see all the WordPress debug messages – not professional and perhaps a bit scary for them to see!
Search and Replace
When changing domains or moving from http:// to https:// you’ll find that WordPress may still reference many URLs with the old URL.
With the Search and Replace tool you can run first a search to see what will be changed and then again with ‘Replace’ to make those changes. The best bit is you don’t need a plugin to do it and you can do it directly from the control panel quickly and painlessly.
New Relic monitoring
New Relic is a monitoring tool that can give you real insights into how your WordPress website is performing. It can help you spot bottlenecks that might not have visible signs on the front or backend.
Anyone that has run their own server knows how powerful New Relic can be, but also it does take a bit of setting up to get going.
Thankfully, the people at Kinsta have made it very easy for you! You just need to head to the New Relic website and sign up for a trial or purchase a license and then activate the key in the MyKinsta dashboard and then it is activated for your website.
If for some reason you wish to password protect your WordPress live or staging URL from everyone – you can add a simple username/password front-end (like you would if you added one via .htaccess) via the MyKinsta dashboard.
This handy little feature is great for keeping prying eyes out whilst you work on a few version or if you need to stop everyone visiting your live site immediately!
We’ve already mentioned about SSL certificates and the fact that Kinsta use Let’s Encrypt to automatically deploy a free certificate for your website (only on your domain though of course, not on Staging sites – as you don’t own the Kinsta .cloud staging domain)
If you want to install your own custom SSL certificate (such as an EV – Extended Validation) certificate, then years ago you’d have to run all sorts of magic trickery on the command line to generate the designated files to then send to the certificate provider, then you’d get a zip file back and have to repeat the process to get it live on your site.
Within the Kinsta dashboard is a simple wizard complete with a link to an easy-to-use article to generate the required files, upload them to the certificate provider and install the subsequently signed files back into Kinsta – simple!
It is a point we keep on making – but https:// (SSL) is very important not just for your website visitors security but also because Google Chrome marks sites without SSL as ‘insecure’ and Google itself may lower your search ranking because your site is deemed not secure!
You don’t need to be running an eCommerce site either – any site that has data input from website visitors should offer SSL as standard.
With the Force HTTPS option in the dashboard, you can set the platform to automatically force all visitors (and search engine robots) to automatically load the https:// version of your site even if the link to it was http:// – genius!
There are times when you may wish to change the PHP engine that powers your website. Certain older plugins may not be compatible with the latest PHP version or perhaps you just wish to check the latest PHP beta version with your website on a staging server ready for when the new version comes out.
With a couple of clicks in the MyKinsta dashboard, you can change the PHP version for any website you host – and even have different versions for your staging and live sites if you so wish.
When it comes to debugging and checking the general health of your WordPress website – log files are a godsend. From the dashboard (or via SSH) you can keep an eye on the access log, error log and the Kinsta cache log too.
If you login to the command line via SSH you’ll also get access to the mail log to see logs of any emails sent from your WordPress website.
Changed a bunch of post of page URLs and want to make sure you don’t end up with a ton of 404s from past links? Just enter all the Redirects you need into the Kinsta dashboard and they are done at the server level – no plugin or anything else needed. Oh, and they support RegEx, bulk import and Export to CSV too!
Got a troublesome hot-linker? Annoying bot [or spammer] that keeps on visiting over and over and over? Just enter the IP address or range into the IP Deny tool and they are gone forever!
Although Kinsta only offers up DNS hosting for the number of domains in your plan – you can add as many alias domains to your website as you wish (and swap them out to which is the primary domain at any time) – it is just a couple of clicks and they take care of the rest for you – no messing around in WordPress!
The Kinsta CDN (which is built on the back of KeyCDN and its 36 worldwide points of presence) allows you to host your static files worldwide – allowing your visitors to load your website even quicker by getting files from a physically nearer server than where your site is.
Kinsta CDN comes with varying amounts of included bandwidth each month, depending on the plan you are on. If you need to flush the CDN – there is a button for that!
As standard Kinsta offers free DNS hosting for each website you host with them. They call it Kinsta DNS and it is actually the enterprise-level DNS service provided by Amazon AWS – called Route 53.
Adding a domain to the Kinsta DNS is pretty straightforward, you are given four Amazon Route 53 DNS servers to enter at your domain registry and new changes push through fairly quickly. You can add any type of record you may require although the minimum TTL (time to live) is one hour. If you need a shorter TTL you’ll need to host your DNS elsewhere (ask us about our DNS offerings!)
If you are a stats-lover like us all at mintWP, you’ll spend a lot of time in the Kinsta dashboard on the Analytics tab! From here you can get a really good overview of your website and how it is performing.
Statistics included are:
- General Resources – including visits, bandwidth, most requested files.
- CDN Usage – including bandwidth, most requested files (by number and bandwidth).
- Dispersion – the split between mobile and desktop visitors to your site.
- Performance – Average PHP+MySQL response time, PHP workers used, longest-running scripts.
- Response – Shows you all the different HTTP response codes – including useful ones such as 404 errors.
- Cache – an overview of how the Kinsta Cache (not CDN) has performed for your website.
- Geo & IP – Top countries/cities and IP addresses visiting your site. Useful to spot hot-linkers.
Kinsta Hosting: Add-on Features
Standard features not enough for you? Don’t worry, aside from the huge amount of features that Kinsta includes with all its plans, it also offers some extra paid add-ons for your website(s) too. They include:
You aren’t restricted by your disk space with Kinsta. In fact, they don’t have a hard limit for your website – you never need to worry about errors popping up because you have run out of your quota (or worse, the server has run out of space!) – if you go over your disk space allocation, you are charged a simple overage fee $2 per GB or you can buy a fixed disk space add-on for $20/month for 20 Gb – this is shared automatically in your account between however many websites you have!
Visitor & CDN Overages
All Kinsta plans come with a generous amount of visitors. A visitor is a single IP address that visits your website within a 24-hour period. It doesn’t matter if the IP address is using six different devices and visits in the morning and the afternoon – it is still counted as one visitor. Your visitor quota is shared across all the websites in your account, so you don’t need to worry if one website is busier than another. (Note: Bots are not counted as visitors!)
However, there are times you may go over your visitor quota (that is only a good thing though, right?) – if so, Kinsta won’t turn off your site like some hosting companies – they want you to be successful too. We’ve all been to a site that has gone viral only to see ‘Sorry this site has run out of resources’ or ‘Sorry this site has been suspended’ – no doubt the owners of those sites have missed countless new leads, sales or contacts!
If you go over your plan’s quota then you are simply charged $1 per 1000 extra visitors at your next billing date. If it happens frequently, it is probably a good idea to upgrade your plan to the next one! (They’ll let you know when you hit 80% and 100% of your quota though!)
The Kinsta CDN allows you to go over your quota too, the overage fee is 0.10 USD / GB.
Specifically for users that use Cloudflare for their websites, Railgun is an add-on which ensures that the connection between your origin server and the Cloudflare network is as fast as possible.
Pricing comes in at $100 per month per site.
Have a site with a lot of data? Need users to be able to perform searches in a timely manner?
Then Elasticsearch will be your answer. Either by using a developer or a handy plugin, such as ElasticPress you’ll be able to perform greater indexing on your WordPress database and faster search results for your visitors.
Pricing comes in at $100 per month per site.
Redis has become fairly well heard of in the last couple of years. This open-source in-memory data store is used as a temporary database and cache for your WordPress site. Performing queries in memory rather than via disk is always a faster approach and you can use this with your WordPress site via a number of plugins.
Pricing comes in at $100 per month per site.
Nginx Reverse Proxy
Got a complicated WordPress setup? Well, Kinsta already handles plenty of those. You can join them by also having WordPress installed in another subdirectory of your main site or somewhere else if you want too.
Pricing comes in at $50 per month per site.
As we already mentioned, Kinsta performs an automatic backup every 24 hours. But if you run a site that requires more frequent backups – then you can upgrade the frequency.
Every 6 hours – $50 per month per site
Every hour – $100 per month per site
If you don’t see an add-on listed that your site requires – you can also contact Kinsta and they can help provide a custom solution for you.
Kinsta Hosting: Setting up a new website
Okay, we’ve covered everything you can get with Kinsta – now let’s set up a website!
1. First, we head to the MyKinsta dashboard and log in.
2. Next up, we navigate to Sites and then ‘Add Site’. We’re presented with a dialog box containing all the steps needed to create our new site.
First, we pick the data centre we wish our website to be located in and give our site a ‘friendly name’ that only we’ll see in the control panel.
Next, are the standard options you’d find when installing WordPress, a username, password and admin email address.
We also have the option to install WordPress in another language and also install it as a MultiSite install, add WooCommerce and Yoast SEO.
Another feature you can use when creating a new website (if you have multiple websites in your Kinsta plan) is you can choose between a brand new site or roll out a site based on a previous site if you wish (but they must both reside in the same data center, however).
Once our site is completed it appears in our list of sites in our dashboard.
3. If we now click on the site name, we are presented with the site dashboard.
There are numerous options on the initial page of this dashboard, including the ability to change the environment (if you wish to create the staging environment), passwords for SFTP/SSH and MySQL and also every other configuration point you may need.
One thing to note is because all of the Kinsta sites are behind Google Cloud Platform load-balancers you have two IP addresses that are of importance.
Site IP address: Is the IP address you put into your DNS and where your domain resolves to.
IP address for external connections: Is the IP address that will be used when your WordPress website makes calls out to update software, reference API endpoints and such. This is important to know – because some API endpoints require you to put in the IP address you’ll be making data calls from!
4. Now we know our Site IP Address we can add DNS entry to our domain in the Kinsta DNS section of our dashboard.
The DNS propagates fairly quickly via the Amazon Route 53 service and we can now create our SSL certificate.
5. Navigating to our domain dashboard we just select the ‘Enable HTTPS’ button and follow the short wizard to create our free SSL certificate.
The first step just asks us to check our domain is pointed at the correct IP address (which is your Site IP address).
As we have already done this, we click next to continue and tick which domain(s) we wish the certificate to be created for. Then simply click ‘Generate certificate’ for it to register our certificate with the Let’s Encrypt certificate provider.
A few moments later we see a green button showing our certificate is installed and enabled. We just need to complete the extra option of ‘Force HTTPS’ to make sure all traffic is redirected from http:// to https:// and we are done!
Now our site is live and ready to use:
Backups and monitoring automatically start on all new websites, there is nothing else you need to do from the MyKinsta dashboard to get on with creating and launching your website. SSL Certificates provided by Kinsta automatically renew too!
Kinsta Hosting: Performance
Now we’ve our site set up – it is time to stress test it. Let’s see what Kinsta is made of, right?
Using our new site, we used LoadImpact to throw an average load test against our site and see what happens when we send 50 concurrent users to the site for 10 minutes straight at it. Something most sites would maybe experience off the back of a newsletter or social media post.
We can see from the graph that the blue line represents the response time from the website. At first, it spikes whilst the Kinsta platform auto-scales our site to handle the new (from zero) traffic and as it builds and progresses it stays 99% consistent. Most shared hosting platforms would probably fail after a few minutes or you’d have extreme variations in response times.
However, this test was just on the new TwentyTwenty theme – which is extremely lightweight.
So, we installed one of the most common (and heavier) themes out there used by a lot of people. Avada.
Avada comes with its own page builder plugin, which generates extra load with CPU and database queries every time the page is requested. The index page itself changed from around 200Kb (TwentyTwenty theme) to 4.96Mb (Avada theme) fully loaded with the additional graphics and features.
As you can see, the test performed just as well – although a slower average response time, this was expected because of the extra work the PHP workers had to do to load the page each time. What is important is that the response time is consistent despite how many visitors you have on your website.
This was without any CDN, WordPress caching software, configuration tweaks or anything. Just a plain install and using the standard Kinsta platform with their bespoke caching setup.
After we had performed all our tests our test site statistics showed the following:
You can see despite all the visitors we pushed to the site, just 21 individual visits have been recorded. As we said earlier about quotas and visitors – individual visitors are only counted once per 24 hours, despite how many times they actually visit your website during that period.
When it comes to uptime, Kinsta is a very stable platform too. One site we moved over to the Kinsta platform back in July 2019 has the below uptime record. It speaks for itself!
Kinsta Hosting: Pricing
As we’ve said earlier, Managed WordPress Hosting usually starts at a higher pricing bracket than you usual shared hosting. For one, it isn’t shared hosting with 1000s of websites crammed on to servers and secondly – the number of resources, technology and support for your website far outweigh your normal web hosting offering.
One thing to remember with Managed WordPress Hosting is generally all hosts don’t charge via bandwidth anymore, but rather by number of visits to your website. Bandwidth has become so cheap these days that it isn’t really an accurate measurement to bill people by, which means visits are the new thing and you should take note of what sort of traffic you currently or expect to get.
Kinsta’s Starter Plan for one website is just $30/month (although you can get two months free on all plans if you pay annually). It comes with 20,000 visits/month, 10Gb of space, CDN, Free SSL and all of the standard features as described above. The only features not included on this plan are WordPress Multisites or site cloning.
Additionally, this plan and the next plan up (the Pro plan at $60/month) are not suggested for eCommerce/membership websites. That isn’t to say they won’t work, but you don’t get access to enough PHP workers on these plans for them to work at the best performance possible. You could always start with one of these plans whilst you build your site, then upgrade before you put it live.
As soon as you move to the Business 1 plan at $100 / month, not only is your disk space, visitors and CDN quota upgraded (as they are on all plans) but the number of PHP workers per site increases too, to 4 per site. Making it ideal for eCommerce and Membership-based websites.
The further you upgrade your plan, the more resources your sites are able to share (visitors, disk space and CDN) – however, each one of them don’t share the PHP workers and instead have a fixed number per website as listed in the plan – so you can host multiple busy websites without worrying if each one of them has enough PHP workers.
Their plans go all the way up to the Enterprise 4 plans which can service a whopping 150 WordPress websites – you can contact the Kinsta sales team if you require an even bigger, custom plan, however!
Kinsta’s billing is extremely fair and they’ll only bill you the new plan rate in a pro-rata fashion. That means you don’t lose any time or money by changing up or down a plan during your 31-day billing period (Kinsta run on a 31-day billing period, not calendar-based billing).
Additionally, another factor that increases as you upgrade your plan from Starter through to Enterprise is the default backup retention period. All accounts start with 14-days of automatic backups (meaning you can roll back your site to what it was 14 days ago), as you increase your plan this gradually increases to 20 days and then 30 days.
Kinsta also offers a fairly unique refund policy. If you aren’t happy with their hosting within the first 30 days, you can request a refund and they’ll refund the entire amount. However, if you request a refund after 30 days (for example 4 months into your time with them) then they’ll refund the unused portion of that month, or, if you paid annually they’ll refund the remaining time (calculated at the monthly daily rate) – this is quite rare in the web hosting world where usually you don’t qualify for a refund after your first 30-60 days and is the same refund policy we also offer.
Kinsta Hosting: Final Thoughts
We’ve covered Kinsta Hosting fairly in-depth in this review, but what we haven’t touched upon is also the wealth of information they provide via their blog. They publish a lot of longform content – mainly WordPress guides which are incredibly useful to beginners and experts too. Whilst you are on their website, you can take a look at their case studies and featured clients – you’ll see your website will be sat alongside giants such as the ones below.
One thing to note is unlike other web hosting companies Kinsta doesn’t offer any reseller packages as such, but a great feature in their dashboard allows you to add access to any website(s) you wish with different user levels. Those users can then login and manage the sites like the main account owner can (but not see or edit the billing section).
Kinsta does feel like a breath of fresh air when it comes to hosting and they are certainly leading the pack when it comes to Managed WordPress Hosting. This is why we moved our site from our own dedicated server to host with them and additionally why we recommend them to all our clients. Hosting your website on the Google Cloud Platform, which also powers giants such as Google’s own website, YouTube and Gmail means you are really getting the very best when it comes to infrastructure and technology.
Although not the cheapest of Managed WordPress Hosting companies out there, if you care about the performance, reliability and security of your website – then Kinsta ticks all those boxes and many more too – try them out!
Flywheel also strips down database access and limits you to their UI and setup. Kinsta gives you full access to phpMyAdmin. All in all, when it comes to technical details like this, there’s a lot that Kinsta allows you to do freely within the dashboard while other managed WordPress hosts either require you to contact support to have them done for you or don’t allow you to do them at all. Kinsta is a fantastic WordPress host that offers an impressive server setup and a suite of useful, developer-friendly features. On the flip side, its UI is simple enough for non-developers to use. Plus, with WP Engine acquiring Flywheel to the point of Flywheel changing their plans to mimic its parent company’s (and to support its new cloud hosting infrastructure), Kinsta is one of few independent managed WordPress hosts left with cheaper, simplified pricing options.