Offering lots of impressive WordPress management tools and a clean UX, Kinsta delivers all the speed and scaling advantages you’d expect from a cloud-based host. Add this to a highly-skilled support team of WordPress developers and you’ve got yourself a premium hosting solution, albeit at a premium price. Learn more.
Today, we’re taking a look at a managed WordPress hosting service with a sharp reputation – Kinsta.
Launched in 2013, Kinsta was the brainchild of a group of WordPress experts unimpressed with the WordPress hosting solutions on the market. Today, it’s one of the fastest growing WordPress hosts in Europe and America.
Pros of Kinsta
Cons of Kinsta
Kinsta’s Plan & Features
How Does Kinsta Hold Up Against the Competition?
Kinsta’s edge lies in the fact its hosting services are powered by Google Cloud’s premium network, a value proposition so intriguing that we really just couldn’t resist putting Kinsta to the test.
Amongst an impressive laundry list of benefits, Kinsta promises lightning-speed hosting, next-gen infrastructure and great customer service. Kinsta has also recently rebranded to a very sleek and user-friendly version of itself and is looking better than ever.
But does it truly deliver? We had a look to find out.
As we all know, as far as websites go, speed is everything.
A faster page loading time not only correlates with higher conversions, longer average visitor duration and decreased bounce rates, but also much better SEO. We’ve written lots on the subject of speed here.
And how does Kinsta fare? To find out, we set up our standard test-site on Kinsta’s servers and ran it through our very own server speed checker:
|US (W)||US (E)||London||Singapore||Sao Paulo|
|130 ms||95 ms||10 ms||287 ms||203 ms|
|487 ms||266 ms||221 ms||83 ms||13 ms|
|US (W)||US (E)||London||Singapore||Sao Paulo|
|41 ms||29 ms||100 ms||190 ms||139 ms|
|233 ms||172 ms||125 ms||30 ms||111 ms|
For testing purposes, we set up two simple test sites comprised of a stock WordPress install.
We were happy to see both our test sites scored an A+ rating on the speed checker!
Our US-hosted site came back with the fastest average response – a very impressive 117 ms.
Still, we had zero complaints regarding server speed for our London-hosted test site. It returned an average response time of 179.5 ms and pinged a very zippy 10 ms from our London node itself.
And what about webpage loading time?
Now – bear in mind that our test pages don’t yet utilise CDN, caching technologies, or any other optimisations that Kinsta users should take advantage of to cut their webpage load times. However, even without any optimisation, we noticed all the important speed metrics are A-rated, ticked and green.
And there’s one metric in particular we want to pay special attention to – Largest Contentful Paint, or LCP.
That’s because LCP is one of the 3 components that Google recently identified as Core Web Vitals for 2020. They developed this set of guidelines for all web pages who want to deliver a great user experience, focusing on the 3 key areas of loading, interactivity, and visual stability. It’s a great benchmark that every site owner needs to take heed of.
Here are Google’s fancy terms for each:
Your host’s server speed will have a huge impact on that first ‘loading’ metric of LCP, which is essentially a measure of the render time of the largest image/text block visible within the viewport.
To provide a good user experience, Google recommends LCP occurs within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
Good news is, we can see that both our US-hosted and London-hosted test sites return LCPs well within the benchmark (1.297s and 1.072s respectively). So it seems Kinsta will help put you on the right track in regards to great, Google-approved site loading performance!
In all, Kinsta may not be THE faster hosting service we’ve tested, but it’s certainly in the top-tier of server hosts that deliver on speed.
Paired with the right optimisations to offset latency issues for some regions, Kinsta users can expect very impressive loading speeds
Let’s dig a little deeper into Kinsta’s build.
Its most distinguishing feature is that it exclusively offers Google cloud server hosting.
This makes its infrastructure fundamentally different to the traditional shared or dedicated hosting of its competitors.
How? Well, instead of hosting through a single server in a data centre, cloud hosts utilise virtual server space that taps into a complex network of physical servers. This offers users some pretty cool advantages in terms of speed, reliability, scalability and flexibility.
Whilst there are a few cloud server hosts around, Kinsta utilises Google’s private fiber network. It’s one of the biggest in the world and able to reach speeds of 10,000TB per second in some regions.
Even better, Kinsta is signed up to Google Cloud’s Premium Tier, which means Kinsta users can tap into the highest levels of performance, speed and security.
Kinsta users also benefit from 29 Google Cloud server locations worldwide. That means that you can choose the data centre geographically closest to your audience for each of your WordPress sites, which helps keep latency low and load times snappy.
Also, Kinsta users also have access to premium DNS via Amazon Route 53, which is another weapon in its arsenal to keep things quick.
The third pro? You guessed it – speed again.
Kinsta is fortified with ‘speed-obsessed architecture’ (their words, not ours) through technologies like Nginx, PHP 7, LXD software containers, and MariaDB.
We could fill pages talking about Kinsta’s various add-ons and plug-ins, but one thing you’re definitely going to want to use is CDN.
Here, Kinsta partners with KeyCDN, a fantastic HTTP/2 and IPv6-enabled content delivery network.
Here, Kinsta now partners with Cloudflare, who operates one of the largest content delivery networks in the world! The resulting ‘Kinsta CDN’ lets Kinsta users turbocharge their media to audiences around the world, at no extra cost.
Cloudflare’s network is truly vast, with servers in nearly 200 locations in 100+ countries. Comparatively, other popular CDN providers like KeyCDN (who Kinsta used to partner with), Bunny CDN, and StackPath have less than 60 points-of-presence. Cloudflare also offers HTTP/3 support – which is an evolution from HTTP/2 and unlocks benefits like faster SSL handshakes, and 0-RTT support.
Well, CDNs can…
Besides this powerful partnership – Kinsta (in true Kinsta fashion) has made everything CDN-related easy to manage.
CDN and caching technologies usually come separate, but Kinsta packages them together nicely and makes them super simple to manage from your dashboard, letting you track bandwidth usage, top files by requests and more.
Uptime since December 2018
Uptime since March 2020
In fact, Kinsta offers an SLA-backed 99.9% uptime guarantee.
This vote of confidence is a clear result of its cloud-hosting infrastructure. Cloud hosts by nature are much more reliable at keeping websites online.
If that’s not enough, Kinsta also pairs this with continuous monitoring and uptime checks every minute. If they fail to correct error response codes within 30 minutes, your account will be credited. This guarantee holds true, 24/7, every day of the year.
Like the name suggests, managed WordPress hosts should allow you to spend less time worrying about your website, and give you more time to focus on growing it.
Kinsta has a really wide range of features that provide an optimised environment for you to keep improving your website, without needing to worry about technical issues.
Useful site management features include:
Even better – Kinsta is also continually adding new features for easier site management. For example, their recent addition of site labelling and renaming features will be welcomed by users who manage multiple websites, or businesses who need to rebrand.
One of Kinsta’s biggest strengths is their support team.
We mean it – it’s comprised entirely of veteran WordPress developers and Linux hosting engineers. This means the technical level of support is one of the best on the market. They even boast that they hire less than 1% of applicants who apply!
Instead of needing to go through a series of level 1 or level 2 support reps, Kinsta users always have real experts directly at their beck-and-call.
Kinsta offers 24/7 support via the Intercom widget, a live chat and ticket solution. It’s actually a pretty nifty system with an automatically stored chat history and window that stays open even as you navigate through different pages in the dashboard.
From direct experience, every query we sent was replied to in under 3 minutes. All the staff we talked to were very helpful, knowledgeable and supported their answers with links to resources for further reading. In all, a very positive experience that was supported by pages of glowing customer reviews we found saying similar things about Kinsta’s support team.
So, how easy is it really to get the ball rolling?
Turns out – very.
When we signed up for Kinsta we were struck by how quick and simple it was. Creating an account literally took seconds, then up came our new dashboard and a wealth of resources that were angled to help everyone – from total beginners, to seasoned developers.
After which, we received helpful follow-up emails prompting the next steps of connecting our website, and checking if we have questions.
Which leads to our next point – every Kinsta plan also includes at least one free site migration from a current host that is handled by their team of experts.
Leaving such a critical task to the pros obviously is much less of a headache than trying to do a manual migration (which you also have the option to do, with Kinsta’s support). You won’t incur any downtime – simply request a migration from your dashboard. You’ll then be alerted once the migration process is complete so you can verify everything is running butter-smooth.
Whilst it doesn’t offer a free trial, Kinsta does offer a 30-day money back guarantee (which we quite honestly prefer) to really give time to users to get a feel for the ropes. There are several membership tiers (more on that later) but we liked the way plans were spelled out clearly.
Kinsta offers plenty of tools to keep your site safe and secure.
What’s even better – backups are excluded from your total disk space usage to give you as much space as possible!
Other security features worth mentioning:
Who said growing your website had to be so complicated? Another very attractive feature of Kinsta is its scalability, a direct payoff of its cloud-based architecture.
In the case of an unexpected traffic surge, Kinsta’s integration with the Google Compute Engine lets a website’s container scale dramatically to as many CPUs as needed. As the cloud auto-scales to manage the load, so your WordPress site can remain online without crashing.
In contrast, many 3rd party hosts are constrained to 2-6 CPUs per Virtual Private Servers.
Bear in mind, if you do exceed the monthly visits cap of your plan, you will still need to pay an overage fee of ($1/1,000 visits) after a specific number of visitors, but you’ll be notified at 80% and 100% usage.
However, the important thing is that your site will stay online! After all, the last thing you want to happen is to invest in paid traffic, or finally go viral, and then suffer a site-crash exactly at your moment of glory. Imagine all that wasted opportunity!
Kinsta also offers a Exponential Traffic Spikes and Surges Upgrade specifically designed to address these sorts of massive traffic events if you know they are about to happen.
Quite honestly, Kinsta is great news for any e-commerce business on WordPress.
After all, with free plugins like WooCommerce, WordPress remains one of the most attractive platforms for entrepreneurs.
However, it’s also these e-commerce type sites that tend to get very resource-intense and overwhelming, especially as these plugins are often what make up the most technologically-complicated sides of WordPress.
Business owners using WordPress stand to gain a lot from Kinsta’s support and easy management tools. In particular:
In all, Kinsta can offer a LOT to any entrepreneur who wants to focus more on growing his business, and less on the technicalities of keeping his website online.
Kinsta clearly has some great pros going for it, but no hosting solution is ever perfect.
Kinsta is a premium WordPress hosting solution. It unfortunately does also come attached to a premium price tag.
The monthly cost is pretty steep, with the standard tier costing $35 a month. This goes all the way up to $1,650/mo in price for its top-tier plan (more on that in a bit).
You do receive two months free if you purchase the yearly plan, but it’s still a monthly overhead that may be high enough to discourage smaller businesses, and is significantly higher than almost every main competitor.
That said, it’s good to know that the standard tier is down from $100, which was the minimum spend up until May 2018.
There are also some things that any website owner needs in order to fully set up and manage a website, that Kinsta unfortunately doesn’t currently offer.
The big one? Email hosting. Users who are looking for emails along the lines of [email protected] will need to find and sign up for a separate email hosting service. We’ve written a step-by-step on how you can set up an email hosting service, with a comparison of different services here.
For example, a comparable professional email hosting service like Office 365 Biz will cost you about $12.50 a month. Kinsta recommends G Suite, which will set you back a smaller $5 per month.
It’s not the end of the world, and Kinsta’s argument for this is that they wish to leave the email hosting to the experts – fair enough.
However there may very well be some disappointed website owners who expect an all-in-one hosting solution for the high price they’re paying. At the end of the day, it means owners need to be prepared to make a bigger investment on their web property.
Unlike most of its competitors, Kinsta doesn’t currently offer phone support for its customers.
For many people, there’s a certain comfort in being able to pick up the phone and immediately discuss your problem with a human voice.
From Kinsta’s point of view, this decision does make some sense. To the extent that they’ve written up an entire article justifying themselves.
True, when the discussion is of a technical nature, it’s useful to have a written log and screenshots to refer to …
True, a ticketing system means you won’t be explaining yourself multiple times to different people…
But whilst their live chat may be a practical choice, telephone support can be a very important source of comfort to clients, especially in moments of crisis.
For many, it feels far better to dial in and have your call picked up immediately, than to type their issues into a little chat box.
Kinsta currently has 10 different tiers of plan, each offering their services on a different scale.
Many of these offer the same basic key offerings, such as free SSL and CDN, their support team, daily backups and the like. The main differences between tiers are the number of WordPress installs that can be managed per account, and also the number of PHP workers assigned to your site (PHP workers determine how many simultaneous requests your site can handle at a given time, i.e. one handling each uncached request).
Categories progress from Starter to Business, to Enterprise – the latter obviously targeted at larger businesses.
Each plan is described very clearly so you can quite easily choose the one that’s right for you. They’re also all included within the 30-day free trial, and you have the option to upgrade or downgrade your hosting plan during this time.
Moving on, let’s take a look at how Kinsta holds up against some of its strongest competitors.
We decided to compare them in the fields in which they perform best.
How does Kinsta fare against WP Engine as a managed WordPress host?
A look at migrations
WP Engine offers free unlimited WordPress migrations. In contrast, Kinsta limits its number of free migrations according to user plan – their most basic plan includes one free migration, and additional migrations cost $100 per site.
However, on closer inspection, the nature of these migrations is quite different. WP Engine’s migrations consist of a do-it-yourself Automated Migration plugin. Whilst quick and relatively easily activated, it may be confusing to some users who aren’t entirely sure what they’re doing. Their plug-in doesn’t migrate redirects (critical to prevent SEO ‘disasters’), or data or images stored outside of the /wp-content/ directory. Kinsta argues that, if done incorrectly, this method can lead to data loss.
On the other hand, migration on Kinsta is a easy, almost brainless affair. Simply request the migration and leave it to their expert team to handle. Better yet, you won’t suffer any downtime.
So if we’re looking at ‘hands off’ management, Kinsta’s migration methods seems much more painless.
A look at customer support
WP Engine prides itself on award-winning customer support. It has an average response time of under 3 minutes, with 90% of support contacts resolved in that session – certainly impressive.
WP Engine also proudly offers 24/7 phone support – something Kinsta has been criticised for lacking. This could be due to the fact their employee base is much larger than Kinsta’s relatively small team.
However, it can be argued Kinsta’s strength lie in the skill level of their staff. In their words, ‘Kinsta clients get to chat with the same team members that support our large enterprise and Fortune 500 companies.’ With more qualified staff at hand, some have suggested that Kinsta can solve issues with less back-and-forth.
A look at scalability
Kinsta offers tentiers of plans (vs WP Engine’s five), yet every Kinsta user benefits from the same auto-scaling cloud infrastructure, regardless.
This means that Kinsta users who want to upgrade their site to the next tier (e.g. to accommodate higher traffic), will find the process fairly seamless.
In comparison, WP Engine utilises shared or dedicated hosting. To scale a site hosted on WP Engine may require multiple site migrations – perhaps moving from a shared environment to a VPS, then to a dedicated server or over to cloud hosting. As we’ve mentioned, these migrations may be a little intimidating to some users.
A look at developer tools
Kinsta is a host optimised by developers, for developers.
As such, Kinsta offers a ton of features to optimise workflow – not all of which are available at WP Engine:
That said, WP Engine does offer some very attractive WordPress themes for free to customers. This includes the Genesis Framework – the world’s most popular WordPress theme framework – and StudioPress premium themes. Kinsta does not offer free themes to customers.
How does Kinsta fare against SiteGround as a fast web host?
Back to the speed argument.
As we’ve mentioned, when we conducted our speed test, Kinsta didn’t come out on top as fastest host. Here’s a side-by-side comparison with SiteGround, one of its strongest competitors:
As we can see, SiteGround earned an A+ rating and outperformed Kinsta with an average response time of 148.7 ms.
This may come as a surprise to those comparing these hosts on the level of price.
At a competitive starting rate of $4.99/mo for first timers, SiteGround is certainly MUCH more affordable than Kinsta. The next tier up lets you hook up unlimited WordPress sites, and still would only cost you $7.99/mo.
That said, the test also doesn’t take into consideration all the features Kinsta offers to really rev up loading speeds. When comparing basic plans, we noticed there were a couple of speed-related features that Kinsta had, that SiteGround lacked:
Also, Kinsta offers users a choice of 29 data centres, vs SiteGround’s 6 centres across 4 continents.
It’s a tough call. However, at the end of the day, we need to remember that SiteGround vs. Kinsta is not a case of comparing apple to apple.
Kinsta is a self-scaling cloud host, while SiteGround remains a traditional host. Its ‘GrowBig’ plan, for example, operates on a shared hosting service where a few websites share the same physical server. This kind of infrastructure comes with its own intrinsic limitations.
SiteGround is a very solid value proposition, even at a shared host level. As per our in-depth review here, we recommend SiteGround not only for its speed, but for excellent technical support, security and unlimited email accounts and DBs.
SiteGround is likely to perhaps better fit those on a tighter budget; those perhaps with lower traffic, but still seeking exceptional performance.
May 2022 Update
We pitted Kinsta against A2 Hosting as well – see how it went.
Now the big question – should you host with Kinsta?
Well, the ultimate deciding factor here should be your needs as a user.
The bottom line is that Kinsta isn’t cheap. However, it is extremely valuable for the right user.
For owners of websites with lower traffic, particularly those looking for an all-inclusive domain registration and email hosting, Kinsta’s premium WordPress hosting solution may be both too much and not enough.
It’s likely to be a better fit for users who expect higher traffic and are serious about scaling and securing their website.
At any rate – with its cloud-based architecture, obsession with speed, advanced management tools/systems and really, really great customer support, Kinsta really is a powerful host to be reckoned with.