Kinsta makes no reservations about the company's focus. The full name of the organization of Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting, and that pretty effectively signals most of the ups and downs of Kinsta as a hosting provider.
Unless you are very specifically seeking out a service that provides excellent tools and resources for managing a WordPress site then Kinsta is just not the place for you. You might as well stop reading now, because that is all Kinsta does. If, on the other hand, you are interested in seeking a robust, high quality WordPress hosting provider and don't expect to need much else, read on – Kinsta is probably the best host that strives to meet the needs of that niche market.
What Makes Kinsta Unique?
I would say the majority of the web hosting companies I run into out there try to offer a wide variety of services and features. That makes sense; by casting a wide net web hosts hope to attract a broad base of clientele, thus maximizing their potential income. Kinsta does not follow that line of thinking.
If anything really sets Kinsta apart from the herd, it is their unwavering focus on doing one thing and doing it well. They exclusively provide managed WordPress hosting. Exclusively on Google Cloud. With the web server, database architecture, language versions, and so on, of their choosing, not yours. Basically, they give you the setup that they have determined works for the most people, and you are supposed to not worry about it.
When it comes down to it, there is a certain class of users who will hate that approach, and a certain class of users who genuinely want a provider that just works and doesn't require them to fiddle with version control systems and config files.
Which group you belong to will likely play a large part in determining how you react to Kinsta. Personally, as someone who just loves to tinker and customize my servers and hosting environments, I would go crazy using something like this. Nevertheless, I am in the minority; for most people Kinsta will “just work” and provide a level of intuitive convenience that is hard to match elsewhere.
Kinsta's Online Reputation
Kinsta is ridiculously well rated. Their reputation online and within the web hosting community is sterling. Check out this summary of ratings from popular web hosting ratings aggregate hostadvice.com:
Seeing such stellar marks on hostadvice inspired me to want to look deeper into the data behind those high scores. Keep in mind, hostadvice is a pretty well respected source that tends to have a broad range of opinions on any hosting service. Well, Kinsta has virtually no one star reviews.
Not on hostadvice, anyway, nor any other major host rating service. It doesn't have any two or three star reviews on hostadvice either. It's lowest rating is a whopping one four star review. Every other reviewer the site rated Kinsta as perfect.
Of course, Kinsta can maintain that level of high customer satisfaction by having such a narrow focus. The maxim “be the perfect managed Google Cloud WordPress host” is a lot easier to perfect than “make money doing everything ever,” the latter being the implicit mantra of most modern web hosting companies. Nevertheless, hats off to Kinsta for at the very least being good at what they do. I think this review I found online by Adam Lacey just about sums up the happy, breezy attitude customers seem to have towards Kinsta:
“Kinsta won't be the cheapest host but they're one of the best out there. I'm a new customer and the support has been fantastic so far and the performance is exactly as advertised. No false promises. If you're serious about your website and want a stress free hosting experience than Kinsta is for you.”
– Adam Lacey, Kinsta user from Austria
Types of Hosting Packages Offered
The ‘packages' offered by Kinsta are very straightforward: you pay more or less money to get more or less resources. Since Kinsta offers almost no choice in terms of operating systems, development environments, and so on, they're packages amount to little more than discounts for users who make larger orders. Their cheapest starter package is $30 per month for a meager 3G disk space (at least it is SSD storage, though). There is no doubt that you could get something cheaper, if all you are wanting to do is host a simple WordPress blog (we'll talk more about pricing soon!).
For those willing to pay more they offer pro and business plans which offer more of the same, basically. If you think of their product as web hosting then there is no doubt it's too pricey. However, if you think of their product as premium technical support for WordPress and site management, then it's not so bad. That 5-star support is not free.
Features and Tools Offered
Kinsta provides all of its users with exactly the same stack of technologies:
- Web Server: Nginx
- Database: MariaDB
- PHP Version: PHP7
- Cloud: Google Cloud
At first this struck me as a bad thing. Afterall, more choice means more power for users and developers, right? But it's really not so simple. Consider that offering a small set of consistent tools allows their support to be highly specialized. Furthermore, the Kinsta sysadmin team is empowered to heavily optimize against a single set of technologies, which is probably why Kinsta, a small company, competes in performance with considerably larger companies.
One big drawback of their limited PHP version offerings is that a lot of older WordPress plugins will basically be useless if you attempt to use them on a Kinsta WordPress install. This is less of a problem every day as more and more software is written in PHP7, but I have personally ran into issues where I needed to rely on old PHP versions to make my WordPress plugins work. If I had been on Kinsta, I simple would have been out of luck.
Other technical goodies include SSD storage, RAID, free backups, site migrations, Denial of Service protection, and uptime monitoring. Setting up new installs and features is made much easier using Kinsta's interfaces. Also, their user interface design is gorgeous and intuitive. It wasn't always this way; Kinsta recently implemented some major changes that greatly increased the ease of use of many of their services as seen in this video that reeks of corporate propaganda:
Current Pricing Options For Kinsta
Before I dive into pricing, I want to mention something pretty cool that Kinsta does. All open source projects receive a 15 percent discount on their hosting plans. Although I'm guessing that most of you reading this review are not looking to maintain a site for your open source project, I mention this discount because it's something positive that Kinsta does that I believe speaks to their character as a company. Anyway, moving on to the bottom line!
Here is an outline of Kinsta's four cheapest plans including basic features and system resources.
Kinsta's four cheapest plans are all pretty expensiveAs I mentioned elsewhere in this article, you can pay more and more to get additional resources but that's just about the only difference between the various “plans” offered on Kinsta. There's no way around it: Kinsta is expensive. Perhaps even overpriced. All I can offer in their defense is the meager fact that customers who do pay the extra for Kinsta seem very happy to have done so.
Oh, and I should mention: Kinsta offers a decent affiliate program. You get a 10% recurring submission, and referrals earn you between fifty and five hundred dollars depending on the size of the referral you land them!
Customer Service Review
In spite of the rave reviews and high levels of respect Kinsta seems to so effortlessly garner among reviewers, I was more than a little surprised and admittedly disappointed when I checked out the companies customer service and technical support offerings for myself. The actual website for the company has almost nothing to say on the topic of what degree of support will or will not be offered for what types of problems. Also, the company does not have phone support. Why? Well, according to Kinsta, something about the need for in-depth analysis of problems and focused thought.
Let me tell you a secret about web hosting: all small web hosting companies go to great lengths to seem like “large” organizations. They do this because clients generally perceive larger organizations to be more stable and reliable.
Kinsta is clearly a tiny company, and therefore they are in the awkward position of having to explain away their inability to support a full-time phone support staff whilst never hinting at the relatively small size of their business (as if we did not know that Kinsta is a relatively small player in the industry). As an end user, Kinsta's small size will inevitably have some kind of impact on the level of support that they will realistically be able to provide to you.
If you are looking for always-on, 24/7, dedicated support staff, you won't find it here. Try some place like BlueHost instead. But the small support team they do have onsite seems very capable, for what it's worth.
Checking out Kinsta's officially maintained knowledge based reveals a treasure trove of information about the kinds of problems Kinsta support staff are equipped to solve. I would sum it up like this: If you have a WordPress problem, they are literally the best. If you have a generic technical/server problem, they are average to mediocre. If you have a software engineering problem or any high level technical problem not immediately related to their domain knowledge, they probably will not be much help at all.
Who Is The Ideal Customer For Kinsta?
One who is not especially concerned about price and wants the absolute best managed WordPress experience on the market. I really ought to emphasize the word best, because if you do not absolutely need really, really great WordPress support, you can save a lot of money by sticking with a traditional shared hosting provider.
Almost every major hosting provider supports WordPress these days and most hosts are “good enough” for the majority of WordPress users. Only use Kinsta if you need that extra mile of quality and support. If you are doing something weird and unconventional with WordPress, Kinsta could provide immense relief compared to the daunting task of trying to roll everything out all by yourself.
Kinsta's staff includes WordPress experts that are kind of like free, builtin consultants. Trying to make obscure WordPress plugins play nice with eachother can be a massive headache, but you can be pretty sure that no matter what you are trying to do, Kinsta's WordPress gurus have been there before a thousand times and know exactly what to do. If you're sick of constantly fighting with WordPress to make it do things that most people would never think to do with it, then Kinsta might be your new home.
I hate to say it, but I think Kinsta is simply overpriced for the overwhelming majority of users. It's just too hard to justify even the cheapest hosting plan (30 dollars per month) when I consider the relatively meager resource allotment that plan includes (3 gigs of storage space and 20k visits per month?!). My opinion might be different if Kinsta offered some kind of mind-blowing support or technical feature that you couldn't get elsewhere, but the fact is that even if you absolutely require in-depth help with very obscure WordPress problems,it would still be cheaper in almost every case to just get a conventional hosting provider and pay a part time freelancer for WordPress support.
I want to recommend Kinsta because they are basically a good company. They leave customers happy and satisfied, they do their job well, and they are masters of the craft of managed WordPress hosting. But sadly, the level of specificity they provide is just not worth it for most people out there.