Kinsta Review: Premium WordPress Hosting for Small & Large Sites

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Kinsta WordPress Hosting

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If you haven’t heard of Kinsta WordPress hosting, I’m glad I can be the one to introduce you. They really have a unique & powerful platform, with genuinely awesome people providing support.

If you’re on the fence about choosing Kinsta as your new WordPress host, let me be the one to unequivocally recommend them. From small business to enterprise sites, their managed WordPress hosting is for everyone.

I’ve previously written a WP Engine review and SiteGround review, and as of January 2018, Kinsta is my #1 recommended host for all types of sites.

If you are really strapped for cash, check out SiteGround for super-affordable, but not quite as powerful, WordPress hosting.

In this Kinsta review, I’ll walk you through each and every one of their features. You can use the table of contents below to jump to a specific section, or read the entire review from top to bottom. Let’s jump in.

Kinsta Hosting Review, Quick Summary

If I had to sum them up in 4 words, I’d say Kinsta is friendly, fast, secure & scalable. Their custom-built infrastructure is tailored for WordPress, and can be easily scaled as your site grows.

From a single site with 20,000 visits/mo. to 80 sites with over a million visits/mo., Kinsta has a plan for everyone. They are also one of my top choices for WooCommerce hosting.

Get premium WordPress hosting from Kinsta, starting at $30/mo.

Try Kinsta Today →

Table of Contents

Kinsta Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Fast performance (PHP 7+, HTTP/2, NGINX, MariaDB, HHVM)
  • Powered by Google Cloud Platform (13 data centers)
  • Free SSLs (via Let’s Encrypt)
  • Free CDN (powered by KeyCDN)
  • Staging sites on all plans
  • The nicest & most helpful support you’ll ever receive
  • Automated & on-demand backups on all plans
  • Excellent security (DDoS protection, firewalls & 24/7 monitoring)
  • Custom admin dashboard with analytics/stats
  • Native Spanish-speaking support
  • Site cloning (on most plans)
  • SSH access, WP-CLI and Git (on most plans)
  • Free site migrations (on most plans)

Cons

  • Plans start at $30/mo., which might be a little expensive for some

Honestly, there’s nothing not to like about these guys.

Get Kinsta Hosting

What makes Kinsta unique?

Every managed WordPress host does things a little differently, and I think it’s important to highlight each company’s unique features. Kinsta does a few things differently (and really well) compared to other WordPress hosts.

01 MyKinsta Admin & Analytics

While some hosts use cPanel (like SiteGround), and others employ a simple dashboard with limited options, Kinsta has developed their own robust admin area. Not only does it provide easy access to most of Kinsta’s features, but you can see a bunch of analytics about each site. It is by far the most robust analytics platform I’ve seen from any WordPress host.

MyKinsta Dashboard analytics
A quick look at MyKinsta’s analytics

02 Helpful & Friendly Support

Almost all hosts claim to have fanatical support, but many of them don’t live up to the hype. With Kinsta, you get the best of the best. Their support team is available via chat 24/7, right from your admin area. And you’ll get the friendliest, most helpful WordPress experts you’ve ever talked to.

En español: Several of Kinsta’s team members natively speak Spanish, so Spanish support is readily available. They have also translated all documentation into Spanish, and have a dedicated Twitter account for Spanish-speaking clients.

Learn more about Kinsta’s Spanish hosting initiative »

03 Early Adoption of New Technology

Switching PHP in Kinsta dashboard

Because Kinsta is a smaller organization than big-name players like GoDaddy & SiteGround, they’re able to make changes to their platform more quickly.

What takes some companies 6 months to a year to implement, Kinsta will have ready in a matter of weeks. A prime example is how they made PHP 7.2 available to all their customers within a week or so of it being released.

If you like to be the first to utilize new technology, Kinsta is the way to go.

 

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Now it’s time to review each and every one of Kinsta’s features.

Kinsta Security

Kinsta is proactive in handling your site’s security. They offer several features that will keep your WordPress site secure.

01 Free SSL Certificates via Let’s Encrypt

Let's Encrypt logoKinsta provides free SSL certificates for all of your sites. They come standard with all plans and are incredibly easy to setup from the MyKinsta dashboard. Everything is completely automated, and it takes about 5 minutes to be up and running on https.

  • Automated setup: Get setup with just a few clicks
  • Auto-renew: You never have to worry about your SSL expiring
  • Force HTTPS: Just reach out to their support team and they’ll force all your URLs to use https
Kinsta's SSL setup options
SSL options in the MyKinsta dashboard

It is also possible to supply your own SSL certificate if you have specific needs.

02 Managed WordPress Core Updates

WordPress releases both major & minor updates. The major updates typically contain new features, while the minor updates contain bug fixes & security patches that keep your site safe.

Kinsta will automatically update your site when new (minor) WordPress updates are released (4.9 to 4.9.1). However, major updates (4.8 to 4.9) are the site owner’s responsibility.

03 Threat Detection & Prevention

Kinsta uses New Relic to constantly monitor all sites on their platform. They check your site every 60 seconds, which equates to 1,440 checks per day.

Not only does this help keep your site secure, it also identifies areas in which you can increase your site’s performance.

Learn more about Kinsta’s 24/7 monitoring »

04 Free Hack Repair

In the unlikely event that your site does get hacked, they’ll fix it for free, and make it their #1 priority to get you back up and running as soon as possible.

05 Banned Plugins

Kinsta does maintain a list of banned plugins, but they are banned for a reason: performance and security. Some WordPress plugins use outdated and insecure code that put you at risk for an attack. Others simply slow down your site, or perform functions that Kinsta’s platform already provides.

View Kinsta’s banned plugins »

06 Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Your hosting control panel (aka: MyKinsta) contains important information about your WordPress site(s). You can change SFTP passwords, access your MySQL database, and perform many other critical functions. If a hacker were to gain access to your control panel, they could cause serious damage to your site.

Kinsta two-factor authentication (2FA)

Kinsta allows you to use two-factor authentication to protect your control panel. Each time you try to login to your MyKinsta dashboard, you will receive a 7-digit code on your mobile phone. You’ll need to enter this code to complete your login.

Try Kinsta Hosting

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Kinsta Backups

Backups are closely related to security, but I chose to give them their own category. This is an area where Kinsta’s hosting truly delivers. Let me show you what I mean.

Kinsta backups in the dashboard area
A look at Kinsta’s backup page in the MyKinsta dashboard

01 Automated Backups

This is standard in the managed WordPress hosting space, and Kinsta is no exception. They perform full (files & database), automatic, daily backups of your site.

You can increase your automatic backup frequency to every 6 hours, or even every hour, for an additional fee.

02 On-Demand Backups

Create backups of your site at any time, in addition to the automated backups that occur each night.

03 Backup Retention

How many backup copies Kinsta will store depends on your plan. It ranges from 14 to 30 backups (this includes both on-demand & automated backups).

04 One-Click Restore

Choose from any of your available backups, and with a few clicks, automatically restore that version of your site. Kinsta makes a backup of your site before the restore, just in case you need to revert back.

Restore to Staging: You can also choose to restore a backup to your staging environment.

05 Download .zip

At this time, there is no option in the MyKinsta dashboard to download a .zip file. However, I’m confident their support team could grab you a copy if you need one.

06 Backup Note

For all on-demand backups that you initiate manually, you can add a short identifier that describes why you created the backup.

07 Staging Backups

All of Kinsta’s backup features also apply to your staging environment. They automatically backup your staging site daily, and you can create on-demand backups there as well. One-click restore is also available for staging.

Learn more about Kinsta backups »

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Kinsta’s Staging Sites

Staging is a common feature among WordPress hosts. Essentially, you make a copy of your live site, and it is hosted on a testing domain. The staging site provides a testing ground for you to experiment with site changes before making them live.

Kinsta's staging environment
Overview of Kinsta’s staging environment in the MyKinsta dashboard

With one click, you can then push your staging site to your live domain. Let’s walk through how Kinsta handles WordPress staging sites.

Staging sites are included with all plans. You get one staging site per live site.

01 How Staging Works

You access staging options from your MyKinsta dashboard.

  • Login to your MyKinsta dashboard
  • Navigate to the site you’re working on
  • Where it says “Live Environment” in the top-right corner, click that and change to “Staging Environment”

Kinsta hosting live/staging environment setup

Then click the “Create a Staging Environment” button to copy your live site to a staging environment.

Kinsta hosting create a staging environment button

Full Tutorial: How to create a Kinsta staging site

02 Re-Copy Live Site to Staging

If at any time you need to re-copy your live site to your staging environment, you can do so using Backups.

  • Navigate to your Live site backups
  • You can choose the most recent automatic backup, or initiate a manual backup
  • Next to the backup you’d like to send to staging, just click “Restore to Staging”

Kinsta backup restore to staging

03 Push from Staging to Live

Once you’re ready to publish your changes, you can deploy from staging to live. Kinsta will push everything (files & database). They will automatically create a backup of your live site, just in case you need to revert back.

Kinsta hosting staging to live confirmation message
Confirmation message before pushing staging to live

Other Kinsta Staging Notes

A few more things to keep in mind with Kinsta’s staging feature:

  • Caching is disabled on staging sites
  • Kinsta tells Google not to index your staging sites
  • Deactivate social sharing plugins so they don’t share content from your staging site
  • If you’re using a third-party CDN plugin, deactivate it on your staging site

Read Kinsta’s documentation on their staging environment »

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Kinsta CDN (Content Delivery Network)

Quickly, for those who don’t know, a CDN is one way to speed up your website. Instead of all your images, CSS and JavaScript files loading from one server, those files are copied and spread out amongst servers all over the world.

If someone from California visits your site, they download the files from the closest West coast server. Someone from New York would download everything from the closest server on the East coast. The closer the files are to the physical location of the visitor who requests them, the faster they load.

01 CDN Partner

Kinsta has partnered with KeyCDN to offer a CDN that is integrated right into their platform. You access everything from your MyKinsta dashboard.

02 Points of Presence (POPs)

POPs refer to the number of servers that the CDN utilizes. The higher the number, the better. Keep in mind, you want to make sure there are POPs located near a majority of your visitors. As of January 2018, KeyCDN has 29 POPs spread out all over the world.

03 CDN Setup

All the setup is done right from within MyKinsta, and if you have any issues, their chat support is one click away.

Kinsta CDN's add zone button
How to set up the Kinsta CDN from your control panel

04 Custom Sub-Domain

By default, your CDN files will be loaded from a URL that looks like this:

abcd1234.kinstacdn.com

Only image, CSS & JavaScript files located in your /wp-content/ and /wp-includes/ folders will be served over the CDN.

Kinsta is currently working on a way to use a custom sub-domain that would allow you to change your CDN URL to cdn.yoursite.com. We’ll update this review once they have added the ability to use a custom sub-domain.

05 SSL with Kinsta’s CDN

Not only does Kinsta provide free SSLs for all sites, they provide them for their CDN, too. Every time you enable the Kinsta CDN, an SSL will automatically be assigned to your CDN domain, and all your assets will be served up securely, using https.

Other Kinsta CDN Notes

  • The CDN cache is cleared every 24 hours
  • The CDN is disabled on staging sites, and cannot be enabled
  • If you’re already using an existing third-party CDN, please DO NOT enable the Kinsta CDN. You should choose one or the other; not both.
  • Kinsta CDN is compatible with WordPress Multisite
  • The amount of CDN bandwidth changes depending on which plan you have. The higher your plan, the more bandwidth you are allotted.

Read Kinsta CDN’s documentation »

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Kinsta Site Migrations

Kinsta offers free site migrations on almost all of their plans (except the starter plan). The higher your plan, the more free migrations you are allotted. But you can always pay a small fee to have the Kinsta team migrate your site for you.

Kinsta migration request form
Kinsta’s migration request form

Everything is handled from the MyKinsta dashboard. You’ll be asked a series of questions to provide information about your existing site, and Kinsta’s support team will notify you about the progress of the migration.

Kinsta site migration details »


Users & Collaboration

Kinsta provides a simple way for you to collaborate on your account. Essentially, you can create new companies, and place users inside of those companies. Or simply add new users to an existing company.

Kinsta user access, grant new
How to grant access to a new user in MyKinsta
  • Click the “Grant New Access” button
  • Enter the user’s email address
  • Click “Send”
  • The user will receive a link in their email
  • They can then create an account, and will gain access to all the site’s that are assigned to the company in which you added them

User Roles & Permissions

Currently, all users will be “admins,” which means they have full rights to the account. Kinsta is working on more specific permissions, and we’ll update this review when they become available.

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Visits, Bandwidth & Storage

When comparing managed WordPress hosts, these 3 metrics often determine how you get billed, or which plan you should choose. Let me briefly explain them, and then tell you how Kinsta handles visits, bandwidth & storage.

Visits (or Visitors)
Refers to the number of people who visit your website. Most hosts try to include only visits from real humans (excluding bots/spammers).
Bandwidth
Refers to the amount of data that is downloaded from the host to the visitor’s computer. This includes all text, CSS, JavaScript, images, PDFs, and other media. The larger these files are, the more bandwidth is used.
Storage (or Diskspace)
Refers to the total filesize of all your pages, HTML, PHP, CSS, JavaScript, images, PDFs and everything else that makes up your website. Whereas bandwidth counts against you every time someone new accesses a page or image, these items are only counted one time when determining the total storage space you need.

Using a CDN will drastically decrease the amount of storage you need because your files will be stored on the CDN’s servers, not on Kinsta’s servers.

How does Kinsta handle them?

Visits: Kinsta’s plans are based on visits. They do exclude well-known bots, but they reset their definition of a visit every 24 hours. If the same person, from the same computer, visits your site every day at noon for the entire month of March, that counts as 31 visits.

Here’s how Kinsta defines a visit:

The number of visits in a given month is the sum of the unique IP address seen within a 24-hour period as recorded in the NGINX logs.

Bandwidth: Because Kinsta bases their plans on visits, they do not count bandwidth at all. But don’t mistake this as “unlimited” bandwidth. Your visits & bandwidth will be closely correlated.

Storage: Kinsta does limit the amount of storage for each plan, but it’s unlikely that you’ll reach the limit. You can upgrade your plan if you need more storage, or simply utilize their built-in CDN. Files stored on the CDN do not count against your storage limit.

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Kinsta Uptime & Reliability

This is one area that I haven’t personally tested out yet. While I can’t provide any stats on the uptime of a specific Kinsta site, I can tell you that their customers are very pleased with the reliability of their WordPress sites.

Kinsta also uses the highly reliable Google Cloud Platform, which is the same platform that Google uses to run Gmail, Google Drive and many of its other services.

I just set up a site monitor, and will update this Kinsta review in a month or two with some real data.

01 Outages

Check back in a March/April 2018…

02 Uptime

Check back in a March/April 2018…

03 Status Blog

Kinsta maintains a status blog with updates on server issues, scheduled maintenance, and other various account issues.

Check out Kinsta’s status blog »

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Kinsta Support

I’ve had nothing but wonderful interactions with Kinsta’s support team, and have yet to find a single person who has had anything negative to say. They are patient, polite and incredibly helpful.

Let me briefly explain some of the finer details.

01 Support Availability

Kinsta support is available 24/7 via chat. Their average initial response time is just a few minutes. You can access support with one click from any page in your MyKinsta dashboard.

Kinsta support chat window
An example of Kinsta’s chat support

No Phone Support

Kinsta does not provide phone support. You might consider this a downside, however, the decision is intentional. Kinsta says providing chat support is more effective than phone support, and allows them to resolve your issues faster.

Kinsta explains why they don’t offer phone support »

Email Support

Kinsta’s chat system also functions as an email support system. It defaults to chat first, if you are readily available and logged into your MyKinsta dashboard. However, if you have to step away, you will receive an email with your updated conversation.

Log back into your MyKinsta dashboard, open up chat, and everything is synced. It’s basically like chat & email support all wrapped up into one. Super effective.

02 Support Knowledge & Expertise

They’re the best. Period. You won’t find more knowledgable support staff anywhere else.

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Kinsta’s Performance

There are many factors that affect the performance of a website, and hosting is no doubt an important one. I don’t currently have the resources to set up & monitor an accurate performance test.

Instead, I’m going to explain Kinsta’s hosting platform, and how they are able to achieve the fast performance that all their customers rave about.

01 Google Cloud Platform

Kinsta hosts all sites on the Google Cloud Platform. This is the same platform that Google hosts many of its services, like Gmail and Google Drive.

Google Cloud Platform

As of January 2018, there are 13 data centers to choose from. Using a data center close to a majority of your visitors will help improve the performance of your site. And Kinsta’s flexible platform allows you to choose a different data center for each and every site you host with them.

Kinsta has a great article on the advantages of Google Cloud Hosting.

02 PHP 7, NGINX, HTTP/2, LXD Containers, MariaDB

Kinsta uses what they call a speed obsessive architecture. In their own words…

We use state-of-the-art technology like NGINX, PHP 7, LXD containers and MariaDB to make sure your website loads in the blink of an eye. Featuring complete resource isolation, automatic scalability, and high availability.

NGINX logo

They also fully support HTTP/2 and use SSD drives for storage.

In addition to PHP 7, you also have the option to switch to HHVM. And Kinsta supports all stable versions of PHP 7, including PHP 7.1 and 7.2. You can easily switch between these options in the MyKinsta dashboard.

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MyKinsta Dashboard & Analytics

MyKinsta is Kinsta’s custom hosting control panel. If you’re familiar with cPanel, it’s essentially Kinsta’s own custom version of cPanel, but specifically built with WordPress sites in mind.

MyKinsta Dashboard analytics
A quick look at MyKinsta’s dashboard & analytics

Not only does MyKinsta make it incredibly easy to manage your WordPress sites, but it provides a ton of performance-related analytics so you can see how your site is performing, and optimize it to best serve your customers.

01 MyKinsta Site Management

There’s so much you can do with MyKinsta that I won’t list everything, but here’s a short list to give you an idea of Kinsta’s site management capabilities:

  • Backup management & restoration
  • Premium DNS management
  • Performance monitoring
  • Traffic & bandwidth analytics
  • Manage staging environments
  • 24/7 chat & ticket support
  • One-click SSL setup
  • Site migration form
  • Purge cache
  • Search & replace your database
  • Site plugin overview
  • Switch PHP versions (or HHVM)
  • View error logs

Learn more about MyKinsta »

02 MyKinsta Analytics

I have yet to find another WordPress host that provides as much data & analytics as Kinsta.

Kinsta analytics animation example
An example of a Kinsta analytics interactive graph

Filters

For each different type of data available, you can filter by the following criteria:

  • Site Filter: Choose between “all sites combined” or pick an individual site from your account
  • Time Period Filter: Choose between 24 hours, 7 days or 30 days

Available Reports

Here’s a list of all reports available in MyKinsta:

  • Visitors
  • Bandwidth usage
  • Top requests (by bytes & by request count)
  • Mobile vs. desktop visitors
  • Average PHP & MySQL response time
  • PHP throughput
  • AJAX usage
  • Top upstream time (maximum & average)
  • Response code breakdowns (with success & error rates)
  • Cache analytics (with hits, misses, expired, etc.)
  • Top countries, regions, cities, IPs

Other Kinsta Features

Here are a some of the other, arguably less important, but still nice-to-have features that Kinsta offers.

01 Database Access

You can easily access your site’s database via phpMyAdmin, with one click from your MyKinsta dashboard.

02 PHP Version Switcher

With one click, easily switch between several different PHP versions, or choose to use HHVM instead.

Switching PHP in Kinsta dashboard

03 Clear Cache

You can quickly clear your site’s cache with one click from the MyKinsta dashboard.

04 New Relic Monitoring

Kinsta monitors your site every 60 seconds. However, if you use New Relic, and would like to have access to your site’s stats, you simply enter your New Relic license key from within MyKinsta, and you’ll start seeing your site’s data in your own New Relic account.

05 Searchable Access & Error Logs

Several kinds of logs are available from the MyKinsta dashboard. All logs are searchable, can include up to 20,000 entries per page, and are available on both live and staging environments. The following logs are available:

  • Error log
  • Access log
  • Kinsta cache log

Kinsta log viewer

06 Git

Kinsta has the following to say about their Git integration…

We have the Git client available, so you can SSH in and pull your own Git repo from Github, Gitlab, Bitbucket or wherever, but we don’t yet have the feature released where you can just “git push kinsta/my_site” and it gets deployed automatically. This part is coming soon.

Learn more about Git integration here »

07 Search & Replace

On a site-by-site basis, Kinsta provides a search & replace feature. This allows you to find and replace all instances of content, shortcodes or any other text found in your site’s database.

You can do a dry run first, to see how many instances would be replaced if you were to go ahead with the operation. And Kinsta makes an automatic backup any time you run this feature, so you can easily revert back.

Kinsta search & replace feature

More on Kinsta’s search & replace feature »

08 Multisite

Every Kinsta plan (except for Starter) supports WordPress Multisite. Choose between two options:

  • Sub-domain network: site1.example.com, site2.example.com
  • Sub-directory network: example.com/site1, example.com/site2

09 List of WordPress Plugins

For each site, Kinsta lists all plugins that are installed on that site. You can easily view this list from your MyKinsta dashboard. It includes:

  • Plugin Name
  • Status (active or inactive)
  • Plugin Version
  • Whether or not an update is available

Kinsta's list of plugins

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Kinsta Plans & Pricing

Kinsta lists 8 different plans on their website. Plans range from a single site with 20,000 visits/mo., all the way up to an enterprise plan that accommodates 80 sites and up to 1.5 million visits/mo.

Kinsta does not have a full, money-back guarantee, but if you cancel in the middle of a billing period, they will refund you for the days you did not use their service.

Here’s a simplified version of Kinsta’s plans & features. There are a few additional plans available on their website.

Pay upfront for 1 year and get 2 months free!

Kinsta logo Starter Pro Bus 1 Bus 2 Bus 4 Enterprise 1
Price $30/mo. $60/mo. $100/mo. $200/mo. $400/mo. $600/mo.
Visits/mo. 20,000 40,000 100k 250k 600k 1 million
Sites 1 2 3 10 40 60
Storage 3 GB 6 GB 10 GB 20 GB 40 GB 80 GB
Free CDN Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Staging Sites Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Free SSL Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
24/7 Chat Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multisite No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
View All Plans →
Kinsta plans & pricing
Kinsta plans & pricing, as of January 2018

Get premium WordPress hosting from Kinsta, starting at $30/mo.

Try Kinsta Today →

Overage Pricing

If you go over the allotted visits for your plan, Kinsta will charge you a simple overage fee.

  • $1 for every 1,000 visits over the limit

Optional Add-Ons

If you need some more advanced features, Kinsta offers a few add-ons for an additional cost.

  • Cloudflare Railgun: $100/mo/site
  • Elasticsearch: $100/mo/site
  • Redis: $100/mo/site
  • Backup every 6 hours: $50/mo/site
  • Backup hourly: $100/mo/site

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About Kinsta

A little background info on the company…

Kinsta team photo
Company photo taken from kinsta.com

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If you liked this Kinsta review and decide to purchase their hosting, using one of our links will help fund future in-depth reviews. Thanks for your support.

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