review namecheap web hosting

Namecheap reviews & expert opinion - december 2017

Namecheap Shared Hosting Review

Namecheap Shared Hosting Plans allow a choice between Linux and Windows.

Namecheap offers three standard shared hosting plans and one premium business plan.

Value Plan Professsional Plan Ultimate Plan Business SSD Plan
Space 20 GB 50 GB Unlimited 20GB SSD
Transfer Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 5000 GB
Websites 3 10 50 Unlimited
Free Domain .website domain .website domain .website domain .website domain
Free SSL No No No No
PCI Compliant No No No Yes
CloudFlare Railgun No No No Yes
eAccelerator No No No Yes
xCache No No No Yes
Priority Support No No No Yes
Discounted Price $9.88 per year $19.88 per year $29.88 per year $215.78 per year
Renewal Price $38.88 per year $78.88 per year $129.88 per year $215.78 per year

Value Plan and Professional Plan — Great introductory pricing

The two primary Namecheap plans are all identical apart from the amount of disk space and the number of websites allowed. The Value plan is excellent value, especially with the initial discount.

If you only have a couple of websites to host, then the Value Plan should be sufficient. With resources limited on a per account basis, rather than a per website basis, it may be more beneficial to buy two Value Plans rather than upgrade to the Professional Plan, as this gives you twice the amount of resources.

Resource Limits

  • Maximum number of concurrent web server requests: 20
  • Maximum amount of RAM all client's processes can use: 4Gb Virtual Memory (1GB Physical) (we comment on this below)
  • Maximum percentage of CPU time: 100% Burstable (20% sustained)

Features:

  • Shared Hosting for less than the cost of a domain name
  • Accelerated SSD Technology (caching of frequently accessed files on SSD storage)
  • 100% Uptime SLA
  • cPanel Control Panel
  • One-Click Installs of WordPress and other popular apps via Softaculous
  • Live Chat and Ticket Support
  • Daily backups

Ultimate Plan — Great introductory pricing

The Ultimate Plan is three times the cost of the Value Plan and allows unlimited SSD-Accelerated disk space, and up to 50 websites.

The Ultimate Plan also give more resources such as CPU, and Ram, but only 50% more than the Value and Professional Plan. This is good if you have a busier website, and do not wish to upgrade to a VPS or Cloud hosting plan.

Resource Limits

  • Maximum number of concurrent web server requests: 30
  • Maximum amount of RAM all client's processes can use: 6Gb Virtual Memory (Physical Memory unknown)
  • Maximum percentage of CPU time: 200% Burstable (unknown sustained)

Features:

  • Shared Hosting for less than the cost of a domain name
  • Accelerated SSD Technology (caching of frequently accessed files on SSD storage)
  • 100% Uptime SLA
  • cPanel Control Panel
  • One-Click Installs of WordPress and other popular apps via Softaculous
  • Live Chat and Ticket Support
  • Daily backups

Business SSD Plan — Powerful Business Hosting with great features

The SSD Hosting Plan is called the “Business SSD.” It is significantly more expensive than the other hosting plans but comes with some very cool features and considerably more resources.

The Business SSD Plan is faster due to SSD Storage but also has twice the limits on concurrent web requests, twice the RAM, and four times the amount of CPU that the Value Plan. It also has xCache available which allows RAM-based caching, which is particularly effective with E-Commerce websites and even WordPress.

Resource Limits

  • Maximum number of concurrent web server requests: 40
  • Maximum amount of RAM all client's processes can use: 8Gb Virtual Memory (Physical Memory unknown)
  • Maximum percentage of CPU time: 400%Burstable (unknown sustained)

Features:

As per the standard plans above, plus:

  • Pure SSD Storage
  • CloudFlare Rail gun
  • PCI Compliant
  • Twice Daily + Weekly Backups
  • xCache & eAcccelerator for dynamic caching
  • Priority Support

A Closer Look at the Resource Limits at Namecheap

With Namecheap, it is tough to see exactly what resources you have at your disposal, as on first look they appear to be extremely generous, but their knowledge base and Acceptable Use Policy indicates a slightly differing story.

For instance, we don’t know of any other shared hosting plan for around $40 per year that offers 4GB RAM. As you will see from our commentary on their Control Panels below, it is very clear that Namecheap does not distinguish between Virtual Memory and Physical Memory in their advertising, nor do they point out the terms of their Acceptable Use Policy that only allow max CPU usage for limited periods, and that sustained usage is just 20% of that. That being said, even after looking beyond the artistic advertising, they still have very respectable resource allowances, especially on their Ultimate and Business SSD plans.

Namecheap use CloudLinux to manage their hosting resources between accounts. CloudLinux not only isolates each cPanel account for greater security, but it allows a host to set usage limits on RAM and CPU. This ensures no one account can bring the server to a standstill due a bad script, or simply overuse. The video below gives a brief overview of CloudLinux:

Also, we believe the knowledgebase specifying what hardware they use is slightly out of date, as a recent blog post seems to make much of their new Dell M1000E BladeCenter Chassis with M620 Dell servers with E5 CPU’s, not the E3 CPU’s listed above.

With regard the CPU time, we suspect each 100% relates to one core of CPU. When an account reaches the limit of their CPU usages, the server throttles the usage. A higher CPU setting can make larger or busier websites feel more responsive. Of course, this is a shared hosting server, so you won’t be entitled to use that amount of CPU all the time, and the acceptable usage policy should be read.

The Control Panel

When you manage your services you will find that there are a mix of different systems used to manage your account. This was somewhat made a little complicated when the website redesign happened, and you have the domain management still being on their old design, a somewhat more recently modified Hosting dashboard (which seems to incorporate Invoices and billing) and their Support department using the excellent Kayako support system. To be honest it does feel a little muddily, but it does seem they are still in the process of updating it all so we won't dwell too much about it at this stage. These things do take time to roll out.

You can see a screenshot below of a hosting account we got cheap that we use as a backup hosting for this website (we have never needed to use it though). At $9.88 for the year, you can't go wrong!

Namecheap hosting dashboard

The actual Hosting Management Control Panel is cPanel. They have not modified the actual branding or cPanel interface, nor have they disabled any of its functionality. Some hosts will limit backup functionality, so it is good to know that they do not do this. You can see a screenshot of the cPanel dashboard below:

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Support

They offer support via Live Chat and Ticket. Unfortunately, there appears to be no telephone support available. It very much comes down to personal choice what type of support people prefer, and for us, phone support is not that important. They also have a very busy community forum which typically receive helpful support from staff within about 3-4 hours. Also, you will find a representative (Matthew Russell) ready to help with any issues on popular web hosting forums such as Webhostingtalk.

They use a fairly sophisticated third party support system called Kayako, which for the amount of customers they service is a must. This helps them keep wait times low, as well as prioritize, follow up and monitor their response times.

It is always difficult to assess how good, or bad, a web hosting company's support is unless you have used them for a long time. Fortunately, in their case we have been a customer for many years. Of course, our primary dealings have been with domain registration and SSL certificates, but over the last 4-5 months, we have also had a Shared Hosting Account with them.

Take one example. We recently had a very quick query relating to our hosting account login URL and login details. Within 6 minutes of needing help, we had requested live support, had our question dealt with and finished the live chat conversation. Having an effective means to get quick answers is incredibly valuable, and they appear to tick all the boxes in how they deal with that. Our experience with their ticket support has sometimes kept us waiting for 5-6 hours, but equally, we have queries resolved within the hour. Overall, those kind of response times for ticket support are adequate, and a certainly over the many years we have dealt with them, we have never had any problems.

We had a quick search on the web for some third party Namecheap Reviews (avoiding fake review websites). This report on the Warrior Forum, for example, gives a glowing review of their Support, saying that WordPress help was forthcoming within 3-4 hours.

namecheap support

Overall, though, there were not many independent sources around the web that mainly commented on their shared hosting. There were many positive comments relating to their domain business, though, particular concerning the domain prices, support and interface. As a large company you would expect many negative reviews (people are more likely to post reviews due to a negative experience), but indeed, these were similarly lacking in presence. They have of course like any host had a few issues, but their community representatives are quick to follow up and assist on public third party forums, and the issues are minor and of a limited nature.

Features

As far as features go, they offer pretty standard hosting unless you go to their Business plan (when you get full SSD and xCache opcode caching (see our W3 Total Cache Tutorial on why xCache is so good, and it is the reason we use it on this website). There is nothing wrong with that if they do it well, which they do, but you won't find anything particularly unique that makes you go "wow." Of course, introductory pricing excepted. There are, however, several more standard features which are worthy of comment:

  • Softaculous — This is our favorite one-click installer, and allows over 100 applications to be installed in just a couple of clicks.
  • Daily Backups — While many hosts now do daily backups, their Business plan backs up twice a day with weekly backups available as well. Like all hosts, you shouldn't rely on the backups from a host, but you will also find a link in the cPanel to CodeGuard. Of course, anyone can sign up with CodeGuard, but we are a big fan of hosts who promote third-party backups. It is all too often people lose their data due to not backing up their data away from their host.
  • CloudFlare integration — We love CloudFlare for speeding up websites. Just check out our W3TC and CloudFlare tutorial.
  • Google Apps integration — If you are a Google Apps fan (for business), then they allow easy integration with automatic configuration tools for email, documents and calendar. Check out the screenshot below: namecheap google apps

Uptime

Uptime is probably one of the most important things when it comes to choosing a web host. The problem is, is that it is tough to ascertain how reliable a host is. Sure, you will see the Uptime Guarantee's, but all that does is guarantee a few dollars if your website is down for the day. We would rather see actual uptime figures over guarantees. The problem with this though is that larger hosts will always be prone to issues, and you may have some servers that never go offline and some that do, so it can be very hit and miss just monitoring one particular server as an example.

So, instead, we think it is much better to look on the web for complaints about websites being down, as well as looking at how they deal with problems when they occur. It is much better to see them resolving problematic servers within 5-10 minutes than seeing a smaller host have fewer problems but take hours or even days to fix the issue.

So with that in mind, how do they Fair?

For a host of their size, we do not see that many problems of downtime. Of course, there has been isolated incidents, and they have been the subject of some DDoS attacks the last year, but overall our opinion is relatively confident about their uptime figures. To get a sense, and to make up your mind about this, you can check their Status page, as well as their Twitter account (where they are very active in dealing with any issues). The fact that they are actively reaching out to customers to try and resolve issues is a very positive sign. Just check out the example below, where a problem was responded to and subsequently resolved in minutes, all via Twitter:

@namecheap Thanks, speedies! /@soundsarenoisy @magikal_jonfish

— Stephen Peasley (@stephenpeasley) January 1, 2015

Value

Well, $9.88 for a year of hosting, it is incredible value.

Of course, make sure you check the renewal prices, as the introductory pricing is only for one year. But, what we particularly like about them is the upsell (it feels odd to applaud upselling) of their SSL certificates when you purchase either hosting or domain. They always seem to have an offer for SSL for just $1.99, and of course, their domain prices are some of the lowest around (with free Whois for one year). Unlike other hosts, they won't charge you a fortune for helping you install your SSL on their hosting either!

The change to their aggressive introductory pricing only occurred in the last quarter of 2015 and had rapidly in our view made them one of the cheapest and best budget hosting providers out there. That being said, we wouldn't class these guys as a budget host as their service is way above that.

Namecheap Review — Summary

Pros

  • Reliable web hosting services — As far as we can see when problems occur they work hard to resolve the issues and are very proactive in reaching out to people in the community who are experiencing issues.
  • CPanel — They use the standard cPanel, which is extremely user-friendly, and has all the tools and features that make managing your website very easy.
  • Great Upsells — Fantastic pricing on SSL certificates and domains.
  • Excellent customer support — Their support staff know what they are doing. They have been around for a while, and you won’t find much bad about them precisely because their support is so good.
  • Experienced Domain Registrar — This used to be their core business (and we guess still is). They have developed a comprehensive interface to manage your domains that you will find easy to use. After using them, you won’t ever want to leave.
  • Integrated CloudFlare — We are a big fan of CloudFlare in combination with shared hosting. CloudFlare can increase your site's performance, while reducing the strain on your server, which for shared hosting matters. We particularly like it when CloudFlare can be setup via a one-click install solution via the cPanel. CloudFlare is one of the first things we recommend to implement when hosting providers try to get you to upgrade to a VPS due to CPU over usage.
  • CloudLinux — Added security and stability due to isolation and limiting of hosting accounts.
  • XCache — On their Business plan you can use xCache for Opcode Caching, which if you see our example W3 Total Cache settings and guide will make your WordPress installation fly.
  • SSD's with Business Plan — Again, their Premium Business plan is where it is all at, and why they got such a high recommendation from us. You can read about the benefits of SSD Web Hosting here.

Cons

  • Short Money Back Guarantee — They only offer a 14-day money back guarantee which is far less than many other hosts. We don't think that you can honestly evaluate a host in just 14 days, and if this were a less well-known brand, we would certainly advise you to proceed with caution. They are, however, are well established, and extremely well known for their domain registration services, so we don't think you need to be overly worried about this. We have used them for domain registration for years.
  • Value Plan limitations — Be sure to check all the specifications of each shared hosting plan to ensure to get all the features you might expect from a cPanel host. Their Value plan has several limitations that are worth checking.

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