The managed WordPress hosting industry can be accurately described with one word – overcrowded. As with other overcrowded industries, leaders tend to emerge over time, and that’s exactly what Kinsta has done since it was founded in 2013. Over the past six years, Kinsta has grown from a small boutique hosting company into a globally recognized industry leader, all while maintaining unparalleled customer satisfaction and a quality user experience.
Today, Kinsta offers a premium containerized WordPress hosting platform, “for everyone, small or large,” built on top of Google Cloud Platform utilizing the latest technologies like NGINX, LXD, MariaDB, and PHP 7 to guarantee super fast load times. In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look at Kinsta’s WordPress hosting offering so you can decide if it’s the right solution for you.
- Who is Kinsta For?
- Kinsta’s Infrastructure
- Kinsta’s Plans
- The Kinsta Dashboard
- Kinsta WordPress Hosting Benchmarks
- Downsides of Hosting on Kinsta
Kinsta offers a premium managed WordPress hosting experience, so by definition, it’s for any WordPress user who doesn’t want to spend time configuring servers, making backups, cleaning malware infections, adding regex rewrites to NGINX, and more. Let’s break it down a bit more.
Finding a high performance and reliable WordPress host is crucial for the success of the business. If you’ve done your research, you probably already know that Kinsta is one of the best in the business when it comes to performance. What you may not know is that Kinsta also has a world-class 24/7 support team with an average response of time of two minutes – even on weekends and holidays. Imagine the following scenarios.
- Your website receives a sudden surge of traffic, and you need to scale up to a more powerful hosting plan. On Kinsta, scaling up or down is one click away and doesn’t require any downtime for migration to a different server.
- You’re reworking some permalinks on your WooCommerce store over the weekend, and need to add some URLs to the cache exclusion list. On Kinsta, you can send a message to one of our engineers, and you’ll be back in business in a few minutes.
Now, imagine if you weren’t on a scaleable web host that offers 24/7 support.
- Your website receives a sudden surge of traffic, and you need to scale up to a more powerful hosting plan. Your web host informs you that it’ll take 2-3 business days to migrate you over to their “enterprise-level server”. As a result, you lose out on potential sales from the traffic surge.
- You’re reworking some permalinks on your WooCommerce store over the weekend, and need to add some URLs to the cache exclusion list. You send a request to the web host, but don’t receive a reply until the following Monday or Tuesday – after you’ve received dozens of complaints about caching issues from customers.
Kinsta’s WordPress hosting platform is powered by Google Cloud Platform, and utilizes the latest versions of LXD, NGINX, PHP, and MariaDB. Let’s go over a few core components of Kinsta’s server stack before jumping into the details of the various hosting plans.
Google Cloud Platform
Kinsta exclusively uses Google Cloud Platform’s premium tier, which means your website will be hosted on the same time-tested infrastructure that powers Google Search, Gmail, and more. Furthermore, Google Cloud Platform has 20 data centers worldwide, and Kinsta supports all of them. According to Amazon, every extra 100ms of latency resulted in 1% of lost sales. It doesn’t matter if your target audience is in the USA, Tokyo, Germany, or Australia. With twenty datacenter locations to choose from, Kinsta has got you covered.
LXD is a “system container manager” that can be used to slice up a server into individual isolated containers. On Kinsta, every site lives inside its own container, which ensures CPU and RAM are never shared between sites. This is completely different from the typical shared hosting model, where a resource spike on another site can have an adverse effect on your site.
PHP is the programming language and engine that powers WordPress. In a world where many hosts are still spinning up WordPress sites with PHP 5.6, sites hosted on Kinsta are configured to use PHP 7.3. If you’re interested in benchmarks, PHP 7.3 is roughly 3x faster than 5.6. If your website isn’t fully compatible with PHP 7.3 yet, there’s no need to worry. Kinsta also supports PHP 7.0, 7.1, and 7.2, and switching between versions is just one click away.
WordPress is a database-oriented CMS, and MariaDB is Kinsta’s database of choice. Compared to MySQL, MariaDB is not controlled by a single corporate entity, and it also offers better database performance.
Full Page Caching
Kinsta uses NGINX’s FastCGI cache module to create static HTML copies of the pages on your website. This results in increased performance because requests won’t have to be rendered by PHP on a page-by-page basis. By serving pages directly from the cache, your server will be subject to less performance overhead and pages will load faster for your visitors. Since Kinsta specializes in WordPress hosting, their caching setup intelligently excludes pages like the administration dashboard, RSS feed, WooCommerce checkout, and other dynamic pages from the cache.
Kinsta has four levels of plans – Starter, Pro, Business, and Enterprise. Within the Business and Enterprise tiers, there are four sub-tiers. For clients who exceed the limitations of the stock plans, Kinsta offers custom plans as well.
Hosting plans on Kinsta are primarily differentiated by five key factors.
- Number of WordPress installs
- Visits per month
- PHP workers
- SSD storage space
- CDN bandwidth
Here is a comparison table showing the key differences between Kinsta’s Starter, Pro, Business 3, and Enterprise 4 plans.
|Starter||Pro||Business 2||Enterprise 4|
|Visits (per month)||20,000||40,000||250,000||3,000,000|
|Storage Space||5 GB||10 GB||20 GB||250 GB|
|CDN Bandwidth||50 GB||100 GB||300 GB||1,000 GB|
|Price (per month)||$30||$60||$200||$1,500|
The key to selecting a suitable plan on Kinsta is finding the tier that satisfies all your necessary requirements. For example, if you run a PHP-heavy WooCommerce store that can’t be cached effectively, chances are you’ll need a plan with 4 PHP workers even if you don’t get more than 20,000 visitors a month. Similarly, if your site gets 40,000 visits per month, but requires 20 GB of local storage, you should look at the Business 2 plan.
Migrating to Kinsta
For many people, migrating to a new web host sounds like an absolute nightmare. Luckily, Kinsta makes it easy and stress-free. Migrations from WP Engine, Flywheel, Pantheon, DreamHost, and Cloudways are always free. If you’re migrating from a host that isn’t on the free migration list, all of Kinsta’s plans come with at least one free migration. To request a free migration, all you have to do is fill out a short form after signing up for a plan on Kinsta. The migrations team will take it from there, and inform you once the migration is finished – typically 1-2 business days.
Free SSL & CDN
If you’re not serving your website over HTTPS in 2019, you should probably look into it. Google has confirmed that it takes HTTPS support into consideration for search engine results. Furthermore, sites that are served over HTTPS can take advantage of HTTP/2, an update to the HTTP specification that can increase the speed of your page loads. In order to make your website HTTPS-compatible, you have to install an SSL certificate. Kinsta’s one-click SSL tool, which allows you generate a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, makes the process quick and easy.
All of Kinsta’s plans also come with a free CDN service to speed up the delivery of CSS, JS, and other static assets to visitors around the world. Kinsta’s CDN is powered by KeyCDN, a leading CDN provider with 34 data centers around the world. If your website has an international audience, a CDN can speed up your page load times significantly.
Kinsta’s plans come with automated daily snapshot backups, as well as downloadable backups which can be requested once a week. This means you won’t have to manage backups with Duplicator, UpdraftPlus, and other cumbersome backup solutions.
WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS with over 33% market share. Yes, you read that right – 1/3 of all the websites in the world use WordPress. The popularity of WordPress has made it a prime target for hackers. As we’ve seen over the past year, even popular plugins like Contact Form 7 and Social Warfare are prone to exploits and vulnerabilities. As part of its security guarantee, Kinsta offers free malware removals for all of its clients. If your WordPress site gets infected with malware, the Kinsta support team will clean it, no strings attached.
SSH, WP-CLI, and Git Support
Kinsta’s platform is developer-friendly and offers SSH support, albeit without root access. Kinsta’s hosting platform also supports WP-CLI, so you can update plugins, run database maintenance routines, and reset user passwords straight from the command line.
You won’t find your standard cPanel dashboard at Kinsta. In order to provide clients with an intuitive experience, Kinsta designed a completely custom dashboard that strikes a perfect balance between ease of use and feature-packed utility. Kinsta’s dashboard is comprised of eight sections – Dashboard, Sites, Migrations, Kinsta DNS, Analytics, Billing, Users, and Activity Log. The Dashboard section displays a list of your sites, resource usage statistics for the current billing period, invoice information, and more.
The Sites section is typically where Kinsta users spend the majority of their time. This section of the dashboard is broken down into nine subsections, and includes all the necessary information and tools to maintain your website.
The Info page is where you can find your website’s IP address, as well as login credentials for SFTP, SSH, and the MySQL database.
The Domains page is where you add domains to link to your WordPress site. Since Kinsta supports WordPress multisite installations, it’s common for users to add dozens of domains to the domains list.
WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system and a prime target for hackers. Like it or not, plugin and theme exploits are something WordPress users have to deal with on a day to day basis, and there are plenty of horror stories involving entire websites being wiped by malicious code. Gambling with your life’s work by not implementing a backup plan is a risky proposition. Luckily, Kinsta makes backups easy and stress-free.
Kinsta automatically makes daily backups of your WordPress site without the need for any additional plugins. Since the backups are in the form of full container snapshots, you won’t get the PHP resource overhead of traditional backup plugins like Duplicator. The snapshot nature of Kinsta’s backup feature also means that restoring to a previous version of your website is one click away – no fiddling around with plugin settings or PHPMyAdmin. For online stores, forums, and other WordPress sites that have constantly changing databases, Kinsta also offers an hourly option for an additional fee.
In addition to the standard recurring backups, Kinsta also gives users the option to create up to five manual snapshot backups. This is a very useful feature for those times when you need to immediately create a backup before making a big change to your WordPress site. Kinsta also makes “system generated” backups in certain situations. For example, if you use Kinsta’s search and replace tool, the system will automatically create a backup in case you accidentally make a mistake. Finally, Kinsta allows users to download a ZIP archive containing a site’s content files and database once per week.
Kinsta’s Tools page offers a comprehensive suite of features to help you control certain aspects of your WordPress hosting environment. On this page, you can clear a site’s page cache, generate a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, force all HTTP requests to HTTPS, change a site’s PHP version, restart PHP, add a custom New Relic key for performance monitoring, and search and replace text strings in the WordPress database.
Kinsta’s Redirects page lets you add 301 or 302 redirects for any domain in your domain list. Unlike the popular Redirection WordPress plugin, which uses PHP to process redirects, Kinsta’s dashboard tool performs redirects on the server-level. This means you won’t have to waste PHP resources on redirects – a win-win situation for you and your visitors alike.
In addition to standard text strings, Kinsta’s redirects tool also supports regex matching. This powerful feature allows you to create complex matching patterns to redirect groups of URLs. For example, you can use regex to create a redirect from
domain.com/new/$1. With this regex pattern, the following redirects can be performed with a single redirect rule.
The WP plugins page shows the currently installed plugins on a site, as well as the activation status, version, and update availability of the plugin.
The IP Deny page lets you block specific IP addresses and ranges. This tool can be used to block visitors who are engaging in malicious behavior. For example, if you notice a constant stream of requests to your WordPress login page from a specific IP address, it would be a good idea to block that IP address. Similarly, if you see a lot of suspicious requests with random query strings, blocking the offending IP would have a positive effect on site performance because requests with query strings are not served from cache.
Kinsta offers a free CDN powered by KeyCDN on all of its plans. KeyCDN is a leading CDN provider with 34 data centers worldwide and over 70,000 deployed zones. KeyCDN’s infrastructure is optimized for delivery of static assets, and supports the latest web technologies like HTTP/2, Brotli compression, and IP anycast. With Kinsta’s KeyCDN integration, you won’t have to worry about manual setup. Just enable the CDN from the dashboard, and Kinsta will handle the URL rewriting automatically.
Kinsta provides users with three kinds of detailed logs.
access.logprovides information about a website’s visitors – IP address, user agent, page visited, date and time of a visit, and more.
error.logis where you can find PHP and NGINX errors. This log is useful for diagnosing PHP fatal errors, memory exhausting, etc.
kinsta-cache-perf.logdisplays a detailed list of cache hits, misses, and bypasses. This log is useful for diagnosing caching issues.
Migrating your WordPress site to Kinsta is easy. Kinsta offers unlimited free migrations for users coming from WP Engine, Flywheel, Cloudways, Pantheon, and DreamHost. If you’re switching from another host, every Kinsta plan offers one or more free migrations, though Starter plan users must have an annual subscription to take advantage of the free migration.
Kinsta offers a free DNS service on all of its plans. Kinsta DNS is powered by Amazon’s premium Route53 DNS service, and features geographical and latency-based load balancing to ensure DNS queries to your WordPress are always speedy and reliable.
Kinsta’s analytics dashboard displays a variety of data and metrics that are useful for analyzing visitor behavior and diagnosing website performance.
The Resources page displays basic information about your site – number of visits, bandwidth, top requests by bytes, and top requests by view.
The CDN Usage page displays bandwidth and request information for KinstaCDN. You can use this page to keep track of what assets are consuming the most CDN bandwidth.
The Dispersion page provides a graphical display of desktop versus mobile users. The information provided on this page can be useful for making UX and UI design decisions on your WordPress site.
The Performance page is where you can view metrics like PHP and MySQL response time, PHP throughput, PHP worker limits, and more. For more information on what these terms mean in the context of Kinsta’s hosting, check out this post from the Kinsta team.
The response page provides a breakdown of HTTP responses, and provides data on redirects as well. The “Top 404 errors” section is especially useful for identifying pages and assets that are returning 404 responses.
The Cache page is where you can find information about your site’s cache ratio. This page also provides a list of your site’s top cache bypasses, which can be useful for diagnosing performance issues. For example, some WordPress plugins may append query strings to URLs for tracking and other purposes. Since requests with query strings bypass Kinsta’s cache, these requests would have to be generated by PHP every single time. Thus, having easy access to cache bypass data can help you diagnose performance issues on your WordPress site.
Geo & IP
The Geo & IP page provides a breakdown of the top geographical locations and IP addresses of your visitors.
The Billing page is fairly self-explanatory. It contains your plan details, invoices, payment method settings, and billing details.
The Users page allows you to add users who may need backend access to the site. Every user can be assigned a role such as “company administrator” or “site developer”. This is a very useful feature for those times when you need to give SFTP or SSH access to a developer who’s working on your site. Instead of sending over your personal login credentials, you can simply add the developer as a user on your Kinsta account.
Kinsta is well-known for its high performance servers, and is constantly on ReviewSignal’s list of top hosting providers. Since there are plenty of reviews around the web that go into detail regarding how Kinsta’s servers respond to load testing, I’ll just share a few thoughts regarding my personal experiences hosting my site on Kinsta.
Maximizing website performance is a personal hobby of mine (wow that sounds nerdy), and BrianLi.com is optimized to the point of no return.
- Since the majority of my posts are 100% text-based, network requests have been reduced by inlining CSS and base64 encoding social icons directly into HTML. With this setup, posts that don’t include additional images load over a single request.
- I also use Cloudflare’s “cache everything” feature to cache static HTML copies of webpages on Cloudflare’s extensive network of edge servers.
- I don’t use Google Analytics or any other tracking scripts.
The screenshot below shows a speed test of my About page with Cloudflare’s “cache everything” featured turned off. As you can see, I was able to get a 102.505 ms load time from my Kinsta-hosted website. That’s absurdly fast.
This next screenshot shows a speed test of an old travel post, which contains 30 JPG images. Despite the large number of images, Kinsta was still able to serve the page in 475.834 ms. If you don’t believe what you see, feel free to run the provided links through KeyCDN’s speed test tool yourself.
Kinsta has high performance servers, knowledgable support agents, and a ton of useful features, but it’s not for everyone. In this section, I’ll run through a few downsides of hosting your WordPress site on Kinsta.
Kinsta is “Expensive”
A common complaint about Kinsta is the relatively high prices. While I personally think Kinsta’s pricing is reasonable for those who require the extensive feature set, I can see how it could be considered expensive for someone who doesn’t use all the features and tools. If you’re comfortable with spinning up a server, configuring NGINX, running malware scans, setting up caching, and automating site backups, you probably wouldn’t benefit too much from hosting on Kinsta.
Kinsta Counts Visits
Kinsta’s plans are visit-based, and the convention used to calculate visits is different from Google Analytics. If you’re coming from a host that offers “unlimited bandwidth,” Kinsta’s visit-based model could be unappealing. The thing to keep in mind here is how Kinsta counts visits. Kinsta treats 1 unique IP address/24 hours as one visit. This means if a visitor browses 100 pages on your website within 24 hours, Kinsta will only count that activity as one visit.
PHP Workers & WooCommerce
Kinsta’s plans are also differentiated by PHP workers. A PHP worker is a single php-fpm process that can be used to interpret PHP code. Since highly dynamic sites like WooCommerce stores and bbPress forums cannot be fully cached, they require more PHP workers than standard blogs. If you’re looking to move a WooCommerce site to Kinsta, I’d recommend the Business 1 plan with 4 PHP workers at the minimum.
Kinsta is undoubtedly one of the best managed WordPress hosts in the business. With its modern infrastructure powered by Google Cloud, industry-leading support team, and forward thinking philosophy of integrating the latest web technologies into its hosting product, Kinsta should definitely be on your list if you’re looking for a web host you can grow with.