NameCheap is an independent (ie, not owned by a big holding corporation) ICANN-accredited domain name registrar founded in 2000. In addition to domain registration, they offer a complementary spectrum of hosting services.
I reviewed NameCheap as a domain registrar here, but have received questions for years about their hosting services. Readers ask because NameCheap Hosting is really cheap – like, suspiciously cheap.
Although I like to keep my hosting and domain registration separate, I had a small project to launch, so I decided to put it on NameCheap and see how the service turned out.
Here’s my NameCheap Shared Hosting review – structured with pros & cons based on my experience as a customer.
Pros of Using NameCheap Hosting
Here are the pros (advantages) for considering NameCheap Hosting. There are a lot of NameCheap Hosting reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a different approach. As I’ve said in other hosting reviews, there is no such thing as a “best” web host. The “best” is the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise.
NameCheap’s primary advantage is their pricing.
It’s cheap – like, shockingly cheap.
But cheap is not necessarily the same as good value. To figure that out, we have to see how hosting pricing is structured.
Web hosting companies are all selling the same thing – a home for your website – but they all have different plans with different caps, different bonuses, and different renewal prices. For most, figuring out their true value requires a breakdown into different parts.
To compare “apples to apples” among hosting companies, I break things down into Core hosting features and Bonus hosting features.
Core hosting features are the “3 D’s” – domains, databases and disk space. The core purpose of a hosting server is to serve website files when someone types in your domain name.
- Domains are how many domain names you can point to your hosting account. If you want multiple websites, you’ll want to have multiple domains allowed. You’ll also need to look at email addresses per domain – sometimes those are capped as well.
- Databases are how many pieces of website software you can run on your hosting server. A WordPress install requires one database. If you have any apps, Listservs, etc – you’ll need more.
- Disk space is how many files you can put on your server – images, text, PDFs, etc.
- Other features could include anything from website builder software to advertising credits to backend software, etc.
When you break it down like this, you can at least compare apples to apples and get a sense of value based on what you need.
NameCheap has three pricing tiers. Stellar renews at $30.88/yr; Stellar Plus renews at $52.88/yr; Stellar Business renews at $98.88/yr.
All the plans come with absurdly low intro pricing – as low as $9.88/yr for the Value plan.
The catch is that all the plans are capped on two of the three “D’s” – in addition to other caps.
You can find more in the Cons section on plan limitations, but here’s how the plans work out.
- Stellar – Limited to 3 websites, 20GB in disk space, 50 databases and 30 email accounts.
- Stellar Plus – Unlimited domains, Unmetered disk space, Unmetered databases and email accounts.
- Stellar Business – Adds personal nameservers, priority support and guaranteed 50GB in disk space.
NameCheap’s plans has such tight limits on Stellar that it’s really hard to compare them directly to other company’s low priced hosting plans. However, their mid-tier is competitive with other offerings. But here’s how it concludes –
If you plan on staying under those caps – NameCheap is almost always cheaper than the plan you would choose at another hosting company.
Either way, NameCheap’s pricing is a solid advantage.
Company Brand & Values
NameCheap is a privately-owned independent hosting company. That’s a rarity in a world where a handful of corporations own nearly all hosting brands.
Being private & independent is not necessarily a good thing, and being owned by a large corporation is not necessarily a bad thing.
However, where NameCheap excels as an independent company is defining their brand values and going for transparency in a notoriously confusing industry.
Like I mentioned in my NameCheap or GoDaddy domain registrar review – NameCheap has consistently donated money and resources to Internet freedom and security.
NameCheap is also transparent about all their services and pricing. I like how they have an expandable list of all their hosting features, and how they prominently display renewal rates.
Overall, they are a company that I think is trustworthy with a solid culture. When choosing who to do business with, I think it counts for a lot.
Onboarding & Account Management
Just like any new product – signing up for a new web host can be both daunting and exciting.
The process of getting a new customer up and running is a critical part of removing the daunting part – and adding to the excitement. In business jargon, the process is called “onboarding.” And there’s nothing that will create buyers’ regret like a confusing onboarding process.
Ideally, after signing up for a hosting plan, you’d immediately get your sign in credentials and be able to either go to a guided tutorial or be able to log in directly to your new dashboard.
NameCheap does exactly that.
They send out a welcome email where you can log in directly to your services or follow directions to the right help resources.
Their account backends are clean and minimalist. There are no flashing banners or hard upsells.
And a simple, minimalist backend.
It’s a service well-tailored for DIYers or beginners looking for a super-cheap but straightforward web hosting company.
Backups & Datacenter Choices
NameCheap also does several Bonus features really well.
NameCheap also does 2x weekly backups of your hosting account. While you should do backups yourself, it’s a great safety net to have. And backups are included for free with NameCheap. Usually, it’s a paid or limited bonus feature at competitors like Web Hosting Hub, Dreamhost or HostGator.
Cons of Using NameCheap Hosting
Like any web host, NameCheap Hosting has disadvantages. Here are the cons that I found while using NameCheap for hosting.
Like I mentioned in the Pricing section, NameCheap places caps across domains, disk space, databases and email addresses.
If you have 1 to 2 sites that you know will stay small, NameCheap can be great. But for many website owners the problem isn’t in the caps themselves, but in how NameCheap has several overlapping caps.
NameCheap’s new plan structure is much better than it used to be, but they still heavily cap the lowest tier. The middle and top tiers are competitive on paper but only for a certain segment of hosting customers. You have to look at allocations and features carefully to make sure that you are getting a solid value.
And ironically, if you pay for NameCheap’s top plan, you could still get limited by other limits. They market hosting for eCommerce…even though the Stellar Plus plan is not technically PCI Compliant.
Either way – I could go on with further comparisons, but NameCheap’s limitations are a disadvantage because there are so many of them that require additional planning when purchasing.
Allocations & Performance
Like I mentioned before, the core job of a web host is to serve website files when someone types in your domain name – but most agree that there’s a missing adverb. It should be “to serve website files quickly.”
To say website speed is important is cliche, especially in the age of mobile. While server speed is not the only factor in overall website speed, it is an important factor.
And critically, it’s also a “bottleneck” factor. In other words, no matter how fast you compress or speed up your website, you can only go as fast as your server can respond.
Measuring server speed and response time is a complicated issue. Only the network engineers at NameCheap can definitively say what’s going on with server speed – though they do promise “in most cases, our Shared Hosting is 50% faster than the other guys.”
Fortunately, anyone can measure a ballpark metric of server performance.
It’s called Time To First Byte (TTFB) – and shows how quickly a server delivers the first byte of information after it receives a request.
Here’s how NameCheap performed the day I measured it with my website –
Here’s how Web Hosting Hub (a direct entry-level competitor) performs –
As you can see – NameCheap is not bad at all – in fact, they are basically tied with their main competition. And they do better than many bigger brands.
Now, TTFB is best measured as a trend. Yet, simply looking at NameCheap’s server information makes it look like they not only cap their plans, they also cap the actual servers the websites run on.
Now – like the plan caps – low server allocations are not necessarily a bad thing. If you have a small site with few images, then you’ll likely never know the difference.
However, if you are planning on expanding your site or growing your site traffic, then you need to know what is under the hood. For NameCheap, it’s pretty limited.
For example, for some reason, they install a (very) old version of PHP by default on even their newest packages.
They have low memory allocations to their new accounts (and – note that this is a new Stellar Plus account).
You can compare those allocations to InMotion Hosting’s default allocations to their shared hosting accounts.
Lastly, they also have low limits on auto-installs of WordPress –
Now – low allocations are fine if you are trying to balance your network…but limits this low and this often indicate that they are probably loading up their shared servers with lots of accounts…hence their ability to have such low prices.
If you have a low traffic, simple website then that is great for you! However, I would not buy NameCheap hosting for their speed or performance.
Customer support is notoriously hard to judge. It’s hard to know what is really going on behind the scenes, and whether a company will be helpful when *you* contact them.
So many user-supplied online reviews (of any company) are either naively positive or exaggerated negative experiences. Besides, with anecdotes, you never know if you are reading about a one-off incident or a true trend.
Instead, I argue that you should look for indicators of whether a company treats customer service as a cost or an investment. In other words, are they trying to keep costs down and maximize profit for the short term or are they trying to develop happy, long-term customers?
The two best indicators I’ve found are availability across a range of support channels and investment in DIY customer support.
NameCheap is mediocre on both.
For availability, they have chat and helpdesk. My chat wait time is usually pretty good. And it’s usually good service for me. But sometimes text-based support can get tedious when you have a complicated issue.
As far as DIY customer support resources, they have a decent knowledgebase, though it’s focused primarily on domains – not hosting.
This point segues into the next point about NameCheap’s product focus.
NameCheap Doesn’t Specialize in Hosting
NameCheap is first and foremost a domain registrar. In fact, one of the reasons I use them for domain registration is that they make it so easy to purchase a domain and point it to hosting or email services elsewhere.
In the broader Internet services industry, domains and hosting are natural complements. But I’ve never really seen a company do both super-well.
Hosting companies that offer domain registration usually over-price them and make domain management a pain. Domain companies usually don’t have the expertise or resources to run a world-class hosting infrastructure.
That’s not to say it can’t be done or that some companies don’t come close. However, it seems like hosting and domains are like coffee and breakfast.
They should be sold together, but it’s usually not an ideal situation. Starbucks tries to do breakfast…but it’s not quite there. McDonald’s tries to do coffee…but it’s not quite the same.
Even if NameCheap’s hosting was incredible – I’d still be hesitant simply because it puts all my Internet-presence components with one company.
For diversity’s sake, I like to keep my domains and hosting at different companies. Though that usually applies to hosting companies not holding domains, it also applies to domain companies running my hosting servers.
While NameCheap has a fairly complete feature set for each plan, they do exclude some bonus features.
First, their money-back guarantee is very short. NameCheap does 14 days. But corporate hosting competitors like HostGator do 45 days. And independent competitors like DreamHost, InMotion and Web Hosting Hub all do at least 90-day money back guarantees.
Second, they overprice some of their upgrades like dedicated IP addresses (usually necessary for installing SSL certificates). They charge $24/yr when most companies charge $2 or bundle it for free.
Neither of those points is a huge disadvantage, but together they form yet another disadvantage to be aware of.
NameCheap Hosting Comparisons
NameCheap Hosting vs. GoDaddy Hosting
GoDaddy has one of the most recognized brands in the industry due to their TV, offline and everywhere-else advertising. Though they’ve improved in the past couple years, GoDaddy has a reputation for upsells, a confusing backend, and poor performance. I reviewed GoDaddy Hosting here. Like NameCheap, they are a domain registrar first that also offers hosting.
NameCheap Hosting vs. iPage
iPage is a sister brand of HostGator focused on budget web hosting. They are owned by Endurance International, but unlike HostGator, they don’t seem to be receiving active investment. Their main thing is extremely cheap short-term pricing. Their support and performance are sub-par. Despite iPage’s unlimited features, I’d go with NameCheap in nearly every case.
NameCheap Hosting vs. HostGator
HostGator is a very well-known brand in the hosting industry. They are also owned by Endurance International, which makes them another sister brand to Bluehost/iPage. They are one of Endurance International’s main brands and have a solid balance between cheap long-term pricing, good support, and good performance.
HostGator has fewer plan limitations and about the same level of performance and support. If you are running a single small website, I’d go with NameCheap. If you are building several or a more substantial website, I’d go with HostGator. You can see HostGator’s current pricing w/ 60% off discount here
NameCheap Hosting vs. InMotion Hosting
InMotion Hosting is one of the largest and fastest growing independent hosting companies (ie, owned by employees, not a large corporate holding company). This site uses a VPS server with InMotion. I reviewed InMotion here. InMotion has better customer support, better performance, and better plans features than NameCheap. They are more expensive than NameCheap across the board. I’d choose whichever one fits your priorities. Check out InMotion here…
Side note about InMotion – they also own a starter hosting brand called Web Hosting Hub that offers better unlimited pricing than InMotion with great performance. They compete head to head with NameCheap. They are still more expensive, but also make an excellent starter hosting company if you want an independent hosting company. You can check out Web Hosting Hub here…
Conclusion & Next Steps
If you are looking for an independent shared hosting company with better performance, customer support, and plan options then I recommend checking out InMotion Hosting here…
Summary & Reader FAQs
NameCheap’s hosting is good if you are on a tight budget and do not need a lot of extra resources or hosting add-ons. NameCheap is not good if you need lots of resources for several websites or want lots of value-added bonuses & features.
Yes – NameCheap is an established company with a long track-record and a solid industry reputation. Like any company, they have strengths, weaknesses and tradeoffs but they have a founder-driven culture & brand built on transparency & trust.
Yes, NameCheap offers several hosting products to complement their domain registration focus.
NameCheap Shared Hosting
NameCheap is an independent domain registrar and Internet service company that also offers discount hosting services. NameCheap Hosting is incredibly cheap, though they do have heavy plan limitations. If you have a small website and looking for a good, discount host - they could be a great fit.
Price Currency: USD
Application Category: Web Hosting