Namecheap is an independent (ie, not owned by a big holding corporation) ICANN-accredited web services company founded in 2000. They were founded as a domain registrar, but have expanded to offer a complementary spectrum of hosting services in addition to other services.
Namecheap Review Takeaways
Namecheap Web Hosting Plans
|Plan||Stellar||Stellar Plus||Stellar Business|
|Bandwidth (per month)||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited|
|Free Domain Name||1 year||1 year||1 year|
Managed WordPress Hosting
|Plan||EasyWP Starter||EasyWP Turbo||EasyWP Supersonic|
|Storage||10 GB||50 GB||100 GB|
|Bandwidth (per month)||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited|
|Free Domain Name||-||-||-|
Namecheap’s Web Hosting vs. WordPress Hosting
Here’s the thing. The entire industry move to “WordPress Hosting” services is kind of a weird, confusing, maddening mess. I’ve written an entire post on Web Hosting vs. WordPress Hosting, Explained – but here’s the short version.
- WordPress is simply software that can run on any Linux server with PHP (aka “regular web hosting“).
- Again – WordPress can (and does) run just fine on a shared hosting plan.
- WordPress does use some server resources at an above-average rate and others at a lower rate.
- WordPress also has very predictable problems & needs. It needs to be regularly updated. It is database driven – not static. It uses plugins to add functionality. That’s great, but it can create temporary security vulnerabilities.
- So – hosting companies saw an opportunity to create whole clusters of servers with only WordPress websites.
- Since they were all together, they could also provide dedicated support and some specific WordPress add-on services at a cost-effective rate.
- Hence, “WordPress Hosting” plans were created – which added a further opportunity for marketers & pricing specialists.
For some companies, WordPress Hosting plans became a way to increase revenue and decrease costs with little value-added.
For other companies, WordPress Hosting plans became a way to create a huge value-add to differentiate from competitors and pass the cost savings to customers. For other companies – it was a mix. And in the end, it’s been thoroughly confusing for everyone.
Namecheap WordPress Hosting plans are actually different than their Web Hosting plans. The plans are limited to a single website, but the resources are actively managed on cloud servers.
But – the key takeaway is to identify your own needs & goals rather than going right for a company’s “WordPress Hosting” plan.
Convenience is great – but it’s important to understand what you are truly paying for so that you have the right expectations.
These pros & cons of this Namecheap Hosting review will look at the tradeoffs between Namecheap’s web hosting plans (since they can also run WordPress) and direct competitors in the WordPress Hosting space.
I compared Namecheap’s domain registration service to GoDaddy 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 Hosting review – structured with pros & cons based on my experience as a customer.
Pros / Benefits of 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.
Pricing & Total Costs
Namecheap’s primary advantage is its 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 to cPanel management software to unmetered bandwidth to to unlimited websites to SSD storage to a free SSL certificate to premium DNS.
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 $2.88/yr for the Stellar 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 their primary advantage.
Company Brand & Values
Namecheap is a privately-owned independent hosting provider. 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 its 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.
At sign up, they offer a choice between Namecheap’s three data centers:
- Phoenix, Arizona (USA)
- Nottingham, England
The Arizona data center does not cost extra. Though the UK and Amsterdam data centers cost an extra $1 per month to select.
US data center or UK data center. This makes them a great choice for non-US customers who are serving web visitors closer to the UK than the US.
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:
Namecheap Hosting Complaints / Cons
Like any web host, Namecheap has disadvantages. Here are the cons that I found while using Namecheap for hosting.
Hosting Plan Limitations
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 direct competition. And they do better than many bigger brands. In fact, on other metrics, like uptime and bandwidth – they often do better.
But, 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.
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.
In fact, if you are planning on hosting only a few WordPress-powered websites, you can get around some of the plan caps with their EasyWP product. They still limit storage, but they manage other resources so that you only worry about your visitors instead of your bandwidth / memory usage (similar to other managed WordPress hosts like WP Engine / Kinsta).
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 Service & Support
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 live chat and helpdesk. My live 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.
They do have website transfer assistance and setup help.
As far as DIY customer support resources, they have a decent knowledge base, 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 providers 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.
Namecheap Hosting Plans & Packages
Namecheap has a wide spectrum of hosting plans. Here’s a brief overview of each.
Web Hosting Plan
Web (i.e., Shared) hosting is the bread and butter of the website hosting world. They consist of individual accounts on a Linux server. They can run WordPress or any application on a LAMP Stack. It’s a cost-effective and reliable way to run most websites. Learn more about Shared Hosting in this guide. Namecheap has three main shared hosting plans – each of which is a great hosting package.
WordPress Hosting Plan
Even though WordPress can run on shared hosting, many hosting companies have WordPress hosting plans due to customer demand and the hardware demands of WordPress. Many hosting companies offer “WordPress hosting” that is *exactly* the same as their shared hosting plans.
Namecheap’s WordPress plans are actually different than their Web Hosting plans. They run on Namecheap’s Cloud and come with resources customized for WordPress. The only downside is that every plan is limited to a single WordPress install – and you don’t get the same bells and whistles that other WordPress hosts provide. But for a single WordPress site, it’s a great value.
VPS Hosting Plan
VPS hosting is a great way to get a specific allocation of server resources, without having to lease an entire server. Even though your website lives on the same server as other sites, you have total control over a set amount of resources. Learn more about VPS hosting in this guide. Namecheap has several very competitively priced VPS plans that offer managed and unmanaged options.
Dedicated Hosting Plan
Dedicated hosting is where you lease an entire server and get support, bandwidth and other perks along with it. It’s the most cost-effective way to host a large site with predicable traffic (sites with unpredictable traffic usually go for cloud hosting). Namecheap has a range of dedicated server options depending on your resources & expertise.
Reseller Hosting Plan
Reseller hosting is basically a shared, VPS, or dedicated server plan with 3rd party billing and management enabled. Reseller hosting allows anyone to basically start their own hosting company without actually starting a hosting company. Read more about Reseller hosting in this guide. It’s a great way for agencies to get recurring revenue and provide extra value for clients. Namecheap has a range of reseller hosting products.
Email Hosting Plan
Namecheap has a *very* interesting email hosting plan for businesses that don’t want to do Google or Microsoft’s productivity suite. It’s a great way to save money while maintaining an @company domain email address. See their plans here.
Namecheap built their own template-driven website builder. It comes bundled with the purchase of a hosting plan. The end result is many of the benefits of a hosted website builder (like Wix, Weebly, WordPress.com, or Jimdo), but on a server that you totally control. See their website builder here.
Is Namecheap Hosting Good?
Overall, I found Namecheap Hosting to be a great budget hosting option. If you are starting a very small website, concerned more about price than plan limitations, Namecheap will work very well.
If you are looking for an independent web hosting provider with better performance, customer support, and plan options then I recommend checking out InMotion Hosting as well.