Is Kinsta’s Hosting Really THAT Good?
There’s no way around it.
You need hosting.
And if you’ve got a WordPress site, you already know this.
What you may not know is the difference between a shared host and a managed host.
You could be on a shared hosting plan causing slow loading times and outages for your visitors and not even realize it.
These kind of issues can be completely mitigated with managed hosting.
What is managed hosting?
Update 5/15/20: This is a sponsored review post I wrote for Kinsta last year, but not too long afterward, I was so impressed with their service that I switched from my former web host. I now use and recommend Kinsta as one of my favorite tools.
The vast majority of web hosts offered shared hosting. With shared hosting, you share resources with other websites.
While shared hosting can be fine for a new website, you’ll eventually end up with performance issues.
What happens is that your site is competing with other sites for the same resources. The more your site grows, the more likely you are to suffer from slow load times as the shared resources thin.
Managed hosting offers dedicated resources for each website. This means your website(s) will have it’s own isolated container and 100% private resources.
There are a variety of WordPress hosting companies available that offer this type of premium hosting and one that stands out is Kinsta.
What is Kinsta?
In a few words, Kinsta offers premium managed WordPress hosting.
Kinsta is a fast-rising star in the WordPress hosting space. They offer lightning-fast load times and superior security features to those of shared hosts.
On top of this, Kinsta bundles additional features and services making their platform even more valuable. For instance, Kinsta provides automatic daily backups, DNS management, and amazing customer support.
And there’s no shortage of glowing reviews for them across the web.
As I mentioned, Kinsta is not unique in providing this type of hosting, so what is it that makes them different from other competitors?
How is Kinsta different?
The infrastructure for Kinsta is built on top of the Google Cloud service.
This gives them the backbone they need to provide modern site speed and security features. It also means their platform can accommodate massive scale. In other words, they can handle high-volume websites and traffic spikes no problem.
While Kinsta looked great at first glance, I needed to get my hands dirty with their platform to find out if they stand up to the hype.
Here’s my experience setting up and testing a site with their service.
My experience testing Kinsta
Before I move on, you should know that this is a sponsored review paid for by Kinsta. That said, you’ll find my honest opinion of their platform posted below.
To test their platform, I used Kinsta to create a fresh WordPress install, point it to an existing domain, contact their support, and ran a few performance tests to gauge the ssite speed.
Here’s how it went.
Right away I noticed how beautiful the interface is. It’s so nice logging into a modern dashboard instead of an ugly, outdated cPanel.
The Dashboard gives you an overview of your sites, statistics, and recent invoices. In the sidebar, the various services and features provided by Kinsta are accessible and well-organized.
You’ll get a better look at a few of these menus throughout the rest of the review.
The first step after checking out the dashboard was to add a new install.
Adding my own site
To begin the process, there’s a simple Add Site button available in the dashboard and Sites menu. Clicking this button brings up the following popup where you can select some basic setup instructions for your site.
I chose to add my own custom domain. If you’re like me, you always have extra domains lying around for projects you might start some day 😉
After adding your domain, you can choose whether you want to install WordPress or not, or you can copy an existing install on Kinsta.
If you choose to install WordPress, the following options appear.
If you’ve created a WordPress site before, you’ll be familiar with these basic settings. Kinsta also includes options to auto-install the WooCommerce and Yoast SEO plugins.
After clicking the Add button, Kinsta began creating my new WordPress install for me.
4 minutes later, the install was ready. Sweet!
This meant I had a WordPress site with its own hosting container set up and ready-to-go.
All installs you create with Kinsta can be accessed via the Sites menu, and each site includes a number of administration menus.
With my install ready, the next step was to configure my DNS zone to point the domain at the WordPress install I just created
Using Kinsta DNS
Usually you would setup your DNS with your domain broker, but Kinsta includes a neat Kinsta DNS feature.
Inside the Kinsta DNS menu was a link to my site and a button prompting me to add the first DNS record.
If you’ve ever added DNS records before then this will be very familiar. Here’s an example of an A record being added for my domain:
Back in the overview of the Kinsta DNS menu you’ll find four nameservers prepared for your site.
In order for Kinsta DNS to work properly, you need to enter these nameservers into the DNS zone tools provided by your domain broker. Then the DNS records you add with Kinsta DNS will take affect.
If I’m being honest, I hate setting up the DNS configuration for new sites because I almost always make a mistake and have to wait around for the changes to propagate.
The Kinsta DNS tool is more user-friendly than most. There are lots of little mistakes you can make like forgetting a “.” after a CNAME address, but Kinsta’s forms are smart enough to prevent this from happening.
Better still, despite the 1-hour minimum TTL, I didn’t have to wait an hour to visit my site. I waited about 10 minutes before checking and the site was live!
I’ve had some lousy first experiences with other hosting companies, so I was happy to see that getting a fresh WordPress site online with Kinsta was fast and painless.
At this point, you’re probably ready to see some performance analytics, but before I began my testing I wanted to try out their customer support.
The domain I added the site to, alignedapp.io, was loading properly. However, with “www” added in front, I would see this parked page instead:
All I needed to do was add an additional domain via the Sites menu in my Kinsta dashboard that included the “www” and then redirect it to the non-www version.
This can be confusing for a newbie who doesn’t recognize the “www” distinction, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to reach out to support and see how they handle it.
The fastest way to get in touch with support is via live chat inside your Kinsta dashboard. In fact, they even tell you this on their contact page.
There is a button at the bottom-right of every page within your dasshboard to access the live chat.
It opens up a window like this:
I opened my live chat at 4:16pm EST and received a response 8 minutes later at 4:24pm from Rafael.
Aha! He got it in his first response – the www version wasn’t added.
And for the record, I added the “www” version to the domains section and it worked away.
I felt a little silly requesting help for an issue I knew how to solve, but it was fun going incognito for a bit 😉
This was a rather simple issue and I only reached out once, but I have to give them a thumbs up for providing a working solution in 8 minutes.
Now let’s get to the fun part, the performance!
At this point, I had a WordPress site online with Kinsta using the basic Twenty Nineteen WordPress starter theme.
There was hardly anything on the site, but already I could tell it was loading fast. I ran the homepage through GTMetrix for some pretty spectacular results.
Now, you need to know that as you add plugins and content to your site, it will slow down, but clearly Kinsta is providing a fast base for you to start with.
The Pingdom test showed great results as well.
This was a good start, but I wanted to test a slightly more realistic situation next.
Testing a real post
While I didn’t add a dozen plugins to my site like yours might have, I decided to import a real post from this website to see how it would perform on the new domain.
I copied over my post on showing Featured Images on Facebook which includes 9 large images.
The Pingdom test showed a slower load time on this post, but one I’m still pleased with.
The main difference in this test was the addition of the images, so I figured it would only be fair to turn on the CDN that came with my account. That should speed up the load time for the images and that’s what I would do on one of my sites.
Adding the CDN
It’s worth noting that all of my Pingdom tests were done out of Germany and I selected South Carolina as my server location in Kinsta. The Pingdom tests would be faster if I used their closer Washington D.C. location.
Adding the CDN to my site couldn’t have been easier. I clicked one button and the process began.
The interface instructed me to allow for 15 minutes for the initial setup to complete. I didn’t track this exactly but it was closer to 5-10 minutes.
The CDN started working right away and I tested it immediately. I’m not sure why, but for the first few minutes, all the files served by the CDN had a long “wait” time before they actually began loading.
Then after a few more minutes I tested again with fantastic results.
In case you’re new to web performance, a load time under 0.5s is really really fast. I didn’t expect such a massive improvement but it makes sense given how much of the page weight was added in images.
And testing it from Pingdom’s Washington D.C. servers it loaded in just 276ms.
The site I tested is still very simple and has fewer requests than most WordPress sites, but the performance at this point is impressive nonetheless. Not to mention, a plugin like WP Rocket could be added to help with minification and concatenation to further speed things up.
It was not my goal to provide a recommendation for Kinsta or put a positive spin on this review, but after trying out their platform I have to say I’m impressed.
If there was so much as a slow step in the dashboard or a wonky form I would have included it here, but I really didn’t find anything to knock.
For many reasons, software typically doesn’t run flawlessly and most of us have encountered more than our fair share of poorly coded apps. It’s refreshing to try out a product that delivers so fairly on all its promises:
- A beautiful and modern dashboard to replace cPanel
- Quick and courteous customer support
- Fast loading sites
If you’re still using a shared host and want to improve your site performance, Kinsta could really help.
Have you tried Kinsta for your site? What did you think? Do you like your current host? Leave your questions and comments below!