Namecheap review: Most people know Namecheap as a domain registration and management service, but they also offer web hosting services. Namecheap was founded in 2000 and started offering low-cost domains and excellent customer service. Today they have more than 3 million customers and manage more than 11 million domains. In addition to domains and complete web hosting packages, Namecheap also sells SSL certificates, privacy protection services, and more.
Because Namecheap believes that a presence on the Internet is necessary for everyone, they offer affordable access to everything you need to manage a website. Here is our Namecheap Review.
Signing up at Namecheap is quick and easy. The company doesn’t waste your time trying to sell you a long list of other products, or add some of them to your cart and hope you don’t notice. You also get more control over how your plan is set up. If you don’t want your subscription to be automatically renewed, or the company even stores your (card or PayPal) payment details, no problem – it’s your choice.
While others might make you wait for your account to be activated, Namecheap is in a hurry. A post-payment webpage told us to wait, and about 15 seconds, thanked us for our order and pointed us to some handy ‘Getting Started’ guides (‘How to set up your Hosting account’ and ‘How to upload my site’).
With just a few clicks, you will be taken to Namecheap’s web dashboard, a stripped-down console where you can manage your hosting package, any registered domains, and other Namecheap products. We saw almost no upselling, apart from a single proposed domain name. And even that was safely out of the way at the bottom of the page, where you might not even see it.
Namecheap Review: Creating a site
A few clicks on the dashboard brings you to the cPanel setup of Namecheap. Unlike most of the competition, the company has taken the time to set it up properly, with its main features collected at the top of the screen: Website Builder, Softaculous, SSL management, and integration with CodeGuard backups (an optional extra), Google Apps and more. Novices no longer need to scroll through the rest of cPanel, as the key features they need are instantly visible.
For instance, if you want to install WordPress, launch Softaculous, and you can have it ready in a minute or two. (There are also shopping carts, wikis, and hundreds of other apps available). The drag-and-drop website builder has ‘only’ about 200 basic templates. Still, they look good, and the simple editor allows you to expand your site with images, videos, social media content, maps, forms, calendars, countdowns, and much more.
CPanel’s regular File Manager allows you to quickly and easily upload a static website and manage domains, email accounts, databases, and more. Experts can go further by setting up FTP or SSH, allowing direct access from the command line.
You don’t have to manually find the support site because Namecheap’s knowledgebase and live chat are linked directly from cPanel. It is a skillful set of tools, carefully put together, with something for every user level. And that’s good news, especially since you get all this with even the most basic, $1.44 per month account.
Namecheap Review: Servers
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting plans improve your site speed and reliability by giving it guaranteed CPU time and RAM, avoiding the battles over resources you usually get with shared hosting. Namecheap’s small VPS range starts at just $11.88 per month on its annual plan for its two core, 2GB RAM, 40GB storage, and 1TB bandwidth Pulsar package. The Quasar plan ramps up your resources to 4 cores, 6GB RAM, 120GB storage, and 3TB bandwidth, but still costs just $19.66, half the price you will pay with many competitors.
These won’t work for everyone. They are unmanaged plans, which means you are left to manage low-level tasks such as software updates and operating system updates. And there is no cPanel to help you manage your sites, so you have to be sure of your Linux skills (there is no Windows hosting option).
You can avoid all this by paying $25 per month extra for full VPS management. A $10 per month ‘Basic’ management plan includes some server monitoring, and Namecheap will bring your server back online if it fails. Unusually, there is even a ‘pay as you go’ option where you pay a fixed amount to Namecheap to perform specific tasks (e.g., $15 per hour for updating your server).
By the time you add management fees and perhaps a cPanel license, you will likely pay a similar price as many other managed VPS products. However, there is nothing wrong with that, and if Namecheap lives up to its performance promises, the service may still be worth it.
Namecheap’s dedicated servers follow pretty much the same rules as the VPS range. The headline prices are low; for example, a six-core 3.34Hz CPU, 32GB RAM, 2 x 480GB storage, and 100TB bandwidth setup costs only $87.88 per month, $80.74 on the annual plan. Add cPanel and essential server management, say, and cost bumps up to $130.62. But that’s still a great value, especially if you need enterprise levels of bandwidth – you may not even have 10TB with some of the competition.
Namecheap Review: Performance
Namecheap’s support starts with a searchable knowledge base. This is neatly organized into sensible categories and covers everything from novice FAQs (‘how can I renew my domain?’) to more expert-level issues (‘management of DNSSEC for domains designated by custom DNS’).
Most of these articles are long and detailed. Unusually, Namecheap customers may add comments to the support documents and see the messages left by others. This is often used to ask questions about a particular topic within the article – Namecheap employees then post responses. These responses are publicly visible, clarifying the document to everyone (Namecheap does not seem to remove any negative comments).
There is no telephone support, but Namecheap does have a live chat and a support ticket system. We tried this with a simple question and had an accurate answer within 30 minutes. There is no way to tell what could happen in more complicated, real-world situations, but Namecheap performed better than most.
Unfortunately, this was not the case with our server tests. Uptime.com checked our test site every five minutes for a week, and although the uptime was 100%, the average response times were a slow 718ms, with a range of 625ms to 1.55s. Most starters shared hosting plans average 200-400ms during testing, and putting this into perspective, even our current 10th place host (DreamHost) averaged 274ms with a range of 235-465ms.
Namecheap Review: Pricing and plans
NameCheap has three price levels. Stellar Renews at $30.88/year; Stellar Plus Renews at $52.88/year; Stellar Business Renews at $98.88/year. All plans come with absurdly low intro prices – as low as $2.88/year for the Star Plan. The catch is that all plans are capped at two out of three “D’s” – in addition to other caps.
- Stellar: Limited to 3 websites, 20GB in disk space, 50 databases, and 30 email accounts.
- Stellar Plus: Unlimited domains, Unlimited disk space, Unlimited databases, and email accounts.
- Stellar Business: Adds personal name servers, priority support, and guaranteed 50GB of disk space.
NameCheap’s plans have such strict limitations on Stellar that it’s tough to compare them directly to other companies’ low-priced hosting plans. However, their mid-tier is competitive with other offerings. But this is how it ends. If you plan to stay below those ceilings – NameCheap is almost always cheaper than the plan you would choose from another hosting company.
If you’re not sure, you’ll probably get total value from a web hosting company with fewer individual caps such as InMotion, Web Hosting Hub, HostGator, Bluehost – or even SiteGround. Either way, NameCheap’s pricing is their main advantage.
Overall I found NameCheap Hosting to be a good budget hosting option. If you start with a very small website, more concerned about the price than about the plan’s limitations, NameCheap will work very well. NameCheap is not as cheap as it seems (extras like SSL bump up the price when renewing), and the most affordable shared hosting plans were slower than most. However, there is still real value here, and if your needs are simple, or if you are looking for a cheap way to learn the basics of hosting, then Namecheap deserves a look.
Namecheap offers a lot of value, especially with its shared hosting, but we found speeds disappointing with the starting plan. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee period, and we recommend that you spend as much of that money as possible to confirm that Namecheap is fast enough for you.
- Very low prices
- Starter plan hosts up to three domains
- Well-designed cPanel-powered site management
- Configurable VPS plans
- The free domain is for specific TLDs only
- Underpowered 'managed WordPress' plan
- Few advanced features or extras