I have been wanting to write this review for a while now about my amazing experience with Kinsta. Their managed WordPress hosting experience has been far above anything that I have experienced over the past few years. Not just from the speed aspect, but also from their top-notch customer support.
If you are looking for a high-performance WordPress host, these guys are the ones you want to choose. This is where I host woorkup and all of my sites. In my Kinsta review below, I’ll take you on a deep dive into everything they have to offer. It’s time to start building your business, and never worry about downtime or performance woes again.
Who is Kinsta?
Kinsta was founded by Mark Gavalda, a WordPress developer and sysadmin by trade. They have offices in London, Los Angeles, Budapest, and started offering hosting to the public in early 2014 (founded December 2013). They are no longer a newcomer when it comes to WordPress hosting, and they have already surpassed the competition when it comes to high-end performance.
Kinsta’s vast feature set, performance, and support is really what sets them apart from the other managed WordPress hosting companies out there. Kinsta is the kind of host you want if you go on Shark Tank. Some of Kinsta’s clients include huge names like MariaDB, TripAdvisor, Buffer, Flippa, Drift, Mint.com, Ubisoft, GE, Intuit, and AdEspresso!
Below are some of the primary features that make Kinsta not just a great WordPress hosting provider, but one you can trust with your business for the long haul.
Hands down best architecture
Kinsta was the first managed WordPress host to be powered exclusively by the Google Cloud. Since then other hosts have followed suit, but you can rest easy knowing that their team knows this platform better than anyone else in the industry.
Their infrastructure features the latest C2 compute-optimized VMs, LXD containers, and of course one of the biggest networks on the planet. Because they use container technology, there are no shared resources. Each WordPress site is completely isolated in a container and has its own Nginx, PHP, MySQL, etc.
This is awesome for performance and security. It allows for auto-scaling as the VMs can automatically assign CPU and memory as needed. Got a surge of traffic? No problem. Also, each database is also hosted locally, not remotely as some other hosts do.
Kinsta also utilizes Google Cloud Platform’s premium tier network (not standard) and to ensure low latency and TTFB. This also means SFTP and your WordPress dashboard will be blazing fast.
This is how hosting should be done!
24 data center locations
You can choose from the following 24 strategically placed data center locations to host your WordPress sites. And you can pick a different location for each individual site. This is especially important if you are work with international clients.
- Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA (us-central1)
- St. Ghislain, Belgium (europe-west1)
- Changhua County, Taiwan (asia-east1)
- Sydney, Australia (australia-southeast1)
- The Dalles, Oregon, USA (us-west1)
- Ashburn, Virginia, USA (us-east4)
- Moncks Corner, South Carolina, USA (us-east1)
- São Paulo, Brazil (southamerica-east1)
- London, UK (europe-west2)
- Frankfurt, Germany (europe-west3)
- Jurong West, Singapore (asia-southeast1)
- Tokyo, Japan (asia-northeast1)
- Mumbai, India (asia-south1)
- Montréal (northamerica-northeast1)
- Netherlands (europe-west4)
- Hamina, Finland (europe-north1)
- Los Angeles, California (us-west2)
- Hong Kong (asia-east2)
- Zürich, Switzerland (europe-west6)
- Osaka, Japan (asia-northeast2)
- Seoul, South Korea (asia-northeast3)
- Salt Lake City, Utah (us-west3)
- Las Vegas, Nevada (us-west4)
- Jakarta, Indonesia (asia-southeast2)
New data center locations are added every quarter.
Another great thing about Google Cloud Platform is that they have zero net carbon. Google matches 100% of the energy consumed by its global operations with renewable energy and maintains a commitment to carbon neutrality.
Kinsta fully believes in the best architecture for hosting. Additional back-end architecture includes:
- Nginx: An open-source reverse proxy server for HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, as well as a load balancer, HTTP cache, and a web server.
- Ubuntu 16.04.6+: Long-term supported Linux 5.3 kernel and OpenSSH 7.47.0+
- PHP 7.4 : The latest and greatest versions of PHP. PHP 7 is three times faster than PHP 5.6. They also let you choose between PHP 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4 in their dashboard.
- HTTP/2: The latest and greatest protocol since HTTP/1.1. HTTP/2 features better multiplexing, parallelism, smaller headers, and more. It makes SSL faster and speeds up delivery of your assets.
- MariaDB: An enhanced and faster drop-in replacement for MySQL.
- Free DNS: Amazon Route 53 and management of DNS records in the MyKinsta dashboard.
- Free SSL: One-click Let’s Encryption integration for all your sites with automatic renewal of certificates.
- Uptime checks: 1,440 daily uptime checks per website. If your site goes down, Kinsta’s team is on it! I don’t know of any other host offering this.
- SSH, Git, and WP-CLI on all plans.
Automatic server-level cache
The great thing about Kinsta is that they have automatic full-page cache done at the server-level for optimal performance. You don’t have to worry about testing different WordPress caching plugins. This is all handled for you right out of the box. This alone will save you a lot of time.
Need to dive even deeper? You can enable object caching with their premium Redis add-on.
24/7 customer support from WordPress veterans
The Kinsta support team is available 24/7 365 days a year via the MyKinsta dashboard. So even if you break your site during the middle of the night, there is someone ready to help you. They also have more experience with scaling and performance issues than any other host on the market.
Support is done a little differently than others, as they only hire WordPress developers and Linux engineers. There are no level 1 or level 2 support reps. So yes, you can instantly connect with one of our engineers at any time and shouldn’t be bounced around (which is just a waste of everyone’s time).
You’ll discover for yourself that their support is way above par and refreshing if you are coming from another host! The entire team goes out of their way to answer your questions. I appreciate talking with people that really understand the need for fast websites and are knowledgeable when it comes to WordPress and their platform.
There is no need to worry about security when you are hosting with Kinsta. Here are a few ways they protect you:
- Your site is secured behind Google Cloud Platform’s firewall.
- Only secure SFTP/SSH connections are allowed.
- They utilize the latest software versions such as TLS 1.3 on all of their servers.
- Encryption at rest is used to store customer data.
X-Powered-Byheader is removed to hide your PHP version.
- They have authenticator-based 2FA, which is more secure than SMS. This means you can use Google Authenticator or a password manager like 1Password. They also have an activity log to ensure that nobody gets into your dashboard but you. You have a record of every change that happened on your account.
No site is ever 100% safe. And that’s why Kinsta offers free malware fixes. That’s right, if your site is infected while at Kinsta, they will fix it for free.
And of course, you should still follow best security practices, such as keeping your plugins/themes up to date and using secure passwords.
Plugin vulnerability notifications
One of the scariest security concerns when it comes to WordPress is plugin vulnerabilities. It seems like every week a new popular plugin with hundreds of thousands of installs is pushing out a critical security patch.
The great thing about Kinsta is they will send you an email if a vulnerability is detected in a plugin you are running on your site. You can then either temporarily disable the plugin or update it to the latest version (where the issue has most likely been fixed by the developer).
They also offer all the same features you expect now from a quality managed WordPress host such as a one-click cloning feature multisite support. Got clients or developers? Kinsta has multi-user access permissions and roles to easily give devs, billing, etc., only what they need to see.
If you need more advanced features, they also support things like Bedrock/Trellis and GeoIP, as well as add-ons for reverse proxy, Redis, Elasticsearch, and Cloudflare Railgun.
Custom dashboard walkthrough
You will love their custom MyKinsta dashboard, it’s beautiful. It makes WordPress site management and hosting fun again. You can do almost anything in it. Everything from a quick search and replace in the database, adding server-level 301 redirects, blocking an IP address, and issuing free SSL certs. If you are coming from cPanel, get ready to be blown away! It’s also available in 10 different languages.
Below I’ll walk you through all of the different areas of the MyKinsta dashboard. If you want to try it out for free, they do have a demo/sandbox where you can give it a spin with dummy data. It’s an awesome way to see how their control panel works or preview it for a client. Click here, and then click on “Try Demo.”
Below is a screenshot of the main dashboard when you first log into your Kinsta account. You can quickly see your site list, resource usage, notifications, data transfer, and visits.
On the “Sites” screen you can see an overview of all your sites, their data center locations, visits, bandwidth usage, disk usage, PHP version, SSL indicator, and quick access to the live/staging sites.
They have a search filter in case you have a lot of sites. You can also label sites and then quickly filter your site list by the label. For example, dev sites, or ecommerce sites, etc. Or perhaps you have multiple sites per client, you could label them with the client name.
Once you click into manage of your sites, you have quick and easy access to the site’s IP address, SFTP/SSH information (I recommend ForkLift for an SFTP client), database access, etc. The “Open phpMyAdmin” link allows you to quickly jump in and manage your MySQL database if needed.
You can also rename the site at any time, label it, or transfer it to a different MyKinsta company.
One-click staging environment
Kinsta has a one-click staging environment that allows you to instantly create a development site and test plugins, WordPress updates, code, etc. I use the staging feature all the time. Never touch your live site again when you don’t have to. You can even restore staging back to live, and even backups to staging! Pretty much any scenario you can think of is possible.
By default caching is disabled on staging environments for development purposes (which is good). However, they have an easy toggle to enable caching on staging if you need to more closely replicate your live site.
Below I’ll dive into some of the other features and tools you’ll see in the MyKinsta dashboard.
On the domains screen you can set your primary domain and there’s a quick and handy link to your WordPress admin dashboard. Below it you have a list of all the other domains attached to the site.
For example, whenever you create a site at Kinsta you get assigned a temporary URL (sitename.kinsta.cloud). This can be handy when moving a site to Kinsta and previewing it before switching over the DNS. Tip: The SkipDNS tool makes this a breeze.
Automated WordPress site backups
Kinsta actually offers 7 different types of WordPress backups! This means you never have to worry about losing your data. Here are their back types:
- Automatic daily backups: These are kept for a minimum of 14 days and longer on larger plans.
- 2 hourly backup add-ons: You can add hourly backups or backups every 6 hours. This is great ecommerce sites that have a lot of transaction data.
- Manual backups: You can create up to 5 manual backups at any time. You can treat these as restore points. Perfect for right before you run your plugin updates each week. If anything goes wrong simply one-click restore your site back to that point in time.
- Environment backups: Kinsta automatically creates backups before specific actions. For example, when you are using the search-replace tool, pushing a staging environment to live, restoring a backup, etc.
- Automatic external backup add-ons: Automatically back up your site to Amazon S3 or Google Cloud Storage. For those of you who require offsite backup, this is an easy way to save time.
- Downloadable backup: Create a downloadable archive file containing your entire website (files and SQL database file).
And that’s not all Kinsta does when it comes to keeping your data safe.
Besides automatic backups, they also create and store disk snapshots of every machine in its infrastructure for a period of time. If anything were to ever happen to your MyKinsta backups, they can still help you restore your site.
Onto the tools screen. The first one we have is site cache. This is where you can quickly clear the Kinsta cache across your entire site. Note: You don’t want to clear the cache on your whole site unless you have to. Performance wise, it will have to rebuild the cache.
Kinsta has rules in place to automatically purge single pages and key pages such as the home page immediately when you make updates. This ensures high availability at all times and also ensures your visitors see your most recent updates.
On every site at Kinsta, an MU (Must Use) plugin is automatically installed. This does a couple of things. It gives you control over the server-level full-page cache. It also adds a “Clear Cache” link in your WordPress admin toolbar and a button in the plugin. You can also add rules for single and group paths that should be purged when content is updated.
The MU plugin also handles things like the Kinsta CDN, and other various server-level functionality on your site behind the scenes.
Next you have “Restart PHP.” This allows you to restart the PHP engine on your site. This is helpful if you are troubleshooting issues with connectivity, performance, etc.
Next, you have “WordPress debugging.” For troubleshooting issues with plugins or themes, or if you’re a developer, this feature can come in really handy. It will let you see PHP warnings, errors, and notices on your website. It’s an easy way to do it without having to enable
WP_DEBUG mode in your
Search and replace
Next, you have Kinsta’s awesome search and replace tool. This is a quick way to replace any value in your database.
For example, let’s say you were changing your domain name. In this case you would need to run a search and replace in the database for your entire site. There are WordPress plugins that also do this, but no need to install one when you have this tool in the MyKinsta dashboard.
New Relic monitoring
New Relic is a PHP monitoring tool you can use to get detailed performance statistics on your WordPress site. MyKinsta lets you easily hook up your New Relic account by inputting your license key. You can then deploy it on your site whenever you want. For performance reasons, you only want to run this while you’re testing things.
New Relic has a free version you can try, but the Pro version is where all the awesome features are. This includes distributed tracing and transaction breakdowns. You can instantly see what plugin is slowing your site down and filter it all the way down to the precise query causing it. Pretty awesome!
Next, you have “Password protection,” also known as
.htpasswd. This allows you to quickly block access to your site from the public internet. This is great for when you are developing sites for clients and don’t want anyone else to see it yet. Or to keep the resources to a minimum until it goes live.
Below is what it looks like when password protection is enabled.
Free SSL certificate (Let’s Encrypt)
Kinsta offers free SSL certificates on every plan. They have an integration with Let’s Encrypt which allows for a one-click setup of SSL on your WordPress site. You can be up and running over HTTPS in a matter of seconds. Simply select it from the drop-down in the dashboard and your all set.
By design, Let’s Encrypt certificates expire every 90 days. But no need to worry about this at Kinsta. There is a bot that goes through behind the scenes and automatically renews your SSL certificates. You can see this in the activity log (as seen below).
And of course, you can still use your own custom SSL certificates, which is especially important for those of you who need higher-end certs. Custom certificate keys can also be uploaded from right within the dashboard. No reaching out to support is necessary.
Next, you have “Force HTTPS.” This goes hand in hand with your SSL certificate. Once you have SSL enabled you’ll want to make sure that everything is redirected to the HTTPS version.
Latest PHP versions
Kinsta always supports the latest and greatest versions of PHP. Currently, they offer PHP 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4. There is no waiting six months or a year for these important server software updates, and you can change it with a single click in the MyKinsta dashboard.
That’s the great thing about Kinsta’s CEO. He has a developer/sysadmin background and is obsessed with performance.
Next, you have ionCube Loader, which is free for all Kinsta customers. This is used when you need to encrypt PHP code in your application. This can be quite complex to set up manually. Kinsta makes this easy with a simple toggle. Note: This is only supported on PHP 7.2 and 7.3.
A big problem with a lot of the popular WordPress plugins is that they use the wp_redirect function. This means every incoming redirect is going to have to execute PHP code on your server to process and forward the request. This is not fast in terms of performance.
MyKinsta lets you add redirects (301 and 302) at the server level. This is the fastest way to add redirects. I personally use this all the time! It’s great if you’re merging or moving content around, or changing slugs. They also have a bulk import tool.
Most redirect plugins have a CSV export option. So you can easily migrate all of your redirects into MyKinsta with just a few clicks.
Another way the redirect tool comes in handy is when you have old domains that you need to redirect forever. For example, this website used to be on my brianjackson.io domain. But now all that content resides at woorkup.com. So I have wildcard redirects set up at Kinsta to redirect the content appropriately. You can add as many domains as you want to a site and then set up redirects for them. It’s pretty awesome!
IP deny tool
Next up is the IP deny tool. This can be useful if you’re dealing with a bot, spammer, or hacker constantly hitting your site. Sometimes you just might need to block something. This tool makes it quick and easy. Just enter in the IP address and you’re good to go.
Kinsta offers a CDN integration with my favorite CDN provider, KeyCDN! If you want serious speed along with Kinsta’s powerful servers, you can easily enable this from the dashboard, no additional setup is required.
KeyCDN features 34 POPs in 25 countries spread across 6 continents, HTTP/2 support, IPv6, high reliability, and much more! Kinsta includes a generous amount of free CDN bandwidth with every hosting plan. This will give you a combo that cannot be beaten when it comes to performance and speed.
The logs screen in MyKinsta comes in very handy. This is something I use on a regular basis. It saves a lot of time having it accessible right within the dashboard, not having to SFTP or SSH to check files on the server for errors. In the log viewer, you can see the error logs, cache logs, and access logs.
Kinsta DNS is a premium DNS service they provide for free. It allows you to manage your own zone records in the MyKinsta dashboard and use Amazon Route 53 for a faster domain name resolving experience. Many of you probably already use third-party DNS providers (Cloudflare, DNS Made Easy, etc.), but it’s good to know Kinsta has this available if you need it.
Kinsta DNS lets you manage the following records: A, AAAA, CAA, CNAME, MX, SRV, and TXT. One really cool thing too is they have a one-click setup of Gmail MX records. If you are using G Suite, this makes the whole process a breeze.
MyKinsta Analytics is awesome! Not only are the charts and graphs beautiful, but there is a ton of data that provides a lot of insight into what is going on with your WordPress sites. It’s helpful when troubleshooting resource usage and performance issues.
The first analytics section is resources. Here you can view visits, disk space, bandwidth, top requests by bytes, and top requests by views.
The next analytics section is CDN usage. Here you can view CDN bandwidth, top files by requests, top files by bytes, top file extensions by bytes, and a response code breakdown graph (200, 300, 400, and 500 HTTP status codes).
The next analytics section is Dispersion. This lets you see how much (%) of your site’s traffic is coming from mobile/handheld devices versus desktop.
The next analytics section is Performance. Here you can see average PHP + MySQL response times, PHP throughput, PHP worker limits, AJAX usage, top average PHP + MySQL response times, and top average PHP + MySQL response times.
The next analytics section is Response. Here you get a complete response code breakdown on your sites. This includes 200, 300, 400, and 500 HTTP status codes. You can also see how many redirects happened, errors, success rate %, and error ratio %. Another useful data point here is the list of the top 404 errors.
The next analytics section is Cache. Here you can see a cache component stack and chart, as well as top cache bypasses. The important data point to take away here is your HIT cache ratio. You want your HIT cache ratio to be as high as possible. 70% or higher is generally pretty good.
Remember you will see EXPIRED whenever your Kinsta cache expires. And it will register a MISS until it has re-cached. You can reach out to the Kinsta team and ask them to increase your site’s default cache time if you want to improve your cache HIT ratios.
Ecommerce sites (WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads) will typically have a large percentage of BYPASS hits. This is usually pretty standard as dynamic sites have certain areas of the site like the checkout page which should never be cached.
Geo & IP
The final analytics section is Geo & IP. Here you can see the top countries, cities, and IPs that have visited your site.
Another great thing about Kinsta is its multi-user management permissions. You can add a user with company access or just site access. For company roles you can choose from the following:
- Company administrator: Access to everything, manage users, see billing.
- Company developer: Access to all sites, manage site-level users, cannot see billing.
- Company billing: Only see billing and company information.
The different roles make it easy to work with third-party developers without worrying about them having too much access.
When you are added to multiple companies you can easily toggle between them from the top left of the MyKinsta dashboard.
The activity log screen lets you see everything that is happening in your MyKinsta dashboard. Adding DNS records, enabling/disabling New Relic, updating redirect rules, deleting domains, etc. Everything is recorded, including anything that is done by the Kinsta support team if you ask for assistance.
Under your user settings, you have your typical place to update your email, name, etc. There are a few things to take note of here:
- Language: MyKinsta is avaiable in 10 different languages. This is where you can change that.
- Two-factor authentication: Secure your login with an authenciator app like 1Password or LastPass.
- SSH keys: SSH access allows you to log into a command prompt, perform common sysadmin tasks, and execute commands just as if you were sitting at the server itself.
Under the “Notifications” tab you can enable what emails you want to get:
- Overage notifications: If you reach your plan’s limits, Kinsta will keep your sites running but charge you an overage fee. They send you a notification at 80% and 100% usage.
- Newsletter: Kinsta’s newsletter is delivered weekly. It’s all about WordPress news, industry trends, and applicable tips on how to drive more traffic and revenue to your business.
- Invoices: Receive your invoices in an email attached as PDF.
- Beta crew messages: This adds you to our list of Kinsta Beta testers.
- Site monitoring: Automatic monitoring alerts in an email when your site needs critical attention. This includes downtime alerts, DNS and SSL errors, domain expiry.
Kinsta includes premium hosting plans for everyone! They are popular among larger businesses and enterprise customers, however, they also have entry-tier plans at $30/month for those of you just starting out. Remember, this is high-end performance hosting. They aren’t trying to compete with WP Engine or Flywheel. I would consider them a notch above the rest.
Oh, and did I mention they have a 30-day no questions asked money-back guarantee? That’s right. You can try Kinsta risk-free for 30 days.
The main differences in their plans are the number of WordPress sites allowed, storage space, and visitors. You also get more PHP workers with every higher plan. PHP workers execute the code on your site, and additional ones allow for multiple requests to execute simultaneously.
Pro plans and above support multisite. They also have Enterprise plans as well as custom plans if you need even more.
|SSD storage||10 GB||20 GB||30 GB||40 GB||50 GB||60 GB|
|CDN bandwidth||50 GB||100 GB||200 GB||300 GB||500 GB||500 GB|
|Backup retention||14 days||14 days||14 days||14 days||20 days||20 days|
Below is a list of features included with all hosting plans.
- 24 data center locations: Choose between 24 Google Cloud Platform locations for your WordPress sites.
- Self-healing technology: Kinsta checks the status of your PHP service every minute. If PHP has gone down, their platform will automatically attempt to start it back up.
- Automatic database optimization: Kinsta’s platform automatically fine-tunes your MySQL database settings once a week (based on the needs of your site) for better performance.
- Automatic daily backups
- Manual backup points
- 24/7 support
- Hack and malware removal
- Staging environment
- Free SSL certificates
- SSH access
Speed tests – Kinsta versus WP Engine
Even though I don’t consider Kinsta and WP Engine in the same league I thought it would useful to show you the speed differences. I used to host all of my websites at WP Engine. I am very OCD when it comes to speed and am always trying to find ways to speed them up.
Here are my tests results after migrating away from WP Engine. I ran speed tests multiple times to prevent data skewing due to prefetching and 1st time DNS queries. With WP Engine I also got very long 1st-time requests, sometimes up to the 3-second mark! This issue has never happened on Kinsta. Both are being served from the same data center location.
brianleejackson.com on WP Engine
brianleejackson.com on Kinsta
I got a 47% increase in speed simply by moving to Kinsta’s servers. It is unbelievable.
woorkup.com on Kinsta
Here is a recent speed test of woorkup.com running on Kinsta. As you can see, this sites loads in under 600 ms! That is blazing fast. Kinsta has server-level caching which means I don’t have to waste time messing with stupid caching plugins. Once you go this route, you’ll never want to go back.
While Kinsta has its own uptime checks included in the service, I always like to keep track of it with my own monitoring tool. I use a neat little service called updown.io. This allows me to track uptime at any interval I want and immediately ping me in Slack if a site goes down.
The great news is, Kinsta never goes down. Above is a snapshot of the last 6 months at 100% uptime.
Free WordPress migrations
When you first sign up for Kinsta, you will get issued a temporary URL
sitename.kinsta.cloud which you can use to test your site before you go live or change the DNS.
Kinsta also offers free white-glove migrations. So there is no need to worry about losing data or downtime. These are handled by their dedicated migration team which manages hundreds if not thousands of migrations each and every month. Let’s just say, they are really good at what they do.
Backup and migration plugins don’t always catch everything. And migrating WordPress manually can quickly become a pain if, for example, the hosting provider has slow FTP. Suddenly your stuck waiting for hours for your files to download, just so you can re-upload them at the new host.
In fact, through June 30, 2020, Kinsta is offering unlimited free WordPress site migrations from the following hosts:
- WP Engine
- A2 Hosting
- WPX Hosting
You can easily start your site migration immediately after signing up. Click on “Migrations” on the left-hand side in the MyKinsta dashboard. Then click on the type of migration you want to initiate. It will have you fill out a short form with additional information.
After submitting the migration form, one of the Kinsta team members will get in touch with you to schedule the migration (a time that works best for you). Your pending migrations will then show up under “Migrations” in which you can check the status anytime. You will also be continuously updated on the status by their team.
What other people are saying
Yes, it sounds like I’m just raving about Kinsta but don’t just take my word for it! Check out the feedback they are getting on Twitter.
All in all, I couldn’t be happier with my migration to Kinsta. I think WP Engine has lost its focus when it comes down to those of us who really care about speed. I hope this Kinsta review gives you something to think about.
I recommend giving them a try, you won’t be disappointed. And being backed by the Google Cloud Platform ensures you have some huge architecture behind your sites. They even offer free migrations to ensure the move is as seamless as possible. And don’t forget about their 30-day money-back guarantee.
As always feel free to leave your comments below.
Full Disclosure: I used to work at Kinsta, but don’t anymore. I do have a vested interest in the company, but also fully stand behind their product and services. I’ve used dozens of hosting providers over the years and Kinsta is where I’m proud to host this website and all of my other projects.