NameCheap is an incredibly popular web domain registrar, established in Arizona in the year 2000. The company currently says that it has over 3 million customers and manages over 7 million domains. These numbers are no joke - and no surprise, either. NameCheap got itself a reputation for being a very cheap service provider that offers quality domain registry services. But it's not what this NameCheap review is going to be about. Here I am going to test their web hosting services. Just like the domains, web hosting here is very cheap as well. What’s the catch? Is NameCheap web hosting one of the best hidden gems in business? Did they find a glitch in the Matrix and discovered a way to offer great services for a fraction of a price? Or is ‘you get what you pay for’ still the golden rule of business? I am set to write this NameCheap review to find it out for all of us.
- Shared web hosting
- VPS hosting
- Dedicated hosting
- Reseller hosting
- Domain names
For a domain reseller, NameCheap offers a surprisingly wide array of services. As a matter of fact, it offers every main hosting service there is, except for Cloud hosting. But even without that, there is still a solid lineup with many options to choose from. Of course, being best established as a domain registrar, NameCheap has the badges for it. The company is a part of the ICANN Accreditation list.
Being a part of the list isn't the only thing that sets NameCheap apart from some of its competitors. These are the other key features of NameCheap hosting you may find interesting:
Free .website domain
A memorable website name is a great tool to help increase your online presence. NameCheap knows just that and offers a free .website domain for every single one of their customers - even the ones who pick the cheapest plan. This domain extension isn't very popular yet so there are plenty of great options for you to pick from. You can get a name that is easy enough to remember for both you and your visitors.
There is no ‘Single Website’ plan. Even the cheapest hosting plan supports multiple websites. This allows you to work on multiple projects at once on a budget.
Choice for server location
NameCheap has data centers on two continents - and you are free to choose where you want to store your websites. If you have more visitors coming from Africa, Middle East or Europe - choose the UK server. If you get more visits from the Americas or the Far East, choose the US server. It's as simple as that.
By looking at the features NameCheap offers, you can tell that they try to be as simple as possible. There are no extensive video tutorials, phone support or even a regular website builder. On the other hand, you get to use your free .website domain to host multiple websites and pick a server for them. In many of the cases, that is enough for most of the clients. NameCheap provides simple, no-thrills web hosting for a great price. Their web hosting is exactly what I am planning to test.
What’s included in NameCheap hosting packages?
"3" is a magical number. For many hosting providers, there are usually 3 plans you can pick from. NameCheap goes exactly one step further - and offers you 4.
- Stellar - a 3-website plan with 20GB of SSD-accelerated disk space and 50 FTP and email accounts each.
- Stellar Pus - an unlimited website plan with unlimited SSD-accelerated disk space.
- Stellar Business - the best regular web hosting plan available, offering 50GB pure SSD disk space and unlimited websites.
There are plenty of things worth looking into here. Look at this in-depth chart to understand more about these plans:
|Stellar||Stellar Plus||Stellar Business|
|Disk space limit||20GB||Unlimited||50GB|
|How many domains allowed||3||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|SSD or HDD used in servers||HDD (SSD caching)||HDD (SSD caching)||SSD|
|SSL||Supported, not included in the plan||Supported, not included in the plan||Supported, not included in the plan|
|Anti-DDoS protection||Not included||Not included||Not included|
|Anti-malware protection||Not included||Not included||Not included|
|Website Builder||Not included||Not included||Not included|
|Assisted Website Transfer||Free||Free||Free|
|Auto-installer||Included (+Softaculous)||Included (+Softaculous)||Included (+Softaculous)|
|Money back guarantee||14 days||14 days||14 days|
|Customer Support||24/7 live chat, ticket||24/7 live chat, ticket||24/7 live chat, ticket|
|Choice for server location||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free Automated Backups||Yes||Yes||Yes|
In terms of prices, it is common for the hosting providers to advertise theirs as "monthly". They are only legit if you purchase a longer plan and it's not really "monthly" - you usually pay in advance. Let's see how NameCheap display their prices:
|Payment Period / Plan||Stellar||Stellar Plus||Stellar Business|
NameCheap display most of their prices as "yearly" - and a one-year period is the only one for most of their plans. The only exception is 'Business SSD', which is considerably more expensive than 'Value', 'Professional' and 'Ultimate'. Other than that, the prices are very straightforward. Except for one thing: and that is the UK server.
As mentioned earlier, NameCheap offers you the opportunity of choosing between the US and the UK server. However, the prices you saw in the table above are for the US server. If you decide to pick a server in the UK, the fee increases considerably. Here's what the increase is:
Despite NameCheap offering 'Worldwide Datacenters', they don't come cheap. You will pay an extra $1 a month if you decide to pick a UK server. Same goes for the renewal fees - they increase by $1 a month if you choose to store your data in the United Kingdom.
It is no surprise to see limited disk space in three out of four options available. With starting prices so low, ‘Value’ and ‘Professional’ plans offer logical limitations. 20GB or 50GB disk space is more than enough for blogs or personal websites.
Every plan supports SSL but it is not included anywhere. However, since it is supported, you can easily use a “Let’s Encrypt” certificate for no cost or purchase one from NameCheap (available in checkout, $1.99 for the first year).
Multiple server locations and an opportunity to choose your server is a great feature. But as mentioned earlier, a British server is going to set you back an extra sum of money. Instead of some other providers with worldwide servers which allow you to choose a server at will, NameCheap uses a slightly different procedure. If you want to switch from a cheaper US server to a more expensive UK server, you will have to pay an additional $1 a month in order to get that. If you decide to go the other way around, you get your money refunded.
There are no additional costs for changing the server. While frustrating, such pricing makes sense as the colocation costs in the UK are higher than in the US and with such low starting prices, the company can't afford to lose any money. I also appreciate the company refunding you if you decide to move to a cheaper server. It's not much but it's a nice gesture.
Speaking of caring about the clients, NameCheap support is 24/7, however, you can only reach them via live chat or a ticket - bad news if you prefer a phone call.
A free .website domain for the first 12 months is a nice little touch. This way, you can make your own website and have a personal domain, without paying anything extra. In addition to that, you also get WhoisGuard domain privacy protection, so your personal information remain unreachable.
Where do I start? The introductory prices for ‘Stellar’, ‘Stellar Plus’ and ‘Stellar Business’ plans are pretty great. You can pay with a credit card, PayPal, Gwolla or even Bitcoin.
I mentioned the renewal prices already but it's worth coming back to them. When purchasing ‘Stellar’, ‘Stellar Plus’ or ‘Stellar Business’ plans, you will be charged for a year and prices will increase by around four times. After that, you will be looking at prices that will still be good - but hover around an industry standard.
US Server Renewal Prices
|Payment Period/ Plan||Stellar||Stellar Plus||Stellar Business|
|1 month package||-||-||-|
|12 month package||$38.88 a year||$78.88 a year||$129.88 a year|
UK Server Renewal Prices
|Payment Period/ Plan||Stellar||Stellar Plus||Stellar Business|
|1 month package||-||-||-|
|12 month package||$50.88 a year||$90.88 a year||$141.88 a year|
NameCheap Customer Service
It is important to know what the company does in order to solve the problems their clients may have. This is why it is important to test the NameCheap client support system - so you would know what to expect if you decide to contact one of their representatives. NameCheap seems to be going pretty simple, offering only two types of customer service:
- Live Chat
In addition to that, the provider also has its own Knowledge Base where they try to provide answers to many of the frequently asked questions. It is fairly extensive and has a decent amount of information.
If that wasn't enough, you may want to speak to a customer support agent. Here is how they did:
Ticket Service Evaluation
The most important thing here is the response time. The quicker it is, the better - it's not rocket science. I've decided to ask NameCheap whether it can hook me up with a huge, 10-20 year hosting plan.
As you can see, it took 93 minutes for Igor to respond. It is common for some providers to be even quicker but the time by NameCheap is nothing to complain about. All in all, a solid showing.
Chat Service Evaluation
In this NameCheap review, when testing chat service, there are three things I am interested in. First up it's wait time. The quicker - the better. Nobody likes waiting in lines, even if they're online. Secondly, I will test their knowledge. You can't be a good customer service agent if you have no clue what's going on. And finally, I will try to see whether the customer service agents have some personality of their own. It may appear irrelevant but when you're frustrated and having problems, a genuine and emphatic agent is going to make all the difference.
I set up 10 chats in the various time of the week to see how NameCheap stacks up - this is what I found out:
NameCheap chat wait times are very small, rarely exceeding one minute. However, there are serious wait times in the middle of the chat as you can see in the picture above. Both times, after asking a simple question, it took Victoria and many other agents 3-4 minutes to come back to me. Considering the two questions were not difficult, it is disappointing to see NameCheap agents lacking the knowledge to deliver the answers themselves.
However, points can be added for the support having a decent human touch. All of the representatives spoke perfect English, had different personalities and I always felt that behind the screen there always was a human person, ready and willing to help me. It is just disappointing to see that those good intentions are not entirely backed up by knowledge.
First Impressions During and After the Purchase
One thing NameCheap can be really proud of is its payment options. The company appears to be listening to the community as much as possible. There are plenty of methods available with many more lined up. Currently, you can pay with credit cards, PayPal, Dwolla (only for the US residents) and BitCoin. Out of the hosts currently reviewed, not many provide its clients with the opportunity to pay with BitCoin. Seeing other companies do it as well is very pleasing - it's a great alternative some people may want to have.
After the payment process, there have been some problems. Upon trying to sign up for the account I was constantly getting a 500 server error. I tried to contact the customer service representatives. The agent created the account herself without really acknowledging the issue I was experiencing. I had to help her out slightly but this is how everything turned out:
After that, I did not experience any issues with activation. I wasn’t flagged as risky or anything of the sort. Instead, I got to start using my services immediately after the purchase.
After logging in, I was redirected to the NameCheap dashboard. Here’s how it looks like:
And here’s the cPanel. It’s a cPanel ‘Paper Lantern’ theme, popular amongst many hosts.
It wasn't very easy to locate or login to. The credentials are sent to you via email. Finding the cPanel button in the dashboard is also quite a mission - it's easier to simply type yourdomain.com/cPanel than bothering with locating it. However, once you login, it's a fairly simple panel, common with many hosts. Apart from logistical problems, there is not much to complain about here too.
So far, my evaluation has revealed that despite being inexpensive, NameCheap still seems to offer enough for regular hosting needs. Its features are simple, and while customer service could improve or a website builder would be nice, there are no serious problems. Which means that everything boils down to performance. These are the things I've been testing:
- Host's speed during low upkeep
- Host's speed with a website created with a website builder
- Server's overall uptime
- Anti-theft security evaluation
The review will be given constant updates in order to reflect the latest results.
IMPORTANT NOTICE - I do not claim these results are always 100% right. We do the analysis of NameCheap using the Bitcacha tool - it measures the travel packet speeds. The results we get directly depend on the servers the service itself is using - so in order to see the tendencies, I do 10 tests in quick succession and pick out the average one.
Host Speed During Low Upkeep
HTML websites are perfect in order to test the highest possible speeds. They contain only a few lines of code and are expected to deliver the best results. This is the website I made:
That's how Bitcacha rated its performance:
From a US server, this is really not bad. The West Coast is especially impressive, never taking more than 20ms in any of the tests. Singapore, Sydney, and Bangalore are lacking behind as expected but even their times are quite reputable. Overall, these are decent results and you won't have a significant bottleneck of speed no matter where your visitors will be coming from.
Host Speed With A Website Builder
NameCheap is one of the few major hosting companies who do not provide any kind of a website builder. It is quite disappointing because that means there's no way to measure the speed of a website many would be creating. After looking through the application list, I've decided to choose ImpressPages - a popular CMS (content management system) which resembles a drag-and-drop builder. Here's a website I quickly put together:
And that's what the speeds were:
Surprisingly, in the majority of ImpressPages tests, Sydney performed as good or even better than HTML. Other servers were comparable as well, not slowing down much. It is difficult to give a certain verdict here. That's simply because NameCheap offers no dedicated website builder but you can tell that even a more stacked website is going to hold up nicely.
Server Overall Uptime
NOTE - This section of the review will get regular updates. By clicking the link above you will be able to see the live performance yourselves.
A basic WordPress website was set up. Then, using our uptime tool, it was continuously tested once every minute. This is a good way to measure the host's overall availability at all times. Not only the downtimes but also the fluctuations in response times during the entire testing period.
Below you can see the results we've had starting from July 2017, all the way to January 2018:
At this point, it was a stable improvement. 600-700 ms during the first couple of months, going down to a very reputable 500 ms or so in the winter. Really, in all circumstances, this is a solid result.
But then, 2018 came along and proved to be a very difficult year for the poor testing website of ours. This happened:
Just like that, by someone's conscious decision, the steady rock of a website has turned into a complete slouch. Regular response times of over 1000 ms are not acceptable.
Luckily, one thing remained. While painfully slow, the servers are still rather stable, averaging around 99.9% of downtimes. It used to be even better before though (99.95%+), so now we wait with our eye opened wide - what happens next? Is the previously-praised stable speed and reliability both going to turn into distant memories? Only time will tell.
Anti-Theft Protection Evaluation
There are two main tests I did in this part of the NameCheap review. I tried to replicate the circumstances of someone breaking into an account. At first, I attempted to brute-force my way in. That means typing the wrong password in several times and only later getting the right one. Usually, this means doing 20 or 30 attempts and then seeing whether I get locked out. NameCheap did not allow me to do that. Instead, I was prompted to verify my identity with reCAPTCHA after one failed attempt. This is a good security measure which significantly slows down the brute-force process and usually stops it altogether.
After this, it was time to see whether the live chat agents could be tricked into giving me the account password. So I logged out of my account, changed my IP address and tried my best. This is what happened:
After more than 50 minutes of talking, I was nowhere close to changing my password. That is not because NameCheap provides great security, it's more down to its inefficiency. Many other hosts ask you to provide your payment details. In NameCheap, I realized that losing your contact email is probably the worst thing that can happen as there is no "Last Resort" procedure. Live chat agent has asked me to provide my username, full name and email. Later I was told there is nothing that can be done and got told to submit a ticket. A few hours have passed and the ticket still hasn't received a response. Very frustrating. Perhaps there is a silver lining - no one will want to steal your account if it meant dealing with a system this broken.
This has revealed a problem with NameCheap. Nevermind people trying to break in. If you ACTUALLY lose both your NameCheap and email logins, getting your hosting back is going to be very difficult.
NOTE - keep your personal information safe. Regularly update passwords and don't use the same ones for multiple websites.
NameCheap Review - Conclusion
NameCheap offers services that are one of the cheapest available. In most cases, they offer quality way above that. The uptime is good, the speeds are constant and completely acceptable. Regardless of that, their services are not perfect - the customer service is far from ideal. Also, the lack of basic functionality, such as a website builder, is quite disappointing. Overall, it is a decent option for the people who look a simple and inexpensive hosting provider. Just make sure to look at the server before buying.
- Amazing price. Less than a dollar a month for web hosting.
- Multiple plans to choose from to get exactly what you want.
- Free .website domain for the first 12 months.
- Very limited disk space, only SSD-accelerated in most plans.
- Customer service could be way better.
- Costs extra money to switch to the UK server.
- Since January, server response time can be measured with a sundial.