2019 October 4th
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. But it's not only domains that this company is working with. Namecheap also offers cheap website hosting - the one that's supposed to offer great quality for a very low price.
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? In this Namecheap review, let's find out the truth.
What is Namecheap?
Namecheap is primary a domain registrar - but really, it has services that go way beyond that. With Namecheap, you'll get plenty of services to build your online presence with, such as:
- Shared web hosting
- VPS hosting
- Dedicated hosting
- Reseller hosting
- Email 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.
Namecheap offers 3 plans to choose from - and they cost from $2.88/month, to $8.88/month.
But there's a catch. You can actually save a lot of money in your first year by choosing to pay yearly. You'll get a discount of 50%!
Here's how the prices will look like when paying monthly, and when paying yearly:
|Stellar||Stellar Plus||Stellar Business|
After the first year finishes, however, the plans will renew at their full prices, meaning that the 3 plans will cost $30.88, $52.88, and $98.88/year respectively - the same they would when paying monthly.
- Stellar - a 3-website plan with 20GB of SSD-accelerated disk space and 50 FTP and email accounts each.
- Stellar Plus - 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|
|Disc space||20 GB||Unlimited||50 GB|
|Customer Support||24/7 live chat, ticket||24/7 live chat, ticket||24/7 live chat, ticket|
|Free Automated Backups||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Namecheap offers you the opportunity of choosing between the US and the UK server. If you have more visitors coming from Africa, the 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.
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.
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.
Why is that? That is due to the taxes applied by the country. One can imagine - with prices so low, they simply wouldn't be able to pay them without increasing the costs by just a little bit. And if you'll wish to move from an expensive UK server to the US, you will get refunded - so that's a good thing, too.
But overall, the $2.88/4.88/8.88 monthly prices will always stay the same. There's no additional increase - and you can pay monthly.
Namecheap shared hosting isn't just a clumsy add-on to domains. As a matter of fact, it's quite a big deal - and for people who will purchase it, there will be several interesting features on offer.
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 its 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 - and at the same time, .website extension is still very memorable and easy to write down.
You can get a name that is easy enough to remember for both you and your visitors.
And even better - Namecheap proves that there's a reason it's one of the best domain registrars in the world. Every domain you'll purchase (or get for free), will also include WHOIS Guard protection. With this protection, people won't be able to find out your personal data by looking up the domain. And so, that's how you can avoid scammers and unwanted attention.
Multiple websites even on the cheapest plan
Many providers have their cheapest plan to only support one website. Namecheap does it differently - it's entry plan supports 3 websites. This allows you to work on multiple projects at once on a budget.
Also - the entry Stellar plan gives you 20GB of SSD storage, meaning you'll be able to comfortably host 3 full-sized WordPress websites, complete with media and multiple plugins. For less that $3 a month, that's a very solid package.
Namecheap AutoBackup Tool
Stellar Plus ($4.88/month) and Stellar Business ($8.88/month) plans include the tool, known as AutoBackup.
Easy to set up and use from your control panel, this tool makes copies of your website daily, weekly, or monthly - and even lets you download them straight to your computer. So then, should there be any issues with your page, you can restore it to its previous state.
Many hosting providers offer a similar service - but AutoBackup by Namecheap is arguably one of the most powerful and easiest to use backup and restore options out there. Here's how it works:
Purchasing and Using Namecheap
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 purchase, I got to start using my services immediately after the purchase. 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's simple, easy to use, and there will be plenty of documentation that will help you solve the issues should any of them arise.
It wasn't very easy to locate or login to, however. 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.
At the end of the day, using Namecheap is fairly simple - and that's a good thing.
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:
Namecheap ticket service is fast
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.
Live chat performance 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 were 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 (click to expand).
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, or doing so quickly.
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.
During the tests, we've revealed that Namecheap is a pretty decent option, that is fairly fast and reliable. However - there are a few issues, that could be a little big concerning.
Let's have a deeper look at what I've discovered. 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
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. For our stability and uptime tests, we use Uptime Robot.
Namecheap Speed With A Simple Website
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.
Namecheap Speed With A Website Builder
Now, to test how good Namecheap is when working with applications, I've installed ImpressPages - a simple website builder. Then, I proceeded to drown the page in media and additional information - making the simple HTML website look tiny by comparison.
And that's what the speed was:
Surprisingly, in the majority of builder tests, Sydney performed as good or even better than HTML. Other servers were comparable as well, not slowing down much. Overall, however, the performance of the Namecheap servers was barely affected by the size of the website - and that's great.
Namecheap Server Uptime
Now, let's have a look at how reliable and stable Namecheap servers really are.
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.
Here's how the servers were performing in the first half year of this Namecheap review:
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, we've noticed something a little bit more interesting. 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.
What happened? I can only speculate. It seems that our website was moved to a slower server, hosting more accounts. This way, Namecheap was able to save money - and sacrificed quality in the process.
Luckily, one thing remained.
While painfully slow, the servers are still rather stable, averaging around 99.95% uptime or better. So it's stable - just very slow. Like a turtle.
Anti-Theft Protection Evaluation
Uptime and response times are both important - but they mean nothing if the platform itself is not secure. So, for a final performance test of this Namecheap review, I've put on my ski mask and tried to commit a crime.
There are two main tests I did for this.
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" account recovery 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. What happened then? No response.
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 cheap services and high domain security. However, there are some shortcomings - namely the average server performance. Many cheap services have shortcomings, that have no happen in order to justify the low costs. And Namecheap is no different.
That being said, if you're fine with your website loading half a second slower than it could, Namecheap is still a solid bet.
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.
- Good price, no increased renewal fees
- Additional discount when purchasing for a year
- Free .website domain for the first 12 months.
- Customer service could be way better.
- Costs extra money to switch to the UK server.
- The server response time can be measured with a sundial.