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Review of Kinsta for Managed WordPress Hosting

I recently had the opportunity to set a client up on Kinsta’s managed WordPress hosting plan.  I have previously used some of Kinsta’s competitors, such as WP Engine, but hadn’t yet had a chance to try out Kinsta.

Kinsta belongs to a group of hosting providers that primarily focus on quality and performance instead of trying to be the lowest price point.  This appeals to clients who have better things to do with their time than to be fighting their website, or spending a weekend trying to figure out why their site is so slow.  And in fact, one of the clients I recently helped move over to Kinsta had been having issues like that on his previous hosting provider, and decided to give Kinsta a try.

The Kinsta Dashboard

Plans and Pricing

At the time of this writing,  Kinsta has plans varying from $30 USD/month, all the way up to $900/month.  These plans are mostly differentiated on the expected amount of traffic they will receive per month, and how many WordPress installations you will require.  

One aspect that I really like is the fact they have a 30 day money back guarantee.  Since we weren’t entirely sure if the problem we were trying to solve was hosting related, it was nice to know that we had 30 days to essentially test out the platform before committing to it going forward.

Initial Setup

Once you sign-up, you’ll receive access to the Kinsta dashboard at my.kinsta.com.  If you’ve ever logged into any administrative site for web hosting, you’ll feel pretty much at home here.  Everything is well laid out,  and it’s really easy to figure out how to set your website up.

The dialog to add a new site on Kinsta

When you add a new site, you are presented with a dialog where you can choose the location of your site, as well as it’s name.  I won’t lie, I was confused as to what it meant by ‘Name of this site’.  I originally thought this was just a friendly name for my benefit, but once I typed that in I got a warning that it must be all lowercase and without any spaces. So it’s probably best to tell people what the point of that field is ahead of time.

I chose to use my own domain,  as I was migrating a client’s site over from another hosting provider.  At this point you can choose to install the website yourself, or have Kinsta automatically install WordPress for you,  which is a nice touch on new sites.

Migrating a Site to Kinsta

Thanks to Kinsta allowing SSH access, migrating a site from another location is pretty straightforward.  My approach usually for this is to extract the database on the old hosting provider, add it to the web directory, then tar/gzip the entire structure into an archive.  Then on the new hosting provider, in this case Kinsta, I usually scp the entire archive over and then unzip it into the new directory structure. I then use mysql from the command line to import the database, and adjust wp-config.php to reflect the new database location.

One aspect I wasn’t aware of though is that Kinsta relies on a special plugin in the mu-plugins folder to perform some of its caching and CDN features.  I don’t remember reading about this anywhere ahead of time, and since I migrated an existing site it wasn’t included.  In the Kinsta dashboard you can view a list of your site plugins, but it doesn’t show any type of warning  that you are missing the Kinsta one. More on this shortly.

Included Features

Kinsta offers a lot of extra features in its plans, including free SSL certifications via Let’sEncrypt, and also a built in CDN.  I quickly provisioned the SSL certificate, which worked as expected  (but make sure you are pointing your domain to the Kinsta servers, since Let’sEncrypt needs the IP address to match). 

I also enabled the CDN, which  took about 15 minutes to provision itself.  Afterwards I bounced around the site, but didn’t notice much of a difference.  When I viewed the page source, the Kinsta CDN URL was nowhere to be seen, so for whatever reason the CDN didn’t appear to be working.

On the dashboard CDN page, there was this message:

CDN usage message  

Which after reading it, made me think that the CDN would just magically work (I thought perhaps they had a reverse proxy that was interjecting their CDN URLs into the HTML page).

I eventually contacted customer support and found the root cause of this issue – the Kinsta plugin wasn’t installed.  So once again, the CDN area would be a really great place to indicate that the required plugin is missing.  I quickly downloaded the plugin and installed it, and everything started working as expected, but it would be nice if you could click a button on the dashboard and auto-install the latest version.

It’s quite possible this is documented somewhere, but despite my efforts Googling this, I couldn’t find anything mentioned having to install their plugin.  So, just something to be aware of if you migrate over.  I do want to  point out that their support was great, and quickly helped resolve this issue.

Performance

I’m happy to report that performance is great on Kinsta so far, and the responsiveness of the website is much better than on previous hosting providers I’ve tested. So if you are worried about speed, I don’t think you can do much better than on Kinsta, not without spending a lot of time and effort on the problem.  

Final Thoughts

Kinsta,  like their primary competitor WP Engine, are on the higher end of the price spectrum.  But it’s over there where you are assured great customer support and lightning fast servers.  So if having reliable hosting is more important for you than having cheap hosting, I highly recommend Kinsta. 

I had a few small issues during migration, such as the ones point out above, but I wouldn’t let them stand in the way of choosing them.  I would hope in the future they would make the Kinsta plugin requirement a bit clearer, and also add some informative messaging in a few key areas, such as when adding a site. But those issues aren’t blockers, and if you are aware of them you will do fine.

So if you are looking for lightning-fast performance on a managed WordPress hosting provider with rock-solid customer support, then I highly recommend hosting your site with Kinsta.  And if you need help with migration or helping figure out the best Kinsta plan for you, drop me a line over at Lindell Media.