Namecheap review: is the “cheap” part of its name a telltale sign?
In this Namecheap review, you’ll find all the information about this cheap hosting provider and the services it offers. I’ll talk about plans and prices, performance, security, and many other features I came across so that you know what to expect.
Namecheap is known as one of the best affordable and reliable domain registrars. One of the largest in the market, too. However, that’s not all – Namecheap also offers web hosting services. Quite a large variety of different hosting types and for very low prices.
While many enjoy Namecheap’s domain registrar services, its hosting reviews are quite mixed.
Some users are very happy with low hosting prices, knowledgeable customer support, and a reasonable security package. At the same time, Namecheap’s performance is quite poor, which makes it undesirable to many.
Nevertheless, I decided to give it a shot. So I’ve purchased a plan and tested it. My commitment paid off eventually, and I was able to find out whether Namecheap is worth it.
Wanna see what I found out? Keep on reading. However, if you’re short on time, feel free to jump to the final verdict.
|Price:||Prices start at $1.58/mo|
|Hosting types:||Shared, WordPress, VPS, reseller, and dedicated|
|Server locations:||The US, the UK, and Amsterdam (EU)|
|Support:||24/7 live chat and ticketing system|
|Current deal:||Get Namecheap, now 59% OFF|
Pros and Cons of Namecheap
- Very affordable prices at $1.58
- Easy to use cPanel interface
- Free SSL and domain are included
- Reliable customer support
- Unreliable performance
- Lack of transparency in terms of security
Namecheap video review
Namecheap is one of the cheapest hosting providers out there. Its cheapest shared hosting plan comes for $1.58/month. If you’re specifically looking to run a WordPress website, the price is starting at $4.88/month. Other options include cheap VPS hosting, reseller, and dedicated server hosting.
|Type of hosting||Best for|
|Shared hosting ($1.58/mo)||If you're looking for ease of use. A great option for beginners. Get Namecheap, now 59% OFF|
|WordPress hosting ($2.07/mo)||Cheap web hosting option for WordPress websites.|
|VPS ($9.88/mo)||Medium businesses or online stores. A slightly more advanced option.|
|Reseller hosting ($17.88/mo)||A great choice for web developers or web design firms.|
|Dedicated hosting ($88.92/mo)||Big websites and online stores. Very advanced option, where the entire server is dedicated to you.|
It’s good to know that the provider has many options, where all of them are fairly cheaply priced.
However, shared hosting is what most often puts providers in demand. So I’m curious to know what Namecheap’s plans have to offer.
For shared hosting, Namecheap has 3 plans. All plans come with unmetered bandwidth, domain name and privacy protection, access to a free website builder, and a free SSL certificate.
Of course, all plans have plenty of differences, too, so let’s take a quick peek at their specifications.
- Stellar ($1.58/mo) – this plan can host 3 websites using 20GB SSD storage. You also get to create 30 mailboxes. For personal use, this plan is more than sufficient.
- Stellar Plus ($2.98/mo) – this plan allows you to connect an unlimited number of websites and email addresses using unlimited SSD storage. It also comes with automated backups. This plan suits a small business website just fine.
- Stellar Business ($4.98/mo) – this plan comes with unlimited websites and email accounts while storage is limited to 50GB. However, Cloud storage will be available together with automated backups. So, if you have a content-rich website, this plan should suit you.
I have to admit, for the price, these plans look great. Entry plan with 3 websites? That’s not what you would often see. Plus, no additional expenses are needed as the domain is included.
However, not all plans are of equal value.
If you’re looking to run a personal website or a blog, I’d suggest you go with Stellar. The Stellar plan allows you to connect 3 websites, so if you ever find yourself needing more than one, you’re sorted. And the resources like SSD storage or unlimited bandwidth are enough to support a couple of fully functional websites.
As for other plans, they are quite confusing. The Stellar Plus plan offers supposedly unlimited storage, while with Business, it drops to 50GB. So if you thought you’d outsmart Namecheap by picking Stellar Plus and overloading it with tons of data, you might be out of luck. Business 50GB shows us that Stellar Plus won’t have more than 50GB storage allowed on it.
Now, before you decide which plan you’d like to buy, let’s see how you can get the best price.
Pricing need to know
When it comes to price and offering initial promotional discounts, Namecheap is no different than the rest. You should know that you must opt for the longest billing period to take advantage of the lowest possible prices. This simply means that you will pay for the whole subscription in advance. However, it does save money in the long run.
I've purchased the Stellar plan, as it simply offers the best value with no hidden terms.
Stellar costs $1.58/month with a 2-year subscription. That’s $37.92 in total for the first term. The plan will renew at $3.88/mo or $93.12 in total.
Even though the initial payment is very nicely priced, the renewal is double that. But that's nothing unusual, in fact, that's one of the lowest rates I've seen.
Here are what the prices would look like if you chose a similar shared hosting plan with other providers:
|Provider||Plan||Billing period||Total initial||Total renewal|
Although all these plans are for longer billing periods, just know, all the providers allow you to host only one website. All of them apart from Namecheap. Meaning you won’t have to upgrade your plan if you find yourself needing more than one website at some point.
So apart from Hostinger, which has a little lower monthly prices, Namecheap is unbeatable. Especially when it comes to renewals.
The last thing you should know money-wise is that Namecheap has a 30-day money-back guarantee. All hosting providers have a refund policy, and Namecheap adopted the standard approach. However, if you ask for your money back, you’ll be refunded only for the hosting services. Some products, such as renewals of any services, are not eligible for a refund.
- Check out all available Namecheap promo codes to get the best deal!
The bottom line is that Namecheap lives up to its name and delivers cheap prices. Plus, the plans are very inclusive, which makes me wonder where the provider is economizing.
Hosting management – is Namecheap easy to use?
When talking about ease of use, Namecheap makes everything pretty straightforward. The provider is effortless to use as a domain registrar as well as a hosting service. It uses a very common mix of native account management panel and cPanel, which I’m sure you’re familiar with. Even if you’re not, cPanel is intuitive and functional. Getting the hang of it is not a challenging process.
After you create an account, you’ll come across this page:
The native Namecheap’s dashboard is pretty simple, and everything you need is easily accessible.
It mostly works as navigation to reach cPanel or your owned domain management tools. Also, this is where you contact support.
More interesting, however, is the actual hosting management. For that, we’ll need to open the control panel.
What does the Namecheap control panel look like?
Namecheap uses the typical cPanel. There are no tweaks, no flashy skins, no nothing. It’s basically a naked cPanel. However, it’s common knowledge that even without the flashy skins, cPanel is easy to use. Whether you’re an experienced user or a beginner, you need no Codex to decipher cPanel.
All the most needed settings can be easily found in the cPanel as it’s really well organized.
So, what will you be using cPanel for?
- WordPress installation. For all application installations, Namecheap uses the standard Softaculous app installer. You can find all Softaculous installations at the bottom of your cPanel under the Software category.
- Activating SSL. For that, Namecheap has its own tool, “Namecheap SSL,” which is located at the very top of the control panel. And to be honest, the tool is straightforward. However, it was broken when I was using it. I had to contact customer support to install the SSL for me.
- Setting up a professional email address. For that, you’ll need to find the Email category and use the Email Accounts module. Very straightforward process, but this email will only be good for sending a few messages. As the reputation is shared with the whole shared hosting server on which your site is hosted, you might be flagged as spam.
- Other standard web hosting management tasks such as database management, accessing file manager, creating subdomains, and so on.
So cPanel is very standard and straightforward. And there are very few issues with standard tools. However, Namecheap’s own SSL installer had some issues.
Additionally, you might make website development easier by using a website builder.
Namecheap website builder
What I found while writing this Namecheap review, is that no matter which type of hosting or which plan you purchase, the provider grants you access to a website builder. However, its templates are not the most modern. Also, the drag-and-drop editor is pretty restrictive. I said what I said.
When you first explore the templates, you’ll think you hit the motherlode. There are over 200 templates for all major niches.
Pretty neat, right? Wrong! All it takes is for you to give it a closer look. I swear to whatever deity you believe in; they all look like they were made when I was in primary school. And it’s been years.
The best way to describe them is, well… fossils.
Leaving the templates aside, I decided to play around with the editor. Not much success there either. The editor didn’t let me do that much, and it lacks that "je ne sais quoi" we all got to know and love about modern website builders. It’s not as smooth as you’d want it to be. I don’t have an exact definition of what’s missing, but if you try it out, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
But other than that, the website builder is pretty standard. It’s effortless to use, and you can customize your website by changing a few things, such as colors and fonts. You can add blocks and rearrange some other elements. I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse.
The bottom line is that you can’t complain too much when you get access to a free website builder. Sure, it could use some new templates, and the editor is somewhat rigid, but it’s okay overall. A bit too old-school but relatively functional and easy-to-use.
Overall, Namecheap is very easy to use. It wants to satisfy both veterans and newbies, and I have to say that it succeeds. With a clean dashboard and cPanel, this provider removed all challenges from every hosting-related process. The website builder is also simple and intuitive yet quite restrictive and old-fashioned.
Performance - is Namecheap fast?
Quite a few Namecheap reviews I’ve read have warned that this host’s performance is not its strong suit. To test that, I have put this provider through multiple performance-oriented tests to examine its reliability, speed, and how well the provider can handle the traffic. Sadly, it seems that the provider is unstable, uptime is not very reliable, speed is below average, and stress test well... it passed it.
Namecheap uptime and response time
I must admit, for this Namecheap hosting review, I did monitor it for a short time, close to two weeks. In that time, the site had 16 outages, which resulted in 31 minutes of downtime. This left Namecheap’s uptime at an all-time low of 99.82%.
I’d just like to point out that Namecheap has a 100% SLA uptime guarantee.
According to Namecheap’s terms of service, you receive one day of free hosting for each hour of downtime your website experiences. If everyone were to regularly get the results I got, I think it’s safe to say that the provider would have a large hole in its pocket.
Nonetheless, the results show that the provider is not reliable and should not be trusted for websites which success depends on availability. Oh wait, that's all websites!
As for response time, it averaged at 1.05 seconds. That is quite disappointing too. The shared hosting market average is around 600ms.
Next up I test the website’s loading speed.
My website is hosted in the US data center. Therefore, there’s no surprise that the best results are in the US. Here, the Largest Contentful Paint is 912ms. I won’t lie, I have definitely, seen better. However, it’s not the worst either.
Also, it’s very natural for LCP to increase the further you go from the origin server. The data has to travel longer distances, which naturally takes longer. So the results from other locations are not shocking and much expected.
Okay, but why does the LCP matter?
LCP is one of the measures Google takes into account when ranking websites on the search result page. And as long as the time is under 2.5s, your chances to rank higher are greater. Or, if not rank higher, at least you will not lose chances to rank at all. Simple, but good to know.
So when you take that into consideration, Namecheap is doing pretty okay. No gold medal, but still.
Namecheap operates its data centers in the US, EU (Amsterdam), and the UK only. So you can choose according to where your audience resides. However, if you’d like to host your website in the UK or EU, Namecheap applies an extra fee of $1/month.
Up to this point, I’ve been examining an empty website. Now it’s time to test a fully built website’s speed. This time around, the LCP is 2.3s, which is pretty borderline. A tight fit to squeeze into the suggested 2.5s for sure.
Now, with a fully built website, LCP isn’t the only measure you should be concerned with. You should also pay attention to the Fully Loaded Time, which in this case is 2.7 seconds. Simply put, it could be better. Site visitors don’t really feel the difference in loading time between 1 - 2.5 seconds. However, anything above 3 seconds adds to the bounce-off rates.
So while 2.7 seconds is not ideal for a fully loaded time, it’s not disastrous either. Believe it or not, I’ve seen worse.
It’s time for the last test. I wanted to see how well Namecheap handles a traffic increase to the site.
Namecheap stress testing
To begin with, I’ve sent 50 virtual visitors to my site. I must say, 50 visitors, is quite a big number. These visitors are on the website at the same time, sending numerous requests to it. This puts a lot of pressure on, which could possibly slow down the server or overwhelm it entirely.
And it looks like 50 visitors were just a tad bit too much for Namecheap to handle. Although the response time (blue line) was great, quite a lot of requests have failed. 440 of them, to be precise, as indicated by the bumpy red line.
Okay, 50 visitors didn’t work out, but I’m curious to know how many Namecheap can handle. So I decreased the number of visitors by five and ran the test again until I succeeded.
The first pass I got was with 30 visitors.
And I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not too bad. Not at all. 30 is still a relatively big number. If the site gets 30 visitors each minute for a month, that’s some decent traffic. Usually, that’s what you can expect from a popular local blog or small business website.
Although I must note, even though Namecheap did pass the test, there are still 83 requests that have failed. Also, the response time went slightly crazy at the end. All of that could mean that this is just about the maximum pressure the provider can handle.
All in all, Namecheap is pretty lacking when it comes to performance. The provider promised 100% uptime and then delivered only 99.82% is just as sad. If it promised 99.9%, I wouldn’t be this upset. It’s the arrogance that bothered me. Moreover, the loading speed and the maximum handled traffic on the site was nothing to be amazed over.
Security - is Namecheap secure?
Security is one of the most important factors to consider when looking for the best hosting provider. While preparing this Namecheap review, I found it to be quite secure yet a little basic. It did a pretty good job of including several security features in its plans - from free SSL certificates to firewalls and backups.
For a better understanding of Namecheap’s security features, I’ll break it down for you. Here’s what this provider offers:
- Free Positive SSL with one-click activation is available. In my case, the tool was stuck, and I had to contact support about it. But in the end, I came out with a working SSL, so no hard feelings here.
- WHOIS Domain Privacy Protection is free for all clients who are getting a domain name from NameCheap. It protects private information, prevents spam, identity theft, and unwanted solicitation.
- DDoS protection – basic DDoS protection through Supersonic CDN is free, but you have to turn it on yourself.
- Firewall – ModSecurity is the basic traffic filtering option that NameCheap offers. If you’d like more protection, an advanced Web Application Firewall is available through Supersonic CDN paid version.
- Automatic backups – the Stellar plan offers backups twice a week, but that is not guaranteed. Stellar Plus and Stellar Business come with daily automatic backups. For these plans, you’re given access to 6 daily, 3 weekly, and 11 monthly backups. It’s up to you which one you choose.
Namecheap covers website and server security on the basic level. That means you’re protected from the most common threats if you choose to enable these features. At the same time, websites that need more security should look into additional solutions.
Will Namecheap customer support help me?
There are two ways you can get in contact with Namecheap’s customer support. You can use the 24/7 live chat option or the ticketing system, There is no phone support or email, but there is an extensive knowledge base to get some quick help yourself.
My personal favorite is the live chat, which is why I tested it out for this Namecheap review. The “Chat with a Live Person” button can be found on every page. Usually, it doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes for someone to respond.
This time I had an issue with my SSL certificate, so I’ve contacted live chat to help me out.
I got connected to an agent in only a minute, which is great. Once connected, the replies were very fast too.
Even though at some point I was informed I might have to wait 10 minutes, the wait was no longer than a few minutes.
The agent was very helpful and jumped to solve the problem right away. He kept me informed on what the issue was and what he was doing to fix it.
And even though it didn’t work right away, the agent was patient and stayed with me until all was working just fine.
So my experience with customer support was very good. The agent was very kind and helpful, and the issue got resolved in very little time.
Alongside the live chat option, Namecheap has a very detailed knowledge base. There I found articles and guides on all topics of interest. Plus, there are step-by-step instructions, which come in handy if you’re a beginner.
If you need some help regarding marketing, affiliate marketing, SEO, etc., you can access Namecheap’s resource center. This, too, is full of helpful articles and guides on growing and improving your website.
Overall, I was satisfied with Namecheap’s customer support. When I tested the live chat option, the agent was prompt and helpful. My problem was fixed in no time. The knowledge base is extensive, and the resource center can be incredibly helpful if you’re a beginner. I have to say the customer support service is one of Namecheap’s best qualities.
Namecheap design features
For this review, I explored all of Namecheap's functionalities. Now I can confidently say, if you’re looking to create a brand, Namecheap can be of help with its two design-related features. I’m talking about a logo maker and a business card maker. Both of them can be found in Namecheap’s app market. The former is free while the latter is not.
The first one I’ve taken a look at was the logo maker.
I have to tell you right from the start that it doesn’t even begin to compare to what a professional logo designer can do.
You’re asked to give preferences on font style and color scheme. Then choose an icon and bam! You have a logo. The choices are very generic, but hey, it’s free after all. In fact, very few “logo makers” even allow you to download the files if you don’t pay a hefty price.
The business card maker, on the other hand, is not free. You’ll have to pay $18.88 for 100 business cards. It’s not expensive, but it won’t look as if they have been made by a professional designer either.
To create a business card, you have to do pretty much the same thing as when designing a logo. There are a few pre-designed templates, and you can play around with a few elements. The good news is that the shipping is free in 50 countries on all continents, so you have that going for you, which is nice. (I know you know that meme.)
The bottom line is that Namecheap’s design features are not something you can’t live without. However, I find them useful for webmasters who are trying to create a brand. Plus, if you don’t have the resources to pay a designer, or you’re just experimenting with some ideas, Namecheap kinda helps you out here.
Namecheap review – the final verdict
While exploring Namecheap for this review, my overall experience wasn’t that bad. The plan I bought was cheap, and I found everything easy to use. Namecheap tanked it with its performance, though. So I recommend it only if performance is not something you’re after.
Of course, I have nothing against Namecheap. None of this is personal. Here are the summed up final findings:
|Feature||Cheap and easy-to-use hosting|
|Pricing||The cheapest shared hosting plan costs you $1.58/month if you go for a 2-year subscription. The plans are pretty inclusive, considering the price you’re paying. However, renewal rates will double.|
|Ease of Use||Namecheap uses a basic version of cPanel. It doesn’t have custom skin, but it’s intuitive and functional. The web builder is also highly intuitive, but it can get quite restrictive.|
|Performance||Performance is where Namecheap fails miserably. The 99.82% uptime was way below the guaranteed 100%, and the average response time of 1.05s speaks for itself. The loading speed wasn’t too bad, but it left something to be desired. However, Namecheap handled relatively big traffic.|
|Security||It includes security features, like SSL certificates, DDoS protection, backups, and domain privacy in its plans, but they are on the more basic side. The backups are slightly questionable with the Stellar plan because the provider does not guarantee they'll be taken. Stellar Plus and Stellar Business do come with guaranteed auto-backups.|
|Support||The customer support was close to flawless. It only has a live chat and ticketing system, but they’re fast and efficient. The knowledge base is extensive, and the resource center can teach you pretty much anything about online presence.|
So who do I recommend Namecheap to?
I’d only recommend Namecheap for a small personal blog and definitely not one that you are planning to monetize. Also, it might be good for testing your skills in website creation. It’s cheap and easy for personal stuff, but performance is lagging behind. Better use it for cheap domains – that’s what the provider is really good at.
Alternatives to Namecheap
While Namecheap is cheap and easy, performance leaves much to be desired. To get a well-rounded service with good performance, I have some better alternatives.
If you're looking for a cheap yet performance-oriented provider, I suggest you give a look to Hostinger or just as powerful and more equipped HostGator.
Hostinger is a similarly cheap alternative to Namecheap. This provider’s prices start at $1.39/mo for its cheapest shared hosting plan.
Just like Namecheap, Hostinger offers a very similar package resource vise. However, Hostinger is much more performance-oriented. With this provider, you can expect only good performance. In exchange, you have to give up cPanel for Hostinger’s native account management panel. But it’s very pleasant to look at and easy to use, so it’s definitely not a loss.
HostGator is a slightly pricier alternative for Namecheap, with its prices starting at $2.75/mo for the cheapest shared hosting plan. Similar to Namecheap, HostGator uses a mix of a native account management panel and cPanel, so navigating with this provider is very easy.
HostGator’s performance is what really makes this provider highly competitive. It also has a very functional and quite flexible website builder included in all plans. Although its security measures leave some space for improvement.
Is Namecheap good?
Namecheap is a very good domain registrar but its hosting quality is lagging behind because of poor performance.
Where is Namecheap located?
Namecheap is a US-based company located in Phoenix, Arizona. It operates data centers in the US, EU, and the UK.
Is Namecheap safe?
Yes, Namecheap is safe. It has many security features included in its plans. Plus, you can always purchase more via the provider’s app market.
Does Namecheap offer free SSL certificates?
Yes, Namecheap offers free SSL certificates, but they’re entry-level. If you’re looking for something more advanced, you’re going to have to pay for it.
Does Namecheap use cPanel?
Yes, Namecheap uses cPanel for hosting management. It doesn’t have custom skin, but it’s intuitive and easy to use.
Who owns Namecheap?
Namecheap is owned by the founder and current CEO Richard Kirkendall.