Namecheap has been in business since 2000 when Richard Kirkendall founded it. In those nearly two decades of history, Namecheap has gained three million customers.
The biggest service offered by Namecheap is domain names, as the company controls seven million of these.
That may lead to you to believe that Namecheap just uses its strong brand name to sell web hosting, without necessarily offering an outstanding experience, but that is not the case.
We decided to sign up for web hosting with Namecheap to confirm that the company’s web hosting services are as good as its domain name services, and we were impressed.
In addition to our somewhat subjective experience, we gathered some notable figures, including uptime and page loading speed, to provide objective insights into the company’s web hosting services.
Advantages of Namecheap
Some of the stand-out features of Namecheap include a free domain name, backups, and speed.
1. Free Domain Name
Given that Namecheap specializes in offering domain names, it should come as no surprise that you get a domain name for free when you sign up with this web host.
While this may only seem fair, keep in mind that most hosts only offer a year of a free domain, if that.
To make their service even more appealing, Namecheap will also assist you with migrating your domain from somewhere else.
2. Reasonable Load Times
Loading speed is among the most critical factors you should consider when choosing a web host, along with uptime. This is because speed is directly related to the happiness of website visitors, as well as their likelihood of staying on your page and becoming a conversion.
In our 24 months of testing and recording figures, we found the average load speed was 687 ms. This is much better than the industry standard, although some companies offer even faster page loading times.
The following figures you give some context for the page loading speed, by showing you the monthly averages for 12 months during our testing:
- February 2019 – 709 ms
- March 2019 – 594 ms
- April 2019 – 610 ms
- May 2019 – 535 ms
- June 2019 – 562 ms
- July 2019 – 548 ms
- August 2019 – 489 ms
- September 2019 – 457 ms
- October 2019 – 467 ms
- November 2019 – 515 ms
- December 2019 – 517 ms
- January 2020 – 529 ms
3. Great Value From the Plans
When you look at the pricing of Namecheap plans, as well as what is included, you will be impressed. As a rule of thumb, we typically sign up for the most affordable hosting plan when reviewing a web host.
This helps provide a good point of comparison since most competitors have similar base-level plans. By comparing only base plans, we are also better able to spot outliers, whether good or bad.
Our testing of Namecheap was one of those situations where this method of relying on the base plan showed us a web host that is well ahead of the curve.
You get the expected features, including access to WordPress and other applications and the use of cPanel. You also get unmetered bandwidth, which is becoming more popular among competitors but still not universal.
Moving on from there, Namecheap gives you a year with a free SSL certificate, which is about the standard for the industry, with some competitors not offering any SSL certificate for free and others providing it for the duration of your plan.
Now we go onto the stand-out features. Namecheap’s most basic plan comes with backups two times a week. Most competitors charge for backups, especially on the entry-level plan.
To take that a step further, you get an impressive 50 MySQL databases. This is significantly more than you will get from most competitors on the entry-level plan, with just one or two being a standard offering.
Yet another stand-out feature is the ability to set up three different websites with a single plan, compared to the one that you can do with most competitors. For those who have a personal and a business site, or even several of each, this is an excellent value.
To add to it, you get as many as 50 email addresses right away.
For those not keeping track, this means that the basic plan from Namecheap includes unmetered bandwidth, cPanel access, app access, a year of free SSL certificate, a free domain name, twice-weekly backups, 50 MySQL databases, three websites, and 50 email addresses. The second half of this list, in particular, really sets the web host apart.
4. Money-back Guarantee
Like many of its competitors, Namecheap gives you peace of mind when you sign up for your service with a 30-day money-back guarantee. This gives you an entire month to confirm whether or not you like the services from Namecheap.
5. Strong Reviews
In addition to conducting our testing and evaluation, we usually make it a point to look at the reviews from others, including real clients. This helps us confirm that our experience was not unusual, and a host is as good (or mediocre) as we found it to be.
In the case of Namecheap, we found solid reviews. This includes a focus on the reviews related to web hosting services instead of domain name services, as the latter is very prevalent as well.
We found that on most websites with thousands or even more than a million reviews from past and current clients, Namecheap tends to reliably get ratings between 4 and 5, averaging above 4.5.
Disadvantages of Namecheap
We loved the speed, all-inclusive plans with features you would expect to pay extra for elsewhere, strong reviews, and money-back guarantees from Namecheap.
However, no web host is without its disadvantages, and Namecheap is no exception to this rule. Unfortunately for Namecheap, we prioritize speed, uptime, and support when recommending a host. While Namecheap did great on the first of these, the same is not true of the other two, both of which are among the disadvantages we found for this web host.
1. Less than Stellar Uptime of 99.87%
If you are unfamiliar with web hosting and uptime, then the figure 99.87% may seem impressive at a glance. After all, it is almost 100%. But this is one of the worst statistics you will find for web hosts.
As a benchmark or point of comparison, consider that the industry average is 99.93%. When put into that perspective, 99.87% uptime is downright disappointing.
We were initially excited about the uptime on Namecheap since we started with a strong 100%. From there, it only dropped. A low point was August 2018, with just 99.80% uptime. To put it into even better perspective, that is more than a full hour of downtime in August.
It did go back up in later months, but we got the feeling of inconsistency in uptime. Any downtime immediately translates into lost sales, which is why this is one of our most important factors.
To help you make a more informed decision, here are the average uptime figures for 12 months during our review:
- February 2019 – 99.97%
- March 2019 – 99.87%
- April 2019 – 99.96%
- May 2019 – 99.77%
- June 2019 – 99.99%
- July 2019 – 99.82%
- August 2019 – 99.97%
- September 2019 – 99.97%
- October 2019 – 99.97%
- November 2019 – 99.96%
- December 2019 – 99.96%
- January 2020 – 100%
2. Customer Support With Plenty of Room for Improvement
As mentioned, the third factor, other than speed and uptime, that we place considerable importance on when evaluating web hosts is customer support.
At first, Namecheap seemed to be promising in this respect, thanks to its substantial frequently asked questions section. You will find detailed answers here, and they cover all of the most common questions that you are likely to have.
The problem occurs, however, when you talk to live chat. In our experience, they simply provided the same information that we had already found in the FAQ, with a delay.
Part of that delay comes from the initial rep, who we connected with nearly instantly, transferring us to someone from the “Concierge” department. Having a concierge department could have shown promise by indicating a higher level of care, but that was not our experience.
Overall, we were not happy with waiting 10 minutes and talking to two representatives to get an answer that we already had.
The fact that we did not get any new information gave us very minimal confidence in support. While this would be fine in most situations, it leaves us to wonder what would happen if something went wrong with our website. For example, what if a site goes down and customer support leads you in circles before you can get it back up? You could lose hours of uptime, costing you customers and sales.
3. Price Increase in the Second Year
If you have looked at other web host reviews, you are probably already familiar with the industry practice of offering a low introductory rate and increasing it at renewal.
Namecheap is no exception to this practice, but a positive of this disadvantage is that the host does it to a lesser extent. Most companies will add a reasonable $5 or so to the plans upon renewal, sometimes quadrupling the price.
By contrast, the price for Namecheap only doubles in the second year. Given that the basic plan starts at $1.44, this is much more reasonable. Even so, it is something to be aware of.
The other element to know is that if you upgrade or downgrade your plan after signing up, you will have to pay the full price for renewal.
Namecheap Hosting Plans and Pricing
There are three hosting plans to choose from with Namecheap. For your convenience, we organized some critical points into the following chart:
|Stellar Plan||Stellar Plus Plan||Stellar Business Plan|
|$1.44 per month for first year $2.88 per month after||$2.44 per month for first year $4.88 per month after||$4.44 per month for first year $8.88 per month after|
|3 websites 20 GB SSD||Unlimited websites Unmetered SSDAutoBackup||Unlimited websites50 GB SSDAutoBackupCloud storage|
Stellar Plan: The Stellar Plan, which is the most basic option, costs just $1.44 per month for your first year. It includes up to three websites and unmetered bandwidth, along with 20 GB SSD of disk space. Remember that you also get a free domain name, domain name migration, a free SSL certificate in your first year, twice-weekly backups, 50 email addresses, and 50 MySQL databases.
Stellar Plus Plan: This plan builds on the Stellar plan, increasing your disk space to unmetered. This will cost you $2.44 per month.
Stellar Business: Interestingly, the more expensive Stellar Business plan brings the disk space down from unmetered, leaving it at a still respectable 50 GB SSD. This should be enough to handle your unlimited websites. This plan costs you $4.44 per month initially.
Some Takeaway Points
To help summarize the information we already covered in the review and cover a few other things worth mentioning, consider the following points.
- A free domain for a year
- Easy to sign up
- Quick account activation
- Some upsells during your purchase
- Uses the industry-standard cPanel
- Payments in credit cards, Dwolla, PayPal, or Bitcoin
- Unmetered disk space only applies to website-related storage
- One-click installation for popular customer management software and applications, including Joomla and WordPress
- Promotional prices of 50% off only apply for the first year and to new hosting purchases
While Namecheap certainly has some strong points, we are hesitant to recommend it. You will likely be fine if you choose to use this web host, but most people will find themselves happier with others.
We started our review on a positive note, thanks to the strong reviews from current customers, the low price of the most basic plan, and the features included in that plan.
We are not a fan of the price jump upon renewal, although we acknowledge that it is less than with most competitors, at least for the entry-level plan. Our main issues were with the poor uptime and less than useful customer support.
Based on our experience reviewing web hosts, we know that there are options with better customer service and uptime that do not sacrifice the low price, loading speeds, or other features. Of course, any web host will have some disadvantages, so be sure to explore our other reviews before selecting one.