Monday, October 11, 2021

Namecheap

Launched in 2000, Namecheap started its story as a domain registrar that dreamed to be the best of its kind. Having registered over 14 million domain names across the globe since then, we could safely say that Namecheap made its dream into reality. What is more, it has been adding a variety of services and upgrading its platform to include web hosting as well.

Namecheap’s head office is situated in Phoenix (Arizona, the USA) from where they monitor and maintain three data centers: one in their hometown, another one close to Nottingham (the UK), and the last one in Amsterdam (the Netherlands).

Blog

Namecheap's official blog is frequently updated with news about the company and other useful articles (Image credit: Namecheap)

Their official site employs a pleasant color scheme, intuitive page design, and a cute-as-a-cupcake (and seemingly pretty tech-savvy) hedgehog as their main mascot, all of which invokes a feeling of a user-friendly experience. Although the “About” section is high on visuals but low on information, you can find a lot more about Namecheap on the official blog, in the FAQ section, and the knowledgebase.

Namecheap’s official site is available in English only but you can shift between a few currencies including Euro, British Pound, Canadian Dollars, Australian Dollars, Indian Rupees, and China Yuan.

As for fans of social networking, you can follow Namecheap on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and (which is relatively rare) Pinterest. All of these accounts appear to be alive and kicking as of today.

Shared Hosting Pricing

Namecheap's shared hosting plans start off incredibly cheap though they do increase in price upon renewal (Image credit: Namecheap)

Plans and pricing

As the company's name suggests, Namecheap sells cheap (domain) names, but that’s not all. It also offers absurdly affordable shared hosting that starts at $1.58 per month (if you subscribe for a year), managed WordPress, reseller, VPS, and dedicated server solutions.

With most plans, you get to select your server location, but some of these are cheaper than others. For instance, the above-mentioned entry-level shared hosting plan called “Stellar“ costs 1.58 per month, but only if you select a US-based data center. If you go with the UK or (as of late) the European one, the price will rise to $2.44, and the same goes for each plan with which you can choose a data center location. We should also note that there is a considerable price spike with all plans after the promotional period has ended.  

Going for an annual or a biennial billing cycle will get you a free domain name registration, while a monthly one won’t. With “Stellar” you’ll also get support for up to three websites, 20GB of storage (SSD), unlimited bandwidth, free PositiveSSL for a year, free website migration, a free website builder, and a free CDN (content delivery network), currently in beta.

All plans (apart from dedicated server ones) come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you’ll have plenty of time to try out the services without spending a dime.  

As for payment methods, Namecheap accepts credit/debit cards (MasterCard, American Express, and Discover), PayPal, Bitcoin, and Bitcoin Cash.

cPanel

Namecheap allows you to manage your site using the industry-standard cPanel (Image credit: cPanel)

Ease of use

To kick things off with Namecheap, you’ll have to pick out a hosting plan and tap into “Get Started”. Fortunately, Namecheap’s plans are presented in full detail and in an easy-to-understand way, so opting for one of them won’t feel like buying a pig in the poke. Just keep in mind that the UK and EU data center locations will cost you an additional $1.00, and that going for a longer billing period can give you up to 45% off the total cost.

Now it’s time to deal with the domain name. If you want to register a new one it can cost you anything from zero to a couple of thousand dollars per year, depending on the name you want to use. A free domain feature apples for annual and biennial hosting plans and to specific TLDs only: .fun, .host, .online, .site, press, .store, .space, .pw, .tech, .website, .agency, .center, .digital, .live, and .studio. After this you can check out your cart and consider adding some add-ons, some of them cost-free but most at an additional cost.

Creating an account with Namecheap is both swift and simple. After filling a form with your information and making a payment, you can expect to see your account activated in a matter of seconds. While you’re biding your time, be sure to check out your email for a welcome message backed by a few how-tos aimed at novices.

Dashboard

You can manage the products in your account or add new ones from Namecheap's dashboard (Image credit: Namecheap)

Namecheap’s dashboard is as simple as they get but seems useful enough for monitoring and managing products you’ve purchased and adding new ones. From there you can enter your control panel, which should be an industry-leading cPanel with which you’ll easily install all the apps you want (thanks to Softaculous), check your SSL certificates, manage your backups, make use of the drag-and-drop website builder, get in touch with the support team, and more.

Site Builder

Namecheap's no-code website builder allows you to easily create a website thanks to the inclusion of over 200 templates (Image credit: Namecheap)

Namecheap's no-code site builder is loaded with basic yet beautiful templates (over 200 of them), and the user-friendly editor will enable you to fill your newly created site with images, videos, social media content, maps, calendars, countdowns, and much more.

Performance

We used GTmetrix to test the uptime and response time of Namecheap's main site (Image credit: GTmetrix)

Speed and experience

Although Namecheap doesn’t brag about having a blazing-fast speed, the results of the speed test we carried out on its official site show that it would have a good reason to do so. According to multiple tests done via GTmetrix, the site took just 2.5 seconds to completely load, and 62 requests at the same time, both of which are a case in point for a presentable performance. What is more, all other vital speed measuring metrics crowned the speed performance of Namecheap’s site with an impeccable A (100%).

In terms of uptime, Namecheap promises 100% of monthly uptime with all shared and dedicated server plans and 99.9% of it with reseller and VPS plans. For every hour of downtime exceeding these limits, users are entitled to one day of free hosting added to their service.

After monitoring the uptime of Namecheap’s official site for two weeks via UptimeRobot, we recorded a total of 11 minutes of downtime and few major spikes in response time. This isn’t something you should worry too much about, since the site was up 99.94% of the time.

Help Center

You can find how-to videos, guides and more in Namecheap's help center (Image credit: Namecheap)

Support

If you find yourself in need of a helping hand, go to Namecheap’s “Help Center '' for it will present you with a couple of choices. If you are someone who values self-sufficiency, your first destination should be the knowledgebase in which you’ll also find a variety of how-to video guides.

Knowledgebase

The knowledgebase is searchable and contains articles on common web hosting topics (Image credit: Namecheap)

The knowledgebase consists of hundreds of easy-to-follow guides neatly organized into 17 categories that cover everything from basic beginner-type questions to more expert-level issues. Most of these how-tos seem to be considerably detailed and supported by suitable screenshots.

Although phone support isn’t among the options, you can reach Namecheap's support team via live chat or ticket system, both of which are available 24/7. What is more, you won’t have to waste time by trying to find Namecheap's support manually, since both live chat and knowledgebase are linked directly from your cPanel.

The competition

Those who are looking for budget-friendly hosting services with an appealing range of features are likely to consider both Bluehost and Namecheap before taking their pick. Both offer data centers in the USA but Namecheap goes a step further offering them in the UK and Amsterdam as well. In addition to this, Namecheap also provides a free website migration for all, while Bluehost doesn’t. However, it evens the deal by adding a free SSL with its hosting packages.

Another excellent USA-based alternative to Namecheap is HostGator, a master of user-friendliness offering a whole variety of hosting options and features backed by a generous 45-day money-back guarantee. Although Namecheap’s plans come a bit cheaper, HostGator wins in terms of features, providing unlimited storage space, unmetered bandwidth, free domain registration, free SSL, and some free ads credit.

DreamHost is a great alternative to almost any web hosting provider, Namecheap included. While DreamHost can offer a wider range of hosting-related services than Namecheap, its support team seems to be asleep most of the time, leaving its users to fend for themselves. Namecheap’s support staff feels like a dream team in comparison.

Although Namecheap is significantly cheaper than SiteGround, if you want a top-of-the-class WordPress hosting package with automatic installation and all the updates, you’ll have to go with SiteGround. In addition to this, SiteGround offers more freebies such as SuperCacher, free CDN, and automatic daily backups with all of its plans.

Final verdict

While Namecheap looks cheap and cheerful at first sight, when post-promotional prices come to bite your budget and attach a price tag to its former freebies, you might be tempted to change your opinion. Nevertheless, Namecheap’s feature-full packages are still a superb solution for all those who want to launch a start-up or run a small to medium-sized business on a tight budget.

However, if you would rather place your trust (and your website) into the hands of equally budget-friendly but better-known hosts, both HostGator and Bluehost are a top pick.

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