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Namecheap are, as the name implies, very cheap. They’ve got a great feature set for the price but the price goes on a hike in your second year.
Uptime and response time are average relative to the other hosts we review (and there are a few other downsides, all of which have to be balanced against the introductory and renewal pricing).
Average uptime for all hosts in January 2018 (to date) is 99.80% while average response time for all web hosts in January 2018 (to date) is 1,254ms.
If you want web hosting for a borderline non-existent price (for one year), with, according to our internal testing, below average uptime and response time (both uptime and response time are still better than other – significantly more expensive! – web hosts), then Namecheap may be the option for you.
Namecheap is the cheapest web host we’ve reviewed. They charge just $9.88 for one year of web hosting (their value package), however it renews at $38.88 per year. The value package allows you to host up to 3 websites and comes with 20GB of SSD storage space.
A ‘step-up’ to their ‘professional’ package only works out $10 more expensive per year and comes with the advantage of an extra 30GB of SSD storage and the opportunity to host up to 10 websites (it renews at $78.88 per year). We decided to opt for the professional package.
However, it’s worth noting you can’t pay monthly for the professional package, you can only pay for a 12 month term (you can’t pay for 24 month or 36 month terms either, which makes it more difficult to lock in long-term savings than with other web hosts).
Even considering this, what Namecheap offers in the introductory period is remarkably cheap (and perhaps motivated by their desire to try and establish themselves as a hosting provider as well as a registrar).
Another great advantage to hosting with Namecheap is they offer 1 year of free domain privacy on new domain registrations (even if you don’t buy a hosting package). Standard .com registrations cost $10.69 and will renew for the same price (a number of hosts charge less to register a domain than they do to renew it ie iPage).
They don’t really offer a free domain with their hosting packages though, well unless you want to register a .website extension. On this basis you can factor in an additional cost of $10.69 on top of their hosting package unless you already own your own domain (or want to register with another registrar – Hostinger is the cheapest registrar for .com domains we’ve found so far, they only charge $8 per year however they also charge $5 per year for domain privacy.
Domain privacy is also remarkably cheap to renew – it only costs $2.88 per year.
Namecheap offers free website migrations, however there are some things to note:
Setup with Namecheap took slightly longer than most web hosts ie about 24 hours (we’re not sure why), however their nameservers were easy enough to find and they also offer 1-click WordPress installs in their admin panel.
There a number of usage restrictions (which is good – all web hosts restrict you, and while some claim to be ‘up front’ about their restrictions, very few are), and Namecheap is relatively transparent in detailing how far you can push your hosting package.
*It’s unlikely you’ll ever need to host this many files on your server, however it’s worth noting 1 email equals 1 inode, a WordPress installation takes up about 2,000 inodes and Namecheap won’t perform a weekly backup on any hosting package that exceeds 200,000 inodes.
Perhaps the most curious thing we’ve noticed about Namecheap’s landing page is that the first 3 hosting packages offer unmetered bandwidth but the most expensive package, the ‘Business SSD’ package ($19.88 per month), comes with a bandwidth restriction of 5,000GB.
Restrictions are increased dependent on which package you select:
It doesn’t stop there.
Namecheap also state in their ‘acceptable use policy’ that scripts are permitted to use no more than 25% of server resources for longer than 60 seconds, running web crawlers from the server is ‘strictly prohibited’ and running cron jobs with intervals of less than 15 minutes is also prohibited (however, this is better than some hosts which stipulate 30 minute intervals between cron jobs).
There are also restrictions on different filetypes in relation to storage. For example, no more than 10GB of storage can be assigned to MySQL databases or music, video or other multimedia files (this is a lot higher than some hosts who restrict database size to 1GB).
Namecheap only offers a 14 day cancellation period on shared hosting accounts (in contrast to most web hosts which offer at least 30 days – Hostgator offers 45 days, InMotion offers 90 days and Dreamhost offers 97 days).
There’s a major caveat though. Their terms also state that unless you state otherwise your refund will be credited to your Namecheap account. Credit card or PayPal purchases may be refundable to the source of payment.
Their refund policy also clearly states that Namecheap shared hosting packages may be refundable and whether or not they are is at the sole discretion of Namecheap.
Domain names may also be refundable if you cancel within 3 days of registration and you have a suitable reason for cancelling. Free domain name promotions purchased as part of a hosting package will be deducted at full cost from any refund processed for your hosting package
If you decide to cancel within 14 days and you’ve taken advantage of their free domain promotion as part of the ‘value’ package then you’ll have to pay the difference between the cost of the domain name and the hosting package or allow Namecheap to keep the domain name.
We quite like Namecheap’s 100% uptime guarantee (it does come with a number of caveats though). Unlike a number of hosts (InMotion in particular) their uptime guarantee applies to ALL shared hosting accounts, however they are very careful to define what specifically qualifies as ‘downtime’ eg a DDoS attack doesn’t qualify).
To summarise, only infrastructural or equipment failures qualify. Whether Namecheap fails to meet this guarantee is something which is determined solely by Namecheap (like most web hosts they don’t accept data from third-party monitoring tools).
If they do fail to meet the guarantee they’ll offer 1 day of free hosting for each hour of downtime (up to a maximum of one month of free hosting). In order to claim this credit you have to contact them within 10 days of experiencing downtime.
Namecheap maintains weekly backups however they point out these are for ‘server restoration’ purposes only, and you should maintain your own local backups. They don’t offer free daily automated backups however you can manually backup via cPanel.
Namecheap does provide access to CodeGuard for any extra $2.50 per month which entitles you to a daily backup for 1 website up to a maximum size of 5GB (and restore it if required).
Their terms of service state your hosting package will automatically renew and for the same term:
“The initial term of Your agreement with Namecheap shall be as set forth in Your Order Form. The Initial Term shall begin upon commencement of the Services in the Order Form. After the Initial Term, your agreement with Namecheap shall automatically renew for successive terms of equal length as the Initial Term, unless terminated or cancelled by either party as provided in this section.”
That seems pretty clear to us.
Except, when you login to your admin panel you see this:
Colour us confused. In all likelihood their hosting package don’t automatically renew, however we’ll get in touch with them – again – to clarify.
Namecheap offers a fairly standard cPanel installation – everything the average user would need is available.
It can be a bit tricky actually accessing their cPanel installation though; hosting isn’t a new service provision for Namecheap however they are predominantly thought of as a domain registrar and you’re certainly given that impression by their information architecture which is very domain-led.
Within cPanel they offer a handy resource usage table down the right-hand side of the page to keep you updated on existing resource usage and perhaps where you need to make adjustments.
There’s nothing we’d expect to be in there which isn’t in there.
Namecheap’s ticketing support is responsive; a number of hosting providers can take hours – if not days – to respond, however Namecheap got back to us within an hour (42 minutes).
This said, it can be a bit confusing to actually submit a ticket. Their support platform is on a different subdomain to their main web hosting control panel, and when you access it you have to login again to submit a ticket.
They also ask for a lot of irrelevant information before they allow you to submit your ticket (eg your domain name, your username and your hosting package; we’re not sure why this information isn’t automatically available to them after we authenticate).
We tested their live chat on 14th January 2018, and they responded to us within 2 minutes. We asked some fairly technical questions about ‘entry processes’ and ‘nprocs’ (number of processes) and they weren’t phased by the questions and had the answers we expected.
This experience contrasts with a lot of hosting providers; some of the time we’re compelled to endure a 20-25 minutes chat session simply to get answers to some basic questions, but Namecheap’s live chat representatives appear to be both knowledgeable and responsive.