Tag Archives: siteground

Review Signal’s Best Web Hosting Companies in 2016

2016 Year in Review

I like to take this opportunity to look back at the year and see how Review Signal has changed. This past year we added ~36,000 new reviews. Added one new company: WebFaction. 49.6% of reviews were positive overall. 52.1% of unique reviews were positive. What is interesting about the difference is that people with negative things to say were more likely to send multiple negative messages, but as a whole more individual people said positive things than negative.

This year was also full of interesting articles that took advantage of our unique position in the web hosting review space. The WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2016) was the biggest hit as usual. It grew massively in size/scope and tested companies across multiple price tiers up to Enterprise WordPress Hosting.

I also wrote about the Dirty, Slimy Secrets of the Web Hosting Review Underworld. I also tracked some major changes with The Rise and Fall of A Small Orange and The Sinking of Site 5 which tracked Endurance International Group acquisitions and how their ratings fell post-acquisition. A Small Orange's fall from grace even caused the first ranking algorithm update on Review Signal's history.

Best Shared Hosting 2016 – SiteGround [Reviews] (74.2%)

Best Specialty Hosting 2016 – FlyWheel [Reviews] (83.7%)

Best Managed VPS Hosting 2016 – KnownHost [Reviews] (80.9%)

Best Unmanaged VPS Hosting 2016 – Digital Ocean [Reviews] (71.3%)

Best Support 2016 – SiteGround [Reviews]  (80.81%). KnownHost [Reviews], LiquidWeb [Reviews], WiredTree [Reviews] all tied for second at 80% (WiredTree was acquired by LiquidWeb in 2016).

A big congratulations goes out to all of this years winners.

SiteGround WordPress Hosting Review (2016)

SiteGround participated for the fourth year in a row in WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks. They had four plans entered into the following ranges: <$25/month, $25-50/m, $51-100/month, and $201-500/m.

SiteGound is one of the largest and most popular companies in the web hosting space. They are big sponsors of WordPress as well. They've gone strongly after the WordPress market by building some very high performance tools to allow their normal shared hosting customers get high end WordPress performance from their plans with a custom module called SuperCacher. Last year they earned the honorable mention for a pretty good performance, but just outside of the top tier.

SiteGround also has the honor of being the highest rated shared hosting company on Review Signal with 72% positive rating, which is 14% higher than the next highest rated shared hosting company and based on over 3,600 reviews.

Products

Plan Monthly Price Visitors Allowed Disk Space Bandwidth Sites Allowed
SiteGround <25 GrowBig $14.95 25,000 20GB Unlimited One Main Site
SiteGround 25-50 GoGeek $29.95 Unlimited 30GB Unlimited One Main Site
SiteGround 51-100 Business Cloud Hosting $80 Unlimited 40GB 5TB Unlimited
SiteGround 201-500 Enterprise Dedicated Server $429 Unlimited 4 x 500GB 5TB Unlimited


View Full Product Details

Performance Review

LoadStorm Results

Company /Price Bracket Total Requests Total Errors Peak RPS Average RPS Peak Response Time(ms) Average Response Time(ms) Total Data Transferred (GB) Peak Throughput (MB/s) Average Throughput (MB/s)
SiteGround <$25 301722 1 230.45 167.62 9374 447 15.9 13.76 8.833
SiteGround $25-50 300999 0 232.75 167.22 10926 462 15.83 14.35 8.972
SiteGround $51-100 449038 742 352.05 249.47 11247 383 22.93 19.26 12.74
SiteGround $201-500 640337 48537 507.98 355.74 15564 1549 30.64 24.25 17.02

SiteGround's two shared hosting plans (<25, 25-50) did fantastic with only 1 error between the two of them. The cloud (51-100) did excellent as well with minimal errors. Unfortunately, the dedicated server didn't fare as well, ultimately struggling with the enormous LoadStorm test which sent 5000 users at it. Please note each pricing tier after the $25-50/month had an increased number of users sent at it, which is why you see more requests for the $51-100 and $201-500 brackets.

The first three plans were in the top tier performance wise, only the dedicated ($201-500) server didn't make it.

Blitz Results

Company Hits Errors Timeouts Average Hits/Second Average Response Time Fastest Response Slowest Response
SiteGround <25 26055 1 21 434 100 72 346
SiteGround 25-50 26623 1 26 444 86 71 255
SiteGround 51-100 83437 0 0 1391 58 58 60
SiteGround 201-500 82396 1 0 1373 71 71 72

The Blitz test is designed to make sure that static assets (which should be served from cache) are being handled properly and can scale to very heavy big spikes in traffic. The first thing I need to note is that I accidentally sent 1000 more users than I should have against the SiteGround cloud (51-100) plan and it performed flawlessly with zero errors and a 2ms response time spread which was only beaten by the dedicated server's incredible 1ms spread. The shared plans had little latency spikes, but considering the shared nature of these plans, they still delivered every request very quickly and had minimal error/timeouts. Every plan performed in the top tier here.

Uptime

Company StatusCake UptimeRobot
SiteGround <25 99.97 99.98
SiteGround 25-50 99.99 100
SiteGround 51-100 100 100
SiteGround 201-500 100 99.99

Nothing to see here, SiteGround had near or actually perfect uptime ratings. 99.97%+ on every plan including three out four registering 100% on at least one monitor.

WebPageTest / WPPerformanceTester

I mention these because they are in the full testing but I won't bother putting them here. No company had any significant issue with either and it's not worth writing about. If you're very interested in seeing the geographical response times on WPT or what the raw computing power test of WPPerformanceTester measured, read the full results.

Conclusion

SiteGround earned an honorable mention last year. This year they stepped up big and earned three Top Tier WordPress Hosting Performance awards in the $<25/month, $25-50/month and $51-100/month tiers. The dedicated server struggled with an absolutely enormous 5000 logged in user LoadStorm test, but that may be the hardest test based on the fact only 2/8 companies earned top tier honors and 1 honorable mention, the fewest of any price bracket.

Combined with their outstanding customer reviews which has them at the top of the shared hosting category, SiteGround is an excellent choice for WordPress hosting both in performance and customer satisfaction.

Web Hosting

$201-500/Month WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2016)

LoadStormLogo

Sponsored by LoadStorm. The easy and cost effective load testing tool for web and mobile applications.

The full company list, product list, methodology, and notes can be found here

This post focuses only on the results of the testing in the $201-500/month price bracket for WordPress Hosting.

$201-500/Month WordPress Hosting Products

review_signal_table_500

$201-500/Month WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks Results

1. Load Storm

Test 500-5000 Concurrent Users over 30 Minutes, 10 Minutes at Peak

Company Total Requests Total Errors Peak RPS Average RPS Peak Response Time(ms) Average Response Time(ms) Total Data Transferred (GB) Peak Throughput (MB/s) Average Throughput (MB/s)
Kinsta 671665 47 528.38 373.15 9991 285 38.68 31.73 21.49
MediaTemple 775277 34144 616.05 430.71 15334 761 39.71 33.5 22.06
Pagely 553754 133181 456.03 307.64 16132 3333 19.32 13.94 10.73
Pantheon 629578 49212 510.78 349.77 15091 1353 33.88 28.9 18.82
Pressable 896616 12256 740.88 498.12 6362 450 37.87 33.8 21.04
Pressidium 697020 0 547.88 387.23 4894 266 38.16 31.05 21.2
PressLabs 692581 21180 547.72 384.77 15493 2109 23.02 18.45 12.79
SiteGround 640337 48537 507.98 355.74 15564 1549 30.64 24.25 17.02

Discussion of Load Storm Test Results

Kinsta and Pressidium were clearly the two best performers in this test.

Pressable had some minor issues that looked like they may have been security related to wp-login.

MediaTemple [Reviews] had a spike of errors at the very end and some minor errors throughout the test that might have been security related since they didn't impact response times at all.

PressLabs had some spikes and wp-login related problems but the server started to slow down its response times as the test progressed.

Pantheon [Reviews] had similar issues to PressLabs with slowing down and the largest chunk being wp-login related.

SiteGround [Reviews] started to have trouble around 12 minutes in and saw spikes, also mostly related to wp-login/admin. They also had increased and unstable response times associated with the spikes.

Pagely [Reviews] struggled the most with this test with spikes and increased response times. wp-login again was the worst offender.

What is amazing is none of these companies completely failed with 5000 real users logging in and bursting caches.

2. Blitz.io

Test 1-3000 Concurrent Users over 60 seconds

Blitz Test Quick Results Table

Company Hits Errors Timeouts Average Hits/Second Average Response Time Fastest Response Slowest Response
Kinsta 81386 3 0 1356 84 84 86
MediaTemple 44310 33581 450 739 249 189 676
Pagely 79095 1554 1153 1318 23 2 195
Pantheon 83211 2 0 1387 61 61 68
Pressable 77850 11 1 1298 132 131 135
Pressidium 85439 11 14 1424 31 25 82
PressLabs 87432 0 0 1457 8 3 13
SiteGround 82396 1 0 1373 71 71 72

Discussion of Blitz Test 1 Results

This test is just testing whether the company is caching the front page and how well whatever caching system they have setup is performing (generally this hits something like Varnish or Nginx).

Who performed without any major issues?

Kinsta, Pantheon, Pressable, Pressidium, PressLabs, and SiteGround [Reviews] all had close to no errors (and exactly none in PressLabs's case).

Who had some minor issues?

Pagely [Reviews] had a couple spikes which increased response times and errors.

Who had some major issues?

MediaTemple [Reviews] had an early spike and a big spike later. The big spike later looks like it may have partially been a security measure. But it did eventually increase response times as well.

3. Uptime Monitoring

Both uptime monitoring solutions were third party providers that offer free services. UptimeRobot was paid for and monitoring on a 1 minute interval. All the companies were monitored over approximately two months (May-June 2016).

Uptime Robot & StatusCake

Company StatusCake UptimeRobot
Kinsta 99.98 100
MediaTemple 99.96 99.97
Pagely 99.95 99.95
Pantheon 99.98 99.98
Pressable 99.88 99.9
Pressidium 99.95 99.99
PressLabs 99.99 99.98
SiteGround 100 99.99

I hate having to penalize a company for uptime, but Pressable recorded 99.88 and 99.90 uptime scores which is below the 99.9% I expect from every company.

Every other company did well.

4. WebPageTest.org

Every test was run with the settings: Chrome Browser, 9 Runs, native connection (no traffic shaping), first view only.

Company WPT Dulles WPT Denver WPT LA WPT London WPT Frankfurt WPT South Africa
Kinsta 0.77 0.545 0.947 1.151 1.707 4.466
MediaTemple 1.064 0.608 0.901 1.341 1.925 6.576
Pagely 0.658 0.651 0.947 1.144 1.691 3.868
Pantheon 0.762 0.623 1.054 1.104 1.672 4.493
Pressable 0.973 0.781 1.084 1.514 1.967 7.708
Pressidium 0.687 0.641 1.181 1.17 1.68 4.516
PressLabs 0.762 0.754 1.082 1.148 1.624 5.357
SiteGround 0.801 0.725 1.25 1.214 1.757 4.514
Company WPT Singapore WPT Shanghai WPT Japan WPT Sydney WPT Brazil
Kinsta 2.165 22.777 2.114 1.785 1.848
MediaTemple 2.164 22.061 1.811 2.071 2.118
Pagely 2.215 22.811 1.798 2.193 1.794
Pantheon 2.166 22.427 1.797 1.769 1.872
Pressable 2.426 22.233 2.124 2.945 2.135
Pressidium 2.105 22.355 2.038 1.672 1.745
PressLabs 1.643 22.048 1.581 2.358 2.092
SiteGround 2.496 22.431 2.051 3.27 2.034

Fast. Not much to really say about these results. Nobody had issues, nothing was particularly interesting here other than nobody can get into China at any price level.

5. WPPerformanceTester

Company PHP Bench [Seconds] (lower=faster) WP Bench [Queries Per Second](higher=faster)
Kinsta 11.297 321.34
MediaTemple 12.331 107.49
Pagely 9.841 194.36
Pantheon 13.836 184.81
Pressable 11.016 384.32
Pressidium 11.902 304.79
PressLabs 8.055 841.04
SiteGround 17.082 738

Not sure why SiteGround's PHP bench was so slow. The average WP Bench scores are also lower than every previous tier with PressLabs leading the way at 841. These more expensive solutions are generally trending towards cloud/clustered solutions which have slower database throughput in exchange for scale.

Conclusion

The high end WordPress hosting market is growing and has a lot of good options. No company in this tier completely faltered during the load tests despite a huge strain being put on them  of 3000 concurrent hits to the frontpage and 5000 logged in users browsing the site.

Top Tier WordPress Hosting Performance

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Kinsta and Pressidium clearly led the pack in terms of performance. They were the only two companies that handled LoadStorm without issue. They also didn't have any other issues across the other tests.

Honorable Mentions

PressLabs earned itself an honorable mention. It had some issues with the LoadStorm test but it managed to stay up and did well on all the other tests.

Individual Host Analysis

Kinsta

Overall, a splendid performance that earned them top tier WordPress hosting in the $201-500/month range. No faults in their performance at any point.

MediaTemple [Reviews]

It's nice to see Media Temple playing with the big boys and doing a respectable job. They had a little bit of trouble with the LoadStorm test and some possibly security related issues during the Blitz test which kept them out. But they weren't out of place in this bracket and were by far the cheapest at $240/month.

Pagely [Reviews]

Pagely had some minor problems with the Blitz test but the LoadStorm test really seemed to be the big problem. The 5000 users seemed to clearly tax the server too much. Pagely reviewed the results and issued a full explanation. Their tl;dr was "Wrong plan/instance size for this test.
We price the value of our human Support and DevOps resources into the plan cost, which puts the ideal Pagely plan for this test outside the $500 cap. If the customer does not utilize the full range of services we provide they are essentially overpaying for AWS instances that in this case were undersized and not tuned for the test. "

Pantheon  [Reviews]

Pantheon did well everywhere but LoadStorm which was a common theme for this bracket. They didn't fail, but they certainly were being taxed with increased load times and error rates.

Pressable

Pressable could have earned an honorable mention if it wasn't for some uptime issues. They found themselves just below my 99.% expectation. They handled Blitz without issue and LoadStorm looked pretty good except wp-login had some what I imagine was security related issues.

Pressidium

I'm running out of positive adjectives to say how well Pressidium has done this year. A perfect LoadStorm test with zero errors, the lowest peak response time and lowest average response time. Followed up by a near perfect Blitz test. Top tier for sure.

PressLabs

PressLabs was the only company to earn an honorable mention. They had a bit of issues in the LoadStorm related to wp-login of course, but other than that put on an excellent performance.

SiteGround [Reviews]

In an odd twist of fate, I accidentally ran the same Blitz test on their lower priced cloud platform and it did better than the dedicated server. The shared infrastructure can often have far more powerful hardware backing it than dedicated machines and that's one of the interesting results. For large bursts, it may work better. Overall, this plan did pretty well, but LoadStorm clearly overloaded the server a bit too much to earn any special recognition.

$51-100/Month WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2016)

LoadStormLogo

Sponsored by LoadStorm. The easy and cost effective load testing tool for web and mobile applications.

The full company list, product list, methodology, and notes can be found here

This post focuses only on the results of the testing in the $51-100/month price bracket for WordPress Hosting.

$51-100/Month WordPress Hosting Products

review_signal_table_100_updated

 

$51-100/Month WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks Results

1. Load Storm

Test 500-3000 Concurrent Users over 30 Minutes, 10 Minutes at Peak

Company Total Requests Total Errors Peak RPS Average RPS Peak Response Time(ms) Average Response Time(ms) Total Data Transferred (GB) Peak Throughput (MB/s) Average Throughput (MB/s)
BlueHost 322139 166336 267.9 178.97 20999 9268 9.425 7.086 5.236
CloudWays Amazon 306701 73421 214.07 170.39 15256 4810 13.9 10.05 7.723
CloudWays Google 267495 128912 199.23 148.61 15392 7341 8.35 6.595 4.639
Kinsta 416335 544 324.57 231.3 15059 317 24.01 19.91 13.34
LightningBase 456430 0 356.3 253.57 3909 261 23.65 19.41 13.14
LiquidWeb 520072 2745 408.3 288.93 15322 525 24.04 19.69 13.35
Media Temple 486702 8588 397.55 270.39 16001 582 25.43 23.08 14.13
Pagely 392898 1952 298.8 218.28 15178 1593 21.38 16.85 11.88
Pantheon 409962 57051 325.53 227.76 11682 762 20.74 17.97 11.52
Pressable 569095 0 441.43 316.16 3152 239 24.35 20.19 13.53
Pressidium 429538 0 335.78 238.63 3030 306 16.11 13.26 8.951
SiteGround 449038 742 352.05 249.47 11247 383 22.93 19.26 12.74

Discussion of Load Storm Test Results

KinstaLightningBaseLiquidWeb [Reviews], Pressable, Pressidium and SiteGround [Reviews] all handled this test without any serious issues.

MediaTemple [Reviews] had some minor issues with spikes and increasing average response times.

Pagely [Reviews] had some spikes but more concerning was the increased response times which were averaging around 3000ms during the 10 minute peak of the test. It kept the website up and error rate low enough (0.5%), but it was definitely struggling to keep up.

BlueHost [Reviews], CloudWays [Reviews] (Amazon + Google) and Pantheon [Reviews] all struggled with this load test. BlueHost crashed (85% error rate). CloudWays Google had 48% errors. Amazon fared better with only 24%. Pantheon had the lowest error rate at 14% but all of them were unacceptably high along with increase response times.

2. Blitz.io

Test 1-2000 Concurrent Users over 60 seconds

Blitz Test Quick Results Table

Company Hits Errors Timeouts Average Hits/Second Average Response Time Fastest Response Slowest Response
BlueHost 28901 714 2710 482 654 185 1562
CloudWays Amazon 55678 906 0 928 24 3 106
CloudWays Google 38278 16248 158 638 102 83 226
Kinsta 54273 7 0 905 84 83 86
LightningBase 54946 0 0 916 71 71 73
LiquidWeb 54574 0 4 910 78 77 82
Media Temple 44598 442 85 743 261 195 614
Pagely 57828 1 0 964 13 2 81
Pantheon 55499 0 0 925 61 60 64
Pressable 51781 0 0 863 135 134 136
Pressidium 57348 1 0 956 27 25 30
SiteGround 83437 0 0 1391 58 58 60

Discussion of Blitz Test 1 Results

This test is just testing whether the company is caching the front page and how well whatever caching system they have setup is performing (generally this hits something like Varnish or Nginx).

I also mistakenly ran an extra thousand users against SiteGround (1-3000), but since they performed perfectly, I figured why not just leave it. The chance for random network timeouts is always there, they got a perfect score, I let them keep it. That's why their numbers look higher than everyone else's.

Who performed without any major issues?

KinstaLightningBaseLiquidWeb [Reviews], Pagely [Reviews], PantheonPressable, Pressidium and SiteGround [Reviews] all handled this test without any serious issues.

Who had some minor issues?

MediaTemple [Reviews] had some minor issues with load starting to impact response times and some errors/timeouts at the end of the test.

CloudWays (Amazon) managed to keep the server up but started to lag around 35 seconds in with some errors at the very end.

Who had some major issues?

BlueHost [Reviews] and CloudWays (Google) both failed this test.

3. Uptime Monitoring

Both uptime monitoring solutions were third party providers that offer free services. UptimeRobot was paid for and monitoring on a 1 minute interval. All the companies were monitored over approximately two months (May-June 2016).

Uptime Robot & StatusCake

Company StatusCake UptimeRobot
BlueHost 99.98 99.98
CloudWays Amazon 100 100
CloudWays Google 99.99 99.99
Kinsta 99.99 100
LightningBase 100 100
LiquidWeb 100 100
Media Temple 99.94 99.97
Pagely 100 100
Pantheon 100 100
Pressable 99.93 99.95
Pressidium 100 99.99
SiteGround 100 100

I can happily say every single company kept their servers up.

4. WebPageTest.org

Every test was run with the settings: Chrome Browser, 9 Runs, native connection (no traffic shaping), first view only.

Company WPT Dulles WPT Denver WPT LA WPT London WPT Frankfurt WPT South Africa
BlueHost 0.94 0.813 0.995 1.525 1.861 5.923
CloudWays Amazon 0.774 0.975 1.066 0.988 1.625 3.597
CloudWays Google 0.706 0.644 0.929 1.107 1.706 3.37
Kinsta 0.834 0.62 0.958 1.12 1.688 3.637
LightningBase 0.542 0.465 0.955 1.013 1.569 4.541
LiquidWeb 0.616 0.55 1.003 1.076 1.624 5.634
Media Temple 0.904 0.537 0.855 1.318 1.932 2.809
Pagely 0.808 0.542 1.04 1.137 1.675 5.583
Pantheon 0.856 0.508 0.955 1.051 1.704 5.628
Pressable 1.032 0.757 1.08 1.449 1.948 5.793
Pressidium 0.738 0.727 1.171 1.292 1.67 5.747
SiteGround 0.867 0.678 1.114 1.176 1.671 4.56
Company WPT Singapore WPT Shanghai WPT Japan WPT Sydney WPT Brazil
BlueHost 2.652 22.102 1.863 1.937 2.255
CloudWays Amazon 2.236 23.404 1.781 1.75 1.752
CloudWays Google 2.031 22.418 2.026 1.609 1.793
Kinsta 2.235 24.017 2.109 1.602 1.851
LightningBase 2.227 22.437 1.683 1.968 1.612
LiquidWeb 2.335 23.238 1.885 1.96 1.635
Media Temple 2.19 22.265 1.814 2.101 2.091
Pagely 2.415 23.124 1.914 2.103 1.943
Pantheon 2.093 25.209 1.781 1.975 1.804
Pressable 2.382 23.897 2.234 2.821 2.132
Pressidium 2.245 23.303 2.061 1.785 1.747
SiteGround 2.309 22.746 2.017 2.935 1.907

LightningBase put up the fastest individual score of any bracket this year in this test with a blazingly fast 0.465ms average response in Denver. Other than that, nothing special here other than all these companies seemed capable of delivering content fast pretty much everywhere in the world except Shanghai.

5. WPPerformanceTester

Company PHP Bench [Seconds] (lower=faster) WP Bench [Queries Per Second](higher=faster)
BlueHost 11.655 713.78
CloudWays Amazon 10.993 324.99
CloudWays Google 11.192 327.33
Kinsta 11.333 318.47
LightningBase 10.537 1067.24
LiquidWeb 7.177 1084.6
Media Temple 13.9 98.85
Pagely 10.102 165.86
Pantheon 11.687 202.92
Pressable 10.952 492.61
Pressidium 10.749 240.67
SiteGround 11.522 1030.93

LiquidWeb put up one of the fastest scores on the PHP Bench at 7.177. Everyone else fell into the 10-14 range we generally see.

The WP Bench saw some slow scores from MediaTemple and Pagely and handful breaking the 1000 barrier in LightningBase, LiquidWeb, and SiteGround. Interestingly, the trend seems to be slower as you go up in price as you get more non-local databases.

Conclusion

This is the last really crowded bracket as we go up in price. It's sitting right at the border of entry level plans and the more serious stuff. This is the first tier that tested plans more heavily than any plan last year as well. The results were also very encouraging.

Top Tier WordPress Hosting Performance

review_signal_2016_trophy_100

KinstaLightningBaseLiquidWeb [Reviews], Pressable, Pressidium and SiteGround [Reviews] all earned top tier WordPress Hosting for the $51-100/month tier.

Honorable Mentions

MediaTemple [Reviews] and Pagely [Reviews] earn honorable mentions. They had some minor issues in the LoadStorm test and MediaTemple had some minor issues in the Blitz test.

Individual Host Analysis

BlueHost [Reviews]

BlueHost fell short again in the load tests.

CloudWays [Reviews] (Amazon + Google)

CloudWays is always interesting because you can compare head to head performance on different cloud platforms. I would pretty confidently say that Amazon outperformed Google in this instance with similar specs (although Amazon charges more).

Kinsta

Kinsta's entry level plan put on a fantastic performance. The higher end providers are starting to show up in this price tier and really showing why they charge their premium prices. Kinsta easily earned top tier status.

LightningBase

LightningBase's most expensive plan that we tested this year (although they offer higher ones), and for the third consecutive price tier (and year), they handled the tests flawlessly. A literaly perfect score for LightningBase: 100% uptime on both monitors and 0 errors on all load tests. Simply perfection. Undoubtedly a top tier WordPress Host.

LiquidWeb [Reviews]

LiquidWeb is a newcomer to this testing and this is their entry level plan. Boy did they make a positive splash. 100% uptime across the board and excellent load testing scores. They also had the fastest PHP Bench in this bracket (and third fastest of any company this year). They have a fantastic reputation here at Review Signal on our reviews section, I can confidently say they also have a top tier WordPress Hosting product to boot.

MediaTemple [Reviews]

Media Temple earned an honorable mention which is a step in the right direction. They had some minor problems with the load tests. No major concerns, just need to figure out security issues and minor performance stuff to make them top tier again.

Pagely [Reviews]

Pagely was a bit of a disappointment. They've been in the top tier the past years but fell to an honorable mention this year. The increased LoadStorm test seemed to put some strain on the server and caused spikes and increased load times. Everything else looked very good like previous years.

Pantheon [Reviews]

Pantheon, like Pagely, struggled with the LoadStorm test, but to a larger degree this year. It knocked them out of the top tier and didn't even earn an honorable mention in this price bracket. Everything else looked very good.

Pressable

Pressable showed up in a big way. No problems in any of the tests. Zero errors on both load tests. Easily in the top tier for this price bracket.

Pressidium

One error, nearly perfect uptime. Hard to really expect a better performance. Pressidium's entry level plan remains in the top tier for another year.

SiteGround [Reviews]

I screwed up with the Blitz load test and they got a perfect score with an extra thousand users which is impressive. They had a small spike at the start of the LoadStorm test but otherwise put on a flawless performance with 100% uptime on both monitors as well. SiteGround is in the top tier.

$25-50/Month WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2016)

LoadStormLogo

Sponsored by LoadStorm. The easy and cost effective load testing tool for web and mobile applications.

The full company list, product list, methodology, and notes can be found here

This post focuses only on the results of the testing in the $25-50/month price bracket for WordPress Hosting.

$25-50/Month WordPress Hosting Products

review_signal_table_50

$25-50/Month WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks Results

1. Load Storm

Test 500-2000 Concurrent Users over 30 Minutes, 10 Minutes at Peak

Company Total Requests Total Errors Peak RPS Average RPS Peak Response Time(ms) Average Response Time(ms) Total Data Transferred (GB) Peak Throughput (MB/s) Average Throughput (MB/s)
A2 193764 68658 148.28 107.65 17563 6541 7.647 11.37 4.248
CloudWays DO 196963 54589 148.48 109.42 15809 5841 8.474 7.384 4.708
CloudWays Vultr 207994 50049 144.13 115.55 16187 5339 9.439 8.398 5.244
Conetix 169625 116960 134.43 94.24 18510 8578 2.635 3.898 1.464
LightningBase 315348 1 238.4 175.19 3567 272 16.34 13.47 9.077
Pantheon 268164 866 205.5 148.98 14422 315 6466 4927 3592
Pressable 394405 26 294.6 219.11 15101 226 16.4 13.32 9.111
Pressjitsu 300931 3913 228.47 167.18 11121 502 16.86 14.29 9.365
SiteGround 300999 0 232.75 167.22 10926 462 15.83 14.35 8.972
WP Land 294459 14976 235.63 163.59 15422 864 15.15 14.04 8.417
WPEngine 348796 26572 270.23 193.78 15091 311 14.95 11.38 8.307
WPOven 288369 0 217.85 160.21 5815 283 16.64 13.63 9.245

 

Discussion of Load Storm Test Results

Many companies handled this test without any sort of struggle: LightningBasePantheon [Reviews], PressableSiteGround [Reviews], and WPOven.com. In fact, SiteGround and WPOven managed to have zero errors, while LightningBase had 1. Truly impressive performances put on by these companies.

Pressjitsu struggled a little bit. There were some errors and increased response times at the start of the test. It managed to stabilize for the last 22 minutes as load increased though.

WPEngine [Reviews] and WP.land struggled a bit more than Pressjitsu, but didn't completely fall apart. Both seemed to be having issues with the wp-login page, possibly security related.

A2 Hosting [Reviews], CloudWays [Reviews] (Digital Ocean & Vultr), and Conetix did not do well during this test. High error rates and slow response times show they were not equipped to handle this type of load.

 

2. Blitz.io

Test 1-1000 Concurrent Users over 60 seconds

Blitz Test Quick Results Table

Company Hits Errors Timeouts Average Hits/Second Average Response Time Fastest Response Slowest Response
A2 51 14265 7339 1 800 411 1047
CloudWays DO 28328 13 16 472 32 25 91
CloudWays Vultr 28763 3 0 479 24 24 25
Conetix 2359 1097 6070 39 1412 763 2410
LightningBase 27460 0 0 458 72 71 72
Pantheon 27755 0 0 463 61 60 67
Pressable 25914 0 2 432 134 134 136
Pressjitsu 23902 481 0 398 205 205 206
SiteGround 26623 1 26 444 86 71 255
WP Land 28352 0 1 473 39 38 40
WPEngine 26281 69 0 438 117 114 127
WPOven 26687 0 0 445 103 101 104

Discussion of Blitz Test 1 Results

This test is just testing whether the company is caching the front page and how well whatever caching system they have setup is performing (generally this hits something like Varnish or Nginx).

Who performed without any major issues?

CloudWays (Digital Ocean & Vultr), LightningBasePantheonPressableSiteGround [Reviews], WPEngine [Reviews], WP.land, and WPOven.com all handled the blitz test without any significant issues.

Who had some minor issues?

Pressjitsu again had what seems to be security related issues. A perfect flat response time but some timeouts at the end of the test.

Who had some major issues?

A2 Hosting and Conetix both failed the Blitz test.

3. Uptime Monitoring

Both uptime monitoring solutions were third party providers that offer free services. UptimeRobot was paid for and monitoring on a 1 minute interval. All the companies were monitored over approximately two months (May-June 2016).

Uptime Robot & StatusCake

Company StatusCake UptimeRobot
A2 97.91 99.35
CloudWays DO 100 100
CloudWays Vultr 99.95 99.87
Conetix 99.92 99.93
LightningBase 100 100
Pantheon 100 100
Pressable 99.91 99.92
Pressjitsu 99.78 99.65
SiteGround 99.99 100
WP Land 99.92 100
WPEngine 100 99.99
WPOven 100 100

A2 had significant downtime issues with StatusCake recording 97.91% and UptimeRobot recording 99.35% uptime. The CloudWays Vultr server had some issues with UptimeRobot recording 99.87%. Pressjitsu also had some uptime problems with StatusCake recording 99.78% and UptimeRobot 99.65%.

Everyone else was above 99.9% on both monitors including CloudWays Digital Ocean, LightningBase, Pantheon, WPOven all recording perfect 100%/100% scores.

4. WebPageTest.org

Every test was run with the settings: Chrome Browser, 9 Runs, native connection (no traffic shaping), first view only.

Company WPT Dulles WPT Denver WPT LA WPT London WPT Frankfurt WPT South Africa
A2 0.879 0.747 1.237 1.61 2.029 5.657
CloudWays DO 0.836 0.58 1.031 1.221 1.668 7.08
CloudWays Vultr 0.713 0.676 1.087 1.109 1.636 7.643
Conetix 2.328 2.078 2.242 3.845 3.497 8.69
LightningBase 0.567 0.563 1.054 1.067 1.511 4.199
Pantheon 0.86 0.583 1.024 1.259 1.649 7.625
Pressable 0.945 0.715 1.162 1.533 2.013 9.377
Pressjitsu 0.94 0.549 0.93 1.33 1.912 6.288
SiteGround 0.838 0.655 1.043 1.063 1.693 6.927
WP Land 0.816 0.622 1.002 1.189 1.693 3.307
WPEngine 0.872 0.523 0.939 1.199 1.796 4.434
WPOven 0.85 0.534 1.093 1.452 1.79 4.844
Company WPT Singapore WPT Shanghai WPT Japan WPT Sydney WPT Brazil
A2 2.956 22.788 2.231 2.609 2.342
CloudWays DO 2.123 22.42 1.898 1.713 1.755
CloudWays Vultr 2.223 22.573 1.832 1.7 1.797
Conetix 2.027 23.425 2.63 1.308 3.56
LightningBase 2.041 23.977 1.717 1.848 1.667
Pantheon 2.194 22.605 1.769 1.661 1.784
Pressable 2.451 22.258 2.194 3.079 2.049
Pressjitsu 2.046 22.352 1.73 1.416 2.055
SiteGround 2.245 23.087 1.806 2.27 1.855
WP Land 2.157 22.428 1.872 1.658 1.784
WPEngine 2.121 24.584 1.87 2.051 1.863
WPOven 2.089 2.82 1.796 1.712 1.859

What I learned was getting traffic into China is terrible. Nobody really did well on the Shanghai location except WPOven which somehow didn't get the delay that every other company experienced. South Africa is also really slow. Most servers were US based but were delivering content to most corners of the world in about 2 seconds or less which is impressive.

Conetix is an Australian focused company and they delivered to Sydney faster than anyone which is a relief that the geographic advantage is real. Beyond the Australian market the connectivity seemed slower to just about every other location. Australia has notoriously bad connectivity though, so I can see the advantage of having a company specializing in the local market.

I wish I could compare averages against last year except they removed one of the testing locations (Miami) and I did a global test instead because that was something people wanted to see.

The US connectivity is very fast though, with everyone delivering to Dulles(VA) and Denver (CO) in under a second (minus the Australian server) with LA at about one second exactly for everyone.

5. WPPerformanceTester

Company PHP Bench [Seconds] (lower=faster) WP Bench [Queries Per Second](higher=faster)
A2 18.456 592.77
CloudWays DO 15.028 353.98
CloudWays Vultr 13.145 392.62
Conetix 12.833 410.51
LightningBase 10.795 1353.18
Pantheon 12.292 189.54
Pressable 11.062 525.21
Pressjitsu 12.771 648.09
SiteGround 11.414 1109.88
WP Land 13.491 1094.09
WPEngine 13.494 406.17
WPOven 9.412 690.61

In this tier, there was a lot more normalized spread on the PHP Bench with most people being within the 10-14 second range we saw last year. WPOven lead the pack at 9.4. A2 was the slowest at 18.456.

The WP Bench scores varied a lot, again. LightningBase had another blazingly fast score of 1353.18. Siteground and WPLand also broke the 1000 barrier, whereas last year's fastest was 889. At the bottom of the pack was Pantheon with 189.54, which I am sure they would say infrastructure plays a large role in. Anyone with a distributed/non-local SQL database will be slower by a lot. They would probably argue that's one of the trade-offs of scalability and based on their load testing performance, it would be hard to argue against.

Conclusion

A very crowded bracket with lots of competition. This range is still pretty entry level, not the cheapest stuff like the <$25/month plans I compared. But with increased price came better performances. Although two of the top tier companies in this bracket make up two of the three top tier performers in the cheapest bracket. But it is nice to see some loose price to performance correlation in the market. Many of these plans are the entry level for their respective companies.

One of the interesting things to watch was the VPSs in this range (A2, CloudWays, Pressjitsu). They were outperformed by the Shared/Cloud providers who can presumably burst more shared resources for any given site. So for spikey sites that expect to get a Reddit/Slashdot effect, there may be some advantage in being in that sort of environment (if you cant easily scale the VPS, which some providers make quite easy). But since these are dummy sites not really tested heavily over the two months, there is the potential for bad neighbors negatively impacting you too during such a spike, and then you might want your own isolated VPS. I can see arguments for for both sides.

Without further ado, I will tell you who had the best performance, who deserved an honorable mention and then analyze each host individually. I still don't believe in ranking in any particular order, only grouping companies by how well they performed.

Top Tier WordPress Hosting Performance

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LightningBasePantheonPressableSiteGround [Reviews] and WPOven.com.

Honorable Mentions

Unfortunately, no company deserves honorable mention status which I give to companies that came close but weren't quite perfect or they looked like they were good but something external (generally security measures) interfered with the tests but from all other indications they seemed to be doing well.

The closest in this bracket would have been Pressjitsu, except they had uptime issues which I give no leeway for being under 99.9%.

Individual Host Analysis

A2 Hosting [Reviews]

I try to find bright spots in a company's performance, but A2 really didn't have one in this test. If you buy a VPS there is also no default way to install WordPress beyond the old fashioned DIY. You have to pay extra for Softaculous installer from the admin panel.

CloudWays [Reviews] Digital Ocean / Vultr

The most interesting part of CloudWays is being able to see the same stack tested on multiple providers. It's a small sample, but it looks like Vultr marginally outperforms Digital Ocean in performance. Although, Digital Ocean was more stable (again, small sample size to compare head to head). It was nice to see CloudWays do well with the Blitz tests and keep very good uptime, especially the Digital Ocean machine which was perfect.

Conetix

Conetix had good uptime and connection to Australia, their target market. They strongly using W3TC but it didn't come fully installed and I don't test anything beyond the default configuration because it gets into too much minutia and conflict with hosts about what could be done to improve scores. I also believe most people just stick with the default based on all the user testing I've seen across various fields. So the unfortunate results were the load test performances didn't look very good for them.

(9/19/2019 Update) Conetix have issued their own statement regarding Review Signal's test and why they believe this methodology doesn't accurately represent their performance and why a unique Australian perspective is required when evaluating them. I recommend reading the full details.

LightningBase

LightningBase put on basically a perfect performance. 100% uptime on both monitors. 0 errors on blitz, 1 error on loadstorm. Unequivocally, a top tier performance.

Pantheon [Reviews]

Pantheon showed up again, in a good way. They earned themselves a top tier performance accolade. They had a few errors at the start of the LoadStorm test, but beyond that aced everything.

Pressable

Pressable is back for the first time since my first testing in 2013, with new ownership (WordPress.com). They had had some good tech back then but it wasn't perfect and had some minor issues. I can happily say that has changed as they delivered a top tier performance this year with no issues in any test.

Pressjitsu

Pressjitsu felt like 2013 Pressable, the foundations of a really good company but just didn't get it all put together. The biggest problem was the sub 99.9% uptime. They had what appeared to be security measures mar the blitz test and had some errors at the start of the LoadStorm test but managed to stabilize for the duration and put on a good showing.

SiteGround [Reviews]

SiteGround got even better this year. They jumped up from honorable mention to top tier status. Their Blitz and LoadStorm tests both improved while everything else remained at a high level. An all around fantastic performance which deserved top tier status.

WPEngine [Reviews]

WPEngine fell slightly this year, it could have been a security issue with wp-login during the LoadStorm test, but there were too many errors to give it honorable mention status for this plan which it earned last year. Everything else looked good though.

WP.land

WP Land like WPEngine had too many problems during the LoadStorm test that it didn't earn honorable mention status. Everything else looked very good for them and it's great to see a strong new entrant.

WPOven.com

The knock on WPOven last year was their LoadStorm test. Everything else was perfect. I'm glad they maintained everything else, but this time they managed a perfect LoadStorm test to boot. A huge improvement and a very well deserved entry in the top tier of WordPress Hosts in the $25-50 range.

Under $25/Month WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2016)

LoadStormLogo

Sponsored by LoadStorm. The easy and cost effective load testing tool for web and mobile applications.

The full company list, product list, methodology, and notes can be found here

This post focuses only on the results of the testing in the <$25/month price bracket for WordPress Hosting.

 

<$25/Month WordPress Hosting Products

review_signal_table_25_updated

 

<$25/Month WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks Results

1. Load Storm

Test 500-2000 Concurrent Users over 30 Minutes, 10 Minutes at Peak

Company Total Requests Total Errors Peak RPS Average RPS Peak Response Time(ms) Average Response Time(ms) Total Data Transferred (GB) Peak Throughput (MB/s) Average Throughput (MB/s)
A2 310069 203981 249.08 172.26 15138 549 4.639 8.853 2.577
BlueHost 181995 153234 147.47 101.11 16000 7634 1.066 3.677 0.592
DreamHost 295685 43 224.1 164.27 15063 339 16.06 13.5 8.922
FlyWheel 265618 81491 205.22 147.57 15101 1154 11.5 9.361 6.391
GoDaddy 311172 1363 238.68 172.87 10100 340 16.07 13.31 8.927
Hosting Agency (DE) 182424 117939 132.65 101.35 15991 6743 3.823 10.53 2.124
IWW 272657 84 217.92 151.48 10096 266 14.93 13.77 8.293
LightningBase 314439 5 238.68 174.69 8989 255 16.24 13.24 9.023
Media Temple 327662 1466 258.45 182.03 10628 381 12.55 10.54 6.972
Pressed 289318 61 214.05 160.73 15029 266 16.25 13.01 9.03
SiteGround 301722 1 230.45 167.62 9374 447 15.9 13.76 8.833
TrafficPlanetHosting 289335 476 217.63 160.74 15216 570 16.15 14.08 8.974
WP Land 293166 11596 228.4 162.87 15608 644 15.47 13.3 8.594

Discussion of Load Storm Test Results

The companies that clearly didn't struggle at all with LoadStorm were DreamHost [Reviews], Incendia Web Works (IWW), LightningBase, Pressed, SiteGround [Reviews]. GoDaddy [Reviews], MediaTemple [Reviews] and Traffic Planet Hosting had minor spikes at the start, but they seem nearly inconsequential in the grand scheme of the test.

WP.land seemed to have some security measures which struggled with wp-login being hit so frequently.

A2 Hosting [Reviews], BlueHost [Reviews], FlyWheel [Reviews] and Hosting Agency did not do well on this test. FlyWheel explicitly stated this was too much load for that size plan and recommended upgrading if this was the expected load.

2. Blitz.io

Test 1-1000 Concurrent Users over 60 seconds

Blitz Test Quick Results Table

Company Hits Errors Timeouts Average Hits/Second Average Response Time Fastest Response Slowest Response
A2 590 27255 390 10 92 55 167
BlueHost 23340 71 274 389 214 155 604
DreamHost 29337 0 1 489 4 3 7
FlyWheel 28530 0 0 476 28 21 146
GoDaddy 15222 11093 28 254 196 190 229
Hosting Agency (DE) 662 20862 3649 11 630 400 1556
IWW 28786 9 0 480 23 21 24
LightningBase 27488 0 0 458 71 71 72
Media Temple 15255 11260 5 254 200 188 318
Pressed 26228 0 0 437 80 5 389
SiteGround 26055 1 21 434 100 72 346
TrafficPlanetHosting 1018 8344 9718 17 266 102 843
WP Land 28344 0 0 472 39 38 39

Discussion of Blitz Test 1 Results

This test is just testing whether the company is caching the front page and how well whatever caching system they have setup is performing (generally this hits something like Varnish or Nginx).

Who performed without any major issues?

DreamHost, IWW, LightningBase, SiteGround, WP Land all handled the test without any issues.

Who had some minor issues?

BlueHost had a couple spikes during the test which caused some errors and timeouts, but they weren't substantial.

FlyWheel had a spike at the very end of the test which caused a large increase in response times.

Pressed started to have a ramp up in response times but it never errored or timed out during the test.

Who had some major issues?

GoDaddy, MediaTemple and TrafficPlanetHosting seemed to pretty clearly hit security measures which couldn't be worked around. The response times were relatively stable, but errors shot up which is symptomatic of a security measure kicking in rather than the server being taxed. It's hard to know how they would have performed sans security measures.

A2 and Hosting Agency did not take kindly to the Blitz test and crashed almost immediately under load.

3. Uptime Monitoring

Both uptime monitoring solutions were third party providers that offer free services. UptimeRobot was paid for and monitoring on a 1 minute interval. All the companies were monitored over approximately two months (May-June 2016).

Uptime Robot & StatusCake

Company StatusCake UptimeRobot
A2 99.92 99.91
BlueHost 30.22 18.06
DreamHost 99.97 99.97
FlyWheel 99.96 99.98
GoDaddy 99.96 99.98
Hosting Agency (DE) - 100
IWW 99.73 99.88
LightningBase 99.99 100
Media Temple 99.96 99.95
Pressed 100 99.87
SiteGround 99.97 99.98
TrafficPlanetHosting 99.98 99.98
WP Land 99.92 100

BlueHost screwed up and cancelled this account mid-testing causing the uptime to look horrific. Their other two plans which were not cancelled had measurements of 99.98, 99.98, 100 and 99.99 uptime. I'm upset that it happened and there was a struggle to restore the account and have to take credit away for this type of screw up. But, they were able to keep the other servers up with near perfect uptime which I think should be stated here as well.

Hosting Agency for some reason couldn't be monitored by StatusCake (http/2 issue they still haven't fixed for nearly 9 months, which UptimeRobot fixed within 24 hours when I notified them). But they had 100% on UptimeRobot, so it looks good.

IWW had a bunch of short outages and one longer one (2hr 33m) which brought it's uptime down.

Pressed had a 1hr 51m downtime (502 error) recorded by UptimeRobot but StatusCake never picked it up. I'm not sure what to make of that, it might be something wrong with UptimeRobot's servers connecting properly since StatusCake never picked it up over an interval that long.

Everyone else had above 99.9% uptime.

4. WebPageTest.org

Every test was run with the settings: Chrome Browser, 9 Runs, native connection (no traffic shaping), first view only.

Company WPT Dulles WPT Denver WPT LA WPT London WPT Frankfurt WPT South Africa
A2 0.819 0.638 1.109 1.181 1.687 5.054
BlueHost 0.902 0.521 0.878 1.532 1.874 3.483
DreamHost 0.769 0.777 1.444 1.107 1.64 4.33
FlyWheel 0.74 0.722 1.077 1.082 1.649 5.241
GoDaddy 0.939 0.728 0.834 1.376 1.992 6.909
Hosting Agency (DE) 1.299 1.258 2.17 0.985 1.55 4.905
IWW 0.544 0.658 0.864 0.929 1.416 4.105
LightningBase 0.62 0.598 1.078 0.95 1.471 5.764
Media Temple 0.86 0.667 0.811 1.313 1.945 4.645
Pressed 0.773 0.902 1.276 1.176 1.691 4.845
SiteGround 0.741 0.64 1.048 1.06 1.721 4.94
TrafficPlanetHosting 0.793 0.562 1.26 1.212 1.723 3.522
WP Land 0.719 0.689 1.154 1.099 1.709 4.8

 

Company WPT Singapore WPT Shanghai WPT Japan WPT Sydney WPT Brazil
A2 2.244 22.287 1.974 2.003 1.895
BlueHost 2.255 22.728 1.809 1.467 2.274
DreamHost 1.93 22.186 2.028 1.954 1.747
FlyWheel 1.765 12.549 1.845 1.816 1.758
GoDaddy 2.173 22.373 1.826 1.959 2.103
Hosting Agency (DE) 2.311 22.406 2.651 2.772 2.596
IWW 1.98 22.547 1.615 1.96 1.535
LightningBase 1.999 19.731 1.708 1.913 1.661
Media Temple 2.113 22.141 1.802 1.959 2.135
Pressed 2.233 23.691 1.997 2.037 1.894
SiteGround 2.131 22.718 1.843 2.079 1.788
TrafficPlanetHosting 2.081 22.74 1.872 1.595 1.816
WP Land 2.25 22.305 1.852 1.959 1.752

What I learned was getting traffic into China is terrible. Nobody really did well on the Shanghai location. South Africa is also really slow. Most servers were US based but were delivering content to most corners of the world in about 2 seconds or less which is impressive. Hosting Agency based in Germany was a bit disappointing. Very slow relatively speaking to the US. But it wasn't even the fastest to London or Frankfurt. LightningBase and IWW were able to beat the German company in the US by a large margin and to Europe which reinforces that geographic location isn't everything in terms of speed.

I wish I could compare averages against last year except they removed one of the testing locations (Miami) and I did a global test instead because that was something people wanted to see.

5. WPPerformanceTester

Company PHP Bench [Seconds] (lower=faster) WP Bench [Queries Per Second](higher=faster)
A2 12.626 570.78
BlueHost 13.089 1083.42
DreamHost 17.104 446.23
FlyWheel 11.761 387.3
GoDaddy 13.804 278.47
Hosting Agency (DE) 6.501 45.28
IWW 7.637 1869.16
LightningBase 10 1315.79
Media Temple 12.241 339.79
Pressed 11.036 217.2
SiteGround 11.497 733.14
TrafficPlanetHosting 8.666 918.27
WP Land 14.485 684.93

What was enormously interesting about WPPerformanceTester results this year was the much larger spread and faster results. Last year, almost everyone was around 10-14 seconds for PHP Bench with the outlier of PressLabs doing 8.9 and DreamHost at 27. DreamHost again has the dubious honor of the slowest PHP Bench but it improved by a whopping 10 seconds down to 17. The fastest was Hosting Agency with 6.5, more than a full 2 seconds faster than last year's fastest speed. IWW, TrafficPlanetHosting also managed sub 10 second speeds.

Last year's fastest WP Bench was 889 queries per second. That was blown away by this years testing with IWW leading the group at more than double the speed (1869). BlueHost, LightningBase and TrafficPlanetHosting all managed to be faster than last year's fastest benchmark as well. Unfortunately, Hosting Agency's incredibly fast PHP bench is somewhat cancelled out by their slowest WP Bench score, which is slower than last year's slowest. It should be noted that transaction speed isn't always a great measured on distributed/clustered/cloud systems that may be running databases on different machines, but at the entry level that's less of an issue. Generally the incredibly fast scores you see are local databases with no network latency overhead.

Conclusion

It is nice to get back to a real entry level analysis with a much more level playing field. Having 13 different companies available to choose from in the <$25/month range is fantastic. Despite the change in this years format, the lower end plans still outperformed the fastest competitors from last year's tests which had plans up to ~$300/month.

Despite the hard price cap in this bracket of testing, there were still some companies that handled all the tests without any serious issue. Many more did very well but ran into minor issues.

The amount of companies jumping into the space is a fantastic win for consumers. In this tier we saw A2, Pressed, WP Land, Hosting Agency, IWW and Traffic Planet Hosting all enter for the first time. They target a variety of different niches within the space and overall it's a win for us, the consumer to have more good choices and options. From a performance standpoint, you can still get amazing performance value for the money even at the lowest tier.

Without further ado, I will tell you who had the best performance, who deserved an honorable mention and then analyze each host individually. I still don't believe in ranking in any particular order, only grouping companies by how well they performed.

Top Tier WordPress Hosting Performance

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DreamHost [Reviews], LightningBase, and  SiteGround [Reviews],

All three of these companies went through the full testing without any meaningful issues.

Honorable Mentions

Pressed had an odd uptime issue but also showed some signs of server stress during the blitz test. For a brand new company they performed admirably, but I'm not quite comfortable awarding them the top tier status quite yet when you compare their results against the three top tier companies, but they put on a very good showing.

WP.land did well in every test except LoadStorm where it had a roughly 4% error rate. It looked like a security issue with wp-login which isn't uncommon. But there were also some spikes/delays as well. It could just be security acting up, but again, a minor issue that kept it out of the top tier, but it was worthy of an honorable mention from yet another new comer to this year's testing.

GoDaddy [Reviews]/MediaTemple [Reviews], I combine this one because it's running on the same tech and the results look very similar and experienced the same security issues. You can pretty clearly see when the security measures kick in on Blitz and I wasn't able to work with their tech team to come up with a way to responsibly bypass their security measures. LoadStorm had a spike at the start with wp-login issues but resolved itself out quickly and had a flat response time graph. It's possible their tech is just as good as the top tier hosts, but I wasn't able to accurately measure it because of security measures but it looks very good and at least deserves the honorable mention.

Traffic Planet Hosting is another new entrant and had similar issues to GoDaddy/MediaTemple. Security issues caused some problems on the Blitz test, but it did start to show some load too. Not perfect, but it did well on LoadStorm as well.  (no honorable mention?)

Individual Host Analysis

A2 Hosting [Reviews]

A2 Hosting was a new entrant to this test and as much as I love the competition in the space, A2 fell short. Other than their uptime monitoring which was good, they struggled in all the load testing experiments.

BlueHost [Reviews]

BlueHost specifically messed up with my account in this test and the uptime was terrible because of it. That alone ruined the uptime test, although as I stated in the section, the other servers all maintained excellent uptime which were on different accounts. They did ok in the blitz test, but not in the LoadStorm test. They also surprisingly managed the fastest individual WebPageTest score of any host in this price range. Compared to last year I don't see any huge signs of improvement with regards to performance.

DreamHost [Reviews]

Last year DreamHost's DreamPress product almost made the top tier except for some major downtime issues. This year, they had no such downtime issues and the performance remained top notch. DreamHost earned the top tier status for the <$25/month price bracket. It appears to be an excellent product priced very competitively.

FlyWheel [Reviews]

FlyWheel only entered one product this year and it was less powerful than last year's. It struggled a bit more on the LoadStorm test but the Blitz was perfect (although for this price tier, it was a weaker test than last year's test). They explicitly stated for LoadStorm that the plan was inappropriate for that level of traffic. They can probably handle bigger sites, but if we're comparing dollars to performance, they fell short in this price bracket on that metric. But they are still rated as the most well liked company that we track at Review Signal, so they are clearly doing something right in terms of product and customer service.

GoDaddy [Reviews]

GoDaddy had a stalwart performance marred by what appeared to be security measures. They very well could have a top notch product but we couldn't work out a responsible way to bypass the security measures for the Blitz load test. LoadStorm looked pretty good, one small spike to start and steady up to 2000 users. GoDaddy earned an honorable mention status because the product didn't seem to encounter any non-artificial problems.

Incendia Web Works

IWW did a great job in both load tests. The only concern was uptime, where IWW had 99.73% and 99.88% as recorded by each service. The performance component is definitely there, but a little more consistency and we have another serious competitor in the space. The only reason they didn't earn honorable mention while Pressed did is that there were conflicting uptime reports for Pressed where one showed 100% and the other recorded sub 99.9% uptime. Two independent services showed IWW below 99.9%, so there isn't much doubt about it in my mind. Like DreamHost last year, they put on a great performance showing and I hope next year the servers are a bit more stable and I can award top tier status.

LightningBase

LightningBase continues to impress. The last two years they've put on consistently near perfect tests. Their Blitz result was perfect and their LoadStorm had only 5 errors out of 314439 requests. Combined with 100/99.99% uptime monitors, LightningBase is unquestionably in the top tier for the <$25/month WordPress hosting bracket.

MediaTemple [Reviews]

MediaTemple's results basically mirrored GoDaddy's results. It would be even hard to tell the graphs apart if you removed the names. The MediaTemple/GoDaddy platform appears to be very solid but we couldn't responsibly get by some security measures, so I couldn't award it top tier status, but MT earned an honorable mention.

Pressed

Pressed earned itself an honorable mention. It had a weird uptime issue but more importantly it started to show some signs of load during the Blitz test where I would expect a flat response time from a static cache test like Blitz. It's a very new product and I'm sure we'll continue to see tremendous improvements as time goes on, a very good performance from possibly the newest company in this year's testing.

Hosting Agency

Hosting Agency performed as expected, it appears to have no special WordPress optimizations. If you were to install a basic lamp stack, this is the performance I expect out of the box. They had perfect uptime and oddly found themselves on both ends of the spectrum on my WPPerformanceTester. They weren't faster to England or Germany on WebPageTest, which I suspect is because there was no special caching technologies to accelerate delivery of pages despite being geographically closer. And it just collapsed during the load tests, especially Blitz which is essentially a static cache test (where they have none). Another important note is that their entire system is in German only.

SiteGround [Reviews]

SiteGround got even better this year. They jumped up from honorable mention to top tier status. Their Blitz and LoadStorm tests both improved while everything else remained at a high level. An all around fantastic performance which deserved top tier status.

Traffic Planet Hosting

Another new comer to this years testing. TPH put on a good show, there seemed to be some security measures which ruined the Blitz testing, but the LoadStorm test looked very solid. They earned an honorable mention because the only issue seemed artificial. I'm less confident about the quality of the product than GoDaddy/MediaTemple, but it still seemed to warrant recognition.

WP.land

WPLand was the final new entrant and they put on a fantastic showing. Everything went near perfect except the LoadStorm test which seemed to have an issue with wp-login triggering some security measures. But the response rate was pretty stable and quick despite the ramp up to 2000 users. They also had a perfect blitz test with no errors and a 1ms spread in fastest to slowest response times. WP Land earned honorable mention status because overall it was a very good performance with a small issue that might be security related.

 

WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2016)

LoadStormLogo

Sponsored by LoadStorm. The easy and cost effective load testing tool for web and mobile applications.

This is the fourth round of managed WordPress web hosting performance testing. You can see the original, 2014 version , and 2015 version.

Companies Tested

A2 Hosting [Reviews]
BlueHost [Reviews]
CloudWays [Reviews]
Conetix
DreamHost [Reviews]
FlyWheel [Reviews]
GoDaddy [Reviews]
Incendia Web Works
Kinsta
LightningBase
LiquidWeb [Reviews]
MediaTemple [Reviews]
Pagely [Reviews]
Pantheon [Reviews]
Pressable (Formerly ZippyKid)
Pressed.net
Pressidium
Pressjitsu
PressLabs
Hosting Agency (German)
SiteGround [Reviews]
Traffic Planet Hosting
WordPress.com VIP
WPEngine [Reviews]
WP.land
WPOven.com

Companies that didn't participate this round but did on previous rounds: WebHostingBuzzWPProntoNexcessA Small Orange [Reviews] and  WebSynthesis [Reviews].

Every plan was donated by the company for testing purposes with the strict stipulation that it would be the same as if any normal user signed up. There is a notes section at the bottom that details the minutiae of changes made to plans at the end of this post. Nearly every single company had security issues that I had to get around, so they worked to make sure my testing went through properly. Load testing often looks like an attack and it's the only way I can do these tests.

The Products

This year is a bit different than years past where every company and plan competed against one another. When I started the price gap was from $5/month to $29/month. Last year the gap was $5.95 to $299. I was only testing entry level plans but the market has dramatically changed since I first got started. Today, there is demand at many different price points and lots of companies have gone upscale with WordPress.com VIP at the top of the price bracket starting at $5,000/month. The only logical way to break things up was by price brackets. So below you will see the brackets and which companies participated. Specific details will be included on each bracket's write up.

 

<$25/m $25-50/m $51-100/m $101-200/m $201-500/m $500+/m
A2 Hosting A2 Hosting LiquidWeb A2 Hosting Kinsta Kinsta
Bluehost Conetix Bluehost Bluehost Media Temple Pagely
DreamHost LLC Lightning Base Cloudways (AWS ) Conetix Pagley Pantheon
Flywheel Pantheon Cloudways (Google) Kinsta Pantheon Pressable
GoDaddy Pressable Kinsta Liquid Web Pressable Pressidium
Incendia Web Works Pressjitsu Lightning Base Pressable Pressidium WordPress.com VIP
Lightning Base SiteGround Media Temple Pressidium Presslabs WP Engine
Media Temple WP Engine Pagely Pressjitsu SiteGround
Pressed WP.land Pantheon
Hosting Agency.de Cloudways (DigitalOcean) Pressable
SiteGround Cloudways (Vultr) Pressidium
Traffic Planet Hosting WPOven SiteGround
WP.land

 

Methodology

The question I tried to answer is how well do these WordPress hosting services perform? I tested each company on two distinct measures of performance: peak performance and consistency. I've also included a compute and database benchmark based on a WordPress plugin.

All tests were performed on an identical WordPress dummy website with the same plugins except in cases where hosts added extra plugins. Each site was monitored for approximately two months for consistency.

1. LoadStorm

LoadStorm was kind enough to give me resources to perform load testing on their platform and multiple staff members were involved in designing and testing these WordPress hosts. I created identical scripts for each host to load a site, login to the site and browse the site. Logged in users were designed to break some of the caching and better simulate real user load. The amount of users varies by cost.

2. Blitz.io

I used Blitz again to compare against previous results. This tests the static caching of the homepage. I increased the number of users based on monthly cost this time.

3. Uptime (UptimeRobot and StatusCake)

Consistency matters. I wanted to see how well these companies performed over a longer period of time. I used two separate uptime monitoring services over the course of a month to test consistency.

4. WebPageTest.org

WebPageTest with 9 runs, first view only, native connection. I tested from Dulles, Denver, Los Angeles, London, Frankfurt, South Africa, Singapore, Shanghai, Japan, Sydney, Brazil.

5. WPPerformanceTester (free plugin on WordPress.org)

I created a WordPress plugin to benchmark CPU, MySql and WordPress DB performance. The CPU/MySql benchmarks are testing the compute power. The WordPress component tests actually calling $wpdb and executing insert, select, update and delete queries.

 

Notes - Changes made to Hosting Plans

A2 - VPS Servers can't install WordPress out of the box without extra payment for Softaculous. Disabled recaptcha.

Conetix - disabled WordFence and Stream plugins.

SiteGround - fully enable SuperCacher plugin

GoDaddy - 24 database connection limit increased if you notify them of heavy load

CloudWays - disabled WordFence

LiquidWeb and HostDime no longer providing Shared Hosting

I've updated the site today to reflect that LiquidWeb and HostDime no longer provide shared hosting.

It leaves quite a large gap between SiteGround (72%) and pretty much everyone else still in the shared hosting space (<60%).

I do wonder if this is a bellwether for shared hosting becoming a thing of the past. There are still millions of people on it and in all likelihood will continue to be. But we've seen the rise of all sorts of specialty hosting which is likely eating up a lot of the market. The rise of developer oriented providers like Amazon, Azure, Digital Ocean have opened up the floodgates for building services on top of them. We've seen numerous companies built on top of these companies and targeting niches, especially WordPress like FlyWheel, Pagely. We've even seen configurable providers like CloudWays which lets you select the cloud provider of your choice and install and manage your websites on them.

These new hosting providers are charging more and giving different experiences to users. Developers have flocked to them and are building the next generation of web hosting services. High quality companies seem to be moving up market, charging more and providing more where I'm guessing the margins are substantially better than in the shared hosting space unless you're trying to upsell everything.

It will be interesting to to follow, will we continue to see more consolidation ala EIG and GoDaddy? Is there room for another great shared hosting provider that grows very large? Or will shared hosting slowly fade away as superior technologies (VPS) and specialized companies eat away at it providing the specific services people really want. We've also seen non-webhosts like SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly gain large market shares. On the BuiltWith estimates ranging from 880,000-1.6m websites for each of them.

The one trend I am not a fan of is that there are fewer and fewer really good choices in the shared hosting space that are of significant scale.

WordPress.org Removes BlueHost + SiteGround and Relists Within Days

This story gets stranger.

You've probably read my previous coverage WordPress.org Updates Hosting Recommendations, Nobody Knows Selection Criteria and WordPress.org Hosting Recommendations Listing Criteria.

BlueHost and SiteGround were removed May 27 or 28.

 

There was a rumor that is was about modifying config files, but that was denied by Hristo Pandjarov (SiteGround Employee) who wrote, "we don't do nothing of the sort, the wp-config file as well as the entire installation is default including the themes. We have a plugin if you want to use the SuperCacher. We're still checking out why we've been removed from that page but that's definitelly[sic] not the case."

BlueHost and SiteGround reappeared today (June 1, 2016).

I reached out to Matt Mullenweg for a comment and was told:

"Temporary issues may cause recommended hosts to change at any time, but given the long track record of both I expect they'll be back. We might also try out different presentations and layouts there in the future."

So essentially, there's no new information, and even the web hosts themselves seem to be in the dark about what's going on.

People celebrated the removal of BlueHost and were shocked by the removal of SiteGround. But these erratic listing changes are exactly why transparency needs to be applied to the page. It's worth millions of dollars in business and is influential in one of the largest internet communities. But nobody knows or understands what's really going on.

WordPress.org Hosting Recommendations Listing Criteria

UPDATE (5/13/2016 7:05 PM): Official comment from Matt Mullenweg was posted. Quoted below, click or scroll to the comment section to see the original.

“I would like to see some transparency in the process”

As stated on the page, the listing is completely arbitrary. The process was: There was a survey, four applicants were chosen, and the page was updated. That might repeat later in the year, or the process might change.

“how criteria are weighted”

There is no criteria or weighting. It ultimately is one person’s opinion. Information that is important is reflected in the questions asked in the survey, but that is not everything that is taken into account. (I have looked at this site in the past, for example.)

“who is making the decisions”

I am. James helped in sorting through the many submissions that came in, doing additional research, and digging on finalists, but ultimately the decision was mine. You can and should blame me fully for any issues you have with it. I appreciate James’ help in this go-round, but he will not be involved at all with any future updates. (So, please leave him alone.)

“how much money is involved”

There was no money involved. Obviously being listed on the page is hugely valuable and impacts the listed (or unlisted) businesses a great deal. This is why I take full responsibility for the listing, now and in the future — I have been fortunate to be extraordinarily successful and no financial or business consideration any of the applicants could offer matters to me. A host could offer $100,000,000 to be listed on the page for 1 day, and I would say no.

-Matt Mullenweg


Yesterday, I posted WordPress.org Updates Hosting Recommendations, Nobody Knows Selection Criteria. Which naturally meant I was going to find out as much as I could about the process, because it's a big deal and my mission here at Review Signal is honest and transparent web hosting reviews.

I confirmed with multiple sources that the newly listed companies didn't pay any money to get listed. Everyone seems to have filled out the form and then heard nothing back until the updated page was published yesterday. Both the winners (BlueHost [Reviews], DreamHost [Reviews], FlyWheel [Reviews], SiteGround [Reviews]) and losers (everyone else) seemed to agree on this process based on everyone I talked to.

Great. The application process seems fair.

But the selection process is still a black box, with help from people who follow WordPress more closely than myself, I found James Huff (macmanx) a 12 year volunteer and 5 year employee at Automattic who was directly involved with the new WP.org hosting recommendations.

James_huff1

I didn't hide who I was or my interest. The most concerning part of this exchange was that 'Absolutely no money changed hands, unless you consider sponsorship of WordCamps as monetary with regards to the "contributions to WordPress.org."'

No money changed hands except a lot of sponsorship dollars to the organization. Guess who the top global gold community sponsors are? BlueHost (and JetPack/WooCommerce, both owned by Automattic). Somehow BlueHost are also a Silver sponsor too, along with GoDaddy. BlueHost is pouring a lot of money into WordCamps/WordPress.org Foundation.

I'm sorry, but I do consider that money changing hands. They are giving a large sum of money - it's material enough to mention in their SEC filings.

James_huff2

We're still going to have to agree to disagree about what money changing hands means. But he says it was fair. But fair is pretty meaningless when we don't really have any insight into what standard of fairness is the goal. How is each criteria being weighed and evaluated. But this is the list of hosts that they can confidently tell everyone are good.

I'm not sold.

James_huff3

Historical perception seems to be the proxy for what marketers might call Net Promoter Score (NPS). How much do consumers like/recommend something. That's essentially what I measure here at Review Signal and my data has been incredibly close to what company's internal data shows (LiquidWeb NPS Scores vs LiquidWeb Review Signal Rating).

It is arguably the most important factor of recommendations and for service businesses, it's about the best metric for all encompassing quality available.

But it's only part of the criteria and that's fair. But should there be some minimum threshold? Can a company score a zero in quality and high in everything else be worthy of a listing? BlueHost's rating is 41%. That means roughly 6/10 people don't recommend it or have anything good to say about them.

There are WordCamp sponsors that didn't make the cut. Of the global community sponsors 2/3 hosting companies did though, BlueHost and DreamHost, while one didn't, GoDaddy. But the largest sponsor made it and is at the top and it's still BlueHost.

But moving on, James mentioned Automattic has no play in the process, but he does wear multiple hats. Which means he is aware of the potential perception of conflict of interest.

James_huff4

Finally, a mention of Matt. Important again when thinking about the context for potential conflicts of interest. I outline what would happen in a dream world and what's realistic. I think honest disclosure and basic transparency is perfectly realistic. It's ok to make money, just be clear about where it's coming from. A standard I try to uphold here at Review Signal, see how we make money and read the entire process for how our rankings are calculated. See? It's not hard and I still make money giving the best information available.

James_huff5

AWP comments

That is the comment thread I referenced. Not a single person said anything positive about BlueHost and the assumption is they just paid for it. BlueHost being listed ruins the credibility of the recommendations when there is no transparency about what criteria was being used.

James_huff6

Moving on, the survey itself has issues which I brought up before. It's asking for sensitive company information and being handled by employees of a company that owns two competitors in the space (WP.com VIP, Pressable), took $15 million in investment from another (BlueHost), and is an investor in a fourth competitor (WP Engine).

That seems like a huge potential conflict of interest and I know it dissuaded at least one company from even applying.

James_huff7

james huff 3 tweets

It didn't end on the nicest note, I don't think James took my criticisms well. From his original messages, I think he knows and understands the perception of conflicts of interest but admitting them in this context puts him in a very awkward position that I don't envy. He wears multiple hats and surely wants to wear them all fairly. I would say admitting that those multiple hats has the potential for conflicts of interest isn't a weakness of character, it's an admission of humanity. I'm sure James is a great guy and has done a lot of good things for the community. But I think people who can be perceived with a strong potential for conflict of interest, which anyone connected to Automattic in this situation would have, shouldn't be managing this particular process.

I truly don't have any ill will towards James personally or Automattic. Even BlueHost/EIG, I've been more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and continue to hope that they will be better (ASO did break my heart a bit, I thought they were turning EIG around). My data continues to show them being mediocre and a seeming touch of death in terms of quality (their strategy does seem to be cost cutting and economies of scale). But I don't fault them for their behavior, I expect it, it's well published in their SEC filings.

Conclusion

I still think WordPress.org can do better with its hosting recommendations and I'm not going to stop advocating for them until they are better. I would like to see some transparency in the process, how criteria are weighted, who is making the decisions and how much money is involved. I think the companies that applied would appreciate feedback about why they weren't selected, what makes them different and fall short of the companies that do make the cut. Or just call them Ads / Sponsors. Don't say they are the best and brightest and endorse them. Say, we took money and this guy paid us the most. At least we meet the minimum threshold of honesty and transparency.

 

References

For posterity, the logs in their entirety are available below. It's long, so I tried to cut down some stuff to get to the most important bits. But I don't want to hide anything.

Direct Message Archive macmanx Making WordPress Slack Direct Message Archive macmanx Making WordPress Slack2