Tag Archives: liquidweb

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.

LiquidWeb WordPress Hosting Review (2016)

LiquidWeb was a first time participant in WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks. They have been around for a long time in the managed web hosting space but only recently entered the WordPress space. They have consistently been one of the top companies tracked at Review Signal winning numerous awards for their shared and VPS hosting.

Those are some pretty big expectations to meet when you enter a space that is already full of many competitors and being the new kid on the block. The only other first time participant that did as well was WordPress.com VIP, which isn't a new entrant into the space, but only this testing.

Products

Company / Price Bracket Plan Monthly Price Visitors Allowed Disk Space Bandwidth Sites Allowed
LiquidWeb 51-100 Personal $89 Unlimited 100GB SSD 5 TB 10
LiquidWeb 101-200 Professional $149 Unlimited 150GB SSD 5 TB 20

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)
LiquidWeb 51-100 520072 2745 408.3 288.93 15322 525 24.04 19.69 13.35
LiquidWeb 101-200 635893 76 490.78 353.27 15097 360 31.3 25.19 17.39

LoadStorm test logged in thousands of users to simulate heavy uncached load on the server, scaling up with more users on larger plans after the $25-50/month range. LiquidWeb handled these tests with relative ease. The larger plan did better managing a faster average response time and having fewer errors. But both results were top tier performances.

Blitz Results

Company / Price Bracket Hits Errors Timeouts Average Hits/Second Average Response Time Fastest Response Slowest Response
LiquidWeb 51-100 54574 0 4 910 78 77 82
LiquidWeb 101-200 81393 47 10 1357 80 76 118

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. If the LoadStorm test was a clinic, this was absolute perfection. LiquidWeb had minimal issues with the Blitz test. A very minor spike up to 118ms on the bigger test is the only noticeable thing. Again, top tier performances.

Uptime

Company StatusCake UptimeRobot
LiquidWeb 51-100 100 100
LiquidWeb 101-200 100 100

 

Perfect.

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

LiquidWeb earned Top Tier WordPress Hosting Performance for both plans it entered. It's product line starts in the mid-range price wise and goes up. They definitely have the performance to match the pricing. Absolutely perfect uptime was nice to see too. I'm pleased to see they bring their strong reputation to this market with a strong product that matches the quality people have come to expect from LiquidWeb.

liquidweb-wordpress

 

$101-200/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 $101-200/month price bracket for WordPress Hosting.

$101-200/Month WordPress Hosting Products

review_signal_table_200

$101-200/Month WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks Results

1. Load Storm

Test 500-4000 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 363070 163790 264.15 201.71 15443 6857 11.75 13.88 6.528
BlueHost 322139 166336 267.9 178.97 20999 9268 9.42 7.09 5.24
Conetix 341733 145110 243.3 189.85 16202 7347 11.74 13.87 6.52
Kinsta 546252 0 425.67 303.47 9078 286 31.47 24.95 17.48
LiquidWeb 635893 76 490.78 353.27 15097 360 31.3 25.19 17.39
Pressable 724499 1090 562.12 402.5 15024 447 30.91 26.07 17.17
Pressidium 563624 0 435.43 313.12 3561 272 30.82 24.44 17.12
Pressjitsu 434368 41339 339.37 241.32 15605 3173 22.5 18.67 12.5

Discussion of Load Storm Test Results

KinstaLiquidWeb [Reviews], Pressable, and Pressidium had no problems with this test.

A2 Hosting [Reviews], BlueHost [Reviews], Conetix, and Pressjitsu struggled with this test. BlueHost struggled off the bat. A2 and Conetix struggled a couple minutes in. Pressjitsu made it about 12 minutes in before it started erroring, but it had increasing load times starting around 6 minutes in. They all lasted varying amounts of time, but none were ready to handle this sort of load.

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
A2 120 43508 21784 2 518 304 733
BlueHost 28568 11753 7945 476 929 192 1889
Conetix 155 16827 13990 3 1470 872 2184
Kinsta 81397 3 0 1357 84 83 85
LiquidWeb 81393 47 10 1357 80 76 118
Pressable 77652 0 4 1294 134 141 133
Pressidium 85916 6 0 1432 27 25 31
Pressjitsu 67297 5833 0 1122 208 205 236

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?

KinstaLiquidWeb [Reviews], Pressable, and Pressidium all handled this test without issue, again.

Who had some minor issues?

Pressjitsu kept a flat response time but had a lot of errors start to build as the test scaled up. Might have been a security measure blocking it.

Who had some major issues?

BlueHost [Reviews] managed to last about 22 seconds before it started to be impacted by the load.

A2 Hosting and Conetix were overloaded almost immediately.

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 99.64 100
BlueHost 100 99.99
Conetix 99.52 99.7
Kinsta 99.98 99.99
LiquidWeb 100 100
Pressable 99.96 99.94
Pressidium 99.97 99.99
Pressjitsu 99.99 99.99

Conetix had some uptime issues getting recorded for 99.52% and 99.7% on StatusCake and UptimeRobot respectively.

A2 had a very strange recording with UptimeRobot showing 100% and StatusCake recording 99.64%.

Everyone else maintained above 99.9% on both monitors.

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 0.924 0.654 1.199 1.554 1.989 5.118
BlueHost 0.969 0.588 0.988 1.684 2.006 6.23
Conetix 2.703 2.026 2.194 3.372 3.339 6.964
Kinsta 0.817 0.577 0.982 1.15 1.721 5.081
LiquidWeb 0.887 0.578 1.059 1.179 1.748 4.227
Pressable 0.969 0.738 1.135 1.493 1.95 7.669
Pressidium 0.639 0.627 1.174 1.187 1.705 5.303
Pressjitsu 0.915 0.677 0.87 1.302 1.786 6.433
Company WPT Singapore WPT Shanghai WPT Japan WPT Sydney WPT Brazil
A2 2.618 22.224 2.114 2.592 2.162
BlueHost 2.247 22.406 1.937 1.755 2.22
Conetix 3.092 22.465 2.818 1.493 3.448
Kinsta 2.054 22.743 2.064 1.704 2.345
LiquidWeb 2.215 22.378 1.983 1.977 1.823
Pressable 2.476 22.395 2.146 2.879 2.479
Pressidium 2.08 22.461 2.053 1.893 1.803
Pressjitsu 2.172 22.317 1.701 1.871 2.19

Everyone was pretty fast around the world without huge red flags anywhere.

Conetix had slow scores to a lot of locations, but thankfully they were the fastest in Sydney (because they are focused on the Australian market and based there).

5. WPPerformanceTester

Company PHP Bench [Seconds] (lower=faster) WP Bench [Queries Per Second](higher=faster)
A2 9.336 1440.92
BlueHost 12.276 956.94
Conetix 12.019 418.76
Kinsta 11.458 330.58
LiquidWeb 7.122 1102.54
Pressable 10.788 514.13
Pressidium 10.739 281.14
Pressjitsu 12.3 574.38

At this mid-range tier we see pretty much only VPS/Dedicated and cloud/clustered solutions. LiquidWeb's VPS again got one of the fastest PHP Bench scores I've seen recorded. The VPS/Dedicateds also generally put up much faster WP Bench scores with A2 leading the way with their dedicated server. The Cloud/Clustered solutions were around 500 and below (Kinsta, Pressable, Pressidium). The only exception was Conetix which was a VPS.

Conclusion

Top Tier WordPress Hosting Performance

review_signal_2016_trophy_200

KinstaLiquidWeb [Reviews], Pressable, and Pressidium were the top tier in the $101-200/month price range.

Individual Host Analysis

A2 Hosting [Reviews]

The bright spot in this test was the WP Bench test where this dedicated server was way faster than the competition. The raw power of a dedicated machine is nice, but unless it's got all the extra caching software that the top tier hosts were running, it unfortunately fell flat in the load tests.

BlueHost [Reviews]

Another disappointing performance in the load tests. The uptime and other tests were fine.

Conetix

Overall, they didn't perform that well. Uptime wasn't on par and the load test results were disappointing. The only bright spot was they were the fastest in Australia.

(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.

Kinsta

Kinsta continues to earn top tier status. I can't find anything to say beyond the fact they performed near perfectly, again.

LiquidWeb [Reviews]

LiquidWeb's lower priced plan performed spectacularly, their higher end product only continued that trend. They had a bracket leading PHP bench, perfect uptime, and aced the load tests. LiquidWeb has easily gone from brand new to top tier WordPress hosting status this year.

Pressable

Pressable continues its trend of excellent load tests, but at this tier they put everything together and earned themselves top tier status.

Pressidium

Another test, another top tier performance. Not much to say beyond, excellent.

Pressjitsu

Pressjitsu did better than the other companies that didn't earn top tier status, but found themselves clearly below the top tier with some struggles in the load tests. It seems like security may have messed up the blitz test but the same can't be said about the LoadStorm which showed real signs of stress. It seems like a good foundation but they need to just get everything running a bit better to earn themselves the top tier recognition; hopefully next year.

$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.

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.

LiquidWeb NPS Scores vs LiquidWeb Review Signal Rating

Yesterday (August 18, 2015), LiquidWeb [Reviews] sent out a press release announcing its NPS Score:

"...its [LiquidWeb] Net Promoter Score reached an all-time high of 74 at the end of Q2 2015. This represents a "best-in-class" rating in the consumer-driven metric. Liquid Web's score is particularly noteworthy as scores above 60 are extremely rare in the Web Hosting industry, where average scores historically hover in the single-digit realm. Regardless of industry, a score of 74 - on top of Liquid Web's confirmed 12-month rolling average of 67 - is strongly indicative of excellent customer satisfaction."

The further explain how NPS is measured:

"Net Promoter Score (or NPS®) is the result of a 3rd party study on customers' direct feedback and gauges their likelihood to recommend a business's products or services. The results calculated the percentage of Liquid Web's customers who qualify as "promoters" (rating the company 9 or 10 on a 0-to-10 point scale) minus the percentage who are "detractors" (rating 6 or lower). Scores can range from -100 to +100 with scores of +50 and higher considered a "best-in-class" customer service level."

NPS is fairly well known in the marketing and branding world as a way to measure how a company is doing. In fact, it's something I was studying while working on the technology that powers Review Signal in graduate school. The boiled down version of it is, the greater the percentage of people who speak your praises versus the percentage of people who say negative things about your company is a measurement of how well your service is perceived.

What's interesting about a company publishing their NPS score is that I can compare it to the data of people saying good and bad things publicly that I track here at Review Signal. There are some differences in how NPS is measured versus how I measure at Review Signal. Some of the bigger differences being a 1-10 scale in NPS versus the binary (Good/Bad) on Review Signal and what type of messages are being looked at. Review Signal looks at all kinds of messages people publicly post while NPS would generally be done in a survey of customers. [If you're curious how/what Review Signal measures, it's all publicly explained at https://reviewsignal.com/howitworks]

So without further ado, the numbers. LiquidWeb's all time high is 74 and their 12 month average is a 67. On Review Signal, LiquidWeb have a lifetime 70% rating. Putting them squarely within their publicly disclosed NPS rating.

liquidweb_stats_box

A lot of people question web hosting reviews and I constantly have to question what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. It's a very rare event when I'm given an external metric that I can compare Review Signal against. So when it matches up so cleanly, it's a great validation that what I'm doing here is working.

 

The Best of 2012 – Reflections and Awards

It's been an exciting year at Review Signal. We launched in September. It's been going well and we have really enjoyed the feedback from our users. Thank you to everyone who has visited, reached out and help us along the way.

We wanted to end the year with a look back through our data and recognize some exceptional companies that stood out this year.

Best Overall Web Host: A Small Orange

A Small Orange 2012 Best Overall Web Host

A Small Orange have consistently had the highest rating of any company all year. Their rating for the year ended at a 77% Overall Rating. Their customers have been simply raving about them.

However, one new specialty hosting company did eclipse them in November.

Best Specialty Web Host: WPEngine (WordPress Hosting)

WPEngine 2012 Best Specialty Web Host

WPEngine was a late addition to our system and it got a huge number of reviews very quickly. The consensus was that WPEngine is pretty good with an Overall Rating of 80%.

One of the biggest differentiators for hosting companies these days is the support. We wanted to recognize two companies that had the best service ratings. We separated them into managed and unmanaged because of the very different nature of each offer. We ran into some issues where some companies had high ratings but very few actual reviews related to it. To normalize for volume we applied a Wilson Score interval, so some companies may appear to have higher support scores but the confidence in those is lower because there were only a few reviews making up that rating.

Best Managed/Unmanaged Hosting Support: LiquidWeb / Linode

LiquidWeb Best Managed Support HostingLinode Best Unmanaged Support Hosting

Both LiquidWeb and Linode have very passionate customers and are near the top in Overall Rating as well as having the highest Support Ratings in their respective categories. Linode has a passionate fanbase in the developer community who seem more than happy to manage their own VPSs. LiquidWeb's customers are generally in the managed Dedicated and VPS categories.

We congratulate each of these companies on an excellent 2012 and hope their performance only continues to improve in 2013.