Tag Archives: performance

WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2015)

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

New (9/14/2016) The 2016 WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks are live.

New (8/20/2015) This post is also available as an Infographic.

Companies Tested

A Small Orange [Reviews]
BlueHost [Reviews]
CloudWays [Reviews]
DreamHost [Reviews]
FlyWheel [Reviews]
GoDaddy [Reviews]
Kinsta
LightningBase
MediaTemple [Reviews]
Nexcess
Pagely [Reviews]
Pantheon [Reviews]
Pressidium
PressLabs
SiteGround† [Reviews]
WebHostingBuzz
WPEngine* [Reviews]
WPOven.com
WPPronto

Note:  Pressable and WebSynthesis [Reviews] were not interested in being tested this round and were excluded. WordPress.com dropped out due to technical difficulties in testing their platform (a large multi-site install).

Every company donated an account to test on. All were the WordPress specific plans (e.g. GoDaddy's WordPress option). I checked to make sure I was on what appeared to be a normal server. The exception is WPEngine*. They wrote that I was "moved over to isolated hardware (so your tests don’t cause any issues for other customers) that is in-line with what other $29/month folks use." From my understanding, all testing was done on a shared plan environment with no actual users on the server to share. So this is almost certainly the best case scenario performance wise, so I suspect the results look better than what most users would actually get.

†Tests were performed with SiteGround's proprietary SuperCacher module turned on fully with memcached.

The Products (Click for Full-Size Image)

wordpress_hosting_2015_product_chart

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 new and experimental compute and database benchmark. Since it is brand new, it has no bearing on the results but is included for posterity and in the hope that it will lead to another meaningful benchmark in the future.

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 over a month for consistency.

1. LoadStorm

LoadStorm was kind enough to give me unlimited 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.  I tested every company up to 2000 concurrent users. Logged in users were designed to break some of the caching and better simulate real user load.

2. Blitz.io

I used Blitz again to compare against previous results. Since the 1000 user test wasn't meaningful anymore, I did a single test for 60 seconds, scaling from 1-2000 users.

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 is an open source project that is primarily being developed and supported by Google as part of our efforts to make the web faster." WebPageTest grades performance and allows you to run tests from multiple locations simulating real users. I tested from Dulles, VA, Miami, FL, Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA.

5. WPPerformanceTester

I created a WordPress plugin to benchmark CPU, MySql and WordPress DB performance. It is based on a PHP benchmark script I forked (available on GitHub) and adapted to WordPress. The CPU/MySql benchmarks are testing the compute power. The WordPress component tests actually calling $wpdb and executing insert, select, update and delete queries. This plugin will be open sourced once I clean it up and make it usable for someone beyond myself.

Background Information

Before I go over the results I wanted to explain and discuss a few things. Every provider I tested had the latest version of WordPress installed. I had to ask a lot of companies to disable some security features to perform accurate load tests. Those companies were: DreamHost, Kinsta, LightningBase, Nexcess, Pagely, Pressidium, PressLabs, SiteGround, and WPEngine.

Every company that uses a VPS based platform were standardized around 2GB of memory for their plan (or equivalent) in an effort to make those results more comparable. The exception is DreamHost which uses a VPS platform but uses multiple scaling VPSs.

CloudWays's platform that lets you deploy your WordPress stack to multiple providers: Digital Ocean, Amazon (AWS)'s EC2 servers or Google Compute Engine. I was given a server on each platform of near comparable specs (EC2 Small 1.7GB vs Digital Ocean 2GB vs GCE 1.7GB g1 Small). So CloudWays is listed as CloudWays AWS, CloudWays DO, CloudWays GCE to indicate which provider the stack was running on.

SiteGround contributed a shared and VPS account designated by the Shared or VPS after it.

Results

Load Storm

Since last round didn't have any real issues until 1000 users I skipped all the little tests and began with 100-1000 users. I also did the 500-2000 user test on every company instead of simply disqualifying companies. I ran these tests with an immense amount of help from Phillip Odom at LoadStorm. He spent hours with me, teaching me how to use LoadStorm more effectively, build tests and offering guidance/feedback on the tests themselves.

 Test 1. 100-1000 Concurrent Users over 30 minutes

Name of Test Total Requests Peak RPS Average RPS Peak Response Time(ms) Average Response Time(ms) Total Data Transferred(GB) Peak Throughput(kB/s) Average Throughput(kB/s) Total Errors
A Small Orange 114997 90.27 61.83 1785 259 2.41 1878.14 1295.82 0
BlueHost 117569 93.62 63.21 15271 2522 5.41 4680.6 2909.16 23350
CloudWays AWS 138176 109.1 74.29 15086 397 7.15 6016.88 3844.49 44
CloudWays DO 139355 109.88 74.92 2666 321 7.21 5863.82 3876.3 0
CloudWays GCE 95114 76.22 52.84 15220 7138 3.63 3247.38 2014.92 23629
DreamHost 143259 113.57 77.02 15098 314 7.1 6136.75 3815.73 60
FlyWheel 128672 101.98 69.18 9782 571 7 6197.92 3764.6 333
GoDaddy 134827 104.6 72.49 15084 352 7.49 6368.32 4028.45 511
Kinsta 132011 102.98 70.97 3359 229 7.35 6078.95 3951.75 0
LightningBase 123522 100.73 68.62 4959 308 6.53 5883.15 3626.2 4
MediaTemple 134278 105.72 74.6 15096 363 7.45 6397.68 4140.7 640
Nexcess 131422 104.47 70.66 7430 307 7.17 6256.08 3854.27 0
Pagely 87669 70.8 47.13 7386 334 5.75 5090.11 3091.06 3
Pantheon 135560 106.42 72.88 7811 297 7.24 5908.27 3890.83 0
Pressidium 131234 103.03 70.56 7533 352 7.23 6092.36 3889.64 0
PressLabs 132931 107.43 71.47 10326 306 3.66 3264.02 1968.98 0
SiteGround Shared 137659 111.35 74.01 7480 843 6.85 5565.02 3683.04 111
SiteGround VPS 130993 103.45 70.43 15074 310 7.17 6061.82 3855.86 19
WebHostingBuzz
WPEngine 148744 117.15 79.97 15085 206 7.32 6224.06 3935.35 4
WPOven.com 112285 96.58 60.37 15199 2153 5.78 5680.23 3108.94 5594
WPPronto 120148 99.08 64.6 15098 681 5.61 4698.51 3018.33 19295

Discussion of Load Storm Test 1 Results

Most companies were ok with this test, but a few didn't do well: BlueHost, CloudWays GCE, WPOven and WPPronto. FlyWheel, GoDaddy and Media Temple had a couple spikes but nothing too concerning. I was actually able to work with someone at DreamHost this time and bypass their security features and their results look better than last time. I am also excited that we got PressLabs working this time around after the difficulties last round.

In general, the 1000 user test isn't terribly exciting, 7/21 companies got perfect scores with no errors. Another 6 didn't have more than 100 errors. Again, this test pointed out some weak candidates but really didn't do much for the upper end of the field.

Test 2. 500 - 2000 Concurrent Users over 30 Minutes

Note: Click the company name to see full test results.

Total Requests Peak RPS Average RPS Peak Response Time(ms) Average Response Time(ms) Total Data Transferred(GB) Peak Throughput(kB/s) Average Throughput(kB/s) Total Errors
A Small Orange 242965 181.62 130.63 15078 411 5.09 3844.54 2737 1
BlueHost 201556 166.83 111.98 15438 8186 5.32 5229.07 2953.17 93781
CloudWays AWS 261050 195.23 145.03 15245 2076 13.13 9685.95 7296.4 11346
CloudWays DO 290470 218.17 161.37 15105 532 14.87 12003.3 8262.77 1189
CloudWays GCE 193024 147.22 107.24 15168 8291 4.72 4583.86 2622.85 93821
DreamHost 303536 232.27 163.19 15100 442 14.95 12619.67 8039.54 210
FlyWheel 253801 202.15 136.45 15218 1530 11.26 9939.17 6052.49 56387
GoDaddy 283904 221.12 152.64 15025 356 15.74 13731.97 8460.12 1432
Kinsta 276547 214.93 148.68 15025 573 15.16 13444.75 8151.37 1811
LightningBase 263967 211.12 141.92 7250 330 13.82 13061.01 7429.91 18
MediaTemple 286087 223.93 153.81 15093 355 15.83 14532.42 8512.11 1641
Nexcess 277111 207.73 148.98 15087 548 15 12313.29 8066.37 359
Pagely 181740 148.18 97.71 11824 791 11.82 10592.21 6355.09 1
Pantheon 287909 223.02 154.79 15039 276 15.28 13831.45 8217.49 3
Pressidium 278226 208.55 149.58 15044 439 15.28 12453.66 8213.63 12
PressLabs 280495 214.07 150.8 8042 328 7.66 6267.46 4118.34 0
SiteGround Shared 301291 231.93 161.98 15052 557 14.76 12799.09 7934.03 1837
SiteGround VPS 279109 209.67 150.06 12777 374 15.21 12506.79 8178.5 20
WebHostingBuzz
WPEngine 316924 241.67 170.39 7235 285 15.52 12989.23 8341.47 3
WPOven.com 213809 169.97 118.78 15268 4442 8.81 7153.5 4894.98 35292
WPPronto 258092 206.53 143.38 15246 539 10.85 9483.74 6026.26 76276

Discussion of Load Storm Test 2 Results 

The previous companies that struggled ( BlueHost, CloudWays GCE, WPOven and WPPronto) didn't improve, which is to be expected. FlyWheel which had a few spikes ran into more serious difficulties and wasn't able to withstand the load. CloudWays AWS ended up failing, but their Digital Ocean machine spiked but was able to handle the load.

The signs of load were much more apparent this round with a lot more spikes from many more companies. GoDaddy and Media Temple who also had spikes in the first test, had spikes again but seemed to be able to withstand the load.  Kinsta spiked early but was stable for the duration of the test. SiteGround Shared had a steady set of small spikes but didn't fail.

Nobody had the same level of perfection as last time with no spike in response times. Only one company managed an error-less run this time (PressLabs) but many achieved similar results, like A Small Orange went from 0 errors to 1, Pantheon went from 0 to 3 and Pagely had only 1 error, again.

The biggest change that occurred was WPEngine. It went from failing on the 1000 user test to having one of the better runs in the 2000 user test. I have to emphasize it was a shared plan on isolated hardware though with no competition for resources.

Blitz.io

 Test 1. 1-2000 Concurrent Users over 60 seconds

Blitz Test 1. Quick Results Table

Note: Click the company name to see full test results.

Company Hits Errors Timeouts Average Hits/Second Average Response Time Fastest Response Slowest Response
A Small Orange 51023 56 280 850 115 72 285
BlueHost 37373 475 2102 623 338 124 979
CloudWays AWS 56946 737 74 949 13 3 73
CloudWays DO 52124 1565 1499 869 35 23 87
CloudWays GCE 50463 1797 782 841 96 92 138
DreamHost 58584 1 0 978 4 4 4
FlyWheel 49960 3596 2022 833 30 24 140
GoDaddy 29611 26024 18 494 165 103 622
Kinsta 57723 1 0 962 20 20 21
LightningBase 54448 1 4 907 81 81 81
MediaTemple 29649 25356 126 494 162 104 1103
Nexcess 38616 4924 2200 644 221 70 414
Pagely 58722 1 0 979 3 2 5
Pantheon 55814 112 9 930 52 52 54
Pressidium 47567 1 9 793 233 233 234
PressLabs 58626 0 0 977 5 4 6
SiteGround Shared 49127 1123 1 819 172 171 178
SiteGround VPS 35721 75 4371 595 238 82 491
WebHostingBuzz
WPEngine 56277 827 1 938 27 21 70
WPOven.com 55027 10 2 917 69 68 71
WPPronto 54921 99 29 915 69 68 72

blitz_summary_graph

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, Kinsta, LightningBase, Pagely, Pantheon, Pressidium, PressLabs, WPOven, WPPronto all performed near perfect. There's nothing more to say for these companies other than they did excellent.

Who had some minor issues?

A Small Orange started showing signs of load towards the end. CloudWays AWS had a spike and started to show signs of load towards the end. SiteGround Shared had a spike at the end that ruined a very beautiful looking run otherwise. WPEngine started to show signs of load towards the end of the test.

Who had some major issues?

BlueHost, CloudWays DO, CloudWays GCE, FlyWheel, GoDaddy, MediaTemple, Nexcess, and SiteGround VPS had some major issues. The CloudWays platform pushed a ton of requests (the only companies over 50,000) but also had a lot of errors and timeouts. The rest were below 50,000 (although FlyWheel was only a hair behind) and also had a lot of errors and timeouts. SiteGround VPS might be an example of how shared resources can get better performance versus dedicated resources. GoDaddy and Media Temple have near identical performance (again, it's the same technology I believe). Both look perfect until near the end where they crash and start erroring out. Nexcess just shows load taking its toll.

Uptime Monitoring

Both uptime monitoring solutions were third party providers that offer free services. All the companies were monitored over an entire month+ (May-June 2015).

Uptime Robot

Uptime (30 Day)
A Small Orange 100
BlueHost 100
CloudWays AWS 100
CloudWays DO 100
CloudWays GCE 100
DreamHost 94.06
FlyWheel 100
GoDaddy 100
Kinsta 100
LightningBase 100
MediaTemple 100
Nexcess 100
Pagely 100
Pantheon 99.94
Pressidium 100
PressLabs 100
SiteGround Shared 100
SiteGround VPS 100
WebHostingBuzz 42.9
WPEngine 100
WPOven.com 100
WPPronto 100

At this point, I will finally address the odd elephant in the blog post. WebHostingBuzz has empty lines for all the previous tests. Why? Because their service went down and never came back online. I was told that I put an incorrect IP address for the DNS. However, that IP worked when I started and was the IP address I was originally given (hence the 42% uptime, it was online when I started testing). It took weeks to even get a response and once I corrected the IP, all it ever got was a configuration error page from the server. I've not received a response yet about this issue and have written them off as untestable.

The only other company that had any major issue was DreamHost. I'm not sure what happened, but they experienced some severe downtime while I was testing the system and returned an internal server error for 42 hours.

Every other company had 99.9% uptime or better.

StatusCake

StatusCake had a slightly longer window available from their reporting interface, so the percentages are a little bit different and noticeable on companies like DreamHost.

StatusCake Availability (%) Response Time (ms)
A Small Orange 99.96 0.21
BlueHost 99.99 0.93
CloudWays AWS 100 0.76
CloudWays DO 100 0.47
CloudWays GCE 100 0.69
DreamHost 97.14 1.11
FlyWheel 100 1.25
GoDaddy 100 0.65
Kinsta 100 0.71
LightningBase 99.99 0.61
MediaTemple 100 1.38
Nexcess 100 0.61
Pagely 99.99 0.47
Pantheon 99.98 0.56
Pressidium 99.99 0.94
PressLabs 100 0.65
SiteGround Shared 100 0.54
SiteGround VPS 100 0.9
WebHostingBuzz 58.1 0.67
WPEngine 100 0.71
WPOven.com 100 0.73
WPPronto 100 1.19

The results mirror UptimeRobot pretty closely. WebHostingBuzz and DreamHost had issues. Everyone else is 99.9% or better.

StatusCake uses a real browser to track response time as well. Compared to last year, everything looks faster. Only two companies were sub one second average response time last year. This year, almost every company maintained sub one second response time, even the company that had servers in Europe (Pressidium).

WebPageTest.org

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

Company Dulles,VA Miami, FL Denver, CO Los Angeles, CA Average
A Small Orange 0.624 0.709 0.391 0.8 0.631
BlueHost 0.909 1.092 0.527 0.748 0.819
CloudWays AWS 0.627 0.748 0.694 1.031 0.775
CloudWays DO 0.605 0.751 0.635 1.075 0.7665
CloudWays GCE 0.787 0.858 0.588 1.019 0.813
DreamHost 0.415 0.648 0.522 0.919 0.626
FlyWheel 0.509 0.547 0.594 0.856 0.6265
GoDaddy 0.816 1.247 0.917 0.672 0.913
Kinsta 0.574 0.559 0.587 0.903 0.65575
LightningBase 0.544 0.656 0.5 0.616 0.579
MediaTemple 0.822 0.975 0.983 0.584 0.841
Nexcess 0.712 0.871 0.593 0.795 0.74275
Pagely 0.547 0.553 0.665 0.601 0.5915
Pantheon 0.627 0.567 0.474 0.67 0.5845
Pressidium 0.777 0.945 0.898 1.05 0.9175
PressLabs 0.542 1.257 0.723 0.732 0.8135
SiteGround Shared 0.721 0.85 0.478 0.808 0.71425
SiteGround VPS 0.667 0.651 0.515 0.657 0.6225
WebHostingBuzz 0
WPEngine 0.648 0.554 0.588 0.816 0.6515
WPOven.com 0.624 0.574 0.556 0.595 0.58725
WPPronto 0.698 0.809 0.443 0.721 0.66775

In line with the StatusCake results, the WebPageTest results were shockingly fast. The first time I did this testing, only one company had a sub one second average response time. Last year about half the companies were over one second average response time. The fastest last year was LightningBase at 0.7455 seconds. This year that would be in the slower half of the results. The fastest this year was LightningBase again at 0.579 seconds. The good news for consumers appears to be that everyone is getting faster and your content will get to consumers faster than ever no matter who you choose.

WPPerformanceTester

Company PHP Ver MySql Ver PHP Bench WP Bench MySql
A Small Orange 5.5.24 5.5.42-MariaDB 13.441 406.67 LOCALHOST
BlueHost 5.4.28 5.5.42 12.217 738.01 LOCALHOST
CloudWays AWS 5.5.26 5.5.43 10.808 220.12 LOCALHOST
CloudWays DO 5.5.26 5.5.43 11.888 146.76 LOCALHOST
CloudWays GCE 5.5.26 5.5.43 10.617 192.2 LOCALHOST
DreamHost 5.5.26 5.1.39 27.144 298.6 REMOTE
FlyWheel 5.5.26 5.5.43 12.082 105.76 LOCALHOST
GoDaddy 5.4.16 5.5.40 11.846 365.76 REMOTE
Kinsta 5.6.7 10.0.17-MariaDB 11.198 619.58 LOCALHOST
LightningBase 5.5.24 5.5.42 12.369 768.64 LOCALHOST
MediaTemple 5.4.16 5.5.37 12.578 333.33 REMOTE
Nexcess 5.3.24 5.6.23 12.276 421.76 LOCALHOST
Pagely 5.5.22 5.6.19 10.791 79.79 REMOTE
Pantheon 5.5.24 5.5.337-MariaDB 12.669 194.86 REMOTE
Pressidium 5.5.23 5.6.22 11.551 327.76 LOCALHOST
PressLabs 5.6.1 5.5.43 8.918 527.7 REMOTE
SiteGround Shared 5.5.25 5.5.40 14.171 788.02 LOCALHOST
SiteGround VPS 5.6.99 5.5.31 11.156 350.51 LOCALHOST
WebHostingBuzz
WPEngine 5.5.9 5.6.24 10.97 597.37 LOCALHOST
WPOven.com 5.3.1 5.5.43 11.6 570.13 LOCALHOST
WPPronto 5.5.25 5.5.42 11.485 889.68 LOCALHOST

This test is of my own creation. I created a plugin designed to test a few aspects of performance and get information about the system it was running on. The results here have no bearing on how I am evaluating these companies because I don't have enough details to make these meaningful. My goal is to publish the plugin and get people to submit their own benchmarks though. This would allow me to get a better picture of the real performance people are experiencing from companies and track changes over time. The server details it extracted may be of some interest to many people. Most companies were running PHP 5.5 or later but a few aren't. Most companies seem to be running normal MySql, but ASO, Kinsta and Pantheon all are running MariaDB which many people think has better performance. Considering where all three of those companies ended up performing on these tests, it's not hard to believe. There seems to be an even split between running MySql localhost (BlueHost, LightningBase, Nexcess, SiteGround, WPEngine, WPPronto) or having a remote MySql server (DreamHost, GoDaddy, MediaTemple, Pagely, Pantheon, PressLabs).

The PHP Bench was fascinating because most companies were pretty close with the exception of DreamHost which took nearly twice as long to execute.

The WP Bench was all over the place. Pagely had by far the slowest result but on every load test and speed test they went through, they performed with near perfect scores. The test simulates 1000 $wpdb calls doing the primary mysql functions (insert, select, update, delete). Other companies had outrageously fast scores like WPPronto or BlueHost but didn't perform anywhere near as well as Pagely on more established tests.

For those reasons, I don't think this benchmark is usable yet. But I would love feedback and thoughts on it from the community and the hosting companies themselves.

Attempting VPS Parity in Testing

One substantial change to the testing methodology this round was that all VPS providers were tested with the same amount of memory (2 GB Ram). Since the most interesting tests were the load tests I have only graphed them below:

2gb-vps-loadstorm2gb-vps-blitz

The LoadStorm test had a huge spread in terms of performance. The Google Compute Engine server from CloudWays was by far the worst (an issue we touched on before that it's not a true VPS with dedicated resources). FlyWheel and WPOven also struggled to keep up with the LoadStorm test. Others like ASO, CloudWays DO, Kinsta, and SiteGround handled the test with minimal issues. On the other hand, it's very interesting to see how fairly consistent most of the VPSs perform in the Blitz test between 50,000 and roughly 55,000 hits. The error rates are a bit interesting though because this hardware should be about as close to the same as possible.

The easier result to explain is the Blitz performance. It is testing the ability of these companies to spit back a single page from cache (most likely Varnish or Nginx). So that level of caching seems to be pretty close to parity.

The LoadStorm test shows a wide difference in performance. The LoadStorm test is far more comprehensive and designed to bust through some caching and hit other parts of the stack. It really elucidates the difference in company's ability to tune and optimize their servers from both software and hardware perspectives.

Conclusion

Every service seems to have their issues somewhere if you look hard enough. I try to avoid injecting my personal opinion and bias as much as possible. As I've added more companies to the testing, drawing a line between which companies performed in the top tier and which did not has become blurrier. The closest test was the LoadStorm 2000 test where multiple companies (CloudWays DO, GoDaddy, Kinsta, Media Temple, SiteGround Shared) were on the absolute edge of being top tier providers. Last time I picked an arbitrary 0.5% error rate and these companies were all around the 0.5-0.7% mark. Last year the difference was quite large after that point. I openly admit to having personal connections with people at nearly all these companies and my ability to draw the line in this instance could be considered questionable. So this year I deferred the judgment to an independent party, Phillip Odom at LoadStorm, to determine what he thought of the performances. Phillip is the Director of Performance Engineering at LoadStorm and he has more experience with load testing and the LoadStorm product than almost anyone I know. His job was to determine if the performance could be considered top tier or not. He said a couple spikes early but a stable performance otherwise seemed top tier. The difference in 1/100 of a percent didn't seem like a big deal, especially over a 30 minute test where the issues were at the start as it ramped up to 2000 concurrent users. So the companies on the edge that exhibited that behavior were considered top tier for the LoadStorm test.

I won't be ranking or outright saying any single company is the best. Some providers did exceptionally well and tended to clump together performance-wise, I will call those the top tier providers. This top tier designation is related to performance only and is claimed only from the results of these tests. What each of these companies is offering is different and may best suit different audiences depending on a variety of factors beyond performance, such as features, price, support, and scale (I tested mostly entry level plans OR 2GB RAM plans for VPS providers). I will also provide a short summary and discussion of the results for each provider.

Top Tier WordPress Hosting Performance

IMG_24072015_210625

A Small Orange,  Kinsta, LightningBasePagely, Pantheon, PressidiumPressLabs

Each of these companies performed with little to no failures in all tests and exhibited best in class performance for WordPress hosting.

Honorable Mentions

CloudWays gets an honorable mention because it's Digital Ocean (DO) instance performed quite well overall. It had some issue with the Blitz test at the end but still managed to push through over 52,000 successful hits. It's Amazon stack performed better on the Blitz test but not as well on LoadStorm. I'm not sure why the performance of identical stacks is differing across tests so much between AWS/DO but they improved dramatically since the last test and are on the cusp of becoming a top tier provider.

SiteGround's Shared hosting also gets an honorable mention. It was on that edge for both LoadStorm and Blitz. It had one spike at the end of the Blitz test which caused it's error rate to spike but the response times didn't move.

WPEngine gets an honorable mention because they performed well on most tests. They struggled and were showing signs of load on the Blitz test though that kept them out of the top tier of providers.

Individual Host Analysis

A Small Orange [Reviews]

Another top tier performance from ASO. They didn't really struggle much with any of the tests. Although their performances were slightly below their results last time, it's hard to beat things like having zero errors during LoadStorm's test. It's become easier to launch the LEMP VPS stack which is also nice. All in all, the experience was in-line with what I would expect from a company that has one of the highest support ratings on our site.

BlueHost [Reviews]

Improved against their last results but well below par in the performance department. The pricing and performance just don't match yet.

CloudWays [Reviews]

CloudWays is always a fun company to test. They added another provider since their last test: Google Compute Engine (GCE). Their Digital Ocean and Amazon performances both went up substantially which tells me they've made major improvements on their WordPress stack. We did run into some huge flaws in GCE though which aren't CloudWays's fault. We used the g1.small server on GCE and ran into huge performance walls that were repeatable and inexplicable from a software standpoint. Google was contacted and we learned that the "g1 family has "fractional" CPU, meaning that not a full virtual CPU is assigned to a server. This also means that the CPU is shared with other VMs and "capped" if usage exceeds a certain amount. This is exactly what happened during the load test. The VM runs out of CPU cycles and has to wait for new ones being assigned on the shared CPU to continue to server requests." Essentially, it's not a real VPS with dedicated resources and I was told a comparable would be N1.standard1 which is 2-3x the price of the AWS/DO comparables servers. It doesn't make GCE a very attractive platform to host on if you're looking for performance and cost efficiency. CloudWays did show major improvements this round and earned themselves that honorable mention. They were by far the most improved provider between tests.

DreamHost [Reviews]

DreamPress improved their performance a lot over last round. In fact they did fantastically well on every load test once I got the opportunity to actually work with their engineers to bypass the security measures. However, they failed pretty badly on the uptime metrics. I have no idea what happened but I experienced a huge amount of downtime and ran into some very strange errors. If it wasn't for the severe downtime issues, DreamPress could have been in the top tier.

FlyWheel [Reviews]

FlyWheel were excellent on every test except the final seconds of the Blitz test. Although they were just shy of the top tier, they are showing a lot of consistency in very good performance getting an honorable mention the last two times. Just some minor performance kinks to work out. Not bad at all for a company with the best reviews of any company Review Signal has ever tracked. FlyWheel is definitely worth a look.

GoDaddy [Reviews]

GoDaddy's performance declined this round. It struggled with the Blitz test this time around. I'm not sure what changed, but it handled Blitz far worse than before and LoadStorm slightly worse. The performance between GoDaddy and Media Temple again looked near identical with the same failure points on Blitz. At the retail $6.99 price though, it's still a lot of bang for your buck compared to most providers who are in the $20-30/month range.

Kinsta

Kinsta had another top tier performance. There was a slight decline in performance but that could be explained by the fact we tested different products. Kinsta's test last year was a Shared plan they no longer offer. This year it was a 2GB VPS that we tested. Dedicated resources are great but sometimes shared gives you a little bit extra with good neighbors which could explain the difference. Either way, Kinsta handled all of the tests exceptionally well and earned itself top tier status.

LightningBase

LightningBase is another consistent performer on our list. Another test, another top tier rank earned. It had ridiculous consistency with the Blitz test where the fastest and slowest response were both 81ms. A textbook performance at incredible value of $9.95/month.

Media Temple [Reviews]

Media Temple and GoDaddy are still running the same platform by all indications. Media Temple offers a more premium set of features like Git, WP-CLI, Staging but the performance was identical. It declined from last time and had the same bottlenecks as GoDaddy.

Nexcess

I feel like copy and paste is the right move for Nexcess. Nexcess's performance was excellent in the Load Storm testing. However, it collapsed during the Blitz load testing. This was the same behavior as last year. It handled the Blitz test better this year, but still not well enough. Nexcess ends up looking like a middle of the pack web host instead of a top tier one because of the Blitz test, again.

Pagely [Reviews]

Is the extra money worth it? Only if you value perfection. Pagely came through again with an amazing set of results. It handled more hits than anyone in the Blitz test at a staggering 58,722 hits in 60 seconds (979 hits/second). We're approaching the theoretical maximum at this point of 1000 hits/second. And Pagely did it with 1 error and a 3ms performance difference from the fastest to slowest responses. The original managed WordPress company continues to put on dominant performance results.

Pantheon [Reviews]

Another test, another top tier performance. Just another day being one of the most respected web hosts in the space. Everyone I talk to wants to compare their company to these guys. It's obvious why, they've built a very developer/agency friendly platform that looks nothing like anything else on the market. It also performs fantastically well. They didn't perform the absolute best on any particular test but they were right in the top echelon with minimal errors on everything.

Pressidium

Pressidium was a new entrant and it did exceptionally well. They are UK based and suffered slightly on some performance tests because of latency between the UK and the US testing locations used. For example, the Blitz testing showed fewer  responses, but their total of 10 errors shows pretty clearly that it was a throughput across the Atlantic ocean issue more than their service struggling because it had a 1 second spread from the fastest to slowest response. Incredibly consistent performance. Despite their geographic disadvantage in this testing they still managed to keep a sub-one second response from four US testing locations in the WebPageTest testing. Overall, a top tier performance from a competitor from across the pond.

PressLabs

We finally got PressLabs working with the LoadStorm testing software. And it was worth the wait. They were the only company to handle the 2000 logged in user test with zero errors. Combined with the second fastest Blitz test (again without a single error) puts PressLabs firmly in the top tier as you would expect from the most expensive offering tested this round.

SiteGround [Reviews]

It was nice that we finally worked out the security issues in testing with LoadStorm on SiteGround. SiteGround's Shared hosting platform bounced back after last years testing. Their Blitz performance went up substantially and put it back into the honorable mention category. The VPS performance was slightly worse on the Blitz test, but noticeably better on the much longer LoadStorm test. This could be a good example of when Shared hosting can outperform dedicated resources because Shared hosting generally has access to a lot more resources than smaller VPS plans. Depending on how they are setup and managed, you can often get more burst performance from Shared over a small VPS. But in the longer term, dedicated resources are generally more stable (and guaranteed). SiteGround's Shared hosting definitely helps keep the lower priced options with excellent performance a reality for many.

WebHostingBuzz

WebHostingBuzz asked to be included in this testing and then completely disintegrated to the point I couldn't even test them. I still never heard anything from them for months. I would like to know what happened, but until I actually get a response, this one will remain a bizarre mystery.

WPEngine [Reviews]

This is a difficult one to write about. There are definitely performance improvements that occurred. They jumped up to an honorable mention. Their engineers actually worked to resolve some security issues that hindered previous testing. My biggest concern is the isolated shared environment I was on. A shared environment has a lot more resources than many dedicated environments and I was isolated away to prevent the testing from affecting any customers (which is a reasonable explanation). But that means I was likely to be getting the absolute dream scenario in terms of resource allocation, so a normal user would see this in the very best case scenario. So WPEngine is certainly capable of delivering better performance than they did in the past, but I do have concerns about the reasonable expectation of a new user getting the same results.

WPOven

WPOven was another new entrant to this testing and they performed well in a couple tests. They flew through the Blitz test without any issues. Their WebPageTest results were one of the absolute fastest in an already fast pack. Their uptime was perfect. They did struggle with the LoadStorm tests though both at the 1000 and 2000 user levels. It's nice to see more competitors enter the space, WPOven put on a good first show, but there is still some serious improvements to make to catch up to the front of the field.

WPPronto

Another new entrant who ran into a severe testing issue which caused me to re-do all the tests. The server was given more resources than the plan specified while debugging some security issues. The results on the extra resources were on par with some of the top in the field, but not representative of what the actual plan would be able to achieve. I didn't believe it was malicious (they were quite transparent about what happened), so I gave the benefit of the doubt and re-did all testing in a closely monitored condition. With the default resource allocation, WPPronto couldn't withstand LoadStorm's test. The results were pretty easy to see in the 508 errors it started to throw on the properly resourced plan. It ran out of processes to handle new connections as expected. As with all new entrants that don't leap to the forefront, I hope they continue to improve their service and do better next round.

 

Thank You

Thank you to all the companies for participating and helping make this testing a reality. Thanks to LoadStorm and specifically Phillip Odom for all his time and the tools to perform this testing. Thanks to Peter at Kinsta for offering his design support.

 

Updates

8/13/2015 : The wrong PDF was linked for DreamHost and its Blitz numbers were adjusted to reflect their actual performance. This change has no effect on how they were ranked since the issue was with downtime.

 

Kinsta WordPress Hosting Review

kinsta_logo_dark

This post is based off WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2014).

 

Overview

Kinsta is yet another new comer in our testing with something to prove. Kinsta easily shot to the top of our performance charts. Kinsta's plans have changed quite a bit since we tested them. When our testing was done they offered a $27/month plan. However, they've gone up-market and their cheapest plan is now $157/month. It seems they're targeting people who want serious performance.

The Plan

All testing was done on a shared account, which is no longer available.  This plan tested had 1 WordPress site, 1GB SSD disk space, 50GB bandwidth and costs $27/month.

Performance

LoadStorm

The first performance test was done with LoadStorm. Kinsta made it to the final round of testing where 2000 concurrent users were logging into WordPress and browsing the test site. The test was designed to test non-cached performance by logging users into WordPress. It caused many hosting setups to crumble. You can see Kinsta's result in this graph (click on it to play with the interactive results):

Load-Storm-Kinsta-2000

 

Kinsta aced the LoadStorm test. It had zero errors and one of the fastest average response times at 316ms. Kinsta also had the absolute lowest peak response time at 942ms. That's an astonishing feat, that over 30 minutes Kinsta served nearly 250,000 requests and not a single one took over a second to be delivered. Amazing.

Blitz

The second load test that was run on Kinsta was Blitz. Blitz was used to test cached performance. It simply requested the home page from 1-2000 times per second.

Blitz-Kinsta-2000

I can't draw lines this straight. The response time was flat. As you would expect from a company that aced the cache busting test, they didn't struggle in the slightest. Full Blitz Results (PDF)

Uptime

Two third-party uptime monitoring services (StatusCake and UptimeRobot) tracked the test site for a month. The results for Kinsta were perfect. 100% uptime according to both sources.

WebPageTest

“WebPagetest is an open source project that is primarily being developed and supported by Google as part of our efforts to make the web faster.” WebPageTest grades performance and allows you to run tests from multiple locations simulating real users. Kinsta was tested from Dulles, VA, Miami, FL, Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA.

Company Dulles,VA Miami, FL Denver, CO Los Angeles, CA Average
Kinsta 0.759 0.752 0.947 0.592 0.7625

Kinsta had the second fastest average response time of all the companies we tested. No issues with this test in the slightest.

Conclusion

Kinsta, a new-comer to our testing, jumped straight to the top of the performance tiers. Kinsta’s performance was amazing in the Load Storm 2000 logged in user test. They had the lowest peak response time and zero errors over a 30 minute test. They didn’t struggle with any tests whatsoever and showed zero downtime. Kinsta’s performance was undoubtedly top tier.

Visit Kinsta

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WebSynthesis WordPress Hosting Review

websynthesis-big

This post is based off WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2014).

 

Overview

WebSynthesis [Reviews] had an extremely strong showing in our first round of testing once I got by a security issue. They managed to defend their status as a top tier WordPress web host.

The Plan

All testing was done on a VPS account. The plan tested had 2 GB ram, 40 GB disk space, 650 GB bandwidth, 20,000 visitors/day and costs $97/month.

Performance

LoadStorm

The first performance test was done with LoadStorm. WebSynthesis made it to the final round of testing where 2000 concurrent users were logging into WordPress and browsing the test site. The test was designed to test non-cached performance by logging users into WordPress. It caused many hosting setups to crumble. You can see WebSynthesis's result in this graph (click on it to play with the interactive results):

Load-Storm-WebSynthesis-2000

 

WebSynthesis stayed under the threshold of 0.5% error rate, but it was close. This grueling 2000 user test really put a strain on the server as you can see from the spikes but it held for 30 minutes without failing.

Blitz

The second load test that was run on WebSynthesis was Blitz. Blitz was used to test cached performance. It simply requested the home page from 1-2000 times per second.

Blitz-WebSynthesis-2000

WebSynthesis was better than flat. There is a slight downward trend in response time. WebSynthesis led the pack, again, delivering 57,776 hits in one minute with a single error. The best results of anyone on this test. Full Blitz Results (PDF)

Uptime

Two third-party uptime monitoring services (StatusCake and UptimeRobot) tracked the test site for a month. The results for WebSynthesis were 100% uptime according to both sources, again.

WebPageTest

“WebPagetest is an open source project that is primarily being developed and supported by Google as part of our efforts to make the web faster.” WebPageTest grades performance and allows you to run tests from multiple locations simulating real users. WebSynthesis was tested from Dulles, VA, Miami, FL, Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA.

Company Dulles,VA Miami, FL Denver, CO Los Angeles, CA Average
WebSynthesis 0.407 0.835 0.982 1.024 0.7812

WebSynthesis handled this test fine. In fact, they had the single fastest average page load from a single location of any company at 0.407 seconds from Dulles, VA.

Conclusion

WebSynthesis [Reviews] was teetering on the Load Storm test of having too many errors (0.5%), but they were under it and handled the test quite well. They also had no weird security issues this time around, and WebSynthesis led the pack on Blitz testing. They went from 871 hits/second last time to 963 hits/second this time; leading every provider on the Blitz tests with a whopping 1 error to boot. Sprinkle in some perfect up time numbers and it’s clear WebSynthesis is still a top tier provider and is continuing to get better.

Visit WebSynthesis

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Pagely WordPress Hosting Review

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This post is based off WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2014).

 

Overview

Pagely came in with a title to defend. Pagely was one of the top tier web hosts in our first round of testing and didn't show any signs of struggling. My biggest complaint was SFTP was an addon, which they now include with every account. Performance-wise Pagely was back at it again with another top tier performance.

The Plan

All testing was done on a shared account, the Personal / Business plan.  This plan allows for 1 WordPress site, 5GB disk space, 10GB bandwidth and costs $24/month.

Performance

LoadStorm

The first performance test was done with LoadStorm. Pagely made it to the final round of testing where 2000 concurrent users were logging into WordPress and browsing the test site. The test was designed to test non-cached performance by logging users into WordPress. It caused many hosting setups to crumble. You can see Pagely's result in this graph (click on it to play with the interactive results):

Load-Storm-Pagely-2000

 

Pagely did well on this test. There was one error total which caused a response time spike (blue line in the graph). Other than a single error, the performance was impeccable.

Blitz

The second load test that was run on Pagely was Blitz. Blitz was used to test cached performance. It simply requested the home page from 1-2000 times per second.

Blitz-Pagely-2000

Pagely's Blitz result was exemplary. There were 43 timeouts and errors combined. There was a near flat response time which means it had no issues at all. Pagely didn't blink at this test, as expected based on their performance last time on this test. Full Blitz Results (PDF)

Uptime

Two third-party uptime monitoring services (StatusCake and UptimeRobot) tracked the test site for a month. The results for Pagely were 99.95% and 100% uptime. It's hard to complain about those numbers or find any issue with Pagely's uptime.

WebPageTest

“WebPagetest is an open source project that is primarily being developed and supported by Google as part of our efforts to make the web faster.” WebPageTest grades performance and allows you to run tests from multiple locations simulating real users. Pagely was tested from Dulles, VA, Miami, FL, Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA.

Company Dulles,VA Miami, FL Denver, CO Los Angeles, CA Average
Pagely 6.831 0.86 0.913 0.709 2.32825

Pagely was the only company that had any issue with the WebPageTest component of our testing. The test from Dulles had bizarrely high load times for no explicable reason. The other locations were all sub one second, so I dismissed it as a real issue because it's likely some fluke networking issue. But there was a weird networking issue.

Conclusion

Pagely easily defended its title as one of the top tier WordPress hosts. They handled the Load Storm test with 1 error. Blitz results stayed similar to the last run. They handled more hits, but had a few more errors+timeouts (1 last time, 43 this time). If performance is the name of the game, Pagely continues to be at the forefront.

Visit Pagely

pagely-full-blue-640x220

LightningBase WordPress Hosting Review

lightningbaselogo1600x290bThis post is based off WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2014).

 

Overview

LightningBase was a new comer to our WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks. Lightning Base's founder, Chris Piepho, was incredibly helpful giving feedback on how the testing in Round 1 was done. His feedback played a bit part in the differences you see in Round 2, namely, cache busting. So it's without a large surprise that someone that cares so deeply about performance that their own service did remarkably well in our testing.

The Plan

All testing was done on a shared account, the Personal plan.  The personal plan allows for 1 WordPress site, 10,000 visits/month, 1GB SSD disk space, 10GB bandwidth, 20GB CDN and costs $9.95/month.

Performance

LoadStorm

The first performance test was done with LoadStorm. LightningBase made it to the final round of testing where 2000 concurrent users were logging into WordPress and browsing the test site. The test was designed to test non-cached performance by logging users into WordPress. It caused many hosting setups to crumble. You can see LightningBase's result in this graph (click on it to play with the interactive results):

 

Load-Storm-Lightning-Base-2000

LightningBase handled the test with minimal errors (23) and showed minimal signs of struggling with the load. There appears to be a bit of delay every so often that looks like a cache update. Other than that minor detail it looks excellent.

Blitz

The second load test that was run on LightningBase was Blitz. Blitz was used to test cached performance. It simply requested the home page from 1-2000 times per second.

Blitz-LightningBase-2000

LightningBase's Blitz result looks textbook. There were no errors and no timeouts. There was a near flat response time which means it had no issues at all. LightningBase aced our Blitz testing. Full Blitz Results (PDF)

Uptime

Two third-party uptime monitoring services (StatusCake and UptimeRobot) tracked the test site for a month. The results for LightningBase in both cases was perfect uptime. In the uptime department, LightningBase had a flawless performance.

WebPageTest

“WebPagetest is an open source project that is primarily being developed and supported by Google as part of our efforts to make the web faster.” WebPageTest grades performance and allows you to run tests from multiple locations simulating real users. LightningBase was tested from Dulles, VA, Miami, FL, Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA.

Company Dulles,VA Miami, FL Denver, CO Los Angeles, CA Average
LightningBase 0.584 0.787 0.936 0.675 0.7455

There was absolutely no issues with their WebPageTest results. LightningBase had the fastest average load time of every host compared in our testing.

Conclusion

LightningBase is another new-comer that jumped straight to the top. One of the cheapest too starting at under $10 per month. LightningBase aced the Blitz testing and did excellent on Load Storm tests. There was zero downtime monitored. LightningBase belongs in the top tier of WordPress hosting companies and is delivering amazing value on top of their stellar performance benchmarks.

Visit Lightning Base

lightningbaselogo1600x290b

Media Temple WordPress Hosting Review

media-temple-logo

 

This post is based off WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks, where you can read the full details of how Media Temple performed against the competition.

Overview

MediaTemple [Reviews] is a new entrant into the managed WordPress hosting space along with its parent brand GoDaddy. It was acquired by GoDaddy in 2013 and both have jumped head first into the WordPress space sharing a lot of technology. Media Temple has a generally more positive reputation than its parent company and targets developers and designers with a premium offering. MT wasn't in our first round of testing but they did very well in our second round of testing. Media Temple also recently changed their plans and pricing structure, offering plans that scale much higher than the one size fits all plan originally offered. The plan used during our testing was more expensive and had a slightly fewer features. So it seems new customers would get slightly better value and the ability to scale.

The Plan

All testing was done on Media Temple's WordPress hosting package. The plan had 20GB of SSD disk space, unlimited bandwidth usage, allowed 3 sites and had Git and Staging technology. The cost was $29/month.

Performance

LoadStorm

The first performance test was done with LoadStorm. Media Temple made it to the final round of testing where 2000 concurrent users were logging into WordPress and browsing the test site. The test was designed to test non-cached performance by logging users into WordPress. It caused many hosting setups to crumble. You can see MT's result in this graph (click on it to play with the interactive results):

 

Load-Storm-Media-Temple-2000

Media Temple handled this test barely showing signs of struggle. A staggering low error count of 9 (out of more than 249,000 requests)  one of the lowest peak response times at under 1.5 seconds.

Blitz

The second load test that was run on Media Temple was Blitz. Blitz was used to test cached performance. It simply requested the home page from 1-2000 times per second.

Blitz-Media-Temple-2000

Media Temple's Blitz results were near textbook. Flat response times while users scaled to 2000 and a <0.1% error+timeout rate. Full Blitz Results (PDF)

Uptime

Two third-party uptime monitoring services (StatusCake and UptimeRobot) tracked the test site for a month. The results for Media Temple showed 99.81% and 100% uptime respectively.

WebPageTest

“WebPagetest is an open source project that is primarily being developed and supported by Google as part of our efforts to make the web faster.” WebPageTest grades performance and allows you to run tests from multiple locations simulating real users. MT was tested from Dulles, VA, Miami, FL, Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA.

Company Dulles,VA Miami, FL Denver, CO Los Angeles, CA Average
Media Temple 1.516 0.983 0.955 0.555 1.00225

There was absolutely no issues with their WebPageTest results, it loaded very quickly with a great average speed of one second.

Conclusion

MediaTemple [Reviews] is interesting because I was told it was running the same technology as GoDaddy (GoDaddy bought Media Temple a year ago). They have a few more premium features like Git and a staging environment. Media Temple’s performance was superb. It actually beat GoDaddy’s performance in just about every measure by a marginal amount on both Load Storm and Blitz’s load testing. If GoDaddy's WordPress Hosting has top tier performance, Media Temple certainly does as well.

 

media-temple-logo

Pantheon WordPress Hosting Review

This post is based off WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2014).

pantheon_logo_tagline

Overview

Pantheon is one of the new comers into the managed WordPress space. They came over from the Drupal world where they focused on developers and enterprise. They've taken their developer tools and brought them to the WordPress space and made quite a splash leaping into our top tier of managed WordPress hosting companies.

The Plan

All testing was done on the Professional plan (shared) and using the WordPress stack. The plan had 20GB of space and allowed 100,000 visitors per month. The price was $100/month.

Performance

LoadStorm

The first performance test was done with LoadStorm. Pantheon made it to the final round of testing where 2000 concurrent users were logging into WordPress and browsing the test site. The test was designed to test non-cached performance by logging users into WordPress. It caused many hosting setups to crumble. You can see Pantheon's result in this graph (click on it to play with the interactive results):

 

Load-Storm-Pantheon-2000

Pantheon had a whopping zero errors and scaled without issue.  LoadStorm independently analyzed my testing and named Pantheon as performing the best of any WordPress company tested.

Blitz

The second load test that was run on Pantheon was Blitz. Blitz was used to test cached performance. It simply requested the home page from 1-2000 times per second.

Blitz-Pantheon-2000

Pantheon's result looks like it was from a textbook. It maintained roughly the same response time from one to two thousand concurrent users. Full Blitz Results (PDF)

Uptime

Two third-party uptime monitoring services (StatusCake and UptimeRobot) tracked the test site for a month. The results for Pantheon in both cases was perfect uptime. There's nothing more to say than that.

WebPageTest

“WebPagetest is an open source project that is primarily being developed and supported by Google as part of our efforts to make the web faster.” WebPageTest grades performance and allows you to run tests from multiple locations simulating real users. Pantheon was tested from Dulles, VA, Miami, FL, Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA.

Company Dulles,VA Miami, FL Denver, CO Los Angeles, CA Average
Pantheon 0.654 0.828 0.923 0.954 0.83975

There was absolutely no issues with their WebPageTest results, it loaded very quickly with a great average speed of under one second.

Conclusion

Pantheon specialized in Drupal hosting, so I was wondering how well it would translate to WordPress. The short answer is, it converted over really well. They had a flawless run on the LoadStorm test - zero errors and not even any spikes in response time over 30 minutes. Pantheon is one of the more expensive options on the market, but they make a very strong case for it. Perfect uptime and near flawless load testing sent them easily into the top tier.

pantheon_logo_tagline

 

 

A Small Orange WordPress Hosting Review

This post is based off WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (2014).

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Overview

A Small Orange [Reviews] has won numerous awards from Review Signal including Best Overall Web Host 2012, Best Shared Hosting Provider 2013 and Best Managed VPS Provider 2013. They've been consistently near the top of our rankings since the beginning. They stumbled a bit during our first round of WordPress testing.

But what differentiates a good hosting company from an average one? Accepting there was a short-coming and improving. A Small Orange did exactly that in our second round of testing.

The Plan

All testing was done on a Cloud VPS running ASO's WordPress LEMP stack. The VPS had 1 GB Ram, 15 GB SSD disk space, 600 GB of bandwidth and cost $25/month.

Performance

LoadStorm

The first performance test was done with LoadStorm. A Small Orange made it to the final round of testing where 2000 concurrent users were logging into WordPress and browsing the test site. The test was designed to test non-cached performance by logging users into WordPress. It caused many hosting setups to crumble. You can see ASO's result in this graph (click on it to play with the interactive results):

 

Load-Storm-A-Small-Orange-2000

A Small Orange handled the test without a single error and showed no signs of struggling with the load. There isn't much more so say than ASO handled LoadStorm with grace and ease.

Blitz

The second load test that was run on A Small Orange was Blitz. Blitz was used to test cached performance. It simply requested the home page from 1-2000 times per second.

Blitz-A-Small-Orange-2000

A Small Orange's Blitz results were pretty expected based on the previous test. It showed minimal signs of load around ~1800 users where the response times spiked a bit but were still under 150ms which is barely noticeable. Overall, it was a fantastic performance. Full Blitz Results (PDF)

Uptime

Two third-party uptime monitoring services (StatusCake and UptimeRobot) tracked the test site for a month. The results for A Small Orange in both cases was perfect uptime. StatusCake also had a blazingly fast average response time of 23ms, which led the pack by a wide margin. In the uptime department, ASO had a flawless performance.

WebPageTest

“WebPagetest is an open source project that is primarily being developed and supported by Google as part of our efforts to make the web faster.” WebPageTest grades performance and allows you to run tests from multiple locations simulating real users. ASO was tested from Dulles, VA, Miami, FL, Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA.

Company Dulles,VA Miami, FL Denver, CO Los Angeles, CA Average
A Small Orange 1.443 0.801 0.836 0.64 0.93

There was absolutely no issues with their WebPageTest results, it loaded very quickly with a great average speed of under one second.

Conclusion

A Small Orange [Reviews] is one of the top tier WordPress hosting providers when looking at performance. ASO improved their LEMP stack since the last time I tested. They never buckled in any test. Their staff was incredibly friendly (special thank you to Ryan MacDonald) and they’ve stepped up their performance game. The one thing that isn’t quite there yet is the documentation/user experience, there are a lot of improvements they could make to make their LEMP stack more accessible to the less tech savvy. All in all, the experience was in-line with what I would expect from a company that has one of the highest support ratings on our site.

Visit A Small Orange and use the coupon code 'orangelover' for 15% off.

asmallorange

GoDaddy WordPress Hosting Review

GoDaddyLogo

This post is based off WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks, where you can read the full details of how GoDaddy performed against the competition.

Overview

GoDaddy [Reviews] is the company that sparked this series of WordPress performance testing. They said their WordPress hosting was as good as anyone else on the markets WordPress hosting. I wanted to see if it was true in our first round of WordPress testing and it certainly was. The second round of testing did not disappoint either. GoDaddy maintained their position in the top tier of managed WordPress providers. This article summarizes GoDaddy's performance under multiple testing scenarios.

The Plan

All testing was done on GoDaddy's shared WordPress Hosting service which cost $6.99/month.The plan allows for 1 site, 100GB of space and 25,000 visitors per month. It also had the usual features of automated backups, 24/7 support via phone or ticket and free migrations.

Performance

LoadStorm

The first performance test was done with LoadStorm. GoDaddy made it to the final round of testing where 2000 concurrent users were logging into WordPress and browsing the test site. The test was designed to test non-cached performance by logging users into WordPress. It caused many hosting setups to crumble. You can see GoDaddy's result in this graph (click on it to play with the interactive results):

Load-Storm-GoDaddy-2000

 

GoDaddy actually pushed through triple the amount of data compared to every other web hosting company. Amazingly, it didn't struggle with this at all. The error rate was an infinitesimal, only 92 errors in over 285,000 requests. Other than a little spike, it handled the entire test without missing a beat.

Blitz

The second load test that was run on GoDaddy was Blitz.io. Blitz was used to test cached performance. It simply requested the home page of our test site from 1-2000 times per second.

Blitz-GoDaddy-2000

 

GoDaddy's Blitz results look exactly like what you hope for. A small spike at the very beginning and then perfectly stable performance afterwards. There are no complaints against its cached performance. Full Blitz Results (PDF)

Uptime

Two third-party uptime monitoring services (UptimeRobot and StatusCake) tracked the test site for a month. The results for GoDaddy was 99.9% and 100% uptime respectively. That is the uptime level you would expect of any good service.

WebPageTest

“WebPagetest is an open source project that is primarily being developed and supported by Google as part of our efforts to make the web faster.” WebPageTest grades performance and allows you to run tests from multiple locations simulating real users. GoDaddy was tested from Dulles, VA, Miami, FL, Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA.

Company Dulles,VA Miami, FL Denver, CO Los Angeles, CA Average
GoDaddy 1.607 1.355 0.934 0.855 1.18775

There was absolutely no issues with their WebPageTest results, it loaded very quickly at an average speed of under 1.2 seconds to completely load.

Conclusion

GoDaddy [Reviews] is one of the top tier WordPress hosting providers when looking at performance. GoDaddy continues to surprise me. They flew through all the tests, including a weird issue where they transferred 3X the data during the LoadStorm test and didn’t show any signs of stress. The only comparison I have to last time is the Blitz testing, where they eked out another 3000+ hits and raised their hits/second from 829 to 888. GoDaddy also raised their max hit rate marginally from 1750 to 1763. What’s more impressive is they reduced their errors+timeouts from 686 to 93. More hits with less errors. From a performance perspective, they did excellent in absolute terms and relative to their last benchmarks.

Get 25% off with Coupon Code: cjcwp1

GoDaddyLogo

 

WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks (November 2014)

LoadStormLogo

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

This is the second round of managed WordPress web hosting performance testing. You can see the original here. The latest (2015 Edition) can be found here.

Companies Tested

A Small Orange* [Reviews]
BlueHost [Reviews]
CloudWays* [Reviews]
DreamHost [Reviews]
FlyWheel* [Reviews]
GoDaddy* [Reviews]
Kinsta*
LightningBase*
MediaTemple* [Reviews]
Nexcess*
Pagely* [Reviews]
Pantheon* [Reviews]
PressLabs*
SiteGround*† [Reviews]
WebSynthesis* [Reviews]
WPEngine* [Reviews]

Note: Digital Ocean and Pressable were removed from testing.

*Company donated an account to test on. I checked to make sure I was on what appeared to be a normal server.

†Tests were performed with SiteGround's proprietary SuperCacher module turned on fully.

The Products (Click for Interactive Table)

 

wordpress hosting product chart screenshot

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.

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 one month (July 2014) for consistency.

1. LoadStorm

LoadStorm was kind enough to give me unlimited 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. Then I increased the user load until a web host started to fail. I stopped at 2000 concurrent users for the web hosts that were left unscathed by load testing. Logged in users were designed to break some of the caching and better simulate real user load which a lot of people (both readers and hosting companies) requested after the first round of testing.

2. Blitz.io

I used Blitz again to compare against previous results. First test was 60 seconds, scaling from 1-1000 users. The second test was 60 seconds, scaling from 1-2000.

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 is an open source project that is primarily being developed and supported by Google as part of our efforts to make the web faster." WebPageTest grades performance and allows you to run tests from multiple locations simulating real users. I tested from Dulles, VA, Miami, FL, Denver, CO, and Los Angeles, CA.

Background Information

Before I go over the results I wanted to explain and discuss a few things. Every provider I tested had the latest version of WordPress installed. I had to ask a lot of companies to disable some security features to perform accurate load tests. Those companies were: GoDaddy, LightningBase, MediaTemple, SiteGround and WebSynthesis. I also asked DreamHost and WPEngine, but they refused my request.

Some companies were more cooperative than others. SiteGround spent hours with me customizing their security features to let the load testing tools bypass their security measures. PressLabs ran into an issue we were never able to resolve to get Load Storm to work properly on their servers. We spent hours trying to fix it, but couldn't find a solution. That's why they are missing some test data.

CloudWays is an interesting platform that let's you deploy your WordPress stack to either Digital Ocean or Amazon's EC2 servers. I was given a server on each platform of near comparable specs (EC2 Small 1.7GB vs Digital Ocean 2GB). So CloudWays is listed as CloudWays AWS and CloudWays DO to indicate which provider the stack was running on.

Pantheon was tested on their free development environment which I was told is identical to their production environment.

Results

Load Storm

I ran multiple Load Storm tests to get a sense of where to start testing. The first was 1-100 users, which not a single company struggled with. The second was 50-500 users, which again nobody struggled with. So the first meaningful test was 100-1000 users. For the companies that didn't struggle there, I did a 500-2000 user test. I ran these tests with an immense amount of help from Scott Price at LoadStorm. He spent hours with me, teaching me how to use LoadStorm, build tests and offering guidance/feedback on the tests themselves.

 Test 1. 100-1000 Concurrent Users over 30 minutes

 

Request Count Average RPS Peak Response Time (ms) Average Response Time (ms) Average Throughput (kB/s) Errors
A Small Orange 116127 64.52 2752 356 1318.55 41
BlueHost 107427 59.68 16727 1306 1159.55 13351
Cloudways DO 103359 55.57 16983 1807 1169.28 2255
Cloudways AWS 87447 47.01 16286 5436 821.75 18530
DreamHost 115634 62.17 15514 441 1244.31 4327
FlyWheel 116027 62.38 775 368 1287.86 0
GoDaddy 133133 71.58 1905 434 3883.42 0
Kinsta 116661 62.72 552 309 1294.77 0
LightningBase 117062 62.94 1319 256 1324.89 12
MediaTemple 116120 62.43 793 403 1304.27 0
Nexcess 116634 62.71 15085 294 1299.85 8
Pagely 119768 64.39 1548 461 1227.06 0
Pantheon 117333 63.08 528 264 1316.41 0
SiteGround 117961 63.42 939 165 180.09 0
WebSynthesis 116327 62.54 1101 332 1285.83 0
WPEngine 123901 68.83 10111 416 1302.44 2956

Discussion of Load Storm Test 1 Results

There was a pretty clear division of good and bad performance in this test. Most companies didn't struggle at all. A few collapsed: BlueHost, CloudWays AWS, CloudWays DO, and DreamHost. BlueHost started spewing 500 errors almost as soon as we started. CloudWays AWS started timing out immediately. CloudWays DO started having issues around 800 users and then started timing out. DreamHost started giving 503 Service Unavailable almost right away. It looks like our script triggered a security mechanism but they refused to work with me to test any further.

SiteGround ran into a security measure we weren't able to get around in time for publishing this article. The server seemed to just throttle the connection again.

PressLabs isn't listed because we couldn't get LoadStorm to work on their system. I am not sure what was different about their backend, but I tried to work with PressLabs and LoadStorm to get it working to no avail.

 

  • Load-Storm-A-Small-Orange-2000
  • Load-Storm-Fly-Wheel-2000
  • Load-Storm-GoDaddy-2000
  • Load-Storm-Kinsta-2000
  • Load-Storm-Lightning-Base-2000
  • Load-Storm-Nexcess-2000
  • Load-Storm-Pagely-2000
  • Load-Storm-Pantheon-2000
  • Load-Storm-SiteGround-2000
  • Load-Storm-WebSynthesis-2000

Test 2. 500 - 2000 Concurrent Users over 30 Minutes

I removed the hosts that failed and doubled the concurrent users for the second test.

Request Count Average RPS Peak Response Time (ms) Average Response Time (ms) Average Throughput (kB/s) Errors
A Small Orange 248249 133.47 5905 436 2639.68 0
FlyWheel 236474 127.14 3811 983 2499.11 16841
GoDaddy 285071 153.26 8896 371 8255.24 92
Kinsta 248765 133.74 942 316 2714.82 0
LightningBase 248679 133.7 3887 343 2763.92 23
MediaTemple 249125 133.94 1499 313 2748.32 9
Nexcess 243115 130.71 15097 388 2644.72 80
Pagely 256163 137.72 15078 446 2621.04 1
Pantheon 250063 134.44 1111 297 2754.67 0
WebSynthesis 240305 129.2 4389 743 2598.83 1173

Discussion of Load Storm Test 2 Results 

FlyWheel started to fail around 1500 users causing 502 errors and remained constant at that level of failure. I'm not sure what the bottleneck was, but it didn't overload the server, but I suspect the I/O of something bottle-necked causing a certain amount of requests to fail. WebSynthesis had a few errors as well, they were 5 separate spikes somewhat evenly spaced out. The server didn't show signs of failure, it looks like it might have been an issue with caches being refreshed and some requests failing in the meantime. WebSynthesis' error rate was still under 0.5%, so I don't have any real issue with those errors. The slower average response time can also be attributed to the spikes in performance.

Remarkably, some companies didn't even struggle. Kinsta kept sub one second response times for 30 minutes and nearly a quarter million requests. Most companies had a spike or two causing a higher peak response time, but Kinsta and Pantheon didn't (and Media Temple had a tiny one at 1.5 seconds). Simply amazing performance.

Another interesting note, GoDaddy pushed triple the amount of data through because their admin screen had a lot more resources being loaded. That's why the average throughput is so high. Despite that fact, it didn't seem to impact their performance at all, which is astounding.

Full Interactive Test Results

A Small Orange
FlyWheel
GoDaddy
Kinsta
LightningBase
MediaTemple
Nexcess
Pagely
Pantheon
SiteGround
WebSynthesis

Blitz.io

 Test 1. 1-1000 Concurrent Users over 60 seconds

Blitz Test 1. Quick Results Table

Success Errors Timeouts Avg Hits/Second Avg Response (ms)
A Small Orange 27595 14 0 460 67 ms
BlueHost 23794 1134 189 397 160 ms
CloudWays AWS 24070 162 148 401 138 ms
CloudWays DO 27132 118 127 452 49 ms
DreamHost 13073 45 7885 218 21 ms
FlyWheel 28669 20 10 478 27 ms
GoDaddy 26623 8 5 444 104 ms
Kinsta 27544 0 0 459 69 ms
LightningBase 27893 0 1 465 56 ms
MediaTemple 26691 8 9 445 102 ms
Nexcess 18890 2288 641 337 517 ms
Pagely 25358 9 0 423 156 ms
Pantheon 27676 21 0 461 64 ms
PressLabs 25903 143 0 432 89 ms
SiteGround 24939 0 0 416 152 ms
WebSynthesis 28913 0 0 482 19 ms
WPEngine 23074 121 4 385 247 ms

Discussion of Blitz Test 1 Results

I learned from the last round of testing that any hosting that isn't optimized at all for WordPress (default install) will get destroyed by these tests. So I didn't include any of them this time. There wasn't any as catastrophic failures this time.

Who performed without any major issues?

A Small Orange, FlyWheel, GoDaddy, Kinsta, LightningBase, MediaTemple, Pagely, Pantheon, SiteGround, WebSynthesis all performed near perfect. There's nothing more to say for these companies other than they did excellent. All of their error/time rates were below 0.5%.

Who had some minor issues?

CloudWays AWS, CloudWays DO, PressLabs and WPEngine. All four of these providers had over 100 errors/timeouts and had an error/timeout rates between 0.5%-2%. Not a huge deal, but definitely not perfect.

Who had some major issues?

BlueHost, DreamHost, and Nexcess. BlueHost started show stress around 40 seconds in and started to buckle around 47 seconds. DreamHost had a couple spikes in response time and errors. However, it looks like the load testing tool may have hit some type of security limit because requests started timing out but it gave very fast responses and maintained roughly 250 hits/second constantly. It doesn't look like the server was failing. I couldn't get them to disable the security to really test it, so it's hard to say much more. Nexcess started to show stress around 20 seconds and buckle around 30 seconds.

 Test 2. 1-2000 Concurrent Users over 60 seconds

  • Blitz-A-Small-Orange-2000
  • Blitz-Blue-Host-2000
  • Blitz-CloudWays-AWS-2000
  • Blitz-CloudWays-DO-2000
  • Blitz-Dream-Host-2000
  • Blitz-Fly-Wheel-2000
  • Blitz-GoDaddy-2000
  • Blitz-Kinsta-2000
  • Blitz-LightningBase-2000
  • Blitz-Media-Temple-2000
  • Blitz-Nexcess-2000
  • Blitz-Pagely-2000
  • Blitz-Pantheon-2000
  • Blitz-PressLabs-2000
  • Blitz-SiteGround-2000
  • Blitz-WebSynthesis-2000
  • Blitz-WPEngine-2000

Blitz Test 2. Quick Results Table

Success Errors Timeouts Avg Hits/Second Avg Response (ms)
A Small Orange 54152 26 1 903 77 ms
BlueHost 29394 14368 3408 490 234 ms
CloudWays AWS 25498 4780 8865 425 338 ms
CloudWays DO 53034 1477 49 884 58 ms
DreamHost 10237 5201 20396 171 201 ms
FlyWheel 56940 121 68 949 29 ms
GoDaddy 53262 29 64 888 105 ms
Kinsta 55011 32 0 917 69 ms
LightningBase 55648 0 0 927 58 ms
MediaTemple 53363 16 28 889 100 ms
Nexcess 25556 15509 4666 426 279 ms
Pagely 51235 41 2 854 147 ms
Pantheon 55187 91 0 920 65 ms
PressLabs 35547 4105 1569 592 326 ms
SiteGround 42645 490 220 711 276 ms
WebSynthesis 57776 1 0 963 20 ms
WPEngine 39890 304 333 665 364 ms

Discussion of Blitz Test 2 Results

Who performed without any major issues?

A Small Orange, FlyWheel, GoDaddy, Kinsta, LightningBase, MediaTemple, Pagely, Pantheon, WebSynthesis all performed near perfect. All of their error/time rates were around 0.5% or lower.

Who had some minor issues?

SiteGround and WPEngine. All four of these providers had over 100 errors/timeouts and had an error/timeout rates between 0.5%-2%. SiteGround started to show some stress around 30 seconds and didn't started to have real issues after 50 seconds (errors). WPEngine started to show stress around 20 seconds and performed slightly erratically until the end of the test.

Who had some major issues?

BlueHost, CloudWays AWS, CloudWays DO, DreamHost, Nexcess, and PressLabs. The four that had major issues from last around completely failed with error/timeout rates exceeding 50%. DreamHost who looked like it was fine behind the security measures buckled around 35 seconds into this test and started returning errors, increased response times and the hits/second dropped. CloudWays DO definitely started to stress and show signs of buckling around 50 seconds. But its error rate was still under 3%. I don't think it would have lasted much longer had the tests gone further, but it was the least worst failure. PressLabs was a surprise, it started to show stress around 25 seconds and started to buckle around 35 seconds into the test.

 Full Blitz Results (PDFs)

A Small OrangeBlueHost, CloudWays AWS, CloudWays DO, DreamHost, FlyWheel, GoDaddy, Kinsta, LightningBase, MediaTemple, Nexcess, Pagely, Pantheon, PressLabs, SiteGroundWebSynthesis, WPEngine.

Uptime Monitoring

Both uptime monitoring solutions were third party providers that offer free services. All the companies were monitored over an entire month (July 2014).

Uptime Robot

Uptime (%)
A Small Orange 100
BlueHost 99.71
CloudWays AWS 100
CloudWays DO 99.93
DreamHost 99.92
FlyWheel 99.97
GoDaddy 99.9
Kinsta 100
LightningBase 100
MediaTemple 99.81
Nexcess 100
Pagely 99.95
Pantheon 100
PressLabs 100
SiteGround 100
WebSynthesis 100
WPEngine 100

According to UptimeRobot not a single company was below 99.5% uptime. In fact, with the exception of Media Temple and BlueHost, they were all above 99.9% uptime. For reference 99.5% uptime is 3.5 hours of downtime per month. 99.9% is <45 minutes of downtime per month. Overall, nothing to really complain about according to Uptime Robot.

StatusCake

Availability (%) Response Time (ms)
A Small Orange 1 0.23s
BlueHost 0.9969 2.45s
CloudWays AWS 0.998 0.75s
CloudWays DO 1 2.41s
DreamHost 1 2.22s
FlyWheel 0.999 1.99s
GoDaddy 1 2.41s
Kinsta 1 2.13s
LightningBase 1 1.6s
MediaTemple 1 1.18s
Nexcess 1 2.33s
Pagely 1 2.49s
Pantheon 1 2.04s
PressLabs 1 1.49s
SiteGround 0.9993 1.64s
WebSynthesis 1 1.77s
WPEngine 1 2.76s

According to StatusCake, the results look even better. I used multiple services to monitor because there can be networking issues unrelated to a web host's performance. StatusCake only detected issues with four companies, which is fewer than UptimeRobot detected. It's hard to say which is better or right. But they both say that uptime didn't really seem to be an issue for any company.

StatusCake also provides an average response time metric. According to them, it's using a browser instance and fully rendering the page. They also have many different geographical locations that they are testing from. I don't have any further insight into these tools beyond what I can read on their documentation. If they are to be believed, A Small Orange has astonishingly fast performance. WPEngine is the slowest average load time at 2.76 seconds which isn't that bad.

 

WebPageTest.org

Every test was run with the settings: Chrome Browser, 9 Runs, native connection (no traffic shaping), first view only. This was tested against the default install from every company.

Company Dulles,VA Miami, FL Denver, CO Los Angeles, CA Average
A Small Orange 1.443 0.801 0.836 0.64 0.93
BlueHost 1.925 1.321 1.012 0.785 1.26075
CloudWays AWS 0.655 0.867 0.967 0.746 0.80875
CloudWays DO 0.493 0.851 1.036 0.811 0.79775
DreamHost 1.177 0.863 1.067 1.147 1.0635
FlyWheel 0.497 0.864 1.066 1.109 0.884
GoDaddy 1.607 1.355 0.934 0.855 1.18775
Kinsta 0.759 0.752 0.947 0.592 0.7625
LightningBase 0.584 0.787 0.936 0.675 0.7455
MediaTemple 1.516 0.983 0.955 0.555 1.00225
Nexcess 1.433 1.139 1.196 0.859 1.15675
Pagely 6.831 0.86 0.913 0.709 2.32825
Pantheon 0.654 0.828 0.923 0.954 0.83975
PressLabs 0.715 1.018 1.213 0.723 0.91725
SiteGround 1.392 1.239 1.01 1.212 1.21325
WebSynthesis 0.407 0.835 0.982 1.024 0.812
WPEngine 0.821 1.086 0.839 0.685 0.85775

There isn't much surprising here. The pack is really tight with less than a half second difference average between the top and bottom hosts. If we exclude Pagely. I'm not sure what happened with their Dulles, VA test, but it seems like there was something terribly wrong with the network when I tested it. The average response times from every other location were incredibly fast (<1 second). I'm going to chalk it up to a bad node somewhere causing that particular test to perform so poorly, almost certainly not a reflection of their hosting.

What is interesting, compared to last time is that these companies are getting faster. There was only one company with a sub 1 second average last time. Now there are 10 companies (11 if you count Pagely). Three of them were above one second last time, so they are showing signs of improvement (Pagely, WebSynthesis, WPEngine). It also means there is a lot of new competition that is not behind the entrenched players in terms of performance.

Conclusion

Every service seems to have their issues somewhere if you look hard enough. I try to avoid injecting my personal opinion and bias as much as possible. So I won't be ranking or outright saying any single company is the best. Some providers did exceptionally well and tended to clump together performance-wise, I will call those the top tier providers. This top tier designation is related to performance only and is claimed only from the results of these tests. What each of these companies is offering is different and may best suit different audiences depending on a variety of factors beyond performance, such as features, price, support, and scale (I tested mostly entry level plans). But I will provide a short summary and discussion of the results for each provider.

Top Tier WordPress Hosting Performance

A Small Orange, GoDaddy, Kinsta, LightningBase, MediaTemple, Pagely, Pantheon, WebSynthesis

Each of these companies were below the 0.5% error rate on all load testing all the way up to 2000 concurrent users on both LoadStorm and Blitz.

Honorable Mention

FlyWheel gets an honorable mention. They performed really well on many of the tests. FlyWheel fell apart on the final LoadStorm test to 2000 logged in users. I'll explain more in their individual section as to why this is deserving of an honorable mention.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) vs Digital Ocean

One of the most interesting comparisons to me was CloudWays. They provide you with the ability to choose which VPS provider and type you want. It then sets up their WordPress configuration (in an identical manner from my understanding) on the VPS. I was granted access to one Amazon and one Digital Ocean VPS from them. The Amazon was a small (1.7GB ram) and the Digital Ocean was a 2GB ram instance.

aws_vs_digital_ocean_loadstorm

The head-to-head results from LoadStorm (1000 user test) results above pretty clearly show Digital ocean performing better in every category (with the exception of Peak Response Time which is a timeout). Digital Ocean sent more data, had less errors and it did it faster.

aws_vs_digital_ocean_blitz

The Blitz.io results show pretty clearly that Digital Ocean is outperforming AWS by a wide margin as well. It delivered twice as many hits with less errors and time outs.

It's pretty easy to conclude based on the tests that on the low-end VPSs, that Digital Ocean's hardware outperforms Amazon's hardware.

Individual Host Analysis

A Small Orange

They've improved their LEMP stack since the last time I tested. They never buckled in any test and were definitely one of the best. Their staff was incredibly friendly (special thank you to Ryan MacDonald) and they've stepped up their performance game. The one thing that isn't quite there yet is the documentation/user experience, there are a lot of improvements they could make to make their LEMP stack more accessible to the less tech savvy. All in all, the experience was in-line with what I would expect from a company that has one of the highest support ratings on our site.

BlueHost

Their WordPress offering is brand new. It struggled in every load test. Their price is on the middle-high end but the performance was not. Ultimately, they fell short of where I would expect based on pricing and the competition.

CloudWays

CloudWays was certainly an interesting company to test given that they had two entries, one running on Amazon Web Services (EC2) and another on Digital Ocean. The Digital Ocean VPS outperformed AWS in every category which was interesting. The AWS instance's performance was near the bottom of the pack performance wise, but the Digital Ocean one was in the middle. It is a very interesting platform they have built which allows deployment and management across providers. However, their performance isn't quite there yet. Other companies are running on the same hardware and getting better results. CloudWays doesn't do just WordPress, so it's easy to understand why their performance might not quite be as good as some of their competitors who solely focus on WordPress.

DreamHost

DreamPress was another disappointment. The security features hid some of the performance weakness on the first Blitz test, but it completely failed on the second. The way DreamPress is designed it says it has automatic RAM scaling and each site is run by two VPS instances. It's very unclear what resources you are really getting for your money. They are charging $50/month for a 1GB ram VPS, so I get the feeling a lot of resources are shared and it may not be a true VPS.

FlyWheel

FlyWheel were excellent on every test except the final 2000 logged in user test from LoadStorm. They are built on top of Digital Ocean and I was using the smallest VPS. Yet their performance beat VPSs on Digital Ocean that had four times the resources (CloudWays DO). For cached content on the Blitz test, they had the second highest hits/second and response time. I suspect the testing hit a hardware maximum. FlyWheel had the best performance with the lowest dedicated resources (512MB ram). The companies that outperformed it had more resources dedicated to them or shared resources which presumably would allow access to far greater than 512MB ram. It was an impressive performance given what they are selling and combined with them having the best reviews of any company Review Signal has ever tracked. FlyWheel certainly merit serious consideration.

GoDaddy

GoDaddy continues to surprise me. They flew through all the tests, including a weird issue where they transferred 3X the data during the LoadStorm test and didn't show any signs of stress. The only comparison I have to last time is the Blitz testing, where they eked out another 3000+ hits and raised their hits/second from 829 to 888. GoDaddy also raised their max hit rate marginally from 1750 to 1763. What's more impressive is they reduced their errors+timeouts from 686 to 93. More hits with less errors. From a performance perspective, they did excellent in absolute terms and relative to their last benchmarks.

Kinsta

A new-comer that jumped straight to the top of the performance tiers. Kinsta's performance was amazing in the Load Storm 2000 logged in user test. They had the lowest peak response time and zero errors over a 30 minute test. They didn't struggle with any tests whatsoever and showed zero downtime. Kinsta's performance was top tier.

LightningBase

Another new-comer that jumped straight to the top. One of the cheapest too starting at under $10. LightningBase aced the Blitz testing and did excellent on Load Storm. There was no downtime monitored. LightningBase belongs in the top tier and is delivering amazing value.

Media Temple

Media Temple is interesting because I was told it was running the same technology as GoDaddy (GoDaddy bought Media Temple a year ago). They have a few more premium features like Git and a staging environment. Media Temple's performance was superb. It actually beat GoDaddy's performance in just about every measure by a marginal amount on both Load Storm and Blitz's load testing. If GoDaddy has top tier performance, Media Temple certainly does as well.

Nexcess

Nexcess's performance was excellent in the Load Storm testing. However, it completely collapsed during the Blitz load testing. I'm really not sure what to make of those results. Perhaps the underlying shared hardware is very good but the static caching setup isn't quite up to snuff? It's probably not worth speculating, suffice to say, Nexcess ended up looking like a middle of the pack web host instead of a top tier one because of the Blitz test.

Pagely

Pagely put on another spectacular performance. They handled the Load Storm test with 1 error. Blitz results stayed similar to the last run. They handled more hits, but had a few more errors+timeouts (1 last time, 43 this time). Really not much to add here other than they continue to be in the top tier.

Pantheon

Pantheon specialized in Drupal hosting, so I was wondering how well it would translate to WordPress. The short answer is, it converted over really well. They had a flawless run on the LoadStorm test - 0 errors and not even any spikes in response time over 30 minutes. They are one of the most expensive (only second to PressLabs) options on this list, but definitely make a case for it. Perfect uptime and near flawless load testing sent them easily into the top tier.

PressLabs

It's hard to write much about PressLabs because we couldn't get LoadStorm to work properly to test out their hosting. However, their Blitz results were lackluster. For the most expensive plan we tested, it was a bit of a disappointment to see it not do stunningly well.

SiteGround

SiteGround sadly didn't do as well as they did last time. Their Blitz load testing score went down slightly. We couldn't bypass their security measures to properly test Load Storm. They obviously have some good protection measures to prevent malicious users from trying to access too many things, but it also meant I couldn't get a deeper look this time around. That was a change from the last round of testing. Slightly disappointing to see the performance dip, but I hope it was due to the extra security measures they put in place that made testing them difficult.

WebSynthesis

WebSynthesis was teetering on the Load Storm test of having too many errors (0.5%), but they were under it and handled the test quite well. They also had no weird security issues this time around, and WebSynthesis led the pack on Blitz testing. They went from 871 hits/second to 963 hits/second; leading every provider on the Blitz tests with a whopping 1 error to boot. Sprinkle in some perfect up time numbers and it's clear WebSynthesis is still a top tier provider and is continuing to get better.

WPEngine

I feel like I could copy+paste my last conclusion about WPEngine. "WPEngine had some issues. Uptime was not one of them, they were perfect or upwards of 99.9% in that department. However, their performance shortcomings became apparent during the load tests." They didn't even make it to the final round of Load Storm testing. They were also middle of the pack on the Blitz testing. Compared to the last round of Blitz testing, the results were nearly identical, with slightly fewer errors+timeouts. I'm not sure if I should be disappointed to not see improvement or relieved to see them maintain the exact same performance and consistency. Their vaunted rankings on Review Signal's reviews have slipped relative to a few of the other providers on here (FlyWheel and WebSynthesis). While they were once leading the pack in technology, the rest of the pack is starting to catch up.

 

Thank Yous

A special thanks goes out to the sponsor of this post and an individual employee, Scott Price of Load Storm, who worked countless hours with me in order to perform these tests.

I want to thank all the companies that participated in these tests. I tested the support staff a fair bit at some of them and I thank them for their time and patience.

A special thanks goes to Chris Piepho from LightningBase also provided a lot of feedback based on the original article and helped improve the methodology for this round.

A huge thanks goes out to Mark Gavalda at Kinsta for his feedback and performance testing discussions. He's tested some further out stuff than I have like HHVM and php-ng performance. Also to their designer, Peter Sziraki, who designed the the header image for this article.