LiteSpeed Hosting as
Cloudways Alternative

Part 4

  • Select the hosting plan with the LiteSpeed Web server and NVMe SSD storage
  • Choose a shared server geographically close to your visitors
  • Don’t go for the Cloudways hosting services – it is the worst value for money
  • Study the list of standard software suite which is provided in this report
  • Recognise that in the current market, the hosting provider size is its liability
  • Further analysis of the hosting providers can be found in our separate report
  • In the US or Europe, host your website with MechanicWeb – the best value provider
The article takes 21 minutes to read
Last modified on November 8th, 2021

This post is a part of our main research article

We wrote our main research article to inform a large community of web designers and business owners about the best inexpensive options for shared WordPress hosting. Our goal is to help you optimise asset delivery to achieve the best Core Web Vitals score by combining fast hardware, advanced security, and optimal caching.
Different WordPress groups on Facebook have the perfect symbiosis and coordination. This is teamwork. Some “experts” will try to convince you to switch to the “best” shared hosting plan with slow hardware, while others will try to convince you that there is nothing faster and more secure (sic!) than an unmanaged Vultr HF VPS on Cloudways. In both cases, affiliate fees are collected by misleading the unsuspecting public and convincing them to switch to the wrong service provider.
Many users are surprised to learn that there is a third option: Premium Shared Hosting providers with hardware as good or better than unmanaged VPSs. With cPanel, server-level malware protection, and LiteSpeed Enterprise, you get a much more secure experience and faster website loading speed from Premium Shared Hosting. For WooCommerce sites, the benefit is even greater. The best providers may not have an army of affiliate warriors behind them, but that does not mean their services are any less attractive.
Our main research article provides a quick overview of the best hosting options currently on the market. The following posts continue our research article.
  • Part 1. We give a detailed overview of the standard software options offered by all reasonable LightSpeed web hosting providers. Before you choose your hosting, you should read this chapter!
  • Part 2. You might read the detailed chapter explaining the cheating and fraudulent schemes of Cloudways and its affiliate community.
  • Part 3. We explain the technical details of our benchmarking study. Read it if you want to quickly test the actual quality of hardware resources provided by your hosting provider.
  • Part 4 (this post). Covers advanced hosting options for extremely busy websites. You should study this chapter if you are determined to switch to VPS hosting.

Managed VPS Hosting

If you are asked to move your site on a virtual private server (VPS), be aware that the monthly fee will substantially increase. You can expect to pay $120 per month for this service, including the fee for the LiteSpeed Web Server Enterprise Site Owner plan  (limited to 8GB RAM on the virtual machine), cPanel and WebHost Manager (WHM), CloudLinux, external backup, and a bunch of other software tools like Softaculous, JetBackup, and imunify360 you get for granted at the shared hosting. Instead of MailChannels, we recommend upgrading with SendGrid services as they offer better value for money. And last but not least, paying a higher bill for VPS means you can rest assured that your Redis installation will be running in a fully secured environment.
For those looking for an affordable upgrade from the semi-dedicated web hosting, NameHero offers  a fully managed Hero 8 GB Cloud plan. And it also comes very reasonably priced at $45 per month for the first year and $88 per month after that. With these VPS plans, CPU resources are not yet dedicated, but the RAM and disk space is fully dedicated. Once NameHero moves to AMD EPYC Zen 3 based hardware in the near future, this plan will become more reasonable. You should expect a sustained CPU load of about 1.5 CPU or 20% of your CPU allowance. If other users on your server consume much less CPU than their fair share, then NameHero can tolerate a larger usage on your account. This plan provides 8 CPUs mainly for serving spike traffic and you should not use them continuously.
Good VPS providers do not oversubscribe shared CPU, but their VPS plans are priced accordingly to how many users are on the server. For example, NameHero monitors the average CPU usage on each server to keep it below 60% to avoid the drop in CPU efficiency (see detailed discusssion below). That’s exactly how they monitor CPU consumption for shared hosting plans. Since allocated RAM resources are dedicated, the number of users per server is automatically reduced in VPS plans compared to shared hosting. Before you start asking whether the CPU is fully dedicated, you should expect to find at least four times as much RAM in GB as the number of CPU cores. The majority of providers understand that most users need large CPU spikes, but that their average consumption is not as high. Therefore, such users benefit from the VPS plans with a several times larger but shared consumption of CPU resources. It makes no sense for most users to desire smaller but dedicated CPU resources.
In this post, we will repeatedly emphasise that even dedicated CPU resources can not be used at 100%. A fair share of the dedicated CPU plan is about 60% CPU utilisation. To enable hyper-threading, the software creates two logical CPUs per physical CPU core. This topic is discussed in more detail below.
When selecting your VPS configuration, it is important to consider that now you are responsible for controlling the load of your server. You should monitor that average utilisation does not exceed 40% capacity to serve a sudden spike in traffic.  The CPU usage of 30% is close to your fair share on most VPS plans with dedicated RAM, but you will sometimes be allowed a little bit more if other clients are idle with their projects. You also need be ahead of the game and plan for extra visitors when running ads. Terrible things can happen if your website suddenly crashes during an advertising campaign – especially since successful promotions often lead to persistent increases in visitor volume. That could overload servers with less than adequate resources available. Plan with your hosting provider ahead of time so that they’re ready when you need them.
Before you subscribe to NameHero’s VPS, you might want to consider MechanicWeb’s Elite plan for $53 per month for the first year and $71 per month after that. This Semi Dedicated plan is hosted on twice as fast hardware and offers the same number of 8 CPU cores, 50% more RAM and twice as much SSD storage. This Semi Dedicated plan is an interesting and more affordable alternative to NameHero’s VPS hosting, giving you a much more powerful website if you decide to stay with MechanicWeb.
With MechanicWeb’s Semi Dedicated Hosting, you get VPS-like performance for a much lower cost since you don’t have to pay for licenses or manage the server. VPS and Semi-Dedicated Hosting both offer scalability. Upgrading the VPS require a reboot. Semi-Dedicated Hosting can be upgraded seamlessly.
Root access is the main difference between Semi-Dedicated Hosting and VPS. You can use root access to make changes to the VPS’s configuration and to install/uninstall specific software, making VPS plans more customizable. Semi-Dedicated Hosting only supports basic tasks that do not require root access, for example, changing PHP versions, enabling or disabling PHP extensions, and installing WordPress. Most shared hosting providers, including MechanicWeb and NameHero, offer jailed SSH access to your shared account. This option is usually blocked by default, and you will need to ask technical support to allow access to your IP address by creating a support ticket.
Learn more about MechanicWeb‘s fully managed VPS plans if you need root access. The HF-68 plan offers 6 CPUs and 8 GB of RAM for $51 per month for the first month and $81 per month after that. A listing of essential licenses is available on the MechanicWeb website. To cover as many as you can, you should budget an additional $50-70 per month.
In order of priority, the following licenses are recommended:
  • Softaculous (for staging, cloning, and managing backups of WordPress)
  • cPanel (performance, reliability, security, and ease of use)
  • LiteSpeed (performance, stability, security, and ease of use)
  • CloudLinux (performance, stability, security, and ease of use)
  • JetBackup (for incremental backup, reducing server load and backup time)
  • ImmunifyAV (security and ease of use)
  • KernelCare (security, stability, and ease of use)
  • MailChannels (deliverability of emails)
For a budget-friendly setup, you can use AlmaLinux 8, DirectAdmin, and OpenLiteSpeed, which all come included for free. Following them in order of priority are:
  • Softaculous (for staging, cloning, and managing backups of WordPress)
  • JetBackup (for incremental backup, reducing server load and backup time)
  • ImmunifyAV (security and ease of use)
  • KernelCare (security, stability, and ease of use)
There are some users who do not appreciate the stability, security, and performance improvements provided by CloudLinux+cPanel+LiteSpeed. In many communities, such as LowEndTalk, there are people who dislike paying for software. Some even refer to paying for the above software bundle as “mafia choice”. Be sure to do your homework before ordering managed VPS plans and don’t be surprised to find out that your hosting provider recommends CloudLinux+cPanel+LiteSpeed. This has nothing to do with upselling. It shows that many hosting providers do recognise the benefit of offering the latest standard software for their users. You have the choice to follow their diligent advice or not.
Whenever you need to host a dozen or so websites on a VPS, CloudLinux is the obvious choice because it provides OpenVZ VPS-like isolation for each cPanel/DirectAdmin account. CPanel has far fewer hiccups than DirectAdmin. When the client’s budget allows it, hosting providers will recommend cPanel over DirectAdmin.
If you want to host a dozen or more websites, cPanel + LiteSpeed + CloudLinux + Softaculous is the most reliable combination. Together, the software in this combo provides performance, stability, security, and ease of use. CloudLinux does not only offer isolation, but also hardens PHP, provides better PHP extension management, and complements both LiteSpeed and cPanel in ensuring hosting security and reliability. 
Choose your plan carefully and do not sign up for an annual subscription unless you are 100% sure. With managed VPS, you have fewer cancelation rights. A managed VPS is a business-to-business deal that requires upfront costs to obtain the necessary licenses and to install and configure your VPS. If you get root access, the money-back guarantee becomes void. If you request and receive root access, you can do anything on the server (even unknowingly) that will misconfigure it. This is why managed VPS providers usually include this clause. The money-back guarantee can only be enforced if hosting provider does not able to fix the legitimate issues you identified during the initial trial period. Depending on the hosting provider, the period is between 30 and 45 days.
A managed VPS provider is not there to solve your web development problems. To begin with, they are only responsible for installation and initial software tuning to keep your hosting secure and stable. Do not expect them to provide you with more than a couple of hours of technical support per month. Expect to pay extra if you need much more support. If you are not technically savvy, consider a semi-dedicated or quasi-dedicated plan. Managed VPS services are not designed to provide advice and assistance to technically incompetent users.
For those on a tight budget, Black Friday is the time to choose your service provider. Your discount for the first year will likely be 30% higher. If you switch to a different provider every year, you can also upgrade your server hardware. However, we’d bet that if you are not making enough money to pay for premium hosting after a few years, you should abandon such a business anyway.
Your fair share for continuous CPU load on HF-68 plan with 6 CPUs and 8 GB RAM is about 25% (1.5 CPU). However, MechanicWeb will tolerate more if many plans on your server are using much less than that. Considering that the server speed is twice as fast, this VPS plan from MechanicWeb offers much better value than similar Hero 8GB Cloud VPS plans from NameHero. MechanicWeb offers broad geographic coverage with servers in Dallas, Los Angeles and Germany.
MechanicWeb’s VPS service is based on KVM (Kernel Based Virtual Machines), a true virtualization technology. KVM VPS is a virtual machine, similar to a small dedicated server. Any software can be installed on it as with any dedicated server. VPS accounts require their own set of software; therefore, license fees must be paid. KVM VPS accounts offer dedicated disk space and RAM by default, threfore they offer better isolation than CageFS and are less likely to be affected by bad neighbours.
OpenVZ, another virtualisation technology for VPS plans, shares RAM and storage among multiple accounts. OpenVZ offers very similar isolation between VPS accounts to CageFS for shared hosting accounts. OpenVZ provides easy possibility of overselling resources on VPS accounts. From the point of view of resource allocation, there is not much difference between VPS hosting using OpenVZ and ordinary shared hosting. A KVM VPS hosting provider makes more sense if you are thinking about switching to a VPS account.
Dedicated CPU VPS plans are much more expensive per CPU, but are still available if you need them. These VPS plans are the closest thing to a small dedicated server, created as a fraction of a larger physical server. These plans are appropriate only if you prefer to have a CPU resource that is several times smaller but is exclusively yours. Another, more appropriate use case is the requirement for unusually large RAM resources to keep a large object cache for a website which demands heavy dynamic changes to its content.  If you have dedicated CPU resources, your fair share is still about 60%. It might be better to reduce it to 50%  to avoid hitting 100% utilisation during traffic spikes.

Quasi-dedicated Hosting

MechanicWeb offers quasi-dedicated hosting with fully dedicated CPU, RAM, and disk space allocation on Ryzen Zen 3 servers for customers who need a lot of resources. The highest tiers are the 8 CPUs / 24 GB RAM plan, the 8 CPUs / 32 GB RAM plan and the 16 CPUs / 64 GB RAM plan. The CPU resources are still shared in the junior plan with 8 CPUs (fair share continious utilisation of 35%) and dedicated 16 GB RAM. With dedicated CPU hosting plan, users are expected to consume more but should keep the server CPU load below 60%. If you don’t do that, you won’t have the resources to handle spikes in traffic.
Due to budget constraints, many businesses use entry-level dedicated servers. MechanicWeb’s Ryzen Zen 3 servers are a good solution for these customers. The performance of the Ryzen Zen 3 CPU is typically three to five times that of many entry-level dedicated servers. When such customers choose even entry-level Quasi-Dedicated Hosting, their websites will benefit from significantly more resources.
Quasi-Dedicated Hosting, however, is primarily designed for corporate clients. It is an enterprise-level managed VPS with complete sysadmin control and responsibilities retained by MechanicWeb. The target customers are willing to pay more for a seamless service that is essential to their success. For agencies looking to host their clients’ websites, this priority is automatically lowered. They might prefer to continue using managed VPS or dedicated servers.
In a similar way to VPS plans, Quasi-Dedicated servers are created through KVM isolation. The default software includes cPanel Solo (1 account), LiteSpeed Site Owner Plus, Softaculous, KernelCare, malware scanner, CSF WAF, ModSecurity, Redis/Memcached, SSL certificates, and free daily offsite backups. CloudLinux, ImunifyAV+ or Imunify360, and incremental hourly backups are included as highly recommended paid options. Migration services are included for free with all plans, but only when moving from cPanel and DirectAdmin servers.
The plan’s upgrade to dedicated resources comes at a cost. A quasi-dedicated Spark plan with eight CPUs and 32 GB RAM costs almost five times as much as a semi-dedicated Elite plan with eight CPUs and 12 GB RAM. The Flux plan with eight shared CPUs and dedicated 16 GB RAM costs $139 per month.
When the cost of essential licenses is included with the VPS and quasi-dedicated plans, the Flux plan with dedicated 16 GB RAM will cost about 20% more than their managed VPS plan HF-68. Yet, the quasi-dedicated Flux plan offers 50% more hardware resources. MechanicWeb’s sysadmin team will also devote more attention to the Flux plan to provide a more secure, streamlined service. We recommend considering the quasi-dedicated plans with 8 CPUs / 16 GB RAM, and 8 CPUs / 24 GB RAM as the first diligent step before moving to the dedicated server. The higher-tier plans are priced too high and you might find it more cost efficient to switch to the managed dedicated servers.
With Quasi-Dedicated plans, you can easily create and start to grow social network websites similar to Facebook using the BuddyBoss WordPress platform, which also integrates Zoom meetings and webinars with a learning management system (LMS) software. MechanicWeb’s Quasi-Dedicated Hosting plans use the fastest Ryzen Zen 3 servers, offering computational power resources unmatched by any other VPS provider on the market. It also has some limitations in that it is not technically a VPS. MechanicWeb will install additional software after they approve your request.
The quasi-dedicated hosting offered by MechanicWeb is not unique. Stablepoint’s managed dedicated business web hosting plans offer a very similar service at a similar price. For its services, Stablepoint uses dedicated CPU VPS from Linode and DigitalOcean. As with MechanicWeb’s quasi-dedicated plans, it also offers fully managed cPanel plans with LiteSpeed Enterprise, Redis, malware scanner and WAF. Since root access is withheld from customers, it is not a managed VPS account. Technical support will install any custom software with prior approval from technical managers.  Stablepoint offers hardware that is almost 40% slower than MechanicWeb, but has access to more global data centres. You should consider MechanicWeb if you need services in the UK, Europe, or the US. Stablepoint’s plans are best suited for destinations such as Canada, Northeastern and Midwestern United States, Latin America, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and Japan.

Dedicated Hosting

You can keep upgrading the hardware to cover for a massive spike in the traffic during the festive season, renting a whole dedicated managed AMD Ryzen Zen 3 5900x server with 12 CPU (=24 logical CPUs) cores and 64 GB RAM from Mechanic Web. It will provide about three times more processing power than HF-68 plan but now all CPU recources are fully dedicated to your account. As a drawback, it will command an overall monthly bill approaching $400, including software licenses. For enormous traffic volume, it might be best to unload static HTML files to QUIC.cloud CDN while serving all other static content through the Geo-Replicated Perma-Cache of the BunnyCDN as described in our separate paper.
Zen 3 AMD Ryzen 9 5950x with 16 CPU cores (=32 logical CPUs) and 128 GB RAM is the most affordable super powerful server on the market right now. AMD Ryzen 9 5950x are currently available from MechanicWeb in Dallas and Germany but will be more widely available in the coming months. AMD has taken a big step forward with Ryzen Zen 3. The 45% performance improvement over AMD Ryzen 2 makes them an ideal workhorse for even the most demanding projects. The GridPane team recommends them for the most advanced users.
The main difference between a VPS plan and a dedicated server is that you need to aim for a much lower average CPU load. Dedicated servers should never be 100% utilised to avoid heavy multithreading that slows them down. Your server’s peak load should not ever exceed 60% of CPU resources. For this, you may need to make sure that the average load does not exceed 30%. Reputable shared hosting and VPS providers run their servers underutilised, and now it’s your turn to do the same.
Let’s use an example to explain. The operating system creates 32 logical cores when you have 16 CPU physical cores. Modern CPU cores are designed to multiplex (Hyper-Thread) resources between logical cores. According to Intel, this can boost the performance of the physical core by about 20 to 30%. Therefore, 16 CPU cores can perform the work of up to 20 CPUs. It is simple – sometimes, the CPU core is just waiting for data from the disk or RAM. Instead of idling, it can serve another process. Hyper-threading implements different pipelines for different threads using hardware.
The physical CPU cores start hyper-threading after 50% logical CPU utilisation (the number of utilised logical cores > number of physical cores). CPU utilisation of up to 60% might be OK – your efficiency might not degrade, but CPUs core idle time is reduced. Above 65% CPU utilisation, you surely enter the area of declining efficiency. Instead of idle, the physical CPU is frantically trying to serve everything it can – but it cannot handle two threads simultaneously! It can only multiplex between them.
Hyper-threading
A good hosting provider aims to keep logical CPU utilisation (reported by the operating system) well below 50% for this reason. It is already approaching 100% of the physical CPU cores capacity at 50% logical CPU utilisation! It is essential to recognise that you have 32 logical cores for 16 physical cores, so 65% logical CPU utilisation is already 21 logical CPUs multiplexed on 16 physical cores. Five physical CPU cores will serve two logical cores each. Therefore, the performance of each of ten logical CPU cores is reduced to 130%/2=65%. Only one process will run on the remaining 11 CPU cores, so logical cores served their will remain at 100% efficiency. It is equally likely that your newly started process will remain 100% fast or slow down by 35%. The average performance of your site drops by 17%, with some visitors suffering more than others.  When you measure something like PHP benchmarks on your server, you will notice sporadic performance drops of up to 35%. It is often referred to as a noisy environment, but it is simply the possibility of sharing a physical core with another logical core.
You do not have to worry about that when you have a VPS or quasi-dedicated server. Despite the fact that you have the right to use 100% CPU, please be aware that no hosting provider will be pleased with continuous 60% CPU utilisation even on a dedicated CPU plan. Occasionally, you can reach 100% without drop in the performance. There may be enough resources on your server to handle your spike if neighboring accounts are underused. The best hosting providers will also leave some logical CPU cores unassigned to guarantee enough resources for spike loads.
You need to adjust your expectations for your dedicated server – the top bar is now 65%, not 100%. Thus, you have to aim to continuous utilisation below 40% to be able to process the spikes in the load.
On the dedicated server, please start with LiteSpeed Web Server Enterprise Site Owner Plus or Web Host Essential, depending on your needs. There is no direct correlation between the number of LiteSpeed Workers and the number of CPU cores, but rather between the number of PHP child processes the Workers create. The parent process spawns a child process, which delivers the web page. Each child process increases the CPU usage of the parent process. Once the CPU consumption of the parent process reaches 80%, it is time to get another worker license.
There are cases when one worker license is sufficient for a 32 CPU core server; there are cases when an 8 CPU core server might require two workers under the Web Host Professional plan – all depends on how much its parent process consumes. LiteSpeed Web Host Elite comes with an unlimited number of workers for the most demanding users.
If you need to scale your website, but even a dedicated AMD Ryzen 9 5950x server doesn’t seem like enough for the task at hand, then it’s time to start looking into further options. Your sysadmin will likely prefer to use a high-performing HTTP load balancer and application delivery controller, such as LiteSpeed Web ADC. This software allows you to scale up your WordPress site by deploying a cluster of High Availability servers. This solution is fully integrated with the LiteSpeed Web Server and provides synchronised web cache content for all cluster nodes.
Even though LiteSpeed Web ADC is software-based, it can compete with hardware load balancers. It should be possible to add as many servers as needed. Scaling up your application using this method is the most cost-effective option. However, it is not the fastest setup. Scaling up first using AMD EPYC Zen 3 servers is a more expensive alternative to LiteSpeed Web ADC, but it will perform faster.
Using AMD EPYC you have several steps to increase your server’s computational power by more than six times. All servers listed below are based on the most recent 3d generation of AMD EPYC processors introduced in Q1 2021. However, please be aware that AMD Ryzen Zen 3 is about 40% faster and is significantly cheaper to rent.  The family includes AMD EPYC 7443 (3.6 GHz turbo all cores) with 48 cores, AMD EPYC 7513 (3.2 GHz turbo all cores) with 64 cores, AMD EPYC 7643 (3.4GHz turbo all cores) with 96 cores, and the expensive monster AMD EPYC 7763 (3.2 GHz turbo all cores) server with 128 CPU cores (=256 logical CPUs) and 512 GB of RAM. All websites are different, but we believe that using the CDN services described above will allow you to serve the traffic of more than five million visitors per day or about 150 million per month.
Wes Tatters
Wes Taters, producer at Light Knights Productions
LiteSpeed is the only way we have found to handle high concurrency without server crashes and page misses. In a high performance configuration, 16 CPU cores/ 64 GB RAM provide good headroom. As a rule of thumb, 2 CPU cores should be reserved for LiteSpeed workers, 4 cores for MySQL needs, one CPU core for Redis and the rest for PHP workloads. Similarly, RAM – 2GB for LiteSpeed workers, 4GB for Redis, 2GB for OPcache, 16GB for SQL (more will be stolen) and the rest for as many worker threads as are practical.
Another note on the game – EVERY CPU is not equal. Some are slow as turtles – others are Lamborghinis. But then 64 cores or 128 cores are not possible on some of these Lamborghinis. Right now we are mostly limited to 16 cores (32 logical CPU cores) and 128 GB RAM.
If you need a beast setup, it’s all a balancing act. Be aware that vertical scaling is always better than horizontal. Even if that means moving to another server with a slower CPU. At a certain point – EACH part of the equation becomes a bottleneck. When you reach a point where horizontal scaling becomes the only option, then we add backbone speed to the mix. There’s no point in having a 128-core beast if it can not transfer data from a dedicated SQL Server cluster over a 1 Gbps backbone.
If you don’t have a sysadmin capable to configure LiteSpeed Web ADC but have money to burn, your best option may be cloud service management platforms provided by a third party. You might want to talk to providers like GridPane. They offer node scalings that will allow you to spread your website over multiple servers. With such service, they provide an easy UI driven control panel so that customers don’t have any worries about scaling out or adding more resources.

Unmanaged VPS Hosting

It does not help that many WordPress “experts” recommend slow web hosting services as the best. We have already shown examples of charlatans trying to convince you to use services like Hostinger, GreenGeeks, and even low-key providers like RaidBoxes. Customers of such web hosting companies are fed up with shared hosting accounts with slow hardware. They are desperate for something different. As a result, two new web hosting markets have emerged: one is the high-end shared hosting market, and the other is the simplified cloud control panel services for unamanged VPS that requires no sysadmin skills.
Based on our report, we strongly believe that premium shared hosting won this round due to its superior performance. Companies like MechanicWeb or Brixly provide you with modern hardware equivalent or better than any unmanaged VPS. Also, premium shared hosting providers offer:
  • Control Panels (cPanel, Plesk, DirectAdmin) designed for professional hosting companies; they offer more security than most entry-level cloud control panels for umanaged VPS.
  • Server-level malware protection.
  • The LiteSpeed Enterprise Web Server with superior performance.
Most users ignore the warning on the wall that 94% of all hacked websites use WordPress. Website security is not an issue for users until their website is hacked. Their desire to save a monthly fee while maintaining a decent hardware setup is completely understandable. But what does it cost to fix the hacked website? You are committing a far greater sin when you host your clients’ websites on unmanaged VPS hosting accounts. Are you sure you are qualified to take full responsibility for protecting your clients’ websites? After a website is hacked, more than half of companies are out of business within the first year. Are you sure that hosting on an unmanaged VPS is in the best interest of your clients?
Stay away from unmanaged VPSs if you are not technically savvy. It could turn out to be the biggest disaster of your career. You shouldn’t use an unmanaged VPS unless you are knowledgeable about server administration. When it comes to sysadmin tasks, experience is even more important than skills. There are a hundred ways to accomplish a task, but only experience can give you the insight to pick the right one. Use fully managed VPS or premium shared hosting accounts instead of taking unnecessary risks – no one, including your clients, will blame you.
Many users believe that using emerging management panels such as Cloudways, RunCloud, CloudPages, or ServerAvatar provides management-lite VPS accounts. These are mistakes of judgement. The junior accounts on RunCloud and CloudPages do not even come with WAF protection, and ModSecurity is only available on their highest-tier plans, priced at about $40 per month. Unlike their mature siblings such as cPanel, none of this new management panels developed in Malaysia, India, and Pakistan undergoes an external security audit. In addition, none of them offers server-level integration with industry-standard malware scanners and removal tools. While there is an option to reduce security holes by using paid security WP plugins, many agree that proper malware protection should be handled at the server level.
Do you really need a WordPress security plugin?
My personal opinion? Yes and no. I see tons of people still getting hacked with security plugins installed. WordPress security plugins SUCK! Most of their features suck.
  • They slow down your site.
  • They can’t secure/detect everything.
  • They cost money.
  • They give a false sense of security (BIGGEST OFFENSE).
SaaS platforms such as Cloudways, RunCloud, and CloudPages are installed on their servers with only client software installed on yours. Some sysadmin tasks are automated, but tools lack the human expertise that is essential for managing a VPS. Their codebase is not tested anywhere. Aside from Cloudways, other teams are too small to perform even basic quality checks (QA). Reputable security firms do not recommend any of the above-listed SaaS management panels. As of now, they have mostly been praised by affiliates and not by experts or hosting veterans who have no intention in collecting affiliate fees.
Try out MechanicWeb’s Semi-Dedicated and Application Hosting plans. You might find they meet all your technical needs and are less expensive than most managed VPS hosting plans.
It’s too bad that every response to [insert problem with website here] tends to be “Get a VPS from [unmanaged VPS provider].” It’s about everywhere that discusses hosting. It’s the hype and blissful ignorance. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I wasn’t aware of all of the problems I solve on a daily basis.
If you are not familiar with administering a server avoid VPS. VPS is not about performance. It is about control at the server configuration level.
Unmanaged VPS accounts are best used as a test environment during the development process for the complex websites. If your site is not in production, you may be able to restore it from a backup in case it gets hacked. Below are some recommendations that can help you choose your infrastructure.
As we mentioned earlier, most VPS providers offer shared CPU VPS plans. The following rule of thumb is based on the typical configuration of modern servers. A shared CPU account will give you up to twice as much memory in GB as the number of CPUs (e.g. 8 GB RAM and 4 CPUs). It is most likely a dedicated CPU account if you have 4 times more RAM in GB than the number of CPUs (e.g. 8 GB RAM and 2 CPUs).
With more expensive dedicated CPU accounts, you can run CPU-intensive services with greater control. You will pay about four times more for the same CPU resources to get it dedicated (but you also double the RAM). While your value for money is greatly reduced, you are still subject to fair use restrictions on sustained CPU load. To enable hyper-threading, two logical cores are created for each physical CPU core. A constant CPU load that exceeds 60% of your allocation still constitutes abuse of your dedicated resource allocation. Hosting providers generally assume that their WordPress customers prefer shared CPU accounts where they have the ability to increase CPU usage to cover traffic spikes. Since WordPress clients usually have low CPU load most of the time, shared CPU accounts are the best way to utilise server resources.
Make sure you subscribe to dedicated RAM accounts, preferably KVM VPS (Kernel-based Virtual Machine). Dedicated RAM ensure that the user density on the VPS servers is low. The cost of dedicated RAM VPS accounts can be four times as much, but they are worth it in the long run!
When choosing your VPS provider, consider the speed of the hardware. VPS accounts based on Ryzen Zen 2 offer some of the best value for money with impressive performance. In the coming months, such deals for KVM VPS will become even more affordable as attention shifts to the 45% faster Ryzen Zen 3 servers.
Currently, the best deals for unmanaged 2 CPU /4GB RAM KVM VPS based on Zen 2 Ryzen 9 3900xx with ECC RAM are as low as $8 per month in Singapore and US from HostUS. The pricing is three times cheaper than High Frequency Compute on Vultr, and you’ll get 30% faster hardware. Vultr is a household name when it comes to large cloud hosting providers. Since you are already cutting corners by choosing an unmanaged VPS, you should not expect your software stack to suddenly become reliable and stable by staying with Vultr. It may be better to save on hardware so you can spend more on malware protection!
The Ryzen 9 3900x will have 128 GB of RAM and 12 CPU cores (=24 logical CPUs). Thus, you will have 32 users per server on a dedicated 4 GB RAM plan. The users will share 12 physical CPUs. By eliminating idle time, hyper-threading increases CPU efficiency by about 30% (see discussion above). Therefore, 12 CPUs are equivalent to 12*1.3=16 CPUs. You should be cautious if your sustained load exceeds your fair share of 50% (=16/32) of a single CPU. If your plan has two CPUs, these are reserved only for peak loads. They are not guaranteed, and their availability is dependent on your neighbors. If you spend more money on a single dedicated CPU, the math is the same – you cannot use more than 50% of it continuously.
You can find more hosting providers recommended in the LowEndTalk community, but that does not make their services reliable or stable. Below a certain price point, it is very difficult, almost impossible to monitor and ensure stability. Therefore you should be very careful if you are using such providers for production websites. However, they can be an option for hosting your development servers.
Ryzen KVM VPS plans are inexpensive, but you should also use an appropriate management panel to simplify maintenance. It is unlikely that users can afford GridPane at $200 per month. RunCloud’s basic plan starts at just $6.67 per month, which is a great value. The Pro plan costs $12.5 per month. Most people like to use Runcloud’s cheapest plans without firewall and malware protection. The ModSecurity WAF is only included in the Business plan priced at $37.5/month. There is a lot of buzz about RunCloud in Facebook groups. There are about 60,000 servers running it, mostly small VPS servers with less than eight domains per server.
Runcloud is extremely affordable, highly functional, and offers excellent support as well as automatic offsite backup every 30 minutes for $1 per month. Don’t skip RunCloud advice to check out various security plugins like NinjaFirewall (WP Edition), Block Bad Queries (BBQ), WP fail2ban, Plugin Security Scanner, Blackhole for Bad Bots, StopBadBots, CloudFit, MalCare, and the premium version of WordFence. Please be aware that WordPress plugins will not protect your website from hackers, that is the server-level task. However, these security plugins can fend off most attacks and hacking attempts. You might afford adding Virusdie’s protection service for $15 per month if you have to secure a single website.
RunCloud is my current favourite cloud control panel. It’s fast, stable, and has a really mature interface. Keep in mind that their service is still aimed more at developers rather than typical website owners. Installation requires a very short (but doable) visit to the command line. And their interface is built more for developers. Lots of dials and things (although very cleanly organized). I think their branding/service is very cute and friendly but not quite simple enough for basic website owners. For the tech-savvy, I think their UI is heaven…chock full of all the features you’d ever want.
Because it is incredibly easy to manage load on free OpenLiteSpeed, it is very popular option on RunCloud for adding server-side caching. OpenLiteSpeed consumes less CPU and RAM than other web servers like Apache or Nginx. However, you should only host a handful of websites. OpenLiteSpeed has some critical bugs and should not be used for demanding applications.
For your server management, you might want to explore other options such as ServerAvatar. The Pro plan costs less than $5 per month per server and offers advanced firewall management and OpenLiteSpeed. In addition to security upgrades, ServerAvatar is working on other improvements that will give users an alternative to RunCloud.
LiteSpeed Web Server Enterprise integrates with major web hosting control panel software such as cPanel, DirectAdmin, and Plesk. CloudPages is the new SaaS managed panel that supports LiteSpeed Enterprise.  It’s a fresh product from the same team that built CyberPanel, which also integrates with LiteSpeed Enterprise.  CloudPages and CyberPanel integrate with LS without charging an additional fee. Early adopters can get a lifetime deal for CloudPages since it is still technically in the beta stage. There is a lot of room for improvement, but so far, it has been smooth sailing.
If you use CloudPages at this early stage, be prepared to be a guinea pig for beta testing. Before seriously considering this option, give them some time to discover and fix the bugs. It is not advisable to use a control panel that a reputable security company has not yet audited. The team that developed CloudPages is small, but they are now combining the best ideas from RunCloud, GridPane, and their own  CyberPanel to build something interesting. From their experience developing CyberPanel, they have valuable feedback.
CloudPages’ pricing model is comparable to other managed panels like RunCloud, but it supports both Litespeed Enterprise and OpenLiteSpeed. It also offers Bubblewrap. A lightweight sandbox application integrated into LiteSpeed Web Server, Bubblewrap has a small installation footprint and minimal resource requirements.  It provides limited feature set of  CloudLinux CageFX. If one of your websites is infected, Bubblewrap isolates it, preventing the virus from spreading to other websites on your server.
If you can afford it, you should always use LiteSpeed Enterprise instead of OpenLiteSpeed. The Enterprise version of LiteSpeed Cache Engine offers much better performance at both the server and user levels. The performance of LiteSpeed Enterprise has improved significantly since version 5.4 (current version is 6.0). It’s better suited for production websites thanks to features like brute-force attack protection, ESI integration, and higher stability. WooCommerce owners should familiarise themselves with ESI and LiteSpeed integration to understand how they can speed up their eCommerce site. Even heavily loaded WooCommerce pages can achieve significantly higher Core Web Vitals thanks to the new Guest Mode introduced with the latest version of LiteSpeed Cache.
LiteSpeed isn’t the same as OpenLiteSpeed – some performance enhancements only are in LiteSpeed. And LiteSpeed 5.4+ is a totally different performance beast compared to OLS.
LiteSpeed’s LSAPI based PHP is definitely faster for non-cached dynamic PHP than PHP-FPM. Uncached meaning without a cache layer in front of PHP which offloads PHP load elsewhere.
The Free Enterprise LiteSpeed plan can be used only for one domain on a server with up to 2 GB of RAM. It can be paired with $10 per month Personal plan on CloudPages to serve 2 GB RAM/ 1 vCPU VPS. For $10 per month, we recommend SiteOwner LiteSpeed Web Server Enterprise. It’s better suited for $16 per month Freelancer plan on CloudPages and is limited to 5 domains and 8 GB RAM. For unlimited domains you have to consider CloudPages’ Agency plan for $40 per month plus WebHost Lite Enterprise for $26 per month. If you go alone with Linode, for 8 GB RAM plan you will have to fork another $40 per month for four shared vCPU or $60 per month for four dedicated vCPUs. You accumulate a bill from $106 to $126 per month and this does not even include emails, backups, and malware protection.
If you do not need to use root access, you have to seriously ask yourself what are you doing. For half the price, you can get MechanicWeb’s Elite semi-dedicated hosting package with 12 GB RAM and 8 CPUs. The MecahnicWeb Ryzen Zen 3 hardware is 70% faster than the new Zen 2 AMD EPYC 7542 servers on Linode, so its 8 CPUs can handle the load of 14 CPUs on Linode. Thus, you have three times more resources to handle peak loads for half the price of your own server. You also have server-level malware protection, MailChannels outbound spam filtering, CageFS Security Isolation, and daily offsite backups. Plus, everything is maintained and controlled by a professional team of sysadmins with 24/7 tech support. Is it really necessary to go to all this trouble with using CloudPages if you only host WordPress websites?
Here are three options for comparison. Which one has a better value?
  • Your monthly bill is $126, which does not include email, backups, and malware protection. It’s based on CloudPages’ Agency plan, WebHost Lite Enterprise, and a dedicated CPU Linode instance with 4 vCPU and 8 GB RAM. They are beta testing a brand new panel that an external security firm has never audited.
  • Stablepoint’s Start-Up Business plan offers the same Linode instance with dedicated 4 CPUs and 8 GB RAM for $139 per month. They provide LiteSpeed Enterprise and 30 cPanel accounts to isolate your sites. CageFS isolation works much better than Bubblewrap. Stabelpoint includes email, backups and server-level malware protection. The security and stability are based on cPanel, which is regularly audited by external security firms.
  • MechanicWeb’s quasi-dedicated Flux plan costs $139 per month. With this plan, you get dedicated 16 GB RAM and 8 shared CPUs. MechanicWeb’s AMD Ryzen Zen 3 hardware is about 70% faster than Linode’s AMD EPYC 7542 Zen 2 servers. Its 8 CPUs are equivalent to about 14 vCPUs provided by Linode hardware. Anyone who studied math in school will see the advantage of using 14 shared vCPUs with average utilisation of 30% over dedicated 4 vCPUs with average utilisation of 60%. MechanicWeb offers cPanel with LiteSpeed Enterprise but does not offer multiple cPanel accounts for agencies – MechanicWeb’s advanced reseller plans are more suitable for such use cases. If you need a cPanel Pro with the Flux plan, you’ll have to pay extra for it.
Even if you must have root access, consider all the costs and decide whether you can afford a managed VPS plan. The advantage of good managed VPS providers like NameHero and MechanicWeb is that they keep the servers underloaded, so hosting accounts do not compete for the CPU cores, but get them on demand. The providers do not offer fully dedicated CPU plans, but they can tolerate a much higher sustained CPU load than some shared VPS plans mentioned above.
A managed VPS plan gives you more security, usability, and stability. You get it with standard cPanel:
  • With two decades of development, bug fixing, and security hardening, the codebase is robust.
  • cPanel’s own quality testing and security team regularly reviews the software for bugs and security issues. A smaller control panel does not even have a QA team, let alone a security researcher.
  • cPanel’s software is regularly audited by third parties for bugs and security issues – the audits are paid for by cPanel.
  • cPanel offers the largest bug bounty program in the web hosting software industry – you find bugs and get paid for that.
  • cPanel is used by the majority of web hosting companies. The more servers that use cPanel, the faster bugs and shortcomings are discovered and fixed.
  • Native integration with all major third-party software increases stability and performance. Other control panels are not even close.
  •  Of course, cPanel supports LiteSpeed Web Server Enterprise as well.

Next steps

Our main research article provides a quick overview of the best hosting options currently on the market. The following posts continue the research article.
  • Part 1. We give a detailed overview of the standard software options offered by all reasonable LightSpeed web hosting providers. Before you choose your hosting, you should read this chapter!
  • Part 2. You should read the detailed chapter explaining the cheating and fraudulent schemes of Cloudways and its affiliate community. We strongly recommend you to study it if you are still angry at us after reading our direct insults against Cloudways and their iconic services.
  • Part 3. In the third chapter, we explain the technical details of our benchmarking study. Read it if you want to quickly test the actual quality of hardware resources provided by your hosting provider. You’ll also get an objective look at their sysadmin team – can they fine-tune software settings to optimize database performance?
  • Part 4 (this post). The final chapter covers advanced hosting options for extremely busy websites. You should study this chapter if you have more than 100,000 visitors per month and are determined to switch to VPS hosting.
There are many hosting providers – each with its own advantages and disadvantages – but it can be hard to decide which is the best one. We have researched and sorted out the most appropriate hosting providers who offer all of the services discussed in this article’s first section. Our separate report has covered in detail some of the providers you will have to choose from. The obvious winner is MechanicWeb who provide their plans at the most affordable price using fastest and most optimised servers.
When websites attract heavy traffic, they overwhelm the provider’s hosting capacity. Adding a CDN service is an excellent way to get your website in front of more people and grow your audience. If you have a website with high traffic, then we recommend giving BunnyCDN a try. It will store a permanent cache of your website’s static files like CSS, JS, and images in its Geo-Replicated Perma-Cache servers. These servers will provide your files to the cache of 30 servers located around the world, shielding your origin from traffic. Your origin server will be left with the task of delivering HTML files to visitors, reducing the bandwidth load at your origin by a minimum of thirty times. BunnyCDN services cost you about $1 per month. It is a much better option than upgrading the level of your subscription with your original hosting provider.
If your website is hosted on a LiteSpeed Web server, you can reduce your workload by serving HTML pages through QUIC.cloud CDN. This CDN gives 10 GB of free traffic per month, leaving your origin server to only serve dynamic HTML files for your eCommerce clients. Please read our blog post “How to Choose Your Best CDN Provider” for more in-depth technical information about the services discussed above.
Web design agencies are essential for the success of any website. Selecting a proper hosting and content distribution network provider can help improve the page loading time but to succeed, you need a professional web design. Website design tools are increasingly commoditised, leading to an increase in the number of web designers with limited technical knowledge. Many of these designers cannot guarantee high-speed page loads for mobile devices or desktops. Our article “How to Choose a Web Design Agency” includes clear criteria for evaluating web design companies.
We’re one of the best web design agencies in Cambridge, and we specialise in speed optimisation. Our company has been in the graphic design industry for years, with over seventeen years of experience. We work hand in hand with our customers to understand their needs and create a strategy exclusively for them. We provide a comprehensive design process combined with an affordable web design package to all our clients. Please visit our website’s page about our web designs services for more information on what we offer.
Through our comprehensive solutions, we can help your business from logo designs to designing eCommerce stores. We provide a range of services, including technical SEO and relocation assistance to better web hosting. With our graphic design expertise, we are prepared to meet any other creative need that may arise.
Please contact us at svetlana.zh@webwhim.co.uk if you need any assistance, and we will be happy to help you.
Visit our WordPress research portal for more information. We spoke with plugin developers and hosting providers to compile six articles about how to become a better WordPress user. A knowledgeable web design agency will make all the difference in the speed of your site. You also need a set of plugins, tools, and a good hosting provider and a fast CDN to keep up with incoming traffic. If you don’t do these basics, your website will not pass the Page Experience signals introduced by Google.