LiteSpeed Hosting as
Cloudways Alternative

  • Select the hosting plan with the LiteSpeed Web server and NVMe SSD storage
  • Choose a shared dedicated 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, host your website with NameHero – the best value provider
screenshot from Facebook
Table of Contents
42 minutes read | Last modified on June 14th, 2021

What's the best shared hosting for WordPress?

What's the best cheap shared hosting for WordPress right now?
Cloudways offers high quality SHARED hosting that is way overpriced. In general, most hosting providers offer both cheap shared hosting plans and expensive VPS hosting plans. This is also true for Vultr, DO and Linode. Their shared vCPU plans are affordable and starting at $5 per month. They also offer dedicated vCPU plans starting at $30 at Linode and $60 at Vultr. Cloudways misrepresents its shared vCPU plans, but that’s not the only problem. Cloudways uses an outdated software stack based on Nginx.
LiteSpeed has been able to create a new ecosystem with its enterprise software LiteSpeed Web Server, LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress, and QUIC.cloud CDN for the fast delivery of assets, including HTML, to end-users. It’s more efficient to serve busy servers with LiteSpeed Web Server; LiteSpeed Cache is a better alternative to paid WP Rocket for optimising your site’s page speed rating; and QUIC.cloud CDN offers the best, most sophisticated HTML edge delivery available.
Many small hosting companies have adopted this new ecosystem. Some enthusiastic companies offer LiteSpeed along with the most advanced server hardware currently available. Serwer.io offers workstation-grade AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X processors  (turbo speed up to 4.4 GHz) and ECC DDR4-2933 RAM. MechanicWeb offers a workstation-grade Xeon W-1290P processor with a 5.3 GHz Turbo and DDR4-3200 ECC memory. Both companies’ servers are extremely well-tuned with highly optimised software settings. They outperform the Vultr HF 4GB on Cloudways in every single CPU core benchmark measured by benchmark measurement plugins such as WPPerformanceTester and WPBenchmark. Serwer.io offers six times more resources, while MechanicWeb offers two times more resources for the same price as Cloudways.
Another popular choice offered by various Data Centers is the Xeon E-2136 with 6 CPU cores, 4.5GHz Turbo and DDR4-2666 ECC memory. These servers are only slightly better than the best instances of Vultr HF 2GB servers on Cloudways, but you can find deals that are four times cheaper than Cloudways plans at companies like EthernetServers or HostMantis.
AMD EPYC servers improve CPU density per server, resulting in reduced software licensing costs and data center space rent per end-user. AMD EPYC hosting is less powerful than the first two options shown above but is better suited for scaling the hosting business. For a good example of a hosting provider using these servers, consider NameHero. Their tri-annular Turbo Cloud plan is far less expensive than Cloudways’ cheapest package but offers three times more hardware resources.
All of this would lead to professional communities being more interested in learning what’s going on in the LiteSpeed ecosystem and discussing the pros and cons of the various LiteSpeed hosting providers. After all, there are already 5,000,000 sites using LiteSpeed. However, that’s a far cry from what you read on Facebook forums or watch on YouTube these days.

Introduction

In August 2021, Google is updating its algorithms to include Page Experience metrics based on Google’s Web Vitals. It is going to be a significant change that will have an impact on ranking. Things like First Contentful Paint (FCP), Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Flashes of Unstyled Content (FOUC), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) are going to create a nightmare of optimisation concerns for web designers. This new ranking signal will result in a sudden and urgent shift towards page load speed optimisation, lightweight HTML, CSS, and reduced JS payloads.
But the actual picture is more complicated – the page loading speed of many websites is pushed further down because of the wrong choice of the hosting providers. The classical cycle of blame, the Hosting provider – Caching plugins – Web page building tool – Web designer – Hosting provider, requires optimisation of each part of the chain.
This post provides some ideas for optimising your website’s performance by correctly choosing your hosting provider and associated infrastructure.

Hardware/Software requirements

Standard offering

A modern shared web hosting provider must offer at least the following:

  • LiteSpeed Web Server –  Web Host Professional version on AMD EPYC server; Web Host Essential is enough for the Xeon server with a smaller number of users
  • NVMe Storage – from 5 GB per domain
  • Disk I/O speed quota of more than 30 Mb/s; the best value is 50 Mb/s. Do not compromise on the disk speed. Ignore offers below 50 MB/s if you can.
  • 1 GB RAM or more; DDR4-2400 ECC or higher; the best value is DDR4-3200
  • 1 GB RAM per 1 CPU core is the sweet spot. You might want even more RAM for a bustling eCommerce website as each parallel PHP request will require RAM resources
  • 1 CPU core at 3.2GHz+ frequency for AMD EPYC core; aim for 4.4Gz+ for Intel CPU cores; 1 CPU core per 20 entry processes is a golden standard
  • The recent AMD EPYC CPUs at 3GHz+ provide better value for money compared to Intel’s Xeon; the best results are offered by AMD Ryzen game-grade servers
  • Don’t take the hosting plan if the company cannot list the specific version of the microprocessor and the hosting server’s memory speed. Don’t trust generic words about fast servers; it means eight years old server with DDR3 1600 MHz RAM at best
  • Simultaneous entry processes – aim for 16 per busy website or 4 for a simple website
  • CloudLinux with CageFS – to uniquely encapsulate each customer on the shared server
  • cPanel access
  • Automatic daily remote offsite backups using JetBackup
  • Lets Encrypt – free SSL
  • Softaculous WordPress installer/staging environment
  • Capability to run Cron Jobs using a command-line program such as curl
  • Persistent object cache like Redis or Memcached Server with SASL for the eCommerce website
  • Malware scan and web application firewall (WAF) – imunify360/ ModSecurity is the industry norm for cPanel accounts; you might also find other combinations, like CXS/ImunifyAV+, and Comodo WAF or CSF WAF
  • MailChannels SMTP relay service with IP blacklist protection – for improved email deliverability
  • HTTP/3 service enablement; only LiteSpeed Web Server supports production-ready HTTP/3; this will give you a further boost when using QUIC.cloud CDN
  • Free migration support from another provider
  • Internet network uplink connection of at least 1 Gbps via renting a server from a reputable Data Center integrated into global Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)
  • Cloudflare Railgun integration, but its benefit is less pronounced on LiteSpeed servers, which caches the dynamic part of HTML and stores it as static files. *
* Update. We have discussed our post about choosing a CDN provider with the LiteSpeed development team. We plead for increasing the cache lifetime from the current value of few hours to at least one day. The firm assurance was given to us that QUIC.cloud CDN will implement such a step shortly. This makes QUIC.cloud the best choice as a CDN provider for HTML delivery at the Edge. As a result, our suggestion for assuring Cloudflare Railgun integration becomes redundant. You should better check that your hosting provider does offer HTTP/3 services for a faster and more reliable connection with the QUIC.cloud edge servers.

LiteSpeed and NVMe SSD combo

You have to consider hosting configuration based on LiteSpeed WebServer software and SSD disk with a high-speed PCIe socket for Non-Volatile Memory Express interface protocol (NVMe).  Such a winning formula boosts about four times the speed of specific internal processes on a server, removing the bottleneck in its performance. Servers with such improved technical specifications will carry heavy traffic with more internal resources and degrade their response time more gracefully. It is not just empty words – it is common to find that shared hosting providers increase fourfold the number of simultaneous entry processes and the disk I/O speed quota when introducing this improved configuration to their offerings.
Servers hardware features
NVMe SSD looks like a RAM, not a disk
LiteSpeed Web Enterprise provides additional WordPress Brute Force Attack Protection. A “brute force” login attack is an attack on a website that attempts to gain access to the site by repeatedly guessing the username and password. WordPress is the most popular CMS and, therefore, a frequent target of this type of attack. LiteSpeed protects shared hosting WordPress environments from large-scale brute force attacks that have the potential to bring down entire servers.
LiteSpeed appriasal

CPU speed and entry processes

Please be aware that any request in WordPress is single-threaded and uses only a single CPU core. The faster the thread, the quicker the PHP request or MySQL query to the database will run. High-frequency CPUs provide the highest single-threaded performance. However, benchmark tests shows that AMD Ryzen will outperform Intel CPU with the same clock speed.
If your website requires a high amount of server resources and CPU processing power, you first have to check the number of allocated simultaneous entry processes on your plan. It is as critical as the number of available CPU cores. Of course, it is useful to have more than one CPU core for the busy website with simultaneous concurrent requests coming from different visitors. It is unlikely your case unless you have more than 50,000 clicks per month. Even then, the higher the clock speed of the CPU, the faster your page will be generated. You will also see increased RAM allocation with the increased number of available CPU cores on a good hosting plan. It is common to have a similar number of GBs of RAM and the number of allocated CPU cores (such as 2GB of RAM and 2 CPU cores). Adding more RAM per CPU will help to serve multiple simultaneous PHP requests. If you keep many domains under your account, then having more RAM could be beneficial. In this case, more RAM is needed to store all databases of different websites.
OpenLiteSpeed
The number of allowed simultaneous entry processes is the crucial parameter determining the speed of processing the uncashed requests.  An entry process allowance is the number of visitors you can serve at the same time when someone is accessing your website. If a user accesses a page of your website, that is a single-entry process. When this exceeds the maximum number of the entry process, you will likely receive an Error 503 when a page is accessed. It usually happens if a long queue is created when many users start accessing your website’s pages simultaneously. It would be best to have about 16 entry processes per crowded eCommerce website. Your server will cope perfectly fine with delivering cached webpages using just four entry processes. The rule of thumb is to have about 1 CPU core per 20 entry processes, roughly matching the number of threads per core in most server processors. As a result, you have to watch that the number of CPU cores is scaled up sufficiently to reflect the entry processes’ allowance. A modern single CPU core on the LiteSpeed Web server should be capable of enduring a continuous load of up to forty HTTP requests per second.
Kinsta hosting corporation, the darling of so many WordPress bloggers, provides four entry processes per website (they call them PHP workers) on their Business 1 plan, which cost $100 per month and is restricted to 5 domains. As you will see in our separate study, $20 per month will buy you a service with 100 entry processes. To have 16 entry processes per website, you should upgrade to the $1,500 per month Enterprise 4 plan on Kinsta.

Object cache

For eCommerce WordPress sites with many requests for dynamic HTML pages, adding a persistent object cache like Redis in front of your MySQL database can boost performance and reduce entry processes load. Without a persistent object cache, MySQL database queries will be executed for each request even if the result is identical to a previous query. Redis stores the results of database queries in the RAM, which allows PHP to grab the results of queries that have already been executed. This object caching method allows PHP workers to conserve CPU resources and spend less time fulfilling a request because it removes the need for repetitive database queries. Some providers listed in our report allow to use the Redis for free but heroic Kinsta charges $100 per month per website for such a privilege. It is not straightforward to offer Redis services on the cloud platforms in which RAM is allocated only when requested by the new process. Kinsta needs to run one Redis container per user account and set up a cluster of these containers. Providing this service requires detailed knowledge of Redis and allocation of dedicated cloud resources. It is also based on using relatively costly Redis Enterprise Cloud software.
Redis is open-source software that offers various security improvements to its latest versions, including reduced attack surface for hackers, encrypted communication channels, and permissions management. However, by its nature, open-source software like Redis can be configured to use all or none of the available security features. When it comes to using Redis in shared servers, providers should review their security settings and add additional mechanisms.
Be careful with your decision to use Redis on shared hosting. Unless you are positive that your hosting provider has a skilled and highly professional sys-admin team, please don’t go for it. And don’t simply trust a small host provider. There is a high chance that their Redis configuration will lead to an insecure environment in which different users will be able to read and rewrite each other’s Redis memory. Separate Docker containers for separate customers will reduce security risks in shared hosting. However, dedicated Redis instances for individual users in a shared hosting environment is rarely done. Server-wide Redis can have problems if an incorrectly set password policy is in place.
The main advantage of Redis is that it is best in single-tenant environments, such as when a single website uses an entire VPS or cluster of servers. However, you can use Redis on a shared server if you have confidence in the security team of your hosting provider. In our separate study of web hosting providers, we have hand-picked two providers which can be considered for using Redis with the shared hosting plans. The first company, Brixly, has its servers in the UK and provides 4 GB RAM/ 4 CPUs plan for $20 per month. The second company, NameHero, has its servers in Michigan and provides a 4 GB RAM/ 4 CPUs plan for $30 per month with a possibility to spend just $12 per month if paying your fees for three years in advance.
Memcached Server with SASL security where each user has its own Memcached instance is a more reliable option for a shared hosting server. Without SASL enabled, one user can erase or alter the data another person has stored in their cache. If Memcached service isn’t using SASL, it doesn’t have security and puts your eCommerce websites at risk. MechanicWeb offers a security-hardened object cache implementation of Memcached for your eCommerce website on shared hosting. We recommend their 4 GB RAM/ 2 CPUs SDC-50 plan, which is available for $39 per month on a server with 5.3 GHz Turbo CPUs. This shared hosting plan will offer the great speed for your website, up to sixty per cent faster than other web hosts such as Cloudways. You might increase the conversion rate if you made your website faster, so don’t overlook the chance to use this service.
Do not turn on Redis or Memcached without checking with technical support to see if these options are supported. Even if you enable the Redis PHP extensions in the cPanel for connections, what exactly will you connect to?
If your hosting provider does not offer object caching, you should ask them about the OPcache extension in PHP. If they support it, you may consider using an Object Cache plugin Docket Cache that does not require Memcached or Redis to work. This plugin aims to convert objects into plain PHP code easily stored in the filesystem and loaded from there. This can greatly improve performance and reduce server load. It can be used with other plugins like LiteSpeed Cache as long as the object cache is turned off in the LiteSpeed settings.
If you still have a high load on a server, you have to implement a simple mitigation step described in our separate post. Turn on the QUIC.cloud CDN to serve your website. After that, your server will be hit only by requests for serving dynamic HTML files.
Even if this is not enough, don’t rush yet to use the dedicated web server. Choose Ecwid or WP Shopify plugin instead of WooCommerce – and your Shopping Carts pages will be served by their dedicated fast servers, making your website free to deal with the rest of the load.

Disk I/O speed

Another issue to check is your Disk I/O speed allowance on the plan. It determines how fast your website and scripts are allowed to perform input/output (I/O) operations per second on your hosting server’s disk when a visitor hits your website. If you are throttled to a low disk I/O speed, your website and scripts will always perform slower. It will not matter how much storage, CPU or RAM you have. Avoid values below 30 MB/s. Even 20 MB/s is too low and you should push a hosting provider to increase it before signing for their plan – or just walk away. The current golden standard in our study is 50 MB/s. About 100 MB/s is the most appropriate value for NVMe SSD storage speed, but hosting providers are too conservative, sometimes incompetent, or just unemphatic to pass the increased speed to their users. CloudLinux recommends using a speed restriction of 4 MB/s for the I/O speed for the HDD drives. It is shocking to find that another darling of so many WordPress bloggers, A2Hosting, is applying such ancient limits of 4Mb/s on their NVMe servers which are two generations apart from HDD technology and are 50 times faster. The company is followed by the Hostinger, who offers a terrifying 1 MB/s speed on their Business WordPress plan.

The end of the customised software era

In your hosting provider selection, don’t force yourself to be restricted to using massive hosting corporations aiming to maximise servers for money. Enthusiasts have created many small hosting companies in the UK and USA with the whole idea to be affordable and fast. They aim to monitor the usage and utilise servers below 60% for the peak traffic to provide breathing space for the growing websites. Their technical support team does not treat clients as just records in the Excel spreadsheet. So, if you behave professionally and politely, they will do everything to keep you as a happy customer.
Please be aware of a strategic problem facing the hosting industry. For the last 16 years, it was dominated by the Nginx (pronounced “engine X”), a specialised web server software developed in 2002 by the Russian software developer Igor Sysoev. It is used by about 50,000,000 websites and is very hard to install and configure on the webserver. All important names in the hosting industry became software developers powerhouses tasked to customise and tune the Nginx. They employed many people and were involved in the acquisition spree to develop and customise, develop, and customise. Now all these efforts are waisted – LiteSpeed Web Server has vastly outperformed Nginx. About 5,000,000 recent websites use LiteSpeed now, with the tipping point reached somewhere in 2020.
LiteSpeed Web Server does not require much customisation from the hosting provider, with all development efforts undertaken by the privately-owned LiteSpeed Technologies https://www.litespeedtech.com/. The software uses the same configuration format as Apache HTTP Server and is compatible with most Apache features. LiteSpeed is already an industry-standard supported by most small hosting providers. Larger corporations have a hard time to accept the defeat. They still try to put a lot of marketing effort and directly bribe numerous WordPress bloggers to promote their outdated bespoke tuned Nginx hosting services.
WordPress HTTP/2 Performance by Server
LiteSpeed Web Server boost to the PHP requests processing
In the last decade, it was indeed tricky to select the best server hosting provider. They all ran the home-tuned customised caching and web server software, and some were indeed better than others. Nowadays, everything is much simpler. If the hosting provider offers standard third-party software on their server, it will be your best choice. We have listed all the essential features in the section above, but let’s summarise them again: CloudLinux CageFS, cPanel, Redis, daily off-site backup using JetBackup, Softaculous, immunify360/ ModSecurity, MailChannels, LiteSpeed, MariaDB, Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificate, HTTP/3. This list became an industry standard and significantly simplified setting up and maintaining the hosting server. Unless you are in a charity business, you should run away from any hosting provider who cannot accept a defeat and is still mourning about a decade of development invested in optimising the Nginx server.
The hardware of a server is the main difference between modern hosting providers embracing new software suites. Aim for high speed in CPU, RAM and disk I/O speeds to have web servers that are speedy as possible. Professional third party software and modern hardware – all you need for your website to run smoothly with nothing slowing it down. It has nothing to do with the name or size of your hosting provider. It’s more about what Intel Xeon, AMD EPYC, NVMe SSDs, or DDR4-3200 RAM hardware they offer to run your processes. Be sure that these days any hosting provider is renting a space for their servers at a reputable Data Center fully integrated into global Internet Exchange Points (IXPs).
Nginx vs LiteSpeed
However, as a user, you have to be aware of a reduced barrier to setting up a hosting provider business, encouraging less experienced providers to enter the market. The best modern server can be easily rented from a reputable Data Center. For instance, the best offers from the USA companies listed in our separate study can be replicated in the UK by using the OVH Data Center in London, with a total capacity of 40,000 servers, opened in 2017. They offer Intel Xeon-E 2288G and AMD EPYC 7371. The same dedicated bare-metal servers are also available in the OVH Data Center in the USA, Hillsboro.
Any person capable of installing third-party software on a server will be qualified to set up a web hosting business. He will provide a good uptime as the server health will be monitored by the Data Center.  The server will have a professional-grade 1 GBps uplink to the network, and you will measure a very fast time-to-the-first byte (TTFB). Everything will work reasonably well as is expected from the commercial-grade third-party software. The quality of the technical support team is the most difficult issue to evaluate. Try to find reviews of the company. If all reviews are positive, it can be a bad sign. You want to have some real-life reviews rather than the one engineered by the hosting provider himself.
The low threshold of setting up the web hosting business implies a low threshold to winding it down. So, hosting with a new company might be riskier than staying with the established micro-business with about five years of serving clients under their belt.

Cloudways - VPS on shared hardware

Recycling business

Most Data Centers, like Google, are struggling to recycle a significant number of outdated servers. Serious marketing budgets are spent convincing everyone that cloud services are of great value. Ads have flooded Google, Instagram, and Facebook. It doesn’t help that the admins of most Facebook groups related to WordPress communities earn money through affiliate links to Cloudways.  And it doesn’t matter if you get fewer CPU resources on cloud plans than you would from a much cheaper shared hosting provider. The privilege of being served by a household name like Amazon, Google, or Vultr outweighs any technical considerations for the uneducated customer.
Cloudways - eye opener
The Cloud Compute Engine service from Google runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its end-user products. Until recently, it was not the case. External services were recycling old server hardware on the N1 plans. According to Google documentation, customers on their N1 plan use a pool of outdated servers with DDR3 RAM, sometimes eight years old. At the end of 2020, Google has moved most corporate users to N2 or C2 plan machines, which have modern Cascade Lake processors from late 2019, and 2020.
It is ironic to see that Kinsta, who done extensive marketing in 2019 to advertise their ultra-fast Google Cloud N1 servers, is now reporting about 2.5 times improvement in the PHP processing speed on the modern C2 hardware.
PHP processing speed
Kinsta is now reporting about 2.5 times improvement in the PHP processing speed on the modern C2 hardware if compared to N1 servers.
Use this benchmark to think twice about what you read about yet another major darling of the numerous WordPress bloggers, Cloudways. Most of the plans on Cloudways will use outdated hardware similar to those used on N1 servers at Google. According to the sustained CPU endurance test, even Vultr HF is about two times slower than newer C2 servers of the Google Compute Engine. Amazon EC2, DigitalOcean, Linode, and OVH are nearly four times slower. Since Q1 2021, some new accounts on Linode are hosted on modern AMD EPYC 7542 servers with 3.2 GHz CPU Turbo frequency (all cores) to avoid such embarrassment in benchmark tests. DigitalOcean also starts offering a premium option for AMD servers with NVMe SSD. Their current results on DO Premium plans are still lower if compared to Vultr HF benchmarks.

CPU vs vCPU

Suppose the website is hosted on a dedicated shared server, under CloudLinux CageFS. Your hosting account has some pre-configured resource allocation in the form of a number of logical cores which can be utilised for your processes. Your processes have access to all threads of the logical core dynamically allocated (as-needed) by Linux. You usually have 100% of this logical core resource. Your hosting server provider assures this via monitoring that overall CPU utilisation on the server is below 60%. Suppose you have heavy web traffic, receiving multiple visors’ clicks requesting dynamic HTML pages, and need to run more than one entry process simultaneously on the same logical core. In that case, it will be done via hardware hyperthreading, and this particular logical core will become utilised to 100%. Multiple threads will slow down each other, but computations will progress for each entry processes via efficient hyperthreading.
MechanicWeb 2 GB RAM, 1 CPU $12.8 per month vs Cloudways DO Premium 2 GB RAM, 1 CPU $26 per month
MechanicWeb 2 GB RAM, 1 CPU $12.8 per month
server in Dallas (other locations are Los Angeles and Amsterdam)
vs Cloudways DO Premium 2 GB RAM, 1 vCPU $26 per month
Now, lets us understand how a similar scenario is implemented on Cloud services. Cloud services often give access to the single vCPU, which represents a single thread of the physical core. These are virtual CPU cores (vCPUs), each of which is single-threaded and mapped to a hardware processor dynamically (as-needed). Any hyperthreading of the physical CPU is not exposed to the virtual machine. How many threads are running concurrently on the logical core depends on the host node utilisation at any given time. When neighbouring instances consume maximum resources for extended periods of time, it may interfere with your instance’s performance, but the hosting provider does limit such abusive instances to ensure performance for all customers on the host node.
Implications are not good:
  1. If you work on the Cloud server, the overall CPU utilisation is kept close to 100% by selling cheap vCPUs resources for non-time-critical execution, which can be terminated and restarted, balancing the overall CPU load. Your single dedicated thread (vCPU) will be executed on a relatively busy logical core with a good chance of running concurrently with another thread. So occasionally, you will be lucky to have 100% of the logical core for your processes. But frequently, you will get only a 50% share of the logical core resources.
  2. Suppose that on top of all that, you also need to start running several entry processes in your Virtual Machine (VM) instance simultaneously. In that case, they will be co-sharing the same vCPU single-thread resource for all processing. The multiplexing of the calculation resources for simultaneous concurrent entry processes will be performed now via the less efficient Linux kernel software implementation. Your virtual machine cannot utilise a much more efficient hyperthreading technology (up to 16 threads per logical core) and is working in a deprived hardware configuration.
As a result, you should expect a substantially reduced performance in the sustained CPU endurance test on the same hardware configured on the Cloud.
Article appriasal

Shared vCPU plans are not fit for production

Cloudways user are unaware that Linode, DO, and Vultr originally offered shared vCPU plans for developers who needed to spin up a VPS instance for testing, compiling, and prototyping. They were never meant for production use. The majority of blog posts are intended to engage readers and generate referral fees. To obtain a better fee, numerous WordPress bloggers have misled their unaware readers by pretending that there is no fundamental difference between cloud-based shared vCPU accounts on Cloudways and dedicated server VPSs. This is very far from reality. There’s a big distinction: with VPS, your account runs off of dedicated fixed resources such as RAM, CPU cores, hard disk space; whereas following your sign up for an account at Cloudways, they give you access to all these things through virtualisation. Many people think it doesn’t matter or even that cloud services are more reliable – but this couldn’t be farther from the truth!
ExonHost-vs-CW
ExonHost 4 GB RAM, 4 CPU $16.7 per month
server in Bangladesh, other available locations are Singapore and Dallas
vs Cloudways Vultr HF 2 GB RAM 1 vCPU, $26 per month
Cloudways offers shared vCPU instance plans from major cloud hosting companies. The plans allocation is built via a number of provided vCPUs – a single hyper-thread of the physical CPU core – running concurrently with other processes on the physical CPU. The cheap shared vCPU plans are designed by the providers for light web traffic and are explicitly advertised as such on the provider websites.  The shared plans are not guaranteed to perform well. Most of the time, and on recently purchased and still undersold servers, you will have your single thread as the sole process on a physical CPU. However, you must understand the risks involved in using such plans before making any final decision. Your website visitors’ requests are latency-sensitive processes. You have a wide range of fluctuations in the internet traffic and might get some changes synchronously with other accounts on your cloud node – Black Friday is a good example of when sudden rushes can happen for most eCommerce websites.
Both

The epic fail on a Big Day

The cloud hosting provider will never tell you the server’s specification as your account can be freely moved between different servers in the Data Center during maintenance or load distribution activities. This means you’ll never know how much time your website is served using what hardware – some fluctuations may come from chaotic moves between modern and outdated server hardware. Good luck with your proactive planning for managing your CPU utilisation before that Big Day!
You risk crashing your website if you don’t have enough resources to execute all HTML requests properly. It is inevitable that when a Big Day comes, you are not ready for the traffic surge. You should be running your website at 25% of utilisation to be prepared, but this may be not enough. When traffic levels reach new heights on Black Fridays, you may notice your vCPU starts receiving less than 50% or even 33% of physical CPU resource availability.  This can be seen as unavoidable, given that every account becomes overloaded simultaneously during this time period. As a result, the physical CPU will serve different accounts concurrently using hyperthreading between their vCPU processes. That’s why many online shops have to scale up their resource allocations by order of magnitude on Black Friday just to cover increased traffic and degraded cloud resources. Your hosting provider will try its best to inject more hardware, but you’re really only a second-grade user, so don’t expect a miracle.
To make things even bleaker, if you reach close to 100% utilisation, your website on Cloudways might immediately collapse. Parallel processes are running on your vCPU using inefficient software Linux kernel multiplexing. The more processes you have running in parallel on the vCPU, the more inefficient your virtual machine gets. This means that if your server overloads in a short amount of time, there is potential for a snowball effect which could cause your website to go offline temporarily.
HostMantis
HostMantis 4 GB RAM, 2.5 CPU $12.75 per month
server in Singapore, available London, Paris, Frankfurt, Montreal, New Jersey, Sydney
vs Cloudways Vultr HF 2 GB RAM 1 vCPU, $26 per month

Dedicated vCPU plans for production websites

If you ready to pay a 50% premium, companies like Linode, DO, VultrHF, and Google Cloud offer Dedicated or Compute-Optimised plans for their customers. The providers clearly recommend such dedicated vCPU plans for production websites or eCommerce websites. These higher-priced packages will allow a more consistent 100% CPU allocation due to lower host densities and stricter CPU allocations for virtual machines. Anyone who has purchased one of these two options can rest easy knowing they won’t have any problems with sporadic resource stealing by noisy neighbours or overloaded hosts servers. Your hosting provider will be obligated to provide peace of mind for Dedicated plan users and might neglect your struggle on shared vCPU plans. One problem that Cloudways customers have – they don’t get access to the Dedicated plans.
shared vCPU
With the VPS plan on a dedicated server, you have the same CPU resource regardless of your neighbours’ activities. You will be using efficient hardware hyperthreading on the CPU, which means that overall efficiency does not drop when several processes from your website are served concurrently. So if you had an overload for a short time, that’s no problem at all!
Linode provides the cheapest Dedicated vCPU plans; DigitalOcean and VultrHF are slightly more expensive. Google Cloud pricing varies depending on usage, with a price similar to Linode at 40% utilisation and significantly more costly than that when used at 100%. All these Dedicated plans are unmanaged – they don’t include any extra features or services that usually come with managed hosting. A fully managed VPS plan from NameHero on the modern server hardware will cost less than even Linodes’ most affordable Dedicated CPU cloud plan. It doesn’t take much math to see how better value can be found elsewhere!

Is it a VPS or a cloud shared hosting?

The DigitalOcean specification is explicit: “…the amount of CPU cycles available for the hypervisor to allocate depends on the workload of the other Droplets sharing that host. If these neighbouring Droplets have a heavy load, one Droplet might get fractional hyperthreads instead of dedicated access to the underlying physical processors. In practice, this means that shared CPU Droplets can have access to full hyperthreads, but it’s not guaranteed.”
Shared instance plans on Cloudways are the cloud version of the shared hosting; but they are priced higher than fully managed VPS hosting on the modern dedicated servers with NameHero. With Cloudways account, you share server resources with other customers, and that will cause your website’s performance to suffer when the local cloud nodes get too busy during periods of high traffic load. Dedicated vCPU plans offer something closer to the VPS plan on dedicated servers with a fixed memory and CPU resource limitation, so your website stays consistent even during high traffic loads.
Good or bad hosting is measured by how well it stands up to a sudden surge of eCommerce traffic that drains your resources with a massive wave of dynamic HTML requests, even if the CPU itself is partially shielded with Redis object cache. For the same money that the customer pays for shared hardware 2 GB RAM / 1 vCPU plan on Cloudways, NameHero provides 4 GB RAM / 4 full CPUs on their shared Business Cloud Plan hosted on a LiteSpeed Web Enterprise modern server. Benchmarks with the plugin WP Performance Tester show that NameHero has 1.9 more processing power per CPU core in the so called MySQL Query test. You don’t have to have a PhD in computer science to tell which setup works better under a peak load.
Cloudways vs NameHero
Due to the flexibility and scalability of cloud hosting, the number of users has increased significantly. However, there’s a catch: you’re not the only one using the hardware – cloud hosting still means shared hosting. Cloud hosting providers give you a vCPU allocation that is shared among all customers of a physical server. This is very similar to how shared hosting works, and if you want to avoid throttling, you need to make sure that your resource usage doesn’t exceed 25% of your limit on average. The normal shared hosting providers monitor excessive system resource usage and will always contact you to move to the next level if your consumption is considered too high. Cloud hosting providers are not charities, and they too try to maximise their profits. Their terms and conditions state, “You may not use a shared system in a manner that consumes a disproportionate amount of the system’s resources.” Once your account is found to be using an excessive amount of resources, the cloud hosting provider will begin throttling your CPU allocation. Vultr technical support explains, “…we limit such abusive instances to ensure performance for all customers on the host node.”
No low-cost VPS provider will sell you a dedicated CPU core for a few dollars a month. I have clients that I manage on VultrHF and DigitalOcean. It’s interesting how often, when you first spin up the VPS, things are running fast and great. Then, a month or two later, the CPU steal is through the roof, and the CPU performance goes down the drain – possibly because the customer is using the CPU so heavily? I often migrate users like that from Cloudways to our shared servers, and customers see an immediate improvement in page load speed.
Cloudways vs LiteSpeed
Now ask yourself: what is a vCPU? I don’t have a problem with virtualization except when used to mask how little resources they’re actually giving you. Sometimes you do get the promised number of vCPU’s, but they’re shared with other accounts.
The partial answer to this question has been provided in the recent report commissioned by Linode. The results show perfect consistency of GeekBench scores on both Google Cloud and newest undersold Linode hosting hardware, suggesting that vCPUs were running independently with other accounts’ workloads. The worst numbers were seen in the AWS EC2 plan, which is an indication that vCPUs on these servers were frequently sharing CPU cores with other accounts. The report also reconfirmed how dismal performance was from both Amazon’s and Google’s side when it came to disk  I/O operations.

Integrated caching creates an illusion of the fast service

WPRocket vs Breeze
Cloudways offers the free Breeze caching plugin that is inadequate. For satisfying Google Page Speed Metrics, an annual fee of $49/site is required to install the WP Rocket cache plugin. Three sites are $99/year. It is less appreciated, however, that Cloudways’ site uses Varnish caching by default.  Varnish serves as a reverse proxy to externally cache HTTP requests. Once the caching of the content of a webpage is complete, subsequent requests from visitors to the same webpage will not hit the server directly.  Your visitor’s request will most likely be served from the Varnish Cache without even being directed to an HTTP server. It’s very similar to what you would get if you used CDN with the Origin Shield.
Cloudways Varnish setup
Cloudways Varnish setup. https://www.cloudways.com/blog/configure-varnish-cache/
As explained by Cloudways: “… with Varnich proxy in place, your website will be able to manage a huge number of concurrent requests from several users as the server will not even be started. This will result in a magical increase in performance for your application.”
On Cloudways servers, Varnish integration is not the only caching layer. By default, they also provide Nginx cache and Memcached, which is used to cache data and objects in RAM to speed up dynamic, database-driven websites. Memcached’s default expiration time is 3 hours. Varnish caches typically expire after 4 to 24 hours, which is a typical CDN cache expiration time. The default time in the Nginx cache is one month. In Cloudways, heavy caching strategies make additional WP cache plugin almost obsolete – the WP Rocket plugin prepares assets, while the actual caching is done elsewhere.
The automatic installation of Varnish cache, Nginx cache and Memcached on fresh Cloudways installs confuses inexperienced bloggers. It’s easy to uncover these caching layers with a tool like https://ismypagecached.com/, but most bloggers don’t do that. Their benchmarks measure the performance of websites hosted on different fresh hosting installations. To make the comparison fair (!!!), they don’t configure the caching plugin settings on fresh WordPress installations. As a result, Cloudways has an unfair advantage over all other hosting providers because their plans include full-fledged caching. Cloudways’ “professional” affiliates don’t appreciate that their testing methodology doesn’t include origin servers but instead measures the response time of a Varnish cache web application accelerator. Apparently, Cloudways is not the only provider that automatically sets up caching layers for bending results of tests performed by “professional” bloggers. Similar deep caching layers are offered by Kinsta, A2Hosting, WPX, and Hostinger. Take a look at such “professionally” performed benchmarks, and you won’t be surprised to find these hosting providers at the top of the league.
EthernetServers 3 GB RAM, 1 CPU $5.95 per month vs Cloudways Vultr HF 2 GB RAM 1 vCPU, $26 per month
EthernetServers 3 GB RAM, 1 CPU $5.95 per month
server in London, available Paris, Frankfurt, Montreal, New Jersey, Sydney, Singapore
vs Cloudways Vultr HF  2 GB RAM 1 vCPU, $26 per month
If your site uses a lot of blogs and long-form content, there’s a good chance it will attract international traffic. A significant number of visitors will come from outside your country. Google doesn’t know that you are a local business that is only interested in local customers. Websites with international traffic will not be penalised under the new Google Core Web Vitals. However, the data is collected from a global set of Chrome users and the metrics are calculated from that data. Google ignores 25% of the worst data that Chrome reports from your actual visitors, but you still have to provide fast-loading pages to the remaining 75%. Therefore, you should be careful if you are not using a CDN! Page Experience algorithms are not forgiving when remote locations, lack of CDNs, or high server loads slow down the delivery of page content to international visitors.
The QUIC.cloud CDN and LiteSpeed Cache are included as a part of the LiteSpeed Web Server and must be manually activated. Imagine that QUIC.cloud CDN and LiteSpeed Cache are enabled by default. Bloggers who use a “professional” benchmark methodology will achieve excellent results on any LiteSpeed servers. Rather than server hardware, they will test out QUIC.cloud’s CDN capabilities, which are perfect! However, since they have affiliate fees from Cloudways instead of LiteSpeed, they will immediately identify the flaw in the methodology and will turn off all the caching layers on LiteSpeed to provide a “fair” comparison.
Indeed, Tom Dupuis from On-line Media Masters is happy to explain that Matthew Woodward gave a clear advantage in his tests to WPX Hosting because of WPX’s built-in caching (W3 Total Cache) and WPX Cloud CDN. The very same blog post also shows Tom Dupuis’s data that can be seen as providing a clear advantage to the Cloudways due to the built-in Varnish proxy, cache web application accelerator, Nginx cache, and Memchached. Upon learning about Matthew’s biased data, you might think Tom would be interested in learning what is being tested and compared in his own tests, but he does not yet look into such details.
Onlinemediamasters.com

How to test PHP performance of the server?

The original publication from Matthew Woodward states, “All previous tests were served from cached results, but the WordPress Performance Tester plugin was designed to test the website performance of the actual server itself for each WordPress site.”
This is exactly the missing link in testing the server! Currently, we lack the right free tools to measure the performance of the server. Kevin Ohashi developed this plugin by combining open-source scripts that were publicly available. Hoping to spread objective benchmarks instead of unsupported marketing claims, he also put his WP Performance Tester plugin in the public domain. In addition, Kevin Ohashi invites WordPress hosting companies to pay him for the privilege of participating in his annual testing. Taking part in such annual surveys, using the WP Performance Tester plugin among other tools, is a regular occurrence for Cloudways. Therefore, Cloudways supports the use of this plugin. Tom Dupuis has brought this plugin to our attention, for which we would like to thank him.
MechanicWeb 2 GB RAM, 2 CPU $17.3 per month vs Cloudways Vultr HF 2 GB RAM 1 vCPU, $26 per month
MechanicWeb 2 GB RAM, 2 CPU $17.3 per month
server in Dallas (other locations are Los Angeles and Amsterdam)
vs Cloudways Vultr HF 2 GB RAM 1 vCPU, $26 per month
We installed the WP Performance Tester plugin on dozens of dummy websites to measure PHP benchmarks on different servers. The results of our study were compared with those of Kevin Ohashi from 2021 and data from Matthew Woodward. The plugin performs two types of tests. The “Server Performance Benchmark” tests the hardware capabilities of the server to run PHP code. The second, called “WP Performance Benchmark”, tests the latency of the WordPress interface when interacting with a database via the $wpdb class, bypassing SQL. Based on our data and on data presented by Kevin Ohashi , we found no correlation between hardware performance tests and latency tests. Hardware benchmarks correlate well with changes in CPU speed between different servers. However, the latency of interacting with a database differs greatly between different servers and is not affected by CPU speed, number of CPU cores, amount of RAM, or disk I/O speed.
WordPress Performance bencmark measures the latency of requests to the database. It is not related to the hardware performance of the server.
WordPress Performance benchmark measures the latency of requests to the database.
It is not related to the hardware performance of the server.
The data from Kevin Ohashi show no correlation between the two components of the test, while the data from Matthew Woodward show a near-perfect correlation. Consequently, we have found that Matthew has completely falsified his data. It’s not the first time people have published fake data, but it’s revealing to discover the obvious fraud in the data published by the well-known SEO blogger.
We expressed concerns about the WP Performance Benchmark part of the plugin tests in our conversation with Kevin Ohashi. We advised him to change the test title. It is puzzling that the WP Performance Benchmarks has changed twofold on Cloudways plans on two separate instances with DO Premium 2GB.  However, the Server Performance Benchmarks were identical. The problem is not isolated. The WP Performance Benchmark varied by a factor of 2.5 across three types of servers provided by MechanicWeb from Los Angeles, Dallas, and Amsterdam, implying a latency variation of 0.6 ms to 2 ms. It was unclear why the database connection latency benchmark results vary so much between data centers, despite using the same software stack and similar hardware.
However, MechanicWeb discovered the cause of this latency and reduced it to almost zero. In one of their data centers, WP Performance Benchmark had changed from 440 to 2801, more than a six-fold increase! And now it’s two times better than the best score from Cloudways, giving MechanicWeb the top spot among all other hosting providers participating in Kevin Ohashi’s annual surveys. Were there any improvements? On the freshly installed WordPress dummy site without caching, TTFB was reduced by 60ms from 128ms to 65ms. The overall loading time dropped by 150ms from 445ms to 297ms. The fine-tuning unleashed the hardware performance by removing delays in processing requests to the WordPress database. MechanicWeb was pleased with the test plugin as it allowed them to identify the problem and gave them a measurement tool to check how to fine-tune the software on the server to fix the problem. However, website visitors will hardly notice any difference for websites with cached resources. MechanicWeb has not noticed any difference in terms of CPU utilisation from the modifications. Only for very busy websites with many dynamic requests hitting the database, some improvements may be observed. However, benchmark results cannot quantify the extent of improvement. It will very much depend on your specific website.
The real-world performance of WordPress is not as severely affected by latency as implied by benchmarks. On servers with heavily throttled disk I/O speeds like A2Hosting with its pathetic 4 MB/s, only a meagre 2.5 kB of data is read or written in the 0.6 ms time span that corresponds to its database request latency. We don’t want to put that much emphasis on the exact values of the short latency of the database requests because it’s only one part of a more complex picture. This score surely provides an indirect indicator of the sysadmin team experience in fine-tuning WordPress performance settings, but it does not go much further.
The WP Performance Tester plugin provides usable results in the WP Performance Benchmark section to help a hosting provider fine-tune their server. However, it is not as useful to us for comparing different hosting providers. By measuring the latency of interaction with the WP database via the $wpdb class, the WP Performance Benchmark does not provide insight into the average performance of hosting providers in daily use. Using such a test to evaluate the WordPress software stack is not appropriate. Delays can be caused by settings in CageFS, imunify360, ModSecurity, MySQL, etc. Depending on the design of the benchmark test, delays may affect benchmark results differently from how they affect your site’s performance on dynamic queries.
Based on our analysis of the raw data, we have concluded that the second part of the plugin test, the WP Performance Benchmark, is important but indirect and uncertain contributor  in comparing hosting providers. Consequently, we ignore its existence. In this post, we focus on the Server Performance Benchmark, which is based on measurements using the WP Performance Tester plugin. In our discussions with Kevin Ohashi, we were both very pleased to see PHP benchmarks like a MySQL query test correlate so well with Geekbench 4 performance results for single-core CPUs. Upon closer inspection, we found that the benchmark tests certain internal MySQL functions and is biassed by up to 30% in favour of the AMD architecture. Since not all real-world processes are affected in the same way, this benchmark has its own limitations when comparing Intel servers to AMD servers.

Benchmark study

What did we learn from our study? Although Cloudways claims to offer the fastest server performance, it’s plans on DO Premium only on par with Rocket.net, SiteGround, InMotion, and ChemiCloud. There is more spread on Vultr HF, with some instances up to 20% faster than DO Premium. According to our study, LiteSpeed servers are 20% to 90% faster than Cloudways on DO Premium and offer 3 to 18 times better value, depending on plan choice. Comparing Cloudways plans with the six options shown in our post will help you make an informed decision.
You should not rely on Cloudways as a magic solution that offers more resources when your shared hosting plan has reached its maximum resource allocation. The opposite is true! For example, A2Hosting offers 4 GB RAM and 4 CPUs in its Turbo Max plan. Its single core MySQL query PHP benchmark is 1.9 times higher than the DO Premium 2GB/ 1 vCPU plan. If you switch to Cloudways, your ability to serve visitors might be reduced by up to 4*1.9=7.6 times. Even if we compare the raw CPU speed on A2Hosting to Vultr HF, we should expect 4x the performance on the A2Hosting plan. We don’t recommend A2Hosting due to its abysmal disk I/O speed of 4 MB/s, but we are sure that switching to a shared vCPU plan on Cloudways will not solve your problem!
NameHero 3 GB RAM 3 CPU, $8 per month vs Cloudways Vultr HF 2 GB RAM 1 vCPU, $26 per month
NameHero 3 GB RAM 3 CPU, $8 per month
server in Michigan
vs Cloudways Vultr HF 2 GB RAM 1 vCPU, $26 per month
Let’s review our calculation of the value for money of each plan. Let’s start with a comparison between NameHero Turbo Cloud’s 3 CPU / 3GB RAM plan at $8 per month (paid for three years in advance) and Cloudways Vultr HF’s 1 vCPU / 2GB RAM plan at $26 per month. The NameHero servers did 7.507s/3.957s=1.9 times better on the so called MySQL Query Benchmark. Since this is a single-core benchmark, we have to consider that NameHero has 3 times more CPUs, so 3*1.9=5.7 times more MySQL queries can be processed from PHP code than with Cloudways. We now need to consider the cost difference between these two plans of 26/8=3.25 times. We multiple both factors 5.7*3.25=18.5 to conclude that NameHero Turbo Cloud is 18 times more cost-effective than Cloudways. The NameHero Turbo Business Cloud account includes 4GB of RAM and 4 CPUs for $12 per month (when paid three years in advance). Compared to Cloudways, this can handle 4*1.9=7.6 times more MySQL queries per second. That’s not bad considering Cloudways’ claim that their services are the fastest on the market! The cost difference is now 26/12=2.17, so the price-performance ratio is calculated by multiplying the 2.17*7.6=16.5, which is sixteen times better value for money. It is likely that such metrics will favor NameHero. Some Vultr HF instances run 20% faster; the benchmark appears to be 30% biased in favor of the AMD architecture. The overall numbers might need to be reduced by 1.6x to derive a 10x better value for money statement.
Namehero vs Cloudways
Serwer.io 10 GB RAM 6 CPU $30 per month vs Cloudways Vultr HF 4 GB RAM 2 vCPU $50 per month
Serwer.io 10 GB RAM 6 CPU $30 per month
server in London
vs Cloudways Vultr HF 4 GB RAM 2 vCPU $50
Now let’s look at our calculations related to the Serwer.io plan, which offers 10 GB of RAM and 6 CPUs for $30 per month. It is compared to the Cloudways Vultr HF, which costs $50 per month for 4GB RAM and 2vCPUs. Serwer.io uses AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X with 16 CPU cores (turbo speed up to 4.4 GHz) and 128 GB of ECC DDR4-2933 RAM. For MySQL Query Benchmark, Serwer.io did 6.631s/3.44s=1.9 times better. Since this is a single-core benchmark, we have to consider that Serwer.io has 3 times more CPUs, so 3*1.9=5.7 times more MySQL queries can be processed per second by PHP code than with Cloudways. There is now a cost difference between these two plans of 50/30=1.67 times. Multiplying both factors 5.7*1.67=9.6 shows that Serwer.io is ten times more cost-effective than Cloudways.
This kind of affiliate network is unbeatable!
This kind of affiliate network is unbeatable!

Is it a good value for money?

Cloudways falsely advertise the Shared instance vCPUs as full CPU cores on DigitalOcean, Linode, and Vultr. Many users are shocked to recognise that they are served on the cloud shared hosting, sliced, wrapped, and sold under the VPS title.
Dedicated-CPU-on Cloudways
Within two hours, Adam Preiser, the group administrator and Cloudways affiliate, removed all traces of this chat in his Facebook group “WordPress for Non-Techies by WPCrafter”.
For a company to claim to be the best while offering six to ten times less value than the competition is not uncommon. But does anyone know of another Wester company that pays affiliate fees to people that spread misinformation in numerous Facebook groups? The company that pays affiliate fees to Facebook group admins, which motivates them to remove bad comments about the company or even ban the company’s constant critics from their Facebook groups? Unfortunately, our imagination failed to generate another example. Cloudways is crossing ethical lines by using Facebook groups, which are part of the Facebook ecosystem, to manipulate customers. When we complained, Cloudways just shrugged, “We can’t stop affiliates from promoting Cloudways because they make money doing it, and we’re just three community managers, and you can see our responses occasionally when we need to help.”
In our opinion, Cloudways offers the worst value for money in the current market. Bloggers are often bribed with affiliate fees to write enthusiastic reviews about Cloudways. Members of Facebook groups are actively instigating users with a large number of websites to move to Cloudways, despite knowing that such an offer is outside the technical specification of the vendors. You can find recommendations to host from ten to twenty websites on a 1GB / 1vCPU plan, to the dismay of more professional members of the Facebook groups. With about 0.5 GB of the RAM used by the Linux, you are left with only 0.5 GB in the RAM to serve your websites. Having 10 websites to share such limited RAM resources is a far cry from anything even the most dubious hosting companies would do!
Moez here from Cloudways reply
Be aware that you’re locking yourself into a double trap with Cloudways. You’ll be using deficient hosting settings and obsolete bespoke NGINX software for your WordPress installation.

Conclusion

WordPress Hosting Facebook group
WordPress Hosting Facebook group
We’ve done our best to show our readers the true nature of Cloudways and its affiliate community. We offer detailed arguments of why we think it’s a good idea to stay away from the company. We would hesitate to compare Cloudways to even the worst EIG hosts. Cloudways misinforms its users about the sharing of hardware resources offered in its plans. This looks dubious under European consumer law. Choosing the wrong hosting option, which may be unsuitable for your eCommerce website, can affect the user’s experience. As a result, not only will you lose some users due to the drop in conversion rate, but you also run the risk of temporary crashing your server during the busiest selling season.
At least two community managers from Cloudways, Saad Khan and Aleksandar Savkovic, have read our research article. As part of our offer to publish Cloudways’ written response to our arguments, in the first week of June 2021 we have received their commitment to do so. This text implies that Cloudways has not yet issued an official statement.
Rapid change from "SiteGround" to "Cloudways" fan group
Rapid change from "SiteGround" to "Cloudways" fan club. WordPress Hosting Facebook group.
Hardware resource price on Cloud Hosting is significantly higher than hardware prices for the bare-metal servers at the same Data Center. A higher cost comes from complete virtualisation services with live migrations of Virtual Machines controlled by the engineers at the Data Center. It allows them to better address patching, repairing, and updating the software and hardware without the need for you to worry about machine reboots.
There is no doubt that the Cloud Server is the best concept for rarely visited websites with computing resources allocated only when used. However, it is far better to host your website on a much faster entry-level dedicated LiteSpeed Web Server Enterprise shared server plan than choose costly  Cloud server plans.
Awesome-testimonial

Hosting company size is its liability

Most large hosting corporations are fallen into the double trap. They are the primary Cloud services providers with the most expensive hardware resources, offering outdated bespoke software for their users.
Why are the customers still staying with them? They probably have a more urgent need to hire a knowledgeable web designer to refresh their WordPress website full of bloated code  – but they ignore both issues because they don’t care enough.  Ironically, Google wants them to start caring more about the ultimate page loading speed. In August 2021, many users will find their Google ranking crashed due to low Page Experience signals for their web pages. It is a painful way to force people to look around and find the ugly truth about large hosting corporations – they just lost track.
Now is the critical time for smaller hosting companies to offer better service to the customers. It is easier for smaller companies to understand their clients better. And decide to throw away all bespoke software development performed to optimise the Nginx servers. As they are a small team, they can make such a decision with less hesitation. They have a smaller number of clients compared to larger companies. The same people provide support to the same clients. In time the support team gains a better understanding of client requirements and show more empathy for resolving their problems.
Don’t be over-enthusiastic to choose a large company. It would help if you appreciated the scale of the problem facing large hosting corporations:
  • RackSpace and GoDaddy employs more than 8,000 people each
  • Newfold Digital (parent of Hostgator and Bluehost) employs more than 3,000 people
  • Endurance International Group (EIG) and OVH employ more than 2,000 people each
  • Ionos employs more than 2,000 people
  • WPEngine, Fastly, and NameCheap employs more than 900 people each
  • SiteGround and Hostinger employs more than 600 people each
  • LiquidWeb employs more than 500 people
  • Iomart, InMotion, and WebFlow employs more than 300 people each
  • DreamHost, Flywheel, Kinsta, Cloudways, HostPapa, Fasthosts, Media Temple, and A2Hosting employs more than 150 people each
  • Namesco, HiVelocity, 10Web, Hetzner, and Pantheon employes under 100 people each
Making a brave change to their outdated business model is painful. It is a big personal drama for many managers and software developers. Its something you never want to experience yourself. It is a coming bloodbath. Not all hosting companies can survive for the next few years.
Choose a smaller lean company offering you a combination of modern hardware hosted in a large Data Center and a fully standardised software package – and you can be sure that you will be among happy customers. Chose a large hosting corporation – and you will face what will happen to their technical support team’s moral once the axe starts swinging inside the headquarters.

Advanced Hosting Options

Premium shared hosting

Congratulations! Your website just became a huge success, as it managed to attract thousands of visitors per day. The first thing you need to do is unload all your static files onto an inexpensive QUIC.cloud CDN. This way, the traffic for the static assets will no longer be directed towards your origin server. This will cost you about $10 per month for 1TB of CDN traffic, but a Pay-As-You-Go version won’t likely exceed more than a $1 monthly fee. The origin server’s response time will be reduced as it left to respond only to requests by visitors who are viewing dynamic HTML pages in their browsers while scrolling through your online shop, reading comments on blog pages, or visiting the membership-only pages.
Transforming your WooCommerce store into a standalone back-end office and an independent front end is the best way to deal with exponentially increasing traffic. You can do this using the Ecwid or WP Shopify plugin instead of WooCommerce, as we have written about extensively in the dedicated post. This approach will take over the task of serving checkout requests for you while reducing the load on your origin server so that it doesn’t get bogged down under increased demand from dynamic HTML pages generated by online shoppers visiting your website. Using either Ecwid or Shopify back-end, you are protecting your site’s sensitive data from any potential future hacking. If hackers were to destroy your website in a cyberattack, then all of your customers’ information would be safe on an independent back-end server maintained by either company.
eCommerce with WP Shopify
WooCommerce vs WordPress with WP Shopify plugin
If you are still experiencing high traffic volume, upgrading your shared hosting account can be a good idea. Our separate paper describes the best-hosting companies in both UK and the US. For UK-based traffic, we recommend considering Serwer.io‘s WordPress Pro plan, priced at $30 per month. It provides 6 CPU cores, 10 GB RAM, 100 simultaneous entry processes, 20 domains, 60 GB NVMe storage (disk speed 64 MB/s), 3Gbps network uplink, enabled Redis, and support for HTTP/3. This configuration is sufficient for several heavily loaded eCommerce sites and outperforms most entry-level VPS offerings. It features workstation-grade AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X processors (turbo speed up to 4.4 GHz) with ECC DDR4-2933 RAM. This configuration will outperform any entry-level VPS offerings, and you would not need to maintain any software yourself. With QUIC.cloud CDN and Redis, you can serve up to 100k visitors per day with no issues!
NameHero is a top provider of LiteSpeed hosting services. If you are looking to host your server in the US, we highly recommend their Business Cloud plan. It provides 4 GB of RAM, 4 CPU cores, 100 simultaneous entry processes, unlimited NVMe storage (disk speed 50 MB/s), 1 Gbps network uplink, enabled Redis, support for HTTP/3 protocol, and MailChannels. Their server is based on AMD EPYC 7302 with 3.3 GHz CPU turbo speed and DDR4-3200 memory. Which is an excellent deal considering it costs only $13.5 per month if you pay for three years upfront!
NameHero appriasal
SDC-200 from MechanicWeb offers twice as many RAM as NameHero Business Cloud. The cost of these is also high at $80 per month – however, it’s still lower than what a VPS would cost you.  With Brixly’s Agency plan in the UK, you can get 12 GB RAM / 12 CPUs for $140 per month and you will have more resources to handle peak loads. Consider which provider is geographically closest to your end users, and keep in mind that while Serwer.io, NameHero, and MechanicWeb have very high CPU performance in MySQL Query Benchmark, Brixly has only about half that performance.
A hosting provider will monitor that his servers are underutilised to avoid slowing down your neighbours hosted on the same server. Different providers use various metrics for establishing an Unacceptable Resource Usage policy. For instance, at NameHero, the red flag will be shown to your account if any allocation limit is reached for longer than five minutes. In that case, the CloudLinux LVE will generate a snapshot of the running processes and other information to identify what’s using up resources. It helps the support team to troubleshoot resource issues and discuss them with you. NameHero further states: “We usually recommend moving to a VPS from a shared hosting account if the resource consumption on your account is negatively affecting your customers and you’re looking for faster speeds overall.”
MechanicWeb states that a user should not use 80% or more of the system resources for more than 60 seconds. According to Brixly, each shared account should not use more than its allocated resources; accounts that exceed these resource limits will be banned. It looks like you may not have dedicated resources, but you’re not severely limited. The requirements stated by NameHero, Brixly and MechanicWeb are a significant relaxation of the commonly used rules for shared hosting accounts: “An account should not use more than 25% of its CPU allocation continuously for more than 5 minutes”.

Reseller hosting plans

Reseller Hosting is available from all three of the above providers, Brixly, MechanicWeb and NameHero, for web agencies wishing to offer branded hosting to their clients. The services are similarly priced and offer a variety of hosting options, ranging from 20 to 250 accounts. To make the best decision for your clients, be sure to review the details carefully.
Let’s look at the reseller plans of all three companies, billed at $42 per month, and compare them to a similarly priced Cloudways plan with 4 GB RAM, 2 CPUs, 80 GB of storage, and disk I/O speed of 120 MB/s on VultrHF servers.
  • NameHero offers 150 GB of storage, 80 cPanel accounts, and free billing automation with a WHMCS or Blesta license. Each child account has an allowance of 2 CPU, 2 GB RAM, and disk I/O speed of 50 MB/s.
  • Brixly offers unlimited storage, 100 cPanel accounts, 2 CPU and 2 GB of RAM per child account, and disk I/O speed of 50 MB/s. There is an additional charge of $9 per month for a WHMCS license. To cover the peak load on eCommerce websites during festive seasons like Black Friday or Christmas, Brixly can double the RAM and CPU resource allocation for a one-off $7 monthly fee for the interested child accounts. This is a unique and friendly offer that your web agency clients will greatly appreciate.
  • MechanicWeb offers 100 GB of storage, 75 cPanel accounts, disk I/O speed of 30 MB/s, 2 GB of RAM, and 1 CPU with a clock speed 50% faster than most other hosting providers. An additional $10.90 is charged per month for the WHMCS license.
It is shocking to realise that, in theory, the shared vCPU plan on Cloudways provides its account holder with almost a hundred times fewer hardware resources than the reseller plans from NameHero, Brixly and MechanicWeb. Also, it would help if you realised that the reseller plans presented above are all offered with a much more efficient software stack based on LiteSpeed Web Server Enterprise. As a result, each of about 100 child accounts on the reseller plan will be capable of serving at least a similar number of visitors compared to the entire Cloudways plan. Any person recommending that multiple domains are best hosted on the shared vCPU Cloudways plans is either missing the necessary skills to analyse different hosting options or is a pure scammer driven by the affiliate fees from Cloudways.
Short NameHero appriasal
If you can choose the Michigan location, your US customers will benefit from using NameHero’s ultra-fast servers. Your customers will appreciate the 90% faster MySQL Query Benchmarks of its CPU than Cloudways on Vultr HF, resulting in the faster server response to website visitors. Faster websites make for better conversion, so consider this option to make your customers happier. By the same logic, you might prefer Amsterdam servers from MechanicWeb to the London based Brixly’s servers for serving UK clients. The Amsterdam based Intel Xeon E-2276G with 4.9 GHz Turbo, 2666 MHz DDR4 ECC memory, NVMe SSD and 10 Gbps server port is one of the fastest options for all customers in Europe and the UK. It has 60% faster CPU benchmarks than Brixly’s servers and is 20% faster than DO Premium 4GB on Cloudways (which is using a much less efficient software stack).
LiteSpeed HostMantis servers in OVH data centres in Australia and Singapore can serve South Asia. They also offer servers in OVH data centres in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Montreal, and New Jersey. OVH’s reputation had suffered after the fire at their Strasbourg Data Center in March 2021, so some of you may be wary of OVH when deciding to host with them. HostMantis stores all backups with backup providers not affiliated with OVH as an additional layer of redundancy. In the event of an OVH data centre failure, HostMantis would immediately restore any server from the backup to another Data Centre. HostMantis offers 200 GB of storage, 150 cPanels accounts, a free Blesta licence, 100 MB/s disk I/O speed, and 1 CPU/ 3 GB RAM per child account. As an added bonus, HostMantis provides a Redis object cache to reduce the load on your CPU when serving requests for dynamic HTML files. OVH provides a mix of fast servers such as Intel-Xeon E-2136 (10% slower than E-2276 provided in Amsterdam by MechanicWeb) and further 10% slower E3-1270 v6. The main drawback of this option compared to the MechanicWeb offering is 10% to 35% slower CPU performance depending on MechanicWeb server location. You should also be aware of a more restrictive HostMantis fair use policy, which we estimate would result in serving at least three times fewer visitors per child account compared to MechanicWeb.
Whenever you deal with HostMantis, be cautious. Check out the complaints of customers whose services were terminated on a whim because they dared to ask for some extra technical support. The company caters to experienced users who don’t need “hand-holding”. Avoid HostMantis if you know you’ll be a high-maintenance user! Expect that a one-person micro-company will occasionally display an awkward communication style, and you’ll avoid unpleasant surprises.
In case your customers’ visitors are from India, Pakistan or Bahrain, ExonHost servers in Bangladesh will serve them the best TTFB values. They offer an E3-1270 v6 server, similar to the one HostMantis uses in the OVH data center in Singapore. With ExonHost, you get 50 GB of NVMe SSD storage, 50 cPanel accounts, and 1 GB RAM / 1 Core CPU per child account.
So, the web agencies can use white-labelled hosting for their clients at:
  • London (Brixly) to serve clients in the UK.
  • Amsterdam (MechanicWeb) to serve customers in the UK,  Europe, Turkey, and Israel.
  • Los Angles (MechanicWeb) to serve clients in Japan, South Korea, and the West Coast.
  • Dallas (MechanicWeb) to serve customers in the South Central US.
  • Michigan (NameHero) to serve clients in American East and Canada.
  • Sydney (HostMantis) to serve customers in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Singapore (HostMantis) to serve clients in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea.
  • Bangladesh (ExonHost) to serve clients in India, Pakistan, and Bahrain.

Dedicated 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), 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 after outgrowing their Business Cloud package, NameHero offers excellent performance with a fully managed Hero 6 GB Cloud plan. And it also comes very reasonably priced at $45 per month for the first year and $70 per month after that.
MechanicWeb offers an interesting alternative to NameHero VPS hosting. In Dallas, they are using a workstation-grade Xeon W-1290P server with a 5.3 GHz CPU Turbo frequency. In Los Angeles, they are using Intel Xeon E-2288G with a 5.0 GHz CPU Turbo frequency. In Amsterdam, it is Intel Xeon E-2276G with 4.9 GHz CPU Turbo frequency. MechanicWeb  HF-48 plans offer similar overall performance as a Hero 6GB Cloud plan. The price for HF-48 (8 GB RAM) is $90 per month. MechanicWeb may be a little more expensive, but it offers complementary geographic location to put your VPS closer to your visitors.
You can keep upgrading the hardware to cover for a massive spike in the traffic during the festive season, moving first to the Hero 8GB Cloud plan, and ultimately renting a whole dedicated managed Intel Xeon W-1290P (4.9 GHz turbo all cores) server with 10 cores from Mechanic Web. It will provide about three times more processing power than Hero 8GB Cloud plan and will command an overall monthly bill approaching $300, 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.
You have six more steps to increase your server’s computational power by more than eight times. All servers listed below are based on the most recent 3d generation of AMD EPYC processors introduced in Q1 2021 and provide improved value for money for achieving great performance. The family includes AMD EPYC 7443p (3.6 GHz turbo all cores) with 24 cores, AMD EPYC 7343 (3.6 GHz turbo all cores) with 32 cores, 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 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.
Non-techies go with managed VPS hosting because it’s the easiest way to set up a super-fast host. Kind of like buying a new computer and just turning it on. Getting an unmanaged VPS is more like buying individual computer parts and putting them together yourself. Most tech-savvy owners respect the complexity involved and prefer to hire sys-admin to deal with it. Setting up a server takes like 2 hours to build out and a few minutes of maintenance every couple of months. None will be proactively maintaining your server. You call your managed host provider when you have an issue, and THAT’s when they fix things. The same goes for having your own server and sys-admin. The only difference is you save a ton of money.
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 maximum utilisation does not exceed 50% capacity to serve a sudden spike in traffic. 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. Which 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.
If you need to scale your website, but even a dedicated server doesn’t seem like enough for the task at hand, then it’s time to start looking into further options. Your sys-admin 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.
If you don’t have a sys-admin capable to configure LiteSpeed Web ADC, your only option may be expensive cloud services provided by a third party. You might want to talk to providers like GridPane, UpCloud, UKHost4u, or App Platform of Digital Ocean. 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. This way, you won’t be paying for what isn’t in use by your site at any given time! However, this is a theoretical scenario; 99.999% of web owners never have to worry about knowing such service because they don’t belong in the said highest league.

Next steps

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, and NameHero provides one of the best deals available. The company has also been named a 2020 Best Web Hosting Company winner. They provide excellent service at an affordable price – so why not study their Turbo Cloud hosting and secure the best offer for less than $8 per month? They keep their hardware in a top-level DataCenter that is managed by Liquid Web. About 500,000 websites are hosting with NameHero and its success to receive an award shows a large user base that’s ready to vote for its champion. NameHero has an extensive library of videos from CEO Ryan Gray explaining how to use their services.
Discout at NameHero
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 [email protected] 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.