Which Server to Choose for WordPress Hosting

Which Server to Choose for WordPress Hosting? If you are a techie who creates websites for your clients or you are creating a website for your own. There is always a confusion while choosing the best hosting for the WordPress website. In this post, we are targeting to solve this confusion.

There are a number of good posts on the internet that tells which hosted WordPress solutions to choose or the best hosting provider for WordPress.
But believing on what is written as a promotional article will not lead anyone anywhere. Let’s dig a little bit to understand what is WordPress, what business you are doing using WordPress. Once we understand these two things, then, choosing cheap and best hosting will be easy.

Keeping the audience in mind, I tried to keep the technical jargon minimal so that it is understandable and beneficial for technical as well as non-technical personnel.

 

You must have read or heard below-mentioned points a number of times, to consider, while purchasing a WordPress hosting:

  1. Best hosting provider for WordPress
  2. Comparison of pricing and features of cheap web hosting for WordPress
  3. Useless plugins to keep the WordPress lightweight
  4. Use of cache / CDN

Those are all good points, but how will you validate? How will you decide which server is good for your WordPress Website or do you need all those things mentioned above or is there anything additional you required?

There are a lot of WordPress shared hosting plans offered by various companies. Use this link for a comparison of WordPress shared hosting plans. As per the comparison, inmotion hosting seems best as it is fast and cheap. You can give it a try.

But my experience is- Shared hosting can not solve the purpose. I will share my case in the post below.

If one wants to do a serious business (example, wants to earn money from a WordPress blog), then shared hosting(from any hosting company) is not an option for him. In the shared hosting plan, there is no guarantee for the website speed or the page speed. You always need minimum website loading speed or website page speed so that you do not lose the visitor. So, we should look for a server that supplies a continuous power to your website unlike shared hosting.

 

In order to get the best cloud hosting for WordPress, Let us answer the two questions we asked you to focus on:

  1. What is WordPress – WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System) written in PHP language used as a blog or company website etc to manage the content
  2. What is your business – As WordPress can be used as a CMS (Content Management System) you can create your company website, blog, news website and eCommerce website etc. Basically, any website where you want a backend system or admin panel using which the content can be managed

 

Depending on the type of website you will decide what servers you should use. For example,

  1. If you have a news website, then you need a different CDN that can serve videos, as News website contains heavy videos
  2. If you have a blog or e-commerce, then it’s expected to have a lot of images for which you can either deploy a separate CDN or if that’s not the case, then SSD would work for you.
  3. In the case of a company website, I believe you are good if you have a decent server with SSD.

 

Now, that is again high level and without proof, Let’s look at the actual case study or actual comparison between different servers to understand how WordPress works, to choose the WordPress hosting.

My first advice is to stop searching for fastest web hosting for WordPress or where to host WordPress because the answer to this really depends on your need.

Slow speed can eat up everything!

  1. You will NOT get the audience even when you have the best content on your blog. Because if any pages are taking longer than few milliseconds to 5 seconds to load, it frustrates the visitor.
  2. Slow speed can affect your SEO as- Slower the speed, lower the rank on google refer this article for details
  3. You could get all other features (like- one click deployment or managed services) on any WordPress hosting provider, but you still have to consider speed test for your website

Let’s take example of this (p3lang.com) blog

Shared Hosting: For the first year, I used shared hosting (which provides one-click deployment and other services like emails service GUI or CPanel to manage the website hosting), but a year later, I realised those services are of no use, Instead, the speed of the website is slow because of which I barely get any users and the Bounce Rate was also high.

VPS Hosting: Then, I moved the blog to a VPS hosting (13K Rs/year) from the shared hosting (3K – 5K Rs/year). After moving the website I ran it for 1 year and with the increase in images and updated versions of WordPress, I started seeing slowness in the website. Now, I started thinking- Where to host the website?, Because the page speed was very low and the response time was between 30 to 60 seconds, which is a LOT!

Performance test: I am a performance engineer by profession, So to understand the problem, I started with a very basic thing- To monitor RAM and CPU usage and monitored it for few days. After looking at the results the problem was clear, the hardware resources in use were not sufficient for my blog. They were consuming all 1 GB of RAM (apache web server was almost consuming 800 MBs of RAM with minimal MPM settings) and 50% of the CPU usage, even when there was barely any user. So it was clear the resources in use were not sufficient and I needed a server upgrade. Also, I looked at y-slow and google page speed and found that contents (like- js, CSS, images) were taking time and that was due to the slow speed of the standard disk. So to summarize, I needed more RAM and a CDN to deliver the content faster.

 

Now upgrading the servers is also a cost consuming task because there is a good cost associated with every increase in the configuration of the hardware. But before proceeding, I should know which server is good for my blog-

  1. Should I upgrade to a VPS with 4 GB RAM with CDN
  2. Or, 8 GB RAM with CDN
  3. Also, do I need a better CPU or not
  4. Or, should I try Nginx instead of Apache web server

 

All these questions can be answered, by classifying them into separate cases and executing them, So as to- test usage performance and, based on the corresponding results of each case, determine which is the best hosting solution. So, I did all these experiments to get the best WordPress hosting for my needs. Let’s see these cases, that will give a good idea to decide which one to choose. And trust me if you want to do a serious business you have to leave “shared hosting” right away! Shared hosting is just good for a newbie to explore stuff or for a single page website visited by the only couple of people in a day.

Skipping “shared hosting” from the 4 cases (that we are going to discuss), let’s jump to the table below.

NOTE: We are using a decent WordPress instance with like 200 images and 10 MBs DB size and the overall size of the website is 300 – 350 MBs

 

Configuration Case – 1 Case – 2 Case – 3 Case – 4
Results / Speed Poor Good Good, similar to Case – 2 Better than

case – 2 & 3

OS CentOS Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS
Server Apache/2.2.15 (Unix) Apache/2.4.18 (Ubuntu) Apache/2.4.18 (Ubuntu) Apache/2.4.18 (Ubuntu)
RAM 1 GB 7 GB 3.5 GB 3.5 GB
CPU 1 core, 1.2 GHz 2 core, 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2673 v3 (Haswell) processors 1 core, 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2673 v3 (Haswell) processors 1 core, 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2673 v3 (Haswell) processors
Storage 50 GB Standard Disk Storage 14 GB SSD 14 GB SSD 14 GB SSD
Page Caching Yes, using WP Super Cache plugin No No Yes
Server/VM Location US East US East US East US
Client Internet Bandwidth Download: 2.8 MBPS

Upload: 4.5 MBPS

Download: 2.73 MBPSUpload: 1.6 MBPS Download: 2.5 MBPSUpload: 1.0 MBPS Download: 5.19 MBPS

Upload: 7.28 MBPS

Expires headers No No No Yes, But left for few
Content Delivery Network (CDN) No No No No
Others Both WordPress and DB are on same VM Both WordPress and DB are on same VM Both WordPress and DB are on same VM Both WordPress and DB are on same VM
RAM utilization reaches to 100% even with minimal transactions RAM was 1 GB out of 7 GB RAM was 1 GB out of 3.5 GB RAM was 1 GB out of 3.5 GB
The CPU utilization reaches to 100% ifWordPress admin panel is used CPU was not utilized more than 2% with the admin panel in use CPU was not utilized more than 4% with the admin panel in use CPU was not utilized more than 4% with the admin panel in use

 

WordPress Server Performance Comparison

WordPress Server Performance Comparison


 

From case 1 to 4, the takeaway is, with 3.5 GB RAM and 1 core 2.4 GHz processor,  I am good to serve 1-2 concurrent visitor (s). If you look at the above graphical representation of the results you could see the response time is least in case -4 and the throughput are maximum that is achieved by enabling the WordPress cache which in turns performed better even with the same hardware as case-3.

There are still some tricks left apart from hardware (seen in above cases) that can still be done to further improve the performance. One of the tricks is using Nginx server instead of Apache server (it magically increases the speed) and there are much more. There is a separate post written discussing further cases. Tune in for the upcoming post.