Who Is The Fastest WordPress Host? I Signed Up For 16 Hosting Plans And Measured Load Times, TTFB, And Server Response Times

Looking for the fastest WordPress hosting?

I signed up for 16 hosting accounts and measured speeds/TTFB in Pingdom, GTmetrix, KeyCDN, and other tools. On each hosting account, I installed the same Astra Starter Site with the same 6 plugins, no cache plugin, no CDN, with SSL. I also posted screenshots of the reports.

You may have seen Matthew Woodward and Darrel Wilson’s WordPress hosting performance tests. Unfortunately, Matthew gives a clear advantage to WPX Hosting since his tests use WPX’s built-in caching and WPX Cloud CDN. Darrel recommends SiteGround and NameHero which (we can all agree) are not the fastest WordPress hosts. This is also reflected in the tests.

If someone is doing a hosting speed test, check who they’re using and run their site through GTmetrix to make sure the person walks the talk. I use the winner of the test (Cloudways) and depending on the test, can get <2s load times – even with a 2.64MB page size and 89 requests.

 

1. Pingdom Load Times

In the Pingdom test, each host was added to Pingdom tools which performed 30 minute check intervals to measure load times. Pingdom only shows the average of the last 7 days. But even with 7 days at 30 minute check intervals, that means each individual site was tested 336 times.

WordPress-Hosting-Pingdom-Load-Times
Actual Pingdom report can be found here

Conclusion

The winner was not WPX and definitely not SiteGround. It was Cloudways DigitalOcean.

If you haven’t heard of them, join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group and you’ll quickly see they’re who most people recommend. This is a top place to get unbiased hosting opinions.

Which begs the question:

Why do other tests not show Cloudways in the top results, but they are one of the most recommended hosts in Facebook Groups and clearly one of the fastest WordPress hosts?

Here’s my theory:

Affiliates think Cloudways is too “technical” for the average user (even though they’re not) which might discourage them from recommending Cloudways. That’s why most affiliates promote the most “user-friendly hosts” such as WPX, SiteGround, Kinsta, and even Bluehost.

But they’re not the fastest.

This blog is dedicated to WordPress speed optimization and I only recommend the fastest WordPress host, regardless of whether you click my links. Many people (including myself) do these speed tests in hopes you will use our affiliate links, but it should not influence the data.

Isn’t WPX the fastest?

No. In Matthew Woodward’s test, WPX was the winner but had caching and WPX Cloud CDN installed while other hosts did not. In his other tests, hosts with built-in caching and CDNs were at the top (WPX, Kinsta, GoDaddy). Of course a host will get better results if they have a clear advantage. Does that also mean I can login to Cloudways and use PHP 7.4, Maria DB 10.3, Varnish, activate their CDN, and configure the Cloudways Breeze caching plugin? No, we need to give each host level playing ground since we’re strictly measuring the speed of their servers.

 

2. TFFB

This test took the average of 5 TTFBs: GTmetrix (1), WebPageTest (1), and KeyCDN (3).

GTmetrix only has 1 testing location in the US (Dallas, Texas) while WebPageTest has multiple US testing locations, in which case I chose the closest testing location to each host’s data center. KeyCDN has 10 global testing locations total, but only the 3 US locations were used in the test.

It is somewhat pointless to test TTFB in other countries since you would probably select a data center that’s in your same country. That’s why only US locations were used in the tests.

These tests are never going to be 100% perfect because there will always be a variable (the physical distance between a host’s data center vs. the testing locations). But I did my best to make it as accurate as possible by reducing the variable. I still wanted to be transparent about it.

WordPress-Hosting-TTFBs

Conclusion

Cloudways Linode had a slightly faster TTFB, but their data center was also located in Texas (close to the GTmetrix and 1 KeyCDN testing location).

This was followed by Cloudways DigitalOcean whose data center was in San Francisco, CA. Even though the DigitalOcean data center was further away from the GTmetrix location (Dallas, Texas) they still outperformed every other WordPress host besides Cloudways Linode.

 

3. Server Response Times

Server response times were measured using the WP Hosting Performance Check Plugin for a one month period. This was the same plugin used in Darrel Wilson’s original “best WordPress hosting” YouTube video when he told everyone that NameHero was the fastest. I do not agree.

WordPress-Hosting-Server-Response-Times

Conclusion

Most results aligned with other tests, however WP Engine (1753ms) had very slow server response times.

Why does Darrel Wilson recommend SiteGround and NameHero?

Darrel has been creating YouTube videos on “the best hosting” which recommends NameHero, SiteGround, GreenGeeks, and a few others (mostly shared hosts). He also recommends WP Engine and Liquid Web over Cloudways. While he creates very helpful videos, his results are definitely not accurate. There is also a lack of information of data centers, CDNs, caching, etc. He makes affiliate commissions at the expense of people buying into SiteGround/NameHero.

 

4. GTmetrix Load Times

I ran 10 GTmetrix tests on each host and took the average.

While TTFB in GTmetrix’s Timing tab is usually stable, load times can vary on each test. Pingdom is best for measuring load times which is the recommended method by WP Rocket. While GTmetrix can be used as an indicator, refer to the Pingdom test (#1) for accurate results.

WordPress-Hosting-GTmetrix-Load-Times

Conclusion

GTmetrix only has 1 testing location in the US (Dallas Texas), which may have contributed to why Vultr and Linode were at the top since both of their data centers were located in Texas. Again, Cloudways DigitalOcean outperformed all the other hosts even when their data center was located far away in San Francisco, CA. Otherwise, results were pretty much as expected.

 

5. The Results

  1. Cloudways Vultr High Frequency – just released 8/20/2020 by Cloudways and uses Vultr’s latest technology (3.8 GHz Processors + NVMe storage). Starts at $13/month and can handle more resource-intensive tasks with lower latency.
  2. Cloudways DigitalOcean – #1 in most tests, who I use, and highly recommended in Facebook Groups. Rated #1 in numerous Facebook polls with a free migration, $10/month, and a promo code that saves you 25% your first 2 months: OMM25
  3. WPX – #1 in Matthew Woodward’s test because caching and a CDN were used when he tested WPX, when other hosts did not have this advantage. They’re still fast, dashboard is more user-friendly than Cloudways, and support is excellent.
  4. Cloudways Linode – starts at $12/month from the Cloudways optimized stack.
  5. Cloudways Vultr – starts at $11/month from the Cloudways optimized stack.
  6. Kinsta – used by high traffic bloggers and can handle many simultaneous visitors.
  7. Closte – pay-per-use pricing from Google Cloud servers, recommended by Gijo.
  8. A2 Hosting – what I use to host low-traffic websites on a user-friendly cPanel. They’re cheap, semi-fast, decent TrustPilot reviews, and very user-friendly. Most people looking for SiteGround alternatives either end up at Cloudways or A2.
  9. Liquid Web – by far the best support you will get, wish their speeds were faster.
  10. Flywheel – owned by same company as WP Engine, neither of which are great.
  11. WP Engine – didn’t perform great, support went downhill, expensive for value.
  12. Hostinger – writes fake reviews and votes for themselves in Facebook polls, no!
  13. Bluehost – mainly promoted by affiliates who don’t even use them on their site.
  14. NameHero – recommended by Darrel Wilson but didn’t perform well in tests.
  15. SiteGround – went completely downhill in recent years and are now very bad.
  16. HostGator – the slowest of the slowest, EIG-owned and desperately needs help.

*Ordered by average placement of all tests.

HostServer TypeCachingCDNPHPHotlink
A2 HostingLiteSpeed + AMD EPYCServer-side (Database, Memcached)Cloudflare7.4Yes
BluehostIn-houseNoneCloudflare7.4Yes
ClosteGoogle Cloud + LiteSpeedLiteSpeedGoogle Cloud CDN7.4No
Cloudways DigitalOceanDigitalOceanServer-side (Varnish, Redis, Memcached)StackPath ($1 Per 25GB)7.4No
Cloudways LinodeLinodeServer-side (Varnish, Redis, Memcached)StackPath ($1 Per 25GB)7.4No
Cloudways VultrVultrServer-side (Varnish, Redis, Memcached)StackPath ($1 Per 25GB)7.4No
Cloudways Vultr HFVultr High FrequencyServer-side (Varnish, Redis, Memcached)StackPath ($1 Per 25GB)7.4No
FlywheelGoogle CloudServer-sideFastly ($10/mo)7.4No
HostGatorIn-houseServer-sideCloudflare7.3Yes
HostingerLiteSpeedServer-sideCloudflare (on cloud plans)7.4Yes
KinstaGoogle Cloud C2Server-sideKeyCDN (200GB free)7.4No
Liquid WebNexcess CloudServer-side (Varnish, Memcached)Nexcess Edge CDN + Cloudflare7.4No
NameHeroLiteSpeedServer-sideCloudflare7.4Yes
SiteGroundGoogle CloudServer-side via SG OptimizerCloudflare7.4Yes
WP EngineGoogle Cloud + AWSServer-sideStackPath7.4Yes
WPXIn-houseW3 Total CacheWPX Cloud7.4Yes

 

6. Screenshots Of Reports + Hosting Information

Below are screenshots of the reports used in tests, which data center was chosen, and links to the live test sites (I cancelled a few since it was getting expensive). I also included details about each WordPress host like their speed features, cons, and the pricing of the plan used in the test.

*Price is the yearly rate of the plan I used unless otherwise noted.

A2 Hosting

  • GTmetrix – 297ms
  • KeyCDN – 192ms
  • WebPageTest – 524ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 301ms
  • Search Console – 177ms
  • Pingdom – 587ms
  • Data center: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Test site: https://atwoserver.com
  • Cons: shared hosting + CPU limits
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Turbo Boost
  • Price: $179.88 (renewal prices apply)

Bluehost

  • GTmetrix – 800ms
  • KeyCDN – 623ms
  • WebPageTest – 1048ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 728ms
  • Search Console – 485ms
  • Pingdom – 1560ms
  • Data center: Provo, UT
  • Test site: https://blhstserver.com
  • Cons: slow, unhelpful support, EIG-owned, outages/downtimes, CPU limits
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Plus Plan
  • Price: $107.40 (renewal prices apply)

Closte

  • GTmetrix – 279ms
  • KeyCDN – 152ms
  • WebPageTest – 309ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 239ms
  • Search Console – 45ms
  • Pingdom – 750ms
  • Data center: Council Bluffs, IA
  • Test site: https://clsteserver.com
  • Cons: lack of support, no fixed price
  • Free migration? No
  • Hosting plan used: only 1 plan available
  • Price: monthly (pay per usage)

Cloudways DigitalOcean

  • GTmetrix – 130ms
  • KeyCDN – 131ms
  • WebPageTest – 215ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 157ms
  • Search Console – 205ms
  • Pingdom – 340ms
  • Data center: San Francisco, CA
  • Test site: https://cwdoserver.com
  • Cons: not always user-friendly, support
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: DO (1 CPU)
  • Price: $10/month (no yearly contract)

Cloudways Linode

  • GTmetrix – 88ms
  • KeyCDN – 99ms
  • WebPageTest – 248ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 320ms
  • Search Console – 80ms
  • Pingdom – 603ms
  • Data center: Richardson, TX
  • Test site: https://cwlndserver.com
  • Cons: not always user-friendly, support
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Linode (1 CPU)
  • Price: $12/month (no yearly contract)

Cloudways Vultr

  • GTmetrix – gg
  • KeyCDN – 103ms
  • WebPageTest – 244ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 330ms
  • Search Console – 132ms
  • Pingdom – 618ms
  • Data center: Dallas, TX
  • Test site: https://cwvltrhfserver.com
  • Cons: not always user-friendly, support
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Vultr (1 CPU)
  • Price: $11/month (no yearly contract)

Cloudways Vultr High Frequency

  • GTmetrix – 148ms
  • KeyCDN – 123ms
  • WebPageTest – 160ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 139ms
  • Search Console – N/A
  • Pingdom – 618ms
  • Data center: Dallas, TX
  • Test site: https://cwvltrserver.com
  • Cons: not always user-friendly, support
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Vultr HF (1 CPU)
  • Price: $13/month (no yearly contract)

Flywheel

  • GTmetrix – 100ms
  • KeyCDN – 520ms
  • WebPageTest – 229ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 790ms
  • Search Console – 201ms
  • Pingdom – 1130ms
  • Data center: San Francisco, CA
  • Test site: https://flywhlserver.com
  • Cons: same as WP Engine
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Tiny Plan
  • Price: $15/month
HostGator

  • GTmetrix – 1500ms
  • KeyCDN – 697ms
  • WebPageTest – 1606ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 1127ms
  • Search Console – 635ms
  • Pingdom – 2670ms
  • Data center: Provo, UT
  • Test site: https://hstgtrserver.com
  • Cons: same complaints as Bluehost (both are EIG-owned), but even worse
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Standard Plan
  • Price: $127.29 (renewal prices apply)

Hostinger

  • GTmetrix – 494ms
  • KeyCDN – 393ms
  • WebPageTest – 653ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 252ms
  • Search Console – 353ms
  • Pingdom – 1800ms
  • Data center: Asheville, NC
  • Test site: https://hstngerserver.com
  • Cons: unethical, fake reviews
  • Free migration? No.
  • Hosting plan used: WordPress Premium
  • Price: $155.40 (renewal prices apply)

Kinsta

  • GTmetrix – 264ms
  • KeyCDN – 134ms
  • WebPageTest – 393ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 183ms
  • Search Console – 72ms
  • Pingdom – 628ms
  • Data center: Council Bluffs, IA
  • Test site: https://knstaserver.com
  • Cons: no phone support, expensive
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Starter Plan
  • Price: $30/month (discount for yearly)

Liquid Web

  • GTmetrix – 500ms
  • KeyCDN – 442ms
  • WebPageTest – 669ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 271ms
  • Search Console – 138ms
  • Pingdom – 968ms
  • Data center: Lansing, MI
  • Test site: https://liqwebserver.com
  • Cons: could be faster, no email
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Spark Plan
  • Price of plan: $190.00

NameHero

  • GTmetrix – 1200ms
  • KeyCDN – 605ms
  • WebPageTest – 774ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 993ms
  • Search Console – 508ms
  • Pingdom – 1400ms
  • Data center: Lansing, MI
  • Test site: https://nmheroserver.com
  • Cons: shared hosting + CPU limits
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Turbo Cloud Plan
  • Price: $155.69 (renewal prices apply)

SiteGround

WP Engine

  • GTmetrix – 186ms
  • KeyCDN – 207ms
  • WebPageTest – 428ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 1753ms
  • Search Console – 431ms
  • Pingdom – 1290ms
  • Data center: North Charleston, SC
  • Test site: https://wpengnserver.com
  • Cons: servers have gotten slower
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Startup Plan
  • Price: $30

WPX

  • GTmetrix – 110ms
  • KeyCDN – 278ms
  • WebPageTest – 238ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 257ms
  • Search Console – 206ms
  • Pingdom – 436ms
  • Data center: Chicago, Illinois
  • Test site: https://wpxserver.com
  • Cons: uses W3TC, no phone support
  • Free migration? Yes
  • Hosting plan used: Business Plan
  • Price: $249.99

 

7. Final Thoughts

I understand there’s more to choosing a host than speed alone.

For support, WPX, Liquid Web, and Kinsta are probably your best best.

Otherwise, I would use Cloudways.

I encourage you to join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group and do your own research. You can also reach out Muhammed Moeez (the community manager for Cloudways) who is very helpful in answering questions. And remember, you can save $ with this promo code: OMM25

I don’t just recommend Cloudways DigitalOcean, I use them.

OMM on Cloudways DigitalOcean

2020-GTmetrix-Report

And if you’re still not sure, read threads from the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group.

Cloudways Response TimesCloudways-Migration-Result
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report
Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
UntitledWPEngine-To-Cloudways
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom Report
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 
If you need help choosing a host, drop me a comment and I’ll be glad to help.

Cheers,
Tom

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