Fast web host for Wordpress and phpBB?
July 7, 2011 10:03 AM   Subscribe

What is the fastest web host for Wordpress and a phpBB forum?

I've been with GoDaddy (I know, I know) for a while, and my main gripe is how slow my sites run.

Now I have an e-commerce site that consists of a Wordpress blog and phpBB forums. It often takes 4-5 seconds for pages to load, which is completely unacceptable, especially in the forums.

GoDaddy switched me to grid hosting, which seemed to help a little bit, but not much.

My questions are:

1. Is there an objective way to rate the speed of different web hosting companies?
2. Are objective measures of the speed of different hosts listed anywhere online? All I've found are affiliates promoting specific hosts, presumably for the commission.
3. Is there anything else I can do with my current host to speed things up? I've already put WPcache in place on my WP blog.

I'm willing to pay up to, say, $100 a month for a wicked-fast hosting plan.

P.S. - Your answer will immediately cease to be credible if you post an affiliate link below. :)
posted by mamessner to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you know how to admin a Linux server, I strongly reccomend Linode. You haven't mentioned how much traffic you get, but as long as you're under 150 concurrent visitors you should be able to fit into their $20/month plan easy. No affliliate link, just a very happy customer.
posted by Brian Puccio at 10:06 AM on July 7, 2011

And yes, there are comparisons, such as this popular one. I've been using Linode since well before that comparison however, their awesome price/performance is not a flash in the pan.
posted by Brian Puccio at 10:07 AM on July 7, 2011

Oops, wrong link, here's the right one.
posted by Brian Puccio at 10:11 AM on July 7, 2011

We use MediaTemple and RackSpace with our clients, and no complaints. Personally, for all of our websites, we use DreamHost.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:12 AM on July 7, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the quick response, Brian. Unfortunately I do not know how to admin a Linux server, nor do I know what that would even entail. I'm not even sure what a "slice" or "instance" are, per the article.

I'm ideally looking for something with the simplicity and support level of GoDaddy (one click installs of common apps, file manager built in, etc.) but with a lot more speed.

I can muddle through installing apps myself and I know how to FTP, so those aren't deal breakers, but I also want to focus a lot more on running the business than mucking around with a server.
posted by mamessner at 10:16 AM on July 7, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks Medieval -

Anyone know whether a virtual private server would be a good option? Dreamhost describes it as:

Full root access
Unique IP address
Protected CPU and RAM in a VPS
Fully burstable system resources
On-the-fly resize / reboot / reset
Just $15.00/mo extra!

No idea what these things are, but points 3 and 4 sound like they'd make it faster...

Really have no idea, though.
posted by mamessner at 10:21 AM on July 7, 2011

Response by poster: Ah - Another criterion. I'd ideally like them to migrate my site over from GoDaddy. I don't want to have to do much, or at least have someone on the phone with me or remoting into my computer to make the transfer. Also can't have any real down time during the transfer.

If wishes were horses...
posted by mamessner at 10:25 AM on July 7, 2011

Mediatemple would be a good fit for your technical level, they have wordpress 1 click installs and good support. They don't have 1-click PHPBB on their lowest level of hosting though, so you'll have to go straight to their dedicated virtual option. (i'm assuming this from this page, never used it)

Rackspace is definitely very good, but I think they assume a little more knowledge and I kinda get the idea that are for a little larger scale. Everyone I've known to use them has been some sort of IT professional getting paid for some project.

You can also look at this list from PHPBB on hosting providers that offer 1-click install, that's gonna be the more rare of the two applications you use. A place that has that will surely have wordpress.

A lot of these places will have better performing shared hosting than godaddy, you could migrate over, and then upgrade your plan if it's not fast enough (I'm gonna guess you'll have a little bit of down time or 'weird time' when you upgrade, though it'd be more seamless than completely changing providers).

also, regarding WPcache, did you just install the plugin or did you make sure most of the settings are active? it does need a little tinkering if I remember right.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 11:03 AM on July 7, 2011

What you have now is shared hosting, where a bazillion web sites are run off one web server and database. This is the cheapest way to host a site, because you can really pack them in, but it leads to the performance problems that you're seeing. Shared hosting really is only good for mostly static pages, or lightly scripted pages. Things that are entirely dynamic like forums are not a good match. A virtual private server (VPS)/virtual dedicated server (VDS) is a method of taking a large server and carving it up into smaller virtual machines. This ensures that each machine has a certain portion of the resources of the whole, so instead of having to compete with hundreds of other sites, you have what appears to be your own machine running its own web server and database server that are serving only your site(s) and nobody else's. The downside, other than cost, is that you are now a server administrator. There is a machine that you are responsible for configuring and controlling. If your needs are basic, you can probably do everything through web control panels and never have to worry too much about mucking about in the guts of system administration. But you might also look for "managed" VPS/VDS packages, where they will take care of things like installation and updates for you. It will cost more, though.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:04 AM on July 7, 2011

If wishes were horses indeed. No host I am aware of will manage your migration for you. And there is always downtime during a transfer. A VPS will require you to setup the "server" part of "virtual" regardless of who you go with - DreamHost or Linode - and be able to manage it yourself. Which means that is not a good option for you.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:05 AM on July 7, 2011

Steps to Optimize WordPress in Regard to Server Load?

I use and love Pair (been with them 12 years, no downtime to speak of, but it's DIY and they won't help you move). It's also nice and fast, despite it being shared hosting. I highly recommend them. I pay about $50/month and host about 25 sites there, most of which get a trickle of traffic. My wife's WP site has stood up to dooce-ing so I feel pretty good about performance under load. I also implemented WP Super Cache years ago, and have a fair amount of static assets (mostly just larger images) for my higher traffic sites mirrored on Amazon S3.

Any host migration is going to have some associated pain, and I'm not sure there are hosts that do that kind of thing. You need a consultant for that, I expect.

The WordPress Stack Exchange is a good forum for questions. Possibly they could also be helpful with helping you tune up your WordPress while you make your decision about hosting.
posted by artlung at 11:15 AM on July 7, 2011

I've already put WPcache in place on my WP blog.

If you mean this, then it's long been superseded by plugins like WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache, which do require a bit of checking to ensure that they're actually writing and redirecting to static files. An additional way to boost performance is to switch to something like nginx on the server side plus APC for PHP opcode caching, but that's something that you're only likely to get with a VPS plan or equivalent.

You're in the "simple, fast, cheap: choose two" position, where you could either overpay recurrently for more resources than your setup probably needs, or perhaps pay up front for someone to do the migration, configuration and optimisation, then leave you holding the keys. Chances are, though, that you'd be fine with a less GoDaddyish shared hosting provider.
posted by holgate at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help - A lot to think about here.

Rhomboid - This info was very helpful, thanks.

holgate: I'll have to look at those plugins. Didn't realize WPCache was obsolete. Re: simple, fast, cheap, choose two - I definitely choose simple and fast. It's a commerce site, so paying up to $100 a month (or more) is no problem.

Latest plan is to buy a basic dedicated server from GoDaddy. Will that be really fast, and would they help me migrate? I'm willing to pay the $70-$140 if it really speeds things up. I want this site to be as fast as AskMeFi.

Traffic-wise, I want it to handle, say, 2000 hits a day. There is a 19MB video that streams automatically for each visitor (although most will skip it or quit early).
If you want to see the slowness I'm talking about, check out and

Thanks for all the help. Keep it coming!
posted by mamessner at 12:15 PM on July 7, 2011

If you run an Audit with Chrome you'll see that you have quite a bit of inefficiency in your coding that heightens the perception of slowness (missing image dimensions for instance). Your home page is also resource heavy. I'd trim the homepage down to something much simpler and clean the code up so that it loads immediately.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:47 PM on July 7, 2011

I've been using 1and1 forever. Check them out.
posted by deezil at 1:40 PM on July 7, 2011

Response by poster: humboldt - I don't want to mess with the home page much: It converts very well and I don't want to drop the auto-play video. That's kind of a best practice in direct response web pages.

How do I do a Chrome audit? I don't control much of the coding, but I could put image dimensions in, for instance.
posted by mamessner at 2:51 PM on July 7, 2011

Using Google Chrome:

View -> Developer -> Developer Tools -> Audits tab.

Adding in the image dimensions will speed that page up. Without the dimensions the browser must parse the html all the way to the end of the file, load the images and then layout the page. If you include the dimensions the browser can block out the area for the images based on the dimensions and layout the page as it parses. Particularly important since this is "long" page with may images. (This is my understanding at least)
posted by humboldt32 at 4:33 PM on July 7, 2011

Response by poster: Great - that's a fantastic tip.
posted by mamessner at 5:48 PM on July 7, 2011

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