Dreamhost Speed Tests Dreampress Against Competitors

Dreamhost Speed Tests Dreampress Against Competitors

Dreamhost has recently performed a series of speed and performance related tests against its coopetition.  The use of the word coopetition (meaning cooperative competition) exudes the confidence and contentment both with their product, expertise, and place in the marketplace.  

DreamPress is a performance related WordPress configuration that includes a number of great features (especially for the price – $19,95), including:

  • SSD Storage
  • PHP 5.5 with OpCache
  • HHVM (recommended)
  • Varnish Caching (this does not work with SSL)
  • Memcached

The configuration is based upon VPS infrastructure, and there are no restrictions on plugins or themes like some other Managed WordPress Hosting Providers.

For the test, Dreamhost used identical WordPress configurations, with the same plugins installed.  If a hosting provider installed plugins by default, they were not deleted.  Any caching configurations were implemented as per the web hosting providers guidelines.

A total of six hosting providers WordPress plans were tested, including Dreamhost.  These include Bluehost, GoDaddy, Hostgator, Pagely, Siteground and WP Engine.

The Speed Tests

Three tests were carried out using a service called Loadstorm.  Each test lasted for 20 minutes, with a varied amount of peak users and length of time at peak users:

  • 100 users, 10 minutes at peak
  • 500 users, 2 minutes at peak
  • 1000 users, 5 minutes at peak

According to Dreamhost, many blogs will easily get 100 users peaking for 10 minutes then a new blog post is published.  If you get tweeted by a celebrity, then you may find you get 1000 users in just 5 minutes.

The following metrics were recorded:

  • Total Requests: The number of requests a site can handle during the test (higher is better).
  • Peak Response Time: The response time of the site (lower is better).
  • Average Response Time: The average speed of the site (lower is better).
  • Total errors: An error occurs when a connection is refused, and can happen if the test is caught by a firewall or if the server is unable to keep up with all the requests (lower is better).

The server location and where the visitors (test traffic) come from could have a bearing on the results.  The further away from the server a visitor is, the higher the response time.  It is unclear from Dreamhost’s post whether the traffic was distributed from many locations, or just from a single location.  The impact of any distance would be less if the traffic came from multiple locations as it should average out a little better.  However, if all traffic came from just one location, it could have an impact on the results.  For instance, this site has approximately 100 ms page load time difference between  New York and Dallas.

As a result, we would recommend not comparing the web hosts average response times directly, but more comparing the increase in the average response times for each host as the number of concurrent users increases.  This means that Test 3 will be a much more telling look at how the different hosting providers perform, as you can compare how much it increased over the initial figure.  The peak response time is also a useful metric to see, as it shows whether there were any spikes due to the server not being able to keep up.

Another points to make, is that we do not know how full or busy each server \ infrastructure was at the time of the tests.

That being said, and despite a few reservations, we do think the tests show some useful information.

Test 1 – 100 users, 10 min at peak

Hostname Total Req. Peak Res. Time (ms) Avg. Res. Time (ms) Total Errors
Bluehost 6034 632 157 330
GoDaddy 6035 7267 132 0
HostGator 6018 1070 186 0
Pagely 6048 1312 11 0
Siteground 6033 2410 151 0
WP Engine 6042 1415 83 0
DreamPress 6049 1108 16 0

Winners: Both DreamPress and Pagely had the best average response times.

Test 2 – 500 users, 2 min at peak

Hostname Total Req. Peak Res. Time (ms) Avg. Res. Time (ms) Total Errors
Bluehost 22341 1322 301 1250
GoDaddy 22394 7584 208 0
HostGator 22326 10099 259 1
Pagely 22465 7378 157 0
Siteground 22349 3218 275 0
WP Engine 22308 2621 179 0
DreamPress 22364 2304 165 0

Winners: Both DreamPress and Pagely had the best average response times.

Test 3 – 1000 users, 5 min at peak

Hostname Total Req. Peak Res. Time (ms) Avg. Res. Time (ms) Total Errors
Bluehost 49950 1461 347 2780
GoDaddy 49416 15100 535 311
HostGator 42838 8051 277 0
Pagely 50270 6426 168 0
Siteground 49966 5375 303 0
WP Engine 50193 1480 211 0
DreamPress 49897 13711 189 0

Winners: Both DreamPress and Pagely had the best average response times, although WP Engine also performed very well.

A couple of points should be noted:

GoDaddy and Bluehost both had a large number of errors.  While the test was designed to simulate real visitors, it would seem that either the firewall prevented some of the visitors accessing the server, or that they were throttling the heavy traffic to such an extent the visitors timed out.

Another point is about the Peak Response times.  Here is Dreamhost’s explanation:

The peak response for DreamPress shot up, due to much the same reasons Bluehost kept dying. We were throttling the users to not crash the server. Obviously we can improve on that. But our average response time means that only a couple hits triggered that. Guess what we get to work on now?

Dreamhost seemed to be very happy that their DreamPress held up against some of the other highly specialized (and much more expensive) solutions.  Dreamhost confirmed that they have identified a few areas for improvement, and they will be working on this throughout 2016. DreamPress based on these results, though, is certainly a host that is worth considering:

DreamPress held up very well against some of the specialized, WordPress only, web hosts. While we have room to improve, the tests have helped us to isolate a few problem areas and we know where to direct ourselves next year. With improvements to our systems, upgrades to our hardware and software, it can only get better and better for DreamPress in 2016.

Of course, when choosing a hosting provider, there are many different things to consider, such as the support, security, and reliability.  Also, many managed WordPress Hosting Plans have restrictions on plugins or access to any hosting admin.

We will be happy to see your thoughts

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