Editor Note: We wrote this article back in 2019 but since then we've had a change of heart as services have evolved. One year can make a world of difference! Check out wpclouddeploy.com and fireupwp.com instead.
Seriously - we believe we have found the fastest generalized WordPress hosting service. There's simply no need to mince words about our experience here.
And its affordable. Its not the cheapest service but its also nowhere near the most expensive service either.
The downside is that it does require a little bit of technical know-how to manage in the long term.
How It Works
The service works by creating a dedicated linux based VPS (virtual private server) at Digital Ocean and then installing its own customized software stack into that VPS.
This means that you do need your own account at Digital Ocean. If you don't have one already you should create one before starting a deployment on this service.
In your Digital Ocean account dashboard you create an API token that is then used to access your account to create one or more servers and install the specialized WordPress software stack.
The overall model is a very nice (and user friendly) twist on the Cloudways service model. If you're not familiar with Cloudways and how they work...
Cloudways allow you to choose your provider (Digital Ocean, Linode, Aws etc.) and then installs it's stack on your server at the chosen provider. But Cloudways retains full control of the servers and it bills you twice the price of what the underlying host (usually Digital Ocean) normally charges. So if the server costs $5.00 at Digital Ocean, you will pay Cloudways $10.00 (which includes the server cost). When you leave Cloudways you lose access to your servers.
Thus, the difference with this new service is two-fold:
- You control the server at all times because the server is created in your account at Digital Ocean. Cancelling this service does not mean you lose your server or have to transfer your data to another hosting provider.
- This service is 100% focused on WordPress and provides a highly optimized WordPress installation. Cloudways provides a standard WP install stack with little optimization.
What Is In Software The Stack?
The software stack that is deployed on your new WordPress servers consists of:
- Nginx (not Apache)
- MariaDB (standard MY SQL is an option but MariaDB is faster)
- PHP 7.3
- A custom cache plugin
Combine this with the SSD backed servers from Digital Ocean and you end up with the fastest WordPress hosting we've found.
What Is The Name Of The Hosting Service?
Yeah, we know, we've kept you in suspense for a few paragraphs there - the service is call SpinupWP and is located at spinupwp.com.
Its a creation of the folks at Delicious Brains - the ones who created the well regarded WP OFFLOAD MEDIA, WP MIGRATE DB PRO and WP OFFLOAD SES plugins.
These guys are among the best WordPress developers there is in the entire world. And they've turned their sights to hosting.
What's The Price?
You can spin up one server at Digital Ocean for $12.00 ($6.00 for the first three months), $19.00 for three servers ($9.00 for the first three months) and then $5.00 for each additional server.
Keep in mind that each server can host multiple sites. And that you also need to pay for the server at Digital Ocean.
So, for a single month of hosting on a $5.00 server at Digital Ocean combined with the SpinupWP fees, your total hosting cost for one site would be $17.00 or so ($11.00 for the first three months).
You can add additional sites to the same server. For small blog and information sites, the lowest cost server at Digital Ocean can probably handle 5 - 10 sites and potentially even more depending on traffic patterns. So on a per-site basis your cost can be quite low.
So What's The Catch?
There are a few things that might turn your average user off:
- The service is still in beta. From this writer's experience, things worked well but its still a beta service.
- Some point-and-click settings that you might expect are not there. Options for configuring your site that are available in cPanel, Plesk and Cloudways are not yet present in the SpinupWP dashboard.
- There are no automatic daily backups - you have to configure your own via a plugin, a backup service like ManageWP or some sort of custom cron job.
- You do need some technical know-how. While SpinupWP will apply security updates to the software stack on your server, any other updates will not be applied. And many options require that you log into the console and use the Linux command line to turn on/off or edit configuration files.
- Their support operation isn't up and running yet. While most hosts have real-time chat options, the response time for support tickets average 24 hours on weekdays with no response on weekends. Should something go seriously wrong, you don't have any recourse in a reasonable period of time.
Even for experienced admins the choice to use ngnix without (or instead of) the Apache Web Server might be a little jarring.
What Are The Other Advantages?
Besides speed, these guys seem to take security very seriously. For example:
- While Cloudways will install WordPress tables with the default "wp" prefix, SpinupWP will use a random prefix (which is more secure and is the recommended WordPress best-practice).
- They moved all log files outside the WordPress folders and locked them down.
- Server access is primarily restricted to users with a CERTIFICATE.
- Users who need access to the server temporarily via a password must use SUDO for all sensitive admin commands.
- Each site is installed with its own user name. This means that it is harder for sites to intrude upon each others files and spaces, especially if one is somehow compromised by malware.
Other advantages include:
- You own the data and you control the underlying server. So you can stop using SpinupWP if you like and still retain the server in your Digital Ocean account - where you can use whatever management tool you like. SpinupWP is essentially a management tool on top of a server you control - just like Plesk or cPanel - but one that is smarter about WordPress.
- If you spin up a lot of servers or servers that are large, the cost savings over using something like CloudWays could be tremendous. For example, if you create a server that costs $100.00 at Digital Ocean, the total cost at Cloudways is going to be $200.00. At SpinupWP its likely to be $112.00 ($100.00 paid to Digital Ocean and $12.00 paid to SpinupWP).
- You can use other hosting providers besides Digital Ocean. You just need to spin up the server manually and then provide SpinupWP with the credentials to do its thing. So, if you prefer your servers to be located at Amazon, Microsoft or Google, you can still do that and use the SpinupWP service!
- WP-CLI is installed for all sites on a server as a standard option.
We are seriously excited about this product. It is the first dedicated hosting service for WordPress that allows you full control of the underlying server and will not try to lock you in. And it does it at a reasonable price point!
The pricing and business model, in our view is brilliant. So, if you have some time and feel like trying something new, take them for a spin and see how much faster your site can be!