Speed quest – godaddy, hostgator, W3 Total Cache & WP Super Cache testing


This thread covers a recent quest to improve my server performance. Lot of posts relate to performance tuning multiuser and buddypress installs. I've been at this for three long days and want to record this for myself, and hopefully my lost sleep is of some service to others.

First Rule… GoDaddy is Slow Daddy; server up-time is an issue often enough to be noticeable. I use mon.itor.us and they have a history of network outages, and terrible delays servers often unreliable to 1/2 day at a time.

I've been a Godaddy customer for over 6 years and would really like to work with them. I asked their d support how to improve site performance – they offered a couple of service levels above their grid level – but I fell over when they said I'd have to fully re-install all of my content and that I couldn't internally transfer data between their servers. That was a bad-service show-stopper for me. Their servers appear are very over-loaded so database activity takes a long time, almost regardless of what else you do.

Caching only helps after you get to your server – and this is taking between up to 8 seconds just to reach the server — So there's no way to fix GoDaddy. More about W3 Total Cache versus WP Super Cache later.

I did get a server to work speedy on Godaddy… Oops- I take that back. Check out the over 5 seconds for Godaddy decide to serve my home page. See eFlyer.cc report. Image serving is way slow too.

When I investigated hostgator – they said they were faster. Really? I'd sure like to see it for myself?

When I searched for multipress/buddypress blogs I came up blank. Finally I ran a performance profile on their blog, below, and aside from sluggish CDN (Content Delivery Network) stuff, they appeared faster – at least at hosting their own blog. There wasn't a 6 second delay for the home page at least.

Their blog appears to be wordpress – based on Page Speed & YSlow Scores (now I don't feel so bad).

The big deal for them is the free migration included with the business account. It doesn't cost much to see if they are able to deliver.

But I wanted more. I searched in vain to find a multi-site hosted on hostgator to benchmark. No luck. I'll probably migrate because I sure can't stay with Slow-Daddy.

I'm going to put the W3 Total Cache versus WP Super Cache in another post…

  • squibm
    • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    The Cache Discussion.

    I'll start with the punchline. If you're using buddypress or multipress with more than a couple of blogs that you can afford to tune independently – Your're only option is WP Super Cache.

    If you a small number of sites and you can afford to tune each of them W3 Total Cache performs a lot better. Check out the report cards below.

    For WP Super Cache:

    • Plus: It installs and enables for multisite
    • Plus: Many of the features work across the network
    • Plus: CDN support for the main blog
    • Minus: No CDN support for child blogs
    • Minus: Inferior to W3 Total Cache at Google Page Speed & YSlow optimizations
    • Minus: Site speed results are less than you'll get with W3 Total Cache

      WP Super Cache has CDN, Content Delivery Network, support. However… CDN only seems to work for the main blog, and not child blogs. You'll need to install the helper add-on and CDN support. I used Amazon Cloud S3.

      WP Super Cache CDN doesn't seem to work because paths get extended for sub-sites. So it wasn't apparent how to configure it to correct this.

      For W3 Total Cache:

    • Minus: Does not network enable – have to configure each child blog
    • Plus: Superior optimization for a single blog
    • Minus: No apparent way to auto-configure child blogs – to use with New Blog Templates

    • squibm
      • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

      Thanks Timothy. Added a next chapter to the saga yesterday.

      I punched the go button with HostGator to migrate/clone my site. When I spoke with HostGator migration group – it turns out they do have a page with some selected customers. Here.

      I benchmarked these and found the site performance was quite favorable. None of the sites appeared to be wordpress or multisite instances so I compared one of my static sites to the HostGator. The speed difference was about 10x for locally hosted content. See Benchmarks below.

      I learned another big lesson for sub-sites access times… The default .htaccess rules addressing a child blog without a trailing slash causes a big delay. Here is a link to the discussion thread on this one. See image below. This was a static shared hosting site – but the delays were much less than my static site on GoDaddy.

      As of this moment I seek some .htaccess code that will quickly patch up the request without the very slow redirect, as per the listed post.

    • squibm
      • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

      Okay… That was a lot of work, but I finally got some numbers. The domains are ported and there is a BIG difference in load performance benchmarks. Godaddy lost the race — real bad according to http://gtmetrix.com benchmarks – with essentially cache settings as equivalent as I could make them.

      The images show how long it takes to get started serving content. Basically GoDaddy sits there for a long time likely due to overloaded servers and long queues. I’ve seen times in excess of 30 seconds – depending on time of day – which was what prompted me to start this project.

      The eFlyer is a fully optimized multisite install that WP Total Cache. These images show the difference in back-end server. Godaddy has a 5.8 second wait to serve up the first byte, while hostgator does it in a few, 180, milliseconds.

      Site Performance Summary:

      eflyer.cc / Godaddy: 3710 ms / Hostgator: 108 ms / 34x faster

      whnlive.com / Godaddy: 4000 ms / Hostgator 288 ms / 16x faster

      whnlive.com/blog/stress / Godaddy: 5960 ms / Hostgator: 242 ms / 24x faster

      The migration was complicated by different naming schemas and a different DOCUMENT_ROOT policy under php. Godaddy always returned the main website root, while hostgator had a custom root anchored wherever you anchored it. This broke subdomain include directives.

      If you use any kind of common include model, symbolic links, ln -s, is a very good friend. It lets you overcome those ornery path differences you will doubtless encounter. In wordpress any common file include utility like AmberPanther include manager, or any dependence on a file system name, is likely to break.

      I worked around the issue by using symbolic links in my subdomain directories. That one took two days to figure out with a dozen or so support calls, and 5 minutes to fix after I remembered symbolic links worked for directories.

      Hostgator support are friendly, and generally know the general web stuff. The same is true of godaddy support. I’ve made dozens of calls to both, and both support staffs were always helpful and courteous. But when it comes to the lower level nuances implied by web content compatibility – just be ready. Neither support group claims to support “web code”. The folks at hostgator were more willing to look at the php code to help though.

      By the way, wordpress moved almost without glitch. I had to disable/re-enable WP Super Cache because it had some paths enabled during install to cache files. WP Total Cache, eflyer.cc, migrated perfectly without a hitch.

    • squibm
      • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

      I’m closing the tread.

      If this was helpful – please throw me a few points. I like the idea of a a free membership.

      In the meantime – it was fun being a Godaddy customer. I did not want to leave, but I just couldn’t afford lose my visitors to long waits.

    • aecnu
      • WP Unicorn

      Greetings squibm,

      Just checking if this issue was eventually resolved in another thread? Or by

      yourself separately to us? Or by us over email with you? Or using our live


      If so, no need to reply, that’s great news.

      If not, or you have any more questions related to this thread, please feel free

      to post them below including any new symptoms or errors and tick the ‘Mark as

      Not Resolved (re-open)’ box below the post area (or else we’ll miss it!)

      Otherwise, happy days, glad you got it sorted :slight_smile:

      Thank you for being a WPMU Dev member!

      Cheers, Joe :slight_smile:

    • squibm
      • Site Builder, Child of Zeus


      I created the thread because it’s the kind of info I really could have used before I began.

      The sales folks at both places don’t tell you anything useful about their performance relative to other vendors. The absence of any third party benchmarks that weren’t published specific to wordpress mu created a fair amount of uncertainty.

      Once I completed the migration – now about 3 weeks into the HostGator, my pages still load consistently faster – so I know the quality of service is higher than before.

      I also note, that my other static sites, still hosted on GoDaddy seem to be faster – so I don’t know what’s up with that.

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