When reviewing a web hosting service, we consider a lot of aspects. That includes how many features are included, how easy the service is to use, how well the provider respects your privacy and more. However, when it comes to raw comparison, the most direct way to find the best web hosting providers is by evaluating speed.
That’s what we’re here to do. Through hours and hours of testing, we’ve found the fastest web hosting services around. Although speed isn’t the only factor you should consider when choosing a web host, it’s usually a good sign that you’re purchasing a quality service. We’re going to spotlight the five fastest hosts we’ve found, along with a couple of honorable mentions.
To ensure our results can be directly compared, we have a specific testing process. Before getting to our picks, let’s run down how we tested each service.
Our Testing Process
We use two benchmarks to measure web hosting performance: Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact. Although we judge a service on those two metrics, we have some conditions in place to ensure our results are as reliable as possible.
First, we sign up for an account without the host’s knowledge. This is to ensure that the server our site is hosted on isn’t cherry picked (and so we can evaluate the checkout process). Additionally, we sign up with an active VPN — you can learn which ones we prefer in our best VPN guide — and a personal email.
We also purchase the most inexpensive shared plan so we can judge the service on its baseline performance. Once set up, we install a blank copy of WordPress with its standard theme.
Other than that, we don’t load any other content on the site. Additionally, we don’t engage caching or compression, even if the host offers it. Whatever is handed to us after paying is what we test with.
Our Pingdom test is meant to test how quickly the site will load for a single user. We ignore the actual time the site took to load for the most part and consider the overall performance grade Pingdom provides. Pingdom offers seven metrics for website load time, not all of which are relevant for the host itself, which is why we look past page load time.
We’re going to break down each metric Pingdom provides and why we focus on some more than others.
- DNS (pink): How long it takes to tie the domain to an IP address. This is relevant to the host in some scenarios, depending on who is managing the nameservers.
- SSL (purple): How long it takes to perform the SSL/TLS handshake. We ignore this metric.
- Connect (blue): How long it takes the web browser to connect to the server. This is largely out of the host’s control.
- Send (orange): How long it takes the browser to send data to the server. Again, this is largely out of the host’s control.
- Wait (yellow): How long it takes for the browser to start receiving data from the server. This is the most important metric for our testing, as it shows how long the server takes to find the data and start transporting it back.
- Receive (green): How long it takes for the browser to fully receive data. This metric is mostly based on the browser and networking, so it’s not as important as “wait” for web hosting speed.
- Blocked (gray): How many requests were blocked and how long it took the browser to communicate that it’s not ready to send data.
Pingdom is great for digging into the details, as it provides a nice overview of how a single connection is resolved. However, it doesn’t fully encapsulate how well a host performs. For that, we turn to Load Impact, which is a stress-testing tool that sends virtual users to the site during a certain period of time.
For our testing, that’s 50 users within five minutes. We’ve found that those settings usually mark the breaking point for inexpensive shared hosting. In most cases, if a host fails, it fails by a lot, and if it succeeds, there are little to no issues.
We take note of two areas during the Load Impact test: the response time for each VU and the number of request errors. The response time is important, as it shows how consistently the host performs while traffic increases. Fulfilled requests are equally as important, though.
Whenever a host returns HTTP errors, that usually means there aren’t enough resources to accommodate the traffic spike. Although that could mean a bunk server in some cases, it’s usually a sign that there are too many users hosted on a single server with too few resources to share between them.
Choosing the Fastest Web Hosting Services
Obviously, choosing the fastest web hosting providers comes down to our speed results, but that’s not all we considered when making our choices. As we’ll see in the honorable mentions section below, price played a major role. We test the most inexpensive shared plan, and when that or something similar isn’t available, it’s hard to say that two services are on equal footing.
Performance for the money factored into not only making our choices, but also how we ordered our choices. As we’ll see, all of the services listed below have very similar Pingdom and Load Impact results, making it difficult to recommend one over the other purely based on speed.
Because of that, we considered other factors — such as price, features and ease of use — to order our list of services.
Thankfully, we didn’t omit fast providers that lacked in other areas. Speed, from our testing, is usually a good indication of a solid hosting service. Because of that, our choices below are not only the fastest web hosting services around, they’re also among the best.
Hostinger and Hosting24 are, more or less, the same service, so performance for both is roughly the same. Starting with our Pingdom test, they scored 96 out of 100, which is excellent. The site actually took a long time to load — around two and a half seconds — but the majority of that was thanks to DNS resolution.
As mentioned, the most important metric from Pingdom is the “wait” time, and neither Hostinger nor Hosting24 disappointed. The wait time was very low, around 250ms, likely thanks to the LiteSpeed cache that’s implemented on your site.
Load Impact was equally impressive, with Hostinger and Hosting24 maintaining a consistent response time throughout and returning no errors. We’ve seen how bad inexpensive shared plans can be — read our GreenGeeks review for an example — so the consistent performance here is a breath of fresh air.
Hostinger and Hosting24 are able to achieve such results for so little money thanks to the LiteSpeed server software it uses. We’ve seen other hosts get close on the inexpensive end of things, but they’ve never been able to master Hostinger and Hosting24 (read our Bluehost review and Namecheap review for examples).
LiteSpeed is an Apache alternative that decreases network overhead. Unlike Apache, LiteSpeed is a paid-server software, which is likely why it isn’t seen as often as it should be.
It offers all of the benefits of Apache, including ModSecurity, without many of the drawbacks. By decreasing network overhead, more sites can use the same server, and with access to the LiteSpeed cache, they can load faster.
Other Reasons We Like Hostinger
Hostinger is impressive enough alone, but it’s even more impressive considering the price. It offers massive multi-year discounts, going as low as $0.80 per month if you sign up for four years. In many cases, such as opting for the three-month plan instead of a monthly one, you’ll save money on the total price.
Furthermore, you aren’t punished for going monthly, like you are with Arvixe, which you can learn more about in our Arvixe review. You get an insane discount when signing up for multiple years, but the monthly rate isn’t bad, either.
You get a lot for your money, too. In addition to the excellent performance that comes from the LiteSpeed servers, Hostinger also provides a free SSL/TLS certificate, a proprietary website builder and daily backups. Read our Hostinger review and Hosting24 review to learn more, or try it yourself with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
SiteGround, like Hostinger and Hosting24, scored 96 out of 100 in the Pingdom test, but the load time was nearly three seconds. Once again, the majority of the time — around two and a half seconds, in this case — was dedicated to DNS resolution. The wait time was just longer than 200ms, which is very impressive.
It’s even more impressive considering SiteGround is using NGINX servers, which is a much older server software than LiteSpeed. There are many differences between Apache and NGINX, but Chris Lea sums it up nicely: “Apache is like Microsoft Word. It has a million options but you only need six. NGINX does those six things, and it does five of them 50 times faster than Apache.”
Additionally, SiteGround offers full solid-state storage, HTTP/2 and PHP7, all of which should improve speed. The largest boost, though, comes from SuperCacher, SiteGround’s proprietary caching tool that works on NGINX. Serving content from the cache drastically decreases the wait time.
All of those optimization features are showcased through the Load Impact test. SiteGround stayed resilient — minus a small bump in the beginning — as the user load increased. It didn’t return any errors, either, meaning there are plenty of resources to go around.
Other Reasons We Like SiteGround
One of the reasons SiteGround made our best web hosting for small business guide is speed. However, it also made that guide for its excellent array of features. The shared Web, WordPress and WooCommerce hosting plans — which all share the same pricing structure — include everything you need to operate your site, from WordPress staging to automated daily backups.
If you don’t want to use a CMS like WordPress, SiteGround has you covered, too. All shared users have access to one of the best website builders available, Weebly.
As you can see in our Weebly review, it excels thanks to its no-nonsense interface, multiple third-party integrations and slew of designer templates. SiteGround offers Weebly’s “connect” plan, which allows you to use the free version of Weebly with your own domain. SiteGround is the quintessential hosting service. From features to pricing to speed, it does everything excellently, with a great support system to back it up. You can learn more in our SiteGround review or take it for a spin risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Kinsta ranked first in our best web hosting for WordPress guide, and that was mostly due to its speed. Like Hostinger and Hosting24, Kinsta uses LiteSpeed server software. However, the architecture of hosting is different. Instead of using LiteSpeed on shared servers, Kinsta takes advantage of cloud hosting.
Our Pingdom test returned a score of 96 out of 100, with a very low wait time. Most of the performance is due to the LiteSpeed servers, but Kinsta packs in other performance features, as well. Servers are outfitted with full SSD storage, you have access to between 5GB and 1TB of data transfer on KeyCDN, and there’s both server-side and client-side caching.
All of the optimization measures are there to ensure that WordPress loads as fast as possible. It’s just for WordPress, though. Kinsta is exclusively a managed WordPress host, meaning if you’re interested in another platform, you’re out of luck. That said, WordPress usually demands the fastest loading times, making Kinsta’s features list a natural fit.
Unsurprisingly, Kinsta performed well in our Load Impact test. It handled the modest load of 50 virtual users with ease, maintaining a consistent response time throughout. In total, Load Impact sent more than 9,000 requests, and Kinsta was able to handle those requests at a rate of 31 per second with no errors.
Other Reasons We Like Kinsta
Kinsta is tailor-made for WordPress, which is either a blessing or a curse depending on how you want to build your site. WordPress users are heavily rewarded for sticking with the platform, though. In addition to all of the performance benefits Kinsta offers, you also have access to features like WordPress staging and a dashboard built specifically for the CMS.
However, Kinsta costs more than the other options on this list. The price is still feasible, with the most basic plan clocking in at $30 per month for 20,000 visits, but that price can jump as high as $600 per month depending on traffic volume and your number of WordPress installations.
That said, no one does WordPress quite like Kinsta at its price point. It offers premium managed WordPress features at a reasonable price that can scale with your site as it grows. You can learn more in our Kinsta review or see how you like it with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
As we’ve seen with SiteGround, Kinsta and Hostinger, optimization is key, and MDDHosting is well-versed in that. It’s exclusively a cloud hosting service, offering everything from inexpensive shared cloud hosting to cloud VPS servers that cost a few hundred dollars per month.
No matter which plan you choose, though, you’re getting a LiteSpeed web server with multiple layers of caching. Pingdom returned a result of 96 out of 100, likely thanks to the LiteSpeed server software and LiteSpeed Cache.
However, MDDHosting has other optimization measures in place, too. Included with your plan is CloudFlare Railgun, which compresses and caches objects that were previously uncachable in a similar way to how videos are compressed.
As you can read in our CloudFlare guide, it’s a content-delivery network that should be used on most sites. By leveraging the network, Railgun is able to very quickly deliver compressed objects from the cache around the world. Railgun usually requires a CloudFlare business account, which runs $200 per month, but with MDDHosting, you get it for free.
Our Load Impact test is better than it would appear, based on the screenshot below. As you can see, the response time was fairly consistent, though not as good as Kinsta. We had a throughput limit detected by Load Impact. Despite that, out of the 2,410 HTTP requests, only one was met with an error.
Other Reasons We Like MDDHosting
As a service dedicated to cloud hosting, MDDHosting provides some unique advantages. As mentioned above, our Load Impact test detected a throughput limit, which usually means you need to upgrade to a better server.
However, with cloud hosting, you can add additional resources to your account without any downtime, which you can learn more about in our hosting types breakdown.
MDDHosting not only offers cloud hosting, it offers inexpensive cloud hosting. You can purchase a basic plan for only a few dollars per month without needing to sign a multi-year contract. Given the flexibility of cloud hosting, you can also easily buy in with a low-power plan and upgrade in the future.
Although MDDHosting is unimpressive when it comes to usability, its features, price and speed are worth your attention. You can learn more in our MDDHosting review, or see how you like it with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
A2 Hosting can go toe-to-toe with any other service on this list. It offers LiteSpeed hosting — which, as we’ve seen, provides excellent performance — as well as full SSD storage and multiple caching layers. However, it ranks last because of its price. A2 Hosting only offers LiteSpeed hosting on its “turbo” servers, which boast up to 20 times faster speed.
Based on our testing, that’s a little far-fetched, but you will see a performance bump over A2’s standard shared hosting. A2 Hosting scored 96 out of 100 during our Pingdom test, but the load time was very low.
Our site loaded in less than 300ms, which is faster than any of our other picks. That’s because, in addition to offering LiteSpeed servers, A2 Hosting has its own caching going on.
The caching package includes three tools: Turbo cache, OPcache and Memcached. The Turbo cache stores all of your site’s HTML content so it can be served without running PHP.
OPcache reduces PHP page response time for anything that hasn’t been caught yet, and Memcached keeps common MySQL database queries in its system memory so they can happen much faster.
Load Impact returned stellar results. A2 Hosting was able to not only handle the traffic load without any errors, it did so with impeccable resilience. Every VU loaded within 10ms of the ones around it, making for a consistent response time throughout the test.
Other Reasons We Like A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting’s mentality with optimization features carries over to all other aspects of the service. For instance, your site is covered by A2 Hosting’s Perpetual Security initiative, which combines many website security services under one roof.
The package includes KernelCare, which updates the kernel’s security every day, and HackScan, which protects your site from malware. Additionally, you have access to a dual firewall, brute force protection and distributed denial-of-service protection.
Given how many features are included, it’s easy to assume that A2 Hosting is expensive. Thankfully, though, it’s not. Not only is A2 Hosting around the same price as most leading web hosts, it’s clear about what price you’ll be paying through checkout. Additionally, you can purchase as little as one month or as much as three years, depending on your budget.
Although you’ll have to jump to the turbo plans to see A2 Hosting’s true power, the slight price increase is worth it. A2 Hosting packs in more features than the competition while staying reasonably priced. You can learn more in our A2 Hosting review or try it out risk-free with its anytime money-back guarantee.
The five services above aren’t the only ones you should pay attention to. For various reasons, we had a couple of hosts that didn’t make the cut, so we want to highlight them.
In the beginning of the article, we said that speed wasn’t the only factor we considered, and Pagely is why. It’s the fastest web host we’ve tested, clocking in with a Pingdom score of 99 out of 100. However, Pagely doesn’t offer any plans comparable to the rest of our list, so it needed to be omitted.
Like Kinsta, it only offers cloud-managed WordPress hosting, which, in this case, is powered by Amazon Web Services. However, plans start at $200 per month. Although you might assume that’ll get you some sort of unlimited subscription, it won’t. Even with Pagely’s high price, it imposes resource limitations. For all the bells and whistles on Pagely’s most expensive plan, it’ll run you $35,000 per month.
Given Pagely’s clientele, the price makes sense. As the host that powers Disney, Visa, Comcast and more, Pagely provides all the tools for enterprise WordPress sites. It comes with an enterprise price tag, though, which is why we excluded it from the main list. If that sounds like something you can swing, be sure to read our Pagely review.
DreamHost is the opposite of Pagely. Instead of performing above expectations and costing too much, it performed slightly below expectation and costs around the same as our other picks. However, there’s enough to like about DreamHost to make it worth your consideration.
The results we gathered weren’t impressive. DreamHost earned a Pingdom score of 90 out 100 and provided a few hassles during our Load Impact test. However, that was with a shared plan. DreamHost also offers managed WordPress plans that use a virtual private server, which offer significantly better performance.
The DreamPress plans were built with WordPress in mind, combining the isolated resources of a VPS with multiple performance optimizations, including an unlimited CDN. If you jump for DreamHost, you can expect performance similar to Kinsta for slightly less money. You can read up on the details in our full DreamHost review.
When choosing services for this list, there were a few that stood out, but for all the wrong reasons. We want to point out the hosts that performed the worst during our testing so you know to avoid them.
HostGator is the slowest host we’ve tested. Pingdom returned a score of 83 out of 100, despite the fact that our wait time was fairly short. There are a few reasons for the decreased speed, but one stands above the rest.
There were around twice as many requests sent, many of which were for the “coming soon” page that’s normally displayed on your site before anything is installed.
Unsurprisingly, those requests were blocked, which is what bloated our response time. It seems HostGator automatically keeps the “coming soon” files on record rather than deleting them, which causes the browser to request those files when trying to load the site. You can read more about that in our HostGator review.
WestHost and Midphase are essentially the same hosting service, in a similar way to Hostinger and Hosting24. Although most aspects of the service are good, the speed is abysmal. Pingdom returned a score of 84 out of 100, with a wait time that was more than one second. Load Impact presented issues, too, with multiple HTTP errors.
There aren’t enough optimization measures on the server to load your site as quickly as the options listed above. Unfortunately, this is just a case of having too few resources and not enough caching. That said, we recommend reading our WestHost review and Midphase review to see the reasons we like each service. Just be warned that the speed is rough.
Finding a fast web hosting service is easier than it may seem. We’ve gone through the testing process, and through that, we’ve found that the providers that get it right in all other areas are usually quick, too. If you glance through our web hosting reviews, you’ll find that the services that are the fastest are also the ones that we rate the highest.
For uncompromising speed, no matter the cost, there’s no better option than Pagely. However, a lot of hosts get close for a lot less money. We’re partial to Hostinger and Hosting24, in particular. Those services offer everything we want when it comes to speed, and manage to do so at a low price.
Is speed the most important aspect when choosing a hosting service? What else are you considering? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.