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GoDaddy vs Synthesis vs Digital Ocean speed comparison

written by Anand April 25, 2014

After 2 months of searching and comparing GoDaddy vs Synthesis vs Digital Ocean, my quest to find a web host that meets my needs has officially ended, at least for now. With the redesign and re-branding of htpcBeginner, I have been looking for a web host that is not only reliable and fast but also allows me to do more than just hosting my site. Currently (soon to be previously) Previously, htpcBeginner is was hosted on GoDaddy's Deluxe Linux hosting plan. I was confused on whether to go with a VPS solution or a manage WP hosting site such as Synthesis or WPEngine. My first test was with Synthesis. But then I stumbled upon Digital Ocean and was wowed in a matter of minutes. In this post, I present a simple comparison of GoDaddy vs Synthesis vs Digital Ocean that I made to help myself choose hosting company.

GoDaddy vs Synthesis vs Digital Ocean Test Setup

For this comparison I used my WordPress 3.9 setup with 26 plugins enabled. W3 Total Cache was active with Page, Browser, and Object Cache enabled. Google Adsense ads were disabled for this comparison. The hosting environments I compared were:

  • GoDaddy Deluxe Linux Hosting – ~$5 per month
  • WebSynthesis Starter – $27 per month
  • Digital Ocean's $5 Plan – $5 per month

In terms of price, its obvious that both GoDaddy and Digital Ocean are unbeatable. But with htpcBeginner getting more and more visitors, will Synthesis offer the speed and reliability for the price? That was the question I wanted to find the answer for.

Pingdom Speed Test Results

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that I have no clue where GoDaddy's and Synthesis's servers are located. But my Digital Ocean server was located in New York and the Pingdom tests below were from a New York based server. Assuming that both GoDaddy and Synthesis servers are located outside New York, this gives an edge to Digital Ocean in GoDaddy vs Synthesis vs Digital Ocean speed comparison.

GoDaddy

After several hours of tweaking and half-heartedly removing/replacing some of my favorite WordPress plugin, I was able to achieve a close to 1 second page load speed for my homepage on GoDaddy. The load speed for posts were about 500 ms more. Even then, for a shared hosting account a 1 second load time is amazing. [Read: 5 blogging mistakes I made when I started this blog]

GoDaddy vs Synthesis vs Digital Ocean

SpeedTest from GoDaddy

Synthesis

Synthesis offers a 30 day trial with money back. So I decided to try it and see if managed WordPress would work for me. I have to say, I was extremely impressed with Synthesis's support. If you do not know much about hosting and servers and would like to just focus on producing content, and let them manage the server issues then one should definitely consider Synthesis. It was obviously faster than GoDaddy with only Page Cache and Browser cache enabled on W3 Total Cache.

Synthesis vs Digital Ocean

SpeedTest from Synthesis

Synthesis's moto is content origin optimization instead of edge caching techniques such as CDN. But they do not recommend minification, object cache, or a CDN. In my opinion, while this is a good moto, in the end what counts is how fast your page loads. For me the 400% higher hosting cost with limited flexibility as to what I could or could not do with my hosting space and only decent increase in page load speed did not feel so good at this point.

Digital Ocean

I was seriously considering a VPS solution from Linode until I accidentally stumbled upon Digital Ocean. It is safe to say that I will be moving moved to Digital Ocean very shortlyDigital Ocean vs Synthesis – 10 reasons why I chose Digital Ocean VPS . The most impressive part for me what I got for just $5 month – basically unlimited possibilities. Even better, register here and get $10 credit – that is 2 months free to test them out. (Alternatively, try Vultr – better hardware and performance (for $5 per month) and get $20 credit).

In less than 5 min after opening account I had a Ubuntu Server 14.04 with LAMP setup and ready to go. That is impressive. The same WordPress blog loaded in just about 600 ms on Digital Ocean.

GoDaddy vs Digital Ocean

SpeedTest from DigitalOcean

I could achieve this with their very basic plan without any major dent in resource usage (512 MB RAM and 1 CPU). Again, with minification and CDN I could possibly reduce the load time a little bit more.

Digital Ocean Plans

Digital Ocean Plans

Digital Ocean It Is

So for me, at this point, Digital Ocean is the clear winner. And if you are a Linux enthusiast like me, I bet that you will enjoy the flexibility a VPS offers more than a regular hosting plan or a managed WordPress hosting. Apart from the noticeably higher page load speed, I now have a fully functional Virtual Private Server with Ubuntu 14.04 that I could use to host unlimited websites, run a VPN server, run my own anonymous proxy server, backup my files how I want and when I want, etc…the possibilities are endless. I could even run CouchPotato and SickBeard and pass the NZBs and Torrents to my download station at home. And all for $5 a month. Here is the another tidbit, you are only charged for the hours you use. So you could end up paying less than $5 a month. And if my needs grows its as simple as resizing my “droplet”. So for now, my quest for a better hosting space to accommodate my growing needs lead to a comparison of GoDaddy vs Synthesis vs Digital Ocean and ended with me drooling all over Digital Ocean. Hope my experience helps you in your quest.

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10 comments

Reginald June 12, 2014 - 5:14 am

Hi Anand,

Oh man! Thank you so much for this write up. I have been with Synthesis for a long time and I recently came across Digital Ocean. To be honest, I have no idea (not much experience with servers and stuffs) and thus, managed hosting was my only choice.

*I tested WPEngine too ($99 and that was great).

I recently thought of changing from Synthesis because I believe I could do better with others. There’s where DO come into play. My only concern is that having DO (say $10), I would need to pay more for website security etc which becomes another indirect issue.

Nonetheless, thanks for sharing this and bookmarked this for future reference.

Reply
Anand June 12, 2014 - 10:07 pm

Hi Reginald,

I referred your article when I started the process and even commented on your post on WP Engine vs Synthesis. Thanks for coming back and commenting. I swear you could do a lot better with DO than Synthesis, that is, if you know what and how to do things. But DO has great write ups on how to setup your server. In fact, all I was used to was a LAMP server but I setup a LEMP stack for the first time using their tutorials.

As you said security can be an issue. But there are few basic things you could do: HTTP authentication for login, SSL/HTTPS, hiding server signatures, setting correct permissions for folders, port blocking with firewall, etc. Not saying these are a cakewalk but you could use the coupons and get 2 months free and learn and setup your server first to get a feel. You could always hire a freelancer to secure it for you as well.

I have another post scheduled to go live in 2 days comparing synthesis directly with Digital Ocean. So please come back and check that. In the coming days, I plan to setup a second server and do NGINX load balancing.

Good luck. Let me know if you need any help.

Reply
Reginald June 12, 2014 - 11:24 pm

Hey Anand!

Thanks man. You know, I know a little about these servers and stuffs but for me, I was thinking having paying say $30 a month vs $5 a month, $5 would be better. Of course, I love learning things and thus, I don’t think it is an issue in the long run.

I totally agree that DO would be one hell of a good ‘move’ and I certainly looking forward to get it working.

Security is a huge issue for me but when I scout through the DO community, there seems to be a few good tutorials out there. My concern? How much security is considered ‘enough’? 🙂

Reply
Anand June 13, 2014 - 3:33 am

That is always an unanswerable question because there is no upper limit for security. But there are many articles that can help with. Like you, I am always eager to learn about Linux and I get greater satisfaction out of self-hosting than a hosting provider.

Also important is a great backup scheme. Fortunately DO makes it easy with their snapshots and automatic backups. In addition I also have cron jobs running periodically to backup important files.

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Philip August 14, 2014 - 10:16 am

Hi

Love your detailed posts. Especially your reviews and comparisons. I can see that you prefer DO but what is your thoughts on this:

I sometimes use Mobble plugin for WP to detect mobile or tablet visitors so I can remove sidebars or other things server side instead of simple “display:none” via media queries. I have read that Mobble plugin does not work well with caching plugins because some times a mobile user is served a cached desktop version and thereby still get the sidebar showing up. So I am kind of forced to use hosts that have custom built caching to prevent this. Have actually not checked this but some hosts claims Mobble will work fine on their servers.

So if I can’t use W3 Total Cache would you still recommend DO? Or would it be smarter to go with a WPEngine or G0daddy host with custom caching software?

Reply
Anand August 16, 2014 - 9:11 am

I would still recommend Digital Ocean or even Linode. WP Engine is managed wordpress but can be very restricting for me. With DO or Linode you keep up with the maintenanace.

Reply
Thomas Zickell October 8, 2014 - 2:12 pm

If you can’t use W3 total cash or caching plug-in use get flywheel they have no cashing plug-ins because they have a varnish and Nginx cashing there it’s impressive

If you arty have the CDN that you like you can add it at no charge they charge $10 a month for the CDN however this makes it very easy to implement and it is served server-side not via DNS
They do not charge you anything if you bring your own CDN.

Reply
Thomas Zickell October 8, 2014 - 2:07 pm

Honestly it sounds to me like you guys have yet to find out there’s a company called get flywheel they are a managed WordPress hosting company that uses digital ocean as their provider however the difference being you get a full VPS The price is $15 a month for singles site if you need more than one site you would be put on either on a Linode or digital ocean serverA full SST VPNs the only contains your sites. So this is different then a shared stack. Other things to consider are not all cashing layers are the same.digital ocean offers some awesome capabilities but if you mix it with the security building to get fire wheel with backups that occur daily and can be reverted at any time being I can back up my site before changethen reverted if things go wrong identical to WP engines set up. The difference being because every site has its own VPS plug-ins are never an issue the same goes for synthesis now which charges $50 a month for GPSwhen it comes down to it if you do not understand how to create IP tables protect against intrusion attacks and create a very fast cash in there you’re single page might be very fast for whatever reason. I would love to see a real test where you actually use rumtesting to show with the end-users are getting. One thing you could do is in capsula to your servers this would lock them down and make them very secure.. At the same Sucurioffers one of the best WL in the world nine dollars a month if you were to add that to your server you would have a $14 a month did you Lucian BPS that isextremely secure. Keep in mind minutes WordPress hosting providers like WP engine right multiple rules for their CD ends and the way that they can cash different things. For instance load-balancing serverscan be done using multiple set ups but as somebody who post their main site on fire host I think security is Paramont when the last big problem occurred shell shock/Bash bug bug this was more than clear English you had to fix on hand and had access to a computer to Patch it you’re better off with a managed word press provider

Check out getflywheel.com and $15 a month you have a varnish cashing there a complete backup system, enough of allowing people to access your site securely without giving your password awayphone support fantastic support overall via email chat and phone the ability to work with them to customize your server when you add the price of back ups andany security methods that aren’t all affective you’re well over the base price of what you could buy for $15 a month when I get flywheel.

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Benjamin Knigge April 21, 2015 - 4:37 pm

Have you had a chance to take a look at Vultr? They’re the new cool kid in the SSD VPS marketplace. They’re pretty much everything that DigitalOcean is only with faster hardware.

I put together a screenshot walk-through if you’re interested in checking it out.

Reply
Justin August 6, 2015 - 12:35 pm

Hi Anand,

Maybe worth also comparing in a future article would be using DigitalOcean or Vultr with a stack configured by ServerPilot instead of the DO or Vultr WordPress image. Using ServerPilot will configure your server with Nginx in front of Apache and PHP-FPM instead of mod_php.

There’s also now a one-click WordPress installer so you don’t have to manually install WordPress to use ServerPilot anymore. The announcement is here:

https://serverpilot.io/blog/2015/07/22/one-click-wordpress-and-automatic-serverpilot-installer.html

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