Comparison of Top 5 Tools to Optimize and Speed up WHM Server

Comparison of Top 5 Tools to Optimize and Speed up WHM Server

 

While setting up a WHM server, most of the web hosting companies go with the default settings. But, there are lots of settings you can tweak to make your WHM server blazing fast.

Earlier, we introduced an Ideal Linux Hosting Environment, replacing conventional LAMP environment, which was a huge success. We achieved an excellent improvement in page load speed by replacing Apache with LiteSpeed, CentOS with CloudLinux and conventional HDD with lightning fast SSD storage.

Following the same path, our server research and analysis team experimented on popular cPanel/WHM server optimization plugins and derived some interesting results based on the close comparison of performance.

Top 5 cPanel Tools Compared

The tests were performed on following cPanel plugins.

  1. xVarnish cPanel Plugin
  2. LiteSpeed Web Server For cPanel
  3. Cpnginx NGINX Installer For cPanel
  4. Engintron Nginx Installer For cPanel
  5. UNIXy cPanel Varnish Plugin

In addition to above plugins,we performed the same test on default WHM setup with optimized apache.

Research Method and Findings

Load Test Tool

To run the load stress tests, we used a service called Loader.io from SendGrid Labs. After installing each plugin one by one in WHM server, we sent concurrent connections to WordPress site through loader.io service and measured the response time.

Load Test Specification

We simulated concurrent connections increasing from 1 to 250 on one of our live blogs for the duration of 1 minute. To achieve the accurate results, the same test was performed multiple times on each plugin.

Note that we set 70% of error threshold, that means if any request doesn’t get served within stipulated time frame it will be timed out. When more than 70% of responses are timed out test will be aborted automatically.

WordPress Website

  1. We installed and configured all 6 Linux stacks one by one on same server configuration.
  2. For all tests, we used the same live WordPress 4.7.2 site with the Parabola theme installed along with a number of posts and pages.
  3. Since we didn’t want any chance of latency shows up in results, we kept the domain and testing location same throughout all tests.
  4. We run each test multiple times and considered the best result to post here.

At the end of tests, we derived some concrete data that gives some good insight into WHM Server optimization.

Server Specification

The WordPress blog used in the test was hosted with the following server specification.

  • CLOUDLINUX 7.3 x86_64
  • WHM 60.0 (build 35)
  • Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU D-1520 @ 2.20GHz, 8 processors
  • Memory: 64 GB
  • SSD Drives

Hosting Account Limits

The WordPress blog we used in the test was hosted with the following hosting limits.

  • CPU Limit – 50% of 1 CPU core
  • Virtual Memory Limit – 768 MB
  • Physical Memory Limit – 768 MB
  • Entry Process Limit – 15
  • Number of Process Limit – 100
  • I/O limit (Mbps) – 1
  • iNode limit – 150000

So, let’s have a look which is the best tool to optimize and speed up WHM server.

1. xVarnish cPanel Plugin

(Editor Ranking #1, rating: 9.3 out of 10)

xVarnish is an open source high-performance HTTP accelerator, best suitable for shared WHM servers. It allows you to set up and configure Varnish cache as a website optimizing front-end for the standard cPanel-WHM server. It also allows cPanel users to disable the caching permanently or temporarily from cPanel itself.

xVarnish is compatible with cPanel under both CentOS 6 and CentOS 7 dedicated and virtual server environments. Also, it works perfectly with EasyApache 3, EasyApache 4 and can be setup on LiteSpeed web server.

Performance

xVarnish scored the best results among all optimization plugins. The first response was around 512ms, which was maintained between 450ms to 190ms in subsequent tests. An average response time measured was 192ms with 52 successful response and 122 timed out responses. Here’s the xVarnish result summary.

Xvarnish Plugin to Optimize and Speed up WHM Server

  • Test Duration: 1 Minute
  • Average Response Time: 192ms
  • Number of Successful Responses: 52
  • Number of Timed out Responses: 122 

xVarnish‘s request handling was quite impressive with 192ms which proved the more stable and consistent performance of web server and dramatic improvement in website responsiveness across the server.

Additional Features

  1. Handy management of the plugin via WHM interface and xvctl command line utility.
  2. Flexible and pattern-based exclusions to specify websites and files which shouldn’t be served cached or should always be passed through directly to Apache.
  3. Detailed historical traffic statistics for individual websites.
  4. Web Application Firewall (WAF) to filter malicious traffic before it even reaches your customer websites.

Price

Currently, xVarnish is freely available for personal and commercial use for any number of servers. When they will start offering this product as paid, you’ll get plenty of notifications at least 2 months in advance.

HTTP/2 Support

xVarnish is 100% compatible with HTTP/2 protocol.

Installation

Refer to our knowledgebase tutorial to install and uninstall xVarnish in WHM server.

2. LiteSpeed Web Server Plugin for cPanel

(Editor Ranking #2, Rating: 8.8 out of 10)

LiteSpeed is a commercial and most efficient Apache replacement, which improves the performance and reduces the resource cost of existing WHM server.

It is available for most of the popular control panels through the plugin. It can be replaced with Apache in less than 15 minutes with zero downtime.

Thanks to its streamlined event-driven architecture, LiteSpeed increases the stability of WHM server by serving thousands of requests concurrently with minimal memory consumption and CPU usage.

Performance

LightSpeed managed to record first response time of 550ms which was improved gradually in subsequent tests. LightSpeed Web server performed better compared to Engintron and Cpnginx by scoring an average response time of 295ms with 48 successful responses and 113 timed out responses. Here’s the LightSpeed result summary.

LiteSpeed Web Server to Optimize and Speed up WHM Server

  • Test Duration: 1 Minute
  • Average Response Time: 295ms
  • Number of Successful Responses: 48
  • Number of Timed our Responses: 113

Price

LiteSpeed is available in following 3 different editions of LiteSpeed Web Server.

Standard Edition – It’s free and meets the requirements of small websites.

OpenLiteSpeed – It’s open source and free. It’s powerful enough for any website, but does not automatically read and use Apache configurations.

Enterprise Edition – This paid edition is an ultimate combination of power and usability. It does not require any setup because it automatically reads and uses your existing Apache configurations (including .htaccess files).

It’s 100% compatible with cPanel, Plesk, DirectAdmin, InterWorx, and almost all web applications. LiteSpeed Enterprise Edition comes with following different licenses to choose from.

  1. VPS Licenses – It’s an affordable option for smaller VPS. It comes with the limitation of 500 concurrent connections, 2GB RAM and one core access on your server.
  2. Ultra VPS Licenses – This is the perfect solution for VPS having RAM between 2GB and 8GB. This license comes with limitations of 800 concurrent connections and 8GB of RAM. Ultra VPS will require a 1-CPU license.
  3. 1-CPU, 2-CPU, 4-CPU, and 8-CPU Licenses – As its name suggests this license is based on the number of servers cores. 1-CPU license can access only one core of server, and 2-CPU license will have access to two cores of the server, and so on.

HTTP/2 Support

LiteSpeed is 100% compatible with HTTP/2 protocol.

Additional Features

One-click switch between Apache and LiteSpeed Web Server.

Installation

Refer to our knowledgebase tutorial to install and uninstall LiteSpeed in WHM server.

3. Cpnginx NGINX Plugin Installer For cPanel

(Editor Ranking #3, Editor rating: 8.6 out of 10)

Cpnginx is yet another feature-rich customizable NGINX installer. It allows you to build and deploy your choice of CMS templates including WordPress and Joomla. It also supports multiple versions of PHP- FPM and multiple caches such as proxy cache, FCGI cache, etc.

Performance

While we run the test on Cpnginx, it produced quite similar results like Engintron. The first response was recorded around 550ms, which went down gradually in subsequent tests and maintained the stability between 200ms to 400ms.

Cpnginx Plugin to Optimize and Speed up WHM Server

For Cpnginx, an average response time measured was 344ms with 48 successful response and 113 timed out responses. Here’s the Cpnginx result summary.

  • Test Duration: 1 Minute
  • Average Response Time: 344ms
  • Number of Successful Responses: 48
  • Number of Timed our Responses: 113

Price

Cpnginx is available at $5 per month per server OR one time $249 for the Lifetime.

HTTP/2 Support

Cpnginx is fully compatible with HTTP/2 protocol.

Installation

Refer to our knowledgebase tutorial to install and uninstall Cpnginx in WHM server.

4. Engintron Nginx Installer For cPanel

(Editor Ranking #4, Rating: 8.3 out of 10)

Engintron (Nginx on cPanel) is an open source NGINX installer, which integrates your existing WHM server with NGINX web server. Engintron improves the performance & web serving capacity of WHM server by installing & configuring the NGINX web server to act as a reverse caching proxy for static files like CSS, JS, Images etc..

It also adds a micro-cache layer to improve the performance of dynamic content generated by the popular CMS such as WordPress, Joomla & Drupal; forum scripts like vBulletin, phpBB, SMF and eCommerce scripts like Magento, OpenCart, PrestaShop, etc.

Performance

The first response time of the server was approximately 550 ms. In the next subsequent tests, the response time was decreased gradually. For Engintron plugin, an average response time was measured 397ms with 48 successful responses and 113 timed out responses. Here’s the Engintron result summary.

Engintron Plugin to Optimize and Speed up WHM Server

  • Test Duration: 1 Minute
  • Average Response Time: 397ms
  • Number of Successful Responses: 48
  • Number of Timed our Responses: 113

Price

Engintron is completely FREE.

HTTP/2 Support

Engintron does not support HTTP/2.

Installation

Refer to our knowledgebase tutorial to install and uninstall Engintron in WHM server.

5. UNIXy cPanel Varnish Plugin

(Editor Ranking #5, Rating: 8.0 out of 10)

UNIXy is a feature-rich Varnish cache plugin for WHM servers developed by UNIXy. It allows you to install, and manage Varnish Cache in WHM server.

UNIXy gives you a web interface in WHM, allowing you to modify Varnish settings, lookup caching stats, refresh the Varnish cache, restart Varnish, etc. It supports both dynamic and static object caching.

Performance

UNIXy managed to keep the response time between 500ms to 300ms with the single huge spike of 2 seconds.The first response time of the server was measured 510 ms, which is near to other plugins.

UNIXy scored an average response time of 372ms with 48 successful response and 113 timed out responses. Here’s the result summary of UNIXy.

UnixY Plugin to Optimize and Speed up WHM Server

  • Test Duration: 1 Minute
  • Average Response Time: 372
  • Number of Successful Responses: 48
  • Number of Timed our Responses: 113

Price

UNIXy is available at $17.89/Quarter.

HTTP/2 Support

Currently, UNIXy does not support HTTP/2, but it will be included in the next release.

Installation

Refer to our knowledgebase tutorial to install and uninstall UNIXy in WHM server.

6. Optimized Apache without any plugins

(Editor Ranking #6, Rating: 7.8 out of 10)

Apache web server is probably too restrictive when not optimized. So, we decided to run the same test on Apache after optimizing its configuration settings to improve both speed and CPU/RAM usage. We used Apache version 2.4 which is way faster than its earlier versions. If you are still using Apache 2.2, you should upgrade it to 2.4 by rebuilding Apache EasyApache.

Performance

As performance graph shows, the first response time of the default Apache server was more than 510 ms, which was decreased in subsequent tests. An average response measured was 406ms with 48 successful response and 113 timed out responses.

Optimized Apache to Optimize and Speed up WHM Server

  • Test Duration: 1 Minute
  • Average Response Time: 372
  • Number of Successful Responses: 48
  • Number of Timed our Responses: 113

Optimizing Apache From WHM

We tweaked the Apache directives for maximum performance as follows.

In WHM, navigate to Service ConfigurationApache ConfigurationGlobal Configuration and change the values as below.

StartServers = 5
MinSpareServers = 5
MaxSpareServers = 10
ServerLimit = 500
MaxRequestWorkers = 500
MaxRequestsPerChild = 4000
Timeout = 20

By configuring above Apache directives, we’ve noticed a good difference in terms of CPU/RAM load compared to default Apacheconfiguration that is shipped with cPanel.

Conclusion

At the end of our tests, we concluded that xVarnish performed best among all plugins with the lowest average time of 192 milliseconds and LightSpeed becomes runner-up with 295 milliseconds.

Performance Graph

We were quite impressed with the performance of xVarnish, so this stack is used recommended by AccuWeb Hosting and used in our latest WHM shared hosting servers. If you are using any WHM server optimization plugin, please tell us your experience in the comment section below.

Rahul Vaghasia

Rahul Vaghasia

Rahul is CEO at AccuWebHosting.com. He shares his web hosting insights at AccuWebHosting blog. He mostly writes on the latest web hosting trends, WordPress, storage technologies, Windows and Linux hosting platforms.
Rahul Vaghasia
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Latest Comments
  1. tessa says:

    These provided information was really so nice,thanks for giving that post and the more skills to develop after refer that post. Your articles really impressed for me,because of all information so nice.

  2. Hardik S. says:

    Thanks for sharing this superb post. This really helped me to choose the best configuration for my server. Apart from the tools listed here, CloudFlare is also an option which caches the static content of your site and delivers to site visitors from their nearest server. Just thought I must share this!

    • Rahul V says:

      Thanks Hardik! Glad to know our article was helpful. Our main focus was to optimizing the WHM server in a way that it can handle more traffic without utilizing server resources. You can always use CloudFlare or other CDN services as an addon to deliver your website static contents faster.

  3. Jimmy says:

    That’s a great article. Can you provide on details like which MPM was used while testing.

  4. Tim C says:

    I think optimizations you’ve done in Vanilla Apache are too basic. There are lots of other things to do in plain Apache which can significantly improve the WHM server. As a matter of fact, these optimization plugins have raised recently, in their absence Apache optimization was the only key.

    On a side note, after reading your blog, I did some research myself on X vanish and came to the know that, it’s doing great. Actually, xVarnish is the product of the x10Hosting and they are releasing frequent updates, which is a good sign. I will certainly give it a try.

  5. sbarrett says:

    An informative comparison of plugins to optimize WHM servers! Thank you for sharing your results!

  6. Amanda says:

    Thank you for your valuable insights. Your tips on optimization and speed will prove very helpful as I tweak some deficiencies. I appreciate you taking the time to share this information so that the rest of us don’t have to fumble about reinventing the wheel. Thank you!

  7. Anil Shah says:

    Really awesome post. I was unknown about factor that affect the speed of website. Should I use niginx, is it sufficient for wordpress blogging? don\’t you think it becomes more expensive just for blogging?

  8. I believe that if LSCache were used the result would be quite different.
    https://www.litespeedtech.com/benchmarks/vs-varnish

  9. Émerson Felinto says:

    Why do not you test Engintron?
    It has micro-cache support and can be as efficient as varnish

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