Cloudways WordPress Hosting Speeds in Australia on Vultr with Hummingbird Pro

Cloudways WordPress Hosting Speeds in Australia on Vultr with Hummingbird Pro

As major cloud providers begin to offer Australian data centres, there are so many more options for domestic high-speed hosting. Cloudways builds on other cloud providers to provide simple, scalable WordPress-optimised servers with a choice of cloud providers and datacentre locations. Hosting your website locally in an Australian data centre is a great way to ensure quick loading for Australian visitors. The cheapest option to get started is using the Vultr Sydney cloud.

So, what I would like to know, is, how fast is WordPress running on Cloudways using the Sydney Vultr cloud? And, do I get extra gains by pairing it with a WordPress specific caching plugin like Hummingbird Pro? Or, does Cloudways own Breeze cache plugin do better. For this test, I am using Cloudways with the cheapest Vultr plan (USD $11/month with 1gb of RAM and 1 CPU core). 

I will be testing a WordPress website running with our standard combination of plugins and the GeneratePress theme to see how it performs under Australian conditions. This is the same configuration used for my other WordPress hosting performance tests.

Being located in Sydney, on a cloud container optimised for WordPress, I’m expecting to see some great speeds.

Our standard configuration:

In my test setup, WP Smush Pro will be used to ensure all images are optimised, however, the WPMU Dev CDN connection will be disabled to ensure that I get an accurate reflection of the Cloudways Vultr Sydney cloud.

Initially, I’ll test with all Hummingbird Pro and Breeze caching disabled, then again with different combinations Hummingbird Pro’s caching and optimisation settings active. For comparison with Cloudways Breeze cache plugin, I will run a separate test and share the results in another post.

For these tests, I’ll be using an average size WordPress website for a service-based business. It sports an assortment of images and different kinds of Elementor objects and templates, including an embedded YouTube video, so it should give a reasonable reflection of the performance of a website built on GeneratePress using Elementor Pro.

Also of note is that at the time of testing, our Cloudways server was running PHP version 7.3 and had a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. It is probably also important to note that Cloudways runs Memcached and Varnish caching in the background. Each was manually purged between tests.

Speed test platforms

I will be using three test platforms

The first test platform will be Google PageSpeed Insights since this provides feedback directly from Google on how it sees your website.

The second will by Pingdom Tools using the Sydney test location to ensure we are seeing results reflective of the Australian experience.

The third test platform will be GTMetrix, also set to the Sydney test location.

Cloudways Vultr WordPress Hosting - No caching plugins

For this test I have no caching setup with Hummingbird Pro or Breeze.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

25 100

  • First contentful paint: 3.4 seconds
  • Speed index: 10.0 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 12.1 seconds

Desktop rating

70 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.0 seconds
  • Speed index: 2.8 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.6 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 1.76 seconds
  • Requests: 63
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 2.7 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

83 100

  • Load time: 3.2 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.89 MB

Yslow score

77 100

  • Requests: 64
  • Time-to-first-byte: 9 ms

GTMetrix flags 1mb of JavaScript from the embedded YouTube video as delaying the initial page load.

Cloudways Vultr WordPress Hosting with Hummingbird Pro enabled

For this test, I enabled Hummingbird Pro’s persistent cache. Hummingbird Pro also had GZIP compression enabled, but all asset optimisation was turned off.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

28 100

  • First contentful paint: 3.1 seconds
  • Speed index: 10.0 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 11.7 seconds

Desktop rating

67 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.2 seconds
  • Speed index: 2.8 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.7 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 1.47 seconds
  • Requests: 63
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 2.6 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

83 100

  • Load time: 4.5 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.75 MB

Yslow score

73 100

  • Requests: 68
  • Time-to-first-byte: 19 ms

GTMetrix flags 1mb of JavaScript from the embedded YouTube video as delaying the initial page load. There are no other negative flags.

Cloudways Vultr WordPress Hosting with Hummingbird Pro enabled and Assets Optimised

For this test, I ran the Hummingbird Pro persistent cache with all CSS files combined and all CSS and Javascript files moved to the footer.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

47 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.1 seconds
  • Speed index: 6.2 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 12.1 seconds

Desktop rating

83 100

  • First contentful paint: 0.3 seconds
  • Speed index: 2.3 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.6 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 1.61 seconds
  • Requests: 63
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 2.8 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

83 100

  • Load time: 4.0 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.89 MB

Yslow score

76 100

  • Requests: 64
  • Time-to-first-byte: 14 ms

GTMetrix flags 1mb of JavaScript from the embedded YouTube video as delaying the initial page load.

How does it look in a chart?

Load Speed

Google PageSpeed Insights

Observations and final thoughts

While Google PageSpeed Insights showed a general trend of faster speeds with each additional level of optimisation, Pingdom and GTMetrix showed some unusual results. GTMetrix indicated the best performance was without Hummingbird enabled at all, and Pingdom indicated the fastest times were with caching enabled but without asset optimisation.

In spite of that slightly odd behaviour, the overall loading times were good. The time to first byte, or wait time for server response was unbelievably low, but the time to interactive is oddly high. In other words, the server is responding very fast, it just isn’t transferring the data as quick as I would expect. If we can speed up the data transfer then this would be a extremely fast, cost-effective WordPress hosting solution. 

So what do I think?

Cloudways Vultr Sydney cloud location is a simple approach to cloud servers for hosting Australian WordPress websites. The response times are some of the fastest I’ve seen in Australia, unfortunately they are just a bit slow to get the data completely transferred. As far as pricing for managed WordPress hosts, starting at USD $11, the Cloudways Vultr option is significantly cheaper than the basic plans from other managed hosting providers like Flywheel, Kinsta, and WP Engine. To be fair, the cloud specs are also lower than the basic plans from those providers. This makes the basic Cloudways plan ideal for smaller sites looking for higher performance without a big price tag. Using a caching plugin like Hummingbird Pro does seem to improve the performance according to Google PageSpeed Insights, but the overall improvement is questionable.

Cloudways does also offer a competitively priced CDN add-on that is extremely easy to setup.

Overall, Cloudways on the Vultr Sydney cloud is a great option for speed in Australia that is very competitively priced. To see how it performs with the Cloudways Breeze plugin, check out my next test here.

Tip:

The closer the server or CDN is to your end users, the faster that those users will receive the first byte of data.

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