Flywheel Managed WordPress Hosting Speeds in Australia

Flywheel Managed WordPress Hosting Speeds in Australia

The speed at which your website loads is vitally important, especially on mobile devices where attention spans are lower and data speeds are highly variable. For Australian businesses, every millisecond counts, and the more time spent before anything appears on the screen, the more likely your customers are to leave.

So, I am testing Flywheel’s managed WordPress hosting platform with our standard combination of plugins and the GeneratePress theme to see how it performs under Australian conditions.

Since I want to get the best performance in Australia, I’ve chosen the closest Flywheel data centre location.

Our standard configuration:

Flywheel has a built-in non-persistent cache that boasts high speeds for WordPress websites. This means that you may not need another caching plugin, or if you do, it should be one that builds a consistent cache like WP Rocket or our preferred cache system, Hummingbird Pro.

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 Flywheel system.

Initially, I’ll test with all caching disabled, then again relying solely on the Flywheel caching system. Finally, I’ll test again with Hummingbird Pro active to see if they give us a better result.

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 Flywheel instance was running PHP version 7.1.

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 set to the Sydney test location.

Flywheel Cache Disabled

For this test, all caching was disabled.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

24 100

  • First contentful paint: 4.0 seconds
  • Speed index: 9.1 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 11.7 seconds

Desktop rating

69 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.3 seconds
  • Speed index: 2.5 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.7 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 3.13 seconds
  • Requests: 64
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 1049.8 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

81 100

  • Load time: 5.7 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.88 MB

Yslow score

85 100

  • Requests: 65
  • Time-to-first-byte: 1.2 seconds

GTMetrix flags 1mb of JavaScript from the embedded YouTube video as delaying the initial page load. GTMetrix also notes that Keep-Alive is not enabled which can slow down the serving of some files.

Flywheel Cache Enabled

For this test, only the non-persistant Flywheel cache was enabled.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

26 100

  • First contentful paint: 3.8 seconds
  • Speed index: 9.0 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 11.7 seconds

Desktop rating

72 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.4 seconds
  • Speed index: 2.1 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.6 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 3.25 seconds
  • Requests: 64
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 1051 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

84 100

  • Load time: 4.7 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.88 MB

Yslow score

85 100

  • Requests: 64
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.445 seconds

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

Flywheel Cache Disabled + Hummingbird Pro

For this test, the Flywheel non-persistent cache was disabled and Hummingbird Pro’s persistent cache was both enabled. Hummingbird Pro also had GZIP compression enabled, but all asset optimisation was turned off.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

27 100

  • First contentful paint: 3.8 seconds
  • Speed index: 8.6 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 11.5 seconds

Desktop rating

78 100

  • First contentful paint: 0.9 seconds
  • Speed index: 2.1 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.6 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 3.38 seconds
  • Requests: 64
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 1115.3 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

81 100

  • Load time: 3.9 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.86 MB

Yslow score

85 100

  • Requests: 63
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.413 seconds

GTMetrix flags 1mb of JavaScript from the embedded YouTube video as delaying the initial page load. GTMetrix also notes that Keep-Alive is not enabled which can slow down the serving of some files.

Flywheel Cache Enabled + Hummingbird Pro

For this test, the Flywheel non-persistent cache and Hummingbird Pro’s persistent cache were both enabled. Hummingbird Pro also had GZIP compression enabled, but all asset optimisation was turned off.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

34 100

  • First contentful paint: 3.1 seconds
  • Speed index: 7.1 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 11.4 seconds

Desktop rating

76 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.3 seconds
  • Speed index: 1.9 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.7 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 3.12 seconds
  • Requests: 64
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 1077.4 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

84 100

  • Load time: 4.4 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.88 MB

Yslow score

85 100

  • Requests: 65
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.6 seconds

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

Flywheel Cache Disabled + Hummingbird Pro Assets Optimised

For this test, the Flywheel non-persistent cache was disabled and I ran with just 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

53 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.0 seconds
  • Speed index: 5.1 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 11.7 seconds

Desktop rating

92 100

  • First contentful paint: 0.3 seconds
  • Speed index: 1.4 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.5 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 3.00 seconds
  • Requests: 51
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 1032.8 ms

Performance grade

84 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

81 100

  • Load time: 3.9 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.88 MB

Yslow score

85 100

  • Requests: 52
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.448 seconds

GTMetrix flags 1mb of JavaScript from the embedded YouTube video as delaying the initial page load. GTMetrix also notes that Keep-Alive is not enabled which can slow down the serving of some files.

Flywheel Cache Enabled + Hummingbird Pro Assets Optimised

For this test, the Flywheel non-persistent cache and Hummingbird Pro persistent cache were both active with CSS files combined and all CSS and Javascript files moved to the footer.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

60 100

  • First contentful paint: 0.9 seconds
  • Speed index: 3.8 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 11.4 seconds

Desktop rating

94 100

  • First contentful paint: 0.3 seconds
  • Speed index: 1.2 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.5 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 3.33 seconds
  • Requests: 51
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 1173.2 ms

Performance grade

81 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

84 100

  • Load time: 3.2 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.88 MB

Yslow score

85 100

  • Requests: 52
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.437 seconds

GTMetrix flags 1mb of JavaScript from the embedded YouTube video as delaying the initial page load. This is the only negative flag.

Observations and final thoughts

The best performance was attained using both the Flywheel non-persistant cache and Hummingbird Pro with assets optimised. However, Pingdom Tools did load slightly faster without the Flywheel cache.

Overall, performance was quite good. The thing that seemed to really slow down page loads is the wait time on the server response. This stayed quite consistent across the board according to Pingdom Tools. This metric is typically a combination of the time it takes to transmit data to the server and receive a response back from it. Subsequently, there isn’t much that website optimisation can do to improve it.

That said, in spite of the response time, metrics were typically very good. If this particular site didn’t have an embedded YoutTube video in it, we may have seen even better results.

Flywheel Managed WordPress Hosting is a good option for Australian based websites as the servers are definitely fast, especially with Hummingbird Pro running on top of it. However, the time it takes for the server to respond is somewhat concerning, especially considering how it impacts mobile users.

Tip:

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

4 thoughts on “Flywheel Managed WordPress Hosting Speeds in Australia”

  1. Thank you for this analysis. I use the same configuration of Elementor/Pro, GP Premium, WP Smush Pro and Hummingbird Pro and have decent performance on my servers. Unfortunately Flywheel is a bit too expensive for me but I liked the free trial that I had.

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