Hostgator Shared Hosting Speeds in Australia with WordPress

Hostgator Shared Hosting Speeds in Australia with WordPress

Your website loading speed is so important, especially on mobile devices where users can have highly varied internet speeds. For Australian businesses, there are advantages to hosting your website locally to reduce the delay in requesting and receiving the data from overseas data centres. 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 one of the most common, basic server packages from a major hosting provider in the USA, Hostgator’s shared hosting. This platform is cheap, especially with new customer promotions, so it appeals to a lot of small businesses getting started online. For my tests, 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 Flywheel managed WordPress hosting tests.

Hostgator’s data centres are both located in the USA, and you don’t have a choice regarding which one you want to be in, so I expect to see some delays in receiving the first byte of data purely because of the distance to the USA and back.

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 Hostgator platform.

Hostgator does not have any built in caching systems on their shared hosting plans, but you can enable content compression in cPanel. This uses Apache’s mod_deflate function.

Initially, I’ll test with all caching disabled, then again with different combinations of Hostgator’s Content Compression and Hummingbird Pro active which should give us better results.

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 Hostgator server was running PHP version 7.1 and we are using a free SSL certificate.

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.

Without Hostgator Content Compression or Hummingbird Pro

For this test, Hostgator’s Content Compression was disabled and Hummingbird Pro’s persistent cache was also disabled.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

23 100

  • First contentful paint: 4.0 seconds
  • Speed index: 13.2 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 9.9 seconds

Desktop rating

55 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.5 seconds
  • Speed index: 5.2 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.8 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 5.50 seconds
  • Requests: 64
  • Page size: 4.1 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 2457.4 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

85 100

  • Load time: 6.3 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.93 MB

Yslow score

73 100

  • Requests: 65
  • Time-to-first-byte: 3.0 seconds

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

Wth Hostgator Content Compression enabled and without Hummingbird Pro

For this test, Hostgator’s Content Compression was enabled, however, Hummingbird Pro was disabled.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

28 100

  • First contentful paint: 3.1 seconds
  • Speed index: 13.0 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 9.9 seconds

Desktop rating

61 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.0 seconds
  • Speed index: 5.2 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.7 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 5.45 seconds
  • Requests: 64
  • Page size: 4.1 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 2434.9 ms

Performance grade

75 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

82 100

  • Load time: 6.8 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.96 MB

Yslow score

66 100

  • Requests: 65
  • Time-to-first-byte: 3.1 seconds

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

Hostgator Content Compression disabled 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: 3.7 seconds
  • Speed index: 9.7 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 9.9 seconds

Desktop rating

64 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.0 seconds
  • Speed index: 3.7 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.8 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 5.39 seconds
  • Requests: 65
  • Page size: 4.1 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 2271.6 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

85 100

  • Load time: 7.4 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.95 MB

Yslow score

73 100

  • Requests: 65
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.8 seconds

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

Hostgator Content Compression enabled with Hummingbird Pro enabled

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

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

30 100

  • First contentful paint: 3.2 seconds
  • Speed index: 9.6 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 9.8 seconds

Desktop rating

62 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.1 seconds
  • Speed index: 3.8 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.8 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 5.88 seconds
  • Requests: 64
  • Page size: 4.1 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 2346.2 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

84 100

  • Load time: 4.1 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.96 MB

Yslow score

73 100

  • Requests: 65
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.8 seconds

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

Hostgator Content Compression disabled 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

29 100

  • First contentful paint: 3.4 seconds
  • Speed index: 9.2 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 10.1 seconds

Desktop rating

64 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.0 seconds
  • Speed index: 3.6 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.8 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 6.08 seconds
  • Requests: 65
  • Page size: 4.1 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 2431.6 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

85 100

  • Load time: 6.2 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.95 MB

Yslow score

77 100

  • Requests: 65
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.8 seconds

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

Hostgator Content Compression enabled 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 as in the previous test. I also enabled Content Compression for all content in Hostgator’s cPanel.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

30 100

  • First contentful paint: 3.3 seconds
  • Speed index: 9.7 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 9.7 seconds

Desktop rating

65 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.0 seconds
  • Speed index: 3.3 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 2.7 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 6.75 seconds
  • Requests: 52
  • Page size: 4.1 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 3376.5 ms

Performance grade

81 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

84 100

  • Load time: 4.1 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.98 MB

Yslow score

73 100

  • Requests: 66
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.9 seconds

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

Observations and final thoughts

The best performance was attained using Hummingbird Pro with assets optimised. However, the different test platforms were a little inconclusive about whether performance improved with Hostgator’s Content Compression enabled. Google and Pingdom both report slight improvements where GTMetrix sees a degradation in performance. That said, even the best results were not brilliant.

The thing that really slow down page loads is the wait time on the server response. 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. Across the board, we were seeing times pretty consistently of 2-3 seconds just in waiting. This is about half the page load time, and a metric you can’t really improve except to consider using a CDN.

I am quite surprised at how good the actual results are for a shared platform. If not for the very long wait times in Australia, Hostgator’s platform is remarkably snappy for such a low-priced offering.

Hostgator Shared Hosting is not a great option for Australian websites as the wait time really slows you down. That said, their servers are remarkably fast, especially with Hummingbird Pro running on top. So if you need something really cheap to get started, it might make for a good option for you. If you are at the point where you are really honing in on improving your site loading times, I would consider an alternative hosting option that is geographically closer to Australia, or at the very least invest in a good quality CDN with edge servers in Australia. 

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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