WPMU Dev Hosting Speeds in Australia with WordPress

WPMU Dev 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 the new WordPress managed hosting platform that WPMU Dev are throwing in for free with your account subscription. By including 3 sites on their Bronze level (or entry level) plan, this is incredibly price-friendly if you already have a subscription to WPMU Dev’s WordPress plugins. 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.

WPMU Dev offers a range of data centre locations to choose from, which is brilliant. Unfortunately, none of them are in Australia, so the closest geographically is their Singapore location. For that reason, I’ll be using Singapore for these tests.

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 WPMU Dev hosting.

There are no controls within your WPMU Dev to improve performance, everything comes pre-optimised, including a built in object cache. That said, the platform is designed to work seamlessly with their Hummingbird Pro optimisation plugin.

Initially, I’ll test with all caching disabled, then again with different combinations of Hummingbird Pro’s caching and optimisation settings active. I expect this 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 WPMU Dev server was running PHP version 7.3 and had 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.

WPMU Dev Bronze Hosting

For this test I have no optimisation enabled through Hummingbird Pro and caching is entirely disabled.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

36 100

  • First contentful paint: 3.6 seconds
  • Speed index: 7.4 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 9.1 seconds

Desktop rating

72 100

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

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 2.07 seconds
  • Requests: 68
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 687.5 ms

Performance grade

81 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

81 100

  • Load time: 4.8 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.88 MB

Yslow score

71 100

  • Requests: 64
  • Time-to-first-byte: 1.4 seconds

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

WPMU Dev Bronze 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

41 100

  • First contentful paint: 3.4 seconds
  • Speed index: 6.1 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 9.2 seconds

Desktop rating

82 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.1 seconds
  • Speed index: 1.6 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 1.5 seconds

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 2.46 seconds
  • Requests: 68
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 1010.2 ms

Performance grade

78 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

81 100

  • Load time: 3.6 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.88 MB

Yslow score

74 100

  • Requests: 69
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.411 seconds

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

WPMU Dev Bronze 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. Now, Hummingbird Pro does note that WPMU Dev Hosting is running the HTTP/2 protocol which automatically optimises assets, so this optimisation may not make a huge difference.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Mobile rating

51 100

  • First contentful paint: 1.0 seconds
  • Speed index: 6.8 seconds
  • Time to interactive: 9.1 seconds

Desktop rating

81 100

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

Pingdom Tools

  • Load time: 2.34 seconds
  • Requests: 56
  • Page size: 4.0 MB
  • Wait time for server response: 1085.5 ms

Performance grade

80 100

GTMetrix

PageSpeed score

81 100

  • Load time: 2.9 seconds.
  • Page size: 3.88 MB

Yslow score

76 100

  • Requests: 57
  • Time-to-first-byte: 0.41 seconds

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

As expected, the best performance was attained using Hummingbird Pro with assets optimised. However, right out of the gate with no optimisation done, WPMU Dev’s Bronze managed WordPress hosting does perform very well with some decent speeds in Australia.

The only thing that really slowed down page loads is the wait time on the server response. This metric is 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. Being geographically located in Singapore, there is more delay than may be experienced with a data centre located in Australia.

Interestingly, Pingdom Tools reported a very low server response of 600ms without Hummingbird Pro enabled. Enabling Hummingbird Pro improved performance overall but increased the response time to just over 1000ms on average. This increase is enough that Pingdom actually shows the fastest load time as being without Hummingbird at all. I really don’t understand Pingdom’s results here, so I tested it a few times over a few days and got almost identical results each time.

WPMU Dev’s managed WordPress hosting is a great option for Australian WordPress websites as they are very quick, and when combined with a WPMU Dev subscription, they are also very cheap. If you don’t want to do any performance optimisation, you will get excellent results, however, in spite of the unexpected impact to server response time with Pingdom, get Hummingbird Pro running on top to really up the Google PageSpeed ratings. GT Metrix does note a performance improvement with Hummingbird Pro and a further speed jump with assets optimised, so it’s definitely worth doing.

If you are already using or considering using the premium plugins available as part of a WPMU Dev subscription, then utilising the bundled hosting may make for a great option for you. Otherwise, if you are at the point where you are really honing in on improving your site loading times, this is one of the most competitively pried options available for managed WordPress hosting. Straight out of the box, it outperforms Flywheel (see our Flywheel speed tests here), and while it oddly doesn’t get Google PageSpeed ratings quite as high as Flywheel, the actual load times are faster than Flywheel. Weird, but awesome.

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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