Lightningbase Review: Best Managed WordPress Hosting?

Is your WordPress blog loading slow? Can’t seem to get assistance from your hosting provider? If so you’re experiencing exactly what my money sites were suffering from for the last few months. That was until I changed to Lightningbase. After five months of using them, I’ve finally published by Lightningbase review.

Lightningbase was founded in November 2011 by Chris Piepho and is one of the few hosting providers not owned and operated by Endurance Group (thankfully). I imagine this review will change if they ever do sell out.

Starting from $9.95 per month, Lightningbase is one of the most affordable managed WordPress hosting providers in the market. I’d seen horror stories about WP Engine and providers like Siteground and Bluehost simply call standard linux hosting, WordPress hosting.

What makes a company fall under the term, WordPress hosting? Well it’s the infrastructure thats specifically designed and maintained for hosting WordPress sites. For example their servers are built with SSD storage and modern Xeon processors, Varnish, fast web server stack and a truly Global CDN.

They also offer Let’s Encrypt SSL (free), awesome customer service (usually under 30 minutes) and a easy to use billing platform with WHMCS and Paypal.

If you’re not technical then these features might be confusing, the key points are Varnish, server stack and CDN. These are the three powerful features that make your WordPress site load much faster than your competitors.

Here is one of my money sites, it’s a 30 page site using Newsdesk theme and Lightningbase.

lightningbase review

Varnish is an HTTP accelerator designed for content heavy websites with lots of traffic for faster load times. If sites such as Facebook, Reddit and Wikipedia are using the technology, you can guarantee your site will appreciate it too.

Lightningbase Review

I’m a techie and know how to setup and transfer WordPress websites but if your not then the first thing to note is Lightningbase offer domain registration from $14.95 per year. They also offer free website transfers for new customers. Simply provide your login details for old provider and within 1 working day it’ll be transferred.

Instant Setup

Next, setup is instant and usually completed within 5 minutes. I’ve got 7 accounts setup and all were setup instantly despite being 4am in the morning in the USA. Additional accounts are eligible for a 50% discount.

Global CDN

Many people have no idea what a CDN is and how beneficial it is to improving your WordPress page load times. Standing for content delivery network it acts as a cache for delivering static files via Nginx so that many requests never reach your server and it holds files closer to your visitors minimizing latency and improving transfer speeds.

Lightningbase offers one of the most powerful and global CDN’s in the world offering 9 locations in North America, 4 in Europe, 2 in Eastern Europe, 5 in Asia and 1 in Australia. Africa and South America are planned for the future. Many CDN’s skip Asia due to the spiraling costs but not Lightningbase.

Free providers and low cost hosts don’t offer CDN and once you start using one you’ll see just how faster your website loads. There’s nothing required, it’s configured automatically.

Caching

By default the nameservers are ns1,2,3,4 and this is their Global CDN. Their CDN caches static files other than the html page itself meaning each time someone visits your site the server only has to serve a single file while the CDN handles the rest.

On top of the CDN sits Varnish which you now already know about and speeds up the delivery of these pages with in-memory caching. With a standard WordPress blog page on the cheapest plan your site can handle over 1,000 pageviews per second which is over 86 million visitors per day. That level of service is unheard of on traditional web hosts.

Let’s Encrypt (Free SSL)

This is definitely my favorite as you can install HTTPS on your website within a few minutes from the cPanel control panel. Gone are the days of buying a certificate and waiting days to have your support team install this on your server.
Let’s Encrypt will automatically configure WordPress for using SSL but I always find installing your certificate before installing WordPress is the easiest way to avoid any problems.

Automatic Backups

I always use WordPress backups as it’s very easy to screw your website up when playing around with plugins and theme updates. I usually opt for the weekly WordPress to cPanel one. Fear not unlike those free hosts that leave you on your own when disaster strikes, Lightningbase actually backs up your WordPress install by default.

On top of this Lightningbase offer daily server backups and off site disaster recovery tapes. Full backups are taken weekly and database backups taken daily and sent offsite. Large sites can request more or less backups too and they also offer third party storage sending.

WordPress Multi Site

While most people don’t worry with multiple WordPress sites there’s a large number that do and they designed their service with those in mind. You can setup WordPress to host multiple sites with no extra charges. Got additional domains? You’ll need a higher plan than the entry level one.

Personally I opt for creating an entire new account, fear not there’s a 50% discount for each monthly fee meaning additional sites can be hosted for $4.95 per month.

I host 7 money sites with Lightningbase and it’s all for less than $40 per month.

Support

After 5 months of using their platform I’ve had a few issues, like all hosting providers. These were all resolved within 30 minutes and usually they reply in under 30 minutes. I required an additional plugin at a server level installed which was missing which took a few days.

You can log a ticket through their WHMCS client billing platform or send an email to their support email.

Lightningbase Performance Test

The best way to show you the results is to provide the test results of before and after. There is of course more content after the first test was taken as new content was added however the results don’t impact this.

The biggest impact is the caching which Lightningbase thrives on.

The theme is exactly the same, Newsdesk by Magazine3.

Before

After

Lightningbase Pros

  • Very affordable managed hosting provider
  • Global CDN included for free
  • Caching with Varnish, Nginx
  • WordPress infrastructure
  • Let’s Encrypt FREE SSL
  • Daily Backups
  • Awesome Support
  • Cheap additional accounts.

Lightningbase Cons

Yes there are some cons although not many.

The first is that by default the WordPress editor option is missing on new installs. This is easily solved by going into cPanel and then file manager and editing wpconfig.php within the public_html folder. Change this to ‘false.’

There’s no phone support so unfortunately if you need help you’re down to email or ticket only. This isn’t much of an issue if you know what you’re doing but if you’re a beginner you may not like this.

Lightningbase Vs WP Engine

WP Engine claim to be the WordPress experts but that’s just a fancy name for WordPress host. Both companies offer the same services except WP Engine is far more expensive. For example their entry level plan is $29 yet offers the exact same plan features and quota limits as Lightningbase.

WP Engine has gone on a huge marketing campaign and seems far more reputable and popular however this doesn’t mean your website will load any faster. The bottom line is it’s all about the infrastructure, caching, CDN and page load times.

WP Engine has really poor support, I contacted them regarding moving my website to them back in 2016 and they took 5 days to reply. You’d think a company would reply to sales queries pretty darn quick.

There’s many horror stories out there like Matthew Woodward who promoted them for years before ditching them after they screwed his website and refused to help out.

 

Overall Thoughts

I first heard about Lightningbase when I saw a web hosting review site ranking number one for best web hosting. They were using Lightningbase and I knew I had to check them out. After doing so my page load times went from 4-5 seconds to under 2 seconds!

Check them out, what’s the worst that could happen? You lose a few dollars.

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4 thoughts on “Lightningbase Review: Best Managed WordPress Hosting?”

  1. @JIM, is it really possible to hide the different url? Do you use some proxy redirect? I guess you cannot use a regular temporary redirect (302). The site I would like to a/b test is accessed through a cdn. I guess this makes it even harder to hide the url. As soon as the html is cached every user will get exactly the same html. Or?

    Reply
  2. My first and only host. Fantastic support. Never had a single issue not resolved in less than an hour. I can’t recall a single minute of downtime. This after almost seven years and counting. I can’t even recall how I learned about them, but definitely from a trusted and respected source.

    Reply

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