Litespeed Web Server – Why we are moving away from Apache in 2020/2021
Posted Created on: 22nd of December 2020
There are several mainstream web servers on the hosting market. We’re going to discuss the big 4 in this article. They include Apache, Litespeed, Nginx and Microsoft IIS. We have been loyal to Apache since 2006 with our Cpanel Hosting offering, previously coming from Redhat in 2000-2002 but we’re going to tell you why we prefer Litespeed Web Server over it.
After months of extensive research and live experiments, we can say that Litespeed server is the best operating system for the shared web hosting environment we have seen so far.
Before we get into that, let’s look at the history and information about some of the well-known web server operating systems.
[UPDATE 29th of December 2020]
The graph below is one of our production servers (12 Core Intel, 256GB Ram) using Apache and as you can see from the MUNIN monitor, as soon as we switched from Apache over to Litespeed, the CPU usage dropped from 400% down to 25-50%. This is a reduction of CPU usage of more than 800%!
Another side benefit we have seen is much lower RAM usage. Previous range using Apache was between 80 – 256GB, but RAM usage has stabilised to around 75GB meaning much more overhead for other applications and less “wear” on the ram modules.
We have also seen a significant drop in server load. Prior to Litespeed, Apache would grace us with loads of anywhere between 2.5 to 4.5 server load. Now with Litespeed, we are seeing loads of between 0.25 to 1.5.
From the software Apache Foundation, this is the most used web server in use today. It was created by Brian Behlendorf and Rob McCool in 1995. At the time of inception, it was based on some already existing, formulated code, alongside some “hacky and clunky” software packages that enabled its operation.
For this reason, it earned the name Apache server (aPatchyServer). The dominance of Apache is not obvious but needless to say Apache is preinstalled on all main Linux distributors, hence, the strong software foothold. It makes it easier to run since it’s already installed.
Advantages of APACHE
- It does have flexibility.
- Wide selection of modules.
- Apache is updated and maintained regularly.
- Its documentation is extensive and quite useful.
- It performs well and is reliable.
- It can add more modules and features
- Apache can create virtual hosts on one server.
Disadvantages of APACHE
- Consumes more RAM under heavier load.
- Spawns new processes for each request making it less efficient.
- It requires debuggers since new bugs will be created while creating a personalised protocol.
- Apache needs a rigid updating policy that has to be done on a regular basis without fail.
- It is a process-based server.
- Apache requires recognizing and disabling unwanted modules and services since leaving them on could cause serious security risks.
- No formal support. Support is community-based.
Nginx is an increasingly popular web server. It was made by Igor Sysoev and was launched in 2004. The main reason why Nginx was created was to outdo the Apache webserver. It has a market share of around 32.5% and has grown over the years.
Nginx only serves static files out of the box. However, Nginx can handle many requests per second. It theoretically handles four times more than Apache and uses less memory. For this reason, it was previously used as a reverse proxy for many websites or a load balancer.
Advantages of Nginx
- It has a higher performance than Apache.
- More lightweight – requires fewer resources/memory.
- It can handle more clients with fewer process numbers.
- Nginx has good scalability.
- Better at handling static content.
- Recommended for sites running on a VPS.
Disadvantages of Nginx
- Its list of modules is less extensive.
- It has low community support.
- Does not support htaccess files.
- No formal support. Support is community-based.
Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS)
Although many of the mainstream web hosting companies do not use Microsoft IIS, there is nothing overly wrong with it. IIS only runs on Microsoft web servers. The Microsoft Windows Server has expensive licensing costs, which discourage many hosting companies.
IIS is not that great for applications driven by PHP, such as WordPress, however, WordPress can run on IIS albeit with a hectic setup that may involve witchcraft to get it operating. Meanwhile, PHP may not work with recent versions of WordPress and IIS.
Microsoft’s IIS is designed for companies still running websites or applications in their proprietary codebase, ASP.NET. It is where the running of most business software occurs. IIS servers run these applications in the corporate business world. These applications have a legacy from back in the day and sophisticated intranet portals for employees.
IIS is usually paired with Microsoft dynamics, an ERP application, or collaborative software suite known as Microsoft Sharepoint.
Advantages of IIS
- It has a good integrated graphic user interface.
- It provides easy access and has a performance monitor, which helps new users.
Disadvantages of IIS
- IIS does not flexibility in many areas. For example, you cannot control the parsing of URLs without third-party plugins.
- Remote configuration and administration of IIS are almost impossible.
- It is only available for windows.
- IIS can hang so that the server requires a reboot to recover.
- Does not support htaccess files.
- Tech support is expensive.
And Finally….Litespeed Web Server
It is one of the most recent web servers. It is relatively new in the webserver industry but gaining popularity very fast. Litespeed has earned a huge following in the last few years due to its efficiency. Its streamlined architecture allows companies to serve the highest capacity trafficked websites on their servers.
LSphp is one of the major components of the Litespeed among WordPress or Joomla PHP applications where a majority of their customers run their websites. LSphp is a bridging process connecting PHP applications to the webserver.
Litespeed web server is very efficient and reliable compared to Apache, even though Apache is already relatively reliable.
Advantages of Litespeed Web Server
- Supports most Apache modules
- Litespeed server has an event-driven architecture, which gives it high performance.
- Its enterprise version is compatible with configuration files making it possible to replace it as a web server that is much faster for shared hosting.
- Litespeed can be administered from a graphical user interface.
- It has tweaked modules in its paid version and advanced caching options for eCommerce purposes.
- 24/7 Support from the Litespeed team.
Disadvantages of Litespeed Web Server
- Litespeed web server has an expensive licensing model compared to Apache/Nginx.
Why JUCRA has Started To Use Litespeed Web Server in 2020/2021?
For many years we have moved through various iterations of web server types and our most recent one is using Apache, and it has been very successful until now. Now we have discovered Litespeed Web Server.
The Apache hosting environment has paved the way for many third-party libraries and plugins since the introduction of open-source PHP applications such as Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress.
These plugins and libraries do add bloat websites. In turn, it affects the loading times of web pages since many resource-intensive pieces of code are trying to load from remote resources and local resources.
Site speed is a common issue that Apache suffers from even though we have high spec servers. The Litespeed load time experience is faster than adding caching plugins such as WP Supercache and WP Rocket.
Due to its efficiency, we use Litespeed webserver to offer our clients the best-shared hosting experience. It gives their web visitors an easy experience in the fastest way possible since google favours fast websites.
In addition, Litespeed protects the most vulnerable files from brute force attacks, resulting from hacking activities in programs. Litespeed moves Security Capture to the server level from the application level. It also prevents attempted logins that are not allowed by blocking IP addresses automatically.
Litespeed also understands and works with the Apache configuration files making it easier to migrate from Apache server to Litespeed. So there will be no need to configure a file from scratch, which will save a lot of money and time spent on development.
Although it has a high licensing fee, it is worth the money spent on hardware to make other servers reliable and fast.
Websites have different purposes, target audiences, and goals. Whatever the case, a fast and reliable server can benefit any web page. Apache can easily be replaced with Litespeed since it brings high performance and even cost-benefit for many hosting providers. So far it’s considered reliable.
Below are a few comparisons against popular CMS software and web server operating systems and you can see clearly that Litespeed Web Server outperforms all of them hands down.
Benchmark Information Sources
The following benchmarks are taken from LiteSpeed’s website where you can find more details on each test here: https://www.litespeedtech.com/benchmarks
Litespeed has followed the methodology laid out on http2benchmark.org, which means the results are verifiable and repeatable.
Post Written by Craig Edmonds
Craig is one of the owners of JUCRA Digital and reigns from a hospitality and finance background, however, fell into web design and development in 2000 after leaving the world of finance to go on a sabbatical in Marbella, Spain where he has been ever since. Craig really loves the challenge of the internet, digs WordPress and loves Cpanel.