GridPane Review (2020): A Powerful Stack

Just, as usual, I keep gathering post ideas from questions that people from across the internet have in regard to WordPress hosting specifically. I recently saw on a Facebook group, a post that was wondering how good GridPane was?

So, since I haven’t checked them out, I decided to write this GridPane review, where we are going to be covering hopefully everything that you shouldn’t have any questions at the end, but even if you do, post it on the comments!

GridPane Review

Before we begin, it is important to mention that we are going to be using Vultr High Frequency for our performance test.

Also, we are leaving everything default. Meaning that we will leave any plugins or settings untouched, same for the theme.

Please note that Gridpane is not a hosting company; all your servers are YOURS from the selected vendor. Instead, Gridpane is a SaaS provider; this means that they are providing you with their software (stack, dashboard, etc.) and support, which makes it a lot easier to deploy your WordPress sites. Since everything is done through APIs, you still can contact, for instance, Vultr if you have any problems with the server itself.

Features

They got a serious wall (a lot) of features to offer, here are some:

  • WordPress Focused Dashboard
  • Multi VPS Vendor options (DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, Lightsail or Custom)
  • Server-side caching (Redis and FastCGI)
  • PHP 7.2+
  • Auto SSL (Let’s Encrypt)
  • Staging Sites
  • Firewall(s)
  • SSO (Single Sign-On)
  • Off-site backups
  • and a lot more

Getting Started

Alright, now that we have now seen all the features that they have to offer, let’s get to business.

The sign up process is pretty straight forward. Go to their registration page and enter your details. If you decide to go with a FREE account, please note that there are some limitations. The ones I’ve been able to notice is that there is no custom server install, this means that you have to use either DigitalOcean, Linode, Vultr or Amazon Lightsail.

Also, you cannot create multiple users; this means that all your sites are going to be running under the same user.

After the registration, you’ll be welcomed by 4 or 5 videos that pretty much tell you everything that you need to do. The most important one is to get your API or APIs keys from your favourites providers and then set them up.

Right after, you’ll be able to with a few clicks create and launch your own VPS with their stack on top.

After your server has been provisioned and is all now ready to go, you can now create your sites. Simply go to “Sites”, located at the page’s header.

Enter your site URL, the server you have created, and if you are on a free user, you don’t have to select the System user nor the Bundles. Also, I recommend leaving Stating Site option checked, this will allow you to create a staging site in which you can try out new things without having to worry about breaking your live site.

After your site has been deployed, you can click on your site’s name, in my case I would click on “gridpane.hostreport.net”. This will open up a lot of settings for you to mess around with.

I would recommend activating AutoSSL, this will automatically deploy a Let’s Encrypt SSL to your site. Please note that having Cloudflare Active (Orange Cloud), the deployment of the AutoSSL will fail because your site will be pointing to Cloudflare’s SSL.

With that being said, here’s what each option does on the settings tab:

  • Change site owner: If you have multiple users created on your account, you’ll be able to change the user for that specific site.
  • Change PHP version: Really important in case any of your plugins or theme breaks because of a higher PHP version, in here you can change the PHP version from 7.1 to 7.4 if needed.
  • AutoSSL: We have discussed this already, deploys Let’s Encrypt to your site.
  • HTTP Authentication: It will “lock” your site so that only you can access it through using the username and password. (It will look like this)
  • Single Sign-On: This option will allow you to one-click login from their (Gridpane) dashboard.
  • Display WP-Config: Pretty straightforward, this will show you your site’s wp-config.php file; you cannot make changes.
  • NGINX Redis page caching: This will activate Redis, which will act as your server-side caching. Redis will full-page cache your site and also object-cache (database queries).
  • NGINX FastCGI page caching: Similar to Redis, only that this will only full-page cache your site.
  • ModSec & 6G Waf: Firewalls…
  • Sendgrid SMTP Provider: This will allow you to use Sendgrid as your SMTP provider.

The other settings at the top: Backups, Domains, …, Downloads are pretty straight forward that are easy to understand, and setup.

Important: When you are logging to your site, make sure to config the NGINX Helper settings as follows (if you are using redis caching system), if not change the redis option to fastcgi.

Leave the hostname, port, and prefix default. The default inputs should work right of the box.

Support

To be completely transparent, I haven’t needed to use their support. That being said, I have read a couple of things here and there around their own Facebook groups about some complaints.

Because I haven’t needed to use them, I won’t be grading them on support; it is not fair to give them 1/5 nor 5/5.

I will update this accordingly if I ever use their support.

Performance

I need to stop saying “ah, the fun part”, but is true, performance testing is the fun part of writing and testing providers.

In terms of performance, we are going to be comparing Gridpane to Siteground and WordOps a high-performance Nginx stack, which is the stack that is being used on this site.

To be entirely fair, we are going to be reinstalling the same server to use WordOps. Also, the WordOps site and server are using Redis, PHP 7.4, and Let’s Encrypt.

majestic@wordops:~# wo site create wordops.hostreport.net --wpredis --php74 --le

Loader.io

Concurrent Users

As usual, we are going to be running the 1,000 concurrent users for a period of 1 minute.

GridPaneSitegroundWordOps
Requests (Success)110,43624,088159,476
Timeouts (Failed)07130
Response Time (Avg)538ms1487ms372ms

The WordOps stack was able to serve more requests and keep a lower response time. On the other hand, Gridpane did pretty well, serving over 110,000 requests in a single minute. Siteground, well, let’s just say that they could’ve done better, to say the least.

Clients Per Second

This time, Loader will be sending 1,000 clients for every second, for 60 seconds or 1 minute.

GridPaneSitegroundWordOps
Requests (Success)59,69219,36659,692
Timeouts (Failed)029700
Response Time (Avg)182ms3404ms47ms

On this test, GridPane, and WordOps were able to serve the same amount of requests; meanwhile, WordOps was able to have a lower response time. As for Siteground, well, just as the last test, they have got to do better.

WP Benchmark Plugin

I’ve been liking this plugin, it does a variety of tests, some of which I have not seen on other benchmark plugins.

In this test, we are mostly focusing on the Database section of the test; this is because the VPS and it’s resources (CPU, Memory, Disk) are the same (GridPane and WordOps).

GridPane

WordOps

Siteground

Overall, between the three stacks, WordOps was able to deliver a perfect score in every single test. Then surprisingly enough, Siteground, and on third place, GridPane. Now, this could be because of the config that they run on their stack, and how they tune it.

If you do not have a database-intensive WordPress site, you won’t notice the difference between GridPane and WordOps. Though, over time if you add more sites to the same server, you might.

Apache Bench

Once again, we are using Apache Bench to determine how fast each stack can serve the requests.

ab -c200 -n100000 -s60 https://wordops.hostreport.net/ > wordops.txt
  • -c: Is the amount of concurrent requests, in this case, 200.
  • -n: Total number of requests, in this case, 100,000.
  • -s: Timeout in seconds, in this case, 60 seconds.
  • > wordops.txt: This part is optional, this will just output a txt file.
GridPaneSiteGroundWordOps
Requests per second572.74305.59518.87
Time Taken on the Test174.6s327.23s194.73s
Failed requests1022310

With the table above we can conclude that GridPane was able to serve the higher amount of requests per second, meanwhile also having the least time taken on the test. On the other hand, it had 10 failed requests, not bad, considering that’s just 10 requests for ever 100,000, that is a 0.01% fail requests.

Conclusion

Overall, GridPane offers quite a lot for being free! The best part it has a well-optimized stack, with an active community (Facebook groups) and active admins that are ready to help you out.

Do I recommend GridPane? Yes, hands down.

Who is GridPane For? It really depends, it might be for agencies, freelancers or even beginners that would like to feel the true power of a fully optimized stack on top of a high performance VPS.

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