UPDATE May 2011: Namecheap’s DNS service has recently experienced two outages: one due to a denial of service attack and the other caused by a misconfigured DNS entry at another registrar. Their service is relatively new, so I hope they handle these types of issues better in the future. I appreciate the honesty and openness with which they have reported these issues. ClouDNS is also experiencing intermittent downtime, but has not mentioned anything.
UPDATE July 2013: A few months ago, I switched to using CloudFlare’s Free plan. I’m really happy with the service, which is faster than what I’ve been using before. And I really like using a company specializing in DNS security and performance. SolveDNS’s DNS Speed Comparison Report agrees. Highly recommended.
Way back in April 2009, I read two articles about using Pingdom to test hosted DNS services. Pingdom has a limited free account, includes several types of web-related performance tests and has test servers in over 25 locations throughout North America and Europe. I started using it immediately and have been very pleased with their product and service.
I’ve been wanting to test the performance of hosted DNS services that include at least one domain for free. Two years later, I finally got around to it. All tests were done with my own domain name.
Each test covered eight days (except Afraid, which I ended early after six). I would have preferred to run the tests concurrently over a longer period of time. If I missed anyone, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list.
|Namecheap||100.00%||82 ms||175 ms||Includes free email forwarding.|
|ClouDNS||100.00%||93 ms||319 ms||Excellent user interface.|
|Moniker||100.00%||114 ms||248 ms||*** Included with domain registration. ***|
|ZoneEdit||99.65%||91 ms||280 ms|
|GeoScaling||99.78%||103 ms||332 ms|
|XName||100.00%||117 ms||325 ms|
|DNS Exit||99.98%||256 ms||1025 ms|
|FreeDNS||100.00%||187 ms||530 ms||Website down for days recently. No comment on why.|
|Afraid||80.45%||223 ms||1022 ms||Sub-domain sharing. Down 4 mins every 19.|
Here are the charts to give you a visual idea of the test results. Pingdom needs to allow customers to control the vertical scale. I’m just too lazy to make my own charts using their cool API. :)
My last post on how to optimize WordPress covered some general optimization techniques to speed up a website. Reducing HTTP requests, removing wasteful plugins and decreasing file sizes helped quite a bit. Now it’s time to try out page caching.
If you remember, the five things that normally occur for each page are:
- Initialize PHP
- Query the database
- Create the page
- Send the page
- Send additional files
All of the plugins were fairly easy to install. And I discovered during my tests that WP Super Cache, at least at Nearly Free Speech.NET, works just fine with safe mode on.
This graph shows the time it took to load my home page with each of the caching plugins enabled. I have circled the point where I first turned on page caching.
Hyper Cache and WP Super Cache both performed well. W3 Total Cache seemed to struggle. It does more than page caching, like reformatting files to save space, but clearly slowed things down.
WP Super Cache has a few advantages over Hyper Cache:
- It supports browser caching better
- It doesn’t need to load PHP
- It checks for security problems and suggests fixes
So I am now a happy WP Super Cache user.
UPDATE Dec 2009:
After a few days, I started having issues with WP Super Cache and switched back to Hyper Cache. You can see how the irregularities went away. I’ve been using Hyper Cache for almost a week now, and things have remained stable.
After being contacted by the author of the W3 Total Cache plugin, I’ve agreed to give it another try. I turned off all the settings except for “disk enhanced” page caching. I’ll update the article again in a few days.
UPDATE Jan 2010:
After looking into things a bit more, my results are still showing Hyper Cache to be faster than W3 Total Cache. However, when I test using the curl command line tool from home, it seems that both plugins are about the same speed. My web hosting company uses a network-level reverse proxy and a few other caching tricks that eliminate the need for some of the features provided by these types of plugins. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but will be sticking with Hyper Cache for now since it appears to work better with my particular situation.
I do like that W3 Total Cache handles page compression properly. I could not get page compression to work with Hyper Cache and had to turn it off. I’d recommend you try all three plugins and measure which works best for you.
UPDATE Apr 2010:
I’ve been having some troubles with Hyper Cache recently. Page redirects were working properly in Firefox, but not in Safari. I tried a new caching plugin I hadn’t heard of before: Quick Cache. Redirects are now working in both browsers. After a week of using Quick Cache, it’s performance is very good. I’ve decided to stick with it.