Why Your VPS Needs LiteSpeed
I was going to write a long post about how LiteSpeed Web Server (LSWS) can reinvigorate your overloaded VPS, but this morning I ran across a user review on Web Hosting Talk that illustrates exactly what I want to talk about.
This user is running a pretty big IPboard forum. He had some bad experiences with a dedicated server on one host, so he switches to a (smaller) VPS on another. Pretty soon, he finds his site is too big for the VPS. “In a panic, I created a support ticket asking to upgrade me to a bigger instance,” he says. The provider, however, tells him not to buy a bigger VPS. Instead, they switch him to LiteSpeed Web Server. Yes, LSWS costs a little more money, but it’s far cheaper than upgrading his VPS and:
“Fast forward a few days later, I’ve reached new record highs of concurrency on my site, users are making remarks about the improved performance and pingdom, for the first time in a long time, shows 100% uptime over the last 24 hours.”
This, essentially, is what LSWS does — it gets more out of your current hardware without any extra hassle.
What? How does it make things faster?
Basically, Apache, the web server we all know and love, the web server that runs more than half the world’s websites, is inherently slow. Apache is process-based. This means it creates a new process or thread for each connection. That’s resource intensive and time consuming. As the number of connections goes up, Apache’s resource usage increases exponentially, your load skyrockets, your sites slow down, and your users decide they don’t really care anymore. (In this day and age, how much does anyone care about anything? About 250 milliseconds worth.)
LiteSpeed Web Server uses event-driven architecture (and a number of other performance features) to speed up responses and, most importantly, cut down on resource usage. Event-driven architecture means LSWS serves all connections with only a few processes, shuttling tasks off to other background processes for more efficient service. By keeping the number of processes low, LSWS keeps resource usage predictable, meaning now your little VPS soars.
Switching to a new web server? That sounds complicated.
It’s not. In the review I referenced above, you’ll notice that the user didn’t talk about changing any settings for LSWS. That’s because LSWS reads and runs off Apache configs. That means, right out of the box, it works with the settings and applications (including InterWorx) you already have. Installation generally takes less than 15 minutes — run a command line script, answer the prompts, rebuild PHP, add the InterWorx module so you can see logs correctly in the panel. That’s it. Your load is cut, your sites run faster, you don’t have to upgrade your hardware. There is no need to reconfigure or learn new skills (though I hear fly fishing is nice).
Pffffft. I’m getting nginx. It’s free.
Good luck with that. Really. Yes, nginx is also event-driven, so it serves static content about as well as LiteSpeed, but that’s only half the battle. (And now you know…) Nginx is by no means Apache-compatible. This means hours and hours learning a new system and working with new configurations so that it might work with your web applications. You could just run nginx as a reverse-proxy, but adding that extra layer still adds complexity, can cause compatibility issues, and waters down the benefits you see. Not to mention that LiteSpeed’s LSAPI means faster dynamic content in addition to faster static content.
The pitch in 38 words:
Switch Apache out for LiteSpeed Web Server. It’s Apache and InterWorx compatible. In 15 minutes you’ll be serving many times more users on the same hardware you use now. Don’t waste money on hardware or time on nginx.