This article is relating to our shared hosting platform utilizing Litespeed web server. We no longer offer shared web hosting, but we do offer Litespeed hosting options with our cloud hosting and dedicated server services.
We have been testing the LiteSpeed web server for several weeks now. We have worked out the kinks and have it working properly with H-Sphere now, with help from the great staff over at LiteSpeed. Soon, we are hoping to deploy our first shared hosting web server based on LiteSpeed, so I figured I would make this blog post to describe some of the differences between LiteSpeed and Apache, which we use currently. None of our existing web servers will be converted to LiteSpeed, at least not anytime soon, but new web servers will be deployed with LiteSpeed. Existing customers will be able to request that they be moved to a new LiteSpeed web server if they want as well.
I will begin with the bad things, as there is some bad involved with this change, and these all involve lost features. While LiteSpeed is a great piece of software it does not currently have full compatibility with all the features of Apache. Right now, LiteSpeed does not support Server Side Includes (SSI) or mono, which is what we use for ASP.Net support, but we have been assured that both of those are planned additions in the coming months. One other lost item is the difference in how Apache and LiteSpeed handle error logs, so that with the LiteSpeed web servers individual customers will not direct access to their error logs. There is also still full support of .htaccess and mod_rewrite.
Even though LiteSpeed does require licensing costs, we feel the change is worth it as LiteSpeed allows us to increase the speed, security, and reliability of our web servers. Various benchmarks show drastic speed improvements between LiteSpeed and Apache with it being more than 6 times faster when serving small static files and more than 50% faster in PHP performance. LiteSpeed also allows us to set additional security settings with less overall overhead, allowing us to secure the server to a greater extent than Apache reasonably allowed, and it includes a built-in defense against HTTP based DDoS attacks. There are also reliability benefits because of LiteSpeeds superior ability to handle high amounts of load and the zero downtime graceful restarts.
We feel that adding LiteSpeed is just further evidence of Steadfast Networks' commitment to improving the customer experience, no matter what the cost. We will be closely watching the new web servers for issues, but our testing has indicated there would be few issues with the new software, though huge benefits. Enjoy!
Note: As PHP4 is also nearing it's end, the new LiteSpeed web servers will only be deployed with PHP5. Also, the LiteSpeed servers will have full (and much faster) Ruby on Rails support.