Introducing LiteSpeed Web Server

Earlier this year we decided to trial LiteSpeed Web Server as a replacement for Apache. We’re always looking for ways to increase the performance of our servers and give our customers the best experience possible, and given that LiteSpeed is one of the most popular Apache alternatives, we thought we’d give it a try. We certainly weren’t disappointed – LiteSpeed isn’t just a web server, it’s a whole lot more!

We’ve found that LiteSpeed greatly improves website load time, resource usage, and security coverage. In this blog post, we’ll explain exactly how LiteSpeed is, how it works, and what it’s used for.

What is LiteSpeed?

LiteSpeed is a performance focused web server which brings in a range of optimisations and features, while not requiring any major operating system changes or configurations. It’s easy to install, scalable, and perfect for busier websites due to it’s more efficient resource usage. Installing LiteSpeed is easy and straightforward, taking less than 15 minutes with no downtime.

LiteSpeed Web Server (LSWS) is designed as a drop-in replacement for Apache and as such, it’s fully compatible with the most commonly used Apache features such as mod_rewrite, .htaccess files, and mod_security. LSWS can directly load Apache configuration files and can also be easily integrated into popular control panels such as Plesk, cPanel, and DirectAdmin. 

Rather than acting as a proxy, LSWS fully replaces all Apache functions with more efficient alternatives, to simplify the experience while providing more performance.

See LiteSpeed’s website for a full explanation of all features.

LiteSpeed is licensed at three different levels – Starter, Site Owner, and Web Host.

Let’s break down the three categories and which license would be most suitable for you.

Starter License

The Starter License provides a 100% free license, allowing LiteSpeed use for 1 domain, with 1 worker and a RAM limit of 2GB. 

Starter licenses offer an excellent opportunity to get started or even to trial LiteSpeed, and is geared towards users with small sites that don’t require a lot of resources.

Site Owner

Site Owner licenses allow for up to 5 domains, with 1 worker, and either 8GB of RAM with the Site Owner license, or unlimited RAM with the Site Owner Plus license. The Site Owner license comes in at $10 per month, while the Site Owner Plus license will set you back $16 per month.

This type of license is a great way to begin using LiteSpeed if you manage a few smaller sites or one large site, with a full feature set at a reasonable price point. Site Owner licenses will be suitable for most users looking to increase the performance of their website without breaking the bank.

Web Host

There are 5 types of Web Host licenses, take a look at the table below for the resource limits and pricing:

LicenseDomain
Limit
WorkersRAM
Limit
Monthly
Price
Web Host LiteUnlimited18 GB$26
Web Host EssentialUnlimited1Unlimited$36
Web Host ProfessionalUnlimited2Unlimited$46
Web Host EnterpriseUnlimited4Unlimited$65
Web Host EliteUnlimitedConfigurableUnlimited$92

Web Host licenses are designed for web hosting companies of different sizes, and they typically cover much more than what you’d need for a few websites, as well as being considerably more expensive.

Why should you use LiteSpeed?

Performance

As you’ve probably already guessed, performance is the most significant benefit of LightSpeed. It’s innovative, event-driven design means that it handles a large number of requests very quickly, using fewer processes – to put it very simply! Website performance is greatly improved as it can handle many processes at once using less resources, without experiencing any issues during execution. 

For a more in-depth understanding of the underlying technology, check out the interesting analogy that LiteSpeed makes.

Static content is served much faster with LiteSpeed than other web servers – typically 5 times faster than Apache, and over 60% faster than Nginx. Serving static content to your users means that the server will deliver the same file to each user, rather than the files needing to be generated, modified, or processed – therefore increasing page speed.

Nearly every website today uses PHP, and with LiteSpeed, processing PHP scripts is also significantly faster. Web servers that execute PHP code quickly will also allow users to load the website more quickly. LiteSpeed is up to 40 times more effective in processing PHP code.

Security

LiteSpeed not only has all the security features from Apache, it also comes with some extra security measures too.

Apache’s mod_security feature is supported by LSWS, and also has built in anti-DDoS capabilities to protect your server from denial of service attacks. The scalability that LiteSpeed offers also helps to protect against distributed attacks.

ModSecurity Web Application Firewall provides a sophisticated set of detection rules to further help protect against any attacks against web applications. Also included are throttling for specific IP addresses or requests as well as bandwidth throttling, so you can make sure that no IP addresses will be making too many connections or using too much bandwidth.

Resource usage can also be capped with LiteSpeed, so you can prevent accounts from hogging server resources – perfect for shared hosting servers.

Cloudlinux and CageFS is also fully compatible with LiteSpeed so your users will be safely separated from each other, meaning that even if one site is hacked, it won’t be able to access other users’ files.

Compatibility

One of the most appealing aspects of LiteSpeed is how easily it can be used to replace a more traditional web server like Apache. LiteSpeed has been designed so that it can be installed in just a few commands, rather than spending time changing configurations or operating systems.

Most importantly, LSWS is fully compatible with Apache web server. Not only is it compatible with all features such as .htaccess and mod_rewrite, it also has a plugin for use with the most popular control panels like Web Host Manager (WHM), making it a breeze to install.

Installing LiteSpeed requires just a single command a configuring the path to Apache’s configuration file (http.conf), and then you’re off! 

When should you use LiteSpeed?

LiteSpeed web server can improve performance in a number of different scenarios. You’ll find that over Apache, LiteSpeed can provide improvements with most websites.

It should be stated however, that LiteSpeed performs best when it’s used for only one website, with a lot of traffic. It’s design allows for more efficient handling of many concurrent processes, so higher traffic is typically handled better than you would find in a web server like Apache. eCommerce websites in particular, will see huge benefits from using LSWS.

Shared hosting environments will also often see benefits with LiteSpeed although it’s not as effective as in a single website scenario.

LightSpeed Plugins

LiteSpeed is designed to be easily integrated into content management systems, control panels, and website software. Plugins are available for the most popular platforms, adding further functionality and easy management.

Let’s break down the two most commonly used LiteSpeed plugins: LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress, and the cPanel/WHM plugin.

LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress

LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress (LSCWP) is a plugin for WordPress that utilises LiteSpeed’s acceleration technology alongside a server-level cache to boost performance on WordPress websites. LSCWP is compatible with WordPress Multisite and many popular plugins such as WooCommerce and Yoast SEO.

Out of the box the plugin will use your server’s installation of LiteSpeed with the built-in cache to significantly improve load times and more efficiently handle requests. In addition to this, the plugin provides a number of useful features such as:

  • Image Optimization
  • CSS/JavaScript Combination
  • Database Optimization
  • HTTP/2 Push
  • Private Cache
  • CSS/JavaScript/HTML Minification

The LSCWP plugin is free, provided you have a licensed LSCache Module for your server.

cPanel/WHM Plugin

Managing your LSWS installation is made easy with the cPanel and WHM plugin – LiteSpeed’s plugin allows you to control most LSWS operations straight from the control panel.

The plugin can be installed through the auto-installer script, which handles the installation of both LiteSpeed web server, as well as the WHM plugin. This is the easiest and fastest way of setting up LiteSpeed on your WHM server. You can also choose to download the plugin from the official cPanel downloads page (link page)

Some of the main features of the WHM plugin include:

  • Install/Uninstall LiteSpeed Web Server.
  • Restart LiteSpeed Web Server
  • One-click switch between Apache and LiteSpeed Web Server.
  • Version management: upgrade to the latest version of LSWS, switch between different versions
  • Build PHP with LSAPI to match your Apache PHP
  • License management: check license status, migrate license

LS Web Cache Manager also comes with the LiteSpeed plugin for WHM. This tool, accessible from cPanel,allows users to manage the caching functionality for any WordPress websites they have in their hosting account.

How can I get LiteSpeed?

LiteSpeed can be installed with a few simple commands if you have a dedicated server or VPS, with the auto-installer taking care of most of the work for you.

Many hosting providers also now offer LiteSpeed with their hosting plans. All of our web hosting plans are now configured with LiteSpeed, so you can be sure you’re getting the best speed possible for your website.

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