Question

Nginx vs Litespeed for WordPress performance

Posted September 30, 2021 1.2k views
NginxWordPressCaching

I have noticed across US and Europe WordPress communities there are some rumors getting popular recently, ex. Litespeed is “faster” than Nginx and that .htaccess is “required” for WordPress functions.

Well I am using Nginx around 7 years already and NEVER saw any problem without .htaccess files. Actually, I find it nicer because my WordPress plugins cannot secretly change my config settings.

And for Nginx we can simply enable FastCGI cache without installing additional software package, and no Wordpress cache plugin is required, another nice thing for me so that my customers are not messing with the caching settings all the time.

Here is what I do not understand… if OpenLitespeed has LS Cache then WHY do they force WordPress sites to install a cache plugin? And if they want to compare with Nginx than WHY do they include .htaccess files which are very insecure and can be hacked by WordPress plugins.

And why do every Litespeed hosting company use cPanel? If they want to be lightweight and secure like Nginx than why is no web host using OpenLitespeed + (no WP cache plugin) + (no .htaccess files)… isn’t that really the better comparison with Nginx?

Not 2005 anymore. Why the bloated WP cache plugins are still so common?

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3 answers

Hi there,

Indeed, I agree with you. I’ve been using only Nginx for a while now and I’ve been extremely happy with the performance and the reliability.

But I still think that a good caching plugin like WP Rocket with a good configuration could be beneficial in order to reduce some of the backend load.

Best,
Bobby

  • Yes it is most reliable, I never went back to Apache or .htaccess again after discovered Nginx 7+ years ago, it is much easier to configure and more secure.

    I disagree about WP cache plugins, they are bloated and require PHP process, but Nginx FastCGI cache is faster performance and customers can’t mess up the settings to cause some problems.

Hi,

You asked why the plugin is needed. Technically, it’s not. You can use OLS’s LSCache module alone and not use the plugin at all, but the plugin allows you to manage the cache in such a way that more objects may be stored for a longer period, and with unparalleled accuracy. This is because the plugin understands how WP works, and can communicate that to the server cache module. This is also why the nginx-helper plugin born. It helps make better caching rules.

As for performance, OpenLiteSpeed WordPress with LSCache can be launched from the marketplace easily, so you can run some benchmarks to compare with your servers if you’re curious.

  • That does not make any sense. Nginx FastCGI cache you can choose valid time (when the cache expires) and you can also set the “expires max” for static files in the browser. There is no need to use any WP cache plugin to achieve it.... the plugins can help users to clear the cache only.

    “Nginx helper” plugin is for helping users clear the FastCGI cache (not adding cache functions).

    Why didn’t LS Cache server module make it easier to config? There should be no reason to require bloated WP cache plugins which create many conflicts. LS plugin for WordPress is very bloated and confusing, too many features that not even related about server cache configuration, too many problems for customers who mess the settings… sorry. I think their company should make the plugin more simple and lightweight.

    For me I will never use Apache/Litespeed, I do not want plugins or customers to play with .htaccess. And I think OLS should consider that for future if they really want to get any respect from Nginx users.

    • To clarify what @eleu meant by this:

      “You can use OLS’s LSCache module alone and not use the plugin at all, but the plugin allows you to manage the cache in such a way that more objects may be stored for a longer period, and with unparalleled accuracy.”

      The main benefit of using the plugin is it’s smart auto-purge feature. When a new post is published or existing content changes, the plugin automatically purges related pages. This allows you to set a long TTL for your site, confident that the plugin will handle purging outdated content.

      “Why didn’t LS Cache server module make it easier to config?”

      True, there’s a lot there, and it can be confusing. But you don’t have to use all of those features. You could just turn on the caching and touch nothing else. The default settings work for most sites.

I have noticed across US and Europe WordPress communities there are some rumors getting popular recently, ex. Litespeed is “faster” than Nginx and that .htaccess is “required” for WordPress functions.

There appears to be a coordinated “marketing” campaign between Litespeed Tech and some of their bloggers/affiliates to distribute the same misleading benchmarks where Nginx FastCGI was disabled during the tests resulting in Litespeed appearing to be much faster:

https://www.digitalocean.com/community/questions/openlitespeed-vs-nginx-benchmark-wordpress

Here is what I do not understand… if OpenLitespeed has LS Cache then WHY do they force WordPress sites to install a cache plugin? And if they want to compare with Nginx than WHY do they include .htaccess files which are very insecure and can be hacked by WordPress plugins.

Good questions, my conclusion is that Litespeed Tech has decided going after the WordPress community is the easiest target (probably because the users are considered less tech-savvy). Openlitespeed does have server-level caching (Apache and Nginx do too of course) but it seems the vast majority of Litespeed users are not aware of this and rely on the provided free WordPress plugin “LS Cache”.

I believe .htaccess files can be removed from Openlitespeed if you prefer (or edited in a central location instead of per-user files) but again they seem to be catering to the WordPress and shared hosting industry i.e. cPanel crowd with that.

What makes it even weirder is the Litespeed affiliates go around web forums saying things like “Nginx is so difficult to configure, they don’t even have a plugin for WordPress” which apparently is designed to scare less tech-savvy users away from trying Nginx.

The truth is that there are several free WordPress plugins that allow you to clear/purge the Nginx FastCGI cache… however some Nginx users don’t use these, and simply configure auto-clearing rules in their FastCGI cache configuration.

Again, there are so many rumors going around about Litespeed vs. Nginx because it seems there is a coordinated effort to confuse WordPress users while making them believe Litespeed is a magic fix to all of their web technology problems and confusion. Nothing could be further from the truth, any web server is either going to require you to understand the basics of configuration or hire someone (or a web host) to manage that server for you on your behalf.

The main difference is because of the strong open source community, Nginx has a lot more free setup scripts than Litespeed. You can find many free “LEMP stack scripts” for WordPress specifically that will auto-configure FastCGI cache and other components of your stack, in contrast with Openlitespeed (I don’t know any free scripts for OLS).