In this review of ServeBolt hosting, we will be discussing this offering for WordPress, which bills itself as one of the fastest on the market. Unlike many other reviewer’s, we are a web design agency, and have used ServeBolt extensively for major projects (think sites that get 1M+ views per month).
Because of that, we’re pretty familiar with the stack that it uses, the support team behind it, the dashboard, and the real world performance that you'll see on your website.
This Norwegian company is relatively unknown among United States-based WordPress developers and creators. That’s too bad, especially because the product that they have to offer is one of the best in the industry.
First, let’s take a look at the features and offerings that this company pushes to customers. Their hosting is 100% managed, and built on a custom stack dedicated to speed. They advertise it as extremely fast, and lightweight.
They also advertise their support team, which they call experts, and offer free migrations to their platform.
Let’s first talk about the actual stack, and why it's so fast. The company owns, operates and maintains all hardware in the Servebolt Cloud. Instead of adding on additional components, they strip out everything that could cause speed bottlenecks, like a complicated cashing strategies, and the dozens Of add-ons that come with budget hosts.
Here are the core aspects of their Hosting offering.
All processors have Hyperthreading, and Servebolt Linux is optimized to use Hyperthreading the best way possible. Hyper threaded processors allow them to work on multiple tasks at the same time, being more efficient and quick with the use of the resources. You are buying managed hosting that uses Linux, but it is a custom distribution, and is optimized for ServeBolt specific hardware.
Servers use Infiniband for data transfer. This standard is designed for high performance computing and has two main selling points; very high throughput and very low latency. Additional ServeBolt benefits related to networking include transfer rates up to 100 Gbps and BBR, which is Congestion-Based Congestion Control.
On the database front, they have their own versions of PHP and MariaDB, which are optimized for maximum performance. Most sites see a 2-6x improvement in performance when moving to Servebolt. Their custom PHP build is up to 30% faster than stock versions. Servebolt databases deliver market leading query performance, up to 8x faster than stock MariaDB.
A major selling point for those focused on speed is the caching that ServeBolt has to offer. You get access to optimized server based caching configuration out of the box.
This caching differs from PHP based solutions, like WP Rocket, as it is Server-Based. This removes a ton of code and always results in the fastest performance. By default, static asset caching, like scripts, stylesheets and images is built-in, with optimal compression settings. On top of that, ServeBolt offers a WordPress plugin, that sets up the proposer caching headers, allowing you to benefit from the server side NGINX caching built into the stack (this omits the need for PHP, making things quicker).
ON TOP OF THAT, Everything is made to be completely compatible with the CloudFlare CDN, and they offer a CloudFlare enterprise subscription That is discounted and integrates directly into your admin dashboard. This really makes a difference if your website has a ton of global traffic.
Individual environments are called “bolts” which are managed from the ServeBolt Admin Dashboard. This is fairly easy to use and navigate.
Bolts are restricted (you get a finite amount of resources and sites… we will discuss that in the pricing section of this article), so your initial screen shows your resource usage.
From the screen, you can also manage your databases, server settings, and access the specific Bolt. You can easily share access to developers (we’re typically this for clients), while retaining control and ownership of your own hosting.
You also manage your individual websites from this dashboard, and have access to a ton of speed specific settings, as well as access like FTP and SSH.
From the site-specific screen, you can set your domains, access SSL settings and view/change server login info, like SSH and SFTP password settings. There’s also the option for a Git Integration, which uses web hooks to push changes live. There’s an easy Chron Job tab, which allows you to add and manage server-based chron jobs.
The most important tab is “settings”. Here you can manage the ServeBolt specific speed and optimization tools. You have the option to turn on static file caching, static file and full page caching, or turn if off completely. Furthermore, you can enable HTTP2 push preloads, and toggle dev mode (which disable everything related to this).
You can also easily setup a domain based redirect and http to https redirect.
Additional settings include siteinfo files, htaccess files, and your PHP memory limit. All can be toggled from this dashboard, removing the need to go in and manually set this up.
The dashboard as well designed, and easy to use if you were trying to do basic management of your website. However, it isn’t as complex as some other offerings out there (specifically Cloudways, which we use for many of our client websites). For more complex things, you’ll need to use WPCLI or do it manually (expanded on in a later section of this review).
An incredibly important aspect of any hosting offering is the support and staff that it comes with. This is especially true for users who are not technically educated in hosting infrastructure. For example, as an agency, we don’t need to rely on hosting support as much as individual consumers. However, we have seen firsthand the support that ServeBolt has to offer to our clients, and have also discussed advanced topics related to their stack with support agents.
They market their support service as a direct connection to a hosting expert, and they are definitely not lying. If you’re looking for basic set up, migration, and ongoing support, ServeBolt definitely can offer you this. However, if you’re looking for suggestions on how to increase the speed of your website, guidance on customizing your Bolt to suit your website needs, and other advanced topics, they can also help you out here.
We were especially impressed by their quick and easy migration process, where we had to give FTP login information to an existing website and shared hosting, and they took care of the rest, completely installing and configuring it on their platform. Additionally, they offered free speed optimization tips via email correspondence which were beneficial to the loading time of our clients website.
Most support is completed via the live chat interface, and if it becomes something more than that, you have direct contact with a support agent via email. So far, the level of service has been incredible, and the agents actually know what they’re talking about. This is different than many other companies out there that hire out their support, resulting in an agent that only knows how to do basic tasks.
If you are an individual user without the support of an agency behind you, you can be confident in the quality of the support that comes with this hosting offering.
We used ServeBolt web hosting for a recent project that we designed and developed. This website gets around 800,000 views per month, and has several complex functionalities that are resource demanding.
Setting up the WordPress website on their platform was quick and easy, And there was a noticeable increase in speed when compared to the development installation of the website which was hosted on a Vultr high frequency server (dedicated server, ready for production) via Cloudways.
We noticed a serious increase in all page speed loading metrics, as well as the speed of database queries, and back and tasks. This is due to the optimized stack offering more power than virtually anything else on the market.
As discussed above, we used the live chat support on multiple occasions, and the agent was quick to provide actionable solutions to any issues we may have had.
Our real world experience with ServeBolt was incredibly positive, and there were no negative aspects of the engagement. It is easily the fastest hosting platform that we have used.
With the speed comes a price tag. This is not your average budget host, and is marketed towards serious users with websites that require speed (digital magazines, content websites, community websites…). There are two tiers, High Performance, and Enterprise. Each offer different features.
The high-performance pricing tier is created for most customers that would be looking at ServeBolt. Prices range from $39 per month to $735 per month. The pricier plans are created for companies and individuals looking to host multiple websites under one bolt.
For many, the cheapest plan, starting at $39 per month, is good enough. You get one gigabyte of storage, one website included, and up to 250,000 page views per month. However, the most popular plan is probably the pro plus, which offers 8 gigabytes of storage, the ability to host five websites, unlimited PHP workers, and 1 million page views included per month.
The one drawback of the restrictions that we can see on these plans is the fact that you were limited on storage. Luckily, you have the option to purchase additional block storage, while retaining the same plan, which could offset some cost. When we developed a website using this hosting service, we made sure to use offsite storage for media files, which seriously decreased the overall size of the website.
If you are a customer looking for incredibly fast hosting, and have a mission critical website That Garner several million views per month, the enterprise level plans are created for you. These start at $699 per month. The cheapest plan offers 5 million page views, bundles CloudFlare business, and gives you access to 32 GB of Ram. There is also the option to contract with surf boat for a custom pricing, which gives you custom security, a dedicated manager, unlimited PHP workers, cloud flair enterprise, custom page views, and more.
For the average user, we would recommend you take a look at the pro plan, or pro plus plan. These offer you the resources that most websites need, even if you’re getting many page views per month. We worked with the pro plus plan, which included 8 GB of storage, five websites, and 1 million pages. The 8 GB of storage was the only issue here, but we offloaded all media to google cloud, which fixed that issue.
These prices are definitely fair for the speed that you are able to achieve when using their platform. Again, this hosting is created for those who are serious about their websites, and probably generating income from them. Quicker speed means more customers, higher search engine ranking placement, and a better user experience all around.
When taking into account Customer service, pricing, and stack performance, the main competitors for ServeBolt are Kinsta, WPEngine, and Cloudways. We didn’t run any speed test, but from experience, this host was a lot faster than Cloudways’ Vultur HF offering.
We have used Kinsta in the past, And they are well known for their high-quality customer support. We have used both bears and serve bolts, and can say that they are comparable in knowledge, know how, and time to resolve the issue.
The only company that we don’t have extensive experience with is WP engine, but we have seen in a couple locations that serval is a lot faster than this offering.
Pricing comparisons definitely depend on the plan that you were looking at. For example, the kids to business one plan comes in at $100 per month, and gives you five WordPress installations, 100000 website visits, and 30 GB of disk space.
The $100 a month plan for ServeBolt Gives you 4 GB of storage, three sites, unlimited PHP workers, and 1 million website visits per month.
For WPEngine, a comparable plan Comes in at $115 a month, and offers you 100 website visits per month, 20 GB of storage, 200 GB of bandwidth per month, and 10 websites.
With ServeBolt, the differentiating factor is the total storage that you get. For $100 a month you’re only getting 4 GB of storage, which could be problematic to some users. The Hosting Platform is upfront and transparent about why they offer much less than competing companies. First, the storage is completely optimized for a performance, meaning that it is a bit more expensive. Because of that, they can’t offer as much at the same price point.
They also note that "many traditional hosting providers offer huge amounts of storage, with the likes of 100’s GB of data. This is a practice known as overselling, which is done in order to make the services seem better and larger than they actually are." If you need more storage, you can bolt on more as needed.
To conclude this review on Servebolt hosting; this offering is one of the best on the market in terms of speed, performance, support, and pricing. It's also one that isn't well known in the United States due to other more popular competition. However, if you are looking for a platform that is super focused on the speed of your website, and offers a completely optimized and custom stack, Servebolt is your best option. When comparing its pricing to some comperable counterparts, the offering is actually fairly affordable.
If you have any additional questions regarding Servebolt, feel free to reach out in the comments section below. We hope that this Servebolt hosting review was beneficial to you and helped you make the best purchasing decision for yourself.
IsoGroup- Web Dev/Design, WordPress and More