In this review we are going to be taking a look the GridPane hosting control panel, a unique offering that allows power WordPress users too easily create and manage servers from leading cloud providers.
This is a solution that is targeting WordPress agencies, power users, and companies with specific requirements regarding performance, security, and backend usability. In this review, we're going to take a look at all of this and more.
This review is one of six, covering some of the best performance oriented WordPress hosting companies, and utilizing several industry standard speed tests to understand the quality of the service. For more information and a comparison of all these hosting companies, read this article. All testing was completed in early late 2020/ 2021.
From what we have seen, the GridPane hosting offering is very well known in performance communities, but not across the greater WordPress realm. Because of that, many people are missing out, which is why we wanted to test this service out, and offer our review on it.
The company is a very unique one, with a specific target customer. Those who have strict requirements, and want to utilize cloud hosting. Because of this, GridPane is more of a management panel offering, rather than a hosting company. But, with that being said, they go head to head with pretty much any other offering out there.
There are several main features that GridPane hosting has to offer, Including performance, security, support, and platform usability. The main thing here is that the company wants agencies with larger hosting requirements (think 20 or more client websites that they need to manage) to be able to access cloud hosting and use their panel to partition servers, manage packages, and generally make life easier for them.
The platform automatically installs and manages security packages, performance packages, helps you connect the domain, and more. It integrates to the cloud hosting platforms via an API, meaning that you only need to use GridPane to manage these servers.
They have a solid support staff who are people who actually understand how WordPress, hosting, and the infrastructure that GridPane uses works. That means that they can easily answer your questions, and take the workload off you and your developers.
A major feature that this company continuously stresses in there website (and something we saw during our usage of their back end panel) is enterprise level security. There's a ton of security out of the box, and you can add additional features as needed. First, the modsecurity and 6g WAF, automatic security headers, rate limiting, hardening, hot security updates, and fail2ban Nginx hardening.
Now, let's take a look at the pricing that GridPane has to offer their consumers. They offer a standard three tier pricing model, but there are some unique things to note here. First, your pro plan costs $50 a month, and gives you access to the 6G waf, ticket and email support, cloning and migrations, and staging websites. It comes in at $50 a month. The developer plan comes in at $200 a month, and gives you access to everything in the pro plan with additional security and performance packages. These are all installed and monitored automatically when the developer chooses to use them on their servers. The enterprise plan has a ton of custom features, aimed at taking the workload off of agencies that need to manage hundreds of client websites.
And, with his pricing comes a free two week trial, which is how we tested and learn how to use the GridPane back end.
Some things to note here are the fact that there are no preset site limits or server limits on any plan. And, this panel helps you partition servers, meaning that you still need to pay for them through digital ocean (or other providers). With that being said, the pricing is reasonable when you consider the time savings that this tool can offer.
So, to summarize, you are paying for access to a panel that makes it easier for you to manage Digital Ocean (or other providers) hosting. You can pay more for additional security and performance features, though there are no limits on how many servers you can use. Additionally, you can scale up your plan if need be.
Here we can see a price savings comparison. After thinking about this for our own agency, these savings are pretty much on par with what we ended up calculating.
Now, lets take a look at the back end platform usability and design, as this is essentially what you are paying for. There are two main things that you do here. First, you create your server, and then once the server is created, you install your WordPress websites.
Here we can see that there is an easy option to one click provision servers from up cloud, Amazon Lightsail, Linode, Vultr, and Digital Ocean. If you have a custom VPS, you can also add that as well. All of these are added via an API integration, meaning that you don't need to go into the back end of any of these companies. Everything can be managed from this hosting panel.
Once you have your server, there's a one click installation of WordPress onto them, or an easy migration. once the application exists, you can manage various aspects of it from the panel:
here, you can see that the standard website settings include SMTP, various speed and security settings, and then several specific tabs for domain management, cloning, multi site settings, PHP specific settings, security, and backups.
There is easy staging of WordPress websites:
Because this company is primarily targeting digital agencies and large organizations with major WordPress hosting requirements, there's a simple team management system for both the back end as well as SSH and SFTP access to the hosts and applications.
This platform offers you pretty much everything you need in regards to security, performance, and management of both your server and the WordPress websites that are hosted on it. It's very easy to use, has a consistent UI, and the team management system makes it easy to share with everybody who needs access.
We didn't have a chance to personally experience their support as we were trialing the pro plan, but from other user reviews, group pain support is great, includes actual server engineers who know what they're talking about, meaning that any issue will be resolved very quickly for you.
Now, let's take a look at the performance testing of this offering. Keep in mind, this is a panel that helps you manage existing cloud infrastructure, so we are essentially testing the packages that it installs on the hardware.
Our server was a digital ocean server based in New York with two gigabytes of ram and one CPU. It had 50 gigabytes of SSD storage.
For caching, we used the FastCGI cache.
The first performance test we ran was the K6 open source test which simulated a major amount of traffic and averaged the server response time. This is great to understand how a server would respond under load, and gave us good insights into the speed and hardware , as well as the impact that the GridPane hosting packages that were installed on our digital ocean server had:
and, in all honesty we were completely blown away by the performance of this offering. we shot 4796 requests at the server with a peak request per second of 20, there were zero failures meaning that it was a robust server to begin with.
But, we were absolutely blown away with the average response time of under 10 milliseconds. For comparison, many other hosts have an average response time of anywhere from 50 milliseconds to 100 milliseconds. Having an average response time of 9.24 at the top of any host that we have tested.
In terms of Google pagespeed, these statistics are included so you can compare with other companies hosting offerings that we have tested with our boilerplate website. You can read more about that on our main comparison of 6 performance oriented WordPress hosts.
These statistics were good , especially when compared to other companies that we tested.
This test offers the aggregate of 18 geographical locations, giving us a good understanding of how a website would respond to different requests from different areas of the world.
GridPane does not include a CDN, but the performance statistics were decent Despite that. Especially when compared to other companies that don't have a CDN, as well as companies that do have their built-in CDN.
We can also see that our servers are configured to use HTTP 2 , which is a much faster configuration than HTTP 1:
Interestingly, the connection time that was measured by GTMetrix wasn't great:
This may just be an outlier, though we tested multiple times, but this data is just something to consider.
We were absolutely blown away by the average response time of around 9 milliseconds, being the best of pretty much any company that we have tested. However, this hosting offering is definitely made for digital agencies and those who host many different word press websites. You should also consider that you're only paying for the panel - which makes it easy to manage different packages.
With that being said, if you're reading this review, you probably know what you want, meaning that GridPane is a great option for you. A very well designed back end that is easy to use, and incredible website performance culminate in a great offering for digital agencies looking to host WordPress websites using an easy to manage back end experience.