In 2016, our team set out to make Kinsta’s already high-performance WordPress hosting even faster. That journey culminated with us moving and consolidating our entire infrastructure from multiple providers to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) on Google’s Premium Tier network. This has enabled us to provide our customers with a large selection of the fastest data servers, incredible performance, server-level caching, dedicated resources, and enhanced security.
Looking back today, that choice has played a huge role in allowing us to build the world’s fastest WordPress hosting platform.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into Kinsta’s vision and why we chose Google Cloud Platform as our infrastructure provider. Specifically, you’ll learn how Kinsta uses compute-optimized C2 virtual machines, premium traffic routing, and a custom containerized hosting stack to take WordPress performance to the next level.
Google Cloud Platform and Virtual Machines
Google Cloud Platform offers a variety of virtual machines (VMs). Think of a virtual machine as a computer in a data center that’s fully equipped with CPUs, RAM, SSD storage, and a fast Internet connection.
As with normal computers, VMs are available in different configurations. On GCP, VMs are categorized into different families.
- N1, N2, and E2 VMs are general-purpose machines suitable for a variety of workloads, but they’re not optimized for any single task. They’re popular for web servers, business applications, and smaller databases.
- M1 and M2 machines are loaded up with RAM for memory-intensive use cases like large in-memory SQL and NoSQL databases and in-memory data analytics.
- C2 machines are “compute-optimized” VMs designed for electronic design automation, high-performance gaming, and other CPU-heavy workloads like WordPress. These are Google Cloud Platform’s fastest servers and what we implement here at Kinsta across all plans.
How Kinsta Uses Google Cloud Platform
In our vision to provide the fastest WordPress hosting experience, Google’s C2 VMs play a key role, but it’s not the only important aspect here (more on that below).
Compared to general-purpose N1 VMs, we benchmarked C2 VM configuration and found it was 200% faster for WordPress.
Let us give you a quick example of how compute-optimized VMs directly affect a WordPress site’s speed.
WordPress core, plugins, and themes are written in PHP. Code is executed by PHP workers, which are background processes that perform a variety of tasks from making database calls to generating your site’s pages to sending order confirmations for a WooCommerce store.
To put it simply, PHP workers are the engines of WordPress websites, which is why, with Kinsta’s hosting, you enjoy the advantage of having up to 14 PHP workers, depending on your plan.
PHP workers help process uncached requests to a WordPress site. Since CPU performance directly affects how fast PHP workers can process code, the super-fast CPUs in Google’s C2 VMs have a direct impact on the speed of your WordPress site.
What Makes Kinsta Fast?
At the core of Kinsta hosting is a containerized hosting stack powered by custom implementations of LXD, Nginx, MariaDB, and the latest versions of PHP (8.2). Kinsta offers a unique infrastructure that containerizes site resources so they don’t have to share, increasing performance on a per-site basis. You don’t have to worry about sites you don’t manage potentially stealing your resources. It also helps minimize your time spent troubleshooting performance issues as you no longer have to account for potential resource stealing.
Our software stack is specifically tuned for high-performance WordPress hosting on Google Cloud Platform, and we are constantly tweaking and optimizing it as newer and faster solutions become available.
By comparison, the majority of other WordPress hosts utilize cheaper and less secure fiber at the expense of network speed.
By combining our unique hosting stack with Google’s fastest VMs, traffic routing, and the in-depth experience of our team, Kinsta is able to squeeze every ounce of performance out of Google Cloud Platform to give our customers a truly performance-focused WordPress hosting experience. Kinsta also allows you to choose a data center out of our 35 data centers that is located close to your site visitors to reduce the delay in serving your site’s content.
With so many “performance-focused” WordPress hosts out there, though, you’d think top-tier VMs like GCP’s C2 machines and premium-tier traffic routing would be the norm.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case in today’s WordPress hosting landscape. While those that offer GCP’s C2 machines only do so on expensive advanced plans, at Kinsta it’s available across all our plans.
To make your sites even faster and secure, Kinsta provides you with Edge Caching, two strong firewalls, HTTP/3 and TLS 1.3, and premium integration with Cloudflare, which serves your site promptly from 260+ Points of Presence (PoPs). When site visitors load your website in their browser, cached responses are quickly delivered from the location closest to them.
The isolated container technology makes your site even faster, stable, and secure, since it doesn’t share resources with other sites.
To ensure that your site is not only fast, but reliably available to the internet, we monitor all sites on our infrastructure 720 times per day (every two minutes) and offer an uptime guarantee of 99%.
Hosting Providers Powered by Google Cloud Platform
Kinsta is not the only WordPress host that utilizes Google Cloud Platform (GCP). However, we are the only host that uses compute-optimized C2 virtual machines and Google’s super-fast premium tier network at scale for all customers across our plans.
Kinsta vs SiteGround
In May 2020, SiteGround announced an upgrade to N2 VMs for sites hosted on their Google Cloud Platform infrastructure in six data center locations. In SiteGround’s press release, they stated the move from N1 to N2 VMs would result in 40% faster CPU performance.
By comparison, Kinsta supports 35 data center locations with 200% faster C2 VMs in 12 regions. This means that in addition to hosting on much faster servers, you can also strategically place your site closer to your target audience with Kinsta!
Kinsta vs WP Engine
In August 2019, WP Engine announced support for compute-optimized C2 virtual machines. However, only customers on their expensive advanced plans starting at $290/month have access to high-performance C2 VMs at WP Engine.
At Kinsta, all customers are hosted on C2 VMs. Whether you’re on a Starter plan or Enterprise plan, you can take advantage of Google Cloud Platform’s fastest servers and get the fastest WordPress hosting experience no matter how big your budget is.
By comparison, Kinsta supports 35 data center locations across Google’s global network, whereas WP Engine only supports 14 Google Cloud Server locations. Unlike Kinsta, WP Engine charges extra for hosting your site in certain locations.
How Fast Are Compute-Optimized C2 VMs?
Before we get into what makes Kinsta different, check out these performance comparisons from some of our customers’ sites after moving to C2 VMs running our custom software stack.
A high-traffic WordPress news site processing hundreds of PHP requests per minute reduced their response time from 250ms to 80ms by switching to C2 machines – that’s a 212.5% increase in performance!
Matthew Woodward’s popular online marketing and SEO blog saw a drop in response time from 750ms to 385ms – that’s a 94.8% performance increase!
These are just three of the many success stories we’ve seen since the migration to C2 VMs. Best of all, our customers didn’t need to do anything to take advantage of these performance boosts – no optimization plugins, no changes to site code, and no hidden costs.
What Makes Kinsta Different When It Comes to Speed
So, now you’re probably wondering why Kinsta is able to offer Google Cloud Platform’s fastest servers for everyone, while our competitors are stuck with slower servers or C2 availability on expensive custom plans only.
The answer is surprisingly simple: Kinsta is a privately held company where customer experience is the highest of priorities. To get the inside scoop on Kinsta’s decision to move our entire customer base to C2 VMs, I spoke with our CEO, Mark Gavalda.
The Kinsta DNA
According to Mark, the decision to move to compute-optimized C2 VMs was largely influenced by what he calls “Kinsta DNA”.
Since Kinsta’s inception in 2013:
“We’ve always used the highest quality materials and personnel no matter the costs. The two most obvious areas where this customer-oriented strategy comes to mind are multilingual support and infrastructure.
Excellent support is and always has been one of Kinsta’s defining characteristics. Despite our tremendous growth since 2013, our 24/7/365 customer support team has been able to maintain a sub-2 minute response time and an average of 97% customer satisfaction rating.”
Take a look at what some of our customers have to say about their WordPress hosting experience on Kinsta!
Kinsta’s Journey to C2 VMs
Prior to our move to high-performance C2 VMs, we used GCP’s general-purpose N1 VMs routing through Google’s Premium Tier network. While N1 VMs already provided us with decent performance, Google’s unveiling of its C2 machines caught our interest very early on. In fact, Mark traveled to Google’s Zurich office for a sneak peek of the C2 VMs when they were in their “alpha testing” phase.
It was love at first… thread!
Mark walked away from his first C2 encounter with a singular thought:
“We have to use these machines for all Kinsta customers, no matter the cost.”
For us, the defining feature of GCP’s compute-optimized C2 VMs is the unparalleled single-thread performance. According to Mark,
“Most WordPress-related workloads are single-threaded so we can’t use dozens of CPUs to parallelize computation for a single task.”
Therefore, having the best possible single-thread performance is extremely important for hosting WordPress sites.
After a significant amount of benchmarking, we found that C2’s 3.8 GHz all-core sustained turbo CPUs “effectively doubled the amount of work a single VM could handle at any given time” when compared to N1 VMs with 2.2 GHz CPUs. Following the benchmark tests, we immediately reached out to Google Cloud for more information on C2 availability.
Available Regions for C2 Instances
At the beginning of 2020, we finished transitioning our entire infrastructure to C2 VMs in the supported regions (see below). This means that whether you’re in North America, Europe, or Asia, there is a C2-equipped region close to you:
- Changhua County, Taiwan (asia-east1)
- Hong Kong (asia-east2)
- Tokyo, Japan (asia-northeast1)
- Osaka, Japan (asia-northeast2)
- Seoul, South Korea (asia-northeast3)
- Mumbai, India (asia-south1)
- Delhi, India (asia-south2)
- Jurong West, Singapore (asia-southeast1)
- Jakarta, Indonesia (asia-southeast2)
- Melbourne, Australia (australia-southeast2)
- St. Ghislain, Belgium (europe-west1)
- London, United Kingdom (europe-west2)
- Frankfurt, Germany (europe-west3)
- Eemshaven, Netherlands (europe-west4)
- Zurich, Switzerland (europe-west6)
- Montréal, Canada (northamerica-northeast1)
- Toronto, Canada (northamerica-northeast2)
- São Paulo, Brazil (southamerica-east1)
- Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA (us-central1)
- Moncks Corner, South Carolina, USA (us-east1)
- Ashburn, Virginia, USA (us-east4)
- Columbus, Ohio, USA (us-east5)
- The Dalles, Oregon, USA (us-west1)
- Los Angeles, California, USA (us-west2)
- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA (us-west3)
- Las Vegas, Nevada, USA (us-west4)
As Google Cloud makes more C2 VMs available in other regions, we will continue to expand our own infrastructure to include them.
Thanks to Google’s flexible VM design and our incredible engineering and sysadmin teams, the transition from N1 to C2 was seamless. Post-C2, customer response has been fantastic, and we’re certain that moving to Google’s fastest servers regardless of cost was the best option for our customers. In Mark’s words – “there’s no going back”!
Providing the Fastest Hosting Experience to All Plans (Today and in the Future)
“Speed is something we will never compromise on, no matter the cost.” — Mark Gavalda, CEO at Kinsta
When it comes to technology, the future is wide open. Kinsta is passionate about innovating in the WordPress hosting space and we are always evaluating the latest technologies from the perspective of improving customer experience, satisfaction, and performance. In Mark’s words:
“Our team works very closely with Google Cloud to make sure we get to test new products as soon as possible, so you can be sure we’re paying very close attention to the latest infrastructure advancements.”
Five years from now, it’s possible that C2 VMs won’t be the fastest servers for WordPress anymore. If your site is hosted at Kinsta, you won’t have to worry about that because we will migrate your site free of charge to the latest servers.
With its extensive selection of virtual machines, super-fast network, and sysadmin-friendly features, Google Cloud Platform is quickly becoming a popular infrastructure provider in the world of WordPress hosting. Even though Kinsta is not the only host that utilizes Google Cloud Platform, we are the only one that provides C2 machines on all plans.
With Kinsta, it doesn’t matter if you’re on a Starter plan or a fully custom plan; your WordPress sites will have access to GCP’s fastest compute-optimized servers. Specifically, you’ll be able to take full advantage of Google Cloud’s C2 VMs and Premium Tier network from day one.
For more information, check out our C2 benchmark tests!
And did you know that site speed affects SEO? If you want to rank well, choose a host that serves you with the fastest and most secure technologies.
As we look towards the future, our eyes are set on innovation and iteration with the goal of building the best and fastest WordPress hosting experience in the world.
We have many projects and features in the pipeline, so make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on Kinsta and WordPress news!