I feel like I need to put some disclaimers up before posting my data here. This isn’t really a fair comparison because Linode and Bluehost offer completely different kinds of hosting plans. The plan I still have active with Bluehost costs about $8 a month, and it is very user friendly for new web builders or anyone who isn’t technically inclined. The Linode plan costs $20 a month, but you’re going to have to learn about manually installing Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.
Now with that said, this should give you a small idea of what you’re paying extra for at a top notch VPS like Linode or Slicehost.
A few days ago this site, Websitebuilding.biz, was still hosted on Bluehost. I ran a test from http://webpagetest.org to get an idea of how long it was taking to load:
(Click to see a bigger image)
So… this says it took 3.7 seconds to load the page. Not bad for a shared host that costs $8 a month, but at the same time that is a little slower than I’d like for a website that brings me in pretty good revenue each month. Basically, if a website can make me between $800 – $1000 a month, it is probably worth the $20 a month in hosting that Linode wants.
Now, what exactly do you get for more than twice the monthly price? Here is the same speed test, run on the same homepage for this website – after I moved it to Linode. Please keep in mind, I haven’t made any other changes to the files except to change wp-config with the new database user name:
Without changing a thing but the host, the website is now running about one and a half seconds faster than it had been last week.
This is a pretty significant change, and I’ve also already noticed some change in user behavior on another site that I moved over a few days ago. People are sticking around, clicking on more internal links, and ultimately finding their way to the in-context affiliate links. In short: people will take your content more seriously when it loads quickly.
All in all, I think this has been a very small investment for a very significant performance upgrade. The technical aspects have been frustrating at times, but I have also learned a lot of valuable skills that will help me in the future. There is a long way to go and a lot to learn, but it seems like a new phase has begun and these faster loading speeds are my first payback.