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What is LiteSpeed Server Hosting?
The Litespeed Web Server from Litespeed Technologies is a completely compatible Apache drop-in replacement. This means that it can be used to replace an existing Apache server, without changing any other programs or operating system details, and without breaking anything. It even reads Apache configuration files.
What is a web server?
A web server is a computer application that receives requests via HTTP (and other protocols) and then delivers files and other assets back in response. The web server sits on a computer system and stands between the internet and the rest of the files and processes of the computer.
The most popular web server software is the Open Source program called Apache. Litespeed Web Server is a direct, drop-in replacement for Apache.
Litespeed Web Server Overview
Litespeed is the most popular commercial web server available, and the fourth most popular overall (after three Open Source solutions).
It offers increased speed and performance as compared to Apache, through a number of performance-enhancing modifications. Notable among those is its Event Driven Architecture, which greatly reduces the number of new processes launched by the web server.
Another noteworthy performance boosts comes from the way Litespeed handles scripting languages like PHP, Ruby, and Python. The Litespeed Server API increases script interpretation performance by up to 50%.
Key Features of Litespeed Web Server
- Runs on Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OSX, and Solaris.
- HTTP 1.1, with backwards compatibility for HTTP 1.0
- HTTPS support, including TLS (v1.1 and 1.2), SSL, SNI, and OCSP stapling. Can be configured for PCI compliance.
- SSL Acceleration speeds the delivery of secure content.
- Event-driven architecture conserves resources and serves more connections, faster.
- Full support for scripting languages like PHP, Ruby, Python, Perl, and Java through ultra-fast Litespeed Server API (LSAPI).
- IPV4 and IPV6
- Unlimited IP-based and name-based virtual hosts.
- Unlimited concurrent connections
- GZIP compression
- Faster HTTP throughput with SPDY 2 and 3
- Websockets and Websocket Proxying
- Full compatibility with Apache httpd.config and .htaccess files, with added .htaccess caching.
- Compatible with mod_security features.
- Supports all Apache-based control panels, including cPanel, Plesk, and Direct Admin.
- Control panel plugins allowing for web server administration from the control panel.
- Drop-in replacement for Apache from the control panel.
- Compatible with all Apache modules.
- Optimized memory use.
- Asynchronous input/output processing to reduce latency.
- Shared hosting PHP reduces overall number of PHP processes, conserving resources.
- Automated and highly configurable caching.
- Edge Side Includes to allow sections of a single resource to be delivered differently. This can significantly speed up the loading of templated content management systems like WordPress.
- Web Application Buffering.
- CPU process binding in multi-CPU deployments, allowing increased use of CPU caching.
- Connection and Bandwidth throttling, to stop attackers or others who make too many connections and requests.
- Detailed HTTP Request Validation, including denial of requests for hidden files, and configurable settings for maximum URL, Header and Body lengths.
- suEXEC mode for PHP, Ruby, CGI, and FCGI.
- chroot jailing.
- No-downtime configuration changes and entire upgrades, through a piecemeal process restart feature.
- Auto restart of interrupted processes.
- Graphical Web Admin console.
- Virtual host templates that offer pre-configured setups for a number of general and specialized virtual host situations.
- Robust, real-time statistics on usage, performance, speed, and diagnostic checks.
- Multiple, concurrent versions of PHP, configurable all the way to the level of individual files.
- Geolocation by IP address.
- Piped loggers to stream log data to a remote location.
- Automatic and configurable load balancing.
- Video Streaming.
Litespeed Web Server Editions
Litespeed Web Server is available in three editions: Open Source, Standard, and Enterprise.
The Open Source edition is fully-featured and free, but is not supported or compatible with web hosting control panels. The Open Source edition is most appropriate for self-managed hosting environments, where the servers are owned by the people using them, and a hosting control panel is not required.
The Standard Edition is free, but with some performance and use limitations added in. It is, however, supported and compatible with web hosting control panels. The Standard Edition is most appropriate for self-administered web servers running in a cloud environment, where the end-user is managing a single web server, but the servers themselves are owned and managed as cloud infrastructure.
The Enterprise Edition is fully featured, fully supported, and has no usage limits. It is available with premium Service Level Agreement (SLA) contracts, to ensure a high level of support. The Enterprise Edition is the most appropriate choice for web hosting providers who sell hosting services to others.
Many web hosting companies offer Litespeed Web Server as a premium add-on feature to replace the default Apache web server that comes with a hosting plan. Other hosting plans include it automatically. Be sure to check.
LiteSpeed Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What is LiteSpeed?
LiteSpeed is an Apache server drop-in replacement that has many enhanced features over its predecessor. Shared hosting customers will appreciate the fact that hosting providers that use LiteSpeed often have less crowded servers. If the server is less crowded (meaning there are less sites and data hosted on them), than sites can respond faster. When there is less information on a server, it can also perform at its peak with stability.
Are there any reasons not to use LiteSpeed?
The two biggest complaints users of LiteSpeed commonly cite as reasons not to use it are the price and its limitations. Compared to Apache, LiteSpeed can be seen as expensive. Then again, any price compared to free is generally considered high! Common limitations hosts will face with LiteSpeed are related to its licensing. Many developers complain about the licensing because it directly impacts the types of software you can host on the server.
What are the alternatives to LiteSpeed?
There are two main open source alternatives to LiteSpeed, and they are the most commonly used web servers on the internet: Apache and Nginx. Apache is far and away the most commonly used web server on the market, and its 20 year run as the market leader is living proof. Nginx is a great alternative to LiteSpeed because it is event driven, not process-driven like LiteSpeed and Apache.
IIS is another popular web server, but it runs on Windows-based systems.
What are the requirements for using LiteSpeed?
At a minimum, LiteSpeed requires an Unix operating system (Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, etc). Reports indicate that there are up to 12 different operating systems available to run LiteSpeed — including MacOSX. It requires a minimum of 200MB of disk space to install. Processor and memory will be dependent upon SQL server stats, but there are up to 7 different database solutions compatible with LiteSpeed. No matter your OS/database combination, a minimum 300MB of disk space must be available in runtime to operate LiteSpeed.
Can I host a LiteSpeed web server on a shared hosting plan?
While shared hosting users don't usually have a say in the web server that powers their hosting platform, LiteSpeed can be used in shared hosting environments. Websites run on a shared hosting platform powered by LiteSpeed generally are hosted on servers that require less CPU and storage than Apache, run applications faster and operate with predictable CPU and memory usage.
What does self-hosted mean? I don’t have to run a server myself, do I?
Self-hosted servers and their associated platforms do not require you to personally own the server and manage it to host your site. Instead, self-hosted simply means that hosting is not provided directly by the development team that created the web server software you are using to run your hosting. In order to use a self-hosted Litespeed as your commercial web server platform, you will need to contract a hosting provider before building your platform and make sure they offer Litespeed as an option with their packages.
Do I need managed hosting in order to use LiteSpeed?
The answer to this question depends on your answer to the question "How much responsibility are you willing to accept for the maintenance of your website?" The more unique your web server becomes, the greater your need will be for professionally managed services. Shared hosting often comes with some managed services included. If you have a dedicated hosting solution, however, managed services are likely required as part of your agreement. To be fair, this is the case with any self-hosted web server — not just commercial platforms like LiteSpeed.
Do I have to know how to program to use LiteSpeed?
Yes. From installation to server management, users of LiteSpeed will need to know how to program. At installation, anyone installing LiteSpeed will need to be capable of handling programming in the command line terminal and know how to install files in the systems directory. If you can't get root access, programmers can also install LiteSpeed using the sudo command line, but if you install using sudo, you can only control LiteSpeed from the sudo command line. This will be important information for you to remember in the event you hire an outside developer to work on your hosting configurations at any point.
Do I need to be concerned about installation?
If you have made the choice to use LiteSpeed as your web server, and this isn't a case of your hosting provider making the choice for you, then you likely have an unmanaged server. In most shared hosting scenarios, an individual site owner will not have the authority to make this kind of decision. So, in the event you are installing LiteSpeed and something goes wrong, you can simply wipe the software off the server and start fresh. In this case, you really have nothing to be concerned about. It might be a good idea, however, to check with your hosting provider before installing LiteSpeed if it is not a standard option.