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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.
What is the Most Popular Web Server?
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 publishes various benchmarks on its website. According to their WordPress and Magento tests, LiteSpeed significantly outperformed Apache.
LiteSpeed Web Server Overview
LiteSpeed is the most popular commercial web server available for Linux and Unix systems.
Do I Need LiteSpeed?
Compared to Apache, Litespeed offers greater speed and performance through a number of proprietary features.
Notable among those is its event-driven architecture, which greatly reduces the number of new processes launched by the web server.
A graph of performance testing conducted by LiteSpeed and published on their website.
Another noteworthy performance boost 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%.
The scripts don’t have to change to get the benefit, but the language interpreter needs to be rebuilt to include LSAPI support.
How Does LiteSpeed Compare to Other Popular Web Servers?
Cost to Use
Free (Open Source)
Free (Open Source)
Ease of Finding Hosting
What Are The Main Features of LiteSpeed Web Server?
Yes, the list is long – but it’s worth familiarizing yourself with these features.
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 the overall number of PHP processes, conserving resources.
Automated and highly configurable caching.
Edge Side Includes allowing 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.
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.
What are the Technical Requirements for Installing LiteSpeed?
For optimal performance, you’ll want to ensure you’re running LiteSpeed on a server with the following elements:
Operating System: Linux(i386), CentOS, Ubuntu, Debian, Solaris, FreeBSD, macOS (check with the manufacturer for minimum version numbers)
Processor: Intel 80486 and up, PowerPC G4 or better
Memory: 32 MB minimum
Disk Space: 200 MB for installation, 300 MB minimum for runtime
Command Line Access: installation, setup, and configuration of LiteSpeed requires access to the command line (there is no GUI alternative).
LiteSpeed Web Server Editions
The LiteSpeed web server is available in two editions:
LiteSpeed Web Server
What is OpenLiteSpeed?
OpenLiteSpeed is an open-source server released under the GPL license.
Anyone can use it for free. It’s also available under an OEM license for anyone who wants to make it part of a proprietary product.
OpenLiteSpeed is a good way to get your feet wet with LiteSpeed, but know that it comes with a lot of limitations on how it can be used.
What are the Limitations of OpenLiteSpeed?
It’s not supported or compatible with web hosting control panels, and it doesn’t claim full Apache compatibility.
A big issue is that it doesn’t support .htaccess files, which many website administrators consider essential. It also doesn’t support mod_security, an Apache firewall module.
The OpenLiteSpeed 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.
LightSpeed Web Server
LiteSpeed Web Server is fully featured, fully supported, and has no usage limits.
It includes a page caching feature which isn’t available in OpenLiteSpeed. LiteSpeed Web Server 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.
Add-on Software for LiteSpeed
Several add-ons are available from LiteSpeed for a monthly fee or one-time license.
LiteSpeed Web ADC is a load balancer that provides application firewall protection and DDoS filtering.
Cache plugins are available for the WordPress, XenForo, and Magento web applications.
The WordPress plugin caches images by converting them to the WebP format, which compresses files better than JPEG.
The LiteMage Cache for Magento is tightly integrated with the Magento page structure and combines multiple blocks in a single request.
The add-on for XenForo (a PHP-based forum hosting application) is free and open source. It caches pages only for users who aren’t logged in.
Do I Need LiteSpeed Webhosting for my Site?
Which web server software you should look for in a host service depends on your requirements.
If you serve mostly static content and don’t have unusually high-performance requirements, Apache’s familiarity and large support community make it a good choice.
What is a Good, Open-Source Alternative to OpenLiteSpeed?
If you’re looking for an open-source server that delivers better performance, you should consider Nginx as an alternative to OpenLiteSpeed.
Its performance is similar. Nginx has better Apache compatibility, including the ability to use popular control panels. Very few host services even offer OpenLiteSpeed, though you can install it on a VPS or dedicated server.
It’s the commercial-grade LiteSpeed Web Server which stands out the most against its competitors.
LiteSpeed as a Premium Add-on
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.
My Recommendations for LiteSpeed Web Hosting
When opting for LiteSpeed, which hosts are the best options?
Here are my recommendations to get your research started.
A2 Hosting makes LiteSpeed available in its Turbo and Managed VPS hosting plans, pre-installed and pre-configured. It’s available for the semi-managed VPS and the Flex dedicated server but requires manual installation. With Turbo Web Hosting, you can install the LightSpeed WordPress cache plugin.
Customers get a 99.9% uptime guarantee, 24/7 support by phone, chat, or ticket, and data centers on three continents. The Turbo option delivers the highest speed with optimized software and limited users per server.
LiquidWeb offers LiteSpeed on its dedicated servers as an optional alternative to Apache. The site mentions only PHP4 and PHP5 compatibility and the “Learn More” link is broken, though, so it’s not clear how up to date LiquidWeb’s commitment is.
The web host specializes in managed services, and it gives guaranteed support response times around the clock, as well as guaranteeing 100% uptime.
GreenGeeks moved to LiteSpeed in 2016 but may still be in the process of upgrading some servers. It has data centers in the US, Canada, and the Netherlands, and it promises 99.9% uptime.
It offers shared, reseller, VPS, and dedicated hosting plans. All hosting plans include cPanel. Support is available 24/7 by chat and email, and phone. (Phone support has more limited hours.) As its name suggests, it stresses eco-friendliness in its data centers.
Pros & Cons of LiteSpeed
In a nutshell: here’s a convenient summary of the pros and cons of LiteSpeed.
Highly compatible with Apache web server, with better performance
Add-ons for further performance improvement
Paid license required
Open source available, but lacks important features
LiteSpeed is an Apache server drop-in replacement with different features. Hosting providers that use LiteSpeed often have less crowded servers, which may be a benefit for shared hosting customers, since it can result in better speeds.
What are the system requirements for LiteSpeed?
LiteSpeed requires a Unix-based operating system such as Linux, Solaris, OS X, or FreeBSD. It requires a minimum of 200MB of disk space to install. A minimum 300MB of disk space must be available in runtime to operate LiteSpeed.
Is LiteSpeed offered on shared hosting plans?
Yes. 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.
Do I have to know how to program to use LiteSpeed?
Yes. You need to be comfortable using the command line, and you’ll need root access to your server.
If you can’t get root access, you can install LiteSpeed using the sudo command line, but you can only control LiteSpeed from the sudo command line thereafter.
What are the disadvantages of LiteSpeed?
Apache is free, whereas LiteSpeed is not. This can push up the price of hosting. Additionally, some developers complain about LiteSpeed 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 the most commonly used web server on the market, and has been the market leader for at least 20 years.
Nginx is an event-driven alternative to LiteSpeed; both LiteSpeed and Apache are process-driven.
IIS is another popular web server that can be considered an alternative. However, it only runs on Windows-based systems.
Gary McGath spent years as a software developer before turning to writing. In addition to writing many articles on technology, he's the author of two crowdfunded e-books. His tech passions include data security and digital preservation.
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Who's Best for LiteSpeed Hosting?
We think A2 Hosting is the best choice for those looking specifically for hosting powered by LiteSpeed server technology.