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GURU is another host which I am seeing recommended more often on my WordPress groups, as usual with lots of positive feed and great reviews on Trustpilot, but nowhere near as much as the likes of SiteGround, which is easily the most popular recommendation. So in my quest to find something better than SiteGround, Guru were next on my list.

In this review I am using their £19.95 reseller plan.

Note: I decided to stick with Guru, so I will be updating this review of their services over time.

Migration

Since I provide website migration services myself and ran a web hosting company for 16 years, I have obviously done hundreds of website migrations over the years and I know how to do it with my eyes closed. But anytime a host offers free migration, I will ask them to do it for me to test their migration skills, customer service skills, WordPress knowledge and overall competency.

I submitted a request for free migration and sent them a link to the backup which I had shared via one-drive. Unfortunately, they won’t accept links to backups you have done yourself and insisted I give them access to the site instead to do their own backups. I found this a bit weird, as it just makes the job more time consuming for them, but I provided a temp login and waited

3 days passed and still nothing, so I chased up the ticket only to be told they were too busy and it probably wouldn’t be done until next week now , which would have been another 5+ days. So I decided to do the migration myself instead as i wanted to get my performance tests done.

I have since submitted a few other sites for migration to see how long it actually took. I used my own site this time, which is a multi site network consisting of 7 domains, and a few regular sites.

They completed the migrations successfully, however it did take them between 6-9 days for each site, which is pretty slow, when you consider I can migrate a site in under 1 hour. So I wouldn’t rely on them if you need the migration done urgently, and you would definitely need to plan this well in advance of your old hosting expiring if you wanted to take advantage of the free migration.

Guru use Blogvault to do their backups and migrations, which failed to do my multisite, and they had to resort to doing it manually. I usually use All-in-one WP Migration to do my backups and migrations, and it has not failed me yet, including on this site. This tells me my backups solution works better than BlogVault 🙂

Website Preview

I also want to mention this very useful ‘website preview’ option they have. I have used numerous cpanel hosts, but it is not a feature I have seen before, so it may be a custom module they have developed.

This module creates a temporary sub-domain for you (or your client) to access and test the website prior to making DNS changes. Presumably, it creates a bunch of rewrite rules to achieve this, although they are not created in the .htaccess file, so I assume it is done at the litespeed level.

So far it has worked 100% and allows full testing of the website, and does not cause the WordPress redirect to kick in. This is certainly a much easier solution than having to explain to clients how to mess about with their hosts file to tests the site.

The other major benefit with having this testing URL, is that you can even run it through pagespeed tests as well so that you can also tweak the site before making it live.

Performance

In their KB, guru recommends using the LiteSpeed cache plugin. I have tried this before on other LiteSpeed hosts and have never achieved very impressive results compared to other caching plugins, but on Guru’s servers, it has so far matched the performance of W3 total cache, with less effort.

Bear in mind that the tests below were not done during peak times, when servers will be more busy.

SITE 1 : Mamma Mia Pizzeria

I performed 10 tests on the site using LiteSpeed, W3TC and LiteSpeed+Cloudflare. Only 6 tests on Pingdom as the variance is much less, and you have to wait much longer between tests as pingdom block you if you do too many too quickly.
I have compared against my old host Siteground, where I am using Cloudflare as standard as all sites are slower without it.

GURU SCORESLiteSpeedW3TCLS+CloudFlare
Average GTMetrix PageSpeed4s4.14s4.41s
Average TTFB4242148ms
Pingdom Load time947ms947ms1.14s
SITEGROUND SCORESLiteSpeedW3TCLS+CloudFlare
Average GTMetrix PageSpeedna4.44sna
Average TTFBna1sna
Pingdom Load timena1.88sna

As you can see the difference between LiteSpeed Cache and W3TC is insignificant, LSCACHE wins by a fraction, although I have only use dthe default basic config and not tweaked the advanced settings.

So considering how much simpler LSCACHE is to use, with minimal configuration, I would likely stick with this plugin, plus it will likely achieve better performance once I start playing with the advanced settings.

Using Cloudflare provided no speed improvement whatsoever and was in fact slower. The big difference is the TTFB which is 3.5 x slower using Cloudflare. So the only advantage of using Cloudflare here would be for the DDOS protection.

When compared to Siteground, the TTFB is about is almost 3 x faster and according to pingdom the page speed is almost 1s faster.

SITE 2: michaels.me.uk

The loading times when compared to Siteground are not very different, but once I enabled cloudflare this took 200ms off. Guru’s TTFB once again is about 3 x faster than Siteground.

GURU SCORESLiteSpeedW3TCLS+CloudFlare
    
Average GTMetrix PageSpeed1.47na1.61s
Average TTFB43msna73ms
Pingdom Load time1.01sna285ms
    
SITEGROUND SCORESw3tcW3TC+CloudFlare
    
Average GTMetrix PageSpeedna1.69s1.67s
Average TTFBna149ms205ms
Pingdom Load timena1.12s413ms
   

Support

Guru support

During my initial migration my tickets were opened in the early hours (past 1AM) and were responded to within 2.5 hours. If this was during peak hours, I would be fine with that, as that is when they are busy. But I would rather expect responses to be quicker at this sort of time when most customers are sleeping and things are quiet.

Subsequent tickets I have opened thus far have been responded to much quicker and I have had no issues.

The few times I tried the live chat I got no response or it took a very long time, but I have since been told that they were having some issues with the live chat on those days and that this is not normal. I have not any such issues since then.

Apart from the time it took for the migrations, overall I have been happy with the service/support so far. All my questions have been answered and my issues dealt with.

On one of the sites I migrated, the Litespeed cache was not working, and threw an error claiming it was disabled when it wasn’t. They resolved this problem for me without any blagging or excuses or attempts to blame me or my other plugins.

So the experience so far has been quite refreshing compared to the type of responses I have grown accustomed to with Siteground, which were usually unhelpful, arrogant and condescending and would usually make every effort to refuse to help and make it “your problem”.

I have my fingers crossed that guru staff are more observant about their customer’s technical skills and respond accordingly rather than treating you as an incompetent muppet by default.

Based on my experience of the service and the support thus far, I determined it is significantly better than Siteground across the board, and so have decided to make the switch permanent and have migrated all my sites to guru.

Security

Guru have WAF (Web Application Firewall) protection on all their cloud servers by default, which monitors and protects against known attacks and intrusions.

On the reseller account I can create a separate cpanel account for every customer/site and thus isolate them from each other.

Guru also does not allow remote access to mysql by default, requiring you to use SSH. This is a PITA if you need to use external tools which do not support SSH, such as manageWP, but is good from a security perspective, as attackers simply cannot even try to hack into your databases, which otherwise affects server performance with all the daily hack attempts that occur.

In addition, they do not allow plain un-encrypted FTP, it is FTPS only. this is good.

SSL

When I was with siteground, the letsencrypt ssl renewal would regularly fail (silently), leaving my site broken until I noticed. I would then have to contact siteground support, get blagged and told the issue was with my site, have to argue with them and try to convince then it was an issue with letsencrypt and try to get them to fix it.

With Guru, the auto renewal happens in advance of the expiry date, giving you time to take action if it fails. When it did fail, it sent me an email to tell me why so that I could fix it. In every case it was due to no longer active aliases or sub-domains.

The first time it happened I did not realise I could fix it myself via cpanel, so contacted guru supported, and they simply fixed it without any blagging.

Summary

Here is my pros and cons list, almost all of these trump Siteground, who do not offer the same.

PROSCONS
Fast Servers + cachingno direct access to database backups
Support are helpful and
not condescending
No staging option
Very reasonable pricingSlow migrations
Performance boost option
Four-hourly Off-site Backups, hourly on pro plans.
£1 for first month, so cheap to try them out
multiple cpanel accounts/cages
Free on-demand backups
Website Preview
More RAM per site than other hosts (1GB)
port free subdomains for services
e.g. cpanel.yourdomain.com
webmail.yourdomain.com
Notifications if ssl renewal fails

I have been told they are working on a staging option, which is great, and if they added a few other useful features in Cpanel, they would be pretty much perfect in my books.

E.G.

  • Password/IP Protected Files/folders manager
  • Enable/Disable wp_debug
  • Collaborator Access (temp logins)
  • Force HTTPS :
    Redirect all requests made to your site over HTTPS
  • Staging

I know these things can be done manually, so these are feature requests of convenience.

UPDATE: MAY 2019

Well, it has been nearly 3 months, and I still have no complaints. There have been no major problems, all my sites are running fast and support so far has still been great.

They have responded to tickets in a timely fashion and have solved any issues I have had without passing the buck or fobbing me off, and I have not smelt a whiff of bullshit 🙂

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