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How I run a 10k hits a day WordPress website for $5 a month

For years I ran itsupportguides.com on a “business plan” cPanel host – it cost $25 dollars a month and while it ran OK most the the time, it was a shared service – which suffered performance issues or even outages when someone else on the server did something out of the ordinary.

That was before I found DigitalOcean – a cheap Virtual Private Server (VPS) host with prices from $5 a month – backed by solid infrastructure, awesome documentation and various one-click installs to get your website going as quick as possible.

At the time itsupportguides.com received around 10k visits a day – which left me thinking – could I run this one the cheapest $5 a month VPS?

The answer – YES! And even better – with DigitalOcean I can easily upgrade the plan if I ever need more, even temporarily – giving a quick easy scalability.


At the moment the $5 a month plan gets you a VPS with:

  • 512 MB RAM
  • 1  core processor
  • 20 GB  SDD  HDD
  • 1  TB  of traffic

At first glance this is actually a significant step down from my cPanel hosting – but the key is your website is the only thing using these resources AND you can optimise the server for YOUR website.

Software and configuration

The biggest concern that stopped me from moving to a VPS was security and maintenance – I didn’t want to get bogged down by worrying about the server software or configuration and I definitely didn’t want to introduce any security issues.

Fortunately there was an answer for this as well – ServerPilot – who take away all the hard work of configuring the server and installing WordPress – leaving you with a highly optimised web host. If you don’t believe me, check out the amazing features they install.

The best part – once setup it’s completely hands off – they deal with the servers security updates.

The stack

  • A choice of PHP versions – 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 7.0 or 7.1
  • Nginx in front of Apache
  • PHP-FPM – PHP’s official FastCGI process manager
  • MySQL
  • HTTP/2
  • Google PageSpeed Module

Server performance

itsupportguides.com gets about 10k visits a day with a peek of 800 visits an hour. 

Using the performance tools provided by DigitalOcean I can see the server is sitting quite comfortably handing the traffic – with only once in a month that memory usage was above my 70% alert threshold.

Page speed

My cPanel hosting would give somewhere between a 3 – 5 second page speed. Which isn’t bad, but I knew I could do better.

On the DigitalOcean $5 a month plan I a much better page speed – normally below 1.5 seconds.

A massive improvement at a fraction of the cost.

How do I do this?

I’ve written a detail set of instructions at The idiots guide to installing WordPress on DigitalOceans $5 a month plan.