Head-to-head comparison between these modern panel providers!
Both are incredible solutions for anyone wanting to manage their own webserver but without server configuration knowledge. Both are comparable in pricing, features, and performance but do vary enough to cater to different use cases.
I’ll go over their features and drawbacks (if any), as well as my personal opinions on the use cases they fit best.
Buckle yourself in as the control panel stack market is now moving faster than ever!
- I’ve tried both and GP is definitely more powerful and simpler than RC for production use.
- RC is nicer (more features) if you’re looking for a development-friendly environment or only hosting small sites.
History of both companies:
I’ve been a fan of both for a while. Both are quality hosting options with some notable differences from each provider.
RunCloud – company background
A highly respected team from Malaysia that took the webhosting world by storm. It’s known for its open-source community vibe as it entered the market established by ServerPilot and now-revived EasyEngine. RunCloud was cheaper-priced, had more features, friendlier-UI, and even better performance compared to ServerPilot.
I think most people like RunCloud for it’s superiority to ServerPilot (who was superior to EasyEngine). The company has a nice vibe, the design and UI look very clean and sexy while offering all the fancy features that developers want. The pricing was extremely attractive as well. The only thing holding back RC was probably that they were out of Asia instead of USA or Europe but their product continues to impress. The panel and hosting stack is mature and everything runs really smooth. No weird issues or growing pains.
I feel they are officially the standard by which all managed hosting panels are judged today. Everyone else is compared to them, maybe different in features or in the stack or in the pricing. They’ve got a great team and again, I love their community vibes.
GridPane – company background
An American grassroots hosting company that I first noticed on Facebook Groups for hosting experts. It’s inspired by Webinoly, one of the many performant community-driven stacks available, but wrapped in a dead-easy-to-use UI. Its pricing, features, and UI were very much comparable to other existing options on the market if not better.
Upon first hearing about them, I thought they were another “me too” company selling a fancy UI over a managed stack they copied from somebody else. I was fortunate enough to have Patrick (their founder/head-developer) reach out to me and so grateful that he did as I was wrong about their service.
Other companies in the managed hosting panel market
It wouldn’t be fair to speak on these two companies without a little background on others.
- EasyEngine – the first “stack” to go mainstream (at least that I know). Back in those days, we didn’t have any fancy managed hosting panels. It was sys-admins mostly provisioning servers from scratch. As the VPS market took off (making higher-resource servers more attainable), server admins everywhere started using install scripts to save time. EE was one of the popular community-supported install script. Unfortunately, it was still too technical for many end users.
- ServerPilot – basically improving on EasyEngine’s community offering and making it a paid service. Instead of you having to stay updated with EasyEngine, you could simply install ServerPilot and let their panel automatically manage updates and whatever other new features you might need.
- RunCloud, Cloudways & other “managed hosting panels” – then came on the market, adding more features and further establishing this niche industry.
- WPengine, Kinsta & other “managed hosting services” – then came out with their own stack and panel, adding tech support, and packaged it all together as a “premium managed webhosting service”.
The main difference between “managed hosting panels” and “managed hosting services”:
- Managed hosting panels – let you pick whatever backbone provider you want (DO, Linode, Vultr, etc) and they don’t offer any tech services regarding webhosting. Their pricing is for their stack and GUI only. They’re a great option for developers who know what they’re doing and simply want an easier way to manage many servers.
- Managed hosting services – offer tech support but also control the backbone layer. Their pricing includes the server fees and is therefore higher. Their pricing is also more expensive as they don’t let you have your own VPS, you’re on a shared server. Your panels are also less cluttered with less features, making them easier to use (although limited for developers/experts). Their plans are better for non-techies upgrading from shared hosting and not want to see anything about server management.
RunCloud vs GridPane – Comparison
- RunCloud – developers/sys-admins managing high-performance websites for themselves or clients. But also needing a helpful development environment to build new sites.
- GridPane – more for end users and regular people trying to manage their production sites.
- RunCloud – offers both NGINX-only (faster) and Apache-with-NGINX (allows htaccess). I like that they offer both although I’m not happy with their hybrid Apache/NGINX stack performance so I’ll never use it.
- GridPane – only NGINX. Which is fine for most sites, IMO.
- RunCloud – is fast. But can be faster once you setup RunCloud Hub caching.
- GridPane – is slightly faster! Right away with just blank default installs….comparing RC-NGINX to GP-NGINX, I could see that GridPane was clearly faster. I was shocked about RunCloud’s performance to be honest; I was expecting more from their NGINX-only stack. Sure, I could have done more testing and tried more complicated configurations but that was enough for me. Do note that GridPane’s stack has caching activated right off the bat whereas RunCloud doesn’t. GridPane’s stack has way more load capacity as well.
- RunCloud – has everything you need.
- GridPane – has everything PLUS a whitelabeling option coming out soon. This is a huge benefit if you plan to give clients control panel access.
User Interface (UI):
- RunCloud – has more areas to click on, full of features/settings. Feels mature. A dream for developers working on projects.
- GridPane – cleaner and much simpler. Nice features and quickly jumps you straight into your sites. I think non-server guys will prefer GP as they’re only working with live production sites.
- RunCloud – feels easier to use if you’re a server guy and love fiddling with settings regularly.
- GridPane – feels easier to use if you want to just get to work straight on your WordPress site and never mess with server settings.
- RunCloud – has the edge since it feels more mature. Many options neatly laid out. Much more polish.
- GridPane – also works just fine. But I’ve had a few scenarios where things didn’t work and I had to wait 4-12 hours for response from support. There’s a few comments on FB suggesting GridPane isn’t yet mature and ready for production that I think are very fair. I’m sure they’ve improved a lot since these comments were made.
- Both RunCloud and GridPane were very easy to set up. RunCloud, I had a slight snag trying to get into SSH to connect the server. If you’re a linux guy or very savvy with the command line, RunCloud will be no problem for you.
- GridPane, I had no issues getting the server up but then the site wouldn’t work until I contacted support. It was a minor issue and they assured it would never happen again. For non-techies GridPane will definitely be easier to get started.
- Keep in mind that you only have to set up a server once and that’s it!
- RunCloud – professional, feels more mature. They don’t officially offer support but their stack is reliable enough that you wouldn’t need it.
- GridPane – has great support, friendly and helpful. They are more personable and more likely to go out of scope to help you.
- RunCloud – has a free plan that isn’t much use because it doesn’t include SSL. Their paid plans start at $6.67/month (1 server) and $12.50/month (unlimited servers).
- GridPane – has an awesome fully-functioning free plan that allows 1 server and 10 sites. Their paid plans start at $30/month (unlimited servers) which is still very reasonable to me.
The verdict – RunCloud is mature (developer-friendly), GridPane is very slightly faster (user-friendly)
Really tough call. Depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a really mature environment that works and very developer-friendly, RunCloud is the pick. If you want something more simple and clean, and more “supportive” I think GridPane is better. GridPane was a little faster for me as well.
My best advice is to try their free plans and pick the one with the UI you like more. Workflow is the difference for me between these two rather than performance. If all you got is a few simple sites and nothing else, GridPane seems like the better pick.
If anybody asks me today which one is better, I’m gonna recommend GridPane for less-savvy WordPress users and RunCloud for developers with many open projects.
For those wondering which server provider to pick, I personally prefer Linode first and Digital Ocean or Vultr second. You’re welcome to pick from other options if you like their performance/UI/location/support better.
What if I need it for 18 sites (and growing)? I have no experience in servers command line (used shared hosts and now Managed Host that costs a fortune), tho I learn fast 😉
18sites + an upcoming app with a big user base
Hi Regev, you said: “… I have no experience in servers command line…”. In this case I think GridPane is better for you.
If you have a $105 budget, you can afford $30 in the paid version of GridPane so, you have a $75 to spend in servers.
For example, you can start with a $40 dolars/month DO server with 8GB RAM, 4vCPUs,160GB of SSD Disck and 5TB of transfer.
Maybe you can also work with a second server, a Contabo VPS L SSD server to use as Backup server for 15 euros/month.
You would have 2 servers managed by GridPane, one of them will be the main server and the other one will be the backup server and for sure, you will have the support of the guys of GridPane when the things came difficult for you.
And the budget is less than the current budget.
Have in mind that with RunCloud you can setup the same, but It would be more time consuming for you managing the servers.
I have experience with RunCloud but, I work as a sysadmin. Currently I have WordPress, Mautic and NextCloud apps.
This is the reason why I am using RunCloud instead of GridPane, but in your case, if you only manage WordPress sites, I would preferd GridPane.
Just an idea. Give it a try.
I hope my comment helps you.
How do you setup a backup server?
What do you mean by a backup server? Like for HA purposes or just for data-redundancy/test-environment? Or you mean for storing backups?
For some reason there’s no reply under your comment Johnny. But I was referring to what Paul was saying.
“ Maybe you can also work with a second server, a Contabo VPS L SSD server to use as Backup server for 15 euros/month.”
Not sure if he’s referring to it for storage or redundancy, but I’m assuming redundancy in case one server crashes. I guess that would require more sys admin knowledge?
Ahhh, yeah. I replied to you from backend so I didn’t see your question in the proper context. I believe he was talking about data redundancy but not quite HA. You can set your servers up to do constant synchronization (from the master to the slave). And up to you to do decide what to synchronize and how often and when to do it. The tactics would certainly differ depending on the type of site (static vs dynamic/ecommerce).
Oh. So this is more for backup, not necessarily having one server take over if the other one goes down? Just wondering how to set up a sync like that if it’s for redundancy. Sounds complex.
I wouldn’t be able to explain how to do it. And you still have to decide between many options…mainly, whether there’s automatic failover or not.
What kind of sites? Honestly…if you’re hosting serious sites and don’t have money to pay for a real server with custom configs, I think that’s not such a good deal. Either way, GP and RC are cheap enough for you to try and see if they work for you.
What’s not a good deal? GP and/or RC?
Yeah serious sites, they constitute my entire income 🙂 I currently pay $105 a month for a Managed WP Hosting, but their support is so nasty, I’m back in the market for new hosting. Did some Googles and found your (incredible!) blog. Opened my eyes. I found out I’m paying $105 for the same resources Linode gives you for $5.
Ehh…don’t be fooled by unmanaged VPS. Btw, have you checked out our hosting service? It’s ultra-fast and much more reasonably-priced. 🙂
I checked it bro, but with 18 sites (and more and more coming along the way)… not so reasonably priced compared to a managed panel is it 😉
Our service is not as cheap as managed panel, no. But we’re still much better-priced and better-performance than the typical managed panel hosting. I think if what you care most about is pricing, then GridPane or Runcloud is probably the best deal for you.
Another new one I found the other day is ploi.io – Very new but adding features very fast and have their company roadmap open to public. They also have Cloudflare DNS built in and the option to easily setup load balancers which I haven’t seen from anyone else.
Yeah, these things are popping up everywhere. Many server guys have figured out they can just copy a public script, repackage it under a different UI and sell it as the next best invention in webhosting. Will see how they stack up in time.
Thats really true. I have seen many apps like this in the last year… Will see… 😉
“GridPane’s stack has way more load capacity as well.”
Could you elaborate a little more on what exactly you mean by load capacity? Also, did you run a benchmark to determine this? If so I’de be interested in seeing it. I’m currently on the fence between these two.
I’ve personally benchmarked both (most recent test was less than a month ago). GridPane is a little faster and can handle wayyyyyy more load than RunCloud. RC strength is in the UI…it’s great if you have many sites and not much traffic. GridPane is in its performance, great if you have lots of traffic and want top speed.
Good deal. Thanks for confirming that for me, Johnny. I think that helped solidify my decision.
Johnny, one last question. I noticed when I launch a new GridPane site Redis Cache is turned on by default and FastCGI is turned off and, as you stated in your post, RunCloud has no caching enabled by default. When you were doing the load tests was FastCGI and/or Redis cache enabled for both services or were these just out-of-the-box tests?
RunCloud, I tried with and without REDIS. GridPane, I tried both REDIS and FASTCGI. GridPane doesn’t allow you to use both at same time. GP claims FastCGI is faster but I found REDIS to be very very tiny imperceivable slightly faster.
Gotcha, but you didn’t test RunCloud with FastCGI manually enabled, right? The reason I ask is I’m running https://nextdaycontacts.com on GridPane, with FastCGI enabled, and https://southernale.com on RunCloud with FastCGI manually enabled. (they’re a clone of each other) and both GTMetrix and Pingdome are giving me more or less the same scores for both sites. I realize those aren’t tools to test server load so my question is do you think it would help RunCloud’s server load tests you ran if FastCGI were manually enabled?
No, I did not test RC with fcgi enabled. Of course it would help RC’s scores if I enable fastcgi but it was such a pain in the butt that I deciding not to even give them that option. Their setup did easily allow for it off the bat.
That makes sense. Thanks for your feedback, Johnny!
My research pointed me to this evaluation of Runcloud’s server setup:
“places root database password
in /etc/mysql/my.cnf, ACLs are used to restrict
access but can be circumvented by a
symlink + server-side includes. Really
stupid location. MySQL database
connection limit was 100,000 – good way
to induce a DoS. Overcommits memory
without heuristics, equally bad with 250
MB+ PHP-FPM pools per site by default.”
Haven’t checked the author who was a dev potentially biased i favor of his own script (see below). However, remember Runcloud have had a history of DOS attacks so that part of the claim seems valid…. for me at least this is a turnoff (alongside the epic dickturd support episode… but hey… we’re all human so I could move past that)
Could you also test out ServerAvatar? We had them on our Martech Wise Group recently as a lifetime deal 🙂 Appreciate your thoughts on the performance and UI, and how they could improve
I would consider it if I heard more buzz about them. It seems a new one shows up everyday, now. The pricing is very affordable but I do have curiosities about their stack and what not.
Mohammed Mujtaba khan
Nice comparison. Have you checked Vepp panel? It looks promising but not sure about performance. Looking for your thoughts.
I haven’t tried it. Their website font is too annoyingly big (hahaha) and they seem like another “me too” control panel business. Would be helpful if they had some demos on their site. It’s crazy to see control panel services not offering a demo of their UI.
So with GridPane you still have to pay for servers? It’s seems a bit pricey at $30/mo just for their starter plan. I like the simplicity and the ability to create backups to a third party service like S3. It’s hard to know what each service provides natively or charges extra for. Sometimes these a la Carte add ons aren’t known until you sign up. Would Cloudways be worth it for their $10-$22/mo plan? They seem to get too expensive after that.
Cloudways is worth it up to the $20-24/month range. Beyond that, yes they are too pricey. I think GridPane’s pricing and service is totally fair….especially when you consider that you can manage as many servers as you want without any price increase. Cloudways pricing is per server. My best advice is to try for yourself and see if it fits your needs. I think GridPane is a great value for what you get. Others might be cheaper but not higher in value.
Is see that Cloudways lets you choose your servers. Do you know if you are getting the same dedicated use of those resources like you would if using Gridpane or Runcloud when purchasing this separately. I wonder if they are just purchasing those plans and then just reselling them and over-allocating the resources. I emailed them, but no sure they will get back. It’s hard to know without seeing comparison benchmarks. I was looking at Vultar as they seem to be the best overall performer from what I saw on VPSbenchmarks site. If I get the $23/mo plan and Vultar’s standalone service for 2GB/1 core/55GB is $10, then I can see paying the $13/mo for Cloudway’s GUI. Just not sure if you’ve looked in to this. I guess there is give and take when you are using PaaS vs SaaS.
CW, GP, RC…all of them simply provision their stack over the server. I don’t believe they resell those servers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they get a commission when customers sign up. I think you’ll have to try all VPS providers for yourself and pick what you like. I like VULTR as well (as one of my top 3) but moved off all my servers with them recently since they kept having network issues in some datacenters. Time and experience will help you decide what works best for you. Raw benchmarks aren’t the only thing. CW is a great deal when buying the cheaper plan…for only a couple bucks, you get not only their interface but also their support. Anything that I’ve reviewed on my site, I’ve looked through and personally used to some degree.
I migrated my heaviest trafficked and largest site over to CW on Vultr 1GB/1core/25gb. The stack took almost 7GG of storage and 256MB RAM which is pretty much a quarter of the resources. After I migrated I did a Pingdom test. I went from a C 84 to a B 72. It seemed a little faster but nothing significant. Then I went to edit a page using visual builder for Divi theme. It locked up and crashed the server. So far I’m not impressed with VPS. Sure I could go up to the $23/mo plan, but if I do that, theres no room to grow. With my 10 sites I’d be maxed out. Plus having to setup SaaS and servers is time consuming, not to mention they only give you a few days to try. Hardly enough to do real testing. Pretty disappointed so far. I feel like I wasted all day.
I’m sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, it takes experience to know which stacks fit your applications best. If you can share some of your heaviest sites, I’d be happy to make recommendations for you.
Here’s the Cloudways site https://wordpress-364123-1133490.cloudwaysapps.com/
And here’s the live site http://www.f3enc.com.
I got my scores backwards as the CW site is 82 and the live site is 74.
If you want to login to CW then I need to set you up to login, because using my page builder is where I had issues as it seems to require more memory and CPU.
Ouch, it’s quite heavy considering how simple this is. Some caching would help for sure.
I do have caching W3 Super Caching Plugin installed. Plus everything on the VPS but not REDIS. By your response it seems there’s not much hope. It does have almost 5,000 post and 1,500 users. It probably gets 20 posts added a week (although they are not long) and rarely any images. So you would suggest leaving this on a stand alone shared host and maybe try my others on VPS? I also only have 128 MB set for my PHP, but I think the builder recommends 256MB.
It’s not that there isn’t any hope, it’s that you have a lot of work to do if you want this to be lean. I would suggest putting it on a quality webhost regardless if shared or VPS.
Try Gridpane for the recommendation of your article.
Very good managed panel.
But in your article you comment that it has full functionality for the free plan, when in fact you cannot put commercial sites in it, only for personal use and testing.
This can cause confusion to people as it happened to me.
Ahhhhh….thanks for letting me know! I wasn’t aware if and when they changed that.
In a support ticket that I put in today, Patrick Gallagher let me know.
Does anyone know what these sites (RunCloud, GridPane, Cloudways etc.) are running on the backend to do the server setups? Is it a modified version of EasyEngine GUI wrapper or are they doing something else like Terraform + Ansible?
I’m asking because I would like to set up a site for a different Niche not related to WordPress.
Yes, some of them are inspired by those stackscripts and simply put an updated GUI over it. Others are written from scratch. Either way, it’s the same typical server stacks but with different panel UI and different UX integration through their website login. I’m pretty sure they can all host non-Wordpress sites.
Thanks for the reply. They must all be running some common scripts because they all seem to do just be doing LEMP only and mostly focusing on WordPress. I don’t think you can do non-LEMP. At least not with CloudWays which does not give you full access to manually install additional software. For something like RunCloud where you have root access (?) then yes you can install your own software manually.
What I want to do is not LEMP and not Ubuntu. I would also like to support CentOS in addition to Debian.
Well…to manually install software, you can upload files via SFTP and import database into phpMyAdmin. But if you mean server packages, then no. For that you probably have to ask support. But you could also SSH into your own server and do that manually as well.
From your last line, it seems you belong on CentOS and LiteSpeed.
Hi Johnny, thank for the article!
How would you compare Gridpane to OpenLiteSpeed with Cyberpanel? I’m currently using Cyberpanel and I am wondering if I will benefit from switching to Gridpane.
The only way to know is to see for yourself. GridPane is cool, great if you plan to manage multiple servers. But if it’s just one server, I’d go with CyberPanel. But that’s just me. You should find out for yourself. Don’t make me pick out your clothes (so to speak).
Hey Johnny. Just a quick update that the GP free forever plan only allows Lightsail. DO, Vultr and Linode are all disabled.
Ahhhhh, booooooo! No fun! (I don’t blame them, though.)
Can you suggest a web hosting automation management platform (i.e., WHMCS, Clientexec?) to use on the GridPane control panel?
I don’t know of any that can do that right now. WHMCS was supposedly on GridPane’s roadmap for a while now but I don’t know how soon it’ll get done.
Thanks for your timely response.