Best Magento hosting: how to choose
Very often our customers ask us: what is the best Magento hosting?
Unfortunately, there is no exact answer for this question.
It all depends on many factors, such as your Magento version, the number of products, your average monthly traffic, performance you want to achieve, and more. Magento is a very scalable solution and can be used either for a small store with a relatively small amount of products, or for a large store with thousands of products
Magento hosting is, in fact, a part of the gear that’s powering up your store, and in some cases your revenue and reputation depends on hosting. So, don’t make too fast decisions, take your time and count your slowness as an investment into your store.
Let’s start with the basics!
First, we will explain which server and hosting types are available for you.
Hosting can be of two types depending on who’s maintaining the server: a managed or a self-service one.
In case of a managed hosting, server configuration, updates and fixing issues are the prerogative of the hosting technical specialists.
If you go for a self-service hosting, you have to run the server yourself or ask a third party server administration company or specialist to do it.
When it comes to Magento, you may have some issues on a managed hosting if you’d like to use Memcache, Redis or Solr, but the hosting company doesn’t provide them out of the box. Unusual server settings make its administration more complicated, and the company may deny you in installing this software or ask you for a great deal of money for that.
If you go for a self-service hosting, nobody could limit you in adding functionality you need, but you’ll have to manage all the possible issues yourself. Full control over your server goes as a bonus for these inconveniences.
With a shared server, you rent a certain part of the server resources, thus you can’t change your server settings at random. On a shared server your plan normally implies a certain amount of disk space, a fixed number of websites, databases and email accounts.
A certain and the only one advantage of the shared hosting is its price: in most cases, it’s the cheapest variant.
Why the only one? The server performance depends on the load the neighbor sites are experiencing. For example, if the server is attacked, all the websites located on this server will suffer. Penalties for spam or malicious software distribution of a single site will block the whole server as well.
VPS/VDS servers use various visualization variants, for example, OpenVZ/Virtuozzo, KVM, Xen, VMware. In this case, you are getting the server with the full admin access. The advantages of this server type are its relatively low price, possibility to install almost any software (which can be limited only by technical peculiarities of the visualization technology), and the setup speed. The latter is a very important option, if your site experiences significant traffic peaks. The negative side of VPS/VDS servers for Magento is that the virtual machines performance can depend on the neighbor sites load.
A dedicated server is the most expensive hosting type if to compare with shared and VPS/VDS ones, but in this case you’re the only user of the server, which basically guarantee the maximal performance. If the Magento site speed and ability to hold high loading is crucial, this is the variant you would want to go for. What is more, you could choose the server with the necessary type and number of disks, even up to certain disk models, RAID controller model and RAM type as well. As in case of a VPS/VDS server, you have full control over your server and can install any software you like.
Choosing hosting for your Magento store
If you don’t know how to choose the server configuration for your site, start with 4 CPU cores and 8GB RAM, and a VPS server. This will let you change the resources without additional server setup. Give priority to servers with SSD disks, as they will increase the speed of database operations. These resources will be available for a middle-sized Magento shop.
If VPS isn’t suitable for you for some reason, have a look at a dedicated server, but keep in mind that you’ll need a server with performance reserves. Otherwise your Magento store will go slow with traffic growth.
We strongly recommend having a staging version of your Magento shop, and you’ll also need to choose hosting for this version. The staging version might be needed for checking new extensions or customizations, for restoring and checking your backups. For a staging Magento site, we recommend going for VPS/VDS servers. Remember that you should have the same server settings, including PHP and MySQL, as you have on your production site. Conversely, the code can be working in the wrong way on the staging site, while no mistakes will be found on the production site, and vice versa.
If your production server is also VPS/VDS, ask your hosting company to create the new server on the basis of the existing one. It will be cheaper than setting up a new staging server from scratch. As a last resort, you can use a shared server for your Magento staging site, but always remember about corresponding versions and settings of PHP and MySQL for both the production and the staging websites.
If you plan to conduct marketing offers and promotions which can significantly raise the amount of traffic to your site, you won’t be able to handle them without virtual servers of the cloud providers, such as Amazon, Rackspace, and such. Their extra capacities can be promptly acquired by increasing the amount of servers and combining them into a pool.
Common mistakes of choosing hosting for Magento
- Don’t use Windows hosting for Magento. Magento system requirements don’t have support for Windows, and we strongly recommend not to push your luck here.
- Set the sufficient memory size (memory_limit) and scripts execution time (max_execution_time) in PHP settings. For a middle-sized Magento shop memory_limit=512M and max_execution_time=600 (ten minutes) will be enough. These figures are necessary for normal Magento backend functioning.
- Always check your logs, you can’t setup the server only once and forget about it. If the shop is evolving, for example, when the number of items, clients and visits grows, you’ll have to review your server setup from time to time. And if you see errors in logs, it can be the first signal to check the settings relevance.
- Backup your Magento store! Regularly check backup copies on the staging websites. This will save you a lot of time, money and nerves. To know more about backing up your Magento store, read this article.
- ‘Free Magento hosting’ or ‘cheap Magento hosting’ are very popular keywords searched on Google. Remember that you just can’t have a reliable hosting for free or for an insanely low price. Too low costs mean that the hosting company has low reliability, poor servers and unqualified specialists. Don’t think that you can save a lot of money here; you’ll lose even more money, reputation and clients if any issues occur (and they will!)
Less technical, but still important things to consider
Ask if your potential host’s network has blackholed IPs.
In other worlds, make sure your hosting company does not allow spammers, porn sites or sites violating any laws, and because of this the whole IP nets can be blocked, which means you can theoretically be blacklisted too.
Scale does not mean quality
Don’t buy hosting just because it’s a large or well-known provider. Go through all the points mentioned in the article and base your decision on that. Some massive hosting providers can boast of dreadful support or stability.
Make sure you read reviews from real users of the hosting company you’re investigating. There can be valuable information about how the hosting company responds to issues and requests.
Make sure that your future hosting company has a nice support department with some technical specialists available. The department should be available via phone and email. What’s more, check what they offer in terms of response time. Also, some hosting companies try to hide standard support features behind fees, which is, of course, not pleasant at all.
In other words, you need to be sure it’ll be easy to get answers for your questions or to act quickly in case of an emergency.
Price matters, but not always
The best way is to see the proportion between features and the price.
If you still have questions about choosing the best hosting for your Magento store, welcome to put them in comments.