With a large number of hosting options available for Drupal users, it can be difficult to choose which hosting company will benefit you most. There are quite a few factors to consider, such as time, budget, your website's specific needs, and more.
However, deciding on the proper hosting shouldn't have to be a chore, and with this quick guide we hope, in fact, can be quite a pleasant experience. Above all this guide is designed to help you choose a provider that best meets your needs. Here is a list of different types of hosting options that are available to you.
There Are Many Kinds of Hosting Services
In this piece we are going to cover
- Shared Hosting
- Cloud Hosting
- Drupal Specific Hosting
- The Hybrid Solution (the best of all three worlds,)
At this point we don't recommend dedicated hosting unless you have a specific use case that requires it.
1. Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is one option if you are on a very tight budget. Often, you will find competitive monthly rates for as low as 2.85 a month! This can be a viable option if your just starting up. However, as your site grows, you may want to look into cloud hosting because with shared hosting, you are sharing processing power and bandwidth with the other users on that same server.
With a large number of websites on a single server, your website may begin to slow down, or even become unresponsive. Overall, shared hosting becomes an increasingly inconvenient option as your website begins to draw increasing amounts of traffic.
It is for this reason that very small Drupal sites are the only thing that shared hosting providers are good for - even a start up business. Some of these options offer Drupal specific features, and will not require you to dig much further into your wallet. But as the age-old saying goes: "You get what you pay for." Some examples of shared Drupal hosting include:
Site 5 - This is a quality shared hosting service that provides strong uptime and reliable customer service. They also provide managed VPS services. This provider is geared for developers and designers.
BlueHost - Some say this is easily the best shared hosting solution out there. They provide fantastic service, especially for the low price.
A2 Hosting - Claims to give your site an extra boost, and are optimized with Memecache and OPcache.
GreenGeeks - GreenGeeks is a hosting company with quite a clever name that has a symbolic meaning behind it - they claim to run their operation entirely off clean energy, and their hosting is also quite affordable.
2. Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting is a very popular option when you wish to manage the complete software stack that your website runs on.
These options offer you the greatest control, and scalability isn't an issue either. However, maintenance and server configuration are an extremely time-consuming process, and this could potentially result in significant downtime in the case of any unforeseen issues. Obviously downtime can be drastically reduced if you have a knowledgeable development and maintenance staff.
Despite all this, cloud hosting can be an effective balance between quality and price if you cannot afford a Drupal specific solution. Some examples of cloud hosting providers include:
Amazon Web Services - Amazon Web Services offers an environment that provides fantastic scalability for your Drupal platform. The only drawback I have found to AWS is the fact that the interface might take some getting used to. But if you have the time to invest for that, AWS is an excellent option for large websites that need near-infinite scalability.
Linode - A great option for the money you pay. Setup is quite simple, and Linode has many affordable options that will suit your specific needs. Linode is an attractive option for websites of any size.
Digitalocean - Another great low priced host with a large community and lots of tutorials on how to configure your VPS. Prices and features are comprable with Linode.
Rackspace - Rackspace offers dedicated servers for smaller websites and scalable cloud servers for larger websites - all at reasonable prices. Rackspace also provides different levels of support - each level increases in price with higher levels of support.
Blackmesh - Visit any Drupal discussion forum, and you will likely hear about how great Blackmesh's web services are. Unlike AWS, Linode, Digitalocean and Rackspace, Blackmesh will take care of maintenance and updates, allowing you to concentrate on running your website. However, you will have to pay extra for this level of support. BM also offers dedicated hosting.
Firehost - Provides similar services to Blackmesh, including managed hosting. But with an emphasis on security and protecting customer data, if have a business where this matters, this might be worth investigating.
3. Drupal Specific Hosting
These services can provide a good value, since these hosting options are geared specifically for Drupal websites and Drupal development workfows, it's kind of like having your own Drupal DevOps engineer.
With these services you never have worry about maintaining the software stack your Drupal site runs on, some even offer automated maintenance services for your sites. All offer high to infinite scalability, and their own set of tools that will make setting up your sites a breeze - all of which are a huge plus if you're constantly working with tight deadlines or cannot afford a knowledgable maintenance staff.
The down side with all this convenience is it's going to cost a bit more. You will likely end up shelling out much more for Drupal specific hosting than for other options. However, bear in mind that the convenience is well worth the cost, as these services will save you money in the long run by eliminating the need for engineering time spent on infrastructure and server maintenance, allowing you to concentrate on what matters most, growing your business.
If you are working under any kind of time constraints, Drupal specific hosting is quite an attractive option. Drupal specific hosting options are also a great option for businesses - the low maintenance and high uptime are ideal for those that can afford to pay the price. Some examples of Drupal specific hosting include:
Pantheon - If you're looking for a reliable, yet fairly inexpensive Drupal specific solution, look no further. With Pantheon, you get the convenience of managed hosting, an extremely versatile version control system, and a complete package of website management tools. I've worked with these guys, they're my friends, i recommend them. They also offer Wordpress hosting, so if you are also using WP in your business, this is a clear differentiator.
Acquia Cloud - This hosting service is good for medium to large websites. They provide a wide range of Drupal specific tools that make managing your Drupal website a snap. However, you pay a premium for the convenience of these tools, and Acquia Cloud is easily the most expensive of the Drupal specific options presented here. You better have a specific use case that requires Acquia, otherwise you may be wasting your money.
Omega8.cc - This hosting service uses BOA Aegir, a platform designed to manage large networks of Drupal websites from a single admin interface. To use this service, you can either install it on your own web server, or have Omega8.cc's team of experts install it on their hosting environment for you. Perhaps the best feature of this platform is its ability to allow clients to easily log into their secure shell, and add themes and modules to multiple Drupal sites simultaneously, but maintain a high degree of Drupal site platform integrity. The architecture is designed to support Drupal multisite configurations, so if you are looking to run more then a few Drupal sites this could be a good option.
Platform.sh - This is another hosting solution that is powered by the Git version control system, which allows you to roll out updates to your site quickly and efficiently. Platform.sh is unique to the other Drupal specific solutions presented here because it offers PHP support, managed hosting, and cloud storage packaged within their hosting services. Their CLI makes development a simple matter, so you will be able to get up and running quickly if you're just starting out. I like the sound of this, I haven't had a chance to actually use it.
Drupion - Drupion has a wide range of hosting options available from small basic servers geared for small websites all the way up to very large enterprise-quality servers. With Drupion, you will receive full site management with a guaranteed 99.9% uptime, unlimited websites, and a powerful control panel even with their cheapest hosting options.
Aberdeen Cloud - This provider uses the same technology as Amazon Web Services to minimize downtime by creating redundant server nodes that can easily be replaced in the unlikely event that a node should fail. Additional server nodes can also be added on the fly in seconds, allowing for near-infinite scalability. This solution sounds perfect for large websites and businesses alike.
Hudhost - Might an attractive option for readers in the UK. They claim to increase your website's productivity with Hudhost's cloud based Drupal specific hosting services, which offers you a one click high performance setup, managed hosting, high-performance cloud storage solutions on ultra-fast solid state drives, workflow enhancement tools, and high security at a reasonable price point.
4. The Hybrid Approach
We've developed a hybrid approach that allows our clients to use cheap cloud hosting (starting at 10.00 dollars a month), and quickly deploy in minutes a bullet proof, scalable, Drupal specific optimized hosting stack. We'll go into the specifics of our approach in part 2, or if you can't wait, get in touch with us to learn more.
If you managed to get this far, thanks for taking the time to read through this long winded post. Hit me up below if you have any questions, comments, concerns, rants or raves.