Best Drupal Hosting
Drupal is a powerful CMS which allows anyone to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website. So far, 1.5% of the entire web are powered by Drupal. An optimized Drupal hosting should exceed minimal hosting requirement of Drupal, and offer rich features to enable all the potentials of Drupal.
Best Drupal Hosting below are named based on the real customer reviews, who outperform its competitors on features, uptime, speed, and customer support.
How to Find Best Drupal Hosting
As one of the most powerful content management system, Drupal is widely used to build website like community web portals, corporate web sites, blogs, and E-commerce applications, etc. But to find a good web hosting plan for Drupal is not an easy task for Drupalers, especially after the release of Drupal 7, which has higher needs on hosting environment. In this article, we will discussion about how to find a good web hosting plan for Drupal.
First, Choose a Good Name for Your Drupal Site
Domain name is the brand of your Drupal site. Before rushing out for a web hosting solution, it’s worthwhile to spend some time thinking about a good name for your site. You could refer to Guide to Find a Good Domain Name to know how.
Drupal Hosting Needs
OS and Web Server
Although Drupal could be deployed successfully in Windows with IIS web server, considering the difference in performance and cost, normally we will suggest using Linux hosting with Apache installed.
There are 4 hosting types are available for you to choose from, which are Shared hosting, VPS, Cloud Hosting, and Dedicated Server. But for a Drupaler, this is really about the choice between Shared hosting and non-shared hosting. For shared hosting, it's cheap but you get less control over the server. Normally, you don’t have permission to install new packages or extensions in it. So, before you make an order, you should make sure the modules and server configurations required by Drupal are in place, which include:
- Apache 'mod_rewrite' extension is enabled. This is required to allow for clean urls in Drupal.
- For Drupal 6, PHP version should be 4.4.0 or higher, and the recommended version is PHP 5.2. Most of web host will have PHP 5.2 installed in their servers, so this won’t be an issue for Drupal 6, but it would be good if you can confirm this from them in case they deploy something very old.
- Drupal 7 need to run with PHP 5.2.5 or higher but the recommended PHP version is 5.3. Some contributed modules will run with PHP 5.3 only. This PHP version requirement actually causes big problem for Drupal 7, as most of web hosts don’t support PHP 5.3 in their shared hosting product till now.
- PHP memory _limit should be higher than 16MB for Drupal 6, and 32 MB for Drupal 7. If you enable modules like view, cck, imagecache, etc, then the value for memory_limit should be double or even higher. Confirm with your web host to make sure you could increase php memory_limit to be 64MB or above.
- Some very cheap shared hosting might limited your database size to be 20MB. This number definitely is not large enough(we will explain this in Database section), you should check the features description of your package carefully, and make sure it could be 50MB or above.
- One very interesting thing in web hosting industry is that a shared web hosting with a price less than $10/month will allow you to use unlimited disk space. And for an expensive VPS hosting or Cloud hosting, you might be just given 10GB or 20GB disk space. The magic is about one hidden term of shared hosting - they set a limitation on how many percentage of memory or CPU resource you could use per minute. By this way, they could restrict the consumption of disk space or the other so called unlimited resource. Normally, this term could be found in their Q&A page but you won’t see it from their product features description. Drupal has higher demand on CPU and memory, so Shared hosting is really not good for a high traffic Drupal site or a complex one with many modules enabled. In HostUcan, we will only recommend shared hosting in the cases like "you need a site for staging or testing", "you are a Drupal developer and need an environment to learn and practice it", "A drupal site with traffic lower than 200 page view per day", or "It's a blog without too many image, video, or audio".
In a Non-Shared hosting environment, you get the control on what package to be installed in the server and the relevant configuration as it is somehow dedicated for your usage. If your vendor hasn’t set it up properly, you could do it by yourself. In terms of memory, it would be good to be over 256MB.
The recommended database for Drupal is MySQL. And MySQL 5.0+, a version supported by both Drupal 6 and Drupal 7, is installed in the servers from most of web hosts. So in general, the version of MySQL is not an issue when hosting Drupal. But we still have 2 critical factors should check carefully on database side. The first one is about the size of MySQL database. Some cheap shared hosting package might only allow 20MB for each MySQL instance. Considering 50% of db space are used by Drupal for Indexing and Cache purpose, 20MB really means only 10MB for the rest of tables. We have done a quick testing, the result shows up that a site with 300 articles might easily exceed 20MB. So, try to get a web hosting plan with the size of MySQL to be over 50MB, this won't be hard as most of web hosts provide this right now. Another one is the performance of your MySQL server. This is extremely critical for your Drupal site but this data won't be revealed by the web hosts. Some web hosts deploy MySQL in a centralized server which is not powerful enough to support high database interaction applications, such as Drupal. The result turns out to be your Drupal site run very slowly. This issue won’t be known until you setup your Drupal in their server. The way to avoid it is to read the Drupal hosting review from the other Drupalers or use web hosting search tool to list out the ideal Drupal hosting solution for your based on HostUCan Application relevant score, which is calculated by review&testing result from both our professional editors and the webmasters in our community(like you). You also could contribute to this tool by submitting a review for your web host, the data will be used to optimize the search result and then help the others.
Drupal Core files alone won’t take up too many disk spaces - it’s only around 12MB. The need on disk space very much depends on what other information will be uploaded to your Drupal site, such as image, file, audio, and video etc.
An easy to use Control Panel will save you a lot of time on managing your Drupal site from installation, configuration, maintenance to traffic analysis. Normally we recommend to go with a web host who offers cPanel or Plesk, with which you could get a serials of tool to easily maintain your database, and modify Cron file, etc.
Domain Allowed in One Account
One of the most attractive features of Drupal is to setup mutil-sites in one Drupal instance. If your hosting doesn't support this feature, it's really very regretful for a Drupal developer. But this is not very necessary for a Drupal site with business purpose as normally you want to give it a dedicated environment without being bothered by some other web sites.
Shell access is not a MUST for Drupal hosting, but it will really bring you some convenience when you want to change the permission of your files or configure your cron job. Some shared web hosting vendor don’t allow shell access, if you really want this, you should check with them before ordering.
Customer support is definitely a critical factor when considering a web hosting. Great customer support normally features with 24*7 phone & Live-chat support, quick response, and no outsourcing.