Building an e-commerce website or an enterprise application with professional Drupal web developers is not enough for making the website effective. Placing the final product into the right, feature-rich hosting environment is equally important.
Generally speaking, Drupal runs on all web hosting platforms. But Drupal itself demands a lot from its host: being a complex content management system, more technical to administer than its direct competitors, it has a higher need on memory and CPU. That’s why it’d be better to make some research instead of opting for any affordable hosting company.
Features Required for Hosting a Drupal Website
- Drupal Compatibility
Being principal for each website, the compatibility issue gets new dimensions in case of a Drupal-running product.
First, the hosting company must support PHP, Apache web server and MySQL in order to provide Drupal functioning without complications. Moreover, the host needs to provide an environment capable of supporting Drupal software: with PHP 5.3.x as a recommended version for Drupal 7 and PHP 5.5.x – for Drupal 8 (and PHP 7 as an ideal solution for Drupal 8). Hence, it’d be better to address those hosts who support dual versions of PHP in their web servers: it will provide a possibility to choose the one that fits best.
Second, it would be better if the host provides a choice between shared hosting as the most economical one handling the basic necessities, and Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting which provides its customer with an advanced level of security and performance at a higher price. It is recommended that you should start with a shared hosting at first and upgrade to a VPS hosting once needed.
Third, PHP should be set to run as suPHP for increased Drupal security. suPHP acts as a tool which additionally checks PHP script file permissions for a user (i.e. the owner or a program which controls who can have access to the files) before running.
Fourth, for making a website more SEO friendly and for an easier customization of Drupal website’s URLs, Apache module mod_rewrite is to be installed by default.
- Hosting Memory
With 32MB as the minimal memory requirement for Drupal 7 and 64MB for Drupal 8, ideally the web host should allow more than 64MB in order to guarantee a top-notch performance.
Automated, regular and frequent backup tools should be among core features provided by the host.
- Multiple domains
It is important to consider a growing number of domains and, as a result, search for a web host who allows to have more than one domain name on one hosting account and, consequently, to manage them from one location. This option will save time and money instead of buying hosting to connect multiple domain names.
- Database support
Database-driven applications, such as a shopping cart, blog platform, forum or customer account can significantly increase the functionality of a Drupal website, that’s why it is important to opt for a web host whose package gives access to multiple databases.
- Customer support
Drupal itself doesn’t provide a regular form of customer support, as it relies on the Drupal community, constantly upgrading and increasing the performance level of the system. Nonetheless, in urgent cases it is better to have professionals whom you can address directly for fixing website issues. Choosing a web host whose team is aware how Drupal functions and is knowledgeable about the ways to fix unexpected bugs will help you deal with problems quickly and more efficiently.
- Drupal Installation
Installing a Drupal website on a hosting account can become a challenge due to its technical complexity, that’s why the one-click installation function is a perfect choice for those not willing to spend much time on the installation process: this function permits to automatically create the database for storing the CMS files and install the software on the hosting server.
Comparison of Key Drupal Hosting Providers
With Drupal websites, it is not advised to choose such popular hosts as Amazon or Azure. Though low in price, they don’t provide a full set of features and tools needed to guarantee a stable and efficient Drupal website performance.
On the whole, the essential idea of getting a perfect hosting Drupal solution is simple: not to choose the most affordable solution, but to go for the most cost-effective one.
Here is the list of the most popular web hosts working with websites running on Drupal.
This cloud-based hosting provider, run by Dries Buytaert, original creator and project lead for Drupal, is the first solution which comes into one’s mind when thinking about the Drupal web hosting.
Acquia’s advantages are indisputable: it is a dedicated Drupal hosting whose capacities are optimized to specifically tune Drupal, offering the most qualified support reliability.
Many deployment and workflow tools are integrated there by default, which permits Acquia’s customers to focus on the website improvement and maintenance instead of solving technical issues. In the end, the customer saves on the development time, as such issues as low-level configurations, uptime issues, security patching and sudden outrages are already taken care of by the web host.
The hosting instance comes with a three tier environment:
- DEV (development) environment,
- STAGE (staging) environment,
- PROD (production) environment.
Each environment's database is backed up every day automatically, and manual backups can be generated easily by the customer. A multi-tier hosting environment like this makes concurrent development or content generation simple and permits Drupal developers
to introduce adjustments and present them to their client in the development process and not only at the final implementation stage.
On top of it, it makes the installation process easy and provides a high level of security. Once a major vulnerability is exposed in Drupal core, the Acquia specialists act quickly to protect the websites hosted on their infrastructure. For example, on March 28th, 2018 Drupal released
a bug fix for a critical security vulnerability, named SA-CORE-2018-002 which enabled hackers to perform remote code execution on most Drupal installations. Acquia deployed a platform level mitigation for all Acquia Cloud customers one hour after the Drupal Security Team made the SA-CORE-2018-002 release available. In the end, this quick reaction blocked over 500,000 attack attempts
Its principal disadvantage is price: Acquia is one of the most expensive hosting solutions on the market. Acquia Cloud currently starts at $141 per month for its Personal package and can be calculated individually in accordance with the customer’s needs.
Whom will it suit?
Medium to large-size enterprises operating massive traffic and a lot of data.
This is another popular solution whose aim is the same as Acquia’s: easily hosting Drupal sites and taking care of server configurations. Like Acquia Cloud, it also helps with the developer workflow and lifecycle management of a Drupal website (e.g. continuous integration, staging environment, backups, etc).
Pantheon has a similar three-tier environment divided into Dev, Test and Live environments. It works for the same simplification of moving from one stage to the following one without wasting time on setting up a server.
What makes it different from Acquai is that Pantheon serves more as a one-size-fits-all solution, with restricted access to fine tune the server and a limited number of subscription plans.
Its price seems lower than the Acquia offer (which, however, was increased for the first time in April 2018)- $50 per month for one site – but this offer is limited to 25,000 visitors per month and 125,000 pages served only and can be updated to the Performance package, which starts at $175 per month and works with an exceeding number of visitors and a growing number of pages. That’s why a proper calculation is needed which takes into account Drupal website scalability in the long run.
Whom will it suit?
Thanks to Pantheon’s diversified pricing strategy, this solution can be a good fit both for small enterprises and large companies. For example, Dell, Docker, Patch, Boston Herald, United Nations, and nVidia are among Pantheon’s customers.
Unlike the previous options, one of the features the InMotion Company boasts is its hosting affordability.
Also it doesn’t have such a narrow specialization: InMotion offers various hosting packages for many platforms, but underlines that as a web host it is 100% Drupal compatible and provides a professional Drupal 24/7 support.
InMotion offers shared hosting as well as VPS and Dedicated ones. The subscription fee for shared hosting is significantly lower than its competitors listed above: a Launch package for shared hosting starts at $2,95 per month for 2 websites and can be easily upgraded when a higher level of performance is needed. VPS hosting starts at $24,99 per month and can change for a more diverse and multi-functional package as well.
The low-price packages are limited in the number of sites which can be hosted (for the Launch and Power Hosting plans the number is from 2 to 6) and the number of databases which can be created. Once the owner of a website hosted by InMotion needs to expand it, he would face troubles with the number of websites and databases running on one account.
Partly these limitations can be overcome by upgrading the package to a more expensive one – the price still stays competitive on the market of the Drupal-specialized web hosts. But if you are planning a significant growth and already envisage an increase in the number of your websites, probably this solution is not the best for you.
Among other budgetary hosts InMotion is remarkable for its 24/7 customer service, which is 100% US-based and is available via toll-free phone, email or live chat. Plus it is one of the fastest web hosting companies in the world, with two dedicated data centers on the East and West Coast.
Another factor which many Drupal sites owners find dissatisfactory in the InMotion hosting case is the necessity to pay for a full year in advance.
Besides, InMotion, as a solid hosting company with an expertise and server compatibility across a wide range of programming languages and server specs, deals with Drupal as one of its work directions. Hence, it adapts new features slower than in the two previous cases.
Whom will it suit?
A small to medium-size company with a limited budget, which seeks a high-quality host, compliant with basic tech requirements for an affordable charge.
For many enterprises their Drupal-running website stays a core piece of their activity. Finding a high-quality hosting company is essential to guarantee optimum website performance. That’s why it is important to understand, first, which features should be taken into account at the very beginning of the search process; second, how the chosen host will be compatible with the plans of the business development and whether it will be able to respond to its growing demands.