What Your Hosting Company Needs to Have to Host a Joomla Website
If you are considering a new Joomla website or converting your old website into a Joomla website, start with finding out whether your current hosting provider supports Joomla properly. Joomla runs best on the *nix apache type of servers (not Windows apache), Linux apache is the best choice if you are getting a Joomla-driven website.
Most hosting companies say that they "support Joomla", but in reality they often support only "plan vanilla" Joomla but for more advanced requirements they implement "work-arounds" or don't support them at all. For example, a search engine friendly URIs, like the ones you see on this site, in the browser bar, with words in them, this SEO-related feature is not supported natively by Windows IIS or Seuz servers and require tweaks. Some advanced Joomla security components do not run well on these servers. In theory, you can add plugins and customize configuration on any server to get it all working, but in practice - it results in endless communication, hosting support folks are not always knowledgeable, and in some cases, additional tweaks destabilize the site and can even break it.
It is best to do things in the right way right from the start. Get a Linux apache server to host your Joomla websites.
Joomla Website Hosting Requirements
- LAMP server: Linux + Apache Server + MySQL + PHP/Perl
- PHP scripting available (PHP Version 5.3.10+, 5.5+ recommended)
- Access to MySQL database. MYSQL Version 5.1+
- FTP/Control Panel Access. Database access.
- Support for mod_rewrite (for SEF) - a Linux apache server supports it natively
- Support for apache/PHP modules: mod_zlib, mod_sql, mod_xml, curl, curlwrapper, GD library, ionCube, rewrite.
To be sure, please review the official Joomla Technical Requirements page.
Additional Hosting Considerations
Joomla Bliss does not provide hosting services directly, nor do we engage in a hosting reseller activity. However, we are pleased to make our recommendations and put forth factors that you clients might want to consider when selecting a hosting provider:
- Do not put all your eggs into one basket. Mitigate risks. Initially, it may sound appealing to have one service provider for all your website needs. But if you consider how the process works you will quickly see that it is not good to have hosting and web design provided by the same company. To provide the best quality of the hosting and achieve best numbers of the servers uptime the hosting company should make large investments in communication channels, powerful servers and top-notch network equipment as well as hire and pay salaries to qualified support personnel, maintenance and systems engineers. Small companies can't make such investments which inevitably leads to problems with service quality.This hosting infrastructure is not connected with website design at all and companies that provide best hosting are in 99% cases specialize in hosting only. When smaller hosting companies sell web design services, in reality they usually outsource the design or hire 3rd-party designers. In fact, we often get website design requests from smaller hosting companies. Furthermore, hosting companies know that changing hosts is an unpleasant process to the clients, so once they get your contract, they gradually cease to provide quality support. When you use two service providers, both parties do what they do best and they also "look over each other's shoulder" and make sure that their response rate is not worse than the "other guy", so in the end, the end client enjoys a better service. And to avoid excessive communication between the two providers, all you need to do is to "add" your website designer to the list of trusted account holders and they will be able to communicate with the host directly on your behalf.
- Location of the data centers of your hosting company. If your primary market is in the USA, then it is better to select a hosting company with data centers in the States. This, however, is not a critical requirement.
- Native hosting companies are better than reseller hosting companies. Find out if your hosting companies own their data centers.
- Domain name registration and Canadian domain name registration. Find out the limitations and differences in costs. Note that when you change hosts, the new host will require you to transfer your domain name to them, and this adds to the cost. Canadian domain names are also more expensive.
- Live support via chat or phone 24/7 free of charge. Many hosting companies possess similar technical capabilities, so what really matters to end users is support. Some hosting companies only correspond with you by email or require you to submit a ticket - and then take 24-48 hours to reply to it. This is not acceptable.
- Backup, Fault Management and Disaster Recovery. Does your hosting company conduct regular backups of your website? Does your hosting company keep an error long and, if yes, for how long? Can you obtain this error log if necessary? Make sure you read the fine print. Some hosting companies are not available for assistance even in the event if the site goes down or gets hacked. It is important to find out if the hosting company can be hired for this service (additional fee will be required), and if yes, what level of service you can expect from them.
- Virtual Servers (VPS). It is good to sign up with a VPS hosting account right from the start. Because if later you would like to “upgrade” your basic hosting plan to a VPS plan, the account transfer procedure will be similar to signing up with a different hosting company (new DNS pointing, etc.). VPS accounts are more expensive, they are not for simple sites, but if you expect significant traffic and if you have a lot of contents translated to many languages, it is best to get a VPS hosting right from the start.
- Fine print limitations. The main limitations concern allowed disk space and allowed file numbers. A lot of hosting companies advertise “unlimited” disk space, whereas in reality, there is always a limit (so please request their terms and conditions and read them carefully). You may never end up exceeding these limits, but you need to know about them in advance, especially if scalability is important and you may want to add dynamic and bandwidth-intense features later on (like e-commerce, job board, etc).
- Buffer overflow. This items requires special consideration. A buffer overflow is a type of a hacking attack that literally over floods the server with millions of requests, and this brings the site down. There are several ways for hosting companies to deal with buffer overflows and take preventative actions. It is a routine procedure, but surprisingly, many hosts do not conduct them properly, hence, you need to ask them about it and check to see that it has been implemented. Buffer overflows are solved at the server level. It can happen on any platform.
- Website monitoring. if you don't have a website maintenance plan with your design agency and if your hosting plan is simple, you need to ensure that you monitor your site by yourself. There are free and very neat tools that allow you to monitor the online status of your website. One of such tools is a free site monitoring tool Monitis. Sign up with them, enter your URL and then if your site goes down, this tool will send you an email within 5 minutes. You can then use forward emails from this "sender" to your phone and assign a specific ring tone to it so that you know when it is an urgent website issue. Many hosting companies charge you for this service, but you can get it set up yourself. If you don't mind paying for maintenance, then make sure that you have actually signed up for this service, as 24/7 website monitoring is not always part of basic-level maintenance packages.
Best Joomla Hosting Companies
Almost all hosting companies claim to support Joomla. But in reality they often support vanilla Joomla and do not have proper servers or the right configurations to support various Joomla extensions, such as enhanced security, search-engine-friendly URLs, etc.
We have been hosting our own and some of our clients' website with HostGator for the past 3.5 years and have had fantastic experience to date. This host is characterized by the following:
- Specialized in Joomla
- Data centers in the States
- They own their data centers (not a reseller)
- Fantastic support 24/7 via chat, email and phone
- 24/7 website monitoring even with the smallest plans
- Offer cloud or VPS hosting
What Hosting Plan to Select
When selecting a hosting plan, the main consideration is size. The size is primarily defined in terms of traffic and number of documents stored inside the website.
- Dedicated Server. If you expect huge traffic and your site contains thousands of documents, a dedicated server maybe more appropriate.
- VPS Cloud Server. If your site contains over 500 documents in various formats and receives roughly 2000 visitors per week, a cloud VPS hosting is a good way to go.
- Shared Server. If your site is small and does not need to hold any significant or number of documents, then a regular business plan on a shared server is good enough. Just don't select a baby-level plan if your site has functionalities like e-commerce or document management system.
- Baby Plans (Level 1). Select this option is your site is very small and very basic: 20-30 pages of contents, 30-40 images, maybe 1-2 videos, a registration form, but no other dynamic functionalities that involve users submitting data or downloading data. It is always safer to go wtih Level 2 since the price difference between Level 1 and Level 2 is usually insignificant but you do get better options.
Hostgator’s basic dedicated server plan offers fantastic combo: full server access, SSH, Apache, etc. with a whooping 10TB bandwidth at $137/month. That eliminates all the worries about the bandwidth for 95% of websites. Hostgator’s VPS Level 3 and Level 4 plans are much cheaper and also offer sufficient bandwidth for 70% of websites. For example, Joomla Bliss is a website for which a VPS Level 3 is appropriate.
Apart from our own excellent experience with Hostgator, random reviews and discussion threads on this hosting provider rate at approximately 8:1 good versus bad. That is a much better rate than all other big hosts.
Rochen maintains data center locations in both Dallas, Texas in the United States and London, England in the United Kingdom. Rochen allows you the choice of hosting on a US or UK server. Their cloud virtual hosting plans start $150/month.
Rochen is slightly more expensive than HostGator.