nChannel’s guide to Magento hosting
At nChannel, we’re always doing research for our clients. Recently people have been asking, “What’s the best company to host a Magento store?” Unfortunately, the information available is sparse. In fact, it seems every guide out there is either poorly written or written by the hosting company itself. We wanted to alleviate the burden of researching every company by doing it for you, and we’ve compiled a list of all the essential information you need to know when choosing a Magento hosting provider.
Who are the best Magento hosting providers?
For those of you who’d rather skip the explanation, here’s a link to:
However, If you are looking for a more in depth explanation of why I chose these companies, don’t be afraid to keep reading.
Questions to consider before choosing your Magento Host
Shared vs Dedicated?
One thing every provider is going to sell you on is a dedicated server. The difference between a dedicated server and a shared server is that with the latter you are sharing server space with multiple people. So, ideally, in order to run Magento to its fullest you should have your own server. This isn’t practical for every business however. For one, the cost for a dedicated server is much higher than the cost for a shared one. Also, according to Richard Stubbings, writer for Practical eCommerce, shared hosting is sometimes even preferential to a dedicated server.
What it comes down to is how large your eCommerce business is. It’s a humbling experience to admit you don’t need the best for your business, but if you aren’t getting thousands of visits and dozens of orders a day, you’re better off with a shared server. This guide is written for shared server hosting providers, however I hope it can be helpful even if you are thinking of going the dedicated route.
One thing many people don’t consider when selecting a Magento hosting provider is whether or not the provider can offer PCI compliant shared servers. While many companies may try to tell you that it’s impossible, it can very well be done. If you don’t know why PCI compliance is important, a short explanation is that if you ever take credit card information as payment from a customer, you need to be PCI compliant. It’s not only a matter of security but a matter of law. For a deeper conversation about what you need to know about PCI compliance check out Mijireh’s article here. However for our purposes you should assume, if you ever have people pay by credit card, you need PCI compliance.
What should I look for in a provider?
When looking at Magento hosting providers I looked at 5 different categories: Price, Support, Magento Partner, Magento Installation, and PCI Compliance. I then took these factors into consideration and decided what size company they would be the most ideal for.
Here is a short description for each category:
The company’s lowest price listed on the website or quoted through a Sales Representative.
Whether or not the company had 24/7 phone, email, and chat support.
The ease at which Magento could be installed on the server.
Companies that can provide PCI compliant shared servers.
“Magento hosting partners make sure your online store stays up, running and ready to serve customers. Hosting partners deliver the highest levels of web and database server performance and availability, and can meet your needs for an on premise or cloud-based solution.”
Of course there will always be more information to look at. For more simple matters you can make sure the server meets all the requirements, or even check how others optimize their servers. However, our recommendations will be based primarily off of user reviews and these five categories.
Top 5 Magento Hosting Providers
According to our research, and based on these categories, these are the top 5 Magento hosting providers:
|Provider||Ideal Company Size||Magento Partner||Magento Installation||Support||Price||PCI Compliant|
|*Peer1 refused to give pricing information, said they service medium to large sized businesses
|SiteGround||Small||N/A||1-click install||24/7||$9.95/mon||At $24.99 /mon level|
|Peer1||Medium/Large||Platinum||1-click install||24/7 - Phone Only||?*||Yes|
And for those looking for a little more than just stats, here’s the reason why I chose each one.
Best Magento Hosting Providers: Small Sized Businesses
Now SiteGround is either the most recommended Magento hosting provider for small businesses or it has the best marketing budget. Either way, I believe the obvious reason people flock to it is they start their services out at $3.95/mo. I didn’t include this price in the chart above however because it’s a 60% markdown of the original $9.95 and only lasts as long as your first contract (One month or one year). With this bundle you would only get support for one website, and 10,000 visits monthly. However this might be just the amount you need. If you want PCI compliance, you will need to get the “GoGeek” $29.95 package.
While LiquidWeb may be a little more costly, and doesn’t even have the ability to be PCI compliant on a shared server, I couldn’t ignore the overwhelming support I saw for LiquidWeb among Magento communities. In our research, I found LiquidWeb to be the favorite for small sized companies. Magento is 100% compatible with LiquidWeb and they offer 24/7 support. One thing you will have to watch out for is their sales team will try to convince you to purchase a dedicated server. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go dedicated though, it may be more expensive but it’ll also be faster and PCI compliant. However, once again, your needs are determined by your size. If you’re a small business, but want a step up from SiteGround, this would be our recommendation.
Best Magento Hosting Provider: Medium Sized Businesses
When it comes to medium sized businesses, Nexcess is by far the best and favorite. They offer reasonable prices, however what’s even more impressive is their dedication to their customers. I read in many places that when customers dealt with Nexcess it felt more like a small company rather than an enterprise, and that their customer service was outstanding. I even saw that Nexcess took the time to answer their customers’ questions in a Reddit AMA. This is also the first Magento Platinum Partner mentioned on the list, and they’ll be able to handle any Magento based questions you have. As far as medium sized businesses go, I would be hard pressed to find a better Magento hosting provider.
Best Magento Hosting Provider: Large Sized Businesses
While I’ve listed Peer1 as a provider for medium/large businesses in the above chart, I’ve decided to post it under large because I’ve found if a company refuses to give you a quote, it probably costs plenty. While my discussion with the sales representative was frustrating, Peer1 has gotten several good reviews. While they don’t offer 24/7 phone, chat, and email support, the representative assured me that they do offer 24/7 phone support and that all of the phone calls are answered in-house. Peer1 is also a Magento Platinum Partner, and while their prices may be more expensive, if your company is large enough to afford it they will provide you with excellent service.
RackSpace is for the truly large companies. I would almost only recommend it if you’re running Magento Enterprise rather than Magento Community. That being said, out of all the previous companies mentioned, they will be able to provide you with the best service. In other words, you get what you pay for. They’re a Magento Platinum Partner, they offer 24/7 support, and their servers are PCI compliant. Their basic package is advertised for 0-100 concurrent users and fewer than 150,000 products. Bottom line is, if your company is large enough to afford RackSpace, then they’re your best bet.
Last but not least…
The right Magento hosting provider for you is going to come down to exactly that, you. Different people will have different expectations for their providers, these are simply the best places to start. Don’t immediately sign into any long term contracts. Try which ever provider you think will work best, and if you like it, great! But if your store is running slowly or the support is lacking, you can always switch providers. Many of the companies even offer free migrations from one provider to another.
And as always, when you get your store up and running, don’t forget to integrate it with your ERP system, Amazon, eBay, and more.