(This post was originally published on June 12, 2014. We’ve updated it for accuracy and completeness.)
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. 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 for you. So, 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?
If you would rather skip the explanation, here’s a link to:
However, if you’re looking for a more in depth explanation of why I chose these companies, then keep reading.
Questions to consider before choosing your Magento Hosting Provider
Shared vs VPS vs Dedicated Servers
Every hosting provider is going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of shared hosting vs VPS vs dedicated servers. The difference between a dedicated server or VPS and a shared server is that with the latter you are sharing server space with multiple users. On the other hand, dedicated hosting means you’re the only website using that server. For a full explanation of the differences between the three, read this article.
Ideally, you should have your own server so you can run Magento to its fullest. Magento is a big piece of software that takes more resources to run than other shopping charts.However, using a VPS or dedicated server isn’t practical for every business for a few different reasons.
First, the costs are typically much higher than for shared hosting. With shared hosting, you divvy up operational costs with other uses. Second, shared hosting requires less maintenance and technical skills as the service provider usually takes care of the server. Lastly, security won’t be your sole responsibility as the hosting provider will set up firewalls and other applications. Shared hosting means limited bandwidth and control, but there are cases when shared hosting is preferential to a dedicated server.
What it comes down to is how large your eCommerce business is and your technical knowledge. If you aren’t getting thousands of visits and dozens of orders a day, you’re better off with a shared server to start. Once you can justify the cost and management of it, you can look into dedicated or VPS servers.
This guide is written for shared server hosting providers, but I hope it can be helpful even if you are thinking of going the dedicated route.
Merchants don’t often enough consider whether their Magento hosting provider offers PCI compliant shared servers. While many companies may try to tell you that it’s impossible, it can be done.
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, you need PCI compliance in order to accept credit card payments online.
Managed vs Unmanaged
Another term that comes up a lot when comparing hosting services is whether they’re managed or unmanaged. Unmanaged hosting plans come with no or very few additional services. You’ll basically get a server with an operating system installed. You’re in charge of adding anything else you might need like data backups.
Managed hosting plans, on the other hand, come with any number of extra services such as automated backups, malware scanning, status monitoring, and more.
When reviewing providers, take a careful look at what management services they provide and what they don’t. If you can’t take care of maintenance and management yourself, you’ll want to make sure you pay for a fully managed service.
What should I look for in a Magento hosting provider?
When looking at Magento hosting providers I looked at five different categories: price, support, Magento Partner, Magento installation, and PCI Compliance. Along with these factors, I broke down hosting providers by 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.”
While this is a good list of factors to consider, there is of course more information to look at. The list would grow quite long and could be different from company to company based on your individual needs.
For more simple matters you can make sure the server meets all these 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 7 Magento Hosting Providers
According to our research and based on the above categories, here are the top 7 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|
|A2 Hosting||Small||N/A||1-click install||24/7||$3.92/mon||No|
|CloudWays||Medium||N/A||1-click install||24/7||$7mo & free trial||No|
|Peer1||Medium/Large||N/A||1-click install||24/7 - Phone Only||?*||Yes|
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.
LiquidWeb may be a little more costly and doesn’t even have the ability to be PCI compliant on a shared server, but 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 and want a step up from SiteGround, this would be our recommendation.
A2 Hosting has been around since 2003 and has a plethora of awards to speak for its services. They were named a Top 10 Web Host of 2017, so that’s saying something. They’re also known for their Turbo Server that features 20x faster page loads. Overall, A2 Hosting offers shared, VPS, and dedicated servers to choose from.
Since Magento is a more complex shopping cart though, Magento users will want to pay more for A2 Hosting’s Turbo plan for more features. Their highest tier plan only starts at $9.31/month so it’s still affordable. Merchants will get more functionality that’s optimized to run your Magento store as smoothly and quickly as possible. If you’re a smaller retailer and want the absolute best for your webstore, than A2 Hosting is worth paying more for.
Best Magento Hosting Provider: Medium Sized Businesses
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. They’ll be able to handle any Magento based questions you have. As far as medium sized businesses go, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better Magento hosting provider.
CloudWays is a little bit newer to hosting than the others as they were founded in 2011. They’re another good choice for medium sized businesses as a Magento managed cloud hosting provider. With Cloudways, merchants can complete tasks such as monitoring, scaling, cloning, backups, and restores. It also has an accessible API that allows developers, agencies, store owners, and SaaS companies to automate their server related tasks. Another notable feature is that merchants can scale their servers with 1-click with no server downtime.
If you want to try CloudWays, you can start with a free trial, even without a credit card number. After a trial, CloudWays offers pricing two different ways: by hour and by month. The most affordable plans start at 0.1 cents an hour or $7/month.
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 has higher costs than others. While my discussion with the sales representative was frustrating, users have left Peer1 several good reviews.
They don’t offer 24/7 phone, chat, and email support, but the representative assured me that they do offer 24/7 phone support and that all phone calls are answered in-house. If your company is large enough to afford their higher prices, then 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. 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 (the only one our list), 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 providers are simply the best place to start. Don’t immediately sign into any long term contracts. Try whichever 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.