Magento Hosting: How to choose the right hosting provider

Finding the best Magento hosting for your store can be a tedious task and It could potentially be one of the most important decisions you can make as an eCommerce retailer. Many hosting companies have emerged claiming to be Magento hosting specialists, some succeed, some don’t and choosing blindly can cost you big in terms of speed, reliability, and frustration.

Effective Magento hosting requires a particular set of competencies, so to help you wade through the competition we have put together a list of the critical features to look for when choosing a Magento host that’s right for your store.

Magento Optimised Environment

Whether you choose cloud web hosting, a managed VPS or a dedicated server as the best Magento hosting for you, it is important to make sure the solution you decide upon is optimized and purposely created for hosting Magento stores. The server operating system and software bundle, required as a foundation for Magento, is a Linux, Apache, MySQL & PHP (LAMP) stack, so be sure to ask your provider about this. You can view the official server requirements on the Magento website here: http://devdocs.magento.com/guides/m1x/system-requirements.html

The best Magento hosting companies have all developed advanced LAMP stacks which provide the optimal environment for Magento. Standard LAMP stacks are often not fit for the purpose of accommodating Magento sites, so if a supplier states that they run the same LAMP stack on all of their servers, Magento and everything else, then I’m afraid you’re conversing with the wrong company. Move on.

Reputation and Reliability

If they are good, it will show in their reputation and overall reliability. When trying to find the best Magento hosting company, look at their service level agreement (SLA). Do they have a financially backed SLA with at least 99.999% uptime? This will give you insight into how confident they are in their ability to deliver reliable, stable hosting for your Magento store.

And don’t stop there, the Magento community is not a quiet one, so look around for what is being said about your potential hosting partners by those who use and work with them. Magento itself also awards the best companies with recognized partner statuses, which are not easily achieved, so if you see their seal of approval you can rest assured you’re putting your trust in capable hands.

Customer Support

We do not live in a perfect world and it is a well-known fact that things will go wrong, sometimes it is just not possible to prevent issues, but it is possible to react and resolve them quickly with the right support from your provider. Make sure you check guaranteed response times, the availability and overall expertise of the engineering and technical support team at the hosting company. This is fundamental for any online merchants using Magento.

Server Locations

As much as you would probably love to live in an exotic location, the same would not be said for the servers that host your Magento store. There are exceptions, but generally, you should try and find hosting providers with servers “in the neighborhood” and with the same geo-IP location as your business, this is beneficial for SEO as Google uses the location when ranking your Magento store for local searchers.

You needn’t worry about your servers being in the same city as you, but do keep them in the same country as the distance that data has to travel between your server and the user and the number of ‘hops’ between networks that are required will affect the speed of your online store. Page loading time is obviously an important part of any website’s user experience and consumers now expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. If you can’t achieve this, it will be affecting your bottom line, as little as a 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions and 40% of people will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

So, if you sell primarily to British people, then it would be wise for you to host your website on a server that’s located in Britain. If you primarily sell to Canadians, then you should host your business on Canadian servers and so on.

Security and PCI Compliance

This is your absolute top priority as an online merchant, both to protect your business and your customers. The best Magento hosting providers actively deploy sophisticated multi-layer security measures to protect stores against both digital and physical attacks.

eCommerce stores make attractive targets for individuals and groups conducting cyber attacks from points around the globe, so you definitely need to be aware of any suspicious activity on your site. If in doubt, ask! Any qualified Magento hosting provider should welcome a detailed discussion about their security precautions.

If a customer is entering data on your site, you need to be Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant and so does your hosting provider. These standards are defined and required for any organization is receiving, processing, or storing credit card data. Known more commonly as PCI Compliance, this can be achieved by having your hosting provider install an SSL (Secure Socket Layer), which encrypts client-side data so that is can be transmitted securely, on your site and by using Payment gateways that are highly secure such as PayPal.

SSH Access

SSH is a Secure Shell which provides users with a secure, encrypted mechanism to log into servers and transfer files. If you wish to install Magento, execute Magento patches or other administrative server tasks, you will need to use SSH and command lines. If you are using a development company, they will need this access to do these for you.

Scalability

You should want your Magento eCommerce store to outgrow its initial hosting as this is a clear sign of its success. But when the time does come that you need to upgrade your situation to a more powerful VPS, a dedicated server, or even a cluster of servers, how easily that is accomplished with your chosen provider? Does your Magento host have the required expertise, support, and resources available?

Being able to smoothly scale with the help of your expert Magento hosting company is significantly more desirable than having to move. If you were to initially partner with a low-grade hosting provider with little Magento experience, it may mean you will need to migrate to  another hosting company to achieve a more powerful platform, which is certainly doable, but not as easy as the alternative.

Pricing and Value for Money

Generally, you get what you pay for, but with the Magento hosting space now being so competitive and fast moving, the most expensive does not always equate to the best Magento hosting solution for you. So even if you have an endless pot of money to throw at hosting, that doesn’t mean a reasonable price and good value for money shouldn’t be a factor in deciding who to host with.

There are loads of providers out there

The only way you can be certain with your choice is by doing your own research. Have fun!

 

Project Manager @iwebtweets. Web developer with a love for design who mostly tweets about Magento, WordPress, eCommerce, Adwords & Food. Can be a little random.