We are going to review 6 essential criteria that you have to take into account when selecting a web hosting if you want your PHP application to work well.
Nowadays, websites are no longer made with HTML pages created by hand. Practically 100% of the websites are based on CMS systems ( mainly WordPress blogs ) which are PHP applications for which you need to hire a good hosting service to function properly and systems for the creation of online stores such as Prestashop or Magento .
What most of them are not aware of is what it implies at the hosting level to use a PHP application versus a simple collection of traditional web pages that are nothing more than a simple collection of static HTML pages.
The leap of demand to the server is very large and in such a project, hosting is a very bad place to spend 2 or 3 euros per month . This type of applications need good servers so that they can have an acceptable performance and in that sense many people mess with offers of cheap hosting of poor quality.
To this we must add a cheap hosting market in Spain very aggressive where most providers squeeze their resources beyond what is reasonable in order to scratch cents in the final prices, a practice known as “overselling”.
But fortunately, in Spain there is economic and good hosting . Now, you have to know how to choose them well and that is precisely what this post is about.
For this we are going to review 6 essential criteria that providers do not usually put in the foreground and that you have to take into account if you want your PHP application to work well.
I will intentionally obviate the typical criteria such as monthly transfer (bandwidth) or disk space that providers tend to emphasize in their advertising because in practice they are much less important in order for your website to work as it deserves.
The post is focused on WordPress blogs, but it can be extrapolated to practically any other PHP application. That is to say, it would also apply, for example, to online stores created with Prestashop, Magento, WooCommerce or any other of the most popular applications for creating online stores.
Let’s start then
1. Your server must support PHP and MySQL
As we said, the aforementioned applications are developed with the PHP programming languageand almost always use a MySQL database . Therefore, the provider you choose has to support both and, in addition, in the correct versions.
A good provider, in addition, will allow you to use with your basic plans even multiple domains (something known as multi-domain hosting ) along with several instances of MySQL databases.
Specifically, in the current version of WordPress (4.x) this would be:
- PHP : version 5.2.4 or greater
- MySQL : version 5.0 or higher
2. Memory and processes for PHP applications
The memory and number of concurrent processes are two parameters that people are not usually aware of when they are absolutely critical for your blog to work well
Applications like WordPress consume a lot of memory , the more complex they are, the more memory they consume. In addition, in the case of WordPress, its consumption is very variable due to its flexibility (number of plugins installed, WordPress theme installed, etc.). And some plugins, such as the BackWPup backup plugin , for example, create significant spikes in memory consumption .
WordPress.org does not give official figures for this data, but it is usually considered that a WordPress blog should have, at least, between 128-256MB of PHP memory .
And in terms of processes?
It is not easy to answer because the subject of the processes is very relative , it depends a lot on the CPU capacity. The more processor power you have, the less capacity of concurrent processes you need (since they end earlier).
However, as an orientation, tell you that 15-20 processes is a good number , as long as you have a good processing capacity in your web server.
3. Administration tool
Here I will be brief, the market standard is cPanel . It is because it is an excellent tool and very complete, not in vain is considered the leader and standard in its niche .
Some providers will try to convince you of the wonders of their proprietary tool in front of cPanel. My advice is that you do not pay much attention, it is very difficult that they really contribute an added value that justifies to stop using a standard and that makes it much easier for you to change providers if you wish in the future.
4. Agile online support and speak your language
The support topic is critical, “shit happens” and at that moment you need a support team in conditions that really solve the problems.
If your website is down, you will want to be served quickly and not wait for hours or days and be told that you have many WordPress plugins installed, right? That is what happens if you have a bad support that escapes from the problems and is annoying when you have an urgent problem .
And that is the support you will have with a bad provider. Keep in mind that support is the most expensive part and where it is more difficult to reduce costs because people do it. That’s why it suffers the most with hyper-aggressive pricing policies.
In that sense, I would like to give you 3 specific tips:
- My first is simple: always requires some option with a fast support channel , read an online chat , a telephone line or a support via email with maximum response times for support tickets.
- The second advice is to try it, even if you have no real incidents . With some simple queries, for example, asking for help to configure the name servers (DNS) to use an external domain provider you can have a “feeling” of how well or poorly your support works. Do a few of these and it will be very enlightening.
- Think carefully if it is worthwhile to hire a service that is not Spanish. Some services like Hostgator service in Spanish with some tricks like the use of Google Translator , but if you have a problem a little complicated and you need to spin fine it is not the same as your native language as a foreign language. In addition, you have excellent Spanish services and low prices. An example is Webempresa, and in this case there are even discount coupons for Webempresa to hire this service at almost ridiculous prices.
5. Do not hire an inappropriate type of web hosting
The success in hiring a hosting service is not limited to hiring a quality service, but also to hire a service suited to your needs.
It can yield much more, apart from being much cheaper, a shared hosting of very good quality than adedicated server too tight in features. The same is true VPS servers.
Therefore, do not automatically assume that hiring a VPS or dedicated server automatically equates to a great improvement in performance with respect to a much cheaper shared option. Compare exactly what the differences are in the terms explained in point 2. of this post.
6. Money back guarantee
Many providers offer money back in case of dissatisfaction. Personally I would never oppose any service that does not offer this option .
No matter how much you have analyzed a provider or someone recommends it to you, it can always happen that you do not feel comfortable with this provider for whatever reasons or that your service has worsened and, having been a good provider before, you have now stopped be it
Therefore, there is always a certain uncertainty , they recommend what they recommend.However, if you have the peace of mind of returning the money, you can try it quietly and if you do not convince, try the next one.
WordPress.org is a very demanding platform for servers and that is why it is essential that the web hosting you hire is of good quality. The good thing is that this does not mean that you have to spend a lot of money, but choose well .
In the low cost market of hosting it is easy to screw up hiring a bad service or an inadequate service for your case, but there are also very good offers. The key is to know how to choose with criteria.
Now, if you conclude that you are wrong with hosting choice, do not worry, it is not a drama, thanks to plugins to migrate WordPress automatically, nowadays it is quite easy and fast to migrate a WordPress blog from one hosting to another.
Here is a video of how to choose a web host.