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Improve your Craft CMS skills

Craft CMS Hosting: Which Hosting Provider Is Best?

10 min read
Shape April 2022 HR 189

Choosing the right hosting provider is crucial for Craft CMS sites to deliver high performance and reliability. This guide examines key criteria like uptime, speed, and support to evaluate hosts for your Craft site. You'll discover top hosts optimized for Craft along with actionable insights to select a provider matching your specific needs and budget.

When choosing a hosting provider for Craft CMS, prioritize uptime, speed, support, optimized servers, caching, CDNs, staging capabilities, affordable pricing, and auto-scaling resources. Top hosts like Kinsta and SiteGround provide managed Craft CMS hosting with these key features for optimal performance and reliability.

Craft CMS Hosting

Overview of Craft CMS Hosting Needs

Craft CMS is a content management system that helps businesses and developers build customizable websites and applications. Unlike other CMS platforms like WordPress or Drupal which are available through shared hosting, Craft CMS has higher server requirements that call for proper hosting configuration.

When choosing a hosting provider for a Craft CMS site, key factors like high performance, security, reliability and technical support need to be evaluated. The hosting infrastructure must be optimized to run the PHP and MySQL that powers Craft CMS, along with sufficient resources to manage plugins and custom modules. With the right hosting, Craft sites can deliver fast page loads, maximum uptime and a smooth editing experience.

Craft CMS Hosting Requirements

To run Craft CMS efficiently, the hosting server needs to meet certain minimum PHP and MySQL requirements. Craft 3.x needs PHP 7.0 or higher while Craft 2.x sites require PHP 5.6 or newer. MySQL 5.5 or above is recommended for stability and performance.

For optimal speed, a PHP memory limit of at least 256MB is advisable. Craft also benefits from additional RAM so aiming for 2GB or higher is ideal for enhanced performance under load. SSD storage is preferable over HDD for faster data access.

Bandwidth needs will vary depending on traffic but at least 10-20GB monthly is a good starting point. Auto-scaling bandwidth for traffic spikes helps prevent slow downs. Regular Craft sites can run on basic shared hosting but for large projects with heavy modules/plugins, a VPS or dedicated server may be required.

Evaluating Craft CMS Hosting Providers

When comparing hosting providers for a Craft CMS site, start with uptime and speed guarantees. Look for providers promising 99.9% uptime with fast page loads under 500ms. Support response time and channels are also vital - opt for 24/7 customer service via live chat, phone and tickets.

Check security provisions like regular patching, DDoS protection, SSL certificates and server hardening. Backup frequency is also important - daily offsite backups are ideal. Pay attention to server locations and CDN for faster worldwide delivery.

Pricing, upgrade options and value-added features should also be evaluated. Avoid large upfront costs in favor of flexible monthly plans with ability to scale. Some key extras to look for include 1-click installs, pre-configured Craft hosting and staging sites for testing.

Leading contenders like Kinsta, Pantheon and Flywheel offer optimized hosting for Craft CMS with all the above features. For small budgets, quality shared hosts like A2 Hosting also work. Do your research to find a provider meeting both performance and budget needs.

Server Requirements for Craft CMS

Recommended Server Configuration

For optimal performance and stability, Craft CMS sites need a robust server configuration. The recommended PHP version is 7.4 or newer which unlocks speed and security improvements over older releases. MySQL 5.7 or higher provides relational database support to power the Craft CMS backend.

In terms of resources, Craft CMS benefits from additional RAM and multi-core CPUs. Aim for at least 4GB of RAM and 2-4 CPU cores to comfortably handle backend Control Panel usage, front-end traffic, and background tasks. Solid-state drives (SSDs) are also recommended for faster data access. Have at least 50GB of available storage to start with room to grow.

Configuring PHP with optimal settings improves Craft's performance too. Set the memory limit to at least 256MB or higher. Enable OPcache for faster PHP execution. Other tweaks like raising the max execution time, post size limit and upload size can also enhance performance.

Minimum Server Requirements

At minimum, Craft CMS requires PHP 7.0+ and MySQL 5.5+ to run stably. PHP 7.0 brought improvements but PHP 7.4+ is recommended. MySQL 5.6+ resolves bugs in earlier versions for best reliability.

The bare minimum RAM needed is 1GB but performance will suffer under load. For scalability, opt for at least 2GB. Single core CPUs can work but have multi-core processors for best performance. Storage can start at 25GB for a small site.

Keep the PHP memory limit at 128MB and max execution time at 30 seconds. While Craft will run, these low resources will cause bottlenecks. Raise the limits along with the post size and upload size to improve performance.

Optimizing Performance

There are several ways to optimize Craft CMS performance in addition to adequate hosting resources. Enable Redis or Memcached caching to reduce database hits. Use a CDN like Cloudflare to cache assets and speed up site delivery.

On the database side, tune the configuration and enable query caching. Optimize images by compressing, resizing and employing lazy loading. Install only essential plugins and avoid resource-intensive ones.

Choose a specialized Craft CMS hosting provider like CraftQuest or SpinupWP over shared hosts. Their servers are pre-optimized for Craft with proprietary caching and custom CMS configurations. Investing in a premium host delivers the best Craft CMS performance.

Budget shared hosting lacks resources for optimal Craft speed. VPS and dedicated servers offer power for larger projects. For the best Craft CMS performance, get a robust hosting plan and utilize caching, CDNs, database optimization and other best practices.

Key Factors for Evaluating Craft CMS Hosting

Uptime and Reliability

A hosting provider's uptime record should be a top priority when selecting hosting for a Craft CMS site. Even brief amounts of downtime can equal lost revenue and impact brand reputation.

Leading Craft CMS hosts aim for at least 99.95% uptime, equaling less than 5 minutes of downtime per month. They utilize redundant infrastructure across multiple data centers to minimize outages. Daily offsite backups, DDoS protection, and proactive server monitoring further bolster reliability.

Check recent uptime history to verify a host's claims. 30 day and yearly uptime percentages paint a clearer picture than marketed figures. Independent monitoring sites like Pingdom can confirm uptime track records. Prioritize hosts with a proven background of high availability and reliability.

Page Speed and Performance

Fast page speeds are vital for Craft CMS sites to engage visitors and boost conversions. Technically, sub-200ms page loads are ideal but under 500ms is still decent.

Top hosts optimize web servers for PHP/MySQL efficiency. They implement multiple layers of caching via Redis, Memcached and OPcache. CDNs like Cloudflare cache assets globally. Some providers offer image optimization and compression to accelerate sites.

Watch for guaranteed page load times under 500ms. Use online speed tests to profile performance across hosts. Avoid hosts lacking SSD storage, modern servers and optimized CMS configurations. As Craft CMS sites scale, optimized hosting prevents slow downs.

Technical Support and Customer Service

Even well-configured Craft CMS sites can occasionally encounter issues that require knowledgeable technical support. Prompt and effective customer service minimizes downtime.

Evaluate support channels like live chat for instant help, phone support during extended hours, and ticket systems for tracking. Look for guaranteed responses within an hour or less. The support team should have expertise in troubleshooting Craft CMS specifically.

Compare availability across multiple time zones, languages and platforms. Prioritize hosts with 24/7 support via multiple mediums to maximize uptime. Lacking or slow support leads to greater frustration when resolving Craft CMS issues.

Top Craft CMS Hosting Providers

SiteGround Craft CMS Hosting

SiteGround is a popular managed WordPress host that also provides optimized hosting for Craft CMS sites. Their GrowBig plan starts at $9.99/month supporting up to 100,000 visits per month.

SiteGround Craft CMS hosting includes PHP 7.4, Opcache for improved performance, and Git integration. Free CDN through Cloudflare caches assets globally. The SuperCacher caching further speeds up sites along with Nginx web server and LiteSpeed cache.

Staging and cloning tools allow testing changes on a copy of the live site. Daily offsite backups provide restore points while free SSL secures sites. SiteGround’s proprietary management platform monitors server resources and auto-scales based on traffic.

With data centers on 3 continents, SiteGround delivers fast speeds worldwide. Their expert Craft CMS support can handle technical issues or migration assistance. For small to mid-sized Craft projects, SiteGround is a cost-effective and fully managed hosting solution.

Kinsta Craft CMS Hosting

Kinsta utilizes Google Cloud infrastructure to deliver fast and secure managed Craft CMS hosting. Their Starter plan starts at $30/month with support for PHP 7.4, staging sites, and free SSL.

Each plan comes with a free CDN and Nginx web server for optimized static file delivery. Kinsta’s caching includes Redis Object Cache, Memcached, and OPcache for reduced database queries. Cloning tools help test changes without affecting the production site.

The Google Cloud network spans more than 200 locations to provide low-latency worldwide content delivery. Kinsta includes one-click Craft CMS installs and expert CMS-specific support. With robust hosting performance and reliability, Kinsta is ideal for business-critical Craft sites and studios.

WP Engine Craft CMS Hosting

WP Engine is a managed WordPress host that provides optimized hosting for Craft CMS as well. Their Startup plan begins at $30/month with support for PHP 7.3, free CDN and cloning/staging capabilities.

The Evercache caching system reduces server load and database usage for faster page loads. Each site runs on a dedicated container with resource allocations to prevent noisy neighbors. Malware detection and DDoS protection enhance security.

Backups run daily while 1-click restores enable quick recovery. For larger Craft projects, WP Engine's Enterprise plan adds more resources. Their Craft CMS experts can handle migrations, debugging, and technical support. Overall, WP Engine delivers a robust, secure and optimized hosting environment.

Cloudways Craft CMS Hosting

Cloudways provides managed Craft CMS hosting on top cloud platforms like DigitalOcean, Vultr, AWS and Google Cloud. Pricing starts at $10/month for 1 site with free SSL, backups, and 24/7 support.

A unique advantage is the ability to auto-scale server resources like RAM, storage and bandwidth based on traffic spikes. This prevents overloaded servers during peak periods. Each plan includes a free CDN through BunnyCDN for faster content delivery.

Staging sites enable testing updates. Daily automated backups provide recovery points. Their one-click installer, optimized PHP-FPM servers, and expert support create an ideal hosting environment for Craft CMS. For those new to servers, Cloudways simplifies hosting while providing flexibility across multiple cloud providers.

Choosing the Best Craft CMS Hosting Provider

Comparing Providers

When evaluating hosting providers for Craft CMS, start by comparing their uptime history, page load speeds, support channels and plans/pricing.

Uptime statistics indicate reliability - look for providers with 99.95% or better uptime. Page load speeds should be under 500ms for decent performance. Evaluate support channels like live chat for quick help.

Review plans in terms of storage, bandwidth and extra features like staging, cloning and managed updates. Avoid large upfront costs in favor of affordable monthly pricing. Shortlist providers meeting requirements, then dig deeper into reviews and benchmarks.

Top Recommendations

Based on criteria like uptime, optimized servers, robust features and stellar support, Kinsta is my top recommendation for managed Craft CMS hosting. Their Google Cloud infrastructure offers industry-leading speeds and reliability.

SiteGround is great for smaller Craft projects on a budget. Their GrowBig plan brings all the essentials like free CDN, caching, clones and auto-scaling resources from $9.99/month. Their ease of use and CMS expertise give them an edge.

Key Evaluation Criteria

These are the most critical factors to evaluate when choosing a Craft CMS hosting provider:

Reliability - Aim for hosts with a 99.95% or better uptime record. Multiple data center locations prevent downtime.

Performance - Page loads under 500ms indicate good performance. Choose hosts with SSD storage, CDNs and optimized web servers.

Support - 24/7 customer support via live chat, phone and tickets minimizes downtime. Look for Craft CMS experts.

Features - Cloning, backups, caching, staging, SSL and CMS-specific tools are vital features.

Pricing - Avoid large upfront fees. Look for affordable monthly plans with ability to scale.

By thoroughly comparing Craft CMS hosts on these key criteria, you can identify the provider best matching your site's performance, reliability and budget needs.

Shape April 2022 HR 202
Andy Golpys
- Author

Andy has scaled multiple businesses and is a big believer in Craft CMS as a tool that benefits both Designer, Developer and Client. 

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