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magento & ecommerce

Choosing a host for your Magento web store

While Magento has been a leading eCommerce platform for years now, not many hosting services have the resources to ensure the optimal functionality of your installation. Even though your business website is running smoothly on your current web host, your Magento store might be a different story.

To guarantee the success of your Magento store, you need to find the right host for it. In some cases, this means that you will have to transfer the entire content of your website to a new hosting service.

In this article, we will look into the key things to consider when searching for an ideal hosting solution for your Magento store. We will also help you choose the type of hosting that is best suited for your needs.

Four things to look for in a Magento host

Before you settle on a host for your Magento store, you need to look into the services they offer to make sure they meet the following four requirements.

1. Compatibility

First, you need to check if the service your hosting provider offers meets the minimum requirements for installing and running a Magento store. This is particularly important if you’re using Magento 2.0 or higher as you need at least PHP 7.0 for everything to run smoothly and many hosts only offer PHP 5.x.

Magento also has very strict rules about PCI compliance, which is why you need to find a PCI-compliant hosting option. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is a protocol that ensures secure financial transactions and protects the safety of your buyers’ credit card data and personal information. If you fail to comply with Magento’s PCI requirements, they could remove your ability to process payments.

2. Security

If you’re one of many merchants who sell their products exclusively online, the livelihood of your business depends on your Magento store. To ensure the safety of your customers and their data, you need to protect your store from viruses, malware, and hackers. Although there are some steps you can take like using backup DNS services, most of it is the responsibility of your hosting provider.

Ideally, your provider needs to have a sturdy antivirus protection for the server where your store is hosted. They also have to have a hardware or software-based protection mechanism against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Finally, they should offer at least basic firewall features, as well as the ability to enable or disable certain PHP modules that are built into the Magento platform.

3. Speed

Slow loading times can be detrimental to the success of your Magento store. If pages on your store take forever to open, potential customers may turn to your competition for a faster, frustration-free shopping experience. This is why you need to make sure that your site is always working at optimal speed.

To ensure a fast server response rate and excellent loading times, you need to have a good server-side caching solution in place. Depending on the type of hosting you opt for, you may need to provide it yourself. However, if you opt for shared hosting, it is up to your provider to give you access to xCache, memCache, or some other PHP-accelerating caching system.

4. Tech Support

No matter how much time, effort, and money you invest in its security, your Magento store could sometimes go offline. It can be due to some mistake you made, but also because of some problems on your provider’s end. In any case, you will need to act very quickly because every minute your store is offline could mean a loss of sales, especially if it happens during particularly busy times of the year.

For this reason, you need to opt for a hosting service that offers excellent technical support. Sure, you can’t expect them to offer real-time support 24/7, but they should at least be able to respond to your emails within a few hours. Also, if your provider is asking you to pay extra for additional tech support features like live chat or phone support, you might want to consider it.

Finding the right type of hosting

Once you’ve found a host that meets all the requirements outlined above, you need to choose the right type of hosting for your needs. As a rule, most hosting providers offer the following three options.

1. Shared Hosting

With shared hosting, your web store is hosted on a physical server shared with several other websites. Most website owners opt for this option because they get a decent amount of storage space at a very affordable price. However, while it works well for WordPress or other CMS platforms, shared hosting might not be the best choice for hosting your Magento web store.

That’s because you only get a limited amount of resources, both in terms of physical storage and the server’s RAM capacity. Whereas WordPress websites don’t consume many resources, Magento stores often do. With increasing traffic and data storage requirements, your store may experience lagging and extended downtime. For this reason, it may be best to opt for some other type of hosting.

2. Virtual Private Server (VPS)

Although similar to shared hosting, virtual private servers (VPS) have one major advantage. Namely, even though you’re essentially sharing a server with others, you are not sharing actual physical resources with them. This means that you can easily expand your disk space, bandwidth, and memory depending on the size of your Magento store. That’s not the case with shared hosting, where servers are operating at maximum capacity and there’s no way to expand your resources beyond what’s already allocated to you.

Due to their adaptability, virtual private servers are the go-to option for most merchants running their own Magento stores. Also, while VPS hosting is slightly more expensive than the shared option, you will get all the perks of having your own dedicated server while paying considerably less.

3. Dedicated Server

You can also opt for a dedicated server, which is usually the most expensive of the three options. Dedicated hosting is intended for stores with large product libraries (anywhere from a few thousand to 500,000+ products). While it’s certainly preferable to shared hosting – after all, you get an entire server with unlimited resources – it may not be necessary if you’re running a medium-sized Magento store. If that’s the case, VPS hosting will be more than enough to meet your demand for resources.

The Takeaway

To give your Magento store a fair chance to succeed, you need to find a compatible hosting service that offers excellent speeds and state-of-the-art security features. Seeing as even the most secure websites aren’t always immune to hackers and DDoS attacks, reliable tech support is also a must.

Which type of hosting you choose should depend solely on the size of your Magento store and its product library. Shared hosting might be enough if you’re only selling a handful of signature products. For everything else, VPS hosting should do the trick. But if you’re running Magento 2.0 and have thousands of products in your database, you may want to consider getting a dedicated server.

By interactivated • on August 16, 2018

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