Magento is a great solution for e-commerce, but it has higher server demands than other open source e-commerce platforms. It is mostly related to the fact that Magento’s architecture is very flexible and powerful, which allows Magento developers to extend it easily, but requires more resources to maintain this flexibility. Anyways, it does not mean that Magento site cannot work fast, if you set up the site properly and invest in a good web hosting for Magento you can get a very fast website.  Let’s overview what are the options for Magento hosting:

Shared Hosting

Cheapest option, many hosting companies provide shared packages within $5-20/month range. With this plan your site will share the server resources with tens or hundreds of other sites on the same server: CPU, disk drive, RAM. This means that the performance of your server will depend on how much bandwidth and resources you and your “neighbors” are using.

Apart from the hardware, you also have a common operating system/server environment with other users, thus limiting your ability to change server settings. For example, Magento requires some PHP libraries, which often are not provided by default.

Theoretically Magento can survive in this environment, but don’t expect it to work fast or be able to handle more than several connections at time, and definitely forget about Magento finetuning.

Recommendation: If you don’t plan to have more than 50 products and don’t expect a large number of visitors you can choose shared hosting. But we hope that your online store will be popular, so strongly don’t recommend this type of hosting.

There is an important exception though: some hosting providers offer premium shared hosting packages optimized for Magento. Usually there are much less clients/sites per server and some additional features you won’t find normally on shared hosting like LiteSpeed Enterprise servers, SSD drives, Memcached, SSL certificate etc,  pricing starts from $25.

Recommendation: this type of hosting can be used for entry-level Magento shops with up to several thousands of products, couple storeviews and average traffic. We would suggest the “professional” package to most of clients as having the best cost/value ratio based on features provided.

Dedicated Server

Unlike shared hosting, dedicated server means that your site is the only site on the server and doesn’t share the hardware resources with others. You are free to set up any operating system environment, web servers, caching and database utilities, change any settings and customize everything you want. Often hosting providers offer control panel and setup help.

The advantages of such a solution is performance and flexibility. It is worth every penny of the larger price tag on it, starting at around $50/month in a minimalistic configuration, and for decent hardware starting from $200/month – and then the sky is the limit.

Recommendation: If you have many products, several stores or/and a high number of daily visitors, you should definitely consider a dedicated server solution; however if your business grows you might need to upgrade the server in some future (some hosting companies provide upgrade feature, while others might only offer migration to a more powerful hardware).

Virtual private server (VPS)

Virtual private server (VPS), also called Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS), is a virtual server sharing physical server’s resources with several other sites. Basically it is a part of dedicated server with its own node/resource pool. One single server can have several VPSs, each one with its own operating system, which is controlled by a particular user – so for client it looks completely as dedicated server, and has all its features except, maybe, upgradeability.

This type of hosting often chosen by small businesses that need settings flexibility and decent performance, but can not afford a dedicated server.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting provides server resources for the websites from extensive underlying networks of physical web servers, thus allowing to increase or reduce capacity rapidly when needed.

The cloud hosting can be a universal or Magento-optimized. Universal hosting providers include such well-known companies as Amazon Web Services (EC2) or  Linode; they are unmanaged so you will need a system administrator to configure or manage it. Magento-optimized cloud hosting solutions are pre-configured for the best magento performnce, can have a bunch of software tools for the best Magento performance (caching, search, backups, CDN etc) and are fully managed, so you don’t need a system admin.

We strongly recommend this type of hosting solution to growing companies.

to be continued…