Choosing the perfect web hosting solution for ExpressionEngine or any CMS

Choosing your web host is very important, a wrong decision and you can become frustrated and start hitting your head against the wall! Clients can become difficult to deal with and put loads of pressure on you with something that isn’t your responsibility.

There are thousands of web hosts around the world all vying for your business. How do you choose and where do you go?

Web hosts can claim to be WordPress, Statamic or ExpressionEngine experts when it comes to utilising there services. In our experience these claims are nothing but a sales gimmick. These CMS’s / blogging tools require a straight forward LAMP (Linux, Apache, Mysql and PHP) system.

Host’s claiming to be experts or have specially configured services for a CMS like ExpressionEngine are not necessarily a bad choice, but the point is that little custom work has to be done to get a popular CMS running and running well on a server or hosting solution.

Static, Virtual Private Server or Dedicated server?

At the entry point of hosting, shared hosting is the cheapest. With many things in life and business, you get what you pay for. Shared hosting is just that, it shares its resources with other sites. These other sites are unknown to you and can really be any website on the web. This unknown is what makes shared hosting liable to cause problems. If just one of these sites, and it could be in the number of hundreds, becomes overwhelmed with a deluge of traffic then it’s likely that your site will be affected and suffer downtime. It’s also not possible to change server level settings on shared hosting, due to every site on that shared hosting becoming affected by that root level change. You get what you pay for.

The next step up from shared hosting, is a Virtual Private Server (VPS). These act like mini servers and have dedicated resources. This in turn means that the situation above, the traffic deluge, cannot happen on a VPS because dedicated resources are assigned to your account and website. We find that putting a client site on a VPS is a much stronger solution than shared hosting for this reason.

The one downside to VPS’s are that the software and operating system of the server needs to be kept up to date and that’s why we highly recommend you choose a supported VPS. This means the web hosts are responsible for keeping that all important server software up to date.

A dedicated server is yet again a step up. A dedicated solution is similar to a VPS but has more resources allocated to it. Many VPS’s can run on a single server, but as the word dedicated suggests, you have your own server all to yourself. Not surprisingly a solution like this is more expensive than a shared or VPS solution.

Another option here is cloud hosting. This will be cheaper than dedicated servers but allows for an on demand supply of resources. Unfortunately we don’t have much experience here with cloud hosting. We have been put off by the initial config required and problems like caching not surviving across locations.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it… Most of clients run on a VPS. It’s a good and cost effective option for a small / medium business.

The most important factor of any hosting.

Support. This is by far the most important factor in choosing a web hosting solution. You can read all the reviews you want, but you only really know how good your service is when an issue arises. It’s this experience in communicating with your web host that allows judgement to take place.

So who do we use?

I thought it a bit unfair to mention our experience of good and bad hosts but are more than willing to give your our recommendation via email. Simply email me john [at] media surgery dot co dot uk. (all lower case and no spaces). I’ll give you our selection of web hosts in the UK, where we are based and in the United States where we have experience with hosts.