Practical Ecommerce

Shared hosting is best for Magento

Yes, you read that right. I firmly believe that the best hosting for most Magento sites is shared hosting. All too often when you look around for a host for your Magento store, hosting companies say things like “you cannot run Magento in a shared environment”, “Magento is resource hungry so it is better on a VDS/dedicated server”, “you cannot be PCI compliant on a shared host plan”. All these statements are rubbish in general. There is some truth in them, but you should not listen to them unqualified.

What no Ecommerce site owner really wants to admit, is that their sites do not get thousands of visitors a day and dozens of orders a day. The vast majority of Ecommerce sites have less traffic than this. It takes time and hard work to build up traffic on a site, and many have not reached these heights yet. When I first started out it took 3 years and a great SEO company to propel me to these volumes. Then 2 years of recent neglect decimated the traffic, and I am currently re-building my customer base. So I use shared hosting. It was not always so. When I first started using Magento I too listened to these host “experts” and went the VDS route. It was a mistake. Three changes of host latter I realised that my selection criteria for finding a host were wrong, and the type of host plan I was looking for was also wrong.

Hosting plan

Whilst clearly you can achieve virtually anything with a well managed dedicated server, this comes at a price. There is no point spending hundreds of dollars a month unless you need to and your site is generating enough profit to pay for such a deluxe solution. Most Magento stores are put on VDS plans or shared plans. As I have said above, many hosts recommend VDS plans. I do not agree.

For example take a good Internet Server. Fit it with lots of powerful processors, plenty of memory, and a fast connection, and put 30 Magento stores on it. First put the Magento stores in their own VDS envionment (so you are running 30 VDS on the server) and see how they perform. Then close them down and put the same stores in shared environments on that server. They will almost certainly perform faster on the shared set up. This is because the server is not running 30 versions of Apachie, 30 versions of MySql etc. Further the host company will pay MUCH more attention to the up time and configuration of the shared server, than the individual virtual machines. They will be able to set up and tailor the server once to run Magento more efficiently and keep it running.

Of course there are downsides to a shared service. You are much more dependent on the traffic of the other sites that you share the server with. That said a decent host will have processes in place to monitor for this and stop one store hogging all the resources. Further as you are presumably running a proper Ecommerce site you will have your own SSL and thus your own IP address, so you will not be affected by another site being blacklisted.

Obviously you need to pick a host who does not cram thousands of sites onto a single server, and preferably a host who knows how to configure a server to run Magento.

At all times you need to be conscious of your objective. You only real selection criteria when choosing a host. YOUR SITE MUST RUN FAST. Thats it. The customer perception is all that matters. Your site must come up quickly, when they do a search the results must be returned quickly, when they add an item to the cart it must be added quickly, when they checkout the process must flow quickly. No hesitation, no blank screens, no annoying wait.

So with the 4 hosting plans I have used in the last 3 years, the shared one is half the price, twice the speed, and fully managed.

PCI compliance

By this I mean making sure the site can pass a PCI security scan. If a host company cannot get a shared service to pass a PCI scan move on. Many can, so do not listen to their excuses. If you want to store credit card details on your site, then I am afraid that a dedicated server (or two) is required, plus very deep pockets.

Selecting a good host

This is easier said than done. I wasted over two years and went through three hosts before I threw out my selection criteria and went back to basics. I originally looked for a host that would support Magento. That would assist in the upgrades, and help bug fix. I forgot to ensure that the host did proper hosting things first. It is far better to find a good host and a different company to support Magento as and when you need it. Instead I managed to select Magento techies who played at hosting. One host company forgot to renew my main domain and let it expire. One company failed to check that their backups actually worked and could not restore when an upgrade failed. One company used Gmail for their e-mails and sometimes e-mails to them bounced. One company refused to install the latest stable release (1.6.1 at the time) as they would only support 1.4.2 (despite the fact that I NEEDED functions only released in 1.6). One VDS server, although hosted by a company recommended by many Magento users, slowed to a 30 second page response whenever 3 spiders crawled it simultaneously. Their suggestion – restrict the spiders and slow their crawl rate. NO, you want Google, Yahoo and Bing spiders to crawl all over your site. You want them to think that your site is fast and does not need them to be throttled. So I realised that I needed to avoid them and find a proper hosting company.

So my only selection criteria is will my sites run fast for my customers. For this I looked for a host local to me, i.e. UK based. I do not believe is using a host from a different time zone, which is unfortunate as there is a lot more choice in the USA. Then I looked for a host who has knowledge of hosting Magento, who claims to be able to configure their servers for Magento, and who offers good shared hosting.

Once I had a short list I asked their sales team some questions. Mostly about whether they could configure Magento multi store in the way I wanted it. This was not only to see if they could do it, but also to see how fast they responded, and whether they used a ticket system to log e-mail questions. Never again will I go with a host that cannot be bothered to use a ticket system.

I then look up the testimonials on the host to see what sites they are running and how fast they are. I avoid hosts where the testimonial customer has moved away (!). Many Magento hosts have a Magento demo store running to show how fast they can get Magento to run. This is of limited use. If it runs slow then you know to avoid them. If it runs fast then you know nothing, as they could have thrown lots of resources at it, and in any case it is only a few products and no visitors. The only real way of knowing how fast a site will be is to browse a similar site actually running on the hosts servers using the plan you want to purchase. If the host company does not want to provide examples, ask them why.

In the end I found a host which offered a decent shared plan. Who guarantees never to put more than 30 Magento implementations on a server. They run Litespeed servers, which seem to be able to make Magento fly. My conversion rate is up. My site is running faster than it ever has, and I am making good money.


Get the Practical Ecommerce RSS feed

Comments ( 44 )

  1. Udi Orian December 30, 2012 Reply

    I have a Magento store with about 200 SKU, could you please recommend a hosting in th US?
    Will appreciate it very much.
    Best regards

  2. Leonardo Galani March 13, 2013 Reply

    Richard…i got a magento on a dreamhost shared host.. but its taking about 5~7 seconds do load each page… this gonna be a quiete store.. do you think that a VPS with 120 memory RAM will be enough to access it fast for like… 300 views per day?

  3. Daz Gozzett April 25, 2013 Reply

    Interesting post, i actually started my voyage for a shared host that supported innoDB MySQL. I did find a few host services that supported the use of Magento and where within my price range but i failed to see any good reviews for these places, until today.

    I am currently with "iPage" and from personal experience i would urge people to look elsewhere. Unless of course you are willing to ignore the support ticket responses and attempt to fix things without deleting the whole database! (this particular event was due to a renewal error, they had moved my contents from one server to another meaning all the directories where messed up! and i was told to delete the whole database and start fresh).

    So, to cut things short…i want to run a Magento Store for a low user count commerce on shared hosting! my budget is 40-60 Annually. Can anyone suggest a decent shared host for that sorta price line?

  4. Matt Sharper June 4, 2012 Reply

    thanks for this. i do enjoy your blog posts and comments! one question…

    what is good money? :)

  5. Matt Sharper June 4, 2012 Reply

    oh and i would keep a eye on drupal commerce i think it will over take magento

  6. Richard Stubbings June 6, 2012 Reply

    Thank you for your comments. Regarding Drupal, it has a very long way to go. In http://tomrobertshaw.net/2012/02/feb-2012-ecommerce-survey/
    Magento comes top with 6795 sites in the top 1M sites, Drupal Commerce has 15.

    As for what is "good money", well I I would like to think that any e-commerce site should make sufficient profit to both pay for its upkeep, pay off its initial investment, and still have profit.

  7. Kristoffer Nørkjœr Randløv Jepsen June 7, 2012 Reply
  8. Richard Stubbings June 8, 2012 Reply

    Well spotted. A hiccup. My developer decided to rush ahead and without thinking try to upgrade the LIVE site without taking a working backup. The host took the site down and restored from their backups to get me running again. Once again proving that you need to use a proper hosting company.

  9. Matt Sharper June 11, 2012 Reply

    but does it pay your mortgage, bills and for food? :)

  10. Corey Philipski June 13, 2012 Reply

    Good Post. Most people have this flawed mentality that Magento will only run on vps or dedicated and I think the hosting companies try to upsell with that concept. I’ve got 4 Magento sites recieving 500+ visitors a day on hostgator shared packages. Zero problems.

  11. Richard Stubbings June 15, 2012 Reply

    Thank you for the feedback. I have heard good things about hostgator but as they are US based I don’t consider them for my UK site.

    It is always nice to hear of a shared magento instance with so many visitors. Could you give one of your URLs so we can see the speed?

  12. SouthWind June 19, 2012 Reply

    I have a Magento site, right now we only get <500 unique visits per day, but we had to go with a VPS because shared hosting just didn’t work. Most shared hosts won’t let you edit php.ini, and the file upload & timeout limits just weren’t enough. And not enough memory to perform some basic tasks. We have 85,000 sku’s. We do bulk uploads to update pricing & stock status, with a VPS we can update 20,000 records in under a minute. Impossible on a shared server.

  13. Richard Stubbings June 19, 2012 Reply

    I would suggest that it was impossible on SOME shared servers. But I take your point, 85,000 SKUs is a serious number. I suspect that the vast majority of Ecommerce sites has a lot less than this number.

  14. Joe Vlcek June 21, 2012 Reply

    Sorry, I disagree with almost everything in this post. Magento is a resource hog. It needs a solid host. Just any dedicated server from any host is NOT the way to go. You need a server that is optimized.

    I have dealt with several Magento sites and I can’t tell you how many times people are on shared or even dedicated servers, but Magento takes forever to do anything.

    One thing I learned in business… When you need something done right, go with a specialist. The top 2 Magento hosting companies are http://nexess.net and http://magemojo.com and the prices are cheap.

    Some of my clients use Mage Mojo and they are solid. If you can’t invest $60 per month for a reliable host, then you should not be starting a business.

    Put Magento on a shared host and you will likely pay the price… The price to move to a new host because your site is slow and you are missing out on sales every day.

  15. Richard Stubbings June 23, 2012 Reply

    You are of course entitled to disagree. However I have run my shops on shared hosting and Virtual hosting, and they run faster on shared. This is a simple fact and not an opinion.

    I agree with you that you need a server that is optimised for running Magento. That it is pointless trying to run on any kind of server that has not been set up properly. This does NOT preclude using a shared hosting plan.

    In your comment you recommend http://nexess.net. They are a good hosting company that specalises in Magento. They offer a shared hosting at $25. Are you perhaps suggesting that they do not know what they are doing? That they are wrong to offer this plan? I would have tried them except that it took them 2 weeks to reply to the sales question.

    Regarding your $60 point. Why should any sensible business spend $60 when $25 could provide a perfectly good service? It is not a matter of not being able to afford the $60, it is simply that a good business monitors costs properly and does not spend more than needed.

  16. Richard Stubbings June 23, 2012 Reply

    I must confess that the statement "If you can’t invest $60 per month for a reliable host, then you should not be starting a business." has been irritating me. It is a typical example of how new businesses are sometimes pushed into needless extra expense. Scare tactics.

    Does it mean that you cannot get reliable hosting under $60 a month? Is it saying that you must budget $60 a month for hosting or your business will fail? It is actually nonsense. Any business, especially new businesses, need to be careful with money. They should not overspend needlessly.

    It is true that getting a good reliable host is essential. That your site must run fast and customers should never be left waiting. It is also true that cheap hosting is not the way to go. You can get good, reliable, and fast hosting for Magento for a lost less than $60 a month, PROVIDED you do not have thousands of products or thousands of visitors.

    When you start a business and create a business plan, then it is essential to build into that plan a proper budget for reliable hosting. It is sensible to review the market and look at similar sized stores and see what hosting plans they have. Then set the budget accordingly.

  17. eTailAlliance June 26, 2012 Reply

    Richard – I’m interested, who do you use for your hosting?

  18. Richard Stubbings June 27, 2012 Reply
  19. sean0 July 2, 2012 Reply

    Great article. I so agree with it. Specially since it is very difficult to explain clients with starter websites why they should pay $25 a month when Godaddy is offering hosting for $5.95.
    I have great experience with Nexcess (last 3 years) and bad experiences with Simplehelix (last 5 years)
    I was wondering what you guys would recommend for low end,starter hosting (Shared hosting). Any good suggestions ? I know Hostgator and bluhost are popular but I am not sure if they are really that good.

  20. Richard Stubbings July 3, 2012 Reply

    For the USA I have heard good things about Hostgator, but have never used them. For the UK http://www.edgehosting.co.uk/.

  21. Harry Margiolakiotis July 4, 2012 Reply

    What about the magentoGO platform? Have you tried using that? If not, I am guessing there are some good reasons for you not to? I am asking as I am in the process of setting something similar up and for issues like the ones described in the article it sounds like an ideal solution – it should just work. What are the limitations you wanted to avoid by having your own installation?

  22. Richard Stubbings July 5, 2012 Reply

    I do not like hosted cart solutions. Maybe a bit irrational of me. It limits the themes you can use and it limits the extensions you can use. So they all end up clones of each other. It is a easy solution and many many sites use it.

    I am not sure that it allows multi store
    It is a bit expensive ($125 a month)

    It is probably a reasonable start for people who have limited technical ability/desire to get hands dirty.

  23. Markus Abraham July 8, 2012 Reply

    Great article. I especially like the UK perspective, as most information out there tends to be US centric. I decided to give edgehosting a try for a multistore Magento site I am planning. I have seen edgehosting also offer Magento hosting. Is this article based on the standard web hosting offering or the Magento sites offering?

    Thank you!

  24. Richard Stubbings July 9, 2012 Reply

    I use the MagePro hosting at Edgehosting which is £23 plus VAT, because it is multistore. As they are a Cpanel host you only get 1 IP per account, so you must either have a multi domain SSL or use the subdomain multi-store method for checkout. [See my blog on Magento Multistore.](http://www.practicalecommerce.com/blogs/post/958-Magento-Multi-Store-and-SEO)

  25. Edith Karnitsch September 3, 2012 Reply

    Hi Richard – stumbled upon this by accident. Very much miss your shop in Norwich but great to hear that you’re doing well online.

    Fully agree with your views on shared hosting. Unless you throw serious money at it, a VPS or Dedi box will have fewer CPUs and RAM than a very good shared account.

    Edith @ TerraNetwork

  26. Richard Stubbings September 6, 2012 Reply

    Why not jump in your car and visit the shop in Beccles. It’s only 17 miles away? Thanks for your comments.

  27. Portobello MacahelAccessories September 17, 2012 Reply

    Hi

    Just stumble upon this article, which I find very handy and useful. My website macahel.co.uk is very slow since I migrated from WordPress to Magento. Before my website wasn’t even half professional, pictures was not good, it was slow, bad description but I had many visit and customer buying, since Migrating to Magento visit and customers buying to just went downhill and website is exceptionally slow.

    I was reading the edge hosting that you use and thinking anyone else used and your own experience does it make a big different to the website. At the moment my website takes about 8-12 secs upload and the checkout I find super slow, some of my customers report they have to wait upto 5minutes.

  28. Richard Stubbings September 18, 2012 Reply

    A slow web site will cripple sales. Visitors will give up and go elsewhere. Who is your host? Depending on your number of visitors you need to move to a better host. Either a good shared like mine, or if you have sufficient traffic to warrant it, a VPS or dedicated. How many visitors do you get?

    Also when you changed software, what did you do to ensure that google did not loose all your pages?

    The speed of your site will also depend on the size of your images, and the extensions used. Some extensions can cripple performance.

  29. Peter Johnson September 19, 2012 Reply

    Thanks Richard for this informative post. Really useful for me.

  30. magentoplugins September 26, 2012 Reply

    This really is a new thinking for me, because previously i used to think that Magento by default requires intensive resources, but i did not ever think that it might only be for high traffic sites. But on the other hand i am worried about resources Magento required to run itself like db queries etc. My site is http://www.fmeextensions.com

  31. Richard Stubbings September 26, 2012 Reply

    Thank you for your comments, but are you sure you are not simply trying to promote your site which sells magento extensions. If you, a magento developer, do not know more than me, a simple user, then it is a poor recommendation to your extensions.

  32. Jono Hartman September 27, 2012 Reply

    I just feel the need to pitch who in for those might be considering hosting Magento on a shared platform, under the impression that Shared Hosting (by edgehosting.co.uk) equals Shared Hosting (by any other shared host; like GoDaddy). Absolutely not the case.

    By any benchmark, Magento is 100%, without argument a resource hog (the guys who teach the certification classes for Magento at their headquarters in LA will corroborate that opinion verbatim; watch the training videos).

    Under ‘Selecting a Good Host’, you do explain well what process you went through evaluating hosts. But the take away shouldn’t be that Shared Hosting is what you should choose to look for in a Magento host; its that you should look for ANY hosting provider who tailors their resources specifically for Magento deployments, regardless of whether dedicated or shared. As you noted: using Litespeed, a cache accelerator (APC or eAccelerator), etc. should be the critera.

    Economically, yes, Shared Hosting is good for small businesses. But for those people with little knowledge on what they should look for – if they read your article and say "ok, Shared Hosting is the #1 criteria I need to look for in a host", they’re probably going to sink a good chunk of change into a wrong decision, and then pay a lot more when they’re forced to switch to a better host.

    You should have just said edgehosting.co.uk kicks ass, their stack has proven to work well, even while in a shared environment.

  33. Richard Stubbings September 27, 2012 Reply

    I thought that my take was look for a host that can make your site fly. The most important thing is how fast your site works. I do not know enough about the technology to say with any absolute certainty that Litespeed is the only solution. It certainly works for me.

    I would never want any person looking at this article think that cheap shared hosting is the answer. IT IS VERY UNLIKELY. Good shared hosting for Magento is likely to cost at least $25 a month if not more. It is simple economics. You need to be on a host that does not over fill a server. Therefore they will have less clients per server and will need to raise the cost of running that server from this smaller number.

    On top of that if you pick a host that has configured that server for running Magento, then Magento will run faster.

    I would NEVER recommend a UK host here where most readers are US. It is always better for a variety of reasons to host at least on the same continent.

  34. Marco Viani November 6, 2012 Reply

    Nice article with interesting debate.

    It is since 10 months that I am trying to run a business on Magento but I have encountered so many issues. I think I made 2 mistakes:
    1- I asked an indian company to do the design
    2- I chose GigaPros as server providers.

    As per point 1, I could not afford the 5-7K euros for a Magento site designed and developped by EU professionals so I outsourced in India. I am encountering so many troubles and bugs you cannot imagine.

    Point 2, GigaPros have actually excellent plans (well, i am not that expert, but comparing to others I find them great), and they are extremely fast in responding to email tickets (most of the time within 30 minutes). BUT my site has crashed already 2 times in the last 3 months and the datas went lost. Moreover the site, even before adding any product, was extremely slowly.

    So now I am looking for an EU server provider.. preferably based in Italy.
    Do you have any to suggest ?

    Is there any significant difference from a SEO point of view if I chose an english or german or french server provider knowing that my Magento store has as main market Italy ? I actually target the english, french and german markets as well..

    Thank you again Richard for this article

  35. alphonet November 11, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for a good read.

    I am setting up a UK based store. Is US hosting a complete no-no, then?. I have hosted many non-ecommerce sites on hostgator with no problems, and was going to use them again until I read this.

    I always used US for hosting because (after bad experiences with UK companies) they are very helpful answering questions / solving problems around the clock. I find UK customer / technical support is sooooo bad (americans are just better at customer service). Also most of my work time on websites is evening which is a working day for the USA. Will edgehosting answer questions 24/7 and efficiently , if so I would give them a go?

    One more question, if I may. I want to focus on sales / sourcing / marketing not the "back end" of technical issues on the store. For someone who is not too techie the problem with shared hosting is they dont 1) do upgrades for you 2) dont help with extensions. Can you recommend someone for Magento who could do such things cheaply for someone on a (cheaper) shared hosting plan. That would seem a good balance rather than going for dedicated servers and still struggling with tech side

  36. Richard Stubbings November 14, 2012 Reply

    I have heard good things about Hostagator as I say, but have never used them. I have never tried to host e-commerce stores outside the main market area. Not only do you have the real latency problem, but there is also a potential problem getting the listings high on google,co.uk if it believes that it is a US site, and finally there is the potential nightmare of data protection and storing the data outside the UK.

    Edge are OK at support but not fantastic.

    As for upgrades/magento help, currently I do this in house, but have heard good things about http://www.edmondscommerce.co.uk/

  37. Frank October 3, 2013 Reply

    I saw someone mention Hostagtor, they do not have the pdo or pdo_mysql extensions installed on any of the shared plans. I setup a test site yesterday, and decided to try to back it up before i did any customizations. This produced a 500 server error. I checked and it actually deleted several folders. I am currently testing nexcess, but support has been ify at best, and i have incurred many problems which still persist after they moved my account to their main data center.

  38. Eric tran October 15, 2013 Reply

    Shared hosting is good for new business, upgrade as soon as possible when your business grows. Take a look at this review if you’re look for good magento optimized hosting
    http://magentotutorial.org/top-5-magento-web-hosting/

  39. Saga October 30, 2013 Reply

    Very interesting, BUT what about product import and update? how many products do you got? Let say importing 6000 products with magmi on this shared system, any problemes. It uses a lot of processor resources.
    Could you please also send your answer to me by email. Thanks!

  40. TImothy January 3, 2014 Reply

    It’s not true. Shared plan is not the best plan for every magento store. I’ve been with bluehost and hostgator. With hostgator, you cannot change the max_execute_time so it gives many 504s and timeouts with the shared plan, I cannot even download my product datafeed. Bluehost is better, I can download more than 3,000 products, but it is not stable it gives you 500s when you are not watching(especially during evenings and off-duty hours).

    • James February 4, 2014 Reply

      As Timothy said Hostgator has some pretty severe restrictions with their shared plan. We’ve been on Simple Helix shared for 2 years. $50/month and great CS. Once our site exceeded 30k visits / month and 5k products, we had to utilize their remote db for an additional $25/month. No issues with db timeouts then. I recommend looking at Simple Helix.

  41. Mallesh February 21, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for the detail provided, which is extremely useful. We are at present on WordPress hosted on regular sharing server/resources type. We are trying to move onto Magento and the current hosting company – dream host has suggested that we move into VPS so that we can get more ram. What do you suggest?

    Many thanks in advance.
    Mallesh

  42. Jamy April 2, 2014 Reply

    Nexcess Hosting is really good, even i have suggested few of my client for hosting there online store. They have got the good offer from online coupon site http://www.thetechsuport.com/goto/magento-optimized-hosting-on-nexcess-hosting-as-low-as-24-99/439

  43. David April 23, 2014 Reply

    The hosting for magento must follow the magento system requirements and then limit the resource enough to run. But still, for the best performance it have to support caching system. Maybe you can look at our list of magento hosting company who follow all of the requirements in http://magento2x.com/top-3-best-magento-hosting-award-winning-2014/

Email Newsletter Signup

Sign up to receive EcommerceNotes,
our acclaimed email newsletter.

And receive a free copy of our ebook
50 Great Ecommerce Ideas