5 Best Drupal Web Hosting Providers of 2018
As Drupal is one of the most popular open source content management systems on the web, designed to work on both Linux and Windows servers, all of the major web hosting companies will support the installation and use of the script in web development on their service plans. When evaluating hosting providers for Drupal support, the main aspect to confirm is the web server’s PHP version and extension configuration settings. Drupal 7 will run on any version of PHP over 5.2.5, but 5.4 is recommended and 5.6 is the latest version. Drupal 8 requires a minimum of PHP 5.5.9. Both core distributions of Drupal will run faster on PHP 7.0, although this has not been tested for all third-party modules. Some of the main PHP extension requirements are: mod_rewrite, register_globals, magic_quotes, GD, and ImageMagick. Site owners should confirm that any web hosting plan purchased for the purposes of Drupal hosting includes the ability to overwrite custom .htaccess and php.ini files, with cURL and SSH access required for advanced development support using Git, Drush, and the auto-update features of the CMS.
After the fundamental system requirements for running Drupal are confirmed on a web hosting plan, site owners can look for the inclusion of platform specific development tools, cloud hosting optimization features, and server extensions that increase the available functionality of the CMS. Examples of these recommended Drupal web hosting options are:
- The use of Nginx, Varnish Cache, OPcache, APC, or a CDN service for page caching;
- Pre-installed integration with Apache Solr search, Git, Drush, and other development tools;
- The availability of Redis, PostgreSQL, PHP 7, and other alternative frameworks on the server;
- The inclusion of dev sandbox subdomains on the hosting plan for testing code or modules;
These features are all used by Drupal developers to build out the highest levels of website performance optimization for the CMS in a web hosting environment and go far beyond what a web hosting plan only meeting the minimum system requirements for Drupal will provide.
This article will review the five best Drupal hosting companies that we have identified for web development on the basis of web server hardware performance, platform features, quality of customer support, included software tools, and the affordability of each plan. Read on to learn more about finding the top Drupal web hosting providers:
Our Top 5 Favorite Drupal Web Hosting Providers:
|Web host:||Price range:||# of sites:||Panel:||Learn more:|
|InMotion Hosting||$29.99 to $74.99/mo||Unlimited||cPanel||View Plans|
|HostGator||$4.95 to $9.95/mo||Unlimited||cPanel||View Plans|
|A2 Hosting||$3.92 to $9.31/mo||1 to unlimited||cPanel||View Plans|
|Bluehost||$6.95 to $15.95/mo||1 to unlimited||cPanel||View Plans|
|Web Hosting Hub||$3.99 to $7.99/mo||2 to unlimited||cPanel||View Plans|
1. InMotion Hosting – Powerful, Cloud-Based VPS Hosting for Drupal
One of the best ways to improve WordPress website performance is to allocate more hardware resources on the web server to CMS code and database request processing requirements. InMotion Hosting’s shared plans start at 1 GB of dedicated system RAM on the “Launch” plan, which will support 2 WordPress websites, with a further allocation of 2 GB RAM on their “Power” plan for up to 6 domains. Their “Pro” plan supports unlimited websites and databases with an allotment of 4 GB of system RAM. These shared hosting plans are enabled with an SSD storage upgrade to provide better performance for WordPress websites than many VPS plans at other web hosting companies offer. InMotion Hosting also scales the limits on concurrent system resource requests, simultaneous server connections, and entry processes on each shared hosting plan to establish a greater level of shared server resources on the higher tiered accounts. The unlimited “Pro” plan costs only $7.49 per month, but has the same RAM allocation as their entry level VPS plan at $29.99 per month. InMotion Hosting’s VPS plans range from 4 GB to 8 GB of system RAM per account, while their dedicated servers start at 8 GB of RAM and max-out with 64 GB at a cost of $539.99 per month. InMotion Hosting includes the BoldGrid site builder utility and WP-CLI for command line management of the CMS on all of their Drupal hosting plans. View all WordPress hosting plans
2. HostGator – Hybrid Cloud Web Hosting for WordPress
HostGator is another cPanel web host with a number of optimized service plans that are suitable for advanced Drupal web development. While their shared hosing plans have all of the LAMP platform tools required for Drupal, HostGator’s cloud hosting, VPS, and dedicated server plans will provide the highest levels of performance. For those looking for an “out of the box” solution, HostGator’s cloud hosting platform offers a greater allocation of RAM and CPU cores on accounts, with low-density premium hardware and load-balanced network traffic for improved Drupal script performance. HostGator also offers Varnish Cache and CloudFlare CDN integration on their cloud hosting platform, at prices competitive with most shared hosting plans. Developers who are looking to implement an Nginx solution for Drupal, or custom development solutions with Redis, Apache Solr, and PHP 7, will need to choose a VPS or dedicated server plan in order to install the required software extensions. With some of the best discounts on hardware available in the industry, HostGator’s VPS and dedicated server plans provide high performance support for Drupal websites with the ability to custom configure the server environment to scale to meet the requirements of the most demanding levels of user traffic. View all Drupal hosting plans
3. A2 Hosting – Managed & A2 Optimized WordPress Hosting Plans
A2 Hosting is one of the best web hosting companies in the industry for LAMP development, leading the introduction of web standards and new programming languages on their platform. The company has SSD driven shared web hosting plans with PHP 7 support that are ideal for websites built with Drupal. A2 Hosting has three different types of VPS plan available for customized server installations. Drupal administrators who prefer to run a Linux version other than CentOS can sign up for a dedicated server or VPS plan with choices of CloudLinux, Debian, Fedora, Slackware, Ubuntu, Gentoo, or FreeBSD. This can be a good option for Drupal site owners developing a custom Nginx, Varnish Cache, or Redis solution. With the ability to select variable RAM and CPU configurations on A2 Hosting’s VPS and dedicated server plans, Drupal site owners can dial in the exact amount of system resources required and use the provided resource monitoring control panel to upgrade when user traffic requires it. With A2 Hosting’s managed VPS and dedicated server plans, developers can install needed server extensions on the platform and leave management of the security environment to licensed professionals in the data center. A2 Hosting’s platform can be used for high performance optimization of Drupal websites, and contains all of the options required for advanced web development solutions. View all Drupal hosting plans
4. Bluehost – Hybrid Cloud Hosting Plans for Drupal Hosting
Bluehost has a custom-built cloud hosting platform with integrated Nginx and Varnish Cache support that will be of interest to many Drupal site owners looking for better CMS performance over what a shared hosting account will provide. With 2 GB of dedicated system RAM for single sites and options for 4 GB to 6 GB of RAM on unlimited domain plans, Drupal will run much faster on the cloud platform, with better page load times and the ability to scale easier to meet a larger target audience. Bluehost’s cloud servers are installed with OpenStack for load balancing on server requests for an additional layer of performance gains. At only $6.95 to $15.95 per month, Bluehost’s cloud hosting plans can save site owners the cost of implementing custom developed solutions on a VPS or dedicated server. However, there are still many server extensions for Drupal development that cannot be installed on Bluehost’s shared or cloud hosting plans. Bluehost’s VPS and dedicated servers operate on a managed framework with instant deployment to simplify systems administration. The security maintenance of the servers is managed 24/7 by professional technicians. Bluehost’s VPS and dedicated server plans support the advanced programming language extensions for Drupal module development that cannot be installed on the shared or cloud hosting platforms, making them an excellent choice for sites with high performance system requirements. Bluehost’s hardware prices are some of the lowest in the industry. View all Drupal hosting plans
5. Web Hosting Hub – Affordable & Reliable Shared Web Hosting for Drupal
Web Hosting Hub offers “one click” Drupal CMS installations on their hosting accounts with the option for a free website transfer on sign-up. What distinguishes the service is primarily the implementation of scaled server resources on their unlimited hosting plans. With the entry-level Spark plan, which will support 2 websites, clients receive an allocation of 1 GB of RAM (2 GB virtual RAM), 100 I/O processes, and a limit of 40 simultaneous user connections to the server. With the Nitro plan, the allocations are doubled to 2 GB of RAM (4 GB virtual RAM), 200 I/O processes, and 80 simultaneous connections. The system resource allocation increases again on the Dynamo plans to 4 GB RAM (8 GB of virtual RAM), 350 I/O processes, and a max limit of 120 simultaneous connections. The combination of dynamic resource allocation with 20x faster SSD storage on the accounts guarantees better Drupal performance at Web Hosting Hub than on other shared hosting plans. Web Hosting Hub’s platform is based on cPanel, CentOS Enterprise Linux, and Apache, with support for suPHP as well as the MySQL and PostgreSQL database frameworks. The company does not currently offer VPS or dedicated server plans. Web Hosting Hub is a good option to add extra server resources to a Drupal website on a cloud optimized shared hosting network, while avoiding the costs of an upgrade to more expensive hosting plans. View all Drupal hosting plans
What to Look for When Purchasing Web Hosting for Drupal
Drupal websites have particular requirements for performance optimization which rely heavily on the amount of system resources available to the CMS when processing code on page views. Increasing the level of hardware on a hosting plan, through greater RAM allocation, more available CPU cores, and faster storage options like SSDs is one of the best ways to boost Drupal website performance. The problem with this approach is that every hardware upgrade is more expensive, and many site owners operate on a strict budget when dedicating business resources to web hosting. The other approach to Drupal performance optimization involves reducing the load on server resources so that less code processing is required by the hardware on every page load. This is done through improved page caching, Views caching, file compression, CSS aggregation, and using static HTML for rendering output to browsers rather than relying on dynamic pages built from PHP code with many resource requests to the database. Using these methods in multiple layers will bring the best overall results for Drupal website performance and can be used to scale Drupal on any hosting account to support higher levels of page views with faster page load times.
Some of the most important features to look for when deciding on the purchase of a Drupal web hosting plan are:
- Drupal-Specific Development Tools – platform-specific tools are the main difference between web hosts specializing in Drupal & those that only support the installation
- Cloud Server Optimization – the Drupal CMS will run much better on cloud platforms vs. shared hosting with more RAM, CPU cores, and better page caching support
- Premium Hardware with Low Density – hosting accounts with fast multi-core processors, SSD storage, and a lower number of domains sharing the same hardware resources
- Advanced Page Caching Features – improve Drupal performance through multi-layered file & database process caching including Varnish, Nginx, OPcache, APC, & Memcached
- Integrated CDN Support – many web hosts offer free CloudFlare CDN services with their shared accounts which can be used to speed up page loads for anonymous users
- Pre-Installed Git & Drush – the two most popular developer tools for Drupal need to be installed on the web server and enabled with SSH access on the hosting account
- Server Resource Allocations – scalable system resources that include more RAM, CPU cores, and I/O processes per account lead to superior performance gains for Drupal
- Systems Administration Options – best is the combination of cPanel for domain name administration and server configuration with command line tools over SSH connections
While most shared Linux hosting plans support the minimum requirements for installing a Drupal website, and Drupal will also run on Windows servers, only a few companies specialize in providing platform-specific tools for the CMS. Drush is the most commonly used developer utility for Drupal, but it is a command line tool intended primarily for running shell scripts and most website owners do not have the technical training required to operate it efficiently. Apache Solr is a server extension that can be used to replace Drupal’s core search capabilities which many Drupal hosts include in their platform, but it is rarely included on shared hosting plans. Nginx and Varnish Cache integration with Drupal will require custom module support to work optimally with the CMS. However, because many Drupal modules require the Apache .htaccess file to operate and Nginx uses a .conf file, there can be many compatibility issues that arise. One solution for this is to run Drupal on a cloud hosting plan that uses Nginx as a front-end server and Apache as a back-end server on a “Platform as a Service” implementation that is already tested for advanced CMS support. Otherwise it will be required to run Drupal on a VPS or dedicated server with PHP-FPM in order to build a custom integration with Nginx and there will still be a lot of issues with third-party modules to debug.
The best way to optimize a Drupal website for better performance over what is available on shared hosting plans is to allocate more server resources to the CMS. Making more RAM available for processing page requests or running the script on premium hardware with more CPU cores and solid state drive (SSD) storage enabled on the account will guarantee much faster page load speeds. A2 Hosting and Web Hosting Hub both offer higher levels of server resource allocation on their shared hosting plans, scaling up to 4 GB of RAM, which is equivalent to many VPS plans at less than half the price. Both HostGator and Bluehost’s cloud hosting plans include up to 6 GB RAM allocation on the upper tier accounts, available at only $2 more per month than a standard shared Linux hosting plan at other companies. For most Drupal site owners, the performance gains attainable through the higher resource levels make the minimal cost of the upgrade over shared hosting plans justified, while the addition of advanced page caching and load balancing on the network traffic will further optimize production site deployment. For power users with custom web development requirements, InMotion Hosting’s VPS plans are built on premium hardware and provide superior performance for Drupal websites. For complex Drupal websites with many installed third-party modules, a large number of Views pages with dynamic content, and professional ecommerce requirements, upgrading to a cloud hosting or VPS plan over shared hosting can be considered the best way to secure better page load speeds for the CMS.