Updated over 6 years ago by Jon Goldberg

Choosing a webhost

Introduction

Your website and/or CiviCRM database must be placed on a computer that's always connected to the Internet in order to be accessible to your visitors and/or staff. While theoretically you can take an unused computer in your office and put the site on it, this has multiple drawbacks. First, if your office's Internet connection goes out, the site becomes unavailable to people outside your office. Second, you take on the responsibility of maintaining the hardware - if the computer breaks, your site is offline until you can fix it.

For these reasons, unless your organization is in a position to support these issues, it's recommended to lease space from a "web hosting company", aka a "webhost". The webhost will maintain the hardware and Internet connection for your site. For small organizations, your choices fall into three categories: Shared hosting, Virtual Private Servers, and Platform-as-a-Service.

Shared hosting

Your webhost will put your site on a server with the site of dozens or hundreds of other sites. This makes it inexpensive, but it tends to be slow, and if one of the other sites gets a spike in usage, it can slow down your site.

Here are the shared webhosts our cients oten use: Shared Webhost options

Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

With a VPS, you're given a private server with a guaranteed level of resources. Because it's your own server, you can set it up as you need, and because your resources are guaranteed, you aren't affected by the activities of others. VPS price is determined by the amount of resources you get, and also whether you pay the webhost to maintain the server for you. You can also purchase VPS management services from Palante.

Some clients on a very low budget will lease an unmanaged VPS, but only maintain it during emergencies. While a bit risky, several of our clients have gone years with this approach successfully.

Here are some VPS companies Palante uses: VPS webhost options

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

With PaaS, you can hire a company to manage not just the server, but the application running on the server - for instance, WPEngine for Wordpress installations, or Pantheon for Drupal and Wordpress. These choices tend to be a bit more expensive than general hosting, but can be helpful if you expect to see spikes in demand, since these platforms will automatically allocate (and charge for) resources as they are needed.