Any business or government agency has to handle a number of things at once to stay afloat. Some typical daily tasks include public relations, marketing, content creation and of course social media. With limited budget and time, this can become an additional burden on the actual goals you or your company or agency are hoping to achieve. Today, we want to explore and compare the options of different hosting services for your SilverStripe CMS websites to take one task off your plate. Without further ado, straight into the topic:
While hosting comes in different variations and options some basics are always the same. You picked either a shared/managed platform or go with a DIY self-hosting approach. This applies to SilverStripe as well as other platforms such as WordPress or Laravel.
Both hosting options have their advantages and disadvantages. The following information for any hosting approach should give you an idea of where the best fit is for your organisation or business.
Shared hosting is a service which serves your SilverStripe website from a server managed by the hosting company. Your site lives next to other websites and applications on the same server. You share resources and costs - this is managed by the hosting company.
Very cost effective: As you are sharing a server, the costs of hosting are split with others. The hosting company takes care of this and takes the economic risks involved. Monthly pricing starts at $3-5 and goes up to around $25. Higher quality services start from $30 per month.
Minimal configuration: If you are signing up for a shared hosting package you usually don't have to configure a lot. The server is already configured and you might need to configure additional options such as email addresses. The website is often installed using a one-click deployment and only tweaked afterwards. There are alternative options in uploading using FTP or automatically deployed via git push.
As you are sharing a server with other websites the resources are shared. You can't rely on resources as they aren't dedicated. This can make your website slower when other websites are under high load.
As expected, the low prices aren't generating enough revenue for the hosting companies. Expect upselling, hidden fees and other efforts to increase the revenue. You might also face issues when customer support is required.
Resources are usually much more limited than advertised. In practice you won't get 'unlimited' traffic or storage, especially at a low price point. If your site has too much traffic it will automatically be slowed down and you are asked to upgrade your plan.
- Small businesses with a low number of visitors on their website. Typically brochure-type of websites representing the company and its offerings. For example, Hotels, Cleaning services, etc. Medium-sized organizations as well as businesses which generate revenue online or collect leads on their website should pick a higher quality service (from $30) to make sure the needed resources and quality is given.
In WordPress circles the term 'managed hosting' is more often used these days. While there are premium managed hosting services which provide great infrastructure and first class support, this isn't always the case.
Often 'managed hosting' is generic shared hosting, at a higher price point. The name has been changed over time to avoid being associated with low-quality shared hosting offers.
The price will give away what you are dealing with: if you are paying less than a hundred dollars per month you won't receive premium services or support. The costs of infrastructure and labour are prohibiting to provide these for a lower price. You get what you pay for.
This being said, for a small site with low traffic this can still be a great deal - you don't need to manage the server and get a hosting ready when you need it. This often is enough to cover your first website or even websites for small businesses.
The other extreme to shared hosting is a self-hosted website. With a self-hosted website you are in full control. But you are responsible as well.
This approach definitely isn't for inexperienced users. If you have no or little experience in managing a web-server this definitely shouldn't be your pick. Skip this section if that is the case.
Full control and full resources: You're not sharing anything with anyone. You've got the full resources and full control.
You are having maximal overview of the system and its moving parts. This allows you to spot issues much quicker than with a shared/managed hosting approach.
You don't need to wait for support responding - you are doing your own support.
You are free to configure your systems to maximum performance of your individual use case.
Requires quite some experience. Even with helper tools this isn't done without experience and knowledge.
You will need to build, manage and maintain solutions for everything from hosting and e-mails to backups. The full responsibilities are with you and your team. You can't just go on holidays and blindly trust in someone else taking care of it.
- Tech-savvy users who like to have all strings in their hands or companies with enough budget to pay for professional and knowledgeable people. This only makes sense if your requirements on hosting are very high.
It's usually more simple than it sounds. Don't try to play around: If you have limited experience, go with a shared hosting where everything is taken care of. If you are hosting your first site this should definitely be the case. Same goes for small businesses and organisations - the additional effort of managing it yourself isn't worth the savings usually.
Self-Hosting is only for experienced people or organisations with tech knowledge in-house. Your online representation is often the first point of contact and shouldn't be the playground for experiments.
When it comes to hosting, some items are nice to have while others are absolute must-haves. Here's a brief overview of what you should look for in a hosting package:
Storage and Traffic: If you want to run a website you will need some storage (often referred to as 'SSD storage') and data transfer (traffic). For a small website, storage isn't usually the bottleneck. 1 GB is more than sufficient. Traffic isn't a limitation either. 100 GB per month are plenty. Just make sure it's included.
RAM: Is often more important than expected. You should make sure your site has sufficient guaranteed RAM. 512 MB is the absolute low end for RAM. A bigger site should have more.
Backups: You don't want to lose your website or customer data if something goes wrong. Make sure backups are included in your package - otherwise you might be surprised. Even if your hosting package includes backups, take regular backups yourself. Never put all your eggs in one basket.
Email: Mailboxes are more a nice to have by now. Most people opt for Gmail or ProtonMail when it comes to receiving and sending business emails.
Domain: Some hosting packages include a free domain name. That's more a nice to have and saves a little time to configure it. If your hosting package includes a domain name, make sure you are registered as the domain owner. Otherwise you might have trouble if you plan to move your website away to another hosting company.
With these points in mind, only the question of where to actually host your site is open. In the following section this should be answered.
The hosting space isn't short of companies and offers luckily. You can pick from a number of companies with different products and price ranges.
SilverStripe Ltd., the company behind the popular CMS, offers a platform for their product. The SilverStripe Cloud is optimized for SilverStripe hosting. 24/7 Support is done from New Zealand. Pricing starts from $300 NZD per month, for a single website with up to 50,000 page views. This platform is run by the experts and provides you with the best possible support you can receive.
The US company TMD offers hosting for a number of systems and platforms including SilverStripe. The pricing starts at a moderate 2.95 USD (around 3.50 NZD or 2.60 Euro) per month. Daily backups and SSL certifications are included in the price. A free domain name is included as well. For existing SilverStripe sites, TMD offers a free transfer service.
A2 offers SilverStripe hosting from 7.99 USD (around 12 NZD or 7 Euro). The package includes unlimited storage, data transfer (traffic) and SSL certifications. Up to 25 email accounts are included in the basic package. Same as with TMD, migrations are included in the price. Support is available via phone, ticket-system or live chat.
As discussed above, self-hosting can bring you a lot of power for a very reasonable price - if you manage the infrastructure yourself. You can make your job much easier if you decide to go with supporting systems such as Laravel Forge - it's possible to host SilverStripe 4 websites in the same way as Laravel applications. Detailed instructions on how to host SilverStripe 4 on Laravel Forge are available. Combine this with Digital Oceans hosting and automatic backups and you are almost there. If you decide to sign up using the link you will get $100 USD to try out the services for two months.
Hosting for SilverStripe websites isn't that different from hosting other systems. You've got the same basic choices. Make sure to consider your strengths properly before making a call. If in doubt pick one of the companies above.