PHP Hosting

PHP Hosting – What You Need to Know.

When searching for a PHP hosting provider, there are many aspects you need to take into account.

A quick online search will yield numerous results on how to go about it. And while there are general guidelines that can aid in your search for a good host, there is always that unique element that helps you determine if a hosting company and your website are a good fit.

You see, a website developed using PHP will have its own unique needs. This is down to the fact that it is part of the LAMP (Linux (OS), Apache (web server), MySQL (database), and PHP (programming language)) stack.

That said, when it comes down to choosing PHP hosting companies, there are several pointers that should guide your search.

Before we get to those, however, let’s first have a quick overview of PHP.

What is PHP?

PHP, acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor, is a scripting language designed to create dynamic web pages such as, for example, shopping carts, login pages and so on.

It is the most popular scripting language in use on the web today, running on more than 83% of all websites. These include many of the big boys – Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia, WordPress, Mailchimp, Flickr, Tumblr, just to mention but a few.

Partly to thank for the popularity of PHP is its ability to work well with the LAMP stack we just alluded to.

Why PHP Hosting?

If your website is built with PHP, it is advisable to opt for PHP hosting as opposed to generic web hosting. The reason for this is that your site will enjoy a slew of benefits you are not likely to get in other environments.

Here are some of the most common advantages of why you should opt for a PHP hosting platform.

  • PHP is extremely fast

PHP tends to be incredibly light on server resources, and this can only be good news for everyone involved.

The benefit as regards your website is that it will be able to perform faster without negatively impacting on loading times and overall site performance.

A website that consumes a lot of server resources simply to load a page will not only negatively impact user experience on your website, but also increase your website hosting costs.

Speaking of costs…

  • Cost effectiveness

Considering PHP is a free open-source scripting language, hosting providers can use a PHP framework or module without requiring any license fees.

This free aspect trickles down to the consumer, and it is actually the reason you will come across many hosting companies offering you cheap specialized PHP hosting packages.

In other words, hosting costs on a PHP environment are far much less compared to those you would otherwise incur in other commercial language hosting platforms.

  • Integration with multiple databases

PHP’s ability to integrate with a plethora of databases – Oracle, MySQL, or MSSQL – is indeed one of its strong suits. The added bonus is that its incredible versatility means other database integration options are possible as well.

This affords you the freedom to choose a database that best fits your needs, whether it is an online store you are launching, a regular website, blog, or forum on the multiple CMS platforms out there.

  • Hosting security

Another upside of opting for PHP hosting has to do with security.

This type of website hosting employs special multilevel security features that ensure your website data remains secure at all times.

PHP hosting also makes it possible for website owners to adjust security options based on need, and the importance of this cannot be emphasized enough.

Choosing the Best PHP Hosting Provider

You will come across many web hosting companies who have the ability to run PHP. Keep in mind that not everyone will be offering the same setup, hence the need to assess a number of key factors that differentiate the best from the rest.

Here is a simple guide to help you navigate the saturated PHP hosting market.

  1. Versions of PHP Available

One of the foremost things you need to clarify with the providers you talk to has to do with the PHP versions the providers support.

You can run into all kinds of problems if your website is not running the latest version. At the moment, PHP 7 is the most recent version, and if a provider does not offer this option, you would be wise to look elsewhere because this says a lot about how serious they take hosting, and their service in general.

The minimum version you need to be running right now is PHP 5.6. Anything below that is going to expose your site to unpatched security vulnerabilities.

A large portion of WordPress users are still on the 5.5 version, and although it can be work migrating to higher versions, there is no excuse for running an outdated version of PHP whose support has been suspended.

Always opt for a provider that gives you the freedom to choose whatever PHP version you want. Ideally, they should be telling you about the merits of choosing a more recent version. These mostly revolve around security, website performance, support, and new features for developers.

  1. Ability to Edit PHP Settings

PHP has plenty of settings that may call for some bit of tinkering with in order to ensure your website or app is running optimally.

These settings are contained in a famous file known as the “PHP.ini” file. A good PHP hosting provider is one who allows you to make alterations to this file, and if not directly, at least they should have a mechanism in place to allow you to adjust the settings you want.

There are some settings that almost unavoidably need to be changed for most websites. Examples include the size of file upload allowed by PHP, the maximum amount of RAM that PHP is allowed to consume, the maximum execution time that PHP can run, and the errors it can report.

  1. PHP Extensions

In order to add functionality to your PHP website or application, sometimes you will need to use a PHP extension (module).

Think of extensions as small applications with which you need to bolster PHP so as to give it more functionality. And there are many of them, ranging from those touching on date and time, to others related to payment.

At the end of the day, your ideal PHP hosting provider should be the one who offers the ability to easily install your extensions of choice.

  1. PHP Compatible Technologies

This may sound straightforward to some, but it is worth noting nonetheless.

Make sure that your PHP hosting company of choice has the whole LAMP stack. The significance of this is that these technologies function really well together, meaning you are likely to run into fewer, if any, issues when setting up your website.

The good thing about hosting your PHP website on a PHP server is that it avoids a whole bunch of issues you are likely to encounter when hosting in an environment such as, for instance, Windows.

Sure, it is still possible to host the website on that platform, but a Windows web server (IIS) is better suited to handle Windows-specific technologies than PHP.

If you have a compelling reason to host on a different environment such as Windows or Linux, and perhaps are undecided about these two options, then opt for Linux instead of Windows hosting. Not only is it the industry standard, but also more user-friendly – in the web hosting world, that is.

  1. Server Speed

Server speed is always a hot topic when it comes to websites built on certain CMS platforms such as WordPress or Joomla. The former is especially known to be a bit heavy, so if your provider’s server has issues with performance when it comes to PHP, then you could be in for slow site loading issues.

PHP pages typically load faster compared to, say, ASP.Net pages – unless there are too many bulky images or apps linking to a large database.

Assuming your website loading time is optimal, then chances are there is a problem with either the server’s processing speed or network connection speed – both of which are problems stemming from the provider’s side.

Before you sign a PHP hosting contract with a hosting company, it pays to know how fast PHP runs on their web servers. This could save you lots of headaches down the line.

Keep these things in mind when searching for a PHP hosting company and you are sure to find a good fit.