Host Hunting: Your Guide to Choosing The Best Magento Hosting Service

Published March 25th, 2014 by Michael Farin

Your Magento store isn’t just any online storefront – so you should think carefully about which hosting provider you choose. It’s like hunting for the perfect physical building to set up a retail location. You wouldn’t just sign a lease sight unseen – without checking out the building, the location and the surrounding area to see if the venue fit your needs – so why would you be hasty about picking the web hosting company that will present your ecommerce site to the world?

Here are a few factors to consider when you’re “host hunting” – and some tips to help you pick the perfect Magento hosting service.

1: Think about performance.

This should be a no-brainer – but sadly, many online retailers don’t even think about user experience before getting set up with a hosting provider. Magento is a resource-hungry PHP application, and if you set up your store on an un-optimized, low-powered shared server, you’re asking for slow load times, endless buffering – and lots of customers giving up in disgust.

Make sure you find a company that specializes in Magento hosting, understands how to set up the proper hardware platform, and provides your store with the resources it needs to load quickly and work effectively. Create a shopping experience that people want to come back and revisit.

The better your user experience, the higher your traffic rates and conversion levels will be. It’s worth doing some research and finding the experts.

2: Think about scalability.

Your store may be small now – but what happens when it’s time to move up the ladder? When you’re ready to make the transition from shared hosting to a dedicated server or server cluster, how easy will it be? The answer depends on how skilled your hosting company is – and how easily they can migrate your site from its current server to the next option up.

If you started out with a low-grade, inexperienced hosting company, you’ll have to switch to a different, more professional company that can migrate your site to better servers. That takes extra time, effort and money that you probably would rather not spend. It makes more sense to start with an experienced Magento hosting company that has capabilities at all server levels. Then, when it’s time to transition, the switch will be quick and easy.

Remember: Starting out with the pros saves you time and money in the long run.

3: Think about expertise.

Magento isn’t “just another app.” It takes specialized skills to optimize a Magento hosting platform effectively – so don’t be fooled into picking a hosting company with no demonstrable expertise.

Look for a company that has a proven track record in e-commerce hosting, including extensive experience in Magento. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and to request samples of their previous work. They’ve designed major online storefronts and optimized them for mobile devices as well as desktops? Good. They don’t have any examples to show you? Bad.

4: Think about support.

Hosting companies who don’t support you are like emotionally unavailable boyfriends or girlfriends. They don’t call you. They don’t answer your calls. They always have some excuse for not dealing with the issue at hand. Eventually you can’t stand it any longer and you break up with them (as you should).

It’s vital that your Magento hosting provider offers adequate tech support and service. Not just sometimes. All the time. If you call or email with a question, your provider should have a knowledgeable staff member ready to answer you and fix the problem.

When you’re searching for a hosting provider, look for companies with service level agreements and uptime guarantees, and a tech support hotline or live chat. These are the engaged and knowledgeable firms that will listen to you and keep your site running smoothly.

Doing a little research at the beginning of your hosting search will make your entire web hosting experience much easier. So don’t hesitate. Shop, call and ask questions. A little “host hunting” goes a long way.

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