Last winter I set off in a quest for the perfect Drupal web host. Originally I hadn’t conceived of it as a quest. My needs were modest:
- Drupal optimized (as opposed to any old host)
- Great customer service
- Reasonable cost – comparable to other shared hosts
Two months later, I have yet to find this holy grail — but I’ve learned enough about Drupal hosts to deem it worth sharing my findings.
Frankly I’m surprised this has been so hard. I’m reasonably good at web research and this host is for a modest site. Specifically it’s a redesign of Gilda’s Club Nashville. This is a small, low-traffic site to begin with, and all they want is a new look-and-feel using a simple content management system they can easily update themselves. Fairly basic Drupal will be more than enough. It doesn’t require any fancy-pants high-end Drupal coding.
My bet is in another year it will be much easier to find the kind of Drupal host they need. But for now, here is a quick summary of the pros and cons of the hosts I’ve looked at.
I have a soft spot for DreamHost — so soft it’s what I use for this very blog. Moreover, my first test Drupal install was on DreamHost. It worked like a charm. Nevertheless, my soft spot defies logic. DreamHost can be incredibly slow with MySQL-powered sites. I guess it’s because they are so much better than my previous host — plus they have excellent customer service and, even better, they are hilarious. One way of framing my quest is as a search for something better than DreamHost. I want a fast DreamHost that specializes in Drupal installs.
At first blush, Bryght appeared to be the perfect match. Initially my biggest concern was that it was too dumbed-down. A certain amount of simplifying would be great — thinking of upgrades in particular. But it could easily be too much. So I used their contact form. I tried it a few times, but my sense was the form wasn’t working right. Sure enough. I never heard back from them. That did not auger well. So I crossed them off my list.
mt has a great reputation. I contacted them and heard back almost immediately. They even offer a one-click install for Drupal. That sounded promising, but it’s still (as of May 2008) only Drupal 4.7. Version 6 (not to mention version 5) has been out for quite some time. Ergo they must not care all that much about Drupal.
I came very close to going with DrupalValueHosting. They look ideal. In fact, they’re the reason I say it should be much easier to find a Drupal host in a year. My only hesitation with them is that they are very new. Since the host will not be for my own site, for now it seems just a bit too risky.
And the winner is…
pair was highly recommended at PodCamp Nashville, and like (mt) has an excellent reputation. I did discover one potential problem over memory caps in Cheny U’s thoughtful review of Drupal hosts. However, when I reached a sales person (right away) he knew about and acknowledged this issue quite openly. When I explained Gilda’s needs, he was confident it wouldn’t be an issue. He said they host an increasing number of Drupal sites. Also in their favor, he was able to quickly answer my questions about multisite installations (which means they really are used to Drupal), plus they offer a discount for non-profits.
So pair Networks it is — and I will let you know how it goes.