One of the most popular open source content management systems is Drupal. It is easy to understand why. Drupal provides the administrator of a website with a plethora of options for creating web content through the use of its famous modules. However, before you start building a website with Drupal, you need to find an appropriate web host. Below are five factors to consider when selecting a Drupal web hosting provider.
1. One Click Installation
The first thing you should ask is whether or not a web host offers one click installation for Drupal. Most web hosts allow their customers to log in to an interface that gives them the ability to perform edits on their hosted websites without having to manually alter code on their own. These are often referred to as customer control panels.
Very often, included within the customer control panel will be a page that allows the user to perform one-click installations. This means the user can install software into a domain or sub-domain with one click. Typically, this will include programs such as shopping cart software, gallery software, blogging software and more. It may also include Drupal. If it is a host with Drupal one click installation, this can be a significant advantage. You won’t have to install the software on your own. The host will do it for you. This can save you time and help you avoid errors you might make during installation.
2. Drupal Compatibility
When looking for a webhost for your Drupal driven website, you certainly need to keep compatibility issues at the top of your mind. If not, your installation will fail, and you will probably be asking for a refund. Thankfully, many hosts are compatible with Drupal’s requirements.
First, you will need a host that supports PHP and the Apache web server. The ram that has been allocated to PHP should be at least 128 MB. Second, you will need the ability to store your own SQL databases. Drupal is a database driven application. You will need the ability to create databases to run the content management software. Without it, you will never be able to post or edit content. Two good options for SQL database management software include MySQL and PostgreSQL. Make sure the web host has one of these. You should also be looking for a Linux based hosting package.
3. Multiple Domain Hosting
One of the greatest features of Drupal is that its interface can be set up to allow you to manage multiple Drupal installations at once. This can be done through its very convenient multi-site feature. This feature allows you to manage and upgrade Drupal installations on different domains and sub-domains through a single interface. This can certainly save a lot of time. For example, you won’t have to log in to five different Drupal pages to manage five different installations.
However, to truly take advantage of this feature, you will need a web host that allows you to run multiple websites from your hosting account. Not every host allows this. Some of the more miserly ones force you to stick to one single domain. Thankfully, there are plenty of others that allow you to host multiple websites with different domains form the same hosting account. Even if you are limited to a single domain, there is also the possibility of creating multiple sub-domains to run multiple Drupal installations.
4. Level of Access
To properly manage a Drupal installation, you are going to need much more access into your hosting account space than a simple customer control panel. Even if you do have one click installation for Drupal, it will be much easier to manage your installation with direct access to your hosting space. One thing you certainly need is FTP access. All good web hosts should provide you with this. This can allow you to upload the files needed for installation directly into your hosting space. It can also allow you to upload things you may want later on like modules.
There are also other kinds of access you will need to be granted by your web host. This includes access to either MySQL or PostgreSQL so you can upload and manage the databases your Drupal installations will be running off of. These programs can also allow you to backup your databases so you can restore them later if something were to go wrong. While using FTP, you should also have the ability to change file permissions as well as edit and create .htaccess files.
5. Drupal Support
Lastly, you should also consider the level of support you will receive for Drupal with a given web host. This is important. Drupal is an open source content management system. As such, it doesn’t have an official professional support team. While there is certainly a very active Drupal development community you can go to for help with any issues you are experiencing, this won’t be the same as the paid for support services that come with a hosting plan.
However, if you use a host with Drupal support, this can be a significant advantage. The web hosts that provide this kind of support are going to be the ones that include one click installation of Drupal in the customer control panel. If something goes wrong with your installation, you should be able to put in a support ticket or contact customer service directly to receive assistance.
You may also want to choose a web host that does not have one click Drupal installation. If this is the case, there is a possibility that you could get some level of support for your Drupal installation from the technical support staff. It certainly can’t hurt to ask. Many IT professionals are probably already well versed with content management system software and may be able to lend you a hand if you experience problems. After all, the web host wants to keep you as a customer. Many technical support staff members will probably still assist you even if Drupal isn’t officially supported by the web host.