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I'm new to Drupal and web-hosting generally. My question is what constitutes a totally Drupal-friendly host? I know that the installation is made easier by the host provider letting you have SSH access and the ability to extract compressed files on the server.

What else should I look for in a Drupal-friendly host?

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There are some things you may want to look into:

Drupal Requirements:

  • PHP 5.2+ (Drupal 7)
  • MySQL Database
  • 128mb Memory Limit (For Heavy Imagecache processing)

Not Requirements but perks:

  • SSH
  • Drush
  • Git (Latest)
  • Crontabs
  • Curl
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    Thanks, Chris. I appreciate the list-format answer to this question. – CEMcFarland May 16 '11 at 16:50
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    PHP 5.2 is only required by Drupal 7; Drupal 6 is compatible with PHP 4. MySQL is the database engine for which the modules are tested with, but Drupal is compatible with PostgreSQL, even if Drupal code could not behave correctly with PostgreSQL; Drupal 7, then, can also be used together SQLite. – kiamlaluno May 16 '11 at 17:16
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    For Drupal 7, you need to make sure that the necessary PDO (pdo and pdo_mysql if you want to use MySQL) extensions enabled. Some hosters manage to not do that by default. And yes, Drupal 6 does not require PHP 5, but it is totally insane to even think about using PHP4. In fact, even PHP 5.2 is officially unsupported now. – Berdir May 16 '11 at 19:36
  • @Berdir, can you clarify "PHP 5.2 is officially unsupported now"? PHp 5.2 is the recommended version for D6 installs according to drupal.org/requirements. – mpdonadio May 16 '11 at 21:00
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    From php.net/archive/2011.php#id2011-01-06-1: "All PHP users should note that the PHP 5.2 series is NOT supported anymore. All users are strongly encouraged to upgrade to PHP 5.3.6." – Berdir May 16 '11 at 21:02
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Continuing F1234k's list:

4) Drupal fanatic:

  • APC cache for better PHP performance
  • Varnish proxy cache for faster content delivery
  • Memcache for faster storage of temporary data
  • Apache Solr for far better search functionality
  • Fully managed hosting infrastructure
  • Support staff with actual Drupal experience
  • Thanks, geewiz. The last two points would be truly 'fanatical'. – CEMcFarland Jul 6 '11 at 12:51
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    We have to add that these specifications above are for only VPS or dedicated, and not for shared hosting. I suppose if someone has root access, he can define his own specifications. I think the question was about shared hosting, where someone has no such control. – john Dec 4 '11 at 1:31
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    If someone has a good and fast shared hosting account and not a big site, then he may not miss APC/Varnish/Memcache, because these refer to performance. One may miss, though, Solr which adds extra functionality. There are companies out there that offer Solr hosting, and someone can use them in combination with their shared hosting account. – john Dec 4 '11 at 1:34
  • don't forget mysql and files residing on the same server, there is a pretty large performance penalty without that. – enthdegree Feb 15 '12 at 0:48
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"Drupal-friendly" hosting is a term that can be interpreted in many different ways depending on what kind of site you are planning to build and what kind of user you are. If I had to break it down to "levels of friendliness" I would say the following:

1) Drupal tolerant:

  • PHP 5.2.5,
  • MySQL,
  • Apache (preferrably)

2) Drupal friendly:

  • ability to change your PHP memory allocation to 96MB or more (Views is a common example that needs lots of memory)
  • ability to change your PHP max execution time (30+ seconds)
  • php safe mode: off
  • enabled pdo (more info here)
  • php register globals: off

(almost all of the above are met, if you can customize your php.ini file)

3) Drupal loving:

  • SSH
  • Drush installable (even better: through GUI)
  • crontab access (there is an alternative for drupal 6, poormanscron, but comes with performance penalties if my memory serves well)
  • Thorough and very helpful answer. Thank you! I've since purchased hosting, but your details on PHP are appreciated. – CEMcFarland May 28 '11 at 18:55
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Personally I think that friendly Drupal hosting is not just a hosting providing you the basic set of Apache + PHP + MySQL. Because you still have to configure all dependencies to make it work reliable and fast.

And every Drupal expert knows that if you want your Drupal website work fast, you have to use fast cache storages like Redis/Memcahe and reverse cache proxy Varnish.

There are few hosting providers who provides out of the box this infrastructure configured specifically for Drupal:

  • Acquia Cloud - Mostly for enterprise. Built on top of Amazon Web Services
  • Pantheon.io - Built on top of Rackspace
  • Platform.sh - Built on top of Amazon Web Services

The last two is very similar and use container virtualization, but they aren't cheap.

As an alternative, you can try Wodby. It's not a hosting provider, but a cloud infrastructure service that will bring features similar to Pantheon.io/Platform.sh on any server, i.e. makes your own server Drupal friendly. It's built on top of Docker.

  • +1 for this contribution. When I first asked this question, cloud services were in a much different place. I don't use Drupal anymore, but if I did I would probably opt for a solution such as this. – CEMcFarland Aug 5 '15 at 16:55

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