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Choosing a hosting service for Drupal sites

Choosing a hosting service for your Drupal site can be a bit of an adventure. To help keep your adventure more on the fun or at least efficient side, here is my personal minimum set of technical requirements for a hosting service for Drupal sites. (These are more than the minimum requirements specified at Drupal.org —Drupal can run on Windows and/or use other databases, for example.)

  1. Apache web server (Apache 2.x, hosted on UNIX/Linux or OS X)
  2. PHP (at least version 5.2, 5.3 for Drupal 7), with at least 96MB 128MB of RAM allocated to PHP
  3. MySQL (at least version 4.2, 5.0.15 for Drupal 7, and at least one database, preferably twice three times as many databases as you plan on having drupal installations, so production/live sites, test and development sites can each have their own database)
  4. Ability to expand compressed archives (.tar.gz and .zip) on the server. (Expanding archives on your local computer and then uploading the individual files to the server invites unneccessary potential problems, besides taking longer.)
  5. Ability to create and edit .htaccess files
  6. Ability to change file permissions

Ideally, I also prefer to have:

  1. Secure shell (SSH) access to the server (command line access)
  2. Ability to install Drush in the account (or Drush included in the hosting package)
  3. Direct FTP (preferably SFTP) access (i.e., not only through a web browser)

The hosting company I use for my own sites is IWS Hosting. I really liked the personal service they provide; they're real humans who are knowledgeable and very responsive. I don't have any experience with other company's hosting accounts that are suitable for Drupal —just ones that aren't! (Who would have thought one had to ask about the ability to create and edit .htaccess files?!?!?)

Update: I've moved to a reseller account at A2 Hosting. Unfortunately, IWS Hosting stopped permitting SSH access, so I'm slowly transitioning my sites there over to A2. So far (about a year as of 2015), A2 has been pretty good. I particularly like their server rewind feature (very helpful during Drupageddon!)

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