PHP Programmer

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PHP Web Hosting

PHP web hosting is in my face on a daily basis. Without a hosting provider that provides for PHP the websites I create and work on would not function.

PHP web hosting is a computer that is configured for website hosting. A PHP web hosting server is usually Linux based even though Windows can support PHP. The PHP web hosting server runs a number of technologies that provide for reading and executing the server–side PHP programming language.

PHP is by far the most popular language on the web with about 80% market share. WordPress, which is a content management system (CMS) and WooCommerce are the most popular web applications on the Internet today. WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that turns WordPress into a shopping cart. Both were created using PHP.

PHP is native to Linux. Linux itself is the most popular web server operating system. The PHP web server is made up of a stack of technologies.

A web server consists of a hardware server. On the hardware server, a number of software servers do the work. The website files reside on the webserver and a software server such as Apache servers up the files the web browser requests. These files consist of the following.

  • HTML is the foundation of every web page. These files are stored on the server and the webserver sends them to the browser.
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is what gives a web page it’s look and feel. These files are stored on the server and the webserver sends them to the browser.
  • JavaScript adds functionality to a web page or web application. These files are stored on the server and the webserver sends them to the browser, where JavaScript runs in the browser.
  • PHP runs on the server and the output is sent to the browser for display.
  • MySql is the data engine. Most modern websites are data–driven and the vast majority are using MySql. The data is stored on MySql and PHP process the data and sends it to the browser.

Types of PHP Web Hosting

There are 6 groups of hosting servers that will be covered in the article. Virtual hosting, reseller host, virtual private servers (VPS), hardware servers/dedicated servers, cloud servers, and specialty hosting.

Virtual Hosting

Virtual hosting is when a hosting provider places many websites on one server. I’ve seen as many as 800 websites on one stand–alone hardware server.

Some providers are better than others. I ’ve worked in the hosting and domain industry since the summer of 2004. A lot of companies sell cheap virtual hosting. Or at least it starts out cheap.

The price seems good until you have an issue or need more resources.

All the companies in this class load their servers to the point of bogging them down. Some are better than others. Some play games like providing tiny email accounts with their cheap hosting or limit the number of emails you can store on their server. Solution? You pay more to upgrade to a better email plan. A cheap hosting plan might start out at four or five dollars a month and then after adding in some of the things you really need and want like email and stats, you might end up paying $15 or more a month. They get you hooked by selling you a stripped–down hosting plan. Then they sell you add ons that drive up the price.

Several years ago I was hosting a WordPress site at a cheap hosting company when I noticed pages would take 30 – 60 seconds to load. The problem was an overloaded server. It took several hours of my time to resolve that issue. Pay me now or pay me later.

Another place they get you is when you are trying to get something fixed. The hosting providers that offer cheap hosting, use what is called a “level one” to answer support emails and calls. Level ones have limited access and are not able to fix many things. If the level one cannot address the issue at hand they fill out a support ticket. Support ticks can take up to 3 days before someone starts to address the issue. If you are experiencing a catastrophic issue you may be out of business for 3 or more days.

A friend of mine lost his blog when his site became corrupt and was rebuilt from the data center’s backup. Can you imagine spending hundreds of hours blogging to have it all wiped out because you wanted to save on hosting? What if your blog was bringing in business? How would that impact your business?

I knew of a company that was running its business on cheap virtual hosting. The kind that is less than $10/month. When I talked with the owner he told me he had 6 employees that could not do their work because they could not use their business email.

By the time he talked with me, his site had been down for a week. It was my understanding the server died – a server holding maybe 800 websites. All of them were gone. I don’t know what happened to that business, however, I would submit it took a big hit that probably took a year or more to recover from, and potentially they went out of business.

You may get away with cheap hosting forever and then again you might get bit like the example I just shared.

There are lots of cheap hosting providers. Unless you know what you are doing I would stay clear of these hosting providers. These are the ones that sell hosting for under $10 a month. Be careful.

Reseller Accounts

A reseller account is where the owner can act as the hosting provider. The reseller can define virtual hosting plans and the ability to create and remove virtual hosting accounts. It is pretty slick.

Armed with a reseller account one becomes a hosting provider.

As a reseller or a customer of one, one is still facing the support obstacles as listed above.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

A VPS is a step up from shared hosting. To create a VPS they start with a hardware server and load multiple servers on that one server. I’ll talk about dedicated servers later in this article.

Each VPS is a server in and of itself. You as the owner have access to the VPS just like you would have if you had a standalone server. It is a pretty cool way of doing things. VPS cost much less than standalone servers. You get all the benefits for a better price.

If you have a VPS from one of the big hosting providers you may run into the same issues I described above. Your server might have more power and perform better, however you are facing the same support structure.

Hardware Servers / Dedicated Server

The big hosting providers also offer hardware servers. You will get more power and your website will be able to support more visitors and process more data.

The only drawback is you may be saddled with the same support plan. It is always a good idea to verify their service level agreement (SLA).

The Cloud

This is much simpler than it sounds. The could is a bunch of hardware servers that are networked and configure to scale. The smaller cloud server accounts are basic VPS plans. These servers can scale and respond to your website’s needs.

I would recommend, if you go this route, that you verify the SLA for that provider. The SLA will give you an idea of what the guaranteed uptime is and what type of support you can count on.

Specialty Hosting

I have been exposed to two different specialty hosting companies. For one of them, I did not like the contract and the other was fabulous.

A specificity hosting company is one that is a specialist in the type of software they support.

Let me explain. In my case, I was working with two different specialty house, one was for Drupal, and the other was for Magento.

In the case of the Drupal hosting provider, the system administrators were familiar with Drupal. Drupal is an enterprise constant management system or CMS. This arrangement is very costly.

There are some benefits to going with a specialty house. There are two major benefits. Anytime I was having a difficulty with the Drupal install I could call a system administrator on the phone. The system administrator would address my call in real–time and was often able to identify the issue within a few minutes.

If you need your website to be online all the time, then paying extra for a specialty house might we worth the money.

The Solution

I shared about my friend losing his blog. Several hundred hours lost. He had no backups.

There is a solution. Pay a little more for better hosting and make sure you back everything up – especially your website. If you do not know–how, pay someone to do it for you.

I use Amazon S3 for backups. I pay about a buck a month to backup 4 websites.

My websites are important to me. Losing just a fraction of my work would hurt.

If you need someone to help you with a backup plan, give me a call.

My name is Keith Smith. This is my website. It was handcrafted by me as an example of my skills. It is not as beautiful as what a website designer might have been able to create, however it is clean, simple, and functional. I am not a designer, I am a programmer.

If you have a project you would like to talk to me about, please call me at 480-748-9893 or complete my Project Request Form.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.