Taylor Hawkes

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Professional comparison of the best PHP hosting providers

Check Out Just Host » Currently Just Host is my #1 recommendation for PHP hosting.

I have been a PHP developer for 6 years now and in that time I have developed in dozens of PHP environments. I thought it would be helpful for those looking for PHP web hosting or those just starting to learn PHP to put together a comparison of the top PHP hosting providers and discuss the pros and cons of each hosting company.

Hosting Company Starting
Price
PHP
Versions
Extensions PHP.ini Load
Speed
Visit Site
$1.99 /mo
  • PHP 4.0
  • PHP 5.3
  • .58 seconds Visit Site
    $2.99 /mo
  • PHP 5.2
  • PHP 5.3
  • .82 seconds Visit Site
    $3.95 /mo
  • PHP 5.2
  • PHP 5.3
  • PHP 5.4
  • ALL PECL
    1.5 seconds Visit Site
    $3.96 /mo
  • PHP 4.0
  • PHP 5.3
  • PHP 5.4 (Upon Request)
  • All PECL
    .97 seconds Visit Site
    $6.95 /mo
  • PHP 5.2
  • PHP 5.3
  • PHP 5.4
  • All PECL
    1.55 seconds Visit Site

    The PHP language and when you should use it.

    PHP is a type of programming language built for the web. It is by far the most popular language on the web used by 75% of websites (see here). It runs all of the most powerful and well known content management systems including: wordpress, Joomla, Drupal and many others.

    PHP is so popular on the web because it works really well with Linux (operating system), Apache (Web Server) and Mysql (Database). These 4 technologies make up what is commonly referred to as the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, Mysql, PHP). They are all open source (free to use and distribute) , extremely well supported and widely known.

    What to look for in a PHP web hosting company.

    The vast majority of web hosting companies have the ability to run PHP, however not all web hosting companies offer the same PHP setup; therefore there are still a few key factors to look at when selecting the best PHP hosting provider. I have listed these factors below.

    1. ) Do they have the most up to date version of PHP and will they offer they offer the most up to date version when it is released?

    This is the single most important factor. If your website is not running the most recent version of PHP you can run into all sorts of problems. Currently PHP 5.4 is the most recent version, if a hosting provider does not offer this version I would recommend going elsewhere. Ideally I look for a hosting company that gives you the freedom to select whatever version of PHP you want to use. (I know Bluehost allows you to do this

    2. ) Do they offer you the ability to edit the PHP setting.

    PHP has many different settings that often require changes in order for your website/web application to work properly. The setting files is called the “PHP.ini” file and you should look for hosting providers that allow you to make changes to that file, or at minimum have some method for allowing you to make setting changes. Some PHP setting will almost inevitably need to be changed for most websites. These usually include: File upload size allowed by PHP, max execution time that PHP can run, Max amount of memory that PHP is allowed to use, and what errors PHP reports. Bluehost does a pretty good job of allowing users to edit PHP settings, see here.

    3.) What PHP extensions are readily available?

    Often times you will need to use a PHP extension (Module) in order to add functionality to PHP. Extensions are simply “small application” that you can add to PHP to give it more more functionality. One example is the APC extension that basically makes PHP run much faster. You can see a full list of extensions here. Ensure that whatever hosting provider you choose has the ability to easily install extensions.

    4.) Does the hosting provider have PHP compatible technologies?

    For some this may be obvious, but I still think its worth mentioning. Ensure that your hosting provider has the entire LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, Mysql, PHP). These technologies work really well together and you should not run into any (or at least far fewer) issues when getting your website up and running.

    Do NOT purchase a windows hosting environment with the intention of running PHP. Although this is possible using IIS and FastCGI you will run into all sorts of issues that you will not be able to fix. Windows web server (IIS) is not made to work with PHP, but rather windows specific technologies. If you do have a compelling reason to set up windows web hosting, you will be working with different technologies such as ASP, MS SQL, and IIS. If you are unsure if you should use Windows or Linux web hosting, then please choose Linux as it is the industry standard and far more user friendly (at least in the web hosting world).

    5.) How fast does PHP run on the there web server?

    Server speed becomes an issues with websites built on particular content management systems such as Wordpress or Joomla. Wordpress is uniquely known to be pretty bulky so if your web server has bad performance when it comes to PHP, you site loading speed could become a big issue. If you are one of the few hard core folks planning on coding your site from scratch then it is much more likely to be lightweight and server speed is less of an issue. I have published this study on website loading speeds from various hosting providers if you would like to see more details on hosting performance.

    Comments (9)

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    Peter Dean says...
    Hi,
    Thanks for the information you've provided.
    I'm thinking of switching web hosts but I am developing a site that needs an exif PHP module. Are you saying that this would not be possible at iPage?

    Thanks,
    Pete

    9th August 2013 6:29pm
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    Mark says...
    PHP 5.4 is now used in many popular PHP applications such as Symfony, Zend and Laravel and even some WordPress plugins - so basically if you don't have version 5.4 your site will have some limitations.

    Even shared hosting should have version 5.4, I would not get any hosting that did not provide 5.4 but that is just me.

    6th July 2013 7:49pm
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    Taylor says...
    Mark,

    I do agree with you that is nice to have version 5.4 , but you are mistaken about Symfony, Zend, and Laravel - they only require PHP 5.3.

    Also , Wordpress does not require version 5.4. (although a few newer plugins might - they will not be popular ones.)

    Remember 5.4 came out just about 7 months ago, so many hosting companies have still not implemented it on their servers I think most hosting companies should have it within another 6 months, but it's not unreasonable to not have version 5.4 set up already.

    8th July 2013 9:20pm
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