Drupal is a powerful platform, and its flexibility makes it a great choice for websites of all sizes. However, choosing the best host for your needs can be a difficult task, and ensuring you choose correctly the first time lets you avoid the hassles involved in migrating your site. Here are the six most important factors to consider when deciding on a Drupal host.

  1. Reliability

While it’s rare these days to find any host that doesn’t offer high levels of reliability, the reality doesn’t always match what the host advertises. Downtime is all but inevitable when it comes to hosting Internet content, and a bit of downtime sometimes indicates that hosts prioritize security updates over extremely high uptime ratings. However, it’s worth checking out reliability scores before settling on a host, as a downtime, especially during the day and evening, can translate to lost sales or to missing out on potential clients or customers. Forums can be great for finding what customers experience.

  1. Prompt Support

Providing support is one of the most expensive elements of running a successful hosting company, and hosts often find creative ways to help out customers. Active forums are great for addressing common problems, so hosts with active communities are often good choices. Email support can help as well, especially for large Drupal sites with frequent traffic. When it comes to mission-critical websites, however, nothing can beat phone support. Even if you initially avoid a plan that offers phone support, you’ll want to consider hosts that provide it as an option.

  1. Security

Data security is essential, and some hosts make it a higher priority than others. While it can be difficult to know exactly how much a host values security, those that upgrade software packages in a timely manner are more likely to keep their customers’ data safe. Operating system security is essential, and many of the best hosts stick with older versions instead of upgrading as soon as a new version is available. Seeing an older but supported version of CentOS or Debian as options might indicate that the host takes a safer and more conservative approach to security. However, ensure that the latest security patches are being applied in a timely manner.

  1. Expandable Offerings

It’s difficult to predict just how much a site will grow. Small sites often become big sites in a short period of time due to the viral nature of the Internet. Make sure your provider can support your Drupal site as it grows as migrating to a new host because the older one can’t support the traffic you bring can result in downtime and lost opportunities. While shared hosting is great for smaller websites, you’ll likely eventually want to move to a dedicated host. Ensure your host offers support, and investigate how easy the process to migrate to a dedicated host is. Moving between your host’s various plans should be a seamless process, and it should result in little or no downtime. You’ll also want to ensure your host has experience with busy sites as some hosts simple lack experience with high-traffic clients.

  1. Efficiency

Drupal hosting providers often list their system capabilities, but many don’t relay how efficient their systems are. This information is important as hosts that use more efficient equipment are better able to handle growth and maintain their prices over the years. Better efficiency also means the host uses less electricity, which reduces their impact, and your impact, on the environment. If green hosting is a priority for you, investigate where the host gets power, as hosts that use renewable sources of power ensure less carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere as a result of your site. Seemingly minor factors have an impact as well. Solid-state drives offer far better efficiency that older storage technologies. RAM drives and other expensive components can also have a significant impact.

  1. Experience

New Drupal hosting sites frequently offer excellent discounts for new customers as a means of building a sustainable user base. However, signing up with a host that has limited experience means that you’re more likely to run into problems along the way. Running a host means handling hardware and software as well as running a business, and many hosts fail due to a lack of experience. Going with a larger hosting provider means you’ll likely be able to depend on it for years to come; choosing a smaller provider means you’ll want to plan for the possibility of the host failing. While you should back up your content no matter what provider you choose, place a higher priority on backups if your host is relatively new. Feel free to ask potential hosts how long they’ve been in business. If you’re launching a large website, you may want to inquire about their financial stability.

Drupal is a powerful and popular platform, but not all Drupal hosting providers are the same. Switching between providers is a time-consuming and difficult task, and a bit of research when choosing a host can save you a significant amount of time in the future. Fortunately, heavy competition means hosts are often open about their hardware, software and history, so it’s often easy to find the information you need to make an informed decision.