In this article we offer some recommendations on how to choose a server that would meet the requirements of your Magento store. Magento provides a broad array of features for online store creation, but the cost one has to pay for its versatility is stricter requirements for server capacity. Some Magento stores use shared web hosting services, but in this article we will only offer advice about VDS/dedicated servers.
The success of choosing a Magento server is the sufficient capacity of its basic sub-systems (CPU/Memory/Disk/Network) and their equilibrium.
Let us give you a practical example.
A customer contacted our technical support service asking to speed up his store. On a brief investigation it became clear that his server configuration was unbalanced (the server in question was VDS – Virtual Dedicated Server). It had quite powerful CPU/Memory/Disk, but had low capacity network sub-system. It turned out that his network sub-system speed was limited to 10 Megabits per second (it is approximately 10 times slower than what an average hosting service may offer). When we contacted the hosting company that served the customer they confirmed our hypothesis. The problem was exacerbated by a growth in that store's traffic and the large size of its pages. When the number of visitors to the store's website surged the speed was split among visitors which lead to 10 – 20 seconds page load time. After the hosting company increased the speed of network sub-system of that server all problems were solved and the customer was satisfied.
Is it possible to avoid such situations? We say it is. There are some features you have to be aware of as early as at the stage of ordering your server.
First of all it is good not to be overly thrifty. Purchase well known solutions from trusted companies. Here is a short list of what we think might be a good choice:
At first sight these companies may seem way overpriced in comparison with inexpensive offers from other hosting companies, but such an approach allows you to avoid purchasing unbalanced and low capacity configurations, loss of time on solving problems with tech support and what is most important – you will not have unhappy customers put off by the snail speed of your store.
To get help in taking final decision on what server to choose you may hire experts.
But if you wish to to choose your server configuration yourself here are some tips:
- Choose a multi-core server. A dual core server would be a sensible choice for a low traffic store. A Four- or more- core server will give a noticeable increase in capacity when traffic grows. Please note that if your traffic is low, building up your server's capacity will not result in a significant increase in the overall speed of your website.
- Choose a server with enough RAM. We don't recommend to buy a server with less than 4 Gb of RAM unless you plan to install your database on a separate server.
- Choose a server with a high-performance disk subsystem. It is hard do recommend anything in particular because of the current multitude of technologies that hosting companies offer. We suggest that you pay attention to RAID 5/10 disk arrays or options featuring SSD (Solid State Disks).
- Choose a server with a high-performance network sub-system. This single feature can largely determine your store's accessibility for your customers. Our advice is to choose servers with network sub-system speeds no less than 100 Megabit/sec. The faster the better.
While choosing a server you shouldn't neglect the fact that the speed of your website depends on your server's capacity and on the speed of Magento as an application. We have already offered some advice on optimizing Magento server for performance. If you are not sure about being able to effectively follow these instructions yourself you can contact us for help. Your Magento store can also be significantly speed up via the use of proper extensions and services. We recommend that you take a look at Magento Booster extension and Server Settings Optimization Service.
Now a few words about why we don't recommend you to opt for shared hosting. In case of shared hosting your store is hosted on one server with tens if not hundreds of other websites. All websites have different resource requirements and different levels of traffic. At different times of the day server load can vary and hosting companies cannot always neutralize the effects of «neighboring» websites traffic surges. Someday you may discover that your website is working several times slower than yesterday. And it well might be the day when you planned a big marketing activity to boost your business. The outcome is clear: lost sales, lost profits and disappointed customers. If you do some calculations of apparent and hidden damages, you will most likely see they exceed the cost of your shared hosting.