The Joomla Hosting Directory has launched a new set of tests to measure the performance of hosts servicing Joomla websites. As you know many hosts claim to support Joomla, but the question is how good their service is especially if they are priced at up to $10/month, which is considered a low price for quality shared hosting. To address that concern, we have come up with an objective set of tests that will help us evaluate hosts and compare their performance. Starting with this first quarter of 2013, we will apply the same set of tests every quarter from now on and monitor the deviations, which should also result in change of rankings where needed.
The Joomla hosting directory tests are based on three main criteria that distinguish a good hosting service – speed, security and support for Joomla sites.
How is speed measured?
To determine the speed of a host, we tried to recreate a real-world environment where the host server is under stress load. Each shared server has to process hundreds of thousands of hits and how fast your site will load very much depends on the load the server processes at that very moment. That is why we test if hosts are actually able to handle the so-called Slashdot effect – a large number of requests towards a Joomla website in a short period of time. We tried to create a situation with a normal to high load and see how quickly the host server will process hits in a two-minute period, what will be the average time per transaction and would the server remain available or return an error, meaning it couldn’t bear the load generated. Based on our speed & resilience tests, here is how hosts ranked:
- SiteGround 7000 hits processed with 100% availability
- Rochen 2070 hits processed with 99% availability
- Ipage 1300 hits processed with 95% availability
- Hostgator 580 hits processed with 100% availability
- Arvixe 700 hits processed with 62% availability
- Bluehost 250 hits processed with 100% availability
How is security level measured?
Our test on security is based on the following three questions: Did the host implement a mechanism for isolating the accounts on a shared server? Is all software on server up-to-date? Could we access and withdraw any information from the server that could serve an attacker with bad intentions? Account Isolation was our primary goal though, as this is an essential yet not so simple tool to guarantee that accounts on a shared server won’t get hacked when another account on the same server is targeted. For five hosts we could prove that they have a way to isolate accounts: SiteGround, Arvixe, iPage, Rochen and Hostgator. The others either don’t do it, or do it in a way that we consider not secure enough. We did not detect any major vulnerabilities or bad maintenance among the hosts we chose for our top 6.
How is customer support measured?
To measure the level of Joomla customer support, we tested the response time and the quality of the responses given by the hosts. Two types of inquiries were made – basic and advanced Joomla issues. Basic ones were simple cases as “Reset my Joomla admin password” or “install a fresh Joomla on my account”. Advanced issues required more tweaking on our end so we could break a Joomla and see how the host would react. For example, we broke the template on our installation and asked for a fix. Here is how hosts ranked:
- Bluehost – basic issues 8 minutes, advanced – 12min
- SiteGround – basic issues – 5min, advanced – 15min
- Arvixe – basic issues – 26min, advanced – 1hour
- Hostgator – basic issues – 35min, advanced – 10 hours
- Ipage – basic issues – 25min, advanced – 20+ hours
- Rochen – basic issues – 6 hours, advanced – 8 hours
We are very interested to see what else hosts do for Joomla in particular. It is a well-known fact that the more you pay, the more you will get. However, given that we compare hosts within the $1-$10/month range, the price factor is insignificant hence all are comparable. All the tested hosts have free tutorials for Joomla and offer easy auto-installations through tools like Softaculous, Simplescripts or Quickinstall. One new interesting service that popped up and is worth mentioning however, is Joomla auto-updater. Until now, only SiteGround and much more expensive niche providers offer this service.
Based on the tests explained above, we have ranked the hosts as follows: