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Jon Goldberg, 02/03/2021 11:52 PM

Updated 4 months ago by Jon Goldberg

Where to host CiviCRM


I'm often asked by clients where to host their CiviCRM. This guide is intended for both my clients and members of the public to guide their decision.

Main questions to ask

  • How much data are you storing? Usually I measure this in "number of contacts", which is a good-enough proxy.
  • Are you OK with a site that can be sluggish at times?
  • Do you have unusually high security/privacy concerns?
  • Do you have someone available who is able to maintain the underlying server - e.g. update the operating system, monitor backups, etc.?
  • Do you have someone available who is able to maintain updates for CiviCRM and your CMS (i.e. WordPress, Drupal, Backdrop)?

Types of hosting to consider

  • Shared hosting - poor to medium speed, server maintenance included
  • CiviCRM Spark - good speed, server maintenance included - but capped at 2,000 contacts, can't install extensions)
  • Virtual Private Server (VPS) - excellent speed, server maintenance NOT included
  • Managed VPS - excellent speed, server maintenance NOT included

Shared hosting is what folks use for small sites. Hosting companies maintain large servers and cram in as many customers as possible. as many users as possible on to the server. Quality of hosting varies widely; you generally get what you pay for (except GoDaddy, which is high-priced for poor service).

Because of overbooking, speed is generally poor. Also, if one customer gets a huge influx of traffic, everyone else's performance suffers. Server restrictions can lead to unexpected headaches. I recommend not using shared hosting unless it's with a company that certifies that they can handle CiviCRM, like CiviHosting or LiquidWeb. I haven't used either and can not vouch for them, but would consider them for clients under 10,000-15,000 contacts. Cost is $3-10/month for bad hosting, $15+/month for CiviHosting.

CiviCRM Spark is a hosted CiviCRM service intended to be a "starter home" before moving on to better hosting - but if your needs are simple, it may be a good permanent option. Cost is $9.50-14.50/month.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS) guarantee you your resources at all times, so you can run CiviCRM at maximum speed. However, server maintenance is not included. Cost is $10-20/month from companies like Linode or Digital Ocean, and is well-suited to CiviCRM.

The major cloud providers (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine) generally charge $25-60/month for the same service; they offer "enterprise" features that your typical CiviCRM doesn't need, and are far more complicated to set up. However, Microsoft Azure has a non-profit program that gives free credits ($3500/year) to almost any 501c3. Amazon has reduced-cost credits through Techsoup - $175/year for $2,000 in credits.

I have a page that explains How to get Microsoft Azure credits and technical setup.

Managed VPSes are like regular VPSes, but include server maintenance. It's expensive; Linode charges $100/month above the normal VPS cost for 24x7 service.

Updated by Jon Goldberg 4 months ago · 1 revisions