As we briefly noted in FAQ page: “If you plan to have a large membership or are running a multi-site installation, you will probably not want to run CBOX on a shared host, as performance may be disappointing. A more robust host is more appropriate.”
We’ve received many questions about this rather vague warning, and there have been some good community discussions on the Help & Support Forum. This page aggregates those threads and centralizes information about CBOX’s hosting requirements.
While the CBOX team does not want to officially recommend one hosting service over another, it is interested in the suggestions of those actively implementing sites, both large and small. We look forward to hearing from you in the forums!
First up was a thread called “Hosting Recommendations” started by the folks over at LaGuardia Community College who were shopping around for hosts, and looking for suggestions from CBOX pioneers. Two members responded that they had good experiences with WPEngine:
Our Multisite community is currently hosted on WPEngine. We are extremely happy with it. It’s really fast, meant for large scale WP hosting and just works. Price tag is $99 a month, but I think it’s worth the price.
Another thread focused on specifications focused on specifications (hardware, processor, RAM, HDD, etc.) and wanted to know what to expect in terms of monthly charges. Professing little trust in shared plans, one responder noted how hard it is to determine what a host is offering:
This is all very difficult to estimate, especially when comparing against the intentionally opaque specs provided by shared hosting vendors. That Dreamhost page seems to imply that $15/month is the base price with a very low RAM/CPU allowance. I would not have any confidence in running CBOX for a few hundred users on that base plan.
Even though you can’t afford it—but since you asked—I think a better $99/month option would be WPEngine, as noted in this thread.
I’m not sure any hosting plan priced below that is likely to provide enough horsepower for several hundred reasonably active users. As you scale in CBOX, the server resource that will quickly become scarce is CPU, as PHP is asked to churn out more and more pages to more and more visitors. That also happens to be the resource that is typically most dear to shared hosts. If you start sopping up all available CPU, your site will hit a wall and your host will insist that you move to a more expensive plan.
It might be possible to do something cheaper if you are able to trade significant time and expertise for it. Something like a 1GB Linode at $40/month could be workable with some aggressive back-end tuning, but there’s no guarantee and, eventually, you’d still outgrow it. Happy to talk further and point you to some resources if you’re determined to go this route.
Another response pointed out the differences between managed and un-managed hosting:
In addition to thinking about server capacity, there is also the issue of systems administration and the difference between managed and unmanaged hosting. Do you have your own sys admin or will you need such services to be part of your hosting plan?
Just FYI, I’m experimenting now with a CBOX install on Amazon EC2 cloud hosting, which provides unmanaged hosting at variable costs (my institution is providing sys admin services). We’re still tinkering with the setup and haven’t yet put the site out into the wild, but once it gets going, I might be able to give you some more detailed information on what kind of setup has been working in that scenario and how much it costs per month.
I’ve tried and left a number of hosting companies (BlueHost, Netfirms, GoDaddy, A Small Orange were among the worst experiences). I haven’t tried zippykid, but the two I mention below are the ones I’ve settled in with for the long haul.
1) My recommendation for those looking for high-value, high-performance hosting without a big budget: The Temple Host. Their $15/mo Business Plan should take care of your 2,000+ member cbox community for a good while and they’ll work with you if you start to outgrow that account and need to upgrade to a VPS (which is still well under $400/yr).
W3 Total Cache is exactly the right plugin to use. Temple Host has memory-enabled caching so when W3 Total Cache is enabled on your BuddyPress install it works wonders. It doesn’t do that on crapDaddy because of how they have their servers configured.
A group of volunteers and I are setting up a wordpress multisite install with buddypress/cbox and eventually hoping to get it to talk to an install of localwiki. The Temple Host support is always super helpful. There’s not a lot of spit and polish on their website or hosting panel, but I’m convinced they put a lot of attention on their servers because they perform great.
2) For those with at least $99/mo to burn wanting robust hosting with cool features like built-in, easy-to-use backup/restore and deploy with git, WP Engine is the only other host that I like. Their customer support is very good. The link I’ve included is an affiliate link. I help host nonprofit sites like breadforthecity.org and mobilize.org. I don’t make any profit.
If you’re reading this and already have a WP Engine account, join their affiliate program – it can make the cost of their hosting a tad bit cheaper.
This conversation is on-going. Join one of the threads on the Help & Support Forum and let us know your experiences!