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Monday, August 17, 2015

Using PHP to Measure Shared Web Hosting Quality

The web hosting industry has some strange ideas about what is good for their customers and their bottom line. It makes you think, "do they really care?".  Wouldn't it be great to have an established  and reliable method of  ensuring web hosting companies hold a high standard of service and security?  In this post let's look at why PHP could and should be used as the top metric for determining the quality of a web host.

PHP Supports the Web

Although they do support several versions of PHP during a transistion period. It should be obvious that the PHP project cannot develop and support multiple branches of  PHP. Nor should they have to do so because of the shared web hosting industries refusal to stay updated. Because of it's popularity it is important that PHP availability remain consistent throughout the web and hold it stable and secure.

Because of this a supported version roadmap is made and followed. Unfortunately the same roadmap is not  followed by webhosts.  Nor is there any initiative or association of web hosting that can provide a similar roadmap. The lack of guidance is the reason customers have jumped ship from host to host  looking for the latest  version of PHP to support  their software. This situation has been the status quo for almost two decades.

PHP Grows the Web

Since PHP has been one of the top reasons for the growth of the number  of  web sites and a as a result the growth of the web hosting industry. It is only fair that it be used as the standard metric of  hosting quality Moving forward website owners and web developers can  be pro-active and  use PHP as the measurement in a system of determining  the quality of web hosting.  Before getting  placed in a bad spot that can only be solved by changing web hosts. It's a quality in, quality out rule of thumb.

How Big is Shared Web Hosting?

Before we do a quality check of some of the better webhosts. Let's look at the industry as a whole and how it  looks. Because the web hosting industry is so wide spread without associations or  standards it is very difficult to get a grasp of the size and determine market shares.

After Collecting Data From Over 1,500 Hosting Companies and 54 Million Hosted Websites, Host Advice Reveals Fascinating Results About The Market Share of Top Hosting Sites Per Country

Using advanced comparison tools, new online service Host Advice today released the results of its “Global Web Hosting Market Share 2015” review. Until now, there has never been research done on the Web hosting industry because it required analyzing thousands of Web hosting plans from hundreds of Web hosting companies, and running a check on millions of websites.

2015 Web Hosting Companies Market Share Review Announced

Quality Check

Now that we have a  list of  market players  let's check some of them for their level of quality.  Adding other  hosts not on the Host advice survey for comparison. No stars just straight floating levels  -1 to 4 . The top level being  for developers.  Hosts are penalized for any zero value. Meaning  that if it is set as the default on their  control panel or if it is available in the control panel  they recieve a down tick.  An example being  a host that has  PHP 5.5 as a default but allows PHP 5.2 would get a score of 1.  Host are also penalized for being in consistent.  A host which has 5.5 as their highest default  level  but advertises  PHP7  without  PHP5.6 is penalized and remains at the defaulted  PHP 5.5 level 2. An example is  Redyhost which could have gotten the top level  if not for their allowance of  PHP 5.3.

Branch Initial Release Active Support Until Security Support Until
5.4 1 Mar 2012 3 years, 5 months ago 14 Sep 2014 11 months ago 14 Sep 2015 in 27 days
5.5 20 Jun 2013 2 years, 1 month ago 10 Jul 2015 1 month ago 10 Jul 2016 in 10 months
5.6 28 Aug 2014 11 months ago 28 Aug 2016 in 1 year 28 Aug 2017 in 2 years

5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 1 Jan 2012 1 Jan 2013 1 Jan 2014 1 Jan 2015 1 Jan 2016 1 Jan 2017 1 Jan 2018 1 Jan 2019 Today: 17 Aug 2015

Grade PHP version Points details
15.4.x0low ending security support in 1 month
071beta for developers
05.3 >-1unusable

Host Level Points details
a2 hosting32optimal +
Web Hosting Hub31optimal

Level 3

SiteGround – PHP Version 5.6.8

Namecheap – PHP Version 5.6

Redy host-- PHP version 7  and 5.6 but allows 5.3 and earlier

A small Orange -- PHP Version 5.6 to 5.4

Level 2

Arvixe -- PHP Version 5.5

HostGator – PHP Version 5.5

WP Engine – PHP Version 5.5

GoDaddy – PHP Version 5.5

Level 1


Bluehost – PHP Version 5.4

Later other indicators can be added such as is the PHP version upfront and visible in the advertising? Are they supporting PHP across the board in all packages or are they holding customers hostage in the lower tiers giving them unsupported PHP until they upgrade? This despicable practice has become all too common and  a host gets two minus ticks for it. 

Though the Content Connection Kit runs fine on PHP version 5.4 and above it will always be developed on and  updated to the latest version. This is one of the greatest pluses for having small code base , one that can be  modified and refactored in days not  months or years. Ongoing evolution of web applications using the latest PHP features requires web hosting support that is up to date. We can all make sure this happens by  being critical of hosting that does not meet with the PHP quality standard.

Follow me on twitter if you are interested in being part of an initiative that uses PHP as the eminent metric for determining the quality of Shared Web Hosting across the Web Hosting industry?

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