Compare PHP Hosting
PHP is crucial to CMS websites built with WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. But you need to ensure that you have the latest (and most secure) version of PHP.
PHP is supported by virtually all web hosts. The ideal PHP environment is a fast server equipped with the full LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP). The server should be running the most up to date version of PHP, allow changes to the PHP.ini file, and include PHP extensions.
Later in this article, we’ll go into more detail on each of these hosts, but as an overview, the best 5 hosts for PHP are:
- SiteGround – Fast servers and outstanding customer support to ensure the latest PHP version
- Bluehost – 50 GB SSD, Free SSL certificate, and Cloudflare CDN
- A2 Hosting – Unlimited resources and anytime money-back guarantee
- InMotion Hosting – Unlimited emails, resources, and robust security suite
- WP Engine – 24/7 WordPress specialist technical support
How Did We Pick the Best Hosts for PHP?
We’ve reviewed over 1,500 hosting plans and selected the ones which meet all the technical requirements for running a PHP site. We then shortlisted the hosts which offer fast servers, a LAMP stack, and PHP extensions.
Finally, we asked real users. Using our massive database of over 1 million words of genuine customer reviews, we’ve identified the top 10 hosts for PHP.
What is PHP?
Unless you have a static HTML site, you’ll need to use scripts and applications to serve up your website content.
How Do You Know If You Need PHP Hosting?
You want a web hosting provider that supports PHP if:
- Your blog or business website relies on a content management system (CMS), like WordPress, or
- If you need to protect your site’s code and customer information behind a robust line of defense.
PHP’s open-source code and versatility make it a popular web hosting offering for most providers.
Where Do I Install PHP?
Does PHP Hosting Cost More?
PHP should not add any additional cost to your web hosting fees, but it’s always a good idea to confirm support for this (or any other) application with your host when choosing a plan.
How PHP Changed the Web
In the early days of the web, content was created in text editors using raw HTML. Occasionally, a page creator would throw in a bitmap image to liven things up.
With the advent of PHP, websites became more dynamic, more responsive and faster to create.
Different Versions of PHP
PHP was originally rolled out in 1995, and the most important subsequent release was arguably version 5. In total, it took five years for PHP to become a common feature on web hosting accounts.
- PHP 4: Released in 2000, PHP 4 was a powerful programming language with limited object-oriented functionality. Although you can find PHP 4 around, it is no longer supported officially, and for any public coding, you should transition to version 7.
- PHP 5: Released in 2004, PHP 5 introduced a more sophisticated approach to object-oriented programming and better security. As of 2019, it is no longer supported.
- PHP 6: Shortly after the release of PHP 5, efforts began to make PHP fully Unicode supported. This effort failed and PHP 6 was never released.
- PHP 7: This is the current version of PHP, which was first released in late 2015. It is at version 7.4 of PHP.
- PHP 8: The next release of PHP is expected in 2020 or 2021 and will include just-in-time compilation and many other new features.
Why Use PHP?
PHP connects HTML pages to dynamic content from databases and multimedia applications, making it easy to create interactive content.
There are many reasons to use PHP to develop your site:
- It’s favored by beginners because it can be incorporated into HTML documents. The PHP interpreter will only read the items enclosed within delimiters. Everything else is processed as regular HTML. This makes it easy to add small dynamic chunks of code to an existing site.
- It’s a lightweight option that can be run on all kinds of hosting accounts.
- Finding a PHP web host is relatively easy; PHP is free, so most hosts included it in their hosting plans.
- It allows you to pull content from a database, meaning that one-page template can be populated with different content.
- PHP can’t be read by the visitor, to it’s ideal for secure applications, such as authorization and payment processing.
- If it’s not installed, you may be able to install it yourself through your control panel.
- You’ll need PHP to run WordPress and many similar applications.
What to Look for in PHP Hosting Plans
Most hosting packages come with PHP support at no extra cost — including free web host plans or inexpensive shared plans that offer an unlimited resource allocation and a free domain name.
These plans most likely also include a range of PHP scripts that you can install to enhance your website. Many hosts also provide technical support for such scripts, which is not the case if you decide to use a less commonly-used language.
As such, you can rest assured that you’ll find a great PHP hosting option at a price you can afford.
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How to Learn PHP
Learning PHP is simple; there are lots of little tutorials that will help you get started, like:
PHP Hosting Caveats
While many web hosts support PHP, it’s crucial to check which versions they support before you purchase a web hosting package.
WordPress Recommends Prompt PHP Updates
WordPress, a content management system that is a major driver of PHP support in web hosting, recommends that you select an option that upgrades to the latest version of PHP to ensure a secure environment.
Why Some Hosting Companies Delay PHP Updates
However, some hosts are loath to upgrade immediately (or even soon after) a new release, since they aren’t certain that the new version won’t be “buggy.” As such, you’ll also want to check the host’s upgrade policy.
PRO TIP: To protect your site’s security, make sure to keep PHP updated to the latest version.
Linux vs Windows for PHP
PHP was originally written for Linux web servers, but it can now be installed on most operating systems and platforms. It’s possible to run PHP version 7.2 and above on Windows web servers offered via your hosting provider.
Why Choose Linux Hosting for PHP?
However, there are a few secondary reasons why you might not choose Windows when it comes to PHP web hosting and running PHP scripts:
- Historically, Linux and PHP are closely linked. Finding support for scripts running on Windows servers can be difficult.
- There’s more work involved for the web hosting company, so they might not be so keen to support it.
- Windows hosting usually costs more, so it’s better not to choose it unless you have a particular reason.
Linux powers the majority of sites on the web. Don’t choose a Windows server if you don’t need it for any other purpose since Linux and PHP are a great combination.
PHP Development Hosting
If you want to do more than simply run a PHP-powered CMS, like develop your own software — standalone or extensions to existing applications — there are a few more things you should look for in PHP hosting.
The most important hosting features for developers are access to FTP and SSH. FTP allows you to easily upload your code to the server. All hosts offer this to some extent, but you don’t want to be limited to a control panel interface. And if you work with others, you may need additional control.
SSH allows you to log in to your server and work on it just as if you were sitting in front of it. With it, you can conceivably do your coding right on the server without having to upload it. SSH access is more limited in hosting plans so if you need it, be sure to check with any prospective hosts before you sign up.
In addition to these features, there are many things you may want depending upon the work you are doing. It could be helpful to have SSD storage, an SSL certificate (for encryption), access to a CDN, and anything else that is necessary for your project. You might also need access to other languages like Python and Ruby.
PHP Terminology and Acronyms
When buying a hosting account for PHP support, you may come across some of the following terms and abbreviations:
- PHP: A recursive acronym. It stands for PHP Hypertext Processor. Originally, it stood for Personal Home Page.
- Foo: Foo is a term used as a placeholder or wildcard. You’ll see it on PHP forums, in working code, and in examples online.
- PEAR: The PHP Extension and Application Repository, a code library that simplifies and speeds up web development.
- LAMP: A common hosting set-up: Linux, Apache (webserver), MySQL (database) and PHP. LAMP is sometimes referred to as a “LAMP stack,” or a solution stack.
- Zend: A software company that develops PHP applications. Its products include the Zend Engine, the driving force behind the execution of PHP code.
Our Choices: The Top Three PHP Hosts
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SiteGround bills itself as web hosting that’s been “crafted with care,” and we agree. In addition to offering a full slate of feature-rich options at a variety of price points, they treat their customers well (over 2,900 customers have contributed to its 4.8/5 star rating).
They also own datacenters on three continents, implements technology to ensure top-notch performance, and offer an uptime guarantee of 99.9%.
Bluehost is known for its close collaboration with and optimal support for WordPress, but the host offers a myriad of options that will appeal to those looking for web hosting (regardless of whether they’re using WordPress or not).
They are a solid provider of full-featured hosting plans at a range of prices and offer 24/7 support, a money-back guarantee, and extras such as marketing credits with all purchases.
If you want a web hosting package that is as easy to use as possible and you want to get your website up and running with little hassle, iPage is the host for you.
Though iPage’s plans aren’t as robust as those offered by SiteGround and Bluehost, you will still get everything you need to launch your website.
What makes iPage hosting stand out, however, is the configuration of its administrative areas. iPage strives to make website management as easy as possible for you.
PHP Hosting Pros and Cons
Like all languages, PHP has its good and bad points. Here are the main things in both categories to think about.
- PHP is lightweight, easy to learn and use, and cannot be read by end-users, so you can use it for secure apps.
- PHP is commonly-supported, so you don’t have to upgrade to an advanced hosting option, such as VPS or dedicated hosting, to support your website or apps.
- If parts of your app/website require Windows-only tools, you may have a hard time finding a solid hosting option that meets all of your requirements.
- Although PHP has made great strides since its humble beginnings, it is still relatively easy to write insecure code. Programmers should know what they are doing.
More PHP Resources
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is PHP?
What is an interpreted scripting language?
What is a dynamic web application?
Are scripting languages less powerful than compiled languages?
What does PHP stand for?
Why are so many popular applications written in PHP?
Is PHP popular?
Do I need PHP?
Do I need to learn PHP?
Who should learn PHP?
How do I display static HTML as part of a PHP script?
What is a PHP framework?
What’s new in PHP 7?
What happened to PHP 6?
Can I use PHP 5?
Is PHP secure?
How do I get PHP?