Wouldn’t it be nice if the same place you bought your domains could also provide reliable hosting as well? We’ve now seen Godaddy shed their previous reputation of being a domain registrar with bad hosting to one that offers pretty good managed WordPress hosting. The benefits of having hosting offered directly through the registrar is that DNS and hosting all right there in the same dashboard. It’s simply a matter of a few clicks to get your domain hosted and on the web. Some registrars like Dynadot give basic static non-WordPress page builders for free, but you need to pay $5/month for them to remove their footer and allow for more premium features. Another registrar, Gandi.net, offers a basic 3-page website for free with each domain that you host with them. Gandi is a bit of a boutique registrar – their prices are a tad more expensive but they also offer lots of extras with their domains. Every domain registration at Gandi gets you free whois privacy, a free SSL certificate for the first year and in addition to their free basic webhosting is free email hosting (Dynadot by comparison offers a more basic free email forwarding, while competing registrar Hover offers email forwarding for $5 annually or $20/year for email hosting). But Gandi also offers a low-priced hosting option perfect for WordPress sites starting at just $5 per month.
Gandi’s Simple Hosting
Gandi offers a Simple Hosting plan that acts as a managed Platform as a Service (PaaS) with a few more restrictions than a typical VPS. Although you won’t get root access, you get dedicated resources on par with an entry level VPS (often called “semi-dedicated hosting” by other hosts). Typical of a sophisticated PaaS you can choose your technology stack – PHP / MySQL / Apache / Python / Ruby / MongoDB. Gandi’s Simple Hosting plan allows hosting up to 100 domains on a single instance.
Although you don’t need to have your domain registered at Gandi to use their Simple Hosting plan, you will have the easiest time when using Gandi’s nameservers to have your domain with them. If the domain is not at Gandi and you want to use Gandi’s DNS then you’ll have to add a specific TXT record to your domain’s DNS wherever it’s registered. Most will want to use their Simple Hosting plan with domains they already have at Gandi to keep everything under one dashboard. Keep in mind that their Simple Hosting doesn’t technically include email, although free email is included with your domain if you register your name at Gandi as already mentioned.
Setting up WordPress on Gandi’s Simple hosting is simply a matter of pointing your domains at the service and getting your SFTP login and MySQL root login. I apologize in advance but this is the point in the article where things start to get technical – I think Gandi’s Platform as a Service is highly reliable and a great value for the money, but their control panel is quite spartan (this is not a cPanel host).
Simple Hosting gives you Apache, PHP (with APC cache), MySQL as well as a Varnish cache on a Debian Linux distribution that looks like this:
Apache is completely under your control with reboot ability and you have MySQL with root access (accessible via phpMyAdmin). Varnish acts as the HTTP cache, caching static content like images which takes some of the strain off of your server. You can purge the Varnish cache in your local admin page.
The Varnish cache can also be purged directly from WordPress by using a Plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/varnish-http-purge/. Their APC PHP opcode cache is sized at 64 MB for size S instance and doubles with each plan upgrade. APC and PHP statistics are accessible using the administration interface. In addition, mod_deflate and mod_expires are enabled in Apache allowing content to be cached in your visitor’s browser, speeding up subsequent page loads for them. This is somewhat rare with shared hosts who try to fake a semi-dedicated environment by deploying Cloudlinux (and giving everyone meager resource allowances).
Your instance has only one user and a dedicated PHP daemon, which allows one to change the PHP configuration using ini_set(). The PHP interpreter runs as a fastCGI daemon, so setting the php_value in .htaccess file is disabled. You can add settings like
in your wp-config.php file.
The memory_limit parameter and apc.shm_size for the APC cache are not modifiable. The RAM allocations on the plan are your memory limits. PHP FastGGI is capped at two PHP threads at the smallest pland and doubles with each subsequent plan.
Verdict on Gandi’s Simple Hosting
I think the platform has been very stable in my usage, and though their support responds usually within 8 hours I still think there’s a timezone issue with them being in Europe and myself being in the US. I’m only running one WordPress site on their S plan, though a M plan is recommended if you’re going to run more than one WordPress site on your instance:
Get at least the size M medium instance if you intend to run WordPress. That doubles the seemingly ridiculously low max 2 simultaneous PHP threads to 4. It’s not really ridiculously low, because of their Varnish cache and APC cache in front of your webserver. But I’ve seen delays and timeouts on just one WordPress site on a size S while I have 5 or 6 running happily on a size M. You also need a size M or higher to install an SSL/TLS certificate (theirs or bought from anybody else.)
Gandi.net offers a free 10 day hosting trial and 50% discount on the first year of their Simple Hosting plan when you register a domain, so it might be worth a shot if you’re looking for an all-in-one host-&-registrar solution that can rival Godaddy.com.