I need to host Moodle 2.x on a shared hosting account in north America. If you've used a shared hosting provider for hosting Moodle 2.x, can you tell us something about them? Good points vs. bad points, advantages vs. disadvantages, etc.
I'd like to keep this reasonably objective so if you have any conflict of interest, e.g. you're hosting provider, or you work for a hosting provider, or your friend's a hosting provider, please state it clearly in your posts. I've searched around Moodle.org forums and found an interesting discussion here: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=233326 where posters soon fell foul from trying to mislead readers and then being found out by the canny Moodle.org community. I'd like to keep this open and ethically appropriate as far as possible.
Just posting a link with a short phrase doesn't help readers much. Please say what your experience of them has been and why you would or wouldn't recommend them.
I've also discovered that many of the providers with different names are essentially the same provider: same services, same infrastructure, same server setups, same limitations, same conditions, etc., e.g. iPage, FatCow, and a few others are the same provider and cannot host Moodle 2.x.
Hopefully, we can start a thread that will be useful to everyone.
BTW, I got this response to an inquiry from HostPapa:
The answers for your questions regarding our web hosting are as follows: 1. Price per 12 months: Approx $71.40 for Hosting charges. 2. Domain name fees per 12 months: Primary domain registration/transfer is free for 1 year. 3. Any additional setup fees or charges: Account Setup free is free but taxes are applicable. 4. Disk space limit (MB/GB): Unlimited 5. Number of files limit: Unlimited 6. Monthly bandwidth transfer limit (MB/GB): Unlimited 7. Has cPanel or similar?: Yes we provide cPanel access to our clients. 8. Number of cron jobs/scheduled tasks: Unlimited 9. Minimum time between running cron jobs/scheduled tasks: Unlimited 10. Supports FTP and/or FTPS?: We support FTP. 11. Supports .htaccess files?: Yes we support .htaccess files. 12. Allows FTP(S) access to directories one level above the /www/,/htdocs/, or /public_html/ directory?: We provide access to public_html and folder in the same directory to our clients. 13. Has phpMyAdmin?: Yes we provide phpMyAdmin to our clients. 14. Number of databases limit: Unlimited 15. Database size limit (MB/GB): Unlimited 16. Supports PHP 5.4+?: Currenty we have PHP version 5.3.26 installed on our servers. 17. Number of email accounts limit: You can create Unlimited email accounts. 18. Storage limit per email account (MB/GB): Unlimited 19. Email forwarding: Unlimited 20. Supports secure SSL/TLS email access?: Unfortunately we do not provide SSL/TLS email access to our clients. 21. Supports POP3 and/or IMAP?: Yes we support POP3 and/or IMAP. 22. Supported multimedia/MIME types (e.g. FLV, F4V, M4V, MOV, MP3, MP4,Ogg (Theora and Vorbis), SWF, WAV, WebM): Unfortunately we do not support online streaming on the website but you can embed the videos or music to play songs on the website. 23. Refunds/cancellation policy: You can refer the below link for our refund details URL http://www.hostpapa.com/why-hostpapa/service-guarantee/ I need to install and keep updated the latest version of Moodle (currently at v2.6), which is a free and open source Learning Management System (LMS) that runs on PHP 5.3.2 and later. It requires these settings: 1. register_globals MUST be OFF. >>YES 2. safe_mode needs to be OFF. >>YES 3. memory_limit should be at least 80M, 128M is recommended. >> We have memory_limit = 128M. 4. session.save_handler needs to be set to FILES. >>YES 5. magic_quotes_gpc should be OFF. >>YES 6. magic_quotes_runtime needs to be OFF. >> YES 7. file_uploads needs to be ON. >> YES 8. session.auto_start needs to be OFF. Yes we set make session.auto_start OFF. 9. session.bug_compat_warn needs to be OFF. > YES And it requires these PHP extensions: 1. iconv 2. mbstring 3. curl 4. openssl 5. tokenizer 6. xmlrpc 7. soap 8. ctype 9. zip 10. gd 11. simplexml 12. spl 13. pcre 14. dom 15. xml 16. intl 17. json Yes we have enabled all the above PHP extensions on the servers. If still you have some other questions then please let us know so that we can assist you further. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
Domain registration fees seem to be around $15 per 12 months in most cases.
Thanks for the input. There are a lot of Moodlers who want to run their own showcase Moodles or small instances for their own classes/groups. Cloud hosting, VPS, etc. tends to be much more expensive than shared hosting and are more than they're likely to need. Shared hosting presents an economical option and is perfect for teachers, developers, admins, schools, etc. to run test instances to see how well it meets their needs or if elearning is "for them."
It'd be nice to have a list of shared hosting plans/providers that can run the latest versions of Moodle to shorten the time it takes to sort through them. On the upside, if hosting providers see that they can attract clients with Moodle... well, you know.
Cloud is generally more expensive, but so much more flexible (to me, and a couple of other people .
I use Digital Ocean (absolutely no affiliation apart from the fact I pay them $30 a month for one 1GB and one 2GB cloud servers with SSD storage).
The 2GB server runs a number of domains for me, and also doubles as staging server for customer and my own projects. I've got the full config for Ubuntu, with virtual hosts running each domain and /var/www running the staging development sites completely separated from each other.
The digital ocean cloud panel is very simple - I've used Rackspace and Linode, and both offer more options but at roughly 4 and 2 times the cost respectively.
It's yet another learning curve from cpanel, but I am happy to share the Ubuntu configs with you. They are written as a "type in this, then this, then set that" which I plan to automate once I get to the point of having customers sign up online and I use the Digital Ocean API to create new instances.
Anyway, whatever you do - good luck!
A very good morning to you Matt, and all, from snowy Muroran in the north of Japan. Yes, yes I know you said North America but when you talk of hosting, people from other countries use north American companies too - I'm one of them. Hosting is becoming a global thing though, and I know there are many good hosting companies now both in Japan and around the world. When looking for a host, you shouldn't really limit your choices to one country even though that is where you live. The speed of connection does not really change that much just because the host is in a different part of the world. Still, I'll keep my response related to the U.S.
First and foremost, before you look at other hosting options, your really should look at the Moodle partners. By going with one of them (though not Moodlerooms as they are now owned by Blackboard) you know that you are giving back to the Moodle community in many more ways than one.
OK, so you've looked at them and thought they are a little too expensive. Hmmm, what to do. First, really think "are they expensive?" Remember that they set up the Moodle for you and know Moodle intimately. Depending on how much you consider your time is worth per hour, often they will be cheaper than hosting options in the long run.
So you still think, "no, I'm going with a host". OK there are lots of things you have to consider. Obviously price is one thing. You mention that you have received a quote for $70 dollars a year. You are probably thinking "how the heck can someone survive charging so little". Well, that is because companies that charge between $70-100 for shared hosting generally put up to and over 500 accounts on a single server. I've seen one with 1070 accounts on the one server. If you have friends who have shared hosting please do the following:
1. Go to http://whois.domaintools.com/
2. Enter the domain name in to the section there.
3. Click on the "lookup" button.
4. In the information section that appears after clicking pay careful attention to the "reverse ip" number. That tells you how many other people are sharing that server.
Now that 70 odd dollars a year starts to make economical sense 500x70 = 35000 dollars. That is one server the company probably paid around 5 thousand dollars for. They have to supply one or two people to get things going and, if they are good, backup servers etc but you can see that, yes, hosting could be quite profitable.
Economical sense for the company yes, but does it make sense for a teacher to use this kind of service? If you are professional and want the best for your students, then you have to think about giving students (in no particular order of importance, though obviously some are more important than others) 1. a reasonably quick site (having over 500 sites on one server obviously results in slower speeds) 2. security - moodle itself is secure enough and shouldn't be a problem with others on the same server but with so many accounts on a single server, the chances that something will go wrong increase. 3. stability - there is nothing worse than being in a class and the site crashing. It makes you, the teacher, look like a goose. If it happens during a quiz, or worse, an exam, then it is seriously damaging in many respects. There are other things too but I'm starting to get tired as you probably are too.
Right, you've considered price and checked on how they stack up regarding how many sites they stack on their servers (hence you've thought about security, stability and speed). What else? Your list of some of the nitty gritty things is a good one to start with - though when companies state "unlimited" disk space and unlimited mysql databases you should really be worried. For 70 odd dollars there is no way they can truly mean that and offer a speed and reliability at the same time. You'll also have to think about their service - do they answer your questions in a timely manner? (often they answer questions from potential clients far more quickly than they do actual clients!) Will they give actual Moodle support - you really shouldn't expect it unless they are a moodle partner. Check their stats for downtime. Do they offer "restore from backups" ie, do they back up their servers to a site outside where they have their servers? Worst case scenario - if there is a fire in the building where the servers are and they are destroyed, if there is no off site back up everything is gone. Think about that for a long moment....
OK, to the part you are probably wondering about - do I use shared hosting? Yes and no. Back in 2003 when I first started using Moodle I used shared hosting to begin with. I have kept using it for testing and other things though I have had my own server since 2007.
So many stories to tell of shared hosting.... The first host I chose took my money and many others I'm sure. Found out that after 4 months of good service one morning I woke up and the site was down. Found out months later that the person had got to the amount he wanted and decided it was time for him to go to the Caribbean. Sold up and left everyone with nothing. I lost everything. Since then, I've been more conscientious about taking backups of my courses and putting them in places (notice the plural "s") that are safe.
Didn't give up though and have been happy with the service of http://lumasis.com/ since 2005 My site there comes back with 85 on the reverse ip stat. It is a little more expensive but I've never had problems with them. I think the money is well spent. I work at a university in Muroran so am not involved with the hosting company. Last month I was in charge of a workshop at MoodleMoot Japan where I had up to 40 people accessing a training course I have on the shared hosting site. Many of the attendees were accessing as teachers creating and doing quizzes. The site held up well for the entire time. 50 people did the workshop module on the site over a separate 90 minute period and again, no crashes.
Now, I've spent a lot of time working out how to use the cPanel system and setting up Moodle etc. Looking back, I often think I might have been better to have gone with a Moodle partner. It is a steep learning curve being in charge of setting up Moodle and that takes a lot of time. I strongly advise you not to use the "one click" setup scripts such as Fantastico. There are so many problems with these that it would take a post longer than this one to cover them.
Still, I've become reasonably cognizant of servers and how the net works because of the time I spent learning how to do this and it has opened some doors that wouldn't have been opened otherwise. The big thing here really is - do you want to become a nerd for becoming a nerd's sake, or do you want Moodle with as little hassle as possible? If it is the later, then go with a partner. If not and you want to do the nerdy thing, then yes, go for a hosting company - but be well informed! Good luck with it all.
Eric can you please, clarify what you meant by " By going with one of them (though not Moodlerooms as they are now owned by Blackboard) you know that you are giving back to the Moodle community in many more ways than one."
Your statement seems to imply that because Moodlerooms is owned by Blackboard that we don't give back to the Moodle community. I hope this is not what you are saying because it is a verifiably false statement. Martin Dougimas has stated at multiple Moots that since the Blackboard acquisition Moodlerooms has contributed more open source code including but not limited to the external tools integration, common cartridge export and the outcomes update. That is in addition to our financial contributions to Moodle HQ as part of our partner agreement and updates to our numerous community plugins. I count 4 ways that a Moodlerooms client gives back to the Moodle community.
My sincere apologies. You have stated you are giving back to the Moodle community and we are grateful for that. Thank you. Again, I apologise for inferring that you don't. However, I know of a number of instances where teachers wanting to use Moodle asked their schools to go to a partner. The schools went to Moodlerooms but the school was sold Blackboard. Now, that shows that the sales team are slick (I've been told that the sales people told the schools that Blackboard is being used in 70% of US universities - a figure they could have used in 2005 but not last year when the sales team were still using those figures. The sales people used a number of other figures that were also questionable). The teachers I spoke with were upset that the bean pushers at their schools had gone to Moodlerooms expecting to get Moodle but instead were sold Blackboard. So, again my apologies for stating Moodlerooms does not give back to the Moodle community.
...would not dare to add anymore to this (have placed sellotape over certain keys-on- board here).....
Eric-just want to share a big sigh
Eric you say: "Now, that shows that the sales team are slick"
MR describe it as "aggressive, widespread and systematic prospecting"
I have had first hand experience of this "prospecting", the only cold calls I have ever received in 7 years Moodling. If asked to describe that experience in one word it would be disingenuous.
As for Jason's comments, they are all fair and accurate and it is not fair to suggest MR don't contribute, they do.
That doesn't change the fact they are owned by aggressive patent wielding VC's who would fork Moodle in the blink of an eye if it made business sense to do so.
I'm glad, that there is somebody in the (current?) Moodlerooms to answer people's concerns here. What came up from the (old?) Moodlerooms during those dramatic days https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=199248 was just too cheap.
I too am looking for a shared hosting provider who will support Moodle, at least a later version than V 1.9.10. My search is for a service which will also allow other options to be supported and not just Moodle. The groups I support are none profit and the idea of having to spend over $100/month instead of the expected $10/month is just not an option. Their solution is simply not to use Moodle which is not one I prefer given what they wish to do.
The sad thing is I have found several sites who claim to support the latest version of Moodle when in fact when you attempt to install it the system fails. Initially the blame was placed on PHP but as of yesterday I am told the issue is now the logging system in the latest version of MySQL.
Like you I would love a truthful list of those who can support Moodle and at the same time other common LAMP facilities.
If you're in the UK or western Europe, I've been using http://www.heartinternet.co.uk/ I've been running Moodle 2.x, up to version 2.5 so far. Everything runs OK with small groups (15 - 20 concurrent users). I've also run Mahara on it. However, if you want backup and restore to work, you have to ask them to enable temporary DB tables in MySQL or it'll fail and throw an error. I've also run Mahara on it but you have to ask for DB triggers to be enabled to get it to install. And their one-click-install scripts usually don't work, which isn't a problem because manual install is getting so much easier these days.
Their support is reasonably quick but they don't always read the messages very carefully, even though I try to be very explicit and clear.
My Moodle 2.5 is at: http://m2.matbury.com/
If you just want regular vanilla Moodle and to pay only for what you use (storage, bandwidth, and CPU usage), this looks like a cheap and easy option: http://www.mdlspot.com/ Not good for me because I want to upload my own experimental code and proofs of concept but for a regular user, I reckon it'd be pretty good.
Setting up your own machine image on AWS works out at almost as expensive as a dedicated server.
http://www.hostpapa.ca/ claim that they support Moodle. Does anyone have any experience of running Moodle on HostPapa?
Does anyone have any experience of other shared hosting providers? Can anyone provide a link to their Moodle running on a shared service?
How about this one? https://www.site5.com/p/moodle/
Currently looking at hosting on AWS via BitNami's ready-made Amazon Machine Images (AMI). Basically, you set up an account on AWS (pay per use) and the BitNami service is free for small instances, with no lock-in, i.e. you can cancel your service with BitNami but keep your AMI running on AWS: https://bitnami.com/cloud
Here's their Moodle offering: https://bitnami.com/stack/moodle/cloud
Or set up a LAMP stack and install Moodle in a subdirectory and integrate it with whatever other web apps you want, e.g. Mahara, Wordpress, ownCloud, or Joomla, or just run them alongside: https://bitnami.com/stack/lamp/cloud
It appears to work out at a bit more than most shared hosting services, but you have root access for stuff like installing PHP extensions and changing Apache and php.ini settings and enabling disabling database features. It's like having your own server
BTW, I've uninstalled my remote Moodle 1.9 (don't have any reason to keep it there now), and moved my Moodle 2.6 to http://moodle.matbury.com/
My Wordpress installation got hacked (the attack originated from an IP address in China) and I found malware scripts running as part of a phishing scheme so had to shut everything down, clean the server and databases, and start again from scratch (well, backups anyway). It's back up and working and no problems so far.
Thanks for the cloud idea Brian. Looking into that (see previous post). There do seem to be some budget options for "micro sites" and it looks like there's been a bit of a price war going on since the last time I looked at cloud hosting. And yes, having your own server or VPS is so much better than shared hosting in so many ways... especially if you're comfortable with SSH
tsohost are pretty good in the UK (yes I know you wanted US), their (not quite) "cloud" hosting is clustered, it can be a bit sticky at times but the DB clusters are fast for the money.
The setup can be a bit of a pain at times as there is more than one path to the files (symlinks or similar to SAN) but generally it works well on a tight budget.
Thanks Jez, that's a great help.
I found their shared hosting offerings here: https://www.tsohost.com/web-hosting/ They list Moodle as a one-click install but don't say which version (some hosts only offer 1.9). Have you used them for Moodle 2.5 and/or later?
BTW, their in-house control panel looks pretty good; lots of control that you don't normally get with cPanel.
One click is currently 2.6.2, you can enable ssh and wget something else if your upload speed makes ftp a drag.
The way they have their "cloud" offering setup is load balancer, san and db cluster so when you set up db its on a remote ip not localhost. Ftp would be another ip.
It can sometimes be a bit laggy but overall for the money very good.
The control panel takes a little getting used to, very different to cpanel. The main limitation is not being able to add cron jobs but support is excellent, ticket your cron requirements and they will be added promptly.
another limitation is not being able to point multiple domains at the same codebase (i dont think) so multi tennancy would be an issue, though you may be able to get help with that too if that was something you were interested in.
for a few quid a month i doubt you will find better, even if US is your target audience.
...a bit laggy eh.