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The web hosting environment

joomla support cheshire manchester merseyside north west uk

The web hosting environment is rapidly changing.

What was leading edge two years ago is now prehistoric!

It is necessary to have a little understanding of how the various components required by a Joomla! CMS website fit together to appreciate recent technological improvements in the hosting environment.

We hope this article will help you make better decisions when choosing a hosting company for your Joomla! website.

We recommend you read this article in conjunction with our related articles:

 

What does a Joomla! website need to be able to sing and dance?

All websites require at least three things:

  • a web server,
  • a server operating system and
  • a server application.

Dynamic database driven websites like Joomla! also need:

  • a specific web server configuration

which includes:

  • a database management system (or DBMS), and
  • a server side scripting language.

When seeking to improve website performance and security it is easy to focus all your attention on the Joomla! CMS.

But this results in not being able to see the wood for the trees. 1

If you really want to improve website performance you should also consider the hosting environment.

1 Meaning: If you can't see the wood for the trees, you can't see the whole situation clearly because you're looking too closely at small details, or because you're too closely involved.

The Web Server

Web pages are served by web servers.

The term WEB SERVER can be used to mean either:

  • the web server (i.e. a physical or virtual box) that is used to host web server applications, or
  • the web server applications themselves, in particular the operating system (see below).

For a more detailed definition visit: Wikipedia

The Web Server Operating System

The web server operating system sits underneath all the other software applications running on a web server.

It receives requests from that software and relays those requests to the web server’s hardware.

Two major web server operating systems are: Windows and Linux/Unix.

Linux is the most-used open source web server operating system in the world and provides the platform for a wide range of web server applications.

The Joomla! CMS will run on both the Windows and Linux/Unix operating systems.

Read more: What is Linux?

The Web Server Application

A web server application enables a computer to host one or more websites that can be accessed over the Internet using a Web browser. Source: TechTerms.com.

There are many web server applications in use across the world.

But market share in 2017 (2014 in brackets) is dominated by just two which with two more comprise some 97% of those in use.

Apache: 50.8% (60.6%)
Nginx: 32.3% (20.6%)
Microsoft-IIS: 11.6% (13.9%)
LiteSpeed: 2.4% (2.0%)

Source: w3techs.com.

These four web server applications can be split into two groups, depending upon which operating system they use.

Linux
Apache
Nginx
Litespeed

Windows
Microsoft - IIS

Joomla! Technical Requirements

The Joomla! Project list three of the above web server applications on their Joomla! Technical Requirements page.

Litespeed is not listed but hosting providers claim that it offers improvements in server performance, stability and security.

Learn more about: Litespeed Web Server.

Web server configuration

Two widely-used Linux based web server configurations are LAMP and LEMP.

The LAMP stack

  • Linux operating system,
  • Apache web server application,
  • MySQL database management system, and
  • PHP/Perl/Python server-side scripting language.

Read more: LAMP definition.

The LEMP stack

The LEMP stack is the same as the LAMP stack with one exception.

It uses the Nginx web server application in place of Apache.

Example Litespeed configuration

  • Linux,
  • Litespeed web server application,
  • MariaDB, and
  • PHP 7.

Hosting providers which offer Litespeed claim that it offers improvements in server performance, stability and security.

Read more: Litespeed Web Server Features.

Database management systems (or DBMS)

MySQL is the most common database management system or DBMS provided with Linux based server configurations.

Read more: What is a DBMS?

But derivatives of MySQL are becoming increasingly popular, including:

  • MariaDB and
  • Percona.

These derivatives reportedly offer improved performance and reliability when compared with MySQL.

We can confirm that Joomla! performs well when the MariaDB derivative is used.

Whichever database management system is used, it should be the latest available release.

Read more: About MySQL.

Read more: About MariaDB.

Server-side scripting languages

PHP, Perl and Python are scripting languages provided with Linuxbased server configurations.

PHP is the scripting language used by the Joomla! CMS.

Care is required when choosing versions.

The developer community no longer supports versions of PHP which precede PHP 5.6.

Older versions of joomla! will not work with any version of PHP later than PHP 5.6.

Joomla! 3 works best with PHP 7.

Read more: About PHP.

Use a Web Application Firewall

Whatever hosting environment you choose for your Joomla! website, install a Web Application Firewall or WAF.

Why you should install a Web Application Firewall

Unless you administer the server which hosts your website, you will not be in control of which version and release of PHP and MySQL is used by the server hosting your website.

And whilst you can shop around for a hosting company which offers the latest available version and release of each, you cannot guarantee they will continue to do so.

There will be times when your hosting provider falls further behind the development curve than other providers.

A WAF acts as a kind of insurance policy.

Its very presence may just make the difference when a 0-Day Hack like the one which afflicted the Joomla! CMS in December 2015 is in the wild.

Read more: Web Application Firewall.

Joomla! Technical Requirements

You may see which versions of PHP and MySQL are currently recommended by the Joomla! Project at the link below.

Joomla! Technical Requirements

Whilst the Joomla! Project reference Apache, Nginx and Windows - IIS web server applications on their Technical Requirements page, no mention is made of Litespeed.

Nevertheless, Joomla! websites are reported to perform well on Litespeed servers.

Likewise, no mention is made of MySQL derivatives.

One such derivative, MariaDB, is reported to offer some 5% improvement in performance over MySQL.

You may think so what, but every little extra speed helps in a highly competitive world!

Use the latest available release for any given version.

Read more: Joomla! Technical Requirements.

Make Joomla! CMS Security YOUR #1 Priority

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We coach, help and support managers with responsiblity for Joomla! websites in organisations across Cheshire, Manchester, Merseyside, North West England & the UK.

WYNCHCO PRO Joomla! CMS Support for Joomlers.

 

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