By Jennifer Marsh

Jennifer Marsh is a software developer, programmer and technology writer and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

drupal_branding_2012Drupal is a content management system (CMS) that also offers a way for website owners to organize and slowly grow their web presence. Drupal is much more advanced than its WordPress competitor, so website owners planning to host Drupal should also evaluate any web host packages considered before they sign a contract. The web host package must support Drupal’s front and backend, and it should also support customizations to the Drupal interface.

Drupal Installation Wizards

Some web hosts offer wizards and help documents for installing Drupal on a web server. The customized help makes it easier for webmasters to install and configure the CMS platform on existing websites. Although this does not help with customization, it greatly reduces the learning curve for webmasters unfamiliar with the Drupal installation procedure.

Ability to Change Settings

Drupal uses the PHP language, but some installations require advanced PHP configuration changes. This includes memory settings, which sometimes needs to be increased to allow the Drupal software to run. If the webmaster does not have control of the settings, ask the web host if changes can be made to accommodate the business’ Drupal installation.

Operating System Management

Webmasters have the choice of shared hosting, managed operating system support or dedicated or virtual servers. If the webmaster is not familiar with maintenance and upkeep of Apache, the Linux operating system and MySQL, then managed hosts will take care of any issues unfamiliar to the website administrator. If the webmaster chooses dedicated hosts or unmanaged systems, he or she must take care of any issues on the server. Most hosts have some kind of support in the contract, but it’s best to verify what kind of support options are available prior to choosing a host.

Backup and Recovery

Backups for both the Drupal front end pages and the MySQL database are required for system recovery. The need for system recovery can stem from hardware failure, software failure or a software bug. The web host will restore from the last known good service point, which saves the webmaster time if he or she can’t find his latest backup. Ensure that the web host maintains some kind of recovery options in case of an emergency.

These options are available for most website hosting companies, and they are usually a part of cloud hosting environments. When the business is new, it’s too costly to set up an internal server and maintain the system. Using cloud hosting, the business can focus on growth while the web host keeps the server afloat.