Why Choose Pantheon for WordPress Hosting [Review]

Managed Hosting Review

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Pantheon Hosting
Pantheon wordpress hosting

Price: Starts at $35/mo

Currency: USD

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Back in the day (read five years ago) Pantheon was known for hosting Drupal websites only. They excelled at it and were clearly right there with the likes of Acquia. Then just over three years ago they ventured into Managed WordPress hosting and have never looked back. TechVise was on the bandwagon since the ‘early access’ stage of Pantheon’s WordPress hosting and we have loved it.

Like any great service, they continue to evolve and give access to features. Recently, they announced major changes to their pricing and service offering accross all their plans. Here’s a look at the changes announced as well as insight on how their managed WordPress hosting performs today.

 

What Pantheon WordPress Hosting Offers:

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  1. Separate Dev, Test and Live environments with easy commits, push/pull code functionality with access to cache clearing
  2. GIT and SFTP support
  3. Free HTTPS via Let’s Encrypt
  4. Global CDN via 40+ points of presence
  5. New relic pro monitoring (on pro plans and above)
  6. Built in cache (Varnish with the option to upgrade to Edge Cache on higher plans)
  7. Scheduled and manual backups
  8. PHP error logs
  9. Environment clones, export, import and ability to wipe clean an environment
  10. Private and Public access to any of the environments.
  11. Easy to develop and setup the sandbox environments which are free to host and develop till the site is ready to be live, which starts for as little as $35 / month / website.
  12. Multi-Dev environment  – for clients affiliated with a company only – allows for different teams to work independently and merge changes only when ready. If you want MultiDev and preferential pricing then get in touch with our company’s contact form.

In an online discussion, when asked about the price variation against other managed WordPress hosting providers, Josh had the following viewpoint:

We’re definitely not the cheap option, and obviously nobody is happy about a price change, but for those who see the value in what we do I think we’re an incredible bargain.

That statement above pretty much sums it for me and others at TechVise (part of QZ Consulting), we don’t want to spend our time on figuring out where the problem is because most issues that we run into derive from small customisations and are generally because of a typo or a missing syntax etc.

We also wanted an environment in the cloud that our customers could see when we wanted them to (Pantheon provides both Public and Private environment access options).

And we want to be able to make changes to the code on the fly and then push them to ‘test‘ environment so that internal customers could approve and play with it, without getting in the way of our developers.

We also get to test out new updates, plugins and generally anything in the dev before pushing them to test and then go live with it.

Last but not the least, there is no way to make any accidental changes via SFTP or GIT in the test or live environments. Yes, you read that right. You cannot create folders randomly, accidentally delete files, or have a poorly configured cron job that will remove important site content. Yes you can upload new files via WordPress media uploader but thats about it. Its pretty much hacker and idiot safe.

We start off all client websites on Pantheon so it remains the platform of choice for us. Some clients stay on it because it just makes things easier and saves them the headache of system administration. 

Some considerations when choosing Pantheon

As with most specialised hosting solutions, there are considerations when choosing a platform. Here’s what you need to be aware of:

  1. Pantheon doesn’t natively support session directory. Yes thats right, any theme or plugin that uses session_start() function will just not work with their platform – out of the box. They have a separate plugin that sorts out the issue to run your themes and plugins that use PHP sessions.
  2. No PHPMyAdmin access to Database. Yes, you can download / export and import databases and also connect to it using your own Native MySQL client. This may be a point of consideration with your existing developers. You should take a look at their post on accessing MySQL Databases on Pantheon for more information.

Thanks a lot to Brian from Pantheon for bringing the Varnish Cache + Woocommerce fix to our notice as well as the recent release of their PHP Session handling plugin. These fixes definitely make a stronger case to move to their platform especially if you dont want to worry about security, cache management and troubleshooting.

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Brian MacKinney
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Thanks for the great review! We’ve addressed some of the considerations listed. 1. Please see our article and plugin for native php sessions: http://helpdesk.getpantheon.com/customer/portal/articles/1505741-wordpress-and-php-sessions and https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-native-php-sessions/ 2. Last week we fixed WooCommerce and BuddyPress varnish issues and both now work on the platform. 3. Instructions for accessing your database are… Read more »