AbanteCart is a rapidly growing e-commerce platform. It enables merchants to create an online business and sell products online without writing code. The company is 15 years old but its product has a contemporary user interface.
The centerpiece of its admin environment is its Dashboard. It enables the user to set up and manage a custom storefront using a point-and-click interface. Here is the default Dashboard.
With the Dashboard, you can populate your store with your products, add customer records, create the static pages, and track orders. You can even install extensions from within the Dashboard.
Since AbanteCart is open source, it is built and supported by the community. The current version is 1.18. It can be installed by Softaculous and other one-click installers. It is great for small to moderate stores who don’t need the power of a high end solution like Magento. In theory, it can be hosted by hundreds of providers, but it is not that easy. An e-commerce site is more demanding of the host than a simple blog. Like any e-commerce site, a slow and unresponsive site discourages sales and downtime cuts into your business. So, reliability and responsiveness are also important.
The Best 5
- Arvixe : A great Shared and VPS host that offers premium Business Shared hosting plans,
- Site5 : A Shared and Cloud VPS provider who has business Shared hosting and VPS plans,
- SiteGround : Premium Shared hosting and managed VPS for business,
- WebFaction : A premium Shared hosting provider with a dual sever configuration,
- A2 Hosting : A cutting-edge provider with deluxe Shared hosting and VPS plans.
Read more about them after the break!
Although AbanteCart is relatively lightweight for an e-commerce platform, it imposes the same stringent security requirements as any e-commerce app or plug-in. Whenever credit card information is sent over the open internet, security jumps out as a huge issue. That’s part of the cost of doing business. This concern has to be factored into the selection of a good host. Plan on paying more than bargain-basement prices for hosting e-commerce.
For e-commerce, a critical requirement is that the host must establish an encrypted and secure tunnel in which payment information is exchanged.
The chief requirement for e-commerce is airtight security. You need to create an encrypted line of communication between the seller and the buyer. This prevents a so-called “man-in-the-middle” attack. A “man-in-the-middle” is a bad guy who is eavesdropping on the conversations between the buyers and the seller. This is very bad since a “man-in-the middle” can grab your customers’ credit card numbers and even impersonate you to them.
To block this, you need to obtain and install an SSL certificate. In practical terms, you need:
- A private SSL certificate, so that the buyers are able to verify that you are the legitimate merchant that you claim to be,
- A fixed IP address, a requirement for implementing a clean SSL connection that the buyers can verify in their browsers,
- Also, there’s a set of rules called PCI compliance (Payment Card Industry compliance). A host should be able to warrant that its servers are PCI compliant. This would mean that they’re solid from a security perspective.
The SSL certificate enables your customers to establish an encrypted and trusted connection using the https protocol (rather than the ordinary http protocol); https is the secure and encrypted version of http.
Typically, a Shared host that is robust enough for e-commerce comes with a fixed IP address, an SSL certificate, and the server is warranted for PCI compliance. If you want to use a Shared host then you should be careful that you are able to conduct encrypted transactions. Most Shared hosts are not designed with e-commerce in mind.
Another possibility is to purchase an SSL certificate separately and install it yourself. This may or may not be cheaper, depending on the type of deal that the hosting company offers for their business-oriented plans.
Performance, Uptime, and Backups
Beyond that, it’s in your best interest to choose a fast and reliable host. Customers are turned off by slow and unresponsive sites. If your potential customers lose interest because your site loads too slowly, then you won’t be doing much business.
This is one reason to consider using a VPS rather than a Shared host!
What can you do about all this? A few things:
- Choose a host with a datacenter close to your customers,
- Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network),
- Use a Cloud VPS or a deluxe shared host that does not overbook their servers.
- Use a provider that does automatic backups.
A first step is to check to see that the host has a datacenter relatively close to your customers. You usually can check to see where the host’s datacenters are. Also, the host should be a part of a content delivery network. A CDN makes your site available to a group of “relay” servers who can serve your content to clients even if the main server goes down.
One thing you can do is join Cloudflare, a worldwide CDN that provides a number of important cloud-related services. A CDN tries to keep your site up even if your server goes down. Its almost like joining an expensive Cloud VPS! Also, it provides some anti-spam and DDoS protection by crowdsourcing it.
Cloudflare is free and you can usually join it from your panel. If not, you can sign up at the Cloudflare site. Often, good hosting providers are part of their own CDN and their customers benefit from that service automatically. This is something to check.
For an active, high traffic site, you should consider a Cloud VPS instead of a Shared host. This is the safest way of avoiding performance and reliability problems.
Finally, you should take steps to ensure that your e-commerce site is fully backed up, with redundant copies. In addition to an automatic backup, it doesn’t hurt for you to maintain a local backup.
To help you, we have curated 5 best hosting companies for AbanteCart.
Winner – Arvixe – From $22/month
Arvixe was founded in 2003 and has become a mature hosting provider with a plethora of packages, options, and types of hosting services. They offer different grades of shared hosting as well as VPS, Reseller, and Dedicated hosting.
Arvixe has two categories of shared hosting, with two plans to pick from in each. Personal Class plans are for smaller websites, while Business Class plans enjoy more server resources and have the security features that are required for business on the web.
Arvixe offers parallel plans for both Linux and Windows hosting. We have one word of advice: Linux.
The Personal Class plan is $4/mo while Personal Class Pro is $7/mo. The former is restricted to six domains, while the latter supports an unlimited number of domains.
Arvixe has a page for AbanteCart in which they point customers to Personal Class. This may or may not work for you in terms of performance. For e-commerce, its more likely that you will prefer Business Class.
If you try Personal Class, you need to buy that SSL certificate and dedicated IP address. The SSL certificate is $25/yr and the dedicated IP address is $2/mo. However, you can expect load times to be slower than optimal for an e-commerce site.
For e-commerce, we like the upgrade to Business Class. The Business Class plan is $22/mo and Business Class Pro is $35/mo. The former is limited to six sites while the latter is unlimited. These plans to not overbook their servers. The cost differential between Personal and Business is proportional to the number of accounts per server.
Business Class customers get a free SSL certificate and a dedicated IP address. Neither is PCI compliant. Fortunately, their managed VPS Class plans are PCI compliant.
VPS Class Plans
If your store is on the small side, you probably don’t need to upgrade to VPS but it is nice to know that a much faster option is available. The VPS Class and VPS Class Pro are priced at $40/mo and $70/mo.
|VPS Class Pro||8||3GB||100GB||Unlimited||$70/mo|
1.These plans both include an SSL certificate for life.
2. Both plans are PCI Compliant.
3. Both plans provide root access.
4. The dedicated IP address is $2/mo.
5. SSD storage is $10/mo.
6. 1GB RAM is $20/mo.
These two plans are fully managed VPS that come with the cPanel/WHM and Softaculous installer and the Cloudflare CDN. It is designed to meet your e-commerce needs in every way.
2. Site5 – From $11.95/month
Site5 has been in business for more than 15 years and is one of the most successful hosting companies in the world. Site5 is the home for over 200,000 domains and 250 servers. They have a worldwide network of 20 datacenters that run shared, VPS, dedicated, and reseller servers. Here’s the locations of Site5’s datacenters.
- Asia: New Delhi, Singapore
- Australia: Sydney
- Europe: Amsterdam, Bucharest
- UK: London
- Canada: Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver
- South America: Joao Pessoa, Sauo Paulo
- US: Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Miami, Atlanta, New York, Washington
Their main datacenter is in Dallas, but you can request another location at the of the signup. Other datacenters charge a bit more per month.
For VPS, Site5 has datacenters in the following locations: Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, Amsterdam, and Singapore.
Site5 offers a 45-day money back guarantee (15 day for VPS). What’s almost unique is that they do have a 30-day free trial account! It’s available for Shared and Cloud Shared plans. If you want to check out AbanteCart at Site5 ahead of time, we suggest that you take them up on their 30-day free Shared cloud account. They have a page on their site that recommends exactly that. This is perfect for trying out the performance of the Shared hosting plan and working out all the kinks in the SSL installation.
Site5 is among very a small group of hosting companies that offers a customer support Service Level Agreement. The SLA states that if a customer does not get a response to a support inquiry within 24 hours, his account will be credited as a token of apology. This is both commitment and confidence.
Shared Hosting Plans
Their Shared hosting plans are priced at $4.95, $8.95, $11.95, and $20 a month. The $4.95 plan permits only one site but the others are unlimited. The $11.95 and $20 plans come with a dedicated IP address. All the plans are provided with an SSL certificate, but if you intend to use your Shared hosting site for e-commerce, the $11.95 plan is our minimum recommendation.
If you go for the $8.95 plan, you’re going to have to fork over another few bucks for a dedicated IP address anyway. And if you cough up the $20/mo for the “Shared Cloud Plus” plan, you also get the advantages of a cloud infrastructure with redundant hardware and automatic failover. Site5 cites 99.9% uptime for all but Shared Cloud Plus, which gets that coveted 99.99% uptime. Yep, a redundant cloud infrastructure is the way to go if you must be online 24/7.
Cloud Shared Hosting Plans
Site5 has an interesting premium-level Shared hosting plan that delivers the advantages of Cloud hosting without the price penalty of a fully-managed VPS. They call it Cloud Shared Hosting. Like a VPS, it has storage and bandwidth limits, but it comes with the uptime advantages of cloud hosting. They cite a 99.99% uptime statistic, but a true cloud really shouldn’t be going down at all. Once again, redundant hardware with automatic failover at premium Shared hosting prices is the way to go if you can swing it.
The Cloud Shared Hosting plan is available only at the Dallas and Amsterdam datacenters.
A dedicated IP is included, as is their 45-day money-back guarantee.
The Cloud Web plans are designed with fully redundant backup components with automatic failover. It is designed for businesses that must be online 24/7 but don’t have enough traffic to justify the expense of a cloud VPS. Site5 guarantees 99.99% uptime for their line of Cloud Web hosting plans.
Site5 offers both managed and unmanaged VPS hosting plans. Their unmanaged plans include root access, choice of Linux distro, and optional panel and installer.
Here is the price sheet for their unmanaged VPS hosting.
3. SiteGround – From $7.95/month
Currently hosting over 150,000 websites, SiteGround is a privately owned company created by a small group of IT professionals in 2003. Today the company has about 90 employees and is constantly growing.
The company now has datacenters in Chicago, Amsterdam, and Singapore. The company is built to provide top-notch customer support and high performance hosting services, while sticking to the policy of not overselling their resources. Their place in the market is to compete on the basis of quality and service rather than cutthroat prices.
Their costs and feature sets are competitive. Their types of plans are:
- Shared Hosting: Pricing from $3.95 to $14.95.
- Managed Cloud VPS: Pricing from $68.95 to $138.95.
- Managed Dedicated Server: Pricing from $229 to $429.
Of course, the (costly) Cloud VPS and Dedicated plans are suitable for e-commerce. The good news is that the middle and high priced Shared hosting plans also pass our tests. They are very well suited for hosting an AbanteCart site. Here’s the details of their Shared hosting plans.
Shared Hosting Plans
SiteGround offers three categories of Shared hosting plans that correspond to small, medium, and high cost. Their shared hosting plans limit storage and bandwidth so as to not overbook their shared servers.
The optimization work they have done on their servers is quite spectacular that we love the speed test results we get from testing some of the sites hosted there. E-commerce applications like AbanteCart will run without a problem on SiteGround’s Shared hosting plans.
|Name||# Sites||Storage||Bandwidth||SSL Cert||PCI Comp.||Price|
The GrowBig and GoGeek plans come with an SSL certificate. A certificate can be added at extra cost to the lower priced plan.
Only the top plan, GoGeek, also includes server PCI compliance, making it the preferred choice for e-commerce. They describe GoGeek as great for “average sized” e-commerce websites. That sounds like AbanteCart!
4. WebFaction – from $8.50/month
Webfaction is a British specialist provider that only does premium Shared hosting. They have no bargain Shared hosting plan, no VPS plans, and no Dedicated server plans!
WebFaction offers their own idiosyncratic take on the Shared hosting paradigm. In many ways, their description makes it sound like a VPS hosting service, but it is not. It is premium Shared.
They have only one plan. It is $9.50/mo — or $8.50/mo if you prepay for a year. You get 512MB of application memory, 100GB disk space, and 600GB bandwidth. These are generous limits for a Shared host and it shows that they don’t overbook their shared servers. Also, these limits are all upgradable. Here are the upgrade prices:
- Extra RAM is $7/mo per 512MB
- Extra disk space is $5/mo per 50GB
- Extra bandwidth is $5/mo per 300GB
You might need the extra RAM but you can start off with the basic plan to see how it works out. AbanteCart is a bit on the lightweight side, so you may find that the defaults work for your store.
The default hardware is way above average for a Shared host. This is one reason we recommend trying the defaults. The CPU is a 3.4 GHz Xeon; this is outstanding for a shared host. They use mechanical hard disks at present and they do automatic daily backups.
WebFaction’s stack is unusual for a Shared host. It uses both the Apache and Nginx web servers in a dual server configuration, with Nginx as a proxy server (They have a tech note on this technology). Nginx (say “engine-X”) is a lightweight, high performance HTTP server that is designed to to handle high traffic requirements. It met the so-called C10K problem — 10,000 concurrent clients. This challenge brings Apache to its knees.
Nginx is rarely used in shared hosting, but is readily available on VPS hosts since the customer can configure his/her own server.
WebFaction does have a panel, but it is their own instead of either cPanel or Plesk. With it, you can install a wide variety of apps and developer’s tools.
5. A2 Hosting – From $5.99/mo
A2 Hosting, based in Ann Arbor, MI (“A2”), positions themselves as a cutting-edge provider. They are consistently among the first to offer the latest versions of the core components of the LAMP stack.
They were among the first to offer SSD storage in Shared hosting and claim they are up to 300% faster than mechanical disks. This is easy to believe, as old-fashioned spinning disks are on their way out. Database-driven apps like e-commerce are perfect for SSD. A2 Hosting boldly says that they are faster than many others and name several big competitors by name: GoDaddy, Dreamhost, Bluehost, and HostGator.
Within the limits of the Shared hosting paradigm, they do everything they can to offer the best performance. They use CloudLinux as their OS and use dual core Xeon CPUs. SSD storage is available on their Shared and VPS hosting plans, but as an extra cost option.
Their VPS plans put you in complete control (as it should be), so you can specify any Linux distro you want, number of cores, clock speed, and amount of RAM.
Shared Hosting Plans
A2 Hosting has only one “unlimited” plan with a $3/mo option for SSD storage. It advertises unlimited storage, transfer, domains, email addresses, and databases. The Cloudflare CDN is included, as is the cPanel and Softaculous. Automatic backups are also included.
A2 Hosting’s page that promotes their AbanteCart plan recommends their Unlimited Shared hosting plan with the SSD drive option. They do not have a formal “Business Class” Shared hosting plan, but rather sell the dedicated IP address and SSL certificate as options. The dedicated IP address is $3/month and their lowest cost certificate is $50/year. Of course, you can purchase a certificate from any accredited vendor. It doesn’t appear that they bundle Shared hosting with a cloud infrastructure. For that, upgrade to their VPS. It really has everything.
Their price sheet for Shared hosting is more complex than their front-page marketing implies, but this is how the Shared hosting industry works. It’s a cutthroat business. In effect, they offer nearly 50% off over their month-to-month price for a 3-year prepayment.
The monthly price depends on the number of months that you prepay. The upshot is that there is one “unlimited” shared hosting plan, “Prime”, but a varying payment schedule. For mechanical hard disks, the cost ranges from $10.99 (month-to-month) to $5.99 with a 36-month payment:
|Plan||36 month||24 month||12 month||6 month||1 month|
1. SSD storage is a $3/mo option.
2. A dedicated IP address is $3/mo.
3. Private SSL certificates begin at $50/yr or you can purchase your own elsewhere and A2 will help you install it.
Unmanaged Cloud VPS Hosting Plans
A2 Hosting offers a full line of unmanaged VPS plans. As is the case with many companies, you can vary the values of several features to create a customized VPS for yourself. This table represents only some of the possibilities. This table is only for the lowest processor speed. The price premium for SSD depends on how much storage you order, so we’ve added columns for both mechanical and SSD storage. See the notes at the end of the table.
|# Cores||RAM||Storage||Bandwidth||Price||Price (SSD)|
1. Bandwidth is $0.12 per GB after you reach 2TB.
2. These prices are for their slow processor, 600MHz. For a 1.2GHz processor, add $5/mo; for a 2GZHz processor, add $12/mo.
3. These prices do not include a panel. A licensed cPanel is a $19.95/mo option, otherwise you do the sysadmin at the command line.
A2 Hosting is one of the best Shared and VPS hosts that you can find anywhere, but you will be paying for the service. Be sure to price out the set of options that you want. It all adds up.
Thanks to the simple Dashboard Admin interface, AbanteCart is easy to configure and manage. Take care that you work with a good provider so that you encrypt all sensitive communication and your site is always responsive to requests. We’ve given you five hosts that support e-commerce at moderate prices but if you want to find other ones, then use the hosting services comparison tool to find them and evaluate them yourself.