Litecart is a free open-source e-commerce platform created by the Swedish web developer T. Almroth. His goal is to produce a modern, fast, and (above all) lightweight e-commerce platform. It evolved over a period of seven years of e-commerce consulting. Like many developers, he had an itch to develop his own solution in response to perceived shortcomings of what was on the market. The result is a new e-commerce platform, Litecart. Litecart represents the values of simplicity, lightness, and convenience in both development and use.
As you can see, “light” is what they stand for.
Litecart is also modern under the hood. The front end is based on HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery. The framework is designed to be easy for developers to modify and build on. Its server-side scripting language is PHP so it is compatible with the LAMP stack (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP) that powers the vast majority of web hosts.
It can be installed by Softaculous, the world’s most popular one-click installer. As such, it is not hard to find a provider who can host Litecart. Basically, it wants an Apache 2 (or compatible) server, MySQL 5.5 or above, and PHP 5.3 or above. The current version of Litecart is 1.1.1.
Although Litecart is a lightweight for an e-commerce platform, it does impose 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 any e-commerce solution. Even if you can get by with a low-cost Shared hosting plan, you still need to make the site secure for credit card transactions.
The Best 5
- A Small Orange : A line of Business Shared hosting plans tailored for e-commerce,
- Arvixe : A great Shared and VPS host that offers premium Business Shared hosting plans,
- WebHostingBuzz : Offers a Business Shared hosting plan powered by a dual web server configuration.
- A2 Hosting : A cutting-edge provider with with deluxe Shared hosting and VPS plans.
- HostGator : A huge Shared hosting provider with a premium Shared hosting plan for business.
Read more about them after the break!
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. We are recommending some low cost Shared hosting plans, so this may work for you!
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.
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 your customers 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. It is a CDN that 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 Litecart.
Winner – A Small Orange – From $2.92/mo
Founded in 2003 in Atlanta, their mission statement is to provide the best quality service at an affordable cost. They have outstanding Shared hosting and Managed VPS plans, but their line of Business Hosting plans is of special interest to us. These are affordable Shared hosting solutions that are configured for e-commerce right out of the box. This is just what we are looking for!
Softaculous at A Small Orange (ASO) has a one-click install of Litecart, so you can begin customizing it in just a few seconds.
ASO offers a very unusual 90-day money-back guarantee; this is the highest in the industry. That makes it a great place to set up your store and make sure that the plan that you’ve picked has enough horsepower to handle your traffic.
Shared Hosting Plans
ASO has a wonderful line of general-purpose Shared hosting plans. As general-purpose plans, they aren’t hardened for business out of the box. In order to use any of them for Litecart, you will need to purchase a dedicated IP address and that SSL certificate. Even so, you may find that they are cheaper than their Business Shared hosting. For instance, you can try out a “Tiny” plan for pocket change just to find out whether bargain-priced Shared hosting will work for your store.
And remember that 90-day money-back guarantee!
Business Shared Hosting Plans
The Business Shared hosting plans are their Shared hosting solutions that are hardened for e-commerce. They have three plans: Startup, Small Business, and Enterprise. Here they are:
|Plan||Storage||Bandwidth||SSL Cert.||PCI Comp.||Price|
1. Storage is on high-speed mechanical disks with an SSD cache.
2. Automatic daily backups are included.
Their Business Shared hosting is backed by their cloud infrastructure. They claim 99.9% uptime and we believe it for their cloud-based services. For a business, downtime equals lost revenue, so this is an important consideration. So, the extra cost of Business Shared hosting translates into those advantages. Once your store starts making real money, an extra few dollars starts to look like a bargain.
ASO also has a premium “Managed SEO Services” service as a high cost option to any of their plans. It promises to hand tune your site for maximum SEO. This is the type of service that is often provided by an external SEO consultant.
This family of plans sounds right for Litecart. If you want to upgrade to VPS, then ASO’s plans make it as painless as possible. A Small Orange’s VPS plans are fully managed yet they are priced in the same range as their Business shared hosting.
2. Arvixe – From $4/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 Litecart in which they point customers to Personal Class hosting. This may or may not work for you in terms of performance. As is the case for ASO, the bargain Shared hosting plan may be right place to start but when you get serious about e-commerce, Business class starts to look attractive.
If you try Personal Class, you need that SSL certificate and dedicated IP address. The SSL certificate is $25/yr and the dedicated IP address is $2/mo.
For e-commerce, we like the upgrade to Business Class. The Business Class plan costs $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.
3. Web Hosting Buzz – From $9.95/month
WebHostingBuzz was founded in 2002 with the idea of offering reasonably priced hosting in a market that was dominated by a few hosting giants and indifferent service. They really have good prices.
They now own over 250 of their own servers and have datacenters in both US and UK. Their primary datacenter is in Atlanta, with others in Dallas, New York, Phoenix, and Newark, Nottinghamshire (UK).
WebHostingBuzz is a good choice if you are looking for affordable business hosting with a provider who is well known for knowledgable and courteous customer support. They have attractive business plans at both the Shared and VPS levels of service.
WebHostingBuzz’s entry-level Shared hosting plan is a bit below our minimum standards for business users, but their highest priced Shared plan does look good. It is the so-called “Buzz Premier” plan and it goes for $9.95/mo. This isn’t a bargain basement price for a Shared host, but we require a Shared host that is hardened for credit card transactions. The $9.95 price for that is about as low as it gets. Not only that, it has uses two web servers that work together to improve performance! That’s a great value for $9.95.
The Buzz Premier plan comes with a dedicated IP address and an SSL certificate. The certificate is included for the first year. In subsequent years the SSL certificate is $12.95.
Also, the Buzz Premier plan uses two web servers, Apache and Nginx, with Nginx playing the role of the front end. This really should improve performance on a Shared hosting plan. In this configuration, Nginx serves the static pages, taking some of the workload from Apache.
The Premier plan may well work out for you if traffic is not high enough to push you into a VPS.
Business Web Hosting
The Business Web Hosting plans are premium Shared hosting plans that are tailored to the special requirements of business. All of these plans are PCI compliant and the “Power” and “Premier” plans come with a fixed IP address and an SSL certificate. Both would need to be added to the Business “Light” plan in order to make it ready for e-commerce.
In addition to being set up for security, they are also designed to be faster than the average Shared host. Like the “Buzz Premier” plan, they use the Nginx web server as a reverse-proxy front end. This should boost performance compared to Shared hosting plans that use only Apache or an Apache-compatible server.
These plans come with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
|Name||# Sites||Ded. IP||SSL||Storage||Bandwidth||Price|
1. Nightly backups are included.
2. An SSL certificate must be purchased and installed in the Light plan. WebHostingBuzz has SSL certificates for sale at $12.95 or you can purchase a certificate from another vendor. There are actually different types of SSL certificates, but that is another post!
4. 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 Litecart plan recommends their unlimited Shared hosting plan with the SSD 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.
5. – HostGator – From $10.36/month
HostGator is the home for 8 million domains owned by over 400,000 customers. They operate several data centers of their own and offer shared, reseller, VPS, and dedicated hosting. They’re best known for their affordably-priced and well-received Shared hosting plans. That’s where their center of gravity is.
All of their plans are backed by a 45-day money back guarantee. The Shared hosting plan features unlimited domains, disk space, and bandwidth, and the cPanel and installer.
Litecart is the right sized e-commerce solution to run at Hostgator, providing the store doesn’t attract heavy traffic. For that, you should find a top-notch VPS provider.
Shared Hosting plans
Hostgator has three grades of Shared hosting plans. They also offer price discounts for long commitments. In this pricing chart, the prices are from month-to-month to three years. The lowest price is valid for a 3-year commitment; the highest price is month-to-month. From this, you can see that you get the biggest discount for the cheapest plan.
You can see how their price table encourages customers to make that long-term commitment! Although they are trying hard to get under that $4/mo price point, it doesn’t matter for e-commerce because the “Hatchling” plan does not support a dedicated IP address or a private SSL certificate. The Hatchling plan is only for noncritical use cases.
Here’s their Shared hosting plans.
Here are the main differences among the plans:
- The Hatchling plan supports only one domain, while the the others support an unlimited number of domains. It does not allow either a dedicated IP address or an SSL certificate. So Hatchling gets a “No” for e-commerce hosting.
- For the Baby plan, a dedicated IP address is $2/mo and the private SSL certificate is free upon request. For month-to-month, its price is about the same as Hatchling.
- The Business plan includes a dedicated IP address and a private SSL certificate. This is our recommendation for Litecart. If you get a “Baby” plan, then you need to add these two features.
We think that the Business plan is a good match for Litecart, assuming light to moderate traffic. If you are get more traffic than it can handle, upgrade to a VPS.
Thanks to its simple interface and modern design, Litecart is easy to configure and manage. It was designed to be easy to create a customized storefront using the point-and-click Admin page. Its a great choice for low to moderate amount of traffic. 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.