So, you want to use Aegir to manage your Drupal multisite, and you've decided to use an Aegir host, rather than try to set up and maintain Aegir yourself. Next question: Which Aegir host should you use? Answer: Omega8. Omega8 offers affordable, solid, expert Aegir hosting. I use them for my own sites, and I get no referral or kickback for recommending them here.
Drupal has gone viral, but Aegir hosting is still (surprisingly) a niche market. A niche market could mean high prices, but on Omega8, you can get started for less than $20/month.
Yes, that's pricier than the $10/month or $5/month generic web hosting that litters the Internet. But let's face facts: hosting that cheap isn't going to let you install Aegir.
At least, hopefully it won't. If it does let you install Aegir, you'll be sharing that server with about 3,819 other sites, half of them pushing Russian spam. Your sites will crawl.
In fact, Drupal tends to crawl even on the best of shared hosting. Of course, choosing the wrong modules can crash a site on any server, but even a "trim" Drupal site uses a fair bit of resources. I wouldn't call Drupal bloated, but I wouldn't call it lean either.
Omega8 tackles this challenge. They take a lot of trouble to make Drupal sites run as fast as possible. When I migrated my sites onto Omega8 servers, I noticed the speed difference right away.
They do major tuning, from robust caching down to the nginx web server. They also host your site on SSD drives. In the past, you had to pay extra for that premium feature, but then Omega decided to migrate most of their Standard Cores to SSD, without raising the price. Very exciting.
Some Drupal hosts make you pay per site. I hate that.
Especially now that Aegir makes it so easy to spin up new sites. Or make a development clone to try a new module. Do I want to upgrade my plan just to try a new version of Drupal?
Instead, Omega8 prices by resources. You purchase "cores," and each core reserves you a certain amount of database and hard drive space. You can put as many sites onto your space as you can fit. When you push past your limit, an automated email invites you to purge your excess data or upgrade your core.
How well does Omega8 know Aegir? They're helping develop it. Enough said.
5. Automatic Private SSL
This next feature may seem minor, but I dearly appreciate it. You can always access any of your sites through an automatic, private SSL certificate. Just begin the domain with
https instead of
Now, the certificate is "private" because it's self-signed. This means that, the first time you use it, your browser will turn red, scream that the site may not be secure, and warn you to close your browser and shower three times, unless you want to get anthrax. So you won't want to use this for your online store.
However, you will want to use it for yourself, because it encrypts your data just as well as the SSL certificates you pay for. For instance, you'll want to use it to log in, especially over the wi-fi at the coffeehouse.
Whenever I spin up a new site, I can log in over an encrypted connection right away. I don't have to muck around in cPanel or something to set up yet another SSL certificate. I don't know whether this feature is specific to the Omega8 configuration or just part of Aegir, but it's a sweet little touch.
6. Generous Support
Timely support is critical with any web host. Technically, Omega8 doesn't have to offer you any support unless you take out an (expensive but accurately priced) support agreement. However, you can submit support tickets for free, and they'll help you at their discretion.
Going in, this lack of assured support definitely made me nervous. What if they turned out to be jerks? What if their "voluntary" support evaporated as soon as they got their hands on my credit card?
I needn't have worried. Time and time again, they have been gracious and quick in responding to my questions. Sometimes, they've gone way beyond the call of duty, helping me debug problems that have much more to do with my flawed site building than any issues with their server. They've definitely met and exceeded my expectations.
At the same time, you do need to keep your expectations gracious. These people are also helping to develop a major open source program. Their time for free support is extremely limited. If your problem could be solved by reading the documentation on their site, or the general documentation for the modules or theme in question, then you shouldn't be asking them. You might not get much of an answer.
I try hard only to consult them when a problem seems tied to some wrinkle of their configuration. Even though I'm often wrong, and it's my fault, they help me anyway.
7. Minimal Downsides
With all this praise, you might be wondering when I'm going to ask for your credit card. But this isn't affiliate marketing. I just think that Aegir is the best way to manage Drupal multisites, and Omega8 offers an affordable, flexible, friendly way to run Aegir. You can even qualify all my praise by reading about a few Omega8 downsides. But you'll still find it's a solid way to run Drupal.