MageMojo Magento Hosting Review (and Free Magento Hosting!)

December 13, 2010

I haven’t reviewed a Magento host on my blog for a long, long, time. That’s not because I haven’t had a bunch of companies ask me to, but because none of them offered anything really compelling or different to my go-to-magento-hosting-recommendation, Nexcess.

Well, that was until a few weeks ago when MageMojo set me up with a demo account and invited me to take a test drive of their new Magento optimized hosting environment. A few features the Mojo team mentioned piqued my interest, so here I am, putting their Magento hosting platform to the test and reporting my findings.

Oh, and the free hosting, MageMojo have offered to give away 12 months of free Magento hosting as part of this review, that’s over $700 worth of magento hosting, quite a generous offer. Seeing as there’s a few hundred eager Magento users and developers that come by here, I thought it’d be a great prize to offer all of you. You have to read to the end to find out how to win it, hah!

The Features that caught my attention

As I said in my intro, there were a few features MageMojo touted that I found interesting. Most notably – they claimed a unique virtualization technique – Xen, rather than the often used alternatives that operate at the OS level. My experience with Xen has been fairly limited, we used it for virtualization at Tomizone during the beginning of my time there, before moving to EC2 (FYI: Amazon uses Xen under the covers, but that is largely seamless to the user). At Tomizone, Xen allowed us to run a development and production server on the same underlying hardware, but keep the two environments entirely separate, testing OS level changes in dev before moving them to prod.

As it relates to MageMojo, Xen provides that same logical separation on top of shared physical hardware. Xen virtualization means you actually get an allocation of resources that matches what you’re paying for – it cannot be affected by other users on the server but it also means that you only get what you are allocated and cannot burst up CPU’s or memory if the underlying hardware has free resources. We’ll see what effect this has on performance in the next section.

The transparent pricing and specs of their different hosting levels is refreshing too, makes it easy to compare their offerings to straight VPS offerings.

MageMojo also optimize their hosting for Magento, we’ll see how that optimization compares to Nexcess’ performance in the next section, as I put it to the test with Siege.

Performance

While at the Magento Developers Paradise conference I picked up a lot of chatter (and some presentations!) about the use of Siege for performance testing Magento. So I thought this would be a good chance for me to give that a little test run. I’ll start off by saying it’s by no means rigorous testing, but it should give you an idea of the kind of request handling this server is capable of, just as it gave me a bit of an idea how Siege works.

Update: Since writing this article I have added an automated siege test for Magento Hosts to my Magento Speed Test tool. MageMojo have worked hard on their performance over the last few months and their high-position and consistently strong results in the testing is evidence of that. Check out their results here.

The Siege Setup

I wrote up a full summary of the Siege testing setup for Magento, so I won’t repeat that here. Basically the tests were aimed at a random set of category/product pages.

The Siege Results

This has been an interesting test for both the hardware, the virtualizations and the Magento optimizations that MageMojo have performed. Here’s what I found with my different test cases.

1) Basic test: Hitting a category page, 10 concurrent users.

Transactions:		         183 hits
Availability:		      100.00 %
Elapsed time:		       59.21 secs
Data transferred:	        1.05 MB
Response time:		        2.73 secs
Transaction rate:	        3.09 trans/sec
Throughput:		        0.02 MB/sec
Concurrency:		        8.44
Successful transactions:         183
Failed transactions:	           0
Longest transaction:	       16.89
Shortest transaction:	        0.52

2) Complex test: Hitting category/product pages, 25 concurrent users.

Transactions:		          70 hits
Availability:		      100.00 %
Elapsed time:		       29.56 secs
Data transferred:	        0.46 MB
Response time:		        6.37 secs
Transaction rate:	        2.37 trans/sec
Throughput:		        0.02 MB/sec
Concurrency:		       15.09
Successful transactions:          70
Failed transactions:	           0
Longest transaction:	       24.73
Shortest transaction:	        0.71

MageMojo also offer to performance tune Magento installs exactly for the hardware they are is running, naturally I would advise this is a worthwhile service, it was not implemented for my testing, but you could assume better performance with this tuning in place.

A Comparison with Nexcess
Out of interest, I ran the same Siege tests against my SIP account with Nexcess to see how it fares. Here’s what it got – the results are interesting:

1) Basic test: Hitting a category page, 10 concurrent users.

Transactions:		         472 hits
Availability:		      100.00 %
Elapsed time:		       59.19 secs
Data transferred:	        2.55 MB
Response time:		        0.78 secs
Transaction rate:	        7.97 trans/sec
Throughput:		        0.04 MB/sec
Concurrency:		        6.24
Successful transactions:         472
Failed transactions:	           0
Longest transaction:	        1.51
Shortest transaction:	        0.73

Wow, twice as fast (req/sec) out of the box!

2) Complex test: Hitting category/product pages, 25 concurrent users.

Transactions:		         297 hits
Availability:		       99.66 %
Elapsed time:		       29.51 secs
Data transferred:	        1.90 MB
Response time:		        1.82 secs
Transaction rate:	       10.06 trans/sec
Throughput:		        0.06 MB/sec
Concurrency:		       18.31
Successful transactions:         297
Failed transactions:	           1
Longest transaction:	        3.88
Shortest transaction:	        0.80

Wow – Nexcess shows it’s just getting warmed up with 10 users, and performs even more requests per second with 25 concurrent users while retaining an acceptable response time – I’m impressed.

What does this mean? I asked Eric at MageMojo for his thoughts on the comparison to Nexcess. What he observed in the difference between the performance of these two similarly priced plans is the virtualization technique. With Nexcess the machine is bursting to use available resources so it represents the performance of a far larger server. While MageMojo hosting plans have resource caps that mean you cannot burst beyond your limits (but neither can the others you are sharing with).

Ahhh the old pros&cons… For Nexcess this means you get more resources than you’re paying for when they are available and less resources are wasted. It does mean that if the server is under heavy load, you would expect slower results, and could even find your resources are being contended for. For MageMojo this means that although you never get more than you pay for, you always get exactly what you pay for – no other clients on the same server can affect your hosting plan.

Hosting Features

In this section I’ll look at how MageMojo handles tech support. That’s because in an unfortunate twist, before I had even had a chance to log in I was faced with my first MageMojo technical hitch – a great chance to test their support.

It appears the server I was on was out of disk space as you can see:

-bash-3.2$ df
Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/xvda1             7103744   7033044         0 100% /
tmpfs                  1048576         0   1048576   0% /dev/shm
/usr/tmpDSK             495844     10568    459676   3% /tmp
Not a good start with MageMojo

Not a good start with MageMojo

Admittedly it was bad timing for an American hosting company to try and offer any sort of heroic support, 9pm in New Zealand is midnight on the US West Coast. In any case I submitted the support ticket and waited patiently… The support came, against all odds, only 15 minutes later – wow! Turns out my account being a demo was set up slightly differently to normal accounts. Here’s the breakdown from tech support – makes sense, and hopefully not something the average customer would experience:

What I found out is that we have you setup with SATA/SSD but your SATA is only 8GB and cpanel used all that, well most of it. We removed it’s temp files and freed up 1.75GB so you’re ok now. In normal plans we assign 10GB sata for cpanel, os, etc and then SSD of whatever size your plan is. Which is another important feature of ours, you get WHM/cPanel and all the benefits of having that yourself. And it’s installed on a SATA drive that doesn’t count towards the SSD space you purchased in your plan.

Price and Conclusion

The entry level offering is $50/month – that’s cheaper than my precious Amazon EC2, for more memory and free bandwidth. Admittedly you don’t get the benefits of a cloud hosting platform (webservices for provision, charged by the hour, elastic IP’s and block storage), but it’s a fairly grunty offering, and with the Xen-based hosting, you know they’re good for it.

More importantly, it offers benefits over the Amazon solution in that the entire Magento platform is pre-configured and can be pre-optimized. That’s not particularly unique, Nexcess does it too, but it’s a cost associated with any dedicated/Amazon cloud based Magento hosting solution that you don’t have with these Magento specific offerings.

So what do I think of the hosting? Well, at a price point somewhere between Nexcess’s SIP 100 and SIP 200, it’s squarely aimed at the entry-point for a small store. Do you get $50 worth of hosting from it, my performance testing says not really compared to the cheaper SIP 100 from Nexcess – as long as the underlying servers are not under heavy load.

The quality of the MageMojo hosting offering means that hosting here is not likely to cause you any headaches with reliable, prompt support.

Would I change my usual friends and family* recommendation from Nexcess to MageMojo on the back of this trial? No – not yet.

The biggest concern I have is performance, Nexcess is just so much faster out-of-the-box (2x) that it is difficult to recommend MageMojo, which is slightly more expensive with comparable features. They have some work to do in this area, but if they can lift their game, they’ll be a very real alternative.

The initial blip with the server disk space was probably just a solar-flare situation related to my account being a demo, but I feel like a pager should have been going off at a hosting operation when a managed server has a full disk. Otherwise though, they tick all the upfront boxes with support, features and innovative virtualization.

The last thing on my usual checklist, the one I can’t test in just 1-2 weeks, is the long term availability and it’s vital. If their outage page starts to resemble this kind of crappy uptime, then it’s a no go! Otherwise, they’re a contender. With a 100% uptime guarantee they certainly won’t be very profitable if they’re not highly available. On reliability, your feedback and comments will be important, so please don’t hold back.

(*Note: you never want to suggest a host to your friends and family that has any chance of screwing up, you’ll never hear the end of it.)

The Free Magento Hosting

If you made it this far you deserve free hosting! I’ll make it really easy – tweet this article (button below) to go in the draw. I’ll draw the prize in 7 days. Good luck!

Ashley

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Hi! I'm Ashley Schroder, a Software Engineer from New Zealand - this is a collection of notes on my experiences with Ecommerce Web Development, particularly Magento Development.

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26 responses to MageMojo Magento Hosting Review (and Free Magento Hosting!)

  1. Ashley,

    Thanks again for the great review of our hosting services at Nexcess. While you are correct that if there were clients with traffic surges, it could potentially affect the performance of the server for other clients, we limit the number of clients per server on all our SIP level Magento plans and we monitor performance of the servers for issues like this and make necessary adjustments moving clients up in the SIP levels if needed to balance the performance if a situation like this were to occur.

  2. Ashley,

    I’m surprised to discovered that your recommendation of Nexcess… that they are a host that doesn’t provide shell access and only has non-secure ftp logins. Any thoughts on the lack and need of of ssh/sftp — which is pretty much standard on every other host’s magento plans. I don’t how I could do real magento development without shell access to do basic magento tasks like loading modules with PEAR or backing up and reloading the database.

  3. Jonathan,

    While the nonsecure ftp account is the default access method, we provide jailed ssh access to the SIP accounts on request. We just require the IP address the user is connecting from so we can allow it in the firewall and then we can enable ssh access. Thanks

  4. @Jonathan – Thanks for the feedback. Sorry about the delay with your comment, it got wrongly classified as spam by Akismet – that’s twice this month!

    The test account I used with Nexcess does have SSH access – and so do several others I have logged in to, are you sure about the non-ssh? It is firewalled by default (see Security section here). But I totally agree – SSH is a prerequisite for a decent hosting service.

    As for FTP, I’m not so sure I’m afraid. It’s slow, and lacks functionality. It normally indicates someone is trying to change production files in an adhoc manner.

    I don’t use it myself – in the most part we change code in production with an SVN update (actually to be specific a modman update) and where necessary files can be copied securely and more familiarly with scp. Moreover, if you are the kind of person that cares whether your FTP is secure or not, you are probably quite capable of just tunneling it over SSH.

  5. Just want to say big thanks to Ashley and to MageMojo for running the competition. I also wanted to point something out which wasn’t covered in this post.

    As the winner of the prize, I got to experience signing up for a new account, provisioning and migration.

    Sign-up is dead simple.

    Provisioning is also very impressive, they provision 24x7x365 and within 2-4 hours. So that means you will have your server up and running within 2-4 hours of signing up, regardless of your time-zone, and regardless of the day of the week. Something not even the likes of Nexcess or Crucial do.

    Migration was pretty seemless as well. There was a slight kink in the process but that was actually my own fault due to incorrect permissions not allowing Magemojo to complete the migration. Once this was sorted, we re-agreed and time, and it was done exactly as they said they would. Every worked from the word go. No issues.

  6. Thanks for following up Luke much appreciated, please keep us posted with your experiences. Enjoy the hosting, I’m glad the prize went to someone who will be giving it real production use.

  7. Do you really want to trust a company that has only had their domain registered for 7 months?

    http://whois.domaintools.com/magemojo.com

  8. @JVB We’ve been hosting Magento under the magemojo.com name / domain for about a year and for about 2 under our parent company. I don’t think length of time of a domain reg is really that important seeing as Magento itself isn’t even very old.

    What I do think is that you’re a competitor posting anonymously because you feel threatened by us ;o)

  9. We’ve been very busy around here setting up new clients and haven’t had time to leave some feedback on this article. But we finally have a free minute to put in our $0.02

    Ashley – great review. We appreciate you taking the time to write these up and educate store owners. You’re one of the few sites out there with real Magento hosting reviews and not some spam site trying to get affialiate commissions. The one thing that we’d like to point out, that isn’t mentioned, is the advantage our choice of virtualization method provides over our competitors.

    The performance numbers you are seeing when comparing us to Nexcess in this article are not apples to apples. Nexcess wins that comparison because they, among others, allow you to burst up over what you’re guaranteed, if you’re even guaranteed anything. When the server has free memory or cpu, you can have it.

    Now that may seem great at first. But the problem is that benchmarking your store will never, ever, provide you with an accurate picture of what it actually does, consistently, everyday. How it performs will vary by day of week, time of day and what the other clients on that box are doing. For example maybe one of them sends an eblast and drives traffic to their store. Your page load times will increase and you will never know. You just can’t hit a moving target.

    Our choice of virtualizaton ensures that every client has the same amount of resources, every day, all day. When you benchmark your store you will know exactly what it can and can’t do, no guessing.

    Another advantage of our virtualization method is that you receive a truly dedicated environment and are able to tweak php/mysql, install php modules, do multiple stores on a single magento install with ssl, etc.. You aren’t able to do these things at our competitors because in their virtualization env the virtual machines are all sharing a common codebase, memory, processor, etc., and have permissions restrictions. They aren’t truly dedicated.

    I invite anyone reading this article to come to our website and learn more about the MageMojo virtualization difference at our website: http://www.magemojo.com/questions.php

  10. Just wanted to reply real quick in regards to our hosting about this section of the MageMojo posts:

    “Another advantage of our virtualization method is that you receive a truly dedicated environment and are able to tweak php/mysql, install php modules, do multiple stores on a single magento install with ssl, etc..”

    With Nexcess, while you don’t have direct access on the SIP plans for tweaking php/mysql or installing php modules, we absolutely accept reasonable requests as long as they’re backed by a purpose. In most cases, giving clients access to tweak settings that are already optimized based on Magento’s whitepapers are going to cause more problems than solve them. In regards to multiple stores on a single Magento install with SSL, this is allowed on our end on every level of the Magento SIP plans as well. Thanks!

  11. We have just made the switch to MageMojo a couple months ago. We switched from Aspiration Hosting which is a good shared solution, but were looking for the next step up. We initially tried another virtual hosting company but had an awful experience with their virtual plans, not being able to save products in admin regardless of server settings. In a panic trying to get off of that server, I started digging around other virtual options and found MageMojo, and test drove their demo site, which was faster than any other I’d tested. Immediately decided to make the leap after talking to Eric who was convincing and professional. Our store runs amazingly fast and smooth now, and loads cart and checkout pages quickly,which was taking 10 or so seconds on our shared plan prior.

    I honestly couldn’t recommend them more. We’ve been about 40 days with them and zero downtime and blazing fast site.

  12. Does the Nexcess CDN make a big difference to overseas traffic compared to MageMojo?

  13. I stumbled on your review while trying to see what I could find out about magento hosts. I looked at nexcess but saw they don’t use cpanel. And as I already know my way around cpanel thought the better option for me was to stay with what I know. I was about to sign up with magemoto after reading your review but as I was signing up I discovered they charge an additional $9.95 for cpanel. The magemoto sales guy tried to say they take a loss on cpanel but to me, that’s their business model and their decision. So their price is really $59.95 / month.

  14. Thanks for the feedback Lori. It’s good to raise issues like this because I’m sure if enough people would like to see cPanel included then the guys at MageMojo would take note.

    On a personal note, as a command line Linux user I’m actually quite happy to see companies charging for cPanel separately – I don’t use it and wouldn’t want to be subsidizing it for people that do.

  15. @Lori,

    Our price with cPanel is $59.95 a month. What you were told is correct and while we sell cPanel for $9.95 a month we pay more than that to cPanel for the license thus taking a loss on each license we sell.

    Our business model was setup to offer plans to customers like Ashley who prefer a raw server to work with no control panel in the way. But over time most of our customers asked for cPanel.

    We’re at the point with more cPanel customers than non and are working on updating our checkout and pricing so that cPanel is reflected in the cost to avoid any future confusion. You can still purchase plans without cPanel as there will be an option during checkout to remove it and discount your plan.

    No worries Ashley, we won’t subsidize the cost into the non cPanel plans. We’ll keep the same rates just advertise all level’s with the $9.95 included ;o)

  16. We have been hosting with MageMojo for a few months now and I am extremely impressed! I don’t take the time to write reviews for companies unless my experience with them has been extraordinary. Before MageMojo, we were hosting on a very expensive dedicated server with Simple Helix and before that we were with Rackspace. Neither gave us the performance that we needed. As we looked for other options we narrowed it down to Nexcess and MageMojo. We chose MageMojo because they seemed to offer the most flexibility and ability to scale as our needs change. I like the idea of getting the resources you pay for even if you don’t get any extra because there are no bad surprises at peak times when you need reliability the most (nothing worse than having server problems on cyber monday!). MageMojo provides us with the performance and reliability that our complex Magento configuration needs but their biggest strength is their support and service. They are not only the best hosting service we have worked with in our 10 years online but one of the very best of any company we have ever worked with when it comes to service and support. Hats off to Eric, Martin and everyone at MageMojo!

  17. Great feedback thanks Jim. I appreciate you stopping by.

  18. Thanks for your review Ashley, it really drove me to choose MageMojo; that and your speedtest. Their price is right, and they seemed amongst the speediest in your running speed test. I was also impressed that they offer moving the site across from the old host for free; that was actually the final straw which made me go for them. My site has a fair bit of customizations, so it took a few days to do the move (not helped by me being in Euro timezone right now), but it did mean it went smoothly. My average page load time went from 9.7s on my local connection to 3.3s 😀 My old host was excellent, great customer service, but their VPS offerings were much more (and clustered, which is apparently not so good for Magento with the high db access needs). At the moment (maybe 5 days in) I’ll put my vote in with a ‘highly recommended’.

  19. Magento hosting is really good version because it help to the users and provides many services.

  20. We run a few eCommerce sites and chose to host with MageMojo after disasters with other hosting companies who lacked core Magento knowledge. Since the minute we migrated to MageMojo, they have been nothing short of incredible. Eric, Martin and the MageMojo team are reliable, knowledgable, experienced and very hard-working. No matter the crossroad, they were able to identify the problem and provided a solution in minutes. As a fast-growing company, it is imperative that our hosting providers can facilitate all our growing transitions and I would not feel comfortable handing this job over to anyone else. If you care about your business and really want to focus more on your BUSINESS… don’t even think twice. Eric and the gang are the real deal. Thanks guys for your continued support!

  21. I tried MageMojo and wasn’t too impressed. If you’re interested, I posted my review on webhostingtalk:

    http://www.webhostingtalk.com/showthread.php?t=1191465

  22. I have to agree with Nathan. Had a very poor experience dealing with MageMojo. We considered switching from Nexcess to them. They state on their website that they’re able to perform site-upgrades (at no cost), yet they they’re not actually willing to assist, if there’s any problems with the work that they do. Basically, they performed an upgrade on our Magento installation that didn’t work properly afterwards. We subsequently hired a freelancer to do the same job, which took exactly 1-day and resulted in a perfect-upgrade for us.

    MageMojo is also incredibly unfriendly. When I highlighted some issues that I had with their service and put through our cancellation, they became downright rude:

    “The upgrade that was performed was done correctly, period. This is a fact, if you want to live in an alternate reality just so you can pin your mistakes on us we really don’t care. The cancelation has already been processed.”

    They clearly have no idea how to deal with customers.

    On the flip-side, Nexcess, who Aschroder has previously reviewed, has been nothing short of stellar, in their service to us. Fast, friendly, helpful. And an excellent platform on which to host Magento.

  23. Magemojo hands down the worst hosting experience ever. On top of the incompetence (multiple outages w/o logical explanation, double billing, no promised support) incredibly rude when you ask them to address issues. Anger management issues.

    Currently down during the holidays. Blaming a complete network outage on DDoS. Second time in as many months. No one answers phone. Took them 30 minutes just to notice and post that excuse. Stay away

  24. I agree with Chris, stay away from Magemojo. Our store was offline for 10 hours on Cybermonday and their support is not helpful at all, when something is wrong it’s always the customer’s fault. A couple of weeks ago we were asking why our server became so slow lately and they responded that bad coding in our template or plugins is the cause (mind that we did not change anything in our code). During this period our store was also several times offline for about 10 – 25 minutes. Some time later in another support ticket, they told us that they were experiencing DDoS attacks during that time (We only found out because we explicitly asked, there was no communication from magemojo’s side at all).

    Same goes for “their” Varnish plugin which is in fact just Fabrizio Branca’s aoe_static (the reason why their demo store scores 20+ transactions in magespeedtest). Unfortunately this plugin is not ready for production as it has problems with the top links and the magento message alerts, which is also mentioned on the developer`s site in the comments section. Magemojo`s answer: “You are the only one with this problem”. Sure. No answer from support when pointing out that the bug also appears on their on web site. Besides some other issues like double billing, taking several days to send server login data, ..

  25. We created a post on our blog that addresses this FUD titled “The negative side of running a world class Magento hosting company.”

    http://magemojo.com/blog/negative-side-of-magento-hosting/

  26. Just came here via the post linked above from MageMojo. We had our website running on Bluehost and that just didn’t work out. Probably also our fault, we didn’t realise Magento has some special needs… Anyway, the transition worked flawless, MageMojo support was incredibly fast and helpful. Our website went from (sometimes) 15s load time to around 2.2s. We are definitely happy.