Ruby on Rails (RoR) is the combination of Ruby, a programming language that's been around since 1995, and the Rails framework. Rails was created in 2005 and, in essence, is an expandable library that sits on top of Ruby. RoR is open source so it's continued to grow and improve since its invention.
That perpetual evolution has allowed it to become the internet's favorite server-side development tool.
It's a great option for programmers, with a Don't Repeat Yourself (DRY) design that makes it easier to catch errors while working on a new piece of software.
But which is the best web host to run your Ruby on Rails server? During the lifetime of this blog, I've tested out dozens of RoR-friendly hosts.
In no fixed order, here are the five best Ruby on Rails hosting services:
- Bluehost (Cheap RoR hosting)
- A2 Hosting (Scalable and environmentally-friendly VPS RoR servers)
- InMotion Hosting (Fast Ruby hosting with unlimited storage)
- HostGator (Hosting for Ruby development teams)
- RoseHosting (Developer focused Ruby hosting services)
Recommended for: those looking for an affordable Rails Hosting.
Price from: $2.95/month
With Bluehost, you can use any Rails variant that's compatible with Ruby 1.9.X and beyond. It's an ideal host to consider for affordable Ruby servers. Prices are heavily discounted for the first term, starting at $2.95/month. The base plan includes 50GB SSD storage so you get plenty of space for development.
This host is a suitable choice if you want to use your server to run a public-facing Ruby app because all plans include a free SSL certificate. Using SSL will encrypt all site traffic and increase visitors' trust in your content.
Nothing is worse for an RoR programmer than losing a script and starting again from scratch. Such issues are avoided with Bluehost because it creates free daily, weekly and monthly backups of your entire server.
And if something else does go wrong, you'll be able to fix it quickly with the help of Bluehost's helpful customer support team who are available 24/7 by live chat and over the phone.
Bluehost provides its own guide to installing RoR, but some users have reported that it's missing steps.
So I recommend you follow the extra instructions in this user-created Bluehost RoR installation manual.
- Compatible with multiple Ruby versions
- Affordable pricing
- Generous storage and unlimited bandwidth
- 24/7 Customer support
- SSL certificates included
- Limited data center choice
- Incomplete RoR installation guide
2. A2 Hosting
Recommended for: users who want a range of Ruby plans to choose from.
Price from: $5/month
The cheapest package is the $5/month 'Entry' plan. It comes with 20GB SSD storage. For RoR developers who only need to work on a single script at a time, that should be roomy enough.
The best thing about A2 Hosting's Ruby plans is that they are based on a VPS rather than a shared server architecture. With VPS, your resources will be isolated from other users on the same hardware resulting in a stable development environment.
All A2 Hosting Ruby on Rails servers are backed up by a 99.9% uptime guarantee. If you check out my A2 Hosting review, you'll see that real-world performance is even better than this near-perfect score.
In fact, when I tested A2 Hosting in real-time, it was much closer to 100% in uptime scores.
Friendly to Developers and the Planet
A2 Hosting servers offer full root-access. That's important for advanced RoR developers who may wish to customize their entire hosting environment. What's more, web hosting, and hosting for processor-intensive applications like RoR in particular, can use up a lot of power. A2 Hosting offsets its entire energy usage, allowing you to reduce your business's carbon footprint.
- VPS server architecture
- Full root access
- Eco-friendly hosting
- 99.9% Uptime guarantee
- 24/7 Skype and live chat support
- More expensive than some competitors
- No unlimited storage plans
Recommended for: users who prioritize speed.
Price from: $3.99/month
The starter plan, named the 'Launch' package, comes with unlimited storage and bandwidth.
InMotion is, therefore, an excellent option if you need to use Ruby to process a lot of data cheaply.
InMotion Ruby hosting plans allow you to install Ruby Gems from the command line using SSH.
That's fantastic if you want to enhance your Ruby environment with add-ons such as the multi_json Gem which parses RoR code to find the most appropriate JSON coder.
In my InMotion review, I found response times as low as 21ms which is excellent for lag-free Ruby development. Fast speeds are achieved through the use of SSDs and a choice of 46 worldwide data centers. With data centers spread so far and wide, InMotion acts as a great alternative to hosting providers that are restricted to a concentrated area.
Beware of Long Contracts and Setup Fees
To get the cheapest monthly prices, InMotion requires you to sign up for a two-year contract. If you opt for a single year plan instead, the Launch package's price jumps to $4.99/month.
Frustratingly, InMotion doesn't pre-install Ruby on all its servers. If you choose a dedicated or VPS server, you may have to pay a one-time installation fee on top of your regular hosting costs.
- Affordable prices
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth
- Command line Gem installation
- Fast servers
- Two-year contract needed for the cheapest prices
- Ruby installation fees with VPS and dedicated servers
Recommended for: users who want Ruby hosting with specialized Ruby support.
Price from: $2.75/month
Its cheapest hosting package, which is dubbed the 'Hatchling Plan', costs just $2.75/month for unmetered storage and bandwidth. Do note that prices increase by 20% after the first term.
But cheap pricing isn't the best thing about HostGator's Ruby hosting. When I looked closely, it became clear that this host had taken the time to properly optimize its server setup for Ruby.
To me, the standout Ruby feature is the fact that its shared servers allow you to run up to four instances of RoR at once.
HostGator, therefore, provides an appropriate development environment for a small team.
HostGator allows you to manage your Ruby instances through cPanel which prevents things from getting too confusing. Its servers also come with multiple Ruby modules pre-installed. And if you need to add more, you can contact the support team through a 24/7 live chat service.
Watch Out For Outdated Ruby Versions
Unfortunately, HostGator's shared servers don't come with the latest version of RoR. Instead, these variants are pre-installed:
- Ruby 1.8.7
- Gem 1.8.30
- Rails 2.3.18
For most developers, this won't be a deal-killer as there are few significant differences between Ruby 1.8.X and 1.9.X. It is also possible to install Ruby 1.9.X on HostGator VPS and dedicated plans.
- Extremely cheap monthly costs
- Four simultaneous Ruby instances supported
- Lots of Ruby modules installed by default
- Uses outdated Ruby edition
- Prices jump after the first term
Recommended for: anyone who wants a hosting service that caters to developers.
Price from: $22.45/month
Its Ruby plans are a little pricier than other options, with packages starting at $22.45/month. Still, for many developers, the additional cost will be justified.
That's because RoseHosting provides a fully-managed Ruby on Rails hosting service. Installing RoR isn't easy and, with this host, it'll be done for you. RoseHosting's experienced team of Linux developers team will also help you configure Ruby and optimize your Ruby apps to help everything run smoothly.
Every RoseHosting Ruby server is based on a VPS architecture. As with A2 Hosting, that means your resources will be isolated from other customers on the same server.
Plus, RoseHosting offers free Ruby server migrations. Essentially, it's an ideal service to use if you already have a Ruby server hosted through a different company.
As you'd expect from a developer-oriented host, every plan includes full root and shell access, giving you complete control over your VPS environment. The starter plan comes with 30GB SSD storage and 2TB bandwidth, which should be plenty for most developers.
- Developer focused hosting
- VPS architecture
- Full root and shell access
- Generous bandwidth
- 24/7 Support from expert Linux developers
- Only one data center available
- More expensive than other hosts
Making the Right Ruby on Rails Hosting Choice
RoR is a versatile framework and can be used for virtually any server-side development function. For that reason, each host listed here is suited to a slightly different use-case:
- Bluehost is great for affordable Ruby hosting.
- A2 Hosting offers flexible and eco-friendly Rails hosting on VPS servers.
- InMotion Hosting is ideal if you need unlimited storage.
- HostGator provides hosting for multiple Ruby developers.
- RoseHosting gives you access to support from RoR experts.
When it comes to reliable RoR development, the server architecture you use can make a big difference. Pay close attention to whether your chosen host offers a shared, VPS or dedicated server set up.
I hope you enjoyed my Ruby on Rails hosting guide! Please let me know if you have an alternative service to recommend by commenting below.