Drupal Hosting Review


There is one question we get time and time and again from developers who are new to Drupal: “How do I create a staging environment for my sites?”

They want to know how to create a development site / test site / live site setup. It’s not easy to do.

In fact, at the moment, I can realistically tell them to do only one of three things:

  • Wait for Drupal 8.
  • Try Acquia hosting.
  • Try the newly-released Pantheon hosting.

About Pantheon

Pantheon is founded by some of the most experienced Drupal experts around. Involved in the project are co-founders of Chapter Three and Four Kitchens, two of the largest and most successful Drupal companies around. They also have people who were involved with the launch. This team knows how to do Drupal development the right way.

After being in stealth mode for a long time, Pantheon finally opened to the public at DrupalCon Denver. You can find them at


Joining Pantheon

Pantheon recently came out of beta just a couple of weeks ago and it is now free to sign up. No credit card is required.


When I signed up, there was a glitch with the verification email. I raised a support ticket and got a response within (I kid you not) two minutes.

After logging in, there’s a dashboard when you can start to create sites:


Actually creating a site on Pantheon is about a 5 minute process. First, you click “Create a site now” and enter the site name and URL.


This initial set up took about 2 to 3 minutes as a progress bar loaded:


The next step is decide whether to create a new site or import an existing one.


If you choose to install a new site, Pantheon offers you three version of the Drupal core:


You can also choose from a variety of distributions.


After clicking Install, there was another progress bar. Again, this process took about 2 to 3 minutes.


With that, the installation was finished.

The Individual Site Dashboard

As soon as you see your site dashboard, you can see the magical Development / Testing / Live tabs across the top of the page.

On this page there’s also the option to use Git and clone Drupal to your desktop. As with, Pantheon is a Git-based system.


On the right-hand side of the page you’ll see some key tools such as setting up your own domain name, checking the error log and creating backups.


At the bottom of the right-hand column you’ll see the option to sync the site content from either the Live or Test environment.


That same option is available on all the other tabs. Click on Testing and you’ll see the ability to “Sync Database & Pull Code”.


Click that button and Pantheon will ask you if you’re sure:


It’s as simple as that to do staging on Pantheon.


The tech is good, the user interface is good and the pricing is good too. It’s free for testing and then prices start from $25 per month.


I’ll finish with a caveat. We haven’t deployed a live site on Pantheon yet and so can’t vouch for their effectiveness when running real sites.

However, if their live hosting is anywhere near as good as their hosting setup process, Pantheon will be a great option for Drupal developers.


  • Steve Burge

    Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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Looks good Steve, nice job on the write-up!


Thanks for the write up – these hosted solutions (esp staging/live, backups, etc) look awesome, but I’m concerned lest there’s any SEO hit. Imagine my company only operates in the UK – is it not best for me to have my UK website hosted in the UK?




Eddie, The old video’s of Matt Cutts from 2009 say that server IP Address might have an impact on SEO in the UK. There are many things you can do to offset this minor IP Address location issue. Obtain a Top Level Domain for Use a CDN and update webmaster tools with geo location.

Simon Hoare

@เรื่อศรีจันทร์ Eddie. The gotpantheon domain appears to be obtained through Go-Daddy, who also sell European domain names. I know this for a fact because I bought one from them. So, even in the event that they oblige you to go through Go-Daddy, that won’t be a problem. You’ll still be able to get a UK domain name. However, I suspect the gotpantheon domain is only for staging environments, where SEO is naturally irrelevant. If they were to oblige you to have gopantheon stuck on the end of your domain, they would have a very curious business model.

Looks like a great product, though. Thanks for another insightful review, OST.


Hey allot has changed over at GetPantheon. If your curious about the recent updates check out the Pantheon related links below:


It looks like this review is a couple years old, but I still thought me current experience would be useful so that others do NOT make the same mistakes as I did,
In short stay away from Pantheon. They are THE worst hosting service EVER.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have backups turned on. As bizarre as it sounds, Pantheon does not back up your sites by default. We had the default configuration and after a week of development their systems crashed. We lost everything and had to start over. Of course they have documentation in reams of text if you look. And their support people are good at blaming you.
My second beef with them is they have an email notification service that is turned off to inform you of future “scheduled” outages. But once again it is your fault if you did not find it in the mounds of worthless documentation. For Pantheon security is number 1. What that means is they decide when an issue is important and they decide when to take down ALL sites simultaneously. They MAY give you 24 hours notice that THEY decided you will be out of business and how for how long. We learned about this “feature” when our site magically was not available, the night before go live. We had plenty of time in the original plan, but having to start over wasted our contingency.
Our account is at the Corporate level. We will be scaling up to Pantheon’s equivalent to enterprise level, but not with them. If you have a mission critical app, need to have things done quickly, expect a partner who understands hosting, or who cares about your site, go anywhere else. Pantheon is a disaster. They take no responsibility for their stupid rules. Hide behind volumes of CYA documentation.
Get the word out.

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