Pantheon Hosting
Review 2020

Pantheon is a San Francisco-based “web-ops” host that serves apps for developers and marketers alike

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pantheon hosting full review

Why Choose Pantheon?

Pantheon is an application-specific host, only serving web applications that run on Drupal and WordPress. Having been in business since it was a startup in 2010, it’s staffed by experts in both of these technologies.

Advantages

01.

Peerless Developer Tools

Pantheon has great tools for WordPress and Drupal devs!

02.

Highly Scalable Host

If your website has 100 or 1,000,000 visits a day, Pantheon can instantly scale so you don’t lose customers.

03.

Great Security

Pantheon has lots of proactive security measures in place, reducing the risk of data theft.

04.

Try Before You Buy

Rather than have a “money-back guarantee” after providing payment info, you can simply try it out with just a few basic details and decide if it’s right for you! There’s no time limit, either! You can run your site as long as you want, and then only pay once you publish it!

05.

Slick Interface

Every section of their site we visited had a pretty sweet and solid interface! Setting up our first site was a breeze!

Disadvantages

01.

Very Technical Host

While Pantheon has no shortage of features, many of them are for developers. If you are not a developer, you may have difficulty understanding some documentation.

02.

Odd Support Structure

Pantheon has an odd “support package” structure and requires users to purchase support (outside of live chat during business hours), even if they have a high-level plan.

pantheon advanced features

What is Pantheon?

Botton Line: Pantheon is a high-powered PaaS host, or “platform-as-a-service” host that caters to WordPress and Drupal developers, as well as marketers who maintain sites written on these platforms. Note: “Platform-as-a-Service” means a service that provides a hosting environment for sites written in specific platforms.

Hang Out with the Cool Kids!

Kinsta doesn’t have “sets” of Plans like other hosts do. For example, other hosts will have four plans for Shared Hosting, four plans for VPS hosting, etc. Kinsta just has one line of plans, although if you need more resources than any of their plans offer, they invite you to get in touch with them to discuss your particular needs.

What You Get

With Pantheon, you can choose among three simple plans and widely varying prices (we will go into more depth later on, don’t worry! Here’s what they offer:

“Basic” (currently $29/month if paid annually)

This one’s name pretty much speaks for itself. You can save money and still get great service!

“Performance” (currently $114/month if paid annually)

You can get tons of power behind your apps with this one!

“Elite” (pricing not fixed, as all plans of this tier are custom)

“Top-tier plan” that is fully customized and negotiated with a sales rep. Get whatever you want!

Ease Of Use

Since Pantheon is run by engineers and human factors experts, all of their services and tools are integrated very nicely and are intuitive; however, some less advanced users may get a bit lost because of the huge number of options!

See for Yourself!

Pantheon deserves an award for being the first host we have looked at that lets anyone at any time spin up a sample site to test its ease of use! Just scroll down the main page and drop your email in the box shown below:

pantheon try it free

The Process

Pantheon has a unique signup process. You just drop your email into that box we talked about, put in some basic information, then log in with your new account! You’ll go straight to the Dashboard that you will use. Note: You do NOT pay until your site is live! 

It should look something like this:

pantheon dashboard

Creating a Site

From there, you can create a new site or migrate a site. There are very clear guides and steps to migration provided if you click “Migrate Existing Site” from the dashboard. However, we will be creating a new site. All you have to do is pick a subdomain name and a data center:

pantheon choose data centers

Choose a CMS

It is literally as easy as the click of a button!

pantheon cms

Off to the Races!

From there, the site is automatically deployed for you, and you can explore their slick Control Panel!

pantheon testing servers
pantheon advanced features

Pantheon's Features

9.0

Botton Line: ​Since Pantheon only services WordPress and Drupal sites, they have time to crank out some awesome features for you. Here’s what you get! All items listed come with all plans.

Version Control Support

As much of Pantheon’s target audience is web developers, they have support for most major “version control” systems, like git. Don’t worry about this one if you’re not a developer!

Managed HTTPS/SSL Certs

Pantheon will manage your SSL certificate for you. No more worrying about expired certificates or renewals; it’s all taken care of by the pros! As if that weren’t enough, your SSL certificate cost is included with every plan (read as: “always free”)!

Automatic Backups

A major plus, Pantheon does not charge to do nightly backups of every piece of your site(s). Regardless of your plan, you can rest assured that you’ll always be able to get your site back if anything happens!

CDN Access

You’ll get to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) by Fastly, which means that your site is “mirrored” on servers all around the world. Regardless of where in the world your visitors are, they’ll be able to get blazing speeds on your site!

  • Note: There is no cap on the amount of data used by the CDN, and it is configured for you instantly, both of which are unusually generous!

Fast Site Migrations

Pantheon provides a “self-service” tool that lets you migrate your old WordPress or Drupal sites to their platform for free. If you want the pros to migrate your site(s) for you, you may pay for this service. Pricing varies depending on the number of sites you wish to migrate. This will save a lot of time and energy, letting you focus on what really matters!

Unique 24/7 Support Mechanisms

Some of Pantheon’s customer support is free to use, and the best part is that you get to connect straight to the actual engineers at Pantheon when you have a technical question. They can help guide you with complex Drupal and WordPress issues, making development way easier! We will get into more detail on their customer support in a bit.

SSD Storage

Solid State Drive, or “SSD” storage, is way faster than older storage mechanisms, allowing apps to access and manipulate any type of data in a fraction of the time it would take if you used traditional media!

Test and Staging Environment

Every plan comes with a free testing and staging environment. Made a new feature but afraid it might break the site? No problem! Just run your new code in the testing environment and find out! This will save you a lot of time in the long run!

Automatic Security Updates

Vulnerabilities are discovered all the time, and they sometimes get published before the vendors can issue patches. You may also run into a situation where software your site uses requires a small patch, but you’re not aware that it needs to be installed. Well, that would be if you used almost any other host! Pantheon instantly applies patches released for software your site relies on, so you won’t check on your site one morning and see it got hacked!

Customized Cache

A major slowdown for many websites is an inefficient “caching”, or “temporary storage” mechanism so that data can be served almost instantly. Pantheon developed their own solution to handle this issue so that you can get blazing load speeds! Say bye to customer complaints about slow sites!

Pro-Level Developer Tools

Pantheon has some of the best developer tools in the industry. Their web platform has an integrated command line, making it super easy to run any commands or scripts you wish! Advanced site monitoring tools are also included. Need to integrate with another service? No problem! Pantheon is nothing short of a developer’s paradise!

pantheon hosting full review

Pantheon's Performance

10

Botton Line: Pantheon is on the Google Cloud network and uses a CDN to deliver blazing speeds, and although their guaranteed uptime varies by plan, they primarily adhere to industry standards.

Pantheon's Uptime

Your guaranteed uptime is tied to the plan you decide to purchase. Unfortunately, for “Basic” Plan customers, there is no contractual guarantee of uptime. However, Pantheon details how they operate to give all customers “High Availability” here. Essentially, they provide world-class redundancy (which means that your site’s exact data is backed up on servers around the world), multiple backup networks, a high-quality CDN, and more to help ensure you get the best uptime possible. 

However, if you choose to purchase the “Performance” Plan, you can expect to get a guaranteed 99.9% uptime. This is not the best guarantee, but also not the worst! But what do you get in return if this promise is broken? There is no published remedy for breaking this guarantee!

For those who choose to purchase an “Elite” Plan, a 99.95% uptime guarantee is given, and there are remedies for breaking that. There is also an even higher option available for a fee (the fee varies depending on the number of sites you have) that will guarantee 99.99%! If this guarantee is broken, you will be compensated per this schedule published in the SLA (Service-Level Agreement):

pantheon uptime guarantee

Pantheon's Speed

Pantheon has a hard focus on keeping your site(s) fast at every layer, from their backbone provider all the way to the front-end loading experience. They even published a page about it!

To be technical, Google Cloud could deliver a 16 Gbps speed, although that would never happen in real life. However, there’s nothing to worry about in that regard. Pantheon uses proprietary caching mechanisms, SSD storage, and tuned up versions of languages and software on their end to ensure that nothing will slow you down from winning the Google SEO wars!

pantheon security

Pantheon's Security

9.5

Botton Line: Pantheon provides some of the best security infrastructure in the hosting industry to ensure that your site stays up and safe! They have this very comprehensive document to assist you.

SSL? Done!

SSL certificates are crucial for maintaining site security and customer safety. Thankfully, these are fully managed and included!

DDoS Protection

Pantheon provides Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection using a variety of tools, including their own web-based firewall, redundant storage, a CDN, and checks to see if traffic is legitimate before it even touches your site!

Immutable Software

Pantheon puts a “write lock”, or a block on modifications to core service code. This is a huge benefit, since it ensures that even if software installed is exploitable, it cannot be modified, preventing many types of potential attacks.

Role-based Access System

This is a very unique security feature. Essentially, this means that if you have some developers, some marketers, and some other staff who need access to the site, you can make and assign “roles” to them. That means that only people who are supposed to be able to access or modify resources can!

Container-based Web Applications

Every web application is run inside a “container”. For those not familiar, that means that it runs in an isolated area with only the resources required. Containers can be spawned and destroyed almost instantly. The major security benefit of this is that if your site does become compromised somehow, you’ll be able to just kill the container and respawn it instantly!

Proactive Monitoring

All sites are proactively monitored, with over a million checks each day. These checks are to make sure your site is up, ensure that there is no malicious activity occurring, and many other small items. This is how many attacks are prevented, and it’s all included!

pantheon plans

Pantheon's Pricing and Plans

7.0

Botton Line: Pantheon offers a price and a plan to fit every budget and every need. Whether you’re a sole freelancing developer or a large corporation, they have the resources to deliver what you need! Here are the offerings:

The “Basic” Plan

With this plan, you can expect 125,000 monthly pages served, 25,000 monthly site visits, support for up to 5 domains, 20 GB SSD storage, and 256 MB RAM. There is no specification on how much traffic in and out is allowed; their limits are based on the number of visits only

For this plan, you can pay $29 per month if you are “Preferred” (click here for details) or $290 per year. Otherwise, it’s $50 per month, or $500 per year.

pantheon basic plan

The “Performance” Plan

With this plan, you can pick from one of four options: “Small”, “Medium”, “Large”, or “Extra Large”. This is the highest level plan you can get without making a custom one. These plans also include maximum performance enhancement.

The “Small” Plan

Expect to receive 125,000 monthly pages served, 25,000 monthly site visits, support for up to 10 domains, 30 GB SSD storage, and 256 MB RAM. This one is $125 per month or $1,375 per year if preferred, and $175 per month and $1,925 per year if not.

The “Medium” Plan

You’ll grab 250,000 monthly pages served, 50,000 monthly site visits, support for up to 15 domains, 50 GB SSD storage, and 512 MB RAM. You’ll be out $225 per month or $2,475 per year if preferred, and $300 per month or $3,300 per year if not.

The “Large” Plan

Get 750,000 monthly pages served, 150,000 monthly site visits, support for up to 35 domains, 100 GB SSD storage, and 512 MB RAM. You’ll need to pay $450 per month or $4,950 per year if preferred, and $600 per month or $6,600 per year if not.

The “Extra Large” Plan

Get 1,500,000 monthly pages served, 300,000 monthly site visits, support for up to 70 domains, 200 GB SSD storage, and 512 MB RAM. For this one, you need to pay $750 per month or $8,250 per year if preferred, and $1,000 per month or $11,000 per year if not.

The “Elite” Plan

There isn’t much information on this plan. It is for people who require more resources than the above plans can provide. You simply contact their Sales department, and they will make a plan to suit your needs!

pantheon hosting full review

Pantheon's Customer Support

5.0

Botton Line: Pantheon offers above-par customer support that comes straight from experts, but some support methods come at a cost! They have a motto stating: “The best support ticket is the ticket you’ll never need to open.”

The Minimum Level of Support

The very lowest level of support is reserved for users who have any plan. They can only expect to receive support through live chat from 9 AM to 5 PM, Pacific Time

The Support Schedule

Oddly, Pantheon utilizes a “Support Plan Overview” with the rationale that their services are honed so well that you likely won’t need support. Especially for larger, Enterprise customers, they have more robust promises of support. 

Essentially, you can chat during business hours for free. You can pick a “package” from their support tier schedule if you require additional services, including the ability to send a support ticket, emergency on-call support, guaranteed response times down to 15 minutes, and communication through custom channels.

Here is a direct link to the PDF file with all of their information about support packages.

Unpublished Prices

Oddly, Pantheon intentionally does not publish prices, according to a spokesperson:

pantheon customer support
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pantheon hosting full review

Final Verdict

8.1

If you’re a developer, Pantheon offers everything you could possibly ask for. This model may not be the best for those just looking to host a basic HTML/CSS site. However, sites in WordPress and Drupal couldn’t be much better served or protected than they are when Pantheon hosts them!

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