What You'll Learn
It's used by top global brands like Peugeot, Heinz, and Vogue. Umbraco is a flexible CMS with a lot under the hood.
In this article, you'll learn what Umbraco's top features are, how it differs from other content management systems, and what you'll need to know to use it.
You'll receive tips for selecting the right host for your Umbraco site. And I'll share my recommendations for Umbraco hosting.
What Is Umbraco?
A completely free and open-source content management system (CMS) written in C#, Umbraco is a robust and flexible solution for your web publishing needs.
Yes, Umbraco is free - although some may need assistance from an expert, that assistance is available as an add-on. Realize though: many users manage to set up Umbraco without support.
This overview reveals some of the top websites using Umbraco and how easy it is to add content to an Umbraco site.
Good Quality Content Management
Being a content management system (CMS), Umbraco is a software application primarily designed for publishing, editing, and otherwise managing the content of a website or intranet.
You may have heard of other well-known CMS options such as WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla, which store website information in MySQL databases using PHP.
Here's What Your Umbraco Hosting Needs To Offer
Umbraco is a free, open source content management system (CMS) that runs on Windows servers. While many CMSs are fundamentally just blogging platforms, Umbraco shines in its flexibility. This may not make it the best choice for very simple websites, but it works great for big and complex ones. For Umbraco hosting, we recommend checking out HostGator.
Find The Best Umbraco Hosting For You
How Is Umbraco Different From Other Content Management Systems?
There are a variety of programming languages used to write content management systems.
Which Programming Language is Umbraco Written In?
Unlike those content management systems, Umbraco is written in C# and uses a Microsoft-based infrastructure.
It can store data in various databases but usually uses Microsoft SQL Server.
And while the name may be unfamiliar to many, you've probably seen it in action before: Umbraco is used by tens of thousands of websites including Heinz.com, Wired.co.uk, and Vogue.co.uk.
Who is Behind Umbraco?
And though the mention of Microsoft might lead you to believe otherwise, Umbraco is actually open-source software.
It's licensed under the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) free software license. It is completely free to download and use.
Premium Add-Ons for Umbraco
While the actual Umbraco software is free, you can also purchase premium features such as tech support, upgrade service notifications, and a bug fix warranty.
Some notable premium add-ons include (optional):
- Multiple Hosting Environments;
- Guaranteed 99.9%+ Uptime;
- Guaranteed Response Times;
- Multiple Teams and Sites;
- Customized Project Advice;
- Code Review.
Multiple Hosting Environments
Having multiple hosting environments can be a huge benefit for large businesses.
This can often simplify and ease future processes from a technical standpoint.
Guaranteed 99.9%+ Uptime
Uptime is often taken for granted. Umbraco offers in excess of 99.9% uptime, making them an ideal CMS to entrust with your content.
Along with this, it's open-source nature guarantees regular updates and code contributions.
Umbraco Customer Support: Guaranteed Response Times
Umbraco offers a guaranteed response within 24 hours with their Basic and Gold Plans.
Enterprise plan customers have an even more impressive guaranteed response time of 2 hours. This, however, is only for severe issues.
Multiple Teams and Sites
Having a premium plan allows you to set up to 5 sites.
Along with your 5 sites, you have the ability to create separate teams and accounts. From a logistical and administrative perspective, these features are very useful.
Customized Project Advice
Umbraco experts offer tailored advice depending on your specific project. This can be useful when either a technical or even logistical difficulty arises.
Code Review for Umbraco
Moreover, the support team offers a very useful code review.
Having clean code is often undervalued by non-developers. Making use of code reviews is definitely a smart move if you're considering a premium plan.
In fact, you can install Umbraco, set it up, and host it yourself, or take advantage of the Umbraco Cloud for your storage needs. It is equally perfect for low and high-level projects, making it one of the most flexible and customizable open source content management systems on the market today.
9 Umbraco Features To Make Your Job Easier
Umbraco is robust enough for very large websites but easy to use. Built on Microsoft's .NET Framework, it uses industry-standard languages, such as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
Building Awesome Websites with Umbraco
Umbraco allows designers, developers, and content creators to build modern, rich websites, using code or using Microsoft Word or LiveWriter.
You can have as much control over the details as you want. Get expanded functionality via the enormous library of packages, add-ons, and extensions. This CMS can handle much more than simple blogging.
Features of Umbraco include:
- Microsoft Word and LiveWriter
- Edit Your Website Code
- Custom Content Tools
- CSS Control
- Built-In Caching
- Application Programming Interface (API)
- Search Functionality
- Multi-language support out of the box
Microsoft Word and LiveWriter
Perhaps one of the most convenient features is support for both Microsoft Word and LiveWriter. You can even create blog posts and share them directly from Microsoft Word!
Editing Your Website Code
Choose from a range of code editors to edit your website's code. Umbraco is compatible with Visual Studio, Notepad++, Adobe DreamWeaver and more.
Custom Content Tools
There is a suite of tools to help you create unique content. No one wants boring and unoriginal content, so Umbraco has a good way of helping you to avoid that.
Similar to WordPress plug-ins, tools such as ModelsBuilder can come in handy.
Umbraco.tv provides helpful video tutorials.
There are 2 templating concepts with Umbraco: templating and Macros.
Templates are generally for the HTML layout of your page, while macros are responsible for dynamic content.
You are able to modify, edit and control your website's design with CSS. This feature is especially useful for those looking to add custom content or features.
Caching is considered pretty standard by the Umbraco team, as well as most other CMS software. There is a whole guide on appropriate caching on the Umbraco website.
Application Programming Interface (API)
The Umbraco API gives you or your developer full programming access to everything in the CMS itself. The API can be used from either of the development tools mentioned previously.
A custom built-in search feature means end-users are able to find anything. Site search is a nice addition to an optimal user experience.
Support and Community by Umbraco
Umbraco also boasts an extensive support system, complete with hundreds of in-depth video tutorials offered to users for free.
Sofie, a support specialist at Umbraco, provides a glimpse inside of how direct support works. You'll also learn about Codegarden, an event that brings together Umbraco customers and employees.
You also have direct access to a community of knowledgeable developers well-versed in working with the often advanced level CMS. Meetup groups are also common. They meet all over the world, for sharing ideas, troubleshooting, and networking.
Hosting: Simple Set-Up with Umbraco Cloud
Additionally, Umbraco features web hosting via its Umbraco Cloud. It includes quick setup and Umbraco installation, automatic bug fixes and security features along with one-click feature updates.
A convenient overall picture of all projects you are working on when you log into the intuitive control panel is also included.
Built on top of Microsoft Azure, Umbraco is one of the most stable and innovative cloud hosting solutions to date. Several web host services support the Umbraco CMS as well.
Casper Stendal, a co-founder, and partner at Ecreo shares why his agency selected Umbraco Cloud.
Advantages of Using Umbraco Cloud
There are a variety of options for Umbraco cloud, let's compare the premium upgrades and their perks:
|Unlimited Bandwidth and Storage||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|More than One Site||No||No||Yes|
|More than One Environment||No||Yes||Yes|
|Umbraco TV and Forms||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|99.9%+ Uptime Guarantee||No||Yes||Yes|
|Unlimited Team Members||No||Yes||Yes|
|24/7 Support (chat, ticketing, phone)||No||No||Yes|
|Guaranteed Response Time (per agreement)||No||No||Yes|
|Architecture and Code Review||No||No||Yes|
Umbraco Cloud offers an array of host plans to fit your individual needs. Should you not want to invest in the Umbraco Cloud, these alternative web hosting companies are sure to have what you are looking for.
Umbraco vs WordPress
Though WordPress has become the most popular CMS on the web, that doesn't mean it's the best tool for every website
WordPress was originally created as a blogging platform, and when it's used for blog-based websites it really shines. Out of the box, WordPress also works well if you need a simple website up quickly.
Creating Large Websites with Umbraco
But when it comes to creating a large-scale website with more structured information and functionality features, or if you're just looking for more flexibility when it comes to managing your website, you may want to take a look at Umbraco.
Umbraco may be a more complex solution for your website because of a large number of options it offers. With that complexity comes greater freedom and flexibility to create a website that fits your needs.
Customizing Umbraco for Your Needs
Instead of relying on third-party plugins to extend the functionality of your CMS, you can shape Umbraco.
It can become a CMS that is uniquely tailored to manage the kind of data you need it to, in the exact way you need it to.
Adding to that, Umbraco has the ability to scale more quickly than WordPress thanks to its Microsoft Stack, which is great for e-commerce websites.
How to Choose Web Hosting for Umbraco
Umbraco offers an online demo that's free to try out.
Many hosting providers offer Umbraco hosting plans, while some hosts feature free Umbraco installation or include setup.
If your web host doesn't have Umbraco plans, you'll likely still be able to install the free software yourself, if your web hosting plan meets the minimum requirements.
Requirements and Pre-Purchase Measures
Contact your provider before installing any software to ensure your service plan meets the requirements for Umbraco to function.
In addition, you should look for features such as uptime and reliability. Further notable factors are website speed, performance measures, security features, pricing options, and support expertise while choosing an Umbraco hosting company.
My Top 3 Recommendations for Umbraco Hosting
Time to take a look at the top-dogs. Let's compare the best choices for Umbraco hosting.
HostGator is clearly the number one hosting choice when it comes to utilizing the power of the Umbraco content management system.
Providing users affordable ASP.NET hosting, with support for Windows 2012 R2, HostGator makes installing Umbraco onto your website easy.
Umbraco hosting with HostGator.
This is thanks to the one-click installation tool made available in the easy to use control panel. In addition, each hosting plan comes with features such as:
- 99.9% uptime;
- Free HostGator Website Builder;
- 24/7/365 server monitoring;
- Premium support via phone, live chat, and a ticket system (email).
Next up would have to be WinHost. With simple Windows web hosting plans, WinHost is a popular ASP.NET web hosting company. They offer features like a visual, web-based ASP.NET control panel and one-click installation capability for installing Umbraco instantly.
Umbraco hosting with WinHost.
In addition, it comes with 24/7 support, IIS Manager Remote Access, 99.9% uptime guarantees, a secure local datacenter, and support for Windows Servers 2008 and 2012. Perfect for those with startup blogs or websites, WinHost is an affordable hosting solution that supports the Umbraco CMS.
Lastly, LiquidWeb's Windows VPS hosting plans offer those with large websites with tons of daily traffic a solution. A way to easily host and manage all of their site's data on its proprietary Storm Servers.
Umbraco hosting with LiquidWeb.
Features and Deploying in Windows
Using a managed dedicated server, users can deploy in a Windows Environment using Umbraco. This is done via cloud-enabled options, available from Umbraco.
Perfect for those with e-commerce or business websites. Liquid Web provides easy scalability for company growth with:
- 100% uptime guarantee;
- Built-in backups;
- Unlimited site hosting;
- Free CloudFlare CDN;
- Root access.
Pros and Cons of Umbraco Hosting
Like all CMSs, Umbraco has its pros and cons. Let's take a look at the most notable words to bear in mind when going with Umbraco hosting.
- Access lots of flexibility when it comes to design elements like site layouts, and remain in control of all customizations.
- Much like the WordPress CMS, Umbraco boasts a large community made up of developers and users alike that help each other.
- Since it is written in C# and is deployed on a Microsoft platform, Umbraco works seamlessly with all Microsoft products, which is helpful if Microsoft is your go-to software company and is perfect for those looking for a Windows-based CMS.
- It is developer friendly and primarily designed with developers in mind; meaning the learning curve can be somewhat steep for those new to working with open source content management systems.
- There are no plugins available for extending the design and functionality of your Umbraco CMS; all changes require coding knowledge.
- Umbraco is not known to be optimized for website speed and performance, meaning your site visitors' experience often suffers.
Umbraco Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What is Umbraco?
Umbraco is a .NET-based, open-source content management system (CMS).
What is a CMS?
A CMS is an application designed to facilitate the creation and management of web content.
CMS platforms excel at separating the content from the design, making it relatively simple for non-technical users to contribute content. At the same time, the appearance can be easily changed via templates, themes, or skins.
Examples of popular CMS applications are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, along with dozens of others.
How is Umbraco different from other CMS applications?
The primary difference between Umbraco and other systems is the platform it runs on and the technology used to create it.
The vast majority of CMS applications run on some variation of the LAMP stack. A stack is a combination of software that works together to form a complete solution. LAMP is an acronym that stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP — the individual components that make up the stack.
The majority of CMS applications run on PHP, while a number of additional ones rely on Perl or Python.
Umbraco is differentiated as one of the few based on Microsoft’s .NET framework and deployed on Microsoft’s IIS web server.
What features does Umbraco have?
Umbraco's editing features are designed to offer a refreshing level of simplicity of use, while providing powerful capabilities. Complete with version control, Umbraco's editor gives you the freedom to edit and make changes without worrying about losing data.
Umbraco supports the use of the external editor of your choice.
Umbraco features content caching and dynamic macro caching to maximize site performance for visitors. It also includes integration of .NET controls, powerful search abilities, APIs that give you complete control of the CMS, as well as thorough documentation.
There are a number of packages, both free and commercial, that can enhance the application even more.
What are the system requirements for Umbraco?
Umbraco Version 7 requires at least:
- Operating System: Windows Server 2003 or higher
- Web Server: IIS 7+
- SQL CE
- SQL Server 2008 and higher
- MySQL (must support case insensitive queries)
- Development Libraries: ASP.NET 4.5 Full-Trust.
You must also have the ability to set file permissions for the user who owns the Application Pool for your site.
What alternatives to Umbraco are there?
There are dozens of alternatives to Umbraco. The most obvious competitor is WordPress, the current market leader among CMS platforms.
For .NET CMSs, there are a number:
- Kentico CMS
- Orckestra CMS.
How does Umbraco compare to WordPress?
A direct comparison between these two systems is difficult since they target completely different audiences.
WordPress is, by far, the most popular CMS on the market. It has gained a following among a variety of websites of all sizes and is almost universally supported by web hosting companies around the world. As an open-source product, WordPress has countless themes, plugins, and add-ons to modify and customize your website.
In spite of these advantages, however, WordPress does have some limitations. Quite a bit of available functionality requires the use of plugins. Installing too many plugins may have a negative impact on your website's performance.
As a result, impaired performance can be an issue when scaling to meet demand. It's not that WordPress can't scale, and scale effectively, but steps should be taken to ensure that performance does not deteriorate.
In contrast, Umbraco includes, by default, several features that WordPress requires plugins for. Umbraco's user-friendliness is a significant advantage, as it requires less tinkering than WordPress.
One large disadvantage Umbraco has been its reliance on .NET and Microsoft technologies. Although there are ample web hosting companies that provide Microsoft IIS-based hosting, VPS, and dedicated servers, such plans are usually more expensive than competing LAMP-based hosting services.
The increased cost is due in large part to the licensing fees hosting companies must pay for the use of Microsoft software.
What kind of companies use Umbraco?
Umbraco is used by a wide range of companies, including Wired.co.uk, Heinz.com, Tesco, and SanDisk.com.
How do I know if Umbraco is the right CMS for me?
The answer to that question depends largely on your goals and level of expertise, as well as your preferred hosting platform.
If you want access to the largest number of themes and plugins, as well as access to the largest community of CMS users, WordPress is the obvious choice. WordPress has a proven track record of powering websites of all sizes, earning its spot as the top CMS on the market.
WordPress also has the advantage of being the most widely supported CMS platform, with virtually every major hosting company supporting it on basic, VPS, and dedicated hosting plans.
If, on the other hand, you are in the market for a CMS that prioritizes performance and includes the majority of available functions out-of-the-box, Umbraco could be a better option.
These factors give Umbraco an edge for organizations whose websites will need to heavily scale in response to growth. It's especially true if your organization already relies on a Microsoft-centric workflow, including reliance on Microsoft IIS web hosting.