Just because WordPress is super easy to use to put together a professional looking blog or website doesn’t mean that all the administrative tasks related to your WordPress site are super easy to use! Unmanaged WordPress hosting largely leaves the administrative tasks to you, while managed WordPress hosting–for generally a bit more money–will take care of some of the admin tasks on the backend. What kind of advantages does managed WordPress hosting carry? And is it worth it? Let’s check out some differences between managed and unmanaged WordPress hosting:
What’s the Difference Between Managed and Unmanaged Hosting?
A lot of hosting out there, including WordPress hosting, is technically unmanaged. That means that your host provides you with space on a server and not much else. You get tools and a control panel, and you can of course contact your host to take care of certain admin tasks if you need to, but for the most part you are on your own. You will be responsible for the performance of your site, for software installations, for security, and customization. All of that falls on your shoulders.
With managed WordPress hosting, on the other hand, many of these backend tasks are taken care of. The host is more than just a hosting company, they are the personal service for your website. They upgrade things, handle installations, may monitor your site with security features, and can take care of certain customization to optimize performance for you.
Managed WordPress Hosting Advantages
A managed WordPress hosting plan won’t build your site for you, but it will take care of all the stuff on the backend so that you don’t have to worry too much about administration. With a managed plan, you focus on simply building your site.
While unmanaged hosting plans offer support and customer service, it usually isn’t of a super technical nature. Unmanaged plans leave the management to you, and so aren’t usually around to answer a bunch of technical questions about implementation. But when you opt for managed hosting, on the other hand, support and customer service doesn’t just exist for your server and your hosting plan, it exists for your website as well. Your website becomes your host’s problem just as much as your own problem. If you are the type of person who thinks that you’ll need to engage with experts and customer service over the function of your site, then paying a little extra for a managed hosting plan might well be worth it.
Updating WordPress, plugins, and PHP can be really annoying. It pops up on your screen and you have to find the perfect time to run the updates so that you don’t mess with your flow or your day. If staying on top of updates is annoying, a managed solution might be for you. But updates aren’t just annoying, they can also cause problems with your site. Not all versions of WordPress are supported for all plugins and not all PHP can work with everything you’ve written for your WordPress site. When your host is also managing your site, it is their responsibility to ensure that the updates won’t destroy your site or cause functionality problems. And that makes things a lot easier for you. You can focus on building content.
Backups are an annoying but really important piece of hosting. Managed WordPress plans should be able to do two critical tasks for you. First of all, the managed plan should come with frequent automatic backups that you don’t even have to worry about. Second of all, and this is really important, your WordPress plan should make it really easy for you and your hosting company to restore your site in the event that something goes wrong. Make sure that they have a simple restoration plan in place so that restoring a downed or bugged website doesn’t become a huge problem.
Security is a matter of staying on top of updates and having on-site support when something happens, like malware or a DDoS attack. While there is a lot that you can do to keep your site protected even when you don’t know a ton about security, there is more that a managed hosting service can do for you.
There are certain server side optimizations that your hosting company can do for you. In addition, most managed hosting providers will have tons more experience optimizing a website than you do. They can look at some stats on the back end and make minor adjustments that deliver major results.
Staging sites are basically sandboxes where you can build altered versions of your site to make sure that everything will run smoothly after a certain update or security fix. They can be extremely helpful, so that a single change you make to the site can be tested if you think it might be problematic. By testing problematic changes in an environment not tied to your site you can make the right changes without crashing your site.
Managed WordPress Hosting Disadvantages
The huge disadvantage that managed WordPress hosting carries is increased cost. The time it takes to make changes to your site has to be done by a real person in the background, and you’ll be paying for that time in a monthly fee much higher than unmanaged hosting.
The other big disadvantage to managed WordPress hosting is that you will get less control. Once you sign up for managed hosting, the company assumes that you don’t have a ton of experience with hosting and that you won’t need or want the advanced controls over your site. While still possible, it is often more difficult to implement changes to the backend of the site.
Final Advice: Should You Choose Managed WordPress Hosting?
Managed WordPress hosting will cost you almost double the amount of unmanaged hosting plans, as a generalization. It’s therefore ideal for websites that have two things in common: (1) you don’t know a lot about website management and don’t want to sort through the new skill and (2) you don’t mind paying a bit extra. If you feel comfortable managing your own site and want to save some money, then managed WordPress hosting simply isn’t worth it.