Managed WordPress hosting is a special type of WordPress hosting option where the host takes on much of the responsibility for technical operations of the site. These include advanced professional services, resulting in the service costing a premium over standard hosting. There are distinct advantages to choosing this option but how do you know if it is the right choice for you?
WordPress has become the most popular Content Management System (CMS) today holding around 60% market share in an extremely competitive environment. This translates into roughly 34.5% of all websites on the Internet today – a significant number.
The reason for its popularity is not just ease of use but the fact that it is highly modular. It has the capacity to allow individual users to build as many or as few functions into their website as they please and at any time.
Because of its popularity, many web hosting service providers have built specialized plans offering WordPress hosting. Not all are just about the resources though. There are two distinct categories of WordPress hosting plans that users need to be aware of; Unmanaged and Managed.
What Is Unmanaged Hosting?
Unmanaged hosting is very similar to plain old vanilla web hosting. The exact features of unmanaged WordPress hosting plans will vary from host to host but in general they are not all that much different from regular web hosting plans.
Some hosts will pre-install WordPress for you while others may simply call it WordPress hosting and let you set up the CMS on your own via an application installer. Aside form the fact that WordPress is installed or can be installed, there are no other WordPress-specific services at all on these plans.
To understand the significance of this you will need to know what Managed WordPress hosting offers.
What is Managed WordPress Hosting?
Managed WordPress hosting is often the crown jewel of many website hosting services. It is a chance for hosting companies to demonstrate their industry leadership in an area that is highly sought-after by customers. Some web hosts like WP Engine have built their entire businesses around nothing but WordPress hosting.
The first thing that is special about these plans are the extra services that come along with them. These services can include many things ranging from automated backups to special WordPress-specific support staff who are experts in the field.
In general, what you can expect would be:
- Superior security tools
- Top notch customer support
- Servers optimized for WordPress performance
- Automated Updates and backups
The term ‘managed’ comes about because many of these features are necessary on WordPress installations. Normally you would have to do it yourself but, in this case, the hosting company steps in and manages them for you.
Opting for managed WordPress hosting can help you improve your site performance while leaving you free to focus on the core business of running your website. Of course, these services come at a price, but even this can vary depending on what the host exactly offers.
Managed vs Unmanaged WP Hosting
For those who are contemplating unmanaged WordPress hosting you shouldn’t overly worry though. Doing the basics may take you some time but it still is possible on your own. In fact, some areas such as backups and performance enhancements can even be done easily thanks to the modular nature of WordPress and the plethora of plugins available.
Hosting Features: Managed vs Unmanaged WP Hosting
|WordPress Optimizations||Manual||Specially Tuned|
|Security Enhancements||Limited, Manual||Automated|
|Backups||Often Manual or Infrequent||Automated, Often|
|Price||Low to Medium||Medium to High|
As you can see, Managed WordPress hosting features aren’t always necessary. They are however very useful to have and can mean fewer maintenance tasks for you to perform. The critical areas are mainly in security and optimizations which can be more difficult for most people to undertake.
This doesn’t mean that Managed WordPress hosting is always better as they may sometimes come with quirks of their own. For example, some hosts which offer managed WordPress hosting feel the need to safeguard customers from themselves, right down to refusing to allow root access to the server.
This means that for some things you will be totally reliant on your host, even if you are able to and wanted to do some tasks on your own.
The difference that is almost universal among hosting providers is that they all usually charge significantly more for the managed WordPress hosting plans.
Is Managed WP Hosting the Right Solution?
We are all individuals with our own needs and likewise, so are our websites.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution or answer to web hosting. Rather, you need to sit down and be able to list the needs specific to your website to fully realize what hosting to go for.
Some of the questions you can ask yourself to achieve this are:
- How much technical assistance would you need?
- Are you comfortable installing and managing web applications?
- What level of access to the server do you require?
- Are you able and willing to invest time and effort into optimization?
- How significant is the impact of website operational cost to you?
These questions and others like it will help you map out the features you may need or want to look for in a web hosting plan. Remember that there is a big difference between ‘need’ and ‘would be useful to have’.
Once you’ve worked out your requirements you will be in a much better position to embark on your quest to find the right plan for your site.
Best Managed WordPress Hosting to Consider
Kinsta is one of the few web hosting companies that has gone wild on WordPress and only offers managed WordPress hosting. Their reputation in the market is of excellence in performance which is understandable since they build their plans on Cloud infrastructure.
The service is also rock stable and running a Kinsta plan is like driving a Lexus with cruise control on and an automated driver in place. All you need to do is enter your destination, per se. They have fantastic support and are also fully optimized to accommodate eCommerce websites.
- Cloud-based WordPress-only hosting
- Massive range of VPS plans
- Plans auto-scale during visitor spikes
- Free white glove site migration services
- Choice of 20 server locations
- Highly developer-friendly
- Can importing your own SSL
- Detailed knowledge base
- Custom-design cache plugin
- Automated and manual backup systems
- Automated website status checks
- Specialized WordPress support staff
- No price hikes on renewal
- No contract period lock-in
- No email hosting
- No shared hosting
- Does not support cron jobs
- Some WordPress plugins banned
Kinsta Past 30 Days Response Speed
2. WPX Hosting
This host is a strong believer in WordPress and has staked its entire business model here. WPX hosting only offers managed WordPress hosting and the sale of domain names. Their performance is solid due to this focus but reliability is bolstered by the ability to keep up to 28 days worth of backups for your site.
Each account on WPX Hosting comes with free CDN use, SSL certificates, and even free site migrations. Their hosting options cover data centers both in the US and UK, which helps them better serve targeted traffic from two key regions.
WPX Hosting Pros
- Backed by 99.95% uptime guarantee
- Unlimited free site migration
- Custom-built Cloud CDN included
- HTTPS/2 servers
- Staging area for agile development
- Malware scanning and cleanup
- High bandwidth limits
- Choice of US or UK servers
- Daily backups with 28-day archives
- Allows all WordPress plugins
WPX Hosting Cons
- Pricing a little steep
- No free domain names
WPX Hosting Past 30 Days Response Speed
3. WP Engine
WP Engine is another big name in the managed WordPress hosting business and has a reputation as firm as Kinsta. Their excellent WordPress support staff will be able to resolve almost any problems quickly plus they have incorporated several optimizations to further increase performance.
The service is also agency, freelancer and developer-friendly and allows environments for development, staging and production. Their ancillary services include free backups and restores, CDN access and even free SSL certificates and premium themes.
WP Engine Pros
- Genesis framework
- WordPress-specialized support
- Developer-friendly environment
- Automated SSL certificates
- Free StudioPress themes
WP Engine Cons
- No email hosting available
- Only WordPress plans available
- Some limitations on plugins
- No white-glove site migration
- Relatively expensive
WP Engine Hosting Past 30 Days Response Speed
Although SiteGround offers a full range of web hosting plans their WordPress specific plans are all managed. They also have the distinction of being one of only three web hosts recommended by WordPress.com.
Their WordPress plans all come with many features such as automated updates and backups, WordPress SuperCacher, plus free SSL certificate and CDN access. Their pricing may be a little higher than the average host that offers WordPress hosting though.
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Choice of five server locations
- Highly scalable plans
- Excellent customer support via live chat
- Automated backups with self-restore
- Free site migration for new customers
- HTTP/2 enabled in all plans
- Free SiteBuilder
- Shared plans offer limited storage
- Relatively high renewal prices
- Limited developer options on some plans
SiteGround Past 30 Days Response Speed
5. InMotion Hosting
Perhaps a provider with one of the most prolific spread of hosting plans, Inmotion Hosting also has a strong focus on WordPress hosting. They offer semi-managed WordPress hosting plans that have some of the benefits of managed plans but come in at much more reasonable rates.
In fact, these semi-managed WordPress plans still offer automated updates, patches, and backups but cost perhaps only a dollar or so more per month than their standard shared hosting services. This makes then an interesting middle ground for users who are seeking a compromise between managed and unmanaged WordPress hosting.
InMotion Hosting Pros
- Extremely scalable
- Choice of website builders
- 90-day money back guarantee
- Free website migration services
- Free domain name with all plans
- $150 worth of free advertising credits
- Free AutoSSL
- Safe application rollback
- Managed and Cloud VPS plans available
- VPS plans come with three dedicated IP addresses
InMotion Hosting Cons
- eCommerce features only on POWER plans and above
- Only US-based data centers
- No instant account activation
InMotion Hosting Past 30 Days Response Speed
Conclusion: It Boils Down to Budget
The reality of unmanaged versus managed WordPress hosting is in many cases merely a comparison of convenience. Yes, there are certain areas which can’t be replaced easily such as specific performance enhancing features, but fine tuning can still be done in other ways.
At the end of the day the challenge that many people must struggle with is around the issue of price. Managed WordPress hosting can work out to become a relatively expensive long-term endeavor. Because of this, many people may opt for unmanaged hosting.
What I do want to say is that if your business can afford it, or your site generates enough revenue to cover it, do give managed WordPress hosting a serious thought. Some of the features offered can be very beneficial in the long run and the improved performance may very well pay for the service over time.