Is managed WordPress hosting worth it? That’s likely a question on your mind when comparing prices of different hosting options for your site.
First, what is managed hosting? In short, it means you’re handing your web server over to the company. They’ll take care of the setup, maintenance, and any errors that arise. Many managed hosts take a more hands-on approach as well, giving you direct support and optimizations on your website when needed.
Meanwhile, unmanaged hosting is more like renting out a space. You’re more free to do as you like, but the setup and maintenance of all but the physical server is on you.
For that reason, managed hosting is often the superior choice for most websites. But there are downsides to it too, like the higher average cost.
Wondering which you should choose? Let’s find out if managed WordPress hosting is really worth it.
The Case for Managed WordPress Hosting
When it’s time to pick a web host for your new site, you have quite a few options. But oftentimes, a managed host is the best, especially for beginners.
There’s just so many upsides; they take away all the pain of website setup and maintenance, leaving you time to focus on your content. And with managed WordPress hosts, you can get even more specialized support when anything goes wrong. If you go with unmanaged hosting instead, you’re on your own.
Setting up a website on a hosting server can be difficult, especially if you’re using a CMS like WordPress. Sometimes you can just purchase hosting, buy a domain name, and start working on your site without issue. Other times, you’ll need to do more confusing things like change your DNS address or upload and configure WordPress.
And if you go totally unmanaged, you’ll need to configure the entire server manually. To get WordPress running, that means manually downloading PHP, Apache, and any other systems it needs.
With managed hosting, none of this will be a concern. The difficult setup tasks will be taken care of for you, and WordPress comes preinstalled on the server. If you do have trouble, helpful support is at your fingertips to work it out.
Expert Support for Every Issue
Running a website is a tough task, and inevitably, problems are going to crop up in the back end. When that happens, troubleshooting the issue on your own can be extremely frustrating.
All web hosts provide some form of support no matter how inexpensive they are. Yet, expert support is the hallmark of managed hosting.
When it comes to support, you definitely get what you pay for. Purchasing managed hosting means your tickets will process in minutes or hours, not days. And the quality of support will likely be better as well. Many managed hosts also offer support through live chat, email, and phone, so you can do whatever you’re comfortable with.
Besides just pointing you in the right direction, many are also willing to dive into the code and fix the problem. These days, not everyone running a website has extensive IT experience. If you want to ensure that help is available when you’ll need it, a managed host is the best choice.
Superior Speed and Optimization
Cheap shared hosting is slow, and that’s a fact. While it’s definitely possible to get a high-quality server for little money, these solutions are often unmanaged, which means you get none of the benefits listed here.
One thing that makes managed WordPress hosting worth it are their blazing fast speeds and highly optimized servers. They’ve been working with WordPress for years, and they know exactly how to configure everything to get it running smoothly.
And as your site grows, the benefits only increase. Many cheaper hosts struggle to handle a large website with hundreds of thousands of pageviews per month. But managed hosts with their superior optimization will keep things running well no matter how large you grow.
Many managed hosts also give you free access to a CDN, a service which can normally be quite expensive. CDNs reroute your site through various networks around the world. This allows visitors to download it from the closes location, so your site will load fast internationally.
Security is Out of Your Hands
Security is a huge issue for WordPress. Small WordPress sites are very likely to be the target of a hack or brute force attempt. Since they tend to use low quality web hosting and fail to reinforce their back end, they are easy pickings.
Managed hosts take care of the bulk of this for you. You don’t need to worry about insecure, poorly-set up servers opening you up to exploits. No one should be able to break through your host’s defenses. And even if they do, you have great hands-on support to help you get everything back in working order fast.
DDoS and brute force attacks are also minimized, as managed hosts have access to quality anti-DDoS programs that are always on the lookout for strange sources of traffic. So if you’re having trouble with that, switching to a managed host can take it all off your mind.
That’s not to say that you don’t need to worry about security yourself. Bad practices can still result in you losing access to your site. So always make sure you have a good security plugin (if your managed host does not provide one). Also, use strong, separate passwords for your hosting account and WordPress admin.
Scalable Plans for Anyone
The problem with many web hosts is that they’re not scalable. When your site begins to grow in traffic, upgrading your plan may be impossible. After a while, you end up shuffling between different hosts, trying to find one that can handle you. That means constant downtime and annoyed visitors.
This may not sound like something to worry about when you’re first starting out. Yet, it can turn into a huge problem if your site grows very popular in a short span of time. The influx of visitors can lead to crashing and slow loading times. By the time you have it fixed, people may have lost interest.
Managed WordPress hosts tend to work with cloud platforms, which means resources scale infinitely and instantaneously. Allocating more resources as you need them is no trouble at all, and many hosts have the ability to handle bursts of temporary high traffic as well.
Planning ahead is important. Go with a host that is scalable before it becomes a problem.
Maintenance and Plenty of Extras
When running a website, maintenance is often what takes up so much time. There are many little things you need to take care of. Plus, if you’re not very experienced, you might not know how to do it.
Managed hosts offer a variety of different extra features to help keep your site in tip-top shape. While many providers may offer a few of these, often for an extra fee, managed hosts tend to give you a whole range of helpful tools to work with.
Among these are backups, which create snapshots of your site you can return to if it breaks. An SSL certificate is usually part of the package to add another layer of security to your site. In addition to that, you get staging sites for testing, and analytics on your hosting dashboard.
You may also get several developer tools like SFTP and SSH access, WP-CLI, and more. These can be very helpful if you need to access the back end of your site to configure settings or upload files. Setting them up yourself is normally a bit difficult.
Many of these extra features are just a nice bonus and not strictly necessary. Yet, sometimes they make managed hosting for your WordPress site worth it on their own.
Cons of Managed Hosting
Managed hosting isn’t always the perfect choice. While it’s the safe way to go for a majority of people, those who are familiar with web hosting and prefer to take their site’s control into their own hands may not be fond of it.
Less Control Over Your Site
Managed hosts keep a much tighter lockdown on their server settings and configurations. This goes for most web hosts, in fact, except for unmanaged servers. If you need to get into the server to reconfigure something that’s broken, you’re often out of luck and stuck relying on the support team to get back to you.
On the other hand, they do usually give you SFTP and even SSH access to your server. Consequently, for all but experienced developers trying to do advanced or unusual things with their websites, the lack of server control won’t be a problem.
But if you know you’re going to need direct server access, an unmanaged host is the better solution. If you’re just setting up your blog or small business, you usually don’t need to worry about it.
Banned Plugins and Software
With a managed host’s extensive list of server optimizations comes a slew of banned plugins and disabled functions that render many more unusable.
The reason for this is often justified; software like caching plugins could break the server-side caching already in place, so those are banned. Others may take up huge amounts of resources or allow you to execute malicious code on the server.
Before going with managed WordPress hosting, you should check to see if they have a list of banned plugins or PHP functions. Usually this won’t cause issues for you. But if you use a plugin on that list that’s irreplaceable, you’ll need to try a different host.
Besides dedicated servers, managed plans are about as expensive as hosting gets. That’s not to say that it’s totally unaffordable, especially if you’re choosing the starter plan. However, it’s definitely more expensive than a simple shared hosting or unmanaged plan.
These costs are reflected in the extra features, the support and free developer help in the case of a problem, and the superior server speeds.
But if you want to save as much money as possible and don’t care about the difficulty of using unmanaged hosting or the slowness of shared hosting, a managed plan may not be the best choice.
Moving is Difficult
Managed hosts’ little server optimizations can sometimes cause yet another problem. If you ever do decide to migrate away from your managed host, you’ll likely have to deal with a whole list of changes to undo. If the host even documents the changes they made, that is.
For instance, many managed hosts will bake in changes to the
wp-config.php file, using custom functions that will only parse correctly in their hosting environment. Move to a new host, and suddenly this data becomes unreadable and can even break your site.
Luckily, it’s usually just a matter of replacing these core WordPress files with fresh ones, leaving your actual content untouched. But it can still be a huge annoyance.
So, is It Worth Going for Managed WordPress Hosting?
Taking all this into account, who should get managed WordPress hosting? And who should stick with unmanaged hosting or a cheaper plan?
First: People who shouldn’t get managed hosting. If you’re a developer who needs absolute control over the server, especially if you’re experimenting and not just setting up a run-of-the-mill blog or online store, unmanaged hosting is likely best.
There’s also the cost to worry about. If managed hosting is just too expensive for you, shared hosting or cheaper cloud hosting (without all the managed amenities like free support or backups) would be a better alternative.
On the other hand, if you want a service that will take care of all the annoying bits and leave you time to focus on building up your website, managed hosting is the perfect solution. It’s great for beginners to WordPress who may struggle with maintaining their site as well as large businesses who need stellar support and a scalable solution to web hosting.
Managed Hosting: A Comprehensive Solution
Do you need managed hosting? In short: If you have the budget for it, a managed WordPress plan provides great support, better speed and security. It also comes with extras like free backups and SSL certificates that will make your life much easier.
While it’s definitely not perfect in every way, especially if you value control over your server, managed hosting is a good all-around solution for nearly every hosting problem.
Do your think managed WordPress hosting is worth it? Share your opinion in the comments.