WordPress deserves all the praise it gets for enabling businesses of all sizes to get started on their website journey. But running and maintaining a successful website is a lot harder than just designing a pretty-looking site.
Be it WordPress or any other platform, one of the biggest factors in ensuring the successful functioning of a website is the hosting it relies on. For WordPress in particular, managed hosting is fast emerging as the best option.
What is managed WordPress hosting – and what are its pros and cons? We will answer these questions and more through this article.
What is managed WordPress hosting?
As the name suggests, managed hosting is where your website is completely “managed” by your WordPress hosting company. In other words, they are fully responsible for performing all WordPress maintenance tasks such as applying security updates, taking backups, handling any increase in traffic, and more.
As compared to other forms of website hosting, managed hosts offer a more focused and hands-on approach to optimizing your website performance.
For all this talk, is managed WordPress hosting worth it? Let us check out both its pros and cons.
Pros of managed WordPress hosting
Let us first look at some advantages of managed WordPress hosting:
1. Automatic website setup
For most WordPress site owners, setting up (or configuring) your website on a hosting server can be a manual and challenging task. Manual setups often include downloading various WordPress tools and the latest releases of Apache and PHP. On the other hand, managed hosts offer automatic setups that are easier to configure – as most WordPress components that you require are preinstalled on their servers. Additionally, they offer 24/7 support (in case the setup process goes wrong).
2. Better WordPress support
With managed hosts, WordPress site owners can expect to receive timely troubleshooting support from the hosting company’s customer service team. Additionally, thanks to their specialized focus on WordPress, they are in a better position to resolve customer queries and complaints.
3. Better website caching
As most managed hosts work specifically for WordPress sites, they implement measures that improve their performance. An example of this is the use of server-level or website caching features that can enable faster loading of the website. Additionally, server-level caching also consumes lesser server resources and bandwidth when managing hosted websites.
4. Website staging
This is one of the most popular features that managed hosts offer. WordPress updates are often known to cause sites to break. This is why any changes or updates are recommended to be done on a copy of the original site to avoid breaking it and causing subsequent downtime on the live website. However, setting up a separate testing or staging environment can be a lot of work.
Managed hosts provide a staging environment which is an exact copy of your live website – where you can test all changes before merging them with the live site.
5. Automatic & manual backups
With managed hosts, your backups are scheduled and taken off your plate so you can focus on other things. Managed hosts offer backups so you don’t have to spend additional time and effort on setting up backups as part of your website maintenance.
6. Automatic updates
While the importance of on-time WordPress updates is known to most users, managed WordPress hosts can automate this process – by automatically applying WordPress (and plugin/theme) updates whenever they are released. This, in turn, means better website speed, performance, security, and functionality.
7. Better servers and speed
The role of website speed in ensuring better user experience and engagement can’t be stressed enough. Websites with growing traffic and a steady stream of new features and functionalities require high-speed and optimized web servers, which are part of most managed hosting plans.
Managed hosting companies that work specifically with WordPress sites have the expertise to optimize their servers for maximum speed and performance. Additionally, managed hosts provide their customers with free access to Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) for faster content loading.
8. Better WordPress security
Security is a major concern for WordPress site owners, as WordPress websites constantly face the threats of malware and attacks by hackers, especially brute force attacks. Managed hosts offer better security by monitoring suspicious activity, or periodic site scanning for any threats and regular website backups to prepare for the worst. Additionally, some managed hosts offer SSL certificates or firewall protection to block unwanted or suspicious traffic to your website.
While these security measures are a definite benefit, these features are not exhaustive enough to secure your site — simply because cybersecurity is a whole different ball game. WordPress security needs dedicated expertise and attention that WordPress security plugins specialize in.
For instance, security plugins like MalCare have advanced algorithms that go beyond signature matching to detect as-yet unknown or rare malware. Additionally, their scanning methods can narrow down the exact location of the malware so it can be removed with zero impact on the other aspects of a website.
These security plugins combine multiple advanced features — such as inbuilt firewalls with geo-blocking and back-end WordPress hardening — to ensure the highest level of security for WordPress websites.
9. Easy-to-access dashboards
Finally, what makes WordPress managed hosting worth it for users is that they now have a centralized and seamless user experience. With these dashboards, users can avail of a wide variety of information including incoming traffic, installed plugins/themes, configured users, and much more.
10. Better SEO
Can WordPress managed hosting affect SEO rankings? While there’s no direct Google SEO benefit from using managed hosting, at the end of the day, good SEO is about following practices that ensure the best experience and value for search engine users. For instance, page speed is an important factor in Google search rankings. The stability and loading time of your website depend on its web hosting servers.
Simply put, the quality of service you get from managed web hosting providers, such as performance, speed, availability, uptime, and security, ensure that your SEO efforts yield good results.
Now that we’ve had a chance to look at the benefits of managed hosting, let us discuss a few of the cons next.
Cons of managed WordPress hosting
Here are the few disadvantages of using a managed WordPress hosting:
1. High costs
As compared to other forms of hosting, managed hosting does come at an extra cost. On average, managed hosts cost between $10-30 a month, which can be expensive if you are running a single WordPress site.
2. More restrictions
If you are looking for complete flexibility in managing your website, then managed hosting may not be the best choice. This is because, with this hosting, the hosting provider takes over complete website management – including optimizing its speed and performance. This can be a hindrance for tech-savvy WordPress users who want to manage their websites on their own.
With the pros and cons laid out, it’s time to ask the important question: Is Managed WordPress hosting worth it? The answer: it depends.
When is Managed WordPress Hosting Worth the Extra Cost?
Is WordPress managed hosting really worth it? Here are a few questions that can help you decide:
Do you have many websites?
Are you managing more than 30 websites? If yes, then managed hosting (for all sites) can be an expensive affair. It could be worth it if all your websites are generating good revenue. Else, just move your more “valuable” websites to a managed host.
Is your website traffic low?
Is the incoming traffic to your website low? If yes, then a managed host may not be necessary for now. Plus, low-traffic websites, like a personal blog, can work even with slow loading so they may not need the additional expenses that come with managed hosting.
Are you on a budget?
This one’s straightforward. If you’re on a tight budget or you’re just starting out, your initial budget might be better spent on other business activities till your website starts gaining more popularity.
Are you running testing or development sites?
Are you creating a website only for some product development or testing purposes? Yes, then you surely don’t need all the functionalities of a full-scale managed host. In this scenario, a cost-effective shared host is a better alternative.
Top managed WordPress hosts
Finally, here is a look at the leading managed hosts for WordPress sites:
1. WP Engine
With over 1.2 million hosted websites, WP Engine offers a reliable hosting platform that offers benefits like faster page loading, cybersecurity, 24/7 uptime, and accelerated development. You can choose from various plans ranging from $30 a month to up to $290.
Acquired by WP Engine in 2019, Flywheel offers a seamless hosting experience to its clients. Some of its functionalities include an intuitive dashboard, nightly backups, and free SSL certification. The entry-level plan from Flywheel is priced at a low $15 a month – while other plans are priced at $30, $115 (for 10 sites), and $290 (for 30 sites).
Kinsta is another popular and fully managed hosting platform with built-in features like Cloudflare security, website migrations, daily backups, and Google Cloud infrastructure. While their entry-level package is priced at $30 a month, Kinsta offers additional plans priced at $60, $100, and $200.
Hosting websites of reputed brands like Marriott and Experian, Pagely is the pioneer of managed hosting technology. It is packed with high-end features like maximum uptime, scalability, and third-party integration with AWS and GitLab. Pagely is more expensive with its entry-level plan priced at $190 a month and higher plans priced at $299, $499, $999, and $2500.
Siteground offers a cost-effective hosting platform that lies midway between a shared host and a full-scale managed host. On its part, Siteground is packed with features like unmetered traffic, CDN, free SSL certification, automatic migration, and 24/7 support. While the start-up plan is priced at just $6.99 for a month, higher plans are priced at $9.99 and $14.99.
We hope this article helps you evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of managed WordPress hosting so you can make the best decision for your business as it stands today.
If your site is new, you’re seeing low traffic and limited content in the short term, and if you have the time and resources to maintain your website, managed hosting is something you can invest in down the line. But if you run a high traffic or dynamic website like an eCommerce site, managed WordPress hosting might well be worth the additional investment to take your business to the next level.