Hosting is an essential part of any online business. Making sure that you use a plan that’s ideally suited to your needs is crucial to serving a fast, secure website for your visitors. As such, the hosting plan you choose can often directly influence your website’s earnings!
The aim of this article is to compare shared and managed WordPress hosting. Perhaps you’ve come across these terms before, but aren’t yet clear on a few things, like: What are the benefits of managed WordPress hosting? Is it worth the added cost? Is it worth switching from shared to managed, and who are the top managed WordPress hosts? If so, read on!
A Bird’s-Eye View
Before we get into specifics, let’s take a bird’s-eye view at the two services, i.e. shared hosting and managed hosting.
Shared hosting is, by its very nature, the cheapest means of hosting a website. It caters to the most common needs of a huge variety of websites for a very low price — whether they’re powered by WordPress or not.
Managed WordPress hosting, on the other hand, caters to a very specific market (more on this below) by offering both highly-tuned, WordPress-optimized servers and a number of advanced services.
This means — in essence — that managed WordPress hosting is a technically superior form of hosting in almost every way.
The Trouble With Shared Hosting
There are a number of issues with shared hosting, most of which stem from its business model. Although the accounts are cheap, they’re cheap because hundreds (sometimes thousands) of users are put on the same server. This leads to the so-called “bad neighbor effect”.
The server, which houses hundreds of accounts, has a fixed amount of memory. If one website exploits more than its fair share of the available memory, all the other sites housed on the same server will experience issues because of this one “bad neighbor”. This essentially means that one troubled website has the potential to cause thousands of unrelated sites to load slowly, or even — in the worst case scenario — not at all.
On top of that, memory isn’t the only resource that gets divided up on a shared server. Bandwidth, processing power, storage… everything has to be shared between these accounts.
In many cases, hosts may be powerless to resolve the issue. A particularly diligent company may disable a website that’s using too many resources due to inefficient code, for example, but what can they do if a website on the system suddenly experiences a huge traffic surge from social media? Not much!
In a nutshell: Websites on shared hosting are not dependable. What’s more, due to both resource restrictions (remember: resources must be shared) and the fact that shared-hosting environments must, generally speaking, be able to run a large variety of applications (i.e. not only WordPress), they’re very often much slower than their managed WordPress hosting counterparts.
The Advantages Of Managed WordPress Hosting
By moving your site to a managed WordPress host, you’ll not only be able to effectively sidestep the “bad neighbor” problem altogether (more on this below), but also reap a number of very significant added benefits, such as:
BLAZING FAST SPEEDS
Everything about managed hosting servers is optimized to run WordPress. In contrast, shared hosts need to be able to run any kind of platform/application, so they have to forfeit all the WordPress-specific tweaking and fine-tuning that managed WordPress hosts are able to do.
On managed hosting, everything from the hardware to the software is built for WordPress websites. They’ll have server-level caching in place and will likely be running the most optimal version of PHP, MySQL and Apache — all of which will be individually configured to give the best performance possible.
In short, running a website on managed WordPress hosting can often reduce a site’s page-load speed by somewhere in the region of 1-2 seconds or more! Think this is just a drop in the bucket? Studies have shown that a 1-second delay in loading times could cost companies like Amazon $1.6 billion every year!
Whilst your website probably isn’t going to be the size of Amazon anytime soon, there’s almost no doubt that your website’s speed is going to be critical to its success. In short: The faster it is, the better. This is important not only for better customer experience, but also because Google takes a webpage’s speed into account (amongst a whole heap of other factors) when determining where to rank it in search results.
Basic security sweeps are likely performed by shared hosts to ensure that their hundreds of users on each server aren’t hit by all sorts of threats. Managed WP hosting however, takes security to a whole other level.
Increased security protocols, daily malware scans and the ability to ward off all kinds of cyber threats (such as DDoS attacks) are features you’ll find pretty much as-standard on most managed WordPress hosting plans.
At the end of the day, however — no matter how secure your servers are — websites (especially popular ones) still occasionally end up being attacked. If your site is unfortunate enough to get hacked on managed WordPress hosting, you’ll almost certainly be better off since your hosts will likely have both more WordPress-specific know-how and be willing to apply it to get you out of a fix than a general shared host (a little bit more about this further down) will.
I simply can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make regular backups of your site! Luckily, most (if not all) managed WordPress hosting plans include not only automated daily backups, but also features that let you quickly and easily restore to your backups should you ever need to.
Many shared hosting services do offer automatic backups (after a fashion) via cPanel. However, these are almost always stored on the same server; meaning they’re just as susceptible to damage as the original data. In addition, restoring to one of these backups is usually no trivial task.
In contrast, managed WordPress hosting usually offers one-click restores that will bring your whole site back online within minutes, if not seconds!
With managed WordPress hosting, your web server will be managed by professionals whose goal is to ensure things are performing at peak efficiency. Automatic updates cover not only everything from the operating system on the server to PHP and MySQL etc, but also WordPress itself!
This means that you will always be running the latest, most stable and most secure versions of just about everything.
Shared hosting sometimes offers something similar, but with a slight twist. Shared hosting operators will also take care of maintaining your server essentials, however, this will be done far less proactively and primarily include only the operating system, control panel, PHP, MySQL and Apache — at best. It will not, generally, include WordPress — which you will need to maintain yourself.
In short: A shared hosts goal is not to keep you happy. Instead, it’s to keep the maximum number of people on a server happy. Your server will always be optimized to run every possible combination of applications, and not to run one specific platform at peak efficiency.
Support personnel at your shared host may be extremely friendly, but they’re unlikely to be WordPress experts.
Have you ever had issues where the standard response was: ‘Make sure WordPress is updated and make sure you aren’t using bad plugins’? Or that old classic: ‘Try deactivating your plugins one by one to see if one of those is the problem’?
Managed WordPress hosts know exactly what version of WordPress you’re running (since they themselves are the ones maintaining it) and what plugins you have installed. They will usually be able to home in on your problem much more quickly and will, generally speaking, be able to solve issues that shared hosts won’t even get into.
BETTER UPTIME & SCALABILITY
Due to the highly-tuned nature of the setup, your website will be able to handle a much higher number of viewers with a managed WordPress host than it would be able to when running on shared hosting — although keep in mind that many leading hosts, like WPEngine, will have predefined limits on the number of monthly visitors your site will be able to accommodate before being subject to additional charges.
It’s worth mentioning though, that in actual fact, some managed WordPress hosts do, in fact, run their services on shared servers — i.e. some will actually share a portion of the server’s resources with other users. However, if resources are shared, they will be both much, much better allocated between fewer users — meaning that the “bad neighbor effect” is usually all but completely negated. In short, even if you purchase only an entry level managed WordPress hosting account, you will almost certainly still receive a vastly superior level of uptime.
Furthermore, if your site does start to outgrow the particular managed WordPress plan you’ve chosen, technicians will usually soon let you know that you’ll need to consider upgrading to a higher-level of service.
The real benefit here is that since your website is on a standard platform, there will be no migration hassle — unlike when having to move from a shared to a VPS (Virtual Private Server) or dedicated server.
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Source: Winning WP