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If you are starting a new WordPress website and still in the process of choosing a web hosting service for it, you may be baffled by the many options and companies out there. But before you get to deciding on a specific provider to sign up with, you first need to determine if you want to go with a managed or a non-managed plan.
The main difference between the two options is that with managed WordPress hosting, the provider takes care of most of the technical tasks and measures of installing and operating WordPress, while with non-managed plans the host will only be responsible for providing and maintaining the server resources, and you’ll have to setup and maintain your WordPress installation on your own.
Below we will look at some of the most important features and advantages that usually come with managed WP hosting.
East Setup and Migration
Whether you are setting up a brand new website from scratch or migrating an existing website from another web host, managed plans do all the work for you. New WordPress installation is usually done automatically and only takes a few clicks. Migrating a website from another hosting company can be a tricky job as many things can potentially go wrong, especially when working with large and complex websites, such as e-commerce sites.
Managed hosting should include free and complete migration assistance from a skilled team who can ensure that the process will be done properly and that there will be no (or minimal) downtime during the transition.
User-Friendly Control Panel
Shared hosting services typically come with cPanel, which despite being the best web hosting control panel on the market, it comes with so many features and tools that may not be needed for WordPress websites, and could be a little confusing for beginners who have little experience working with this panel.
On the other hand, managed WordPress plans often come with an easy-to-use custom control panel that only includes functions and tools needed for WordPress management. This makes it more user-friendly for website owners who just want to focus on their website rather than messing around with server software and settings.
Better Performance and Speed
Companies that sell managed WP hosting optimize the software and architecture of their servers to work specifically with WordPress and no other content management system or software. This means you can expect significant improvement in the performance and loading speed of your website when you use a service that is well optimized to work with WordPress, which can be quite demanding in terms of server resources. This is particularly evident when dealing with e-commerce websites, which require much more computing power than a regular website.
Caching and CDN
Server-side caching can dramatically improve your website’s loading speed by serving static, cached pages that don’t eat up your server’s precious resources (CPU & RAM). With non-managed plans, you’ll have to install and configure a third-party plugin to achieve this, but with managed plans you get it integrated and properly working right out of the box.
A content delivery network (CDN) is another useful implementation that ensures fast loading of your website to visitors coming from different locations around the world. This also usually comes pre-installed and ready to go with fully managed packages.
Caching and CDN may not be a big deal for personal blog owners, but they do make a big difference when hosting a large e-commerce website that receives thousands of visitors a day.
A staging environment allows you to create an offline copy of your website that you can use for testing purposes. You can use it to test modifications to the WordPress code, theme, plugins, etc. You won’t have to worry about breaking your website because whatever happens in the staging site stays there and is not reflected in the live site, until you decide to publish the changes. This is a standard feature included with managed WordPress with no need to look for third-party plugins that offer it.
Security is often a big concern when working with WordPress, because being the most popular CMS also means it is the most targeted by hackers and spammers. The first thing you have to do to help keep your website secure is to keep your installation up-to-date by promptly applying updates as they are released. Managed hosting saves you from doing that manually by enabling automatic updates to the WP core, as well as any installed themes and plugins.
In addition to automatic updates, you can expect other security features and protections for both your server and website. This normally includes malware scanning and removal, DDoS and brute force protection, file access restrictions, and other security measures that are all implemented and monitored by the host.
They should also keep daily backups of your website that are ready to implement; just in case something goes wrong or you have to undo a recent change made to your website.
Experienced Support Team
Having an expert support team that can quickly fix any sort of technical issues on your server or WordPress installation is the most crucial thing to keep in mind when searching for a web host.
Fully managed WordPress hosting should come with a dedicated technical support team that is well versed with this CMS and all its details. A review published in The Daily Iowan features some hosting companies that provide top-tier technical support for WordPress.
A Couple of Disadvantages
Managed hosting solutions don’t come without cons, and the most obvious of these is the cost. You should expect to pay at least double the average amount you’d pay for non-managed services, and sometimes even much more if you are looking for a premium service.
Another noteworthy disadvantage is that you will have much less access to your server environment and software, since most of the server-side configurations will be controlled by the host. While this may actually be a good thing for the technically inexperienced users, those who prefer to have direct access and control of their server may not like it.
So, those are basically the main positive and negative aspects of managed WordPress hosting. This type of managed service is often more convenient for website owners who have limited technical experience and just want someone else to handle all the technical stuff for them. Of course, features vary from one company to another, so make sure you take a close look at the list of things included before you make up your mind.