As the popularity of WordPress is growing, along with it is emerging a new type of web hosting known as managed WordPress hosting. As you might know, WordPress has more than 60% share among all CMS’ and powers more than 35% of all global websites. Due to this, a specialized web hosting focused solely on WordPress websites is gaining popularity.
In this article, I will describe what is managed WordPress hosting and answer the question whether it is worth investing in a WordPress managed hosting provider or not?
Traditional Web Hosting and Its Drawbacks
To understand managed WordPress hosting, we need to know how traditional web hosting works and what are its limitations.
Usually, we host our websites with hosting companies that are platform-neutral. Therefore, these hosting companies host all types of sites, whether running on WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, etc.
This type of hosting is best suited for users who manage multiple websites on different platforms. So, one of their sites could be running on WordPress, another on Drupal, the third on Joomla, and so on.
However, if you manage only one type of website, let’s say WordPress, then this type of generic web hosting is not optimal for your needs. Why is it so? Because each CMS requires its unique server configuration to run optimally.
Additionally, generic web hosting companies offer non-specialized tech support, which is not optimized for WordPress. This may cause frustration if your support queries are not resolved timely and to your satisfaction.
For more information on the different types of hosting, read this post on managed and unmanaged web hosting.
Now that we have seen how traditional web hosting functions let us address the most crucial question.
What is Managed WordPress Hosting?
A managed WordPress hosting setup is specifically tuned or optimized for WordPress websites and takes care of several tasks for you. These managed tasks include:
- Enabling easy management using a custom control panel
- Optimized server configuration for handling WordPress websites
- Host your WordPress site on a custom-built content delivery network (CDN)
- Rock-solid security that includes malware scanning and mitigation
- Daily automated backups of your WordPress website
- Expert WordPress site migration
- Staging area to test changes
- Managed email services
- Specialized WordPress support
You might be wondering what is the difference between the managed WordPress hosting plans offered by traditional hosting companies and the managed WordPress hosting companies like Kinsta, WP Engine, Cloudways or WPX Hosting? This question should be addressed since every hosting company worth its salt offers managed WordPress plans these days.
The difference is quite subtle. Even if the generic web hosting companies offer managed WordPress hosting, their setup is not WordPress-specific. They have not configured their servers specifically for WordPress and nor do they provide specialized WordPress support.
These companies host websites running on other platforms along with WordPress websites on the same servers! In short, they are just cashing in on the popularity of WordPress by labeling their standard hosting plans as WordPress hosting.
Managed WordPress hosting companies, on the other hand, do not host non-WordPress websites on their servers so they can focus on providing an outstanding WordPress experience to their clients.
Advantages of Managed WordPress Hosting
Now that you have a good idea of WordPress managed hosting and how it works, it’s time to look into its benefits.
1. Custom-built user interface
The first advantage of hosting your website with a managed WordPress hosting provider is the WordPress-specific setup, which speeds up your WordPress website loading times. With generic web hosting, you are provided a standard user interface running on cPanel or some other control panel.
Such a type of control panel includes many options that are either confusing for non-geeky users or have no relevance for WordPress sites. You also need to jump through multiple hoops to reach the setting or option that you are looking for.
Managed WordPress hosting providers, on the other hand, provide a custom-built user interface, which is easy to navigate and is stripped off the complex and unnecessary options found in generic web hosting control panels.
Using this interface, you can perform multiple tasks like installing WordPress with one click, installing SSL certificates, making changes to your DNS, configuring the webmail, and so on.
In short, if you prefer ease of use over a cluttered interface, you will enjoy working with custom-built control panels.
2. Servers configured for optimized WordPress hosting
It is no secret that some of the fastest websites run on managed WordPress servers with LiteSpeed configuration. Managed WordPress hosting companies fine-tune their servers for maximum WordPress compatibility.
For instance, our managed hosting provider, runs a Linux + LiteSpeed + MySQL + PHP configuration to offer fast website speeds. What is important to note is that a quality managed hosting provider will host its infrastructure using the latest hardware and software setup with abundant resources for the websites hosted on its servers.
How does generic shared hosting stack up here?
Generic hosting providers do not offer WordPress optimized configuration on their basic plans. Additionally, to maximize their profits, they host a large number of websites on a single server that degrades the performance of other sites on that server.
This does not mean that managed WordPress hosting uses dedicated servers to host your website. Here too, your website shares resources with other websites.
However, the critical differentiator is that the number of websites hosted on a single server is quite limited. Also, server resources like memory and computing power are dynamically allocated between different websites so as not to negatively impact the performance of other sites on the shared server.
3. High-speed Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Speed is one of the primary reasons to choose a managed WordPress hosting provider. The other is security, which we will see later.
Right now, let us look into the CDN advantage. Every managed WordPress hosting provider usually offers its custom-built CDN, which reduces your website latency considerably.
A quality CDN further reduces your website load times since the webpages are served from the location closest to the user instead of the datacentre (server) that could be located thousands of miles away.
Again, I am citing the example of WPX Hosting, which we have been using since 2017. WPX Hosting provides 25 endpoints as part of its CDN across all habitable continents of the World, free of charge, to its customers.
Due to this, not only do our webpages load under 2 seconds, but we also save on expenses that we would have incurred on buying additional bandwidth and external CDN services.
4. Rock-solid security
WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) in the World and also the favorite target of hackers and malicious bots. On top of this, denial of service (DoS) attacks are constantly on the rise.
In this scenario, the security of your WordPress website is of paramount importance. A managed WordPress hosting company worth the salt will provide rock-solid security features to its clients.
These security features usually include a web application firewall (WAF) at the server level, DDoS attack prevention, malware scanning, and removal. If a managed hosting provider does not offer these essential security features or charges for them, it should serve as a red sign for you.
Malware scanning and removal is a definite advantage if you can get it as part of your hosting package. I know this since one of my websites was the target of a malware attack when I used to host with a generic hosting company a long time back.
To get the malicious scripts removed, I had to pay Sucuri a good amount back then. You can save yourself this trouble by getting a managed host that scans and removes malware on your site, free of cost.
While on the topic of security, I will suggest that you should pick a hosting company that provides free and unlimited SSL certificates for all your websites.
The Google Chrome browser displays a non-secure warning in the address bar on non-SSL pages, and this conveys a poor image of your website security to your visitors. To avoid this, you should have an SSL certificate installed on your website.
Nowadays, most hosting companies provide free SSL certificates to their clients. Nevertheless, you should still check out this primary feature while hunting for the right managed hosting company.
Fortunately, WPX Hosting offers all these features across all hosting plans at no additional cost.
5. Daily automated backups
I have to admit that daily backup is not an exclusive WordPress hosting feature since many generic web hosting companies offer daily automated backups.
However, it is vital that your website is backed up daily at the server level itself without requiring any intervention from your end. Besides, it goes without saying that these automated backups should be free, and you should not be required to pay additional charges for backups.
Therefore, when you’re hunting for the right managed hosting company, make sure you look out this core feature.
6. Managed website migration
One of the perks of managed WordPress hosting includes stress-free and flawless website migration from your previous host to your current host. Almost all managed hosting providers offer free website migrations.
The only catch is that there could be some limits on the number of websites migrated for free. For instance, WP Engine does not offer to migrate your websites for free on any of their plans. But, they do provide a complete guide and the necessary tools for DIY migration.
In the case of Kinsta and WPX Hosting, both offer to migrate as many sites as are supported by the plan you choose. So, let’s say you select the starter Business plan with 5 WordPress installs.
Then the WPX team will migrate up to 5 websites for free. To migrate your website, all you need to do is open a support ticket once you have purchased a hosting plan.
7. Staging area to test changes to your website
If you are managing a site that gets a few hundred visitors daily, you wouldn’t want to make changes to your website on the fly. This could leave a poor impression of your website on your visitors and dampen their experience, which in turn could result in higher bounce rates.
Hence, you should test your changes and new features or layout on a staging site specifically setup for this purpose. Managed WordPress hosts invariably include staging areas for your websites where you can play around.
Once you have finalized the changes, you can merge the staging site with your live website, at the click of a button. Your site visitors will not experience any downtime and will see only the final version of your website, and not have to go through the intermittent changes that you make.
8. Managed email services
As a website owner, you need a professional @yourdomain.com webmail. But this feature is not included for free by default by many managed WordPress hosting providers, and you might need to either pay for it or purchase webmail service from your domain name provider.
Our managed hosting provider, provides unlimited domain email accounts for free with catch-all features. This means you can create one email, say [email protected], and set it to be your catch-all email.
If you can sign up for a managed hosting provider that provides free email service, you will save on recurring email costs across all your domains.
9. Specialized WordPress support
Poor support is usually the turning point for many users to switch their web hosting providers. It was for us, at least, that made us change 4 web hosts in 7 years until we settled on a managed WordPress hosting provider.
But why do generic hosting companies provide poor or less than satisfactory support as compared to managed WordPress companies?
It’s because generic hosting companies have to cater to clients using different CMS’s like WordPress, Drupal, Magento, Joomla, etc. Hence, their support executives have to be a jack of all trades and are master of none.
Now compare this with the support quality of a managed WordPress hosting provider. Since these companies only support WordPress websites, their support executives have in-depth WordPress knowledge and can troubleshoot your problems within minutes, no matter how complex they might appear.
We should know since we have never faced any problem that couldn’t be resolved by the WPX team within minutes and, sometimes, within seconds of starting a chat query.
Speaking of chat, you should ensure that the managed hosting provider you choose offers 24X7 chat support across all plans since a downtime could hit your website any time of the night, even on weekends.
The 9 managed services I have explained above may not be offered by all hosting companies. However, this is the Gold standard of managed WordPress hosting and what you should expect from a high-quality, managed hosting provider.
Do You Need Managed WordPress Hosting?
Now that we have seen the advantages of managed WordPress hosting, it is time to address the most critical question: Do you require managed WordPress hosting?
Your replies to the following questions will provide the answer:
- Do you plan to launch or are actively managing websites running on WordPress?
- Do you need a custom user interface with the 1-click install and easy to navigate options?
- Are you planning to launch a blog (on any topic) or an eCommerce store?
- Do you need fast web hosting that delivers your WordPress pages quickly?
- Do you need a secure hosting environment, specially tuned to protect your WordPress website?
- Do you need qualified WordPress tech support that is available at your beck and call, 24X7?
If you answered yes to most of the questions, you should go ahead and choose a quality managed WordPress hosting provider. Not many managed WordPress hosts offer all the features I have listed above, but some like Cloudways offer these features at an affordable price.
Is Managed WordPress Hosting Worth It?
Managed WordPress hosting is pricier than traditional web hosting. However, this additional cost provides complete peace of mind since many services that you would need to perform yourself are taken care of by WordPress experts.
This way, you can save precious time and money. In my detailed review of WPX Hosting, I have explained in detail how our hosting provider has helped us save thousands of dollars over the past 3 years.
We have saved on SSL certificates, domain email, malware removal services, DDoS protection, CDN costs, and additional bandwidth costs.
Based on our 3+ years’ experience, I can confidently say that managed WordPress hosting is worth every penny. It is a long-term investment you make in managing a high-performing website that, in turn, provides a superior experience to your users and customers.
On the other hand, managed WordPress hosting is not the right choice if:
- You are only planning to test the blogging waters currently
- You plan to start a hobby blog and do not intend to monetize it
- You do not expect more than a few thousand visits per month to your website or blog
In this scenario, you can proceed with a shared hosting provider like Dreamhost that offers the right balance of performance and features coupled with outstanding support.
Managed WordPress Hosting Summary
WordPress managed hosting has many advantages that traditional web hosting lacks. If you’re going to stick with WordPress for a long time, I will advise you to choose the right WordPress hosting provider to keep your WordPress website running fast, secure, and at a price that doesn’t burn a hole through your pocket.
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