Given WordPress’s status as the web’s most popular self-hosted blogging platform, it’s no surprise that the managed WordPress hosting business is booming.
For a monthly fee up to seven times the cost of shared hosting, many providers offer feature-rich hosting packages built especially for WordPress users. The question, of course, is whether extra features warrant the extra cost.
Here, we’ll discuss why you might opt for managed WordPress hosting. We’ll also look at some popular shared hosts, compare their plans to WordPress-centric alternatives, and help you determine which hosting arrangement best suits your needs.
Managed WordPress hosting benefits
WordPress web hosting is a mixed bag. The extent to which a provider “manages” your WordPress installation varies quite a bit, and different hosts emphasize different feature sets in an effort to appeal to specific markets.
That being said, there are some fundamental benefits nearly all managed WordPress hosts deliver; they include:
- Faster speeds: Servers configured for WordPress, whether private or shared, really can make your website faster. Nearly all WordPress hosting providers use server configurations that speed up load times. Some boost speed even further with built-in caching, so you don’t have to fiddle with caching plugins.
- Enhanced security: Hosts scan your site periodically for malware and offer advanced security features that prevent hackers from accessing your site at all (these features vary among providers). In the event malware does weasel its way into your website, many hosts will remove it for no additional charge.
- Comprehensive support: Customer support techs will know WordPress inside and out. You can ask them WordPress questions in addition to more general hosting-related questions.
- Automatic updates: Most managed hosting providers test WordPress updates and implement them for you, so security updates become an afterthought.
Shared web hosting benefits
“Shared” hosting refers to an arrangement in which your website lives on the same server as others’ websites. The primary benefit of this arrangement is more sites for less cost – and for small publishers, cost savings can be a serious deal breaker.
Here’s a rundown of a few popular shared hosts’ least expensive hosting packages. When it comes to costs and features, they all look really similar.
Most shared hosting packages include comparable “extras” like unlimited email accounts, one-click WordPress installs, and automated backups, too. What you lose, of course, are the premium support, security features, and server configurations that managed WordPress hosting delivers.
Some publishers genuinely need those additional features, but do you need them? Ask yourself:
- Do high traffic levels or the anticipated growth of my site warrant investment in managed hosting? When you start receiving regular, heavy traffic, a shared server or a server that’s not optimized for WordPress can slow speeds to a crawl.
- Do I spend a lot of time on the phone with support? If you experience regular problems with your site or find that you need ongoing WordPress support, it might be time for managed WordPress hosting. Even if the host doesn’t offer 24/7 phone support, having fewer problems in the first place would be an optimal tradeoff.
- Am I disappointed in my host for some other reason? From billing issues to poor support to frequent downtime, people switch hosts for a variety of reasons. Having problems with a shared hosting provider doesn’t always mean you should switch to managed WordPress hosting, though. Determine whether the problem is something managed hosting might solve; otherwise, just try a new shared host.
If you answered no to all three of those questions, you probably don’t need managed WordPress hosting – and that’s good news! Shared hosting is perfectly adequate for most bloggers and small publishers, which means you don’t need to pay a premium to keep your site online.
As your audience grows and traffic increases, it might make sense to pay more for a feature-rich hosting package. But hang tight for now. When you’re ready for managed WordPress hosting, you’ll know it. Changing web hosts will be a natural step in the ongoing management of your content, and you won’t need a provider’s marketing literature to convince you to switch.
And remember: web hosting is just a tool. A great host doesn’t make a great website – that’s your job. Choose a host that gets out of the way so you can connect with your readers.