If you intend to run a WordPress site, you may have heard of managed WP hosting plans. But what are they and are they so much different from shared hosting? After all, WordPress doesn’t need much to run smoothly.
Managed WP generally costs more than regular shared hosting. You are looking at three-to-five times higher monthly fees, and that is per site. Most shared plans can host several websites simultaneously without additional costs.
It seems a little steep – after all, are the differences really worth the additional cost?
The answer to that question depends on what you want out of your site. If you are running a blog that gets a few hundred hits a month, then no, managed WP hosting is not going to be the right solution for you.
If, on the other hand, you are running a business site, managed hosting plans like those offered by WP Engine, DreamHost, and Bluehost hosting might be the best investment you could make. The price is significantly higher, but like most things in life, you are getting what you pay for.
Here’s why you should consider investing the extra money and ditching shared hosting.
Shared plans are made to work with any application or platform. Managed WP services, on the other hand, are optimised to run specifically WordPress sites. This means that you get a level of performance that you just won’t get with shared hosting.
It is like comparing public transport and a personal car. Both vehicles will get you to where you want to go, but you will get there faster in the car you can drive the way you want.
Managed hosting is built around WordPress and uses caching in place at server level. It works with the most suitable MySQL and PHP versions that are configured to run WordPress sites optimally. This, in turn, helps reduce the time it takes to load the page.
Why is that important? The 47% of customers expect a load time of 2 seconds or less. A delay of as little as a second can reduce conversions by 7%. Let’s put a dollar value on that. Say your business brings in $50,000 a day online. Reducing the conversion rate by 7% would mean a loss of sales in the region of $3,500 a day.
Slower load speeds now also affect visibility in search engines, so if you want your site to be at the top of its game, you need that extra boost of speed.
Again, if your site is nothing more than basic blog or something in this vein, a decent shared hosting – like the one SiteGround has, for instance – would definitely do the trick. For content-heavy sites with frequent updates, membership areas, pictures and whatnot, something with more “oomph” would be needed.
Shared hosting is not the best way to go if you want a completely secure site. This is really where you are getting exactly what you pay for. A shared host takes basic precautions to make sure that the servers are generally safe, but security of your site is mostly up to you.
That is where managed hosting really comes into its own. The increased cost means increased security that goes beyond quick sweeps. Also, because WordPress is the only platform catered for, it can provide more specific protection.
Expect more stringent security procedures, more targeted malware scans, and better protected site in general. One of the most obvious ways security is heightened in managed WP environment are the automatic updates. Plugins and core WordPress install are updated for you. This saves time as well.
However, there is no guarantee that your site won’t be hacked – no one can guarantee that. But, you will be in a better position with a managed host because you receive more directed support.
If you have a technical issue, would you rather go through to a general support department where the staff must be able to deal with any old platform, or would you rather go through to a more specialised support center?
A support team that deals only with WordPress and that knows everything from the version you are running to the plugins that you have added on will be better able to get a bead on the issue. You will get specific advice that helps you solve the problem, rather than a general guess.
The specialized WordPress support is one of the strongest points dedicated WP hosting boasts. Of course, companies like WP Engine have many more perks for the price asked, but the quality support can and does make huge difference.
This is something you find on shared hosting as well. Only the smallest shared plans of certain hosting companies do not allow automatic restorations
If you have to choose just one reason to justify the extra spend, this would be it. With WP managed hosting, the onus is on the company to maintain peak performance and efficiency. It will ensure that the clients are always running the latest and best versions of just about all software.
It can do this easily because it is focusing on just one platform – WordPress.
A managed site is more stable because of its optimised nature.
You will, however, need to check whether or not there are limits in place when it comes to the number of visitors on your site with managed hosting. Some services charge according based on traffic and if you exceed these limits you will be required to upgrade to a higher package or pay extra.
All in all, you are paying a lot more for managed hosting, but if you are serious about running a successful, high-traffic site, it is the best way to go.
Still, if you are just beginning your online journey, with no previous experience in managing and running a website, getting a shared package would make the most sense. The investment is minimal and will show you the ropes without bankrupting you.
Once your site sees the growth you want it to have, migrating over to a managed WordPress environment is the next logical step. Practically all WordPress hosts have inbound migration services so copying over your existing site shouldn’t be much of a hassle, and the upgrade in performance and service will be felt immediately.
This is a guest contribution by Alex Slichnyi, community manager at 99firms.com. He is an avid learner of all things IT. He is a savvy SEO specialist who loves traveling because it allows him to experience hands-on the many facets of life. This hands-on approach can be seen in his work, which is meticulously crafted with daring vision by an open, yet methodical mind that likes to probe, test and improve. Communicating and learning are Alex’s core values that drive him forward.