Let’s face it. The process of getting a website up and running, especially a WordPress site, can be a little overwhelming.
- A domain name has to be selected and registered
- A website hosting plan has to be purchased
Important questions have to be asked, such as:
- Will a domain email address be needed?
- Will the site need to handle electronic sales?
- Are membership features needed?
- What about branding and logos and all of the design aspects?
To be sure, there’s a learning curve.
To save money most people start out with the cheapest hosting option they can find: Shared Hosting.
Who can turn down three or four bucks a month, free domain name, automatic DNS management, unlimited everything, cPanel to manage it, and 24 hour tech support?
You can’t go wrong! Where’s the checkout button!!
Even after the hurdle of getting the site up there’s still more to do.
On Shared Hosting sometimes things break unexpectedly, usually because of an update. This necessitates not only having a backup solution in place but also being able to restore from it when the need arises.
And, then there’s site security. Gone are the days when only your desktop computer might get a virus or malware. WordPress sites are just as vulnerable and if the right security measures are not taken – well, you know the story. Google flags your site as being infected and it seems like it takes forever to clean up the mess.
But not to worry. There’s a new type of hosting provider on the scene.
They only host WordPress websites. As a matter of fact they specialize in it. To boot, they manage the messy bits for you including regular backups, updates, security, and even specialized tech support specifically for WordPress users.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Googling the term “Managed WordPress” will likely show some older articles that use the term in a different context than it has come to be known today.
Some companies that offer traditional cPanel based hosting might be referred to as Managed WordPress in older reviews.
Also, some traditional hosts offer plans that seem to be WordPress specific, but are really just specialized shared hosting.
Be sure to read carefully. The web hosting world is changing.
Some of the more popular “Managed WordPress” providers include:
- Web Synthesis
Managed WordPress hosting comes at different price points and different options because there are several companies in the space. Typically, the cost is several times higher per month for a Managed WordPress plan than for shared hosting, but you get a very specialized product.
So it may seem like a no brainer to pay a higher price, switch from traditional Shared Hosting, and enjoy this new magical world where it’s all taken care of while you focus on building your website, right?
Hmmm… Not so fast!
While Managed WordPress providers have many very happy customers and for good reason, there are some gotchas that those considering taking the leap should be aware of.
And some of the gotchas may surprise you…
Just to be fair, I have never been a customer of any managed WordPress provider such as those listed above, although I have provided technical support and assistance for clients using such hosting.
Managed WordPress Hosting vs Shared Hosting
Tradeoff #1: cost
Whilst Managed WordPress Hosting can be a great solution, it is not without tradeoffs. One of those is cost, and the cost can be several times more than Shared Hosting.
That said, many people incorrectly let price be their guide post when it comes to website hosting. In fact, it should be the last thing considered – especially if it’s for a business.
If that surprises you, then consider that most business owners spend more in a week for coffees and snacks than what they pay for monthly website hosting.
Also consider hidden costs such as SSL certificates which are highly recommended for e-commerce and membership sites.
Some Managed providers limit you to their SSL certificates and charge a higher fee than could be obtained elsewhere.
Tradeoff #2: Plugin limitations
Shared Hosting plans typically do not limit or forbid which plugins can be installed on WordPress sites.
Most Managed WordPress hosts, on the other hand, use a different type of hosting technology that is optimized for speed and security. This technology doesn’t always play well with other plugins.
Additionally, certain tasks such as backups and security are taken care outside of WordPress by the host. As such, most do not permit certain plugins to be installed at all.
There is no single list of exclusions that applies to all Managed WordPress providers because no two are exactly the same. Each has custom architected their hosting environment in a particular fashion.
Fortunately, most provide a plugin exception list, sometimes referred to as a blacklist, on their website to serve as a guide.
This is a must-check before deciding to move to a Managed WordPress provider.
Tradeoff #3: Multiple WordPress sites
Most Shared Hosting providers permit an unlimited number of websites to be hosted in a single plan. There are pros and cons to doing it, but many people do it for a variety of reasons.
However, Managed WordPress plans typically limit each account to one WordPress instance. Additional instances can be added for an extra monthly fee. Page.ly is one exception in that they provide up to three instances of WordPress for each account.
If you require multiple instances of WordPress the limit imposed by Managed WordPress Hosting can significantly increase the monthly expense.
Tradeoff #4: Bandwidth and storage limits
Shared Hosting plans usually offer unlimited disk storage and bandwidth – at least in their marketing materials. To be fair, the fine print on most such plans explains that while the amount of data is unlimited, the speed of access will be throttled after a certain amount of usage.
Managed WordPress plans offer limited bandwidth and storage.
It is important to choose a plan that meets your bandwidth and storage needs.
Tradeoff #5: Domain name, DNS configuration, and email
Unlike Shared Hosting, Managed WordPress providers require that your domain name(s) registration and renewal, DNS hosting and configuration, email configuration, and any aspect that is not specifically WordPress be purchased, hosted and configured separately from the WordPress provider.
While technical support may provide advice and guidance on how to configure those aspects, they are (most likely) not going to do it for you, although, they may provide knowledge base articles specific to the topic.
Those important hosting requirements and their costs are your responsibility when hosting a WordPress site with a Managed WordPress provider.
Depending on your existing Shared Hosting setup, migrating to a Managed WordPress hosting provider can become a complex task.
Pre-planning is essential to a smooth transition.
Tradeoff #6: Support hours and accessibility
Another important piece to factor in when considering Managed WordPress Hosting is the hours that tech support is reachable:
- Are they available by Phone or Live Chat?
- Do they have a support ticket system?
- Are they available weekends and holidays?
- What is the typical response time?
ASK these questions. Making a presumption about support is not advisable.
Tradeoff #7: File access and editing
Most Shared Hosting plans provide direct access to all the files and databases that make up your website(s) but this is not the case with a lot of Managed WordPress providers.
If you have specific needs that require direct file access, check to see if there are any restrictions.
Some Managed hosts may not provide file access at all, whilst others provide limited access.
Tradeoff #8: Third party support
Many people use Google searches and social media as their go-to source when it comes to their WordPress website, whether it is design tips, what plugins to use, or just understanding how things work.
However, most how-to articles and social media hangouts are filled with tips for Shared Hosting of WordPress, but few know or write about Managed WordPress hosting.
As such, many of the third party resources you may use may not be helpful for a Managed WordPress site. The same goes for when seeking advice from social media outlets.
While there will be some who will know the specific differences, it is not a good idea to assume they do.
Always disclose where your site is hosted when asking for tips, plugin recommendations, or other questions in social media or other forums.
Who manages your website?
Every website needs to be managed properly.
The question is: “Who will do what parts of it?”
Thankfully, the WordPress component has become easier, albeit more costly, with the arrival of Managed WordPress providers.
Who manages the rest is up to you…