Every website needs a host to deliver it to the internet at large. While it’s technically possible to host your own site on your own server, that’s not a practical approach for most website owners. Instead, you’ll want to shop for a hosting service that will store your files and serve them to site visitors when one of your links is clicked or your domain name is entered into the address bar of a browser.
If you are building a website on WordPress, you have two main options for a hosting solution—shared hosting and managed WordPress hosting. As with any choice you make for your site, there are pros and cons on both sides of this equation. Below, we’ll take an in-depth look at each of these options to help you determine which is right for your business.
Understanding These Two Hosting Options
Before you can decide which way you are going to go with your hosting, you need to first understand the options a little better. Here is a quick breakdown of what you can expect from each of these two:
- Shared hosting. In this arrangement, you are basically on your own. Yes, your site’s files are hosted on a server that is run by a hosting company, but that company isn’t doing anything actively to support your site. They are simply renting you space on a server, and that’s it. It’s called “shared” hosting because your site will be sharing space on a server with other sites – potentially many other sites, depending on the size of the server, your space demands, and your level of traffic.
- Managed WordPress hosting. The name of this type of hosting tells you a couple of important things about what it offers. First, with WordPress in the title, you know that it is focused specifically on working with WordPress-based sites. While WP is the most popular platform on the web for creating a site, it is far from the only option. So, if you go with another type of hosting, you’ll be dealing with a company that hosts sites on many different platforms beyond WordPress. Also, the word “managed” in the title means that there is active management in place to help you with your site’s hosting needs. This stands in contrast to the more self-sufficient approach of typical shared hosting. With a managed WordPress hosting account, you’ll have access to support options through your hosting company that can help you figure out problems, make changes, and more.
The Reality of Shared Hosting
There is one thing, and one thing only, that is strongly appealing about a shared hosting account—the cost. This is the cheapest type of hosting available on the web today, and you can pay as little as just a few dollars a month for your files to be stored and served through a shared hosting account. If you are concerned with nothing more than how much you’ll be paying for your hosting service, you will want to look no further than shared hosting. Unfortunately, making that choice would come along with many drawbacks, and you might wind up wishing you had spent a little more in the end.
So, what is it about shared hosting that will leave you wanting more? Consider the following:
- Downtime. Cheap shared hosting will likely be down from time to time. That means that, in some cases, people will attempt to visit your website and will be unable to access the pages they wish to view. This is obviously a big deal if you are trying to build a business and establish a known presence on the web. Even if the downtime is only occasional, it can still take a toll on your site’s performance and reputation.
- Security issues. This is a big problem with shared hosts. Remember, you are on the same host as a whole bunch of other sites, and you don’t know anything about how those sites are run or what they are. Even if your chosen host has some security measures in place to help keep your site safe, it will never be as insulated as it would be in an upgraded managed WordPress hosting environment.
- Slow performance. Simply put, a cheap host is not going to offer fast response times. That means that visitors to your site will need to wait longer for your pages to load, and your search rankings may suffer as a result. This is a problem that will pop up intermittently depending on the traffic load for the various sites on your shared server.
- Lack of support. Whether you are just getting started with your first site or you have some experience in this realm, it’s likely that you’ll need access to support at some point along the way. One of the frustrations that are often experienced with shared hosting is the lackluster support experience. It can be hard to gain access to anyone in the support department, and once you do get in touch with somebody, that person might not have the technical knowledge you need to solve the problem. At a minimum, someone needs to update and maintain your WordPress software on a regular basis. Doing this on a regular basis is critical for speed, security, performance, features and the basic functionality of your website.
Managed WordPress Hosting is a Better Approach
As you can see, things can get pretty rough with typical low-cost shared hosting. The modest price is appealing, but the drawbacks pile up fast and you might find yourself with a big headache on your hands sooner than later. Fortunately, managed WordPress hosting is available as an appealing alternative that will come through nicely in all the areas that shared hosting is likely to let you down.
First and foremost, it is the support that you’ll find available with a managed WP host that is going to be such a valuable asset. When an issue comes up with your site that you can’t solve quickly on your own, you can just reach out for help and get back on track. Since these kinds of hosts focus on WordPress and nothing else, the support staff tends to be knowledgeable and able to solve a range of problems. If you have tried other hosting options and been frustrated by the confusing (or just wrong) answers you’ve gotten on support tickets, managed hosting will be a breath of fresh air.
Superior support might be the main attraction for upgrading to a managed WP host, but it is far from the only worthwhile motivation. Some of the other notable benefits you’ll find include:
- Backed-up data. With as much work as goes into creating your website, it’s important that you protect your site’s data and back it up regularly. With a managed WordPress host, this should happen regularly at automated intervals. So, you don’t have to think about managing backups or storing them – this will all be done for you. Then, if something happens to your site and some or all of your data is lost, you can just restore from a recent backup and get back to business as usual. Taking this task off your plate is a welcome benefit and something that you shouldn’t take for granted.
- Solid security. We mentioned earlier that security – or a lack thereof – is one of the big problems with typical shared hosting. By going with managed hosting, you should get something that is far more secure and stable. Nothing on the internet is completely safe from hackers and other threats, but you’ll find that your site is on solid footing and has various systems protecting it when you pick a trustworthy managed host.
- Easily scalable. The goal for virtually every website is to attract more and more traffic as the months and years pass. It’s great news when that happens, but you might soon run into bandwidth problems if you are on a cheap shared host. With managed WordPress hosting, on the other hand, you should easily be able to secure more space as it becomes necessary.
- Site speed. Another issue we mentioned with shared hosting is the sluggish performance of many sites in that environment. While there are more factors involved in site speed than just the host you choose to use, good hosting does play a role in how quickly your pages will arrive on the screens of your site visitors. Give them a good experience by using a host that will do everything possible to ensure speedy load times.
Yes, managed WordPress hosting will almost certainly cost more than a cheap shared hosting plan. That cost is more than worth it, however, as you’ll get in return the kind of support, speed, and stability that you need to grow a quality website from the ground up.
Matching Your Hosting to Your Needs
We’ve made the point quite clearly that you shouldn’t pick the cheapest hosting option you can find on the web. With that said, you don’t need to go out and buy an extremely expensive hosting plan, either. For a brand new site that doesn’t yet have any traffic, for example, there is no reason to be spending hundreds of dollars per month on a host. A entry level plan on a quality managed WordPress host can be very affordable, and it will offer great performance and the potential to upgrade later as your site grows and your demands change.
The key when starting out with your first managed WP host is to pick the package of features that makes the most sense for your situation. For example, if you have no traffic and are just now building your site, go with the package that has the lowest available bandwidth and work up from there. Any host will be glad to upgrade your plan later to something that costs more and provides more space. Of course, if you already have a little traffic and you are switching from shared hosting to managed WordPress hosting, pick a hosting plan that will accommodate your current traffic levels with a little room to spare.
Only One Way to Go
In the end, the choice is easy—go with managed WordPress hosting and don’t look back. If you are able to resist the appeal of the extremely low price of a basic shared account, you will find yourself in a much better position to grow a site that is stable, fast, and free from headaches. Many of the best WordPress sites on the web leverage the power of this kind of managed hosting and we suggest that you do the same. Good luck!
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