When searching for a web hosting provider, you’ll find a lot of different options and deciding which to choose can be overwhelming. WordPress is usually a safe bet when starting out with a website – it offers a simple but powerful set of tools to get you started in no time, and because of its flexibility and ease of use, it already powers 35% of the Internet (source)
But where exactly should you run WordPress? Let’s take a look at the two most popular options for making a website available: shared hosting and Managed WordPress hosting, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
What is Managed WordPress Hosting?
Managed WordPress Hosting is a specific type of shared hosting, which has been tweaked and modified to improve the hosting experience specifically when using WordPress websites. The “Managed” part is important too, because it means that there’s staff on board taking care that everything runs smoothly.
Specifically, Managed hosting adds support for the operating system and application infrastructure. In other words, your host will make sure that WordPress is up-to-date and running correctly, so you can focus on creating the content of your site.
The exact scope of managed support varies between hosts, especially when it comes to heavily-customized sites with a large number of plugins. In general, a best-effort policy applies – even if you’re having trouble with a very complex setup, the experts managing your site will attempt to help with it, and point you in the right direction if needed.
What are the Advantages of Managed WordPress Hosting?
Faster WordPress Performance: As the name implies, Managed WordPress hosting is specially built to handle WordPress-based websites, both in their PHP settings and on their database setup. This translates to a much better performance than with generic settings. This is all out-of-the-box, so you can get to creating your site immediately without spending much time dealing with configuration.
Better Security: Security is also a great positive of Managed WordPress hosting, since services that aren’t necessary for WordPress are disabled, and common attack points (such as xmlrpc.php) are taken into consideration.
Better Resource Scaling: Managed WordPress hosts can also scale up and down on-demand to accommodate a sudden spike in traffic, since the site doesn’t have to live in a single server. That way, one of your posts suddenly getting a lot of attention will not punish you by bringing your entire website down.
Better Support: In addition, the staff on hand has much more experience dealing with WordPress, so they’ll be empowered to help with any issues you may face.
In short, Managed WordPress hosting is a higher-quality option when it comes to hosting WordPress sites.
What are the Disadvantages of WordPress Hosting?
Higher Cost: Because of its quality and additional features, Managed WordPress hosting is a premium option, which is reflected in the price tag. For multiple small project websites where you don’t expect much traffic, this can be overkill, much in the same way that you wouldn’t rent a spot in a shopping mall for a lemonade stand. On the other hand, if you’re looking to launch your business or move an existing WordPress site to a more reliable host, the benefits more than outweigh the costs.
What is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting is the most basic option for getting a website online. In short, it is when you rent some space on someone else’s server to host your website’s files, and then point your domain name to that server. There are many types of shared hosting options available, but in the most common form it is a spot to place your website’s files so they’re served when someone visits.
Something to keep in mind is that shared website hosts handle many different kinds of websites with varying resource needs, which all share a portion of the same resources, so performance settings are usually generic options that fit most websites reasonably well.
What are the Advantages of Shared Hosting?
Affordability: The main advantage of shared hosting is how affordable it is compared to other hosting options. Since your website is hosted on a shared server, it doesn’t cost the hosting provider much to add one, or a dozen more websites, especially if these are small sites that don’t receive a lot of traffic. That makes shared hosting ideal for small projects that aren’t expected to get a lot of attention, and for quickly trying out new ideas you get.
What are the Disadvantages of Shared Hosting?
Here are the three most common disadvantages of shared hosting across most shared hosting providers:
Compatibility Issues: You need to make sure your content management system, or CMS, works well within the shared hosting environment. This includes making sure the PHP and MySQL versions are compatible. Your host’s support can often provide some help with that, but only up to a point – considering the many different types of websites they will be hosting, in-depth knowledge about every single one of them is a difficult proposition, so you might end up needing to get a developer on board for very difficult problems.
Software Updates: Software updates are another common pain point in shared hosts, which can break your site if its code relies on features from older software versions. Some hosts have features to alleviate this, such as letting you choose the PHP version you want to run your site with, but running older software is not recommended for security reasons. After all, software versions that are out of support no longer receive security updates, rendering them potentially exposed to newly-discovered vulnerabilities.
Shared Resources: Since one server is shared across all the websites hosted in it, the performance of your site can take a hit during peak times, even if your own site is not getting a ton of traffic. This is compounded by the fact that shared hosting is usually configured with generic performance settings, not optimized for any particular kind of website.
Choosing Between WordPress Hosting vs Shared Hosting
It is important to use the right tool for the job, and if loading speed, ease-of-use, and availability are critical for you, then Managed WordPress hosting is a useful tool to consider. Our plans have a lot of additional features not offered in most Managed WordPress hosts, such as full server access, automated staging sites for testing plugin updates, and 24/7/365 support by phone, email and chat.
If you’re a more advanced user who’s comfortable with server management, and you’re looking for more freedom to go along with that responsibility, a VPS package might be good for you, which you can compare to our Managed WordPress options.
Finally, if you’re still on the fence about what would work best for you, you can always chat with one of our experts for help picking the right plan.