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If you're looking to host a Wordpress site you've probably seen the various options that web hosting companies give you. Typically a web host will either let you host a Wordpress site on shared hosting, or you could pay a little extra and opt for managed Wordpress hosting. But what is the difference between the two? And is managed Wordpress hosting worth the added cost? In this article, I will go over what each hosting option is, the difference between shared and managed Wordpress hosting, and which option is the best for you.
Before shared hosting became a thing, hosting your website was very very expensive. Either you had to run a server in your home which came with not only the upfront cost of hardware but also the impact on your power bill and ongoing maintenance cost or you had to rent an entire server from a web host which could cost up to hundreds of dollars per month.
Web hosts know this is a pain point for most customers so they created something called "Shared hosting" where your website will share the same server with a few other sites. Collectively you will pay for this server and because of that, prices drop quickly and these days you can get shared hosting for as little as $2/month.
Managed Wordpress hosting was born out of the realization of web hosting companies that a large chunk of their user base was using shared hosting for the same thing: Wordpress. With that said most have created hosting products that are specifically designed for Wordpress called Managed Wordpress Hosting.
Managed Wordpress hosting is just like it sounds: managed. While shared hosting will require you to set up and configure Wordpress yourself, Managed Wordpress hosting takes all of the underlying technical aspects out of the equation for customers, not only hosting but also managing their Wordpress sites so that customers can focus their energy on building our their website and creating content rather than dealing with all of the underlying technical aspects of hosting a Wordpress site.
Shared hosting has some distinct advantages over managed Wordpress hosting but it also has several disadvantages. Let's take a look at some of them:
- Complete Control: With shared hosting, you are simply given a server to install Wordpress on and most likely a 1click Wordpress installation. But beyond that it's completely up to you how you want to configure your Wordpress site. If you are planning on running special plugins or doing something outside the realm of "typical", shared hosting will give you the power to do so.
- Price: The other big advantage of shared hosting is the price point. While most Managed Wordpress plans start around $10/month and go up from there, you can get shared hosting for a fraction of that price.
- Worse performance: While shared hosting had the distinct advantage of price, at the end of the day you get what you pay for and that is true for shared hosting as well. Though very affordable, shared hosting does not have the same performance that managed Wordpress hosting will have. This is in part because you are sharing a server with others and the other reason is that there is no telling what the other customers are doing so there is always a chance for slowdowns.
- Complete Control: Wait but wasn't this an advantage of shared hosting? Well yes, but complete control can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand if you are trying to do something custom that managed Wordpress hosting won't allow for, shared hosting gives you the flexibility to do so, on the other hand though if you are trying to get a site up and running as quickly as possible, complete control translates into additional overhead.
While more expensive and less flexible than shared hosting, managed Wordpress hosting has a few killer advantages over shared hosting that makes it worth taking a look.
- Less Overhead: With managed Wordpress hosting, your web host will take care of all of the underlying technical aspects of keeping your site buzzing along. This is probably the biggest advantage over shared hosting. With shared hosting, though most will provide a "1 click" Wordpress installation, there will still be a significant amount of configuration that you will have to do. Also, you will also be responsible for future updates and security patches, and all of this cuts into the time you spend working on your website. Because managed Wordpress hosting handles all of that for you, you can skip all of the technical details and go straight into building your website.
- Fully Optimized: This is a less talked about aspect but it's important to bring it up. With managed Wordpress hosting, the servers and all of the underlying configurations your site is running on is optimized for Wordpress and Wordpress only. This gives you a better performing site even if the hardware is the same as it would be for a comparable shared hosting plan. On top of this, your web host will also make sure things like plugins, SQL databases, and security patches are optimized for your site so you never have to worry if something is misconfigured or broken.
- More Restrictions: One of the biggest disadvantages of managed Wordpress hosting is you will have several restrictions when it comes to themes, plugins, and configurations. This is all in the name of keeping your site optimized but might be a complete deal breaker if the feature you rely on it not supported by the web host.
- It's more expensive: Managed Wordpress hosting is typically more expensive than shared hosting. While shared hosting starts around $2-3/month. Managed Wordpress hosting costs around $5-10/month depending on your host and plan.
So which product is right for you? Well, that depends on a number of factors. Let's take a few scenarios to give you a sense of where you needs fall.
Do you need flexibility?: If you are looking to do something crazy with Wordpress or just something outside the realm of what managed hosts offers then you should pick shared hosting.
How sensitive to price are you?: If you are planning to run a site long term, then investing in better hosting is worth it. On the other hand, if you are just playing with Wordpress there is no need to spend the extra cash. If you are planning on running your site for the foreseeable future I suggest going with managed Wordpress hosting, otherwise shared hosting will be a lot easier on the wallet.
How technical are you?: Wordpress bills itself as being user friendly, however, this is a bit misleading. While yes, creating pages, posts and other content in WP is fairly easy and almost anyone can pick it up, the technical aspects of running a Wordpress site are much less user friendly. If you have a good amount of technical knowledge then consider setting everything up yourself on a shared server; however, if you are less technical then I highly suggest going with managed Wordpress hosting. Speaking from experience with a number of customers, you will be much happier having all the technical details taken care of.
How fast do you need to get going?: Time is a luxury not all of us have. If you have time to spare then consider going with shared hosting and saving yourself some money; however, if you need a Wordpress site yesterday and need to get things off the ground as quickly as possible, you should opt for managed Wordpress hosting.
There are hundreds if not thousands of Wordpress and shared hosting products out there. Here are a few of my recommendations for each, depending on which direction you decide to go in.
- Namecheap Shared Hosting: Namecheap offers shared hosting starting at $1.44 per month. This comes with 20GB of storage space, 3 websites and includes a domain name for select TLD's. Learn more about Namecheap Shared Hosting
- Hostinger Shared Hosting: Hostinger offers probably the cheapest shared hosting option out there. You can get shared hosting for as little as $0.99/month. Learn more about Hostinger Shared Hosting
- Namecheap EasyWP: Namecheap offers 3 tiers of EasyWP: Starter, Turbo, and Supersonic, ranging in price from $3.88/month to $11.88/month. Learn more about EasyWP
- Siteground Managed Wordpress Hosting: Siteground also offers 3 tiers of managed Wordpress hosting. Their plans range from $3.95/month to $11.95/month. Learn more about Siteground Managed Wordpress Hosting