When you choose a hosting service for your website, you have a choice to make — managed hosting vs unmanaged hosting.
But what does managed hosting include specifically – that unmanaged services do not?
Find the answer to this question – and more – in our handy guide, as we help you select the right option for you.
What is website hosting?
Website hosting provides the online location for your website — in basic terms, it is the ‘place’ on the internet where your website ‘lives’.
We can think of website hosting as a piece of commercial real estate. You have your own business idea, you have your inventory, your equipment, your staff, but you do not have the premises to put all these different business aspects in. Therefore, you need to purchase or rent a store or another commercial building to house your business.
You need this location to be big enough to accommodate your business, even as it grows over time. You also need it to present your business in the right way, helping you to support the needs of your customers and clients. Of course, you want your business premises to be the very best they can be — but you also have your budget to worry about.
This applies to web hosting too. You need your website hosting provider to support your business as it scales, and you need your website to be easily accessible to your customers at all times.
In other words, you need a great hosting service to represent your business, but you also need a pricing structure that suits your organisation.
What is the difference between managed hosting and unmanaged website hosting?
All website hosting options are not equal. When you select a hosting provider, you will have different options at your disposal, and choosing the best one will depend on your own experience and competency levels as well as the resources available to you.
Two main categories of hosting are managed and unmanaged. If you’d like to read more about the difference between shared hosting and unshared hosting in this article.
What is managed hosting?
Managed website hosting refers to hosting plans on servers that are administered by the service provider itself. The service provider offers the online space in which to deploy your website and also takes care of all the server updates, security and other fixes that may be required over the course of your hosting agreement.
Thinking about the real estate analogy discussed above, managed hosting is similar to finding business premises with a management team already in place — a team of knowledgeable, accessible, experts who will take care of the upkeep and development of the premises while you focus on running your business.
This option tends to be a little more expensive than standard web hosting, but it may work out cheaper in the long run if you do not have an in-house hosting management team.
What is unmanaged hosting?
Unmanaged website hosting takes away this additional layer of management and overseeing, leaving you and your in-house team to take care of this yourself. Basically, the hosting service provider offers only that — the hosting service. This is a bare-bones service, with no additional management or features offered.
This is a little like purchasing or renting the business property yourself. There is no management team to take care of maintenance, cleaning, security or any other aspects of operating commercial real estate — you and your team are left in charge of these tasks.
As a result, the hosting service may be cheaper, but you will have to make sure you have the resources and funds required to manage it yourself.
Managed hosting vs unmanaged hosting: Which one should you choose?
Which is best for you — managed or unmanaged hosting? This depends on a number of different factors. Below are four key elements you should consider.
Your in-house resources
If you choose to opt for an unmanaged hosting provider, you will need to supply the management team yourself. This could be an in-house team, chosen from among your own organisational ranks, or it could be a third-party management team. The team will be in charge of handling the ongoing management and upkeep of your website hosting.
For some businesses, this may be difficult. Budgets could be tight, and it may take time to train an in-house team so that they can handle their duties properly. This is why many smaller businesses opt for a managed service to reduce the stress and hassle.
Your cash flow
Choosing a managed service option is likely to be more expensive. After all, you are not just paying for the online “real estate”; you are also paying for a team to take care of this for you. This may mean slightly higher monthly costs.
But the choice is not quite as simple as this. Even if you choose a cheaper subscription for an unmanaged service, you will still need some form of management in place.
If you end up paying for this management yourself — by hiring in-house staff members or a third party team — you may find yourself paying more in the long run. Approach the costs of your hosting plan very carefully and weigh up which one works out best for you, taking into account all the costs associated with in-house management.
Your level of experience
Even if your business can budget for an in-house management team, you need to consider the level of experience and competency of your team members. Are these team members comfortable with handling all this responsibility themselves?
Do they have the capability to ensure full regulatory compliance and a great experience for your users?
If the answer to either of these questions is no, you may need to choose a managed service or a third-party management provider.
The evolution of your needs
If the answer to the above questions is yes — i.e. your team does have the competency required to handle these duties — you may want to consider an unmanaged hosting option.
The unmanaged hosting option will give you more flexibility for your website as your business grows. If you have a well-developed business plan and strong growth forecasts, this hosting agility may be very valuable. Just make sure you are prepared to manage every aspect of your hosting.
Make the right choice for your website and your business
Whether you are looking for managed WordPress hosting or need a service geared towards another kind of website, choosing a hosting provider is a big decision.
The correct website hosting solution for your website is similar to having someone sweep in front of your stone during a game of curling – it’s a big part of winning.