Trying to figure out what managed WordPress hosting is and whether you need it?
WordPress currently powers over 455 million websites, with 500 new WordPress websites every day. Well over a third of the top 1 million websites is WordPress based, so no one is ever going to deny its popularity or success, but that doesn’t mean that it’s immediately straightforward – there are key decisions to make right from the start which could have a long term impact on your website’s success.
In this guide, we’ll walk through when managed WordPress hosting can make sense and why for many use-cases running your own infrastructure (with the help of RunCloud) paired with a popular cloud provider like UpCloud, DigitalOcean, Vultr, etc. can be the better choice. Without further ado – let’s dive in.
What is Managed WordPress Hosting?
Managed WordPress hosting is a service that takes care of all the technical aspects of running a WordPress website. This generally includes everything from maintaining the performance, stability, and security of your hosting infrastructure all the way through to providing support for technical issues that arise.
For those willing to pay a premium to have everything taken care of for them, managed hosting can afford you some extra peace of mind. We’ll get into the advantages and disadvantages shortly.
Overall, the main attraction in finding a managed WordPress host is convenience. You delegate responsibility and let experts handle the technicalities, freeing up to do what you want to focus on which may not be anything related to your hosting infrastructure.
The Pros & Cons of Managed WordPress Hosting
Although the features and services may differ from host to host, you can still rest assured that the majority of these pros and cons will be present in every host.
Managed WordPress Hosting Pros
There are really only two main advantages of choosing managed WordPress hosting – support & the absence of responsibility.
Managed WordPress hosting providers tend to pride themselves in the level of support they’re able to provide.
The Absence of Responsibility
When you work with sites where 100% uptime and maintaining security, stability, and performance are not things that you wish to be responsible for, they’re often a good choice.
Managed WordPress Hosting Cons
Price (better yet, what is your business model?)
Managed WordPress hosting is more expensive, but that’s not really what cost comes down to. Whether or not you choose to go with managed hosting as a result of the cost, realistically is a matter of what your business model is. If you’re a WordPress design and development agency that has made the decision they want to get into the hosting business (a billion-dollar industry), then running your own infrastructure, eventually staffing your own support, etc. becomes a more logical choice.
Whereas, if you wish to maintain the stance that hosting is not something you’re interested in getting into and you would rather focus solely on your area of expertise as a design and development partner, perhaps eventually expanding into offering other services like SEO, then going with a managed WordPress hosting provider – depending on the site – can make more sense for your business.
When you go with managed WordPress hosting, you are tied into their ecosystem of how you can scale sites, and traffic and how you can optimize when you reach a certain point, i.e. can you decouple your database and use a dedicated database server & do you need to pay $100/month to enable Redis caching because your host offers it as an add-on? All of these are out of your control and tied to how your managed WordPress hosting provider wants you to handle them.
When Can Managed WordPress Hosting Make Sense?
We would distill the ideal customer profile of managed WordPress hosting providers don’t
To make the distinction of when to choose managed WordPress hosting over a solution like RunCloud (and vice versa), you can distill things into 2 ideal customer profiles:
- The business owner who is not interested in having extra work to do, just wants things taken care of so is willing to pay a managed WordPress hosting provider.
- The businesses that have the technical talent but don’t want to capitalize on WordPress hosting as a part of their business model (as a part of a strategic choice to focus on what their core service is, missing out on recurring revenue as a result, but this can be the right way to go of course).
While using a solution like RunCloud doesn’t require you to be a SysAdmin or expert by any stretch of the imagination, realistically anyone who can use WordPress to a decent level will (perhaps with some help from our incredible support team) get up & running, it is still slightly more involved than going with a managed WordPress hosting provider.
So if we go back to the two profiles above, it really comes back to what you want your business model to be. Do you want to take ownership of the hosting layer and become the expert or do you want this to be taken care of by a managed WordPress hosting provider that staffs a team of experts?
Or, better yet, a mix of both? This is what quite a few of our customers do.
For agencies that host sites for their clients but not all client sites are alike, some have bigger budgets and some have more complex sites. When there’s a site that’s too big for the agency’s appetite for managing in-house (with their current team) on RunCloud, they offload it to their managed WordPress hosting provider of choice. While the majority of sites tend to fall within the type of sites they want to manage in which case they choose RunCloud which makes total sense, because it really isn’t a completely black & white choice, and fortunately, isn’t an all or nothing choice either.
Managed WordPress Hosting vs. Shared Hosting
Now although this isn’t the focus of the article, there is one thing we do want to mention and that is shared hosting. Yes, we’re thinking exactly what you’re thinking – subpar support and terrible performance.
When To Avoid Shared Hosting?
Our personal stance on shared hosting is that it almost never makes sense for any kind of serious business owner. Sure, we’re well aware that the shared hosting providers in the industry occupy a very significant portion of the market share but realistically that is because many people that use WordPress aren’t necessarily running a business or working to accomplish something with their websites.
For the price of most shared hosting providers, you can easily maintain your infrastructure with RunCloud at a fraction of the cost so referring clients (if you’re a design and development agency) to a shared hosting provider is really just a huge missed opportunity. Because you’re both not going to satisfy them with your recommendation (given they are likely to not be happy with their experience) and will miss out on keeping them as a customer as a part of a hosting & support service offering.
After Action Report – Get Ready To Own The Hosting Layer & Grow Your Business
Now that you know how to decide on when to use or better yet, the type of sites it may make sense to host with a managed WordPress hosting provider, let’s take a moment to talk about how you can own the hosting layer and use it to grow your business.
Traditionally, managing your infrastructure with cloud providers like DigitalOcean, UpCloud, Vultr, Linode, AWS, the Google Cloud Platform (and more) required you to be extremely familiar with Linux to the point where you could essentially consider yourself a self-taught SysAdmin.
Fortunately thanks to RunCloud, this is no longer the case. Managing your own infrastructure, deploying servers with DigitalOcean of UpCloud all the way to setting up WordPress sites on those freshly-deployed servers can all be done in a matter of minutes. And, if you do run into any issues, you have a friendly support team of real people ready to jump in to help.
This only begins to scratch the surface of how you can use RunCloud, but here are some of the things you can expect to enjoy when managing your infrastructure with RunCloud:
- Easy server deployments
- 1-click WordPress installation
- Built-in tools for file management, Cron jobs, and more
- 1-click staging environments
- Server and site monitoring
- Server statistics and health checks
- Atomic Deployment
- Integrations with GitHub and Bitbucket
- 24/7 friendly & human support team
- Built-in backups (including to external providers of your choice, i.e. S3 Buckets & more)
What really separates RunCloud from other similar solutions is ease of use and support. Other newer providers that throw together some copied version of what RunCloud offers come and go, we’ve been here for years and aren’t going anywhere. And we aren’t basing our product development timeline off of competitors.
One-click SSL, seamless integration with Cloudflare, and more make managing dozens of websites as a company of one (or more with a small team) is all possible with RunCloud.
Ready to get started? Learn more and sign up for your free trial today.
Bonus: If I Do Choose To Go The Managed Route – Which Managed WordPress Hosting Providers Can You Recommend?
So, if you’ve made it to the end of this article and still have a specific use-case for managed WordPress hosting – this is a handpicked list (based on the hosting providers our team has actual experience with). These are all hosts that we can wholeheartedly recommend and are very well-reputed in the industry.
Servebolt is a next-level, high-performance managed hosting provider with a strong focus on scalability. Whereas most such hosting companies are built on other platforms, such as AWS or GCP, thereby limiting the extent to which they can optimize their service, Servebolt has built and maintains its own Linux distribution – and controls the stack from top to bottom. As such, they’re able to optimize for raw performance at every layer of their stack.
- Built for true scale and raw performance
- Friendly customer support
- A hardcore approach to performance
- Consistently outperforms all other managed hosting providers in independent WP Hosting Benchmarks across all tiers.
If you already aren’t using RunCloud to manage a server deployed with DigitalOcean or UpCloud, it makes sense to go with a hosting provider that hasn’t just built their infrastructure on top of AWS, the Google Cloud Platform, etc. Because maintaining their own hardware is what allows Servebolt to achieve the performance and optimize the stack from top to bottom while the other managed hosting providers (although we still recommend them) are simply powered by AWS and the Google Cloud Platform.
It’s also worth noting that Servebolt does not impose a limit on PHP workers, something we highly recommend when choosing a hosting provider, especially when looking at managed WordPress hosts which are by no stretch of the imagination extremely affordable. A limit on PHP workers is something that a lot of managed WordPress hosting providers like to do in order to throttle performance when your site starts to scale and charge extra to “add extra PHP workers to your site” to keep charging you more as you grow. Charging more as your site grows is fine, server costs will trend upwards as your site grows but throttling performance as a means of achieving this is not something Servebolt (nor we at RunCloud) are advocates for.
Pagely is an enterprise-level WordPress host and is easily the most expensive service on this list. If you want a host to take care of all the heavy lifting and provide a premium, near hands-free experience, then keep reading.
- World-class server speeds powered by AWS Cloud
- Superb customer support (live chat and tickets)
- Free SSL, CDN, and backups
- Optimized WordPress sites
- Simple staging tools
- Automatic site-wide updates
- Efficient hosting for eCommerce
Pagely’s higher pricing plans allow bigger businesses to host 30 to 60 websites and more. As a solution for enterprise companies, Pagely takes security very seriously. You’ll be protected against DoS/DDoS attacks and have all plugins up to date. Pagely also developed its own security architecture called PressArmor. Finally, since nothing is 100% safe, Pagely will automatically back up your website at no additional cost.
A premium price also requires stellar support, which Pagely proudly offers. Basic support means sending tickets and having access to live chat (only during business hours). If you opt for a more expensive plan, you can get access to phone calls and even have your own personal Slack channel.
One of the largest managed WordPress hosting sites in the industry, Kinsta caters to a wide range of customers, including new business owners as well as enterprise-level clients.
Whether you’re a small business or one that’s almost a household name, Kinsta has a pricing plan ready for you. In this review, we’ll be focusing on Kinsta’s cheapest pricing option, the Starter plan.
Here’s what you can expect from working with Kinsta:
- Site staging features
- Automatic database optimization
- Automatic daily backups, with the option to create manual backup points
- Free SSL
- Limits on the number of PHP workers per site
- 24/7 live chat support team
It’s important to note that Kinsta doesn’t offer unlimited visits and CDN. Each plan has a monthly visit limit and if your visitors go past that number, you’ll be charged extra (notified ahead of time).
As a separate point, it’s worth keeping in mind that depending upon which plan you choose, you will have a cap on the number of PHP workers active on your site. For basic, static websites this is not generally a problem, but more dynamic sites should take this into consideration when comparing their options.
In addition, Kinsta also does not include server-level caching (Redis) that works for dynamic sites unless you pay an additional fee as they separate it from their plans to sell it as a premium add-on.
Still, the support team behind Kinsta feels passionate about their work. The reviews on Kinsta’s support team are some of the best you can read in this industry. If you’re a business with a sizable number of employees, Kinsta makes team management a breeze. You can add unlimited users to your site and easily set roles or permissions for each user.
As for security, Kinsta will fix your website for free if it’s hacked. Which frankly is unlikely given the GeoIP blocking, DDoS scanning, and other features that are protecting your site as standard. The only notable downside to Kinsta is their inability to provide an unlimited plan and their list of blocked plugins (to avoid slowing down the servers and your site).
All in all, Kinsta is a very flexible managed WordPress host. They have 10 pricing plans incremented by $100s from $30 all the way to $1,500. You can also save 2 months’ worth of hosting payments if you pay annually.
WP Engine is an all-around managed WordPress host with a long portfolio of innovation and consistent service.
The managed WordPress hosting service is specifically designed to manage WordPress sites. With patented optimization tools, good customer support, and a range of premium features, WP Engine is an affordable alternative that offers reliable quality.
Here’s what you can expect from using WP Engine:
- 24/7 customer service
- Daily backups
- Staging site features
- Simplified website managing process
- Reliable performance when it comes to speed and uptime
- Quick and easy WordPress migration and installation
- Premium themes
- Automatic site-wide updates
- Free fix in case of hacking incidents
WP Engine has a good list of features to help you build and maintain a solid website. Since their entire framework is specifically designed for WordPress, you’ll also be benefiting from consistent loading times and server speed.
If you’re looking for an entry-level managed WordPress host that executes all the basic features of a WordPress host well, then WP Engine makes a good case.
Beginner-friendly and inexpensive, WP Engine is a great option for new business owners. For those of you who have more websites and demands to solve, WP Engine also offers enterprise-level solutions with a pricing system that’ll be specific to your needs.