WordPress is often billed as being an easy-to-use content management system (CMS). And when it comes to maintaining your website’s content, that’s true. But, as with any CMS, there are certain responsibilities that come along with using it.
What many people don’t realize is that a website running WordPress requires regular maintenance to ensure that software is kept up-to-date. But even those who do attempt to keep their site’s WordPress core and plugins current can find it hard to keep up with the unpredictable manner in which updates are released. This is especially true with plugins, where security and bug fixes often come without prior notice.
That’s where managed WordPress hosting has come in to take some of the pressure off of website owners. Let’s take a look at what managed hosting is, how it works and how to find out if it’s a good fit for you.
Beyond standard web hosting
Managed WordPress hosting services aim to take care of all the maintenance-related details that go along with running a website. Tasks like keeping your WordPress install and plugins updated are done automatically – leaving you with the confidence that you’re always running the latest versions. Other critical services such as daily backups and security scans may also be included.
You’ll also find that managed hosting services are often optimized for speed. While standard hosting services have to be configured to run a wide variety of apps, managed hosting is configured specifically to run WordPress. This means that the server’s operating system, etc. is tweaked with the needs of WordPress in mind. For example, many hosts offer caching at the server level – meaning you don’t have to run a caching plugin. The result is a faster website.
To further entice potential customers, some services offer extra goodies such as premium WordPress themes, existing site migration and technical support. Overall, managed hosting is meant to be more of a full-service experience as compared to the more DIY traditional web hosting packages.
The potential downsides
While there are many advantages to using managed WordPress hosting, there are some potential drawbacks that you should consider. One or more of the following could be a dealbreaker:
It costs more
The convenience and worry-free features of a managed hosting account come at a higher cost. Depending on your pricing term and the level of service you opt for, managed hosting can cost more than your average traditional host. So you’ll want to check your budget and see if the extra costs are feasible.
You’ll have less control
Because the goal of managed hosting is to provide an all-in-one experience, you lose a certain measure of control over site management. Web designers and technically minded site owners may be disappointed to find that specific plugins may not be allowed or that they have limited access to advanced server functionality. Those who really want to tweak settings or experiment with plugins may want to look elsewhere.
Updates don’t always go smoothly
While it’s always recommended that your WordPress website utilizes the latest and greatest versions, there is a chance that an update will cause problems. If you’re manually updating your website, you’ll be able to check and see if any issues exist at that time. Automated updates mean that you may not even realize something is broken. So you still need to be vigilant about checking in on your site. On the bright side, services that offer automated daily backups mean that, if something does go wrong, reverting to a stable version of your website is just a click away.
Is managed WordPress hosting a good fit for you?
Deciding whether to take the plunge with managed WordPress hosting comes down to a few factors. To get a better idea, ask yourself the following questions:
1. How involved will you be in day-to-day site maintenance?
If you’re a business owner who doesn’t necessarily have time to worry about keeping your themes and plugins up-to-date, managed hosting may be the way to go. It’s a great option for those who really want to focus only on the content side of things and leave the technical stuff to someone else.
2. Are there certain plugins you need to use?
As some managed hosts put a limit on which plugins you can use, it’s a good idea to check with them before signing up. Note that in many cases, hosts ban the use of specific plugins because they’re either: a) duplicating a service already offered by the host (like caching), or b) taking up too many server resources (which will slow down your site). So it’s unlikely that plugins critical to your site’s functionality will be on that blacklist.
3. Could you use a helping hand?
Managed hosting really is designed for those of us who could benefit from automation and support that specializes in helping people with WordPress. One of the biggest selling points here is that you don’t need to be an expert because there are a staff of them willing to help you along. So, no matter your experience level, you’ll be able to set up a website that looks and works the way you want it to. If you run into problems, qualified help is there when you need it.
Managing WordPress made easier
There’s no doubt why managed hosting services are gaining traction in the world of WordPress. The fact is, there is an awful lot that goes into keeping a website updated, stable and secure. And unless it’s in your job description to take care of all of these different aspects of site maintenance, chances are an all-in-one service would make life a lot easier.
As with any decision pertaining to your website, there are some things to consider. With managed hosting, you’ll need to think about the extra costs and the access to advanced server functionality you might have to give up. But in most cases those may be minor trade-offs as compared to the real benefits of having a WordPress-centric suite of services working for you.
Managed WordPress hosting has found an important place in the industry and can be an indispensable resource for those who use it.