Is the (managed) WordPress hosting industry coming to an end? I mean, is WordPress easy-to-grasp enough so that we no longer need any companies helping us out setting up our web servers, and then taking care of those servers on a regular basis?
Well, if you’re a developer working with WordPress every day, then you might want to believe that it’s indeed the case. For people like that, setting up efficient servers with Linode or DigitalOcean is a breeze. But as Chris Lema very accurately pointed out, WordPress is far from simple, especially for your parents, your neighbours, or whoever else simply wants a website without getting their hands dirty.For the end user – who might not be that much familiar with the technical stuff – WordPress is just a black box that allows them to have their work/posts/articles/products published on the web. And it should stay that way too.
So, companies offering managed WordPress hosting seem to be a good response to that need. Or are they?
Best managed WordPress hosting
What is managed WordPress hosting?
Hold off on the WordPress hosting companies thing for a moment. Let’s talk 1/4 mile drag racing.
If you wish, you can drag race with your everyday stock Honda Civic.
But if you watched The Fast and the Furious, you know that in order to get some real good 1/4 mile times out of it, you need to get specific work done to that Civic.
… Get a tricked out turbo charger, a tuned chip, better tires, a better tuned gearbox that puts the power to the wheels quicker (or whatever, I’m no expert here).
So at the end of the day, you still have the Civic, but it’s been optimized to perform at its best in a 1/4 mile drag race.
WordPress hosting is somewhat the same.
Under the hood (no pun intended), a web server is a web server, and it’s usually built with the same components. Every car has an engine, some wheels, and all the other usual parts. But it’s how these parts are set up, and what kind of specific parts they are, which makes all the difference. It’s what makes a car purpose-built for one thing or the other.
While all web hosts can handle WordPress, best managed WordPress hosting has been optimized for WordPress websites specifically.
More than that, it usually features some side-services revolving around things like expert support, automatic updates, backups, and so on. Think, a concierge WordPress hosting package, where you not only get the hosting, but also everything else that will enrich your experience further.
Essentially, having your website hosted on a managed WordPress hosting platform gives you the freedom of not having to worry about the technical stuff, and simply focus on what’s the true essence of your work online – running your business, publishing content, selling your products and what-evs.
What’s the difference between shared hosting and managed hosting?
Here are some of the things that you usually don’t have to worry about if you’re on a managed WordPress hosting plan vs. its shared hosting counterpart:
Most importantly, with managed WordPress hosting, you get access to expert support (preferably in a 24/7 manner and via phone) that’s always ready to solve any issue you might have. With shared hosting plans, on the other hand, you have no certainty that the person on the other end will be knowledgeable about WordPress and/or able to solve a specific problem related to the platform.
In short, all of what you can see in the left column of the table above is managed on the host’s end … that’s where the name managed WordPress hosting comes from.
When do you need managed WordPress hosting?
Okay, so let’s answer the big question: Why and when do you need managed WordPress hosting?
Use best managed WordPress hosting companies for:
With all of the above in mind, it’s also important to know some downsides usually related to managed WordPress hosting.
Keep in mind, though, that the things listed below are not deal-breakers by any means. They are just the realities of managed WordPress hosting, and potentially what makes this kind of hosting unique and optimized for the WordPress platform specifically:
- Usually more expensive than shared hosting. As we talked about a while ago, you can get a reliable shared hosting plan for $5 a month. With managed hosting, it’s usually in the $15-$50 range (or more).
- Most of the time, you can only run WordPress sites on this kind of hosting. This is due to the architecture of the server itself and its settings. That being said, for 99% of the users this won’t be an issue, for obvious reasons.
- Some of your favorite plugins might be banned by the host. Due to the optimizations made by a given managed WordPress hosting company, some plugins can be banned from the servers. Most commonly, this is done to prevent those plugins from slowing down the server, straining the database, interfering with caching, making too many HTTP requests, and so on. For instance, WP Engine’s list of disallowed plugins is a good reference here.
- You have less control. If you enjoy taking a look into the WordPress core every once in a while to fix this or that, you might find this difficult to do with some managed WordPress hosts. The environment tends to be more closed down in some areas (although specific modifications are possible … just not all of them).
The managed WordPress hosting comparison and reviews
Okay, so with all the theory out of the way, let’s now talk specific recommendations, and why you would choose one platform over the other.
SiteGround offers the cheapest managed WordPress plans, catering both to bloggers and non-technical people, as well as developers that need advanced features like Git integration and staging areas.Their GoGeek plan seems to be a nice solution for people who want to experiment with the platform on their own, apart from getting all of the standard hosting features that come out the box.
- Git integration.
- Free PCI compliance (for e-commerce).
- One year of free SSL.
- CDN included.
- Multiple websites on a single account.
- 24/7 support. Via phone as well.
- Even though the cheapest plan goes from $3.95 / mo, it won’t be the best solution for most high-traffic sites. The plans offering some more advanced managed hosting features start at $11.95 / mo. (that plan comes with pre-installed Git, staging sites, and free PCI compliance for e-commerce sites). In all honesty, though, this is still a bargain at that price point.
Managed WordPress hosting is something that WP Engine has offered ever since the company was created, and it’s what originally put them on the map among other firms, more established at the time.Despite some rough episodes along the way (problems with their growing infrastructure), WP Engine seems to have found their balance. Right now, they offer managed solutions that are somewhere in the middle of the road between beginner-friendly, and developer-friendly WordPress hosting.
- CDN included, starting from plan “Professional.”
- Great scalability – suitable for websites rapidly growing in traffic.
- Free automated migration.
- 24/7 phone support, starting from plan “Professional.”
- High overages cost, even up to $1 per every 1000 visits.
- It’s reported that WP Engine tends to modify native WordPress code quite heavily, making it hard to move to another host in case you need to do so in the future.
Albeit a new player in the managed WordPress hosting space, Flywheel has made a name for themselves very quickly. They’re a great choice for non-developers who want to launch a WordPress site and make sure that it’s going to work with no interruptions.Potentially great for designers, small business owners, freelancers, bloggers, and all non-technical people in general.
- Ultra beginner-friendly and easy to use.
- Data centers around the world – your website will perform well no matter where your audience is.
- Built-in caching and automatic backups.
- Additional server features can get expensive. For instance, if you want SSL, CDN, and multisite ability, that’s an additional $30 / mo on top of your current plan.
- Phone support only 9am-7pm CDT.
- Unlimited pageviews and visitors.
- 1440 daily uptime checks per site.
- Ability to hook up your site to a CDN of your choice.
- Automatic scaling.
- Support for Let’s Encrypt, SSH, WP-CLI, Git, and more.
- Free website migrations.
- Quick SSD storage.
- There’s mainly one rather significant downside – the price. The cheapest plan is $100 / month.
- Real-time malware monitoring.
- Advanced developer features.
- Automated daily backups.
- Built-in redundancy.
- Great scalability.
- You can use nearly any plugin or theme you want.
- No phone support at all, even on the highest-tier plans.
- The highest prices on this list – starting at $499 / month.
- Very affordable if you want to launch 1-5 websites.
- One-click staging sites.
- An SSL certificate for free for one year.
- SiteLock Professional malware detection and removal.
- Ready to handle as many as 400,000 monthly visitors at the $7.99 / month price point.
- Quick SSD storage.
- You need to be careful going through their checkout process / shopping cart. There’s a lot of upselling going on … for things you might not necessarily need. Most of those additional offers are enabled by default.
I hope this WordPress hosting comparison will come handy to you while looking for a managed WordPress host. Feel free to comment and let us know your opinions about any of the hosts featured here.
We should really mention our own WordPress Managed Hosting. Check out our packages and let us know what you think.