As with any industry, there are good service providers, exceptional service providers, and bad service providers.
In the world of web hosting, cheap web hosting epitomizes the mantra that you get what you pay for. If you’re paying $3/month for web hosting, you’re getting crap. End of story.
Most mid-tier web hosting providers, like DreamHost, Rackspace or (our favorite) MediaTemple, offer either shared hosting (your site is on the same physical computer as others) or dedicated hosting (you control the entire server, and take responsibility for everything involved).
Over the past few years, a newer hosting option has grown to be quite popular: managed web hosting. Providers like Synthesis and WP Engine have built their businesses on managed WordPress web hosting, offering servers optimized for the platform.
The promise of managed web hosting is that it gives the client all of the benefits of dedicated web hosting without worrying about the technical upkeep.
With managed web hosting, you likely have your own dedicated server – no other sites share it – that has been tweaked to perform optimally for your software. The host may include their own custom software, from backups to security to web caching.
The host likely offers a set of services to manage the server, from load balancing to performance tuning to firewalls to anti-spam software. It’s great to have tech support that knows how to tweak your server to make it run as optimally as possible, but it comes at a price.
Usually, managed web hosts limit the access that the client has to make changes to the server. For non-technical folks who want to work through a customer support agent, that’s not a big deal. For folks who like to get their hands dirty in a Plesk or cPanel install, it’s a limitation.
It’s also possible that a managed web host may not actually be able to host your site. For example, Synthesis does not support sites running on the Thesis 2.0 framework.
Here’s a great article on Wikipedia about some usual differences with managed web hosting.
Is managed web hosting right for you?
You should consider managed web hosting if:
Our clients that use managed web hosts have both praised the features offered and been disappointed by the lack of control they have over their sites. So, like any other service, there’s pros and cons to consider.
Image by CWCS Web Hosting