What is the difference between managed and unmanaged WordPress hosting platforms?

Your hosting platform for your WordPress site will generally fall in two categories: Managed and Unmanaged hosting.

The purpose of this resource isn’t to compare specific hosting companies, but rather to outline the general differences between managed and unmanaged hosting platforms so that you can help your client make an informed choice.

Unmanaged Hosting

Unmanaged hosting caters to the most common needs of a huge variety of websites, whether they’re static sites or dynamic sites powered by WordPress.

Some examples would be:

  • HostGator
  • BlueHost
  • InMotionHosting

Some of these platforms may also offer a managed hosting tier at a higher price

Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress hosting offers optimized services for WordPress sites as well as a number of advanced services (such as Git to deploy).

Some examples would be:

  • WPEngine
  • Flywheel
  • Pagely
  • Kinsta

PROS & CONS

Pros

Unmanaged:

  • Very affordable!
  • Many competitors (lots of choice)

Managed:

  • Regular (daily) automated backups
  • Better support, as they focus on WordPress sites so they know the platform very well
  • Better uptime
  • Very fast speeds
  • Enhanced security
  • Staging sites
  • Advanced features (such as Git to deploy)

Cons

Unmanaged:

  • Support can be pretty bad
  • Slower loading times
  • Security is minimal, and better measures will be up to you to implement
  • Regular, automatic backups will be up to you to put in place
  • Limited (if any) advanced features
  • No staging sites

Managed:

  • More expensive
  • Plugin limitations (A few plugins won’t be permitted either because of security concerns or because the hosting service itself already provides the same service.)
  • Can only run WordPress (So your static / Joomla / Drupal site will need to be hosted elsewhere! :))


Many developers believe that the money your client would save with an inexpensive unmanaged hosting platform is money they will have to spend eventually in attempting to address issues that would otherwise have been gracefully handled or entirely avoided with a managed hosting environment.

This being said - with the right tools, such as plugins to automate backups and enhance site security for example, unmanaged hosting can definitely be a viable option!

Now that you have a better idea of the differences between the two types of hosting platforms, it will be up to you to decide! :)

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