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Managed or unmanaged web hosting, which is the best choice for you?

Choosing a web host is a key part of building your website and it’s vital that you choose a hosting plan that is best suited to your needs. You should also have an understanding of which web hosting solution to select before even deciding on a specific provider. 

Different types of websites can be suited to different web hosting solutions such as shared hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting, and dedicated hosting. If you’ve already decided on either VPS or dedicated hosting, then most likely your next step is to choose either a managed or unmanaged plan. Managed and unmanaged web hosting are very different and choosing one or the other will drastically affect how you run your server and subsequently, how your website performs. Depending on your expertise, the size of your website, your budget, and various offer factors, one of these options will suit you better. But how do you decide which to choose? Keep reading to find out whether managed or unmanaged web hosting is the best choice for you.  

Once you’ve decided to go with either managed or unmanaged hosting, you can find out which key factors you should consider before choosing a web hosting provider. 

What is the difference between managed and unmanaged web hosting?

Before deciding whether managed or unmanaged web hosting is the best for you and your website, you first need to understand the main differences between these two solutions. We’re also going to break down some of the pros and cons of each of these web hosting solutions so you can confidently make the right decision. Let’s begin with managed hosting. 

Managed hosting 

Managed hosting is when your hosting provider handles everything to do with the server and your website, including the setup, updates, security, system maintenance, backup restoration, and many other configurations. With managed hosting, your provider will take on all back-end tasks so you only have to worry about day-to-day operations, making it a fantastic choice for those looking to save time whenever possible. Many managed hosting providers also offer additional services and add-ons so you can fully customize a plan to fit your specific requirements. 

We would also say that managed hosting is ideal for those with lesser technical knowledge as it takes away almost all responsibility, meaning that you don’t have to worry about maintaining your website alone or hiring an in-house webmaster. Still not sure if this solution is right for you? Here are some of the pros and cons of managed hosting – 

Pros of managed hosting

  • Less maintenance – Your managed hosting provider will perform automatic updates and backups as well as taking care of all management and server maintenance. With managed hosting, regular scans will also be performed automatically to protect you from spam, malware, DDoS attacks, and other malicious cyber threats, so you don’t have to worry about installing extra security plugins. Overall, you’ll have more time to focus on other aspects of your business with peace of mind knowing that your website is up-to-date, secure, fully optimized, and running smoothly. 
  • Reliable customer support – All managed hosting providers grant you access to their expert customer support teams who are ready to help you out with any issues. With managed hosting, you can rely on 24/7 customer support which can be vital for keeping your website up and running at all times, no matter what setbacks you might encounter.  
  • Included control panel  – With many managed hosting plans, your host will give you access to their custom control panels such as cPanel or Plesk. These panels are incredibly user-friendly and will enable you to quickly navigate through settings and statistics. This is ideal for beginners who may not be as experienced with the technical aspects of running a website. With a straightforward control panel and a clean interface, you can avoid plenty of hassle and save a great deal of time.

Cons of managed hosting

  • Higher cost – Since you’re receiving more features, including 24/7 customer support, using managed hosting will end up costing you considerably more compared to unmanaged hosting. 
  • Less control – With managed hosting, you don’t get full freedom to make changes as you please and most management options will be unavailable. You’ll still get to decide how your website looks and what content is displayed on it, but you won’t be able to control the configuration of your server or any other advanced technical aspects.  

Additionally, managed hosting providers may block access to certain plugins or other third-party software if they deem it a risk to security or performance. Since your web host will have so much control over your website you should take extra consideration and choose a highly professional and reliable provider that you can fully trust. 

Unmanaged hosting 

Unmanaged hosting is when your hosting provider doesn’t provide any additional services and all management tasks are your sole responsibility. You’ll get server resources and an operating system from your hosting provider, but you’ll need to manually install any necessary software such as plug-ins. It’s also up to you to make sure that your website is up-to-date and secure as well as fixing any software errors and handling other issues that might arise. Typically, with unmanaged hosting, your web host provider’s responsibility is limited to the sever’s physical hardware and the network connection

Unmanaged hosting is clearly more complicated than managed hosting, which may suit certain users more than others. You’ll need a good level of technical expertise to be able to set up a server and manage it alone, so if you’re inexperienced then generally this may not be the most suitable option for you. However, if you’re looking for full control and flexibility when it comes to your website, then unmanaged hosting is probably the best choice for you. Here are some of the pros and cons of unmanaged hosting – 

Pros of unmanaged hosting

  • More flexibility – Unmanaged hosting allows you to control and customize your server and website the way you want. Anything from installing software, optimization,  customising security protocols, to scaling storage and memory. With unmanaged hosting you also have root access, so you can configure every single file on your server to suit your exact needs. You also don’t have to worry about being monitored by your web host and can freely allocate resources as you please. 
  • Lower cost – As your hosting provider will only offer the server and very basic management, the cost of unmanaged hosting plans is much cheaper than managed plans. However, do keep in mind that if you don’t handle your server well and fix any issues effectively then you may end up paying much more in the long run. But, if you can confidently manage your security and troubleshoot any problems early on then this shouldn’t be a concern.

Cons of unmanaged hosting 

  • No control panel – You will likely need to install a control panel from scratch as web host providers tend to not include one with unmanaged plans. If you don’t have the time or willingness to learn how to install a reliable control panel on your own, then unmanaged hosting is probably not for you. 
  • Time-consuming –  With unmanaged hosting you need to be constantly monitoring your server and any additional applications or software. You also need to ensure that your server is constantly updated, optimized, and secure at all times as unlike with managed hosting, there will be no automatic updates or backups. This can be very time-consuming and may take you away from the other responsibilities needed to grow your business.  

To summarize, depending on your technical knowledge, budget, and preferences, either managed or unmanaged hosting is best for you. Both solutions have their own set of perks and setbacks which will affect all users differently. 

For the majority of users, managed hosting typically offers more benefits than unmanaged hosting. Managed web hosting is easy to use, secure, and offers robust customer support, so you don’t have to worry about any of the technical aspects of powering your websites. However, you do have very little control when it comes to managed hosting, which some users may strongly dislike. Though generally, if you’re a less experienced user, then you’ll probably appreciate the control being taken out of your hands. Additionally, managed web hosting comes at a significantly higher cost due to all its additional features. It’s really up to you to decide whether the higher cost of managed hosting is a worthwhile investment or not. 

On the other hand, if you’re looking to save costs and have much more control over all aspects of your website, then unmanaged hosting is likely the best choice for you. Unmanaged hosting is great as it allows you to build a website that fully meets your needs and preferences, however, if you’re technically inexperienced then you may struggle to come to grips with this level of control.

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