If you’re a small business owner just beginning to build your online presence, you may have noticed offerings of both ‘shared hosting’ and ‘Managed WordPress’ (or ‘WordPress hosting’) when searching for a company to host your website. There are some good things to be said about Managed WordPress:
- Managed WordPress servers are configured specifically for WordPress. That means even high-traffic websites can be super fast.
- Managed WordPress includes strong security measures, like built-in malware scans and hacker blocking.
- Daily backups are part of the package, with easily accessible restore points if your site fails or crashes.
One thing to consider that is both good AND bad in my book: automatic updates. On the one hand, you don’t have to worry about updating your plugins, theme or WordPress core. It’s all done for you automagically. On the other hand, these updates can sometimes crash your site and you’ll be none the wiser. That is, until someone tries to visit said site and – hopefully – alerts you that it’s crashed. Then you have to try and figure out which update crashed it – or restore from backup (but how long has your site been down…how far back do you need to go?). Opting for an affordable website maintenance plan that’s monitored in real time by an actual person might be a better bet. Think of what you’ll save in aggravation!
Managed WordPress also has its flat-out drawbacks. Here are just some of the challenges I have personally encountered working with Managed WordPress, particularly GoDaddy Managed WordPress:
- Deleting items in bulk from the media library crashes the site.
- Any changes you attempt to make via the Theme Editor will always fail (likely due to a permissions issue).
- It blocks the installation of certain plugins (regardless of your experience with them).
- There’s a delay in seeing changes live even after flushing cache(s), commonly 2-3 hours or more.
- You can’t install a third party SSL certificate, so you can’t utilize free SSL (and GoDaddy, for instance, charges almost $200/yr for the service).
- Another permissions issue reared its ugly head after a WordFence scan on a client’s site. It detected old core files that should have been removed during a WordPress update but weren’t. I was able to access the files through FTP (no cPanel access on Managed WordPress). But I was not able to delete them. Access denied. So there they sit, like so much directory debris.
- In more than one instance, GoDaddy wanted to charge several of my clients $50-$160 to restore their site after a plugin update crashed it. This is pretty crummy, considering one of the features of Managed WordPress is automated backups. Restoration after a crash is, literally, 2-3 clicks away. Instead of educating their customer or providing the free support that should come with a $14.95/month price tag, they wanted to charge for ‘premium support’.
Basically, I have found that with Managed WordPress, my clients and I do not have full control over how their server is set up and how their WordPress is configured or maintained. If you’re a straight-out-of-the-box, set-it-and-forget-it kind of person, this might not be an issue for you. But if you prefer your website to be a more dynamic, growing-and-changing-over-time kind of site, you’re probably going to want more control. In order to have that control, I recommend standard shared hosting from a great hosting provider like GreenGeeks or BlueHost.
What’s more, Managed WordPress tends to be pricier than standard shared hosting. While you can get shared hosting starting at as little as $2.95/month your first year (usually around $9.95/month when you renew), Managed WordPress starts at around $14.95-$29.00/month.
What it really comes down to is your needs and preferences. If you’re not very tech savvy, standard hosting could become a hassle as your small business (and your site) grows. You’ll be responsible for updating your site, keeping it secure, optimizing speed, etc. There are basically two alternative options: hire someone to manage your website or use a managed WordPress hosting provider (just, PLEASE, not GoDaddy).