Before you can commit to a managed or unmanaged WordPress package, you should ask yourself a couple of questions. First, you have to ensure that you understand what both terms mean, as well as what the subjective definitions are with your desired service provider. Then you need to weigh up your immediate needs and ascertain which package will meet them.
Let's address some of the most important questions you should ask yourself before you commit to a WordPress hosting package, and help you with the right solutions for your specific situation.
What Is VPS?
VPS stands for virtual private server. A VPS hosting package usually consists of your own machine, dedicated RAM and CPU, as well as root access to a hosting server. Virtual private servers are ideal for sites that are growing rapidly in terms of their traffic and content.
What Is Managed WordPress Hosting?
With a managed account, your host is responsible or your VSP server configuration, its maintenance, the security of the server and any software updates it requires. All of these things can be slightly different, in terms of the exact services they encompass, between hosts, so it s recommended that you check with your service provider and find out exactly what the inclusions are.
This article from Network Computing talks about the trade-off between cost and skills, as well as the responsibilities associated with managing your own hosting.
Managed hosting services offload the management responsibility and personnel costs, but the customer is still faced with managing the provider to ensure quality of service. Although cloud services eliminate hardware and software acquisition and deployment costs, those costs are replaced with pay-as-you-go service fees.
What Is Unmanaged WordPress Hosting?
With an unmanaged WordPress hosting account you can expect to receive a lot less support and service from your provider. The onus will be on you to do your own server system administration, configurations and server maintenance. You can have your server operating software installed in advance and have a remote connection to enable you to manage the VPS server.
And, who is unmanaged WordPress hosting usually best suited for?
Unmanaged hosting is generally for businesses with IT personnel who have the knowledge and experience required to set up and run a server. The Web hosting company will set up the server and a base install of the operating system. Control of the server is then handed off to the customer, who will install and configure the required software.
Security is a major factor in making the decision, too. You can tell yourself you are learning and will learn from your mistakes but it is important to note that if you get it wrong and there are vulnerabilities, you can compromise your own security as well as that of any clients you may be working for.
How Much Can I Afford To Spend?
For most people this is usually the next most important question because business always comes down to budgets. An unmanaged account is a lot more affordable than a managed account – but, of course, it includes a lot less. So you need to weigh up your budget with your available skills.
This article explains why Managed WordPress hosting is more expensive and why, in some cases, it might be necessary to pay more:
Managed WordPress hosting is priced higher than traditional blog shared hosting, but the extra cost gives the added security, stability, and support that many people want and need. For example, a small business owner whose website and blog are powered by WordPress or a blogger who earns most of his money through his blog need to be certain that their sites are always up and running.
How Much Time Do I Have To Invest In This?
When you think about the timing element, there are two separate things to consider. One is setting everything up and getting it to a workable point for you to take it forward. How long would it take you to learn everything for yourself and do you actually have that time? The second element is in relation to ongoing maintenance. Once the set up has been done, how much time do you have available to invest every month and is it worth your while in relation to the revenue it is bringing in?
By contrast, however, with a managed account you have a lot less say over what happens on your server, as this WP Hacks article points out:
You have less control. If someone else is managing all the technical aspects of your WordPress accounts, you don't decide what gets updated and changed to improve efficiency. Someone else does. If you like to be in control, managed WordPress hosting might not be the best fit.
How Much About Server Maintenance Do I Actually Know?
So while the unmanaged package is generally the cheaper option, regardless of which service provider you end up working with, it does come at a cost. You are required to have the level of skill and experience required to run and maintain it. If you don't have that skill it could work out to be more expensive for you in the long run. It is probably at this point that you would prioritize your budget needs versus your service delivery needs.
Unless you have both the capacity and the capability to do it, it may not be worthwhile. Your individual business circumstances may dictate which route you choose. For example, if you run a company that focuses primarily on website design but offers hosting as a value-added service for your design clients, you may not have the capacity to be able to run and maintain your own servers.
But if hosting is the core of your business and you need to maximize your profit margins it would probably make better business sense to manage your own server. And, if you are that control freak who wants to do everything your way, it probably is a clear sign that you should be running things your way, and opt for the unmanaged option.