Last updated: April 12, 2021
What Is Managed Hosting?
With "managed servers", the hosting company provides services such as: installing software, performing upgrades, security monitoring, and other maintenance.
Whereas "unmanaged" servers/hosting leave all or most of these technical services in the hands of the customer.
Each host defines "managed" in their own terms, so be sure to research your prospective hosting companies' definitions of "managed servers".
In a nutshell, managed hosting plans let you lease your own server and associated hardware (backups, additional drives, etc.) and include round-the-clock support for maintenance, upgrades, and monitoring by the host.
Unlike traditional shared hosting, you won't be stuck taking care of the technical details of website management.
No more double-checking your daily backups at 3 AM; no more digging through the control panel of your server to install a patch to applications; no more dealing with every little spike in firewall traffic that's just as likely to be a hacker's probe as it is increased interest from visitors to your site.
Common features of managed hosting plans include:
- Dedicated servers (or VPS) for a faster, more reliable website (ideal for high-traffic or resource-heavy sites)
- 100% uptime guarantees: Dedicated staff monitor your website 24/7 to immediately fix any issues causing downtime
- A dedicated support team you can contact 24/7 for immediate assistance with your website
- Security features like SSL certificates and hardware firewalls to protect your website from hackers
- Detailed logging of threats and security actions
- Managed databases for peak performance and speed
- Complete backup and storage solutions, including disaster recovery
Some web hosting providers will even work with you to create custom managed hosting plans that fit your specific needs.
Managed hosting also generally includes more advanced tech support than shared hosting, so if you've got a misbehaving application or a potentially site-killing hardware failure, your assigned support staff will often fix it before you even know a problem exists.
Managed hosting isn't for everyone. If you just need a one-page website for a small local business, you probably don't require all the premium features of managed hosting.
If your business would suffer lost revenue from website downtime, slow performance, or other technical issues, you should consider investing in managed hosting. Managed hosting is a great solution for:
- E-commerce websites
- SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses
- Web-based or mobile apps
- Large, media-rich websites
- Online gaming websites
- Any website that must be available 24/7
How Much Does Managed Hosting Cost?
Managed hosting is a premium service, and it comes at a premium price. That price, however, can vary widely depending on what services are included.
You can expect to pay anywhere between $30 to hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars per month, depending on the level of support and the hardware required to host your website.
Keep in mind that, unless otherwise specified by your host, you'll still be responsible for actual site design and application development.
In essence, they'll handle the hardware and whatever it needs to run your site, but you're still on the hook for building your site. Check with your host for details.
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Managed Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
- What is managed hosting?
Managed hosting is a service offered by some hosting companies wherein they provide a high level of support, systems administration, and application management.
- What are some of the specific services done by managed hosting providers?
Managed hosting providers may help you install software or transfer websites from other hosts, help with upgrades, perform routine maintenance, do proactive security monitoring, make configuration changes as needed, assist with deployment and integration, and look for ways to optimize performance.
- Is managed hosting different than VPS hosting or dedicated hosting?
VPS hosting, dedicated hosting, and shared hosting all refer to the actual setup of your hosting server, whether you are sharing a server with other customers, using an entire physical server by yourself, or being hosted on a virtual machine on top of a server cluster. Managed hosting, which refers to the level of human support you receive as part of your hosting plan, is available for both VPS and dedicated server hosting. There are even some managed shared hosting plans, but these tend to be application-specific managed hosting plans.
- Is managed hosting available for my operating system?
There are managed hosting providers for both Linux and Windows servers.
- What is application-specific managed hosting?
Some popular web applications benefit greatly from specific hosting environment tweaks and other server practices which are not common or easy to implement in shared hosting or even VPS hosting. A number of hosting providers have therefore created hosting plans that are built around managing specific software installations. Managed WordPress hosting plans are the best example of this. Managed WordPress hosting providers offer environments optimized for WordPress, assist with installation and transfer, and provide additional levels of security. Some of these providers even offer customized distributions of the core software or specialized plugins that contain detailed configuration improvements.
- Do I need managed hosting?
That depends. Managed hosting is primarily designed for small and medium-sized business that are large enough to need professional server management, but are not so large as to have the need or resources to hire a full-time systems administrator. If your website is mission-critical, and you don't have a CTO, sysadmin, or tech department, you probably need managed hosting.
- Will a managed hosting team help me build a website?
Usually not. All companies are different, so you might find this somewhere. However, managed hosting usually involves support and services directly related to the web hosting server, not to any applications or websites you are running on it. The support team of a managed hosting plan will likely help you move your website from another hosting company, and they will help you figure out what is wrong in the event of a site outage or other problem. But they usually will not help you design or build a website.
- What are the disadvantages of managed hosting?
This depends on the specific details of the plan. Some managed hosting providers do not allow the user to manage any aspect of server administration themselves. This can be a good idea (if you need to be saved from yourself), but it can also introduce an annoying and time-consuming workflow of request-wait-test. Additionally, managed hosting can be very expensive, which is a waste of money if you don't actually need that level of support and service.
- Why does a server need to be managed in the first place?
Whether you are managing a server yourself or the hosting company is, someone needs to pay regular attention to your web hosting server. Software needs to be updated, especially if security patches are released. The operating system also needs to be kept up to date. Error logs should be checked regularly and analyzed to see if there are any problems. Backups of the database and code files should be done regularly, and someone needs to know how to restore from these backups if something happens to the site. Uptime and traffic should be monitored to make sure there aren't any access problems. Threats need to be detected and blocked, viruses and spam deleted. Additionally, if you are running complex web applications, there might be issues with deployment and integration.
- What are the advantages of managed hosting?
Management of your hosting account may make your website faster, more secure, and more reliable. Managed hosting typically has higher uptime percentages, experiencing fewer outages and recovering from them faster. Managed hosting plans also save you time, as you are not having to do these tasks yourself.
- What is the alternative to managed hosting?
Primarily, the alternative is to manage your servers yourself. Depending on your hosting needs and your own technical skills, this may or may not be a feasible solution. If you are running a small personal blog or a "brochure" website for a small business, you can use unmanaged shared hosting with no issues. Most server management tasks can be done easily from a control panel, and if you run into any issues you can contact customer support. If you are running a larger or more complex site, such as an enterprise management system or an e-commerce site, you are probably going to need to be using a VPS or dedicated server plan. In this case, you really need someone with sysadmin experience, so you'll need to either be able to manage your hosting server yourself or get a managed hosting plan.