If you’re like us, you probably rang in the New Year with too many draaanks and big dreams about how to make web hosting even better in 2018.
What’s that? Web hosting wasn’t on your mind?
Well, regardless of what you were resolving to do when the ball dropped, one thing is certain: as a website owner, you want 2018 to your most successful year yet.
And there are few decisions for your website more important than your choice of web hosting. Your web host provides a “home” for your site on the internet and can determine how well your site performs, how large it can grow, and how easy it is to build and maintain. Not to mention, choosing the right hosting plan is crucial when you’re running your site with a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress.
While there are many different types of WordPress hosting services out there, few are as perfectly balanced as managed hosting. This solution takes the pressure off of you by handling many key aspects of your site, such as its performance and optimization.
In this guide, I’ll answer all the questions you’ve got about managed hosting in 2018. Along the way, I’ll help you decide whether this type of hosting is the right choice for you and introduce our own managed DreamPress service.
Simplify your life with managed hosting? Now, that’s a resolution we can all get behind.
What Is Hosting (And Why Does It Matter)?
Your website host is the service that provides an online home for your website. It stores your site on one or more servers, so anyone can access it using a browser (such as Safari, Firefox, or Chrome). Without this, no one would be able to visit your site unless you host it yourself (which requires a lot of resources and technical know-how).
This means your choice of hosting provider is crucial — and so is your decision about what type of plan to purchase. Choosing the right hosting provider matters, because it will affect:
- Performance — Your provider will do a lot to determine how fast your site runs, which has a huge impact on visitor retention rates.
- Reliability and security — A quality hosting provider will ensure reliable service and provide features to bolster your site’s security.
- Availability of support — When you run into an issue with your site, it helps immensely to have experts you can turn to for help.
- Scalability — Your hosting provider should offer a variety of plans and tiers, so you can upgrade easily as your site grows.
- Platform-specific optimization — Some hosting companies know WordPress inside and out, which means your site will be optimized for the platform.
There are many types of web hosting available, each with its particular strengths and weaknesses. For example, shared hosting is the simplest and cheapest option but is limited in features and scalability. Other options, such as dedicated and Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting, offer their own pros and cons (which we’ll discuss in more detail shortly).
Regardless of type, most hosting providers offer a few basic things. This includes different kinds of servers, tiers of plans, and support options, so you’re able to choose the one that best suit your needs. You can get a small plan with few resources if your requirements are minimal, or rent a powerful server if your site is large and complex.
However, it’s worth noting that in typical hosting plans, providers maintain the servers but don’t do much else. You’re responsible for building, maintaining, and optimizing your site, as well as performing any customizations you might need. Managed hosting, which we’ll discuss soon, is a smart alternative if you don’t want to be that hands-on with your hosting. First, however, let’s look at the various types of hosting in more detail.
What Are the Most Common Hosting Solutions Available?
Choosing a hosting plan in 2018 can be challenging since there are now so many types of hosting on the market. To help you sort through the options, let’s talk about each common hosting solution in turn.
Shared hosting is the tried-and-true original hosting option, and it is one many website owners start with. A shared hosting plan sees you sharing your server and other resources with a number of different sites. The primary advantage of shared hosting is that it’s very cheap — in fact, it’s almost always the lowest-cost plan any web host offers.
However, shared hosting plans can be somewhat restrictive with regards to space, features, and other aspects. If your budget is very small and your site doesn’t see a lot of traffic, shared hosting might be a solid option for you. However, if you can afford to pay a little more, there’s often a better choice.
With this type of plan, you get a dedicated server that is reserved only for use with your website. Instead of sharing your resources, you’ll be renting an entire server from the hosting provider. Dedicated hosting is great for sites that get a lot of traffic or simply for those who want to ensure better performance and get access to more features.
Of course, it is a more expensive option, so you’ll need some room in your budget. However, dedicated hosting gives you a lot of control over your server and resources so you can customize everything to meet your site’s needs. This means it’s a smart choice if you have a lot of technical know-how or just want as much control as possible.
This type provides you with an isolated virtual compartment of a server, rather than a dedicated physical server. For that reason, VPS hosting is something of a halfway point between shared and dedicated hosting. It’s more expensive than a shared setup, and often significantly cheaper than renting your own dedicated server. However, you do get a lot of control over your virtual server, and depending on the plan, you’ll often get access to plenty of room for your site to grow over time. For all but the most massive sites, VPS is a solid compromise between price and performance.
There are also other hosting options available. Cloud hosting, for example, is a more complex service that is ideal for developers and entrepreneurs who have extensive and specific needs. For now, however, let’s turn our attention to the focus of this piece: managed hosting.
What Is Managed Hosting (And How Does It Work)?
Most hosting services require a certain amount of work on your end to keep your site running smoothly. However, you can get a hosting plan that takes care of many tasks for you and frees you up to focus on important work like creating content and marketing your site. This is called ‘managed hosting,’ and it’s an option well worth checking out.
Why? Because instead of managing the web hosting to-do list yourself, your hosting provider will do it for you. This way your host can guarantee performance and perform vital tasks, such as updates, for you. In a nutshell, a managed hosting plan takes the responsibility for web hosting largely off your hands.
Not to mention, some quality managed hosting plans are also designed with a specific CMS in mind.
For example, WordPress-specific plans make it easier to manage your site, because the provider creates an environment at the server level that is optimized for the platform and takes into account the typical needs of its users. Plus, you’ll need to spend much less time managing your site and tinkering under the hood. Finally, you’ll get access to a support team of WordPress experts who know everything about the platform and can resolve issues faster than with non-managed plans.
Before moving on, it’s important to note that managed hosting plans can be a type of shared, dedicated, or VPS hosting.
What Are the Benefits of Managed Hosting?
Based on the above description, you may already have an idea about whether or not managed hosting sounds like the right kind of plan for you. However, before you make a decision, let’s explore this type of hosting in a little more depth.
Managed hosting offers many advantages, including but not limited to:
- Reduced costs and saved time. It’s true that managed hosting tends to be more expensive than a basic shared hosting plan, but it still provides a huge cost advantage over running your own server (and some of the more advanced types of web hosting you can purchase). Plus, you’ll get back a lot of time you would have spent managing your site.
- Advanced performance. Each managed hosting plan is different, but most offer a variety of features including server monitoring, backups, and more. This way, you can be sure that your site is fast and able to handle lots of traffic without difficulty.
- Access to professional expertise and superior service. Unless you have a lot of experience in this area, your hosting provider will likely know more about your site’s hosting needs and technical requirements than you do. By letting your provider take care of these aspects, you’re getting access to expertise you and your team don’t have. Plus, any quality hosting provider will offer plenty of support you can turn to with questions or concerns.
This is an impressive list of benefits and makes a strong case for the value of managed hosting. If you have the budget to afford this type of plan, it’s well worth checking out. So let’s talk about how to decide whether managed hosting is right for you.
Why Would You Want to Use Managed Hosting?
By now, you should have a pretty clear understanding of what managed hosting is and why you might want to consider it over other popular types of hosting. To make your decision as clear as possible, however, let’s explore two reasons why managed hosting might be a strong fit for you and your website.
1. Your Site Is Suffering from Poor Performance
As we’ve discussed, many sites start out on shared hosting plans. This isn’t a bad thing — shared hosting is cheap, accessible, and easy for beginners to use and understand. If you’re starting your very first website or don’t expect your site to grow very large, you might be happy keeping it on a shared hosting plan for its entire lifetime.
However, once your site starts to take off, shared hosting can begin to show its limitations. As your traffic grows and your site gets larger, you might experience dips in performance, slower speeds, and even downtime.
It’s hard to understate the importance of performance. Visitors who have a good experience are more likely to return, while those confronted with pages that are slow to load and features that don’t work properly are much less likely to come back. Poor performance can have a negative effect on your bottom line and makes it difficult to grow your audience even if you aren’t selling anything.
Therefore, if you’re encountering performance issues, it might be time to look at other options. Since managed hosting provides many more resources, either in the form of a virtual or dedicated private server, your website will be equipped to handle plenty of traffic without a hitch. Plus, you’ll have a team of experts whose goal is to optimize your performance and ensure that it remains consistent.
If you aren’t sure whether or not your site is performing well, one thing you can do is test your pages’ loading speed. Simply enter your URL into a site like Pingdom, which will let you know how quickly your site loads in the browser. Most users expect pages to load in under two seconds, so if your times are above this (or if you or your visitors have noticed other performance-related problems), it may be time for an upgrade.
2. You Don’t Have Time to Fully Manage Your Site
The primary feature that distinguishes managed hosting from other types is in the name — it’s managed. That also happens to be its primary advantage for most people who choose this kind of plan. With managed hosting, you get the benefits of a quality web host with very little responsibility or effort on your part.
For this reason, managed hosting can be an attractive option if you’re struggling to find the time to run your site. Maybe it started out small, for example, but received a larger boost in traffic or customers than you were expecting.
A booming website is a wonderful thing, but it also means that your work increases exponentially. You have to create content, engage with your audience, track your analytics, run your business, and possibly even manage contributors or employees — all at the same time.
Moving to a managed hosting plan can help alleviate this pressure by taking some tasks off your hands. You won’t need to worry about optimizing for performance, saving backups, keeping your site up-to-date, and so on. Managed hosting simplifies the work it takes to make a WordPress site fast and secure and saves you from having to install extra plugins yourself. Instead, you’ll be able to focus on the bigger picture and achieving your goals.
How Do I Choose the Right Managed Hosting Service?
If you’ve made it this far, it’s likely that you’re seriously interested in trying out a managed hosting plan for your website. Fortunately, many web hosts offer this option! However, not all hosting plans are created equal, so it’s important to choose your web host and plan carefully.
If you currently have a hosting plan with a provider and you’re happy with their service, you can simply ask for an upgrade. Of course, this is also a perfect time to shop around and see if there are superior options out there. Switching your web host is worth considering if you’re at all dissatisfied with your current plan.
If you’re in the market for a managed hosting plan, here is what you’ll want to look for:
- A web host with a proven track record for performance and uptime.
- Enough space and resources to match your site’s traffic and demands.
- Key features such as security options, analytics, backups, and more.
- Functionality specific to your chosen website platform (such as WordPress).
- Reliable support that’s available whenever you need it.
This may seem like a tall order, but it’s worth holding out for a host that can provide all of the above. That way, you reduce the chances of needing to change hosts again in the near future and you’re more likely to be satisfied with your service over the long-term.
What Is DreamPress?
Before we wrap things up, I’d like to introduce you to our own managed hosting options. DreamHost provides both managed VPS hosting and managed dedicated hosting. However, if your site happens to run on WordPress — drumroll — please turn your attention to DreamPress. This is our managed hosting service designed specifically for the platform and fully optimized for the needs of WordPress users. I think you’ll find that DreamPress meets all the criteria I’ve presented for a quality hosting plan (and then some).
When you choose DreamPress for your WordPress website, you’ll get:
- Excellent speed and uptime.
- Reliable, optimized performance.
- No bandwidth caps or limits on the number of visitors your site can receive.
- Automatic updates to keep your site protected and running smoothly.
- Key security features, such as our built-in firewall.
- 24/7 support through various channels from WordPress experts.
DreamPress is the perfect way to simplify the job of running your website by putting key tasks in professional, experienced hands, so you don’t need to worry about them. And unlike some other managed WordPress solutions on the market, DreamPress is powered by cloud technology. What’s more, DreamPress is affordable even for website owners on a tight budget, starting at only $16.95 per month.
Sound like a fit for your site? Learn more about our managed WordPress service and give it a try if you’re looking for a quality plan!
Here’s Looking at You, 2018
The hard truth: your web host will play a principal role in your site’s success or failure. Your hosting plan helps determine how large your site can grow, how well it performs, and even how secure it is.
To stay competitive in 2018, you’ll need great hosting. So keep a resolution to yourself and simplify! Consider a managed service — like our DreamPress plans — to take care of all those nitty, gritty tasks for you.
Now it’s your turn! Do you have any questions about managed hosting and how it can benefit you? Let’s talk hosting like it’s 1997 — did you know we’ve been in business 20 years? — in the comments below.