Every business needs a great website. In addition to making sure you have the right web design and user experience, you have to ensure your site is always online and working properly. That comes down to the type of web hosting service you choose. If what you’re looking for is a hands-off solution to web hosting, a managed hosting provider may be the right choice for you.
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In the world of web hosting, managed and unmanaged hosting services refer to who is in charge of a server’s setup, security, back-ups, and hardware and software maintenance — the hosting service provider or the user.
With unmanaged hosting, the user is responsible for these tasks, whereas with a managed hosting service, the hosting service provider takes care of them.
For most types of web hosting, like shared and VPS hosting, managed hosting services are included. The question of managed versus unmanaged services comes into play with dedicated hosting, when a customer leases an entire server for their own use.
In most cases, users who have a dedicated server plan can choose between managed and unmanaged services. Managed hosting services are recommended for users who do not have the time, resources, or technical knowledge to handle server set-up and maintenance themselves.
While managed hosting services can make life easier for users, as they do not have to deal with the day-to-day tasks required to keep a server running properly, they come at a price, as users are essentially paying for their own 24/7 IT team in addition to the dedicated server.
When deciding if managed hosting services are right for you, it’s helpful to look at the key benefits and drawbacks.
- Managed hosting services save the user’s time, as no one on the user’s end has to take time to service equipment, troubleshoot and repair problems, or upgrade software.
- With managed hosting, no one on the user’s end needs to have the advanced technical knowledge and skills needed to set up and maintain a server.
- Users have the peace of mind of knowing that regular updates and maintenance, as well as unforeseen problems, will be handled efficiently, so they can focus their energy and attention on growing their business.
- For users who want complete control over their server, managed hosting services are not the ideal option. Although users can request changes from their hosting service provider, there are more limitations than if a user has full access to their server.
- Managed hosting typically costs more than unmanaged hosting, as users pay for the convenience of outside IT help. Managed services may only be a few dollars more per month, but this can add up over time.
Must-Have Features of Managed Hosting Services
Managed hosting features vary slightly by the provider, but here are some key features all hosts should provide:
- Hardware and software maintenance: The main selling point of managed hosting services is that the service provider will handle all of the routine maintenance for the server, including updates, repairs, and security monitoring.
- Backup and recovery: Your service provider should also have protocols in place for regularly backing up your site’s data, as well as a recovery plan in the event the server crashes or is damaged.
- Uptime: Your website’s uptime should be as close to 100% as possible. The industry standard is 99.9%, which is what most web hosting companies advertise. You can confirm their claims by checking with a third-party auditor.
- 24/7/365 support: Users with a managed hosting plan pay premiums for service, so they should get premium support. A hosting provider offering managed hosting services should guarantee customer support 24/7, whether it’s via phone, email, tickets, or live chat.
- Service level agreement: All of the features included with the managed hosting plan should be clearly outlined in a service level agreement (SLA) between the web host and the user.
Cost of Managed Hosting Services
Managed hosting services are usually the most expensive of all the different web hosting types. Not only are users paying for dedicated resources, they are getting a high level of support from IT professionals who are monitoring and managing those resources. The price can also vary depending on the amount of resources a customer uses.
On average, most users can expect to pay anywhere from $50-$250 per month for quality managed hosting services. For the most robust enterprise solutions, prices may go as high as a few thousand dollars a month.
To build our list of the best managed hosting services, we evaluated hosting providers based on the factors that are most important to small businesses, including the server types offered, uptime and load speed, and the quality of customer support.
A managed hosting provider that offers different types of servers gives you more options to scale as your website grows. A smaller managed server might be enough when building a web presence, but more powerful options like a dedicated server might be needed as your website begins to experience significant amounts of traffic. It is generally easier to upgrade your site’s server type within the web host you’re currently using than to migrate your site over to a new hosting provider.
The speed with which your website loads affects how users interact with it. Most people won’t stick around if your page takes over 20 seconds to load. Additionally, search engines factor load times into their ranking preferences, which means a slow site could affect your ability to show up in search results.
Uptime is another important factor for businesses. Uptime refers to how reliable a web host’s servers are. Many web hosting companies inflate their speed and uptime numbers, so we used a third-party website to get objective figures.