As a newbie, it can be difficult to understand the difference between shared hosting vs managed WordPress hosting, as well as which one you should actually choose for your WordPress site.
To help, I’m going to explain how these two types of hosting are different, as well as which type you should pick based on your current situation.
Shared Hosting vs Managed Hosting: Basic Differences
Before I get into some specific recommendations for when you should choose shared hosting vs managed WordPress hosting, I think it’s important to give you an introduction to these two types of hosting.
How Shared Hosting Works
With shared hosting, you “share” a web server with tons of other webmasters. Depending on where you host your site, you might share server resources with hundreds of other accounts.
This has both pros and cons…
By utilizing this shared approach, hosts are able to keep their costs down and offer you very cheap prices.
The disadvantage, though, is that your site doesn’t have dedicated resources. So if a host puts too many accounts on a server, and those accounts experience a usage-spike, your site might slow down…even if it’s just other people’s sites experiencing issues.
Good shared hosts will try to mitigate this by adding some isolation and limiting the number of hosting accounts on a server, but not all shared hosts do a good job there.
How Managed WordPress Hosting Works
Managed WordPress hosting is a set of WordPress-specific services and optimizations that are added to a regular hosting plan.
You can find managed WordPress hosting for all types of hosting, including shared hosting. Yes, it’s possible to find hosting that’s both managed and shared (WP Engine’s cheapest plans are a good example of this):
Even if a managed WordPress host uses a shared hosting environment, they’re usually much less likely to overload their servers, so the negative performance aspect from above doesn’t apply.
Beyond that, it’s the extra services that really make managed WordPress hosting unique.
Managed WordPress hosts will usually:
- Implement special WordPress security rules to make sure your site is secure
- Specifically optimize their hosting environment for WordPress performance
- Automatically update the WordPress software, as well as your themes and plugins (sometimes)
- Automatically back up your site every single day
- Offer support agents who are all WordPress experts, rather than general hosting experts
- Have a staging site feature so that you can easily test WordPress changes and updates
You also usually get a custom hosting dashboard, rather than the generic cPanel control dashboard that most shared hosts use.
Why You Might Want To Pick Shared Hosting
The main benefit of shared hosting is the price. If you had an unlimited budget, there would be no reason to ever pick basic shared hosting.
But most of us don’t have an unlimited budget!
And that’s why shared hosting is the most popular type of WordPress hosting.
When you analyze price vs performance, shared hosting offers an incredible value for most webmasters, especially beginning bloggers who are just getting started.
Until your blog starts receiving higher traffic and making money, there’s just not a huge benefit to paying more money for managed WordPress hosting.
Are There Downsides To Shared Hosting?
Yes – I already mentioned the main downside:
Performance when getting higher traffic.
While most shared hosting can still load pretty quickly when your site only has a small number of visitors, that will change once your site gets popular and has more content.
On high-traffic sites, shared hosting usually just can’t keep up with the load and your site’s performance will suffer.
Additionally, some budget shared hosts offer low-quality support because of cutting costs and accepting too many clients. You can definitely find shared hosts with great support, though – but there are only exceptional in this category of web-hosting.
Finally, while your host might help a little bit, you’ll have to take on more responsibility for things like:
- Performance optimization
Why You Might Want To Pick Managed WordPress Hosting
The main benefits of managed WordPress hosting are convenience and performance. You will pay a little bit more than cheap shared hosting – that’s unavoidable.
But you’re by no means throwing your money away when you pay extra money for managed WordPress hosting.
Managed WordPress hosting will:
- Save you time
- Eliminate the need for special WordPress knowledge
- Set you up with a more effective site from day one
I touched on many of these features before, but here are some examples of what I’m talking about:
- Built-in security controls mean there’s less chance of your site getting hacked.
- Automatic backups mean your data is always safe.
- Performance optimizations mean your site will load quickly without any manual effort. For example, most managed WordPress hosts have already implemented caching, so you don’t need to worry about configuring a caching plugin.
Additionally, if you ever do run into any issues, you can get help from a team of WordPress experts.
Moreover, in my experience of moving ShoutMeLoud from Shared to VPS and now finally to managed WordPress hosting, it saves a lot of time and headache of maintaining a server.
Are There Downsides To Managed WordPress Hosting?
Well, as you’d expect, the main downside is that, to get all those convenient features, you’re going to pay a higher price.
If you’re on a budget, you can find free plugins that can get you kind of close to the convenience of a managed WordPress host without that higher price tag.
For example, you could use:
- UpdraftPlus for free automatic backups
- BlogVault for premium backup and security
- Wordfence for the free security
- WP Super Cache for free caching, etc.
It’s not as nice of an experience, but it saves money and works.
Additionally, another minor downside is that some managed WordPress hosts ban certain plugins for performance reasons.
For example, it’s not uncommon to see managed WordPress hosts ban some popular related posts plugins.
Usually, it’s only a couple types of plugins that are banned, but you should double-check before purchasing to make sure you can use all the plugins you need.
Some Quality Shared And Managed WordPress Hosts To Get You Started
If you’re a new blogger, I recommend starting with shared hosting. Then, once your site grows, you can move to managed WordPress hosting for increased performance and more convenience.
For shared hosts, I recommend these two options for beginners. Both offer a great value for price vs performance and start around ~$4 per month:
If you’re ready to upgrade from shared hosting, I have a full post on the best-managed WordPress hosting. But as an overall recommendation, I recommend Kinsta. This is actually where I currently host ShoutMeLoud. Read my full Kinsta review to learn more.
Do you have any other questions about shared hosting vs managed WordPress hosting? Leave a comment and I will try to help.
Here are a few hand-picked guides for you to read next:
- Pros & Cons of Managed WordPress Hosting: Things to Know Before Buying
- A Beginner Guide to WebHosting Packages
- Best WordPress Hosting For Serious Bloggers