What is “managed” hosting, anyway?

When you think of managed hosting, what comes to mind?

When you think of managed hosting, what comes to mind?

We’ll bet no two readers will have the same answer (or a definite answer in mind at all), and that’s no surprise. There are hundreds of types of hosting in the market with pretty opaque definitions around what they are, what they offer and their benefits, or even more importantly, their gaps. Many of these services claim to be managed, but very few are – at least not in the ways that really matter. 

Generally speaking, hosting can be divvied up into four groups: shared, on a virtual private server (VPS), dedicated, and managed. Let’s take a look at each of them: 

Shared hosting (the ‘quick and dirty’, unmanaged variety)

Shared hosting is typically the “cheap” option – a GoDaddy type “out-of-the-box” solution. These shared hosting providers are literally doing that – sharing your server across dozens (or hundreds) of other sites and providers. You pay for the space you use, and the price goes up on a tiered basis when you go over your predetermined threshold. 

These are usually the kinds of services where you can hit a button on a control panel, and the next minute you have a WordPress environment. Some companies call this managed – we’d say it’s automated but very little more. 

It’s cheap, but it offers next to nothing in terms of producing a solution that is fit for purpose or ready to adapt to changes and challenges. As the environment is shared with many other providers, security can be compromised – and you have to navigate through a myriad of things you don’t need to in order to gain access to the small number of things you do. 

Virtual private server (your very own slice of the hosting pie)

Given the pitfalls of shared hosting, many agencies will, therefore, at some point get their own VPS, which is like having a “private slice” of a full server, rented month-to-month. 

This rented server is sometimes called “managed”, too. Security updates are applied regularly to the server, and there’s usually a dashboard that will let you know when there’s a hardware failure, or the server is overloaded. Helpful? Somewhat. Managed? Not quite. 

Automated updates are exactly that – automated – and provide no human oversight or intelligence into what’s going on. They also seldom include backups and other mechanisms to provide redundancy and security. 

Most importantly, these solutions also don’t configure your server for your specific needs – and that tends to be where things really fall over. When you get a server that isn’t configured (and no one specifically configures your server with a VPS), they’re typically set up to allow traffic volumes that even medium-sized physical servers simply can’t handle. You guessed it: Houston, we have a problem. 

Dedicated servers (nice and private, but inflexible money-gobblers)

Then there are dedicated servers – where you have a whole server, all to yourself. These, again, may be considered managed (and comes with its advantages) – but it can be hugely expensive and is highly inflexible, offering nothing that couldn’t be solved by simply having an appropriately configured and managed solution in a shared environment. 

The glaring problem with each of the solutions we’ve mentioned above is that none of them involves a dedicated person who understands your sites’ setup and is equipped to tailor your configuration to ensure it performs at its best.

Without an internal specialist within your team ready to jump in and (here comes that word again!) manage your hosting solution – which many businesses don’t – the best most agencies can do is throw more money at the problem: buying more disk space, more services, more whatever it takes to just make the thing work. It’s inefficient at best, and a nightmare at worst.

We reckon there’s a better way – which is why we do things differently.

Managed hosting (a better way!)

For us, managed means precisely that: managed. We take care of the process of setting up, monitoring and maintaining your hosting across the entire lifecycle and ecosystem to get the best out of the sites you manage in the most effective way possible. This results in fewer outages, lower cost, more efficiencies, and all with a dedicated technician on standby to take care of problems when they inevitably crop up.

We do this in many ways: from assigning resources based on expected traffic volumes to minute-by-minute monitoring, from proactive disk space management and security updates, to speed testing and efficiency recommendations, and much more. 

And, because we only charge for what you need (and nothing that you don’t), as well as having the leverage of scale in looking after hundreds of websites, our hosting is cheaper than most VPS offerings and any dedicated server, and with tenfold more value and security than a shared, out-of-the-box solution. 

You have a real, dedicated team of the same specialists taking care of your hosting and working in partnership to help you get the very best out of the sites your clients trust you with. Now that’s what we call managed.

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