Big and small organizations must contend with several potentially confusing options when hunting for a suitable hosting solution, and managed hosting is one of these. Picking an unsuitable hosting provider might result in a burdensome investment in IT due to compatibility issues, or scaling obstacles thanks to inflexible plans or hardware limits, but this is doubtful with managed hosting. Managed hosting is an option that many prefer, and while it can also mean managed dedicated hosting, it ultimately seeks to replicate the control that’s possible with an in-house server but without the attached administration and upkeep requirements. Businesses seeking to outsource their site and its assets will find the best managed hosting providers below.
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What is a Managed Hosting and How Does It Work?
Managed hosting is like any other hosting service, but those renting the server space do not need to support or optimize it, nor do they need to share it with any of the provider’s other clients. Usually provided via dedicated physical CPU servers, the provider is merely the one safekeeping, optimizing, and maintaining this hardware for the individual or company using it.
The renter of managed hosting space also has exclusive usage over it, which cannot be said of basic and VPS plans that share resources with other users to varying degrees. While you can also have a managed VPS server, for example, managed hosting usually refers to dedicated servers and their ability to grant ownership-level exclusivity and control, without the managerial costs.
When Should I Choose Managed Hosting?
You should choose managed hosting if you want zero questions about your hardware’s capabilities in any circumstance, for example how far you can push it in terms of bandwidth or storage. Those who doubt the theoretically unlimited data transfer and storage offered by shared or VPS plans are justified, as it would be impossible for all slices of any shared hosting environment to max their capacity without dragging down the others.
Another good reason to consider managed hosting is if you want the control of your own private physical server but want to skip out on the costs or efforts involved in updating, testing, optimization, or regular maintenance. Those who prefer managed hosting like to have the best hardware and want to make sure it’s maintained, but they also want a third-party to be responsible for things like correct software versions, patching, backups, and monitoring.
Main Benefits of Managed Hosting
Managed hosting is essentially the outsourcing of your own personal server to a third-party, so it saves immense time spent by internal IT teams who need to setup, configure, and manage this crucial hardware. The opportunity cost of configuring multiple cPanels and connecting the services your business requires is time spent doing more profitable things.
Time translates directly into costs when it comes to IT resources, especially when this team oversees non-managed hosting and is being paid to fiddle with server nuances instead of resolving tickets or working on a potentially profitable new project. The physical cost of server hardware is also avoided with a managed server.
Can you guarantee that your website has 100% uptime? Many managed hosting providers can get close, and many of them operate their own private data centers, and are therefore intimately familiar with the servers you’ve rented. This equates to extremely fast experience on the back and front ends.
Those who have ever operated their own server know that they’re far from “set it and forget it”, and so putting this responsibility on an outside team can be a relief. Maintenance to keep servers running is involved and costly, and includes things like regular backups, operating system and application updates, checking error logs and server utilization, and much more.
What to Look for When Considering Managed Hosting
A benefit to operating one’s own dedicated server in-house is direct responsibility and control over security standards. By offloading this to the hosting provider, you want to be sure they’re as thorough as you would be, so look for a provider with 24/7 monitoring and support, daily backups, virus and malware protection, OS updates and patching for known vulnerabilities, and around-the-clock remediation if necessary.
Many hosting providers offer free migration, but the price is less important than their commitment to full compatibility and follow-through. Managed hosting is useless unless the host offers optimization for CRM platforms and other tools your business model relies upon, so that after the transition nothing has been adversely changed.
Given that managed hosting requires a more significant investment of time from the provider and also that one is renting an entire server, these plans can get very pricey month-to-month. You don’t want to pay $700 monthly unless it can satisfy every expectation, so compare providers on price but also look for ones with a money-back guarantee.
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How to Choose the Best Managed Hosting
Got a few managed hosting options laid out in front of you? Don’t be too hasty to pick one. Consider each provider based on the tips below:
- Due to their higher burden of responsibility, managed hosting providers should first be chosen based on their experience in the market. Look for providers with many large clients and decades of time serving them, so you know you’ll have a team that has likely diagnosed every problem you’ll ever run into.
- The second basis for your final choice is security. Providers with a larger checklist or extra security features like 2-factor authentication and patching are going to provide a smaller target for hackers or those who would attempt a breach, keeping your website’s assets safe.
- Though managed hosting providers by definition have higher standards for service, it’s crucial to find one that puts an emphasis on its customer support. Your IT people will have countless questions and requests, and you want your provider to make itself limitlessly available even for mundane issues.
- Finally, it’s OK to judge a managed hosting provider based on price. This is the last criteria due to the priceless nature of any company’s website and user experience, and relevancy to its bottom line. Ultimately, you get what you pay for when it comes to managed hosting, so suspiciously cheap managed hosting is a risk.
How to Install a Managed Hosting
To get your managed hosting up and running, it’s important to sit with the IT team and make a list of what is required for any environment that you’ll move to.
- Look at the list of CRMs, plugins, themes, and applications required for your website and select them within the hosting dashboard for installation. This creates an instance showing you the components you’ve gathered.
- Make a backup of your current environment and use FTP to import all the databases, assets, and domains into the new server along with your selected applications.
- Ensure that all the relevant settings and user privileges for these tools are properly configured after the migration, and alert customer support if you encounter issues during the process.
Top 3 Managed Hosting Plans
There are nearly countless managed hosting alternatives on the market, but in our in-depth dive into the sector we found some that stand out over the rest.
A by-design managed hosting provider, HostPapa offers VPS servers and dedicated servers with guaranteed management, and a handy list of the topics that its support team is qualified to assist with. This includes migrations, application and firewall setup, security audits and more, and what you get in terms of speed and storage is very competitive.
This managed hosting provider knows that it’s going to set aside multiple hours of technical support for companies doing a migration and guarantees up to 4 for all plans. InMotion also specializes in custom configurations with NGINX, Varnish, OSSec intrusion monitoring and more.
Primarily for managed WordPress hosting, WP Engine offers free migration, 24/7 support, and an entire analytics suite it calls its “actionable intelligence” platform. This supposedly lets sites get insight into page performance and optimize accordingly.
Managed Hosting for Free
While there are some places that advertise free managed hosting out there, they should not be given a second thought. Managed hosting entails the migration of your precious site and custody of its assets, and what you pay for is what you get. If you pay nothing, then you’re merely putting your livelihood at risk in exchange for a lower monthly bill.
My Conclusion About Managed Hosting
Firmly in the upper tier of hosting provider services, I’ve found managed hosting to be somewhat easier to shop for than other plans. Companies which are relevant for this type of service usually already know the server specifications they need, and managed hosts provide this information willingly. From there it’s simply a matter of identifying those which have a stronger commitment to responsible custody and security, uptime, speed, and most of all compatibility with their clients’ current tools.