This is a question that’s been hotly debated in the blogging world for some time now and, although by no means simple to give one definitive answer, there are plenty of pros and cons to be considered. But, before we move on to the comparisons, it would be a good idea to define what we mean by shared and managed hosting, as the answer might not be quite as straightforward as it seems at first glance.
Generally speaking, shared hosting is when the hosts place many different websites on a single server. The primary reason for doing this is to keep costs down for the end-user. Managed WordPress hosting, on the other hand, includes a number of additional services. This can help with making it easier to install software and to maintain your site generally, with automatic updates and back-ups along with providing better security. However, it is important to note that, even with a managed host, you will almost certainly be sharing the server with other websites.
The first, and most important, advantage for users is the cost – which is often significantly lower than a managed host. It gets even better, as most shared hosts will let you run more than one website for the same cost; great if you’re planning to run split tests or simply have a number of sites. Finally, there is generally no cap on the number of visitors you’re allowed.
It’s always true that you get what you pay for so, the lower cost of shared hosts means that your sites may load and run more slowly. This may also be affected by other sites on the shared server, so it really is out of your control. Also, you won’t get automatic WordPress updates and performance tweaks.
Because the server architecture has been specifically designed for WordPress it generally means you can expect better performance all round. You’ll also benefit from built-in server caching, again leading to improved performance as well as automatic back-ups to keep your site’s data safe. Plus, with included firewalls and other security features, you’ll be protected from malware scams.
It’s also very likely that a managed host will be able to provide staging sites to keep you online even when you’re making changes. Finally, the dashboard you use is also probably going to be much more user-friendly.
As a rule, you will have to pay more for a managed host, although there are some providers, such as Verpex WordPress hosting, which have a number of pricing levels and can be just as cost-effective as shared hosts. Obviously, you will also only be able to have WordPress sites on them and there may well be restrictions on the number of visitors.
Which to choose?
It’s very much a question of horses for courses. But if you do have to come down on one side or the other, then managed hosting would almost certainly be the best choice in the long run.