Managed WordPress Hosting Review & Breakdown
Updated: July 2018
Hosting a WordPress site can be difficult—there are a lot of things to consider and keep track of. Speed, performance, security—these are all things that can be hard to optimize with WordPress.
While WordPress can be hosted on a shared Linux server, this generally isn’t the best way to do it. Luckily, hosting companies have emerged that offer managed WordPress hosting that’s created specifically to run WordPress sites. Let’s take a closer look at what makes this type of hosting different from regular Linux hosting and why it’s so beneficial.
A quick note: if you happen to buy hosting using any of the affiliate links throughout this page, I may receive an affiliate commission. That said, commissions don’t affect or influence my reviews in any way, shape or form (see this page for proof).
What Is Managed WordPress Hosting?
Essentially, managed WordPress hosting is specialty hosting created to maximize the speed, performance and security of WordPress sites. Managed WordPress hosts typically have better support than regular hosts do for WordPress sites, and they also typically have better-trained technicians who are WordPress specialists. Some of the features of managed WordPress hosts including things like:
Most managed WordPress hosts have backup systems that are an order of magnitude better than standard Linux servers. This is important because taking regular backups of your site is a good way to avoid losing data if your site gets compromised.
In addition to taking regular backups and simplifying that process, many WordPress hosts also make restoring and migration easier as well. For example, WP Engine has a really simply WordPress plugin that can be used to migrate a site to their servers, and they also do a great job with backups and restoring sites.
To make development easier, some managed WordPress hosts have staging environments that allow website designers and developers to clone their existing site and make changes in a test environment.
WP Engine, for example, calls this their “staging area.” They also make it easy to take the staging site and copy it over to the live site and vice versa. This is a lot easier than creating a subdomain on a Linux server, making sure everything resolves and the links work properly, then copying that over to the main site and overwriting the database, etc.
Because WordPress communicates with a database and it’s written in plain PHP with a user account structure, it is relatively vulnerable to attacks. Because of this, it’s important to understand that there’s a real need to work on hardening the security of any site using WordPress as its CMS.
The nice thing about managed hosting is that it’s usually created from the ground up to prevent many of the most common WordPress exploits. In addition to that, most managed hosts have automated version checking and updating of plugins and the WordPress core itself to ensure that there aren’t any security loopholes that are left open. This doesn’t mean that a site on a managed host can’t be compromised because it can, but it’s less likely than a site on a standard Linux plan.
Maximum speed and performance
As time goes on, users are beginning to care more and more about the speed at which sites load. Search engines are also beginning to care as page load speed is a factor in how sites are ranked in the search results.
With that said, managed WordPress hosting is typically engineered for speed much more so than a Linux box or shared Linux plan. Excellent caching, memory management, built-in CDNs, and other similar things are all features that you’ll commonly find with managed hosts (for more about speed, check out the fastest web hosting page).
One of the biggest things that distinguishes a regular hosting company from a managed WordPress hosting company is the level of support that you get on a managed plan. Generally speaking, with managed WordPress plans, the technicians are all WordPress experts—not generic server technicians.
This might not sound like it makes a difference, but it really does because when support is bad, it’s obvious, and when there’s a big problem, having good support can make or break a site. There’s really a big difference between the level of support that you get with a managed WordPress host and the level of support that you get with a shared plan, hands down.
Is Managed WordPress Hosting Worth It?
The big question at hand is whether or not managed WordPress hosting is “worth it” or not. If you have a WordPress site that that gets even a moderate amount of traffic and you can afford at least $15/month for Flywheel’s tiny plan, then I would definitely say yes. Below are some of the pros and cons of using a managed plan.
Pros of using a managed host for WordPress
- Better security
- Increased speed & performance
- Better support
- Features not available on shared hosting plans (staging environments, backups, etc.)
- Built exclusively for WordPress
When it comes to managed hosting, you’re definitely getting an environment that’s much better for WordPress, however, this usually comes at a price because managed hosting for WordPress is typically a bit more expensive.
Cons of using a managed host for WordPress
- Pricing is typically higher
- Some plugins are disallowed
- Automatic version updates are often required
Looking at the cons in terms of managed hosting, there aren’t many but they’re still worth considering. First of all, managed hosting is more expensive (but still very affordable in my opinion). For example, WP Engine’s cheapest plan works out to $24/month when paid annually which is pretty darn inexpensive for what you’re actually getting. You can’t really even find a decently-equipped VPS for that money.
If you have a smaller site that doesn’t get as much traffic, Flywheel has a “Tiny” plan that only costs $15/month, making it the best bargain in terms of managed WordPress hosting. The peace of mind alone is often said to be worth it for a managed setup, and I truly believe that to be true.
At the end of the day, I truly believe that managed hosting for a WordPress site is not only the way to go, but totally worth it. It’s really something that everyone with a WordPress site should at least consider.
Recommended Managed WordPress Hosts
Now that we’ve established that managed hosting is not only worth it but something that can really improve the experience of users on your site and lower your overall stress level, let’s look at a few of my recommended managed WordPress hosts. Keep in mind that I don’t make recommendations lightly and that if I recommend someone it’s not just because I like them but also because I actually use them. I currently have multiple sites that I’m hosting on the following managed WordPress hosts.
I really can’t say enough good about WP Engine—they’re my favorite managed host for a variety of reasons (you can see my complete WP Engine review here). They’re relatively inexpensive for what you get and one of the best out there when it comes to WordPress hosting. They also don’t rest on their accomplishments either because they’re constantly developing new features and ways to make hosting WordPress better, easier, and faster.
They are the first company that I recommend when anyone is looking for a premium WordPress host and they’re a company that I feel totally confident in recommending. I’m very picky about web hosting companies, and my recommendations don’t come without a lot of thought and personal experience. I can truly say that WP Engine has it all when it comes to a managed hosting company for WordPress websites.
Their plans start at $24/month when paid annually and that includes the management of a free “Let’s Encrypt” SSL certificate. Once you realize all that they have to offer, it’s hard to think of anyone else for WordPress.
Flywheel is an awesome Midwestern company that has really emerged as a serious competitor to WP Engine. The thing that makes them special/unique in my opinion is that they have a “Tiny” plan that costs only $15/month. While this only allows you to host one website, it does come with all the features that are typically expected with a managed plan and does a great job bridging the gap in terms of pricing between shared hosting and managed hosting (check out my full Flywheel review here to learn more).
Managed Hosting for WordPress Websites: Highly Recommended!
I highly recommend using managed hosting on a WordPress site if it’s something that’s in your budget and your site gets enough traffic to justify $15+ per month. I think that most sites fall into this category and unless you’re hosting a placeholder site or something that you don’t really care about, it’s really worth your time to take a serious look at managed hosting. While many managed hosts have the same overall feature set, there are subtle differences between them.
For example, Flywheel is geared toward designers a little bit more than WP Engine, where I believe that WP Engine may be geared a bit more toward enterprise customers and developers with infrastructure that seems a bit more scalable. Both are excellent hosts for WordPress and I’d truly recommend taking a look at each of them if you have a WordPress site.