The terminology surrounding what should be the simple process of creating a WordPress website can be astounding. Web hosting talk of shared or cloud servers, virtual private servers, and dedicated servers—and not to mention the various add-ons and options available to go with each—can be mystifying and overwhelming. On top of that still, WordPress users will have to choose between unmanaged, managed, often with little to no knowledge of what these terms really mean, or how it will impact their future website.
To make this process a little easier, here’s a breakdown of some of the more common hosting options available, and the salient differences between each to make sure you know what to expect from each, and get the plan to bets suit your needs.
This is a good, basic plan for someone that does not have a lot of technical expertise, like bloggers, e-commerce stores, or a small business wanting to build an online presence. Shared hosting is beneficial to those who are looking for an inexpensive hosting plan for their website, with a simple website management system without any prior experience to manage their website, emails, domains and anything else associated with their website and business.
Virtual Private Server
VPS can be a great option for those who want to have powerful hosting without the need for an entire server. This is especially true if you’re just starting out and don’t have the kind of traffic that requires an entire server. A VPS uses a software called a hypervisor, which essentially compartmentalizes your VPS so that it’s like renting out a portion of a server, but that portion is entirely in your control. In this way, it is functionally very similar to a dedicated server, but at a fraction of the cost.
A cloud server is an alternative to hosting on a physical server, where the website is hosted on a network of servers, giving you the option to upgrade or downgrade the resources you need (e.g. RAM or Bandwidth), letting you optimize according to your needs.
A dedicated server is exactly what it sounds like: an entire server, dedicated to whatever purpose you choose for it. Each dedicated server gives you full root access and can be fully customizable based on your needs. The server will be stored in a stable location by your web host, hence saving you the trouble of setting up the infrastructure and upkeep costs and letting you focus on other things.
Managed WordPress hosting
With managed WordPress, your hosting provider will secure, configure and optimize your WordPress, making it a good choice for bloggers and small-medium businesses.
Online security continues to become more important by the day, with the spread of malware and increasingly malicious attacks. And this is doubly so for WordPress sites, because of how common they have become. This is why managed security can take a lot of stress off your hands, while letting your web host worry about protecting you from threats, assessing vulnerabilities, and monitoring your site for abnormalities.
Managed WordPress hosting can give you support specifically for WordPress related issues, while unmanaged hosting will only support you insofar as your space allocation on the server is concerned. So the level of support that you require will largely depend on how comfortable you are managing everything without external assistance.
At the end of the day, it depends on your capability and inclination to learn how to manage a Linux server or learning to optimize security for WordPress, or any number of things that a hosting provider would otherwise offer. If you have an interest in learning and practicing these skills, you could get an unmanaged hosting plan. But if you prefer the idea of focusing on writing and designing content, running your business, or engaging with customers, while knowing that the back-end stuff is taken care of, I’d recommend managed hosting.