The Curious Case of Managed WordPress Hosting: Should You Use It?

Updated: Apr 29, 2021 / Article by: Jerry Low
Managed WP Hosting

Managed WordPress Hosting services are pricey, inconvenient, and relatively more complex to setup in the initial stage.

  • You can't host your email accounts with a Managed WP Hosting.
  • There are a number of caching and other plugins you can't use with a Managed WP Host.
  • Managed WordPress Hosting plans are typically 50% – 200% more expensive.
  • And you can only run WordPress sites on these hosts.

Yet, Managed WP Hosting are here to stay and thrive.

More than 50% bloggers we spoke to said its's worth paying extra for a Managed WP Host. Many stated clearly that they will not switch back to conventional hosting because of various reasons.

Is Managed WordPress Hosting right for you? Let's dive in.

Introduction

What is WordPress (WP) Hosting?

A WordPress hosting is a web host that accommodate blogs (or sites) that are built with WordPress.

Technically there's no such thing as “WordPress hosting”. Any server that support PHP 5.2.4 (or higher) and MySQL 5.0 (or higher) can host a WordPress site.

Any conventional shared hosting that support one-click WordPress installation and offer WordPress development tools (such as WordPress staging and caching) can be a good host for your WordPress site.

What is Managed WP Hosting?

Managed WordPress Hosting is where the web host is responsible for technical upkeep of your WordPress hosting plan. It generally covers all updates for related applications and in some cases may include performance optimization.

In the beginning it was intended to be a concierge service where the host would provide hands-off WordPress installation and management for its users.

However, the term has loosened and grown to generally include web hosting which has extensive WordPress-specific features.

During your research, you probably came across numerous WordPress hosting companies and found that in some cases, prices of WordPress hosting is quite higher than the average shared hosting which you can get for as low as say $2.95 per month.

wpengine homepage
WP Engine was the first (as far as I'm aware) company that offers WordPress-only, managed hosting solution. Click here to visit online.

WordPress-only Hosting… Why?

Jacky Chan is confused with WordPress hosting
What? Why?

WordPress is Powerful

WordPress is free, open-source, flexible, and easy to manage and scale up.

It offers all the necessary features from its core, has a large pool of beautiful themes and ready-made plugins, provides multi-lingual support and user-friendly administrative interface; and it's loved and supported by the web community worldwide.

Many top sites in the world today run WordPress. These include The New YorkerBBC AmericaTechCrunchCoca Cola France and many more.

These are all huge brands running sites with heavy traffic. WordPress is stable and powerful enough to power these sites – it is good enough to most small business websites and blogs.

Coca Cola France believes in WordPress
Coke is a big brand and if Coca Cola France believes in WordPress, you can too!

WordPress is Popular

WordPress powered almost 40% of the Internet.

They hold about 60% of CMS market share and are still achieving ~5% growth rate at time of writing.

WordPress.org – the open-source software, has been downloaded for more than 160 million times. WordPress 5.7 – the latest version released in March 2021 has been downloaded more than 33 million times in less than a month.

“Managed WordPress Hosting Plan” is Good for Business

Managed WordPress hosting is a type of service offered by some web hosting companies who have decided to offer specialized WordPress services.

The key difference between the various managed WordPress hosting services is the level of service on offer – which is highly unquantified.

A web hosting service provide may decide to offer a 1-click WordPress installation utility along with automated WordPress updates… that could be marketed as “Managed WordPress Hosting”.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could have a manged WordPress hosting provider that offers WordPress specific architecture that offers you automated updates, backups, or even WordPress specialized caching services designed to enhance the performance of WordPress sites.

How is True Managed WordPress Hosting Different?

Let’s consider a few items that some Managed WordPress Hosting may offer.

1. Specialized Caching for WordPress Sites

WordPress can be optimized to serve pages faster if some form of caching is employed. If you’ve run a WordPress site before, you’ll know that there are plugins that can do this, such as W3 Total Cache, Swift Performance, and WP Fastest Cache. In some cases, however, the web host has designed their own cacher which are optimized for their servers and this could offer an edge over generic WordPress caching plugins.

WP Engine Cache
Example:WP Engine employs extensive caching by default (learn more).

2. Developer Friendly and Specialized Security 

Being a content management platform that is both popular and constantly updated, WordPress often has updates that need to be installed to cover various items such as enhanced features or security updates. Rather than having to do this constantly, some hosts can perform auto-updates for you.

Also, because WordPress support developers to work closely with its core to build plugins, it is also susceptible to 3rd party bugs, conflicts, and vulnerabilities. Some hosts offer enhanced WordPress services that can perform security audits of these 3rd party tools for your safety.

Managed WP hosting special feat - examples
Example: WP-CLI, SSH, Git, and WordPress staging areas supported at Kinsta.

3. Expert WordPress Support

Something that is claimed to be invaluable by many users, one key difference in many cases is the level of support that is extended to managed WordPress hosting users. Often, your support is provided by real WordPress experts who are highly skilled in the service, not just generic web technical support staff.

Managed WP hosting special feat - examples
Example: WP Engine hires up to 200 WordPress experts to support their customers.

4. Custom Dashboards

Again because you’re signing on for WordPress-specific hosting, your host may offer a customized dashboard for you to manage your WordPress site(s) and installation(s). Take for example the Plesk WordPress dashboard below. You can manage updates, logins or even clone instances from this single page.

Managed WP hosting special feat - examples
Example: View detailed statistics, manage DNS settings, and access advanced site tools, at Kinsta dashboard.

What About the Hardware Behind Managed WP Hosting Plans?

The key to Managed WordPress Hosting lies in the fine print. 

Traditionally shared hosting often just mean that you are being offered web resources that are shared with other users on a single server. What you do on that space with those resources is up to you.

For instance, you could build and run a static website out of HTML and some script, you could run Joomla or Drupal – it could be anything.

Managed WordPress Hosting acknowledges that you intend to specifically run WordPress off your hosting account. As such, these resources and the facilities extended to you are optimized specifically for WordPress.

In other words – a Managed WordPress Hosting plan can be backed by shared server – just like other budget hosting solutions, or it can be a VPS or cloud-based hosting.

Managed WP Hosting on Shared Platform

  • A type of hosting plan where you share server resources with other users.
  • Average price: $5 – $15/mo.
  • WordPress updates and maintenance done by users manually.
  • No special tools or technical support for WordPress development.
  • No WordPress-specific performance and security tweaks.
  • Examples: TMD Hosting ($5.95/mo), BlueHost ($2.95/mo)

Managed WP Hosting on VPS / Cloud

  • Regular hosting with added services and performance optimized for WordPress websites exclusively – it can be a shared or VPS platform.
  • Average price $30 – $250/mo.
  • WordPress updates and maintenance done by the hosting company.
  • Staging and multisite features for WordPress development.
  • Better support – Technical supports in WordPress-relevant issues.
  • Better secured – Special security rules and features for WordPress.
  • Better speed – Server configured specifically for WordPress.
  • Examples: Kinsta ($30mo), WP Engine ($25/mo), Pagely ($199/mo)

When Do You Need a Managed Plan?

Initially, I thought this matter clear cut and the question easily answered. Yet upon further deliberation (and thoughts of other matters) the waters muddied a little. I was at a point of time where I was weighing the pros and cons of Virtual Private Networks, buying a new phone and a couple of other things – all great to have, but I things I could do without.

To make matters worse, I had to throw in thoughts from a business perspective and views from the angles of sites of various sizes. Perhaps I could start of with who I think managed WordPress hosting is ideal for.

Yes – Small and Medium Businesses

YES, this would absolutely be true. The concept of managed WordPress hosting simply screams synergy with business websites. The plans offer potent combinations of convenience, speed and security, all key elements a business site should be concerned about.

The added security elements are even more crucial if you’re going to be running any payment infrastructure through your site.

 Yes – High Volume Websites

If you are running a very busy WordPress websites – a big blogs with hundreds of thousands visitors per month or large news site with multiple authors – then YES, I’d say this would be a go as well, simply because of the time it would take off the site owner’s hands. There is also the WordPress expertise that these managed plans offer that you can leverage on.

 No – The Ambitious Site Owner

Perhaps. You’re not there yet in terms of traffic, you don’t have the full staff skill set you need to build a world class site and you could use a little help. Managed WordPress hosting can give you that extra leg up. The question would be – are you willing to pay for it?

This is not an easy choice, since the price often trades off in terms of built in features and other facilities that you’d otherwise have to pay for with regular shared hosting plans (which shouldn't costs more than $5/mo based on our market study).

 No – The Starting Blogger

No. Even if you fall into the category of what you think might be ‘ambitious site owner’, start off at the bottom. You’ll need to learn somewhere, and getting spoon fed and paying the high price of managed WordPress hosting for it is sheer folly. In any case, you’re unlikely to need many of the features offered yet.

Managed WordPress Hosting Providers I Recommend

1. WP Engine

WP Engine WordPress Hosting Plans & Pricing.

Website: https://www.wpengine.com/ 

WP Engine starts off at $35 per month and that’s for single WordPress installation sites. At first glance, their features are impressive, including services such as Amazon S3 integration and Global CDN.

What I feel is their key selling point, however, is that they are building sites on the Genesis Framework. Genesis is a massive ecosystem of parts for WordPress and is in essence, what it takes to assemble a best WordPress site in building blocks.

From speed to security and even aesthetics, there is something in the Genesis Framework that simply screams ‘professional WordPress’ – and that’s what you pay for.

Check out WP Engine users review and server test results.

Notable Features at WP Engine

  • Offers Genesis Framework
  • 24/7/365 Customer support
  • Strong partner ecosystem

Note that WP Engine is a WordPress-only host – meaning you can't host other types of site with this provioder.

Pros:

  • Genesis Framework
  • Agile developer environment – development and staging sites ready
  • 60-day money back guarantee with no lock-in contract

Cons:

  • Costly for owners running multiple WP sites
  • No email hosting
  • No direct access to .htaccess file

2. Kinsta

Kinsta hosting for WordPress
Kinsta WordPress Hosting Plans & Pricing.

Website: https://kinsta.com

Starting off at a steep $30 per month for WordPress hosting, Kinsta is kind of pricey. However, as always, the devil is in the details and I’ll share with you one very good reason for that pricing that Kinsta has. Your plan is built on a combination of Nginx, LXD containers, PHP 7, and MariaDB, all hosted on a Google Cloud Platform for lightning speed. In essence, you’re going to build on Google-class infrastructure.

This includes leveraging on Cloud technology which includes Google APIs, Cloud SQL and Compute Engines and even Big Data services. As far as WordPress capabilities go, you’re signing on with the big dogs if you go with Kinsta.

Read comprehensive review of Kinsta.

Notable Features at Kinsta

  • Scale as needed – Hosting powered by Google Cloud Platform
  • Free site migrations with built-in database search and replace tool
  • Built-in DDoS detection, hardware firewalls, and uptime monitoring
  • Choice of 18 server locations

Please be aware that Kinsta is a WordPress-only host – you cannot host other types of site with this provioder.

Pros

  • Excellent server speed and hosting uptime
  • WordPress expert support
  • 18 data center locations available across the globe
  • Long list of developers-friendly features
  • A custom-built control panel that’s both impressive and intuitive

Cons

  • Expensive for bloggers running multiple low traffic sites
  • WordPress-only hosting – Does not support email

2. TMD Hosting

TMD Hosting WP Hosting Deal
TMD Fully Managed WordPress Hosting – now on 65% offer.

Website: https://tmdhosting.com/wordpress-hosting

TMD Hosting has been around for more than 10 years and has been considered as a reliable choice for those in need of a quality web host. The company offers cheap Managed WordPress Hosting service that’s pre-configured to give maximum performance for WordPress websites.

The best thing about TMD? Their prices are very competitive.

At price of $2.95/mo, users get to host one WordPress sites on NGINX Web Server with basic caching (for the layman, this means great server speed). If you top up a little and go with TMD Business WordPress plan, you'll get unlimited hosting with a free domain, standard SSL, NGINX Web Server, Memcache instance 128 MB, and premium WordPress support.

Read our comprehensive review of TMD Hosting.

Notable WordPress Features at TMD Hosting

  • Pre-built WordPress environment
  • NGINX Web Server & Memcache instance 128MB
  • Bit Ninja live malware protection

Important: You get what you paid for – TMD Managed WordPress Hosting is sitting on a shared platform. It's cheap, easy to manage, and has very good support – however don't expect them to match the performance of Kinsta / WP Engine.

Pros

  • Great server performance
  • Selections of six hosting locations
  • 60-day money back guarnatee
  • Big discount for new signups (use promo code “WHSR7”)
  • Excellent customer supports based on our experience

Cons

  • Some minor issues with auto backup
  • Prices hike after first term

Other Managed WP Hosting in Market

I made this table so you can compare the companies I recommend with others. Outgoing links are mostly affiliate links – meaning if you make a purchase I get to earn a commission (at no additional cost to you).

CompanyEntry PriceFully ManagedStaging ToolFree MigrationGit IntegrationMultisite ReadyBuilt-in CacherWP Expert SupportEndorsed by Officials?Free WP ThemesOrder Now
SiteGround$6.99/moYesYesNoYesNoYesNoYesNoClick Here
TMD Hosting$5.95/moYesNoYesYesNoNoYesNoNoClick Here
Kinsta$30.00/moYesYesYesYesOn Pro Plan and aboveYesYesNoNoClick Here
WP Engine$22.50/moYesYesNoYesNoYesYesNoYesClick Here
BlueHost$19.95/moYesYesYesNoNoNoNoYesYesClick Here
Pressable$199.00/moYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoClick Here
DreamHost$16.95/moYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesNoClick Here
WPWebHost$3.00/moNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoClick Here
Pagely$199.00/moYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoClick Here
FlyWheel$13.00/moYesYesYesYesOn Freelance plan and aboveYesYesNoNoClick Here
WebHostFace$19.95/moYesNoYesYesNoNoYesNoNoClick Here

Final Thoughts

Personally, I feel that this really is a concierge service. I feel that Managed WordPress hosting generally offers at least some form of benefits, but it’s not meant for everyone. As I’ve listed above, consider your situation before looking towards Managed WordPress Hosting.

One big point I’d like to highlight is technical capability. It is my opinion that technical skills, at least rudimentary technical skills, should be part of your skill set if you’re aiming to own a successful, large volume site.

It’s not rocket science, there are literally hundreds of tutorial and forums to learn from and you have to playground to fool around in on the WWW. Ignoring the tech altogether is sheer laziness – and could cost you some day.

With that, the decision is in your hands.

Wait, what about WordPress.com?

WordPress posting volume up to March 2020.
More than 130 millions posts published on WordPress in December 2018 (highest activity in the history – source).

WordPress.com is not the same as WordPress.org. WordPress.org is the site where you can download the WordPress application you use to build a site.

WordPress.com, operated by Automattic, Inc.,  is a service site where you can build and host your WordPress sites. WordPress.com is the most popular blogging platforms out there – and for good reason.

Its existing templates are so easy to use that even the most novice website architect can navigate them to create a beautiful, professional website – not to mention that for the seasoned developer, the site is highly customizable. WordPress.com also comes with thousands of ready-made plugins and built-in site metrics.

And best of all, it's free!

Not so fast cowboy!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wordpress-hosting-plans.jpg
Personally I do not recommend any hosting plans from WordPress.com because there are too much limitations in their plans. For examples – you need to subscribe to Business Plan ($25/mo) or above just to remove the WordPress.com branding and install a custom plugin; basic third-party integration can only take place in Premium plan (starts at $8/mo) or higher.

There are several issues that you need to know with WordPress.com.

  1. Limited monetization – For many bloggers, their blog is their business – meaning they need to monetize it. But WordPress.com applies tons of limitations to users' blog – for example, no affiliate links are allowed.
  2. Ugly domains – Like all free hosting providers, the built-in hosting in WordPress.com provides site owners with a partially selected domain – meaning that they can select their domain name, but that the system adds on an additional string to the end of it; the result is a long URL (something like myblog.wordpress.com) that is not only difficult for potential visitors to remember.

Paid hosting providers, the one we mentioned above, offer far more flexibility for things like storage, owning your ad space, security, and site portability.

Relevant Readings & Resources

About Jerry Low

Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.