Shared vs. managed WordPress hosting: What’s the right hosting solution for your SMB clients?

With websites becoming increasingly feature-rich and complex, choosing the right hosting solution for your SMB clients is fundamental for ensuring they have a seamless, high-converting home on the web. This blog post is all about helping you make that decision, whether your clients are startups with minimal needs to enterprise businesses that demand high-end solutions.

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By understanding the fundamental differences between shared vs. managed WordPress hosting, like cost, performance, and security, you’ll be well-equipped to find the perfect solution to manage all your client websites. Hosting directly impacts the things your clients care about, like SEO performance, conversion rates, and user experience. That’s why understanding your client’s needs—and coming up with effective solutions—can help cement your agency as a valued partner and provider of digital services.

What is shared WordPress hosting?

Just as the name implies, shared WordPress hosting involves multiple websites sharing the resources of a single server. It’s analogous to going on vacation and choosing to stay in a hostel rather than a hotel. You enjoy a lower nightly rate at a hostel but have to share resources, like the room and bathroom. Similarly, the cost-effective option of shared WordPress hosting allows multiple users to use the same hardware, making it an affordable choice for many website owners.

In a shared hosting environment, hosting providers allocate a certain amount of server resources, like memory, storage, and processing power, to each website based on predetermined plans. This means there is still some limit on how many websites can share a server, much like there is a limit to the number of beds in a shared hostel room.

Pros of shared hosting

  • It’s cost-effective: The biggest advantage of shared hosting is its affordability. Since multiple users share the same server, the costs are distributed evenly among them, making it a budget-friendly option, especially for very small businesses or personal websites without too much traffic or data.
  • It’s often more user-friendly: Since shared hosting plans are often the plans of choice for hobby websites, personal websites, and other DIY websites, they often come with easy-to-use control panels and user-friendly interfaces. This can make shared hosting a convenient option when choosing between managed vs. shared hosting.
  • Hosting provider handles maintenance: With shared hosting, the hosting provider takes care of server maintenance, updates, and other essential tasks. This leaves website owners with more time to focus on their core business activities.

Cons of shared hosting

  • Fewer resources: Since multiple websites share the same server, they are bound to compete for resources, like memory and processing power. This can lead to slow website loading times and performance issues, particularly during peak traffic periods. Traffic spikes to a site on the shared server can impact the performance of other sites on the same server, even if they aren’t experiencing a spike themselves.
  • Limited control: In a shared hosting environment, users have limited control over server configuration and customization. This may not be an issue for some clients with minimal needs, but it can be a deal-breaker for others who require more flexibility to run demanding applications or software.
  • Less security: Shared hosting poses unique security risks since a single compromised website on the server can potentially expose others to malware, viruses, and other cybersecurity threats. Although hosting providers usually implement security measures to protect their clients, there’s no way to get around the fact that the risk of shared hosting is higher than with other options.

Who should consider shared hosting?

When choosing between shared vs. managed WordPress hosting, shared hosting is an appropriate choice for some small businesses, personal sites, blogs, portfolio sites, and others that expect low traffic volumes and require little to no server customization. It can be suitable for people looking for an affordable and easy-to-use hosting solution that can be managed without technical expertise.

What is managed WordPress hosting?

Managed WordPress hosting is a specialized hosting service that includes everything needed to host and secure a WordPress website. This type of hosting is specifically designed for WordPress users, offering an optimized server environment for the platform along with a suite of services and features that cater to the unique requirements of WordPress websites.

While a website using managed WordPress hosting may still technically share resources with other websites, this service addresses the common issues that users sometimes encounter with shared hosting.

Pros of managed hosting

  • Improved performance: Managed WordPress hosting provides an optimized server environment that ensures faster website loading times and improved performance. The hosting provider takes care of server optimization, caching, and other performance enhancements, ensuring that your clients' websites run smoothly even in the even of a surge in traffic.
  • Enhanced security: Security is a top-selling point of managed WordPress hosting. Hosting providers implement advanced security measures to protect websites from malware, DDoS attacks, and other common cybersecurity threats. Plus, managed hosting plans often include automatic daily backups and easy restoration options in case of data loss or security breaches.
  • Expert support: Support is a key difference between shared hosting and managed WordPress hosting. clients have access to dedicated experts who are highly familiar with the platform. This means they can quickly resolve any hosting issues, provide guidance, and offer valuable advice for optimizing and maintaining sites.

Cons of managed hosting

  • More expensive: Managed WordPress hosting tends to be more expensive than shared hosting due to the additional features and services provided. However, the added value generally justifies the higher price tag for businesses that require more sophisticated hosting solutions.
  • Intermediate control: While there may be more customization options than with basic shared hosting, managed hosting can still offer limited control over server configurations and settings. This typically isn’t an issue for most WordPress users, but some clients may require greater customization capabilities to accommodate specific needs.
  • Extra features that go unused: Managed hosting plans often come with a range of features and services, some of which may go unused by certain clients. This can result in them effectively paying for features they don’t need. Assessing your clients requirements can help you choose a plan that doesn’t subject them to fees for unused features.

Who should consider managed hosting?

Managed WordPress hosting is well-suited for higher-traffic businesses or websites that require superior performance and security. Websites handling sensitive information, such as e-commerce stores or membership sites, can benefit from the enhanced security features of managed hosting. Businesses with limited in-house technical expertise or resources may also find the expert support offered by managed hosting providers to be well worth the higher price.

Questions to ask when evaluating hosting providers

Regardless of whether you’re looking for shared vs. managed WordPress hosting, the provider you choose matters. Not all hosting providers are created equally. Evaluating them to make sure to pick a reputable one will impact your clients’ website performance.

We’ve created this list of questions to answer before settling on any hosting provider and provide some insights into what answers you should look for.

What level of technical support is offered?

A reliable hosting provider should offer excellent technical support to ensure your clients' websites run smoothly. Find out about support hours, response times, and the expertise of their support staff. Ideally, you should look for a WordPress hosting provider that offers 24/7 support via chat, phone, and email, so that you can easily address issues before they have a chase to impact your clients’ website conversions.

What security measures are in place to protect my website?

With the increasing prevalence of cyber threats, it's vital to select a hosting provider with robust security measures in place (Security Intelligence). Inquire about their security protocols, malware scanning, DDoS protection, backups, SSL certificates, and other security features.

A secure hosting environment is essential for safeguarding your clients' websites and protecting their sensitive data, and this is particularly important for ecommerce websites or sites that collect user email addresses and passwords. Look for an option with a Website Admin Dashboard that makes it easy to keep all your client sites up-to-date.

A security breach can be costly and reputation damaging for clients, so a slightly more expensive hosting option when choosing between shared vs. managed WordPress hosting will still be less expensive than dealing with a data breach.

What is the uptime guarantee?

Uptime is a measure of a hosting provider's reliability, reflecting the percentage of time their servers are operational. High uptime guarantees indicate that your clients' websites will essentially always be live, ensuring their online presence is accessible to visitors. Aim for providers with an uptime guarantee of at least 99.9 percent.

Particularly for websites with a lot of on-site conversions, downtime can meaningfully reduce their revenue, so it’s important to avoid it. The biggest hosting platforms, like the Google Cloud Platform and AWS, offer a very high uptime guarantee.

What is the process for upgrading or downgrading hosting plans?

As your clients' businesses grow, their hosting needs may change. Ask potential hosting providers about the process for upgrading or downgrading plans, ensuring that it's simple and seamless. This will make it easier for your clients to scale their hosting services according to their evolving needs. Ideally, your WordPress hosting provider should effortlessly scale up and down to adjust to client needs on demand.

What customization options are available?

Some clients may require specific customizations to optimize their websites or run specialized applications. Ask the hosting provider about the available customization options, such as PHP version control, custom server configurations, and other advanced settings. This will help ensure your clients have the necessary flexibility for their unique requirements.

What backup and restore options are available?

Regular backups are essential for safeguarding your clients' data and ensuring they can quickly recover from any unexpected crashes or other data loss. Inquire about backup and restore options, the frequency of backups, the ease and cost of data restoration, and the security of backup storage.

What is the pricing structure and what is included in each plan?

Make sure to understand the pricing structure of your website builder or reseller hosting provider for shared vs. managed WordPress hosting. This will help you make an informed decision based on your clients' budgets and requirements, and ensure you price your service so that you can still make a profit margin. Compare the features, resources, and support offered by each provider at each price point to ensure you're getting the best value.

Key differences between shared and managed WordPress hosting

Shared Hosting Managed Hosting
Ideal for  Beginners, small sites with limited traffic Businesses collecting client data such as transactions, high-traffic sites
Cost Generally cheaper Generally more expensive
Visitor limits No strict limits but may slow down May incur chargers over a certain limit
Performance May be slower during high traffic Reliably high performance
Technical support Basic Expert, often 24/7
WordPress optimization Not specifically optimized for WordPress Optimized for WordPress
Scalability Limited, may require migration Easy to scale
Site management User  Hosting provider
Security Basic features Advanced features

Managed hosting vs. shared hosting: How to choose

When it comes to choosing between managed WordPress hosting vs. shared hosting, the choice comes down to your client’s needs. These five key variables will determine which type of hosting to use.

  1. Traffic volume: Evaluate the anticipated traffic levels for your client's website. Shared hosting is more suitable for low-traffic sites, while managed hosting can better accommodate higher traffic volumes with improved performance.
  2. Technical expertise: Consider your client’s technical abilities when choosing between shared vs. managed WordPress hosting. Shared hosting offers user-friendly interfaces and requires minimal technical knowledge, but managed hosting often provides expert support for clients lacking in-house technical resources.
  3. Budget: Shared hosting is more affordable, making it a popular choice for smaller businesses, while managed hosting is generally more expensive but offers additional features and support.
  4. Security needs: If your client’s website will handle sensitive information or require advanced security measures, managed hosting may be a better fit.
  5. Customization needs: Evaluate the extent to which your clients need to customize their server configurations or settings. Managed hosting may have some limitations, but generally offers more customization than shared hosting.

Finally, before choosing your shared vs. managed WordPress hosting provider, be mindful of these common misconceptions about hosting:

Misconception #1: Shared hosting is slow and unreliable. While shared hosting can face resource limitations, it doesn't mean that it's always slow or unreliable. Many hosting providers offer reliable shared hosting services that cater to the needs of small websites more than adequately, and more expensive hosting would be overkill.

Misconception #2: Managed hosting is always the best option. Although managed hosting offers plenty of benefits, it may not be the best choice for every business. Your clients' unique requirements and budgets are important determinants of whether managed WordPress vs. shared hosting is better.

Frequently asked questions

Can I still use WordPress with shared or managed hosting?

Yes, you can use WordPress with shared or managed hosting, as both options support the platform. Shared hosting is more affordable, while managed hosting offers more features and resources tailored for WordPress.

How do I migrate my website from shared to managed hosting?

To migrate your website, first create a backup of your site data, then purchase a managed hosting plan from your desired provider. Finally, follow the new provider's guidelines to import your site data.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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