Managed and Unmanaged Hosting: What’s the Difference?

Key Managed and Unmanaged Hosting Differences

When it comes to hosting, think of management as planned support.

On a managed hosting package, the host offers support for every problem or task, emergency or routine. There’s a limit, obviously, in that you may not get support for a coding problem on your blog. But the operating system, control panel, server setup and any pre-installed applications are all managed – supported, in other words. Often, managed hosting comes with automated backup and monitoring.
Unmanaged hosting is cheaper because there’s no management – i.e. no routine support. The host will replace failed components, reboot servers, maintain the network and keep the lights on, but it won’t support any software or install anything for you. It’s effectively your computer to maintain and control. You install security patches, you fix weird error messages and you’re responsible for installing everything but the OS. Many hosts won’t even provide a control panel or web server software: it’s up to you to do that.
If you get really stuck on unmanaged hosting, your host will charge you an hourly rate for basic help. Be warned: it’ll be very expensive, and it’ll probably wipe out the savings you made on buying a cheaper plan.

The Pros and Cons of Unmanaged Hosting

Unmanaged hosting gives you complete control: sole access and total freedom, just as though your server were your own computer. Unmanaged services are significantly cheaper than managed services, so if you’re comfortable with your OS, it’s a no-brainer.

But if you’ll struggle to install a control panel from scratch, you’ll hit problems from day one. And do you really have the time to manage a server on top of all of your other tasks? Could you cope with every eventuality on your own?

Managed hosting is far less work and requires little expertise. If something goes wrong and you’re stuck, you can call on your host to give you a hand.

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