Is the managed WordPress hosting industry coming to an end? I mean, is WordPress easy-to-grasp enough so that we no longer need any companies helping us out setting up our web servers, and then taking care of those servers on a regular basis?
Well, if you’re a developer working with WordPress every day, then you might want to believe that it’s indeed the case. For people like that, setting up efficient servers with Linode or DigitalOcean is a breeze. But as Chris Lema very accurately pointed out, WordPress is far from simple, especially for your parents, your neighbors, or whoever else simply wants a website without getting their hands dirty.
For the end user – who might not be that familiar with the technical stuff – WordPress is just a black box that allows them to have their work/posts/articles/products published on the web. And it should stay that way too.
So, companies offering managed WordPress hosting seem to be a good response to that need. Or are they?
📚 Table of contents:
What is managed WordPress hosting?
Managed WordPress hosting means that hosts handle basic hosting administrative tasks, such as installing WordPress, security, speed, WordPress updates, daily backups, website uptime, and scalability.
But hold off on the WordPress hosting companies thing for a moment. Let’s talk 1/4 mile drag racing.
If you wish, you can drag race with your everyday stock Honda Civic.
But if you watched The Fast and the Furious, you know that in order to get some real good 1/4 mile times out of it, you need to get specific work done to that Civic.
… Get a tricked out turbo charger, a tuned chip, better tires, a better tuned gearbox that puts the power to the wheels quicker (or whatever, I’m no expert here).
So at the end of the day, you still have the Civic, but it’s been optimized to perform at its best in a 1/4 mile drag race.
WordPress hosting is somewhat the same.
Under the hood (no pun intended), a web server is a web server, and it’s usually built with the same components. Every car has an engine, some wheels, and all the other usual parts. But it’s how these parts are set up, and what kind of specific parts they are, which makes all the difference. It’s what makes a car purpose-built for one thing or the other.
While all web hosts can handle WordPress, the best managed WordPress hosting has been optimized for WordPress websites specifically.
More than that, it usually features some side-services revolving around things like expert support, automatic updates, backups, and so on. It’s like a concierge WordPress hosting package, where you not only get the hosting, but also everything else that will enrich your experience further.
Essentially, having your website hosted on a managed WordPress hosting platform gives you the freedom of not having to worry about the technical stuff, and simply focus on the true essence of your work online – running your business, publishing content, selling your products and what-evs.
What’s the difference between shared hosting and managed hosting?
Here are some of the things that you usually don’t have to worry about if you’re on a managed WordPress hosting plan vs. its shared hosting counterpart:
Most importantly, with managed WordPress hosting, you get access to expert support (preferably in a 24/7 manner and via phone) that’s always ready to solve any issue you might have. With shared hosting plans, on the other hand, you have no certainty that the person on the other end will be knowledgeable about WordPress and/or able to solve a specific problem related to the platform.
In short, all of what you can see in the left column of the table above is managed on the host’s end … that’s where the name managed WordPress hosting comes from.
When do you need managed WordPress hosting?
Okay, so let’s answer the big question: Why and when do you need managed WordPress hosting?
Use the best managed WordPress hosting companies for:
- ✅ Websites that are growing rapidly.
- ✅ Websites experiencing spikes in traffic.
- ✅ Individuals, bloggers, and businesses without much technical knowledge that just want for their WordPress website to work with no hassle.
- ✅ Business websites that can’t afford to be offline.
- ✅ Website owners who value great support that responds fast and can solve any issue.
- ✅ Businesses looking for growth, and everyone who wants their hosting platform to be able to grow with them.
With all of the above in mind, it’s also important to know some downsides usually related to managed WordPress hosting.
Keep in mind, though, that the things listed below are not deal-breakers by any means. They are just the realities of managed WordPress hosting, and potentially what makes this kind of hosting unique and optimized for the WordPress platform specifically:
- Usually more expensive than shared hosting. As we talked about a while ago, you can get a reliable shared hosting plan for $5 a month. With managed hosting, it’s usually in the $15-$50 range (or more).
- Most of the time, you can only run WordPress sites on this kind of hosting. This is due to the architecture of the server itself and its settings. That being said, for 99% of the users this won’t be an issue, for obvious reasons.
- Some of your favorite plugins might be banned by the host. Due to the optimizations made by a given managed WordPress hosting company, some plugins can be banned from the servers. Most commonly, this is done to prevent those plugins from slowing down the server, straining the database, interfering with caching, making too many HTTP requests, and so on. For instance, WP Engine’s list of disallowed plugins is a good reference here.
- You have less control. If you enjoy taking a look into the WordPress core every once in a while to fix this or that, you might find this difficult to do with some managed WordPress hosts. The environment tends to be more closed down in some areas (although specific modifications are possible … just not all of them).
The managed WordPress hosting comparison and reviews
Okay, so with all the theory out of the way, let’s now talk specific recommendations, and why you would choose one platform over the other.
1. SiteGround (www.SiteGround.com)
$3.95, $6.45, $11.95 / month.
SiteGround offers the cheapest managed WordPress plans, catering both to bloggers and non-technical people, as well as developers that need advanced features like Git integration and staging areas.
Among their entire offering, the GrowBig and GoGeek plans stand out as the best managed WordPress hosting options. The former is a more affordable setup ($6.45), while the latter is more powerful (less accounts on the server) plus offers “geeky” features for developers and enterprises ($11.95).
Overall, the GoGeek plan is a nice solution for people who want to experiment with the platform on their own, apart from getting all of the standard hosting features that come out the box.
- Officially recommended by WordPress.org.
- Free Let’s Encrypt SSL for all plans.
- Git integration.
- Free PCI compliance (for e-commerce).
- SSD drives.
- CDN included.
- Multiple websites on a single account.
- 24/7 support. Via phone as well.
- Free backup and restore features.
- Even though the cheapest plan is enticing at $3.95 / mo, it won’t be the best solution for most high-traffic sites.
2. Bluehost (www.bluehost.com)
$19.95, $29.95, $49.95 / month.
Bluehost offers several different hosting plans depending on your needs and the type of website that you want to launch. One of the more interesting and powerful ones is their “WP PRO” tier, which is a fully managed setup.
As part of it, you not only get classic Bluehost’s web server admin panel but also an all-in-one marketing center and dashboard, good SEO features, email marketing features, and social media tools. The servers have also been optimized for performance.
No matter which specific tier of the WP PRO plan you select, you get to launch an unlimited number of websites, set up unlimited domain names, unlimited subdomains, plus there’s no limit on the disk storage or bandwidth.
Moreover, Bluehost also gives you a 1-hour onboarding concierge call. During the call, you work with a WordPress pro who will help you set up your site with Bluehost. They can also assist you in selecting a theme and the right set of plugins for your site.
Note; If you’re not sure if the WP PRO plan is something you need then consider getting started with the classic plan of Bluehost’s (from $2.95 / mo.). That one also has great onboarding and gives you access to some of the “managed hosting” features for a fraction of the price. You can later on upgrade to a higher-up plan if needed.
- Unlimited websites, disk space, bandwidth/traffic.
- Fully managed experience.
- Staging environment.
- Instant WordPress installs.
- 1-hour onboarding concierge call.
- CDN enabled for your site.
- 24/7 customer support.
- The support quality has mixed reviews among users.
- Picking a data center location isn’t straightforward.
3. WPEngine (www.WPEngine.com)
$35, $115, $290 / month.
Managed WordPress hosting is something that WP Engine has offered ever since the company was created, and it’s what originally put them on the map among other firms more established at the time.
Despite some rough episodes along the way (problems with its growing infrastructure), WP Engine seems to have found its balance. Right now, WP Engine offers managed solutions that are somewhere in the middle of the road between beginner-friendly, and developer-friendly WordPress hosting.
- CDN included for all plans.
- Great scalability – suitable for websites rapidly growing in traffic.
- Free automated migration.
- 24/7 chat support for all plans. 24/7 phone support starts with the “Growth” plan.
- Free access to the Genesis Framework and over 35 StudioPress WordPress themes.
- Included SSL certificates.
- High overage costs, even up to $1 per every 1000 visits.
- It’s reported that WP Engine tends to modify native WordPress code quite heavily, making it hard to move to another host in case you need to do so in the future.
- The add-ons for options like WordPress Multisite, geotargeting, and additional sites can get pricey.
4. Flywheel (www.getflywheel.com)
$23, $105, $266 / month.
Albeit a somewhat new player in the managed WordPress hosting space, Flywheel has made a name for themselves very quickly. They’re a great choice for non-developers who want to launch a WordPress site and make sure that it’s going to work with no interruptions.
Potentially great for designers, small business owners, freelancers, bloggers, and all non-technical people in general.
- Ultra beginner-friendly interface and easy to use.
- Data centers around the world – your website will perform well no matter where your audience is.
- Built-in caching and automatic backups.
- 24/7 live chat customer support for all plans.
- Free SSL for all plans.
- Flywheel has a policy of no overage charges.
- Some relatively inexpensive pricing for those just getting started with managed hosting.
- Additional server features can get expensive. For instance, if you want SSL, CDN, and multisite ability, that’s an additional $30 / mo on top of your current plan.
- Phone support is no longer provided.
5. Kinsta (www.Kinsta.com)
$30, $60, $100, $200, $300, $400, $600, $900 / month.
Kinsta is a smaller player compared to the other companies on this list, but they’ve quickly earned their spot in the landscape due to the high quality of their hosting platform and an overall WordPress-only focus. Kinsta is more of a premium solution, but what you get for your investment is a highly optimized platform, ready to take on a large number of visitors, automatically scaling, supporting SSH, WP-CLI, Git, integrating a CDN, and offering many many more perks. Not only that, but Kinsta has launched two pricing plans that are more affordable for smaller businesses.
- Powered by Google Cloud Platform and their premium tier network.
- 1440 daily uptime checks per site.
- Free CDN for every plan.
- Automatic scaling.
- Support for Let’s Encrypt, SSH, WP-CPI, Git, and more.
- Free website migrations and hack fixes.
- Staging and cloning environment.
- Quick SSD storage.
- The cheapest option is $30, significantly more than some of the other options on this list. Luckily Kinsta’s cheapest plan used to be $100 per month, so at least it has improved.
- You get only 5GB of SSD storage on the cheapest plan. Seems a bit low.
- Although you do get access to the Google Cloud Platform for cheap, the lower priced plans have fairly low monthly visit maximums.
6. Presslabs (www.Presslabs.com)
$99 + $0.30*, $299 + $0.20*, $599 + $0.10* (* per 1,000 extra pageviews / month)
Presslabs offers high-performance managed hosting for agencies and publishers with website networks and web development clients. There’s only one high priced plan to choose from and after that you are charged based on the number of site visits. That being said, you’re paying for an incredibly fast, secure, and reliable hosting environment that’s completely managed for you. Presslabs is meant for publishers and agencies with rapid growth in mind. In short, Presslabs customers expect tons of traffic in the near future and don’t want any hiccups along the way. However, there’s no way the average business would be able to afford the Publisher Plan.
On the other hand, the Developer plan is completely free and offers an excellent environment for workflows, along with plenty of custom tools. It seems like Presslabs makes the most sense for developers and extremely fast-growing publishers. Overall, we’re not factoring in the Developer Plan in this comparison since it doesn’t seem to qualify as a managed WordPress hosting plan.
- Collaboration features for managing your agency or publishing team.
- Git-driven environment for development.
- 24/7 email and phone support. The general support is during normal business hours, but Presslabs has emergency email and phone lines.
- Free SSL certificates.
- An included CDN with HTTP/2.
- Incremental backups every 15 minutes.
- Staging environments.
- A beautiful and powerful dashboard powered by ReactJS Technology.
- A Developer Plan is provided at no cost.
- The pricing makes it completely out of the question for many businesses.
- Even after paying $599 per month you still must pay extra for additional pageviews.
7. LiquidWeb (www.LiquidWeb.com)
$29, $69, $99, $149 / month.
LiquidWeb caters to agencies and online professionals with multiple websites. It has everything from Cloud VPS to custom solutions, but the WordPress managed hosting starts with a plan that supports 10 sites and 50GB of SSD storage. With solid speed, security, and customer support, LiquidWeb should be considered by larger enterprises and those who need quality managed hosting for several websites.
- Plans that support anywhere from 10 to 50 sites. You can also get a custom price for more sites.
- Daily, automated website backups.
- Staging areas to test your sites.
- Free SSL.
- Development tools including Git and SSH.
- 24/7 customer support through chat, email, and phone.
- A fairly reasonable monthly price to host 10 websites.
- No managed WordPress hosting for smaller companies with fewer sites.
- LiquidWeb has some history with downtime issues.
8. GoDaddy (www.GoDaddy.com)
$8.99, $12.99, $19.99, $24.99 / month.
GoDaddy is really expanding deeper into the WordPress space every day. Or at least it seems like it. The company has been releasing many new for-WordPress products lately, and they seem like they really have a grasp on what’s needed for a more traffic-heavy WordPress website. Their managed WordPress hosting plans offer good server performance, with modern technologies and additional security features.
- Very affordable if you want to launch 1-5 websites.
- One-click staging sites.
- An SSL certificate for free for one year.
- Malware detection and repair.
- Ready to handle as many as 100,000 monthly visitors at the $12.99 / month price point. You can get even more in higher plans.
- Quick SSD storage.
- You need to be careful going through their checkout process / shopping cart. There’s a lot of upselling going on … for things you might not necessarily need. Most of those additional offers are enabled by default.
- It seems like most managed WordPress hosts offer forever free SSL. GoDaddy only has it for one year.
9. Pagely (www.Pagely.com)
$199, $299, $499, $999, $1249, $2249 / month.
At the time of this article, Pagely seems to be a more developer-centered solution among the companies presented on this list. It’s also the fastest of the managed WordPress hosts. First off, they’re now using Amazon’s servers, which gives them access to many of Amazon’s advanced features. For instance, they let you take advantage of things like SSH, staging, Git integration, WP-CLI and more. You also get the power and privacy of a VPS. That being said, Pagely is also much more expensive than most managed WordPress hosts.
- Real-time malware monitoring.
- Advanced developer features.
- Automated daily backups.
- Built-in redundancy.
- Great scalability.
- You can use nearly any plugin or theme you want.
- Each plan supports a large number of sites.
- Phone Support is only available on select plans. You’d think for $299 per month you could call someone.
- The highest overall prices on this list – starting at $199 / month.
Managed WordPress hosting – comparison table:
Okay, with all that talk out of the way, let’s now compare the details of the top managed WordPress hosting platforms out there:
|Host||Price / mo.||Traffic / mo.||Disk space||No. of sites allowed||Support|
|SiteGround||$3.95, $6.45, $11.95||~ 10,000 visits||10GB||1||24/7 online, chat, and phone support|
|Bluehost||$19.95, $29.95, $49.95||not disclosed||unlimited||unlimited||24/7 online, chat, and phone support|
|WP Engine||$35, $115, $290||~ 25,000 visits||10GB||1||24/7 online support (phone for higher-up plans)|
|Flywheel||$23, $105, $266||~ 25,000 visits||5GB||1||24/7 online support|
|Kinsta||$30, $60, $100, $200, $300, $400, $600, $900||~ 20,000 visits||10GB||1||24/7 online support|
|Pagely||$199, $299, $499, $999, $1249, $2249||not disclosed||30GB||15||24/7 online support|
|GoDaddy||$8.99, $12.99, $19.99, $24.99||~ 100,000 visits||15GB||1||24/7 online support, chat, phone|
|Presslabs||$99 + $0.30, $299 + $0.20, $599 + $0.10 per 1,000 pageviews||~ 500,000 visits||15GB||1||24/7 online support, phone|
|LiquidWeb||$29, $69, $99, $149||~ unlimited||40GB||4||24/7 online support, chat, phone|
I hope this WordPress hosting comparison will come in handy to you while looking for a managed WordPress host. Feel free to comment and let us know your opinions about any of the hosts featured here.
Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. With some simple fixes, you can reduce your loading time by even 50-80%: