Managed WordPress Hosting: The All-You-Need-to-Know Guide

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 neighbours, or whoever else simply wants a website without getting their hands dirty.

For the end user – who might not be that much 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?

Bonus info: There’s a dirty little secret that many WordPress hosting reviews have. Find out what it is. Learn how to tell an honest WordPress hosting review from a fake one. And ultimately, how to pick the right hosting plan for your own unique needs. Click here.
Best managed WordPress hosting
CompanyPrice / mo. *Visits / mo.Survey Rating
SiteGroundSiteGround$5.95~ 25,0004.6
WP EngineWP Engine$29~ 25,0004.2
FlywheelFlywheel$30~ 25,0004.7
kinsta hosting logoKinsta$100unlimited
PagelyPagely$499not disclosed
GoDaddyGoDaddy$7.99~ 400,000
* Recommended option


 

What is managed WordPress hosting?

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.

Managed WordPress Hosting

While all web hosts can handle WordPress, 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. Think, 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 what’s 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:

Managed

  • Automatic site/WordPress updates.
  • Automatic daily/weekly backups.
  • Built-in speed optimization through caching and CDN networks.
  • Built-in security mechanisms optimized for WordPress.
  • Built-in database optimization for WordPress.
  • Scalability optimizations (servers capable of handling more traffic if need be).
  • Server settings optimized specifically for WordPress software.

Shared

  • You need to do updates manually with most hosts.
  • Backups only available through third-party plugins.
  • Speed optimization only available through third-party plugins.
  • General security mechanisms on the server itself. Added security through third-party plugins.
  • No additional database optimization.
  • You’re usually limited to a set number of visits. Your website can go offline for a while if you go over it.
  • Set to work with a range of different platforms and website scripts.
 
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 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.

Pricing
$3.95,  $5.95, $11.95  / month.  (recommended) 
Overview
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.

Their GoGeek plan seems to be 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.

Strong points
  • Git integration.
  • Free PCI compliance (for e-commerce).
  • Staging.
  • One year of free SSL.
  • CDN included.
  • Multiple websites on a single account.
  • 24/7 support. Via phone as well.
Cons
  • Even though the cheapest plan goes from $3.95 / mo, it won’t be the best solution for most high-traffic sites. The plans offering some more advanced managed hosting features start at $11.95 / mo. (that plan comes with pre-installed Git, staging sites, and free PCI compliance for e-commerce sites). In all honesty, though, this is still a bargain at that price point.
User reviews *
Positive user reviews: 72% (891 out of 1237).
Pricing
 $29, $99 , $249 / month.  (recommended) 
Overview
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 their growing infrastructure), WP Engine seems to have found their balance. Right now, they offer managed solutions that are somewhere in the middle of the road between beginner-friendly, and developer-friendly WordPress hosting.

Strong points
  • CDN included, starting from plan “Professional.”
  • Great scalability – suitable for websites rapidly growing in traffic.
  • Free automated migration.
  • 24/7 phone support, starting from plan “Professional.”
Cons
  • High overages cost, 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.
User reviews *
Positive user reviews: 72% (1301 out of 1804).
Pricing
$15,  $30, $75 , $100, $250 / month.  (recommended) 
Overview
Albeit a 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.

Strong points
  • Ultra beginner-friendly 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.
Cons
  • 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 only 9am-7pm CDT.
User reviews *
Positive user reviews: 85% (339 out of 396). Highest rated managed WordPress hosting here.
Pricing
 $100 , $200, $300, $400, $600, $900, $1200, $1500 / month.  (recommended) 
Overview
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 a bit more premium solution, but what you get for your investment is a highly optimized platform, ready to take on an unlimited number of visitors, automatically scaling, supporting SSH, WP-CLI, Git, integrating a CDN, and offering many many more perks.
Strong points
  • Unlimited pageviews and visitors.
  • 1440 daily uptime checks per site.
  • Ability to hook up your site to a CDN of your choice.
  • Automatic scaling.
  • Support for Let’s Encrypt, SSH, WP-CLI, Git, and more.
  • Free website migrations.
  • Quick SSD storage.
Cons
  • There’s mainly one rather significant downside – the price. The cheapest plan is $100 / month.
User reviews *
Positive user reviews: inconclusive (too few reviews available).
Pricing
 $499 , $999, $1249, $2249 / month.  (recommended) 
Overview
At the time of writing, Pagely seems to be a more developer-centered solution among the companies presented on this list and is also the fastest 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. That being said, they’re also a bit more pricey.
Strong points
  • 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.
Cons
  • No phone support at all, even on the highest-tier plans.
  • The highest prices on this list – starting at $499 / month.
User reviews *
Positive user reviews: inconclusive (too few reviews available).
Pricing
$3.99, $4.99,  $7.99 , $13.99 / month.  (recommended) 
Overview
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.
Strong points
  • Very affordable if you want to launch 1-5 websites.
  • One-click staging sites.
  • An SSL certificate for free for one year.
  • SiteLock Professional malware detection and removal.
  • Ready to handle as many as 400,000 monthly visitors at the $7.99 / month price point.
  • Quick SSD storage.
Cons
  • 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.
User reviews *
Positive user reviews: inconclusive (no significant review data relating purely to these managed WordPress hosting plans).

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:

 SiteGroundWP EngineFlywheelKinstaPagelyGoDaddy
 SiteGroundWP EngineFlywheelkinsta hosting logoPagelyGoDaddy
PRICE (MONTHLY)$3.95,  $5.95, $11.95  / month. $29, $99 , $249 / month.$15,  $30, $75 , $100, $250 / month. $100 , $200, $300, $400, $600, $900, $1200, $1500 / month. $499 , $999, $1249, $2249 / month.$3.99, $4.99,  $7.99 , $13.99 / month.
Suitable for
(recommended plan)
~ 25,000 visits monthly~ 25,000 visits monthly~ 25,000 visits monthlyunlimitednot disclosed~ 400,000 visits monthly
Disk space
(recommended plan)
20GB10GB10GB5GB50GB30GB
No. of websites allowed
(recommended plan)
unlimited111302
Support
24/7 online and phone support24/7 online support (phone for higher-up plans)24/7 online support, limited phone support24/7 online support24/7 online support24/7 online support, chat, phone
 
I hope this WordPress hosting comparison will come 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.


* The user review ratings for each of the hosting platforms come from ReviewSignal.com’s library of Twitter-scavenged user opinions.
** This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and then purchase the product, we’ll receive a small fee. No worries though, you’ll still pay the standard amount so there’s no cost on your part.

 

Karol K

Creates content, manages CodeinWP's team of writers and makes sure that every piece of content you see on this blog looks great! / Author of "WordPress Complete" / Professional yerba mate drinker / @carlosinho
  • Hi, you forgot Lightning Base, it is one of the best managed WP Hosting. Good service, great support and amazing performance, at cheap price!

    • Karol K.

      We’ll look into it in the future.

  • I agree — managed WP hosting is all about saving hassle. Even if you’re just starting out, not having to worry about the technical side of things can be a huge relief. We also have a managed WP hosting service that includes maintenance and small fixes, and many of our clients have told us that they used to worry about their site going down overnight, or spent lots of time looking up how to fix things — now they can relax and leave it to us!

    • Karol K.

      That’s one of the strengths of managed platforms. We have to keep in mind that many users really don’t care about the technical stuff. They just want a working site.

  • Steve Vaughan

    Also I have had better experiences with hosting providers which only provide Managed WordPress hosting.

    WPOven, Kinsta are also missing from the list.

  • Heather Brown

    You missed ecomlane, great managed super fast dedicated servers. Been with them for just over a year, and I’m extremely happy with them!

  • cyberstreets

    Thank you, great article. I have had clients with a great experience with DreamHost. They have different levels of WordPress hosting, and their premium level offers features more expensive hosts don’t. I recommend you check them out, they are very popular in the U.S.