What is Managed Hosting for WordPress?

A Managed Hosting for WordPress product, or some variation of this type of product, is quickly becoming the most popular type of website hosting package today.  But why?  In this detailed article, I would like to fully explain what is meant by managed and come to a better understanding if you need to pay a premium for this type of service.

Table of Contents

What is WordPress?

I won’t spend a lot of time on this.  By now, we should all know what WordPress is since it is reportedly running over 450 million websites across the Internet.  WordPress, with its ease of use and extensible plugin system, allows non-technical people the ability to edit their websites without a need for a developer.

But as the old adage goes:

"With great power comes great responsibility!"

-- Peter Parker

The Biggest Issue with WordPress

I call it the WordPress Mentality.  This is something that I made up which goes something like this: “I don’t need a web developer since I can 1 click install WordPress, install a theme, make some simple changes and my website is live!”  This is something you can absolutely do but without at least a basic understanding of WordPress, Hosting and Security, you can be leaving yourself open to a whole lot of trouble down the road.  Let me explain…

Security

The biggest issue is always security.  Is your site secure?  How do you know?  Oftentimes, when a WordPress site is first installed, a secure socket layer (SSL) may not be installed which leads to your username and password being sent by plain text across the Internet.  Or even if it is installed, your installation may not be using it correctly.

Do you have a strong password?  Many times someone uses a weak password just to get the site installed with the intention of changing it later.  By then, your password was obtained by a brute force attack by a malicious 3rd party automated bot.  At this point, they have already logged in, changed your password and salt value, and locked you out of your own site.

Why would someone attempt to hack your site?  This is the most common question people ask us.  Well it isn’t someone… It is a large number of automated bots that search the Internet for any WordPress sites that are vulnerable.

Updates

WordPress continually has updates that not only pushes out new amazing features, but also fixes security issues that hackers exploit to hack your website.  This is also true with the many 3rd party plugins that may be installed.  It is imperative that your core WordPress and plugins are kept up-to-date.  It may be just as important to remove plugins that haven’t been updated in a while.  The most popular plugins are updated regularly.

And speaking of keeping WordPress and your plugins up-to-date, what happens if a recent update broke your website.  We just told you to keep your plugins up-to-date!  It happens.  Actually, some website owners refuse to update their site for fear of their site breaking.  Are you skilled enough to track down the error logs, investigate the issues and find a solution?  At least, can you reinstall a backup so that your site doesn’t stay broken for too long? 

Do you have a live copy of your site somewhere (often called a staging site), to test what happens if you update WordPress or a plugin?

Backups

And speaking of backups.. Do you have a backup of your website?  This is not just a backup of your site files, but also your WordPress database.  It is super important to have backups because even if everything is done correctly, there may still be times when your site breaks.  Having a backup can enable you to restore your website to a state before any issue might have occurred.

Backups should be off-site backups for 2 main reasons.  First of all, if the server that is hosting your website crashes, your files are unrecoverable on that server.  Thus, any backups on that server are also unrecoverable.  Secondly, if your website was compromised, then your backups on the same server might also be compromised.  Therefore it is important to store your backups on a server outside of your hosting account.

Role of a Good Hosting Provider

Sometimes the line is fuzzy on what the responsibilities are of your Web Hosting Provider versus what is the responsibility of the customer.  At GopherHost, we provide a fast and secure hosting environment on all our hosting plans.  Like hopefully many hosting companies, we have firewalls that protect against known “bad actors” and do an incredible job filtering out any known attacks and suspicious network traffic.  It is not possible to always correctly determine what traffic is good versus what traffic is bad.

The Hosting Provider also needs to provide and maintain high speed web servers to serve your website files.  If the servers go down, which is rare but it happens, it is the hosting provider’s responsibility to get the server back online as quickly as possible.  GopherHost keeps a backup of the client’s files and will restore the files back to how they were.  Not all hosting providers do this, but in the end, it is really up to the customer to keep their own backups.

There are so many ways a website can get hacked, that your hosting provider cannot protect against this happening.  It is up to the customer to keep passwords, SSH keys safe and secure, and maintain basic security of any installed software.

What is Managed Hosting for WordPress?

So the new hotness is something called Managed Hosting.  Hosting companies that offer a managed hosting product do this because of the need to address all the issues in this article, and much more.  It is not possible for someone that is not a seasoned web developer to understand all the details about setting up a fast and most importantly secure website.

Every hosting company has a slightly different version of what “Managed Hosting for WordPress” means but typically it contains the following features:

    1. Security audit and updates of the core WordPress and plugins
    2. Enabling security plugins
    3. Audit of hosting settings (PHP version/settings, memory requirements, file permissions, etc…)
    4. Force strong passwords
    5. Automate offsite backups 
    6. Automate virus and malware scanning
    7. Continuous monitoring of required updates

At GopherHost, we also include a one time performance audit.  We review your DNS settings, optimize your website and even include the installation of a QUIC.cloud HTTP3 CDN with LiteSpeed to help serve your website files from the closest server to your customer globally.

As an added feature, GopherHost will also make small updates to your website typically once a month as needed just as a thank you for being our customer.

Do I really need Managed Hosting for WordPress?

So back to the main topic of this article.  Managed Hosting for WordPress plans can cost between $30 to $120 a month so the question remains… Do you really need managed hosting?

Every feature in a managed hosting account is able to be performed by you, so the short answer is, no, you don’t need a managed hosting account.  If you are able to keep abreast of the necessary security concerns, keep your website up-to-date and remember to make backups, you will most likely not have any trouble with an unmanaged hosting account.

If you would rather leave the hairy details to an expert and shift the responsibility to your hosting provider, then having a managed hosting account might make a lot of sense.

Conclusion

Having a managed hosting account for WordPress just means that you shift the responsibility of maintaining your website to your hosting provider.  It becomes their responsibility to make sure your website is fast and secure so you can focus your time on what you do best, running your business.

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