Here’s how a normal host works:
- After you sign up, you get a login.
- The login takes you to cPanel. The cPanel is an app on your server that lets you manage it through a UI without needing to know how to code anything.
- You configure your server however you want.
- There’s a FTP option to upload files manually to your server.
- There are also quick options for installing WordPress and other site software if you want.
- You get full access and can do anything you want. It’s a “choose your own adventure.” Install WordPress, Drupal, Magento, or code your entire site by hand.
Alternatively, there are managed web hosts. These hosts customize the hosting environment and manage a lot more of it for you.
WP Engine is the best example, they’re a managed host for WordPress. Instead of getting a cPanel login that lets me do anything I want, WP Engine gives me a login to their custom interface that’s built to manage WordPress sites specifically.
When a web host is optimized exclusively for WordPress, three key things happen:
- Faster performing sites than shared hosting. Everything can be tailored to making WordPress work its best, whether that’s optimizing website caching or tinkering with the command line tools. The host only needs to know how to support WordPress, as opposed to, say, Joomla and a Node server and some sort of custom-made site and on and on.
- More security and stability. A managed WordPress host can build a system that predicts, accommodates, and patches all of WordPress’s vulnerabilities. That means fewer malicious attacks and less downtime.
- Admin and site maintenance get a lot easier. And that service is vital because managed WordPress hosting is significantly more expensive than shared web hosting services.
While I give up some flexibility from not having a basic web server like other hosts, a managed host takes care of a lot of ongoing tasks that I’d normally have to handle myself.
If you have a small business site, a normal host is fine. If you’re building a larger site, a managed host will save you a ton of time in the long run and is worth the extra cost.