WordPress Maintenance vs Managed WordPress

There has been huge growth in the number of hosts offering “managed WordPress” hosting in the past year. Just about every major host now offers managed WordPress hosting. So why would you need WordPress maintenance (from a company like us) when your host can take care of the same WordPress upkeep? Because these are vastly different services. Today we will look at what each service offers and the pros and cons of each.

Managed WordPress Hosting

What do you get?

For the purpose of this post, we will use WPEngine as our managed WordPress provider. Of course, there are many other managed WordPress providers, but WPEngine seems to be the most well known in the space.

At its most basic form, managed hosting is the same as other website hosting. The main difference is a managed host will make updates to your WordPress core for you. They also claim to be setup better for WordPress performance and security. Managed hosting includes:

  • Hosting space for your website.
  • Automatic updates to WordPress core.
  • Daily backups of your site.
  • A staging environment to test new site features.
  • Phone or email support for issues related to your hosting account.

Why would you need it?

Well, you need some type of host, right!? Might as well be a WordPress specific host that knows the ins-and outs of WordPress and is configured for the best security and performance. WPEngine is a great host, but there are other much cheaper options that perform even better (ie. SiteGround).

Managed hosting’s biggest selling point is updating WordPress for you. Unfortunately, this is a bit overrated. They will force you to update WordPress, whether or not your site is ready and they will not ensure that your site is functioning properly after the update. Their update is the equivalent of you or I logging into WordPress, hitting update, and leaving without checking anything. This is not worth the premium they are putting on their hosting package.

Pros

For all the bashing of WPEngine I have done, they are still a decent host, although overpriced. The pros of going with WPEngine are:

  • Fast and secure hosting.
  • Good backup system with restore points.
  • Easy use of a staging site.
  • Good support for hosting related issues.

Cons

There are a few quirky things you have to deal with when using WPEngine:

  • Core WordPress updates made without permission or function checking.
  • WPEngine deletes and disables all revision history for what they say is “performance issues”. Some people like having past revisions they can revert to on a page-by-page basis.
  • Some plugins are banned from being used because they effect WPEngine’s “environment”.
  • Lack of control of your database and file structure. You cannot simply go to phpMyAdmin to make database changes.
  • They use a proprietary WordPress install that is difficult to migrate to another hosting provider (see our guide on migrating away from WPEngine here).
WordPress Support Services

What do you get?

I am going to be biased here and talk about our own company, wpONcall. We will discuss our primary product, which includes unlimited support.  This package is $149 per month. You get:

  • Unlimited support tasks
  • Hourly website backups
  • Daily updates to website plugins
  • Updates to WordPress core with functionality check
  • Security Scanning

Why would you need it?

Unlike managed hosts like WPEngine, you can use wpONcall for any website task. This includes making content updates, adding plugins, fixing issues and making improvements to the site. The unlimited support is like having a web designer on your team to make your site better. This is in contrast to a manage host who will not help with any request except those directly related to hosting (ie. the site is down and I need to see if it is a server issue). You need a WordPress maintenance company to improve your site over time.

WordPress maintenance is also important to keep the health of the site in top shape. Keeping plugins up to date is extremely important for security and backups that can easily be restored are imperative, even if your host also makes a backup.

Pros

  • Support on demand for any website issue or improvement.
  • A person keeping an eye on things in case anything goes wrong.
  • The peace of mind knowing someone is there is something goes wrong with the site.
  • A more secure, better functioning site.

Cons

  • More expensive because of the actual service time involved
  • A lot of provider choices without a lot of differentiation.
Conclusion

Although they may seem similar, WordPress maintenance companies have a completely different product than managed hosting providers. Hosting providers are just that – hosting companies with an emphasis or marketing spin to sound better to WordPress site owners. WordPress maintenance providers fill the need of site owners who need ongoing help with their site and want to know things are safe and functioning properly.  One cannot replace the other, it all depends on the level of your needs and how much help you need on a consistent basis with your site.

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