Managed vs Unmanaged Hosting – Explained!

When you’re browsing the internet, looking for a new hosting plan for your next website, you’ll often come across two prominent terms – Managed and Unmanaged hosting. 

These are rather general terms and as such, many people can become confused at what exactly managed and unmanaged hosting is, as well as how the two types of hosting differ. Understanding the most suitable type of hosting plan for your business is crucial to your website’s success – so it’s important to have some idea of the differences.

In this blog post we hope to explain exactly what both Managed and Unmanaged hosting are, how the two differ, as well as some of the biggest pros and cons of the two.

What is Managed Hosting?

In a hosting provider environment, they will typically have multiple shared servers housing many individual hosting accounts. These hosting accounts will have access to the server’s resources such as memory, processing power, and storage. Every account needs this in order to serve websites over the internet.

Many hosting providers also offer additional optional services on top of these essential functions, including (but not limited to):  automated backups, malware detection and removal, and uptime monitoring. Extra features like this can loosely be classed as features of a typical Managed hosting plan.

With any Managed hosting plan, the main selling point is that your hosting provider will take care of some of the administrative, maintenance, or management tasks that will typically be required of a hosting plan. In many cases there exists software which hosting providers use to automate or simplify these tasks.

What is Unmanaged Hosting?

So now that we understand what Managed hosting is. We can more easily get a picture of how Unmanaged hosting works.

Typically with an Unmanaged hosting plan, you’ll be provided with (at a bare minimum): the rack space in the data centre, the physical server hardware, and the networking infrastructure required to access the server over the internet. As we’ve already touched on, these aspects are necessary if you want to host anything that’s accessible on the web. 

Additional features on top of this ‘bare-bones’ setup are not usually provided with an Unmanaged hosting plan. You’ll be given the basic tools to do what you require. But you’ll usually also have to handle all of your server administration, maintenance, and management. Your hosting provider will take a very hands-off role with an Unmanaged hosting plan, as you are essentially paying for only the server.

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How do Managed and Unmanaged hosting differ?

It should already be very apparent to you how these two types of hosting differ. But in case you’re still confused, let’s explain how Managed and Unmanaged hosting plans differ, in some of the main aspects of hosting.

Support

From time to time you’ll find that you may require some technical help. Perhaps something has gone wrong with your website, or perhaps your server isn’t functioning as it should. This is one of the most apparent aspects of hosting that differ between Managed and Unmanaged.

With Managed hosting, you’ll typically have access to free technical support provided by your hosting provider, as part of your hosting agreement. This may be limited to a certain scope, but you’ll usually receive at least some level of support.

With Unmanaged hosting however, technical support is often not provided at all. Unless you pay an additional fee for this service. The price you pay for the hosting is for the server itself and doesn’t include any free technical support.

Automated Updates

Keeping your website and software up-to-date is especially crucial in today’s world where account compromises and hacking are commonplace. Let’s look at how this is covered in Managed vs Unmanaged hosting.

Managed hosting will usually include automatic server updates for your system, applied by your hosting provider, to keep everything updated to the latest version. Often this will happen behind the scenes without you even knowing!

Unmanaged hosting however typically doesn’t include any automated updates for your server. Your hosting provider won’t carry this out for you and you’ll need to handle any updates in-house, on your own time.

Security Services

Keeping your website and server secure is absolutely paramount nowadays – you don’t want to risk losing your data! Security services covered by your hosting plan will differ greatly. But we can explain roughly what is covered by each type of hosting.

A Managed hosting plan will typically include free security services, to protect both your website and your account. Your hosting provider will usually provide malware scanners, brute force protection, DDoS protection and access control.

An Unmanaged hosting plan will usually include little-to-no security features, in the base price. Your hosting provider may have some security measures on the data center side but on the server. It’s up to you to make sure that everything’s locked down and secured.

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Pros & Cons

We should now have an idea of exactly what both Managed and Unmanaged hosting are, and how they differ. To make things simple, in this section we’re going to look at some of the most important pros and cons for both Managed, and Unmanaged hosting.

Managed Hosting Pros:

  • Perhaps the most important pro of Managed hosting is the free technical support that your hosting provider will include with your plan. This can be extremely valuable, and can help you get out of some difficult situations!
  • Managed hosting doesn’t require any technical server knowledge. You don’t need to know how to manage or maintain your hosting plan – you can just get on with building your website, and let your hosting provider take care of the technical stuff.
  • You don’t need to worry about security or updates with Managed hosting. Your hosting provider will take care of this for you behind the scenes.

Managed Hosting Cons:

  • With Managed hosting you won’t have the same level of control over which software and hardware you use. You’ll be restricted to specific software, control panels, and server technology – which might not work for some situations.
  • You can expect Managed hosting to cost more than Unmanaged hosting. Since you are paying for the hosting provider to manage your hosting for you, this is reflected in the price you pay.
  • Normally you won’t have full root access with a Managed hosting plan, meaning many customisations aren’t possible for you to make.

Unmanaged Hosting Pros:

  • The most obvious pro with Unmanaged hosting is the level of control you have over your hosting experience. You control every aspect of your setup – from the hardware components, right down to the software level.
  • Unmanaged hosting will very often cost you significantly less than a Managed solution. Since the hosting provider doesn’t manage the service for you, you can expect to be paying less for your hosting plan.
  • You’ll have full root access with a normal Unmanaged hosting plan. This means you can make any customisation you want, at any time, to any aspect of your server.

Unmanaged Hosting Cons:

  • The biggest con with Unmanaged hosting is the technical expertise required to manage the server. You’ll need to know how to properly manage the server, otherwise things will go wrong for you!
  • Additional features that are included with Managed hosting plans, like automated backups or malware detection and removal, will usually cost you extra with an Unmanaged plan.
  • You can expect to spend much more time managing and maintaining your server than you would with a Managed hosting plan. This can mean lost productivity in more important areas of your business.

Which plan is better for you?

In case you haven’t yet decided which type of hosting is better for you. We can explain in simple terms how you can determine that for yourself.

If you are looking to host a website with the least hassle, and no prior technical knowledge. Then a Managed hosting plan is the best choice for you. Your hosting provider will make sure everything’s running smoothly behind the scenes so that you can work on your website.

If however you need to host a website or application in a specific environment in which you need lots of control over, and you already have some technical knowledge as well as the time to spare, then Unmanaged hosting might be a good option for you.

Conclusion

Here at UKHost4u we offer both fully Managed web hosting plans, as well as Unmanaged hosting plans. We have a wide range of solutions, suitable for any kind of website.

We’re on hand to help with any issue or question; no matter how small. Contact our team via our ticket system to see if we can help you.

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