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The Definitive Guide to Managed Hosting

Every enterprise learns it sooner or later — the biggest competitive advantages sometimes come from unexpected places.

Offering a website or app that works smoothly around the globe? Advantage.
Implementing the latest technology a step ahead of your competitors? Advantage.
Keeping customer data secure and avoiding cybersecurity scandals? Big advantage.

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This guide will show you exactly how choosing managed hosting can propel your enterprise ahead of the competition. We’ll cover:

What is Managed Hosting?

Managed hosting is when a third-party hosting company handles the setup, administration, management, and support of a server and application. Management services vary from host to host but typically include operating system (OS) updates and patching, 24/7/365 support, network infrastructure, and hardware management, basic security measures (including virus and spam protection), and monitoring and remediation of anything that could affect server performance.

The managed hosting company's job is to ensure their client's websites and applications stay up and running at all times. These guarantees are typically backed by a service level agreement (SLA) stating how the managed hosting company will compensate the client if they experience service interruptions or server downtime.

You can outsource the management of your hosting the same way you might outsource other tools and services to eliminate the need for in-house hosting infrastructure experts.

 We’ll talk about why that’s beneficial in a second, but first, let’s answer the obvious question: Why does your hosting need to be managed at all?

The Tradeoffs of Unmanaged Hosting

To really understand what managed hosting is providing you, it's helpful first to understand the alternative, unmanaged hosting.

With unmanaged hosting, you rent space on servers a third-party hosting company owns, but it’s largely a do-it-yourself experience. You get a server with the OS of your choice, and the hosting company is responsible for operating the equipment and maintaining the physical environment housing the servers. You are responsible for administering the server remotely, which means handling all the software upgrades, patching, and monitoring.

Priority of Patching

Unmanaged Hosting Gone Bad

The classic example of unmanaged hosting gone wrong is a call in the middle of the night saying your servers are down and your global customer base needs help accessing your website.

That’s a terrible scenario, and one you never want to experience.

But there are so many other issues that can pop up.

Getting Hamstrung by a Slow Loading Time

You notice your lead pipeline drop substantially, only to realize your site bounce rates are through the roof due to slow load times.

Becoming a Cybersecurity Cautionary Tale

You’re blindsided by a cyber crime that would never have happened if you’d patched your software more consistently.

Crashing and Burning When Your Site Is Needed Most

You launch a new product that gets an enormous amount of press, but your site can’t handle the traffic, and crashes.

Struggling to Find (and Budget for) IT Help

Some companies hire someone in-house to manage their hosting to avoid some of these scenarios. This presents two problems:

  • Tech talent is exceedingly hard to find right now amid a historic skill gap.
  • Hiring to fill these positions can get expensive.

The average salary for an IT manager is $104,804. You'll pay a fraction of that if you outsource to a managed hosting provider.

The Benefits of Managed Hosting

Choosing managed hosting allows you to avoid all those tradeoffs and gain some highly valuable benefits:

The Benefits of Managed Hosting

Choosing managed hosting allows you to avoid all those tradeoffs and gain some highly valuable benefits:

Reduce Risk

In today’s digital world, 95% of cybersecurity attacks and data breaches are preventable. But reducing your risk of attack is not just the job of one department. In many ways, everyone in the organization is responsible — from the employee choosing not to open a suspicious email to the accountant ensuring financial information is shared securely.

The thing is, people aren’t always perfect, and effectively reducing cyber risk exposure is not an easy task. It takes a high level of oversight and constant maintenance on the back end to ensure that:

  • The OS is updated, and security patches are completed routinely.
  • Cybersecurity threats are being identified and remediated.
  • Good traffic can flow in while suspicious traffic is stopped at the gate.

Outsourcing this part of the job to a managed hosting provider is a great way to ensure it gets done correctly and consistently.

Keep Up with the Speed of Business

Business growth isn’t always linear. Sometimes scale happens rapidly, or can even come in waves with seasonal changes and market shifts.

Your managed hosting provider will work with you to adjust your hosting resources as needed to ensure your IT scales with your business. More importantly, as long as you maintain good communication with your managed hosting team, they can help you create a technology roadmap to support upcoming growth and product launches.

Stay Compliant

Companies that manage sensitive or highly regulated data, such as information covered by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or Payment Card Industry (PCI) regulations, have a slew of compliance requirements they must meet on an ongoing basis — requirements that take significant time and attention to fulfill. In fact, 76% of companies label these compliance requirements a burden to their business operations.

Fortunately, managed hosting enables you to avoid this burden almost completely. Your managed hosting provider will take care of these tasks for you, freeing up time and headspace to focus on other things.

Stay Up to Date with Technology

Moore’s Law means that tech is getting better, faster, and more compact at an exponential rate. Not all companies will keep up with these changes, which means many will miss out on the efficiency and customer service benefits of emerging tech like the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning/AI.

Working with a well-managed hosting provider means you get access to the latest technology without investing much capital. And as advancements happen, your company will benefit from them while your competitors struggle to catch up.

Types of Managed Hosting Services

Fully Managed Hosting

Fully managed hosting is our top-of-the-line service for companies wanting a higher-touch experience from the beginning. It means we work closely with you to help you choose the right hosting plan, and our experts architect your infrastructure for optimal success based on your business operations and goals.

We’ll also manage migration and help with onboarding to limit any interruptions to your business as you get set up. Once you’re up and running, we provide round-the-clock management to ensure your infrastructure and applications are updated, secure, and running quickly for customers around the globe. As technology changes and your business grows, we’ll even proactively suggest ways we can improve your hosting implementation to stay ahead of the curve.

Fully managed hosting includes:

  • 24/7/365 support
  • Fully managed network infrastructure
  • Fully managed hardware
  • Wholly owned Liquid Web data centers
  • Level 3 technicians on-site 24/7/365
  • System level health monitoring and graphing
  • System level monitoring alerts and notifications
  • 100% uptime SLA on these items
  • Installation and full support of core software package
  • Core operating system updates and patches
  • Security enhancements
  • Full web server support including Apache (Linux)
  • Proactive response and restoration of monitoring events
  • Virus and spam protection
  • Free external migrations (restrictions apply)
  • Full control panel support
  • Control panel updates and patches

Additionally, most companies can integrate their favorite technology and tools. Our team is skilled at providing hosting for the apps and platforms companies use most.

Managed WordPress Hosting

Anyone who runs a WordPress site knows it’s a great platform. WordPress offers templates, plugins, features, and tools that enable small and large businesses to build professional, functional websites.

That’s why 43% of the Internet runs on WordPress. But as you may have noticed, if you’ve ever run a WordPress site, failing to update one compromised plugin can take your whole site down. The same goes for adding a plugin that isn’t optimized for your site.

If you don’t know the tricks to set up secure WordPress hosting, you might also find yourself dealing with frequent hacking attempts. Around , targeting sites of all sizes.

Why WordPress is Popular with Hackers

Signing up for managed WordPress hosting significantly reduces all of these concerns, as you know your site will be set up securely, monitored for suspicious activity, and updated regularly.

We automatically update plugins at Liquid Web. As part of that service, we even make a copy of your site and test the plugin updates to ensure they won’t crash your site after installation.

We also perform daily backups, include an Image Optimization plugin to improve page speed, and give you full access to server and developer tools like SSH, Git, and WP-CLI to make further optimizations. On top of that, we’ve optimized our platform for fast page load speeds using the latest technologies (PHP7, SSL, and Nginx).

Managed WooCommerce Hosting

eCommerce is a booming industry that continues to change the face of retail. And 23% of the top 1 million eCommerce sites are built on WooCommerce.

WooCommerce is a powerful platform you can use to build and run eCommerce sites of all sizes. But using WooCommerce managed hosting turns it into a high-octane sales engine.

Stores that use Liquid Web-managed WooCommerce hosting are two to 10 times faster than ones that don’t. The trick is that while most hosts offer platforms that work great for cached WordPress sites, we understand that your online store can't be cached the same way. So we've created a platform specifically geared toward helping your store's load time.

We’ve also put a great deal of time into ensuring our WooCommerce managed hosting offering sets you up for success from day one with free migration, abandoned cart and page builder plugins, tons of free themes, mobile optimization, and much more.

Premium Business Email Hosting

What business can operate without delivering reliable email access to employees wherever they go?

Many companies turn to Gmail for their business email needs because it has name recognition and checks most of the boxes for what companies need. But with Liquid Web, you can get fully managed email hosting with the features you love (Spam filtering, phone, and chat included, 10,000 messages per day) plus five times as much storage per mailbox, all at ⅕ the price of Gmail.

We also offer long-term email archival so you don’t lose your precious data. We don’t currently offer email hosting as a one-off service, but if you use or plan to use Liquid Web for other hosting services, our premium business email hosting is a no-brainer.

Managed Hosting vs. Other Options

Now that you understand how managed hosting works and what it might look like, let’s look at managed vs. unmanaged versions of some popular hosting options.

Managed Hosting vs. Public Cloud (e.g. AWS, Azure, Google Cloud)

If you have the time and expertise to secure and manage your own hosting 24/7 but don’t want to invest in servers, public cloud may be a good option.

But make no mistake — unmanaged public cloud hosting is DIY hosting. You’ll be responsible for monitoring your own traffic, setting up disaster recovery, running backups, configuring your firewall, tracking compliance, scaling and optimizing your resources as you grow, and keeping your servers and software patched and up to date. Sometimes, you will have a la carte options, but these come at a premium price. Public cloud often isn’t the bargain price advertised once you add all the “optional” features.

Also, be aware that your data will be stored on a shared server with other companies’ data, making it more vulnerable to cyberattacks that may come in via your “neighbors’” networks, as well as occasional performance degradation due to those same “noisy neighbors” bogging down the host server resources.

There are many ways to do public cloud hosting right — they’re just time-consuming and require specialized knowledge. For most businesses, managed cloud hosting is a more cost- and time-effective choice, leading to better security and performance.

In business, time is money. Would you rather spend your valuable time patching and updating servers or applying that time to revenue-generating areas of your business?

Managed Hosting vs. Private Cloud

Unmanaged private cloud is a more secure alternative to unmanaged public cloud, as your data exists on private hardware instead of in a shared environment. From there, you’ll be able to break up your server resources into individual virtual machines, making it possible to run separate apps on separate OSes within the same server.

However, unless you opt for a fully managed private cloud, you’ll still be responsible for all the monitoring and maintenance of a DIY hosting environment.

Managed private cloud is a great option for companies who want higher-security, lower-risk infrastructure that is protected and optimized by experts for ultimate performance.

Managed Hosting vs. Dedicated Hosting

Unmanaged dedicated hosting means your data is hosted on its own individual server, eliminating some of the security concerns of shared hosting. But unless you opt for managed dedicated hosting, you miss out on 24/7 monitoring and support, patching and updates, and all the other benefits of hosting management.

Once again, it’s a question of how much time and expertise your team has. If you want to reduce risk and overhead, managed dedicated hosting is typically better than the unmanaged version.

Managed Hosting vs. VPS Hosting

Unmanaged VPS hosting environments mimic a dedicated server within a shared hosting environment, so it’s technically a combination of shared and dedicated hosting.

If you want your environment to run faster, smoother, and more securely with less overhead, managed VPS hosting is the way to go. Cloud Spectator found Liquid Web’s server performance is up to 200% faster than leading competitors.

When you use our managed VPS hosting, you get free setup and management of Cloudflare content delivery network (CDN), enhanced security, built-in backups, and DDoS attack protection to keep your site or apps running at full steam.

If you have the time and expertise to secure and manage your own hosting 24/7 but don’t want to invest in servers, public cloud may be a good option.

WooCommerce Rocket Ship

Liquid Web's server performance is up to

200% Faster

than competitors' cloud products

Managed Hosting for Your Specific Needs

The beauty of Liquid Web’s managed hosting products is that they adapt to your individual needs. We have products available for many popular hosting use cases. Let’s explore some of them below.

eCommerce

Liquid Web offers managed hosting packages for the premier eCommerce platforms. Whether you build your site on WordPress, WooCommerce, or Magento, Liquid Web has your back. Your customers will enjoy a fast website built on some of the finest content management systems available, while you’ll have access to innovative features like our Plugin Performance Monitor on your dashboard.

Gaming

Gamers love our dedicated hosting packages. Branch off from your favorite title’s shared servers and host a reliable, lightning-fast gaming experience for your party. No more security issues on a shared server occupied by millions of gamers. And never leave your gaming experience in the hands of another gamer and their internet connection.

High Traffic

Server latency and downtime are surefire killers for businesses of all sizes. Our high-traffic enterprise managed hosting packages use a multi-server architecture to prevent traffic-related downtime and service latency or interruption. Customers can always scale to accommodate their business by adding additional servers as traffic grows.

Media Streaming

Media streaming requires massive amounts of storage, hosting, and bandwidth resources. You also need a managed hosting package that can accommodate speed. Anyone looking to stream on gaming platforms or social media should check out our high-performance hosting packages.

Managed Hosting Pricing

One of the most common reasons people don’t investigate managed hosting is that they assume it’s expensive. On paper, it may look pricier than unmanaged hosting, but paying for management becomes a much wiser decision when you consider the hidden costs of leaving your infrastructure unmanaged.

General Comparison

Managed hosting prices range widely depending on the level of attention your infrastructure will receive and the expertise the hosting company offers.

As a rule, when you see providers offering ultra-low-cost managed web hosting, it’s a sign that the host is either not using modern technology, not hiring knowledgeable staff, or both. For true, fully managed web hosting, expect to pay $150 to 250 per month or more depending on the type of hosting (Cloud VPS is the exception — it can cost much less even from reputable providers).

Managed applications, like WordPress or WooCommerce, are a different story, typically costing less than $50/month. And for managed email, don’t pay more than $1 to $5/month for a base plan.

If you’re comparing the cost of managed hosting to on-premise hosting, the savings are obvious. Doing your own in-house hosting means paying for (and replacing/upgrading) servers, software, round-the-clock tech management, and significantly more electricity. Your managed hosting cost will be exponentially lower.

What may be less obvious is how managed hosting can save you money compared with unmanaged hosting from somewhere like AWS or Digital Ocean.

Hidden Costs of Unmanaged Hosting

At first glance, you might think, “I can get unmanaged hosting for just a few dollars a month. How can you say managed is a better deal?”

It’s important to look below the surface to account for the hidden costs of unmanaged hosting, including:

Breaches

The global average cost of a data breach has risen to . Moreover, the average breach costs almost $1 million more in cases involving remote work as a factor ($4.99 million) than in cases in which remote work wasn’t a factor. Mitigating security risk is probably the most obvious reason to pay for managed hosting, as the savings can make or break your company.

Productivity

Beyond the time spent patching or responding to downtime and breaches, it’s important to account for how those tasks affect your team’s productivity levels. Every time one of your team members gets interrupted, it can take around  for them to refocus on their prior task.

Downtime

Using managed hosting significantly reduces the chance you’ll experience website or application downtime. The cost of IT downtime is currently . That adds up to anywhere from $145,000 to $450,000 per hour for companies. That means one instance of downtime that lasts only one minute will cost you almost twice as much as a year of high-end managed hosting.

Patching and Updates

Who is handling your patching and updates? Account for the time it will take them to stay on top of that responsibility, as well as server reboot time. Remember that  occurred in the first quarter of this year. And patching doesn’t just involve clicking a button — your team will have to test and verify each patch to ensure the patch is good and that it has been applied to all the company’s systems without breaking any functionality.

Hidden Costs of Unmanaged Hosting

How to Choose a Managed Hosting Provider

One last thing. Where you host matters.

Not all providers deliver the same managed hosting services or the same level of support. Do your due diligence to determine which provider will give you the most reliable and robust hosting plan and will be a proactive partner in your success, now and in the future.

Beyond checking managed hosting provider reviews, how do you make sure you get this decision right?

Here is a checklist of questions to ask.

Final Thoughts

Selecting the managed hosting plan that’s right for you doesn’t have to be a stressful undertaking. The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting® are here to guide you to the best decision and ensure the whole process goes smoothly, from planning and migration to long-term optimization and scaling.

We wouldn’t call ourselves The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting® if we weren’t ready to deliver on that promise. Our service-level agreement is among the best in the industry, with:

  • 30-Minute Hardware Replacement Guarantee
  • 100% Network Uptime Guarantee
  • 59-Minute Initial Response Guarantee

And if we fail to meet our SLA commitments for any reason, we’ll give you a credit for 10 times (1,000%) the actual amount of time you were affected.

You may be outsourcing your technology to us, but we’ll quickly become part of the family. Our goal is not just to respond to your IT needs but to anticipate them and help you build digital transformation strategies that support your long-term goals and projects.

We love our customers, which is why they love us right back. Liquid Web is proud to be the highest-rated hosting company in the industry, with a leading net promoter score (NPS) of 67.

Check out our managed hosting plans to get started today.

Managed Hosting FAQs

What Is Managed Hosting?

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