By Jerry Whitehead December 28, 2016, 7:31 PM
Managed vs. Unmanaged: Which Hosting Solution is Best for You?
You’re ready to get your new website up and running. You’ve got your creative assets together and some killer content written up. All that’s left to do now is find a hosting company, throw everything into either a website builder application or upload your stuff via FTP, and you’re good to go, right? Well, maybe not so fast. When it comes to hosting solutions, you have options. It’s not just a matter of signing up for a hosting plan. Like with any business, hosting is offered in a variety of different packages which will change what you pay per month. It’s rare that one size fits all, so let’s dig into one important choice you’re going to need to make when signing up for a hosting plan: unmanaged vs managed.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both depending on what you’re looking to accomplish. For some people, a managed server is a no-brainer. They absolutely want all the support they can get. For others, unmanaged is the way to go because it gives them the kind of freedom they need to create the development environment they’re after. Let’s explore the difference between the two options.
Unmanaged hosting is what you would expect it to be. There is very little input from your hosting company. They’ll provide you the server environment with your operating system of choice (typically Windows or some flavor of Linux) and then you’re on your own. Any kind of scripting languages (PHP, Ruby, etc.) and something like Apache needs to be installed by you, the user. Not every host provides a control panel like cPanel, but you can find unmanaged hosting with a control panel already installed for you. Some will even perform backups for you. JaguarPC does both. If you have the experience and the passion for a DIY project, then something like an unmanaged Cloud VPS is probably the solution for you.
You might be wondering who would want to be responsible for nearly every aspect of their server environment. There are a few pretty typical reasons as to why you’d go the unmanaged route. The first one is usually the reason why people choose most things and that’s the price. Unmanaged, due to the lack of “labor” involved by your hosting company, simply costs you less per month. Of course, the trade off is having to do everything yourself. But if you have the ability to do so (like being a command line pro), going with an unmanaged server can save you a fair amount of money over time. Another reason to go unmanaged is you like as much say in your development environment as possible. You’re the guy running Slackware on a PC you built yourself. Pre-installed software throws you off and you have very particular needs. In this case, unmanaged is certainly the way to go. One last reason why you would actually need to go the unmanaged route is you’re trying to install specialty software on your VPS or server and the software requires specific parameters in the server’s setup. Your hosting company may not have the ability to meet those needs or perhaps not offer that as part of their service. No worries, because you know how to do it yourself.
Now, with a managed server, you’re getting a whole lot of services. This is definitely for the hands-off, “set it and forget it” crowd who much prefer to just run their businesses rather than tinker in the backend of a site. You’ll get things like 24/7 performance monitoring, hardware management and phone support. Necessities like cPanel, WHM, and Plesk are already set to go. Services like server reboots and backup restores are just a phone call away. Even SSL installations (a must these days) and OS software updates are handled by your hosting company. This all sounds like a great deal, right? If there are any downsides to this arrangement, it might be the lack of freedom (see above) and the slightly higher cost per month. If you have no interest or experience in server-side management, then the extra cost is well worth it for the peace of mind. You want to spend your time addressing your customers’ needs rather than trying to troubleshoot your own server.
Now that you’ve seen some of the differences between an unmanaged and managed server, you can make an educated choice on the right monthly plan for you. While you’ll still need to choose whether or not you want a VPS or dedicated server, that’s a conversation in itself. That’s why if you’re looking for a reliable hosting solution that offers you the options you need, we encourage you to drop the team at JaguarPC a line. Our team can help walk you through your options so you can make the best choice for your particular set of needs.