Should you buy managed or cPanel hosting?
Managed hosting packages can be great to get your idea off the ground with a website. They are affordable, hassle-free, and come with some really useful and intuitive tools to manage the technical side of your website. It is the perfect choice for people looking to set up small, relatively simple websites without the need for having to pay someone technical to set it all up and maintain it (for the most part).
They often house a lot of nice features like one-click staging, daily backups, simple SSL certificate installation, one-click CDN for improved website speed, and simple site recovery. These are all really useful features and made very accessible and easy to use.
The only trouble if you are buying this type of hosting is that you are probably only looking at how many sites you can run and the monthly cost. Looking a little deeper, here are some other things to consider.
The 4 main drawbacks of using managed hosting
Most hosting providers will give you stats like a guaranteed 99.9% uptime. Now, this sounds great but in my experience, that guarantee is rarely true or backed up by any type of compensation. That’s not to say they are unreliable but with almost all managed hosting providers I have dealt with there has been some downtime due to maintenance or reconfiguration of the servers. In worse case scenarios this has lasted up to a few days, which is obviously far from ideal when you are trying to run a business.
The other reliability issue stems from security, not only on your website but on the other websites sharing the same server as you. The trouble is that a lot of people on managed hosting are just muddling through hosting their own website and have no idea how to keep it secure. This opens up the server to all kinds of vulnerabilities and once it is compromised it can affect your website too.
If a bot starts sending out spam mail on mass or injecting malicious links into a website then the shared server is going to be affected and all the websites will likely have to be moved to a new hosting space. You will not have to do this yourself but you could find that things like emails will not be delivered whilst the server is compromised.
I have found this seems to happen less with cPanel setups but that may just be coincidental. To avoid things like this happening it is worth looking in VPS (Virtual Private Servers) hosting as an alternative solution. VPS hosting is also shared but it is set up differently and much less prone to those types of security breaches.
Most managed hosting packages will not make it easy for you to do anything server related. So things like security certificates must be paid for annually when a free self-certificate would actually be more than sufficient. These costs can start adding up, especially if you run multiple sites under the same plan.
The next big one is email, cPanel hosting allows you to create multiple branded email accounts with webmail storage completely free. You can also set up these accounts locally on your computer, tablet, or phone. So if you have 10 email accounts and you are paying £4 a month per email then you could be making a £40 saving a month on cPanel hosting. If you use all the tools around your email like the Google or Microsoft office and cloud tools then this may not meet your needs.
There are also limitations on what tools you can run, this is not always a problem depending on what your website does. But if you have to run specific server-side tasks or integrate with 3rd party services then managed hosting may not allow them. The same goes for anything security and caching related. Which brings me on to performance.
Most managed and cPanel hosting platforms work from shared servers and can experience issues with anything from email delivery to handling large volumes of traffic. A lot of things are out of your control with managed servers, if people sharing the same server are sending spam or malicious content to people then you can also be affected and you will not be notified.
If you share a server with a site that has lots of traffic and constantly throttles the limitations, it may affect the performance of your website. This can happen with shared cPanel hosting as well but you do have monitoring tools to see what is happening. You may also notice that in busy periods your website is unresponsive or slow to load, which brings us on to scalability.
If you plan on scaling your website you will likely need to move to CPanel hosting or more realistically a virtual personal server (VPS). For larger-scale projects with high email use and traffic, you may even need a dedicated server. These allow much more flexibility in terms of handling traffic and adding custom or 3rd party modules to the server. Managed hosting doesn’t usually give you any server usage statistics or email/error logs, so you can’t really monitor its performance or identify issues.
Both VPS (virtual personal servers) and dedicated servers have the benefits of being able to scale up and down very quickly and efficiently. So you can tailor the hosting to meet your needs at the time. The only option you will have on managed hosting is to purchase the most expensive package on a set contract period. VPS will also tend to have more robust security tools built-in, I would almost always recommend VPS hosting as a bare minimum for anyone selling products online.
For those who are less tech-savvy, a lot of providers offer something called managed VPS, this offers a lot of the tools you need in a simple dashboard interface. The main issue with managed shared hosting is often the lack of documentation and support. In the example of GoDaddy, they now charge for support and often the issue is just a server limitation.
Should I use managed or cPanel shared hosting?
Managed, cPanel and shared hosting plans in general certainly have a place but before rushing into a hosting plan, make sure it meets the needs of your project. They are more than suitable for small scale projects where cost wins out over performance. But you have to think of the bigger picture if you are starting something you want to carry into the long term. Factor in all the points covered above like the number of websites you plan to host, SSL certificates, and emails.
Moving servers once you have a user base or are actively selling products or generating leads can be a real pain. If you have lots of branded emails attached to your website that can also make things harder to migrate smoothly. It works out much better over time if you choose wisely in the first instance.
Then this leads to people just settling for the hosting they have or bolting on lots of caching tools and this is a bad idea. Insufficient hosting can cause all kinds of issues including load errors, slow page speeds, and high bounce rates. These are all especially important if you run any paid advertising as this will affect your conversion rates.
Below are some popular options for hosting your website that still offer user-friendly tools to manage your website.
Managed Shared Hosting Options
cPanel Shared Hosting Options
VPS Hosting Options
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