What is “managed WordPress hosting”? Lies. All lies.

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WARNING: My inner snark will be on full display. I’ve been in hosting for over a decade, and so I’ve seen a lot of stuff, a lot of changes in how things are packaged, how things are marketed, and I’m sick of it. It’s time to drop some truth on it.

Lots of companies/people over the years have been saying shared hosting is “bad”, shared hosting is the “devil”. Shared hosting will infect your family, your friends, your dog, and maybe your fish. In hosting, it used to be that the argument was, “ditch shared, you need to go for a VPS”. It somewhat caught on. Over the last couple of years though, it’s changed. The new catchphrase is “you need managed WordPress hosting”. This has actually ended up being more effective and has stuck. Let’s clarify a few things.

A. there is nothing wrong with shared hosting when done properly. The misconceptions have come from Godaddy and EIG causing a negative perception around the word shared, and now people believe it’s a dirty word. In reality, many things in hosting is shared. Even these “managed WordPress” hosting like WPEngine are shared. They even say so right on their website.

B. “managed WordPress hosting”, it’s the new toy. Let’s think about this for a moment, and ask ourselves what they are really managing. I’m going to have a conversation with virtual Billy. I’ve got a very funny video to give more context about Billy, message me and I’ll share it with you.

Me: So, Billy, what exactly are the humans at the company managing?

Billy: They keep the server software up to date. They make sure all the server stuff is running.

Me: Wrong Billy! They are actually just managing the software that manages the servers. Everything is automatic, with very little human intervention. Even Godaddy manages the server on their plain shared product. Ok Billy, what else do they do?

Billy: Well, they update my website for me.

Me: Wrong again Billy! Their software simply updates the site automatically. The humans aren’t doing it. Lots of companies do this, and have been for decades, even the regular shared hosting. What else do you think they do?

Billy: Alright then, I know they are at least watching my site and fixing it if it has a site problem like a plugin conflict or an update gone wrong? Right? Riiight?

Me: Sorry, Billy. They aren’t even doing that. They aren’t monitoring your site. To borrow the words of Patrick Gallagher of GridPane fame, “they’re (managed WordPress providers) purporting to deliver a high touch fully “managed” service… and they don’t even confirm that the deliverable is DELIVERED”. The parentheses are my words. What do you think of that crap Billy?

Billy: Wait a second Bobby, you mean to tell me that shared hosting and managed WordPress are pretty much the same product but yet I’m paying about 400% more for it, and that they aren’t doing what I think they are doing?

Me: Yep, that’s about right Billy.

Alright, so that conversation with Billy was fun. Just to clarify some things, is Kinsta a better service over someone like Godaddy, absolutely. At the same time though, all they’ve done is decided to give you a good amount of resources for an expensive package. Whereas Godaddy made the business decision to charge you way less, and cram as many sites as they could on a box leading to the worst hosting imaginable.

Let’s put it a different way. You’re a WordPress agency owner, freelance developer, hosting provider, and you’re sitting at your desk right now. I want you to raise your hand if you’re the one performing the updates to the WordPress site. Raise your hand if you’re the one dealing with site down (due to a site issue, not a server issue) situations for your clients. My argument… Who’s really doing the managing? Hint: you are, not these “managed” hosts. The hosting stacks of yesterday’s shared providers were fully managed too, just like today’s “managed”. Granted the providers are charging way more and providing a little bit more resources, and because they are focusing on WordPress, they do have it tuned to perform better for WordPress.

I’ve started to calm down now from my debate with Billy, but I’ve been in hosting for a decade, and I get riled up about the things I see. While hosting has changed a little, what has really changed is the marketing around it, how it’s packaged, the cosmetics. Oh, and your bank account, it’s a lot lighter too. Think about all those hands in the cookie jar too. WPEngine resells Amazon Web Services, Flywheel resells Google, Kinsta resells Google, WordPress agencies resell WPE, Flywheel, Kinsta. Lot of people dipping in the jar.

Since I operate a hosting cooperative, things work a little differently for us, and I can be more transparent about the costs of hosting.

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1 thought on “What is “managed WordPress hosting”? Lies. All lies.”

  1. After fixing websites on 3 managed hosting a and lots of cPanel shared hostings, I agree completely with you. Managed hostings brought me far more pain and frustration,with exception of GoDaddy of course. Good shared hosting and well optimized website performs better on low budget than badly built website on “top” hosting paying a lot of money.

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