Your choice of web hosting is an important consideration. Getting it right is like adding jet fuel to your average car engine. However, a poor selection can hamper your site’s effectiveness, much like adding the wrong type of gas to your car. In other words, matching the right host to your needs is crucial.

While the options could seem overwhelming, you can narrow them down by answering one initial question: should you choose shared or managed hosting? There are inherent differences between the two categories of plans, as well as a unique set of pros and cons. This means each could be the right fit for your site, depending on your requirements.

In this article, we’ll look at the differences between shared and managed hosting, and discuss how you can find either type of plan. However, before that, let’s discuss why this is such an important choice in the first place!

Why Does It Matter Which Type of Hosting You Choose?

When setting up a new website, you’ll have certain requirements. Different types of hosting exist to cater to these needs. For example, there are solutions to help you handle high traffic levels, give you maximum flexibility under the hood, and much more. Of course, each type of hosting also has its potential downsides, which are important to understand.

In addition, different hosting providers offer varying levels of service and may be better suited to particular types of hosting. For example, a host could specialize in Virtual Private Server (VPS) installations, but be average at providing dedicated servers. Of course, not every host can excel across the board. So your job is to find one that’s a perfect match, in order to end up with a service that will support your unique site.

What’s the Difference Between Shared and Managed Hosting?

Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s discuss two of the most common and potentially useful hosting options you’ll run across: shared and managed hosting. When searching for a web host for your site, two considerations are likely to dominate your decision-making:

  • How much money do I have to spend?
  • How much time (and knowledge) do I have to dedicate to technical aspects?

Your answers to these two questions will largely determine whether you need shared or managed hosting. To illustrate what we mean, let’s give each type of plan a brief overview:

  • Shared hosting. This is a hands-on option that is cheaper to run initially but can increase in cost as your site gets bigger and requires more resources. Your web host rents you space on one of its servers, which you’re then responsible for maintaining. This keeps the pricing low, although the labor required from you could end up being quite high (and may merit a bit of technical expertise).
  • Managed hosting. The cost of a managed plan is usually much higher than your basic shared hosting plan. However, this is because the host takes a hands-on approach to managing your site on your behalf. In other words, you get access to an expert team that keeps your site optimized, performing fast, and secure.

Of course, money and time are not the only factors you’ll want to consider, but they’ll do a lot to shape what type of plan is most suitable. What’s most important, of course, is to find a solution you’re comfortable with. To do that, it’s best to check out what’s available in both categories.

Which Type of Hosting Is Right For You?

If you’re still feeling unsure about the differences between shared and managed hosting, don’t worry. We can easily sum up what you need to know in order to make the right decision for your site. Ultimately, you’ll want to consider the following scenarios:

  • If your site is going to remain fairly small, and you’re comfortable tinkering under the hood in order to make optimizations, shared hosting could be right for you.
  • However, if you’re planning on growing your site over time, yet you don’t have the time (or knowledge) to devote towards making your site run as well as possible, managed hosting will likely be ideal.

You may notice that we haven’t mentioned budgets here. While the pricing differences between these two types of hosting can be significant, it is possible to find both at a cost that’s manageable for most website owners. It’s best to first decide which category of hosting you’re interested in, then look for plans that fit into your budget.

How Can I Find Shared and Managed Hosting Providers?

Shared hosting is usually a ‘bottom-rung’ option, which many first-time website owners opt for due to its low price and simplicity. As such, shared hosting providers are extremely common, with a cursory Google search bringing up a myriad of options. Whether or not it’s actually called “shared hosting,” this option is usually the lowest-priced tier on any large hosting provider’s website.

Most hosting providers have a large number of servers, each one split so that many sites can fit onto it. What you do with that space is up to you (within reason). This is shared hosting’s primary selling point. It means that the host itself has lower administrative costs, which can make shared hosting an affordable option. However, with many different sites on the same server and managed separately, you could see performance, optimization, or even security issues arise quickly.

On the other hand, managed hosting is usually a dedicated service, aimed at those making a solid commitment to their site and its potential for success. For this reason, the hosting provider takes more of a lead when it comes to how your site (and others on the server) are run, making key optimization and security tweaks when necessary.

As such, you’ll often see managed hosting clearly marked on a host’s website, along with the technical specifications you’ll need to make a decision. Again, a Google search for “managed WordPress hosting” will provide a wealth of options. Some hosts only offer managed solutions, which can make them a better option than a company with a more split focus.


Your choice of hosting provider is a crucial decision, as is the type of plan you opt for. The wrong choice can set your site back, while a good match can start it off on the right foot.

In our opinion, budget and time are the primary factors you’ll want to consider. If your budget is low, but time is plentiful, shared hosting may be a good fit. However, managed hosting is a better option for most sites if it fits into your budget. Managed plans offered by dedicated hosts such as WP Engine let you leave your site’s performance and security to the experts.

Do you have a question about the differences between shared and managed hosting? Ask away in the comments section below!

Featured image: stevepb.

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Tom Rankin is a key member of WordCandy, a musician, photographer, vegan, beard owner, and (very) amateur coder. When he’s not doing any of these things, he’s likely sleeping.

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