WPLift’s Big Guide to Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress hosting…if you’ve been around WordPress for any length of time, you’ve probably seen this term bandied about.
But what is managed WordPress hosting? And do you actually need it for your site? And what’s more, which of the twenty million managed WordPress hosts out there are actually worth considering?
In this post, I’m going to dig into all that and more. By the end, you’ll know everything you could ever hope to know about managed WordPress hosting. You’ll learn:
- What managed WordPress hosting is
- When it’s a good idea to go with managed WordPress hosting
- What to look for in a good managed WordPress host
- Who the best managed WordPress hosts are for a variety of uses and budgets
Let’s jump on into it!
Quick links to the hosting sections:
- Best Cheap Managed WordPress Hosting
- Best Managed WordPress Hosting For Small Business Owners
- Best High-Performance Managed WordPress Hosts
- Best Comprehensive Managed WordPress Hosting
What is Managed WordPress Hosting?
Before I tell you what managed WordPress hosting is, I think it’s important to note one basic fact:
Nowadays, pretty much any host out there has the capability to run WordPress.
Managed WordPress hosting is not a requirement to run WordPress. It’s a way to run WordPress better and with less input from you.
To break down what that means, I’m going to split the core features of managed WordPress hosting into two different categories.
First off – because managed WordPress hosting focuses exclusively on hosting WordPress sites, those hosts can make performance and security tweaks to maximize WordPress. These tweaks usually come in the form of:
- Architecture built for WordPress
- Built-in caching that’s optimized for WordPress sites
- Firewalls and malware scanning
And beyond those core performance and security features, managed WordPress hosting also offers up all kinds of tools to make your WordPress life easier. That usually means things like:
- Automatic updates of WordPress core software and sometimes themes/plugins
- Automatic backup and restore
- Staging sites to test out changes safely before pushing them to production
- One-click WordPress installs (though this one is pretty much a given nowadays)
And the best part about managed WordPress hosting? All the hosting support staff who you’ll talk to are WordPress experts. Because there’s no need for generalists like with an all-purpose host, you can be sure that most everyone you talk to knows their way around WordPress.
Do I Need Managed WordPress Hosting?
No, you don’t need managed WordPress hosting per se. That is, it’s totally possible to host your site on a regular host and do just fine.
But I think there are plenty of reasons why you should want managed WordPress hosting, if you get what I mean. See, many site owners waste a deceptively large amount of time trying to figure out hosting problems. Each problem might only take a little time…but put them all together and it adds up.
Managed WordPress hosting eliminates many of those snags, allowing you to focus 100% on growing your site…instead of putting out fires at your hosting provider (or even just performing minor maintenance like updates and backups).
Yes, it does typically cost a little bit more (more on that in a second), but it’s important to remember the old adage that “time is money”. That is, if you save $15 per month by skipping managed hosting only to waste 5 hours as a result of not having those time-saving features, are you really coming out ahead?
Unless you’re happy working for $3 per hour, the answer is no.
So it’s true – you do not need managed WordPress hosting. But most of the time, you’re going to:
- Have a better performing WordPress site
- Spend less time on routine maintenance like backups, upgrades, and version control (staging sites)
- Have to put out fewer fires because you have better quality hosting
And for that reason, I think managed hosting is a savvy investment for any serious WordPress webmaster.
How Much Does Managed WordPress Hosting Cost?
Ok, so I’ve established that I think managed WordPress hosting is a good investment. But how much is that investment?
Well…it depends on your exact needs. But I’ll try to run through a couple of different scenarios below.
For basic managed hosting, you’re typically looking at $10-$15 per month. You might not get all the bells and whistles with these plans (e.g. no staging sites). But you’ll usually get the most important features like:
- Performance tweaks
- Automatic updates
Mid-tier small business level WordPress hosting starts to get more into the $15-$30 per month. And the really high-tier hosts for high-traffic sites can easily get into the $100s.
Remember – these are just rough estimates. Some hosts are above or below those ranges.
What Should You Look For When Choosing a Managed WordPress Host?
There’s a great deal of similarity when looking at managed WordPress hosts’ feature lists. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look out for some key differentiators. Consider these factors when making your decision:
- How modern is the tech stack? Does it have PHP 7.X? HTTP/2? SSD? Basically, make sure it has the latest technology to maximize your site’s performance.
- Does the host have visitor limits? Some hosts actually limit you by unique visits instead of bandwidth.
- How is support? Is it 24/7? Can you get live support easily? What are the response times?
- Does it offer staging sites? Not all managed WordPress hosts offer staging sites.
Best Cheap Managed WordPress Hosting
Alright, let’s get into some actual WordPress hosts now. In this first section, I’ll dig into the budget WordPress hosts. These options may not work for especially high-traffic sites. But if you’re just getting started, these are the hosts that will offer you the best performance and features possible for a budget price.
Before I dig into each host in more detail, here’s a quick comparison table to give you an overview of all the hosts that you’ll meet in this section:
Visits Per Month
It’s worth noting that we did throw in some non-managed hosts into this category in order to meet the “budget” criteria. It’s hard to find budget managed WordPress hosts that aren’t named SiteGround!
SiteGround is where WPLift is hosted (and where I host my own personal sites). WPLift is a pretty high traffic site, though. So why is SiteGround in the budget section?
Because SiteGround offers both budget and mid-range plans that offer incredible value for the money. They offer features and performance that rival many mid-range hosts…but at a budget host price.
Here’s what you get when you host your site with SiteGround:
- The latest technologies – SiteGround offers PHP 7.X, HTTP/2, SSD on all servers, automatic free SSL certificates through Let’s Encrypt. Even on the cheapest plans.
- Unlimited bandwidth – Never pay just for bandwidth.
- Awesome support: SiteGround has some of the friendliest, quickest-responding, support in the business. Live chat is always available and helpful and ticket response times are in the single digits.
- Automatic updates – SiteGround updates the core WordPress software automatically.
- Built-in caching – SiteGround builds in caching so you don’t need to fiddle around with third-party caching plugins.
- Staging sites – While not available on their cheapest plans, SiteGround offers built-in staging sites on their highest tier.
- Multiple data centers – Choose from four different data centers for your site.
Pricing: SiteGround’s cheapest WordPress plan starts at $3.95 per month with promotional pricing ($9.95 after). The cheapest plan is suitable for sites getting up to 10,000 visits per month. Other plans offer slightly more managed features and increase in price from there.
A2 Hosting is another popular budget option. And while it is light on managed WordPress hosting features in comparison to some of the other options on this list, it makes up for that shortcoming with some of the best performance you’ll find in this price range.
If you’re less concerned about time-saving features and more focused on getting the best budget performance for your WordPress site, then A2 Hosting is a good option to consider.
Here’s what you get with A2 Hosting:
- Unlimited bandwidth – use as much data as needed.
- Good technology stack – PHP 7.X, HTTP/2 (on the highest tier), SSD, and easy CloudFlare integration.
- Pre-installed WordPress – WordPress comes pre-installed on A2 Hosting’s WordPress plans.
- Excellent performance – A2 Hosting routinely goes toe-to-toe with more expensive hosts in performance tests.
Pricing: A2 Hosting’s cheapest WordPress plan starts at $3.92 per month with promotional pricing ($7.99 after). Plans with improved Turbo performance start at $18.99 per month for regular pricing.
While BlueHost does offer a higher priced managed WordPress hosting plan, it doesn’t quite meet the budget criteria. So, we’ll be focused on their regular shared WordPress hosting instead.
Bluehost is kind of a mixed bag in the hosting industry. On one hand, they’re one of the most popular web hosts out there. On the other hand…there are a number of complaints about performance.
We’re adding BlueHost here because there’s no denying their popularity. But personally, I think you’d be better served by SiteGround or A2 Hosting.
With BlueHost’s shared WordPress hosting, you get these features:
- One-click WordPress install – get up and running with just a couple clicks.
- Unmetered bandwidth – never pay for data usage.
- 24/7 support – get help whenever you need it
Pricing: Pricing is one of the major draws of BlueHost. The cheapest plan starts at just $2.95 per month with promotional pricing ($7.99 per month with regular pricing). Unless your budget is super tight, though, I’d recommend paying a bit more for SiteGround or A2 Hosting.
Best Managed WordPress Hosting For Small Business Owners
These managed WordPress hosts fit somewhere in between the budget hosts and the ultra premium hosts in the next section. Most of them sit in the $15-$30 range, depending on your needs.
They offer a solid balance of performance and affordability which is ideal for small business owners with mid-level traffic.
As with the other sections, before I dig into each host in detail, here’s a quick overview of the different hosts that you’ll see in this section:
Visits Per Month
SiteGround makes another appearance in the small business section! While SiteGround’s lowest tier is a good budget option, SiteGround’s GoGeek plan is a great option for small businesses that get up to ~100,000 monthly visitors.
Here’s why GoGeek is a great small business plan. In addition to all of the other features that you get with SiteGround, you also get:
- More power – the GoGeek plan has more resources available than the lower tier plans. That means even better performance.
- PCI Compliance – great if you’re running an eCommerce store.
- One-click staging – set up staging sites and push changes live with just a few clicks.
- Even better support – you get the most premium support available.
- 3 levels of built-in caching – GoGeek plans get the best server-side caching available.
Pricing: SiteGround’s GoGeek plan costs $11.95 with promotional pricing. That gets you 30GB of storage space and can handle ~100,000 monthly visits (that’s an estimate, not a hard cap). After the promotional pricing runs out, you’re looking at $29.95 per month.
WP Engine is one of the largest and longest-standing managed WordPress hosts out there. They’re one of the largest names in the industry – so you’re not going to go wrong if you host your site with WP Engine.
They’re not the absolute cheapest host out there, but they have transparent pricing so that you always know exactly what you’re getting. Speaking of…here are the main perks of WP Engine:
- Optimized for WordPress – as the name suggests, WP Engine only does WordPress.
- Built-in staging – all WP Engine plans include a built-in staging tool.
- PHP 7 ready – you always have the option of using the latest tech.
- Free SSL certificate – including automated installation.
- 24/7 support – get chat support whenever you need it.
Pricing: WP Engine’s cheapest plan starts at $29 per month for one WordPress install and up to 25,000 monthly visitors. Plans go up from there.
Flywheel is managed WordPress hosting that’s marketed primarily towards designers and agencies. And while that is its core marketing pitch, Flywheel is by no means limited to people in those industries.
Overall, Flywheel offers transparent pricing with some neat features that are unique to Flywheel. The only downside is that they’re one of the managed WordPress hosts who limit you by monthly visits.
Here’s everything you get when you choose to host your site at Flywheel:
- Tuned for WordPress – Flywheel only hosts WordPress sites, so their environment is built specifically for WordPress. That includes server-side caching as well as other tweaks
- Multiple data centers – choose where in the world you want your site hosted.
- Helpful development tools – Staging sites, site cloning, and Blueprints (packages of common themes/plugins) make it easy for you to quickly develop new sites.
- Free SSL – built-in to your hosting.
- Automatic nightly backups – Flywheel handles data integrity for you.
Pricing: Flywheel’s cheapest plan starts at $15 per month for one website, 5,000 monthly visits, 5GB storage, and 250GB bandwidth. Plans go up from there.
Best High-Performance Managed WordPress Hosts
These hosts aren’t really for beginners getting their feet wet with WordPress. Instead, these hosts offer the absolute best performance possible…but at a price to match.
That is, these hosts are expensive! But they back up their high prices with amazing performance and support. So if you have a high-traffic WordPress site that needs the best performance possible, these are your best bets. If you’re just getting started, run away before the prices give you a heart attack.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the hosts that I’ll be covering in this section:
|Starting Price||Visits Per Month|
|Kinsta||$100||Pay for bandwidth|
Kinsta Hosting offers high-performance WordPress hosting powered by Google Cloud Platform. Have you heard of Google? They’re a small company that’s fairly well known for their tech infrastructure (sic!).
When you host with Kinsta, you’re getting the power of Google, tons of managed features, and excellent support.
Here’s the full feature list:
- The latest technologies – PHP 7.X, HTTP/2, LXD containers, NGINX. All the tech goodies are there for optimal performance
- Built-in caching. No need to mess with WordPress caching plugins.
- Custom dashboard – Kinsta’s dashboard is beautiful and user friendly.
- Automatic backups – keep up to 14 automatic backups
- Easy staging – easily push from staging to production and vice versa.
- Free SSL – via Let’s Encrypt.
Pricing: Kinsta is fairly unique in that they don’t impose an arbitrary visitor limit. Instead, you just have a bandwidth limit (with transparent charges for overages). The cheapest plan starts at $100 per month for 5GB storage and 50GB bandwidth.
Extra bandwidth is billed at a flat $1 per GB.
Cloudways is a cloud hosting platform that gives you the ability to quickly spin up new sites on five different cloud hosting providers. Currently, those are:
- Amazon Web Services
- Google Cloud Platform
What’s great about Cloudways is that it gives you an easy-to-use dashboard and you can quickly scale your hosting to meet demand.
Here’s everything you get with Cloudways:
- Multiple cloud infrastructure providers – choose from any of the 5 offered providers. Or mix and match as needed.
- One-click backups and restore – no matter which provider you choose, Cloudways keeps your data safe.
- One-click scaling. Need more power to handle going viral? Because everything is virtual – you just need to click a button to scale your site.
- Staging areas and cloning – easily stage and clone your sites as needed.
- ThunderStack performance optimization – Varnish, Memcached, Apache, NGINX and more work together to make your site run blazing fast.
While you do miss out on some WordPress-specific features like automatic updates, everything else about Cloudways is flexible and easy-to-use.
Pricing: The actual pricing depends on the cloud infrastructure provider that you choose. Your absolute cheapest option is a DigitalOcean server for $7 per month. But it’s insanely easy to scale your plan up to meet whatever your specific needs are.
Pressidium has been making waves in the WordPress community lately with its high-quality managed WordPress hosting. All of their plans come with the latest tech to keep your site running smoothly. That means:
- The latest tech: PHP 7, HTTP/2, OPCache, SSD, load balancing, etc.
- Automatic offsite backups – keeps your data safe no matter what.
- Automatic WP core updates – keeps your site up to date.
- Malware monitoring – plus free malware removal in case something does get through.
- One-click staging and cloning – takes the struggle out of site development.
- Helpful dashboard – manage caching and plugins right from your Pressidium dashboard.
- Automatic image optimization – saves you a third-party plugin.
Pricing: Pressidium’s cheapest plan starts at $24.90 per month when billed monthly and offers 5GB storage and 10,000 unique visitors per month. Plans go up from there. The highest non-enterprise plan runs for $599 per month.
Best Comprehensive Managed WordPress Hosting
What do I mean by comprehensive managed WordPress hosting? I’m talking about hosts that go beyond regular managed WordPress hosting by offering up a full-scale WordPress experience. Think of them like the closest thing WordPress has to Squarespace.
With one of these hosts, they cover the whole process, from hosting to getting you set up with a fully functioning theme (including demo content).
If you’re a total beginner and have no idea where to get started with WordPress, these types of managed hosts are a good option for you.
|Starting Price||Visits Per Month|
When you launch a new site on MagicPress, not only do you get pre-installed WordPress, but you also get to choose from a number of premium themes from CSSIgniter. All included in the price!
Those premium themes are a big value add-on. And best of all, they come fully setup with demo content and required plugins. So it’s literally plug and play.
Here’s everything that you get with MagicPress:
- Excellent performance – MagicPress performed great under my Load Impact tests.
- Latest technologies – PHP 7.X, HTTP/2, it’s all there.
- Included premium themes – choose from any of the aforementioned CSSIgniter themes at no extra cost.
- Automatic updates – in addition to the core software, MagicPress can auto-update themes and plugins as well.
- Awesome dashboard – say goodbye to cPanel with MagicPress’ easy-to-use custom hosting dashboard.
- Automatic backups and easy restores – automatic daily backups. Or, you can always run a manual backup whenever needed.
- Excellent support – MagicPress uses Intercom for easy support.
Pricing: With all of those features, MagicPress still manages to come in at an affordable $11 per month for one site, 10GB storage, and up to 10,000 visitors per month. Plans go up from there. You can also get a 15-day free trial to test out MagicPress’ services.
Envato Hosted is managed WordPress hosting from the giant behind ThemeForest and Code Canyon. Like MagicPress, Envato Hosted doesn’t just give you WordPress-focused hosting, but it also lets you choose from hundreds of premium ThemeForest themes when you build your site.
Beyond those free themes, Envato Hosted also handles:
- Automatic WordPress updates – get everything updated automatically
- Pre-installed WordPress theme and bundled plugins – your site is ready to go right away.
- Automatic daily backups – Envato takes a daily backup of your site without you needing to do anything.
Pricing: Envato Hosted is $19 per month (paid monthly) or $16 per month (paid annually). With that, you get 5GB of disk space, 100GB of monthly bandwidth, and up to 100,000 monthly visits.
Phew! That was a lot of managed WordPress hosts. Whether you’re working with a budget of under $10 per month or are willing to spend $100s per month to host your high-traffic website, you should be able to find a viable host on this list.
If your budget is low, we always recommend SiteGround because they offer an amazing blend of affordability and quality.
If you have a higher budget, you have a great deal more flexibility. Most of the small business or high-end hosts on this list offer an amazing service. It’s more about finding the specific host that works for you.
Now over to you – which of these managed WordPress hosts do you personally recommend? Let us know in the comments!