You’ve heard of it but do you know what it is? Most folks, unless they build and deploy websites for a living, are a bit fuzzy on the subject. It may conjure an image of a cloud, or perhaps a bank of twinkling blue and green lights in a computer clean room. Maybe, maybe not. For most of us, it’s just a phrase you hear whenever you talk about your website, or a line item you see on a bill you get every month. But what is it, really?
A home for your website
Think of website hosting as renting a home. At it’s most basic, website hosting is a service that provides a place for your website to live that can be accessed by everyone connected to the internet. That home for your website, just like a real home for you and your family, is much more than just a little space to hang out. You need power, heat, air conditioning and access to and from your home. Beyond those basics, do you want to rent a place that includes an alarm service, lawn care, snow removal, emergency repairs (for when those pipes burst!) and routine maintenance, or do you want to handle all those things yourself?
Un-managed vs Managed Hosting
When you select a hosting service for your website, you have the same kinds of choices. How much of the work to keep your website running do you want to do yourself?
With un-managed hosting you can get just the essentials; some disk space on a server connected to the internet. Everything else is up to you to manage. You need to handle backups (what happens when that server crashes?), speed optimization, upgrading the software running your site, fixing any issues that upgrades cause (or worse, fixing issues that NOT upgrading can cause, like getting hacked or infected with malicious adware) and deal with the attacks on your website that will happen from time to time. In short, you will need to spend time keeping your website running, or at some point, it will stop badly.
Simply put, managed hosting takes care of all the technical details to keep your website up and running… and there’s a lot that entails. You benefit from a team of experts dedicated to making your site work. You get software upgrades, security monitoring and proactive defense against threats like denial of service attacks and malware injections. You get network optimization and page caching designed specifically to speed up your site and you get daily backups in case the worst does happen. With managed hosting, all those things that keep your site safe, fast and up-to-date, are included.
That may seem like it would cost a lot, but it’s surprisingly cost effective. The difference between managed and un-managed hosting each month can be less than the cost of a pizza. If you have someone who will do all the work, for a pizza each month, to keep your site humming along, then consider un-managed hosting. Otherwise, take a good look at managed hosting. It may be just what you never knew you needed.