How tech-savvy are you? That’s the difference between managed and unmanaged hosting accounts.
“Tech-savvy” means something different when running a website than when managing a personal computer. If you don’t have time or expertise to maintain a server, managed hosting takes care of most technical problems that arise. On the other hand, if you’re a tech wiz, then unmanaged hosting in the cloud gives you the ability to control everything but the hardware. It isn’t easy to decide which contract is right for the business, but some basic factors should be considered before taking on the responsibility of managing a web server.
Advantages of Managed Web Hosting
A good cloud host has reputable, experienced technical support to fix any issues that occur day and night. This means that the website owner doesn’t have to wake up to a crashed, non-functioning website. With managed hosting, most of the tasks associated with daily server issues are taken care of by the cloud host support team. This includes updating the operating system, patching security holes, receiving alerts when software fails, and installing required software to manage the system. Some hosting contracts also offer daily backups for the server software and the company database. These chores require knowledge of the core system, so managed hosting can greatly reduce the chance of making mistakes when changing server configurations or installing software.
Unmanaged Hosting and Server Control
Unmanaged hosting offers the control that an experienced IT person prefers when dealing with server configuration and software installation. Typically, in this scenario the cloud host will not support most server issues except hardware crashes. In some cases, the host might offer a backup procedure, but other than rebooting the server, the host allows the website owner to manage all configurations. This also means the website owner must be able to troubleshoot any issues that arise, so unmanaged hosting should be chosen carefully. This doesn’t mean the host won’t step in, but it’s usually at a cost in addition to the hosting contract.
While both types of contracts offer advantages, an unmanaged solution should only be used by an experienced website owner. For instance, for a Windows hosted account, knowing Windows Server 2008 or 2012 is expected, and the website owner should know how to configure IIS, install an SSL certificate, change DNS settings and troubleshoot network configurations in the control panel. If the website owner can’t handle these issues, then the website can be down for hours if a configuration issue occurs.
Before choosing a solution, it’s also important to check the hosting company’s reputation and support guarantees. A good host has support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The host should have a specialist for each type of operating system environment it offers to end users, and the host should have support for email, DNS and server configurations. While this type of support isn’t usually needed, the host must be able to recognize issues to fix them before the website owner loses too much revenue.
Jennifer Marsh is a software developer, programmer and technology writer and occasionally blogs for open cloud company Rackspace Hosting.