If you’re looking to set your business up with a dedicated or virtual private server, you’ve a very important decision to make, perhaps even more important than which hosting company you choose. It involves how much money you’re willing to spend in the interest of convenience. More importantly, it involves how much work you intend to put into your server – and how much control you’ll have over its operation, besides.
I am speaking, of course, about choosing between managed and unmanaged hosting – literally, choosing between having a host run a server for you and running that same server yourself. It’s important that you understand the differences – and strengths – of each approach as well as your business’s resources and needs. Otherwise, you might end up making the wrong choice.
We’re here today to ensure that doesn’t happen.
What’s The Difference?
Let’s use an analogy here. It’s not a perfect one, but it’s enough to suit our purposes. Imagine that you’ve a choice between two different car rental agencies.
The first one offers you a car that you can tweak and modify to your heart’s content, and at a price that’s an absolute steal. The only stipulation, of course, is that you’ll be responsible for keeping it running. They’ll help you if anything goes wrong, but day-to-day maintenance and upkeep is your job entirely; and it’s up to you to determine if anything’s gone wrong – a tall order if you don’t possess any automotive knowledge.
The second rental firm takes a different approach. Like the first, they let you customize your car in whatever fashion you see fit – but this time, the company will do all the work for you. They’ll also handle all the technical stuff involved in keeping your vehicle running, and even drive you where you want to go. Although this costs a fair bit more than the first company, it allows you to focus entirely on your destination – you don’t even need to worry about keeping your gas tank full.
An unmanaged hosting provider is a lot like the first company in this analogy. You’ve got root access to your server, and the freedom to configure it however you want – a privilege for which you generally pay less. Unfortunately, if you don’t have any experience in server administration, it can be next to impossible to successfully deal with an unmanaged hosting plan.
Managed hosting, meanwhile, is the second rental company. Although you’ve some say in how your server is run – what apps are installed, what OS you’re using, et-cetera – your host handles most of the technical stuff. Though that tends to cost significantly more, it also means you can focus entirely on your core business – you needn’t spend any time on configuration or monitoring.
Which One Is Best?
So, now that you know the difference between the two choices, which one is the best fit for your business? There’s…actually no easy answer to that. It depends on a wide variety of different factors.
You Should Choose Managed Hosting If…
- You’re a small business with a limited IT department or very little administrative experience
- You’ve the budget to shell out a little extra
- You aren’t confident you can dedicate enough time to server configuration
- You’d rather focus on your business without having to maintain a server
- You prefer to outsource the management of your IT infrastructure
You Should Choose Unmanaged Hosting If…
- You or your IT department is experienced in server administration.
- Your IT budget is fairly light, and you don’t have the cash for a managed plan.
- You know you’ve the time to maintain a server
- You aren’t comfortable with the idea that someone else might have access to your information.
A Tough Choice To Make
The decision between managed and unmanaged isn’t one you should make lightly.
If you’re going to settle on an unmanaged server, you need to make absolutely certain you’ve the administrative experience and time to properly maintain it. Running a server is not an easy job. If you don’t have the time or skill to devote to it, you might as well not shell out for hosting at all.
Similarly, if you need root access and control, a managed server may not be the right choice, although Future Hosting are one of very few hosting companies that allow managed hosting clients root access to their servers. Managed servers tend to cost more, and you’ll often have less control over how your server is operated. Unmanaged servers are all about freedom – managed servers put convenience first.
Only you can answer which one is the better path – choose wisely.