The best Magento hosting is an unmanaged hosting service like DigitalOcean or Amazon Web Services as they are usually more cost-effective, have higher quality infrastructure, and allow you to have complete control over your server and its software components. However, to work with an unmanaged host, you must possess the technical knowledge required to configure, maintain, and secure a server. Technically challenged business owners seeking simplicity should opt for a managed Magento host like Nexcess or MageMojo as they take away a lot of the stress of managing a server. While both options have their pros and cons, choosing between the two is often a matter of cost versus benefit for an individual or business.
Every hosting plan comprises two components: the server resources provided as part of the plan and additional services that may come with it. A majority of the popular unmanaged hosting service providers offer only a basic control panel as part of their service in addition to access to their servers. A managed hosting company will provide the server resources, a control panel, and additional management services that take away the burden of having to optimize, maintain, and update a server from time to time. Naturally, this means that you pay for the additional services they offer, and when compared to an unmanaged hosting plan, a managed one will always be more expensive.
Managed hosting is often twice the price of unmanaged hosting, depending on the server’s size, configuration, and services offered by the host. Generally, the most common services covered with managed hosting plans include automated backups, performance monitoring, software updates, server security management, technical support, and other on-demand services. Such hosts provide their customers with ready-to-use Magento installations that only require customization before live deployment. Having a ready-to-use Magento installation significantly reduces the time needed for a store to go live.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Managed hosting plans often come with certain caveats like limited control over choosing the versions of software running on the server and even limits on how much control you have over server resource allocation.
Another significant downside is being dependent on their support for the simplest of things. Since everything is essentially black-boxed, your ability to troubleshoot and diagnose is limited when things go wrong. Your only option is to submit a support ticket that passes through a chain of internal support staff before reaching the person who’s capable of implementing a solution to fix your issue. You often have to waddle through an ocean of preset responses before you’re able to get someone to address and resolve your issue.
Unmanaged servers usually come with an operating system pre-installed and a control panel to help with basic tasks like turning the server on or off, taking snapshots or backups, etc. Everything else needs to be configured manually from the command line, including installing and configuring all supporting software required to run a Magento store. Building a store from scratch is perfect for monitoring things like server resource utilization and controlling resource allocation for optimum performance.
But this degree of control comes with its share of responsibilities. You are responsible for the maintenance and security of your server. Without automated backups and proper security configurations, your store is vulnerable to bots and hackers trying to access it from all over the world. While using iptables or Fail2ban can help mitigate things like DDoS and brute force attacks, something as simple as setting incorrect file permissions can compromise your website’s security.
While unmanaged servers are susceptible to compromise, so are managed servers. Although they have teams responsible for ensuring server security and have well-configured firewalls, end-user errors still make them susceptible to compromise. Both types of hosting have their pros and cons when it comes to server security. However, considering all factors, unmanaged hosting is far cheaper and superior to a managed hosting plan for those capable of handling a server.
When searching for the best Magento hosting, you should consider four critical factors when making your decision — scalability, security, support, and affordability. Whichever option ticks all four boxes for you, will be the best hosting option for your business. If you’re looking for simplicity and ease of use, a managed hosting plan will allow you to delegate your server’s configuration and maintenance to a third party. However, if you prefer having control over all aspects of a server, including managing and maintaining it’s software components, an unmanaged hosting plan will work wonders for your store.