When setting up a new website many entrepreneurs will look to keep hosting cost down to a minimum. This leaves more funds to invest in the business. Historically, shared hosting has been the most popular type of hosting package. However, things are starting to change now with VPS (Virtual Private Server hosting) becoming more popular amongst e-commerce entrepreneurs. Competition in the hosting industry has brought down the cost of VPS hosting. It has also increased the standard of service now available. The next question is; do you go for managed vs unmanaged VPS hosting services?
Recap on VPS hosting?
Before we look at the difference between managed vs unmanaged VPS hosting, it may be useful to remind ourselves what VPS hosting actually is. VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. This, as the name suggests, is a virtual server offering the same resources as a dedicated server. But wait… It’s at a fraction of the price. While a dedicated server will physically service one account, it is possible to have numerous VPS hosting accounts on one server.
This is done by allocating resources to each individual VPS hosting account. While allowing them to operate as a stand-alone server. Each VPS hosting account can use a different operating system, install different software packages and have customisable levels of security. In effect a VPS hosting account is a dedicated server in all but name. So, what are the pros and cons of managed vs unmanaged VPS hosting accounts?
Features of managed VPS hosting account
Before we look at the pros and cons of managed and unmanaged VPS hosting, it is worthwhile considering the services available with hosting.co.uk managed virtual server hosting accounts. These include:-
- 24/7 support
- 99.9% uptime guarantee
- Guaranteed CPU and RAM
- Upgrade/downgrade at any time
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Free VPS migration
- Choice of Linux OS
- Up to 2 IP addresses
- cPanel and WebHost manager
- Automatic daily backup
- Full programme support
- Simple management tools
- White label – allowing you to resell server space to 3rd parties
- Free SEO tools
While there are obviously greater benefits to taking out a managed virtual server hosting account, the idea that those taking out an unmanaged VPS account are simply left to their own devices is wrong. Even with an unmanaged account there is still a need to ensure that clients have access to assistance. So, if required (some services will be charged on an ad hoc basis). It is obviously in the best interests of all parties to ensure maximum website uptime.
Comparing managed vs unmanaged VPS hosting accounts
We will now take a look at the various pros and cons regarding managed vs unmanaged VPS hosting accounts. Some of the issues will be relatively straightforward but others you may not have considered.
When you consider that a managed hosting account will give you access to experts across different subjects, there are potentially significant savings to be made in the long term. If you go with an unmanaged account you may well need to employ experts in the field of databases, system admin and other areas of website hosting. With a managed hosting account your fees will be constant. Whereas, monthly fees with an unmanaged account may vary depending upon the need for additional assistance.
No need for additional staff
As we touched on above, if you go down the managed hosting route then you will have access to experts at hosting.co.uk. The fact that these experts are made available to all managed account holders reduces the cost per managed account. In fact, very similar to shared hosting. If you need to employ your own experts to look after your website/hosting account there are also additional costs above and beyond salaries.
Those with a managed VPS account will have access to an array of additional monitoring services above and beyond the basics available to all accounts. This will include regular virus scans, firewall configuration, spam filtering and security audits. This will ensure that you are able to sleep well at night in the knowledge that your account is being monitored 24/7 and all issues addressed immediately. If we look at unmanaged VPS accounts, there will be additional costs regarding software together with the time taken to carry out various security scans and audits.
As well as monitoring security issues, managed VPS account will also proactively look for vulnerabilities and issues which may need addressed on your server setup. Constant tweaking of your server setup can improve the efficiency of your website and ultimately lead to enhanced customer satisfaction. This kind of proactive monitoring can be very difficult and also very expensive for those who go down the unmanaged VPS route. A missed update/archiving of a particular software package can prove disastrous for your website and your long-term sales.
Whether looking at security, software upgrades or early warning systems, the opportunity to go to bed at night time in the knowledge that your website is being looked after is priceless. If you were to have major issues with your website and your account was unmanaged we can only imagine the added stresses and strains this may cause. The online business world is littered with entrepreneurs who have “taken their eye off the ball” because of issues with their websites. By the time the technical issues have been resolved they have lost sales and suffered significant reputational damage.
Time for business
There are obviously many things to consider when looking at VPS hosting packages and whether you need a managed or unmanaged account. There is no one solution fits all in this scenario but there are issues to consider regarding time spent building your business. If you are an expert in e-commerce, and have limited or no knowledge of VPS hosting servers, surely your time is best spent drumming up additional sales for your business?
Let’s say for example that managing your own VPS account was to save you $100 a month. What if the same amount of time spent building your business had the potential to increase sales by $1000 a month? Even if you work on a 20% profit margin that is a potential monthly profit of $200 which you are missing out on while saving $100 on VPS hosting charges. If this was replicated month by month, expanding your client base, there might also be repeat sales to consider. The long-term financial impact of spending time managing your VPS hosting account could be huge.
Valuing your own time
One of the many aspects of managed VPS hosting which people seem to ignore is the value of their own time. If you are an expert in a particular field then it makes sense that your time is best spent utilising your skills. We often see many people looking at unmanaged VPS hosting account where they have little or no real knowledge of hosting servers. While they may make savings in the short term, if there are issues with hackers or software problems then websites could be taken off-line and significant sales lost. Many people forget that hosting company experts offer great value for money as they are actually a pooled resource for managed accounts – the cost is shared amongst all managed account customers.
Taking advice from your hosting company
So, if you are looking at managed or unmanaged VPS hosting accounts, who can you speak to? Well, it makes perfect sense to speak to your hosting company because they know what they can offer and the added value that a managed account brings. There is often an assumption that even the best hosting UK companies will recommend managed accounts simply to increase their sales. For some companies this may well be a useful short-term sales tool. However, in the longer term it is all about client satisfaction. If clients believe that they have been “mis-sold” a managed account then they are unlikely to recommend your hosting services to anybody else. Indeed, such is competition in the hosting industry today that they are likely to look elsewhere for a better deal.
So, before you choose a web hosting account, be it managed or unmanaged, it is sensible to have a frank and honest discussion with your potential host provider. Tell them your plans, the resources required and even your budget. The best hosting UK companies will come back with some options which are moulded around your requirements as opposed to their increased sales.
No one size fits all solution
As we touched on above, each individual client will have different requirements, a different budget and different long-term goals. There is no one size fits all solution but we have hopefully given you an idea of some of the pros and cons of managed vs unmanaged VPS hosting accounts. The crux of the matter is that there may be short-term savings but what about the longer term? Is your time potentially better spent growing your business and increasing sales? Spreading yourself too thinly can see you become a “jack of all trades but master of none”.