If you do a google search for inexpensive WordPress hosting, you’ll find a lot of options. One of the names you’ll see is Digital Ocean. They’re a well-respected hosting provider that gets you access to hardware for just a few dollars a month. It sounds like a great deal.
If you talk with developers, they’ll often tell you that they love Digital Ocean. One of the reasons is because there are so many great tutorials on how to do anything you want to do on their platform. Their documentation is fantastic.
So they’re well-respected. They have great documentation. Developers love them. And their pricing is really affordable. Why would you want to host your WordPress site anywhere else?
We don’t recommend Digital Ocean, but it has nothing to do with all those great characteristics. We don’t recommend them because it’s “unmanaged” and you likely aren’t interested in becoming your own IT shop.
There are two ways to host a large party
When you plan a wedding, an anniversary celebration, a first communion, or the final party for your child’s national championship baseball team, you have two options.
The first option is that you decide to do everything on your own. And we’re talking everything.
If you have 20 young baseball players and their families showing up, you’ll need to make sure you have enough chairs for everyone. Or rent a community center. And imagine you’re mixing tons of Crystal Light. And imagine you’re using your bread maker to create the dough for all the custom pizzas you’re making.
Sounds tough, right?
Most of us wouldn’t do it. We’d call a pizza joint, see if they would allow us to rent the room, and we’d order the pizza and drinks from them.
They would manage the rest. That’s the second option. The managed option.
Just because you can have high control over every detail and nuance doesn’t mean you will want to. Sometimes the most expedient and intelligent thing to do is allow others to manage some details for you.
What is Managed WordPress Hosting?
Managed WordPress Hosting is a hosting solution that is radically different than what you get when you buy from Digital Ocean (for $5/month). To best illustrate it, let’s look at what you’d have to do if you spun up a Digital Ocean Droplet (what they call it) to run your WordPress site.
1. Create the new Ubuntu server droplet.
2. Connect to that server via their Console and your new root account.
3. Change the root password, and then create a new user for everything else you’ll do.
4. Change the permissions on that new user so that they can do admin things on the server.
5. Get you public and private keys configured so you can connect to the server safely.
6. Install Nginx as your web server.
7. Create firewall rules so that your traffic can hit your new web server.
8. Install MySQL to manage data collection and storage.
9. Install PHP.
10. Configure Nginx (your web server) to use your new PHP processor.
11. Create the MySQL database that will run WordPress.
12. Create the MySQL user that you’ll use to talk between PHP and MySQL.
13. Adjust Nginx to work with WordPress.
14. Install any additional PHP libraries you’ll need for WordPress.
15. Download the WordPress files, unzip them, and place them in the right folder.
16. Handle permissions for your new WordPress files and directories.
17. Adjust your WordPress config file.
18. Complete the WordPress installation process.
That’s all before you login and start working with plugins or themes!
And what isn’t included in that list are various little steps related to site security, performance or more. Those 18 steps are the bare bones of getting a WordPress site installed and configured at Digital Ocean.
And as you read those steps, which of those sounds inviting to you? Which sounds like stuff you know how to do, or aren’t worried about getting wrong?
It’s the equivalent of why folks getting married decide to use an event planner or wedding coordinator. You can do it yourself, but the fear of getting something wrong, and the risk associated with it, is not worth the trade-off.
Managed WordPress is where you select a hosting partner who takes care of all the above for you. And then more! They worry about site performance, security, configuration and more – all without you having to do anything.
Who we recommend for Managed WordPress hosting
Over the years we’ve recommended many different hosts. Today most of our clients are hosted at WP Engine.