What is "Managed" Hosting? (6 Best Host Options)

Bear with us as we explain managed hosting through real estate.

If shared hosting is living in an apartment building (with multiple tenants sharing the same building), VPS hosting would equate to owning a condo — while you may share some resources with neighbors, you are ultimately responsible for maintaining your property.

Cloud hosting is staying at a hotel, an Airbnb, or maybe couch surfing — you don’t have a permanent home but always have a place to stay. Dedicated hosting would be like owning a house; no one else but you has access.

In this analogy, managed hosting is like a property manager or a handyman. They take care of some of the work so you can relax or focus on making a living; managed hosting companies keep everything running while you decide how to decorate.

Definition

Simply, managed hosting services minimize the amount of hands-on IT work that needs to be performed to keep a server running at peak performance. The hosting company will handle the hardware while you focus on your software.

Don’t have the knowledge, staff, or time to manage a web server? Sign up for managed web hosting.

Managed hosting used to be somewhat synonymous with dedicated hosting. Larger companies that can afford dedicated hosting decide if they want their IT teams to handle the web servers, or focus on in-house hardware and leave the servers to the hosting company.

Intro to Managed Hosting

The specific services included with managed hosting can vary wildly among hosting companies. Some companies offer managed hosting as an add-on to their existing cloud, VPS, or dedicated packages, while others include managed services in each rate or even make their system administration teams available at hourly rates.

Types of Managed Hosting

The differences in managed service packages boil down to what you want the hosting provider to administer: infrastructure or operations?

  • Semi-managed hosting is great for people or businesses who want to use a hosting company’s support and infrastructure but feel comfortable managing their own servers.
  • Fully-managed hosting is best for those with limited technical knowledge. Fully-managed hosting allows people or companies to focus on growing their business.

When your website family is growing too large for your cramped apartment, it’s time to move out of the shared hosting complex and into VPS, cloud, or dedicated hosting. Here’s where managed hosting shines.

Buyer Beware: “Managed” Shared Hosting

Some hosts offer managed shared hosting, but beware: technically, shared hosting is inherently managed. Don’t let a company charge extra for the same cPanel access, 24/7 support, or 1-click WordPress installations that you can find included in most other shared hosting packages.

Our Favorite Managed Hosts

Whether you’re looking for managed VPS or managed dedicated hosting, InMotion Hosting, iPage, and Media Temple all go above and beyond with their managed services and are sure to meet your needs. We looked at all the major managed hosting providers and evaluated each company on performance, levels of service, and cost.

Managed VPS Hosting (3)

VPS hosting gives you more control to customize your server options — but not total control. In this case, managed hosting is like a condo owners association. You can technically throw a huge party, but eventually your neighbors are going to complain. Managed VPS hosting makes sure all the neighbors are getting along and the community is monitored.

With the close monitoring, however, managed cloud and VPS hosting providers can quickly alert you and provide recommendations on the best way to scale — in many cases taking care of the upgrades for you. Alternatively, the host will be able to inform you if your property is ready to jump up to a dedicated server. Here are our top choices for managed VPS hosting:

VPS RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • 50% off the first month with added discounts the first year
  • Real-time redundancy powered by a cloud infrastructure
  • FREE cPanel/WHM licenses with enterprise-grade CentOS
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $19.99
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space 75 GB - 260 GB SSD
Domain Name New or Transfer
VPS Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/vps
Our Expert's InMotion Review
Boasting market-leading VPS hardware, slick management software, and free SSD drives and backups, InMotion offers the most attractive VPS plans you'll find anywhere. Each VPS plan comes with free SSD storage arranged in RAID 6,... read more +

Boasting market-leading VPS hardware, slick management software, and free SSD drives and backups, InMotion offers the most attractive VPS plans you'll find anywhere.

Each VPS plan comes with free SSD storage arranged in RAID 6, which is incredibly fast and secure. Each of their plans also come with an awesome amount of RAM for the server cost, so the speed-to-dollar ratio is high with this host.

InMotion’s VPS packages run on CentOS 6 Linux operating systems and all feature a license for cPanel. Each plan also comes with Web Hosting Management (WHM) software, making it super-easy to resell some unused server resources.

InMotion's reputation for uptime is second-to-none, with a solid track record as a large-scale VPS host and a large, friendly support team available at any time.

Lastly, InMotion has a 90-day money-back guarantee and offers a choice of datacenters, which are nice customer-centric features. Their support is top-notch and 24 hours. We highly recommend you check them out if you are looking for a VPS with great hardware and reseller options at a low price.

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VPS RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • Includes cPanel
  • Instantly deploy, grow, and scale as demands increase
  • High-speed mirrored SAN storage
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $19.99
Money Back Guarantee Anytime
Disk Space 40 GB - 120 GB
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
VPS Hosting Plans www.ipage.com/vps
Our Expert's iPage Review
If you are looking for affordable VPS hosting and cPanel support, iPage offers a great deal. It's perfect for those savvy enough to know they need VPS hosting, but who don’t have the time or... read more +

If you are looking for affordable VPS hosting and cPanel support, iPage offers a great deal. It's perfect for those savvy enough to know they need VPS hosting, but who don’t have the time or skill to mess with a self-managed system. Their managed services support will help with installation and common issues related to essentials like Apache, MySQL, Email, DNS, and many other programs.

High-speed, mirrored SAN storage is at the heart of iPage’s modern hardware. Each VPS plan comes with semi-private resources and guaranteed memory. For the price, the hardware specs offered are excellent.

They also offer remarkable 24/7 support, accessible via chat, email, or phone. Their predictable monthly costs come without usage overage charges, which is great for growing sites. A money-back guarantee is also standard.

For the cost and all the flexibility, features, and security you want in a VPS host, iPage has excellent hardware. When selecting a managed VPS host, you should feel confident giving these guys a try.

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VPS RATING
★★★★★ 4.6/5.0
  • All-SSD servers, guaranteed resources, and auto-backups
  • 1-click installations of hundreds of scripts and applications
  • SLA that guarantees 99.999% uptime
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $45.83
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space 30 GB - 600 GB SSD
Domain Name New or Transfer
VPS Hosting Plans www.mediatemple.net/vps
Our Expert's Media Temple Review
While more expensive than some hosts, MediaTemple's managed VPS hosting is second to none from a performance perspective. With an incredible amount of hardware for the price and fully-managed virtualized servers, they offer serious VPS hosting... read more +

While more expensive than some hosts, MediaTemple's managed VPS hosting is second to none from a performance perspective. With an incredible amount of hardware for the price and fully-managed virtualized servers, they offer serious VPS hosting for serious people.

In today’s online world, speed matters. Whether it’s website conversions or search engine exposure, how fast your site loads dictates a lot. That is where Media Temple’s VPS shines. Their all-SSD servers, guaranteed resources, and instant scalability mean you are ready for anything.

Beyond just speed, what you are paying for with Media Temple is reliability. They boast a ridiculous SLA that guarantees a 99.999% uptime, that’s a mere five minutes 15 seconds of downtime per year across all sites.

Okay, so we love us some awesome modern hardware, but our favorite part about Media Temple has always been their support and their VPS team is no exception. At a fraction of a dedicated IT team, offering assistance by phone, chat, or Twitter, their award-winning support staff is standing by no matter the issue.

Finally, we can’t sing enough praises for Media Temple. Though you pay a little more, their speed, support, and reliability make for the hosting industry’s best peace of mind.

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InMotion Hosting — our favorite overall cloud, VPS, and dedicated host — bill themselves as “your personal support team” and they offer a variety of custom server solutions. Meanwhile, iPage is our pick for those just starting to dip a toe into managed hosting; in addition to the technical support, iPage also offers design and marketing services that help customers reach their full potential online. Price was the only knock on Media Temple, which offers a variety of excellent, immediately scalable packages.

Managed Dedicated Hosting (3)

Managed dedicated hosting will typically offer the most services, while managed cloud and VPS services are more likely to focus on the infrastructure setup and maintenance.

In your house of dedicated hosting, managed services are like hiring a landscaping company or handyman. You’re still most likely responsible for hanging pictures on the wall, but you can hire as many people as you want to paint, clean, and cook. Here are our top three picks for managed dedicated hosting:

DEDICATED RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • Your choice of fully, semi-, or self-managed service
  • Multi-core, 128GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage
  • Scale up instantly from VPS Hosting, without migration
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2,000
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space 1 TB SSD
Domain Name New or Transfer
Dedicated Hosting Plans www.mediatemple.net/dedicated
Our Expert's Media Temple Review
Are limitless server resources and a 100% clean neighborhood invaluable to your business? If you answered "yes," look no further than Media Temple’s dedicated hosting. While not for everyone due to the higher-than-average pricing, there... read more +

Are limitless server resources and a 100% clean neighborhood invaluable to your business? If you answered "yes," look no further than Media Temple’s dedicated hosting. While not for everyone due to the higher-than-average pricing, there is no arguing the impressiveness of this enterprise-level server.

Offering self-, semi-, or fully-managed options, Media Temple’s dedicated offering has boundless flexibility to go with its power. First, you start with your choice of Linux operating systems pre-installed for you. Then if you are on the self-managed plan, the sky is the limit with full root access (the stuff geeks dream about). If you opt for the semi- or fully-managed solutions, you get the asssitance of a professional System Administrator, with performance monitoring, daily backups, OS and application updates, constant security, and regular malware scanning.

So where does all this power come from? They start with Dual-socket, multi-core Intel Xeon processors, and then add 128 gigabytes of DDR3 RAM and 1 terabyte of RAID 10 SSD storage. Yeah…  we know right!?

So all of that comes with a pretty hefty price tag, however we can’t say it’s not justified by what Media Temple has to offer; it’s definitely next level stuff. If you already use their VPS options and are in need of something more, you’ll be pleased to hear that it is a seamless, zero-downtime transition to a dedicated server.

Finally, Media Temple offers a 99.999% service uptime guarantee on their dedicated products. If they fall short, you get 20% of your monthly hosting fee back for each 20 minutes of downtime that month.

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DEDICATED RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Rebootless kernel updates
  • 1-click installs and FREE SSDs
  • cPanel/WHM licences with FREE SSL
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $99.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space 500 GB - 1.2 TB SSD
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Dedicated Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/dedicated
Our Expert's InMotion Review
InMotion offers amazingly fast, reliable dedicated hosting on market-leading hardware — making it an easy choice for anyone seeking a premium dedicated host. From free SSDs to a fanatical support team, InMotion has all the... read more +

InMotion offers amazingly fast, reliable dedicated hosting on market-leading hardware — making it an easy choice for anyone seeking a premium dedicated host. From free SSDs to a fanatical support team, InMotion has all the bases covered for both small-scale and large-scale operations, featuring a truly reliable dedicated host.

Unlike some hosts, InMotion gives SSH and Root access to their servers. Each plan is managed and comes with between two and four hours of SysAdmin time at launch, which is an excellent help in getting your site configured to meet your needs. Each server also is set up with cPanel and WHM for easy management.

Plenty of CPU power, RAM, and storage, plus lots of IP addresses, come with each plan. Perhaps our favorite feature of InMotion is their zero-downtime, rebootless kernel updates, which are partially the reason for their superb 99.999% uptime.

InMotion has a 30-day money-back guarantee on their dedicated plans, which is fairly rare and just another reason you can’t go wrong selecting them as your dedicated host.

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DEDICATED RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • Fully managed support
  • Predictable monthly costs without overage charges
  • Easily scalable as demands increase
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $119.99
Money Back Guarantee Anytime
Disk Space 500 GB - 1 TB
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Dedicated Hosting Plans www.ipage.com/dedicated
Our Expert's iPage Review
If you need a fast and flexible dedicated server, iPage offers a very solid option. Whether you’ve outgrown your previous host, or know you have larger-than-average needs, iPage has you covered without breaking the bank.... read more +

If you need a fast and flexible dedicated server, iPage offers a very solid option. Whether you’ve outgrown your previous host, or know you have larger-than-average needs, iPage has you covered without breaking the bank.

Built on their cloud technology, server resources are provisioned instantly and migration is seamless. If you are unsure if you require a dedicated server, you can start with a VPS option and instantly scale up to a dedicated option. What’s even better is that iPage doesn’t charge overage fees if you go over your plan, because no one wants to be punished for getting popular.

Folks who are new to hosting should be pleased to hear that iPage offers fully managed support for their dedicated servers, including access to all the latest development tools and languages. This includes help with configuration of Apache, MySQL, Email, DNS, and other programs, to save you time and effort. Each server runs on CentOS 6.4 and includes cPanel in the pricing.

Hardware setups are modern and robust with multi-core Intel Xeon CPUs, RAID 1 mirrored storage, and plenty of RAM.

The dedicated servers of iPage hosting are excellent choices and should satisfy most users' needs. At a price that’s very reasonable, with an industry-leading, anytime money-back guarantee, iPage's dedicated hosting plans are truly a high-value deal.

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For power users willing to pay top-dollar for top-notch service, Media Temple has you covered with white-glove, fully-managed service that will give you total peace of mind with an on-boarding consultation and three on-demand services per month. InMotion Hosting provides a great bargain and guarantees to replace any faulty hardware within two hours of notification. We like iPage for their instant deployment, troubleshooting assistance, and custom configurations.

Kick Back, Relax, and Let Your Hosting Provider Take Care of the Rest

To keep the analogy flowing, think of managed hosting as a vacation — relax, do what you enjoy, and let others take care of the nitty-gritty technical details. With managed hosting, you can focus on your business or design while your host installs updates and optimizes performance.

As you prepare to depart for your managed hosting get-away, don’t forget our favorite host destinations: iPage for its accessible and comprehensive offerings, InMotion Hosting for managed hosting tailored to your needs, and Media Temple for its top-notch, white-glove service.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Stamey

Laura Stamey is a multi-talented communicator with a master's degree in web design and online communication and extensive experience creating web, print, and multimedia products. As a Contributing Editor for HostingAdvice.com, she combines her communication skills with web design experience, a passionate love for WordPress, and a strong desire to continue learning. When she's not addressing user questions via helpful how-to guides, you'll find her connecting with the folks behind companies that are powering the Web — covering their innovative technologies and the teams that engineer them.