Don’t be fooled! Web hosting management and site maintenance may sound similar, but they’re really two different things. Here’s a handy guide that will help you get your stories straight.
What’s managed hosting?
As you know, your web server is your site’s home on the Internet. It’s a powerful computer that may be shared with other websites (shared hosting) or may be reserved just for your site (dedicated hosting). (We’ve got more detailed articles on server types here and here, if you’re interested.) You rent your server space from a hosting provider, who’s like the landlord.
Your hosting company provides the server and – if you’re lucky – also takes great care of all the hardware and software involved. Those extra things the hosting provider does to keep your site and server performing properly? That’s managed hosting.
Think of hosting management like all the extra things a great landlord does to keep a premium apartment complex running smoothly. Perfect landscaping? Flawless plumbing and electricity? Dedicated security guards? A sparkling clean pool? It’s all part of the package.
A fully-managed server is a lot like that well-run apartment complex. Your hosting provider is always on the ball, taking care of issues and troubleshooting so you don’t have to. The company will provide great tech support, house its servers in cool, climate-controlled data centers, install and monitor security software, back up sites to keep customers from losing data, and stay on the ball 24/7 to prevent downtime.
If you’ve purchased a fully-managed hosting plan, you don’t have to do anything to keep your server running at top performance. As a tenant, you can just relax. Maybe fix yourself a margarita by that perfectly-maintained pool.
OK, so what’s website maintenance?
Your landlord manages your apartment complex. But you decorate, furnish, clean and update your apartment.
Unless you’re really lucky and/or really rich...in which case, you can get somebody to take care of all those things for you.
Website maintenance includes all the elements that have to be designed, updated and fixed within your actual site. (Nothing to do with the server, this time.) Content management, design and development, functionality enhancements and updates – it’s all website maintenance.
If you’ve designed your own site or purchased a site from a sub-par developer, you may have to deal with a lot of site maintenance yourself....installing security patches, wrestling with code and changing content management systems. If you’re not a pro web developer, this often feels like more trouble than it’s worth. (Ever try putting in a wood floor or installing tile with limited experience? Not fun.)
A good web development company will take ongoing site maintenance off your hands – designing your site and providing ongoing support and updates as you move forward. (A web developer isn’t as expensive as a high-end decorator, either – so don’t worry.) Designing and maintaining your own site may look like you’re saving some money on the front end, but in the long run, it’s really not worth it.
So, to recap: Hosting management is like maintaining the apartment complex. Website maintenance is like maintaining the apartment.
To learn more about managed web hosting, read our articles here.
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