What Factors to Consider When Looking for the Best WordPress Managed Hosting

Would you build your high-street storefront, design its security, electricity, layout, fittings and then staff and maintain it 24/7...all by yourself?

Would you build your high-street storefront, design its security, electricity, layout, fittings and then staff and maintain it 24/7…all by yourself? Probably not. 

While one might be able to do all of those things, there’s simply not enough time. Especially when you have a whole business to run. 

In this case, you’d naturally hire authoritative, trustworthy experts that can make your high-street storefront look its best. 

And you know how the saying goes: a website is your online storefront. You only want the best pros working on it. Which is why you should choose an excellent managed WordPress hosting company to manage your website assets for you.  

What makes a good hosting company, you ask?

In a few words, it’s one that manages every aspect of your website for you, while ensuring maximum speed and ironclad security.  

Note that WordPress hosting is a competitive market,  and it’s very easy to be swayed by the “marketing hype.” 

Before you believe everything a provider does what they claim to do, you first need to understand what managed WordPress Hosting entails. So read on.

What Does Managed WordPress Hosting Mean, and Why Is It Different? 

Managed WordPress hosting is a type of website hosting service. It ensures a website works at its full capacity year-round by taking care of activities like backups, security checks, plugin updates, optimised speed, and more. 

On top of that, they offer prompt, always-available customer service in case any issues arise, particularly where security is concerned. With cyber criminals taking advantage of vulnerable applications, new website features and patches should be updated and installed regularly. 

In essence, a managed host handles the “boring tech side” of your business for you. This way, they can make sure your site runs well around the clock.

If you don’t want technology holding your business back, you should definitely consider managed hosting for your business. 

All that said, here are the factors you should keep in mind when hiring a managed host:

Consider the History of the Business

Is the platform you’re considering hosting your website trustworthy? Have they fallen prey to any data breaches before?

A simple Google search can help you find out. 

(By the way, we’re not here to throw shade at any hosting companies. But we must warn you against services that have been prone to vulnerabilities in the past.) 

Remember GoDaddy’s data breach? We do. And their customers certainly do, as well. 

GoDaddy is a popular domain registrar that offers website solutions for small businesses. It’s user-friendly, easily customizable and it offers managed hosting to handle all of the bells and whistles that come with a new website. ​​​​​​​

However, despite its claims, it still lacks in the security department. 

Back in 2021, GoDaddy fell victim of a massive cyber attack, which compromised the data of “up to 1.2 million active and inactive Managed WordPress customers.”

It’s still unclear whether GoDaddy protected their system with two-factor authentication, which we believe they haven’t. Apparently, the hacker took advantage of a compromised password to gain unauthorised access to their system, which well-implemented 2FA would’ve most likely detected. 

Whether the breach followed a successful phishing attack or the deployment of a weak password, we don’t know. But we do know stronger security could have mitigated or prevented the problem altogether. 

What Managed Hosting Is NOT

Let’s get something out of the way: managed hosting and shared hosting are NOT the same things. 

In fact, there are several glaring differences between the two. 

In shared hosting, multiple websites are being hosted in the same server – hence the word “shared.”

As a result, your website could have a significantly lower response and load times. Similarly, your website may crash more often and show frequent downtimes. Think of an overcrowded WiFi network being prone to snail-paced response, buffering, and low-quality streaming, 

Besides, if your website receives high-volume traffic, shared hosting is unlikely to handle the load, and your website performance will suffer. 

Shared hosting is suitable for smaller businesses and startups, as this service is offered at a much cheaper rate. Starting prices can be as low as $3 a month. 

With managed hosting, every single tech detail about your site is managed for you. Upgrades, security, migrations, emails are all professionally handled. In the long term, this saves you time, money, and IT resources.

Managed hosts don’t host any other website on the same server. It’s all about YOUR website being as quick and functional as possible. With your website being expertly tuned and configured with speedy caching, you don’t have to set anything up or worry about your site speed. 

Depending on the company you choose, you could be safeguarding your website with the strongest, most up-to-date security available in the market today. 

For instance, at SixFive, our stack comprises the latest 7G Web application firewall, Fail2Ban configuration, and direct Cloudflare integration to prevent threats from reaching your website.  

In summary: the terms “shared” and “managed” aren’t interchangeable. If a hosting service requires you to perform any of the following activities, then the product you are purchasing is NOT managed:

  • Add performance and caching plugins 
  • Manage your own off site backups 
  • Add security plugins (like Wordfence) 

All these things are complex, they take time for you to understand, monitor and manage. You shouldn’t be doing them yourself. What you’re looking for is fully dedicated service, so you don’t have to worry about your website ever again.

Dedicated Support

It’s the business mass market. Therefore, any service you hire should provide reasonable support when you need it. 

For website hosting, “reasonable” is far from enough. You need the highest amount of support you can get. Uninterrupted assistance means your website is always perfectly functioning in the background when you have business matters to deal with. 

But “support” is a broad term. Companies may boast about their 24/7 support, but how do you know if that is the best for your business? You’ll only know by researching the business and the experts behind it. 

To save you some time, here’s what we mean by real, dedicated support:

  • Up and running 24/7/365, naturally
  • Livechat, phone, and email support available 
  • Prompt response times (minutes, not hours)  
  • Expert folks with developers on staff (people who can translate geek/nerd lingo to plain English)

Customer support should take an “always-there” approach – an interesting expression we’ve heard from a few of our customers. That means your host’s team has to be on stand-by for all of your pressing needs. Not all companies are willing or able to take that approach, despite what they claim.  

Think about it: your website represents your company 24 hours a day. That makes it an essential business asset, particularly if it collects money or saves you admin time. You could try to patch things up yourself with a hairball of Google searches, or you could leave it to the experts. 

The right team will partner up with you and share more than their awesome tools: they’ll share their depth and breadth of knowledge with you. 

A Secure Domain

One of the first things you must do when you create a website is register your domain name and your site’s address.

While many people take domain registering lightly, the place where you host your domain name is critical to your website. Depending on the security, it can make you susceptible to DDos (Denial of Service) attacks. Such attacks happen when the attackers aim to purposely make a service unavailable, obstructing the access of genuine users. 

For this reason, your managed host should:

  • Use Cloudflare (or similar) for fast Domain Name System (DNS) response times, free and fast caching and security 
  • Integrate with Cloudflare for security and cache management

As you can see, we’re raving fans of Cloudflare. Here’s why.

The Cloudflare registrar is a global network built to make your connections secure, private, fast, and trustworthy.

When hackers target your website and try to view your IP address (it’s more of a matter of “when” than “if”), Cloudflare will make sure they see Cloudflare’s IP address instead of your website’s. As soon as they start targeting that IP address with a DDoS, Cloudflare automatically shuts down the attack with its latest 7G Firewall.

On top of that, it supports top-level domains (like.com and .org) and offers a suite of features to improve your site’s performance.

a hacker who has your IP can use various techniques to compromise your network and gain unauthorised access to the data stored in it. Cloudflare prevents that with The latest 7G Firewall.

7G is a lightweight (12 KB) firewall that provides server-level site protection against all kinds of spam and attacks.

Your managed host should also let you know that your email domain should NOT be on the same server as your website! 

If your website goes down…so will your email. Because your (DNS) won’t be able to tell customers where to send you an email, if needed.  

If your traffic is small, the sudden downtime may not be a big issue for you. But if your website brings in hundreds of dollars a day, that could become a problem in a matter of hours. 

The same issue that could bring your website server down has made your email unreachable.  You can’t send emails, your customers can’t send you emails. So they might go somewhere else for business. 


In their podcast Search Off The Record, Google’s team confirmed that website migrations are tricky, and may not be getting any easier. If Google said it, you should be careful. 

A website migration is any major change to your website, and it may involve:

  • Moving from one website domain to a different domain
  • Moving from HTTP to HTTPs
  • Changing to a new host or server

Because website migrations can mess with your entire website structure until everything is back in order, trying to migrate your website on your own can be an issue if you’re inexperienced. 

Think of it as stepping into a fantasy portal to a different dimension: some things may go through, while others (like a suitcase or a hat) may stay behind or completely disappear. You wouldn’t want to migrate your website at the risk of losing essential assets or high search engine rankings.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ 

The type of white-glove service offered by managed hosts includes handling your migration at no extra cost. They make sure to move your assets to your new website without compromising your traffic, uptime, or SEO rankings. No hassle, no hidden fees.

On top of that, at SixFive we make sure to include site reviews with migrations. This way, we can advise our clients on best practices.​​​​​​​

Google Compliance

If you’ve ever tried to access a website and saw a 503 error code, the website was unavailable at the time of access. This display is called a “maintenance error code,” and it’s the way website owners let Google know they’re busy taking care of temporary issues, like patching or upgrades. 

Not serving a 503 code could result in consequences for your website. Here’s why. 

When Google does its routinely crawling visit to your site, the absence of a 503 code can result in it believing your site is out of service. A website that’s apparently “inactive” won’t answer users’ questions, and therefore it’s no longer useful to Google.

“When there are no alternatives, and your site is offline – how do you save your site’s rankings in Google?The answer is to use a 503 Service Unavailable server response code,” John Mueller from Google shared with the Search Engine Roundtable. “Doing so helps search engines to understand what’s up – they’re generally more than happy to give your site some time to catch up again,” he says.

Importantly, you’re only meant to serve a maintenance error code for a short period of time. Like a few days or weeks – maximum. If your website is gone for 2 months, the error message will be worth nothing. 

SSL Certificates

We used to say that secure websites had SSL certificates. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) now is an outdated term, which is now called Transport Layer Security (TLS)

TLS is an updated version of SSL which, just like app upgrades, patches up and fixes security vulnerabilities in earlier SSL protocols.

In basic terms, SSL and TLS are standard cryptographic protocols meant to keep an internet connection secure and to encrypt data shared between two servers. Especially for businesses that process credit card payments, TLS is crucial for keeping purchases secure and preventing cybercriminals from stealing sensitive data. 

However, older TLS protocols can still pose risks to your organisation. That’s because TLS comes in versions. 

In nerd terms, TLS versions 1.0 and 1.1 are vulnerable to attacks since they rely on SHA-1 hash, a retired 27-year-old cryptographic algorithm. Older versions don’t allow users to select more secure hashing algorithms. 

The benefits of upgrading to newer protocols include:

  • Resolved vulnerabilities and improved security
  • Increased overall performance 
  • Constant research for new vulnerabilities
  • More secure hashing algorithms for integrity check 

SSL certificates should be free for your website. There are very few cases where you need to pay for one now. 

You can test the configuration of your SSL server via www.ssllabs.com/ssltest. It’s a free online service that performs a thorough analysis of your SSL web server. 

Staging Sites

If you were to test things and “play around” with your original website while it’s live, you could ruin the browsing experience for your users. 

That’s why your host should provide you with a staging site as part of your package. It’s basically a copy of your original website that allows you to make changes to coding and perform bug fixes.

Only website owners and developers will have access to it, as they’re only meant to be a tool for testing and experimenting. 

It’ll ensure all changes you make don’t affect your live website and are working as  intended before they’re published. So that you can have a playground to build new things and make changes – without ruining your live site or jeopardising your real customers. 

Email Delivery

Your website will generate emails as a result of certain actions, such as:

  • Contact form submissions
  • Receipt after an eCommerce sale
  • Notifications about a system event like an upgrade or plugin change

​​​​​​​The question is: are those emails reaching your subscribers’ inboxes?

If you’re not sure, that’s because your host should be the one ensuring that those emails are sent correctly. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes after an email is sent, and that involves the deployment of an SMTP. 

A Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) provider, such as sendgrid.com (the one we use) or postmarkapp.com helps your emails reach their desired destination. Often, emails can get lost or delayed due to overloaded SMTP servers. 

On top of all that, the enablement of an SMTP should be done without a plugin. More on why plugins are unsafe later. 

Here’s a brief warning: if a host requires you to provide your email details​​​​​​​ to send your emails on your behalf…don’t trust them. This isn’t how email delivery is supposed to work, and you’re probably dealing with someone who wants to get access to your business data. 


People love to say that websites are “employees that never sleep.” That statement is only true when a website’s uptime isn’t compromised. 

Your website’s uptime measures the amount of time your service is online, available, and functional. Ideally, it should be online at all times, excluding 503 management periods. 

Factors that can compromise a website’s uptime include:

  • An error in your DNS settings
  • Issues with your software or hardware
  • Malicious DDoS attacks
  • Server overload

Those are issues that should be resolved as quickly as possible. Because the longer your website stays down, the more potential customers and revenue you’re likely to lose. And because visitors are reaching your site and not getting the service they need, Google may also lower your rankings. 

If you don’t know how to mitigate those issues, your customer relationships and business will suffer as a result. 

With managed hosting, we guarantee that your website will be up and running 24/7/365, no matter the circumstances. A host will guarantee:

  • Year-round website monitoring
  • Always-on-call staff to deal with outages whenever they happen, if they ever happen
  • 99.9% uptime or above 

Bulletproof Security

You shouldn’t ever worry about whether your website will be hacked. You should go to sleep with the certainty that, if it ever gets hacked, the issue will be solved before you know it.

The reason why managed hosting is so secure is: it doesn’t require “security” plugins. For anything. After all, the experts know plugins can be worse than nothing. 

Those plugins may be quick to install and implement, but they’re also a massive gateway for security breaches. If you have a WordPress website, you need to be extra careful as its database is prone to SQL (Structured Query Language) injection attacks.

Once attackers get access to your database, they can gain access to all of your top-secret data and leak it as they wish. Unless your website is reinforced with solutions like Fortress, which is everything WordPress security plugins wish they were. 

A good managed host will: 

  • Patch security vulnerabilities within 24 hours of exposure
  • Reinforce your security with two-factor authentication (2fa), which renders compromised passwords useless
  • Never install extra backup or security plugins!​​​​​​​

Malware and Antivirus Protection

Needless to say, your managed host should shield your website from all types of malware, which translates to “malicious software”. This type of software is installed on a computer system without the user’s knowledge, and can steal sensitive data and money from your customers. 

Antivirus protection is table stakes for any service. 

Once again, malware and antivirus protection should never come with a plugin. It should be done at server level. Your plugins may give you a false sense of safety, but they’re breeding grounds for even more dangerous attacks. 

As with all types of protection, there isn’t such a thing as 100% efficiency. However, there is such a thing as being 100% prepared for unforeseen vulnerabilities. That’s exactly what your managed host specialises in. 

Managed WordPress Hosting guarantees malware and antivirus protection at the server level, without any plugins necessary. For the most robust protection you’ve ever had. On top of that, your provider will: 

  • Hack-proof your website and stop threats before they become a problem
  • Detect and remediate data breaches of any scope
  • If you do get hacked, they’ll fix it for free. (We’ve been known to manually trawl every line of code on a site to find the problem.​​​​​​​​​​​​​)

If anything goes wrong regarding your website’s security, we’ll not only fix it for free: we’ll prevent it from ever happening again. The whole purpose of our Care Packages is preventative care, so we work hard to prevent anything from happening. 

Response Time & Speed

People take less than 1 second to click away from your page. Which is why your website should have a wicked quick response time.

Low response times are a huge bottleneck for websites, so business owners often download the first caching plugins available. Not good. 

Caching plugins can often be a source of code bloat, and they often make no difference in the database transaction. They’re a particularly poor choice for eCommerce and Learning Management Systems (LMS).

Faster and secure response times can only be achieved through server-level caching. Caching is used to help pages get displayed faster to users since its contents have already loaded in the background. Hosts usually do this using data stores like Redis. 

All that said, website “speed” is a complex and multi-layered issue. It starts at your domain’s name and goes all the way through your server, theme, plugins, and the images you upload.

Therefore, your hosting choices will not fix your speed on its own – but it can make a business-changing difference.

Our Managed WordPress Hosting plans offer premium server caching and hourly local backups to ensure the tech side of your business is always running at top speed. 

Latest PHP Versions

Each year presents us with fresh versions of PHP for a reason: outdated versions can expose your data and your customers’ data to unpatched security vulnerabilities. 

Today, a website should be on PHP 7.4 / 8 / 8.1. If you’re concerned about security, which we believe you are, you shouldn’t go for lower than 8.1. 

How do you know which PHP version you’re currently supporting? You can do that by checking your hosting panel under the “hosting” section. 

Which new features does PHP 8.1 bring? Here are some of them:

  • Performance improvements
  • Better security
  • More features that encourage defensive programming
  • Deprecation of a bunch of features

If you want to shield your website from performance issues, it’s time to leave prehistoric PHP versions behind. 

Upgrading to a new PHP version can be tricky, so your managed host should help you every step of the way. How else will you know that you have done this right? 

Flexible Deployment Locations 

Does your host provide you the option to deploy on a server from a data centre across the world? This is important, as your target market may be in Europe – even if your company is based in Asia or Australasia. 

Flexibly deployed software is part of a brand new generation of software that, despite running on your own server (as a combination of software and hardware), can still be deployed from anywhere in the world with the same speed and efficiency.

It’s especially useful for IT professionals who manage multiple projects across different environments and cloud providers. Your managed host should have flexible deployment locations as part of the offer. 

Ownership and Security

Are there options to deploy on to your own hardware at a VPS provider like Google Cloud, AWS, or Vultr? 

VPS, short for Virtual Private Server,  is a secure and dedicated server space.​​​​​​​​​​​​​ It allows you to set up your website within a secure server with plenty of memory and disk space. 

This deployment method is typically for enterprises who want to maintain control over their assets, but still need the expertise of a WordPress superstar to help deliver a quality experience. Setting up a VPS requires technical knowledge,​​​​​​​ as improperly configured servers may lead to security vulnerabilities.

Google Cloud puts it this way: “Think of a VPS server like reserving a private room at a restaurant to celebrate an event like your birthday. Instead of eating at a table in the main restaurant with other patrons (shared server), you can enjoy a separate dining experience in a private space that can be customised to your needs.” 

In this instance, there should be no external ties with any hosting company. If WordPress hosting is shut off for whatever reason, you should still have the ability to make changes and run your site. 

Developer Friendliness

Developers love to code, create, and build. Access via a Secure File Transfer Protocol ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​(SFTP), database access, git integration are all things your managed host should be able to provide as part of their package.

Tools and services that connect with GitHub can increase and streamline a developer’s workflow. That’s why the more resources and tools included and the best-performing they are, the better-suited they are for developers.


All backups should be done for you at the server level if you want your website to perform well. Here’s why:

Some control panels offer limited options for speed, caching, and security. As a result, you might resort to WordPress-based plugins to boost your website. Ironically, the more plugins you install to “boost” your website’s performance, the more likely you’ll be installing bloated code on top of bloated code. 

(And don’t be fooled by “lightweight” plugins available out there. How do you know if those claims are true?)

Here’s a dirty secret: they don’t boost your website. In fact, they can even slow it down.

What’s more, they offer no security at all. A lot of those plugins might be long overdue for updates, which makes them easily exploitable because:

  • If you use a plugin, it’s likely to break if another plugin breaks
  • Plugins are an easy target for hackers, especially when expired versions are involved
  • Updates are likely to go wrong – and if they do, you’re stuck with an old, vulnerable version
  • You don’t get to sit back and relax. You have to be on the lookout for updates and perform them manually
  • You have to be constantly managing and monitoring your plugins

So, if a managed host doesn’t use plugins, what do they use? 

A good solution takes a “just in case” approach. At SixFive, we:

  • Do local backups on server once an hour
  • We test restores at least once a week 
  • Plus, we perform Offsite backups nightly

Just in case you need your last backup from like an hour ago. Websites are unpredictable!

If you’re the one managing your wordpress, your “last” backup is likely to be days, weeks, or even months old. If something goes wrong and you need to go back, the version you retrieve may look nothing like the one you were working on. 

What Does Good Hosting Look Like?

If a WordPress managed hosting provider checks all of the above boxes, you’ll most likely be working with one of the best services in the market. 

And, yes, we’re one of them. 

The platform we use to deploy our managed hosting is called GridPane. In simple terms, that means our hosting is built on extremely fast, highly secure, and easily scalable WordPress hosting services that are unlike any popular managed host out there. 

We add the unrivalled customer service layer and years of combined expertise on top, of course.

Duncan Isaksen-Loxton

Educated as a web developer, with over 20 years of internet based work and experience, Duncan is a Google Workspace Certified Collaboration Engineer and a WordPress expert.
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