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Managed WordPress hosting: What is it and why use it?

For many Kiwi small businesses, WordPress helps provide the company face – and front door – to the outside world.

The backbone of millions of websites worldwide, it is ubiquitous for blogging, easy to use, accessible and affordable. But those benefits are a double-edged sword and recent times have seen WordPress security breaches hitting the news as hackers take advantage of vulnerabilities in third-party plug-ins.

Earlier this month it again made the news when the FBI issued a public service announcement detailing how WordPress vulnerabilities were being exploited by ISIS hackers to deface websites.

Although the defacements demonstrate low-level hacking sophistication, the FBI says they’re disruptive and often costly in terms of lost business revenue and the cost of technical services to repair infected computer systems.

And it’s not just United States companies being affected.

Gavin Botica, owner of Kiwi managed WordPress web host business WP NET, says his business has seen a rush of new customers recently – many of whom have been hacked while hosting their WordPress site elsewhere.

“Nine out of ten times it is because the hosting was improperly configured, or an out-of-date plugin had a security vulnerability,” he adds.

“It’s been a tough time with security recently, because WordPress is immensely popular and ubiquitous in small business sites it’s an attractive target for hackers.

“It’s so easy to buy a theme and set up a WordPress site and be unaware of the basic security measures that need to be taken to protect your site – and your customers and your business reputation.

“Things like making sure directories are not browsable – which makes it easily exploitable – are simple measures, but ones many people don’t know about. Keeping WordPress plugins up-to-date is also increasingly important.

“Many of the sites that have been hacked wouldn’t have been if basic security measures had been taken. And that’s where having a Managed WordPress Host, who specialises in WordPress and so knows all of the security measures, can be invaluable,” he says.

Botica says because WP NET only hosts WordPress, it has a more defined scope to manage security, with managed firewalls set up with WordPress in mind, and malware scanning configured for WordPress.

It’s often once a site has been hacked, that the owners turn to a Managed WordPress Hosting service like WP NET to help them out. The company offers an additional service to clean infected sites and migrate them to WP NET.

The benefits of Managed WordPress Hosting aren’t just in security, however.

Botica says Managed WordPress Hosting means that in addition to providing your underlying hosting services, such as Apache, PHP and MySQL, a managed host also maintains and supports your WordPress content management system. That includes handling upgrades, monitoring, malware scanning, backups and expert WordPress support.

“Customers typically come to us because they want hosting that is a cut above the standard hosting and they want someone with WordPress expertise,” Botica says.

Many customers want the peace of mind that comes from having a specialised hosting company, freeing them up to focus on their core business, rather than managing their hosting.

“Using a managed host consolidates your website support requirements to a single source – it makes sense to have your hosting services and CMS support from a single point of contact,” Botica says.

“Your web host is the best positioned to perform security, monitoring, backups and software updates, because they have full access to your server.”

Botica says WP NET handles all WordPress updates for customers, along with installing security patches for WordPress plugins and scanning all sites regularly with Sucuri SiteCheck. Multiple automated daily backups are also performed.

In addition, he says many Managed WordPress users find they need to go back to their designer or developer less frequently, as many basic queries can be handled by the host – saving them money.

Botica says being a Kiwi company is an advantage for many Kiwi sites whose visitors are primarily in New Zealand, reducing latency which can be experienced by internationally hosted sites.

“When hosting in New Zealand, latency time can be 100-400% lower than US based hosting.

He admits managed hosting is more expensive than ‘regular’ hosting. US-based hosting can be obtained for as little as US$3 a month – or even less. New Zealand-based hosting usually starts at around NZ$10 a month, though $15-$20 a month is also common.

Managed hosting overseas typically starts at around US$30-$50 per month, though Botica says prices and specifics of the services offered vary hugely.

WP NET’s Managed WordPress starts at NZ$29 per month – and the company is currently offering a promotion of 50% off the first year of hosting for those taking the Starter plan. Customers need to opt for the annual payment option. The company offers a 14-day money back guarantee.

For more details on the promotion, click here