Managed Dedicated Hosting

You've paid the extra to have your very own dedicated server host, but you still have to decide whether you want managed or unmanaged hosting services. Managed and unmanaged hosting shares the similarity of leasing the physical server without having to purchase it yourself. Other than that, is there really a big difference between the two? (Yes, there is.)

Unmanaged Hosting

If you choose an unmanaged hosting plan, you'll do all the server work yourself: reboots, patches, upgrades, general maintenance, and whatever else might come up. The provider takes care of... well, not much, other than giving your server a cool, dark room to live in. This option saves lots of money, and is great if you have an amazing IT staff that has the time and expertise to devote to managing your own server. You also have total freedom as far as configuration and programming; you can set that thing up however you want. Also, unmanaged hosting does mean you get to keep all the tech crisis management headaches to yourself, so there's that benefit.

Managed Hosting

If you're short on tech gurus, or just want to spend your time worrying about other things, managed dedicated hosting for your Web site is the other way to go. The hosting company will take care of standard maintenance, emergency maintenance, and all the care and feeding of your server without you lifting a finger (except to write them a check). This can be particularly handy if your site is proprietary and requires a Windows dedicated server. Unless you have a Microsoft certified tech hidden away in your IT staff who speaks the language, you can go with managed Windows SQL server hosting to handle Windows-specific problems.

A Little of Both

For those of us who love our grey areas, there's always partially managed hosting. Most hosting providers will offer a few levels in between managed and unmanaged. For example, you may be able to choose the services you need, pay for those a la carte, and provide the rest on your own. While this does mean taking on more administrative functions on your end, it also means you'll have more control than a fully managed hosting provider will offer. This is really important for all the Type A webmasters out there.

Making Your Choice

The best option is the one that not only fits your ideal IT budget, but also grants peace of mind. This can mean different things to different people; some site owners would much rather take on the added responsibility of unmanaged hosting if it means they can set everything up exactly how they want it. Others may be thrilled to turn the tech admin stuff over to the experts, and focus instead on providing content for their site or running other aspects of their business. There are advantages to each; it all depends on perspective.