As you begin shopping for a hosting provider for whatever reason, it is almost certain that you will come across the terms "Managed Hosting" or "Shared Hosting". You may even come across more terms and more types of hosting making things confusing.
The truth is that even though managed and shared hosting sound like two different types of hosting you can have both. They are not mutually exclusive. In a way comparing 'managed hosting with shared hosting is like comparing apples and oranges.
So here's the breakdown.
Managed hosting is an added service to your existing hosting while shared hosting is a type of hosting suggesting that your hosted website or server is shared with others.
Let's dive deeper.
Managed Hosting is an added service usually to regular hosting. Say for example you need a website or a server to be hosting with a hosting company, often times, you may want the hosting provider to do more than just host your data / servers in a data center safely and keep it connected to the Internet, you may want them to do a bit more in the maintenance and upkeep of the server. Like what? You may ask.
Here is a list of things a managed service can do for you.
Manage updates for you. This means that if the server has any updates needed like Windows or Linux updates that the hosting company will actually go in your server perform your updates for you so you don't have to.
Anti Virus Management. You may want added security by adding a managed anti virus so you don't to install your own.
Backups. Your data is never safe and the more copies you make of it the better. In fact if you are on a production type of system where the loss of information equates to loss of money, then you need backups. Hosting providers give you the option to do backups. Some backups are retained for few days, some for weeks or months.
Server configurations. If you are hosting a server, maybe you need help configuring a setting or a piece of software. Without managed hosting, the hosting provider will not be able to support you with that or may charge your for it.
Security management. Security is very important for production systems and cannot be underestimated. Hackers and malicious attacks are going on every day by the millions and every step you can do to protect your environment is essential. Hosting providers offer regular penetration testing, server hardening and security audits to make sure your environment is healthy and secure.
So if you're looking for managed hosting, it is reasonable to ask your hosting provider what you get with the 'managed' service. Managed hosting is a very generic term implying the hosting company taking a role in the upkeep of your environment, but asking exactly what they take care of is a smart thing.
So what is Shared Hosting then?
Shared hosting is a very generic term suggesting that your website for example is hosted on a server or hardware that is shared with other customers. Think of it as a large apartment complex. It is one building that is carved into different smaller units for each resident.
The opposite of shared hosting is dedicated hosting where the server or hardware is dedicated to you.
You may also want to check with your hosting company what is shared. Is it the hardware or the server?