Shared hosting accounts are managed, which means that site owners and administrators do not get root access to the server and control panel or get to make any changes to server configurations and settings. This makes sense because several sites are hosted on a single server. In most cases, users of shared hosting accounts do not have enough know-how or interest to tinker with the server anyway.
Fully Supported Managed Hosting
Dedicated hosting accounts come in two flavors, managed and managed, which really translates to, supported and unsupported hosting. This is because the difference between managed and unmanaged hosting is basically about who runs the server and how much support will be provided to the user. Managed hosting servers are not only managed by the web host but also comes with full support. Newbies especially like this set up because the hosting company takes care of the entire server set up from the operating system, control panel, bundled applications and all the necessary configurations. In addition, most managed hosting solutions also provide upgrades, automated backups, site monitoring and other maintenance tasks.
Do-It-Yourself Unmanaged Hosting
Unmanaged servers, on the other hand, are managed by the end user or customer. Although unmanaged web hosting providers generally provide basic hardware support and maintenance, that is about all they will provide. Most providers would certainly not offer support for software, installation or configuration issues. This means that the responsibility for setting up, configuring, maintaining, upgrading, maintaining and troubleshooting the server belongs to the customer. Unmanaged servers are obviously cheaper than managed hosting packages, but they also obviously require more expertise and more resources to run. For instance, many providers do not even include a web server or a basic control panel with unmanaged hosting accounts, which means that the customer will have to set up everything from scratch.
Although this sounds rather daunting, unmanaged hosting solutions translate to complete control over the server. This not only translates to sole access to the root server, but total freedom installing operating systems, control panels, management systems, security protocol and any number of applications. Although a time and resource-hog, unmanaged servers offer customers the flexibility and the power to run complex websites that meet specific company needs and specifications.
Choosing Between Managed and Unmanaged Hosting
Like other forms of technology and web solutions, choosing the ideal hosting solution depends entirely on the specific needs and expertise-profile of its end user. For the most part, unmanaged hosting only makes sense for a fully staffed outfit with specific, custom requirements for running a large, complex or extremely high-traffic website. In these situations, the outfit would most likely already have dedicated personnel responsible for setting up and running the site on a daily basis because this makes sense in the light of their needs and business operations.
Truth to tell, the majority of webmasters and website owners prefer managed hosting because of its convenience. This is true even of webmasters with reasonable IT skills because unmanaged hosting requires not only expertise but also time. Since time translates to money, most website owners would rather trust server issues to their web hosts and concentrate on their core competencies, which bring in the revenues.