When shopping for a dedicated server, one decision customers are faced with is what type of support they need: managed or unmanaged. Choosing the right one is critical for your server, but there’s often a huge difference in price between the two.
As the name implies, managed hosting means the server provider takes care of everything for you. The services available vary from host to host, but will always include traditional server administration tasks like installing software, system reboots, and hardware installation as well as security and general maintenance. Managed hosting is the preferred route for most first-time dedicated server owners, but with the helping hand comes additional costs.
For the faint of heart or experienced server admins, good deals can often be had on unmanaged servers. With this support option, the provider will install the operating system you request and leave the rest to you. You will need to install all necessary software for your site to run, troubleshoot any problems (except hardware malfunctions), secure your server from hackers, and make sure everything stays up-to-date.
Some hosts also offer a semi-managed option that leaves simpler tasks for you to complete, but lets the provider handle the rest.
Strapped for cash, there’s always someone with no computer skills whatsoever who rents an unmanaged server thinking they can learn the ropes along the way. This always ends in disaster. You can always set up a small server to learn with in your home, but in order to keep a profitable website operating, someone somewhere has to know they’re stuff– whether it be you or the host.