Unmanaged vs. Managed Dedicated Servers: Which One’s Right for You?

Companies that hold a website or a web application have certainly encountered the question of choosing a server that would guarantee a perfect degree of reception, storage and transmission of data. In contrast to the reseller, cloud and VPS servers, dedicated ones are favorably distinguished for their safety, bandwidth and user-friendliness. The principal feature of a dedicated server is that the whole hardware is furnished for utilization by the sole client. This kind of website hosting is great for resource-intensive projects.

There are two types of dedicated servers: managed and unmanaged. Which one is better to choose to fulfill the demands of your business?

Managed Dedicated Servers

A managed dedicated server implies that along with the server hardware, the client receives additional services for its administration. This means that the hosting provider assumes all the  responsibility for setting up, maintaining, updating and ensuring the security of your server. This type of server is quite dependable and can be configured to order.

Such an option is great for companies that prefer not to waste their resources and time on server maintenance. The hosting company can offer you several server management plans. Thus, you get a professional team of engineers who are experts in their industry and, in order to sustain the reliability of your dedicated server, guarantee the following:

  • 24/7 customer support,

  • performance monitoring,

  • timely software updates,

  • backup,

  • DDoS attack protection, etc.

Managed dedicated hosting significantly saves you time if, for instance, you have several websites or employ multi-user applications. All liability for the final server efficiency is borne by the hosting company. However, the managed vs unmanaged server is a more expensive solution.

Unmanaged Dedicated Servers

The unmanaged dedicated server means that the hosting company solely provides uninterrupted operation of the hardware without accompanying maintenance. Although the basic plan of the unmanaged dedicated server hosting may involve services such as initial server deployment, data transfer from other servers, or client support, nevertheless the core management lies on your shoulders.

On the one hand, it gives you full control over the server handling, however, on the other hand, you will have to perform daily operations aimed at maintaining excellent productivity and ensuring the security of the server as well as data. That means, you ought to install the software (up to the basic one, e.g. Apache or PHP), monitor updates and apps compatibility, make backups and solve all system issues by yourself.

Due to the fact that the core work is done by the client, the cost of the self managed dedicated server is less. Nonetheless, it is better for inexperienced companies not to choose this type entirely out of concern for saving finances. The outlays for fixing problems due to poor self-management can be large.

The Distinction Between Managed and Unmanaged Dedicated Servers

1. Management

The first and most essential difference is who manages the server: the client or the hosting company. In a managed dedicated server, the primary and further configuration is carried out by the hosting company. You are not involved in this process, purely trusting the decisions of the provider. In the situation with the unmanaged server, all control is carried out by the client independently at his expense. The competence of the hosting provider is limited to ensuring the smooth operation of the hardware and the initial installation of the operating system with the required technical characteristics.

2. Responsibility

In the managed server, in case of an error or malfunction, the provider is responsible, since it performs all actions for the accurate server running. In an unmanaged server, charge falls on you and in case of interruption, you must singly eliminate it. Surely, you can request the provider for additional technical support, however, it will cost you extra expenditure.

3. Cost

Managed hosting vs unmanaged one will cost more. This stems from the fact that you are buying a full support plan, and the employees of the hosting company will devote loads of their time to your server. The unmanaged server will be cheaper, since the provider ensures you with a minimum number of services.

4. Convenience

The managed server is generally a more convenient option. It is great for enterprises that don't desire to waste their time and figure out the intricacies of administration. You get the server, agree on the tasks and obtain the result. This is the exact opposite of the unmanaged server, which demands your constant attention and active participation.

Advantages and disadvantages of Managed Dedicated Servers


  1. Availability, as the client doesn`t need to have his own equipment and technical knowledge.

  2. The hosting provider does all the basic maintenance tasks himself, thereby making your life easier.

  3. You spare time since you are not engaged in day-to-day managerial operations and have the opportunity to dedicate it to vital business matters.

  4. Greater dependability and security, as the provider constantly monitors the technical condition of the server and regularly updates security protection components.


  1. Less pliability, since you are limited to the work plans, plugins and software that the hosting company can allow.

  2. The higher cost price.

  3. It is less promptly to make the changes you have proposed, since it should be previously discussed with the provider.

Advantages and disadvantages of Unmanaged Dedicated Servers


  1. Complete control of the client over the server and the ability to use it at its discretion.

  2. It is more adaptable to the specifics of your business, as some applications may require a peculiar setup that the provider will not be able to offer.

  3. The low cost price.

  4. You can make changes immediately.


  1. Requires special technical expertise from the user or a team of IT specialists.

  2. More time-consuming.

  3. The development and implementation of emerging technologies directly hinges on your budget.

  4. The risks associated with the throughput and security are borne by you.


Managed vs Unmanaged: What to Select?

Both options are quite efficient in work, on the assumption that you assess the capabilities and needs of your company correctly. With the purpose to make the right decision in a dilemma «managed vs unmanaged hosting», you need to answer the following questions:

  •  How crucial is it for you to control the process by yourself?

In case you think that managing your server requires a special approach, and no one can handle it better than you, then the unmanaged dedicated server is more suitable for you.

  • How much time are you willing to spend on server management?

If devoting a lot of time on server management is not a part of your plans, then the best option would be the managed server with continuous support from the provider.

  • How much money are you ready to invest in the server?

Choose a managed server if you have the sufficient budget and you believe that saved time and effort entirely justify the high costs of server administration by the provider. If your expenditures are limited, then a cheaper unmanaged server will be a more suitable option. Despite this, it is exceedingly risky for inexperienced companies to be guided merely by the lower price of the unmanaged server. Fixing issues related to the poor server management or, in the worst case, data loss can cost you many times more than the saved dollar at the outset.

  • Does your company have the technical and human resources to manage a dedicated server independently?

If you already have the IT team that is well versed in servers or web services, then you can safely utilize an unmanaged server. Notwithstanding, if you don't have such a command and you have no idea what a control panel or script installation is, then it's definitely better for you to exploit a managed server.

Concluding Thoughts

Acquisition of the dedicated server is an investment that should be justified. Hosting companies suggest managed and unmanaged dedicated servers. Each of them has its own pros and cons, thus in order to make the best choice, it is necessary to analyze the abilities and aims of your business.

Unmanaged vs Managed Dedicated Servers FAQ

What Services Go into Managed Hosting?

Apart from providing and maintaining hardware the managed hosting plan ordinarily includes the following list of services: automated backups, performance monitoring, automatic software updates, scanning and removal of malware, protection against DDoS attacks, and entire customer support. In accordance with the hosting company, the services may vary and comprise additional one's, for instance PHP assistance, Apache updates, Firewall tweaking. Anyway, if you covet any kind of service, you can deliberate it with your provider.

What is the Advantage of a Managed Dedicated Server?

The major advantage of a managed server is its trouble proof productive operation without your active participation. You mind your own business, while the hosting provider deals with the configuration, backup, network optimization, updating, etc. As a consequence, you gain an easily scalable and secure instrument for your website or web application alongside the time retention.

Is a Managed or Unmanaged Dedicated Server a Better Option for my Business?

Dedicated servers are allocated exclusively for a single user, therefore it can be totally configured for your wishes. Managed dedicated servers will permit small enterprises to focus on the key target of growth, leaving the routine of server administration to the hosting company. Major enterprises that employ a large amount of data and have the necessity to maintain a sizable level of traffic will similarly appreciate the benefits of dedicated servers, due to its high output.

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