Before I go off advising you to pay for a managed server, I need to stress one thing: Make sure you know what “managed” means! There’s no widely accepted universal standard, and different companies will mean different things when they throw about the word “managed”. LiquidWeb offers something they call “Heroic Support”, which is their term for a managed dedicated server. It includes such nifty things as proactive security updates, firewall configuration, anti-spam and antivirus alerts, and security audits. Most companies nowadays offer similar services, and the services provided under an an umbrella “managed” label often include features like those above. Similar terminologies would be “fully-managed” or “managed service” or anything to that effect. Also, don’t confuse “Self-managed” with “managed”- Self-managed servers normally assume that the client will be taking on the role of system administrator.

That said- which do you need? For most people, I would go with a managed server. It’s a bit pricier- LiquidWeb’s cheapest managed solution starts at 189$ a month, whereas a similar setup from LayeredTech costs only 109$ a month unmanaged. Almost always, however, the cheaper cost doesn’t quite justify the lack of technical support on the other end! Unless you’re a very experienced sysadmin, there’s a distinct possibility that you’re going to run into a problem that’s beyond your ability to solve. Fully managed solutions also take care of the details like firewall configuration, software updates, and all the minor errata that you may not think to take care of until it’s too late. Trust me, a rooted server is the very last thing you want in this day and age, especially if you’re a company handling sensitive information. The bottom line is this: if you’re a very experienced sysadmin or have access to one and don’t want to pay for a managed server, then don’t. Otherwise, it’s prudent to think ahead and pay for the management. Even if you are a systems guru, you never know what might happen; it might be very, very helpful to have another guru on the line with you.