The main two differences between a hosted or self-hosted CMS is the maintenance required to keep it up and running, and the control you have over its code and infrastructure.
With a hosted CMS, you trade customizability for ease of use whereas with self-hosted you’ll exchange hands-off maintenance for more control. These decisions weigh heavily on technical expertise, budget, and resources.
Let’s take a deeper look into the qualities of a hosted and self-hosted CMS to consider which option is best for you.
Wix, Wordpress.com, and Hubspot are examples of a hosted CMS. Hosted CMSs are great for small businesses with tight budgets because there’s no maintenance for servers, security, or support teams. A business that needs to publish content quickly and does not mind the limitations of a platform's functionality or design may have the best luck with a hosted CMS.
- Great for small businesses with limited budgets and resources
- Great for non-technical beginners
- No control over speed
- Limited customization options for website
Wordpress.org (not Wordpress.com), Drupal, Ghost, and Strapi are examples of self-hosted CMS. Self-hosted CMSs require monthly maintenance to stay secure and thus require a support team to do so.
A scaling business with a budget to invest in a support team and want to have control over their website would have the most success with a self-hosted CMS.
- Generally open source (no monthly cost)
- Limitless customizability, including functions and style
- Great for growing businesses that want more control over their website experience
- Monthly maintenance to stay secure
- Support limitations - Need a team to support / Forum Support Only*
- If decoupled you have to manage two different systems (backend and frontend)
- Manual maintenance, painful upgrades, and complicated installations
- 3rd party theme and plugin conflicts