Hi @live4soccer7 and welcome.
I could probably talk about this topic for hours. But for the sake of time, I’m going to try and keep it brief…
Thoughts on Unmanaged
I have multiple projects. My “low risk” ones run on Unmanaged Servers. They didn’t always used to be. However, I eventually outgrew the limitations of Managed/Shared services because of the glass ceilings and restrictions they put in place - Which often hindered my learning process.
Obviously, the biggest risk is the “safety net”. Who do you lean on when everything goes to shit? This was actually the biggest factor when I chose DigitalOcean for many of my projects. Knowing that I could Snapshot the entire server before I messed with anything. So, thinking about it now… I guess I swapped out the safety net of being able to contact someone for help for the safety net of knowing I could restore the server whenever I screwed up.
Thoughts on Managed
Then we have the large project (the exception)… This used to be on an Unmanaged Dedicated Server (I didn’t set this up). However, the person who set it up did it really “odd”. When I ran into problems I couldn’t ask the hosting provider and I couldn’t find any articles on Google to help me troubleshoot issues.
So, we migrated over to a different provider for a Managed Dedicated Server. A company that I’d worked with in the past for a similar project and had a really great experience with. For the most part, the company will do whatever I ask (within reason) and they’re also great at giving me advice if I ask the right questions. The service they provide makes me feel like they work for me, not the other way around. The caveat is that we pay an eye-watering amount every month for this service.
But in the grand scheme of things, if the website went down for 24 hours, we’d lose more in revenue than what we’d spend on hosting for the entire year. So, as business decisions go the cost is not a factor.
Answering your question
It’s super-hard to answer a question like this, so I can only lay out my experiences and thoughts. I don’t think the selling points of hosts (e.g. Security/Optimisation) are an illusion. There’s something to it, but not as intense as you might be lead to believe.
For example, I doubt there are a team of tech people constantly fighting cybersecurity attacks 24/7. But I bet they are well informed and proactively make regular changes to stay on top of things. But at least if something does go terribly wrong, then you get to point your finger at somebody. Otherwise, you only have yourself to blame.
For me, it comes down to:
- “Can I afford the time to research issues or procedures, when I have other things to do?”
- “Will the anxiety of updating my Server OS/Services create enough delay for it to become a security risk?”
- “Who will look after the server if I can’t get to a PC in a timely fashion?”
- “What solution will help me sleep at night?”
Finally, if there are 2 things to take away from this reply, they would be:
- You don’t know, what you don’t know: Therefore, if faced with a challenge, do you have the confidence that you could problem solve this yourself despite never seeing the issue before?
- Will my decision help me sleep better at night?
This ended up being a little longer than I’d hoped, but I hope it helped.