Managed Databases VS Managed Database Servers – It Matters to WordPress Admins

Many cloud providers and a few independent firms now offer ‘managed databases’ as a service.

In theory, this can be great for WordPress users. But that’s only under very specific circumstances. And, in fact, managed databases are a bad idea for many WordPress admins.

Managed Databases

With managed databases you get a single database, not access to a full database server with multiple databases.

This means that, for security reasons, you can only run a single WordPress site inside that database.


Well, think about a backup plugin such as Updraft Plus. It offers an option to backup ALL tables in the database, not just the ones belonging to the site.

If you’re using the database for multiple sites and those sites are for different customers AND those customers have the ability to upload their own backup plugins….it’s easy to see how they can gain access to the data for all customers in the managed database.

And it’s not just backup plugins – any plugin, theme or WordPress script will have access to everything in the database.

Expensive Pricing for WordPress Sites

With pricing that starts at $15.00 per database (DigitalOcean and Vultr) without replicas, these managed database services are expensive since you can only use them with a single WordPress site. The cost for a single database at the larger providers is easily a multiple of that cost.

You can’t even use them for mixing both production and staging since best practices dictate that you should isolate your staging database from your production database in case things go wrong. So you will need a minimum of TWO of these managed databases for each site.

If you have a single high-volume mission critical site that requires the kind of database performance that these services can bring to bear then chances are you’ll be going after the larger databases anyway – multiple hundred or thousands of dollars per month. And you’ll be doing that for a single site – so it makes sense for that use-case.

But beyond that though, using them for lower volume WordPress sites do not make that much sense given their costs and security limitations of one database per site.

Managed Database Servers

Most cloud services do not offer this type of product. But if you can find it, that’s what you need for WordPress when running multiple sites for different customers.

This type of service will allow you to setup a separate database for each site.

Most admins have to set these up themselves because service providers love the one-app-one-database model that helps maximize their revenue.

As you might expect, WPCD includes a full database server with MariaDB/MySQL and each site always gets its own database. Even with Multi-tenant deployments, each site gets their own database.


If you’re not allowing your customers to upload plugins or admin access to their WordPress sites then you can carefully consider using managed database services to commingle the tables for each site into the single database.

Otherwise, you should stick with database servers so that each site is deployed into its own database.

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