WP Engine: My Pros and Cons of WP Engine Hosting WordPress Hosting Options
WP Engine is a Managed WordPress Hosting service based in Austin, TX. They was among the (if not the) first companies to supply handled hosting services specifically for WordPress. WordPress Hosting Options
While they have lots of competition in both the general hosting and managed WordPress hosting verticals, they are still the market leader in many ways -and they have broad name recognition and cutting-edge functions.
With the development of both self-hosted WordPress and website contractors, the hosting market has become a super-confusing place.
I wrote a whole post about WordPress Hosting vs. Web Hosting. But here’s the brief version: They all differ in services supplied. Some just have WordPress-trained tech support. Some deal services such as server-side functions and staging for WordPress.
Then there’s a different level of managed WordPress Hosting where you are not really buying hosting per se, but rather services to keep your WordPress install live. Essentially, a Managed WordPress Hosting service provides a menu of services customized to WordPress at a greater price point, so that the website owner can focus less on speed + security and more on the website content + performance.
Every competitor in the Managed WordPress Hosting has a different offering. And there is no standardized “menu” of alternatives, but as an entire, they all compete with conventional shared Linux hosting offerings and tailored WordPress hosting choices.
In any case, that’s the field where WP Engine plays. It’s complicated, yes, however it is essential to comprehend prior to making apples to oranges comparisons.
There are a great deal of WP Engine reviews online, normally with user-generated evaluations based upon anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a various method. This evaluation will take a look at the pros + cons of WP Engine in the context of all web hosting choices to see who it is a “finest fit” for. WordPress Hosting Options
I’ve used WP Engine for different projects considering that 2012. I do not use them for my primary sites right now (see conclusion), but I do have a present client on WP Engine who absolutely loves them. Here’s my WP Engine review structured as benefits and drawbacks.
Disclosure: I get referral fees from any companies mentioned. All information & opinion is based upon my experience as a paying consumer or specialist to a paying client.
Pros of WP Engine
To start, WP Engine does pretty much measure up to its pitch on its homepage where they assure “spectacular speed, effective security, and best-in-class client service.” Here is their promotion pitch video:
They primarily target websites that are moving from other hosting companies (ie, customers dissatisfied with current hosting).
Here are some of the big advantages that I’ve seen as a customer & consultant to a customer. WordPress Hosting Options
Speed and Performance
There are a lot of variables that go into site speed, but the general rule is that the more intricate your website is, the more complicated the solutions to speed become.
Out of package, WordPress is fairly lean and fast. If you are running a mostly text site with a few fundamental plugins and a few little images, you’ll be great with a cost effective shared hosting plan from someone like InMotion, HostGator or Bluehost.
However couple of site owners keep their WordPress install lean. There’s normally additional plugins, custom-made theme files, great deals of images, widgets, advertisements, types and more.
All these features integrated with good levels of traffic can begin to decrease your WordPress set up.
However a sluggish website does not mean that you require a larger, much better server. It does mean that you need to get smarter about speed. Often it’s as basic as getting a more effective server, however often it’s more about caching particular resources in a certain order and optimizing your files. In other words, it gets complex.
Imagine you are aiming to carry a trailer with a pickup. Envision your trailer keeps getting much heavier. It’s pointless to keep complaining that your truck is not big enough when you may just have to get rid of the emergency brake, set up a turbocharger, refresh the transmission fluid and consolidate your load.
The point is that WordPress requires aid to remain fast as you grow. There are lots of services … however either you or a designer should execute them.
That’s where managed WordPress hosting can be found in. WP Engine takes care of (nearly) all speed concerns. They have actually tailored servers with incredibly aggressive caching as well as more advanced “stack” than a normal web host. They also have trained support who will enter into your WordPress set up and identify the exact chokepoint to obtain your website moving. WordPress Hosting Options
They do not even permit caching plugins on their installs because they have actually such a tailored caching setup.
The interesting thing is that even unoptimized WordPress sets up still do well on their platform due to the fact that their platform does the additional work.
Here’s the speed test for one of my clients on WP Engine (who has a bloated theme, additional scripts, too many uncompressed images, to name a few things):
Keep in mind the Time To First Byte and the Start Render numbers. That measures how rapidly the server returned enough data to start loading the page.
It’s good to have that sort of speed right out of the box, and have it stay that method no matter how huge or complex the website gets.
*Note that the other point here is that if you are consumed about speed, you can get back at much better numbers with WP Engine than you might get with other services because you are complimentary to concentrate on speed aspects that you can easily control like image compression, usage of scripts, etc.
. The last observation on speed, WP Engine not just supplies an incorporated CDN, but they likewise provide worldwide data centers in case your audience is mostly in Asia and/or Europe. WordPress Hosting Options
If you are trying to get top speeds without messing with layered caching plugins ” the WP Engine does exactly that.
Customer Support WordPress Hosting Options
Consumer support has actually been a core part of WP Engine’s pitch since they were founded. After all, they are actually selling more of a service (ie, managed hosting) than a product (ie, hosting). It makes good sense for them to place a huge focus on support.
Here’s a screenshot from among my first contacts with support back in 2012:
Look at the response|reaction|action} time, that wasn’t an autoresponder either.
Now, the company has actually grown & changed a lot ever since. They went through a stretch where they were getting a great deal of criticism about over-promising on support.
That stated, the difficult feature of consumer support is that a lot of the judgment is anecdotal. Everybody has a story, but you never ever understand if the story is due to the fact that they talked with the one rockstar-vs-rookie having an awesome-vs-terrible day. Like I mention in every hosting review, the fundamental part is to see if a company deals with support as an investment or an expense.
I prefer to try to find access, systems, and knowledge, all 3 need a financial investment of cash, time and expertise.
Based on my recent interactions and research study, they are doing much better hitting all three boxes. They maintain a range of support channels (including phone for non-Basic strategies). They have a quickly, trackable ticketing system and are readily available all over on the site through chat.
Based upon their guide videos and extensive knowledgebase, they tick the knowledge box. Every support that I or my customer has communicated with really knew the great operations of WordPress and has actually had the ability to problem-solve on the fly.
The most impressive (yes, this is anecdotal, but still) experience was a three-way call in between my client, myself and WP Engine throughout my client’s shift to HTTPS/ SSL. The associate was not just able to obtain on (and stay on) the phone, but he was able to expertly help us “flip the switch” quickly in addition to taking care of several concerns (ie, uploading a non-HTTP sitemap and fixing insecure image links) within WordPress for us. WordPress Hosting Options
I make sure that WP Engine still has support concerns,specifically since their customized platform puts a great deal of pressure on fast, available support (as I’ll show in the downsides). However they seem to know that support is core to their value and do make the required investment.
WordPress now powers over a quarter of the whole Internet. That means that it is a prime target for hackers & malware distributors.
But there is absolutely nothing naturally insecure about WordPress that is not an issue with all software application. WordPress has the benefit of being open-source with a very large community launching updates & screening vulnerabilities.
If you run your own WordPress install, the security fundamentals are relatively simple:
- Keep your install & all your plugins updated
- Only install files from reputable creators
- Run a security plugin to lock down the most common brute force attacks
- Keep a backup for when things go wrong
* Aside, I utilize JetPack for the last 2. It’s made by & powered by Automattic, the industrial arm of WordPress.
You’ll see that despite the fact that security on WordPress is straightforward, the obligation is still on you to keep things protect. Much like having a deadbolt does nothing if you do not lock it, keeping your website secure is still ultimately on you.
And like speed & efficiency, WP Engine essentially takes all those finest practices and does them for you. They run automated backups to keep everything off-site & prepared to roll back if something takes place. Given that you technically have an “install” on their server (instead of an account), they tackle a lot of security concerns globally on the server level.
WP Engine also works closely with top security companies on code reviews in addition to running their own team. They likewise make the guarantee that if you’re hacked, they look after it free of charge.
I personally have never ever been hacked on my main/ or secondary sites (knock on wood), however have actually helped clients who have been. It’s discouraging, laborious & an usually expensive scenario (even if you are using a service like Sucuri). Having a professional security group look after your WordPress install is a huge pro in my book. WordPress Hosting Options
Pricing on Value
WP Engine is not cheap. Their Start-up plan is $35/mo and consists of a single install and just approximately 25,000 visits monthly.
For benchmarking, you can get an effective, reliable VPS (ie, your very own not-shared server) for the exact same cost from InMotion. And if you are simply beginning with a single domain, you can get a shared hosting plan from Bluehost for simply a couple dollars monthly.
Both of which enable more storage & more sees (ie, basically as lots of as you can deal with) than WP Engine. I have actually run sites that have had 60k gos to monthly on a shared server. I’ve also run lots of little WordPress websites off a low expense shared hosting.
But I’ll cover that prices disadvantage in the cons of WP Engine, however here’s the thing.
For some site owners, if you break out WP Engine by total value & factor in your very own (or your designer’s) time, their prices is amazing.
Simply running WordPress updates each month & QA’ing your installation can take around Thirty Minutes each month. If your (or your dev’s) services are billed at $50 (or more)/ hour, then that’s WP Engine’s entire monthly cost right there.
If you lose any visits due to downtime from a bad plugin upgrade, then that could be WP Engine’s whole monthly fee right there.
If you do a hot-fix (ie, you do not utilize a staging location) on your PHP code, and knock your site down … then that might be WP Engine’s entire regular monthly fee right there.
Losing visitors due to speed issues or downtime costs lost earnings.
In addition, premium security can cost about $16/month minimum. Not to discuss any personal or designer time fixing issues.
Essentially, if your time is better designated far from technical concerns, then WP Engine makes a lot of sense on worth. As a handled WordPress hosting service, that’s truly their thing. Hosting services are an investment rather than an expense.
Which sort of value-based prices segues into another pro for WP Engine, their concentrate on their core markets. WordPress Hosting Options
Like I stated at the beginning, WP Engine isn’t really for everybody. There are 3 types of consumers that WP Engine seems to be a suitable for. For those 3 kinds of customers, WP Engine has a strong focus with lots of tools & focus for each.
From their backend procedure, the first customer type seems to be WordPress developers and designers who want to concentrate on development & design without handling hosting upkeep, and have customers who have some budget plan. The designer/dev builds the site directly in WP Engine’s staging environment, launches the website, then hands the site over to their customer.
The designer can ensure their client that WP Engine handles the hosting, security & speed. There’s little need for an ongoing basic site upkeep. For this market, WP Engine has interesting tools consisting of staging, git push, website migration and transferable installs.
The second consumer type is the growing site owner who is annoyed at having to deal with technical growth headaches. They have actually outgrown their shared hosting and need to move to a much better host.
They’re likewise developed enough that they have some budget for managed services. WP Engine has tools like the automatic migration tool & customer support to make that procedure take place. The phone support is an essential element, especially having the ability to “just call WP Engine an have them fix it.”
The 3rd client type is a start-up website owner that has the budget and desires a long-lasting platform that they can grow with. They are comfy learning WP Engine’s distinct backend and plan on releasing a near-complete site all at once.
They do not have any prior habits or custom-mades brought over from previous hosts or websites. Once again, for this market, WP Engine has the scalable functions, customers, and support that they can make promises and supply support to win & keep this kind of client.
With these types of clients, WP Engine knows how & where they are coming from, a lot of of the improvements they make are focused on these markets (ie, the Git push functionality), instead of mass-market enhancements like knowledge-bases, intuitive backend, and so on.
This benefit resembles WP Engine’s market focus, however it’s actually worth calling out in this review modification. WordPress Hosting Options
WP Engine excels not just on existing features however likewise on creating brand-new, innovative hosting functions. Every version of WordPress 4 has rolled out brand-new designer functions that WP Engine has actually had the ability to integrate.
Even basic web advancement best practices have actually altered significantly given that I started observing the industry *. WP Engine has actually developed tools to match.
* I’m an SEO/ marketer by trade. I know sufficient web development to integrate finest practices into implementation & jobs with developers.
Here’s a screenshot of WP Engine’s Git Push setup that has actually been around for more than 2 years.
Even for non-developers like me, WP Engine has one-click staging areas to allow even DIY siteowners to get away from “cowboy coding” into proper web development best practices.
There are too many other specifics here to name, but in general, WP Engine has a strength in rolling out new, useful hosting features.
Cons of WP Engine
Much like any service, WP Engine is not the very best suitable for everyone. There are plenty of WP Engine complaints around the Internet. Some are anecdotal. Some are hyperbole (ie, SEOs complaining about dev websites). And numerous stand due to the fact that they merely aren’t a fit for everybody. For all their awesomeness in some areas, they have some cons which keep them from being an excellent suitable for some consumers. I do not use them for this site due to the fact that I do not need a number of their functions and I’m comfy “putting pieces together” w/ my InMotion VPS setup. WordPress Hosting Options
All that said, here are some of the larger picture disadvantages of using WP Engine.
Initial and Ongoing Complexity
To achieve the speed, security, and scale they promise, WP Engine does things in a different way. And that difference can be rather made complex– especially if you have just enough experience with hosting environments to be hazardous.
Their backend setup has gotten better. It’s cleaner, but it’s still custom. It’s nothing like a standard cPanel hosting backend. Unlike many hosting business, they likewise don’t provide DNS nameservers.
Even if all the features are there, the distinct backend can result in some designers making mistakes varying from irritating redirect loops to duplicate content issues to leaving the dev site open to the public or simply not making it possible for the functions you’re buying.
If it weren’t for fantastic support, I think they ‘d lose more beginner customers than they currently do.
Like many custom platforms, it makes sense once you get over the knowing curve. However WP Engine’s onboarding is very developer-focused & remains so exception-focused that they never ever describe finest practice for the basic user. WordPress Hosting Options
Here is their video on pressing your site live –
I have actually set up my share of websites from platforms to custom-made hosts to cPanel hosting sites, however I had to watch that video multiple times to make sure I was pointing the right A record/ CNAME to the right IP address.
Once again, if you are in WP Engine’s core markets, the custom-made backend isn’t really going to be a big offer (when you get past the learning curve). However for many, you’ll likely get to find out first hand about WP Engine’s support group.
However here’s the important things.
WP Engine never truly stops being eccentric and complex. In their knowledgebase, they have a variety of website lists to help repair all sorts of problems.
And ” if you did not setup your DNS exactly how they’ve recommended ” your site could go down at any time.
Again– they have reasons that they do all this. And most of the times, support will simply look after it all.
But, you still don’t get to set & forget your website. Sure, you do not technically don’t have to get into the weeds of a server panel. In lots of hosting cases (ie, a managed VPS), you don’t have to do it anyway, and when you do, the knobs and buttons are familiar. WordPress Hosting Options
WP Engine’s proprietary setup cuts both methods regards to lowering & increasing complexity.
This con is likewise connected to WP Engine’s unique setup. In order to run their architecture as well as possible, all the installs on their platform have to be somewhat uniform.
They have to have predictable plugins; foreseeable visitor patterns; predictable use cases. Every hosting company has guidelines (or very genuine physical limits), however WP Engine goes a bit more to define what you can and cannot have on your WordPress install in addition to tiered overage prices to discourage seasonal traffic spikes and regional storage use.
They do prohibit certain plugins & admin habits for excellent factors, however those restrictions limit flexibility and experimentation if your website might manage it.
For instance, Yet Another Related Post Plugin is a common plugin. It’s resource extensive, however on smaller sites, it does the job well. It’s not allowed on WP Engine. That’s bad or bad always. But it does make WP Engine less flexible and available to experimentation compared with running a shared or VPS server.
The way their prices is structured allows for less versatility as well. It’s a positive that they will handle all the traffic you can send, but it’s also pricey to pay based on a variety of visits.
If you are running a big launch; are a seasonal business; or just want to drive a surge of traffic to your website, you’ll need to element additional hosting bills into the mix. That puts a cap on how flexible you want to be with your marketing.
If you are running a lean cached website on a VPS server, you can manage a lot more traffic than WP Engine would enable on an Individual or Company. And this point goes further if your site requires lots of plugins for full functionality.
The same goes for storage. With WP Engine, you are paying for efficiency, not for storage. So if you are aiming to utilize a server for media storage … that use case is out.
In addition, you can’t truly do automatic email marketing campaigns from WP Engine. This was something that my client got required & ended up needing to do an unpleasant migration to another email company mid-campaign.
In any case, that point segues into the last con I found with WP Engine, their pricing based upon features.
Pricing on Features and Usage
With WP Engine, you are usually spending for efficiency & not needing to believe excessive about maintenance, security & speed. If you take a look at WP Engine’s prices based on the functions you’re getting, you truly do not get a whole lot.
And if you are the type who will think of your site’s health anyway (ie, keeping WordPress updated and normally logging in often), you’ll likely be spending for “management” that is superfluous. WordPress Hosting Options
Many shared hosting servers can deal with the exact same traffic numbers as WP Engine and cost a fraction of the cost. My personal website (working on a shared hosting plan from HostGator with basic caching) managed more than 15,000 sees in a 24 hour duration when a post of mine went viral.
And if you are running a reputable VPS, you can definitely handle a lot more for much less.
They are relatively transparent about how they count check outs, but it can still be quite a surprise for “small” site owners how quickly they can enter into the $290 each month tier.
And as discussed previously that doesn’t even consist of many of the functions you do not get with WP Engine’s plans. You cannot run any email from your servers. You have low limitations on local storage. Anything above the limitations needs additional expenses & technical execution of Amazon cloud services.
And most significantly for me, you are limited on your installs. If you have a few side jobs or low-traffic test websites, you have to factor those into the cost. You cannot utilize them to spread out the expense of your plan,particularly if you are striking your visitor cap instead of your install cap.
If you are wanting to spend for hosting: ie, a server that will hold & provide your website files, WP Engine is an expensive alternative, particularly compared to other non-managed hosting options.
Like any service, it’s not about exactly what is finest total, but exactly what is finest for you based on your objectives, spending plan, resources & habits.
If you are in exactly what I think of as WP Engine’s core markets, they offer an excellent service with a solid item. Their pricing is competitive in the Managed WordPress Hosting area, and they provide more functions than “WordPress hosting” strategies from other hosting brand names. Their feature-set is unmatched for savvy DIYers, WordPress website developers and/or high-traffic websites that do not want to fret about hosting issues.
If managed hosting is a suitable for you, then go have a look at WP Engine’s plans here.
They do a 60-day money-back assurance. So do a test set up and see what you think about their backend. Make sure to chat w/ support & sales.
If you’re outgrowing your current host & desire more liberty/ better rates than WP Engine, take a look at InMotion Hosting’s VPS alternative. I have actually appreciated their balance of instinctive backend & responsive client service.
And lastly, if you are more baffled than ever, go take my WordPress hosting test. I put all these factors into a fun, Buzzfeed-esque quiz to streamline things. WordPress Hosting Options