WP Engine: My Pros and Cons of WP Engine Hosting Web Host Companies
WP Engine is a Managed WordPress Hosting service based in Austin, TX. They were one of the (if not the) very first business to offer handled hosting services specifically for WordPress. Web Host Companies
While they have plenty of competitors in both the general hosting and handled WordPress hosting verticals, they are still the market leader in lots of ways -and they have broad name recognition and innovative functions.
With the growth of both self-hosted WordPress and website contractors, the hosting industry has actually become a super-confusing location.
I wrote an entire post about WordPress Hosting vs. Web Hosting. However here’s the brief version: They all differ in services provided. Some just have WordPress-trained tech support. Some offer services such as server-side features and staging for WordPress.
Then there’s a separate level of handled WordPress Hosting where you are not truly purchasing hosting per se, however rather services to keep your WordPress set up live. Essentially, a Managed WordPress Hosting service offers a menu of services tailored to WordPress at a greater cost point, so that the site owner can focus less on speed + security and more on the site content + functionality.
Every competitor in the Managed WordPress Hosting has a various offering. And there is no standardized “menu” of options, but as a whole, they all take on conventional shared Linux hosting offerings and personalized WordPress hosting choices.
In any case, that’s the field where WP Engine plays. It’s confusing, yes, but it is necessary to understand prior to making apples to oranges comparisons.
There are a lot of WP Engine reviews online, generally with user-generated evaluations based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine however I take a various technique. This evaluation will look at the pros + cons of WP Engine in the context of all webhosting choices to see who it is a “finest fit” for. Web Host Companies
I have actually utilized WP Engine for numerous tasks given that 2012. I do not utilize them for my primary websites today (see conclusion), but I do have an existing customer on WP Engine who absolutely enjoys them. Here’s my WP Engine evaluation structured as benefits and drawbacks.
Disclosure: I get referral fees from any business discussed. All information & opinion is based on my experience as a paying customer or specialist to a paying customer.
Pros of WP Engine
To start, WP Engine does pretty much live up to its pitch on its homepage where they promise “stunning speed, effective security, and best-in-class customer service.” Here is their discount 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. Web Host Companies
Speed and Performance
There are a great deal of variables that go into website speed, however the rule of thumb is that the more intricate your website is, the more complicated the solutions to speed ended up being.
From package, WordPress is fairly lean and quick. If you are running a primarily text website with a couple of basic plugins and a couple of small images, you’ll be great with an economical shared hosting plan from someone like InMotion, HostGator or Bluehost.
But few website owners keep their WordPress install lean. There’s generally additional plugins, custom-made theme files, lots of images, widgets, advertisements, forms and more.
All these features integrated with good levels of traffic can begin to slow down your WordPress install.
However a slow website does not mean that you require a larger, better server. It does mean that you have to get smarter about speed. Sometimes it’s as easy as getting a more effective server, but in some cases it’s more about caching specific resources in a certain order and optimizing your files. In other words, it gets complex.
Imagine you are attempting to carry a trailer with a pickup. Imagine your trailer keeps getting much heavier. It’s meaningless to keep complaining that your truck is not big enough when you might 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 needs help to remain fast as you grow. There are plenty of solutions … but either you or a designer should execute them.
That’s where handled WordPress hosting can be found in. WP Engine takes care of (almost) all speed issues. They have personalized servers with extremely aggressive caching as well as more advanced “stack” than a common web host. They likewise have trained support who will go into your WordPress install and identify the exact chokepoint to get your website moving. Web Host Companies
They don’t even allow caching plugins on their installs because they have such a customized caching setup.
The fascinating thing is that even unoptimized WordPress installs still do well on their platform because their platform does the additional work.
Here’s the speed test for among my customers 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 packing the page.
It’s great to have that sort of speed right out of package, and have it remain that way no matter how huge or complicated the site gets.
*Note that the other point here is that if you are obsessed about speed, you can get back at much better numbers with WP Engine than you might get with other services since you are free to focus on speed aspects that you can easily manage like image compression, use of scripts, etc.
. The last observation on speed, WP Engine not only supplies an integrated CDN, but they likewise offer global data centers in case your audience is mainly in Asia and/or Europe. Web Host Companies
If you are trying to get top speeds without messing with layered caching plugins ” the WP Engine does exactly that.
Customer Support Web Host Companies
Consumer support has been a core part of WP Engine’s pitch because they were founded. After all, they are really offering more of a service (ie, handled hosting) than an item (ie, hosting). It makes good sense for them to place a huge focus on support.
Here’s a screenshot from among my very first contacts with support back in 2012:
Take a look at the response|reaction|action} time, that wasn’t an autoresponder either.
Now, the business has actually grown & altered a lot since then. They went through a stretch where they were getting a lot of criticism about over-promising on support.
That said, the difficult thing about client support is that so much of the judgment is anecdotal. Everybody has a story, but you never know if the story is since they spoke with the one rockstar-vs-rookie having an awesome-vs-terrible day. Like I point out in every hosting review, the important part is to see if a company treats support as a financial investment or a cost.
I prefer to search for access, systems, and understanding, all three require an investment of cash, time and proficiency.
Based upon my recent interactions and research, they are doing far better hitting all 3 boxes. They keep a variety of support channels (including phone for non-Basic plans). They have a quick, trackable ticketing system and are 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 client has communicated with actually understood the great operations of WordPress and has been able to problem-solve on the fly.
The most impressive (yes, this is anecdotal, however still) experience was a three-way call in between my customer, myself and WP Engine during my customer’s shift to HTTPS/ SSL. The rep was not only able to get on (and stay on) the phone, but he had the ability to adeptly assist us “turn the switch” quickly in addition to taking care of a number of issues (ie, publishing a non-HTTP sitemap and repairing insecure image links) within WordPress for us. Web Host Companies
I make certain that WP Engine still has support issues,especially since their custom-made platform puts a lot of pressure on fast, available support (as I’ll display in the downsides). But they appear to understand that support is core to their value and do make the required financial investment.
WordPress now powers over a quarter of the entire Internet. That implies that it is a prime target for hackers & malware suppliers.
But there is nothing inherently insecure about WordPress that is not an issue with all software. WordPress has the benefit of being open-source with a huge neighborhood launching updates & testing vulnerabilities.
If you run your own WordPress set up, the security basics are fairly 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 use JetPack for the last 2. It’s made by & powered by Automattic, the industrial arm of WordPress.
You’ll observe that despite the fact that security on WordPress is uncomplicated, the obligation is still on you to keep things protect. Much like having a deadbolt not does anything if you do not lock it, keeping your site secure is still eventually on you.
And like speed & performance, WP Engine generally takes all those finest practices and does them for you. They run automated backups to keep everything off-site & ready to roll back if something occurs. Because you technically have an “install” on their server (rather than an account), they deal with a lot of security issues internationally on the server level.
WP Engine also works carefully 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 for free.
I personally have actually never been hacked on my primary/ or secondary websites (knock on wood), but have actually helped clients who have been. It’s frustrating, laborious & an usually expensive situation (even if you are utilizing a service like Sucuri). Having an expert security group take care of your WordPress set up is a huge pro in my book. Web Host Companies
Pricing on Value
WP Engine is not inexpensive. Their Startup plan is $35/mo and includes a single set up and only up to 25,000 visits per month.
For benchmarking, you can get an effective, reputable VPS (ie, your own not-shared server) for the same cost from InMotion. And if you are just starting with a single domain, you can get a shared hosting plan from Bluehost for just a couple dollars monthly.
Both of which allow for more storage & more check outs (ie, generally as lots of as you can handle) than WP Engine. I have actually run sites that have actually had 60k gos to each month on a shared server. I have actually likewise run lots of small WordPress websites off a low cost shared hosting.
However I’ll cover that rates drawback in the cons of WP Engine, however here’s the important things.
For some site owners, if you break out WP Engine by total worth & factor in your own (or your designer’s) time, their prices is remarkable.
Simply running WordPress updates each month & QA’ing your installation can take around 30 minutes on a monthly basis. If your (or your dev’s) services are billed at $50 (or more)/ hour, then that’s WP Engine’s entire month-to-month charge right there.
If you lose any sees due to downtime from a bad plugin upgrade, then that could be WP Engine’s whole monthly cost right there.
If you do a hot-fix (ie, you don’t use a staging area) on your PHP code, and knock your site down … then that could be WP Engine’s whole monthly fee right there.
Losing visitors due to speed issues or downtime costs lost income.
In addition, premium security can cost about $16/month minimum. Not to discuss any personal or developer time fixing problems.
Basically, if your time is much better designated far from technical issues, then WP Engine makes a great deal of sense on value. As a managed WordPress hosting service, that’s really their thing. Hosting services are an investment instead of a cost.
Which sort of value-based prices segues into another pro for WP Engine, their concentrate on their core markets. Web Host Companies
Like I stated at the beginning, WP Engine isn’t really for everybody. There are 3 kinds of customers that WP Engine seems to be a suitable for. For those 3 types of clients, WP Engine has a strong focus with plenty of tools & focus for each.
From their backend procedure, the first client type appears to be WordPress developers and designers who want to focus on development & design without dealing with hosting upkeep, and have clients who have some budget plan. The designer/dev builds the website straight in WP Engine’s staging environment, launches the site, then hands the website over to their customer.
The designer can guarantee their client that WP Engine deals with the hosting, security & speed. There’s little requirement for an ongoing basic website upkeep. For this market, WP Engine has intriguing tools consisting of staging, git push, site migration and transferable installs.
The 2nd customer type is the growing website owner who is annoyed at needing to deal with technical growth headaches. They’ve outgrown their shared hosting and need to transfer to a better host.
They’re also developed enough that they have some spending plan for managed services. WP Engine has tools like the automatic migration tool & client support to make that procedure take place. The phone support is an essential aspect, specifically being able to “simply call WP Engine an have them fix it.”
The 3rd client type is a start-up site owner that has the spending plan and wants a long-term platform that they can grow with. They are comfortable finding out WP Engine’s unique backend and plan on launching a near-complete site at one time.
They do not have any prior habits or customizeds brought over from previous hosts or sites. Again, for this market, WP Engine has the scalable features, clients, and support that they can make guarantees and offer support to win & keep this type of consumer.
With these types of customers, WP Engine knows how & where they are originating from, numerous of the enhancements they make are concentrated on these markets (ie, the Git push functionality), rather than mass-market enhancements like knowledge-bases, user-friendly backend, and so on.
This benefit resembles WP Engine’s market focus, however it’s actually worth calling out in this review modification. Web Host Companies
WP Engine stands out not only on existing features but likewise on developing brand-new, innovative hosting features. Every variation of WordPress 4 has actually rolled out brand-new developer functions that WP Engine has actually had the ability to integrate.
Even general web development best practices have actually changed significantly given that I began observing the industry *. WP Engine has created tools to match.
* I’m an SEO/ online marketer by trade. I understand adequate web development to incorporate best practices into implementation & projects with developers.
Here’s a screenshot of WP Engine’s Git Push setup that has 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 everybody. There are a lot of WP Engine complaints around the Web. Some are anecdotal. Some are hyperbole (ie, SEOs grumbling about dev sites). And many stand because they merely aren’t a fit for everybody. For all their awesomeness in some locations, they have some cons which keep them from being an excellent fit for some consumers. I do not utilize them for this website because I do not require a number of their functions and I’m comfy “putting pieces together” w/ my InMotion VPS setup. Web Host Companies
All that said, here are some of the larger image disadvantages of using WP Engine.
Initial and Ongoing Complexity
To accomplish the speed, security, and scale they assure, WP Engine does things in a different way. Which distinction can be rather made complex– especially if you have simply enough experience with hosting environments to be hazardous.
Their backend setup has actually gotten better. It’s cleaner, however it’s still customized. It’s absolutely nothing like a conventional cPanel hosting backend. Unlike lots of hosting business, they also don’t offer DNS nameservers.
Even if all the functions are there, the special backend can cause some designers making errors ranging from irritating redirect loops to replicate content problems to leaving the dev website open up to the general public or just not allowing the functions you’re buying.
If it weren’t for remarkable support, I believe they ‘d lose more novice consumers than they already do.
Like many custom platforms, it makes sense once you overcome the learning curve. But WP Engine’s onboarding is really developer-focused & remains so exception-focused that they never describe best practice for the general user. Web Host Companies
Here is their video on pushing your website live –
I’ve set up my share of sites from platforms to custom hosts to cPanel hosting websites, however I had to watch that video several times to make sure I was pointing the right A record/ CNAME to the best IP address.
Again, if you are in WP Engine’s core markets, the custom-made backend isn’t really going to be a substantial offer (once you get past the knowing curve). But for many, you’ll likely get to learn very first hand about WP Engine’s support team.
But here’s the important things.
WP Engine never ever really stops being wacky and complex. In their knowledgebase, they have a variety of site lists to help troubleshoot all sorts of concerns.
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 why they do all this. And in most cases, support will just take care of it all.
But, you still do not get to set & forget your website. Sure, you don’t technically do not need to enter into the weeds of a server panel. In lots of hosting cases (ie, a handled VPS), you do not need to do it anyway, when you do, the knobs and buttons recognize. Web Host Companies
WP Engine’s proprietary setup cuts both ways in terms of lowering & increasing complexity.
This con is likewise connected to WP Engine’s unique setup. In order to run their architecture along with possible, all the installs on their platform have to be somewhat uniform.
They need to have foreseeable plugins; foreseeable visitor patterns; predictable use cases. Every hosting company has rules (or really real physical limits), however WP Engine goes a bit further to define what you can and can’t have on your WordPress set up in addition to tiered overage pricing to dissuade seasonal traffic spikes and regional storage use.
They do ban specific plugins & admin habits for good factors, but those bans restrict versatility and experimentation if your website might manage it.
For instance, Yet Another Associated Post Plugin is a typical plugin. It’s resource extensive, but on smaller sized sites, it gets the job done well. It’s not permitted on WP Engine. That’s bad or bad always. However it does make WP Engine less versatile and open to experimentation compared to running a shared or VPS server.
The way their rates is structured permits less adaptability also. It’s a positive that they will manage all the traffic you can send, however it’s likewise costly to pay based upon a variety of sees.
If you are running a big launch; are a seasonal organisation; or simply want to drive a surge of traffic to your website, you’ll have to factor additional hosting expenses 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 handle a lot more traffic than WP Engine would permit on a Personal or Business. And this point goes even more if your website requires numerous plugins for full functionality.
The exact same chooses storage. With WP Engine, you are spending for efficiency, not for storage. So if you are seeking to use a server for media storage … that use case is out.
Additionally, you can’t actually do automatic e-mail marketing campaigns from WP Engine. This was something that my customer got called for & ended up needing to do an uncomfortable migration to another email company mid-campaign.
In either case, that point segues into the last con I discovered with WP Engine, their pricing based upon features.
Pricing on Features and Usage
With WP Engine, you are usually paying for performance & not needing to believe too much about upkeep, security & speed. If you look at WP Engine’s rates based upon the functions you’re getting, you actually do not get a great deal.
And if you are the type who will think about your website’s health anyhow (ie, keeping WordPress upgraded and normally logging in often), you’ll likely be paying for “management” that is unnecessary. Web Host Companies
Lots of shared hosting servers can deal with the exact same traffic numbers as WP Engine and cost a portion of the cost. My individual website (running on a shared hosting strategy from HostGator with basic caching) dealt with more than 15,000 gos to in a 24 Hr period when a post of mine went viral.
And if you are running a reliable VPS, you can certainly deal with a lot more for much less.
They are relatively transparent about how they count visits, but it can still be quite a surprise for “small” site owners how rapidly they can get into the $290 per month tier.
And as discussed previously that does not even include a number of the functions you don’t get with WP Engine’s strategies. You can’t run any email from your servers. You have low limitations on regional storage. Anything above the limitations needs additional costs & technical application of Amazon cloud services.
And most notably for me, you are limited on your installs. If you have a few side projects or low-traffic test websites, you have to factor those into the cost. You cannot utilize them to spread out the expense of your strategy,especially if you are hitting your visitor cap rather than your set up cap.
If you are aiming to spend for hosting: ie, a server that will hold & provide your website files, WP Engine is an expensive choice, especially compared with other non-managed hosting choices.
Like any service, it’s not about what is finest total, but exactly what is best for you based upon your objectives, budget plan, resources & routines.
If you are in exactly what I think of as WP Engine’s core markets, they provide a fantastic service with a strong item. Their rates is competitive in the Managed WordPress Hosting area, and they offer more functions than “WordPress hosting” strategies from other hosting brands. Their feature-set is unequaled for savvy DIYers, WordPress website developers and/or high-traffic sites that don’t wish to stress over hosting concerns.
If handled hosting is a suitable for you, then go take a look at WP Engine’s plans here.
They do a 60-day money-back assurance. So do a test install and see exactly what you think about their backend. Be sure to chat w/ support & sales.
If you’re outgrowing your current host & desire more liberty/ much better costs than WP Engine, take a look at InMotion Hosting’s VPS alternative. I’ve appreciated their balance of user-friendly backend & responsive customer service.
And last but not least, if you are more confused than ever, go take my WordPress hosting quiz. I put all these factors into an enjoyable, Buzzfeed-esque test to simplify things. Web Host Companies