WP Engine: My Pros and Cons of WP Engine Hosting Web Host Knowledge
WP Engine is a Managed WordPress Hosting service based in Austin, TX. They were one of the (if not the) first companies to provide handled hosting services particularly for WordPress. Web Host Knowledge
While they have plenty of competition in both the basic hosting and handled WordPress hosting verticals, they are still the marketplace leader in lots of methods -and they have broad name acknowledgment and advanced functions.
With the growth of both self-hosted WordPress and website builders, the hosting market has become a super-confusing place.
I wrote a whole post about WordPress Hosting vs. Web Hosting. But here’s the short variation: They all vary in services supplied. Some simply have WordPress-trained tech support. Some deal services such as server-side features and staging for WordPress.
And after that there’s a different level of handled WordPress Hosting where you are not truly purchasing hosting per se, but rather services to keep your WordPress install live. Basically, a Managed WordPress Hosting service provides a menu of services customized to WordPress at a greater price point, so that the site owner can focus less on speed + security and more on the website material + performance.
Every competitor in the Managed WordPress Hosting has a various offering. And there is no standardized “menu” of alternatives, however as an entire, they all take on standard shared Linux hosting offerings and customized WordPress hosting alternatives.
In either case, that’s the field where WP Engine plays. It’s confusing, yes, however it is essential to comprehend before making apples to oranges contrasts.
There are a great deal of WP Engine examines online, normally with user-generated reviews based upon anecdotes and individual experience. That’s great however I take a different method. This evaluation will take a look at the pros + cons of WP Engine in the context of all web hosting alternatives to see who it is a “best fit” for. Web Host Knowledge
I’ve used WP Engine for numerous tasks since 2012. I do not utilize them for my primary sites right now (see conclusion), but I do have an existing client on WP Engine who definitely likes them. Here’s my WP Engine review structured as advantages and disadvantages.
Disclosure: I get referral fees from any companies mentioned. All information & viewpoint is based on my experience as a paying consumer or consultant to a paying customer.
Pros of WP Engine
To begin, WP Engine does basically live up to its pitch on its homepage where they guarantee “sensational speed, powerful security, and best-in-class customer care.” 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 Knowledge
Speed and Performance
There are a lot of variables that go into website speed, but the guideline is that the more complex your website is, the more intricate the services to speed become.
Out of the box, WordPress is fairly lean and quick. If you are running a primarily text website with a couple of fundamental plugins and a couple of small images, you’ll be great with a cost effective shared hosting strategy from somebody like InMotion, HostGator or Bluehost.
However couple of site owners keep their WordPress set up lean. There’s typically additional plugins, custom-made theme files, great deals of images, widgets, ads, kinds and more.
All these features combined with good levels of traffic can begin to slow down your WordPress set up.
But a sluggish website does not mean that you need a bigger, better server. It does indicate that you have to get smarter about speed. Often it’s as basic as getting a more effective server, however sometimes it’s more about caching specific resources in a particular order and enhancing your files. Simply puts, it gets complex.
Imagine you are attempting to transport a trailer with a pickup. Picture your trailer keeps getting heavier. It’s pointless to keep grumbling that your truck is not huge enough when you might just need 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 quick as you grow. There are plenty of options … but either you or a designer must execute them.
That’s where handled WordPress hosting comes in. WP Engine looks after (almost) all speed concerns. They have actually personalized servers with exceptionally aggressive caching as well as advanced “stack” than a common webhosting. They also have trained support who will enter into your WordPress install and determine the precise chokepoint to get your site moving. Web Host Knowledge
They don’t even permit caching plugins on their installs because they have actually such a customized caching setup.
The intriguing thing is that even unoptimized WordPress installs still succeed on their platform due to the fact that their platform does the additional work.
Here’s the speed test for among my customers on WP Engine (who has a puffed up theme, additional scripts, too many uncompressed images, among other things):
Note the Time To First Byte and the Start Render numbers. That measures how rapidly the server returned enough information to begin packing the page.
It’s nice to have that type of speed right from package, and have it remain that method no matter how big or complex the site gets.
*Note that the other point here is that if you are consumed about speed, you can get back at better numbers with WP Engine than you might get with other services because you are complimentary to concentrate on speed aspects that you can quickly manage like image compression, use of scripts, etc.
. The last observation on speed, WP Engine not only offers an incorporated CDN, but they also provide worldwide information centers in case your audience is primarily in Asia and/or Europe. Web Host Knowledge
If you are trying to get top speeds without messing with layered caching plugins ” the WP Engine does exactly that.
Customer Support Web Host Knowledge
Client support has been a core part of WP Engine’s pitch because they wased established. After all, they are actually selling more of a service (ie, managed hosting) than a product (ie, hosting). It makes sense for them to put a huge focus on support.
Here’s a screenshot from one of my first contacts with support back in 2012:
Take a look at the response|reaction|action} time, that wasn’t an autoresponder either.
Now, the company has actually grown & altered a lot ever since. They went through a stretch where they were getting a lot of criticism about over-promising on support.
That stated, the difficult aspect of client support is that so much of the judgment is anecdotal. Everybody has a story, however you never understand if the story is since they talked with the one rockstar-vs-rookie having an awesome-vs-terrible day. Like I discuss in every hosting review, the fundamental part is to see if a company treats support as a financial investment or a cost.
I prefer to look for gain access to, systems, and knowledge, all 3 need a financial investment of money, time and competence.
Based upon my current interactions and research, they are doing far better striking all three boxes. They preserve a range of support channels (consisting of phone for non-Basic strategies). They have a fast, trackable ticketing system and are offered all over on the site by means of chat.
Based upon their guide videos and substantial knowledgebase, they tick the knowledge box. Every support that I or my customer has communicated with really understood the great operations of WordPress and has had the ability to problem-solve on the fly.
The most excellent (yes, this is anecdotal, however still) experience was a three-way call in between my client, myself and WP Engine during my customer’s transition to HTTPS/ SSL. The rep was not just able to get on (and stay on) the phone, however he was able to adeptly help us “flip the switch” quickly in addition to taking care of several problems (ie, uploading a non-HTTP sitemap and repairing insecure image links) within WordPress for us. Web Host Knowledge
I make sure that WP Engine still has support issues,particularly since their customized platform puts a great deal of pressure on fast, accessible support (as I’ll display in the drawbacks). But they seem to know that support is core to their worth and do make the needed investment.
WordPress now powers over a quarter of the whole Web. That suggests that it is a prime target for hackers & malware suppliers.
But there is nothing inherently insecure about WordPress that is not a concern with all software application. WordPress has the advantage of being open-source with a huge community launching updates & screening vulnerabilities.
If you run your very own WordPress set up, the security essentials are fairly straightforward:
- 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 commercial arm of WordPress.
You’ll notice that although security on WordPress is simple, the duty 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 essentially takes all those finest practices and does them for you. They run automated backups to keep whatever off-site & prepared to roll back if something takes place. Since you technically have an “install” on their server (rather than an account), they tackle a great deal of security problems globally on the server level.
WP Engine likewise works closely with leading security companies on code evaluations in addition to running their own team. They likewise make the assurance that if you’re hacked, they look after it free of charge.
I personally have never ever been hacked on my primary/ or secondary sites (knock on wood), however have helped customers who have been. It’s aggravating, tedious & a normally costly scenario (even if you are using a service like Sucuri). Having an expert security team look after your WordPress install is a big pro in my book. Web Host Knowledge
Pricing on Value
WP Engine is not inexpensive. Their Start-up plan is $35/mo and includes a single install and just up to 25,000 visits each month.
For benchmarking, you can get a powerful, trustworthy 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 strategy from Bluehost for simply a couple dollars each month.
Both which allow for more storage & more sees (ie, generally as lots of as you can handle) than WP Engine. I have actually run sites that have actually had 60k gos to per month on a shared server. I’ve also run dozens of little WordPress websites off a low expense shared hosting.
However I’ll cover that prices drawback in the cons of WP Engine, but here’s the thing.
For some website owners, if you break out WP Engine by total value & factor in your own (or your designer’s) time, their rates is amazing.
Simply running WordPress updates monthly & QA’ing your installation can take around Thirty Minutes every month. If your (or your dev’s) services are billed at $50 (or more)/ hour, then that’s WP Engine’s whole month-to-month cost right there.
If you lose any visits due to downtime from a bad plugin upgrade, then that might be WP Engine’s entire monthly charge right there.
If you do a hot-fix (ie, you don’t utilize a staging location) on your PHP code, and knock your website down … then that might be WP Engine’s whole regular monthly charge right there.
Losing visitors due to speed problems or downtime costs lost earnings.
In addition, premium security can cost about $16/month minimum. Not to point out any individual or developer time fixing problems.
Basically, if your time is better assigned far from technical issues, then WP Engine makes a great deal of sense on value. As a managed WordPress hosting service, that’s truly their thing. Hosting services are a financial investment rather than a cost.
And that sort of value-based pricing segues into another pro for WP Engine, their concentrate on their core markets. Web Host Knowledge
Like I said at the beginning, WP Engine isn’t really for everyone. There are 3 types of customers that WP Engine appears to be a fit for. For those 3 kinds of clients, WP Engine has a strong focus with a lot of tools & focus for each.
From their backend procedure, the very first consumer type seems to be WordPress designers and designers who wish to concentrate on advancement & design without handling hosting maintenance, and have customers who have some budget plan. The designer/dev builds the website directly in WP Engine’s staging environment, releases the site, then hands the site over to their client.
The designer can guarantee their client that WP Engine manages the hosting, security & speed. There’s little requirement for an ongoing basic site maintenance. For this market, WP Engine has intriguing tools including staging, git push, site migration and transferable installs.
The 2nd customer type is the growing site owner who is frustrated at having to deal with technical growth headaches. They have actually outgrown their shared hosting and need to relocate to a better host.
They’re likewise developed enough that they have some budget for handled services. WP Engine has tools like the automatic migration tool & client support to make that procedure take place. The phone support is an essential element, specifically having the ability to “simply call WP Engine an have them fix it.”
The 3rd client type is a startup website owner that has the spending plan and wants a long-term platform that they can grow with. They are comfortable learning WP Engine’s special backend and intend on introducing a near-complete website at one time.
They don’t have any previous habits or customs brought over from previous hosts or websites. Again, for this market, WP Engine has the scalable features, customers, and support that they can make guarantees and offer support to win & keep this type of customer.
With these kinds of customers, 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 performance), instead of mass-market improvements like knowledge-bases, user-friendly backend, and so on.
This advantage resembles WP Engine’s market focus, however it’s actually worth calling out in this evaluation revision. Web Host Knowledge
WP Engine stands out not only on present functions however also on developing brand-new, advanced hosting features. Every version of WordPress 4 has rolled out new developer functions that WP Engine has actually had the ability to incorporate.
Even general web advancement best practices have changed radically because I started observing the industry *. WP Engine has developed tools to match.
* I’m an SEO/ marketer by trade. I know adequate web development to incorporate best practices into implementation & projects with designers.
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
Similar to any service, WP Engine is not the very best fit for everyone. There are a lot of WP Engine complaints around the Internet. Some are anecdotal. Some are embellishment (ie, SEOs grumbling about dev sites). And many are valid since they just aren’t a suitable for everyone. For all their awesomeness in some areas, they have some cons which keep them from being a great suitable for some consumers. I do not utilize them for this website since I do not need a number of their functions and I’m comfy “putting pieces together” w/ my InMotion VPS setup. Web Host Knowledge
All that said, here are some of the bigger image disadvantages of using WP Engine.
Initial and Ongoing Complexity
To attain the speed, security, and scale they promise, WP Engine does things differently. Which difference can be quite complicated– especially if you have just adequate experience with hosting environments to be dangerous.
Their backend setup has gotten better. It’s cleaner, but it’s still custom. It’s absolutely nothing like a standard cPanel hosting backend. Unlike many hosting companies, they likewise do not offer DNS nameservers.
Even if all the functions exist, the special backend can cause some designers making mistakes varying from frustrating redirect loops to replicate content concerns to leaving the dev website open to the public or just not making it possible for the functions you’re buying.
If it weren’t for remarkable support, I think they ‘d lose more newbie customers than they currently do.
Like numerous custom platforms, it makes good sense once you get over the learning curve. But WP Engine’s onboarding is extremely developer-focused & remains so exception-focused that they never ever explain finest practice for the basic user. Web Host Knowledge
Here is their video on pushing your website live –
I have actually established my share of sites from platforms to customized hosts to cPanel hosting websites, however I had to view that video several times to make sure I was pointing the right A record/ CNAME to the best IP address.
Again, if you remain in WP Engine’s core markets, the custom-made backend isn’t going to be a big offer (when you surpass the learning curve). But for most, you’ll likely get to discover very first hand about WP Engine’s support team.
But here’s the thing.
WP Engine never actually stops being eccentric and complex. In their knowledgebase, they have a myriad of site checklists to assist repair all sorts of issues.
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 many cases, support will simply look after it all.
But, you still do not get to set & forget your site. Sure, you don’t technically do not need to get into the weeds of a server panel. In numerous hosting cases (ie, a handled VPS), you do not need to do it anyhow, and when you do, the knobs and buttons recognize. Web Host Knowledge
WP Engine’s exclusive setup cuts both ways in regards to reducing & increasing intricacy.
This con is likewise related to WP Engine’s unique setup. In order to run their architecture as well as possible, all the installs on their platform need to be rather uniform.
They have to have foreseeable plugins; foreseeable visitor patterns; foreseeable use cases. Every hosting business has guidelines (or extremely genuine physical limitations), but WP Engine goes a bit more to specify exactly what you can and cannot have on your WordPress install in addition to tiered overage prices to dissuade seasonal traffic spikes and regional storage usage.
They do prohibit certain plugins & admin habits for great reasons, but those bans limit flexibility and experimentation if your site might handle it.
For example, Yet Another Associated Post Plugin is a typical plugin. It’s resource extensive, but on smaller websites, it does the job well. It’s not enabled on WP Engine. That’s bad or bad always. But it does make WP Engine less versatile and open up to experimentation compared to running a shared or VPS server.
The method their prices is structured enables less versatility as well. It’s a positive that they will manage all the traffic you can send, however it’s also expensive to pay based on a number of gos to.
If you are running a big launch; are a seasonal service; or simply wish to drive a surge of traffic to your website, you’ll have to element extra hosting costs into the mix. That puts a cap on how versatile you wish to be with your marketing.
If you are running a lean cached site on a VPS server, you can manage a lot more traffic than WP Engine would allow on a Personal or Company. And this point goes further if your website needs many plugins for complete functionality.
The exact same opts for storage. With WP Engine, you are paying for efficiency, not for storage. So if you are aiming to use a server for media storage … that use case is out.
In addition, you cannot actually do automatic email marketing campaigns from WP Engine. This was something that my client got called for & ended up having to do an agonizing migration to another email provider mid-campaign.
Either way, that point segues into the last con I found with WP Engine, their pricing based on functions.
Pricing on Features and Usage
With WP Engine, you are typically paying for efficiency & not needing to think excessive about upkeep, security & speed. If you take a look at WP Engine’s pricing based upon the functions you’re getting, you truly don’t get a lot.
And if you are the type who will think of your website’s health anyway (ie, keeping WordPress upgraded and typically logging in frequently), you’ll likely be paying for “management” that is unneeded. Web Host Knowledge
Lots of shared hosting servers can deal with the exact same traffic numbers as WP Engine and cost a portion of the cost. My personal website (operating on a shared hosting plan from HostGator with basic caching) managed more than 15,000 sees in a 24 hour 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 check outs, but it can still be rather a surprise for “little” site owners how quickly they can enter the $290 each month tier.
And as pointed out earlier that doesn’t even consist of much of the functions you don’t get with WP Engine’s strategies. You can’t run any e-mail from your servers. You have low limits on local storage. Anything above the limits needs additional costs & technical implementation of Amazon cloud services.
And most importantly for me, you are limited on your installs. If you have a few side projects or low-traffic test websites, you need to factor those into the price. You can’t utilize them to expand the cost of your strategy,particularly if you are hitting your visitor cap rather than your set up cap.
If you are looking to pay for hosting: ie, a server that will hold & provide your site files, WP Engine is an expensive alternative, especially compared to other non-managed hosting options.
Like any service, it’s not about what is best total, but what is finest for you based on your objectives, spending plan, resources & practices.
If you are in what I think of as WP Engine’s core markets, they provide a terrific service with a strong item. Their rates is competitive in the Managed WordPress Hosting area, and they provide more features than “WordPress hosting” plans from other hosting brands. Their feature-set is unequaled for smart DIYers, WordPress site developers and/or high-traffic sites that don’t wish to fret about hosting problems.
If managed hosting is a suitable for you, then go check out WP Engine’s plans here.
They do a 60-day money-back assurance. So do a test install and see what you think of their backend. Make certain to talk w/ support & sales.
If you’re outgrowing your existing host & desire more flexibility/ much better prices than WP Engine, take a look at InMotion Hosting’s VPS alternative. I have actually appreciated their balance of instinctive 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 elements into a fun, Buzzfeed-esque test to streamline things. Web Host Knowledge