WP Engine: My Pros and Cons of WP Engine Hosting Web Host Magazine
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 particularly for WordPress. Web Host Magazine
While they have lots of competition in both the general hosting and managed WordPress hosting verticals, they are still the market leader in numerous methods -and they have broad name recognition and cutting-edge functions.
With the growth of both self-hosted WordPress and website home builders, the hosting market has ended up being a super-confusing place.
I wrote an entire 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 features and staging for WordPress.
And after that there’s a different level of handled WordPress Hosting where you are not actually purchasing hosting per se, however rather services to keep your WordPress install live. Essentially, a Managed WordPress Hosting service provides a menu of services tailored to WordPress at a higher rate point, so that the website owner can focus less on speed + security and more on the site material + functionality.
Every competitor in the Managed WordPress Hosting has a different offering. And there is no standardized “menu” of alternatives, but as a whole, they all take on traditional shared Linux hosting offerings and tailored WordPress hosting options.
In either case, that’s the field where WP Engine plays. It’s complicated, yes, but it’s important to comprehend prior to making apples to oranges comparisons.
There are a great deal of WP Engine examines online, typically with user-generated evaluations based upon anecdotes and individual experience. That’s fine however I take a various approach. 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 “finest fit” for. Web Host Magazine
I have actually used WP Engine for different tasks since 2012. I do not utilize them for my main sites today (see conclusion), but I do have an existing customer on WP Engine who definitely enjoys them. Here’s my WP Engine evaluation structured as pros and cons.
Disclosure: I receive referral fees from any companies discussed. All data & opinion is based upon my experience as a paying client or specialist to a paying customer.
Pros of WP Engine
To begin, WP Engine does practically measure up to its pitch on its homepage where they promise “spectacular speed, powerful security, and best-in-class customer support.” Here is their promo 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 Magazine
Speed and Performance
There are a lot of variables that go into website speed, however the guideline is that the more intricate your website is, the more intricate the options to speed become.
Out of the box, WordPress is relatively lean and quick. If you are running a primarily text site with a couple of basic plugins and a few little images, you’ll be fine with a budget-friendly shared hosting strategy from someone like InMotion, HostGator or Bluehost.
But few website owners keep their WordPress set up lean. There’s normally additional plugins, custom-made style files, great deals of images, widgets, advertisements, kinds and more.
All these features combined with decent levels of traffic can start to slow down your WordPress set up.
But a slow website does not suggest that you need a bigger, better server. It does mean that you need to get smarter about speed. Often it’s as easy as getting a more powerful server, but sometimes it’s more about caching specific resources in a certain order and enhancing your files. To puts it simply, it gets complex.
Picture you are aiming to carry a trailer with a pickup. Envision your trailer keeps getting heavier. It’s pointless to keep grumbling that your truck is not huge enough when you might simply need to eliminate the emergency brake, install a turbocharger, revitalize the transmission fluid and consolidate your load.
The point is that WordPress requires help to stay quick as you grow. There are plenty of solutions … but either you or a designer must execute them.
That’s where managed WordPress hosting comes in. WP Engine takes care of (almost) all speed issues. They have tailored servers with incredibly aggressive caching as well as advanced “stack” than a normal web host. They also have trained support who will go into your WordPress install and determine the exact chokepoint to obtain your website moving. Web Host Magazine
They don’t even permit caching plugins on their installs since they have actually such a customized caching setup.
The interesting thing is that even unoptimized WordPress installs still do well on their platform since their platform does the extra work.
Here’s the speed test for among my customers on WP Engine (who has a bloated style, extra scripts, too many uncompressed images, among other things):
Keep in mind the Time To First Byte and the Start Render numbers. That determines how rapidly the server returned enough information to start loading the page.
It’s good to have that type of speed right out of package, and have it stay 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 even much better numbers with WP Engine than you may get with other services since you are complimentary to focus on speed elements that you can easily manage like image compression, use of scripts, etc.
. The last observation on speed, WP Engine not just offers an integrated CDN, however they likewise provide international data centers in case your audience is mainly in Asia and/or Europe. Web Host Magazine
If you are trying to get top speeds without messing with layered caching plugins ” the WP Engine does exactly that.
Customer Support Web Host Magazine
Customer support has been a core part of WP Engine’s pitch considering that they were founded. After all, they are really offering more of a service (ie, managed hosting) than a product (ie, hosting). It makes good sense for them to position a big focus on support.
Here’s a screenshot from among my very 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 lot of criticism about over-promising on support.
That said, the difficult thing about consumer support is that so much of the judgment is anecdotal. Everyone has a story, but you never ever understand if the story is because they spoke to the one rockstar-vs-rookie having an awesome-vs-terrible day. Like I mention in every hosting review, the vital part is to see if a company deals with support as a financial investment or a cost.
I prefer to look for gain access to, systems, and understanding, all 3 need a financial investment of loan, time and expertise.
Based upon my current interactions and research, they are doing much better striking all three boxes. They keep a variety of support channels (consisting of phone for non-Basic plans). They have a quickly, trackable ticketing system and are offered everywhere on the site through chat.
Based upon their tutorial videos and comprehensive knowledgebase, they tick the knowledge box. Every support that I or my customer has communicated with really understood the great functions of WordPress and has actually been able to problem-solve on the fly.
The most outstanding (yes, this is anecdotal, however still) experience was a three-way call between my customer, myself and WP Engine during my client’s shift to HTTPS/ SSL. The associate was not only able to obtain on (and remain on) the phone, but he was able to expertly assist us “flip the switch” quickly in addition to looking after a number of concerns (ie, publishing a non-HTTP sitemap and fixing insecure image links) within WordPress for us. Web Host Magazine
I make sure that WP Engine still has support concerns,especially because 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 entire Internet. That suggests that it is a prime target for hackers & malware distributors.
But there is nothing naturally insecure about WordPress that is not an issue with all software. WordPress has the upside of being open-source with a huge community launching updates & testing vulnerabilities.
If you run your own WordPress install, the security basics are relatively 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 two. It’s made by & powered by Automattic, the industrial arm of WordPress.
You’ll notice that despite the fact that security on WordPress is simple, the duty is still on you to keep things secure. Much like having a deadbolt does nothing if you do not lock it, keeping your site safe is still eventually on you.
And like speed & performance, WP Engine basically 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 happens. Given that you technically have an “set up” on their server (rather than an account), they take on a great deal of security concerns globally on the server level.
WP Engine likewise works carefully with leading security firms on code reviews in addition to running their own group. They also make the assurance that if you’re hacked, they look after it free of charge.
I personally have never been hacked on my primary/ or secondary sites (knock on wood), however have actually helped clients who have been. It’s discouraging, tedious & a normally expensive situation (even if you are using a service like Sucuri). Having a professional security team look after your WordPress set up is a big pro in my book. Web Host Magazine
Pricing on Value
WP Engine is not low-cost. Their Startup strategy is $35/mo and includes a single install and just up to 25,000 visits per month.
For benchmarking, you can get an effective, dependable VPS (ie, your very own not-shared server) for the very 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 per month.
Both which allow for more storage & more visits (ie, generally as lots of as you can deal with) than WP Engine. I have actually run websites that have actually had 60k check outs each month on a shared server. I’ve also run lots of small WordPress sites off a low expense shared hosting.
But I’ll cover that rates downside in the cons of WP Engine, but here’s the thing.
For some website owners, if you break out WP Engine by total worth & consider your own (or your developer’s) time, their rates is amazing.
Simply running WordPress updates monthly & QA’ing your setup can take around Thirty Minutes monthly. 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 might be WP Engine’s whole month-to-month fee right there.
If you do a hot-fix (ie, you don’t utilize a staging area) on your PHP code, and knock your website down … then that might be WP Engine’s whole regular monthly cost right there.
Losing visitors due to speed problems or downtime costs lost income.
Furthermore, premium security can cost about $16/month minimum. Not to mention any personal or designer time fixing concerns.
Generally, if your time is better designated far from technical issues, then WP Engine makes a lot of sense on value. As a managed WordPress hosting service, that’s actually their thing. Hosting services are a financial investment rather than an expense.
Which sort of value-based prices segues into another pro for WP Engine, their focus on their core markets. Web Host Magazine
Like I said at the beginning, WP Engine isn’t really for everyone. There are 3 types of clients that WP Engine appears to be a fit for. For those 3 types of consumers, WP Engine has a strong focus with lots of tools & focus for each.
From their backend procedure, the first consumer type seems to be WordPress developers and designers who want to focus on advancement & design without dealing with hosting upkeep, and have clients who have some spending plan. The designer/dev develops the site directly in WP Engine’s staging environment, launches the website, then hands the website over to their client.
The designer can assure their client that WP Engine deals with the hosting, security & speed. There’s little need for a continuous fundamental site maintenance. For this market, WP Engine has intriguing tools including staging, git push, website migration and transferable installs.
The second customer type is the growing site owner who is irritated at having to deal with technical development headaches. They’ve outgrown their shared hosting and need to relocate to a better host.
They’re also developed enough that they have some budget for managed services. WP Engine has tools like the automatic migration tool & consumer support to make that process take place. The phone support is a crucial aspect, particularly being able to “just call WP Engine an have them repair it.”
The 3rd customer type is a start-up website owner that has the spending plan and desires a long-lasting platform that they can grow with. They are comfortable learning WP Engine’s unique backend and plan on introducing a near-complete site at one time.
They do not have any previous practices or custom-mades brought over from previous hosts or websites. Again, for this market, WP Engine has the scalable functions, consumers, and support that they can make promises and offer support to win & keep this type of consumer.
With these kinds of consumers, WP Engine knows how & where they are coming from, numerous of the enhancements they make are concentrated on these markets (ie, the Git push functionality), instead of mass-market improvements like knowledge-bases, instinctive backend, etc.
This advantage resembles WP Engine’s market focus, however it’s really worth calling out in this review modification. Web Host Magazine
WP Engine stands out not just on current functions however likewise on developing brand-new, cutting-edge hosting features. Every variation of WordPress 4 has rolled out brand-new developer features that WP Engine has actually had the ability to integrate.
Even basic web advancement finest practices have altered drastically considering that I started observing the market *. WP Engine has produced tools to match.
* I’m an SEO/ online marketer by trade. I know adequate web development to integrate finest practices into implementation & tasks 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
Similar to any service, WP Engine is not the very best suitable for everyone. There are a lot of WP Engine complaints around the Web. Some are anecdotal. Some are embellishment (ie, SEOs grumbling about dev websites). And numerous stand because they simply aren’t a suitable for everyone. For all their awesomeness in some locations, they have some cons which keep them from being a good fit for some consumers. I don’t utilize them for this site since I do not need a number of their functions and I’m comfy “putting pieces together” w/ my InMotion VPS setup. Web Host Magazine
All that stated, here are some of the bigger picture drawbacks of using WP Engine.
Initial and Ongoing Complexity
To attain the speed, security, and scale they guarantee, WP Engine does things differently. Which difference can be rather complicated– especially if you have just enough experience with hosting environments to be unsafe.
Their backend setup has actually gotten better. It’s cleaner, however it’s still custom. It’s absolutely nothing like a traditional cPanel hosting backend. Unlike many hosting business, they also don’t provide DNS nameservers.
Even if all the functions are there, the special backend can lead to some developers making errors varying from irritating redirect loops to duplicate content concerns to leaving the dev website open up to the public or simply not making it possible for the features you’re buying.
If it weren’t for incredible support, I believe they ‘d lose more novice clients than they currently do.
Like numerous custom platforms, it makes good sense once you overcome the learning curve. But WP Engine’s onboarding is extremely developer-focused & remains so exception-focused that they never discuss best practice for the basic user. Web Host Magazine
Here is their video on pushing your website live –
I’ve set up my share of sites from platforms to customized hosts to cPanel hosting sites, however I had to view that video numerous times to make sure I was pointing the right A record/ CNAME to the right IP address.
Once again, if you remain in WP Engine’s core markets, the custom-made backend isn’t really going to be a huge deal (when you get past the knowing curve). But for a lot of, you’ll likely get to find out very first hand about WP Engine’s support team.
But here’s the thing.
WP Engine never truly stops being quirky and complex. In their knowledgebase, they have a wide variety of site checklists to assist troubleshoot 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 they do all this. And in many cases, support will just take care of everything.
However, you still don’t get to set & forget your site. Sure, you do not technically don’t have to enter into the weeds of a server panel. In many hosting cases (ie, a managed VPS), you don’t have to do it anyhow, when you do, the knobs and buttons recognize. Web Host Magazine
WP Engine’s exclusive setup cuts both methods terms of decreasing & increasing complexity.
This con is also related to WP Engine’s unique setup. In order to run their architecture along with possible, all the installs on their platform have to be rather uniform.
They need to have predictable plugins; predictable visitor patterns; predictable use cases. Every hosting company has guidelines (or very real physical limits), but WP Engine goes a bit further to define what you can and can’t have on your WordPress install in addition to tiered overage prices to dissuade seasonal traffic spikes and local storage use.
They do prohibit certain plugins & admin behavior for excellent factors, however those restrictions restrict flexibility and experimentation if your website could handle it.
For example, Yet Another Associated Post Plugin is a typical plugin. It’s resource intensive, but on smaller websites, it does the job well. It’s not enabled on WP Engine. That’s not good or bad always. However it does make WP Engine less flexible and available to experimentation compared to running a shared or VPS server.
The way their rates is structured enables less adaptability also. It’s a favorable that they will manage all the traffic you can send, but it’s likewise costly to pay based on a number of sees.
If you are running a huge launch; are a seasonal organisation; or just wish to drive a surge of traffic to your website, you’ll need 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 website on a VPS server, you can handle a lot more traffic than WP Engine would allow on a Personal or Company. And this point goes further if your site needs lots of plugins for full performance.
The same chooses storage. With WP Engine, you are paying for performance, not for storage. So if you are planning to utilize a server for media storage … that use case is out.
Furthermore, you can’t actually do automatic email marketing campaigns from WP Engine. This was something that my customer got called for & ended up having to do an unpleasant migration to another e-mail supplier mid-campaign.
Either way, that point segues into the last con I discovered with WP Engine, their rates based upon functions.
Pricing on Features and Usage
With WP Engine, you are generally spending for efficiency & not needing to believe too much about maintenance, security & speed. If you look at WP Engine’s pricing based upon the features you’re getting, you really don’t get a great deal.
And if you are the type who will think of your website’s health anyway (ie, keeping WordPress updated and typically logging in often), you’ll likely be paying for “management” that is unneeded. Web Host Magazine
Many shared hosting servers can deal with the exact same traffic numbers as WP Engine and cost a fraction of the cost. My individual website (working on a shared hosting plan from HostGator with standard caching) dealt with more than 15,000 gos to in a 24 hour period when a post of mine went viral.
And if you are running a dependable VPS, you can definitely handle a lot more for much less.
They are fairly transparent about how they count visits, however it can still be quite a surprise for “little” website owners how quickly they can enter into the $290 monthly tier.
And as mentioned previously that doesn’t even consist of much of the functions you do not get with WP Engine’s plans. You can’t run any email from your servers. You have low limits on local storage. Anything above the limitations needs extra expenses & technical application of Amazon cloud services.
And most notably for me, you are restricted on your installs. If you have a couple of side jobs or low-traffic test sites, you have to factor those into the cost. You can’t use them to expand the expense of your plan,particularly if you are striking your visitor cap instead of your set up cap.
If you are planning to pay for hosting: ie, a server that will hold & provide your website files, WP Engine is a costly alternative, especially compared with other non-managed hosting choices.
Like any service, it’s not about exactly what is best total, but exactly what is best for you based on your objectives, spending plan, resources & routines.
If you are in what I consider WP Engine’s core markets, they provide a great service with a solid item. Their pricing is competitive in the Managed WordPress Hosting space, and they offer more functions than “WordPress hosting” strategies from other hosting brands. Their feature-set is unmatched for smart DIYers, WordPress website designers and/or high-traffic sites that do not wish to worry about hosting concerns.
If managed hosting is a fit for you, then go check out WP Engine’s strategies here.
They do a 60-day money-back assurance. So do a test install and see exactly what you think of their backend. Make sure to chat w/ support & sales.
If you’re outgrowing your existing host & desire more liberty/ better costs than WP Engine, take a look at InMotion Hosting’s VPS option. I’ve appreciated their balance of instinctive backend & responsive customer service.
And last but not least, if you are more baffled than ever, go take my WordPress hosting quiz. I put all these aspects into a fun, Buzzfeed-esque quiz to streamline things. Web Host Magazine