WP Engine: My Pros and Cons of WP Engine Hosting Web Host Reviews 2017
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 specifically for WordPress. Web Host Reviews 2017
While they have a lot of competition in both the general hosting and managed WordPress hosting verticals, they are still the marketplace leader in many ways -and they have broad name acknowledgment and innovative features.
With the growth of both self-hosted WordPress and site contractors, the hosting market has ended up being a super-confusing location.
I wrote an entire post about WordPress Hosting vs. Web Hosting. However here’s the short version: They all vary in services supplied. Some simply have WordPress-trained tech support. Some offer services such as server-side functions and staging for WordPress.
Then there’s a separate level of managed WordPress Hosting where you are not really purchasing hosting per se, but rather services to keep your WordPress set up live. Generally, a Managed WordPress Hosting service offers a menu of services tailored to WordPress at a greater rate point, so that the site owner can focus less on speed + security and more on the website content + functionality.
Every rival in the Managed WordPress Hosting has a various offering. And there is no standardized “menu” of options, but 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 complicated, yes, but it is necessary to understand prior to making apples to oranges comparisons.
There are a lot of WP Engine examines online, normally with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a various method. This review will 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 Reviews 2017
I’ve utilized WP Engine for different jobs given that 2012. I don’t use them for my main websites right now (see conclusion), but I do have an existing client on WP Engine who definitely likes them. Here’s my WP Engine evaluation structured as advantages and disadvantages.
Disclosure: I get referral fees from any business discussed. All data & opinion is based on my experience as a paying consumer or consultant to a paying client.
Pros of WP Engine
To begin, WP Engine does basically live up to its pitch on its homepage where they assure “sensational speed, powerful security, and best-in-class client service.” 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 Reviews 2017
Speed and Performance
There are a great deal of variables that enter into site speed, but the rule of thumb is that the more intricate your website is, the more complicated the services to speed become.
From the box, WordPress is relatively lean and quick. If you are running a mostly text website with a few basic plugins and a couple of little images, you’ll be great with an inexpensive shared hosting plan from somebody like InMotion, HostGator or Bluehost.
However few website owners keep their WordPress set up lean. There’s typically extra plugins, custom style files, great deals of images, widgets, ads, forms and more.
All these functions combined with decent levels of traffic can start to decrease your WordPress set up.
However a slow website doesn’t mean that you require a bigger, much better server. It does mean that you have to get smarter about speed. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting a more effective server, however sometimes it’s more about caching specific resources in a particular order and optimizing your files. Simply puts, it gets complex.
Picture you are trying to carry a trailer with a pickup truck. Picture your trailer keeps getting much heavier. It’s meaningless to keep grumbling that your truck is not big enough when you may simply have to eliminate the emergency brake, install a turbocharger, refresh the transmission fluid and combine your load.
The point is that WordPress needs help to remain quickly as you grow. There are a lot of options … but either you or a designer need to execute them.
That’s where managed WordPress hosting can be found in. WP Engine looks after (almost) all speed concerns. They have actually tailored servers with exceptionally aggressive caching and even more advanced “stack” than a normal web host. They likewise have actually trained support who will go into your WordPress set up and determine the specific chokepoint to get your website moving. Web Host Reviews 2017
They do not even allow caching plugins on their installs since they have such a tailored caching setup.
The interesting 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 one of my customers on WP Engine (who has a bloated style, additional scripts, too many uncompressed images, among other things):
Note the Time To First Byte and the Start Render numbers. That determines how quickly the server returned enough data to begin 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 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 may get with other services since you are complimentary to focus on speed factors that you can quickly control like image compression, use of scripts, and so on.
. The last observation on speed, WP Engine not only provides an incorporated CDN, but they likewise supply global data centers in case your audience is mostly in Asia and/or Europe. Web Host Reviews 2017
If you are trying to get top speeds without messing with layered caching plugins ” the WP Engine does exactly that.
Customer Support Web Host Reviews 2017
Consumer support has been a core part of WP Engine’s pitch since they wased established. After all, they are really offering more of a service (ie, managed hosting) than a product (ie, hosting). It makes sense for them to position a huge emphasis on support.
Here’s a screenshot from one of 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 grown & changed a lot since then. They went through a stretch where they were getting a lot of criticism about over-promising on support.
That stated, the tough feature of consumer support is that so much of the judgment is anecdotal. Everyone has a story, but 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 evaluation, the fundamental part is to see if a business deals with support as a financial investment or an expense.
I like to look for gain access to, systems, and understanding, all three need a financial investment of cash, time and competence.
Based upon my current interactions and research, they are doing much better hitting all three boxes. They preserve a variety of support channels (including phone for non-Basic plans). They have a quickly, trackable ticketing system and are readily available everywhere on the website by means of chat.
Based upon their guide videos and substantial knowledgebase, they tick the knowledge box. Every support that I or my client has engaged with really understood the fine functions of WordPress and has been able to problem-solve on the fly.
The most excellent (yes, this is anecdotal, however still) experience was a three-way call between my customer, myself and WP Engine during my client’s transition to HTTPS/ SSL. The representative was not just able to get on (and stay on) the phone, however he had the ability to expertly assist us “flip the switch” quickly in addition to looking after a number of issues (ie, submitting a non-HTTP sitemap and fixing insecure image links) within WordPress for us. Web Host Reviews 2017
I make certain that WP Engine still has support issues,specifically since their customized platform puts a great deal of pressure on fast, available support (as I’ll show in the disadvantages). However they seem to know that support is core to their value and do make the needed financial investment.
WordPress now powers over a quarter of the entire Web. That implies that it is a prime target for hackers & malware suppliers.
However there is nothing naturally insecure about WordPress that is not a concern with all software. WordPress has the benefit of being open-source with a large community releasing updates & screening vulnerabilities.
If you run your own WordPress set up, the security fundamentals are relatively uncomplicated:
- 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 commercial arm of WordPress.
You’ll notice that although security on WordPress is simple, the responsibility is still on you to keep things secure. Similar to having a deadbolt not does anything if you do not lock it, keeping your site secure is still eventually 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 whatever off-site & prepared to roll back if something occurs. Since you technically have an “install” on their server (rather than an account), they deal with a great deal of security problems worldwide on the server level.
WP Engine also works carefully with leading security firms on code reviews in addition to running their own team. They also make the guarantee that if you’re hacked, they look after it for free.
I personally have never been hacked on my main/ or secondary sites (knock on wood), but have actually assisted clients who have been. It’s frustrating, tedious & a normally costly circumstance (even if you are using a service like Sucuri). Having a professional security team take care of your WordPress set up is a big pro in my book. Web Host Reviews 2017
Pricing on Value
WP Engine is not low-cost. Their Startup strategy is $35/mo and includes a single set up and only up to 25,000 visits per month.
For benchmarking, you can get a powerful, trustworthy VPS (ie, your own not-shared server) for the same rate from InMotion. And if you are just starting 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 visits (ie, basically as many as you can deal with) than WP Engine. I’ve run websites that have had 60k visits each month on a shared server. I’ve also run lots of little WordPress sites off a low cost shared hosting.
However I’ll cover that rates downside in the cons of WP Engine, however here’s the thing.
For some site owners, if you break out WP Engine by overall value & factor in your own (or your designer’s) time, their prices is fantastic.
Simply running WordPress updates on a monthly basis & 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 whole monthly cost right there.
If you lose any sees due to downtime from a bad plugin upgrade, then that could be WP Engine’s entire regular monthly cost right there.
If you do a hot-fix (ie, you do not utilize a staging location) on your PHP code, and knock your website down … then that could be WP Engine’s whole monthly cost right there.
Losing visitors due to speed concerns or downtime costs lost income.
In addition, premium security can cost about $16/month minimum. Not to mention any individual or designer time repairing issues.
Generally, if your time is much better allocated away from technical issues, then WP Engine makes a lot of sense on value. As a handled WordPress hosting service, that’s actually their thing. Hosting services are an investment rather than an expense.
And that sort of value-based pricing segues into another pro for WP Engine, their focus on their core markets. Web Host Reviews 2017
Like I said at the beginning, WP Engine isn’t for everybody. There are 3 types of consumers that WP Engine appears to be a suitable for. For those 3 types of consumers, 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 developers and designers who want to focus on development & design without dealing with hosting maintenance, and have customers who have some budget. The designer/dev builds the website directly in WP Engine’s staging environment, launches the site, then hands the site over to their client.
The designer can ensure their client that WP Engine manages the hosting, security & speed. There’s little requirement for a continuous standard website upkeep. For this market, WP Engine has fascinating tools including staging, git push, site migration and transferable installs.
The second consumer type is the growing site owner who is frustrated at having to handle technical growth headaches. They’ve outgrown their shared hosting and need to move to a much better host.
They’re likewise established enough that they have some spending plan for handled services. WP Engine has tools like the automated migration tool & client support to make that procedure take place. The phone support is a key aspect, especially being able to “just call WP Engine an have them repair it.”
The 3rd consumer type is a startup site owner that has the budget plan and desires a long-term platform that they can grow with. They are comfy learning WP Engine’s unique backend and plan on releasing a near-complete site simultaneously.
They do not have any previous practices or customizeds brought over from previous hosts or websites. 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 customer.
With these kinds of consumers, WP Engine understands how & where they are originating from, numerous of the improvements they make are focused on these markets (ie, the Git push performance), instead of mass-market enhancements like knowledge-bases, user-friendly backend, etc.
This benefit resembles WP Engine’s market focus, but it’s actually worth calling out in this evaluation revision. Web Host Reviews 2017
WP Engine excels not only on existing functions but also on producing brand-new, innovative hosting functions. Every version of WordPress 4 has actually presented new designer functions that WP Engine has actually had the ability to incorporate.
Even general web development finest practices have changed radically considering that I started observing the industry *. WP Engine has actually developed tools to match.
* I’m an SEO/ marketer by trade. I know enough web advancement to integrate finest practices into implementation & tasks with designers.
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
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 hyperbole (ie, SEOs grumbling about dev websites). And lots of stand due to the fact that they just aren’t a fit for everyone. For all their awesomeness in some areas, they have some cons which keep them from being a good suitable for some customers. I do not utilize them for this site because I do not require many of their features and I’m comfy “putting pieces together” w/ my InMotion VPS setup. Web Host Reviews 2017
All that stated, here are some of the larger picture disadvantages of utilizing WP Engine.
Initial and Ongoing Complexity
To attain the speed, security, and scale they assure, WP Engine does things differently. Which distinction can be rather complicated– specifically if you have just sufficient experience with hosting environments to be dangerous.
Their backend setup has improved. It’s cleaner, however it’s still custom-made. It’s nothing like a traditional cPanel hosting backend. Unlike lots of hosting companies, they likewise do not supply DNS nameservers.
Even if all the features exist, the unique backend can lead to some developers making errors varying from irritating redirect loops to duplicate content issues to leaving the dev website open to the general public or merely not enabling the features you’re buying.
If it weren’t for amazing support, I believe they ‘d lose more newbie customers than they already do.
Like numerous customized platforms, it makes sense once you overcome the knowing curve. However WP Engine’s onboarding is really developer-focused & stays so exception-focused that they never ever discuss finest practice for the basic user. Web Host Reviews 2017
Here is their video on pushing your website live –
I have actually set up my share of websites from platforms to custom-made hosts to cPanel hosting sites, however I had to see that video numerous times to make sure I was pointing the right A record/ CNAME to the ideal IP address.
Once again, if you remain in WP Engine’s core markets, the customized backend isn’t going to be a big offer (once you get past the knowing curve). But for the majority of, you’ll likely get to learn very first hand about WP Engine’s support team.
However here’s the important things.
WP Engine never ever really stops being eccentric and complex. In their knowledgebase, they have a wide variety of site checklists to assist repair 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 they do all this. And for the most parts, support will just look after everything.
But, you still don’t get to set & forget your site. Sure, you don’t technically don’t have to get into the weeds of a server panel. In lots of hosting cases (ie, a handled VPS), you don’t have to do it anyway, when you do, the knobs and buttons are familiar. Web Host Reviews 2017
WP Engine’s proprietary setup cuts both ways in regards to decreasing & increasing intricacy.
This con is also connected to WP Engine’s distinct setup. In order to run their architecture as well as possible, all the installs on their platform have to be rather consistent.
They have to have foreseeable plugins; foreseeable visitor patterns; predictable usage cases. Every hosting business has guidelines (or really genuine physical limits), however WP Engine goes a bit further to specify what you can and can’t have on your WordPress install in addition to tiered overage rates to dissuade seasonal traffic spikes and regional storage use.
They do ban certain plugins & admin habits for excellent reasons, but those restrictions limit versatility and experimentation if your site might handle it.
For example, Yet Another Associated Post Plugin is a typical plugin. It’s resource extensive, however on smaller sized sites, it does the job well. It’s not enabled on WP Engine. That’s not good or bad always. But it does make WP Engine less flexible and open to experimentation compared to running a shared or VPS server.
The method their pricing is structured enables less versatility as well. It’s a favorable that they will handle all the traffic you can send, but it’s also expensive to pay based upon a number of sees.
If you are running a huge launch; are a seasonal company; or just wish to drive a surge of traffic to your website, you’ll need to element extra 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 manage a lot more traffic than WP Engine would allow on an Individual or Company. And this point goes even more if your website requires numerous plugins for full functionality.
The exact same opts for storage. With WP Engine, you are paying for efficiency, not for storage. So if you are planning to use a server for media storage … that use case is out.
In addition, you cannot really do automated 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 any case, that point segues into the last con I discovered with WP Engine, their prices based upon functions.
Pricing on Features and Usage
With WP Engine, you are typically paying for efficiency & not needing to believe too much about upkeep, security & speed. If you look at WP Engine’s pricing based upon the features you’re getting, you actually don’t get a great deal.
And if you are the type who will consider your website’s health anyhow (ie, keeping WordPress upgraded and usually logging in regularly), you’ll likely be spending for “management” that is unneeded. Web Host Reviews 2017
Numerous shared hosting servers can deal with the exact same traffic numbers as WP Engine and cost a portion of the cost. My individual site (working on a shared hosting plan from HostGator with standard caching) dealt with more than 15,000 gos to in a 24 Hr duration when a post of mine went viral.
And if you are running a trusted VPS, you can certainly manage a lot more for much less.
They are fairly transparent about how they count visits, however it can still be rather a surprise for “small” site owners how rapidly they can get into the $290 each month tier.
And as mentioned earlier that does not even include a number of the functions you do not get with WP Engine’s plans. You can’t run any e-mail from your servers. You have low limits on regional storage. Anything above the limits needs extra expenses & technical execution of Amazon cloud services.
And most importantly for me, you are restricted on your installs. If you have a few side tasks or low-traffic test sites, you have to factor those into the rate. You cannot utilize them to expand the cost of your strategy,particularly if you are striking your visitor cap instead of your set up cap.
If you are wanting to spend for hosting: ie, a server that will hold & provide your website files, WP Engine is a costly choice, particularly compared to other non-managed hosting options.
Like any service, it’s not about what is best total, however exactly what is finest for you based on your objectives, spending plan, resources & routines.
If you remain in what I think of as WP Engine’s core markets, they use a great service with a strong product. Their pricing is competitive in the Managed WordPress Hosting space, and they offer more functions than “WordPress hosting” plans from other hosting brand names. Their feature-set is unequaled for savvy DIYers, WordPress website designers and/or high-traffic sites that don’t want to fret about hosting problems.
If managed hosting is a fit for you, then go have a look at WP Engine’s strategies here.
They do a 60-day money-back assurance. So do a test set up and see what you think of their backend. Be sure to chat w/ support & sales.
If you’re outgrowing your current host & want more freedom/ much better costs than WP Engine, have 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 confused than ever, go take my WordPress hosting quiz. I put all these elements into an enjoyable, Buzzfeed-esque quiz to simplify things. Web Host Reviews 2017