WP Engine: My Pros and Cons of WP Engine Hosting Web Host Vs Web Server
WP Engine is a Managed WordPress Hosting service based in Austin, TX. They was among the (if not the) first business to offer handled hosting services particularly for WordPress. Web Host Vs Web Server
While they have plenty of competition in both the basic hosting and handled WordPress hosting verticals, they are still the market leader in many ways -and they have broad name acknowledgment and innovative features.
With the growth of both self-hosted WordPress and website home builders, the hosting industry 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 offer services such as server-side functions and staging for WordPress.
Then there’s a separate level of handled WordPress Hosting where you are not actually purchasing hosting per se, but rather services to keep your WordPress install live. Basically, a Managed WordPress Hosting service uses a menu of services tailored to WordPress at a higher rate point, so that the site owner can focus less on speed + security and more on the site content + performance.
Every competitor in the Managed WordPress Hosting has a various offering. And there is no standardized “menu” of choices, but as an entire, they all take on traditional shared Linux hosting offerings and tailored WordPress hosting alternatives.
In either case, that’s the field where WP Engine plays. It’s confusing, yes, however it is essential to comprehend prior to making apples to oranges contrasts.
There are a lot of WP Engine evaluates online, normally with user-generated evaluations based upon anecdotes and personal 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 Vs Web Server
I’ve utilized WP Engine for different jobs considering that 2012. I don’t use them for my primary websites today (see conclusion), however I do have a current customer on WP Engine who definitely likes them. Here’s my WP Engine review structured as pros and cons.
Disclosure: I get referral fees from any companies mentioned. All data & opinion is based upon my experience as a paying consumer or specialist to a paying client.
Pros of WP Engine
To start, WP Engine does basically measure up to its pitch on its homepage where they promise “spectacular speed, effective 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 Vs Web Server
Speed and Performance
There are a lot of variables that enter into site speed, however the guideline is that the more complicated your website is, the more complicated the solutions to speed become.
Out of the box, WordPress is relatively lean and fast. If you are running a mainly text website with a couple of basic plugins and a few little images, you’ll be fine with an inexpensive shared hosting plan from someone like InMotion, HostGator or Bluehost.
But few site owners keep their WordPress install lean. There’s typically additional plugins, customized theme files, great deals of images, widgets, ads, kinds and more.
All these features combined with decent levels of traffic can begin to decrease your WordPress install.
But a slow website does not suggest that you need a larger, better server. It does imply that you have to get smarter about speed. Often it’s as simple as getting a more effective server, however sometimes it’s more about caching certain resources in a specific order and optimizing your files. Simply puts, it gets complex.
Imagine you are aiming to haul a trailer with a pickup truck. Envision your trailer keeps getting heavier. It’s meaningless to keep grumbling that your truck is not huge enough when you might simply have to get rid of the emergency brake, install a turbocharger, refresh the transmission fluid and consolidate your load.
The point is that WordPress requires help to remain fast as you grow. There are a lot of solutions … however either you or a developer should implement them.
That’s where handled WordPress hosting can be found in. WP Engine looks after (almost) all speed issues. They have actually tailored servers with very aggressive caching and even advanced “stack” than a typical web host. They likewise have actually trained support who will go into your WordPress set up and identify the precise chokepoint to obtain your site moving. Web Host Vs Web Server
They don’t even allow caching plugins on their installs since 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 one of my clients on WP Engine (who has a puffed up style, additional scripts, a lot of 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 filling the page.
It’s good to have that type of speed right out of the box, and have it remain that method no matter how big or intricate the website gets.
*Note that the other point here is that if you are obsessed about speed, you can get even much better numbers with WP Engine than you may get with other services considering that you are totally free to concentrate on speed elements that you can quickly manage like image compression, use of scripts, etc.
. The last observation on speed, WP Engine not only offers an integrated CDN, but they likewise supply global data centers in case your audience is mainly in Asia and/or Europe. Web Host Vs Web Server
If you are trying to get top speeds without messing with layered caching plugins ” the WP Engine does exactly that.
Customer Support Web Host Vs Web Server
Customer support has actually been a core part of WP Engine’s pitch given that they wased established. After all, they are truly selling more of a service (ie, managed hosting) than a product (ie, hosting). It makes sense for them to put a big focus on support.
Here’s a screenshot from among my first contacts with support back in 2012:
Look at the response|reaction|action} time, that wasn’t an autoresponder either.
Now, the business has 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 stated, the difficult thing about client support is that a lot of the judgment is anecdotal. Everybody has a story, but you never ever understand if the story is since they talked to the one rockstar-vs-rookie having an awesome-vs-terrible day. Like I mention in every hosting evaluation, the fundamental part is to see if a business treats support as an investment or a cost.
I want to look for access, systems, and knowledge, all 3 require an investment of money, time and know-how.
Based on my recent interactions and research, they are doing better striking all 3 boxes. They preserve a range of support channels (including phone for non-Basic plans). They have a quickly, trackable ticketing system and are offered all over on the website through chat.
Based upon their tutorial videos and extensive knowledgebase, they tick the understanding box. Every support that I or my client has interacted with actually understood the great operations of WordPress and has actually been able to problem-solve on the fly.
The most outstanding (yes, this is anecdotal, but still) experience was a three-way call between my client, myself and WP Engine during my customer’s transition to HTTPS/ SSL. The associate was not only able to get on (and stay on) the phone, but he had the ability to adeptly help us “flip the switch” rapidly in addition to taking care of a number of issues (ie, submitting a non-HTTP sitemap and fixing insecure image links) within WordPress for us. Web Host Vs Web Server
I make sure that WP Engine still has support concerns,particularly since their custom-made platform puts a great deal of pressure on fast, accessible support (as I’ll show in the disadvantages). But they appear to know that support is core to their value and do make the required financial investment.
WordPress now powers over a quarter of the whole Internet. That indicates that it is a prime target for hackers & malware distributors.
However 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 large neighborhood launching updates & testing vulnerabilities.
If you run your very 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 commercial arm of WordPress.
You’ll see that even though security on WordPress is simple, the responsibility is still on you to keep things secure. Just like having a deadbolt does nothing if you do not lock it, keeping your site safe is still eventually on you.
And like speed & efficiency, WP Engine basically takes all those finest practices and does them for you. They run automated backups to keep whatever off-site & ready to roll back if something occurs. Given that you technically have an “set up” on their server (rather than an account), they deal with a lot of security concerns worldwide on the server level.
WP Engine also works closely with leading security firms on code evaluations in addition to running their own group. They also make the warranty that if you’re hacked, they look after it free of charge.
I personally have never been hacked on my main/ or secondary sites (knock on wood), but have assisted customers who have actually been. It’s frustrating, tedious & a generally costly scenario (even if you are using a service like Sucuri). Having a professional security group look after your WordPress install is a big pro in my book. Web Host Vs Web Server
Pricing on Value
WP Engine is not low-cost. Their Start-up strategy is $35/mo and includes a single install and just up to 25,000 visits each month.
For benchmarking, you can get an effective, reliable VPS (ie, your own not-shared server) for the exact same rate from InMotion. And if you are simply beginning with a single domain, you can get a shared hosting strategy from Bluehost for simply a couple dollars monthly.
Both which allow for more storage & more gos to (ie, generally as numerous as you can handle) than WP Engine. I’ve run sites that have had 60k gos to per month on a shared server. I’ve likewise run lots of little WordPress websites off a low cost shared hosting.
However I’ll cover that prices disadvantage in the cons of WP Engine, but here’s the thing.
For some site owners, if you break out WP Engine by total worth & consider your own (or your designer’s) time, their rates is remarkable.
Just running WordPress updates monthly & QA’ing your setup can take around 30 minutes each month. If your (or your dev’s) services are billed at $50 (or more)/ hour, then that’s WP Engine’s entire monthly cost right there.
If you lose any visits due to downtime from a bad plugin upgrade, then that could be WP Engine’s entire month-to-month fee right there.
If you do a hot-fix (ie, you do not use a staging area) on your PHP code, and knock your website down … then that could be WP Engine’s entire month-to-month charge 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 designer time repairing issues.
Generally, if your time is much better assigned far from technical concerns, 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 an expense.
And that sort of value-based pricing segues into another pro for WP Engine, their focus on their core markets. Web Host Vs Web Server
Like I said at the start, WP Engine isn’t really for everyone. There are 3 kinds of customers that WP Engine seems 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 process, the first consumer type seems to be WordPress developers and designers who want to focus on development & style without dealing with hosting upkeep, and have clients who have some budget. The designer/dev constructs the site directly in WP Engine’s staging environment, releases the website, then hands the website over to their client.
The designer can guarantee their client that WP Engine manages the hosting, security & speed. There’s little need for a continuous standard website upkeep. For this market, WP Engine has intriguing tools including staging, git push, website migration and transferable installs.
The second consumer type is the growing website owner who is irritated at having to handle technical growth headaches. They’ve outgrown their shared hosting and need to transfer to a much better host.
They’re also established enough that they have some budget for handled services. WP Engine has tools like the automatic migration tool & client support to make that procedure happen. The phone support is an essential aspect, particularly being able to “simply call WP Engine an have them repair it.”
The third client type is a startup website owner that has the budget plan and desires a long-lasting platform that they can grow with. They are comfortable learning WP Engine’s distinct backend and plan on launching a near-complete website at one time.
They do not have any previous routines or customizeds 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 supply support to win & keep this kind of client.
With these kinds of consumers, WP Engine knows how & where they are coming from, numerous of the improvements they make are concentrated on these markets (ie, the Git push functionality), instead of mass-market enhancements like knowledge-bases, instinctive backend, and so on.
This benefit is similar to WP Engine’s market focus, however it’s really worth calling out in this review modification. Web Host Vs Web Server
WP Engine stands out not just on existing functions however likewise on producing brand-new, cutting-edge hosting functions. Every version of WordPress 4 has actually presented new designer features that WP Engine has actually been able to integrate.
Even general web development best practices have altered radically because I began observing the industry *. WP Engine has produced tools to match.
* I’m an SEO/ online marketer by trade. I know adequate web advancement to integrate best practices into implementation & projects 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
Just like any service, WP Engine is not the best fit for everyone. There are plenty of WP Engine complaints around the Internet. Some are anecdotal. Some are embellishment (ie, SEOs complaining about dev sites). And numerous stand since they simply aren’t a fit for everyone. For all their awesomeness in some locations, they have some cons which keep them from being an excellent fit for some clients. I do not utilize them for this website because I do not require many of their functions and I’m comfy “putting pieces together” w/ my InMotion VPS setup. Web Host Vs Web Server
All that stated, here are a few of the bigger image drawbacks of using 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 harmful.
Their backend setup has gotten better. It’s cleaner, however it’s still custom. It’s nothing like a conventional cPanel hosting backend. Unlike many hosting business, they also do not supply DNS nameservers.
Even if all the features exist, the unique backend can result in some developers making mistakes ranging from annoying redirect loops to replicate content issues to leaving the dev website open up to the public or simply not enabling the features you’re buying.
If it weren’t for amazing support, I think they ‘d lose more newbie customers than they already do.
Like many customized platforms, it makes sense once you overcome the learning curve. But WP Engine’s onboarding is extremely developer-focused & remains so exception-focused that they never explain best practice for the general user. Web Host Vs Web Server
Here is their video on pressing your site live –
I’ve set up my share of websites from platforms to custom-made hosts to cPanel hosting websites, but I had to see that video multiple times to make sure I was pointing the right A record/ CNAME to the ideal IP address.
Again, if you remain in WP Engine’s core markets, the custom backend isn’t going to be a big deal (as soon as you surpass the learning curve). But for most, you’ll likely get to find out very first hand about WP Engine’s support group.
But here’s the important things.
WP Engine never ever really stops being eccentric and complex. In their knowledgebase, they have a myriad of site checklists to help 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 that they do all this. And most of the times, support will simply look after it all.
However, you still do not get to set & forget your site. Sure, you don’t technically do not have to enter into the weeds of a server panel. In many hosting cases (ie, a managed VPS), you do not have to do it anyway, and when you do, the knobs and buttons recognize. Web Host Vs Web Server
WP Engine’s exclusive setup cuts both ways in regards to decreasing & increasing complexity.
This con is also associated with WP Engine’s distinct setup. In order to run their architecture along with possible, all the installs on their platform have to be somewhat uniform.
They have to have predictable plugins; predictable visitor patterns; predictable use cases. Every hosting business has rules (or extremely real physical limitations), however WP Engine goes a bit further to specify exactly what you can and can’t have on your WordPress install in addition to tiered overage rates to discourage seasonal traffic spikes and regional storage use.
They do prohibit specific plugins & admin habits for excellent reasons, however those bans limit flexibility and experimentation if your site might manage it.
For instance, Yet Another Associated Post Plugin is a common plugin. It’s resource extensive, but on smaller sized sites, it gets the job done well. It’s not enabled on WP Engine. That’s not good or bad always. However it does make WP Engine less flexible and open up to experimentation compared with running a shared or VPS server.
The way their pricing is structured enables less flexibility as well. It’s a favorable that they will handle all the traffic you can send, but it’s likewise expensive to pay based upon a number of gos to.
If you are running a big launch; are a seasonal organisation; or simply wish to drive a surge of traffic to your website, you’ll need to element additional hosting costs into the mix. That puts a cap on how flexible you wish to be with your marketing.
If you are running a lean cached website on a VPS server, you can deal with a lot more traffic than WP Engine would permit on an Individual or Service. And this point goes even more if your site needs many plugins for full functionality.
The same goes for storage. With WP Engine, you are paying for performance, not for storage. So if you are wanting to utilize a server for media storage … that use case is out.
Furthermore, you can’t actually do automated e-mail marketing projects from WP Engine. This was something that my customer got required & wound up having to do an uncomfortable migration to another e-mail service provider mid-campaign.
In any 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 typically paying for performance & not having to believe excessive about upkeep, security & speed. If you take a look at WP Engine’s rates based on the functions you’re getting, you truly don’t get a whole lot.
And if you are the type who will think of your website’s health anyhow (ie, keeping WordPress updated and generally logging in often), you’ll likely be spending for “management” that is unnecessary. Web Host Vs Web Server
Many shared hosting servers can deal with the 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 standard caching) handled more than 15,000 sees in a 24 Hr duration when a post of mine went viral.
And if you are running a reputable VPS, you can definitely manage a lot more for much less.
They are fairly transparent about how they count check outs, however it can still be rather a surprise for “little” site owners how quickly they can enter into the $290 monthly tier.
And as discussed earlier that does not even include much of the functions you do not get with WP Engine’s strategies. You can’t run any e-mail from your servers. You have low limitations on local storage. Anything above the limits requires additional expenses & technical execution of Amazon cloud services.
And most importantly for me, you are restricted on your installs. If you have a few side jobs or low-traffic test websites, you need to factor those into the cost. You cannot utilize them to spread out the cost of your strategy,especially if you are hitting your visitor cap instead of your install cap.
If you are wanting to spend for hosting: ie, a server that will hold & provide your site files, WP Engine is a pricey alternative, particularly compared with other non-managed hosting choices.
Like any service, it’s not about what is finest total, however what is best for you based on your objectives, spending plan, resources & habits.
If you are in what I consider WP Engine’s core markets, they use a great service with a strong item. Their prices is competitive in the Managed WordPress Hosting area, and they use more features than “WordPress hosting” plans from other hosting brand names. Their feature-set is unrivaled for smart DIYers, WordPress site developers and/or high-traffic websites that do not wish to stress over hosting issues.
If managed hosting is a suitable for you, then go have a look at WP Engine’s plans here.
They do a 60-day money-back guarantee. So do a test set up and see exactly what you think about their backend. Make certain to talk w/ support & sales.
If you’re outgrowing your present host & want more freedom/ much better rates than WP Engine, have a look at InMotion Hosting’s VPS alternative. I have actually valued 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 an enjoyable, Buzzfeed-esque quiz to streamline things. Web Host Vs Web Server