WP Engine: My Pros and Cons of WP Engine Hosting How To Speed Up Website Performance
WP Engine is a Managed WordPress Hosting service based in Austin, TX. They were one of the (if not the) first business to provide handled hosting services specifically for WordPress. How To Speed Up Website Performance
While they have a lot of competitors in both the basic hosting and managed WordPress hosting verticals, they are still the marketplace leader in lots of ways -and they have broad name acknowledgment and innovative functions.
With the growth of both self-hosted WordPress and website home builders, the hosting industry has actually ended up being a super-confusing location.
I composed a whole post about WordPress Hosting vs. Web Hosting. However here’s the short variation: They all vary in services supplied. Some merely have WordPress-trained tech support. Some deal services such as server-side functions and staging for WordPress.
And 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 install live. Essentially, a Managed WordPress Hosting service offers a menu of services tailored to WordPress at a greater cost point, so that the website 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 choices, but as an entire, they all compete with conventional 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 is very important to comprehend before making apples to oranges comparisons.
There are a great deal of WP Engine evaluates online, generally with user-generated evaluations based on anecdotes and individual experience. That’s fine but I take a various method. This evaluation will 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. How To Speed Up Website Performance
I’ve used WP Engine for numerous jobs because 2012. I don’t utilize them for my primary websites right now (see conclusion), but I do have an existing customer on WP Engine who absolutely enjoys them. Here’s my WP Engine review structured as pros and cons.
Disclosure: I get referral fees from any business pointed out. All data & opinion is based on my experience as a paying consumer or expert to a paying customer.
Pros of WP Engine
To start, WP Engine does practically measure up to its pitch on its homepage where they guarantee “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. How To Speed Up Website Performance
Speed and Performance
There are a great deal of variables that enter into site speed, however the rule of thumb is that the more complex your site is, the more intricate the options to speed become.
From the box, WordPress is fairly lean and fast. If you are running a mainly text website with a couple of fundamental plugins and a few little images, you’ll be fine with an economical shared hosting plan from somebody like InMotion, HostGator or Bluehost.
But few website owners keep their WordPress install lean. There’s normally additional plugins, custom theme files, lots of images, widgets, ads, kinds and more.
All these features integrated with decent levels of traffic can begin to slow down your WordPress set up.
But a slow website does not mean that you need a bigger, much better server. It does suggest that you have to get smarter about speed. In some cases it’s as simple as getting a more powerful server, however in some cases it’s more about caching specific resources in a certain order and enhancing your files. Simply puts, it gets complex.
Picture you are attempting to transport a trailer with a pickup truck. Imagine your trailer keeps getting heavier. It’s meaningless to keep complaining that your truck is not huge enough when you may simply need to remove the emergency brake, set up a turbocharger, revitalize the transmission fluid and consolidate your load.
The point is that WordPress requires aid to remain fast as you grow. There are lots of solutions … however either you or a developer need to execute them.
That’s where managed WordPress hosting is available in. WP Engine takes care of (almost) all speed issues. They have tailored servers with very aggressive caching and even more advanced “stack” than a common web host. They likewise have actually trained support who will go into your WordPress install and identify the exact chokepoint to obtain your site moving. How To Speed Up Website Performance
They don’t even allow caching plugins on their installs due to the fact that they have such a tailored caching setup.
The interesting thing is that even unoptimized WordPress sets up still succeed on their platform because their platform does the additional work.
Here’s the speed test for among my clients 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 measures how quickly the server returned enough data to begin filling the page.
It’s good to have that type of speed right from package, and have it remain that method no matter how huge or complex the site gets.
*Note that the other point here is that if you are consumed about speed, you can get back at much better numbers with WP Engine than you may get with other services because you are complimentary to focus on speed elements that you can quickly control like image compression, usage of scripts, etc.
. The last observation on speed, WP Engine not just provides an integrated CDN, however they also provide global data centers in case your audience is primarily in Asia and/or Europe. How To Speed Up Website Performance
If you are trying to get top speeds without messing with layered caching plugins ” the WP Engine does exactly that.
Customer Support How To Speed Up Website Performance
Client support has actually been a core part of WP Engine’s pitch since they wased established. After all, they are really selling more of a service (ie, handled hosting) than a product (ie, hosting). It makes sense for them to put a big emphasis on support.
Here’s a screenshot from among 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 & changed a lot since then. They went through a stretch where they were getting a great deal of criticism about over-promising on support.
That stated, the difficult aspect of consumer support is that a lot of the judgment is anecdotal. Everybody has a story, however you never understand if the story is because they talked 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 an investment or a cost.
I want to search for gain access to, systems, and knowledge, all 3 need an investment of money, time and expertise.
Based on my recent interactions and research study, they are doing much better hitting all 3 boxes. They maintain a range of support channels (consisting of phone for non-Basic strategies). They have a fast, trackable ticketing system and are available all over on the website through chat.
Based upon their guide videos and substantial knowledgebase, they tick the understanding box. Every support that I or my client has connected with in fact understood the great workings of WordPress and has actually had the ability to problem-solve on the fly.
The most impressive (yes, this is anecdotal, but still) experience was a three-way call in between my customer, myself and WP Engine during my customer’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” rapidly in addition to taking care of several concerns (ie, publishing a non-HTTP sitemap and fixing insecure image links) within WordPress for us. How To Speed Up Website Performance
I make certain that WP Engine still has support issues,specifically because their custom platform puts a great deal of pressure on fast, accessible support (as I’ll show in the drawbacks). But they seem to understand that support is core to their value and do make the required financial investment.
WordPress now powers over a quarter of the entire Internet. That implies that it is a prime target for hackers & malware distributors.
But there is absolutely nothing inherently insecure about WordPress that is not a problem with all software application. WordPress has the benefit of being open-source with a very large neighborhood releasing updates & screening vulnerabilities.
If you run your own WordPress install, the security essentials 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 2. It’s made by & powered by Automattic, the commercial arm of WordPress.
You’ll see that even though security on WordPress is uncomplicated, the responsibility is still on you to keep things secure. Similar to having a deadbolt does nothing if you don’t lock it, keeping your website safe is still eventually on you.
And like speed & efficiency, WP Engine generally takes all those best practices and does them for you. They run automated backups to keep whatever off-site & ready to roll back if something takes place. Considering that you technically have an “install” on their server (rather than an account), they deal with a great deal of security problems globally on the server level.
WP Engine likewise works carefully with top security firms on code evaluations in addition to running their own group. They also make the assurance that if you’re hacked, they take care of it free of charge.
I personally have actually never been hacked on my primary/ or secondary sites (knock on wood), however have assisted customers who have been. It’s discouraging, laborious & a normally expensive situation (even if you are using a service like Sucuri). Having a professional security group take care of your WordPress install is a huge pro in my book. How To Speed Up Website Performance
Pricing on Value
WP Engine is not cheap. Their Start-up strategy is $35/mo and includes a single install and just as much as 25,000 visits per month.
For benchmarking, you can get an effective, reliable VPS (ie, your very own not-shared server) for the very same cost from InMotion. And if you are simply beginning with a single domain, you can get a shared hosting plan from Bluehost for just a couple dollars per month.
Both which allow for more storage & more check outs (ie, generally as numerous as you can handle) than WP Engine. I have actually run sites that have had 60k check outs each month on a shared server. I have actually likewise run dozens of little WordPress websites off a low cost shared hosting.
But I’ll cover that prices drawback in the cons of WP Engine, however here’s the important things.
For some website owners, if you break out WP Engine by overall worth & factor in your own (or your designer’s) time, their prices is fantastic.
Simply running WordPress updates monthly & QA’ing your installation 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 whole month-to-month cost right there.
If you lose any visits due to downtime from a bad plugin update, then that could be WP Engine’s entire monthly cost right there.
If you do a hot-fix (ie, you do not utilize a staging area) on your PHP code, and knock your website down … then that might be WP Engine’s whole month-to-month fee right there.
Losing visitors due to speed problems or downtime costs lost earnings.
Additionally, premium security can cost about $16/month minimum. Not to point out any personal or designer time fixing issues.
Generally, if your time is better designated away from technical problems, 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 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. How To Speed Up Website Performance
Like I stated at the beginning, WP Engine isn’t for everybody. There are 3 kinds of consumers that WP Engine appears to be a suitable for. For those 3 types of customers, WP Engine has a strong focus with plenty of tools & focus for each.
From their backend procedure, the very first client type seems to be WordPress designers and designers who want to concentrate on advancement & style without dealing with hosting upkeep, and have clients who have some spending plan. The designer/dev constructs the website directly in WP Engine’s staging environment, launches the site, then hands the website over to their customer.
The designer can guarantee their customer that WP Engine manages the hosting, security & speed. There’s little need for an ongoing fundamental website upkeep. For this market, WP Engine has fascinating tools consisting of staging, git push, website migration and transferable installs.
The 2nd consumer type is the growing site owner who is annoyed at needing to handle technical growth headaches. They have actually outgrown their shared hosting and need to move to a better host.
They’re likewise 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 take place. The phone support is a crucial element, especially being able to “simply call WP Engine an have them repair it.”
The third client type is a startup site owner that has the budget plan and wants a long-term platform that they can grow with. They are comfy discovering WP Engine’s special backend and intend on launching a near-complete website at one time.
They don’t have any prior practices or custom-mades brought over from previous hosts or websites. Once again, for this market, WP Engine has the scalable features, 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 understands how & where they are originating from, many of the improvements they make are concentrated on these markets (ie, the Git push functionality), rather than mass-market improvements like knowledge-bases, intuitive backend, and so on.
This advantage is similar to WP Engine’s market focus, however it’s really worth calling out in this evaluation revision. How To Speed Up Website Performance
WP Engine stands out not just on present features but also on producing brand-new, innovative hosting features. Every version of WordPress 4 has presented new designer features that WP Engine has actually been able to integrate.
Even general web advancement best practices have actually changed significantly given that I started observing the industry *. WP Engine has actually developed tools to match.
* I’m an SEO/ online marketer by trade. I know sufficient web advancement to integrate finest practices into application & tasks with developers.
Here’s a screenshot of WP Engine’s Git Push setup that has been around for more than 2 years.
Even for non-developers like me, WP Engine has one-click staging areas to allow even DIY siteowners to get away from “cowboy coding” into proper web development best practices.
There are too many other specifics here to name, but in general, WP Engine has a strength in rolling out new, useful hosting features.
Cons of WP Engine
Similar to any service, WP Engine is not the very best suitable for everybody. There are plenty of WP Engine problems around the Internet. Some are anecdotal. Some are hyperbole (ie, SEOs grumbling about dev sites). And numerous stand due to the fact that they merely aren’t a fit for everybody. For all their awesomeness in some areas, they have some cons which keep them from being a great fit for some customers. 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. How To Speed Up Website Performance
All that stated, here are some of the larger picture disadvantages of using WP Engine.
Initial and Ongoing Complexity
To achieve the speed, security, and scale they promise, WP Engine does things in a different way. Which difference can be quite complicated– specifically if you have simply enough experience with hosting environments to be dangerous.
Their backend setup has actually improved. It’s cleaner, but it’s still custom-made. It’s absolutely nothing like a standard cPanel hosting backend. Unlike lots of hosting business, they also do not provide DNS nameservers.
Even if all the functions exist, the special backend can result in some designers making mistakes varying from irritating redirect loops to duplicate content issues to leaving the dev site open up to the public or merely not allowing the functions you’re buying.
If it weren’t for remarkable support, I think they ‘d lose more newbie consumers than they already do.
Like many custom platforms, it makes sense once you overcome the learning curve. However WP Engine’s onboarding is very developer-focused & remains so exception-focused that they never explain finest practice for the general user. How To Speed Up Website Performance
Here is their video on pressing your website live –
I have actually set up my share of sites from platforms to custom hosts to cPanel hosting websites, but I had to watch that video numerous 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 customized backend isn’t going to be a huge offer (once you get past the knowing curve). But for many, you’ll likely get to learn very first hand about WP Engine’s support group.
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 help 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.
Once again– they have reasons they do all this. And most of the times, support will simply take care of it all.
However, you still do not get to set & forget your website. Sure, you do not technically do not need to get into the weeds of a server panel. In lots of hosting cases (ie, a managed VPS), you don’t have to do it anyway, and when you do, the knobs and buttons recognize. How To Speed Up Website Performance
WP Engine’s proprietary setup cuts both methods terms of decreasing & increasing intricacy.
This con is also related to WP Engine’s unique setup. In order to run their architecture in addition to possible, all the installs on their platform have to be somewhat consistent.
They need to have foreseeable plugins; foreseeable visitor patterns; foreseeable use cases. Every hosting company has guidelines (or very real physical limitations), however WP Engine goes a bit additional to define exactly what you can and can’t have on your WordPress set up in addition to tiered overage prices to prevent seasonal traffic spikes and regional storage usage.
They do prohibit particular plugins & admin behavior for excellent factors, however those bans restrict versatility and experimentation if your site could handle it.
For instance, Yet Another Related Post Plugin is a typical plugin. It’s resource extensive, however on smaller sized websites, it gets the job done well. It’s not permitted on WP Engine. That’s not good or bad necessarily. But it does make WP Engine less versatile and open to experimentation compared with running a shared or VPS server.
The way their rates is structured allows for less adaptability too. It’s a favorable that they will deal with all the traffic you can send out, however it’s likewise pricey to pay based upon a variety of check outs.
If you are running a huge launch; are a seasonal service; or just wish to drive a surge of traffic to your site, you’ll have to element extra hosting expenses 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 deal with a lot more traffic than WP Engine would enable on a Personal or Service. And this point goes further if your site requires numerous plugins for full performance.
The exact same goes for storage. With WP Engine, you are spending for performance, not for storage. So if you are wanting to utilize a server for media storage … that utilize case is out.
Additionally, you can’t truly do automatic email marketing campaigns from WP Engine. This was something that my client got called for & wound up having to do an uncomfortable migration to another e-mail supplier mid-campaign.
In either case, that point segues into the last con I found with WP Engine, their rates based on features.
Pricing on Features and Usage
With WP Engine, you are usually spending for performance & not having to think excessive about upkeep, security & speed. If you look at WP Engine’s prices based on the features you’re getting, you actually don’t get a lot.
And if you are the type who will think about your website’s health anyway (ie, keeping WordPress updated and typically visiting regularly), you’ll likely be spending for “management” that is unneeded. How To Speed Up Website Performance
Numerous shared hosting servers can manage the very same traffic numbers as WP Engine and cost a fraction of the cost. My individual website (running on a shared hosting strategy from HostGator with standard caching) handled more than 15,000 check outs in a 24 Hr period 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 relatively transparent about how they count gos to, however it can still be rather a surprise for “little” website owners how quickly they can enter into the $290 monthly tier.
And as pointed out previously that does not even consist of many of the features you don’t get with WP Engine’s strategies. You cannot run any e-mail from your servers. You have low limits on regional storage. Anything above the limitations requires extra expenses & technical implementation of Amazon cloud services.
And most significantly for me, you are restricted on your installs. If you have a couple of side tasks or low-traffic test sites, you need to factor those into the price. You cannot utilize them to expand the expense of your strategy,especially if you are hitting your visitor cap rather than your set up cap.
If you are aiming to spend for hosting: ie, a server that will hold & dish out your website files, WP Engine is a costly choice, particularly compared with other non-managed hosting choices.
Like any service, it’s not about exactly what is best total, but exactly what is finest for you based upon your objectives, budget, resources & habits.
If you remain in exactly what I think of as WP Engine’s core markets, they offer a fantastic service with a strong item. Their rates is competitive in the Managed WordPress Hosting area, and they provide more functions than “WordPress hosting” strategies from other hosting brands. Their feature-set is unrivaled for smart DIYers, WordPress website developers and/or high-traffic sites that don’t wish to stress over hosting concerns.
If handled hosting is a suitable for you, then go check out WP Engine’s plans here.
They do a 60-day money-back assurance. So do a test install and see what you consider their backend. Make certain to talk w/ support & sales.
If you’re outgrowing your existing host & desire more liberty/ much better rates than WP Engine, take a look at InMotion Hosting’s VPS option. I have actually valued their balance of user-friendly backend & responsive customer care.
And finally, if you are more confused than ever, go take my WordPress hosting quiz. I put all these factors into an enjoyable, Buzzfeed-esque quiz to streamline things. How To Speed Up Website Performance