WP Engine: My Pros and Cons of WP Engine Hosting Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
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 managed hosting services specifically for WordPress. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
While they have a lot of competitors in both the general hosting and managed WordPress hosting verticals, they are still the market leader in numerous ways -and they have broad name acknowledgment and innovative functions.
With the development of both self-hosted WordPress and website home builders, the hosting market has actually ended up being a super-confusing place.
I composed an entire post about WordPress Hosting vs. Web Hosting. However here’s the short variation: They all differ in services supplied. Some merely have WordPress-trained tech support. Some offer 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 buying hosting per se, however rather services to keep your WordPress set up live. Essentially, a Managed WordPress Hosting service provides a menu of services customized to WordPress at a greater price point, so that the website owner can focus less on speed + security and more on the site content + functionality.
Every rival in the Managed WordPress Hosting has a various offering. And there is no standardized “menu” of alternatives, however as an entire, they all take on conventional shared Linux hosting offerings and personalized WordPress hosting choices.
In either case, that’s the field where WP Engine plays. It’s confusing, yes, however it is essential to understand before making apples to oranges contrasts.
There are a lot of WP Engine reviews online, typically with user-generated evaluations based upon anecdotes and personal experience. That’s great but I take a different method. This review will look at the pros + cons of WP Engine in the context of all web hosting choices to see who it is a “finest fit” for. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
I have actually utilized WP Engine for various projects given that 2012. I don’t utilize them for my primary websites right now (see conclusion), however I do have a current client on WP Engine who absolutely loves them. Here’s my WP Engine review structured as benefits and drawbacks.
Disclosure: I receive referral fees from any companies discussed. All information & opinion is based on my experience as a paying consumer or expert to a paying client.
Pros of WP Engine
To begin, WP Engine does pretty much live up to its pitch on its homepage where they promise “sensational speed, powerful security, and best-in-class client service.” Here is their promotion 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. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
Speed and Performance
There are a lot of variables that go into website speed, however the rule of thumb is that the more intricate your website is, the more complex the solutions to speed ended up being.
From package, WordPress is relatively lean and quick. If you are running a mostly text site with a few fundamental plugins and a few little images, you’ll be fine with an inexpensive shared hosting plan from someone like InMotion, HostGator or Bluehost.
However few website owners keep their WordPress install lean. There’s usually extra plugins, custom-made theme files, lots of images, widgets, ads, kinds and more.
All these features combined with good levels of traffic can begin to decrease your WordPress install.
But a sluggish site does not indicate that you require a bigger, much better server. It does indicate that you have to get smarter about speed. In some cases it’s as simple as getting a more effective server, but often it’s more about caching certain resources in a specific order and enhancing your files. To puts it simply, it gets complex.
Picture you are aiming to haul a trailer with a pickup. Imagine your trailer keeps getting much heavier. It’s pointless to keep grumbling that your truck is not big enough when you might just need to eliminate the emergency brake, set up a turbocharger, refresh the transmission fluid and combine your load.
The point is that WordPress requires aid to stay fast as you grow. There are a lot of solutions … but either you or a designer must execute them.
That’s where managed WordPress hosting can be found in. WP Engine takes care of (almost) all speed issues. They have tailored servers with very aggressive caching and even advanced “stack” than a typical web host. They also have trained support who will enter into your WordPress install and determine the specific chokepoint to get your site moving. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
They don’t even allow caching plugins on their installs due to the fact that they have actually such a personalized caching setup.
The intriguing thing is that even unoptimized WordPress installs still succeed on their platform because their platform does the additional work.
Here’s the speed test for among my customers on WP Engine (who has a bloated theme, extra scripts, a lot of uncompressed images, to name a few things):
Keep in mind the Time To First Byte and the Start Render numbers. That determines how rapidly the server returned enough information to begin packing the page.
It’s good to have that sort of speed right out of package, and have it stay that method no matter how huge or complex the website gets.
*Keep in mind 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 because you are complimentary to focus on speed aspects that you can easily manage like image compression, usage of scripts, etc.
. The last observation on speed, WP Engine not only supplies an integrated CDN, however they likewise supply global data centers in case your audience is mostly in Asia and/or Europe. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
If you are trying to get top speeds without messing with layered caching plugins ” the WP Engine does exactly that.
Customer Support Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
Customer 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 & altered 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 hard feature of client support is that a lot of the judgment is anecdotal. Everyone has a story, but you never know if the story is due to the fact that they talked to 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 an investment or a cost.
I want to try to find access, systems, and knowledge, all three require an investment of loan, time and proficiency.
Based on my current interactions and research, they are doing far better hitting all three boxes. They preserve a range of support channels (consisting of phone for non-Basic strategies). They have a fast, trackable ticketing system and are offered everywhere on the site through chat.
Based on their guide videos and substantial knowledgebase, they tick the knowledge box. Every support that I or my customer has communicated with actually knew the great workings of WordPress and has been able to problem-solve on the fly.
The most impressive (yes, this is anecdotal, however still) experience was a three-way call in between my customer, myself and WP Engine during my client’s transition to HTTPS/ SSL. The rep was not only able to get on (and remain on) the phone, however he had the ability to adeptly assist us “turn the switch” rapidly in addition to looking after numerous problems (ie, submitting a non-HTTP sitemap and repairing insecure image links) within WordPress for us. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
I’m sure that WP Engine still has support concerns,specifically since their customized platform puts a great deal of pressure on fast, available support (as I’ll display in the downsides). But they seem to know that support is core to their value and do make the needed 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 upside of being open-source with a large community launching updates & testing vulnerabilities.
If you run your very own WordPress set up, the security basics 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 see that even though security on WordPress is uncomplicated, the duty is still on you to keep things secure. Just like having a deadbolt does nothing if you don’t lock it, keeping your website protected is still eventually on you.
And like speed & efficiency, WP Engine essentially takes all those best practices and does them for you. They run automated backups to keep everything off-site & ready to roll back if something occurs. Because you technically have an “install” on their server (rather than an account), they tackle a great deal of security problems worldwide on the server level.
WP Engine likewise works closely with leading security firms on code reviews in addition to running their own team. They likewise make the warranty that if you’re hacked, they take care of it totally free.
I personally have actually never ever been hacked on my main/ or secondary sites (knock on wood), but have helped customers who have been. It’s aggravating, laborious & a typically costly circumstance (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. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
Pricing on Value
WP Engine is not cheap. Their Startup strategy is $35/mo and consists of a single install and just up to 25,000 visits monthly.
For benchmarking, you can get an effective, reliable VPS (ie, your very own not-shared server) for the same rate from InMotion. And if you are simply beginning with a single domain, you can get a shared hosting plan from Bluehost for simply a couple dollars monthly.
Both which enable more storage & more gos to (ie, essentially as lots of as you can deal with) than WP Engine. I have actually run websites that have actually had 60k check outs per month on a shared server. I’ve also run dozens of small WordPress websites off a low cost shared hosting.
But I’ll cover that rates downside in the cons of WP Engine, but here’s the important things.
For some website owners, if you break out WP Engine by total value & consider your own (or your designer’s) time, their rates is amazing.
Simply running WordPress updates every month & QA’ing your installation can take around Thirty Minutes each month. If your (or your dev’s) services are billed at $50 (or more)/ hour, then that’s WP Engine’s whole monthly charge right there.
If you lose any check outs due to downtime from a bad plugin update, then that might be WP Engine’s entire monthly charge right there.
If you do a hot-fix (ie, you do not use a staging area) on your PHP code, and knock your site down … then that could be WP Engine’s whole regular monthly cost right there.
Losing visitors due to speed concerns or downtime costs lost income.
Additionally, premium security can cost about $16/month minimum. Not to mention any individual or developer time repairing concerns.
Generally, if your time is much better assigned far from technical concerns, then WP Engine makes a great deal of sense on worth. As a handled WordPress hosting service, that’s actually their thing. Hosting services are a financial investment rather than a cost.
And that sort of value-based prices segues into another pro for WP Engine, their concentrate on their core markets. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
Like I said at the beginning, WP Engine isn’t for everybody. There are 3 types of clients that WP Engine seems to be a fit for. For those 3 kinds of customers, WP Engine has a strong focus with a lot of tools & focus for each.
From their backend process, the first customer type seems to be WordPress designers and designers who wish to focus on development & style without handling hosting maintenance, and have clients who have some budget plan. The designer/dev constructs the website directly in WP Engine’s staging environment, launches the site, then hands the site over to their customer.
The designer can assure their customer that WP Engine handles the hosting, security & speed. There’s little requirement for an ongoing fundamental site maintenance. For this market, WP Engine has fascinating tools consisting of staging, git push, site migration and transferable installs.
The 2nd customer type is the growing website owner who is annoyed at needing to deal with technical growth headaches. They have actually outgrown their shared hosting and have to move to a much better host.
They’re likewise developed enough that they have some budget plan for managed services. WP Engine has tools like the automatic migration tool & client support to make that process occur. The phone support is a key aspect, specifically 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 budget plan and desires a long-lasting platform that they can grow with. They are comfy finding out WP Engine’s special backend and intend on releasing a near-complete site simultaneously.
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 features, customers, and support that they can make guarantees and provide support to win & keep this kind of customer.
With these types of customers, WP Engine understands how & where they are originating from, numerous of the improvements they make are concentrated on these markets (ie, the Git push performance), rather than mass-market enhancements like knowledge-bases, intuitive backend, and so on.
This advantage resembles WP Engine’s market focus, but it’s really worth calling out in this evaluation revision. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
WP Engine stands out not just on existing features but also on creating new, advanced hosting features. Every version of WordPress 4 has rolled out new designer features that WP Engine has actually had the ability to incorporate.
Even general web development best practices have altered radically given that I began observing the industry *. WP Engine has developed tools to match.
* I’m an SEO/ online marketer by trade. I know adequate web advancement to integrate best practices into implementation & projects 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 embellishment (ie, SEOs complaining about dev sites). And numerous are valid because 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 good suitable for some clients. I do not use them for this site since I do not require much of their features and I’m comfy “putting pieces together” w/ my InMotion VPS setup. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
All that said, here are some of the larger image disadvantages of utilizing WP Engine.
Initial and Ongoing Complexity
To attain the speed, security, and scale they promise, WP Engine does things differently. Which difference can be quite made complex– specifically if you have just enough experience with hosting environments to be unsafe.
Their backend setup has actually improved. It’s cleaner, but it’s still custom. It’s absolutely nothing like a traditional cPanel hosting backend. Unlike numerous hosting business, they also don’t offer DNS nameservers.
Even if all the features exist, the unique backend can lead to some designers making errors varying from frustrating redirect loops to duplicate content problems to leaving the dev site open to the public or simply not allowing the functions you’re buying.
If it weren’t for incredible support, I believe they ‘d lose more newbie consumers than they already do.
Like lots of custom platforms, it makes good sense once you overcome the learning curve. But WP Engine’s onboarding is extremely developer-focused & stays so exception-focused that they never ever discuss best practice for the general user. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
Here is their video on pressing your website live –
I have actually established my share of sites from platforms to custom hosts to cPanel hosting websites, but I had to enjoy that video multiple times to make sure I was pointing the right A record/ CNAME to the ideal IP address.
Once again, if you are in WP Engine’s core markets, the customized backend isn’t going to be a substantial offer (when you get past the knowing curve). However for a lot of, you’ll likely get to find out first hand about WP Engine’s support team.
However here’s the thing.
WP Engine never ever actually stops being quirky and complex. In their knowledgebase, they have a huge selection of website checklists to assist repair all sorts of issues.
And ” if you did not setup your DNS exactly how they’ve recommended ” your site could go down at any time.
Once again– they have reasons that they do all this. And most of the times, support will just take care of all of it.
But, you still do not get to set & forget your website. Sure, you don’t technically do not need to get into the weeds of a server panel. In lots of hosting cases (ie, a managed VPS), you do not need to do it anyhow, and when you do, the knobs and buttons are familiar. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
WP Engine’s exclusive setup cuts both methods terms of reducing & increasing intricacy.
This con is also connected to WP Engine’s distinct setup. In order to run their architecture in addition to possible, all the installs on their platform need to be somewhat uniform.
They need to have predictable plugins; predictable visitor patterns; predictable use cases. Every hosting business has guidelines (or very genuine physical limits), however WP Engine goes a bit more to specify exactly what you can and cannot have on your WordPress set up in addition to tiered overage rates to prevent seasonal traffic spikes and local storage use.
They do prohibit specific plugins & admin habits for good factors, but those restrictions restrict versatility and experimentation if your website might manage it.
For example, Yet Another Related Post Plugin is a common plugin. It’s resource extensive, but on smaller sites, it gets the job done well. It’s not allowed on WP Engine. That’s bad or bad necessarily. However it does make WP Engine less flexible and open to experimentation compared with running a shared or VPS server.
The method their prices is structured permits less flexibility as well. It’s a positive that they will handle all the traffic you can send out, however it’s likewise pricey to pay based upon a number of check outs.
If you are running a huge launch; are a seasonal company; or just wish to drive a rise of traffic to your site, you’ll have to factor extra 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 handle a lot more traffic than WP Engine would enable on a Personal or Service. And this point goes further if your website requires many plugins for complete functionality.
The very same chooses storage. With WP Engine, you are spending for performance, not for storage. So if you are seeking to use a server for media storage … that use case is out.
Furthermore, you can’t actually do automatic email marketing projects from WP Engine. This was something that my customer got called for & ended up having to do an unpleasant migration to another e-mail provider mid-campaign.
In either case, that point segues into the last con I found with WP Engine, their rates based on functions.
Pricing on Features and Usage
With WP Engine, you are usually paying for performance & not having to think too much about upkeep, security & speed. If you take a look at WP Engine’s prices based upon the functions you’re getting, you truly do not get a lot.
And if you are the type who will think of your site’s health anyway (ie, keeping WordPress upgraded and normally logging in often), you’ll likely be paying for “management” that is unnecessary. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean
Many shared hosting servers can deal with the exact same traffic numbers as WP Engine and cost a portion of the cost. My individual website (operating on a shared hosting strategy from HostGator with standard caching) dealt with more than 15,000 sees in a 24 Hr period when a post of mine went viral.
And if you are running a trustworthy VPS, you can definitely deal with a lot more for much less.
They are fairly transparent about how they count sees, however it can still be rather a surprise for “small” site owners how quickly they can get into the $290 monthly tier.
And as pointed out previously that doesn’t even include a lot of the features you do not get with WP Engine’s strategies. You can’t run any e-mail from your servers. You have low limits on regional storage. Anything above the limits needs extra costs & technical execution of Amazon cloud services.
And most significantly for me, you are limited on your installs. If you have a few side jobs or low-traffic test sites, you need to factor those into the rate. You can’t use them to expand the cost of your plan,specifically if you are striking your visitor cap instead of your install cap.
If you are planning to pay for hosting: ie, a server that will hold & provide your site files, WP Engine is a pricey option, particularly compared with other non-managed hosting choices.
Like any service, it’s not about what is finest total, but what is finest for you based upon your goals, budget, resources & practices.
If you remain in exactly what I think of as WP Engine’s core markets, they use a terrific service with a strong item. Their pricing is competitive in the Managed WordPress Hosting space, and they use more functions than “WordPress hosting” plans from other hosting brand names. Their feature-set is unrivaled for savvy DIYers, WordPress site designers and/or high-traffic sites that don’t wish to worry about hosting concerns.
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 guarantee. So do a test install and see exactly what you think about their backend. Be sure to talk w/ support & sales.
If you’re outgrowing your present host & desire more liberty/ much better prices than WP Engine, check out InMotion Hosting’s VPS alternative. I have actually valued their balance of intuitive backend & responsive client service.
And last but not least, if you are more confused than ever, go take my WordPress hosting test. I put all these factors into an enjoyable, Buzzfeed-esque test to streamline things. Optimize WordPress Digitalocean