WP Engine: My Pros and Cons of WP Engine Hosting Optimized WordPress Hostgator
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 particularly for WordPress. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
While they have plenty of competition in both the basic hosting and handled WordPress hosting verticals, they are still the marketplace leader in numerous methods -and they have broad name recognition and advanced functions.
With the growth of both self-hosted WordPress and website home builders, the hosting market has actually become a super-confusing location.
I wrote an entire post about WordPress Hosting vs. Web Hosting. However here’s the brief variation: They all vary in services provided. Some just 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 handled WordPress Hosting where you are not really purchasing hosting per se, but rather services to keep your WordPress set up live. Essentially, a Managed WordPress Hosting service uses a menu of services tailored to WordPress at a greater price point, so that the site owner can focus less on speed + security and more on the website content + functionality.
Every competitor in the Managed WordPress Hosting has a various offering. And there is no standardized “menu” of options, however as a whole, they all compete with standard shared Linux hosting offerings and tailored WordPress hosting options.
In any case, that’s the field where WP Engine plays. It’s complicated, yes, however it is essential to understand before making apples to oranges comparisons.
There are a lot of WP Engine evaluates online, usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and individual experience. That’s great however I take a different method. This review will look at the pros + cons of WP Engine in the context of all webhosting choices to see who it is a “finest fit” for. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
I’ve used WP Engine for different tasks because 2012. I don’t use them for my main websites right now (see conclusion), but I do have a present client on WP Engine who definitely enjoys them. Here’s my WP Engine review structured as pros and cons.
Disclosure: I receive referral fees from any business mentioned. All information & viewpoint is based on my experience as a paying consumer or expert to a paying consumer.
Pros of WP Engine
To start, WP Engine does practically live up to its pitch on its homepage where they guarantee “stunning speed, powerful security, and best-in-class customer 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. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
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 intricate the services to speed ended up being.
Out of package, WordPress is relatively lean and fast. If you are running a mostly text website with a couple of standard plugins and a couple of small images, you’ll be great with an affordable shared hosting plan from somebody like InMotion, HostGator or Bluehost.
However couple of website owners keep their WordPress install lean. There’s usually extra plugins, custom-made style files, great deals of images, widgets, ads, kinds and more.
All these functions integrated with good levels of traffic can start to decrease your WordPress set up.
But a slow site doesn’t mean that you require a larger, much better server. It does suggest that you need to get smarter about speed. In some cases it’s as basic as getting a more powerful server, however often it’s more about caching particular resources in a specific order and enhancing your files. In other words, it gets complex.
Imagine you are aiming to haul a trailer with a pickup. Envision your trailer keeps getting much heavier. It’s meaningless to keep grumbling that your truck is not big enough when you might just have to eliminate the emergency brake, install a turbocharger, refresh the transmission fluid and consolidate your load.
The point is that WordPress needs assistance to remain quick as you grow. There are lots of options … but either you or a designer should implement them.
That’s where handled WordPress hosting can be found in. WP Engine takes care of (nearly) all speed concerns. They have actually personalized servers with very aggressive caching and even advanced “stack” than a normal web host. They also have trained support who will go into your WordPress install and identify the exact chokepoint to obtain your website moving. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
They don’t even permit caching plugins on their installs since they have such a personalized caching setup.
The intriguing thing is that even unoptimized WordPress sets up still succeed on their platform because their platform does the extra work.
Here’s the speed test for one of my customers on WP Engine (who has a puffed up theme, additional scripts, a lot of uncompressed images, to name a few things):
Note the Time To First Byte and the Start Render numbers. That measures how quickly the server returned enough information to begin loading the page.
It’s great to have that kind of speed right from package, and have it remain that method no matter how big or complex 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 because you are complimentary to concentrate on speed elements that you can quickly manage like image compression, usage of scripts, and so on.
. The last observation on speed, WP Engine not just supplies an integrated CDN, but they likewise offer global information centers in case your audience is primarily in Asia and/or Europe. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
If you are trying to get top speeds without messing with layered caching plugins ” the WP Engine does exactly that.
Customer Support Optimized WordPress Hostgator
Customer support has been a core part of WP Engine’s pitch given that they were founded. After all, they are actually offering more of a service (ie, handled hosting) than an item (ie, hosting). It makes good sense for them to place a huge 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 company has grown & changed a lot ever since. They went through a stretch where they were getting a great deal of criticism about over-promising on support.
That stated, the tough feature of client support is that so much of the judgment is anecdotal. Everybody has a story, but you never know if the story is because they talked with the one rockstar-vs-rookie having an awesome-vs-terrible day. Like I point out in every hosting evaluation, the important part is to see if a business treats support as an investment or a cost.
I prefer to search for gain access to, systems, and knowledge, all three require a financial investment of money, time and proficiency.
Based on my current interactions and research, they are doing better striking all 3 boxes. They preserve a variety of support channels (including phone for non-Basic strategies). They have a fast, trackable ticketing system and are offered everywhere on the site by means of chat.
Based on their guide videos and comprehensive knowledgebase, they tick the knowledge box. Every support that I or my client has connected with really understood the great operations 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 between my customer, myself and WP Engine throughout my customer’s shift to HTTPS/ SSL. The representative was not just able to get on (and stay on) the phone, but he had the ability to adeptly assist us “flip the switch” quickly in addition to taking care of numerous concerns (ie, submitting a non-HTTP sitemap and repairing insecure image links) within WordPress for us. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
I make sure that WP Engine still has support concerns,particularly since their custom platform puts a great deal of pressure on quick, accessible support (as I’ll display in the disadvantages). However they appear to understand 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 suppliers.
However there is nothing inherently insecure about WordPress that is not a concern with all software application. WordPress has the advantage of being open-source with a very large community releasing updates & screening vulnerabilities.
If you run your very own WordPress set up, the security basics are relatively 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 utilize JetPack for the last two. It’s made by & powered by Automattic, the commercial arm of WordPress.
You’ll see that despite the fact that security on WordPress is simple, the responsibility is still on you to keep things protect. Just like having a deadbolt does nothing if you do not lock it, keeping your website protected is still ultimately on you.
And like speed & performance, 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. Given that you technically have an “set up” on their server (rather than an account), they deal with a lot of security problems internationally on the server level.
WP Engine also works closely with top security companies on code reviews in addition to running their own team. They also make the warranty that if you’re hacked, they look after it free of charge.
I personally have never ever been hacked on my main/ or secondary sites (knock on wood), but have actually helped customers who have been. It’s frustrating, laborious & a normally costly circumstance (even if you are utilizing a service like Sucuri). Having an expert security team take care of your WordPress install is a huge pro in my book. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
Pricing on Value
WP Engine is not low-cost. Their Start-up strategy is $35/mo and includes a single set up and only approximately 25,000 visits per month.
For benchmarking, you can get a powerful, dependable VPS (ie, your own not-shared server) for the very same cost from InMotion. And if you are just beginning with a single domain, you can get a shared hosting strategy from Bluehost for simply a couple dollars monthly.
Both which enable more storage & more visits (ie, generally as lots of as you can deal with) than WP Engine. I have actually run websites that have had 60k check outs per month on a shared server. I have actually likewise run lots of small WordPress sites off a low expense shared hosting.
But I’ll cover that pricing downside in the cons of WP Engine, however here’s the important things.
For some site owners, if you break out WP Engine by total value & factor in your own (or your developer’s) time, their prices is incredible.
Just running WordPress updates monthly & QA’ing your setup 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 entire regular monthly fee right there.
If you lose any check outs due to downtime from a bad plugin upgrade, then that might be WP Engine’s whole monthly cost right there.
If you do a hot-fix (ie, you don’t utilize a staging location) on your PHP code, and knock your website down … then that could be WP Engine’s entire regular monthly charge right there.
Losing visitors due to speed problems or downtime costs lost income.
In addition, premium security can cost about $16/month minimum. Not to mention any personal or developer time fixing problems.
Basically, if your time is much better assigned away 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 instead of an expense.
Which sort of value-based pricing segues into another pro for WP Engine, their focus on their core markets. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
Like I said at the start, WP Engine isn’t for everybody. There are 3 kinds of customers that WP Engine seems to be a fit for. For those 3 kinds of consumers, WP Engine has a strong focus with plenty of tools & focus for each.
From their backend procedure, the first client type seems to be WordPress developers and designers who want to focus on advancement & style without handling hosting upkeep, and have customers who have some budget. The designer/dev develops the site straight in WP Engine’s staging environment, releases the website, then hands the site over to their client.
The designer can guarantee their client that WP Engine manages the hosting, security & speed. There’s little requirement for a continuous fundamental website maintenance. For this market, WP Engine has interesting tools consisting of staging, git push, website migration and transferable installs.
The 2nd customer type is the growing website owner who is irritated at needing to deal with technical development headaches. They have actually outgrown their shared hosting and need to move to a much better host.
They’re also developed enough that they have some budget plan for managed services. WP Engine has tools like the automatic migration tool & consumer support to make that procedure occur. The phone support is an essential aspect, specifically being able to “just call WP Engine an have them fix it.”
The 3rd 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 finding out WP Engine’s special backend and plan on introducing a near-complete site all at once.
They do not have any prior practices or custom-mades brought over from previous hosts or sites. Again, for this market, WP Engine has the scalable features, clients, and support that they can make promises and supply support to win & keep this type of client.
With these kinds of clients, WP Engine understands how & where they are coming from, so many of the improvements they make are focused on these markets (ie, the Git push functionality), instead of mass-market improvements like knowledge-bases, user-friendly backend, etc.
This advantage resembles WP Engine’s market focus, but it’s really worth calling out in this evaluation modification. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
WP Engine excels not only on existing functions however also on developing brand-new, cutting-edge hosting functions. Every version of WordPress 4 has actually presented brand-new designer features that WP Engine has been able to integrate.
Even basic web advancement best practices have altered radically considering that I started observing the industry *. WP Engine has created tools to match.
* I’m an SEO/ marketer by trade. I understand adequate web development to incorporate best practices into application & jobs 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
Much like any service, WP Engine is not the best fit for everybody. There are a lot of WP Engine problems around the Web. Some are anecdotal. Some are embellishment (ie, SEOs complaining about dev websites). And many are valid due to the fact that they just 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 customers. I don’t use them for this website due to the fact that I do not need many of their functions and I’m comfortable “putting pieces together” w/ my InMotion VPS setup. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
All that stated, here are a few of the bigger photo drawbacks of using WP Engine.
Initial and Ongoing Complexity
To achieve the speed, security, and scale they guarantee, WP Engine does things in a different way. And that distinction can be quite made complex– specifically if you have just enough experience with hosting environments to be dangerous.
Their backend setup has improved. It’s cleaner, but it’s still customized. It’s nothing like a standard cPanel hosting backend. Unlike many hosting companies, they also do not offer DNS nameservers.
Even if all the functions exist, the special backend can cause some developers making errors varying from irritating redirect loops to duplicate content issues to leaving the dev site open up to the public or merely not allowing the features you’re buying.
If it weren’t for incredible support, I think they ‘d lose more newbie clients than they already do.
Like many custom-made platforms, it makes good sense once you get over the knowing curve. But WP Engine’s onboarding is extremely developer-focused & remains so exception-focused that they never discuss best practice for the basic user. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
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 sites, however I needed to see 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 really going to be a huge deal (as soon as you surpass the knowing curve). But for many, you’ll likely get to find out first hand about WP Engine’s support team.
However here’s the thing.
WP Engine never ever truly stops being eccentric and complex. In their knowledgebase, they have a plethora of site checklists to assist fix 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 most of the times, support will simply look after everything.
However, you still don’t get to set & forget your site. Sure, you don’t technically do not have to enter the weeds of a server panel. In lots of hosting cases (ie, a handled VPS), you do not have to do it anyway, when you do, the knobs and buttons recognize. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
WP Engine’s proprietary setup cuts both methods terms of reducing & increasing complexity.
This con is also related to WP Engine’s distinct setup. In order to run their architecture along with possible, all the installs on their platform have to be somewhat consistent.
They need to have predictable plugins; predictable visitor patterns; predictable use cases. Every hosting company has guidelines (or really real physical limitations), however WP Engine goes a bit more to specify exactly what you can and cannot have on your WordPress install in addition to tiered overage rates to prevent seasonal traffic spikes and regional storage use.
They do prohibit specific plugins & admin habits for great reasons, however those bans restrict flexibility and experimentation if your site could handle it.
For instance, Yet Another Associated Post Plugin is a common plugin. It’s resource extensive, however on smaller sized websites, it gets the job done well. It’s not allowed on WP Engine. That’s not good or bad necessarily. But it does make WP Engine less flexible and available to experimentation compared with running a shared or VPS server.
The method their rates is structured permits less adaptability too. It’s a favorable that they will deal with all the traffic you can send, however it’s also costly to pay based on a number of visits.
If you are running a huge launch; are a seasonal company; or simply want to drive a rise of traffic to your site, you’ll need to factor extra hosting bills into the mix. That puts a cap on how versatile you want 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 allow on a Personal or Service. And this point goes further if your site requires numerous plugins for full functionality.
The same goes for storage. With WP Engine, you are spending for efficiency, not for storage. So if you are planning to use a server for media storage … that use case is out.
Additionally, you cannot really do automated e-mail marketing campaigns from WP Engine. This was something that my customer got called for & ended up having to do a painful migration to another e-mail service provider mid-campaign.
In either case, that point segues into the last con I found with WP Engine, their prices based on features.
Pricing on Features and Usage
With WP Engine, you are normally paying for performance & not needing to believe excessive about upkeep, security & speed. If you look at WP Engine’s prices based on the features you’re getting, you actually do not get a whole lot.
And if you are the type who will think of your site’s health anyhow (ie, keeping WordPress updated and typically visiting frequently), you’ll likely be spending for “management” that is unneeded. Optimized WordPress Hostgator
Numerous shared hosting servers can manage the same traffic numbers as WP Engine and cost a fraction of the cost. My personal website (working on a shared hosting plan from HostGator with standard caching) handled more than 15,000 visits in a 24 Hr duration when a post of mine went viral.
And if you are running a trustworthy VPS, you can definitely handle a lot more for much less.
They are fairly transparent about how they count check outs, however it can still be quite a surprise for “small” site owners how quickly they can enter the $290 each month tier.
And as mentioned earlier that doesn’t even consist of a lot of the functions you don’t get with WP Engine’s strategies. You cannot run any email from your servers. You have low limitations on regional storage. Anything above the limits needs extra costs & technical application 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 rate. You cannot utilize them to expand the cost of your plan,specifically if you are striking your visitor cap instead of your set up cap.
If you are looking to pay for hosting: ie, a server that will hold & serve up your website files, WP Engine is a pricey choice, specifically compared with other non-managed hosting options.
Like any service, it’s not about what is finest total, however what is best for you based on your objectives, budget plan, resources & routines.
If you remain in what I consider WP Engine’s core markets, they use a great service with a solid product. Their prices is competitive in the Managed WordPress Hosting space, and they provide more features than “WordPress hosting” strategies from other hosting brands. Their feature-set is unequaled for smart DIYers, WordPress site developers and/or high-traffic sites that don’t wish to stress over hosting issues.
If handled 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 what you think about their backend. Make certain to talk w/ support & sales.
If you’re outgrowing your present host & desire more freedom/ better prices than WP Engine, take a look at InMotion Hosting’s VPS choice. I’ve appreciated their balance of user-friendly backend & responsive customer support.
And last but not least, if you are more baffled than ever, go take my WordPress hosting quiz. I put all these aspects into a fun, Buzzfeed-esque quiz to streamline things. Optimized WordPress Hostgator