WP Engine is a managed WordPress host and one of the most popular hosting options for enterprises and high-traffic sites that use WordPress. Managed WordPress hosting is a sub niche in the hosting industry. It typically offers a hosting environment optimized for WordPress and handles specific security and maintenance protocols for you.
These protocols include WordPress updates, security, caching and more. This is a bit of a sneak peek into what WP Engine has to offer, but let’s get into specifics.
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About WP Engine
WP Engine was founded in 2010 by Jason Cohen, who “wanted to work on interesting, real problems experienced by interesting, real customers.” WordPress powers 25% of all websites, but the average WordPress user still didn’t know how to secure and maintain their website properly.
This is something Jason wanted to change. He saw a gap between frustrated business owners trying to manage their own websites and hosts willing to go beyond offering servers for them to host their websites on. The solution was WP Engine.
WP Engine is a managed WordPress host, as stated before. It offers scalable cloud hosting servers, an automated caching system called EverCache and servers optimized for WordPress. It’s used by over 60,000 companies in 120 countries, including such companies as SoundCloud, National Geographic, Asana, Yelp and many more.
WP Engine Plans
WP Engine is a premium “managed WordPress hosting” company that offers premium prices. It has five plans in total with prices starting at $29/month, which is more than your typical shared host charges.
It offers two server types, but they both have cloud infrastructures. The first is a virtual private server that uses a shared hosting environment, though it isn’t your typical shared hosting environment. Your site still exists on the same server as other sites, but they don’t share resources as they do in typical shared hosting environments.
The other server type is a dedicated VPS. It’s only available on the higher-end plans as it gives you access to your very own cloud server.
Let’s take a look at these plans in details. It should be noted, before we start, that all plans offer unlimited data transfers and free SSL certificates.
- Custom Pricing
- 150 Installs
- 1 Million+ Visits per Month
- 100 – 300GB of Local Storage
- Custom Pricing
- 150 Installs
- 5 Million+ Visits per Month
- 400GB – 1TB of Local Storage
WP Engine Support
WP Engine offers several tiers of support, but they’re all available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Live chat support is available on all plans. Phone support is available on the Professional plan and higher, and dedicated ticket support is reserved for Enterprise accounts. However, if you have a lower plan and support is not able to resolve the issue you’re having via live chat or phone, they’ll create a ticket for you.
There are several support options for WordPress novices. This includes having a staff filled with over 100 WordPress experts, all of whom are ready to help you tackle any problem. It also includes one of the most extensive knowledge bases any host offers. It uses a highly accurate search function and includes articles on every step of the process of running a WordPress site with WP Engine.
You’ll have access to “strategic account management” services on Premium and Enterprise plans. The service is included in Enterprise plans, but you’ll need to pay an additional price to take advantage of it with the Premium plan. It’s essentially a consultative service designed to “proactively plan your success.”
The WPEngine User Portal
WPEngine customers get access to their own user portal, from here you are able to manage all aspects of your account, your WordPress installs, you can view visitor stats for your sites, check the page performance, add users and manage your account. This is what the main dashboard homepage looks like:
If you click through to the “Installs” page, this is where you can manage all the aspects of each site you have with WPEngine. The page shows you a graph with your monthly visitors, bandwidth, storage usage, WordPress version and your IP address. On the left you have links for setting up things like redirects, backups, SFTP users, Git, SSL, Utilities and the site migration service. You can also click through with shortcuts to your WordPress admin area and the phpMyAdmin for your site.
There is another tab called “Page Performance” which will allow you to run a test on your site and see how it is performing speed-wise, if you click through and run the report you will receive an email once it’s complete. The report will show you how long the site takes to load, the size in KB and it will give you some recommendations on how to improve the score.
Here you can see I tested a default installation of WordPress with no posts and the default theme, no plugins installed and just using the WPEngine caching system. You can see it to 0.70 second to load and the report offered 3 suggestions to speed the site up even further.
WPEngine Speed Tests
Of course with any hosting company, having a fast-loading site is essential these days – research has found that “a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.” and more importantly “40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load” Source.
WPEngine prides itself on the speed of it’s servers and in my testing I found this to absolutely be the case, they were the fastest host that I tried out using a default WP install with the default WP theme.
Here you can see the results of the Pingdom test, a load time of 345ms is very fast and there is also room to improve this by concatenating HTML, JS and CSS files as well as other small tweaks to improve load times.
And here are the results of a LoadImpact test, running from Dublin Ireland to the hosting location in California USA.
The results were :
- Minimum response time: 777 ms
- Maximum response time: 1.32s
If speed of your site is important to you, which it should be, then WPEngine are definitely among the very best, if not the best.
The Pros of Hosting with WP Engine
Hosting with WP Engine comes with a number of advantages and disadvantages, but we’re going to focus on the ones that will likely to hold the most influence over whether or not you choose to use this service. Let’s get into it.
WP Engine is a managed WordPress host, and the number of built-in services it offers gives you a clear indication of what that actually is. One of those services is EverCache, WP Engine’s very own caching system. It caches your site at the server level, negating the need for a dedicated caching plugin that only caches your site at a PHP level.
This system is included with every new install. It detects when your site needs to be refreshed and does so automatically, though you can also set this setting to manual. You can also ask support to implement special caching rules if you wish.
CDN services are available for all plans thanks to WP Engine’s partnership with MaxCDN. The service costs $19.95/month on the Personal plan, but it’s included free of charge in the Professional and Business plans.
Premium and Enterprise customers are expected to pay $0.12/GB after using up their first 1,000GB, which is included free of charge.
With a cloud infrastructure and built-in caching and CDN services, WP Engine’s servers are optimized for performance. Jerry Low of Web Hosting Secret Revealed even reported experiencing a 50% drop in page load times immediately after switching his site over to WP Engine’s servers. He also maintained an uptime average of at least 99%.
WP Engine implements several security measures to protect your site, including scanning for malware, using an advanced firewall and placing limits on the processes allowed to write to your server’s disk.
Staging environments come with every plan. A staging environment allows you to create a copy of your site and install it in an isolated location on your server so you can run tests or play around with your site without breaking its live version.
WP Engine also offers transferable installs. This means developers can use their own WP Engine accounts to begin working on client projects when their clients aren’t ready to purchase their own accounts. They can transfer the sites over to their clients’ accounts when they’re ready.
The Cons of Hosting with WP Engine
There are many advantages of hosting with WP Engine, but it does have its drawbacks. For starters, WP Engine is an exclusive WordPress host, which can pose a problem for those who don’t use WordPress exclusively or developers who want to work with one host but many content management systems.
We also need to mention the drawbacks that come with using a managed WordPress host as opposed to a typical host. There are many plugins you aren’t allowed to use on WP Engine’s servers due to its use of a built-in caching system and security measures. These plugins include WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache, Wordfence, WP DB Backup and more. You can view the full list here.
Who is WP Engine for?
WP Engine is a great host, but it’s not for everyone. Its prices start at $29/month ( less if you use our coupon code ), which could make it expensive if you are running a hobby blog or website which is just for fun. However if you make money from your site or it is for your business and uptime, speed and reliability are important factors then you will honestly not find a better WordPress host.
It’s especially a great host for WordPress novices who need servers as powerful as these. You won’t need to worry about installing or configuring caching or security plugins nor will you need to worry about maintenance. Everything is taken care of for you.
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