"Website Hosting Perfected"
That simple and very memorable tag line pretty much sums up the WPEngine experience. What they do is focus in on one CMS platform WordPress, and do the best they can at being the best hosting provider for WordPress.
Being a new comer to WPEngine first noticing them on a referral in April 2016, I've been giving to much attention to other hosting providers. I dub thee the Swiss Army Knife of website hosting.
WPEngine as a company impresses me, I know I'm late to the party but following them for the last 9 months has provided some business admiration, something I would not normally associate with a website hosting provider. Lets be honest how often have you been blown away and utterly impressed by your hosting provider? could you count that on one hand, I sure can and this prompted this WPEngine review.
Focusing on WordPress only or taking on the world, that is like a comparison of a sniper rifle to a M16 Machine gun. Precision aim and spraying bullets fast but not targeted. WPEngine has taken aim on a single target and delivered the goods.
Ive used many hosting providers in my time and they fall into two categories. one being they get the job done and I carry on with business. The second category is the under delivery of service, sadly I have had more poor experiences with hosting providers than good. That was my belief until I was put onto WPEngine, I wouldn't say that I have associated the word over delivery with a website hosting provider before until now!
WPEngine was created after founder Jason Cohen, was running his blog while being a stay at home dad. He would publish blog posts, and sudden spikes in traffic would crash his blog. It was then had the vision of creating hosting, that had everything he wanted in one provider was his focus.
The company was founded by Jason in 2010 and has shown considerable growth each year since. Most recently they have been working on increasing the functionality of site search helping keep visitors on your websites longer.
The quest for improvement continues at WPEngine.
Who Is WPEngine For
One of the drawbacks to being the premium provider is that you charge like a premium provider. WPEngine may not be for you if you own a lot of domains, the price is quite high but for the level of performance and service you get what you pay for. If you do own a lot of websites you could consider identifying your most profitable sites, and moving the ones that are not to another less expensive hosting provider.
I would say that for people just entering the digital space that the entry price per month would not be best suited, you should look to crawl before you run like Usain Bolt. My thoughts are that this is tailored more towards people that have had some experience online.
WPEngine is NOT for anyone that is using any other content management system than WordPress, simply put if you are not using WordPress for your website this is not for you. Anyone that has a lot of custom coding on their website, you might find WPEngine not suitable for you as they remain firm with the framework. They must provide a reliable and premium service by preserving the integrity of their hosting plans.
"WP Engine's managed hosting platform provides the performance, reliability, and security required by the biggest brands & agencies in the world, while remaining affordable and intuitive for smaller businesses and individuals"
What a very bold claim to make, but can they back it up? Keep reading.
I took a journey into getting to know my host for this review and I found what they call WPEngine Labs, super cool and again i'm impressed by the level of effort put in. When a brand and Ill call WPEngine a brand, dedicates resources to continue to innovate and lead the market you know its something special to be a part of. What WPEngine Labs is about is innovation and making the overall product better.
Not only have they dedicated a website and team to the continued innovative development of the product, they have dedicated a leadership team. Leadership teams get things done, the team at WPEngine Labs is no exception constantly pushing forward making changes & creating a better host.
Features and Benefits
Now to the juicy part of exploring the assortment of features that WPEngine provides. I would say that in terms of growth and scalability you can do no wrong using WPEngine.
WPEngine uses an internal caching feature they call EverCache. This is just one more benefit to using WPEngine, get that feeling the benefits are stacking up right.
Daily backup snapshots are a feature that lets me sleep more knowing my money making website is in good hands. You can always do this manual but I prefer to leave to the automation. if something goes wrong you can backup and restore from your control dashboard.
There are a few choices of data centres, London, Tokyo, United States. Choose the location closest to where your main website traffic comes from for best results.
Staging Areas essential for web design agencies, this is where you can edit the website and have a preview version that is not affecting the live site. The staging area is copy controlled and this is within the WPEngine backend, this feature saves me a lot of back and fourth with edits to my product descriptions and home page display of my store. The ability to see your edits in preview before they are applied to the website is a big plus in my book. I would also add that this should be used when testing new plugins and themes as a rule of thumb.
What Are The Cons?
Now apart from the obvious being price what would make it on to a list about drawbacks from using WPEngine?
The list in this section is more annoying than it is negative, and it depends on how you use the website. It will also vary depending on what you are used to from other hosting providers. My review comes from an ecommerce website, nothing crazy total of 90 pages just a small online store.
- lack of email
- disallowed Plugins
- Visits Pricing Model
Emails are not provided as part of your WPEngine hosting subscription, what a bummer this is the main drawback for me. They do however allow for a variety of third party email providers with easy integration and connectivity.
WPEngine themselves as a company recommend and use Google Apps for their email.
They also suggest Zoho as an alternative to Google Apps.
WPEngine is a WordPress specific hosting provider, they must retain the integrity of their hosting environment by regulating what third party plugins work best and ones that do more harm than good.
Now there are plugins that can be used but need specific adjustments to their operating rules, and they list some plugins that are a definite no.
See more on what plugins are not allowed here.
WPEngine provides a very detailed website visitor breakdown, but the downside and one we identified as a bit strange was charging for visits over charging for bandwidth. You can use the in-depth traffic breakdown reports to identify why you are approaching your quota
For a more in depth understanding of how their charging for visits model works read here.
BitPak Friends Tip: Use MaxCDN or a CloudFlare CDN to help reduce visit counts with images that have been getting some viral traffic from power links.
Some additions that are not deal breakers are not having an affordable SSL available, the one offered are quite expensive at $199.00 yearly and their is no ability to use Lets Encrypt (SSL Provider). This one is more of an annoying problem, for ecommerce (larger sites) you might like me find some caching problems when using Woo-commerce. To have the caching problem fixed you can arrange to run through the exact problem with customer support.
I am continually impressed by WPEngine as a company, I know this is the section of the review that talks about the cons but I don't have anything else that detracts from the positives.
I was reading up on the people that make the company tick for this review, I wanted to give a in-depth insight into the company that has made me take a closer look at my website hosting provider as a legit business.
I decided not to, I found Technical engineer Mark Kelnars bio a little strange that it was set to default text.
On further looking into both Mark and Stephen's extra activities, and I saw just how busy they keep themselves. These two guys have a hectic schedule of meet-ups, speeches and workshops.
Look at the picture lets use this as a con because they left the default text in his bio.
I always like to take a closer look at the features , and WPEngine has a host of features some you wont know are there until you need them.
I really like the click of a button backup and restore function, saves time and is effortless. Now I know how much hassle it is having a lot of websites and having to manually update WordPress patch updates and manage all that. WPEngine takes the cherry here by providing a core system upgrade, one click fix and the option to skip the update until a future patch is available. I just high fived myself! That is very functional.
Migration & Multisite
Easy to use migration services making it a smooth transition when you import a website, also when you need to move your website from your main WPEngine account to a secondary account.
Unlimited means Unlimited
Not just a buzz word, they provide unlimited space. The downside is they charge per batch visit see above features.
Great for clients that need to know where the visitors are coming from. You could use this to serve different content to visitors of various continents, if you require to serve specific legal notices for visitors form set countries you can do this using GeoIP. Visitors can be directed to the web content displayed in their language with no loss of traffic. You can control this with short codes.
The way it works is by providing you with visitor geo location data, the data set specifically is outlined in the below container.
3) Region (State):
5) Postal Code:
Fully automated content transfer to S3, large files will be 301'd directly to the WPEngine S3 for a fast browse for your visitors. This is completely transparent and helps improve the speed at which your content is displayed. Only for largeFS.
WPEngine has a very decent uptime recorded with minimal downtime, I think it is on par with other providers sitting around that 99.70% of overall uptime. In 9 months the total downtime hasn't reached 2 hours Im happy with the uptime, and if I wasn't WPEngine would gladly provide me with a free day for the time lost.
The entry level plan provides a fast service, but the option to increase this with the addition of a CDN is just not even fair to your competitors. It really is a fast hosting provider, you can see the difference while using best practises for making your website run fast is always good for business you can increase where you need it with WPEngine.
Using the WPEngine EverCache system the secret sauce in the service. EverCache takes care of your caching needs automatically, you can manually set rules for cached pages but it is doing the work for you from the word go.
WordPress core patching is a very beneficial feature, this is a time saver. Your website is backed up before core updates take place, in the off chance that something goes wrong WPEngine will rollback your website to the time before the patch update. You can control these manually from your control dashboard or leave it automated.
I have almost 180 updates with only 1 automated rollback, not bad considering Woo-commerce can be fragile at times.
I found this out through a friend who had her website hacked, If you contact support they will arrange to help you get everything back as it was completely restored. Now you might read this and think "But how did the hack take place in the first place?" that would be domain level not on the server level. I think this is a selling point for non technical minded for sure. Included in the daily backup is a scan for malware, taking that extra step to provide value to their customers.
Another security benefit using WPEngine is the access or more so the restricted access, most FTP access is FTP but WPEngine uses sFTP over a secure tunnel or SSH. If you don't have a good password management system and continually forget passwords and locked out of your account maybe WPEngine is not for you, if you fail the log in attempt 3 times you run the risk of having your IP blocked not good and definitely not productive. The only way to get access to your website is by contacting support for assistance, this is very useful but not very functional.
WPEngine automates your backups, running a daily copy you don't have to think about it. Backups are stored on the WPEngine server and they keep another copy on an Amazon S3.
Fair Usage Policy is not really the type of policy WPEngine uses, they instead go for a unlimited bandwidth offer but you have a monthly visitor allowance. This removes the fair use policy and instals more of a credit system for sites that attract large volumes of traffic.
What Do People Say About WPEngine
Well the biggest sign of social proof of quality is showcasing your clients openly, when your client portfolio includes a website speed testing platform you know you have something special. WPEngine also provides services for project management software Asana and business directory powerhouse Yelp! That is enough social proof right there for me to decide ok these guys mean business.
Its hard to find negative reviews for premium providers of services, I am a firm believer that the price tag weeds out the cheapskates. That being said I have found a negative review that still had some positive notes contained within. Looking at the images below its hard to not want to work with WPEngine they have a very premium product that delivers results.
As a provider of digital services you have more risk of having reviews seen opposed to being a provider of physical services, as the bulk of your dealings with customers will be online. The impressive thing I noted from the above complaint, was the he mentioned positives in his bad review. Seeing a 2 star review is bad for business, but if you can achieve bad review status with highlighted positive notes then you my friend are doing good business. I tip my hat to the people at WPEngine, you are doing good things.
After reviewing DreamHost and WPEngine I am impressed with the reviews both have received, very well done to them on delivering amazing quality of services.
Tutorials & Knowledge Base
Things I have come to use more so than customer support recently is the knowledge base provided by the hosting companies.
WPEngine provides a very comprehensive library in their knowledge base, that should assist answering some even advanced troubleshooting.
- Learn The Platform
- Site Setup
- Make My Site Faster
- Enhance My Site
- Manage My Account
Pricing & Subscriptions
Signing up for the first time with WPEngine you will notice a nice bonus of 2 free months added to your account, this is for annual subscription purchases only but thats a great saving. The additional services you can add are additional websites for $14.95 monthly, this comes with a 48% discount on the second website. They also offer a further Speed boost with using a CDN at $19.95 monthly, please note that CDN's are included in the Pro and Business plans.
Entry level plan is the Personal plan, this allows 1 site instal, 25K visits per month, 10 GB local storage and a free SSL certificate.
Personal Plan $29.00 monthly
Need more than 1 website, you should look at the professional plan. This plan allows for 10 site installs and 100K visits per month, 20GB local storage, unlimited data transfer and free SSL certificates.
Professional Plan $99.00 monthly
Businesses should take this plan for maximum benefit, 25 instals, 400K visits per month, 30GB local storage, unlimited data transfer and Free SSL certificates.
Business Plan $249.00 monthly
For those needing bigger than Ben Hur accounts, see the Enterprise Grade and Premium Plans. A more detailed plan comparison is below.
Payment Methods include PayPal, credit card and debit cards.
I want to point out a often overlooked customer value fact, you might think on face value that WPEngine is expensive. Now thats partly correct and lets look at what I mean by this, just how expensive is it for what you have built in.
- Sucuri $16.99 monthly
- VaultPress $29.00 monthly
- VaultPress Blog $19.00 monthly
- MaxCDN $15.00 monthly (Free for WPEngine Pro Plans)
You don't need to be mathematical whizz kid to work out the winning formula, value delivered to each customer through superior products. The $79.95 monthly price tag is eliminated, when you become a WPEngine customer. That is a bargain and one thing I overlooked at first glance, I thought thats was a bit pricey for website hosting. Doing the maths and Im convinced these guys are the real deal.
"Providing world class service is one of our responsibilities".
I find it fascinating that the hosting providers that charge more for their products and services, have better customer support reviews and company reviews in general than the cheaper alternatives. WPEngine claims to serve more than 2 million requests daily from around the world, they block 150 million malicious events and transfer 2 perabytes of data monthly. Ok WPEngine we get it, you guys are something unique in the hosting space.
In my experience hosting companies view their tech support teams as a call centre model, this is ass backwards and they should be looked at like an investment area I mean where do most of the reviews generate from? customer support.
Quoting WPEngine here "For us, Technical support is an investment area and not a call centre". They go on to add this "And the people and teams we're investing in support something amazing". I can say that Ive not seen that on a hosting providers website EVER!
The bright side for WPEngine is that they are still growing, and with the processes they have a growth stage wont hurt them . They appear to be genuinely investing in customer support training, and improvement processes to make the service even better.
For the non technical
Looking for premium hosting services
I wasn't on the WPEngine train until recently, having now seen what my colleagues were raving about I have my boarding pass. The experience has been enjoyable, my two customer support queries were answered within 24 hours. I had clear instructions were to find the helpful tutorial, and it was embarrassingly enough my own blindness that was the cause of the problem.
My website runs fast and causes me no reason to check it daily, I am happy with the service and for the price and peace of mind I like it.
Taking the service on face value I really liked browsing their website, I wasn't cornered into a pop up frenzy of buy now! messages and had complete control over my check out journey. Rarely do you take a checkout journey that isn't cluttered with Buy Now! or Discount Bundle and these "This deal will never be seen again when you exit this page" type marketing. Refreshing and enjoyable.
I was looking forward to test driving a premium product after hearing the rave reviews of friends, and I was not let down speed elegance and support everything I was looking for. A very well earned 5 stars from me.
If you are looking for a solid hosting solution that as you can see, walks the walk then you need to look at WPEngine visit them here.