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- Rated 4 stars
- WP Engine Managed WordPress Hosting
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- Company ReputationEditor: 80%
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- FeaturesEditor: 100%
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- Value For The PriceEditor: 90%
WP Engine is a premium hosting provider that focuses solely on WordPress-based websites.
During the year that this website has been in existance, we went from a HostGator shared hosting plan, to a KnownHost VPS, and just a few months ago, we made the switch to WP Engine. There were several reasons for our move to WP Engine, but the main reason was I felt as though we “outgrew” the Knownhost VPS and wanted to spend our money with a hosting provider that specifically deals with WordPress to take this site to a next level. I have been hesitant to write this review as I wanted to give a solid few months of using WP Engine before I gave my honest opinion of my experience thus far.
Each WP Engine plan comes with a large amount of competitive features. Each plan is limited to a certain amount of visits per month with an unlimited data transfer limit, but luckily in the next few paragraphs I’ll explain how this limit is easy to overcome with a little trick I learned. If you decide to not use the trick I use, you’ll be charged $1 for each 1,000 visitors over your limit and if its way over your limits, you’ll be asked to upgrade to the next tier.
Incapsula to the rescue!
This is our overview of our traffic (via Google Analytics) from the previous 30 days in which this article was written:
According to my GA numbers, this site received 57,357 visits in the past 30-day period thus requiring this website to be on the ‘Professional’ level plan at $99/month or the $29/month plan with $32 in overage charges. Well luckily, neither of those situations are the case as I have found a legal way to get around these limitations and run a much larger site on just the base plan.
For example, here is the traffic report from my WP Engine Dashboard during the same 30-day period:
As you can see, there is a drastic difference between the two traffic reports and the data does not even appear to be from the same website (WP Engine only registers 240 visits during this period).
How I accomplished this was simple, I signed up for a web service called Incapsula (competitor to CloudFlare) which is advertised to “protect & accelerate your website”. The primary reason that I signed up for Incapsula was because they protect your website from threats such as file intrusion and block “bad” bots that are scrapping content or trying to abuse your server resources. Before Incapsula, my website was showing thousands of visits per day in my WP Engine dashboard which was mainly due to these bots, but after incorporating Incapsula I was able to get that number into the single digits!
All of this for a simple cost of $19/month which saves us a good amount of money over upgrading the next tier of WP Engine’s service:
Total Monthly Hosting Cost: $67.95, a savings of $31.05 over the “Professional” level plan ($99/month)
This is one of the features that really sets WP Engine apart from its competitors and one that caught my eye when browsing for a new hosting solution. The staging area allows you take a copy of your website at any moment, save it to a separate “staging” URL (automatically blocked from search engines), and carry out changes to your website without the live version being affected. This allows you to test out new plugins, themes, updates, code changes, and widgets without having your visitors see the various bugs or mistakes that might come forth during this process.
You do this by clicking the blue button above called “Copy site from LIVE to STAGING” which only takes about 30 seconds for a site our size (around 1,000 posts). When you’ve made your changes to the staging site and want to add them into your live site just click the black button “Copy site from STAGING to LIVE” then you’re good to go! It will automatically replace the staging site with your live site in a matter of just a few minutes. It’s a totally “hands-off” approach to this and something that we use on a regular basis adding serious convenience to the upkeep of this website. Also, I’m going to get into more detail about the backups in the next section, but every time you copy your site from staging to live, it takes an automatic backup of your site making sure that you’re always covered if you overwrite something you needed accidentally.
So before switching to WP Engine, we were utilizing a backup service called VaultPress. This service is excellent and works with WP Engine, but when I added Incapsula into the mix, I ran into issues and decided to ditch the VaultPress subscription since WP Engine already has a built-in backup system. Although WP Engine’s backup function has less features, it gets the job done nicely.
You can create a backup point at any time (only takes a few seconds) by visiting your WP Engine control panel and clicking “BACKUP NOW”. It creates one automatically every day, but I always make a backup before updating my plugins or making any large changes just as a precaution if it happens to cause issues (it will automatically remind you to make a backup each time you try to update a plugin).
No Caching Plugins Needed
This was another great reason why I was drawn to WP Engine. Fiddling with caching plugins is a real pain in the butt and I found it to not be worth my time anymore. Here is what they advertise with each WP Engine hosting plan:
You still have the ability to turn this caching on/off, purge it, and a few other options, but the majority of the tinkering is done for you which is a huge relief for someone like me who would rather not deal with it all.
Before WP Engine, I’ve always been lucky enough to deal with hosting companies whom offer 24/7 customer support as well as live-chat representatives whom can remedy any situations at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, this is not the case with WP Engine as their support only has limited support hours (Monday through Friday from 9am to 6pm Central).
They just recently implemented a live-chat support feature into their control panel’s backend, but this feature is still only available for use during regular business hours so its effectiveness is still limited. If you have an issue outside of these hours, you will be stuck using their ticketing system which as you can tell from the situation below, does not always have the best outcomes.
To be frank, I haven’t had many issues with my service since switching to WP Engine and I am thankful for this. However, when I did need to contact support, I found them to be generally not the most helpful. They surely were not going above and beyond what I expected from how they advertise themselves:
Here is another great example of what I mean. When I went to actually make the switch to WP Engine, I wanted the website transfer to be a “hands-off” approach for me. I didn’t want to have to facilitate or overlook the transferring of the website and according to WP Engine’s website, I would not be responsible for doing so:
Unfortunately, when I reached out to the WP Engine support, this is the response I received:
How much was the service they were promoting for me to use for what I expected was going to be potentially a free (or under $50) transfer to their hosting? A whopping $250!
This truly offended me as I believe asking any new customer to spend that amount of money just to switch to your service when you are advertising that you’ll help with the migration is truthfully far too much to ask.
Since making the switch, my response time and page speeds have been consistently solid. Our site often displays a lot of images as well as integrates multiple external APIs so our speeds are record-breaking, but it gets the job done as efficiently as possible given the circumstances.
We have had an uptime of 99.95% since we started back in April. This is an excellent percentage having only 2 hours and 25 minutes of downtime over a span of over 3,600 hours is very competitive when up against any other hosting provider.
In the end, I am happy with my move to WP Engine especially on a performance and convenience level. The service has proved to be solid with consistently fast speeds, excellent uptime percentages, and an extra piece of mind thanks to their backup and staging features. Unfortunately, I’ve found their support system to be less than stellar which is disappointing as they have all the other aspects going so well for them. Regardless, I still think WP Engine is one of the best WordPress hosting solutions around and you won’t find any other providers who will give you the same value on the dollar, month-after-month. I foresee our website being hosted by WP Engine for the extended future and would highly recommend them to any prospective buyers as the value provided with their service is well worth the inconvenience of dealing with their mediocre support.