WP Engine is a fully-managed WordPress hosting platform that provides excellent performance and advanced features at a premium price when compared to traditional web hosting. About 5 months ago, we made the switch from a KnownHost VPS to a WP Engine hosting plan mainly due to their plethora of features and their WordPress expertise. So far, it has been a positive experience and we are happy we made the switch. However, there are many people out there who have questioned WP Engine as they can't seem to realize why it is so “overpriced” in their eyes. While it is true that the pricing is higher than your traditional web hosting such as HostGator or InMotion, there is good reason for this and I will do my best to explain three of the main advantages below.
#1 – Automated Backups & Quick Restoration
With a traditional web hosting provider you'll often receive automated backups on a daily or weekly basis, but the problem with this is that these backups are generally difficult to locate/restore and often require the help of a support specialist. This usually results in frustration as you're waiting on someone else's watch to get your website back up and running to your liking.
With WP Engine, your website is backed up every night automatically, but you have the option to initiate a manual backup when it is convenient for you. For example, every time I update a plugin or make changes to the code of my theme I always take a backup or “snapshot” of my website in the event that something goes wrong which makes my website crash or act erratically.
When you want restore your website from a backup or download a backup of your website's files for offline use then you can simply log into your WP Engine control panel and conveniently access a long list of previous backups as seen below:
This interface easily allows me to create new backups, restore old backups, or download earlier backups via the simple click of a button. There is no support representative needed, no digging through a complicated user interface, and most importantly no extra fee for this feature as it is included with every WP Engine hosting plan. Prior to making the switch to WP Engine, we were running VaultPress for our automated backups. WP Engine's backup features are on par with VaultPress and allowed us to ditch the $15/month subscription.
#2 – One-Click Staging Area
WP Engine is the only hosting provider that offers a “staging area” for their users. Here is how the staging area is described via the WP Engine website:
“Any changes to WordPress are live and visible immediately. Screw up your CSS? Install an incompatible plugin that trashes your database? All live for your readers to see. Hope you had backup…
WP Engine has an exclusive feature called “staging.” Here’s how it works: Before you make a scary change to your blog, click the “snapshot” button. We make a complete copy of your blog and set it up in a separate, safe area. You can play with anything you want; nothing’s live. Only when you’re ready to make it live do you touch your main site.
Peace of mind at no additional charge.”
What the staging area does is offer a safe and private area for you to make changes to your website such as editing code, configuring plugins, or switching themes without affecting the live version of your site. This gives you piece of mind as you are free to mess around with your website in potentially dangerous ways without suffering any consequences if anything were to go wrong. This also allows you to keep your website looking as professional as possible since your visitors will never witness any glitches or editing changes that negatively affect the performance or appearance of your website.
Similar to the backup feature, all you need to do is click a button to take a full “snapshot” of your website and it will automatically host the copied website on a temporary URL that is hidden from search engines. The setup process for a staging area takes 2-3 minutes and you have the ability to rewrite over your staging area an unlimited amount of times.
#3 – Security & Malware Scanning
As WordPress has become increasingly popular over the years, it has become a major target for hackers and malware (1 million WordPress sites were hacked in 2011 alone). This should be a serious concern for any website owner as the last thing you want is your website being compromised after putting in all your hard work developing it. With every WP Engine hosting plan, you get free security measures and malware scanning.
Here is what WP Engine promises for security measures quoted from their own website:
Has your site been hacked or exploited? If you’re using a typical hosting company, it might just be a matter of time. Not so with WP Engine. We block tens of thousands of known attacks, and we update our system every day to ensure even the newest attacks are blocked right away. If you can’t afford for your site to be hacked, choose WP Engine.
Never wake up to your site having been hacked again. We automatically scan for, and fix, many hacking attempts on your site. Our guarantee: We’ll do everything we can to ensure your site won’t get hacked. And if your site still gets hacked, we’ll fix it…for free. (We’ll save you the trouble of looking: No other hosting company offers anything like this.)
For me this was a huge issue as there has been thousands of hours put into this website since our launch last year and it would be devastating for us to lose it all due to some hacker or malware intrusion. When doing further research into WP Engine's security features, I found out they use SecTheory and Sucuri as their security firms of choice if one of their websites becomes hacked.
I am not all that familar with SecTheory, but quick google search tells me their customers include major websites such as eBay and Microsoft. This tells you they know what they are doing when it comes to web security and that they don't offer their services for cheap. I am familiar with Sucuri as they are well-known in the web industry and offer multiple plans for websites of all sizes:
By signing up with WP Engine, you are getting the piece of mind that your website is protected from security threats at all times and that if any breach were to happen, you've got some of the best security firms in the industry working to fix the problem in a prompt manner without any extra cost.
Though WP Engine might not cater to everyone's budget, it is clear that their features go above and beyond what the competition offers. If you are serious about the well-being of your website then the security and backups features are a no brainer which will save you money in the long run and give you the piece of mind to sleep well at night knowing your website is monitored and protected.
If you're someone who likes to tinker with your site and continually make changes to the code, add plugins, or switch themes then the staging area will become your best friend. At TheTechReviewer.com, we utilize these three features every day and frankly can't imagine running our site anywhere else now that we have gotten a taste of what WP Engine offers. The price is indeed higher than most competitors, but what you get for the price is well worth it and unmatched by any other hosting provider.