WP Engine Hosting Review

I’ve hosted most of my sites with BlueHost the last six years, but I recently migrated this one over to WP Engine. I was mainly curious to see what the impact on page speed would be. As WP Theming has grown in traffic so have load times– despite good caching, gzipped files, minified scripts and css, and sprited images.

Page Speed

The home page of the site had a page speed score of 96% before the migration and roughly 81% after. No theme code changed and the only plugin removal was W3 Total Cache. However, load times improved significantly (as measured by Google):

This Google Page Speed graph shows that page speeds were 1.47 seconds faster after the migration, which is 25% improvement.

You’ll notice average page speed is 1.47 seconds faster, which is a significant 25% improvement. I’d venture to guess the numbers might be even more impressive for someone who had not already worked to optimize load times.

Support

I’ve opened about six support tickets since migrating to WP Engine. All of them got an initial response within 24 hours, and sometimes within minutes. A few were for items I hope WP Engine automates in the future- such as enabling the CDN and the initial transfer of DNS. Others were for plugin issues, a broken menu link, and support for the staging environment. All were resolved fairly quick.

One major benefit of being with a WordPress dedicated host is that the support team can answer really specific WordPress questions. I’ve also met a several of them, and they’re all super helpful and knowledgeable folks.

WP Engine Drawbacks

Before you jump ship with your current shared host, there are a couple items to consider.

Cost: WP Engine hosting plans start at $29/mo compared to around $8/mo with a company like BlueHost or HostGator. If you have higher traffic levels, you might need the $99/mo plan, compared with around $45/mo for a VPS with a company like InMotion and MediaTemple.

Lots of Sites? If you have a large number of low traffic sites, you’ll likely want to keep them somewhere that doesn’t change on a per site basis. Even though I migrated wptheming.com, I kept my hosting package with BlueHost for other domains- including a multisite install that runs off a subdomain of wptheming.com.

E-mail: WP Engine does not provide email as part of the hosting package, so you’ll need to use something like Google Apps, which is another couple bucks a month if you don’t have it already.

WP Engine Benefits

Daily Backups: It’s amazing how many people don’t have any backup system for their sites, so it’s great that WP Engine built this in and made it automatic. You can and should set up backups on other hosts (of course), but it generally involves a little technical know-how or buying a plugin like Backup Buddy or service like VaultPress (comment if you’ve found a free and easy way to do it).

Staging Environment: Anyone who develops WordPress sites knows the pain of setting up a staging environment to test new code. WP Engine has made this fun. You simply press a button and an exact duplicate of your site is synced to a development environment.

Speed: Site speed can have a huge impact on user experience, pageviews, revenue- so you should be thinking about it. Google also uses speed as a ranking factor in search results.

Verdict

If you currently have several sites in the same account, it’s a lot cheaper to keep those all on a shared host or general VPS. If one takes off, you can always move it later- like I’ve done with WP Theming.

If you run a single install of WordPress with medium to high traffic, WP Engine would probably be a good fit- especially if earn revenue from the site and can afford to pay a bit more for hosting.

If you run a single install of WordPress with low traffic, WP Engine might still might be a good choice for the convenience of automatic backups, regular security scans, and a knowledgeable support staff. However, the extra cost won’t make it worth it for everyone.

If you have a super high traffic site, you might also want to read this review.

Disclosure: WP Engine sponsors quite a few WordCamps and WordPress events and they’ve been offering free hosting to attendees. My account is one of these complimentary hosting packages. WP Engine links are affiliate.

Read More: WP Engine Website

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26 Responses

  1. For smaller sites I suggest using a multisite install. If any of the smaller subsites get a traffic spike for some reason being on the WP Engine infrastructure means that the site will handle the traffic well.

    WP Engine offers multisite support.

  2. Hi Devin.

    I have several websites with Bluehost.com and they provide daily, weekly and monthly backups in an automated fashion. Plus with Backup and Restore Pro feature, you can pick and choose from DBs to various files that you wish to restore/download, with a single click!

    All that said, all the sites that i am hosting have little-medium traffic and hence, i am still on a shared hosting environment. But i will be keeping in mind your review here, just in case one of them “takes off”!

    Thanks.

    ( Now getting all ready to use your options framework in the next theme! )

  3. You’ll notice average page speed is 1.47 seconds faster, which is a significant 25% improvement. I’d venture to guess the numbers might be even more impressive for someone who had not already worked to optimize load times.

    Your site could have got the same (or better) improvement in speed if you moved from BlueHost to any unmanaged VPS with similar setup (with Nginx, Varnish, and memcached).

    The only difference that I find in WPEngine is in the support. As they have specific expertise in WordPress, they are much quicker to solve any server side issues that affect WordPress performance. However, I find their support to be slow in recent times. But, this may be temporary that might be solved as they grow.

  4. One simple/easy/free backup solution is to use a plugin like WP Time Machine and Dropbox. If you don’t mind storing your WordPress backups “in the cloud” as opposed to on site, it’s a quick fix for weekly backups.

    Thanks much for the review!

  5. Hey Devin

    What has been your experience lately with WP Engine. I understand they are undergoing some technical issues? Do you have the same view now as you did when you wrote this post?

  6. Azuka

    What would be considered a medium traffic website? For example, what traffic range would one be have to be in to be considered medium or high?

  7. Christian Leu

    I found some Werks abo the Plugin backWPup which is finally doing exactly what I was looking for. Backups to S3 and others, schedules and a very good logging about everything what’s happen.

  8. I’m really interested in WP Engine: Seems like they really know their stuff with wordpress. The page load times of WPEngine aren’t particularly inspiring though.

  9. I’m using WPEngine and my site consistently under 2 seconds.

    I’m a huge fan and highly recommend them after trying different levels of VPS and Pro shared there’s no competition.

  10. WP Engine’s motto is “Hassle Free WP Hosting”, but the first week couldn’t be farther from it. What an unbelievable hassle. They hired an awful company, Websitemovers, to move my sites. Websitemover’s company motto is, “Manana”. Why do something today if you can do it tomorrow, and then tomorrow, and then tomorrow. Forget about an easy or fast migration to WPEngine with this company and WPEngine has no control over them whatsoever.

    It has been over a week since I signed up with WPEngine, and I still can’t make any changes to my web site or I will lose my work (already have lost some because I thought I could get away with making changes before Websitemovers would even begin the work).

    I have only read good reviews about WP Engine, and I sure hope that one day I get to enjoy their goodness. Right now I am wishing that I went with Synthesis since they move web sites to their service themselves and don’t contract out the work out to lame companies.

    If you choose WP Engine, BE VERY CAREFUL if you are on a deadline or better yet hire someone else to make the move for you.

    1. Addicted Brain

      This is a follow up on my other post. I can now report that WP Engine is indeed “Hassle Free WP Hosting”.

      Once I was finished with the migration, which is not done by WP Engine, I got to experience their service. It is EXCELLENT! Their response to tickets is fast, helpful, concise and informative. The speed of my WordPress site load time has increased from GoDaddy and I haven’t made other changes other than to switch my hosting to WP Engine.

      I am really happy with WP Engine (hence, this follow up review) and regret posting my hasty initial post based on my frustration with the company they recommended for migrating the site.

    2. Would you be able to remove this original post considering I had retracted it in a later post? I have now been with WP Engine for over 3 months and my experience with them has been AMAZING and SEAMLESS. I feel awful having this post still live since it was unfair of me to judge them so quickly based upon my migration experience with a 3rd party company.

      WP Engine provides A++++++++ service!

  11. I beg to differ on WP Engine’s customer service. My site was getting errors after I moved to their hosting service. And their customer service rep asked that I register for Pingdom to monitor my site. How is that Hassle Free Hosting?. I call that laziness. Like you pinpoint what specifically is wrong before we lift a finger to help you. But what really gets to me is no phone support. Sometimes it’s easier and nicer to be able to pick up the phone and call. It’s more human IMHO.

    I’ve switched over to Zippy Kid, because they answered their phone. I don’t get businesses that don’t have a phone number or that don’t answer their phones during normal business hours. It’s the #1 way to close a sale, or increase customer loyalty.

    1. Hi Pashmina,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry that you didn’t have an experience that lived up to your expectations with WP Engine, but I’m very glad that you’ve found a host that works for you. I would note that WP Engine does offer phone support for our customers. However, at the end of the day, as the community manager for WP Engine, my primary goal is that folks like you have the best WordPress Hosting for their sites. There are tons of great hosts, like ZippyKid, and I’m glad you’ve found a good place for PPC Plans.

      Please let me know if we can help you out in the future!

      My Best,

      -Austin Gunter

    2. Azim

      I tried to love WP Engine, I really did. My client was displeased with their level of support so we ended up going elsewhere after our trial expired.

  12. WP Engine has been quite a treat after GoDaddy. Most importantly, our web site has been secure, which is a huge relief. Our WordPress sites load a lot quicker now as well. Last, but certainly not least, the technical support team is so versed on WordPress, which is a luxury coming from a hosting company that couldn’t answer any questions as it related to WordPress and plug-ins, etc.

    I really applaud their service and support team.

  13. WP Engine is too expensive — We’re using WPBlaze for WordPress Hosting and it’s been great! Plus they have premium e-mail spam filtering, and domain WHOIS privacy for free.

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