Happy holidays from WPExplorer and our absolute favorite hosting company WP Engine! We’ve used them for the past 3 years and they. Are. Awesome. With super fast loading times, daily backups (with easy 1-click restoration points), friendly and helpful support (which are two very different qualities my friends), proactive malware scanning, staging site and more all without the cumbersome task of managing your own server since WP Engine does it for you (including software updates & firewall maintenance). They take the hard part out of self-hosted WordPress.
The Importance of Good Hosting, And Qualities of a Great Host
Certainly you’ve read articles on creating good content, optimizing your SEO or adding a CDN for faster load times. But do not overlook the importance of good, and especially great, hosting. Here are some key points to research when choosing a new (or your first) web host.
One of the main reasons you are considering managed hosting is probably the fact that your duties for managing your website will drop significantly. But, it should still be easy for you to check up on your site to see statistics, make adjustments, create backups and more. WP Engine has an easy to use dashboard with a lovely UI that makes keeping an eye on your sites easy-peasy. Just login and you’ll find a list of your various hosting plans. Click on the arrow next to each plan to find quick links to various site management tools.
Traffic & Scalability
You need a plan and a host that can handle your individual traffic needs. Budget hosting plans may offer “unlimited” visits or page views, but in reality the resources available to you are limited by the number of other people you’re sharing your server with. One way to avoid inevitable slowdowns is to choose a host that provides realistic resources according to your plan.
The WP Engine Personal plans start at 25,000 visits per month which is more than enough for a standard personal website or blog. And as you gain popularity, you can always scale up to a large plan that comes with more resources. Because WP Engine sets realistic limits, they can afford to provide you with top notch hardware and other features (like the ones below) that their competitors might not be able to.
To check your stats, log into your hosting dashboard and click on the overview. From here you can review your visitors, bandwidth usage and storage level (and even download a CSV for your records), as well as add/manage SFTP logins.
There’s a 50/50 chance you’re in the market for a new WordPress host, and if you are rest assured the WP Engine makes migrations as easy as possible. They even have their own free WP Engine Automated Migration plugin just for new customers. Smaller sites will move fairly quickly, but larger sites (with tons of content or slow old hosting) may take a while. For instance, when we migrated our site it wasn’t instant, but then again we already had thousands of page of content. The good news is it was easy and we didn’t run into any problems (hooray).
Some people may not need a staging area, but if you want to make major updates or changes to your website a staging site is a huge asset. You can build and create freely, without worrying about your main website going down for maintenance (or worse, breaking during your creative process). Plus, it’s easy to migrate to your changes back to your live site with a few clicks right from your WordPress dashboard.
To create a staging site, simply log into your WordPress installation, click on the WP Engine dashboard menu item and then click the Staging tab. Click the big blue button to copy your live site to a staging area where you can (safely) do whatever you want to your site.
Some hosts don’t support Multisite, but WP Engine offers plans that do. If you think you might want to create a network of microsites with similar purposes at some point, then WordPress multisite is a feature you’ll definitely need. We use multisite functionality for all of our theme demos (checkout our Total demos page, each demo site starts with the same core URL). Multisite makes it easier to manage similar or connected websites, and WP Engine fully supports this WordPress feature and allows it on almost all of their plans (note: it is not supported by personal plans, since the majority of users on this plan do not require it).
Google has put more weight on the value of SSL certificates in their search algorithm, and if you have any type of site that processes user information you should consider purchasing your own. SSL encrypts your readers’ connection to your server, protecting their private information. Luckily, SSL is already fully supported by WP Engine and you can purchase yours through your My WP Engine dashboard (it’s an upgrade, but it’s definitely worth it to protect yourself and customers). Plus if you hit a stumbling block they have a bunch of helpful SSL tutorials in the knowledgebase (it really couldn’t be easier).
No matter how careful you are with your WordPress installation, you may end up in a situation where you need to do a full restore. But a good host will have backups and restoration points ready, and just a click away! WP Engine takes daily backups of your database for you, but you also have the option to create your own restoration point whenever you’d like right from your WordPress dashboard. We often do this before any theme for plugin updates, just to be safe. And although we use VaultPress, it’s nice to have the added layer of security.
WP Engine features Evercache proprietary caching. And it’s built-in. What does this mean for you? Scalability and speed without any setup or plugins required. Your site is caching everything from the moment it was hosted on WP Engine. Even though there are really great caching plugins out there, they can be a real pain to setup to work efficiently with your server and confusing for the average user. WP Engine makes it easy.
You can enable options for object caching, as well as clear your page cache from your hosting dashboard. And if you ever need to clear your cache on the fly (maybe you just updated an old page or post), simply log into your WordPress Installation, click on the WP Engine dashboard menu item and click the big blue button to “Purge All Caches.” Again – it’s that easy.
You want a fast website, right? Well if you use a lot of images a CDN is a huge help in speeding up your website. And WP Engine has a great CDN that is included in their Professional & Business plans, which can be added on to Personal plans for $19.99 per month and is provided for free on their even larger Premium & Enterprise plans (up to 1000GB). We use their CDN on our site and (other than speeding up our site) our favorite feature was how easy it was to setup and configure the CDN. You literally click a button. That’s it.
At some point you’re going to need help, the knowledgebase isn’t going to cut it and you’re going to want to talk to a knowledgeable person. We can attest from first hand experience that the WP Engine support team is a joy to work with. They’re easy to get ahold of, they always have the right answers and they are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever email (submit a ticket 24/7) chat (from 6am-8pm CT, M-F) or talk on the phone with (available 24/7). Plus they were even found to have the best support out of 10 top web hosts tested by VentureHarbour – pretty impressive!
You want a host that’s here to stay, and that has a good reputation with its users. We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with new hosting companies, but choosing an established player means you can benefit from consistent, reliable features that others can attest to. We’ve tried other hosts, and we can tell you with 100% certainty that we couldn’t be happier with our decision to move to WP Engine. They were our glass slipper of hosting – a perfect fit.
Bonus: Features For Developers
Developers have more needs than the average user, and and WP Engine serves up some awesome features that developers will especially appreciate.
If you have client work, you don’t want to signup for hosting on your client’s behalf. WP Engine makes this problem a moot point with their Transferrable Installs. You can build a website, at no cost to you, and when you’re ready transfer it to your client who will then foot the bill (they will of course have the option to choose the plan that’s right for them). This is huge for freelancers and web designers!
Working with a team? WP Engine features Git Push integration so you can easily create SSH keys to add multiple developers to your account. This way it’s easy for everyone on your team to contribute no matter where they are. And as easy as it is to add a new developer, you can just as easily remove one (great if managing added third party contractors).
WP Engine, A 5 Star Host
These are all key features of a great WordPress hosting provider, and WP Engine exceeds expectations on all fronts in our opinion. We give them a full 5 stars. The fact that we trust them to host all of our websites and WordPress theme demos shows just how much we mean it when we say that! If you want to explore the features of WP Engine a bit more (like site password protection, automatic Malware scans, accessible error logs, easy redirections, dedicated IPs and more) just click below.
And make sure to take advantage of our exclusive WP Engine offer. Just use the button to save 20% on your first payment!