WPEngine Review: A First Impression

Changing your web hosting company is like getting a divorce. You’ve been with your current host for as long as you can remember, sure there were good times and bad there always are, but where did it all go wrong?

Over those years you’ve boasted about the good things, even recommended others try your favorite host (ok that’s where the marriage analogy should end right?) but more and more you’ve heard people talk about what their hosting can do and you can’t help thinking – “that _would_ be nice”.

Visit WPEngine

WPEngine Review

I only ever like to write a review of a service if I’ve honestly tried it out and recently I have given WP Engine a go, so I thought it would be good to share my experience and provide you with my WPEngine review. I had heard a lot about their system that did sound good, so I approached with an open mind.

The hosting company I’ve been with for around 4 years now has a lot going for it but it’s not specialized for WordPress in anyway (other than the one click install), there we have around 45 stand alone WordPress setups as well as 6 WordPress multisite installations, with probably just over 100 sites running on them. All of these sites have been built by my team and we manage them on an ongoing basis for our clients (See my recent post on ManageWP for more on that).

And with that comes the first pain point – backups.

Having used Backup Buddy since version 2.x we’ve had great success with it on the one off setups but this year the developers behind it announced that they were not really committed to the multisite support. For us it has been working well for Multisites but for others on the support forums I think there were lots of problem. Where we’ve had problems with Backup buddy is on very large WordPress installs. Backups timing out, not completing, a pain and something that has sucked a lot of time.

Having said all of that, I think any WordPress plugin solution that depends on zipping up the data base and the file system, developing it so it will work on the multitude of PHP and web hosting environments that exist, would be a tough job.

Backups On WP Engine

So it’s tantalising when you read some of the pitch from WP Engine around backups. The way they put it, it’s like “using Apple’s Time Machine or Microsoft’s System Restore”.

So is it?

Well I couldn’t help myself. As soon as I created a fresh account there I set about moving one of our largest WordPress sites to test.

No disappointments here: I deleted posts, destroyed plugins, removed parts of the theme – then chose to return to my manually created restore point – Voilà – it just works!

The following day WordPress 3.5.2 was released. Happily in my list of restore point was this.

wp-engine.restore

Yes the WP Engine software had updated WordPress for me, created a restore point before and after they did it and all (in this case) while I was asleep.

Backups are important to me and important to our customers. Honestly this alone has me happy to have a new account with WP Engine.

Is It Quick?

Browse through their homepage, dig into the rest of the web site, it doesn’t take long before you are left with the impression that the hosting should be quick.

Yes, yes it is.

I’ll come clean I don’t have a live site running there yet, but my aforementioned testing site is and I’m here to tell you – it’s quick. If you’ve read my Author info here you’ll know that I come from Australia, not only do we dangle off the end of the globe geographically but also in Internet terms we are a bit out of the way. So it’s always a question we get asked by clients – “ohhh you’re going to host my site in the U.S.?” It’s been bred into us that this could be a bad thing because it will be too slow. Not so with this new hosting, it’s on par or better than a locally hosted option.

The couple of sites I’ve loaded up so far are so quick to load that I got just a little bit excited.

In the past, I’ve been known to spend hours tweaking and testing a site with various caching plugins, getting browser caching working even working with a variety of CDNs to distribute content. Even though I do enjoy the technical quest to work through these setups, I can’t tell you in words the joy when I see a tick box for CDN in the control panel and then it just works.

One of the test sites managed to get a 91/100 results with Google page speed, with very little effort from me (this did make me think what the heck you have to do to get a score of 100).

The WP Engine Control Panel

I’ve seen them all: C-panel, Plesk and innumerable custom jobs when it comes to hosting control panels. When I first logged into WP Engine I was left a bit wanting. It should be simple right? Well it took me a few minutes to get my head around what was going on and certainly the user interface was no Picasso, yes I was a bit disappointed.

The Beta Interface

The Beta Interface

After spending a bit of time I tried the “public beta” version of their control panel – now this is more like it. Obviously I’m not the only one that’s been of the opinion that the user interface needs a coat of paint, the beta interface is much more like it. In fact it’s the URL that I’ve bookmarked and will just use that, it better laid out and makes it easier to understand what’s going on.

There is a version of PHPMyAdmin, tools to add and redirect domain names, access to error logs and the backup tool but there’s not much else. And, that’s ok. You don’t get exposed to the usual setup a database, configure WordPress etc.. that most of us are accustom to. You just click “Add Install” and it’s done – nice.

Meeting The Needs Of The Developer

If you’re in the business of building and maintaining WordPress sites, you’ll surely have come across this situation. 6 Months after the build your clients want to do another round of work, add some cool new tools to their site.

For me this has in the past meant backing up the whole site, installing it somewhere else under a test URL ready to do the work. WP Engine lists this as one of their key features and it is. The above process now involves (assuming you’re logged into the WordPress Dashboard), two mouse clicks. Explained on the resulting pages is how to access your staging area via sFTP. Very nice indeed.

Support, Is There Any?

Well I had a problem that I could not work out. I’d selected a WordPress Multisite to be installed but their system had created it under a sub-domain (like bla.wpengine.com) and I wanted to use my own domain. Sent a support ticket at about 3PM Sydney time and got a response about 90 minutes later. Ok in my book.

The reply was spot on and pointed me to a well written article explaining exactly what I had to do.

Is It Value For Money?

Starting at $29 per month for one WordPress install, it’s not the cheapest – but being the cheapest is not their intention. Being highly customized for WordPress is the intention and for that WP Engine is in a league of their own. If you’re WordPress site is not worth $384 annually for brilliant hosting, I think you’ve got misaligned priorities. Seriously, it’s false economics to buy cheaper hosting then spend your valuable time messing with it to get it anywhere near the quality of this.

Yes, I’m a convert – not ashamed of it at all.

Learn More About WP Engine
Post Author: Peter Shilling

Peter is co-founder of The DMA, an Australian based WordPress development company and HelpForWP.com a WordPress plugin author.

Disclosure: This page contains external affiliate links that may result in us receiving a comission if you choose to purchase said product. The opinions on this page are our own. We do not receive payment for positive reviews.
Got something to say? Join the discussion.
  1. AJ Clarke | WPExplorer says:
    AJ Clarke | WPExplorer
    Thanks for sharing the review Peter! We've been using WPEngine for a couple months now and really love the service. Support seems quite slow for me compared to my last host over at Media Temple but overall I can't complain. Sites are almost always up, the CDN is great, auto cache is great, the dashboard is nice, the restore point system is great, the staff is always friendly. Overall a really great service and really happy I've moved over to WPEngine instead of running my own dedicated server - I can now use all that time spent managing my server on other things ;)
    Admin
  2. ratan says:
    I found that among the available WordPress managed Hosts only basic plans of Synthesis and WPOven can handle more than 30K/Mo visitors . Synthesis has a maximum limit of 75K/Mo with daily limit of 2500 visitors. WPOven doesn't have any limit. WPEngine on the other hand has limit of ~25000 per month on number of visitors per plan But still manages to be the most popular. Its difficult to make a choice between these three.
    • AJ Clarke | WPExplorer says:
      AJ Clarke | WPExplorer
      WPEngine does have a limit but they are very lenient. I go over my limit every month (almost double) haha, and have yet to receive any complaint. Also their service is very great. I've used several hosts in the past and even managed my own server, but I am really loving the "luxury" of WPEngine's managed hosting with the added CDN.
      Admin
  3. Shane Pilster says:
    Do You recommend the WPE's CDN service or do you think another like MaxCDN would work just as well? I have been on shared hosting for too long and I believe I am going to move an image rich site to WPE soon. I was trying to figure out if the CDN through WPE was worth the extra $10/mn when MaxCDN is pretty awesome. Great review, thanks!!
    • AJ Clarke | WPExplorer says:
      AJ Clarke | WPExplorer
      Hi Shane, I personally love the WPE CDN, but also I have the most expensive account so I get it already included ;) I'm not so sure how the MaxCDN works, but I love the fact that the WPE CDN is all automatic you can just switch it on/off via your dashboard without having to configure anything - all your scripts and images are hosted on the CDN and it clears itself (CDN Cache) I think every 5 hours (you can also click to clear whenever you want) but also I submitted a ticket and they bumped mine up to 7 days for better Google Page Speed scores. In my opinion I think the convenience of having your hosting/CDN in one place is definitely worth it. And hey, you'r host will never blame the CDN for an issue on your site or vise-versa ;) ps: I don't know if the $10/month CDN with WPEngine is the same CDN that you get on my plan, but I would assume it is.
      Admin
      • shane pilster says:
        AJ, Thanks so much for the detailed reply! I think we will go with the WPE CDN to keep everything under one roof. All valid points you have. I'll look into bumping the cache up a little for Google scores, everything helps! We will probably be implementing towards the end of the year before we launch the new site. Thanks again!
        • AJ Clarke | WPExplorer says:
          AJ Clarke | WPExplorer
          Awesome, good luck! We recently upgraded to WPEngine premium actually and it's ever more epic ;) I've used a lot of hosts in the past and by far they are my favorite!
          Admin
    • Peter Shilling says:
      I'm a bit slow to the party on this one, AJ's already replied. My 2 cents worth though... The WPE CDN does work very well, the biggest kicker for me is that it _just_ works. You turn it on and it's done. I've spend hours days in the past trying to tune caching plugins etc.. to get even close to the performance that WPE gets, when a simple _on_ button.
      Author
  4. rspindell says:
    just got on WP Engine Premium One today and it is SCREAMING Loving it.
    • AJ Clarke | WPExplorer says:
      AJ Clarke | WPExplorer
      Awesome! We are using Premium and love it as well ;)
      Admin
    • Peter Shilling says:
      It's been a couple of months since I wrote this and since then I've been putting more and more sites into WPEngine. Really enjoying the experience; stuff just works and I think the thing that strikes most people is the speed - awesome!
      Author
    • AJ Clarke says:
      AJ Clarke
      I do not use ManageWP. I did for a while, but not anymore. Because of how I run my sites, I don't find it useful.
      Admin
    • Peter Shilling says:
      Hi Jason, Our setup is that we have ManageWP looking after all of our WordPress installs. Some of them are on WPEngine and some on another hosting provider. Even though WPEngine does the core WordPress updates there is still a need for the other tools of ManageWP (think plugin updates, removal of spam comments etc... )
      Author
      • Jason Alexis says:
        Thanks, Peter! Interested if you are seeing any conflicts between WPEngine and manageWP?
        • AJ Clarke says:
          AJ Clarke
          I'm not Peter, but I used WPEngine and Manage WP for a while there and didn't see any issues (but this was a while back).
          Admin
  5. Steve Pascoe says:
    Just wanted to thank you for this write up. As a fellow dev in Sydney this post was just thing review I needed to push that Pay button. Thanks.
    • AJ Clarke says:
      AJ Clarke
      Awesome. Let us know your experience Steve! We're using WPEngine still for our site and still loving it ;)
      Admin
  6. Mathavan says:
    Hi Peter and AJ, I've been reading mixed reviews on WP Engine. I hear amazing feedback and the complete opposite...saying that their support is terrible, documentation is lacking, and sites are down hours at a time. WP Engine or Web Synthesis was what I was trying to choose between, and I started leaning more toward WP Engine because of their staging area feature, but now I'm not so sure anymore. Have either of you tried out Web Synthesis?
    • AJ Clarke says:
      AJ Clarke
      Hey Dude, nice to see you here. I remember you! I personally use WPEngine and I have never had problem. I have never tested Web Synthesis so I can't tell you which is better. I have used/tested Godaddy, MediaTemple, Bluehost, Hostgator, Hostmonster, VPS.net and WPEngine (current). I have also heard some great things about Pagely and Lightning base (although I haven't tested them either). You can check out some more hosts on our WordPress Hosting page. Whatever you decide don't forget to use my affiliate links ;)
      Admin
      • AJ Clarke says:
        AJ Clarke
        Oh ya...and most hosts have a money back guarantee so if you are truly unhappy you should be able to switch.
        Admin
      • Mathavan says:
        I have also been with several hosts (1&1, Bluehost, HostGator, Media Temple) and I'm a bit tired to jumping around all the time. I understand that there's no perfect hosting, but I wouldn't mind paying little bit extra for better service. I came across Flywheel as one of the options for managed WP hosting. Target audience seems to be designer and developers...and the control panel looks pretty awesome. I think I'm going to give it a try. If it doesn't work and I decide to jump over to WP Engine, I'll be sure to go through your affiliate link :)
        • AJ Clarke says:
          AJ Clarke
          Let me know what you think of Flywheel. I've actually been looking for a blogger to submit a review to our site, if that's something that you might be interested (I'm not sure if you do any blogging) let me know via email. Could be a nice way to get a quality link back to your site and also share your experience (hopefully positive).
          Admin
    • mehmehmeh says:
      We've been on WP Engine for a few years now. Servers have been running fine. I would say in the last little while they seem to be experiencing some support issues (growth?). Its more canned responses, cases where the support personnel don't really read the question, and lack of any real helpful knowledge. Support timeliness has been abysmal lately. So top notch support, not. Issues, not so much.
      • AJ Clarke says:
        AJ Clarke
        Sorry you are having those issues ;( I had a little issue yesterday actually and submitted a ticket and it was answered within the hour and it was resolved right away! WPE Support I have noticed also their FAQ section is growing a bit, so be sure to check that out always (as well as Google search) because a lot of times your answer might be in there.
        Admin
      • Jason Alexis (@jasonalexis) says:
        This has been my issue as of late. THe initial support guys I chatted via email was great but the guys now are average. Very average. They are not interested in really providing wordpress support. I am disappointed but since the systems work well enough, I have not looked at other alternatives as of yet.
        • AJ Clarke says:
          AJ Clarke
          What sort of issues are you having that require support? I'm curious to know the type of questions people are asking. Thanks!
          Admin
          • mehmehmeh says:
            For example.. I asked about how we could do a backup of the staging server (DB). They're response was some links to how to setup a staging server. But this was after it sat in their support queue for 3 days with no response. Our site is large and their system and file cap was too low to use phpmyadmin for backup. Most responses I get from them is a copy and paste from their facts and KB and its like they don't actually read the question.
            • AJ Clarke says:
              AJ Clarke
              It's weird they would send you to links on how to setup a staging server (very unrelated)...but I do agree that something like backing up your db is not really a high priority ticket (unless you are having errors cause by their end, which sounds like it was the case) because if you are managing your own website you should know how to do it. Let's say if your ticket title was just "Backing up Staging" then I can see why it might take some time to get some help, as opposed to "Need to increase my WPEngine System & File Cap - Urgent". I'm not saying that was the issue here, but maybe a possibility? What plan are you on? If you are working with really large databases you probably should be on the Premium plan (it's what I use) or have your own dedicated server so you can export your databases via command line. Anyway, I've always had a pleasant experience with their support. But if you have not I urge you to maybe contact them and let them know how you feel, maybe you can get something out of it!
              Admin
  7. Mathavan says:
    Absolutely! I've already signed up with Flywheel...let's see how it goes. I'll get back to you in a couple of months to share my experience.
  8. Michelle Reefcole says:
    Some WPEngine staff have been caught deleting content from blogs who write about WordPress, I think they do is in support of thier keyword competitors from the U.S. They only delete posts from sites owned by non Americans because they know they can get away with it.
    • AJ Clarke says:
      AJ Clarke
      Are you serious?? I really am having trouble believing that, since we've had such a good relationship with them. I'll reach out and see what I can find out. This doesn't sound like them to me.
      Admin
  9. Urban Asian says:
    I noticed a response out of nowhere. But to recap. We left WPEngine and moved to Wordpress.com. Our traffic in the first week went up 3x's. So something they were doing was killing our traffic. Our last 6 months with WPEngine were awful and luckily we had alternatives. My best opinion of them - don't use them for high traffic sites.
    • AJ Clarke says:
      AJ Clarke
      The basic plan on WPEngine I agree is not really good for high-traffic sites we had some issues on this plan. But ever since we switched to their Enterprise plan everything has been perfect ;) And we have many domains hosted on it with millions of pageviews a month. It is very important to choose the plan that best matches your needs - but this is the same with any hosting company. Sorry you didn't have a good experience with them...I've been on other hosts that people told me were amazing and I had a terrible experience.
      Admin
  10. WP Engine Review says:
    Nice article by Wpexplorer team. I have personally used it for my websites. it has worked fine for me... thanks
  11. techlessions says:
    WP Engine is by far one of the best managed web hosting services around. They offer an extensive list of features and have several different plans on offer for all kinds of users. If you’re new to WordPress or simply don’t have enough time to take care of your site’s maintenance, security, and upkeep, WP Engine is perfect for you – provided you don’t mind spending some money.i have been using it from quite some time ,i must they are excellent and up to the mark with their service.
  12. WP Engine Reviews 2016 says:
    Thank you for sharing great reviews about WPEngine, I was looking same post!!!

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