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WP Engine review

Managed WordPress hosting for even the most demanding users

Our Verdict

At first glance WP Engine’s prices may seem expensive but demanding users looking for managed WordPress hosting will appreciate the speed, power and premium features the service has to offer.

For

  • Loads of premium features
  • 24/7 chat support
  • Malware scanning and removal

Against

  • Expensive
  • No email hosting or domain names for purchase

If you’ve ever considered creating your own website or blog, then you’ve likely heard of WordPress. Most web hosting services provide simple one-click installations while some even provide more capable managed WordPress hosting plans. However, no other web host has the WordPress expertise that WP Engine does.

Austin-based WP Engine was founded in 2010 and unlike other web hosting providers that offer a variety of products and services, it only offers managed WordPress hosting. There are no e-commerce plans, VPS, dedicated servers or other options and add-ons to choose from, just a commitment to deliver and manage the best WordPress experience for its users.

So let’s take a closer look at WP Engine’s plans, pricing and features to determine if this web host is the best fit for your website.

Pricing

Right off the bat you’ll notice that WP Engine’s prices are considerably higher than other web hosting providers. This is because many of the features that come bundled with its plans would be considered premium features from other providers that you would have to add to your plan via add-ons.

WP Engine’s entry-level ‘Startup’ plan starts at $35 per month and supports up to 25,000 visits a month with 10 GB of local storage and 50 GB of bandwidth. This plan includes one site, 24/7 chat support, automated SSL certificates and access to the Genesis Framework.

Next up we have the ‘Growth’ plan which starts at $115 per month and supports up to 100,000 visits a month with 20 GB of local storage and 200 GB of bandwidth. The company includes 5 sites with this plan as well as all of the features of the Startup plan.

Finally, we have WP Engine’s most premium ‘Scale’ plan starting at $290 per month that supports up to 400,000 visits a month with 30 GB of local storage and 400 GB of bandwidth. You can have up to 15 sites with this plan and it and the Growth plan both include 24/7 phone support.

If these plans are too limited for your business, you can also create a ‘Custom’ plan with support for millions of visits a month, up to 1 TB of local storage, 400 GB+ of bandwidth and 25 sites. However, you will have to contact WP Engine directly for a quote.

(Image credit: Future)

Signing up

After deciding which plan is the right fit for your website, WP Engine walks you through the account setup process where you’ll have to provide your personal details including your name, email, billing address and payment information. Unfortunately, PayPal is not a supported payment option, so you will need either a credit or debit card to sign up.

You’ll also have to decide which data center you want your site to be hosted on with options to host your site in either the US, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Taiwan, the UK or in Ireland.

WP Engine sets itself apart from the competition by not trying to trick you into purchasing additional add-ons for your site which you may not necessarily need. Instead all of its extra services remain unchecked on its checkout page and you can decide whether or not your site needs them. Many other web hosting providers use this opportunity to trick users into unnecessary upgrades and add-ons but not WP Engine.

The signup process concluded when we received an email from the company which summarized the details of our site and also included several helpful links to tutorials and support pages in case we ended up needing them later.

Creating a site 

Upon first glance WP Engine’s web dashboard appeared quite cluttered with a mass of alerts, status messages, news items and more. However, we did find some settings that could help simplify the situation by clearing things up a bit.

Tapping on a link to our WP Engine plan displayed a panel with further information on our site including our domain, IP address, WordPress version and PHP version. The company also provides some convenient mini-graphs which show recent histories for your visitors, bandwidth and how much storage you’re using.

Unfortunately though, the interface doesn’t even try to point users in the right direction and beginners will likely be confused by some of the language used here such as domain-level redirects, CNAME records, Git push and more.

WP Engine is a premium managed WordPress host that caters more to experienced users over beginners. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is something to keep in mind if you’re just starting out and you might be better off choosing a different web host for your site. 

If you’re creating a new site from scratch, you can launch the standard WordPress admin page with just one click and get to work. The installation itself doesn’t come equipped with any extra plugins or themes but you do have the option to browse and install whatever you need using the standard tools.

Users that have an existing WordPress site can use the BlogVault-based Automatic Migration plugin to move their site over to WP Engine. All of this can be done with just your source server SFTP credentials and your destination URL. However, this plugin won’t work with providers that don’t support SFTP access such as WordPress.com, Wix, SquareSpace and other proprietary services but it should be more than enough to handle regular WordPress hosting without any difficulties.

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

Evaluating WP Engine’s performance is difficult to say the least because the best parts of the service such as management, performance optimizations and reliability are not easy to see or measure. However, after exploring the interface further some clues did emerge.

WP Engine includes built-in automatic backups and this feature is usually one you have to pay extra for with other web hosts. These backups are scheduled to run daily by default but you can also create a backup on demand. WP Engine’s site only displays backups from the last 30 days but you do have the option to download them in archived form if you’re interested in keeping a backup of your own copies locally.

The service also includes a Staging feature which gives you the ability to create a copy of your site for private testing. This feature can be a godsend when trying out a new theme or plugin as you can do so without worrying about how they will affect your production site.

WP Engine even includes built-in performance tests to help you in assessing the performance of your site. These tests give your site a score as well as intelligent recommendations on what you should modify to improve your site’s performance. The report page also displays a table of your results over the past six months so that you can see exactly how individual tweaks affect the speed of your site.

WP Engine’s official support site also contains a number of tutorials and guides which cover the WP Engine portal, how to migrate your website, troubleshooting problems, optimizing the speed of your site and more. While other hosts offer simple step by step guides, the service shows its expertise in this area by offering videos and pages that appear more like a professional training course than the usual basic support content that the competition typically offers.

If you run into any challenging issues that you can’t solve on your own, WP Engine offers 24/7 live chat support on its site as well as phone support with all but its most basic plan.

Verdict and Conclusion

WP Engine’s high prices will certainly be hard for casual users and beginners to justify but more demanding users will appreciate the service’s speed, power and lengthy list of premium features. If you need real WordPress power, look no further than WP Engine.