WP Engine Review

WP Engine Review
Plan in review: Personal
Reviewed by:
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Review Last Updated: November 21, 2017
Summary
WP Engine is a very special web host company that focuses only on one niche: WordPress Hosting. Its entire hosting system runs literally on a WordPress platform. My new study shows that WP Engine is back to the peak of its game, read on to learn more.

How I found out about WP Engine first?

I first learned about WP Engine long time ago.

Back when the company first started in 2010, I did an online interview with its cofounder Jason Cohen (you can read it here).

Not many have heard about the name “WP Engine” back then, but the company was growing exponentially. Many well known bloggers and businesses (including HTC, FourSquare, Balsamiq, Sound Cloud) were switching over.

A year after the interview, I got a free basic account and moved WHSR over. The migration process was very smooth and my site load time was halved instantly. Needless to say – I was very happy and stayed for more than 2 years.

Shortly after Google Penguin (which WHSR took a big hit), I decided to change and started rebuilding everything from ground zero. The idea was to grow WHSR into a web service provider, build a community around ourselves, and rely less on Google traffic. That was the time when WHSR Uptime Monitor was made and we switched back to conventional VPS hosting environment.

The year was 2013.

Today’s WP Engine

Over time, WP Engine has grown into an extremely popular web host. Many things have changed since WHSR shifted out. Various new features were added as technology advances, the company is funded by a large group of investors including Automattic (the folks behind WordPress.com), and many bloggers and WP experts regard them as one of the best managed WordPress hosting (there were also some who go against them, more about that later).

To give you better accuracy on WP Engine, I did a new round of study in October/November 2015 and brought you this brand new review.

But first – special discount.

Exclusive Discount  – Save 20% on First 3 Months

20% Discount on First 3 Months

Latest discount – When you order WP Engine via our exclusive promo link, you’ll get 20% off for your first 3 months. Personal plan starts at $23.20/mo after discount; $79.20/mo and $199.2/mo for Professional and Business respectively.

 

 

 My Experience With WP Engine (2012 – 2017)

2012 – 2013 Period

wpengine response time

My experience with WP Engine during the early days was nothing but WOW.

In brief –

  • Hassle-free site migration The migration process from Hostgator (WHSR’s old host) was ultra smooth. All I did was provide some login details and Jeremy (WP Engine tech person) sorted everything out for me.
  • Hosting speed Site load time halved instantly (see image) and scored 100% uptime in most period. As you can see from the chart – WHSR’s response time improved almost 100% (as measured by Pingdom) right after the site migration (no other fine-tuning was made when measured).
  • Save money As daily backup and malware scan were provided, I canceled my Vault Press subscription on the second month. Seeing that VaultPress charged $40/mo back then, switching to WP Engine actually saved me money even if it wasn’t a free account.

2013 – 2015 Period

Ever since I moved out, I work with a friend who’s hosting his site on WP Engine. The following are some of the uptime scores we recorded.

wpengine sept uptime - site has not down for 1757 hours
WP Engine hosting uptime score for the past 30 days (Sept 2015). Note that site has not down for 1757 hours.
wpengine hosting
WP Engine hosting uptime score for the past 30 days (September 2014).

2015 – 2017 Period – Why WP Engine is back as my 5-star Host?

I’ll let the data speaks for itself. Looking at these uptime and speet test results – there’s no doubt that WP Engine is one of the most reliable and fastest WordPress host in town.

Speed Test Results (Jun 2017)

Excellent speed test results test from most locations. Except for Japan, other locations are scoring A+.

WP Engine Hosting Uptime (Jun 2017) – 100%

WP Engine server uptime for the past 30 days (June 28th, 2017): 100%. Test site has been up and running for the last 1,600 hours.

WP Engine Hosting Uptime (Feb 2016) – 99.97%

wpengine feb 2016 uptime
WP Engine Hosting uptime scores (Feb 2016), test site went down for a brief minute on Feb 17th, 2016.

WP Engine Hosting Uptime (Nov 2015) – 100%

WP Engine Hosting uptime scores (Nov 2015)
WP Engine Hosting uptime scores (Nov 2015)

 

To sum things up: What I like about WP Engine

Here are the main things I like about WP Engine –

  • Premium managed WordPress hosting – Extremely reliable and fast hosting; user satisfaction in server performance guaranteed since 2011. And, not to mention that WP Engine’s uptime is backed by SLA – you get refunds if the host is not serving you enough uptime.
  • Worry-free – Daily backup and malware scan. Plus, they will fix everything if your site is hacked.
  • Cost efficient / cheap – Yes, WP Engine is in fact cheap if you factor in the features that were built directly into the hosting. For examples – VaultPress costs $29/mo, Blog Vault Plus costs $19/mo, Sucuri (for Malware scanning) charges $16.66/mo for one site, MaxCDN costs $15/mo (free MaxCDN if you go with WP Engine Professional Plan and above) – you can forget about all these add-on costs if you go with WP Engine.
  • Staging Sites – A staging site is like a playground for your blog. The feature allows you to test stuffs, find bugs, and redesign your site without jeopardizing your current site operation.
  • LargeFS – A feature where you can sync all your files with a nominated Amazon S3 bucket so theoretically you have unlimited storage for your site.
  • Evercache – WP Engine’s in-house caching technology for massive scalability and speed.
  • 1 –click Restore – Forget about cron. WP Engine supports instant backup plus 1-click restore with easy Snapshot Backups.

Important: WP Engine Frequent Ask Questions

What WP Engine offers is not something common seen in the hosting market. I am sure you have lots of questions before signing up. Here are some common issues and users’ concerns you should know before jumping on board.

FAQ #1. How does WP Engine’s Visit Counts work?

Will I get over-charged for bot visits?

One of the biggest complaints on WP Engine is how they charge their customers – as a user, you will be charged based on visit. WP Engine entry plan, for example, allows up to 25,000 visits per month. If you blog attracts more than 25,000 visits in a month, you’ll need to pay more.

So, more visits = more CPU resources usage = higher host fees. Fair? No, not fair. According to Harsh from this Shout Me Loud post (last updated April 2015) – Because WP Engine is also charging on bots visits and has not implemented any measures to block bad bots (unlike conventional hosting, users can’t setup their robots.txt to block bad bots at WP Engine). Users were forced to pay overages due to bots visits.

Solution

"No more bots", - says WP Engine.
“No more bots”, – says WP Engine.

WP Engine removed bot visits from their billable visits calculations starting October 13, 2015.

Problem solved.

FAQ #2. Can I trust WP Engine customer support?

WP Engine supports was top class during my first stay (2012 – 2013).

Every support single staff that I spoke to was a WordPress wizard. And they were so passionate with their job – that you can tell from how quick they reply your emails – their ticketing support system was like a live chat where I got almost instant responses every time.

However if you search around and you’ll noticed that here were quite some complaints on WP Engine customer support in 2014, including this lengthy review by Matthew Woodward. The complains, generally speaking, focus on two things –

  • Uninformed / inexperienced support staffs,
  • Slow responses (some even said their requests were ignored), and

Solution

Mounting criticism of the company has prompted the response by WP Engine founder Jason Cohen in this blog post in May 2014 – Growth is Hard. To address the issue, seven immediate actions were taken, including hiring new support staffs (they have increased the support team by 50% since then) and allow customers to reach out the company’s engineer directly (read quotes below).

  1. Hiring. We closed our Series C financing in January and immediately put it to work in hiring in the Support Team. We’ve increase the team by 50% since then. It’s very hard to hire quickly and yet maintain our standards of both attitude (culture) and aptitude (ability). We’ve even hired additional internal recruiters to help us accelerate this process.
  2. Direct-to-Engineer. Some of our customers are highly technical, so whenever they contact us, it’s with difficult, interesting problems—not ones that can be solved with a knowledge base article or a simple, obvious response. Therefore, we started creating pathways for those customers to get to engineers faster—people who can work on the mind-bending stuff. Of course we don’t have that 24/7 yet, like we do with regular support. Fortunately, those problems are usually OK to be solved during normal business hours, so overall this approach has been effective.

By looking at these response from the company top person, I think this explains why there were a lot less complaints and outrages customers in 2015. I do not consider this as a solved case; but I am convinced that WP Engine users are much better supported today compare to 2014.

Updates October 2017: Recent WP Engine users review

Recent user reviews (mostly quoted from Fit Small Business) indicate that WP Engine’s customer support is back to its top form.

“Customer service is probably at the top of the things I like about WP Engine. Every time we needed help, we got it pretty quickly and with a REAL native english speaker. You better believe it!” – Kim, Mendability.com.

“Great website performance, top notch technical support, excellent site security. It’s truly a case of you get what you pay for. WPEngine costs considerably more than other hosting providers, but along with that comes the performance and customer service that’s considerably superior than the competition.” – Gary Grey, Go Tech Heaven.

“Extremely likely, between the simple setup, automated migrations and great support when you need just a little more control, WP Engine has not failed me yet. There seems to be times when the admin side of a site seems a bit sluggish. This is usually during peak hours, but if your site is on a server with other sites that have heavy loads, you can become affected. But you can usually ask them to move your site to another server and they’ll take care of getting you to a more reliable environment.” – Bret Wegner, Drive Social Now.

FAQ #3. WP Engine = WordPress Sites Only

Keep in mind that WP Engine is a WordPress-only hosting. This means if your site is not WordPress base, then you can’t host your site at WP Engine.

You may ask, “Isn’t dumb to limit your market and focus only on WordPress users?”.

Truth is – I was equally surprised when I first found out about this (WordPress is not as big as today back in 2011) and I asked Jason about this during our interview session:

When asked “How has the strategy of solely focusing on WordPress users affected the business?”

Jason answered: “Focusing only on WordPress means we can do a fantastic job. For example we hire WordPress experts only, so everyone at the company is helpful and knowledgeable when you call into tech support.

Lots of hosting companies answer the phone on the first ring and call that “good service.” Of course if the person on the other end can’t debug the WordPress problem, at the end of the day it’s not helpful. We know what we’re good at — and what we’re NOT good at! — and we do only the former.”

“That’s how it affects you — the customer. How it affects the back-end business is that we can be more profitable because we don’t have to diversify technology or talent. American Airlines can’t make money because they service 20 kinds of planes; Southwest and JetBlue are profitable and run only a few models. We’re like the latter; most hosting companies are the former.”

FAQ #4. I am running multiple WordPress sites. Is WP Engine right for me?

wpengine price

Quick answer: WP Engine can be costly for multi-sites owners.

Referring to the image above – WP Engine hosting plans, Personal ($29/mo), Professional ($99/mo), and Business ($249/mo), support 1/10/25 domains respectively.

If you are running a number of low traffic sites then it is much better to host them with the usual shared hosting that normally cost $5 to $10 per month.

But bear in mind that I am not saying WP Engine is costly. They are not.

Compare WP Engine price with other managed WordPress hosting providers

Here’s a quick comparison on WP Engine pricing with two other similar hosts.

Features / WP Host WP Engine Pressidium Pressable
Plans Personal / Professional / Business Personal / Professional / Business A / B / C
Number of Sites 1 / 10 / 25 3 / 10 / 25 5 / 10 /20
Monthly Visits 25k / 100k / 400k 30k / 100k / 500k 15k / 50k / 100k
Storage 10GB / 20GB / 30GB 10GB / 20GB / 30GB
CDN +$19.99/mo / Free / Free +$10/mo / +$10/mo / Free Free / Free / Free
Trial 60 days 60 days 15 days
Exclusive Discounts WPE20 – 20% discount on first 3 months
Monthly Price $27.55 / $94.05 / $236.55 $24.90 / $69.90 / $199.90 $20.83 / $37.50 / $75.00

FAQ #5. How do I send and receive email with WP Engine?

WP Engine does not provide email or webmail features.

This means if you want an email address ending with your domain name (something like email@mydomain.com), you will need to host your own email accounts.

Yes, I know you can always go with Gmail as Google provides free email hosting services (as recommended by WPEngine); but not all website owners want their data to be hosted with the big G (me included!).

However, stay no fear. I have tried a few different solutions when I switched my host to WP Engine and written this lengthy article on overcome the issue – What to do when your web host does not provide email hosting services – so… no big deal with that.

FAQ #6. Does WP Engine provider site migration service?

No.

But WP Engine has developed a hassle-free automated migration plugin. All you need to do is provide some account details and the migration process (ie. searching/replacing values in database, updating link structure, and multiple sites migration, etc) can be done automatically with the plugin.

For detail instruction, read this post. To download the migration tool, here.

Screen shot of the WP Engine migration plugin – this is where you add your migration info into the tool.

WP Engine Special Discounts

[Update October 2015] Coupon Code: WPE20 / 20% Discount on First 3 Months

Latest discount – use promo code WPE20 when you order WP Engine and you’ll get 20% off for your first 3 months. Personal plan starts at $23.20/mo after discount; $79.20/mo and $199.2/mo for Professional and Business respectively.

 

For more details, visit WP Engine online (link opens in new window): http://www.wpengine.com/

Bottomline: Is WP Engine right for you?

WP Engine is one of the top WordPress hosting services in market. No doubt about it.

However, I do not recommend WP Engine to everyone.

For example – if you do not intend to run your site in WordPress, then there’s no point for you to be here.

Or, if you are new and just started, I would suggest you to go with conventional shared hosting services like InMotion or Interserver or eHost. I believe you’ll thank me for the much cheaper option.

Or, if you need to host multiple low traffic sites (which do not need so much server resources), then WP Engine would be too costly for you.

That said – WP Engine is truly a rare gem.

If you read Devesh’s article Best Options for Managed WordPress Hosting, this is what he wrote on WP Engine –

If you want a bit of everything, go with WPEngine. This option is for you if want to scale without compromising the quality of support and loosing developer friendly tools. And at the same time, not want to spend a fortune. I have been using WPEngine for a long time and never had any problems with them.

Personally, I had very good time with WP Engine in the past and I see lots of the recent changes at WP Engine as positive signs. This is why I have upgraded my rating from 3 stars to 5 stars.

WP Engine is recommended for those who fit the following bill …

  • You are running a single WordPress site with medium to high level traffic,
  • There is a possibility of your site go viral and hit Reddit front page,
  • Your WordPress site is your main income source,
  • You are always worrying about hackers and malwares,
  • You don’t like handling the tedious WordPress maintenance job – such as site back up and file cache tuning;

Make the move as I did with WHSR and quit worrying about your site being hacked or down due to traffic surge.

Order WP Engine Now

For more details or to order WP Engine (Remember to use promo code WPE20 for extra savings) –

 

(P/S: The links pointing to WP Engine in this page are affiliate links. If you purchase via this link, it will credit me as your referrer. This is how I keep this site alive for almost 8 years and able to add more free, helpful hosting reviews. Buying via my link doesn’t cost you more – in fact, you will get extra discount from the given promo code WPE20. Your support is highly appreciated, thank you! )