WPEngine is a managed WordPress hosting provider founded by serial entrepreneur Jason Cohen in 2010. The Austin-based company offers multiple hosting plans, all of which are optimized for WordPress.
WordPress powers 25% of websites in the world, making it a popular target for hackers. Most web development pros know how to maintain and secure a WordPress site properly, but many site owners fail to keep the CMS’ core files, plugins and themes up to date, leaving many of these sites vulnerable to attacks.
This is a gap Jason Cohen wanted to bridge with WPEngine. He wanted to create a hosting solution for WordPress that would make sites using the CMS faster and more secure.
The company has grown quite a bit over the last 6+ years. Heather Brunner is now CEO with Jason Cohen acting as CTO so he can focus on the tech side of things. Does the company live up to his original vision? Let’s find out.
01. WP Engine Plans: Starts at $29/month
Don’t get confused when you see the word “shared” listed as the hosting environment for WPEngine’s cheapest plans. These are not the same shared hosting environments other hosting providers offer. WPEngine uses what’s known as virtual private servers. Resources are shared on these servers, but other sites hosted on the same server cannot intrude on one another as they can in typical shared hosting environments.
The company’s two most expensive plans use dedicated servers. Subscribers of these plans host their sites on their own servers. These servers are more powerful and flexible than virtual private servers.
Here are WPEngine’s plans:
- Personal $29/month: For sites with up to 25,000 visits per month.
- Professional $99/month: For sites with up to 100,000 visits per month.
- Business $249/month: For sites with up to 400,000 visits per month.
- Premium: For sites with over 1 million visits per month.
- Enterprise Grade: For sites with over 5 million visits per month. This plan can handle more than 50 million visits per month.
It should be noted that WP Engine’s Personal, Professional and Business plans come with a 60-day, money-back guarantee that gives you a risk-free way of trying this host out.
02. Services: Built-in Caching, Security, Staging, and More
WPEngine is a managed WordPress hosting provider whose services optimize WordPress sites for speed and security. Some of these services are geared toward experienced developers while others are geared toward WordPress novices.
Built-in Caching System with EverCache
Installing caching plugins like WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache are unnecessary when you host your site with WP Engine. This hosting provider includes a built-in caching system called EverCache with every install.
The system works in the same way caching plugins do, serving media in a way that increases site speed and availability. The system detects when it needs to be refreshed and does so on its own, but you can also do this manually.
The support staff is also ready to implement any special caching rules you need.
Built-in Content Delivery Network
WPEngine is partnered with MaxCDN, which allows the company to include a content delivery network with every install. A CDN enables you to distribute access to your site across multiple global servers rather than a single local server. This can make it easier and quicker for international users to access your site as they’ll be able to access it on a server that’s closest to them.
The service costs an additional $19.99/month with a Personal plan, but it comes bundled when you purchase any other plan. You’ll even receive your first 1,000GB free if you choose the Premium or Enterprise plans.
WPEngine includes an advanced security system that scans for malware and protects your site with an active firewall no matter what plan you have. This negates the need for third-party security plugins or services.
Developers will appreciate the staging feature that comes with every WP Engine plan. A staging area is where a clone of your site that exists. It’s separate from the live version of your site. The purpose of this is to give you a way of testing new themes, plugins, and other changes without having to make changes to your live site. This lets you perform tests without potentially jeopardizing the user experience of your live site.
This is another feature developers will love. Transferable installs let you develop a site without having it be accessible to the public. It’s blocked through password protection instead. This feature is designed to help developers get started on new projects for clients quicker so they don’t have to wait for their clients to purchase hosting accounts or add them as users in the WordPress admin.
You as a developer can use your WP Engine account to develop a site on a transferable install. Once your client is ready to go live with the site, you can use WP Engine’s service to transfer the entire install over to them.
WPEngine sells its own SSL certificates to make the process of purchasing and managing one a lot simpler. This service is available on all hosting plans at a fee of $49.99/year. If you have a Professional plan or higher, you can utilize a third-party SSL certificate for your site.
LargeFS is a feature WPEngine developed that connects your hosting account to your Amazon S3 account. Amazon S3 is a cloud storage solution. LargeFS essentially gives you an unlimited amount of storage for media files.
03. Customer Support: Available 24/7 via live Chat
WPEngine implemented a major change in April 2016 that completely altered the way they handle customer support. Every support request now begins with a live chat session rather than a phone call or ticket. Support is available 24/7, and a ticket will be created for you if your issue cannot be handled through the live chat session.
The 24/7 live chat system is available for all plans. 24/7 phone support is available for professional and higher plans, and 24/7 ticket support is available for enterprise plans.
Knowledge Base & Blog
WPEngine offers an extensive knowledge base & blog filled with dozens of articles designed to help you help yourself.
The knowledge base is a great place to check when you’re not sure what to do about a particular issue with your website or hosting account. It includes a section that lets you get to know the WPEngine platform a little better as well as a number of different articles that help you troubleshoot specific WordPress-related issues.
The blog is a great way to keep up with WPEngine’s latest updates, changes and new services. It also includes plenty of WordPress and online business-related tips.
04. Performance: No Downtime and Loads Quickly
I’m happy to report that WPEngine is a reliable web host in terms of uptime and site speed. Our test server experienced no downtime whatsoever, as you can see in the image above. You can also see how quickly it loaded when we tested it with Pingdom.
05. The Bad Stuff: No Email Hosting, Disallowed Plugins, and Exclusive to WordPress
No web host is perfect, and there are certainly things about WP Engine that may be a turn off to some.
Exclusive to WordPress Sites
This can be a pro if you use WordPress exclusively, but site owners who don’t like WordPress and developers that build sites without WordPress may find the inability to build whatever they want in whatever they want it a little frustrating.
The reason why this is a pro for WordPress users is due to the way WP Engine’s exclusive nature allows it to fine tune every aspect of its business. Most web hosts are compatible with a number of different content management systems. This can make it difficult for these companies to hire staff members that are fully experienced in every platform their services are compatible with.
WP Engine is able to hire a group of staff members who are experienced in WordPress well enough to tackle every issue a customer might have. It can also fine tune the services it offers as it doesn’t have to worry about having to be compatible with every CMS available on the market.
Plans May Not Be Cost Effective to Some Users
The first thing you’ll probably notice when you browse WP Engine’s website is the cost of its plans. Its cheapest plan is $29/month, after all, and it only gets more expensive the more sites you need to host and visitors you need to support.
However, WP Engine is a premium service whose target customers are professional businesses and web developers who use WordPress to power their businesses. They don’t offer cheaper shared hosting options because their target customer needs a lot more power than that.
Plus, they jam pack a lot of services into their hosting plans, even the Personal one. If you don’t need the power this service has to offer quite yet, give SiteGround or InMotion Hosting a try.
Small List of Disallowed Plugins
WP Engine includes a lot of services inside of its hosting environment. You are not allowed to use a few popular plugins because of this. This includes W3 Total Cache, WordFence, and WP DB Backup.
You can view a complete list of the plugins this service disallows here.
No Domains or Email Hosting
This may be a big deal to those who are used to registering their domains and hosting email accounts through their web hosts. WP Engine doesn’t offer either of these services. You’ll need to rely on third party services for them.
SEO Settings Need to Be Configured Carefully
SEO issues are common complaints among WP Engine users. This is largely due to a few settings that need to be tweaked manually in order for your site to rank as best as possible with WP Engine. Thankfully, Brendan Tully of Search Engine Shop has created a thorough post outlining everything you should do to ensure your site gets the most out of WP Engine in terms of SEO.
06. Who is WP Engine for?
WP Engine is a powerful beast, but not everyone needs this much power. For example, if you’re just starting out and do not expect your site to go viral, you’re probably better off with a shared hosting server from InMotion Hosting or SiteGround. These are cheaper and not nearly as overkill as WP Engine’s Personal plan.
It may be obvious, but it’s also worth mentioning that you shouldn’t purchase a plan with this host if you don’t plan on building and maintaining your site with WordPress. It’s a WordPress-only environment, and it doesn’t make much sense to host your site here if you’re going to move it to another platform later on.
With that said, there are a number of different groups that would benefit from the managed WordPress hosting WPEngine offers.
The most premium plans WP Engine offers include servers that can handle millions upon millions of visitors per month. Businesses that power their websites with WordPress cannot afford to have downtime, issues with site speed and security flaws. Thankfully, the premium services WP Engine offers takes care of all of this.
Setting up security plugins, caching plugins, backup plugins, and maintaining a WordPress site in general can be stressful for WordPress novices. Many bloggers and business owners often run slow and unsecure sites because of this.
WP Engine protects your site from malware, brute force attacks, and malicious code. They even include a built-in caching system, create daily backups, and perform essential updates automatically. These types of services can be truly helpful for WordPress novices.
Professional WordPress Developers
The hosting environment available with WP Engine was designed for WordPress. That’s been said several times throughout this review. However, this, along with the staging feature and transferable installs make it an ideal web host for professional WordPress developers. It allows you to make changes and build new sites from scratch inside of a controlled environment.
If your website or web development business is powered by WordPress, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the advanced services WP Engine offers. It’s a hassle-free way of building and maintaining a WordPress site. Click here to order a plan. And don’t forget to use our WPEngine coupon code “db33” to get 33% off discount.
I hope you enjoyed our review of WPEngine Hosting. You may also want to see our in-depth guide on best WordPress Hosting.