As we all know, fast hosting is very important, it affects conversions, SEO, and overall user experience. In this WP Engine review, I will share my personal experience and walk you through all that WP Engine has to offer when it comes to trying to be the best managed WordPress hosting service. I also share my personal setup for wpseer.com on WP Engine and speed tests!
WP Engine Review
WP Engine was founded in 2010 by entrepreneur Jason Cohen. He saw a need for a WordPress specific hosting provider to fulfill the growing needs for increased speed, security, and scalability.
“I started WP Engine because I wanted to work on interesting, real problems experienced by interesting, real customers, and come to the office every day thrilled to be working with the people around me. Somehow, we’ve been lucky enough to make that dream a reality.” — Jason Cohen
They currently maintain data centers in the United States (Dallas Texas), United Kingdom, and Japan. Some of their clients include big names like Buffer, SoundCloud, AMD, HTC, and Constant Contact.
WP Engine Features
One of the most unique features of WP Engine, and one of the primary reasons I use them is their EverCache technology. EverCache is basically WP Engine’s “secret sauce” that makes every WordPress site they host incredibly fast, and ridiculously scalable. Part of it is custom code they developed to connect WordPress events to their front-end Nginx-based systems. This means they can be super aggressive on their caching, but still update when you create a new post.
- 24/7 Ticket Support
- Live chat from 8am to 8PM CST
- 24/7 Phone Support (select plans)
- Free CDN (CDN services by MaxCDN)
- Support for 3rd Party SSL
- Dedicated IP Addresses available
- Multisite Ready (select plans)
- SFTP Access
Staging + Copy Installs + Transferable Installs
One of the great things about WP Engine is the ability to use staging environments for testing as well as copy installs in a matter of seconds. With the staging environments, they let you create separate FTP account accounts per environment. Staging environments are awesome for testing new plugins, debugging issues, etc.
You can also copy installs with a click of a button.
You also notice above in the screenshot that they now let you create “transferable installs” which allow designers and developers to create websites on behalf of their clients and then transfer them to the client when the site is complete.
Transferable installs differ from standard installs in several ways. Transferable installs are:
- Unrestricted and do not count against the number of installs you are allotted based on your plan type
- Automatically password-protected to block traffic, and passwords cannot be removed until the transfer is complete
- Transferable to another WP Engine account
- Available on every plan free of charge
- Ineligible for use with SSL and CDN
I am a big fan of VaultPress for WordPress backups. But with WP Engine I no longer use them as their backups are great! They store 30 days of automated backups, or backup points as they call them. They work like Apple’s time machine as you can simply click “Restore” to any point in time if something goes wrong and you’re all fixed. You can also make manual backup points. I always make a backup point right before I install a new plugin or theme.
Also as of October 27th, 2015 WP Engine now includes your “uploads” folder in the automated backups. This was a big pet peeve for some people because if you wanted to restore something in your uploads folder you had to contact support.
Under the domain management screen, you can manage your primary domains and domain-level redirects. For example, I added a redirect from www to my main domain.
WP Engine has a partnership with MaxCDN and they provide a CDN for free on their professional plans and higher. On their personal plan, they charge you $19 a month. I personally don’t use WP Engine’s CDN service, I use KeyCDN. I explain more why below in my personal setup on WP Engine. They do make it super easy though to enable a CDN, just one click and you’re done.
Under the redirect rules screen you can easily add things such as 301 redirects as the server level. Which means you don’t need to install another WP plugin to do this which creates extra overhead.
WP Engine provides you with an easy to access “Error Logs” page right from within your dashboard.
For developers, you will like that WP Engine now has Git Push accessible right from the dashboard.
If you are on WP Engine’s personal plan you can add an SSL cert from WP Engine for $49 a year. If you are on the professional plan or higher you can purchase an SSL cert from them or install your own SSL certificate. I recommend purchasing your own, as you can buy an SSL cert from NameCheap for only $9 a year.
Under the utilities screen you can password protect both your production sites and your staging sites. This can be great when working with clients. Perhaps you want to share your staging link with them but you don’t want anyone else seeing it. Then you can also reset file permissions. I highly recommend resetting them after you have just moved your site to WP Engine from another host.
This is one of the power features with WP Engine, and it is object caching. You will want to enable this if you want to see an extra speed boost. Then they also allow you a way to purge the cache.
WP Engine has one of the easiest site migration tools I have ever used. I literally migrated my site in under 10 minutes! See my full post on how to migrate your site to WP engine.
WP Engine does allow you access to phpMyAdmin right from the dashboard. It auto logins you in, so it makes it super easy if you need to make database changes.
WP Engine has three plans starting at $29/mo, besides their higher enterprise options. Below is a comparison of their features.
|Personal $29/mo||Professional $99/mo||Business $249/mo|
|24/7 Ticket Support|
|3rd Party SSL|
|24/7 Phone Support|
WP Engine’s Bad Rap
WP Engine has gotten some bad rap in my opinion over the last couple years. I have never had any problems with them. I personally think WP Engine has been working really hard recently to prove that to the WP community that they do care. Here are a few things they have done recently:
- They removed bot traffic from overage charges. This was probably one of the biggest complaints over the years.
- They now include the uploads folder in automated backups. I personally appreciate this one.
- You can sign up to test WP Engine Mercury which is a rollout of HHVM for higher performance. They do want WP to run faster!
My WP Engine Setup
Even with WP Engine there are additional ways to speed up WordPress. Out of the box WP Engine is awesome, but optimization is a never-ending game. Here is my personal setup, feel free to replicate it.
- I use the Cache Enabler WP plugin on WP Engine for minification of my HTML.
- I use the Gonzalez WP plugin to disable scripts on a page-level basis.
- I use the DCL WP plugin to lazy load disqus.
- I use the Optimus WP plugin to compress all of my images.
- I use MyThemeShop themes on all my sites. They are blazing fast. WPseer.com uses Schema.
- I use the heartbeat WP plugin to fix admin-ajax.php slowness.
- I have disabled post revisions.
And the most important optimization tip that I have is that I use KeyCDN for all my content delivery services. KeyCDN is half the cost of MaxCDN, has twice as many POPs, and also is one of the 1st CDNs to support HTTP/2. They also offer origin shield completely free.
wpseer.com – Speed Test on WP Engine
Here is my speed test of wpseer.com on WP Engine.
brianjackson.io – Speed Test on WP Engine
And here is my speed test of my personal blog brianjackson.io on WP Engine.
If you are interested in moving to WP Engine or testing it, take a look at my post on how to migrate to WP Engine. The offer a 60 day money-back guarantee so you have nothing to lose. My advice would be to migrate one site, test it and see if you are happy.
As you can see WP Engine offers a lot of features. Yes they might be a tad more expensive than other hosts, but you are paying for speed and not having to worry about your site going down. For me, I would rather spend time writing content than tweaking my site or troubleshooting problems. If you follow my personal setup I mentioned above with WP Engine I guarantee you will be super happy with the results!
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WP Engine Review
If you are looking for a solid managed WordPress hosting service then look no further than WP Engine! They have been speeding up WordPress sites since 2010. With automated backups and EverCache technology, you can focus on your business and relax knowing that your site will be super fast and secure.