WP Engine Review: Fully Managed WordPress Hosting for Growing Sites

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WP Engine Review

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Herein lies the most comprehensive WP Engine review you will find on the planet. I’m a real user, having managed around 10 sites on WP Engine’s platform for 4.5 years.

I’ve been using WordPress since 2009, and have used a number of different hosting platforms. I know WordPress, I know hosting, and I carefully crafted this review of just about every single feature WP Engine has to offer.

WP Engine Review, Quick Summary

WP Engine is fast, powerful & secure WordPress hosting with some nice developer features, and hit-or-miss support. Their plans range from a single site with a few thousand visits/mo. to 150 sites with 5+ million visits/mo., and are a little more expensive than some of their competitors.

If you have 1-10 sites, get relatively low amounts of traffic (under 100k visits/mo), need limited or basic support, and just want your sites to load fast & never get hacked, WP Engine is a solid option.

Get 2 MONTHS FREE on an annual plan with WP Engine.

Coupon: wpe20off   Get Hosting →

Table of Contents

WP Engine Review Video

The article that follows goes into a little more detail than the video, but the video review is also quite extensive. It includes a 20-minute WP Engine review, along with a walkthrough of every feature in the control panel.

Before I jump into all the features, pricing, etc., let’s briefly take a look at whether WP Engine WordPress hosting is right for YOU.

I recommend WP Engine hosting for…

  • smaller sites (under 25k visits/mo.) with a decent budget
  • agencies or resellers managing up to 25 smaller sites
  • non-technical business owners who don’t update their site often, and just need it to work

WP Engine hosting is not for…

While I haven’t tested out their Premium or Enterprise hosting, based on my experience with their lower-level plans, I would not feel comfortable recommending them for enterprise WordPress hosting.

Because of their lowest price point being relatively high, I would also not recommend them for super-small sites just getting started (under 5k visits/mo.). There are more affordable WordPress hosting plans that provide all the features, speed & reliability you need.

WP Engine Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Solid performance (proprietary caching, PHP 7 & HTTP/2)
  • Free SSLs (via Let’s Encrypt)
  • Free CDN (with Professional plan or higher)
  • Staging sites on all plans
  • Automated & on-demand backups on all plans
  • Excellent security (zero issues with 10 sites in 4.5 years)
  • Reseller feature: Transfer a site to a client for billing
  • A few helpful workflow tools (dev/stage/live environment)
  • Automated migration tool (nice to have, but not as great as a personal hands-on migration)

Cons

  • Support has been hit-or-miss, in my experience
  • Relatively expensive, compared to similar hosts
  • Plans are limited by number of visitors (see next point)
  • Overage charges (no alerts, and overages can add a lot to your bill)

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What makes WP Engine unique?

In general, WP Engine offers pretty standard features for a managed WordPress host. However, there are a few unique features to point out.

01 Transferrable Installs

These are great for agencies & resellers. Essentially, you can set up a site for free, and when you’re ready to go live, you can transfer the site to a client’s account, and your client pays the bill. You can set up an unlimited number of transferrable installs.

WP Engine transferrable installs screen

02 Workspaces & Environments

This is a nice feature for those accounts with a) more than one site, and b) multiple users working on your projects.

Environments lets you assign a name to an install to denote which stage of the development process it currently resides. Choose between the following options:

Production – Review – QA – Staging – Development – Archive

WP Engine environment labels

Workspaces allow you to create groupings of your sites. Place all client sites in one workspace, your internal sites in another, and perhaps a few fun, experimental projects in a third workspace.

WP Engine workspaces example

03 Backup Staging Sites

Almost all managed WordPress hosting includes automated backups, but I have yet to come across one that allows you to backup both your live AND staging environments. If you’re doing a lot of development work, or making a bunch of changes to your site, I could see this coming in handy (but probably only for developers & agencies).

WP Engine staging site backups screen

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In reviewing WP Engine’s features, I’ll try to include the most prominent & relevant ones first. Not all features will apply to every user. I’ll try to sort them based on their importance/value to most potential customers.

Security

WP Engine boosts a number of excellent security features that make it, in my opinion, one of the most secure managed WordPress hosting platforms in the market.

01 Free SSL Certificates via Let’s Encrypt

Let's Encrypt logoWP Engine provides free SSL certificates for all accounts. They come standard with all plans and are incredibly easy to setup from the hosting control panel. Everything is completely automated, and it takes about 10 minutes to be fully up-and-running on https.

  • Automated setup: Get setup with just a few clicks
  • Auto-renew: You never have to worry about your SSL expiring
  • Secure Admin: Secure your login page and/or entire admin area with one click
  • Specific pages or entire site: Choose specific URLs you want served over https, or just select your entire site (entire site is recommended)
WP Engine SSL certificate options
The SSL settings in WP Engine’s hosting control panel

02 Managed WordPress Updates

WordPress releases both major & minor updates. The major updates typically contain new features, while the minor updates contain bug fixes & security patches that keep your site safe. WP Engine has a proprietary system that automatically updates your site when new (minor) WordPress updates are released, and tests it to make sure it’s still functioning properly.

WP Engine's core update feature in control panel

03 Threat Detection & Prevention

Without getting too technical, basically WP Engine is constantly checking your site for vulnerabilities and attempted hacks. They monitor certain files & folders for suspicious activity, prevent spammy IP addresses from accessing your site, and a host of other measures to ensure your website stays safe.

04 Free Hack Repair

In the unlikely event that your site does get hacked, they’ll fix it for free.

05 Disallowed Plugins

While some might find WP Engine’s disallowed plugins frustrating, they are in place for two main reasons: performance and security. Some WordPress plugins use outdated and insecure code that put you at risk for an attack. By disallowing these WordPress plugins, WP Engine is keeping your site secure.

View Disallowed Plugins »

06 Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Your hosting control panel contains important information about your sites. You can change SFTP passwords, access your MySQL database, and perform many other critical functions. If a hacker were to gain access to your control panel, they could cause serious damage to your site.

WP Engine's two-factor authentication screen

WP Engine allows you to use two-factor authentication to protect your control panel. It’s optional, but here’s the basics on how it works:

  1. Set up 2FA via your hosting control panel
  2. Download an app on your phone
  3. Enter a code that WP Engine provides into the app (one-time)
  4. Next time you try to login to WP Engine’s control panel, you will be asked for a special code
  5. Open the app on your phone and enter the code shown within the app

WP Engine two-factor authentication currently works with the Google Authenticator & Authy apps.

My Personal Experience

In 4.5 years of hosting 5-10 sites with WP Engine, I have had zero security issues. Beyond that, not once have I worried about any of my sites getting hacked. If there’s one area above all others where I have full confidence in WP Engine, it’s the security of their platform.

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Backups

Backups are closely related to security, but I chose to give them their own category. This is another area where WP Engine shines. Let’s dive into it.

01 Automated Backups

This is standard in the managed WordPress hosting space, and WP Engine is no exception. They perform full, daily, automatic backups of your site.

02 On-Demand Backups

Create an unlimited number of backups of your site at any time, in addition to the automated backups that occur each night.

03 Backup Retention

They will store your last 30 days of automatic backups, plus any backups you initiated manually within the last 30 days.

04 One-Click Restore

Choose from any of your available backups, and with a few clicks, automatically restore that version of your site. You have two options when you restore your site:

  • just the files (no database)
  • files AND database
WP Engine restore options screen
Options when restoring a backup in WP Engine

05 Download .zip

Download and store your own copy of your sites backup .zip file. When downloading the .zip, you can grab the entire backup, or choose to include each of the following options one-by-one:

  • database file (.sql)
  • theme directory (/wp-content/themes/)
  • plugin directory (/wp-content/plugins/)
  • media uploads (/wp-content/uploads/)
  • everything else

WP Engine will send you an email with a link to download the file.

WP Engine download backup options
Options when downloading a backup

06 Backup Notes

For all on-demand backups that you initiate manually, you have the option to add a note explaining what the backup was for. You will also see which user initiated the backup (helpful if you provide account access to multiple people).

WP Engine backup notes
Options when creating a manual backup

07 Staging Backups

WP Engine is the only WordPress host that I’m aware of who allows you to make backups of your staging sites. The same rules apply to staging backups: last 30 days, download .zip, one-click restore, etc.

08 Storage Provider

WP Engine uses Amazon S3 to store their backups off-site in a secure location. All backups are encrypted on Amazon’s servers.

My Personal Experience

Thankfully, I’ve never had to restore a backup for any of my sites. But I have initiated quite a few on-demand backups over the years, and the process has always been quick & painless. The notes about each backup are a really nice touch.

When I’ve requested a link to download a backup, it’s always arrived in less than 5 minutes. From there, it’s just a simple click on an email link and the download starts.

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Staging

Staging provides you the ability to test changes to your site before they go live. Essentially, you make a copy of your live site, and it is hosted on a testing domain. The staging site serves as a testing ground for you to experiment with site changes before making them live.

WP Engine Staging dashboard
The WP Engine staging page in the WordPress admin

With one click, you can then publish your staging site to your live domain. Many managed WordPress hosts have this capability, but here’s how WP Engine handles it.

Staging sites are included with all plans. You get one staging site per live site.

01 How Staging Works

You access staging options from within your WordPress admin area.

  • Navigate to WP Engine > Staging.

Here, you have two options:

  • Copy from LIVE to STAGING
  • Deploy from STAGING to LIVE

02 From LIVE to STAGING

When copying this direction, there are no options. For smaller sites, it takes less than 5 minutes. Larger sites could take longer.

  • Everything (files, database, users) is copied over
  • All of your URLs are automatically updated to reflect the staging site URL
  • You access your staging site at [installname].staging.wpengine.com
  • Remember to use your staging-specific SFTP account to upload files
  • That’s it. Start editing.

03 From STAGING to LIVE

Once you’re ready to publish your changes, you can deploy from staging to live. There are a few more options here:

  • By default, only files are moved over (not the database)
  • Choose whether or not to replace the live database with the staging database (not recommended in most cases)
  • Move all tables, or select specific ones
  • Enter an email to get notified once the move is complete
  • WP Engine will make an automatic backup of your live site, before replacing it with the staging site (but I recommend you do one on your own anyway)
Deploying from STAGING to LIVE
Options when deploying from staging to live

My Personal Experience

I have used staging sites for just about all 10 of the sites I’ve managed on WP Engine’s platform. It’s a great way to make changes to real site data, without worrying about breaking your live site.

With that being said, I have never made such sweeping changes that I felt it warranted deploying the entire staging site over to production. Personally, I like to keep track of which files I’ve updated, and once I’ve tested everything on the staging site, then I SFTP the files back up to the live site.

Issue with CDN plugin: One issue I ran into when copying a live site to staging was with a CDN plugin I use. The plugin has a field for CDN URL, which is set to cdn.wpsmackdown.com. WP Engine’s system automatically updates this URL to cdn.staging.wpsmackdown.com, which essentially breaks all images, CSS & JavaScript on the site. It’s an easy fix to go in and change the URL, but just a heads up that all domain-related URLs in the database will be updated to include “staging,” and that could cause some problems.

A note about stats: If you have plugins that track website stats (like Jetpack Stats or Google Analytics), you might want to disable them before copying your site to staging. Then quickly re-enable them on your live site. Otherwise, those plugins will continue to be enabled on your staging site, possibly causing some traffic to be reported incorrectly.

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CDN (Content Delivery Network)

Quickly, for those who don’t know, a CDN is one way to speed up your website. Instead of all your images, CSS and JavaScript files loading from one server, those files are copied and spread out amongst servers all over the world. If someone from Virginia visits your site, they download the files from the East Coast server. Someone from California would download everything from the West Coast server.

The closer the files are to the physical location of the visitor who requests them, the faster they load. And we all know that a fast-loading website is a good thing. Let’s talk about WP Engine’s integrated CDN option.

01 CDN Partner

WP Engine has partnered with MaxCDN to offer a CDN that is integrated right into their platform.

02 Points of Presence (POPs)

POPs refer to the number of servers that the CDN utilizes. The higher the number, the better. But keep in mind, you want to make sure there are POPs located near a majority of your visitors. MaxCDN has 18 POPs, with 8 in the U.S. alone.

View all locations »

03 Custom Sub-domain

By default, your CDN files will be loaded from a URL that looks like this:

http://[cdnzonename].wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/image.jpg

However, you can customize this URL to use your domain name instead. So you could change it to look like this:

http://cdn.yourdomain.com/wp-content/uploads/image.jpg

This can all be done using WP Engine’s control panel, but you will also need to add a CNAME record in your DNS.

04 CDN Setup

All the setup is done right from your control panel, with just a few clicks. And if you need any help, chat support is available 24/7.

WP Engine's CDN setup in control panel

My Personal Experience

I have used WP Engine’s CDN on several client sites, and the setup was pretty straightforward. I prefer to always use a custom sub-domain, as I feel it is more professional, and could potentially help with SEO in Google Image searches. But you’ll get the same performance benefits either way, so don’t worry if you just leave the default URL in place.

Unfortunately, I have not run tests with & without the CDN, so I can’t provide any data on it’s effectiveness. But I’m quite confident that it at least provides some performance improvement. If you run a smaller site with mostly local visitors, you probably won’t see huge gains. But larger sites with a worldwide audience will benefit much more from the use of a CDN.

Using SSL with WP Engine’s CDN

If you serve your entire site over https—which I highly recommend—you want to make sure your CDN is using https as well. Otherwise, the visitor’s browser will throw warnings, saying that some items on the page are not being rendered securely.

Unfortunately, WP Engine’s free SSLs do not work with their CDN service. So, if you want your entire site to be secure, and you want to use WP Engine’s CDN, you’ll need to purchase a third-party SSL certificate ($50-80/yr).

It is for this reason that I recommend KeyCDN as a CDN provider. Their service is incredibly affordable, they offer free SSLs, and they have a WordPress plugin that makes it super-easy to setup. They also provide you with a ton of customization options that WP Engine’s platform does not. Developers, rejoice!

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Site Migrations

WP Engine has partnered with BlogVault to offer automated migrations from another host. They have developed a plugin that asks for some information about your existing site, and then copies everything over to WP Engine’s platform.

WP Engine site migrations

This sounds great in theory, however, I migrated one site using this tool, and it does require several steps, and a decent time investment on the part of the user. It’s still better than no migration help at all, but some hosts offer a white-glove, hands-on approach to migrating your site, which is much more service-oriented, and less time commitment on your end.

Everything migrated successfully, but not without some help from their support team. And I am an above-average tech savvy user. So keep this in mind if you’re transferring your site.

Site Migration Instructions »


Users & Collaboration

WP Engine offers a few useful features for managing & collaborating on your account. You can add multiple users to an account, and choose which features they have access to. Let’s take a look at how it works.

01 User Roles & Permissions

There are several options when providing access to another user:

Only the account owner can delete sites, add/remove users, and close an account.

WP Engine user roles & permissions table
User roles & permissions. Click image for full size.
  • Full (billing): Access everything else, for all installs, including all billing information, and the ability to make purchases & upgrade plans.
    Example usage: a co-worker or business partner who should have full access to all sites.
  • Full (no billing): Access most account features (for all installs), with the exception of billing information, purchases & the ability to upgrade.
    Example usage: a senior developer or account manager on your team who might need to create SFTP accounts, access Git settings, setup a CDN or add a new site.
  • Partial (billing): Access most features for a single install, including view invoices & billing info, but cannot make purchases or upgrades.
    Example usage: a partner who worked on a particular site with you, or potentially a former client who requests access to a site you developed for them.
  • Partial (no billing): Access most features for a single install, but cannot view invoices, billing info or make any purchases or upgrades.
    Example usage: someone on your team who only needs to create SFTP accounts, manage Git or CDN setup for a particular site.

Learn more about user roles »

WP Engine user management dashboard
Dashboard for WP Engine user management

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Visits, Bandwidth & Storage

When comparing managed WordPress hosts, these 3 metrics will almost always vary from host-to-host. Many hosts determine their plans & pricing around these factors. Let me briefly explain them, and then tell you how WP Engine deals with visits, bandwidth & storage.

WP Engine's visits, bandwidth & storage counts
From WP Engine’s pricing page
Visits (or Visitors)
Refers to the number of people who visit your website. Most hosts try to include only visits from real humans (excluding bots/spammers). Typically, the IP address of the visitor is used to document the visit.
Bandwidth
Refers to the amount of data that is downloaded from the host to the visitor’s computer. All text, CSS, JavaScript, images, PDFs, and other media count towards bandwidth. Each time a new visitor visits a new page, views an image, or downloads a PDF, that counts towards the total amount of bandwidth used. The larger these files are, the more bandwidth is used.
Storage (or Diskspace)
Refers to the total filesize of all your pages, HTML, PHP, CSS, JavaScript, images, PDFs and everything else that makes up your website. Whereas bandwidth counts against you every time someone new accesses a page or image, these items are only counted one time when determining the total storage space you need.

It’s also important to note that if you’re using a CDN, you will likely need far less bandwidth (and possibly less storage), because visitors are downloading data from the CDN, and not directly from your web host.

So, how does WP Engine handle them?

Visits: WP Engine chooses to charge you based on visits. They do exclude bots & spammers as best they can, but they reset their definition of a visit every 24 hours. If the same person, from the same computer, visits your site every day at noon for the entire month of March, that counts as 31 visits.

Here’s exactly how WP Engine defines a visit:

We take the number of unique IP addresses seen in a 24-hour period as the number of “visits” to the site during that period (factoring out well-known “bot” user agents, and static requests). The number of “visits” in a given month is the sum of those daily visits during that month.

Bandwidth: Because WP Engine limits their plans based on visits, they do not count bandwidth at all. Please don’t mistake this as “unlimited” bandwidth. Your visits & bandwidth will be closely correlated. The visit limit is essentially also a bandwidth limit.

Storage: WP Engine’s 3 plans have 10 GB, 20 GB and 30 GB, respectively. For most smaller sites, these amounts will be plenty sufficient. However, for larger sites, or plans hosting 10-20 sites, you could run into a limit. But that’s where the included CDN comes into play, and reduces the need for local storage.

You can also offload all your assets to Amazon S3. You will be charged by Amazon for storage, but their rates are very affordable, and Amazon S3 has no limit to the amount of assets you can store on their platform. WP Engine’s support team will help you set this up if you have a need to store very large files.

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WP Engine Uptime & Reliability

WP Engine has pretty solid uptime, but probably not the best in the managed WordPress hosting space. Outages do occur, but they are almost always very brief, and they do depend on where your servers are located, if you’re on an enterprise account, etc.

Here’s some data from one of my WP Engine sites over the past 2 months (March-April 2017). At least 5 of my current 8 sites share these same stats.

01 Outages

  • March 6, 2017 – 9 minutes
  • April 23, 2017 – 2 minutes
  • April 24, 2017 – 13 minutes

Total outage time over a two month period was 24 minutes, or 12 minutes/mo.

WP Engine uptime chart for March/April 2017
Chart showing uptime for WP Engine site. March-April 2017. via UptimeRobot

02 Uptime

Looking at it based on percentage of uptime, in the month of April 2017, my sites experienced 99.96% uptime.

03 Status Blog

WP Engine maintains a status blog with updates on server issues, scheduled maintenance, and other various account issues that arise. I get email notifications of all new posts, and I receive more “experiencing datacenter connectivity issues” than one would like to see. It’s probably in the neighborhood of about 10-15 per year.

Like previously stated, the outages don’t affect all customers, and if your site does go down, it’s almost always back up in just a few minutes.

Bottom Line: For most smaller & mid-sized sites, this uptime is very acceptable, and you have very little to worry about. However, if you run a mission-critical ecommerce site that processes multiple transactions every minute, you might want to invest in a host with better uptime.

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WP Engine Support

The quality of WP Engine’s support highly depends on who you talk to. Some WP Engine reviews absolutely rave about their support. And you’ve probably seen plenty of Twitter users have incredibly nice things to say.

There are others that are simply not impressed. I fall into this camp.

Let’s explore the different areas of support, and I’ll share my experience with each of them.

01 Support Availability

In April 2016, WP Engine did away with email/ticket support, and started offering 24/7 chat support. Everyone had their own opinion of this move, but from my experience, it lowered wait times, and I got answers to my questions faster than before. I also knew I had near-instant help should I embark on a rogue, midnight coding sesh.

They are also available by phone 24/7 (Professional plans & higher).

Wait Times: Live chat wait times will depend on a few factors; mainly, time of day and if they are experiencing any server issues. I think the longest I’ve had to wait is 15 minutes. A majority of the time, I get a response in less than 5 minutes. Compared to other hosts, I’d rate this as very good (8.5/10).

02 Support Knowledge & Expertise

For me personally, this is where WP Engine’s support goes downhill. To be completely transparent, some of the poor experiences I’ve had occurred back in 2013-2014, when they were experiencing major growing pains. Everyone deserves a chance to improve, and I do think their support has improved since then. With that being said, even today, I don’t think their support technicians do a great job.

I don’t reach out to their support team very often, and when I do, it’s usually with slightly more technical questions. My questions always do get answered, but it often requires much more work on my end. I’ve had to explain issues multiple times, and clarify things that I’ve already clarified.

One recent example… I had a question about how to generate a new CSR for a third-party SSL. Their technician sent me a link to a support doc. The doc was outdated, and asked me to click on a link that did not exist. I informed the technician of this, and here was his response:

Hmm, there might have been some changes to the UI since that guide was made. Go ahead and click on that and let’s see what happens.

Bottom Line: More technical users & developers could be disappointed by some interactions with their support. However, a majority of customers will likely have their problems solved without much hassle. They are always eager to help, but their technical expertise seems to vary based on who you are talking to.

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WP Engine Performance

There are many factors that affect the performance of a website, and hosting is no doubt an important one. With that being said, there are also a ton of variables from site to site that make it difficult to accurately measure the true performance of a WordPress host.

I don’t currently have the resources to set up & monitor an accurate test. Therefore, instead of present you a bunch of test results & statistics, I’m going to explain WP Engine’s platform, and provide some anecdotal evidence on my site’s performance.

01 EverCache® Technology

WP Engine has built a proprietary caching system they call EverCache®. They don’t go into much detail on exactly how it works (which is understandable), but they do make a few bold claims.

“Specifically designed for scalable WordPress hosting, our proprietary front-end is built on thousands of carefully-designed rules that we continually audit and adjust for maximum performance.”

“We’ve seen individual sites surge to 15,000 simultaneous visitors and EverCache® served the traffic without any loss in page load speed.”

“We used these measures to serve more than 100,000,000 requests in less than 12 hours … with zero loss in page load times.”

None of my sites get that kind of traffic, so I can’t confirm or deny those claims, but I can say this. All of my sites have performed well over the past 4+ years. I’ve never had any issues with sites taking too long to load, or the WordPress admin behaving slowly.

Performance should not be confused with reliability. My sites have always loaded quickly when they load, but I have experienced some uptime issues.

02 NGINX

As part of their EverCache® technology, WP Engine uses NGINX. NGINX is…

…a free, open-source, high-performance HTTP server and reverse proxy, as well as an IMAP/POP3 proxy server. NGINX is known for its high performance, stability, rich feature set, simple configuration, and low resource consumption.

NGINX logo

Quite a few other WordPress hosts use NGINX, as well. It’s hard to argue its success when it comes to speeding up WordPress sites.

03 PHP 7

WP Engine supports the use of PHP 7, which adds considerable performance benefits over PHP 5.6. See the next section on “Other Features” to learn more about PHP 7.

04 HTTP/2

WP Engine supports the use of HTTP/2, which adds considerable performance benefits over the more traditional HTTP 1.1. See the next section on “Other Features” to learn more about HTTP/2.

05 Cloud Storage Provider

WP Engine uses Linode, a Linux-based cloud hosting provider, for their actual server hardware. In terms of performance, this probably isn’t a huge factor. It sounds like WP Engine customizes their server setup to such a level that as long as the servers are reliable (meaning, they don’t completely go offline), then WP Engine’s EverCache® technology will determine your site’s performance.

06 SSD Storage

All of WP Engine’s servers store your files on SSD drives, which are faster than some older forms of hard drives. I should note that this is becoming a standard across the hosting industry, and this should not be considered a unique feature.

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Other Features

Here are a some of the other, arguably less important, but still nice-to-have features that WP Engine offers.

01 PHP 7 & HTTP/2

PHP logoPHP 7 is a newer, faster version of PHP that is steadily gaining in popularity. It greatly outperforms its predecessor, PHP 5.6, providing improved performance for you site. WP Engine includes support for PHP 7. New sites default to PHP 5.6, but you can easily contact support and they will upgrade your site to PHP 7.

HTTP/2 is a newer version of the hypertext transfer protocol (aka: HTTP). Without getting too technical, it basically allows for faster communication between a user’s browser, and the web server in which they are trying to download information from (aka: your website). Ultimately, this means your site loads faster. HTTP/2 does require that you use an SSL certificate, but for all sites that do, WP Engine defaults to using HTTP/2.

02 Database Access

With one-click, and an automatic login (no need to remember passwords), you can access your site’s database via phpMyAdmin.

03 Password Protection

With one click, you can enable password protection of your production and/or staging site. This happens at the server level, and will require all visitors to enter a password before viewing the site. Caching is disabled on all password-protected sites.

WP Engine's password protection feature

04 Object Caching

If you’re running a lot of advanced queries that put a huge strain on your database, object caching can help speed things up. Enable or disable with one click.

WP Engine object caching settings

05 Access & Error Logs

Several kinds of logs are available from the hosting control panel. This is a great feature for developers when debugging issues. All logs are searchable & downloadable. The following logs are available:

  • Apache access logs (production only)
  • Nginx access logs (production only)
  • Error logs (staging & production)

WP Engine error log example

06 Git Push (for developers)

If you don’t know what this is, you will likely never need it. But for developers, this is a nice added feature.

WP Engine git push settings

More about Git Push »

07 Unlimited SFTP Users

You can create an unlimited number of users, assign them to the production or staging environment, and create a path for them to SFTP in to.

WP Engine SFTP dashboard

08 Available Stats

WP Engine provides more stats than most other managed WordPress hosts that I have seen. Here are the main stats they provide.

Overview of Installs

WP Engine stats - installs overview

Plan Usage

WP Engine plan usage stats

Install Stats

WP Engine stats in control panel

They also provide a fairly comprehensive monthly report, which analyzes the server’s log files, and provides quite a bit of detail about each site.

09 Page Performance Tests

Another nice feature is WP Engine’s built-in page performance test. You access it right from your control panel. It shows you a nice overview of your site’s performance. Then the full test results display a filmstrip of your site loading, as well as specific recommendations on how to speed things up.

WP Engine page performance test results example

You can even schedule the test to run weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, and choose to get notified by email.

WP Engine performance test scheduling options

10 Multisite

For those of you running WordPress Multisite, you’ll be pleased to know that WP Engine supports the use of Multisite. You do need the Professional plan or higher, but converting a site to a multisite network is easily done through WP Engine’s control panel.

WP Engine convert to WordPress Multisite

Choose between two options:

  • Sub-domain network: site1.example.com, site2.example.com
  • Sub-directory network: example.com/site1, example.com/site2

11 Revision Management

For performance reasons, WP Engine disables post revisions by default. These can clutter your database and potentially slow down your site. However, their support team can enable them for you if you’d like.

The standard way of enabling post revisions in your wp-config.php file will not work. Their system overrides that setting. They must enable it for you.

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WP Engine Plans & Pricing

WP Engine's 60-day money-back guaranteeWP Engine lists 5 different plans on their website, but 2 of them (premium & enterprise) require a custom quote. So let’s focus on the 3 most popular plans that you’ll likely sign up for.

All plans (except premium & enterprise) include a 60 day money-back guarantee, along with 2 months free if you sign up for 1 year.

Here’s a simplified version of WP Engine’s plans & features.

WP Engine logo Personal Professional Business
Price $29/mo. $99/mo. $249/mo.
Visits/mo. 25,000 100,000 400,000
Sites 1 10 25
Storage 10 GB 20 GB 30 GB
CDN $19.95/mo. Included Included
Staging Sites Yes Yes Yes
Free SSL Yes Yes Yes
24/7 Chat Support Yes Yes Yes
Multisite No Yes Yes
Phone Support No Yes Yes
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WP Engine Pricing Table & Plans, May 2017
WP Engine’s plans & features, as of May 2017

Get 2 MONTHS FREE on an annual plan with WP Engine.

Coupon: wpe20off   Get Hosting →

01 Overage Pricing

Some WP Engine customers with larger sites have expressed their dismay at the way WP Engine handles overages. For smaller sites that don’t come anywhere near hitting the visit limit each month, this is a non-factor. But for others, it’s the cause of a lot of frustration. WP Engine’s overage pricing is as follows:

  • $1 for every 1,000 visitors over the limit

I think few would argue that’s a fair price. The frustration stems from how it’s handled, and not the pricing itself.

Without any warning or notification, your credit card is automatically charged the overage fee. Now, they do provide stats in your control panel that show your visitor count, but most site owners are not actively checking their traffic stats every single month. Therefore, many are surprised once they notice this extra charge.

For comparison, I have a client site on Flywheel’s smallest plan (5,000 visits/mo.). For each of the last 3 months, Flywheel has counted between 8-9,000 visits. When I reached out to their support and told them I thought many of those were bots, they assured me that as long as the site’s performance was not impacted by a large amount of real, human traffic, they would not require me to upgrade. And they also do not charge any overage fees.

Bottom Line: This may or may not impact your specific situation, but if you anticipate traffic spikes, or run a larger site, consider yourself warned.

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About WP Engine

A little background info on the company…

WP Engine company photo
Company photo taken from wpengine.com
  • Founded: March 2010 by Jason Cohen
  • Headquarters: Austin, TX
  • Offices: San Francisco, CA – San Antonio, TX – London – Ireland
  • Employees: 400+
  • Funding: Received over $40 million in multiple funding rounds from 2011-2015
  • Twitter: @wpengine
  • Facebook: WP Engine
  • LinkedIn: WP Engine

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2 Commentson "WP Engine Review: Fully Managed WordPress Hosting for Growing Sites"

  1. /

    Wow, this is very detailed review of WPEngine. I agree with all that you mentioned in your article and If Managed hosting is what you are looking for, then you can’t go wrong with them. I tried them for a few months, and just could’nt live with the control that they have over your site, not to mention the speed was not what I expected. I have since started using the Google Cloud platform and the speed there is insane.

    Again nice review and thanks for sharing. Have a great week!

    –Rob

    → Reply
    1. (Author) /

      Thanks for chiming in, Rob.

      WP Engine does an OK job for small businesses who don’t care about all the technical details, and just need something to set and forget. But I agree about their speed; it’s OK, not great.

      If you’re a fan of Google Cloud Platform, and are looking for managed WordPress hosting, there are two companies I can recommend (both using GCP).

      For smaller sites, Tap is incredibly affordable at $5/mo/site.

      For larger sites, Kinsta provides an incredible service that also runs on Google Cloud Platform.

      Enjoy the rest of your week as well :-)

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