Managed WordPress Hosting Compared – WP Engine, Synthesis, and Page.ly
Sure, you can take care of the speed, security, and scaling issues if you want. If you’re a technical person, you might enjoy reading about Nginx, PHP-FPM, load-balancing, Varnish, etc. But if you’re not, then you might want to look into Managed WordPress hosting.
Managed WordPress hosting is like putting together a Secretary, Einstein, and the Hulk together! All three of our managed WordPress hosts offer great customer service, all of them have WordPress experts on staff, and they all help protect you from all of the internet bad guys.
WP Engine, Synthesis, and Page.ly will all make your website faster, more secure, and more reliable so you don’t have to worry about your website going down when Oprah tweets about you. That being said, Art of Blog has looked at and used all three of these managed WordPress hosts and we have found the best in two categories: Best managed WordPress hosting overall and best managed WordPress hosting for the money.
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Best managed WordPress Host Overall – WP Engine
Alright, so I don’t think it was any surprise that WP Engine is at the top of the “best overall” category. You can read our whole WP Engine Review to get all of the good details, but I’ll give you a short summary here.
WP Engine has amazing customer support, and if you contact these guys for anything (ask Trafton if he’ll marry you) they will respond quickly and friendly. Just the other day I was asking WP Engine why I was having an issue loading a script into a text widget and they immediately began looking into it. IT turned out to be a problem with where I was getting the script from. I have also heard stories where these guys have checked code line by line to find a bug for a client. One of WP Engine’s philosophies is, “Kicking butt at your job is the only salesforce we need,” and I think WP Engine exemplifies that.
Looking beyond customer service, WP Engine also has a rock-solid product. One thing that stood out to me is WP Engine will fix your website for free if it is ever hacked! Yea, you read that right. WP Engine also has several other features that I really like:
- Automatic daily backups
- Core updates within an hour
- One-click staging area button
- One-click back up button
- Curated plugins
These guys are definitely at the top when it comes to managed WordPress hosting. But, they are expensive. Their entry level plan is $29 per month and includes up to 25,000 monthly unique visitors. Their next step up is $99 per month and includes up to 100,000 monthly unique visitors. I should also note that Jason Cohen has openly said that they’re not nazis about your monthly unique visitors. If you get a traffic spike for a month they’re not going to force you to upgrade. They’ll work with you. By the way, that’s another win for customer service.
Best Managed WordPress Host for the Money – Synthesis
Where Synthesis really stands out is it’s backed by Copyblogger Media, LLC. You know, the people behind Scribe SEO, Genesis, and Premise. Synthesis is very much like the other managed WordPress hosts in that they take care of the caching, security, and speed for you. On a test website I set up with Synthesis, I was able to see my page load time drop from about 10 seconds on a shared host to about 5 seconds. That’s a significant decrease in load time!
One thing that really interests me about Synthesis web hosting is that they have a block of servers dedicated to running their Genesis theme. If you didn’t already know, Mark Jacquith was hired to consult on the Genesis theme and ensure that it used WordPress security best practices. So, you can bet Genesis put together with secure hosting is a great combination as far as security goes.
Another thing that really stands out to me about Synthesis is that Copyblogger is bringing the same technology to you that they use to run their websites that generate over 2.5 million page views per month. They’re bringing serious in-the-trenches expertise to the table.
Synthesis also gives you the most hosting for your money when you look solely at the page views per month. At $97 per month, Synthesis allows you 20,000 daily unique visitors (about 600,000 monthly unique visitors). At $99 per month WP Engine allows you 100,000 monthly unique visitors. At $149.95 Page.ly allows you ~500,000 monthly visitors.
As you can see Synthesis is clearly the cheapest managed WordPress hosting solution. They also run a great service and are backed by Copyblogger Media, LLC. If you’re looking for great managed WordPress hosting, but are on a budget, I suggest you go with Synthesis.
Page.ly – Questionable Business Practices
So the honest fact is that we don’t recommend Page.ly due to our poor experiences with the company.
Since first writing this review in 2012 and being pretty impressed with Page.ly, their service took a turn for the worst in 2013 and hasn’t bounced back.
Our experience across 4 years and multiple different Page.ly accounts has ranged from bad to ethically questionable.
We’ve experienced everything from slow migrations and prolonged downtimes to their founder deleting our hosting account without warning and sending us harassing emails. But the cherry on top was when Page.ly ultimately offered to pay us more in affiliate commissions in and effort to get a better review and hide the facts for our readers…
…All of this boils down to us whole heartedly not recommending Pagely as it’d go against everything we stand for at Art of Blog.
To top it off they’re priced similarly as their competition which have very solid track records. On their website they say, “Wherever you hear companies talking about Managed WordPress Hosting, they are following our lead.” Well, that may be true… But just because you were the first managed WordPress host doesn’t mean you’re the best.
Update: After further conversations with the Page.ly team, we strongly recommend you go with one of the other 2 options.
If you’re looking for the best of the best, definitely go with WP Engine. Their customer service alone makes the extra money worth it for me. But, they also give you a great hosting experience and some great extras such as a one-click staging area and one-click backups. Synthesis is my second choice because they deliver great hosting at a great price.
For more information regarding managed WordPress hosting, ManagedWordPress.org has great information regarding managed WordPress hosting.