WP Engine Review: 30% More Expensive, 400% Better?

Review of: WP Engine
Price:
Starts at $29 per month

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On May 7, 2012
Last modified:June 28, 2014

Summary:

If your business relies on your WordPress website, then WP Engine is most likely the way to go. With WP Engine, you can expect lightning fast load times, great security, and the most amazing customer support. They even offer a 60-day money back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose!

If you’ve been involved in the WordPress community at all over the past year or so, you’ve undoubtedly at least heard of WP Engine. You might have even visited their website, seen that their cheapest hosting package is $30, then ran for the hills. Well, after using WP Engine for about 6 months, I’d like to give you an inside review, and explain to you why I think WP Engine is worth every penny they charge.

Also, WP Engine has agreed to give all Art of Blog readers a special offer when they create a new account! So read on to find out more about WP Engine.

Special Offer

If this review of WPEngine isn’t enough to make you want to switch hosts, then maybe this is. For all Art of Blog readers, WP Engine is going to give you hosting for $4 per months for 3 months!

Why WP Engine?

WP Engine Screenshot

WP Engine is a fully managed WordPress host that aims to take care of 3 main issues with WordPress: Speed, Security, and Scalability (The three S’s). As a bonus, WP Engine does those 3 things with amazing customer support. Sure, if you’re just getting started blogging, it may be hard to justify spending at least $29 per month on a hosting account. But, if you run a small business or do any marketing online WP Engine can help you increase your traffic and revenue.

A quick look at the WP Engine reviews will show that WP Engine users experience significant speed increases for their websites. This is important because Google began including site speed into their ranking algorithm in 2010. On top of this, there are other case studies that have tied site speed to revenue online.

  • Amazon concluded that they increase revenue by 1% for every 100 milliseconds they decrease their loading time.
  • Yahoo increased traffic 9% for every 400 milliseconds of improvement.

Bottom line, if your website is slow, this can drastically affect your website’s revenue and traffic. But WP Engine can also help you run a better website by making it more reliable. Downtime for your website leads to decreased revenue. With WP Engine’s scalability and security, you won’t have to worry about your website going down at the wrong time.

My Experience with WP Engine

I moved one of my websites over to WP Engine in January. When I first logged into my WP Engine admin area, I noticed a few things that really grabbed my attention.

WP Engine Admin Area

In the admin area, you can simply push a button to create a staging area in no time at all. This staging area is very useful for testing out new themes or design changes. I found it very useful for making edits to the PHP in my theme. Sometimes all it takes to bring your website down is leaving off one single character. This is not a mistake I like to make on a live website… The staging area lets me test code changes on a site copy, then move them over to my live site when ready. Pretty nice, huh?

Also, I noticed that WP Engine does not let you use your own caching plugin. This is because WP Engine automatically caches everything. Now, I love WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache as much as anybody else. But, to be honest, those plugin can be a pain to really tweak just right. WP Engine does all of the caching automatically for you!

I also wanted to do a speed test of my website before and after I moved to WP Engine. With my old shared host, I was getting about 10 seconds for a page load. Just by switching to WP Engine I noticed my page loading time go down to about 4 seconds! Yea, I’ll take that ;)

But, I have to say the best part about moving to WP Engine is the customer support that I get. That’s honestly what you’re paying for when you move to WP Engine – Great people and experience. Any time I have had a question about WordPress I have been able to get a quick answer through twitter and email. The only time I ever had an issue was when WP Engine changed their pricing structure. I ended up emailing support, somewhat irritated I should add, and found out that the pricing plans were in my favor. DOH!

Wrapping it Up

If you run a small to medium sized website, then I think WP Engine is the perfect host for you. In the 6 months that I’ve had WP Engine, I’ve only had two gripes. The first is that there is no SSH access. The second is that WP Engine does not take care of email. But there are very minor gripes. Email can be taken care of through 3rd party services like Google for free, and WP Engine doesn’t allow SSH for security reasons. I can live with that.

After all is said and done, WP Engine is a solid host, and now my host of choice for any new web development projects I have. Don’t forget to check out our special WPEngine Coupon Code.

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Written by Eric Binnion

Eric Binnion is a computer science student at Midwestern State University. When Eric is not online, he is usually volunteering in his community or enjoying time with his family. You can find Eric on Twitter.

Comments

  • Brad Dalton says:

    They are certainly fast. My site loads in less than a second now.

    I tried different levels of VPS which ended up costing me $80 a month but i still couldn’t get my site to load fast no matter how much the server engineers tweaked the server.

    This ended up costing me page views, subscribers and money.

    After reading about how site speed is now a ranking factor on Matt Cutts blog (head of Google webspam) i started searching for a solution and WPEngine was the best insider tip i got from the WordPress community.

    I highly recommend anyone who’s site loads slowly to take their free trial.

    When you experience a fast loading site, its hard to go back and the personal plan is a better deal than VPS.

    I would be very surprised if you where disappointed.

  • Dude, Brad. Thanks so much for the kind words. That means a lot to us.

  • Brad Dalton says:

    Hey Austin!. Its all true

    I’ve lost sleep, lost hair, nearly drank myself to death worrying about my site before i moved to WPEngine.

    There’s been a very long discussion on Matt Mullenweg’s WordPress Linkedin group about hosting and the needs of WordPress bloggers. What type of hosting to use etc as there’s clearly a lot of frustration that many are going through. Its been going for months.

    I think the general consensus now is you really need to learn how to configure a server or hire someone that does or move to managed hosting where the experts do all this for you. That’s what i’ve done and its the correct decision.

    I asked Jason Cohen when i interviewed him via email why Automattic invested in your company and he said i’d have to ask them.

    Now i know why.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      I had to help someone earlier who was having issues with auto updates and theme and plugin installs from the backend of WordPress. I fixed it by changing directory ownership and some permissions.

      Goes to show you that even though WordPress is a great CMS, it has its quirks. It’s nice to have WordPress experts like WP Engine by your side.

  • Brad Dalton says:

    Hi Eric

    Yeah they’re great at what they do.
    In reference to the review plugin you’re using on this site, did you have any problems when you installed it?

    I found my social buttons where messed up and images up above the header. I’m also using Thesis and a Kolakube theme but i think it may be a problem with the plugin.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      I didn’t notice any major issues EXCEPT when I had images and video at the top of the review. I moved them down below the review box and voila… It works. ;)

  • […] WPEngine if you are looking for service, speed, reliability and more. (Here are two more detailed reviews of WPengine by Art of Blog and […]

  • Rob Lawrence says:

    What would you recommend for a fast loading theme for WP Engine? That too is another factor which determines search engine rankings!

  • Parin says:

    Switched over the Thesis for my blog at the end of July, and so far so good. You’re right about the support – they are super responsive and helpful, which makes a huge difference.

    Cheers!
    Parin

  • The four months my website was hosted with WPE were the worst in its five-year history. It was nothing but nonstop B.S. and headaches.

    Yes, I know, there are dozens of glowing testimonials about WPEngine’s awesomeness. I’ve read them too. That’s what lead me to give them a try (I’ve hosted with Media Temple and Rackspace before that). Don’t be fooled. It is because of all these one-sided, glowing reviews that I feel compelled to share my experience.

    WPEngine regularly made changes to my website:
    – without my permission
    – without telling me in advance
    – without alerting me to what they did after the fact
    – without checking their work

    They did this not once… not twice… but on three separate occasions. Each instance resulted in CATASTROPHIC failures, crashing the biggest — and most critical — chunks of my website (e.g., single.php, sidebar.php).

    Three separate issues. Three times they made changes. Three times the site crashed.

    No warning. No apology. No admission of wrong-doing. Not once.

    They are right, you are wrong. 100% of the time. They know everything, you know squadoosh. You are to blame for everything. They are accountable for nothing.

    If that’s your idea of “managed hosting,” then go ahead and knock yourself out.

    Does WPEngine answer service requests quickly? Absolutely. They are fast, no doubt. But fast isn’t the only thing I care about. I’d rather wait for the right answer tomorrow than have someone crash my website today. WPE got it all wrong — every… single… time — so everything always ended up taking way more time and energy than it should have.

    Did they EVER give me the slightest indication they cared? Nope. Their attitude: “It’s our way or the highway, pal.” Share your complaints on Twitter and they’ll say, “We stand by our service 100%.” Ask them for an apology, explanation or to talk with a senior service manager and they’ll just flat out ignore you.

    I run my website as my sole source of income.* When my site goes down, I lose money. I can’t afford website crashes. I can’t afford to have my webhost dump one massive admin disaster after another in my lap. If your business is dependent on your WordPress website, you absolutely cannot gamble with WPEngine.

    My experience was a net negative, all the way around. Their impositions were exceedingly disruptive. The stress was nearly unbearable. Their incompetence was infuriating. And their incredulity was unfathomable. Worse yet, the “performance features” they tout (CDN, caching) had little- to no impact on my site’s load times.

    In a nutshell? WPEngine is an autocratic, arrogant and incapable webhost — an utter nightmare combination. Even if their service didn’t suck, it still wouldn’t be worth half the money they charge.

    “It’s not for everyone,” they told me. Sheesh, that’s the understatement of the century. It’s definitely not for me, nor anyone else who takes their website — or customer service — seriously.

    Most sincerely,

    Jeffry Pilcher, Publisher
    TheFinancialBrand.com

    (* 50K monthly uniques, 125K monthly pageviews)

    P.S. – WPEngine may pop in to point out (yet again) where I’ve got it wrong and what I don’t understand about their “service.” I won’t be checking this thread, as they have expired my patience, and I have absolutely no interest in quibbling with them any further. Question everything they say, because they cannot be trusted. They are the most defensive, self-protectionist company I’ve ever dealt with. If they only cared about their customers as much as their reputation…

    • Mark says:

      I’m guessing this whiner made some poorly-coded customization to his theme or installed poorly-kept plugins and then was surprised when WordPress was updated and all his little advertisements broke. Now he’s too lazy or scared to come back and check the comments here. Amazing.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Jeffry – I’m sorry to hear about your experience with WP Engine. I have always had great service from them, and I met several people at WordCamp that had great service with them.

      For clarification though, did they physically change your theme, or did they update the plugins and WordPress core?

    • Brad Dalton says:

      I think you need to be careful about which plugins you install regardless of where you choose to host.

      Before i moved to WPEngine, i had problems with plugins on a VPS server which caused downtime and i really appreciate the way WPEngine provide a list of non compatible plugins they advise against using in order to avoid problems.

      No other host does this that i know of.

      Sometimes you need to work with your hosts server engineers to work through problems which can also help build a solid relationship between the 2 parties.

      I doubt you’ll have any problems if your installation is configured correctly before you move.

    • Paul says:

      You know what? This guy moves from one review to another, leaving comments similar to this. Move on man!
      What you are saying is not 100% true to all. It might be 100% true to you, but not for other satisfied customers out there.
      Every web hosting company has its pros and cons. You can’t satisfy all people. Whenever there are “likers” there will always be “haters”.
      Your last comment here was 2012, and it’s already 2013. And I still see you leaving comments on other reviews like these. Sheeeesh!

  • Hey Eric,

    The issues with Jeff’s site were the result of a plugin that we stopped allowing because it was preventing larger sites, such as his, from being scalable: http://wpengine.com/2012/06/fulltext-update/.

    I responded in full to Jeff’s concerns when he posted the comment here: http://retrorenovation.com/2011/10/19/wp-engine/comment-page-1/#comment-144124

    However, I’m happy to answer any more concerns in the future.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Austin,

      Thanks for weighing in. I knew there had to be a good explanation for Jeff’s bad service. I’ve never had anything but good customer service from you guys, even when I was in the wrong ;)

      • I just wanted to chime in on this one. I’ve read Jeffry’s rant all over the place as I’ve researched WP Engine too. I even contacted their support about it, as it concerned me over his claim of no notification. According to WP Engine, that would be against their policies. I was glad to finally run across Austin’s response. If one believes them (and it would certainly sound reasonable that this be their policy… so I’m not sure why I wouldn’t), I’m not sure why Jeffry didn’t hear about it.

        THAT SAID, even by Austin’s time-line, we’re talking about 1-2 days notification for a fairly major change. Maybe it was an emergency situation? Still, that does seem rather short notice.

        I’m about to sign up with WP Engine, as they seem like a great solution. But I sure will be hoping this was a one-time miscommunication between them and a client. While Jeffry seems to be on a rant rampage, I can also understand some of his frustration. Great customer support isn’t just technical ability, but also communication and investment in the relationship. Maybe Jeffry was just too much a hot-head to work out a reasonable solution? Without further comment, we’ll not know. But, 1-2 days notice for a major change does seem a bit unreasonable IMO. (And, if it was an emergency… did they not have Jeffry’s phone number?)

  • Toni says:

    My WordPress site is only a week old consisting of around 20 posts. At some point I plan to migrate my site over to WP Engine

    One of the main reasons to do so is quite simply
    1. Restrictions on certain plugins
    2. Their knowledge and support
    3. Speed!

    I’m sure that a vast majority of issues with hosting providers are not so much the provide but the developer of the website adding plugins etc and abusing servers. This is probably the biggest cause of website downtime. A major factor in my decision at some point to go to WP Engine is quite simply they restrict and advise on the accepted plugins

    It’s already been mentioned; WP Engine will take care of your site while you focus on the content!

    There’s nothing worse than a slow loading site. I have tried numerous hosts and although I have found one I’d highly recommend and use for almost all of my websites including my clients (not going to troll this post) I would like my hosting provider to specialist in WordPress only – WP Engine

    As the saying goes ‘you get what you pay for’ and how much would you value your online presence! If WP Engine had one slightly smaller package I’d sign up today!

  • Kova says:

    Well I’m considering WPEngine, but my first experience is not so good :(
    They didn’t even bother to reply to my mails, 2 days or more ?! Never on Live Chat, I checked every 1-2 hours, for 20 hours, …

    I’m not sure whats going on. Did something happen did something change ?

  • rubencio says:

    You say the wpEngine support it is incredible… Really? You mean a NOT 24hours support (you have to wait for an office based in USA schedule in order to have your support requests answered) it is good? At the moment we are living? Even cheap hosting companies have chats, serious ticket system,,, which wpEngine have not… sorry, but my case it is so far very different than the one referred in this revision.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Hi Rubencio,

      Although having 24/7 support is good. Quality of support is MUCH more important to me. WP Engine does have a support ticket system and I have personally talked to Tin Pham at WP Engine about them pulling late nights to help out customers.

      • That’s one big thing to keep in mind here…. as the saying goes, ‘apples to apples’ comparison.

        I’m currently hosted on a beast of a server (quad Xeon, gobs or RAM, DB on SSD, sites on RAID, etc.), owned by a good friend, so free! (OK, well, since I help him with tech support… not totally free, I guess.) If I moved to a hosting service, it would likely be a DOWNGRADE. So, why am I looking at hosting with WP Engine? Because it is a WordPress specific, **MANAGED** hosting service.

        I formerly worked in the IT industry for over 2 decades, both as a consultant and Sr. IT for a Fortune 100. If I wanted to become a security expert, hosting expert, WP expert, etc. I could certainly do so. However, at this point, my own blogs (business and non-profit org), as well as my client’s sites, are more important to me than saving $10-$20 on hosting per month (and we all know how good the $9.99 hosting is too, so certainly not apples-to-apples in speed).

        The problem is that there is much more to worry about with WordPress than setting up WordPress. I’ve been doing that for years. The problem comes in with getting good speed, even with good hardware, and thwarting security threats (not to mention keeping things updated). If the WP Engine folks are as good at this as claimed, it’s worth quite a bit of money. It doesn’t take much headache on my part every month to blow way past the extra I’ll spend on a good hosting service.

    • Hey Rubencio,

      I want to apologize for the trouble it sounds like you may be having. If you’re having trouble because of a time difference, that can be a huge source of frustration, which is part of why we try to be very explicit about our support hours with new customers so they have correctly set expectations about our support, specifically the hours. We also set expectations about the quality of support engineer you’ll interact with, because we hire some of the best WordPress folks on the market in order to not just answer support tickets, but then also provide you with troubleshooting beyond things at the server level

      While yes, our support hours may appear more limited than a shared host, we believe the quality of support you receive from us is some of the best in the industry.

      To that end, if there’s a specific Ticket you’d like me to look at, please email me. I’m happy to see if something needs a second set of eyes.

    • rubencio says:

      @Eric & Austin,

      The fact it is we’ve bought the $99/month package and we have NOT the site live yet. We’ve sent 3 tickets in the last 24 hours and have reply only for one, the rest 2 have no answers yet… and our site (an online store) it is not live yet so we are not earning money and every minute it is more disappointing since we are loosing sales.

      This was the point: we decided to change from “scala hosting” & “site5″ (yes, we are using both) to wpEngine because of the security + support and until now it have been a nightmare and even worst, the main site (the store) it is not live yet as previously mentioned.

      So @Austin, basically yes, I’ll be contacting you personally soon (if you don’t mind, to your email address austin@wpengine.com) to see if you can help me further because my online store success it is also the wpEngine success.

      @Eric, sorry if I’m using your blog for wpEngine support purposes :)

      Best regards,
      Ruben

      • Hey Rubencito,

        I don’t mind at all. That’s exactly why I replied to your comment. If I can help resolve anything, I want to.

        You are running into our weekend hours, so please do forgive us if we’re a *bit* slower on our tickets. We do have very talented staff who work on the weekends, but not as many as during the week. And as I mentioned, we are adding more and more hours to support every month right now. We’re still a growing company, which means we are scrambling to make everything work to your expectations, which are high for us.

        Yes, let’s take this conversation directly to email so that we don’t keep “spamming” Eric’s comment thread. Eric is a great guy, and a talented blogger and engineer, but I don’t want to try his good graces ;-)

        -Austin

  • Sadek @ Densely says:

    What do you say about HG. Wpengine is far more superior but it costs more than VPS hosting. and I don’t think it’s the worth of spending that much amount of money on it.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Hostgator is a good VPS. I know of a few people that host all of their client sites on Hostgator. That being said, it depends on what you’re looking for.

      Managed WordPress hosting, like WP Engine, is much different than VPS hosting, because they will handle all of the typical headaches that come from running WordPress on your own server. If you’re strapped for cash, then Hostgator is a good option. But if you’re looking for performance and ease of use, then WP Engine is the way to go.

      I hope that helps.

    • Hey Sadek,

      You bring up a great point. A VPS can be a very effective solution if you’re interested in managing your servers yourself, particularly optimizing them for scale and speed. We work with a number of developers who maintain their personal sites on a VPS because they like spending the time managing and tweaking it. They don’t really do it to save money, they do it because they like DIY-ing. If you really break the cost down, the extra time you save in not having to manage servers will save you far more money. Managing a VPS will take you a few hours a week, but you get that time back with a managed host.

      That said, if you’d rather self-manage, then please do go with the VPS. And if cost is the most important factor, WP Engine may not be the right choice, since we aren’t the “cheapest” solution for you. At the end of the day, a managed host is a very powerful solution that may not be suitable for everyone, so I don’t recommend it to everyone!

      I hope that helps!

      -AG

  • Nader says:

    I am currently trying out WP Engine and am very happy with their support, site speed and very practical tools in the backend. Especially the on-demand snapshots and the staging area are great. I’d definitely be using them for a client project, or, if my blog reaches a wider audience.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Hey Nader,

      I love the snapshots and staging area so much at WP Engine that I actually have two accounts with them. I like to develop and test new code out on my WP Engine sites :)

      Thanks for leaving a comment!

  • Jane says:

    I love WP Engine. Thanks for the review Eric. You rock!

  • Reginald says:

    Hi Eric,

    Thank you for writing. In fact, I noticed many big sites are using WP Engine and thought of searching and see what it is all about.

    Good prospect I could say. If my blog goes up well, might changed to WP Engine instead :)

    What attracts me most is the in build cache system. WOW!

    Impressed.

    Reginald

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Hey Reginald,

      WP Engine is definitely worth a look. I run a couple of my websites over there and have always enjoyed it :)

      • Jason says:

        we are considering Rackspace vs. WPengine. Any feedback?

        • Eric Binnion says:

          Hey Jason,

          My personal preference is to use WP Engine over Rackspace, simply because I love the support and don’t want to spend time managing my server.

          But, it really depends on your needs. Can you give me any more information, such as how many sites you have or the number of uniques per month?

  • Shiiu says:

    Hi
    does the coupon still work?