Introduction: WPEngine – Premium Built-For-WordPress Hosting
After knowing WPEngine hosting for more than a year, I shifted this site (WHSR) to WPEngine on February 2012. This review records my true experience with the web host.
Before we go in-depth, here are some quick facts on WPEngine: WPEngine (http://www.wpengine.com) is headquartered in Austin, Texas; founded in July 2010; according to WhoIS record, the company domain (WPEngine.com) is created on March 2010.
WPEngine is very special – the hosting company focuses only on WordPress hosting. In other words, unless you are running a WordPress site, there’s no way WPEngine can earn your business.
Why WordPress Only Hosting?
You may ask, "Isn’t dumb to limit your market and focus only on WordPress users?". Fact is, I was equally surprised when I found this and I asked WPEngine founder during our interview session:
When asked "How has the strategy of solely focusing on WordPress users affected the business?"
Jason answered: "Focusing only on WordPress means we can do a fantastic job. For example we hire WordPress experts only, so everyone at the company is helpful and knowledgeable when you call into tech support.
Lots of hosting companies answer the phone on the first ring and call that “good service.” Of course if the person on the other end can’t debug the WordPress problem, at the end of the day it’s not helpful. We know what we’re good at — and what we’re NOT good at! — and we do only the former."
"That’s how it affects you — the customer. How it affects the back-end business is that we can be more profitable because we don’t have to diversify technology or talent. American Airlines can’t make money because they service 20 kinds of planes; Southwest and JetBlue are profitable and run only a few models. We’re like the latter; most hosting companies are the former."
So there, take it or leave it, WPEngine is all about WordPress. If you are not a WordPress user, then this piece of review has nothing to do with you, leave now; but in case you are looking for a hosting company who offer serious WordPress hosting, I am sure this review is a must-read for you!
My WPEngine Review: What’s Good About It?
WPEngine = Premium WordPress Hosting, For Real!
The company’s talented people is what I love the most about WPEngine.
Co-founder Jason Cohen is the maker of Code Collaborator; Aaron Brazell, co-founder, has been actively developing WordPress since year 2004 and he wrote WordPress Bible; not to mention Ben Metcalfe, advisor, who has been around the WordPress development scene for a long time. These people are the experts who are involved with WordPress development from the very early days and trust me, they know all the bolts-and-nuts behind WordPress.
Extremely Fast And Stable Server – WHSR now loads quicker than a blink of eye!
WPEngine loads faster than anything I have tried in the past, full stop. I am extremely amazed with the server speed since the day one I shifted my host. Figure below indicates the difference in site response time before and after the switch to WP Engine.
Please understand that I am putting up this image to show that there is, in fact, a big improvement in WHSR response time after the shift. It is, however, unfair to compare between WP Engine and Hostgator, as WHSR was previously hosted on a shared hosting account that costs less than $8/mo.
Reliable Hosting Server – 100% Site Uptime Record
WP Engine has a very stricy No-Overselling-Policy*; and, the web host allows you to get ‘clouded’ whenever necessary – In case of sudden traffic spikes or unplanned server outages, your web traffics will be automatically rerouted to other servers. Despite having StumbleUpo-impact twice (traffic increased 850% for more than four days); I am seeing 100% server uptime at all times (check my recent WP Engine Uptime Report).
* Useful Note:
(1): According to WPEngine term of service, all PHP opcode cache and non-media file-system cache are kept 100% in RAM; and, average CPU loads are limited below 0.2 per CPU. (2): Site hosted on WPEngine is optimized via series of unique configurations and server features, ie. WPEngine in-house caching system, file minification, proxy servers, Content Delivery Network (yes, the hosting service comes along with CDN!), dedicated memcached servers to support W3 Total Cache, and so on.
Assistance With Moving Your Sites
Confession: I did not move WHSR by myself.
For review purpose, I requested for an assisted migration. I did not install the fresh copy of WordPress, I did not do a MySQL transfer, I did not do any major FTP file transfers; all I did was filled up a form at WPEngine and Jeremy (WPEngine technical support staff) got it all fixed for me.
The transition process was ultra-smooth and the support I got from Jeremy is topnotch (friendly, efficient communication, and very knowledgable).
So for those who are worry about the shift (I know, especially if your WordPress site is huge and your life depends on it, there are plenty to think about), stay calm, help is a few clicks away at WPEngine.
Ultra-Secured Hosting Environment
In short, WPEngine sites are protected by multiple security walls. On the outside, WPEngine utilizes hardware-base intrusion detection appliances from DDos attack and rogue scanning; on inside, all WPEngine hosting accounts are isolated with limited user access. Furthermore, WPEngine will automatically upgrade users’ WordPress installations the same hour as a security patch is released. This means you are always protected from known exploits.
Hacker Cleanup Guarantee
What makes me sleep even better at night is the company’s Hacker Cleanup Guarantee. So what is this Hacker Cleanup Guarantee? In short, WPEngine will cleanup and fix your site if you ever get hacked – that’s what we as end users need to know, right?
Protective Policy To Assure Customer Satisfaction
Last but not least, I like how WPEngine conduct their business.
In fact, I was shock to find that the hosting company purposely make it very easy for customer to leave.
Firstly, WPEngine provides an easy way for users to download a complete copy of their WordPress site – not the usual WordPress ‘Export’ function but a full backup that includes database, system files, media uploads, and plugins. Secondly, unlike many other web hosting companies, WPEngine charges its customer on per month basis – this forces the company work hard consistently to earn customers’ business.
My WPEngine Review: Things You Might Not Like
No Email Hosting
In my opinion, the biggest problem with WPEngine is email hosting. That’s right, the web host does not provide email or webmail features. If you want an email address ending with your domain name (something like email@example.com), you will need to host your own email accounts.
Yes, I know you can always go with Gmail as Google provides free email hosting services (as recommended by WPEngine); but not all website owners want their data to be hosted with the big G (me included!).
However, stay no fear. I had tried a few different solutions when I switched my host to WPEngine and I had written a lengthy article on how to overcome this issue – What to do when your web host does not provide email hosting services – so… no big deal with that .
Customer Support Is Not 24x7x365
Another thing you should be aware is that WPEngine Customer Happiness Department (as they named it) is not open 24-hours. WPEngine comes with no live chat system, no 24x7x365 round-the-clock support. This does not mean that their support staffs are no good (in fact both support staffs I worked with did exceptionally well), it’s just that they are not there 24×7 for you.
But then again, I think that’s okay.
Unless you are newbies who need hand-in-hand, spoon-fed type of support (which are unlikely to go with WP Engine), I don’t see why you need someone standing by behind the monitor for you.
Checking On The Price Tags: How Much Does WP Engine Cost?
The latest WP Engine Hosting Plans come in 4 flavors: Personal, Professional, Business, and Premium; costing at $29/mo, $99/mo, $249/mo, and custom price/mo respectively. For Personal Plan, you get to host just 1 domain name; while for Professional 10 domains, Business 25 domains, and Premium unlimited domains.
Jerry, don’t you think WP Engine hosting is way too expensive?
I get complaints on WP Engine’s pricing quite often. For example, check out this comment by Ichirei: "Yeah, they might be better at WordPress host, but it’s easy to be better if you cost 5 times other hosts".
My response to this is simple: Don’t go with WP Engine if you think they are expensive.
Personally, I find WP Engine pricing fair and very reasonable. Think about the cost of cluster server hosting, extra security protection, and technical support by WordPress expert – if you are serious about your website, you should understand how valuable are these features.
Customer Reviews On WPEngine Hosting
One reason why I choose to put WHSR on WP Engine’s hands is because the hosting company is trusted by several big names; including HTC, FourSquare, SoundCloud, America’s Test Kitchen, etc.
Almost Like Unicorns! "After hosting several high traffic WordPress sites it’s a relief to come to WP Engine. At SoundCloud we were looking for a hassle free provider to set up our blogs at, which we found in these guys. Swift replies, but also very open to feedback and eager to improve." – Roel Van Der Ven @ SoundCloud.com
WPEngine has been running well! "All in all WP Engine has been running well for a week. Now that I’m using their services I’ll probably stay with them for the foreseeable future. As I always try to remind you guys, when you are determining what you are willing to pay for a solution always include the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). $50 per month for a site may seem expensive, but I don’t have to worry about maintenance, backups, server hacking and such. I do believe that their overall system needs to be streamlined and made to be more user friendly, but if you have a decent knowledge of Web Server Administration WP Engine may be a good option for you." – Eli @ EverymanIT.com
My blog is 4X Faster Than Your Blog. "When the New York Times told me they were doing a big story about my site, I knew I needed to get to a new host — like, yesterday. My old host had really nice and responsive staff, but whenever I had a traffic bump, my site was prone to crash. I’ve been on WordPress since 2007, and knew the time was right for a solution tuned specifically to its needs. WP Engine got my site onto their servers pronto, and when the Times story hit, the day went off without a single hitch — even though my pageviews quadrupled. Oh, and yes, my site speed is much, much faster. I’m a writer, not a techie, so I don’t really understand WP Engine’s ‘secret sauce’. But so far, so good — it’s rockin’ my site like never before." – Pam Kueber @ RetroRenovation.com
I definitely recommend WP Engine. "My site was under attack from a Distributed Denial of Service attack on my old shared host. I was getting 1.5 million requests per hour that took my site down and 20 other sites who were also hosting on the same server. It took the old host three days to identify the problem, and even then offered no real solution. I switched to WP Engine and within hours the DDOS was dealt with *and* my website was loading about four times faster." – David Vogelpohl @ MarketingClique.com
Well worth my investment. "The WP Engine support has been excellent. I now see the difference between paying $5 or $10 per month for hosting vs a group that charges $29+ but specializes in WordPress and delivers fast, reliable support." – Dr. Joe Kravitz @ DentalImplants.us
I hope these testimonials quoted from WP Engine website are helpful to you.
Verdict: Should You Go With WP Engine?
WP Engine is a rare, precious gem for all WordPress users and it is very easy to conclude on WP Engine: If you are serious about your WordPress website/blog, why suffer another sleepless night worrying about your site cracked due to hackers or heavy traffic loads? Just go with WP Engine!
Even if you are not turning into them at this time, you should still bookmark the company website http://www.wpengine.com as well as my review on your computer – remember that I only switched to WP Engine after hearing them for more than a year?
*Important Update WP Engine is launching a time-limited promotion to all customers in October 2012. Simply use the promo code “Hostober” when you order WP Engine and you’ll get 3 free months of service on all annual plans.