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WP Engine review: Delivers exactly what it promises

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(picture: WP Engine)

If you are in search of a website hosting supplier, you may have an amazing variety of selections. In my website hosting supplier comparability information — Best website hosting suppliers —  I checked out 15 suppliers that supply a variety of plans.

In this evaluate, we’ll dive into WP Engine’s choices. 

Normally, to get a greater really feel for every particular person supplier, I arrange essentially the most fundamental account potential and carried out a collection of exams. But WP Engine is a extra specialised host, primarily providing managed WordPress internet hosting.

As such, WP Engine’s fundamental plan begins at $24 per thirty days (when a yr is pay as you go), the place a lot of the different internet hosting suppliers we have reviewed supply plans below $5 per thirty days. Note that this is not as a result of WP Engine is overpriced. Instead, it’s providing a extra superior degree of service for websites that require extra sources.

As you transition from a web site with a couple of pages to a web site like mine with loads of complexity however nonetheless comparatively small, to large websites like ZDNet, the price of internet hosting goes up significantly. WP Engine targets small companies up by enterprise wants, so its pricing displays the sources these clients want to have the ability to use.

For our evaluate, I’ve chosen the Managed Hosting Plus Startup Plan. The Plus plan is $4 per thirty days completely different from the fundamental plan, however it provides computerized plugin updates, examined plugins, auto-rollbacks, and a alternative of which plugins are up to date.

To be clear, the automated plugin updates characteristic is now not a lot of a promoting level, as a result of WordPress now gives that as a part of its fundamental set up. But the auto-rollback characteristic (which whenever you want it, you actually want it) is price the additional couple of bucks a month. If you are springing for managed internet hosting, you may as effectively have an “Ah, sh__!” button you possibly can press whenever you want it.

How pricing works

This is often the place in my internet hosting critiques the place I start my rant on the scammy bait-and-switch lock-in technique internet hosting suppliers use to get and preserve your enterprise.

Lower-end internet hosting companies suck you in with gives of a few bucks a month. But to get the marketed value, you wind up paying for years of service up entrance, after which when that contract is up, the renewal charges are anyplace from double to 10 instances what you initially paid.

There are enterprise causes for this, in fact. First, it works. Most individuals don’t be concerned about what the renewal price might be till they’re confronted with a whopping invoice to maintain their web site up or incur weeks or months of ache to port it someplace else. But it’s additionally as a result of operating a internet hosting service is pricey, and the hosts need to become profitable by some means.

But as soon as you progress up a tier, into small enterprise managed internet hosting and above, most internet hosting suppliers make their cash from the charges they cost. They do not need to entice you with a low-ball supply. You know you want extra reminiscence, extra CPU capability, extra storage, extra bandwidth, and extra assist — and also you’re keen to pay for it. So, they need not bait-and-switch.

After all, at $30 per thirty days to $40 per thirty days, you are paying extra in a month than most of the low-ball internet hosting suppliers make in a yr from a given shopper.

Types of plans supplied

WP Engine’s plans are like that. It has tiers that make sense. First, in case you pay for a yr up entrance, you save a bit over paying month-to-month. Usually, that is the equal of about two months of free service.

For each class of plan, it scales based mostly on the variety of websites you get with the plan, variety of visits per thirty days, quantity of storage you employ, and bandwidth.

Then comes the 4 plan varieties the supply. The first is fundamental managed internet hosting. This will get you 24/7 assist through chat, some themes, free automated migrations, every day backups, free SSL and SSH, and a staging web site. All good, particularly in case you’re doing collection work.

I opted to check the Managed Hosting Plus plan, which is only a few bucks extra. As I discussed, it provides computerized updates (which is now offered by WordPress), and computerized rollbacks, which could be very useful. When I scoped out the plans, I noticed I’d by no means advocate the fundamental plan given the Plus plan is a couple of bucks extra. So, I’m testing that.

If you do not get the WP Engine eCommerce plan, you are not prevented from establishing a web based retailer. It’s simply that you need to do a lot of the heavy lifting, discovering the software program, and many others. With the eCommerce plan, WP Engine installs WooCommerce (the highest WordPress on-line retailer add-on, owned by the corporate that produces WordPress). It additionally gives an optimized retailer theme, some templates, and so forth. In the following tier up, it provides retailer search performance, which lets clients seek for merchandise. Basically, you are paying a couple of bucks extra for WP Engine to get it working for you.

Finally, the corporate has a Secured Hosting plan. This does not essentially safe your web site from malware. If you are involved about malware, you possibly can attain out to WP Engine assist, they usually’ll enable you decide in case you’ve been attacked or not.

No, what the Secured Hosting plan does is shield you from outdoors site visitors assaults. It gives distributed denial of service assault safety and a safety firewall in your site visitors (which will help defend in opposition to malware flowing into your web site).

In 2009 (earlier than I wrote for ZDNet), I was on the receiving end of a massive attack. My internet hosting supplier didn’t have any protection and I wound up writing my very own code. It would have been an enormous reduction to have the Secured Hosting plan when that occurred.

Installing WordPress

When you first log into WP Engine’s dashboard, you are greeted with a survey display. Presumably, these questions are used for advertising and marketing functions.

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Once you dig by these screens, you are given the chance to arrange different person accounts. These are dashboard customers. Setting up your WordPress customers might be achieved in WordPress.

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And, lastly, you are within the dashboard.

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Let’s add a brand new web site:

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This step is definitely very fascinating and requires some unpacking. When you purchase your plan, you are given a sure variety of websites you are allowed. The plan I’m on permits one web site.

But…WP Engine has this idea of a “transferable web site.” You cannot swap a web site from non-transferable to transferable, so determine this upfront. A transferable web site is one the place you construct the positioning, you then switch it to a shopper who additionally has a WP Engine account. You’re allowed as many transferable websites as you need because the solely manner outdoors site visitors can get in is through a password-protected portal.

Next up comes a grid of 4 selections. You can begin with a (principally) clean web site, get some handholding as you construct your web site, or switch websites.

I all the time prefer to go along with as a lot management as I can, so I’m beginning with a fundamental web site. Then I clicked Next.

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I believed this was type of fascinating. First, it is advisable identify your “surroundings.” Initially, you need to use a subdomain, however you possibly can later transfer it to a website of your selecting.

It’s this surroundings factor that is fascinating. In addition to the transferable websites, you possibly can arrange three “surroundings” websites: Development, staging, and testing. This means you possibly can work in your web site whereas your manufacturing web site is stay, after which swap environments. I like that… loads.

I’m going to go straight to manufacturing as a result of I’m simply operating some fundamental exams. I’m additionally turning off computerized plugin updates as a result of I like to concentrate on when my plugins replace.

Then I clicked Add Site. At this level, the next Site checklist exhibits up. 

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You cannot do a lot but, apart from delete the positioning. After about 5 minutes, I received an electronic mail telling me my web site was prepared.

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I clicked the URL, and there you go:

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Next, I configured an admin password. This takes you to the traditional WordPress admin reset display, the place you enter your electronic mail deal with and a brand new password is mailed out. Nothing shocking right here.

The most important WordPress dashboard web page was surprisingly crap-free. That’s undoubtedly a breath of recent air after encountering all of the upsells and crapware of earlier critiques. There is a “WP Engine has your again” widget, however all it does is level you to some efficiency administration options of the host dashboard.

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My subsequent cease was Plugins and it was just about garbage-free (one thing of a rarity with WordPress internet hosting suppliers):

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There’s the Akismet Anti-Spam plugin that comes with most websites, and StudioPress (a WP Engine product) Genesis Blocks, a plugin that provides some editor options.

The Themes space was equally un-hateful. Yes, WP Engine defaulted to its in-house theme, however Genesis is definitely a tremendous base theme. Beyond that, it simply had a couple of latest default WordPress themes put in.

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Overall, the WordPress set up in WP Engine was clear and with out both muss or fuss. It’s undoubtedly workable.

The remainder of the WP Engine dashboard

The very first thing I love to do when taking a look at a brand new internet hosting supplier is exploring their dashboard. Is it an previous pal, like cPanel? Is it some kind of janky, barely configured open supply, or homegrown mess? Or is it a fastidiously crafted customized dashboard? These are sometimes those that fear me essentially the most as a result of they nearly all the time conceal restrictions that I’m going to need to work round by some means.

You do not actually achieve entry to the WP Engine dashboard till after you put in a web site/surroundings:

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Once you do, a fast click on on the positioning identify offers you a extra complete software:

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Yeah, that is extra like it. There’s a fast entry button to PhpMyAdmin for database manipulation, one other to launch the WordPress admin interface and numerous setup choices. I’m not going to enter them in-depth since this evaluate nonetheless has fairly a strategy to go, however I did not see (or not see) something that will make me fear.

All instructed, WP Engine appears to be fairly complete when it comes to what it permits web site operators to do.

This may additionally be a great place to say that WP Engine produces the Local WordPress hosting environment, for internet hosting WordPress in your growth machine. This product was once Local by Flywheel earlier than WP Engine acquired it.

I can personally attest to the standard of the Local implementation. As I discussed in my growth instruments article, I exploit Local day by day for coding and upkeep of the WordPress plugins I handle. It’s a really useful software. And, it’s free.

Quick safety checks

Security is likely one of the largest points when it involves working a web site. You wish to be certain your web site is secure from hackers, does not flag Google, and might join securely to cost engines in case you’re operating an e-commerce web site of any type.

While the scope of this text does not permit for exhaustive safety testing, there are a couple of fast checks that may assist point out whether or not WP Engine is beginning with a safe basis.

The first of those is multifactor authentication (MFA). It’s manner too simple for hackers to only bang away at a web site’s login display and brute-force a password. One of my websites has been pounded on for weeks by some hacker or one other, however as a result of I’ve some comparatively sturdy protections in place, the unhealthy actor hasn’t been capable of get in.

WP Engine has a well-considered MFA implementation, permitting you to make use of SMS, Google Authenticator, and even Okta for enterprise SSO. This is for the principle WP Engine dashboard. You, in fact, can add a plugin to your WordPress web site to place MFA on there as effectively.

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Also, the positioning created by WP Engine has SSL safety by default. As you possibly can see, the dashboard (and this additionally applies to the user-facing content material) has a sound certificates and encryption. I did not need to arrange something

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I prefer to externally take a look at SSL implementations utilizing a take a look at suite offered by SSL Labs. WP Engine handed simply:

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As my final fast safety examine, I like to have a look at the variations of a few of the most important system parts that run net functions. To make issues simple, I selected 4 parts essential to secure WordPress operation. While different apps could use different parts, I’ve discovered that if parts are up-to-date for one set of wants, they’re often updated throughout the board.

Here are my findings (utilizing the Health Check & Troubleshooting plugin), as of the day I examined, for WP Engine’s Managed Hosting Plus Startup plan:

Component

Version Provided

Current Version

How Old

PHP

7.4.22

7.4.222

Current

MySQL/MariaDB

5.7.34-37-log

5.7.35/8.0.26

4 months

cURL

7.58.0

7.78.0

42 months

OpenSSL

OpenSSL/1.1.1

OpenSSL 1.1.1k

34 months

In basic, these outcomes aren’t unhealthy. You type of have to know the part to know find out how to learn these outcomes. PHP is just about proper on observe.

MySQL at the moment lives in two tracks, a maintained 5.7 observe and an 8.0 observe with newer expertise. Both are supported by WordPress and so long as the 5.7 observe is maintained and up to date (significantly for safety threats), it’s tremendous to be operating 5.7.34.

Oddly sufficient, Local (the native growth surroundings owned by WP Engine I mentioned earlier) defaults to MySQL 8.0.16. So a lot for consistency. Go determine.

cURL is a bit disturbingly outdated as is OpenSSL, however because the earlier SSL take a look at confirmed, the precise SSL encryption is stable, which is what we’re actually involved about.

Also, Brent Stackhouse, VP of Security and IT at WP Engine, tells us:

For a few of our packages, together with OpenSSL and cURL, we use the Linux distribution Ubuntu’s packages, whose variations usually don’t match the official maintainer’s variations as a consequence of one thing referred to as “backporting.” In this case, each OpenSSL and cURL are absolutely patched however the model makes it seem in any other case, as a result of backporting in Ubuntu packages shouldn’t be mirrored within the model quantity. We have verified internally that every one latest vulnerabilities (designated by CVE quantity) are included in our operating variations of OpenSSL and cURL.

The backside line is that WP Engine is on observe for the core WordPress parts and a bit behind on supporting encryption and information switch, however testing exhibits it’s not far sufficient behind to trigger a safety menace.

Performance testing

Next, I wished to see how the positioning carried out utilizing some on-line efficiency testing instruments. It’s necessary to not take these exams too severely. These are simply fast exams on a web site with no site visitors.

That stated, it’s good to have an thought of what to anticipate. The manner I examined was to make use of the recent set up of WordPress with the default put in theme. I then efficiency take a look at the “Hello, world” web page, which is generally textual content, with simply a picture header. That manner, we’re capable of give attention to the responsiveness of a fundamental web page with out being too involved about media overhead.

First, I ran two Pingdom Tools tests, one hitting the positioning from San Francisco and the second from Germany. Here’s the San Francisco take a look at score:

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Then I ran the take a look at from Germany. The outcomes had been each fairly good:

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Next, I ran the same take a look at utilizing the Bitchatcha service:

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None of the exams confirmed unhealthy efficiency, and I discovered the responsiveness of the WordPress dashboard to be snappy as effectively.

Now, this is the gotcha. Basic efficiency is ok, however we do not have information for a way the service will carry out below load. Since you are presumably shopping for a higher-end managed internet hosting service, you are in all probability anticipating some degree of site visitors.

I say this loads in my critiques, however make the most of the money-back time interval to totally take a look at out outcomes for your self. You have 60 days with WP Engine. Make certain to make use of them. And in case you run into efficiency points, attain out to the corporate. Managed internet hosting companies are supposed to supply higher hands-on assist, so use it.

Support and money-back assure

The firm does have 24/7/365 stay chat assist. I attempted it out at 1am on a Sunday morning (what? I’m an evening particular person) and located the assist consultant to be each educated and pleasant.

WP Engine gives a 60-day money-back assure. Here’s a blog post that explains how to cancel the assorted forms of service.

Overall conclusion

I received no complaints. No, severely, I’ve no complaints. Other than a couple of part variations being outdated (however nonetheless throughout the system necessities for WordPress), I’ve nothing to ding them over.

Setup was simple. The internet hosting dashboard, whereas not as complete as cPanel, offered all of the sources a well-equipped WordPress would require. The addition of growth and staging variations, together with the transferable websites gives loads of flexibility for a 1-site plan.

SSL labored and handed my exams, and web site responsiveness was good. Support was responsive, useful, and clever in the course of the evening on a weekend.

If you are in search of a super-cheap internet hosting providing, this is not it. But in case you’re severe about internet hosting your web site, you might do loads worse than WP Engine. I do not do star critiques, however I’d give it a 4 (out of 5).

The solely purpose I would not give it a 5 is I’d by no means give a internet hosting supplier a prime score on only a week or so of analysis. You do not actually get to know your internet hosting supplier till you’ve got labored with them for a couple of years and resolved a couple of disaster occasions.

That stated, if I needed to transfer my websites to a different supplier, I’d undoubtedly take into account WP Engine.


You can observe my day-to-day venture updates on social media. Be certain to observe me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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