When I started building websites in WordPress almost exclusively about 10 years ago I began trying out a variety of hosts, including some of the bigger names in the WordPress hosting industry. Many of them use custom dashboards that link to customized cPanel installations. That’s familiar and efficient. But I’ve never really been a huge fan of cPanel, despite its prevalence.
I happened upon WPEngine a couple of years ago when I was tasked with rebuilding a client site that resided on their server. I became a big fan, mostly due to their support and tools, and have moved all my client sites to their systems whenever possible.
Things WPEngine Does a Great Job With
I have been building websites since 1998 and have used countless web hosting companies over the years. I also co-owned a hosting company for about 10 years that specialized in specialized database hosting but also hosted WordPress sites, among others. Those were the days when hosting companies were loathe to host WordPress sites because of their tendencies to be hacked regularly, compromising security and performance of the server.
Believe me, security is a huge issue with WordPress, so much so that entire businesses have been built to help secure WordPress websites. This is what I have really liked about WPEngine. They consistently monitor plugins for security threats and if one is identified they notify you immediately to update the plugin or get rid of it. They also automatically run software updates of the core WordPress files. If that’s not enough, they have partnered with CloudFlare to offer edge security services for websites that could become targets. I’m knocking on all the wood around my office right now, but none of the sites I have moved to them have been hacked. That earns them a lot of trust.
They offer 24/7 support. But this is not just your normal, scripted outsourced support. These are support engineers who know something about WordPress and who are not afraid to get their hands into your account to help you. While they offer phone support, I’ve never had to use it. Their chat support is responsive and knowledgeable. This really makes them rate much higher than any other host I’ve ever encountered.
This is another area where I think WPEngine sets itself apart. They have a very sophisticated and integrated control panel for their sites, allowing you to control domain level redirects, back-ups, admin users, SFTP (secure FTP) users easily and quickly. But they also have integrated SSL deployments, CDN deployment, and easy access to domain-level access and error logs. You can also get one-click access to phpMyAdmin.
Finally, one of their biggest strengths is their site migration tool, which automates the most tedious tasks around moving WordPress sites.
In the few years that I’ve been a customer, I have experienced one brief outage. This is much better than the number of outages we had to deal with when using a premium managed hosting company such as RackSpace. Even better, their support will let you know quickly if there is an issue and makes consistent updates on how they are managing outages.
In addition to network stability, this is a growing company that continues to add industry partners and it has a proven track record in WordPress hosting. They are, in short, a stable company.
Things That WPEngine Does that are Average for the Industry
Speed is an important factor in website usability. I’ve not found WPEngine to have a noticeable advantage here and to be about on par with other, discount hosts. However, I have not taken advantage of their enterprise class hosting, nor have I needed to deploy a CDN for any of my clients yet. These will most certainly increase server response times and content delivery times.
Things That Might Turn You Off with WPEngine
No Email Hosting
That’s right, WPEngine does not host client emails. This means if you have a client whose emails are tied to their domain name and website and not served through a separate email server such as Microsoft Exchange, then you will need to find a solution for them.
This is not a problem for me since I decided years ago I would never support client emails. Why not? That is a long story. But if you value your time you will want someone else to be responsible for email. Fortunately, many small businesses employ an IT company to manage their computers and telephony and often want to manage email. If that’s not an option, Google offers a good, inexpensive small business email solution, which is what I use for my personal and business email.
This is not a discount hosting company. This is a managed WordPress hosting company and you will pay for the high level of support, security and tools you get.
With a starting price of $35 per month you may be thinking that another host that charges $99 per year or $10 per month might be a better choice. And for a small website that is not central to a client business you might be better served going to a discount host.
But if you are setting something up for a client where a website plays an important role in business sales or operation and an outage needs to be addressed ASAP this is the company for you. They can even help you identify issues, such as a site that has been broken by plugin or core software updates.
You also will like them if you are managing multiple client websites and offer a hosting and maintenance package. You can get 5 sites for $115 per month, which brings the price down significantly. You can still charge your client the $35 per month hosting and add in your monthly maintenance fee.
The Bottom Line
If you are serious about providing your WordPress clients or yourself with top-of-the-line security, support, and tools, then WPEngine will not let you down.