It should be stressed from the start that this is not regular web hosting, and the features generally offered in personal and business level hosting, such as a cPanel, are not present. Not all plans offer support, and email is not provided. WP Engine is a specialist hosting service only for WordPress. It is designed to provide super-fast loading and running speeds, and to make the very best use of the features offered by the WordPress CMS.
WP Engine Review: Available Plans
There are four plans available, namely Personal, Professional, Business and Premium. These vary in price, by the number of WordPress installs permitted, by the amount of local storage and also by the number of permitted visitors. Each of these parameters is explained below. If you simply want one WordPress site to be managed then the Personal plan will be sufficient. The Premium plan is customized to suit your needs, and is more suitable for large businesses with IT budgets.
WP Engine Hosting Service Prices
This form of managed WordPress hosting is not cheap. The smallest plan, the Personal plan which hosts one WordPress installation, is priced at $29/month. You can save $58 by paying $290 for a year in advance. This is expensive when compared to Bluehost, Hostgator, DreamHost and InMotion web hosting.
The Professional plan is priced at $99/month, again offering 2 months free for advance payment. This allows 10 installs and 200,000 monthly visitors, while the $249 Business plan offers 400,000 visitors and 25 installs. It is unlikely that ordinary bloggers or personal small business users will need 25 different WordPress installations, so we shall focus on the $29 plan here with occasional reference to the Professional plan.
WordPress Hosting Plans and Terminology
In choosing your plan, it is important to understand the terminology being used. Here is an explanation of the terms used when defining the scope of a particular plan.
A WordPress install is a single installation of WordPress on a domain. Most amateur or online business users employ only one WordPress blog or site on their domain. More professional users, or even larger businesses, may require several instances of WordPress to provide a blog for each of their websites or even simply to host multiple WP-based websites.
Each unique IP address visiting your site in a 24 hour period is classed as a visitor. If a visitor then visits 25 hours later, that is also a visit because it is unique for the next 24 hours. Search engine robots also count as visits, but only once every 24 hours. You are allowed 25,000 of these unique IP visits with the Personal plan, and are then charged at $1 per thousand over that.
Positive Aspects of WP Engine
We shall discuss the Advantages of WP Engine in relation to an ordinary user of the Personal plan. Business and Professional users at $99 – $249 monthly would be more likely to have their own IT staff than seek advice online.
1. Speed and CDN
You can choose between London UK, Newark NJ and Tokyo as your preferred data center. The closer this is to you, the faster the data transfer. In addition to this, WP Engine claims to be the only WordPress hosting service to offer CDN (Content Delivery Network) as standard.
2. Clusters and RAM Caching
WP Engine utilizes multi-server clusters. A cluster is a set of machines, each of which deals with your traffic among others, so if one goes down your site keeps running. Multi-server clusters are designed to assess the traffic of each customer, and assign the right number of clusters based on expected demand. This means rapid operation and the ability to handle up to 1,500 hits/sec.
When you add in-RAM caching to the pot, then you get lightning-fast response and data transfer speeds that you won’t even notice. Speed is everything these days, and Google itself spends a large proportion of its budget on speeding up its response time to search engine searches. It therefore appreciates sites that do likewise. There is little point of a fast Google response if the web pages it finds are sooo sloooow to load!
3. Testing and Staging Areas
No WP Engine review can ignore its ‘Staging Area.’ It is quite common for people to compromise or screw-up their existing site when trying out a new theme or testing new plugins. They might seem fine at first, but once you use them on your site they can corrupt your existing setup.
The ‘Staging Area’ is a feature that enables you to test new themes and plugins without affecting your existing site. You simply make a copy of the site and carry out whatever testing you want. Test-driving is now a lot easier and safer with the WP Engine Staging Area.
4. Backup and Restore
You can backup and restore with one click, but that’s not all. WP Engine carries out an automatic daily backup of your entire site and all your data. This is held offsite on Amazon S3, so even if the entire WP Engine system fails you do not lose your site or your data. You can’t ask for a better backup service than that!
5. General Positives
When you use a dedicated WordPress hosting service, you know that your site and/or blog is being professionally looked after. The WordPress CMS is unique, and by having it managed by a professional specialist company must be an advantage. The entire hosting service revolves around the specific needs of WP, and you can be assured of using the most up to date version of the CMS as well as the most appropriate and professional plugins and widgets.
This WP Engine review has also found some negatives. The price is one, of course, and you will need something special to justify the $29.00/month price. In fact, you do get something special, particularly if your entire site revolves around WordPress. Not every site does however, and if you are using WP as a blog attached to a main website using another web hosting service, then you will have no need of this dedicated WordPress management service.
2. No Email Service
It might seem strange that this company does not offer an email service in the package. However, email is normally a provision of the cPanel control panel, and since WP Engine is devoted to WordPress, there is no need for this type of control panel. It is likely assumed, therefore, that any individual or business using it already has its own email service.
There are many free email services available online, even apart from the Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail options. WP Engine recommends Zoho. There is also the fact that many who use WP do not use it as their primary business website. It is not a significant omission.
3. Limited Websites and Storage
Local storage seems inadequate for larger websites. 10 GB storage is not a lot for a Personal site and 20 GB even less so for a Business site. However, if you need more it is available at a price, and it could be argued that the need will increase with online success – the one creating the cash flow to fund the other.
The limit of just one website or domain might appear to be restrictive, although most personal users have just the one website and blog. It may, however, have been better to offer at least two installations for $29/month to take the bite out of the price.
WP Engine Support is not the best and the Zen ticket system is fairly slow to respond though the new chat support service is excellent. This seems to be limited to written advice and articles.
WP Engine Review: Conclusions
If you are just starting to blog then this is not for you. This hosting service is aimed at those who make money from their WordPress blog, and is the perfect host for WordPress professionals. If you are making good money from your WordPress site, then WP Engine is ideal. The same is true if you need extra security, or are continually being hacked.
The last word from this WP Engine review is that if you are looking for high speed, high security and high capability of handling your WordPress site, then this is it. You can pay monthly, and it is certainly worth giving a run.