Update: Since originally publishing this post back in 2015, WPEngine’s competitors have caught up. Other faster, cheaper hosts have emerged.
One of the biggest hurdles I had in choosing WPEngine was validating a $29 monthly hosting payment. Now that my eyes have been opened, it is no longer a hurdle. I admit, I am/was a GoDaddy shared hosting customer. GoDaddy, with all its crowded servers, does have a place in the hosting business, but not for most businesses.
WPEngine touts its speed as being the fastest your WordPress site can be. Thanks to their aggressive cache, CDN, and uncongested servers they are faster than GoDaddy shared hosting and another managed WordPress host. I didn’t know how crowded shared hosts can be until I looked some sites up on http://whois.domaintools.com. Enter the url on that site and you can see how many other sites are hosted on the server. I usually see GoDaddy shared hosting servers with about 4,000 sites. I once saw a site with a million sites on a server (don’t remember if it was GoDaddy). The site I looked up was very slow, which is why I looked it up. I’m not sure what the average is for WPEngine servers. I just know the server mymonkeydo.com is on hosts way under 100.
Almost every host says their servers are secure, has a firewall, malware scanning etc, so how do you know when a host is secure? One good indication is when they send you emails notifying you to update a plugin because of known security flaw that was just found that day. In the 2 years I’ve been with WPEngine they have probably sent a couple of these emails.
On top of staying on top of the latest security issues, they also blog about security topics like Unmasked: What 10 million passwords reveal about the people who choose them.
WPEngine’s aggressive cache and high security standards do come at a cost. Sometimes when building a site, the cache doesn’t clear or in one case my IP address was blocked for making too many requests too fast. Whatever the case, WPEngine has a Live Chat during business hours and a very attentive support ticketing system. More than a few times I had a problem around midnight and submitted a support ticket only to hear back 10 minutes later and it was resolved. Their staff is knowledgable and friendly unlike GoDaddy’s “it’s not our problem” approach.
Another benefit of choosing WPEngine is their backup system. Your site is backed up everyday and kept for I don’t know how long (over a month) and your backup is encrypted and stored on another server (Amazon S3). If you install a faulty plugin and can’t get into your site just go to the WPEngine portal and click on the Restore button. If your site is hacked, do the same thing. WPEngine claims they will fix your site for free if it is hacked. I’m not sure to what extent that is, but I’m sure the first step is to restore your site to a backup before the hack occurred.
The best thing on WPEngine for a web developer like myself is their staging site. With the click of a button your live site can be copied to a staging site. On the staging site you can mess everything up trying to find an issue and visitors to your live site won’t know you’re doing anything. Got a new feature? Updating a plugin? Test it on the staging site first and test it with live data.
Two other features that are developer friend, but I haven’t used yet are git deployment and a password protection feature. Git is a version control system that developers can use to keep track of their changes. WPEngine can host your git repository and let you deploy your code to the live environment. The password protection feature is to password protect your website when it’s still in development and not ready to be seen yet.
Enough of me babbling, go see for yourself what makes WP Engine different.