Did you know that WordPress 5.6 has been downloaded over 30.7Million times?! There’s a reason why WordPress powers over 35% of the web and that’s because it’s the worlds leading content management system.
But what about hosting? Who’s the absolute best hosting provider and who should you go with to host your WordPress site?
If there’s one thing that I know for sure, it’s that you need a reliable web host to make sure your site runs fast. Otherwise you’ll have a huge bounce rate and site stats that will make you cry.
This means lots of lost traffic and potentially lost sales due to slow load times. Unhappy visitors is not good!
Thankfully, hosting companies like Flywheel exist to make your life easier. They offer web hosting options that make sense for your website and your wallet.
So is Flywheel the right web host for you? Let’s dive into this Flywheel review and find out!
What Is Flywheel Web Hosting?
Based in Ohama, Nebraska – Flywheel offers premium WordPress hosting for creatives. The company has created a beautifully designed web hosting platform (go figure) geared specifically for designers and agencies.
Flywheel was founded by three dudes — Dusty Davidson, Tony Noecker, and Rick Knudtson.
In 2018, Flywheel broke into the top 500 fastest-growing companies in Nebraska and then in 2019 broke into the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies. Here’s a tweet about it.
We’re delighted to announce that we’re no. 344 on this year’s #Inc5000 list of fastest-growing companies in the nation! Read all about this extremely exciting news here: https://t.co/O9fSLb4tmE pic.twitter.com/RfmcNITxlT— Flywheel (@HeyFlywheel) August 15, 2018
Rick was struggling with servers, Dusty was unhappy with the current marketplace hosting providers, and Tony was debugging lines of code.
Faced with an opportunity for growth in the hosting space, the three came together and in 2012 Flywheel hosting was born.
With the three founders all coming from web development backgrounds themselves, they understood the business side of working with clients.
But as far as managing web hosting went, it was a total headache for them. All they wanted to do was focus on designing beautiful websites for their clients and not worry about managing their web hosting.
One of the immaculate things created over at Flywheel is their user friendly control panel. You can really tell that aesthetics and simplicity played a massive influence in their design. We’ll touch on this, the benefits of Flywheel hosting, and much more throughout the rest of this Flywheel review.
WP Engine Acquires Flywheel Hosting
On June 24, 2019 TechCrunch announced that WP Engine hosting was set to acquire Flywheel hosting. They are now the parent company of Flywheel hosting and joined forces to continue to help business build and managed their WordPress hosted websites.
Pros and Cons
Check out the chart below to see the pros and cons of Flywheel. While Flywheel offers a lot of great features, there are some drawbacks.
|72hr & 30 Day Refund Guarantee||Some Plugins Won’t Work|
|Free Site Migration||Can’t Buy Domains|
|Free Demo Site||No Email Hosting|
|24/7 Support||Only Compatible With WordPress|
|User Friendly Dashboard||Security Limits SSH Accessibility|
|Choose Your Data Center||Can’t Buy SSL Certificates|
|Free SSL Certificate||Phone Support Costs Extra|
|Bandwidth up to 500GB +|
|Free Malware Removal|
|No Need for cPanel|
|Built Specifically for WordPress|
|Local Web Developing|
For the performance test, I wanted to take a different approach and run the speed test with the Flywheel website. Any hosting provider that gets massive amounts of traffic and is offering managed WordPress hosting should have a fast website – right?
Here’s how the results came back using Flywheel as our guinea pig. I must admit, I was a bit surprised at the results.
Flywheel Speed Results
For the page speed results, I used Lighthouse from Web.dev. It’s an open sourced tool that basically does an overall site audit and then generates what they call a ‘Lighthouse Score’ based on the websites performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO.
Here’s the link to the Flywheel Lighthouse Score. The results down below can see some pretty surprising metrics. Google page speed insights pulls their data from lighthouse so it’s pretty much the same metrics.
Flywheel got an overall performance score of 67. For a web host that prides themselves on keeping the difficult web hosting
GTMetrix, which also pulls their data from Lighthouse returned the following performance results. A 5.6 second fully loaded homepage is a long time in the world of the internet. Here’s the Flywheel GTMetrix score.
Flywheel is built using WordPress as well, so it’s surprising to see such slow load times. A slow page loading time is probably costing them a lot of business. Not the best thing to see for an Inc. 5000 hosting company.
For the final speed test, I used Pingdom from the San Francisco, North America servers. Since I’m writing this Flywheel review from the west coast, it only made sense. Here’s how Flywheel measured up.
Flywheel came back with an overall performance grade of 71, giving it a C on their grading scale. Load times reflected from these servers came back at a page load time of 1.84 seconds, which is much faster than the previous two tests.
The loading time is much better with Pingdom, whereas the Flywheel home page returned much slower page speeds when I ran it through Lighthouse and GTMetrix.
Since they use Google cloud, all of their customers essentially get enterprise like hosting features when it comes to their site speed. At least that’s what Flywheel says, even though their websites metrics reflect differently.
Flywheel has a 99.9% uptime guarantee across all of their hosting plans. Since they use Google cloud platform, all of their customers essentially get enterprise like hosting features.
They also offer ‘Auto Healing Technology‘ as part of their managed WordPress hosting plans. Apparently this will enable the host to fix itself just in case something happens to the server, thus increasing uptime.
|Web Host||Uptime Guarantee|
|BlueHost||No Uptime Guarantee|
Based on the information I’ve found online, uptime hasn’t seemed to be an issue with a majority of Flywheel reviews I’ve read. The overall verdict is that Flywheel has great uptime across the board.
Flywheel Security Features
Flywheel takes their security measures very seriously. They’ve even written a 13 page white paper revolving around security alone. If you don’t want to read the entire thing, don’t worry. I’m going to summarize how Flywheel handles security and what you can expect down below.
Flywheel has three security certifications for their great work around web security. This alone shows how committed the Flywheel security team is when it comes to protecting your website, personal, and visitor information.
• Cloud Security Alliance – Worlds leading organization who’s sole purpose is raising awareness of the best practices to ensure secure cloud computing environments across the web.
• EU Privacy Shield – Although no longer valid, the EU-US Privacy Shield was a framework that regulated transatlantic exchanges of personal data between both the European Union and the United States.
• General Data Protection Regulation – A legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information from people who live in the European Union (EU). The GDPR mandates that EU visitors be given a number of data disclosures.
Free Malware Cleanup
If for whatever reason your website gets hacked, Flywheels team of experts will clean up the malware and resolve the issue at absolutely no additional cost to you. It’s free.
Flywheel will keep your website up to date with the latest version of WordPress by default. This way you know you’re always running on the latest version. You can toggle this setting on and off from your user dashboard at any time.
Automatic Nightly Backups
Your website will be backed up automatically every 24 hours. Nightly backups of your website are stored on separate servers with Flywheel for 30 days cycles. So if you need a backup of your website, you can use their one-click restore feature and get it all back.
Security patches usually happen when your site is updated to the latest version of WordPress. For this reason, Flywheel recommends you stay on automatic updates.
On top of that, Flywheel actively monitors their network, servers, and customer websites to stay on top of malware, security breaches, and other vulnerable areas. If they spot something fishy, it’s immediately sent over to their security team to address the issue.
Prevention is big as well, which is why they run risk assessment tests to decrease the likelihood of a security breach ever happening. Either way, they’re ready to patch up any issue the moment it arises.
Intelligent IP Blocking
If Flywheel detects that someone unauthorized is trying to login to your website, it blocks their IP address across all of their servers within seconds after failed WordPress login attempts and SSH access attempts. They even block spammy WordPress comments and XMLRPC connections.
But don’t worry, if it’s you and you simply forgot your password. You have an option to un-band your IP address if you get locked out.
Software and Hardware Updates
Flywheel will always notify their customers 72 hours in advance of any schedule maintenance to their software. Software updates can range from general fixes, bug fixes and patches, and other types of upgrades, revisions. This also includes hardware upgrades as well.
Your sites won’t be affected and will still be accessible during maintenance and upgrade hours, as they usually perform maintenance and updates during low-peak usage hours.
Flywheel takes off site security just as serious as on site security. They have security cameras installed throughout their office space to keep 24/7/365 monitoring of who comes in and out of their building. They also have active key monitoring to track who has access to their facilities at all times.
All data that Flywheel shares between their data centers, clients, employees is 100% encrypted and publicly is 100% encrypted. They use the latest encryption techniques to ensure data is passed safely, wherever it goes.
DDoS stands for distributed denial of service. A DDoS attack is when hackers disrupt the amount of traffic your server can handle by clogging it up with a bunch of spammy traffic. This results in an overwhelmed web server and leads to your website being down. Flywheel provides DDoS protection so you can have peace of mind knowing your website is safe.
While Flywheel doesn’t specify which parts of their hosting infrastructure self-heals, they do claim that this technology is in place to prevent and rectify any data center incidents.
SSL Certificate Included On Every Site
Flywheel provides free domain certificates by Let’s Encrypt and also includes an SSL certificate to force HTTPs. The SSL certificate provides you with a secure and encrypted connection. A must have in todays web.
One of the benefits of going with a hosting company like Flywheel is their 24/7/365 real time support. I’ve been very impressed with the caliber of live chat agents and their response times.
Flywheel live chat is great. I had a question regarding their uptime when writing this Flywheel review and the support was quick, resourceful, and helped resolve my question.
I needed some clarification on the Flywheel uptime and Miranda reached out right away and assured me that it was 99.9% across all of their hosting plans.
At first I thought that was it. About a day later I received an email and it was Miranda again!
I was really impressed how there was a real person there to help answer my question.
More importantly, it didn’t seem as though the work was outsourced. Which is something I’ve experienced with other hosting companies.
Usually you get the runaround of ‘give me one minute’ and then you’re waiting around while they Google the answer.
Miranda on the other hand was super helpful and even went above and beyond. Here’s a follow up email she sent me about a day after our initial chat.
I get it. Here title is ‘sales development.’ So maybe the follow up email was an automated follow up to answer any other questions I may have had to potentially close me on a hosting plan.
Regardless, it’s nice to see a web host have that punctuality of following up when it comes to creating a quality customer experience from the very start. It’s the making themselves available that really impressed me. Great support all around.
Get real time support with Flywheels custom built support software. Create and manage all of your support tickets in one convenient place.
As mentioned earlier on the pros and cons list, Flywheel doesn’t offer general phone support for any of their entry level hosting plans. If you want phone support, this is reserved as a premium feature for all customers paying $250 or more per month.
Ease of Use
Navigating and using Flywheel is super easy. Their design team did a great job with the user interface. They also have a notifications that pop up sort of like Facebook in the top right corner that give you updates on a new website update, support ticket updates, and everything in between.
Flywheel Demo Site
Below is how it looks from your user dashboard when you take the Flywheel 14-day trial. They allow you to create a demo website just to get your hands dirty. Something I think is a unique approach for a WordPress hosting company. Usually free trials don’t really exist in the hosting space.
Check out the 2buildawebsite demo site I made down below. I basically just recreated the original 2buildawebsite home page to see how easy it would be. Here’s how the results came out down below.
Creating a WordPress website through Flywheels demo version was super easy. As you can see they give you a sub-url hosted with .flywheelsites as the extension just to give you an example of how fast and easy it is to user their platform.
The one-click WordPress installation was super simple and took about 3-5 minutes in total to set up. Once it was done processing, I was able to begin creating the 2BW mockup as if I had my own self-hosted WordPress site. Very easy to use over all. Probably the easiest set up I’ve ever experienced.
Flywheel lets you edit and tweak the website for 2 weeks before removing it from their servers.
Flywheel pricing starts at $13.00 per month. This is their entry level hosting plan. All of Flywheels plans are managed WordPress hosting, so you won’t have to worry about carrying the entire load of maintaining all aspects of your hosting.
All managed hosting plans are billed on an annual or monthly basis. If you decide to opt for the annual hosting options, you’ll receive 2 months free. Think of it as getting your hosting at a wholesale rate rather than a retail one.
If you decide to opt for the monthly plan, you’ll pay a little extra (retail price) and won’t benefit from the 2 months free. If you’re going to get WordPress hosting, it only makes sense to pay for the annual cost up front. Especially since domain registrations are all billed on an annual basis and you’ll want your hosting and domain registration to be synced up.
Flywheel offers 4 WordPress hosting plans. All prices shown below are annual prices.
One of the things I love about Flywheel is that the renewal rates do not change. Unless notified by Flywheel, your annual billing will remain the same.
- Tiny Hosting Plan starts at $13.00/mo when billed annually ($150/year) or $15.00/mo if you go with the monthly plan. This is a great plan for a small website. You get 5GB disk space, 20GB of bandwidth and is good for up to 5,000 visitors per month.
- Starter Hosting Plan starts at $25.00/mo when billed annually ($300/year) or $30.00/mo with the monthly plan. Also a great option for a starter website but with a little more firepower under the hood. Features include 10GB of disk space, 50GB of bandwidth and good for up to 50,000 visitors per month. If you plan on starting an eCommerce store or intend on creating a site that’s going to attract a lot of visitors, this is a great hosting plan to go with.
- Freelance Hosting Plan starts at $96.00/mo when billed annually at $1,150/year or $115/mo if you go with standard monthly billing. If you think this is steep pricing for managed WordPress hosting, keep in mind that you’ll be able to host up to 10 WordPress websites, manage traffic up to 100,000 monthly visitors, 20GB of disk space, and 200GB of bandwidth. This is a super charged hosting package that’s best for freelancers who want to grow their clientele.
- Agency Hosting Plan is the creme de la creme of Flywheel hosting. Intended for serious business owners who are looking to take their business to the next level. The agency hosting plan is Flywheels best value with a starting price of $242.00/mo when billed annually at $2,900/year. Standard monthly pricing is $290/mo. You’ll get managed hosting for up to 30 websites, 50GB of disk space, 500GB of bandwidth and fast load times for up to 400,000 monthly visitors.
- Custom Hosting Plan is something Flywheel offers if you need a hosting service tailored specifically for you. If you need to host more websites, storage, or bandwidth, just reach out to Flywheel and they’ll create a plan to meet your needs.
All hosting packages include the following features:
- PHP 7.4 Ready
- FlyCache (Flywheel custom caching technology)
- Fastly CDN (Content Delivery Network)
- Simple SSL Certificate
- 30+ StudioPress Themes
- Genesis Framework
- Additional Sites ($20/mo/site)
- Global Availability
- Auto-Healing Technology
- Third-Party SSL Certificates
And much more!
Alternatives to Flywheel
As far as simplicity goes, finding a managed WordPress host similar to Flywheel is a bit tough. Since they’ve dialed down their niche specifically for designers, they’ve hit a very small niche.
• The very first recommendation without a doubt would have to be WP Engine. The now parent company of Flywheel, WP Engine boasts lightning fast page speeds, a similar web hosting environment, but expect to pay premium prices.
• Another Flywheel alternative is WPX Hosting. Not only do they have a simplified dashboard, lightning fast load times, but they also have excellent customer service and are priced very fairly in terms of what you’ll receive.
• Finally, if you want a great user experience based web host that doesn’t compromise on page speed, Kinsta is worth taking a look at. Another managed hosting option, prices do come at a premium but their UX is unlike any other I’ve seen. If you’re a designer, I’m sure that’s something you’ll come to appreciate.
Is Flywheel Hosting Worth It?
If you’re looking for an easy to use web hosting service and plan on scaling your design agency or just wanted to effortless manage one or two personal websites — Flywheel is a great managed hosting option.
You’re going to get a quality content delivery network powered by Fastly, so site speed isn’t something you’ll have to compromise on. Plus, Flywheel offers a 14-day free trial, so you can create a few demo sites if you want to try it out first before fully committing.
Not many other hosting providers give you this type of access before you buy, which is something I really like about Flywheel. Pricing plans come in all different variations so no matter you’re budget or web goals, you’ll be sure to find something that fits your overall needs.
Flywheel provides great support, staging areas, dev tools, and you get to avoid the pitfalls of shared hosting. You also get a free SSL certificate with all plans.
Should you go with Flywheel to host your WordPress sites? Take hosting advice expert Laura Bernheim’s advice. Here’s what she had to say about Flywheel
Try Flywheel for Free for 14-days and create a free demo site today.
How Much Is Flywheel?
Flywheel managed WordPress hosting currently starts at $13.00 per month when billed annually at $150/year. If billed monthly, the entry level hosting plan (Tiny Plan) starts at $15.00 per month.
What is Local by Flywheel?
Local by Flywheel is a way for developers to create and test WordPress websites without being on the internet. Think of it as a space for WordPress developers and designers to test their ideas and make sure everything everything is working before bringing it live to the web. This is also known as a local WordPress site.