“You get what you pay for.” I don’t think there’s a better saying than this, especially when it comes to todays web hosting market.
Those cheap web hosting providers survive and profit by overcrowding their low-grade servers and hiring under-qualified staff. Sure, some good ones get the job done, but there’s always a trade off.
If you want an actual high-quality hosting that…
- Can handle real-time traffic with ease,
- Has incredibly fast load times
- With knowledgeable & quick customer support
- Keeps your site live 24/7/365
- Is fully secured
… then you need to invest some money. Let me be clear—WP Engine is expensive when it comes to web hosting.
If you’re someone who’s okay with shilling out a little more cash for a high quality hosting provider, then this WP Engine review is worth reading.
What is WP Engine?
WP Engine is a premium managed WordPress hosting company. They even provide exclusive web hosting to WordPress! (the worlds #1 CMS). They offer fast load times, security, support, updates, backups, site migrations, scalability for bigger sites and much more.
While I was chatting with one of their support agents, he mentioned that WP Engine has invested over 800,000 people-hours in optimizing their platform to provide the best WordPress experience.
But how do you measure all of those hours invested on a real WordPress website? That’s a question I aim to answer in this WP Engine Review.
Throughout this review I’ll be sharing my experiencing using WP Engine. I’ll talk about some statistics about their server response time, uptime, page speed, and much more.
We’ll also get into some of the free features offered, such as the Genesis Framework, StudioPress themes, the staging area, EverCache, LargeFS, their content delivery network (CDN), automated SSL certificates, and their customer support team.
But before we dive into all of that, let’s start off with the pros and cons of WP Engine.
Pros and Cons of WP Engine
What’s not to love about WP Engine? You’re getting super fast managed WordPress hosting, optimal servers (99.99% uptime), which means fast load times on your site.
You’ve even got features for marketers and developers (we’ll touch on this later). Add in excellent customer support and a 60-day money back guarantee, and you’ve got a recipe for a great web host.
So what are the cons of WP Engine? Honestly, not much. Aside from being limited to WordPress and being a bit expensive, they’re really great.
When talking about web hosting performance, I’m referring to three things:
- Server response time: The amount of time it takes for a web browser to get a response from the server it requested to.
- Page loading time: The total time taken to fully load a web page. While there are many factors (like the theme & plugins installed on your WordPress website) that affect loading speed, your web host has a significant influence on it.
- Uptime: Typically represented in percentage, this is the total time the server/computer your site is hosted on was available online.
After testing WP Engine for all three metrics, these were the results I found:
Server Response Time
As soon as I was finished installing a theme on my test site, I directly pasted the site’s URL into Bitcatcha’s server response time testing tool.
Here’s a screenshot of the result:
Bitcatcha graded it “A+,” which means the average server response time across the globe was below 180 ms. This is a great result given that Google recommends keeping it under 200 ms. Response time was especially fast in the US, with an average of under 50 ms!
The time it takes for a server to respond is usually dependent on the location of your site’s data center. In this particular test, I selected a data center in the US.
However, because WP Engine uses Google Cloud servers to host their clients, you have access to plenty of server locations. You can choose one of their nearest data centers (to your target audience) for the best response time.
WP Engine Loading Time
Like many other web hosting services, WP Engine claims to be the fastest WordPress host around. There’s definitely. There’s definitely a reason you’ve read this far into the review.
Maybe you want your SaaS platform to have quick response times, faster load times on your product pages, or you just want your blog to load faster so your readers can have a better site experience.
Self-proclaiming to be the “fastest WordPress host,” will definitely get you. a lot of attention. Especially from nerds like myself who research the statistics when it comes to website speed:
- 1-second delay reduces webpage hits by 11%.
- 1-second delay decreases 7% conversion rate.
- Page load times higher than five seconds can negatively affect search engine rankings.
Obviously you don’t need to know all of the statistics to understand the importance of a website loading speed. You’ve probably left your fair share of frustratingly slow loading websites.
The point I’m trying to illustrate is this: How fast does a WordPress site hosted on WP Engine load? Let’s find out.
First, I created a general blog post — with an image, social share buttons, an email newsletter, fonts from Google, etc. — on my test site and ran it through GTmetrix, one of the most popular website speed and performance testing tools.
Here are the results:
GTmetrix graded it ‘A,’ with the Lighthouse score of 98.
The 1 MB+ blog post only took two seconds to load!
Oh, and I forgot to mention, these are the numbers I got without doing any on site optimization to increase the page speed.
This is a 100% standalone example of just how incredible WP Engine is when it comes to page speed.
Uptime is arguably the most important metric of all. What is website uptime? It simple means the amount of time your website is available online without any server interruptions.
In a perfect world, your website would be available 24/7/365, but that’s just no the world we live in. Even your favorite websites such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all go offline from time to time.
When looking at consumer-grade web hosting, the optimal uptime is 99.95%. If web host can guarantee this uptime at a minimum, it’s usually a green light for me; anything be low 99.9% is a big no go.
To measure WP Engine’s uptime, I used Pingdom – another website performance measurement tool. Here are the results I got back:
The WP Engine site we tested never went down once in the last two months.
Looking over the last ten months’ data, you can see that there’s been a couple of outages. However, the average uptime overall is above 99.99%.
WP Engine is definitely reliable when it comes to keeping your WordPress website up and live on the web. Always great to see and something I expect to see as a standard when it comes to managed WordPress hosting.
The overall performance results turned out great. All thanks to the 800,000+ people-hours invested to provide an extraordinary page speed experience.
Here are some other great features you can expect with WP Engine.
WP Engine uses a proprietary caching solution, EverCache. They like to call it, “a super-fast front-end Nginx-based system.”
Basically, when a web page is frequently accessed, the system executes the code & stores the full-loaded page as cache. When someone tries to access the same page, they are served from the cache memory, skipping all other steps. This benefits the user in two ways:
- The site visitor will get the page quicker.
- There won’t be any strain on the server.
In other words, your site is going to perform well, even if you’ve got hundreds of thousands of visitors to your website.
Here’s a real life example from WP Engine:
WP Engine has partnered with MaxCDN (now StackPath) to offer a Global CDN on all its plans.
A CDN (or content delivery network) is a network of globally-distributed servers used to deliver website content faster.
- Your visitors will get these static assets from their nearest server node, i.e., the delivery time will be reduced.
- The central server won’t have to execute/deliver all those assets every time, i.e., server resources are available for other work.
In short, WP Engine’s combined with StackPath CDN promotes faster delivery.
WP Engine uses the latest & greatest technology to power your website.
- PHP 7.4 ready: PHP 7.4 is among the latest PHP versions available for a WordPress site. It can handle three times as many requests per second as any PHP 5.x, an industry-standard in the shared hosting arena.
- HTTP/2: WP Engine has been providing HTTP/2 for about four years now, while plenty of hosting services are stuck with the previous version. Pingdom compared http2 with http1 a couple of years ago; Results? Site utilizing HTTP/2 loaded 13% faster.
- WordPress: WP Engine tests and auto-updates your website to the most current version of WordPress (if you allow it), which typically improves performance and security.
Speaking of security, WP Engine offers much more than just WordPress security patch updates to keep your website safe.
Here are the main security-related features offered in their plans:
Free SSL Certificate
Thanks to WP Engine’s partnership with Let’s Encrypt, all plans come with a free HTTP to HTTPS upgrade. A must have in today’s modern web.
Having an SSL on your site has multiple benefits.
- It’s great for data security. All the communication between visitors and the server is encrypted to keep eavesdroppers from stealing data. It is especially necessary when you ask for sensitive information like credit card details.
- When a site doesn’t use an SSL certificate, a browser like Chrome labels it as “not secure.” And people don’t like it.
- Google considers HTTPS as a ranking signal.
If you want to import an external SSL certificate on your WordPress site, WP Engine lets you do that — just not on the Startup plan.
Backup and Restore
Another feature that’s not exactly a “security feature” but something that’s crucial just in case anything goes wrong, is WP Engine’s Backup and Restore.
WP Engine offers both automated daily backups and on-demand backups to keep your website data safe. All copies are securely stored on multiple AWS servers so you’re able to restore your website whenever you want.
Just log in to your WP Engine account, look for Backup points under the Installs menu. Select/Download the backup version you want to restore or click on Back up now for manual backup.
Other Security Features
There’s a lot more going on in the background than what meets the eye. WP Engine does their best to keep your site’s security solid with the following extra bells and whistles:
- A Proprietary Firewall: Used to determine who’s allowed to access your website. If it’s a real human, a search engine crawler, or anything that you’d like accessing your site, then it’ll allow it. On the other hand, bots meant to drain your server resources, scrapers trying to collect information, etc., are blocked from accessing the website.
- Daily malware scan: If their automatic malware scanner detects any internal or external security threat to your site, the technical team will eliminate it immediately.
- Free clean up: If your site gets hacked, the support team will help you clean up your website and restore it to the most recent backup.
WP Engine packs some of the most amazing value-added features that you’d rarely see with any other managed WordPress hosting company.
WP Engine acquired StudioPress a couple of years ago. It was, and still is, one of the most popular WordPress theme marketplaces online today.
All of WP Engine’s managed WordPress hosting plans come included with the Genesis Framework and 35+ StudioPress themes to choose from.
Considered by many to be the best WordPress theme framework available.
Genesis is well-known for being an affordable, secure, responsive, and search engine-friendly framework with excellent customer service.
Purchased separately, the Genesis Framework runs for $59.95, but you’ll get it included with every WP Engine plan at no additional cost to you.
Genesis framework is a great starting point for building your own theme if creating a custom website from scratch is your goal.
If you don’t know how to code and just want to setup a great looking website, then you’re in luck.
WP Engine includes 35+ premium StudioPress themes ready to use for your WordPress website. So you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Regardless of what you’re setting your website up for, there’s a StudioPress theme for you. Categories include:
- Real Estate
Each theme’s market price is in the $100-$130 range, but since WP Engine owns the Genesis Framework, you get it included as a freebie.
WordPress Production, Staging, and Development
For WordPress developers & WordPress website owners, WP Engine has development, staging, and production environments when it comes to WP hosting dashboards.
If you’re a developer, you already know the use cases. If you’re not, here’s a quick breakdown.
This is where the developers work. Everything from code, design, and website changes can be made a tested here. This is essentially doing back end editing to see what the site will look like without it affecting the live site.
Once the initial development is done, it can be pushed to the staging site environment with a click of a button. Here, the client/website owner can review & suggest edits. Plus, the remaining errors are addressed & solved in this phase.
Even if you aren’t a web developer, you can still use the staging site area to test a plugin or new theme for example before making it live. This is a great place to test potentially harmful updates before hand.
Once you’ve got everything to your liking in the staging area, you can push the changes to the production area. Simply publish the new changes, and the updates will be visible on the live site.
Website Migration- Transfering from Other Host
WP Engine has partnered with BlogVault to create a WordPress plugin for hassle-free website migration.
It’s a simple two-step process.
Step 1: Create a new site and environment using your WP Engine dashboard. Now, locate Site migration under the Installs menu & click on it. There, you’ll find the Automated Migration Plugin settings.
Step 2: Go to your site’s WordPress dashboard, click on Plugins > Add Plugin and search for “WP Engine migration.” Install & activate the “WP Engine Automated migration” plugin by WP Engine on your WordPress site.
Step 3: Once installed, click on the Migration tab located in the left-hand sidebar of your WordPress dashboard. There, you will be asked to fill a form; just copy-paste the information from the Automated Migration Plugin settings mentioned in the first step.
That’s it. Let the plugin do the job; it will make a ready-to-go-live copy of your website on your WP Engine account. Now, all you need to do is change DNS settings, and the site migration is successful.
Overall, it’s fairly non-technical, but you can take help from their customer support staff if you find it confusing.
Though only available as an add-on with WP Engine’s packages, GeoTarget is an excellent feature for a site that wants to serve content based on visitors’ geographic location.
For example, if you own a global e-commerce brand, you can display prices and currency depending on the visitor’s location using this feature. In fact, even I can use it if I want to show this WP Engine review in different languages.
How would the site know where the user is from? Well, WP Engine uses MaxMind’s GeoIP database to find out.
LargeFS – Storage Beyond your Web Hosting Plan
LargeFS (or Large File Systems) is WP Engine’s proprietary solution to store practically unlimited amounts of data on your WordPress website.
The storage you get with WP Engine is very limited. E.g., The Startup plan includes only 10 GB of disk space, which is more than enough for a typical small business WordPress website.
But let’s assume your WordPress site is meant for some type of visual content or has a high amount of content. In that case the limited storage can get full really quick.
If you’re creating an over-the-top website using WordPress to stream movies for example, only about two 4K films can be stored in 10 GB of space.
That’s where LargeFS comes in. LargeFS connects WP Engine hosting service with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), where you can then buy an unlimited amount of space for any period of time. Pretty cool, right!
WP Engine support is one of the best, if not arguably the best in the WordPress hosting space. Their team is made up of over 100 WordPress experts (actual EXPERTS!) to help you at a moments notice.
You can get in touch with the support staff 24/7 via live chat or phone by phone. Unfortunately, phone support is not included in the Startup plan. Still, you have access to 24/7 live chat, which is still really great.
The two times I contacted the expert chat support (for this WP Engine review), the replies came in a jiffy (12 seconds and 16 seconds). Plus, the support agents were friendly and knowledgeable.
Besides, WP Engine has a comprehensive support center with plenty of articles and guides ranging from setting up your WordPress websites and hosting account to troubleshooting WordPress errors.
All in all, when WP Engine boasts about 97% customer satisfaction, I believe them. They’ve got a 4.4/5 stars and over 167 reviews on TrustPilot to back it up.
Ease of Use
The interface couldn’t be any easier to navigate. WP Engine built an easy to use user portal to manage your WordPress sites and hosting service.
As you can see in the above screenshot, the User Portal is categorized into four parts: Sites, Users, Tools, and Billing.
Simply put, this category includes everything needed to manage your WordPress websites.
You can search for your domains and websites, filter sites, sort sites, group sites, create new sites, accept a site transfer, edit existing website’s name, delete websites, create/delete WordPress environments, create a backup point, purge cache, and go to your WordPress dashboard your WP Engine dashboard.
If you click on any of the environment names, you will be directed to an overview page.
Here, you can see the visits, bandwidth, and storage used. As you can see in the above screenshot, there’s more menus available in the secondary sidebar.
These options can help you on/off the content delivery network for any particular domain, access logs of your websites, access phpMyAdmin, add/remove redirects, add SSL certificates, do a site transfer, etc.
Under the ‘Users’ section in the User Portal, you’ll be able to add/edit/delete users who can access the hosting account. Plus, you can assign a user role to each person. You can even access logs and see the changes made in the User Portal.
The StudioPress themes we mentioned earlier can be installed from this section of the User Portal and overall it’s pretty easy to use.
Plus, with WP Engine’s Page Performance tool, you can measure the speed of your site with those themes. It also suggests what improvements can be made to achieve a better overall site performance.
If you paid for one of the following add-ons, you can access them under the ‘Tools” menu.
- Global Edge Security(GES): It’s an enterprise-grade security tool with features like a web application firewall, DDoS mitigation, Cloudflare CDN & Polish, and automatic SSL installations.
- Smart Plugin Manager: It’s used to keep all your WordPress plugins up-to-date.
- Genesis Pro: This subscription gives access to Genesis Blocks Pro and Genesis Custom Blocks Pro, in addition to Genesis Framework and StudioPress Themes.
This section of User Portals allows you to view & modify your WP Engine hosting plan, see your current usage, and view & pay invoices.
WP Engine Plans & Pricing
WP Engine offers WordPress-specific managed hosting with plans starting at $25/month for agencies, enterprises, marketers, developers, and small to medium sized businesses.
WP Engine offers three WordPress-specific plans:
- Startup: Meant for a small business or blog, this $25/month WordPress hosting package comes with 10 GB storage and 50 GB bandwidth per month. This makes sense if your website is going to get under 25k visitors per month. As far as a hosting service is concerned, this is a pretty standard entry level hosting plan.
- Growth: If you intend to host multiple WordPress websites, the Growth plan costing $95.83/month is a great choice for managed WordPress hosting. Growth lets you host up to 10 sites and gives you 20 GB of storage. Overall site traffic is 100k visits per month or 200 GB bandwidth per month between all or one site.
- Scale: For multiple traffic generating websites, Scale priced at $241.67/month is WP Engine’s ultimate pre-configured hosting plan. It allows up to 400,000 visits per month or 500 GB data transfers per month. As for the number of sites you can host on this plan, 30 sites are allowed on 50 GB storage. You even get expert phone support included.
- For massive sites with millions of monthly visitors and businesses wanting a WordPress Multisite Network, WP Engine offers Custom hosting plans with a dedicated environment & faster expert support.
If you go over the plans limits, it’ll cost you. $2/1000 extra monthly visitors on Startup, Grow, and Scale plans; $1/1000 visitors on business and enterprise-grade plans.
Each WP Engine plan comes with a 60-day money back guarantee.
WP Engine Review Recap
“Let me be clear—WP Engine is expensive when it comes to web hosting.” That’s what I said at the beginning of this WP Engine review.
Now that you know what WP Engine is all about and who it’s for, I’d like to rephrase that statement a bit: WP Engine is a ‘value for money’ managed WordPress hosting that provides top-notch WordPress hosting services.
As I mentioned throughout the review:
- WP Engine plans come with useful WordPress-specific features like auto-updates, WordPress installations, server optimization, WordPress staging area, WordPress migration plugin, and more.
- Thanks to EverCache, multiple data center locations, the content delivery network, and the latest versions of technologies used, the server response & page loading time is well under recommended.
- The wp engine site we used to test site uptime stood at almost 100%, which is extraordinary.
- WP Engine’s fast & reliable 24/7/365 concierge service is run by some of the best WordPress-specific experts.
- Not to mention, all WP Engine hosting plans come with some outstanding value-added features like Genesis framework, 35+ StudioPress themes, SSL certificates, daily backups, and more.
Long story short, I’m a WP Engine fan. It’s expensive, no doubt. But for those who can see the value, any WP Engine plan is a great deal — you really do get what you pay for.
WP Engine Alternatives
WP Engine is a fantastic WordPress-specific managed hosting, but it’s not the only quality option in the market. If you didn’t like what you read in my WP Engine review, or you don’t have the budget for it, these three are the best WP Engine alternatives all boasting great user reviews as well:
- WPX Hosting: WPX is a powerful WordPress hosting with an incredible support team, top-notch performance, state of the art security, 99.95% uptime guarantee, and more. It’s mostly preferred by site owners who want to host multiple WordPress sites in the USA, UK, or Australia.
- Bluehost: Bluehost is one of those cheap yet good hosting providers. It offers shared hosting, VPS, dedicated servers, and WordPress hosting plans. These plans support many other platforms apart from WordPress.
- SiteGround: SiteGround is an excellent WordPress-specific hosting provider with plenty of useful value-added features. It costs more than Bluehost but way less than our featured hosting, WP Engine. Also, just like Bluehost, SiteGround’s web hosting services are suitable for other CMSs.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What type of hosting packages does WP Engine sell?
WP Engine sells WP hosting plans that are based on shared hosting architecture. However, the servers are not congested like with many other cheap shared plans.
2. How much does it cost to add an extra site to a WP Engine plan?
The “Additional Sites” add-on costs $20 per month per site. However, it’s not advised to purchase additional sites because it’s way overpriced, especially considering the fact that the bandwidth, storage, and traffic limit remain the same.
3. Are the servers owned by WP Engine?
No, WP Engine just manages them. The actual hardware is either from Google Cloud servers or AWS servers.
4. Will they block my website if it crosses the bandwidth or traffic limit?
No, they just charge you extra per every 1000 views beyond the respective plan’s limit. The charges are $2 per 1000 views on Startup, Grow, and Scale plans. And $1 per 1000 views on business and enterprise-level plans.
I hope my WP Engine review answered all your questions. If you still have any doubt or want to read about some other managed hosting service, feel free to explore other web hosting reviews on this site. If you found some hidden gem you’d like me to test and write a comprehensive review about, contact me.