Flywheel Hosting
Review 2020
Flywheel is a US-based hosting provider specializing in managed WordPress solutions
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Overall
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Features
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Performance
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Security
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Price
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Support
flywheel hosting full review

Why Choose Flywheel?

Flywheel is a very solid host. If your budget allows for it, its services are well-worth it. While it’s easy to throw it out because of the prices, remember that you are getting countless specialized services that almost no other host would offer you included in that price!

Advantages

01.

Security = Done

Security is fully managed! No need for in-house security people! This spans all the way from server security to application-level security!

02.

Fast, Easy File Management

With Flywheel’s custom File Manager, you can make file management painless! It uses SFTP, a secure form of FTP, and is fully graphical. No annoying terminals!

03.

WordPress Gurus

Flywheel is dedicated to only hosting WordPress sites, so all of their staff is knowledgeable in WordPress!

04.

Fast Caching and Fast CDN!

Flywheel uses a CDN packing a whopping 52 Tbps that complements a fast caching mechanism optimized for WordPress so everyone can see your creations!

05.

Multi-user Hosting Accounts

Flywheel allows the original account creator to make new users and “organizations.” No need to share one account!

06.

Simplified WordPress!

WordPress is notorious for being a pain to use. You can pay for everything to be done for you, from managing your plug-ins to your security!

07.

Unique Offerings

Flywheel offers unique plans for small business owners and freelancers that other hosts do not. It even includes (for an additional fee) a fully branded billing dashboard for freelance clients!

08.

Great Support!

Flywheel offers every standard route of support (chat, phone, email, ticket, knowledgebase).

09.

Developer Paradise

A free demo site, a free staging area, and a free test server allow this to be an all in one platform for those actively developing WordPress sites!

10.

Faster Data Access!

Everything is stored in SSD rather than HDD. This means access and processing of data will be faster!

Disadvantages

01.

It’s Not Cheap!

Services are expensive, especially compared to standard shared hosts. With their cheapest plan coming in at $23 per month, pricing cannot compete with most standard shared hosts.

02.

Want to Call? You Need a Premium Plan!

Phone support is not available for their cheapest two plans. You must have a plan qualifying for a “dedicated account manager” (in the hundreds per month) for this privilege.

03.

Caters Only to WordPress Users

Flywheel’s services are solely for WordPress users. Since the whole platform is dedicated to WordPress, you’d have a very hard time trying to host something else.

04.

Nickel and Dimes Customers

Tends to “nickel and dime” customers (i.e. charges $25 a month for Performance Insights).

What is Flywheel?

Botton Line: Flywheel provides various WordPress solutions. It does provide managed WordPress hosting, but it also provides services for freelancers working in WordPress, larger companies who provide WordPress management services, and more.

Flywheel is a popular site among individual WordPress site owners and freelancers alike, hosting 130,000 websites, according to their customer service chat! That must mean that Flywheel has a good deal of happy campers!

flywheel websites they host

Types of Services

Flywheel is not your standard Shared Host. Their plans are unique and far different from those of any other host I’ve reviewed. Note than every plan comes with only one WordPress install (but you can make multiple sites). Note that all storage is Solid-State Drive (SSD), allowing much faster access and processing of data!

flywheel wordpress features

1. Freelancer Workspace (free with paid upgrades, or “freemium”)

Flywheel offers an “all-in-one” spot for freelancers to work. They give freelancers a free demo site to create WordPress sites for clients; it also comes with a large library of free templates. Once the site is completed, it has an option to transfer billing to clients for hosting. It even comes with a free dashboard to manage clients’ sites and allows easy site migrations! This streamlines operations for any freelancer!

2. Starter Plan (currently $23/mo)

Great for people beginning their WordPress ventures!

3. Freelance Plan (currently $105/mo)

Not the same as the “Freelancer Workspace,” Great for someone who either has multiple businesses and blogs or clients with various low-resource sites!

4. Agency Plan (currently $266/mo)

This is made for established companies that require lots of space for various ventures!

flywheel number 1 wordpress development tool

Note there are no plans that allow for Virtual Private Server (VPS) or Dedicated Server access, since they are a specialty WordPress host. Also, if you need more than thirty sites, they have a sales team who can discuss custom pricing with you!


All plans come with only one actual installation of WordPress! If you have twenty WordPress sites all running on different servers, most of the servers’ resources would be getting taken up by WordPress running. If you have twenty sites running on one installation, a lot more of those resources can be preserved in case your site needs a little “burst” of performance! This saves both you and Flywheel a good chunk of money in the long run!

Ease of use

Flywheel goes out of its way to make the site easy to use. Pre-sales support is great for setting up an account of any size. Their proprietary features make each stage, from creating your account to setting up your first WordPress site to billing clients very easy and straightforward!

Making an Account

Flywheel has a single form to make an account! It takes about a minute to fill out, and then you get an email with further instructions.

Making a Site

After filling out the easy signup form, you get directed straight to your account dashboard. Without paying anything, you still have access to the whole dashboard, letting you experiment with their custom look and feel before buying!

There is a large green button that says “Create a Site” that you click to get started with the process of making your first site! This is when you’ll be prompted to pay.

Paying Up

At this point, you’ll need to pay up! If you aren’t sure, you can still create a free demo site to check out everything! To pay, you pick out a plan, then hit “Choose Plan.”

You can make an “Organization” like we talked about in the “Features” section, or just set the “Account Owner” name to yourself on the next form. The options are pretty simple from there on out. 

First, you pick out one of their main data centers. Keep in mind that you still have their CDN, so the exact location isn’t terribly important.

You pick to pay either monthly or yearly. Paying yearly will give you one month of free hosting! You may then choose how to pay. There are only two options: PayPal or a credit card.

Installing WordPress

We may as well have left this section blank! Your site will automatically have the newest version of WordPress installed (and regularly updated). This part is completely done for you.

Promote Yourself to Management!

As you’ll note, if you chose to create a demo site before purchasing, management is very simple. Since most aspects, especially server management and security (which we will discuss a bit later), are taken care of, you just need to worry about your site.

You can choose one of the many templates in Flywheel’s library to get started. Then, you can use their intuitive site builder, your own code, and their proprietary file transfer tool to get your site off the ground!

flywheel features

Flywheel's Features

9.5

Botton Line: From reading the section above, you’re probably thinking that those prices are awfully high! Again, while you’re the ultimate judge, it’s important to remember that this is a very specialized host with notably many more features than “standard” shared hosts.

Take a look and make up your own mind on whether they’re worth the money! Remember, these all come with a WordPress installation, and their help and staff are focused on WordPress. If you’re not hosting a WordPress site, you may wish to think twice!

Features that come with all Plans

PHP 7.2 Ready

PHP, if you aren’t familiar, is a programming language used for websites. It’s also what is behind most of WordPress! At the time of writing, PHP 7.2 is the newest version available, so you’ll be able to use all of the language’s newest features if you’re a developer, letting you have a cutting-edge site!

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Powered by Fastly, Flywheel offers a CDN. This means that your data is kept on servers all over the world, not just in one data center. This protects you against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks when an attacker sends a lot of traffic at your server to crash it, since it’s “mirrored” worldwide! There are too many server locations to list, but you can check out the map here! Currently, there’s a collective 52 Tbps speed on the Fastly network!

flywheel hosting cdn fastly

FlyCache Access

While most web hosts offer just a Content Delivery Network (CDN), Flywheel has something to go along with it called “FlyCache.” It works in tandem with Fastly’s CDN to cache (“caching” essentially means storing data temporarily) info on servers within the CDN intelligently. It is optimized for WordPress and will store data on servers nearest to where most of your users are all the time, increasing access and use speeds! No configuration required!

Integrated Free SSL Certificates

Flywheel offers free SSL certificates with every plan. This is far different from most competitors who require payment for SSL certificates, especially on smaller plans. It is integrated into the site setup, meaning all of the setup work is done for you! SSL certificates will keep your users’ information secure and help you build trust!

Global Hosting Features

Flywheel uses “Globalization,” or an approach to hosting WordPress sites that ensures that there are primary data centers (along with their CDN, of course) that cover all of the world that has Internet access! We’ll discuss their data center locations in more detail later!

“Auto-Healing”

An interesting feature that is part of Flywheel’s new Google Cloud migration, “auto-healing” ensures that even if there is broken code or a misconfigured plug-in, users won’t face ugly error messages! Your site will “fix itself” using artificial intelligence technologies through Google Cloud! Never lose a sale due to one mistyped character in your PHP code again! Note: This feature is currently only available for current customers. It will be rolled out in future months for new customers, as well.

flywheel google cloud partner

Blueprints

This unique feature will save the entire configuration of every WordPress site you create and deploy on Flywheel! No more redoing identical work for similar sites!

“Organizations”

This allows you to have accounts for various members of your organization. Rather than having one shared account for everyone, you can maintain accountability and assign roles to people involved in your business!

Client Billing Transfer

Tired of having to be the middle-man for hosting bills for your clients? Client Billing Transfer takes the complexity out by giving you the option to send hosting bills directly to clients! Please note that this means you need to get the “White Label” feature, which currently costs $99 per month!

flywheel white label

Easy Test Environments

For developers, there are many tools to facilitate the creation of new sites! Staging Sites allow an intermediate step in the development process for free! You can put in changes only you can see locally on the server before rolling them out! Also, a local test environment lets you see changes live as you’re developing before they even get put onto the server! To complement these features, every plan comes with a free demo site!

flywheel number 1 wordpress development tool

Collaborators

This lets you invite people to help develop with you!

Easy SFTP File Transfers

Don’t mess around with command-line terminals and clunky SFTP clients anymore! Flywheel has a custom client to manage all your file transfers!

Site Migrations

Instant and assisted WordPress site migrations are available, letting you change hosts and get up and running quickly!

Insights & Updates

Get Security and Performance Insights, as well as automatic updates to your plug-ins to avoid security risks! Note that these services cost additional money each month. Performance Insights are $25 per month, Security Insights are $25 per month, and Plug-in updates are $25 per month.

Features that come with “Freelance Plan” and higher

Multisite Support

Rather than have one WordPress installation for each site, taking up more resources, this feature takes the complexity and waste of resources out of the equation! Under a single WordPress installation, you can host multiple sites!

Custom SSL Certificates

If you don’t wish to use the free SSL certificate provided with every plan, there’s an option to use a “Third-Party SSL Certificate.” That means you can import one from a different provider!

flywheel free ssl certificate

Custom-branded Client Dashboard

Set your own prices and your own brand! Called “White Label,” this feature lets you bill clients on an entirely branded site as part of your plan! This feature costs $99 per month.

“Agency” and “Custom” features

Enhanced Support Options

These plans come with more support options than other plans. We will discuss their customer support in more detail later on, but phone support, a full site migration dashboard, and a dedicated account manager are provided at both of these plan levels.

Single Sign-On Integration (“Custom” only)

This allows you and your users to use one username and password to access multiple sites and services!

Dedicated Clusters (“Custom” only)

This is the closest Flywheel gets to dedicated server hosting. Essentially, you get your own nodes at datacenters of your choice!

flywheel uptime and performance

Flywheel's Performance

9.0

Botton Line: Flywheel has a standard uptime guarantee and high speeds, but in the event of an outage, you would receive less than a fair amount of compensation.

Uptime

Almost every host has some sort of performance guarantee, as well as a “reward” for customers who suffer outages. Flywheel offers a guarantee of 99.9% uptime, although other hosts offer a higher uptime of 99.99% uptime!

So, what happens if they fail to keep this promise? According to their Legal Agreement, clients will only receive an account credit for the amount of the downtime. This is one of the worst uptime guarantee backups that I have seen while reviewing web hosts. It is a bit worrying that the backup compensation is so low! 

That means that (hypothetically) if your server went down during a 2-hour flash sale you had taken a week to prepare, you would be compensated less than a dollar, regardless of impact. While there aren’t many complaints about their downtime, there aren’t many legal remedies you can seek if they do not meet their guarantee!

However, Flywheel prides itself on preventing downtime by its stringent security measures. This, combined with data redundancy and its CDN, make any significant amount of downtime unlikely.

Speed

Flywheel’s CDN and caching mechanisms help keep its speed up. In total, Flywheel has 52 Tbps of speed in its network of Gigabit servers in each of its five data centers. Remember, your site gets placed on a gigabit server in a data center, then it gets mirrored in their network and cached globally!

Their five primary data centers are:

  • United States (Iowa)
  • Canada (Montreal)
  • United Kingdom (London)
  • Europe (Belgium)
  • Australia (Sydney)
flywheel data centers

As you can see, they have data centers spanning the globe. Regardless of whether you have a tiny shoe shop or a giant warehouse with millions of visits from around the globe, there will be a data center near your customers!

flywheel security chart

Flywheel's Security

9.5

Botton Line: As Flywheel is a dedicated managed WordPress host, they do provide a full security suite. This can help prevent you from getting your data stolen and can help retain your customers’ trust in your site(s)!

Hosts generally vary a good bit when it comes to security. There are some “bare bones” hosts that simply provide hardware and tell the user it is their responsibility to maintain security! Others provide a hybrid security solution, and a few provide complete security for you.

Flywheel has a motto of “We think a lot about security, so you don’t have to.”, and their policies demonstrate that is indeed true. All data being transferred to and from their servers is encrypted when it’s in transit as well as when it’s “at rest”. Essentially, all communications are encrypted. This means you can process payments without worrying!

As mentioned in the “Features” section, every plan comes with a free SSL certificate. This helps stop “man-in-the-middle” attacks, where someone pretends to be the server and steals information that is being sent back and forth from your client to your site. 

An almost unheard of a feature that Flywheel offers to promote security is automated updates of hardware and software. That means that you know you’ll have the latest, most secure applications and plug-ins running on your site. No more worrying about going into your site and manually upgrading plug-ins! This feature would be an excellent time-saver.

Finally, they have a “Role-based Access Control” system for each account. That means that you can have multiple users on your account and assign each user a “role.” Each “role” will have certain permissions that you can change at any time. This lets you keep your data secured while allowing everyone to do their jobs!

For hosting accounts, two-factor authentication is included. That means that, upon login, you will be required to use a certain device (usually just a cell phone) to get a code, verifying that you are the owner of the account. That means that it doesn’t matter if someone else gets ahold of your login details, as they would also need to have your phone! Say good-bye to dealing with phishing attacks and site theft!

Rather than just offer plug-ins and saying “good luck”, Flywheel shines when it comes to security. They even have a dedicated security support team for any concerns you may have regarding it! They truly do put in an effort to keep your site secure, so all you have to worry about is the actual content of your site(s)! If you’d like to read more, here is their page all about what they do for security!

flywheel pricing and plans

Flywheel's Plans and Services

9.0

Botton Line: Flywheel offers four unique plans. The company makes sure to provide services at every level, from freelancers to agencies.

Remember, you get one month free if you go with the annual plan!

Freelancer Plan

This is the most unique offering Flywheel has. Essentially, it is a toolkit for freelancers who use WordPress. It allows client management and site management. Clients are billed directly through this portal, and their sites can all be managed centrally.

There is no fee for this service, but there are fees for everything else, such as site hosting.

Small Blogger or Business

If you have a little blog or business, then the “Single” plan would be best for you. At $23 per month, it’s a bit steep. The plan comes with 25,000 monthly visits, 5 GB disk space, and 50 GB bandwidth.

They offer more advanced plans, but they would not be worth it unless you require more than one WordPress site.

Have a Bigger Business with More Sites?

If you need more than a single WordPress site (but up to ten), you may want to look into their “Freelance” plan, coming in at $105 per month. This comes with hosting for up to ten sites, 100,000 monthly visits, 20 GB disk space, and 200 GB Bandwidth.
The amount of traffic your site can send and receive

The price is high, but you can manage ten separate WordPress sites with their many features to help you out, especially if you have multiple employees!

Running an Enterprise?

If you are a WordPress King (a term we just invented) and need to host tons of sites that get lots of visitors each month, you’ll need to go with their “Agency” plan. At $266 per month, this plan is very expensive. Keep in mind that this is the highest-level plan offered by Flywheel! It comes with hosting for up to thirty sites, 500,000 monthly visits, 50 GB disk space, and 500 GB Bandwidth.

Note that you can always request a custom quote from them if you need to host more than thirty sites, you need more space, or you need more bandwidth. However, you should look elsewhere if you require terminal access, since even their highest-level plan does not include that. It does, however, include many in-house created management tools!

Just a Domain

If you need only a domain and no hosting services, Flywheel is not your go-to. They do not offer any automated services to just purchase a domain to use elsewhere, unfortunately.

flywheel customer support page

Flywheel's Customer Support

10

Botton Line: Flywheel offers all the standard routes of support. The only unfortunate oddity in their support system is that phone support is only available to people who elected their more expensive plans!

01.

24/7/365 Live Chat

Live Chat seems to be Flywheel’s main support mechanism. It is included in pre-sales (when you’re setting up your account and site) and with every plan.

02.

Email Support

You may also receive support via email with every plan or during pre-sales. Although it is slower, you will receive a more specialized response. You just need to send a message to [email protected] (Note that, as you can see from the email alias, it is geared mostly towards sales).

03.

Phone Support

Phone Support is free during the pre-sale period for all plans. However, note that it is not included with the “Starter” or “Freelance” plan. You must have at least the “Agency” plan to get Phone Support. However, if you need help signing up, you can call their (not toll-free) number at (402) 235-6105.

04.

Ticket System

Like almost every host, Flywheel offers a ticket system. This is sort of like an “internal email” system. You can send a message with attachments, and then experts get back to you with a solution! This is included with all plans.

05.

Detailed Knowledge Base

Usually everyone’s least favorite support mechanism, Flywheel hosts a giant knowledge base filled with articles and full eBooks if there is a subject you would like to learn more about!

06.

Security Team Chat

If you have an imminent security threat, there is a team of people you may talk to at any time, regardless of the plan you’re on!

flywheel customer support

Let’s face it: we all sometimes get into a bind with our sites. Whether it’s security-related, a domain transfer question, or a platform question, you’ll need some support. Unlike most platforms, Flywheel’s support offerings vary by the plan that the user has. They also have a dedicated security issue support team!

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flywheel hosting full review

Final Verdict

9.4

Flywheel is a “fully managed” WordPress host, and their features and services show it. Their plans are more expensive, but their offerings are also more expansive. It’s important to reflect on all of the features offered along with the hosting and to consider which ones you would actually use on a daily basis

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