WP Engine Hosting
WP Engine has put a lot of thought into how they host WordPress sites to provide the best experience possible.
Why Choose WP Engine?
With a free library of premium templates and well-architected solutions for WordPress sites, WP Engine is a great choice if you’re looking for flexibility and only host WordPress sites!
Google Cloud Backbone
WP Engine uses Google Cloud as their main cloud provider and Amazon Web Services (AWS) for some Custom Plan customers. That means you can always count on it to be reliable!
Backed Uptime Guarantee
Unlike certain hosts, WP Engine has a 99.95% uptime guarantee for most customers and a 99.99% uptime guarantee for those who require “High Availability” on a Custom Plan. You’ll get a five percent monthly credit for each hour they’re down.
WordPress Experts on the Scene!
Most staff at WP Engine are WordPress experts, making it way easier to tackle tough problems regarding your WordPress sites quickly!
Most of WP Engine’s marketing is based on how easy their main site and control panel are to use, and they don’t disappoint!
Simple Plan Choices
Unlike some hosts with ten or twelve indistinguishable plans, there are only three plans to choose from (or you can make your own), making the choice much simpler!
Pay for What You Need
Rather than make the price of every plan much higher, WP Engine decided to make “add-ons” that you can choose, so if you don’t need one, you can save money!
Generous Money-back Guarantee
If you aren’t satisfied for any reason, you are free to request a refund in full for the money you’ve spent on your hosting plan as long as it is within 60 days of purchase.
Phone Support for Higher Tiers Only
While 24/7 Chat Support is offered to every customer, phone support is reserved for all plans higher than the “Startup” Plan, which is the cheapest plan offered.
Add-Ons, Add-Ons, Add-Ons…
While the concept of “add-ons” may help customers of WP Engine save money, it also means that features like advanced malware detection are reserved for those who are willing to pay for it on top of what they are already paying for their plan.
A Bit More Costly
WP Engine is a unique host with lots of benefits and features, but that unfortunately, means that they have to price their plans a bit higher than your average shared host. Their prices are pretty much on par with WordPress specialty hosts, though.
What is WP Engine?
Botton Line: WP Engine is a host that specializes in creating the best experience possible for WordPress site owners, ranging from high speeds to a WordPress-optimized dashboard to expert support!
WP Engine is a Texas-based international company with physical offices in Texas, England, Ireland, and Australia! According to the service, more than 120,000 people trust them to host their WordPress sites, and their customers come from more than 125 countries – that’s just about the whole planet!
WordPress Arena Competitor
Notably, WP Engine is one of the few hosts that competes in the “WordPress-only” realm. It puts all of its resources towards managed WordPress hosting. WP Engine takes an uncommon angle in its marketing; it boasts about the experience customers have while working with them and the ease of using their platform versus those of their competitors.
Plan Choices Simplified
WP Engine only has one type of plan: managed WordPress hosting. They have three default hosting options to choose from, ranging from a $35 per month plan through a $290 per month plan. However, those looking for more resources than their current plans offer can make their own plans by talking to customer service, as their page mentions. These “Custom” Plans come with many features that their three standard plans do not; however, these features are available for purchase with any plan during checkout.
WP Engine is also fairly unique in the web hosting world in how it openly shows its staff in physical offices and even advertises in-person job opportunities. That means that it is not just a “fly by night” operation as some hosts are. They have resources, and they use them to build the perfect experience for their customers!
Ease of Use
The reason WP Engine is so easy to use is that everything is designed for a smooth flow. WP Engine did not just rip off an old 1990’s-era “hosting reseller” script; they did everything from signup to the control panel on their own to make your experience way easier! Let’s take a look at what’s involved.
As you browse your options, you’ll likely get a “live chat” option that will let you ask any pre-sales questions. This is a big help if you are looking for something very specific. You just have to select a Plan, then hit “Get Started”.
You’ll be presented with a modern page with options (such as which add-ons you’d like to purchase). Just pick what you need, enter your billing info in, and hit “Place Order”. You’ll then get an email with a link to their custom control panel.
The Master Mainframe Server Panel
You can do everything from their so-called “User Portal”, including setting up your SSL, configuring your add-ons, starting up or importing WordPress sites, and more, all at the click of a button. Here is more extensive documentation on that “User Portal”!
If you wanted to take advantage of that free SSL certificate, don’t worry about it, because once you’ve paid for your plan, you already have! That’s set up automatically. You’ll be able to look at the stats of each site you have if you have more than a single WordPress site. If you chose to purchase any add-ons or purchased a “Custom” or “Enterprise” Plan, you’ll be able to access the features they offer right from the dashboard!
Keep in mind that this is not cPanel. It’s similar in layout to cPanel, but it’s designed to be a WordPress site management platform, so everything is optimized for WordPress. You can say good-bye to the headaches of managing WordPress behind a generic cPanel, or, even worse, managing WordPress under a “custom panel” not designed for it!
WP Engine's Features
Botton Line: WP Engine’s higher prices are due to the fact that they invest so much time and money into features provided for their customers, so their list of features is second to none!
Note their three plans are called: “Startup,” “Growth,” and “Scale” from cheapest to most expensive, respectively.
If you’re interested in learning more in-depth about the features offered by WP Engine, here are all the features that the host has to offer for every plan!
WP Engine Features for All Users
This framework could best be described as “an all-in-one theme collection.” Rather than just offer the “default” WordPress themes to its customers, WP Engine went one step further and cut a deal with the owners of Genesis. This framework lets you make sites that are responsive, mobile-friendly, and use drag-and-drop template techniques with which many site owners are familiar!
Note: If you’d like more information on how this feature is integrated with WP Engine, here is their article on the framework!
More StudioPress Themes
StudioPress is the company behind the Genesis framework we just talked about. While the Genesis framework has more than 2,000 themes, WP Engine has an exclusive deal and can offer more than 35 exclusive templates made by StudioPress for everyone!
If you want your site to look unique but don’t want to spend thousands on having a new template made, this could be a major game-changer!
24/7 Chat Support
Some hosts only offer chat support to certain “tiers” of customers. With WP Engine, you’re entitled to 24/7 Chat Support for both technical and sales questions. This can simplify support requests a huge amount, saving your business time and money!
This feature will appeal more to developers. There are three environments included: a developer environment, where developers are free to try out new features before they get added to your site, a staging environment, which lets you try out new features before publishing them, and finally a production environment that is simply the final place where your site gets hosted.
Note: WP Engine tends to gloss over features like this, just calling this feature “dev, stage, and prod environments.” That’s why we’re here, to help break that down!
Even if you choose to use a premium template, you may initially subscribe to WP Engine and then decide it’s not for you. Luckily, WP Engine allows you to “pack your site up” and take it elsewhere without charge. This is a great sign because it indicates that the host is confident that they can continue to win your business through excellent service!
What is “LargeFS”? Good question! It’s a proprietary piece of software owned by WP Engine.
It can be best described as a “media aggregator” for large collections of images and/or videos. Essentially, it makes it very easy to host tons of data on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud and access it from WP Engine.
This is a much bigger advantage than it may appear – most hosts require you to use them as your only storage provider and charge a pretty penny for it!
Again, a sign that WP Engine is confident in their service!
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is essentially a place to store your files that allows them to be mirrored on servers around the globe. That makes it faster for people around the world to access “cached,” or pre-stored files quickly! Unlike other hosts, CDN data transfer is unlimited for some plans! The provider is not named on their site, so we did a bit of digging via their chat support:
As you can see, they use “maxCDN,” now called “StackPath.” If you want to investigate that CDN a bit more, here is the URL
Free, Automatic SSL
SSL certificates are a huge advantage when hosting any site. It means that customers can visit your site without fearing being spied on by malicious users.
It also helps to build trust in you and your brand. Every plan comes with this already done for you. That means you’re ready to go right away, without having to do any SSL legwork!
This was another feature we had to look up! This is another exclusive feature offered and created by WP Engine! They seem to take matters into their own hands to improve their service.
This feature offers metrics on how fast your page is loading for people visiting from different areas. It gives expert-level insights on how to restructure certain elements or use their CDN to make your page faster!
This is an excellent idea and a unique tool. It’s a great alternative to hiring a consultant to dig into it!
“Secure Shell”, or “SSH”, is just a protocol that lets you connect to your server via command line and run a host of commands and scripts on it. You might use SSH if you were familiar with Linux terminal commands and needed to do a quick database query or file transfer. If you aren’t familiar with SSH, don’t worry! You likely won’t need to use it when you subscribe to managed WordPress hosting!
Features Included with at Least “Growth” Plan
There are only a few features that are exclusive to this level. Please note that features of the “Growth” Plan and the “Scale” Plan are the same. It is the capacity that differs (we’ll discuss that later). So, what are these features?
SSL Certificate Importation
If you have an SSL certificate for your domain already, you are free to import your SSL certificate with the “Growth” Plan and up. This makes it easier to transition between another host and WP Engine.
Note: This is a rather odd feature to make exclusive to the middle tier, but we’ll go with it!
Phone Support 24/7
For those of you who are reading the whole thing and not just skimming it (we’re looking at you, skimmers!), you’ll recall that 24/7 Chat Support is offered to everyone. However, if support via phone is your thing, you’ll need the “Growth” Plan or higher!
Features Included with Custom Plans
This is their highest level before you “go custom,” or design your own plan with an agent.
Remember, this plan is over $290 per month at the time of writing! The price will vary greatly depending on your needs.
However, there are some static features that will always come with this grade of plan. Here are the other features you’ll get if you choose this type of plan.
This is simply a plug-in for WordPress that allows you to have multiple sites within one single installation of WordPress! That makes it way easier to host a large network of sites within a single install!
This interesting add-on (also available with other plans for a fee) allows you to show different sites to people visiting from different countries.
You may even target it down to the state of the origin IP! This makes it super easy if you have to follow different laws or policies among the various countries in which you work!
Another add-on that allows you to check out how you’re getting WordPress traffic, what is “selling” best, and can provide valuable insights on what you need to do to strengthen your site!
This is an excellent tool for people with lots of websites who don’t have the time to deal with each one individually!
Consultation and Assessment
All Custom Plans come with a free consultation and assessment of your sites. You’ll get to talk with an expert about how to get started the fastest. They will review your portfolio of WordPress sites and give you recommendations.
This is what we would expect from a professional company offering premium WordPress services!
A Note on Add-Ons
Every plan, can have “add-ons” with it, regardless of plan level. To know more about them, you can read their descriptions above (as they are mostly included with Custom Plans).
The six add-ons offered to all customers are: WordPress Multisite, GeoTarget, Content Performance, Additional Sites, and WP Engine’s own “Smart Plug-in Manager,” a tool to help you manage plug-ins across all your sites!
WP Engine's Performance
Botton Line: WP Engine has an uptime guarantee and backing a bit above industry standards and has a wealth of options for data centers, so you likely won’t need to worry about performance!
Uptime of WP Engine
I was a bit worried after reading that article. I got the impression that they pretty much didn’t want anybody asking what their guarantee is! The fact is that they actually have a pretty solid uptime guarantee and track record.
Unlike most hosts, they have two uptime promises: one for those on one of their three plans, and one for those on “High Availability” Custom Plans. For those on a “Startup,” “Growth,” or “Scale” plan, the guaranteed uptime is 99.95%! That beats out a good majority of WP Engine’s competition. The industry standard hovers at about 99.9%.
If you have a “High Availability” Custom Plan, you are guaranteed one of the highest uptimes we have ever seen: 99.99%. That and 99.95% are both outstanding guarantees, but what happens if WP Engine fails to meet its obligations?
You will receive five percent of your monthly payment via account credits for every full hour of downtime, unless it was pre-scheduled maintenance that WP Engine informed you of. While it isn’t the best guarantee backup we’ve seen, it’s certainly not the worst, either!
Speed/Data Centers of WP Engine
Now that we’ve taken a look at uptime, how about speeds? They use the Google Cloud platform for most of their services and offer a subset of data centers that Google does.
At signup, you determine which data center you’d like to use. The options given are below.
Note that you do not get to pick the exact data center within the country. Wondering what those asterisks mean? They mean that those data centers currently have a high load, and you may have to pay a premium to use them.
Those are subject to change at any time, and WP Engine does not publish the actual premium you’re charged, so be careful before signing up if you selected a country with an asterisk!:
As you can see in the image, you’ve got the following options: United States (specific state not disclosed), Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Taiwan, The United Kingdom/Northern Ireland
Here are the exact locations of these servers, according to WP Engine. Please note that you do not get to pick the exact location within the United States, etc, on Shared Hosting plans:
But what about the exact speed?
Since WP Engine does use Google Cloud for its operations (and AWS for selected Custom Plans), we did some research and calculations, since customer support wasn’t able to answer this question.
The answer: theoretically up to 16 Gbps!
Note that this speed would be if you had a whole physical server to yourself, which is highly unlikely in shared hosting. Nonetheless, it’s good to know that there’s a decent backbone behind you!
This is an excellent speed. Although it’s unlikely to be achieved due to networking issues beyond anyone’s control, it means that customers who are remotely close to the data center where your WordPress sites are hosted will be able to access your site as fast as their own connections allow!
All you have to focus on is putting out that content!
WP Engine's Security
Botton Line: WP Engine goes out of their way to ensure that their customers’ sites are logically separated, or totally separate from each other, so that no malicious users can steal your content; they also have a host of features dedicated to keeping every site secure!
Want Your Site(s) Secured?
With so many security breaches in the news, you’re likely concerned about the security of your WordPress sites and their data. After all, it’s common sense that customers would not want to come back if your site is the reason they had their identities stolen! Luckily, WP Engine provides both site-specific security features as well as network-wide security procedures that help guarantee everyone’s security!
Anti-Hacker Disk Write Protection Included!
We’ll break down the important details. First, there is “write protection” on all their disks. That means that nothing can write to your virtual file system unless you specifically authorize it to. Even if you have something clearly vulnerable on your site, hackers are more likely to just leave it once they realize this protection is in place, taking away any chances of an “opportunistic attack”!
Malicious Plug-ins? Not with WP Engine!
WP Engine also disallows certain plug-ins that may pose a security threat, ensuring that none of their customers may install one with malicious code! They also perform backups onto media that is not connected to your site, so that even if it does get infected, you’ll be able to pull up a clean copy in very little time, saving you time and stress! Every site is logically separated from other sites, too, meaning that if another customer’s site on the same server is hacked, yours is not at risk!
Server-level Security, Too!
Remember, you are also provided free SSL certificates for your sites so that data is not stolen, even if your customers access it through a public WiFi connection! They also utilize a network-based firewall, meaning that traffic that is clearly offensive, or trying to break into your site, is stopped and reported immediately. They even contract with a penetration-testing company. At least yearly, they randomly audit themselves, having this company attempt to break into their administrative systems. This “white hat hacking” helps them to ensure that their servers are safe from hackers who mean them harm!
Cyber Security Pros at Your Service!
The amount of features WP Engine provides along with their comprehensive documentation of what they do and don’t allow and why is a good sign. It means that they have cybersecurity professionals working with them to help them keep everyone’s WordPress sites hosted there as secure as possible!
WP Engine provides a great deal of security, both within its shared servers and between it and the Internet, ensuring your data will be safe!
WP Engine's Pricing and Plans
Botton Line: There is a lineup of fairly similar plans available and several paid “add-ons,” some of which should be free to all users (in my opinion).
Like we’ve mentioned, WP Engine only has three major plans: the “Startup” Plan, the “Growth” Plan, and the “Scale” Plan. They also offer a variety of add-ons to these plans whose prices are not apparent until you’re almost done with the signup process.
We’ll discuss each Plan, how much it costs, and what it includes. After that, we’ll walk you through how much you can expect to pay for various add-ons. Note that you may get two months free of any plan when you elect to pay annually rather than monthly.
You should also be aware of their very generous money-back guarantee. In short, you may cancel your service within the first 60 days of your subscription and get a full refund for the time you have not yet used. This is the most generous refund policy we’ve come across, and many hosts offer none, so that’s definitely a significant benefit!
For Small eCommerce Sites, Blogs, and Businesses
If you’re just starting out, WP Engine recommends that you go with the “Startup” Plan.
This is their lowest-cost plan. It is currently $27 per month. You’ll get 25,000 monthly visits, just a single WordPress site, 10 GB of SSD storage, and 50 GB of bandwidth (this means traffic to and from your site) per month.
For Larger eCommerce Sites, Forums, Mid-Sized Businesses
If you’re beyond the “Startup” phase of your business and have more than a single WordPress site to show off, WP Engine recommends their “mid-level” plan called the “Growth Plan.” This plan is currently $103 per month.
If you choose this plan, you can expect to get 100,000 monthly visits, five WordPress sites, 20 GB SSD storage, and 200 GB of bandwidth per month.
For Large Forums, Huge eCommerce Sites, and Big Business
For those who need a lot of resources but aren’t quite yet ready to commit to an “Enterprise-grade” or “Custom” Plan, WP Engine recommends the “Scale” Plan. This plan is currently $261 per month.
If you choose this plan, you will receive 400,000 monthly visits, fifteen WordPress sites, 30 GB SSD storage, and 400 GB of bandwidth per month.
For Massive eCommerce Enterprises
If fifteen WordPress sites just won’t cut it, you’ll need to step it up to a Custom Plan.
You will talk to a consultant about what you need, and they will tell you what the price will be for the plan.
You can get into the millions for monthly visits, a terabyte (or about 1,000 GB) of SSD storage, and almost unlimited bandwidth, depending on your needs.
Note that Custom Plans max you out at 25 sites, although this limit may be countered with the “Multisite” add-on.
There’s a high chance you’ll want to take advantage of some of WP Engine’s “add-ons” that don’t come with your plan. On their actual site, there is very little information on the price of each add-on, so we did the digging for you!
Again, this add-on lets you add sites to each allocated site you have. It may actually end up saving money on the lower-level plans. The price for access to this feature is $20 per month. It may seem a bit steep, but you are effectively bypassing their site limit.
Smart Plug-in Manager
An add-on that keeps all your WordPress plug-ins up to date and lets you manage them on a sleek control panel. The total cost for this license is $10 per month per “environment”. An “environment” is just a set of sites.
This is the add-on that lets you display locally relevant information to visitors.
It looks at where their IP address is and adjusts content accordingly. This could be a huge bonus, or even a necessity, to larger sites. You’ll need to pay $15 per month for this one.
Again, this is an in-house tool developed by WP Engine that you may add to your plan.
It tells you which pages are doing well, which ones aren’t, and what you can do to improve it. The total cost for this one is $25 per month.
Global Edge Security
This add-on is essentially enhanced security for all your sites. It includes a Web Application Firewall, also called a “WAF” to protect your WordPress sites. It also has advanced Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack prevention to keep your sites up even if competitors are a bit unscrupulous and decide to illegally attack your site with tons of traffic.
It also comes with CloudFlare’s Content Delivery Network, which is not the WP Engine standard. The amount you’ll need to pay for this add-on is $30 per month.
Again, for Custom Plans, you won’t need to worry about paying for these features, or “add-ons”, as they are already covered.
To be honest, it’s quite disappointing that Global Edge Security is not free by default.
Many competitors have similar technologies available for free.
$30 a month on top of a minimum of $35 a month is a bit steep for technologies that have been available for a low price for a long time.
Nonetheless, it’s great to have these add-ons available at sign-up, and now you know how much they cost!
WP Engine Customer Support
Botton Line: Baseline chat support, ticket support, and a Knowledge Base are offered to everyone and appear to be of decent quality, while phone support is reserved for higher-up plans.
WP Engine’s customer support is unfortunately contingent on which plan you choose. While there isn’t a plan where there is no support offered, all types of support aren’t offered with all plans. This is a very important distinction since many hosts we review do indeed offer the same level of support to all customers.
Here are the kinds of support provided, along with the plan required:
24/7 Chat Support
You can talk to a support technician about technical or billing issues at any time of the day or night.
This can be used to report or remedy any issues your site might be experiencing, and you may ask for a certain amount of WordPress-specific assistance through this channel, as well.
This is available for all plans.
Online Knowledge Base
If you prefer to do things yourself, you won’t be disappointed by WP Engine’s Knowledge Base. It’s vast and very thorough, although it does get quite dense at points.
For technical professionals, this venue of help can be very helpful, but for people who aren’t pros yet, it could be a bit cumbersome.
This is available for all plans.
nternational phone support is offered, as well. This may be beneficial if you lost access to your site, you are somewhere without Internet, or you just prefer to communicate over the phone.
The number is not publicly disclosed because this is not available to all users.
Users with the “Startup” Plan will be disappointed, as this method of support is only available to customers with the “Growth” Plan and higher.
“Tickets,” for those who don’t know, are essentially emails that are sent internally that may contain pictures or code along with the issue you’re having. Tickets are a great way to send a lot of information at once.
This is great if you’re having trouble defining or determining the exact issue. Although they do not call it a “Ticket System,” WP Engine does provide internal issue-reporting features.
This is available for all plans.
Finally, it’s understandable that their support is mildly limited (as in “no phone support for the lowest-tier plan”) because WordPress experts are the people who answer these requests, and they’re in short supply!
Overall, they seem to provide the industry standard of support services. They “encourage their customers to check their support documentation first” to save time, although their Knowledge Base is a bit difficult to decode at times.
WP Engine is a clear winner when it comes to quality, service, and availability! With all the unique add-ons and features included with each plan, any WordPress administrator’s job will be made easier. This, combined with blazing speeds and decent prices, leaves admins with no excuse not to try it!