There are many web hosting providers who make small businesses their primary goal, but they still have prices that are accessible to individual users. Then there are hosts like WPEngine that are truly all about serving businesses, with the pricing to prove it.
This is an important issue to note since it’s hard enough to figure out which web host is right for you. If you’re building a blog for your daily thoughts or a site that you one day hope will be your full-time job, then a business-focused host may not be for you. Other services that have all the basic features you need to get started without a heavy financial investment are more ideal.
If, however, you are getting serious about your WordPress site then a service like WPEngine may be the right choice. But you still want to make sure the company delivers all the essentials you need at the right price. That’s what this review aims to do for those small business owners considering a run with WPEngine.
- Automated services to keep site infrastructure up-to-date
- Advanced features for pro users
- Expensive entry level plans
- WordPress only
Based in the United Kingdom, WPEngine started life in 2010 as an exclusive WordPress hosting platform. The company currently has more than 80,000 customers in 140 countries around the world, and powers 500,000 sites.
Uptime is the measure of how many hours per month or year a network keeps its servers online and its hosted sites available. This is a key component of any web host. You want a company that provides near-perfect uptime so that you don’t lose out on any key traffic or sales. The reality, however, is that sites and web hosts will go down every now and then. In fact, WPEngine has an excellent blog post dedicated to this very issue.
The company claims a 99.99 percent uptime, which amounts to less than an hour of downtime per year. Our research, however, suggests WPEngine’s uptime is closer to 99.95 percent. That works out to a little over four hours of downtime every year. That’s still not a lot when you consider there are 8,760 hours in the average year, but it is lower than other providers — HostGator, Bluehost, SiteGround, and GoDaddy, to name a few.
WPEngine has an absolute ton of features since it’s providing essential services to businesses. For the purposes of this review we’ll stick mainly to what’s offered in WPEngine’s Startup shared hosting package.
This basic package allows you to start with one site, 10GB of storage, and allows 25,000 visits per month and 50 gigabytes of bandwidth. That’s not a lot of monthly visitors or bandwidth, but hey this is the beginner package for sites that are just starting out.
WPEngine provides content delivery network (CDN) support, which is a backend service that helps speed up delivery of your site to visitors around the globe. It also offers an SSL certificate for free, which means visitors can connect to your site via HTTPS.
Beyond those basics, WPEngine also does daily automated backups of your site, automatic core WordPress updates, staging environments for testing changes to your site, per-user permissions, site content delivery based on visitors’ locations (not included in Startup), threat detection and blocking (hack protection), and Amazon Web Services integration. Not bad at all.
If there’s one thing that WPEngine could teach competing web hosts it’s how to do sign-ups. There are no hidden costs with WPEngine. The company says it costs $35 per month for its basic package, and that’s what the price is regardless of the length of your commitment — save the two month discount advertised right beside the price.
WPEngine also doesn’t mess around with add-ons. Once you’ve picked the package you want, the company lists a number of add-ons such as location-based content targeting and analytics data. None of them are selected by default, which means you won’t be surprised with extra costs at checkout. This is a rare thing to find and is worth applauding since many web hosts simply don’t do this.
After you’ve picked your plan and add-ons, you provide your payment details and other information such as an account name and your email. Then once that’s done, you’re off to the races.
WPEngine offers a ton of support options. First, there’s the Resource Center, which is an educational center for DIY help on improving sites. It offers basic tips like how to embed Google Maps content on your site, as well as more esoteric topics such as research papers on the value of SEO.
Then there’s WPEngine’s traditional support section that offers several help articles upfront organized by categories like WordPress, how to set-up your site, troubleshooting, and making your site act faster. There’s also a large search box at the top to help you drill down into a specific topic.
Finally, WPEngine’s Solution Center has a lot of helpful articles and tips on every topic imaginable for operating your site.
If those support resources aren’t enough, WPEngine provides live chat, and 24/7 phone and trouble ticket support for all packages, excluding the Startup package.
Like we said at the beginning, WPEngine does not come cheap. Its Startup package starts at $35 per month. You can pay monthly if you like, but if you prepay for an entire year WPEngine gives you two months for free. With the two-month discount, the basic Startup cost works out to $350 a year. That’s way more expensive than the sub-$100 plans you’ll find from mainstream hosts. That’s not necessarily a fair comparison, however, as WPEngine’s packages start at a more advanced level than what you’d get from GoDaddy or Bluehost.
In addition to the Startup package, there’s a Growth package for $115 per month that significantly increases the number of per-month visits and bandwidth. The Scale package starts at $290 per month, and WPEngine will create custom packages for larger enterprises that need a customized plan.
All plans offer two months free if you prepay for a year, and the company offers a 60-day money back guarantee.
As we’ve already said, WPEngine is far more expensive than what you’ll find with the larger mainstream hosts. WPEngine offers a very different service, however, with features that are ideal for companies with IT departments or a developer on staff.
That’s very different than the one-click WordPress install on Bluehost that lacks CDNs, development environments, and location-based content targeting.
If you are a WordPress site owner with a large audience or have needs that cannot be addressed with more mainstream hosts, then WPEngine may be for you. The company offers good customer support and a lot of extra features for people well-acquainted with site building and maintenance.
It’s not for everyone, however. If you aren’t sure whether WPEngine is for you, then more than likely it’s not. Stick to the cheaper and more common website hosts, and then, in the future, if you need the more advanced business-focused features of WPEngine, come back for a second look.
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