WP Engine Review - Not The Best Managed WordPress Hosting in 2019

WP Engine is one of the most respected WordPress hosting among the WordPress community. In fact, Founded in 2010, they were the first hosting company to offer hosting that is specialized only for WordPress. At this time, WP Engine serves more than 90,000 customers and powers more WordPress websites among the one million most trafficked websites on the Internet than all other managed WordPress hosts combined.

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WP Engine is one of the most respected WordPress hosting among the WordPress community. In fact, Founded in 2010, they were the first hosting company to offer hosting that is specialized only for WordPress. At this time, WP Engine serves more than 90,000 customers and powers more WordPress websites among the one million most trafficked websites on the Internet than all other managed WordPress hosts combined.

Should you choose WP Engine?

WP Engine used to be the sole choice for anyone looking for managed premium level high-performance WordPress hosting until 2-3 years back. Now, there are many companies like Kinsta and Flywheel, which offers a package similar to them. In this WP Engine review, we will evaluate if WP Engine is an ideal choice for your web hosting or not.

We will review the following aspects of WP Engine web hosting. Additionally, we did the testing by actually hosting multiple websites with WP Engine.

Uptime: Highly reliable, more than 99.99% uptime

When it comes to hosting companies, top tier companies are very reliable with an average uptime of 99.99%. WP Engine has an average uptime of more than 99.99% for the last couple of years of our testing. This can be attributed to their usage of AWS(Amazon Web Service) servers. In other words, AWS is the most used cloud service in the world with a market share of more than 50%, and their clients include big companies like Netflix, Reddit, Pinterest, etc,. It’s very rare to see Netflix or Pinterest being down, as will be your website if hosted on WP Engine.

The uptime and downtime for sites hosted by WP Engine is perhaps the best indicator of why many people choose WP Engine as their host of choice. The uptime is truly stellar with a custom cache system that greatly improves speed. There’s also an automatic snapshot taken of each website before a system upgrade is installed. If, for some reason, your website did not take the upgrade well — missing code, etc. — then your website will be automatically returned to the pre-upgrade version so as not to lose any information.

For most of us, that’s extremely important since no one wants to wake up to find out their website is lost! Wp Engine’s 99.9% uptime, as measured by host-tracker results, proves they are an effective leader in uptime results.

We track uptime of around 10-15 hosting companies using a tool called Host-tracker, here’s the uptime for WP Engine.

As you can see, WP Engine recorded 100% uptime for the last 6 months. That’s an incredible uptime percentage for any hosting company.

WP Engine speed: Solid, but a step behind the best.

With its utilization of AWS servers, WP Engine speed is solid and will be good enough for most websites. However, they are not the fastest, in fact, they are behind Kinsta by a large margin when it comes to speed.

Websites hosted by WP Engine are super fast regarding load times. This is great because Google and other search engines place value of server response time as an indicator of a valuable site. This, of course, affects page rank. And then page rank, in turn, affects the number of visitors to your site.

On our website’s hosting ranking based on speed, WP Engine is second behind Kinsta. Both Kinsta and WP Engine offers similar hosting packages, but there is a lot of difference in their performance. Kinsta is hosted on AWS’s biggest rival Google using Google Cloud Platform. WP Engine offers Google Cloud Platform for its custom package which costs more than $1000/mo, while Kinsta offers Google Cloud Platform for all their package.

We tested the speed using 2 individual test using two different platforms in the form of Pingdom and Loader.io

First test: Individual website speed test

For the first test, we hosted a website with the exact same theme and content on both Kinsta and WP Engin from the same location. Then, we calculated the load time of this webpage when hosted on WP Engine and Kinsta.

Here’s the result for the web page hosted on WP Engine.

WP Engine Speed evaluation
-WP Engine speed test result

The web page hosted on WP Engine loaded in 1.66S. In comparison, Kinsta loaded under a second at 0.9S.

Kinsta speed evaluation
-Kinsta speed test result

WP Engine’s load time of 1.6S is exceptionally fast, however, Kinsta is on a different level when it comes to speed. There is no other hosting that is faster than Kinsta in 2019 thanks to their utilization of Google’s premium tier cloud network.

Also Read: Bluehost Vs SiteGround WordPress comparison

Scalability: Are they scalable?

For the second test, we wanted to learn how each hosting company server responded when there is high pressure applied to the webpage hosted under them. We did this test by sending around 5000 visitors to both webpages in one minute and noted their response time.

Whether you have 1 or 1,000,000 users, building a scalable website that can handle peaks and dips in traffic is vital to the long-term success of your business in terms of price and performance. AWS uses advanced Ethernet networking technology, which is designed for scale, security, high availability, and low cost.

WP Engine market itself as a scalable hosting company and goes onto claim that their server isolation feature is much better than Kinsta’s. According to WP Engine, Kinsta limits your ability to scale with PHP workers, which dictate how many concurrent requests your website can serve.

We wanted to test this in a real scenario and see how well both these hosting scale during high traffic. We sent around 5000 visits to both WP Engine and Kinsta in one minute from an AWS server in Eastern US and noted their response time during such heavy requests.

Here’s the result for WP Engine and Kinsta.

WP Engine server laod test
– WP Engine server load test
Kinsta server load test
– Kinsta server load test

The average response time of WP Engine when handling 5000 visitors in a minute is 250ms, whereas, Kinsta’s response time was just 70ms.

In short, Kinsta is a better hosting in terms of auto-scaling of resources.

Read more about them in this Kinsta Vs WP Engine comparison.

WP Engine support: One of the best

WP Engine offers 24/7 live chat support. They were very friendly and knowledgeable when we actually contacted them. Moreover, they were very easily accessible and got connected within seconds of a support request.

Also, WP Engine offers an array of customer support options, so questions can be answered quickly and conveniently. Users can call the toll free 1-800 number, send an email directly, or browse a directory of useful self-help articles. The professional and courteous staff always gets back in touch very quickly with responses to support inquiries.

WP Engine support comparison
– WP Engine Live Chat

Additionally, they offer phone support for the higher-tier hosting packages.

In recent times, we saw some clients complaining about their long waiting times during US peak hours.

WP Engine support issues
– Long wait time for WP Engine support

Pricing: They fall into the expensive category

WP Engine starts at $29/mo and even has a plan that costs more than $1000/mo.Since as many as 25,000 visitors can visit the Personal site each month, there’s room for a casual blogger to become a serious monetized writer or influencer in a niche field. They fall into the premium category hosting, that’s why they are expensive compared to hosting like Bluehost, SiteGround or HostGator. All hosting company that offers AWS starts for more than $20/mo, so WP Engine’s pricing is justifiable considering the quality offered by them.

Each hosting plan offered by WP Engine has been perfectly tailored to suit a variety of hosting needs. At the time of this writing, WP Engine offers Personal, Professional, Business, and Enterprise options. Each has been designed to offer the best fit for individuals or organizations.

The smallest plan is offered at $29 per month, a very affordable price for someone who wants to operate a growing blog with high aims. Here’s a table with price and feature breakdown of WP Engine.

WP Engine prices and plans
– WP Engine Pricing

WP Engine extends a variety of useful features that are an outright bonus to their already superb service. These extras include:

  • Staging
  • Automatic cloud backup of the last 40 days.
  • 60-day money-back guarantee. Easy cancellation. Seriously, cancel at any time. That’s a confidence booster!
  • Free migration using a plugin.
  • Free Premium CDN in the form of StackPath. CDN accelerates your site speed from around the world by storing your site’s files on multiple servers around the world.
  • An exclusive list of partners. This is a vetted list of qualified web partners that may help with the promotion, design, or engagement of your website.
  • Plug-in monitoring. This feature is awesome because WP Engine continuously monitors various WordPress plug-ins and maintains a database of which will work and which will fail.

WP Engine Money Back Guarantee / Cancellation Policy

WP Engine states on their website that they “make it easy to leave because it forces us to earn your business every month.” Their cancellation policy is quite simple — cancel whenever you want, for any reason. Upon cancellation, you may also request a complete copy of your site to include all system files, media uploads, plug-ins, blog posts, and comments. This allows you to maintain 100% authorship over your site and transfer elsewhere if you so decide.

Popularity: The most popular Managed WordPress Hosting

WP Engine is not the most popular web hosting in the world. However, they are the most popular hosting solution for WordPress. Here’s a google trend report on the three most popular WordPress hosting solution right now.

As you can see from the above result, WP Engine is very popular when compared to other big competitors like Kinsta and Flywheel. This is due to them being the first company to start offering Managed WordPress hosting solution.

In fact, Kinsta in one of their blog posts has said: “WP Engine were the original pioneers of the managed WordPress hosting industry and set the bar for the rest of us.”  However, over time WP Engine has become too big and issues with performance and customer service are increasingly common.

Interface: A very simple interface.

The backend of WP Engine is fairly standard for most users. Although it’s nothing fancy, it sufficiently does the job and allows moderate to advanced website changes with simple clicks.

WP Engine uses custom interface, unlike other popular hostings that use cPanel as their interface. Their custom interface is modern and has all the features available just within 1-2 clicks from their main panel.

Here’s how WP Engine interface looks.

WP Engine control panel

Perhaps one of the best features on the WP Engine control panel is the one-click staging area. This portion of the backend allows users to test features and designs before publication to ensure that everything is exactly the way they want it. Although that seems like a feature every hosting company should offer, unfortunately, it is not as common as one might think.

Ease of Use: Is it easy to use WP Engine?

WP Engine offers plenty of tools for beginners in setting up their website. One such tool is their migration plugin, which lets you transfer your website content from your previous hosts to WP Engine. This migration can be done in a few clicks without having any technical knowledge.

Moreover, they offer a staging option that lets users test their website design and content in a separate subdomain, where they can push live the new design with just a click.

In addition, their support is available 24/7 to guide and help us in all the matters related to website building.

Is WP Engine’s current clients satisfied with their service?

In the last few years, we were evaluating people’s opinions about WP Engine through various social media channels.

We found that most had good things to say about WP Engine, baring few which had issues with WP Engine’s support. When it comes to performance, their satisfaction rate is more than 90%.

WP Engine Client satisfaction
– WP Engine client review

WP Engine has continued with an apparent steady growth rate of happy customers. The plethora of positive reviews across the internet attests to their customer satisfaction. Although the hosting price is not on the bargain list, people seem quite willing to pay a little extra for the ease of mind that comes with hosting a site with WP Engine.

Is WP Engine successful in preventing hacks and other security issues?

The security on WP Engine is one of its finest features, thanks to AWS servers. As discussed earlier, AWS is one of the most widely used Cloud servers in the world. Their servers are used by Amazon, Netflix, Apple and many more big companies. Therefore, AWS servers maintain a high level of security to meet the security standards of these big companies. As a result, WP Engine clients get the best of security offered to any hosting companies.

Additionally, they offer a Cloudflare security package with all their hosting packages. Cloudflare is known for handling securities of big websites. They have blocked 1 billion attacks launched against its users’ websites.

In short, WP Engine ensures the best security for your website in the hosting industry.

The Verdict: Do we recommend WP Engine?

WP Engine is considered by many to be in the ivy league of web hosts, especially for those who use WordPress to blog or do business. The team at WP Engine have proven they listen to customer requests, regularly make improvements, and maintain an updated security plan to keep your site safe.

Also, WP Engine offers excellent performance. Although the price is quite steep at $29/mo, you get one of the best performance in WordPress with WP Engine. However, if you are looking for the best speed, we would recommend Kinsta web hosting as an alternative to WP Engine. Kinsta offers everything that WP Engine has to offer for a similar price. In addition, the speed boost is 2x when you compare Kinsta with WP Engine.

And while WP Engine has not caught up to Kinsta in speed, the WP Engine is still a very capable web hosting with stable performance and features.

Set up your web hosting with WP Engine now.

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