It’s been about a month since my last quick blog post. The only thing that has been keeping me away has been trying to get my blog to stay online for more than a few hours. Unfortunately my hosts had a series of issues which forced me to look at alternatives.
Now I don’t get hundreds of thousands of visitors, but none the less uptime and speed is important to me. Having recently moved my DNS hosting to Amazon’s Route 53 I did consider moving my site to AWS, to be honest though the thought of trying to set it all up myself and messing around with load balancers, high availability and all that good stuff just made me want to run and hide. I thought to myself that there must be someone doing proper WordPress hosting?
So here I am proudly hosting at WP Engine. A fully managed WordPress hosting platform. They handle almost everything, caching and scaling, backups, CDN, security fixes and upgrades, assisted migrations the whole lot. Hosted on enterprise grade architecture and with a choice of international data centres to choose from it certainly ticks a lot of boxes!
I personally didn’t migrate my site, I started a fresh install and imported my comments, posts and pages. Over the last few years some terrible plugins had completely bloated my wp_options table and I just wanted a clean start. They do however offer assistance with migrations with some comprehensive documentation on what to do and when.
Setup was super simple running through their wizard within 5 minutes I had a basic WordPress install, I imported by WordPress export and I was set. Obviously I had to set up a few more things to how I liked them but it was all very painless. The only caveat with WP Engine is plugins. Some plugins are just not allowed, which in most cases isn’t a problem. Caching plugins aren’t allowed, but aren’t needed either as they have their own caching system. I even took the plunge and started using Jetpack which takes care of most of my plugin needs, more on that in a later post!
WP Engine has some really great features:
- Daily Backups: Backups are made daily (filesystem and database) and you can create restore points whenever you like. You can also give them your Amazon S3 details and they will push your daily backup there as well for free!
- Staging Site: At no extra cost you can deploy a staging site with only a few clicks, super useful if you want to try out something but don’t fancy completely breaking your site!
- Git Deployment: A whole bunch of awesomeness here! With a little bit of work you can deploy your site using git. It does take a little bit of work to setup and I did have to change my git workflow a little (you essentially have to have your WordPress root as the root of your git repo but they do provide some useful gitignore examples to not version control the WordPress core). In my case I set up my git repo and ignore everything but my theme!
- Hacker Proof: WP Engine is so confident they are are hacker proof that if you do get hacked they will fix it with nothing to pay!
- Speed, Speed, Speed: Whilst it is still early days to judge personally, it does seem to be extremely quick! Pages load almost instantly even when in the admin area. They talk a load of tech on their website, bottom line is it seems to do the business!
Support is only 9pm – 6pm Central time, however they do give you an emergency contact telephone number. Not sure if this works for all customers when the shit hits the fan or higher package customers. Fortunately I’ve not needed it. On the few occasions I have needed to contact their support team I have always received timely replies and have always been able to help without loads of dancing around. Overall I’m impressed!
Now onto the cost. It’s not cheap. You really can’t compare the service you get to normal hosting though and that is what you pay for. Prices start at $29 per month for a single blog with up to 25,000 visits per month and go up to $249 for 25 installs and 400,000 visits per month. Some of the extra features like SSL support, dedicated IP and multi site support are only on larger plans. Their Professional and business plans also support their own CDN however you can use your own CDN on the personal plan like Cloudflare or Cloudfront in my case.
The question you really have to ask yourself is what is your site worth to you? Personally $29 a month isn’t a great deal of money and if it means I can keep my site up and keep it running at lightning speeds then I’m in. You really do get what you pay for though.
They offer a 60 day money back guarantee so I would certainly say it worth trying it out for yourself. Also if you sign up for a whole year in one go you do get 2 months free which isn’t a bad deal.
There are alternatives out there like Zippy Kid but for now I’m happy with WP Engine and am looking forward to moving more client sites over to their hosting. Find out more at WP Engine.
Note: Links to the WP Engine site in the above post are affiliate links which means I do get a little something if you do signup. This is NOT a paid review by WP Engine in fact you can all sign up for the WP Engine Affiliate Scheme and recommend it to your readers or friends if you are equally impressed!