WPEngine review – after 1 month and 250k visitors, why exactly am I spending $249pm for WordPress hosting?

by on March 23, 2012


As you may know if you’re a regular reader, about a month ago we decided to switch our hosting from a dedicated server managed by yours truly to the WordPress hosting service WP Engine. Initially, I had expected to discover that it really wasn’t worth the money after the two-week free trial – but that time has well and truly passed, and I’m still with WPEngine. So, here’s a review – given they’re far from cheap, are they, in fact, the best WordPress hosting service ever?

This one’s off-topic for the Melting Pot, but as a lot of us are bloggers here, I figured it would be useful nonetheless. And I imagine you’ll be interested to know why I’ve voluntarily gone from paying $50pm for hosting to paying $249pm for what, at first glance, is the same service.

Quick note: the links to WPEngine here are affiliate links, meaning if you end up using WPEngine after clicking on one, I’ll get a small amount of money from that. However, I’m reviewing WPEngine because I’m impressed with their service, not for the monetary concern – their service has startled me by being well worth the fee, and I figured other bloggers would be interested to hear about it!

First Impressions

I first heard of WP Engine through a post on Kalsumeus, explaining why he made exactly the same move I subsequently would – from self-controlled dedicated server hosting to WP Engine’s managed service. I loved the idea right from the off – a host dedicated to nothing but WordPress, who could solve all the finicky little things that I couldn’t figure out (and with WordPress, there are a lot of finicky things that crop up over the months), and who knew exactly how to tune a site for speed and performance.

However, a quick look at WPEngine’s site made me think we couldn’t afford them. Reading through their prices, the Melting Pot would cost a minimum of $249 a month – and when we had a burst month and hit more than 400,000 visitors, as we do from time to time, it seemed we’d be moved up to the “if you have to ask you can’t afford it” top tier of hosting.

I said as much in the comments, because I can be kind of a dick sometimes. :)

A few days later, I wandered back to the same article, and lo and behold, there was a reply to my comment – from the CEO of WPEngine, Jason Cohen. And he made a hell of a lot of sense – and made the key point that unless we stayed above 400,000 visitors/month consistently, they’d charge us at the lower price.

About now, I realised they had a free trial (which has since been replaced by the rather better offer of a 60-day money back offer).

So I figured “what the hell”, and signed up for two weeks – fully expecting that I’d conclude their services were nice, but not worth the money.

Why even move in the first place?

The Melting Pot had started to suffer from a number of problems that lower-traffic WordPress sites don’t encounter.

Notably, WordPress is, to use the technical term, a right bastard to configure for speed under high load. I’m highly technically adept for someone who isn’t a full-time sysadmin, and I’d consulted with my hosts, Bytemark (whom I still highly recommend for non-WP services), who are very good indeed, but still, we couldn’t get load times stable and fast enough for my liking. Research shows that the amount of time a viewer will stay on your site, and the chances of them bookmarking or subscribing to your site, is/are highly affected by page load speed – and at peak times, despite my best efforts, the Pot moved like a hamster towing a truck.

WPEngine promised the fastest WordPress load times known to man. I liked the sound of that.

At the same time, my WordPress installation was starting to get a bit… clunky. We didn’t have automated upgrades installed, because it was a headache to do so, and so an increasing number of my plugins, not to mention my core WP install, were starting to get decidedly out of date. Out of date WordPress servers get hacked. And it was getting to the point where I was worrying about that fact every day, but still wasn’t willing to undergo the pain of a full manual upgrade.

Little things were starting to break, too. I couldn’t drag widgets around for some unfathomable reason, despite spending a day trying to bugfix that problem. I couldn’t Quick Edit posts. Scheduling would occasionally… not.

And I was getting increasingly sick of getting up at 4am to restart servers when my phone beeped to tell me the Pot had burned down, fallen over, and sunk into the swamp.

All of this pain would, in theory, be solved by moving to a managed WordPress solution like WP Engine – whilst still giving me the control of having my own self-installed WordPress.

Hence, the trial.

Migrating to WPEngine and the first few days

Migrating from the Melting Pot to WPEngine was a joy.

No, wait, not a joy. The other thing.

My initial migration was something of a nightmare. Despite having some instructions on the WPEngine site, nothing worked first time. I couldn’t even log in to the bloody site. Then I couldn’t log into the database. Then it wouldn’t import. Then it did import – and the Melting Pot appeared entirely in 64-point text with no images. Then my theme, the usually-excellent Thesis, decided it needed to be upgraded – and then upgraded again, and again, and so on.

I very nearly gave up on WPEngine as a bad job in the first three days.

However, their support was uniformly excellent. Alexander, one of their technicians, responded patiently to email after email after email, and did an excellent job of calming me down as I became increasingly shirty and irritable. It’s safe to say that without his support, I wouldn’t have even made it to Day 3.

And now we hit one of the major reasons I’m still with WPEngine. Their support is bloody marvellous. I’ve pinged them almost every day since I joined up with one problem or another, and in all cases, it’s either been sorted out or is still in the process of being sorted out. Technically, they don’t provide support for plugins, but in practise I’ve found that even with plugin problems they’re willing to pitch in and help out, and usually know more than I do.

(This post is being written with Markdown rather than Textile after I asked a support question about my textile plugin, and Jason, the WPEngine CEO, came back with a super-informed answer. Yes, their CEO often answers support queries.)

Eventually, the Melting Pot was online. And somewhat after eventually, DNS had actually changed, and we were settled in.

Running a Blog On WP-Engine Day To Day

Once you’re up and running, most of the time running a site through WPEngine is similar to running it on a self-hosted blog – although with decidedly less of the irritating niggles that WordPress tends to develop with age.

I log in – first time, now, since moving to WPEngine solved the irritating redirect loop my self-hosted solution had somehow gotten itself into. I edit posts – in an interface which not only works perfectly but also runs noticably faster than it used to. I manage comments – again, seamlessly, with no sudden hangs, slowdowns, or wierd errors.

What became noticable after a couple of weeks, though, and what convinced me to stay with WordPress, was what I wasn’t doing. Since I’ve moved, I’ve never had to

  • Delete a sudden onrush of spam. WPEngine run some kind of ninja anti-exploit software. I don’t know what it is or how it works, but spam has dropped to close to zero.
  • SSH into my server and run “top” to try and figure out why the Melting Pot is running like a dog. It’s always smooth and fast – and I know that if it isn’t, I can just email WPEngine and suddenly that’s their problem, not mine. (They guarantee 99.5% uptime for the server. If they go beyond that, they refund 5% of my monthly hosting PER HOUR.)
  • Restart the server because it’s crashed. See above.
  • Panic at an attempted hack on the server. Again, it’s their problem, and I know they’ve forgotten more about security than I know. ( Various reports from around the ‘net plus the CEO’s blog verify they’re the real deal.)
  • Spend a day trying to figure out why something bizarre isn’t working in WordPress. Again, I just email support and it’s their problem. Right now they’re tracking down the bugs the Melting Pot seems to have with trackbacks – something that I’ve previously and unsuccessfully spent large chunks of a day on.

Speed is definitely faster – not MUCH faster, but Pingdom reports a modest increase. More importantly, since we switched over our site speed has been a lot less spikey – previously, the Melting Pot was often fast but sometimes very, very slow – and that would always be at peak times when a lot of people were trying to access our site. Since the WPEngine shift, our load times don’t change with the number of people hitting us, and I’ve noticed we’re regularly serving 3 figures of simultaneous users. I’m looking forward to seeing how the site handles a real traffic spike.

So why DID I stay with WPEngine as a WordPress host?

It’s not the speed, at the end of the day. I thought it would be that if anything, but I was wrong.

I’ve decided to commit to staying with WPEngine, despite the steep rise in hosting fees, because it turns out to be a cheap way to buy myself a load more hours in the day. Essentially, I’ve outsourced all the WordPress and server maintainance tasks that were previously interrupting me or taking my time up – stuff that was slowing me down, but that I couldn’t have afforded to hire someone to deal with.

In addition, I also buy myself time because everything works. I don’t have to use arcane workarounds to deal with the fact various bits of WordPress aren’t working properly, because, well, they all are. I don’t have to log in 5 times because there’s something screwy with my self-hosted DNS. I estimate that the shift to WPEngine has saved me 10-20 minutes a day of messing around – and that adds up fast.

And I don’t have to spend time learning about stuff that doesn’t directly benefit the Pot. I don’t need to spend hours reading about the difference between Hypercache and WP Total Cache, or whether I should use Memcached, Varnish, a reverse proxied Nginx server, or all of the above. All that stuff’s interesting, but it’s not the best use of my time.

Basically, I’ve decided to stay with WPEngine not because they provide very expensive hosting – although it’s excellent – but because they provide a very cheap, very good, very agreeable full-time dedicated sysadmin for my blog.

Which means I can concentrate on, you know, writing it.

You can find out more about WP Engine here.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other posts from these categories: Archives

{ 247 comments… read them below or add one }

Colin Tsui March 26, 2012 at 7:35 am

Thanks for the review! I’m still evaluating different wordpress hosting companies.

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Hugh Hancock March 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

No worries! Feel free to ask if there’s anything specific you’re concerned about – I may not be able to answer, but I will if I can.

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Joe September 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Are you still using them now (this site).

If not, why not?

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Hugh Hancock September 20, 2012 at 11:58 pm

We are indeed still using WP-Engine, and they’re still doing a damn fine job.

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Alan May 5, 2013 at 9:39 am

This site is a Wordpress site right? This is hosted with bytemark. So what sites are you hosting with wpengine? Also this comment you made: “I’ve pinged them almost every day since I joined up with one problem or another,” … does not sound very good? Thanks

Ron May 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Yes, please update your reasons for moving this website to ByteMark? Not happy with wp-engine?

Simon February 26, 2014 at 4:49 am

I’m just moving to WPengine and wondering if I’m going to regret it. It’s pretty expensive, they don’t provide nameservers, and the migration process is horrible (several times horrible as I’m moving several sites).

Nick April 7, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Been using WP Engine for a month and I love it.

I went down the Varnish + nginx road myself. Got it all set up and then realized I really, really shouldn’t have to bother with any of this. Running a bunch of WP sites on a VPS should not be that difficult to maintain. But the constant upgrading is simply a PITA.

Took a few days to get everything moved over to WP Engine as well, but everything is smoothly now.

And I don’t have to worry about backups, getting hacked, or slowness!

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Brad Dalton April 8, 2012 at 9:35 am

The problem i found with VPS is that they offer different levels and try to get an upgrade anytime there’s a problem.

Interviewed the Co Founder and CEO to find out more.

What i like about WPEngine is they fully disclose exactly how much traffic you can receive on each plan and they fix all the speed and security problems.

VPS providers don’t do this. They blame your plugins and make other excuses trying to force an upgrade.

I completed many speed tests using a huge range of tools and consistent speed improves page views by at least 20%

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Meng April 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Did you use or are you considering any Cache service to get the site speeded up?
Did you turn on CDN on your WPengine instal?

One of the sites I was working on used CloudFlare and we had some problems when we turned on Disqus comments. It worked great on WPengine but seemed to lose the DNS on CloudFlare. We have since turned off the cacheservice. But we are exploring putting it back on.

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Hugh Hancock April 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm

WPEngine handles the caching invisibly, so we’re just not worrying about that. We are indeed using CDN, though.

Can’t comment on Disqus, I’m afraid – we used it a long time ago on the Pot and I was unimpressed with it.

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Meng April 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Wow! Thanks for the quick reply Hugh.
I think CDN would be the way to go. I’ve just spoken to the WPEngine people for more info.

Yeah, Disqus creates a bit of a drag with synchronizing comments. We installed it just for the one feature where the moderator can reply to comments via email. He has a large membership site with active comments. That way he doesn’t have to log into Wordpress to reply.

Thanks again!

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Brad Dalton June 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm

WPEngine don’t use caching plugins. Not all plans offer CDN but you don’t need it most of the time.

My sites content loads in under 1 second. Its the Google custom search and things like Facebook fan box which slow it down but its still under 2 seconds

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Nirpendra Patel March 28, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Try to use disqus comments with load-on-request

You can check example on labnol.org

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Dallas McMillan June 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm

You make a compelling case for WP Engine. I’ve found using a cloud server with Varnish, W3 total cache that a CDN made a huge difference. I guess this might not be so useful if you get a lot of comments though.

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Hayley June 26, 2012 at 11:21 pm

I don’t suppose you have a coupon code as well do you please? I’ll be signing up this weekend and noticed someone else with affiliate links had a code, but wasn’t sure if you’d still get the referral if I used theirs.

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Hugh Hancock June 27, 2012 at 10:52 am

I’ll check and see if my affiliate panel gives me coupon codes!

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Hayley June 28, 2012 at 12:53 am

Cool thanks, no worries if not, just let me know :D

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Tony June 28, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Thesis has been nothing but a NIGHTMARE on WPEngine for me. From the very first day, the same thing that happened to you, happened to me. They keep blaming it on Thesis or a caching problem. A template update should be easy but not with this company. Files are locked, can’t change permissions…etc.

The restore points are also worthless. If you try to restore your site, the Thesis template properties are locked and you end up without a header, the text is huge…etc.

Each time, you sit there for hours while they try to figure out the solution. One time, they told me that the automatic daily backup did not back up my site for weeks so I scrambled to put the blog posts back up that were missing.

Yes, their support is very good and they are patient while I am blowing a gasket because my site has been down for hours. Eventually, they fixed my site.

I am still with them for the following reasons:
1. They provide a staging area so you can test upgrades and plugin before launching on your live site.
2. Overall, my site loads fast.
3. The techs are very knowledgeable about Wordpress.
4. There is a phone # to call if my site goes down.

I could get by on a much cheaper plan with another hosting company and that is what pisses me off. I pay a premium for my hosting and just want things to work. It’s not like Thesis is some small time theme/framework.

I have confidence that they will get this all under control. If not, I will have to change hosting and I won’t be happy about it.

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Rob June 30, 2012 at 1:44 am

Has the Thesis theme issue been fixed on WP Engine? I was considering using them with the Thesis theme. Let me know.

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Hugh Hancock June 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I’m going to ask them to comment on the Thesis theme issues right here, so stay tuned.

Personally I find the Thesis theme problems are relatively simple to get around – I just deactivate the Object Cache before making any changes to my theme – but I appreciate I’m not doing a lot of advanced manipulations there, and my experience is still that if it goes wrong, it can be a right pain to fix.

We’ll see what the WP Engine guys have to say on the subject!

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Tony July 15, 2012 at 2:22 am

Well, I held my breath while trying to update the Thesis theme…and all went well! So, either this was fixed by them or the new Thesis update.

Now, the upgrading instructions did say to change a couple file permissions and I was unable to. I called WPEngine and they assured me that I didn’t need to change them.

I have not tried to restore from a restore point yet…hopefully, I will not have to. Where do you deactivate the content cache?

I highly recommend these guys because this support is rare with other companies and my site is fast.

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Hugh Hancock July 16, 2012 at 10:32 am

You can deactivate the Object cache (which is what causes the problems) from the “Clear Caches” section of WP Engine’s controls.

I normally deactivate it, make any necessary changes, and activate it again.

I hear from WP Engine that as of the latest version of Thesis, that might not be necessary, though!

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Jason July 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Anyone running a site using genesis on WPEngine? I have several client’s sites I am suggesting they move from (gulp) GoDaddy.

-Jason

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Hugh Hancock July 21, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I’m not, but I notice that the WP-Engine preferred consultants list includes one group that say they work with Genesis – you could ask them: http://wpengine.com/consultants/

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Brad Dalton July 21, 2012 at 10:54 pm
IcyWiz July 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm

<>

You don’t say? Hmmm…any way we could exchange emails to discuss? I’m frustrated hosting my WP sites at GoDaddy and if you could help me ascertain that it’s from hosting at GoDaddy, I’d happily give WP-Engine a try.

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Brad Dalton July 28, 2012 at 12:05 am

No worries. Brad at wpsites.net

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John Wheal July 24, 2012 at 12:54 am

Thanks for this review. I will give them a try. I have a few question which I hope you can answer:

1. Do you have to change your DNS and use there nameservers?
2. What CDN do they use?

Thanks.

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Hugh Hancock July 24, 2012 at 9:53 am

No worries!

1) No – in fact, they don’t run their own DNS servers. They recommend using Namecheap, I believe, but you can run your own DNS – that’s what we do with the Melting Pot.
2) I’m honestly not sure – it’s an in-house solution, I think. Seems to work very well. I’ll ask them.

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Hugh Hancock July 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I’ve asked them, and had a response already: they’re using NetDNA, but it’s fully integrated with their hosting so basically it’s a one-form tickybox from the user’s point of view.

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Altaf July 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I Have hosted with wpengine for half a month, there was some problem with the website which i fixed after, but they have banned my account from wpengine.
and this is the last message which i got from support for re opening the account, i hope they dont do that to every one.
======================
Hi There,

No, we don’t want you to host with us. I can recommend other managed WordPress services, though they don’t have the free account give away like they do: —

Regards,
==============
Director of Customer Happiness
Twitter: ======
WPEngine.com

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Austin Gunter July 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Hey Altaf,

I’m sorry that you weren’t happy with your initial interaction with us. We’re the first to admit that our #1 priority is for you to have the best hosting experience possible, even if that means you don’t host with WP Engine. Sometimes that is the case if you have external apps that aren’t in WordPress, for example. Part of what we offer as a managed host is some of the best WordPress Hosting on the market, and to do that, we specialize and don’t host things outside of WordPress.

And of course, we have to be careful to keep sites that have malware or viruses off of WP Engine, and the normal routes to protect our current customers. The Internet can be a scary place sometimes, and we go out of our way to protect our customers from evildoers.

I’d appreciate it if you can follow up with me directly via email, [email protected], so that we can talk. If there has been a mistake on our part, I’d like to make sure I have the opportunity to apologize to you directly and then offer my fullest efforts to recover.

Thank you for letting us know!

-Austin
Brand Ambassador
WP Engine

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Brad Dalton July 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Why did they ban you Altaf?

I think many would be interested to know the answer to this.

What was the question you asked them when you got this reply?

I know most of the guys there and they’ve always been very transparent with me.

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Mike July 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I don’t want to sound rude, I really hate to, but this really bothers me.
You don’t get 400k visitors a month, nor even close to 250k.
I first noticed your Alexa score, it would be better. Then searched your daily stats and I was right. I’m sorry but I feel in a review you should be honest on all points.
Thanks, Mike

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Hugh Hancock July 28, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Yes, we do indeed get over 250k visitors a month, and I don’t appreciate being called a liar.

There are well-known problems with Alexa and similar tools – which get worse the further a site’s core audience is away from the core Alexa toolbar userbase. There is, to put it mildly, not a strong correlation between WoW / MMORPG players and Alexa users.

All this means that unless you are the admin of this site (you’re not) and have access to our actual Google Analytics account (you don’t), you cannot tell how many visitors we get.

I, however, can.

So, here are accurate stats for mmomeltingpot.com from Google Analytics for March 2012, the month this review was written:

Visits: 458,281
Unique Visitors: 282,710
Pageviews: 644,236

That was far from our busiest month ever.

In conclusion: I’d appreciate an apology.

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Mike July 31, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I was not trying to be rude I said, I apologize if I offended you.
I understand your concerns with Alexa, but understand the toolbar was just a first impression, though Alexa may be labeled as incorrect by a lot of people it would still have a better score. I understand your concerns with realistic analytics as well.

But, I really hate to sound rude, honestly hate it but you just got caught not telling the truth in this mater.

“However, a quick look at WPEngine’s site made me think we couldn’t afford them. Reading through their prices, the Melting Pot would cost a minimum of $249 a month – and when we had a burst month and hit more than 400,000 visitors, as we do from time to time, it seemed we’d be moved up to the “if you have to ask you can’t afford it” top tier of hosting.”

Conflicts with

“Visits: 458,281
Unique Visitors: 282,710
Pageviews: 644,236

That was far from our busiest month ever.”

I’m really not trying to sound rude =(, it’s a curse being a perfectionist and I have to always correct people and make everything right. Surely you can understand this.

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Hugh Hancock July 31, 2012 at 10:29 pm

On our busiest months, we hit more than 400,000 visitors.

March was not one of our busiest months.

Hence we only saw 282,710 visitors.

I fail to see the contradiction.

You’re posting under a fake email account* and trying to stir trouble, so future comments from you will be deleted, and this particular comment thread is now closed.

* “Mike”‘s email account purports to be @wpengine.com. I have confirmed with WP Engine that they’ve never heard of him. To quote David @ WP Engine, “I think you’d be well within your rights to call him out and ban him from posting”.

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Brad Dalton July 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Or are you referring to your yearly total traffic?

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Hugh Hancock July 29, 2012 at 12:02 am

See above.

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Thomas Zickell July 29, 2012 at 7:08 am

I have been with WP Engine for 11 months started on there base now I have a node. I agree & would say there worth twice the cost.

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Austin Gunter July 30, 2012 at 2:21 am

Hey Thomas, thanks for the very kind words. It means a ton to me personally when our customers recommend us publicly. We’ll keep working overtime to keep you happy.

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Thomas Zickell July 29, 2012 at 7:29 am

To expand on
“Thanks for this review. I will give them a try. I have a few question which I hope you can answer:

1. Do you have to change your DNS and use there nameservers?
2. What CDN do they use?

Thanks.

REPLY”

WP Engine (I think this is 100% but I might be wrong) uses NetDNA via a manged plugin it works very well. I thought no name servers was strange but I thought about it. I think every host should pick there DNS and let there customers pick there own DNS the person will learn more about DNS WP Engine can do what they do best help customers and make the best Wordpress hosting on earth. I use DYN.com but have had great luck with UltraDNS and AWS Route 53 lastly I hear DNSmadeeasy is great and cheep.
Hope I helped I know if you need to get DNS AWS Route 53 is very very fast and cheep.

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Hugh Hancock July 29, 2012 at 11:25 am

Yep, they do use NetDNA – I have that confirmed by David @ WPEngine. The plugin they use does indeed work seamlessly – I’ve never had any problems aside from the usual occasional “oops, forgot to flush the cache” issues.

I agree 100% about the DNS. I’m using Namecheap, as WPEngine recommends, for some of my domains, and Bytemark, my old hosts (who are ace for non-WP stuff) for the rest. Let the DNS people do DNS and the WP people do WP.

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Kyle August 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm

“moved like a hamster towing a truck”… awesome imagery

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Hugh Hancock August 3, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I may have envisioned that being said in a Jeremy Clarkson stylee…

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Corey August 5, 2012 at 4:39 am

I have been with WP Engine for 2 weeks now and I am extremely happy with their professionalism, quick response times, willingness to help, and the clarity and effectiveness of their instructions when I have submitted a support ticket.

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Kyle August 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Do you have an affiliate link? I decided to make the move and wanted I’d pass out some credit to your review for helping with the decision.

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Hugh Hancock August 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I sure do! Thanks very much.

Affiliate link

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Kyle August 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Unfortunately, I am going to have to submit a negative reply for wpengine . After reading all of the positive reviews I had decided to make the jump over from dreamhost. However, I didn’t realize the extent that wpengine block plugins; wpengine has a long list of plugins –74 on a quick unofficial count– they do not allow (http://support.wpengine.com/disallowed-plugins/). I understand this is because they are trying to remain as efficient and as fast as possible; however, if you are in the market as an ultra-premium hosting provider, who charges customers more because they are receiving better quality care, then how do you justify limiting customer freedom? I expected the service to be more accommodating to say the least; when I transferred from dreamhost to wpengine I was expecting more “yes, what can we help you with” and less “nope, you can’t do that-try again”.

To give some context, I use the MyReviewPlugin a great deal on my site. It is far and away the most robust review system out there (and cost me $80…). I also spent another $200 or so on custom coding that pulls reviews in to customer account screens across a multisite setup. This means that wpengine is asking me to accept that $280 bill, as well as pay for a new plugin (reviewengine is $170 for unlimited bringing my grand total to $450 in sunk costs to use a “premium” hosting provider), for their “premium” service. Obviously this isn’t something I am going to do… Myreviewplugin is not a security threat, don’t expect me to pay a premium for hosting and then have you say “only if you use plugins that write the database at our accepted rates”. I am thankful for their 60 day guarantee, which I will be using 2 hours in to opening an account.

Worth noting: I just had a live chat ended on wpengine, after I brought up the points of them forcing me to lose the money invested in the plugin, I received no reply from the representative until the chat window timed out for idleness.

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Austin Gunter August 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Hey Kyle,

Thanks for weighing in with your experience with WP Engine. I’m glad that you’ve written our your particular use-case that doesn’t work with WP Engine. Had you and I had an opportunity to speak before signing up, or had you taken note of our website which notes the disallowed plugins list, you might not have had to go through the trouble of signing up only to find that we aren’t the right hosting platform for you. We always ask potential customers what plugins they are running before they sign up. As awesome as we ARE for thousands and thousands of customers, we cannot be the right host for everyone, and there are many good choices for WordPress hosting companies. My priority is that everyone have WordPress hosting they are ecstatic about, whether that’s WP Engine’s platform or elsewhere.

You stated:

“I understand this is because they are trying to remain as efficient and as fast as possible; however, if you are in the market as an ultra-premium hosting provider, who charges customers more because they are receiving better quality care, then how do you justify limiting customer freedom? I expected the service to be more accommodating to say the least; when I transferred from dreamhost to wpengine I was expecting more “yes, what can we help you with” and less “nope, you can’t do that-try again”.”

Part of what WP Engine offers our customers is an incredible amount of experience with WordPress hosting. We serve an incredible amount of data across tens of thousands of domains every single day, and that gives us ample opportunity to troubleshoot and resolve those one-in-a-million exceptions on a regular basis. We troubleshoot problems and then take steps to prevent those problems from ever affecting our customers again. This means that each additional customer who signs up benefits from an increasingly fast, stable, scalable, and secure hosting platform.

For example, we recently disallowed Yet Another Related Posts Plugin, and a few other similar ones (http://wpengine.com/2012/06/fulltext-update/) because those plugins create a FULLTEXT Index which does not scale well. This particular index does things that MySQL wasn’t designed for, and so it will dramatically slow sites down at high traffic levels. In order to provide fast and scalable hosting as promised, we have to require that our customers use substitute plugins such as Nrelate and Wordnik to achieve the same functionality. Both of those are scalable related posts plugins that perform the heavy-lifting off-server and will not slow the server to a crawl or crash it under high traffic.

Your particular plugin is a very similar example. MyReviewPlugin works very well at lower traffic levels, but it writes the database unnecessarily, and can be rather greedy with resources. You’re right that it’s not a security risk, per say, but it is a “speed risk.” I don’t have the exact stats for your website, but a plugin that writes to MySQL too often can make a site load time take as long as 5-10+ seconds for each visitor. That’s an unacceptable level for your site, and WP Engine is a premium host because we are always looking out for ways that you can make your site faster and more scalable. You could pay for the additional resources it would require, but that would likely be the cost of the plugin added to your bill every month. We also have to make sure that there are no sites on our servers that take up too many resources and slow down their neighboring sites. This plugin would not only slow your site down, but also your neighbors. So while I’m sorry that you invested your hard-earned dollars in the plugin, it’s simply not one that we can allow to slow your site, or anyone else’s site down.

Since you haven’t spent much time on our servers, I’m sure you didn’t have it custom-coded for our stack, but most high-performing sites require new development for plugins and themes on a weekly or daily basis. We have a list of amazing developers that I can refer you to who are able to code the very same functionality into your site and have it work incredibly well with WP Engine. The investment would pay off in the traffic increase you would likely see on our fast servers, which would translate into more buyers and ad revenue.

Of course, if you’re set on leaving we will happily refund your money. There are plenty of hosting companies that won’t limit plugins based on scalability or security and will offer you the freedom to run your site exactly the way you want to! My priority is for you to have the right hosting company for your site and give you the best opportunity to run a profitable business!

If you have any questions for me personally, please feel free to email me directly, Austin(at)WPEngine(dot)com.

Thanks Kyle,

-Austin Gunter

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Kyle September 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Follow-Up: a month and a half later…

I wanted to post a final verdict after a bit more time with WPEngine. Long story short, I am changing from WPEngine to Synthesis, but this was by no means an easy choice.

WPEngine really is a great service: their customer support reps are great and will always get back to you right away, probably the best customer service experience I have ever had. The feature set they offer really can’t be beat either, between built in CDN services, the Staging site (really amazing for development), and other optimization services it really is as good as it gets.

With that said, they lost me on the plugin blacklist, BUT they did put lots of effort in to try and accommodate my request so even with that it is hard to fault them. Austin, who replied to my comments above, contacted me and over the past few weeks we tried to get the plugin ‘up to snuff’ so that it was acceptable for their servers. Unfortunately, we never got there. This also concern me as I go forward on a tight budget — they offer no coverage against blacklisting premium plugins. Now, I suppose I should have dug deeper to findout there was a blacklist before I started using them, but there isn’t exactly a warning that says ‘before using wpengine please check the blacklist to make sure your site can transfer’.

My site relies heavily on reviews and a couple other premium plugins, and as such I have put quite a few hours and dollars into customizing the features for them. Despite all my love for their great service, their hard nosed approach to plugin oversight with no offered coverage in the event of a blacklist proved to be a dealbreaker. Still, if you don’t use many premium plugins, they are an amazing group that offer an amazing service. If I have the chance down the road and am in a different set of circumstances, I would go back to them without hesitation, it just wasn’t in the cards right now.

Thomas Zickell August 9, 2012 at 9:35 am

I rarely I chime in on these types of things happened to have selected to get an e-mail when posts were made. The reason I am speaking right now is for two reasons one I want to thank Austen and WP Engine for not allowing plug-ins that affect the site performance of other users like myself. Not surprisingly apparently dream host really doesn’t take an interest in being sure all their customers get an equal amount of resources from a server. Kyle I hope you understand that is why I don’t use companies like dream host because you get poor quality hosting and unfortunately even though you probably had the best intentions it seems that the plug-in you’re using is the reason anyone sharing a server with the site that you’re on that suffer because you are taking their resources do you honestly believe that’s fair? I would much rather have a host that pays attention to the way the servers running so their customers can have what they’ve come to expect excellent speed, security and service Something WP Engine does do better than anyone.

Secondly you said

“To give some context, I use the MyReviewPlugin a great deal on my site. It is far and away the most robust review system out there (and cost me $80…). I also spent another $200 or so on custom coding that pulls reviews in to customer account screens across a multisite setup. This means that wpengine is asking me to accept that $280 bill, as well as pay for a new plugin (reviewengine is $170 for unlimited bringing my grand total to $450 in sunk costs to use a “premium” hosting provider), for their “premium” service. Obviously this isn’t something I am going to do…
I am thankful for their 60 day guarantee, which I will be using 2 hours in to opening an account.

Worth noting: I just had a live chat ended on wpengine, after I brought up the points of them forcing me to lose the money invested in the plugin, I received no reply from the representative until the chat window timed out for idleness.”

Kyle please don’t mention money when you never had to spend any at all. You were not asked to spend a dime and not charged a dime. still you speak like WP engine actually requested that you buy a plug-in and have it custom coded for your site.
that’s like me saying I bought a Porsche GT Porsche makes great cars what do they expect they should know I do not use their proven tires I use brand X that me and my friend made it cost me a lot of money but they only have the speed rating of 150 miles per hour I think as soon as I got to the Porsche track they told me I could not drive on it because it affected my safety and I could hurt others, what’s the big deal my tire exploded going 190 mph on the autobahn so Porsche will not let me on the track without expecting me to pay for new tires? you are essentially saying you should be able to use subpar equipment that could affect others and your mad because it was pointed out to you.

Let’s be honest what I just wrote sounds crazy right if somebody has worked on by a private contractor or the themselves and purchases something that unfortunately is not high quality does not work as well as it should.

Kyle I’m not trying to be rude at all I’m just trying to let you see how you sound.
The fact is WordPress engine just did you a huge favor they told you your plug-in is not coded correctly you should thank them.

I was going to recommend another managed WordPress host however I honestly don’t believe any of them will let you on and I trust WP engine so I wouldn’t want to affect other people being hosted on those other house if they did make the mistake of letting someone on that shared resources with others and took more than others. You could always buy a node with WP engine or other managed WordPress hosts however your probably best off buying a plug-in for your website that does not affect other users that way you won’t be slow wherever you go because regardless of whether you’re on your own dedicated server or not you’re still slowing yourself down. Think of it as paying for a poped tire.

If it makes you feel any better man I just spent $8000 and 4 months getting the website developed unfortunately I am extremely unhappy with the results and truly very angry. I will tell you what I’ve done I was mad because I failed to put in the work with the developer to make it the way I wanted it. I had feelings of I am mad at this developer he failed me. The fact is I let myself down the sooner you can let go of blaming others for things you have control over the sooner you’ll be happier. Not trying to preach to man I’m just telling you think of this as a free inspection you know what’s wrong now it’s a shame that there’s a problem but at least you now know what to do to fix it.

Last but not least as quoted below there are over 16,000 WordPress plug-ins do you honestly believe 74 is too many?
“In fact, with over 16k plugins (currently) in the WordPress plugin repository, we only (at this time) forbid a few dozen”

Kyle I wish you the best with fixing your website hope that’s the choice you make for yourself and others. Hopefully you will do what WP engine suggested & try using them for real then you will be happy to know your host is looking out for your website.

Austin keep up the good work I am happy you guys are always looking out for us customers and educating people so their sites run better on all servers.

Respectfully,
Thomas

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Jeffry Pilcher August 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm

The four months my website was hosted with WPE were the worst in its five-year history. It was nothing but nonstop B.S. and headaches.

Yes, I know, there are dozens of glowing testimonials about WPEngine’s awesomeness. I’ve read them too. That’s what lead me to give them a try (I’ve hosted with Media Temple and Rackspace before that). Don’t be fooled. It is because of all these one-sided, glowing reviews that I feel compelled to share my experience.

WPEngine regularly made changes to my website:
- without my permission
- without telling me in advance
- without alerting me to what they did after the fact
- without checking their work

They did this not once… not twice… but on three separate occasions. Each instance resulted in CATASTROPHIC failures, crashing the biggest — and most critical — chunks of my website (e.g., single.php, sidebar.php).

Three separate issues. Three times they made changes. Three times the site crashed.

No warning. No apology. No admission of wrong-doing. Not once.

They are right, you are wrong. 100% of the time. They know everything, you know squadoosh.

If that’s your idea of “managed hosting,” then go ahead and knock yourself out.

Does WPEngine answer service requests quickly? Absolutely. They are fast, no doubt. But fast isn’t the only thing I care about. I’d rather wait for the right answer tomorrow than have someone crash my website today. Being fast only has value if what you get done quickly works. But WPE got it all wrong — every… single… time — so everything always ended up taking way more time and energy than it should have.

I run my website as my sole source of income.* When my site goes down, I lose money. I can’t afford website crashes. I can’t afford to have my webhost dump one massive admin disaster after another in my lap. If your business is dependent on your WordPress website, you absolutely cannot gamble with WPEngine.

My experience was a net negative, all the way around. Their impositions were exceedingly disruptive. The stress was nearly unbearable. Their incompetence was infuriating. And their incredulity was unfathomable.

In a nutshell? WPEngine is an autocratic, arrogant and incapable webhost — an utter nightmare combination.

“It’s not for everyone,” they told me. Sheesh, that’s the understatement of the century. It’s definitely not for me, nor anyone else who takes their website — and customer service — seriously.

Most sincerely,

Jeffry Pilcher, Publisher
TheFinancialBrand.com

(* 50K monthly uniques, 125K monthly pageviews)

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Marcus Tibesar March 9, 2013 at 12:18 am

Jeffry you are absolutely right. I had very similar experiences with WP Engine. I’ll explain.

Prior to joining WP Engine, I took care of my site entirely meaning I configured the site and backed up the files and database.

After migrating to WP Engine I continued to back up my files and database (since I am relunctant to solely rely on any host including WP Engine).

One day I noticed my database had changed in size from 24 mb to 4 mb! I checked the site and all seemed well. However, I was VERY concerned that my database had shrunk. I searched for an answer and I discovered then that the WP Engine backups weren’t reliable. Their support couldn’t tell me exactly when the database had shrunk. It really bothered me so I continued to look for an answer especially since their tech support didn’t think it was a big deal.

By chance I noticed all of my Post revisions were gone! Apparently after my prodding they admitted that they ran a program which deleted all of my Post revisions. I was livid! How dare they modify my database without even asking my permission! Also, what if I depended on those Post revisions? Why didn’t they inform me so that I could make sure backups of the database were completed before and after the deletion of Post revisions?

I was really pissed off about this but I let it go.

Then about two weeks later my website became very slow. I worked with their tech support who was very good at investigating the problem. However, when they found the problem (I believe it was one of the JetPack modules) they shut off (i.e. they configured) my plugin. Again, I was totally upset since all they had to do was tell me and I (repeat I ) would take care of the problem. I hated the fact that they willy nilly once again went into my Admin panel and made changes.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I abruptly left them.

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Hugh Hancock March 13, 2013 at 10:39 am

Wow, that’s a pretty alarming story.

WP Engine folks, any comeback on this?

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Steve Wilkinson July 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I pointed the WPEngine folks to this thread and asked for a response to it. I’m not sure why they haven’t directly responded to this yet, but they did respond to me. Apparently, their policy is to not modify content, plugins, theme, etc. unless these things are causing problems.

And then, to first notify the owner/admins if something is causing a problem, but if they can’t get action in a reasonable time, they will, after testing, do it themselves. They notify before and after.

This is what I’d expect, and seems reasonable to me. Hopefully they will provide an official response, or we can get more of the story from Jeffry or Marcus.

Marcus’ case is a bit more disturbing, though if anticipated, wouldn’t be too big of a problem for most. I guess I’d have a few questions on that… Do they delete ALL post revisions? How often? etc. And, if he opened a support ticket on some problem, it gets a bit gray whether they should fix it or not. They should have notified. If they didn’t, it seems that is against their policy… so they are lying about their policy or someone made a mistake.

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Tony August 22, 2012 at 7:17 am

I figured I would post back with an update. Previously, I had problems with restoring from their restore points with Thesis and WPengine. I had a plugin go crazy yesterday and the restore went seamlessly!

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Customer August 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm

We have been with WPEngine for about 10 months now. Worst decision we made was to use them. We had at least 2 dozen outages and many of them lasting for hours. I would not recommend them to anyone.

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Former WP Engine Customer October 3, 2012 at 7:20 am

I had a very similar experience. Switching to WP Engine was seriously THE #1 worst business decision we made for all of 2012. We were only with them for 3 and a half months and we had several website outages that they tried to cover up as “Emergency Maintenance.” When it comes to having a website and a business, having downtime costs you tremendous amounts of money. If you read the comments section of WP Engine reviews, you’ll learn how other disappointed customers switched to more reliable WordPress hosting such as Zippykid, Page.ly, or Web Synthesis.

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Abhishek April 14, 2013 at 4:37 pm

What I see everywhere is that all these bloggers are heaping praises over this overpriced, overhyped service. Why? Because of $150 affiliate commission?

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Steve Wilkinson February 5, 2014 at 8:02 am

I generally want to believe these kind of posts – that these people really did experience lots of downtime – and aren’t just posting this stuff to be down on WP Engine. Maybe they tried it during extreme, early growing pains or something?

I’ve been a WP Engine customer since July 2013 (and now host several sites there). I’ve experienced very little downtime so far (I think under 10 minutes). There has been one *scheduled* downtime to upgrade to new, faster hardware (for which I and my clients were happy with that tradeoff).

I also had one downtime event for one of my sites, where a WP major version upgrade messed up the site (it was up, but looked odd). After reporting it, it was fixed very quickly.

While uptime hasn’t been perfect, it’s been well within the 99.99% uptime of the SLA and certainly better than I was able to accomplish on the server a friend and I own and manage (where our sites were hosted prior to WP Engine).

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Jesse Petersen August 31, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I’ve been on WP Engine since the beginning of June. Epic speed and service. I’ve got 20/25 of my Business plan slots filled and have gone past breaking even again.

What caught my attention in your post was your experience with Thesis and the migration. I also had a nightmare with one of my own sites and after 4 hours fighting it, I just scrapped it, threw up a good Genesis child theme, and wrote a post apologizing for the sudden change. Everyone has been complimenting me just for the base theme, so it’s been a welcome change.

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Jan September 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm

A cloud is still cheaper :)

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Tony Jay October 27, 2012 at 11:26 pm

I must the thickest person that ever walked the earth.
I have installed many, many wp installs over the last 5 or 6 years and can do it with my eyes shut. I stick them on various HG plans.

WPEngine has made me literally throw my Apple laptop out the window. Words cannot explain how frustrating it is.

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Hugh Hancock October 29, 2012 at 10:32 am

Interesting – which part of the WP Engine setup caused the problems?

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Erez November 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Please kill me right now! great review but what’s the story with the annoying panda on the left. can’t concentrate for a sec with this “mists of panda ria secrets” ad blinking my life away.

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Hugh Hancock November 2, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Sorry about that – and glad you thought the review was good!

This site isn’t a Wordpress developer site by default – we’re actually an MMORPG news site. Hence, WoW and Mists of Pandaria :)

(Quick tip, though – if you resize your browser window below 1300 width and reload, the left-side banner will go away. A bit of a faff, but may be worth it if it’s really annoying you!)

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michelle November 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I tried WPEngine, and not only did I not understand why it was so expensive, but I found the whole platform utterly baffling. I’ve built many wordpress sites, and what I love about Wordpress is that it’s so easy. WPEngine manages to make it oddly complicated, frustrating, and time-consuming. Worse, when you pay $30/month for a website, you expect a dedicated domain name, but as it turns out, you still have to go out and buy your own domain name. So I ended up $120 poorer (I built two sites), lost many hours of my time, and ultimately canceled the sites because the entire process was so frustrating. I find the cheaper services that I’ve been using for years exponentially easier.

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Steve Wilkinson February 5, 2014 at 8:12 am

I honestly don’t get this one. Transferring a site in can be a bit confusing, depending on how you’ve setup the site (though they do have great step-by-step instructions). But, if you’re starting from nothing, it’s incredibly easy. You have a name.wpengine.com site running in minutes, and all you have to do is map in your own domain and DNS (again, for which there are great instructions, should you not know how to do this already).

I guess if you expected them to handle domain names and DNS, then that might be a bit confusing. But, while many hosting places ALSO do domain names and DNS, they don’t always go together. And, if you’ve been doing much in regard to web development, adding a domain name and pointing DNS is hardly baffling.

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Dogs December 15, 2012 at 9:12 am

Hi !

we are planning to move to fastest wordpress hosting so found your site. Thanks for all the great info and review. I had a query.. i checked on whoishostingthis and it shows the following : mmomeltingpot.com Is Hosted by Linode

Have you switched to this new company now ?

Thanks & Regards,
DBS team

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Hugh Hancock December 15, 2012 at 10:15 am

That’s straight-out strange! I’ve been testing a server over on Linode, but we’re still hosted by WP-Engine right now.

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Thomas Zickell December 16, 2012 at 9:11 am

The best analogy I can give you guys is if you’re into cars and you see a BMW 335 then you see a BMW M3 or a Mercedes C class or AMG you know or the AMG/M3 is tweaked to go faster it does everything better and let’s a minute and imagine having to host tens of thousands of people that includes data centers incredible expense so think of WP engine as AMG or M is to Mercedes-Benz and BMW legally their separate companies and provide services for manufacturers to make their cars that are a great better. WP engine uses a live node and server Beach to do the actual data center hosting however WP engine like every other manner managed WordPress host uses a another host then supercharges a unique configuration of servers made only for WP engine by server beach or line node. For instance page.ly uses fire host, Zippy kid uses rack space, web synthesis uses media Temple all of these managed WordPress hosts focus on what they do best at providing better customer service than the original post and making the original hosting companies servers something unique to each manage WordPress company it’s not like you could just call up liner note and say I want the same server that I would get with WP engine. If they said yes I’m thinking your monthly bill would be easily in the tens of thousands plus you actually would get the support, you would not really get everything because load balancers cashing 1 billion things going on that you don’t see your have to worry about give you the M/AMG version of the hosting company used I believe all of these companies use bare metal servers as well it’s a ridiculous amount of work and intelligence that made these companies able to serve WordPress at such a fantastic speed and include world-class support, back up, anti-malware, WordPress experts not just some guy getting paid not very much at 3 AM to look at a manual to answer your question my goodness you can call WP engine or go on their site and find someone excellent who build your website they are a niche in a very good one at that I admire what all of these companies have done I host with WP engine they are rocket ship and there is the option on who’s hosting this to select that has made a mistake and WP engine is an option I suggest you do that. Every time I look at the header in my server records its WP engine 1.2

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Jeff Schneider August 16, 2013 at 6:07 am

Longest. Sentence. Ever.

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Dogs December 19, 2012 at 9:21 am

we would like to clarify *on earlier comment..
we are on WPE now and absolutely LOVING it 101%
& whoishostingthis shows us as hosted on linode too

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Jean Galea January 12, 2013 at 5:56 am

I’m running my site on WP Engine too and can wholeheartedly recommend them, check out my review http://www.wpmayor.com/articles/wp-engine-review/

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Yuri February 13, 2013 at 6:58 pm

That “marvelous support” must be a fly by night thing today. I’d say WP Engine is hype. I have little interest in knowing how fast, or reliable (if at all), their hosting is if their pre-sales customer service is non-existent.

I have tried multiple times to ask them a basic question on their contact form, and have never received a reply. The question? It was, “Can I have a WP Multisite setup”? Tough, eh? Even for the “experts”. They must be still pondering their response…

True, I could have called the phone number, but that’s not my way of communication. And, it’s a basic customer service test that they failed miserably!

If you pride (hype) yourself in serving the customer well, you should at least speak their language and respond to their questions, no?

Two words. Overpriced Hype.

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Hugh Hancock February 13, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I must say I’ve never experienced that. My support queries (and I had one about a month ago) continue to be answered within an hour or so.

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Steve May 21, 2014 at 3:28 pm

I’m thinking of going over to WP Engine. I emailed them with a couple of questions and they replied within 30 minutes. So don’t know what to make of your experience.

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Steve Wilkinson May 21, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Just to be fair, I should note that I did have a bit of pre-sales contact trouble, but nothing that a bit of persistence didn’t solve. I think my first electronic or phone message went un-answered (I can’t recall which anymore). After a couple days of not hearing back, I tried again. The extremely helpful rep probably spent nearly an hour with me on the phone answering all my questions in detail. I’m going to be coming up on my first anniversary with WP Engine in a few months, and I’ve got almost all positive to report back. I think my *only* disappointment so far is that a plugin I’d have liked to have used (Pretty Links Pro) won’t work properly, but it is very understandable why not. And they have an even better redirect system in place (performance wise), although it’s certainly harder to use. But, when I’ve needed help with it, they have stepped up to the plate.

Hugh, you really need to put a captcha or something in place on this site though… you’re getting a bunch-o-spam comments through.

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Chris March 9, 2013 at 11:37 am

I read this article but wpengine’s Evercache system, isn’t any more special than the page.ly system. This article is a year old, and the source code at the bottom shows w3 total cache and linode.com reference. So maybe the site moved?

Sad really, that he’s paying $249.00 per month @ 250 visitors. You can run one cloud server and do the same thing for $40.00 per month. You can load balance two 4GB cloud servers @ digitalocean.com and handle over a million visitors monthly for less than $100..

Everyone jumps on the bandwagon.. But sooner or later, the wheels will fall off..

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Hugh Hancock March 13, 2013 at 10:39 am

The Melting Pot doesn’t run on WP Engine any more, as it’s not as active a priority for me. Other sites I run – generally the ones I really care about – do run on WP Engine.

I could, can and have done all the things you’re suggesting.

But if you’re actually planning to run a business rather than just mess around with tech, is running your own WP server, updating, patching, fixing bugs, and getting up at 3am to restart the server really the best use of your time?

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Steve Wilkinson July 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Apples to apples people…. PLEASE!

No, a cloud server for $40/month IS NOT the same thing!

Yes, if your expertise is up to the task, it COULD do the same thing (assuming the hosting/bandwidth/hardware, etc.) is as good, but then as Hugh mentioned, what is your time worth? And if you have that much expertise, wouldn’t you be better off starting your own hosting company or doing IT work… and then for the latter it would STILL be more cost effective to host it at a place like WPEngine so you could bill for more of your time?

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Abhishek April 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm

“Their support is bloody marvellous.”

You cracked me up. I am still laughing. Oh! You were serious?

The oh so busy support of WP Engine doesn’t bother to reply in 24 hours. No matter what happens to your site, they have a set of default answer and they will just copy paste it.

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Hugh Hancock April 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm

That’s not been my experience. I’ve had excellent support from them on multiple occasions – even when I was reducing my plan, they helped me do it and seemed very happy to do so!

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Leo Koo May 16, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Thanks Hugh! Your post on WPEngine was one that influenced me to move our ecommerce site to WPEngine recently. However, we’ve been getting 502 errors and now 504 errors =( I’m sure they’re trying their best, but am not sure if we should go the way of DigitalOcean/Linode and CDN?

Spoke to the customer service and was told that we had too many WooCommerce plugins running (about 40 odd), which was causing the problem. But when I spoke to Woo, Coen mentioned that it shouldn’t be a problem.

Appreciate your advice =) And yes, keep up the awesome posts!

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Hugh Hancock May 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Oh, dear!

WP Engine does occasionally have problems with plugins. I’d get back to WP Engine’s support and get a DETAILED answer about what’s causing the problem, referring back to Woo if necessary. Then you can make decisions from there.

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Steve Wilkinson February 5, 2014 at 8:23 am

I’ve actually been impressed by the opposite. I’m USED to getting fairly ‘cookie cutter’ responses on many tech support systems. I’ve only had one answer (out of probably 8-10 so far) which has been a bit like that. The rest all seem to have gone out of their way to respond in detail and VERY personalized to my particular questions and situation.

While there are a few things I could complain about (like maybe the amount of traffic for the cost, or not being able to use some plugin I’d have liked to, etc.) the one thing I can’t complain about is their customer service. It’s been about the best I’ve experienced in almost 25 years in IS/IT.

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Shalu Sharma May 14, 2013 at 4:01 pm

They seem to be a good service. Do they used dedicated hosting? I was also looking at some of the plugins that they don’t allow and they have a few of them. One that I was interested in was the Related Posts Plugin. Do they prevent you from using all of those similar plugins? Also do they charge you for migrations meaning that if I signed up with them, will they move the site for free or do I have to pay?

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Steve Wilkinson July 10, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Look at their recommended plugins list. I’m pretty sure they list a related posts type plugin that isn’t the DB nightmare the others are (which is why the don’t allow them).

It seems they will migrate your site for a fee. I think otherwise you’d have to do it, probably with some tech support available if things don’t go well. (I haven’t done it yet, but this is the impression I’ve gotten from my reading so far.)

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Jason May 23, 2013 at 3:24 am

I’ve been hearing a bit about Wp Engine lately and thought I’d search around the internet to see what others were saying.

If anything, I think this article basically sums up what I thought in the first place–WP Engine is all hype.

Hugh, I don’t think you’re really getting anything at all from WP Engine. It’s just that whatever the hell you were doing previously was a disaster.

I’ve owned WordPress sites getting about a million visits per month and have never dealt with all of these problems you’re presenting (e.g. constantly having to restart servers, dealing with spam, etc.). Those problems don’t make WPE great, it just makes your previous setup extremely bad.

If I decided to join WPE, I’d likely be paying over $500/month. For what?

Get a level 1 DV server from Media Temple, use Google PageSpeed Service, and then get a VaultPress subscription . . . none of which requires much technical knowledge (aside from the few small steps it takes to set the nameservers, add a domain, and auto-install WordPress). With these three services, you’d be getting everything WPE is claiming to offer. Total cost for such a setup? Less than $100/month.

I realize this article is over a year old and that you’ve moved on since then. But for anyone else like me who’s searching for a good review, I thought I’d clear a few things up.

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Hugh Hancock May 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm

*Shrug* I’ve been running professional blogs since five years before the word “blog” was coined, so I’m not exactly new at this. However, there are definitely more technical people out there.

I find WP-Engine to be worth the money for peace of mind if nothing else. Whether you will definitely depends on your own level of technical expertise and, importantly, whether time spent configuring your server (however much that is) is the most valuable way for you to spend your time.

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Steve Wilkinson July 3, 2013 at 10:14 am

Does a level 1 DV server from MT keep you from getting hacked? Does it automatically setup and manage caching and CDN? Does it provide a staging service?

Here’s the thing. I already have a monster server (see my post below) on a fairly fast connection… unlimited bandwidth…. for FREE. I’m looking at WPEngine because I’m sick of having to help maintain this machine at critical times when I should be getting other things done, as well as the fact that I’m no security expert. How does a level 1 DV server from MT help me?

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WPengine customer June 4, 2013 at 6:28 am

wp-engine is not that great – really – cuz most of the people do not need nginx+php+memcache+varnish etc (and the 502,503,504server errors that accompany it).. unless you get like 10,000,000+ hits per day ! besides, after all this ‘preparation+hype’ for scaling up and being prepared to be famous, they offer only 100k or 400k hits and overload their servers with customers..try using reverse ip check (due to this, you are going to get into trouble anyways – in case you become popular). Also, they host on cirtex which is like staying in a cheap motel at the price of mariott.. ! atleast zippykid hosts on rackspace but their servers too are quite overcrowded. try using ‘whoishostingthis’ on your own site..you are with Cirtex hosting. they might get you started with a better host.. like linode / serverbeach.. and once you are a long time customer shift you to cirtex :-/ ! Besides, wpengine creates a big hulabalooo abt security which can be reasonably taken care of by using few plugins like limit-login, using complex admin name, pass, etc. there are 100000000000+ wp sites online – how many have been really hacked ? most of the sites which are hacked are usually running unsupported old plugins n old versions of wp.

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Hugh Hancock June 12, 2013 at 1:31 pm

1) Try running vanilla WP using Apache on a 512Mb VPS. You’ll start hitting speed problems around 10 concurrent users, perhaps less. Here’s a fun benchmark noting that uncached WP didn’t even complete any of the tests.

Personally, even with a reasonably well-tuned WP setup, I find that problems start occurring around the 50 concurrent user mark unless you’re on a fairly beefy server or unless you start getting into advanced server setup with Varnish, Nginx as a reverse proxy, etc. (Also, I think you’ll find that php is kind of a requirement for most WP users :) )

2) Security on Wordpress is ALWAYS a problem. It’s one of the most-attacked systems in the world. Personally, just in the last two months I’ve seen one system run by extremely savvy people get taken down to the point where the only solution was a new server.

If you keep everything 100% up-to-date you’ll probably be OK, mostly – but that assumes that you never, ever get busy with anything else, have to take a few days/weeks away, forget to check, etc, etc.

It’s very easy to assume that you’ll always be on top of the sysadmin for your business – I’ve made that mistake in the past – but in reality, unless it’s your only job, life tends to get in the way.

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Steve Wilkinson July 10, 2013 at 10:03 pm

These are such good points. I have a tech background. I’m sure if I spent a few days of research, I could implement some of the speed-ups (if that were my current problem, which it isn’t). It would be nice to have a staging area to test them first, so I’d probably have to come up with that first too… as I’d hate to expose my clients to such experimentation. But, all of that (and not having to do it) is worth something to me.

But the security is huge. Again, I HAVE spent days and weeks researching WP security and have done about all I know how already. Knock on wood, I’ve not been hacked for a couple of years now (to my knowledge!). I’ve seen TONS of sites that haven’t implemented a fraction of what I have (the vast majority, I’d argue). These people would benefit from some help, and won’t get that with non-WP-managed hosting.

I’ve also called in security experts that I’ve paid $200/hr+ when needed, so I know how expensive that kind of expertise is (note: not for Wordpress, but corporate sites and firewalls, etc.). If these WPEngine folks have it, that is worth a lot (I’ve never been able to charge well over $200/hour for my time). At that kind of rate, you’d use up a year’s worth of hosting pretty quickly.

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No One June 8, 2013 at 9:34 pm

I dont understand, if you dont want headache, why did you choose self hosted platform in first place ??

Whats wrong with solution like wordpress.com with customer domain ?? Just USD 13 a full year :P ..

Now if you say you want control hence Self Hosted solution, then why going back to some one who would make calls on behalf of you ??

Mind you, for me, I chose Self Hosted as I want control and I want to take it beyond just WordPress rather integrate it with what ever and how ever I want..

For people, WordPress guys them self has a solution as costume domain, so why chose this super expensive caged hosting ???

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Hugh Hancock June 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Because there’s a massive pile of things you can’t do with a Wordpress.com blog.

You can’t have your own custom themes.

You can’t run your own ads or really commercialise in any way.

You can’t use plugins aside from the “approved” list.

Your blog can be taken away from you at any time.

Wordpress.com hosting is fine for a hobby site, but it doesn’t work for most serious projects. I wish it did, but it doesn’t.

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Calling BS June 10, 2013 at 6:35 pm

We are looking for a reliable webhost for bursts of traffic, not really sustained traffic. We get bursts when we posts original provocative content, and our currents host seems to falter then. Normally, we are fine but perhaps once a week, we need upgraded capability. It is difficult to get a feel from the discussion here if wpengine is worth it or satisfactory, but we are leaning toward giving them a shot.

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Hugh Hancock June 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm

That sounds like an ideal situation for WP-Engine hosting, to be honest. They’re very good about traffic with that sort of pattern.

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Naik Michel June 11, 2013 at 11:30 am

Hi,

WP Engine is suppose to be super fast but this page on Google Page Speed test is only hitting a score of 80/100 why?

On a smaller server with a more complex page I can hit 96/100. Do they not get the caching right?

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Hugh Hancock June 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm

“Because this page isn’t hosted on WP-Engine” would be my first guess :) See comments above for why – in short, MMO Melting Pot is no longer mission-critical for me, and so it’s being hosted on a cheaper VPS instead. However, I still host more important or lower-traffic blogs on WP-Engine.

Also, Google Page Speed tests specific features and affordances in a page and server. Some of them don’t make much of a difference in some use cases, which is why I probably don’t have them running. If you want to tell me what specific features it’s claiming we don’t have active, I can give you more detail on why not.

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Steve Wilkinson June 12, 2013 at 2:19 am

Thanks for the review. I’m also considering WPEngine. It’s expensive (especially for the number of visits), but if one is looking for professional hosting, probably worth it. They have a TON of excellent features.

My hesitation is actually the traffic limits. I’m curious what the amount of traffic they indicate most closely matches. Is it roughly similar to what Google Analytics indicates? I have tracking software on my blogs currently, but I filter out spam, spiders, etc. so I don’t know how much all of that will contribute to my numbers (I assume they count that stuff). I’m not sure how Google Analytics really measure either. Does WPEngine show more/less… by what factor?

10k unique visitors per day/month really isn’t that much traffic if you truly put up 10 or 25 sites on those plans (slightly more on the 25 plan). I suppose if you have a mixture of popular and unpopular, it kind of ballances… but still, none of them could be very popular. I guess I’ll have to give them a call and find out how they handle such situations. I really don’t want to bump into a whole other price level due to one client’s popularity. Of course, at $10/mo, I guess effectively going to $20 for double the traffic (only 5 instead of 10 sites, for example), isn’t a horrible deal for that much more traffic.

Speed and caching is another thing I’d love someone to comment on. Currently, my blogs are on a monster machine, with no caching (like Quad Xeon, gobs or RAM, SSD for the OS and SQL, superfast RAID for the sites, etc.) Traffic hasn’t been an issue on this box. Some cached sites I see/use are rather annoying. I HATE having to always reload a couple of times to be sure I see the new articles and such. I don’t want the viewers of my sites to deal with overly/poorly cached sites. And, I’m hoping I wouldn’t see a speed decrease!

Ultimately, I’m wanting to make the move for my clients. Some of their sites are getting more mission critical (as are my own). I don’t have the security experience to really be sure they won’t be hacked. They deserve better than I can confidently offer. Plus, IMO, I can advertise some of WPEngines excellent benefits which I don’t currently provide self-hosting them.

Some of the comments…. sheesh people! Have you ever actually run a blog professionally? If you really are concerned, take precautions, and are professonal, it is a LOT of work. I’ve worked in IT for decades, and have been hosting blogs for over a decade now. I’ve had sites hacked. I’ve dealth with traffic issues and various attacks (like DoS). It isn’t fun or necessarily easy. If WPEngine really has the expertise they claim, that’s worth quite a bit. You don’t fix most of this stuff with a dedicated server or VPS. And, most shared hosting I’ve seen is a disaster (can anyone say, super-slow-site?).

Their plugin policies seem ultra-reasonable. I am watching that comment above that accuses them of messing with files and such. If there is some emergency, then fine… but they had better notify me and let me know exactly what they did! I do hope they respond to that post, and I’ll be asking when I call.

And to the folks attempting to guess about this sites hosting location, and especially the dude guessing about traffic using Alexa…. LOL.. thanks for the comic relief!!!

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Hugh Hancock June 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Thanks for the extremely reasonable comment! Sounds like you’ve had much the same background and experience in blog-running that I have.

Traffic – yes, I’d agree, the traffic limits ARE a downside of WP-Engine. Generally my experience is that the traffic they count is about the same that Google Analytics counts.

However, it’s worth noting that we’ve gone over their limits a few times, and they’ve never given me any trouble about it. What they’ve told me in the past is that they’ll only suggest an upgrade if you’re consistently over the limit.

Speed and caching: their caching service is excellent. I’ve never heard of a user-side problem with it on the Melting Pot or any of my other sites. I’ve occasionally had problems with it developer-side, but they’ve always been fixed with a quick click on the “empty cache” button.

They’re also, in my experience, fast. Not “OMG how did they do that?” fast, but consistently about 10% faster than I can manage to tune a WP blog to be.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do! And please do let us know, if you do switch to WP-Engine, how it goes!

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Steve Wilkinson July 3, 2013 at 10:39 am

Thanks for your response, Hugh. You’ve answered a bunch of my questions. I think it will now be more a matter of when than if. :) I’ll be sure to use your link when I do. And, I’ll try to remember to report back on how it goes.

Yea, I’ve been running blogs for a long time and have an IT background, but I think you have a lot more experience with high-traffic sites. I’ve just not run into those kinds of problems yet. I’m mostly hosting non-profits as well as my own sites. The problem is more supporting them to a level I’m comfortable with, especially in regard to security, but also minimizing downtime.

For example, just this last weekend, I spent about a day and a half helping get stuff back online after RAID unit flaked out. Fortunately, we only had about 2 hours of site outage, but the damage was worse than we thought and harder to fully recover/repair, so it took a lot of time. How much is that time worth? Unless you flip burgers at McD’s (and maybe even then) WPEngine starts looking a lot less expensive. (OK, sure, most professional hosting services will minimize the above, as they take care of the hardware, but what if my story had been about being hacked? Even having a dedicated server isn’t going to help you then.)

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Hugh Hancock July 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Cool! I’ll be very interested to hear how you get on – please do let me know!

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Steve Wilkinson February 5, 2014 at 8:51 am

Hi Hugh,

I’ve been way too long in responding to this… but between wanting to give WP Engine a good go, moving sites, and just being busy… well, time flew by. :)

So, I signed up in July of 2013 (if memory serves), and gradually moved all my critical sites and clients over by about November. Because I had implemented a bunch of ‘security’ tactics (more obscurity, but highly recommended), moving was a bit tricky for a few of them. WP Engine installs at the root level, and I had to do a bunch of internal path renaming for a couple of the sites. But, things all went pretty smoothly in the process. I did have to contact support a few times, and had great response time and results. (BTW, I hope you got some affiliate credit, as in all my research, I probably followed more than one affiliate link, but I think I followed yours right before ordering.)

I’m absolutely loving the support and great features. I’ve been able to solve one long-standing plugin problem by working with the staging server and the plugin developer (it had been plaguing them for sometime as well, so they were quite happy to have that kind of opportunity!). And, I’m loving the extra time to work on stuff that really matters, as well as the peace of mind.

My only disappointments have been my realization of where the costs could potentially go as site popularity grows. I don’t think this would be any problem for most commercial sites, as if you get that kind of traffic, monitoring it should be pretty simple. However, for hobby site, or non-profits, etc. this gets a bit more tricky. Still, my highest traffic client is within the plan currently (we’ll see how that goes in the run-up to their annual conference coming up soon). And, averaging between my very low traffic clients and my high ones, again, I’m within plan, so quite happy.

My other disappointment was with a plugin I’d like to use, but was informed I’d be best off not to. I had intended to use Pretty Links Pro to manage redirects, affiliate links, and just general ‘pretty’ links. They strongly recommended I use their redirection, which is pre-server (and I think hardware based). That’s good (great for performance), but it’s not as easy to use and not available to the end client, so I have to handle all of that.

My other concern has been over what happens, cost-wise, if my sites are attacked with a distributed bot attack. It wouldn’t be hard to rack up quite a bill based on how they measure ‘visits’ with such an attack. They have assured me that they watch for these kinds of things, and that if it were determined an attack, I’d not be charged. But, I guess I’m a bit nervous trusting them in that with potential business-crushing charges being a possibility. I’d rather something addressing that be in the actual contract.

Overall, it has been a super-postitive experience. I’d highly recommend them, and think you for your role in helping me make my decision to go with them.

Steve Wilkinson February 5, 2014 at 8:55 am

That should have been:
“if you get that kind of traffic, monetizing it should be pretty simple”

Steve Wilkinson February 5, 2014 at 9:32 am

I also forgot to mention what I HAVE experienced in regard to traffic comparisons between Google Analytics and WP Engine ‘visits’. All the sites I have there have fallen between 5x and 15x, with all but one being closest to 5x. So, by that I mean what WP Engine is reporting is 5x higher than what I’m seeing in terms of real people that Google Analytics is trying to measure. This is because of search engine spiders and various bots which visit the site (which Google Analytics filters out), so expected.

WP Engine has recently put up some great articles explaining this difference in how they measure traffic and why, etc. It’s nice to get a rough base-line though, just to get some idea of where one might be at. Also, my guess would be that as real-people traffic starts to increase, bot-traffic probably won’t scale in the same way, so it will drift towards matching Google Analytics as the bot traffic becomes a smaller percentage.

Jeremiah June 13, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I looked into WP Engine but I have to say the price was a bit much for me. I did a ton of research and ended up hosting with a relatively unknown WordPress hosting company, lightningbase.com. I’m so glad I did. Prior to switching I was on a VPS with Dreamhost paying $40/month for a bad product and even worse service. When I switched to lightningbase they handled the entire transfer for me (main domain and 3 sub domains), my site speed doubled, and I haven’t had more than 3 minutes of downtime since I made the switch (according to Pingdom). Whenever I have a question they’re quick to react (usually receive a response within the hour) and they’re very friendly. Anyway, just wanted to make sure you knew about this one too as a less expensive alternative to WP Engine.

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Hugh Hancock June 18, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Thanks for the tip!

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Joe June 25, 2013 at 2:30 am

Hey just curious how you feel about using WPEngine with buddypress to build a social media site. I’ve been attempting to build a social media site for almost a year and have studied multiple languages. I’m honestly still confused and not sure if it would be better to use my my own labtop to act as a database and server for complete control (which I still don’t understand when it comes to hosting online) or to buy/use themes and plugins…
Basically I’m asking our opinion on building a social media site, programs that make building a social media site easier, and if WPEngine is suited for this project. If you want to dive into database building, servers, and accessing those files over the internet, I would be very much obliged. Thanks!
Joe

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Hugh Hancock June 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Very much depends on what you mean by a “social media site”!

I’d recommend posing this question to WP Engine directly – they’re very approachable and should be able to give you a good idea if your plan will work.

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Joe June 25, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Thanks for the reply! Well I’m currently a student at JU in Jacksonville, FL and building a social media site for my fellow students that share class pages and upcoming events… basically

I’ll throw the question their way and see what they say.

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Thomas Zickell June 29, 2013 at 10:45 am

Joe is somebody who knows a lot about hosting in general especially men’s WordPress hosting I can tell you the worst idea you could ever have and I’m not putting you down is too close to your international sight golf of your computers database especially if it’s a laptop one hard drive is all you have. You need to think about that connection out of your home where you live to the Internet and that you’re talking about a secular hard drive instead of a Data center is every Managed WordPress Host provides. I have accounts with every one of the larger manage WordPress Companies WP engine, Zippykid, web synthesis and Pagely they’re all excellent WP Engine is an outstanding company and unfortunately most people on here really aren’t very familiar with WordPress or With hosting at all it seems. I see why Hugh would not want to host this site that he does not consider critical on WEngine However he knows enough to host the sites that are worth money to him to him on a quality host be more expensive than what you want to pay for.

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Iulia July 2, 2013 at 8:25 am

I run a successful no profit personal blog on history, my great passion. As you can imagine I have to do a lot of time consuming researches on the topic, which frankly are much more productive ( and fascinating ) than the frustrating time consuming on first bite speed issue, W3 TC tuning and general safety. Now with WPengine I’m a free person. Free from Wordpress. And I have to thank other bloggers, like you Hugh, for suggesting this company.

I fail to understand all that hostility against WPengine and Hugh Hancock for having witnessed his positive experience. One shouldn’t blame WPengine for not allowing mindless plugins ( I could tell how YARPP duplicated my database) or letting customers not to update their WP because they have heavily plaied with their .htacces file, or cancelling the so crucial revisions ( in fact one cannot live without hundreds of revisions bloating database). As for me, Wordpress is a tool not a goal. My blog is my goal.

My real concern, about WPengine, is the italian poor economy. I lost my job, no hope to find another but moving out, and there are rumours on a coming default or the return to Lira. My blog helps me not to earn a living of course, but to forget all I see every day around me.

So, really, some nasty comments above seem coming from spoiled children.

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Thomas Zickell July 2, 2013 at 10:23 am

Joe, I agree with you completely. Please excuse my last post as I was using voice recognition and apparently take a little strange. I was in a hurry and did not check it I apologize for that.
Smart move Going over to WP engine.

Also going to say thank you with you WP Engine the bashing. I can understand if someone wants to air their grievances however this is getting ridiculous having use them for about three years now I can tell everyone here that they do the right thing and if you feel like you’ve them I’m sorry but there’s no way that these things could’ve been that bad.
Tom

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Thomas Zickell July 2, 2013 at 10:30 am

PS Iulia
Hi Iulia I have a Internet marketing company. If you ever want to do your nonprofit work on the manage WordPress server and cannot afford to pay for it please let me know I can help I would put you on one of our WP Engine servers but this is only if you really need it. Being German I understand the Economy in Europe right now
All the best,
Thomas

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Iulia July 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Thank you Thomas for having words for that. All the best to you too.

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Jennifer Beckham July 8, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I read so many articles and reviews like this and was convinced to try WP Engine mainly for speed, but also quality customer service. Since signing up for a personal account on WPEngine 6 months ago, I have been somewhat happy with features of WPEngine’s hosting, but would expect no less given the price. The staging area is very helpful and the backend of WP definitely runs faster now.

However, the front end speed isn’t what I had hoped for as far as load times and I have not experienced this great customer service everyone speaks of. Perhaps you need to have a professional account for the great customer support/ service. My responses from technical support have been annoyed, condescending and “not my job”, except when I complained and they called me to work out my complaint (not my technical issues) in an aggressive, confrontational manner.

I’ve been a web programmer for several years and have a few years experience working with customizing WP sites, but WPEngine customer support always manages to make me feel like I’m a burdensome dilettante.

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Steve Wilkinson July 10, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Jennifer, this is the kind of review I’d like to see a bit more detail on, as it is the claims about support (good or bad) that I’d like to verify. If you could provide a bit more detail about the type of issues, we’d be more able to judge WPEngine on it. Having provided tech support for more than a couple decades now, I realize expectations are quite important in determining satisfaction.

For example, for $30/mo, they obviously won’t have the time to help each customer through WP issues that aren’t related to their hosting of them. If they do, that’s just huge kudos to them, but shouldn’t be expected. If they don’t help you solve problems which are their problem, or config type stuff that is unique to their hosting, that’s a different story.Thanks.

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Don July 9, 2013 at 7:14 pm

I guess if you do not have a clue about WP and want to pay a fortune for stuff you don’t need and have no clue how to make WP work…since a 12 year old kid could do it, then you have too much money and it is good you are parting with it.

Your migration will fail initially then most plugins won’t work. If you had an seo plugin with all of your titles and descriptions and you didn’t backup the DB and extract the stuff first…good luck with this mess of a useless server!

I’ve been building WP sites since it came out. This is a rip off and I am ashamed of you.

Why would you ever contact support? What host can not let you deploy WP without a ticket?

This is a manufactured problem so you can make money off of selling high priced stuff that does not help. This is, at the least, disingenuous! Most likely, you will cause others untold headaches when they could have just gotten a good server elsewhere for 30 bucks a month.

As I am currently involved in rescuing a client from this server that is obviously operated by the worst and the least informed and educated support I’ve seen in a long time, I would have to disagree with every single word here. This is wrong and do not buy this server or you will be sorry…in my professional opinion.

Also, Thesis is the biggest piece of junk around so I’d have to question all of your abilities at this point. I used it many years ago and it is currently a total cluster f$%^& so they can prevent you from stealing it. It is done the way it is on purpose for copyright protection. I can build a better theme in 5 minutes…one that works. Thesis is for those with no abilities and that seems to sum up this whole blog!

I bill double to work on thesis as it is the worst platform out there. Download a free theme from artisteer and it will blow away anything thesis does for any amount of money.

I suggest you get a clue before offering bad information from a WP 101 ebook or something.

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Steve Wilkinson July 10, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Don, if you’re trying to convince people not to go with WPEngine, it might be a good idea to try and tone down the exaggeration a bit… you’ll sound more credible. ;)

I’ve got a clue how to make WP work. What I don’t necessarily have expertise in, is the security, specific-to-WP-server-config, and the time and money to add all the functionality WPEngine is advertising to the hosting I already have (which is fast and free). I doubt most 12-year-olds do either.

Their excluded plugin list looks pretty good. I’ve already turned off one on their ‘bad’ list and added a few on their recommended list. Most of the ones listed on their ‘bad’ list would be a VERY GOOD idea to get rid of anyway. (Aren’t you inferring you have clue how to make WP work?)

I am a bit curious about your SEO comment. I see no reason that information wouldn’t move with the site unless you’re using some odd SEO method. Most of the SEO plugins I’ve used or looked at, store the information in the DB along with everything else.

I’m a bit confused on the support, as a lot of people seem to think their support is great, yet folks like you think it is horrible. Who am I to believe? Given the unreasonableness of the rest of your post, guess what I’m thinking….

And…. $30 / mo is high for MANAGED WP hosting with stuff like backup, CDN, caching, WP specific support, staging area, etc? I just find that hard to believe. What I’ve found are much cheaper options that are cheaper in capabilities and features as well. Or, maybe decent hosting for less where you’d need to setup and supply all that extra yourself.

In other words, the money isn’t so much the problem as it is if their claims of support and expertise are false. THAT is what I’d be interested in knowing before going with them. I’ve seen little to caution me on that yet, as most of the negative comments just seem to be rants… by unreasonable people (or possibly the competition?). I did see one comment that worried me (about WPEngine modifying sites and files without alerting the admins), but I contacted their support about it and got a very reasonable response back. Since the response seemed VERY reasonable, I’m having a hard time believing the problem is with WPEngine.

Where we might agree is Thesis. :) While I didn’t look into it in depth, I’ve heard enough to scare me away, and found a lot of great themes that do what I need them to do. I just don’t see the point of it.

Anyway, I guess if you folks see me back here in a few months cursing WPEngine, then maybe you’ll know something is wrong. BUT, be assured, if I do have troubles, I’ll be detailing them out and enclosing them in reasonable posts so people won’t just think I’m a troll.

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Hugh Hancock July 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Ah, Thesis. Yep.

It used to be highly recommended, but times have moved on. Honestly, it’s mostly in use on this site (in the old version, not Thesis 2.0, which I’ve heard awful things about) because it works, and I don’t have to fiddle with it. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.

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Kamil July 10, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Hello

Thanks for the great review of Wpengine. But, I still not sure which wp host to choose. What about page.ly ? The company recently acquired another wp hosting blogdroid.com.

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Steve Wilkinson July 10, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I’d LOVE to see an actual comparison between managed WP hosting plans with actual comparable features. I’ve run across nothing even close to that. And, the problem with most of the comments on a review like this is that most people don’t seem to understand the difference between types of hosting.

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Tyrone July 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Hugh,
Thank you for your review and for opening this forum of discussion on WPengine.

You have to hand it to WPengine. They have a great marketing plan in place, headed by their aggressive affiliate program. If you do some light research on WPengine you will find nothing but glowing reviews, but these are almost all affiliates, as is somewhat standard in the hosting industry. You have to dig a little deeper into the comments to get some of the dirt WPengine.

That being said I am not going to bash WPengine. They seem to be a reputable company, with a knowledgeable team, offering a viable service with several great features. They just fall short in a few areas. They should definitely offer an in-house migration service. They refer you to WP Valet which charges $250 for the service (way too much IMO). Secondly, their support time could use some work. Support ticket response time is all over the place, anywhere from 1-16 hours. IMO if you are paying for a premium hosting service and phone support is not availabe, ticket response should never be more than an hour or two. Thirdly, WPengine should really take look at their customer support approach and try to take a more proactive, personalized approach to put the customer first, not their bottom line. You seem to get alot of “sorrys,” “nope we don’t do that,” and “not our problem” type responses instead of “let me look into that and get it fixed right away” as it should be. Lastly their documentation could also use some work.

After signing up with WPengine and getting migrated over, which was a pain in the ass itself, there were a couple issues WPengine could not fix, along with no evidence that the speed of my site was quicker then my previous setup. This coupled with their poor support led me to dig a little deeper before going ahead with the final switch and thus how I found this post.

I am happy I did. A couple of the commenters recommended Chris with LightningBase as an alternative Managed wordpress hosting solution. I contacted him, he responded almost immediately, and after some discussion I decided to go with his service. He migrated my site for free, hashed out all the issues that WPengine could not resolve, and got my site running faster then its ever been, all within a matter of 24 hours. Some of the best customer support I’ve had in quite some time. The kicker, lightningbase is about price is half WPengine.

FYI this is not spam, just a really happy customer. You can check my site at WhoIsHostingThis.com

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deepak July 12, 2013 at 7:16 am

WPengine has a limit of 25000/month visitors limit in their basic plan. I have found that among the available WordPress managed Hosting basic plans of Synthesis and WPOven (https://wpoven.com/) can handle more than 30K/Mo visitors . Synthesis has a maximum limit of 75K/Mo with daily limit of 2500 visitors. WPOven doesn’t have any limit. the only limit in some hypothetical scenario would be that available 2TB Bandwidth per plan gets exhausted,
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Steve Wilkinson February 5, 2014 at 9:18 am

Be careful you understand, 1) how ‘visits’ is defined by each, and 2) that you’re not comparing WP Engine ‘visits’ to ‘page-views,’ which would be a VERY different metric.

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Hugh Hancock July 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Just an addendum, as various people have said they’ve found WP Engine’s support to be lacking.

I’ve just installed a new instance of WP (which took 3 minutes), and there was some kind of problem with SFTP on the server. So I put in a support ticket, and waited to see if the problems some people have mentioned would hit me.

Rather the reverse, actually. I got a pleasant, constructive response within 45 minutes, and the entire thing (which was a non-trivial configuration problem) was sorted out in 2 hours.

So I’m still pretty darn happy with them!

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Farzana Neha July 16, 2013 at 1:42 am

Both WPEngine and ZippyKid are pretty expensive. VPS’s are not expensive now a days. Anyone can get decent VPS with enough RAM as low as $20/mo. You just need to configure your server with nginx + varnish (Varnish cache setup is not easy though).

I am running my website which has 25k page views per day with phoneixvps.com … They are serving my site pretty well.

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Jeff Schneider August 16, 2013 at 6:36 am

I find it interesting that since the tone of the comment thread went more negative that Austin Gunter, the brand ambassador for WP Engine hasn’t commented. I would have been interesting to hear their responses. At the beginning of this comment thread was leaning towards Synthesis. Then after I started reading it I started leaning towards WP Engine. And by the end of the thread I’m thinking I need to do a whole bunch more research. Someone help!

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Lewis Yildirimturk August 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I tried both and I prefer wpengine. Here are the main reasons;

Reason-1: my speed tests, ping and tracert showed better results at wpengine

Reason-2: Support is much better at wpengine. They are very helpful and friendly. The support team at websynthesis is not very cooperative, not helpful, and has very rude attitude.

wpengine also has instant Chat Support you can use anytime.

Reason-3: wpengine has better back-up system. You can create backup points, then when you need it, you can select a backup and hit “Restore” to restore your site to a previous version instantly. So I always create a new backup points before you I make any changes or add anew plugin etc. I can also download .zip files of my backups for safe keeping.

So I do not have to pay extra for daily or instant backup services.

Reason-4: Security; wpengine has their in-house system for vulnerability scanning. They also use SecTheory and Sucuri for external network connections. they scan and monitor your web site and database for known vectors and exploits.

I am not affiliated with any of the hosting companies. These are my honest opinion and experience after I use them both. Choosing a reliable hosting company, especially the one you feel comfortable contacting them any time for support and advice is very important. I hope this helps for other web site owners.

Best regards.

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What the hell is “pm”?

When you say $50pm what does “pm” means? per-minute? per-million? (per-million what? views?)

STOP ASSUMING EVERYONE UNDERSTAND YOUR DAWN ACRONYMS!
EVEN GOOGLE CAN’T TELL ME WHAT “PM” STANDS FOR, JEEZ!

Please explain…… -_-

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“Per Month”.

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Quite an informative article. Rarely do i read such a long article to the end. I have no doubt that WPEngine is the best, you have just confirmed what i have been thinking for a long time since i visited their site. There cheapest shared plan is $29( makes a lot of sense than the $7 plan- it is hard to imagine how someone can pay as low as $7 and still expect great service. I also like this company since they do not have the unlimited claims.

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Moving my network to WP Engine and very excited. I will let you know where I’m at with this company once complete. :)

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They’re overpriced for general Wordpress hosting. If I tried to charge my clients that kind of fee for hosting, they’d laugh in my face. But hey, go ahead and be a sucker, I could care less.

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That’s because they are not general WordPress hosting. They are managed, premium WordPress hosting. I sure hope you’re talented enough and able to provide the services WP Engine does to your clients. That probably means you have a few six-figure employees specializing in various areas of security and WordPress expertise. Or, maybe you don’t and you’re just hoping your clients never find out?

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I think I can answer that one. I’ve been on WP Engine now for a bit over a year, and all my client’s sites are there now as well. But, it isn’t cheap. If you have a business site, or one for your organization, it’s well worth it.

On the other hand, if you just have a personal hobby site or a high-traffic site that doesn’t make any money, then as awesome as it might be, it might just be beyond realistic to host there. There are much cheaper options if you’re willing to do the work yourself and take the associated risks.

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Hugh? Wouldn’t a post like this provide another way of linking to your other sites?

Frankly, Hugh should have put up a disclaimer immediately revealing that this site was taken off the WPE service almost as fast as he put it up there. This is how bloggers make money guys. Do yourself a favor and sign up for the trial period test the hell out WPE if you want to, and decide for yourself if what they offer is worth what they charge you.

Personally, I had three clients who hosted with WPEngine ranging from a small blog site to a major health insurance company. And all of them have problems, which is why they came to us in the first plae, ranging from unreliable restoration of point backups, to incredibly slow performance, to crappy side-effects related aggressive caching “features.” I have moved all but one of them to a different host. your mileage may vary, but after 14 years of managing web servers and developing on WordPress since back in the days of version 1, I don’t think WPE is even close to the bee’s knee’s that old Hugh would have you believe it is.

Reply

Steve Wilkinson September 13, 2014 at 1:03 am

No, that’s not typically how it works, John. Typically how it works is that someone puts a site(s) on WP Engine… loves them… then notices they have an affiliate program and thinks, hey, why not share a good thing and hope to make a bit of extra income too. (I used them for over a year before signing up for the affiliate program.) And, while I agree that anyone involved in making money from something (advertising in a magazine, for example) *might* be more suspect to dishonesty, it doesn’t make it so.

Also, I thought Hugh was pretty clear about why he moved it. This site has a lot of traffic, but doesn’t probably make much income. WPE, while excellent, is expensive in terms of $/traffic if you’re not making much income from a site. That makes perfect sense to me.

And, while I’ve *only* been using WordPress since like 2005 (v1.5 I guess), WPE has easily been my best experience using it. I’m not sure what your clients might be doing wrong, but I’m doubting it has much to do with WPE. Hopefully you’re as much of an expert as you claim, and don’t end up getting those clients into more trouble if you don’t have things setup correctly or properly manage the sites.

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Hugh Hancock May 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Firstly – no, this site isn’t hosted with Bytemark, not sure where you got that idea! I do like Bytemark, but this isn’t one of the sites I host with them.

Secondly – bear in mind, this review was written a month after I joined WP Engine, and as usual, there were some teething problems, mostly on my end as I failed to understand things! Since then, I don’t have to contact support much at all – indeed, I don’t think I have done so since about February this year.

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[Querying whois.verisign-grs.com]
[whois.verisign-grs.com]
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Hugh Hancock May 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Yup, that’s where our name servers are. Name servers != web servers, though.

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Diego June 10, 2013 at 8:11 pm

ByteMark is used for Name Servers only. This site is apparently hosted by Linode, which is a provider for dedicated hosting, VPS and so on, and, presumably, the one that WPEngine chose to use.

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