WP Engine is a new breed of boutique or managed WordPress hosting that’s expensive but good. WP Engine manages the server optimizations so that WordPress runs optimally and they also handle security for you. They have some very performance oriented server tweaks (their webserver is actually Varnish running in front of nginx in front of Apache). You don’t use W3 Total Cache or any other caching plugin with their hosting. But their boutique WordPress hosting is expensive, and the question is whether it’s worth the price?
What Makes WPEngine Unique?
- They run their own caching setup. If you’re running a WordPress site, then you know how important caching is to the speed of your site. On a shared host, the two best caching plugins for WordPress are WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache. WP Engine explicitly disallows all caching plug-ins. They have their own proprietary “EverCache” setup and also have memcache installed on their servers. The caching set up is ready to go out of the box but they still suggest that customers install their recommended version of wp-minify (bwp-minify).
- WP Engine has a list of disallowed plugins. In addition to caching plugins, there are other plugins that they don’t want their clients to run: http://support.wpengine.com/disallowed-plugins/. This can introduce compromises as to the types of plugins you can run on your WordPress site. Note that many of these banned plugins duplicate functionality that WPEngine already provides (caching plugins / blocking bad bots / backups). If I were to go with WP Engine, I would use the above list as a guideline so as to not duplicate existing functionality.
- They have a staging area for their clients. WP Engine offers a staging area for their clients, making it easy to test plugins / the latest WordPress cored updates before going live on your site. The staging area does not have a back up feature but there is an integration feature for GIT which allows for version control: http://git.wpengine.com. This can make it relatively straightforward to restore your site back to a point in time.
Is WP Engine Worth It?
WP Engine charges $29 for 1 site on their Personal plan and $99 a month for up to 10 on their Professional plan. Live chat support is available during the day and professional plan customers get the added benefit of phone support. They don’t charge for bandwidth, but they will make you upgrade if your sites get more than 25K visitors a month (on the $29 Personal plan) or if your sites in aggregate get more than 100k visitors in a month (on the $99 Professional plan). The $99/month plan allows you to run WordPress multisite, where you can have unlimited sites (they will make you upgrade once your sites have more than 100K visitors or your multisite install starts becoming a drag on their server).
A host can’t be all things for all customers, so let’s consider an ideal hosting customer for WP Engine:
• A person who is running only 1 site or a handful of sites (they don’t need the “unlimited domains” that are typically offered by shared cPanel hosts).
• You want a host that has extensive WordPress support experience, including tuning a server for maximum WordPress performance and with WordPress Network expertise.
• You prefer either live chat or on-call phone support in addition to traditional ticket support with techs who “just do WordPress.”
If any of that sounds like you then you might want to give WP Engine a try.