WP engine Review

We’ve tested and reviewed dozens of web hosting services here at WebsiteTooltester. And guess which one we ended up using ourselves?

That’s right! This website is proudly hosted by WP Engine. I personally love that they are super reliable, secure, and come with great support.

But we’ll also be the firsts to admit they aren’t for everyone. We also use DreamHost, SiteGround and Kinsta for other projects, and in fact, at one point, we strongly considered switching this site to Flywheel.

You can also check the video below to see a live tour of WP Engine.

Try WP Engine 60 days without risk

Which begs the question: is WP Engine good for hosting your website? Stick around and let’s find out.

WP Engine Prices

The prices below are for WP Engine’s shared web hosting services. The monthly prices need to be paid in advance for a full year. They include a discount for annual prepay. If you want to pay monthly, expect it to be 20-30% higher.

There is also a custom service for enterprise clients with dedicated environments for high performance (the one we use) – you’ll need to talk to WP Engine directly about those.

And for a complete breakdown of their prices, you can check out our dedicated WP Engine pricing page.

StartUp Growth Scale
Websites 1 10 30
Visits per month * 25,000 100,000 400,000
Support 24/7 chat 24/7 chat and phone 24/7 chat and phone
Storage 10GB 20GB 50GB
Bandwidth per month 50GB 200GB 500GB
Free SSL Yes Yes Yes
External SSL Certificates No Yes Yes
SFTP accounts Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Database Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
CDN Yes Yes Yes
Price** $25/month $96/month $272/month
More details Try WP Engine without risk for 60 days

* Please be aware that there can be discrepancies between how WP Engine counts visits and your web analytics tool does. You can jump down to the FAQ section at the end of this article to understand exactly why.
** Prices include the discount for annual plans (monthly plans are available too).

What can you expect from each WP Engine plan?

As you probably gathered from the table above, there are quite a few limitations with WP Engine plans, namely the number of sites you can host, monthly visitors, as well as storage and bandwidth. Still, individual plans do share some common attributes such as:

  • 24/7 chat support (high quality too – I’ll go into more detail later)
  • Unlimited SFTP accounts along with SSH access
  • Dev and Stage environments for testing your site
  • Free WordPress themes from Studiopress
  • Global CDN and built-in caching system
  • Version control with Git integration
  • Automatic and manual backups
  • WordPress features like staging
  • Free 60-day cancellation

Now, this is where I would start looking at specific use cases:

StartUp: This one would be great for a small website or blog. The only exception would be if you work with a lot of heavy video or audio files, as the 10GB might be too limiting for your needs.

Growth: as the name suggests, a good plan for a growing business, professional blog or ecommerce. It’s quite a leap from the Startup plan in terms of price and features. Some of the advanced tools like Multisite and Geotargeting become available (I’ll explain what they do in more detail below).

Scale: another big upgrade in terms of visitor numbers and price, at $272 per month. The features are pretty much the same as with the Growth plan, so it’s really about managing bandwidth for a big, popular site at this point.

WP Engine Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Performance: WP Engine delivers impressive page speeds, which will help your visitors and SEO.
  • Uptime: based on empirical evidence (and user feedback we’ve gathered), we’re really satisfied with their servers’ availability. They also offer compensation if your uptime rate drops below 99.99%, which we already had to claim a few times.
  • Support: not only are the online resources excellent (tutorials, how-to pages, ebooks), their support team is also super helpful and fast. But of of course, they aren’t always to solve the issue with the first interaction
  • Backup and version control: the WP Engine safeguarding features are excellent, so you can have full peace of mind when it comes to disaster recovery. WP Engine probably offers my favourite backup feature.
  • Team management: it’s easy to assign permissions and roles to other users who share the same account as you.
  • Server locations: Choose among over 20 different locations to host your website.

Cons:

  • Only hosts WordPress: if you don’t use that CRM, no point even looking at WP Engine. You can check SiteGround or DreamHost for good-performing alternatives.
  • Visitor limits: a huge con if your site has wildly fluctuating numbers of visitors on a monthly basis. You’ll even be fined $1-2 per extra 1000 visitors not included in your tier.
  • No email service: you’ll need to purchase your professional email addresses elsewhere.
  • Not budget-friendly: WP Engine starts at $25, which is at the higher end of the spectrum for WordPress web hosting.

What is WP Engine used for?

WP Engine offers serious quality hosting for WordPress users. If your WordPress site needs to work fast, reliably and without downtime, it’s excellent. Same goes for multiple websites and WooCommerce online stores.

The security and smooth backup features can also give you a lot of peace of mind. If you often make changes to your site, you’ll want to be able to test them in a staging area, and ensure there are enough backups in case something happens.

When not to use WP Engine hosting?

As previously mentioned, if you’re not using WordPress, you should look at other providers. But even WordPress users who run small sites can probably find more affordable hosting elsewhere (e.g. DreamHost), if having a cost-effective solution is more important than performance.

Also, big sites with seasonal traffic might be concerned with the visitor limits. For instance a WooCommerce store that makes most of its money during the holiday season or Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

WP Engine specifications

criterion rating comments

Ease of Use

The WP Engine interface, or user portal as they call it, is well designed, with a clear left-panel navigation for your sites, users, tools and billing.

The Site section gives you a great overview of the storage, bandwidth and visits for each website. The team management features in the Users section are just as good.

There are quite a few features to wrap your head around at first, but it’s a nice learning curve and mostly intuitive experience.

Domain Names

WP Engine doesn’t give you the option to purchase your domain name through their service. You’ll need to buy one externally (e.g. Namecheap) and then connect it to them via DNS records.

Email Rating

Not possible to create a professional email with WP Engine either. You’ll need to go through Google Workspace or NameCheap.

Databases

Unlimited databases. Just bear in mind that there is a 50MB limit when importing a database. You can still upload larger ones via SFTP, but you’ll need to contact their support to help.

Applications

WP Engine are WordPress experts only. You can’t host any other CMS.

Webspace Limit

With the Startup plan one can have up to 10 GB of storage. Then it’s 20 GB with the Growth tier and 50 GB with Scale. Be aware that the Startup plan only lets you host 1 website. If you host multiple sites, the webspace limit is shared between all of them.

Monthy Data Transfer Limit

WP Engine does limit your monthly visits: 25,000 with Startup, 100,000 for Growth and 400,000 for the Scale plan.

You can jump to the FAQ section below to learn how they calculate the number of visitors.

FTP Accounts and Secure FTP

Secure FTP access is allowed as well as SSH access. There doesn’t seem to be a limitation on how many SFTP accounts can be created.

Server Location

WP Engine uses Google Cloud and AWS servers, you can choose between around 20 different locations globally. For example: The US (e.g. Iowa, Virginia or Oregon), Canada, Belgium, Germany, the UK, Japan or Australia.

Security Features

It’s a WordPress managed hosting, which means they will stay on top of updates and WordPress security glitches for you. For example, they’ll prompt you to update a plugin if a vulnerability is found.

On top of that they have 2-factor authentication, their own malware monitoring system and DDoS prevention attacks.

They also offer the latest PHP version, which is good to make your environment safer.

Server Speed

The integrated CDN, caching plugin and global locations seem to do the trick: WP Engine offers one of the best server speeds we’ve tested.

You can read about the results in detail below.

Uptime

We host our own website at WP Engine and have barely had any downtime. When compared to other top providers they also offer good uptime ratios, above 99.98%.

Backups

WP Engine automatically creates system backups for every installation (website) you have. You can access them for 30 days and restore your site to a previous version in a couple of clicks. You can also download the backups manually and save them on your computer (e.g. before you update a plugin).

CDN

WP Engine uses StackPath as their main CDN, which delivers content to 45 locations worldwide. (Note that it was previously called MaxCDN).

Server Features

WP Engine works with the latest PHP versions, which makes your website more secure and efficient. You still get to choose between 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4. For MySQL you can decide between 5.6 or 5.7.

WP Engine environment comes with some perks developers will find useful like staging areas, geoip features, a built-in caching system, WordPress multisite support and Git support.

Refunds and Guarantees

WP Engine commits to offer a 99.95% of uptime, if they fall below you’ll be compensated (with hosting credit). There is a 60-day money-back policy.

Assistance and Support

WP Engine’s support is good and reliable, one of the best ones I’ve tried. However, at times our issues took a little while to be resolved.

Overall Rating

4.7/5

With outstanding server speeds and uptime, along with great backup features, WP Engine is a safe bet for established or growing business websites. It’s pricier than other competitors, but you certainly get what you pay for.

WP Engine Backups

One of the great strengths of WP Engine is that they give you loads of options for backing up your website. First of all, you will get:

  • Automatic website backups before and after a restore, copy or deploy
  • Up to 40 automatic backup points monthly
  • Option to access up to the 60 last backups by contacting support.

You can also make manual backup checkpoints directly from your user portal.

WP Engine review backup

You can also see the Restore button on the same page. This also comes with neat options like the ability to send notifications via email to colleagues when the backup is finished. It can take from a few minutes to several hours.

It’s also possible to download backups manually as a ZIP file. All in all, a very easy and effective way to give yourself full peace of mind.

Finally, fans of source control will be pleased to hear that you can connect your WP Engine data to a Github account. It’s a fairly technical process involving SSH keys, but here again, their documentation is excellent.

Testing WP Engine’s hosting

Uptime tests

As you can see in the screenshot below, there is little left wanting when it comes to WP Engine’s uptime. These tests align with our experience of their servers – and their uptime policy too.

wp engine uptime test

Is WP Engine fast?

Really fast, it turns out. We tested four rounds of a test page for each provider, and you can see that WP Engine ranked #3, after SiteGround and Cloudways.

This has all kinds of advantages, and not just because it makes your users less likely to quit the site in frustration. Google likes fast sites, which helps your SEO, and can bring more traffic to your business.

Provider Gtmetrix Pingdom Google Speed Average
SiteGround 2.00 0.82 3.48 2.10
Kinsta 1.82 0.80 3.88 2.17
WP Engine 2.36 0.9 3.22 2.17
A2 Hosting 2.68 0.90 3.30 2.29
GreenGeeks 2.66 0.82 3.48 2.32
Dreamhost 2.5 1.48 3.08 2.35
Cloudways 2.52 0.66 3.92 2.37
GoDaddy 3.32 0.99 3.20 2.50
HostGator 2.96 1.64 4.32 2.97
Bluehost 3.04 3.76 2.84 3.21
iPage 3.90 1.60 5.20 3.57
Hostinger 2.64 1.98 6.28 3.63
InMotion 3.10 1.38 6.66 3.71

Results in seconds

WP Engine & WordPress

Because WP Engine only deals with WordPress sites, they have developed specific features and included special deals. This includes:

  • StudioPress Themes: you get to pick a free WordPress theme, usually worth $100-150.
  • The Genesis Framework: this is code that allows the StudioPress themes to be more efficient. No need to do anything, it’s running by default.
  • Auto upgrade of major releases and plugin updates: you won’t have to manually update your site any longer. While performing an update they also monitor if your site goes down. If so, they will immediately restore the previous version.
  • Geotargeting: you can enable their Geotarget feature (a paid add-on) which determines where the user is based, and delivers specific content to them.
  • Security: you get SSL certificates, malware scanning and cleaning, and activity logs to keep track of your account’s users, amongst others.

It’s also worth noting that their support team lives and breathes WordPress. You won’t have trouble explaining your problem because the CMS platform is the only one they focus on.

WP Engine and Staging Environments

Then, there’s the super helpful option to create different environments for your site. Essentially, it allows you to create a copy of your site to work on as a draft, and to test everything works before you publish it.

This is great for professional websites who can’t afford downtime and need to test a new plugin or CSS tweak, for instance.

wpengine review dev vs staging

This feature is a must-have for professional WordPress sites, and I think a key reason to choose Wp Engine over a cheaper self-hosted provider.

Final WP Engine Review Comments

So what can we say about WP Engine in the end?

First and foremost, I can see how it may seem a bit pricey and limiting for certain users. If you don’t use WordPress, or if you’re worried about visitor limits, this probably isn’t a great deal, check out alternatives like SiteGround or DreamHost.

But for professional WordPress sites, you really get your money’s worth in terms of support, backup features, and performance. To me, this is the holy trinity of must-haves when your website is also your business, and I’d be happy to recommend WP Engine.

Maybe one final comment as we’ve been with them for so many years: the thing I don’t love about them is that they’ve transformed into a bit of a salesy company. Expect them to ring you up. Not that this is ALWAYS a bad thing, I just find that many issues could have been dealt with more easily in an email. Of course, this is just my personal preference and may not even apply to you!

Now if you still need alternatives, here’s what I would recommend:

  • DreamHost is much more affordable, but doesn’t offer staging for the shared hosting plans
  • SiteGround doesn’t limit your bandwidth and traffic
  • Cloudways if you want a top-performing provider that allows more than just WordPress sites

> Try WP Engine without risk for 60 days (money-back guarantee)

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does WP Engine Calculate User Visits?

WP Engine adds one visit to the count every time a unique IP address is logged on a daily basis (UTC). On top of that, pages and dynamic requests count as an extra visit.

What isn’t counted are image visits (for instance, one linked to a social media post). There is also a tool in place designed to ignore visits from bots and prefetched traffic. Find out more about this.

Why Don’t the Visits Numbers Align With Google Analytics?

There can be a difference between the user visits counted by WP Engine and those counted by Google Analytics. If that happens, the company recommends switching to CloudFlare, which helps filter out certain IP addresses (e.g. spam and bots), which reduces the discrepancy with the number found on Google Analytics.

What Happens If I go Over My Monthly Limits?

You will have to pay between $1-2 per extra 1,000 visits. The value depends on your plan and by how much you go over our limit. If you’re often going over the limit, unfortunately, there is no other choice but to upgrade to the next tier, and you can’t purchase more traffic in advance, for example when anticipating a big seasonal spike.

What About Extra Sites?

This is possible. It costs $20 per month to add one site on the Startup plan, $40 on the Scale plan, and $60 on the Growth plan. Remember that the data limits, traffic and storage will be shared between all of these sites.

Can I Cancel My Plan?

Yes, and it’s very easy. First, remember that you have a 60 day money-back guarantee. But when we wanted to move our site to Flywheel, the WP Engine support team was very understanding and helpful in cancelling our account. It didn’t take long, and there was no pushback from them.

 

I hope this answers all your questions! If not, I’d be happy to receive a comment from you below! 

 

Review updates

23 Sep 2020 – First review

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