WP Engine is a managed WordPress hosting service and that’s it. You will find no ecommerce offering neither VPS nor dedicated servers therein. It is only meant to provide users with a good old fashioned WordPress service.
It greatly enhances the experience of managing your WordPress website. When you sign up to WP Engine, you are rewarded with some sign up bonuses such as a service test. The service tests WordPress for updates and any other patches before applying them to your site.
This is done to reduce hassle later on. If anything incompatible is discovered, it is immediately disregarded rather than being applied. Moreover, a tailored custom caching system is in place that overhauls the overall performance.
Real-time detection comes bundled in so if you are hacked while in the process of setting things up, the remedy of fixing the website is provided for free. What more is there to ask for?
The generosity is brought to you by none other than SLA (Service Level Agreement) of WP Engine. You can expect 99.9% of uptime, going in. If it is any less, 5% of your monthly fee is credited against your account. That’s how the team behind WP Engine make up for every lost by the user. Sounds too good to be true, right?
So you might find a majority of WordPress based website hosting providers which offer one-click installation, still none compares to WP Engine. Why? Even in addition to above? Well, for other providers WordPress is just a small bit of their overall product offering. For WP Engine, its entire product offering revolves around WordPress.
Setting up the account
After you have signed up and basked in its offering at the onset, WP Engine provides you with a table which is basically meant for users to compare its various plans and so that you, as a user, can carefully make a selection which one suits you the best.
Once you are done with the selection, you will be asked about where you wish to host your site. If you know where you want your site hosted, good. If you don’t then know this that WP Engine has data centers in most parts of the world including Belgium, Australia, Germany, UK and Taiwan among other countries.
Next, you are directed to a section where you are required to choose the payment method. You can choose from monthly billing, if you are low on cash. On the other hand, an annual option is available which gives you two months of free hosting service (should you opt for it). Oh, and you only make payments via credit card. No other payment modes are accepted.
After this, a welcome page opens up where you will see WP Engine account, the admin page of your WordPress site and the default URL that will have been assigned to you. You can always redirect this to your own domain later.
It will only take a few minutes before your website is created. An email detailing your password to WP Engine account can be found in your inbox. Follow the link therein and voila, you are all set! The email also happens to provide you with a summary of your site, the plan and pricing options you have opted for, in addition to resourceful links which can prove to be handy should you face issues later down the road.
Establishing a website
Now that everything’s in order, it is time you bring your WordPress website to life. How? Read on.
On the dashboard you will notice a section of alerts such as messages and news items. It can be somewhat annoying to the user since its cluttered. But if you navigate to the settings you can always redecorate the dashboard or you can just ignore that there is a cluster present.
When you click on the WP Engine plan, you will be shown your IP address, domain name, the version of WordPress/PHP under use and so on so forth. Also, there are mini-graphs that further elaborate on your website history such as bandwidth, visitor activity and the use of storage etc.
Traversing the interface can become a cumbersome job especially for newbies since the language is comprised of hosting jargons like CNAME records and Git push or domain-level redirects that can scare the s*** out of a user. But with some beginner knowledge beforehand, a user can safely get ashore.
Setting up DNS is even more complicated because it may be that your website is being relocated to an optimal server. WP Engine categorically states that they are “constantly ensuring your site is running to its fullest potential”, and “may migrate your site at any time”. This is to ensure 99.9% of uptime promised (as outlined above).
Past the DNS set up, everything becomes easier to tackle. A BlogVault-based Automated Migration helps you transfer an existing WordPress website to the one on WP Engine. A handy plugin and it does so by merely employing source server FTP credentials and destination URL.
Please note that the plugin won’t work with providers such as Wix.com and SquareSpace etc. since they do not support SFTP access. As for more expert users, phpAdmin lets them import their existing WordPress site, manually.
If you are getting too overwhelmed by the information here, maybe you can try an alternative method which is to run the standard WordPress admin page. Although simpler but does not pack any default support for additional plugins or themes – all you are required is to click and it takes care of the installation business for you.
However, there is room for incorporating them (plugins/themes) if you are familiar with the environment meaning, by design, WP Engine doesn’t limit its users.
How does it fare performance wise?
You cannot put a label on WP Engine if it’s the best or worst. There are different aspects which need to be borne in mind for gauging the performance side of the hosting platform. Let us see some of them in turn.
WP Engine comes with automatic backup facility. As opposed to other hosting providers, it’s comes bundled in with your purchased plan and not as an addon priced separately. These backups run daily or you can run them as per the demand. You can only create backups for last 30 days, just so you know.
A Staging feature enables you to test your website before it goes live. You can test waters in this environment and identify any issues. It is also an opportunity to play around with different themes or plugins and see if they work for the site. None of what you do here affects your actual website.
There are built-in processes embedded in WP Engine which evaluate your website performance and assign it a score. Thus, you can figure out which areas require improving. It will also make suggestions for you to capitalize on. You will be able to monitor the changes in real-time and whether or not they bring desired results.
Furthermore, WP Engine can create a custom page for your WP Admin console. That way you are able to access the tools and certain settings with greater ease. You can configure your CDN or purge cache for WP Engine as well – very useful in the event of troubleshooting.
Advanced features comprises of HTML Post Processing which can help you tweak the HTML for a website once it’s rendered. Did you know WP Engine automatically keep plugins, which might in any way hamper your overall site experience such as slow load time, at bay? Simply put, you won’t be allowed to install them. That’s extraordinary, no!? Can pose problems if there is something on that list you need, so yeah, there’s that.
Speaking of support, there is a support site specifically meant for providing users with walkthroughs on how to carry out installation and other guides meant to help you troubleshoot issues such as optimizing or speeding up your site and the likes thereof.
You can bank on their search engine to lookup articles on a variety of topics. The company’s 24/7 live chat option is another hit and can be relied on for help at any time. So on the whole, performance is decent.
It is a premium based service, no question about that but with its backups facility, Staging feature, caching and CDN integration, among other things it’s worth the price (hands down). With reliable offerings and performance better than most of its competitors, WP Engine has registered itself as a force to be reckoned with in the field of hosting platforms.
If you are still not convinced, remember its generosity also extends to a 60-day money back guarantee. Therefore, plenty of time to make up your mind and decide if this is the service to settle for.