Is WP Engine Best Managed WordPress Hosting? (In-depth Review)
We recently have tested our prototype testing website on WP Engine, which is recognized as one of the best managed WordPress hosting providers.
The results are GREAT.
Our prototype pages size is about 10-15MB including HD images, external video, and self-hosted video. BUT it loaded on WP Engine hosting very fast. We will show the real results in this post.
Also, WP Engine comes with CDN integrated. They have partnered up with MaxCDN(currently, Stackpath). Although we have seen something else results when CDN activated. We will talk about it.
We were eagerly looking forward to testing on WP Engine, Kinsta and FlyWheel. We will arrange a data-driven hosting performance battle between them. Stay tuned.
Here in this in-depth review on WP engine post, we will cover these topics below-
- WP Engine Hosting Plan and Features
- Inside the Hosting Console(Dashboard)
- Inside the WordPress Dashboard
- Uptime Monitoring
- Speed Testing on Pingdom, GTmetrix
- Testing on Google Page Speed Insights
- Our Verdicts
WP Engine Hosting Plan and Features
There are 4 different plans- Startup, Growth, Scale, and Custom.
In the startup plan, you will able to host 1 website and it will cost you almost 30USD per month if you go with the annual payment system. 35USD/month is for monthly payment. It’s pretty expensive.
The 10GB storage is pretty reasonable for a single website. But the monthly visit limitation can be exceeded. Be noted that any bot or spam visit will not be billable.
WP Engine’s infrastructures are built on AWS technology for agile computing in order to high-performance WordPress experiences.
In WP Engine, you will actually have three environments- Production, Staging, and Development. In Production, it will be your LIVE site. In Staging, it will be your mirror site to the LIVE site. This means you can edit and test functions on it rather than making it on the LIVE site to avoid unwanted errors. In Development, you can play with your codes before pushing it onto the staging environments.
Keep in mind that if you are looking for the multisite privilege, you need to buy it as an add-on.
They provide a CDN option with every plan. They call it “Global CDN”. WP Engine is using MaxCDN’s CDN services and their data centers are located across the United States, Europe, and in the Asia-Pacific region.
For the developers, it is really friendly hosting ’cause of its devkit stack including local development environment, SSH Gateway access, push & pull deployments, and other build and debug tools. Plus, you will play with your Git codebase directly on WP Engine.
One more thing you will get is the Genesis framework and themes. Studiopress partnered up with WP Engine a couple of years back. So Genesis lover will love this or you will love Genesis because of its performance, SEO friendly coding, lightness, and other few more things.
Inside WP Engine Hosting Console
WP Engine is using the AWS stacks for faster WordPress services. We are going to show the hosting’s inside looks and functions.
The user panel console is easy for anyone to navigate and do things.
Here are some screenshots we are sharing you should check out.
The home of the console is called the user portal. Basically you will see the glance of all the services like your plan details, Dev kits, activity log, etc.
From the top clicking on the “sites”, you will see the sites list.
After clicking on the sites, you will get into the details of the sites where you can access all three environments – Production, Staging, and Development.
In the production environment what we are showing, you will see all the details such as domain name adding/removing, CDN activation, Backups, access logs, sFTP details, migration, dev tools and many more.
In the domains page, it is where you can add domain names for the LIVE site. For your information, WP Engine doesn’t provide nameservers link. They give you A and CNAME records which can be set in your domain registerer. You can read more about “how to configure the DNS” here.
In the CDN page, if you want to activate CDN for the website, you just need to select the option. Very easy!
You need to wait 10 minutes to see it happen. In this meantime, WP Engine starts copying your static files like CSS, JS, images, videos, etc to data centers all over the world.
In the Backup points page, you can make back up, restore your website data. WP Engine generally makes daily backups. But you can make and download backups anytime.
In the sFTP page, where you can add FTP users. Unlike on the shared hosting cPanel file manager, WP Engine has only the secure file transfer option using sFTP.
You can sFTP users for every environment. Then use any FTP client – Filezilla , CyberDuck etc. to get access to the file manager.
If you are fluent in Github controlling, you can use the Git Push tools. You just need to enter the SSH key first. Here is the procedure
In Utilities page, you will see the cache purging option, Also, if you want, you can set the password in staging or development environments.
Like other hostings, WP Engine provides free SSL for each domain. You can see it on the SSL page.
And finally, you can edit, add, remove whatever you want to with the database. You just need to go to the phpMyAdmin links from the WP Engine user panel.
As we mentioned before, you will get the Genesis themes FREE with the WP Engine plan. In the Themes tab, you will get all the themes. You just need to download it.
Under the tools, you will find some SEO related tools, dev kits, page optimization, security and website management plugin tools. Some are free and some tools are paid.
In Global Edge Security tools, it integrates with Cloudflare to stop DDoS, bot attacks, etc cyber-attacks towards your websites.
You can also check out your page and content performance. Page performance is free. But the content performance is not. In content performance tools, you will actually get the insights from Google Analytics for your WordPress content and authors.
You can add your team members in User tabs easily. Also, you can add your billing person individually.
In the addon section, there are a lot more options for the hosting plan upgrading. Check it out.
We think these options on WP Engine user portal are very easy to use. We saw this easy navigation in every managed WordPress hosting.
Inside the WP Engine Hosted WordPress Dashboard
Like other managed WordPress hosting, WP Engine has its own plugin to control caches, CDN and other optimizations. Here’s the look.
In the WordPress admin panel, under the WP Engine tabs on the top left, there are a couple of options to control over the Cache and CDN mainly. So you can either do it on the user panel or on WordPress Dashboard.
We monitored the prototype site for a week and there was NO downtime!
The average response time rate is 207ms which is great. Keep in mind, the response time within 1000ms is considered fast.
We saw response time from Europe and East Asia is no more than 250ms.
It indicates that the servers are lightning-fast.
Page Speed Tests for WP Engine Hosted Website
Generally, we test our prototype website on Pingdom, GTmetrix and Google Page Speed Insights. But there are other tools out there that you can definitely use. We will update our page speed testing later.
We have tested our testing website homepage, an inner page which was built on one of our favorite Enfold theme.
The pages are stuffed with high-resolution images, self-hosted video and external video(youtube). The home page site is approximately 14 MB. We actually loaded the page intentionally to see how it goes with the hosting.
One more thing before we go through the results. Don’t get fooled or disappointed seeing load time scores. ‘Cause our testing pages are totally non-optimized and there are many things to do to improve its scores.
For example, in GTmetrix results, sometimes the load time will take longer than it expected but you should look at its Response time, TTFB, First Paint, DOM load time, etc.
For instance, if you see a website response time is less than 1 sec and TTFB, First Paint and DOM load within 3 sec. You can feel great. Be noted that it depends on location, your device configuration, and internet speed sometimes.
Well, we made our testing on both with CDN and without CDN. The results are definitely different.
See the results below we got so far.
Pingdom Speed Test
At first, we headed to Pingdom speed testing. For your information, Pingdom tests web pages from 5 different locations- Japan, Germany, USA(Eastern & Western), and Australia. We tested both CDN and without CDN. The difference is pretty countable. Like we got more than 50% less load time. One thing we noticed is it took much time to be effective than we saw on after activating Kinsta CDN.
Let’s see the results.
Here is without CDN results.
We saw the results from Eastern USA is faster among all. ‘Cause the data center is located in Central USA(Iowa). It is pretty convincing and we are glad about that.
Besides, the other places’ result is just fine. We saw a better load time in Europe(Germany) than in Kinsta. In contrast, we saw better results in Australia’s location in WP Engine. The results we found from East Asia are around 5 seconds that is good without CDN and optimization comparatively.
Surprisingly, the long scrolling page (No editor but HD images and external, internal video) loaded very fast, less than a minute (678ms)! We were just blown away!
Now let’s check out the results after activating the CDN.
Then here is our “with” CDN results.
After the CDN activation, it took some time to propagate around the world. It’s okay.
We saw significant changes after CDN except for Australia. We are not sure why it happened. We assumed the data center wasn’t ready at that time.
Honestly, we saw better results in Kinsta. In Kinsta, we saw the average results better than in WP Engine. Check out Kinsta results here.
Here is the video of the Pingdom tests.
GTmetrix Speed test
After Pingdom, we tested our default website on GTmetrix. Before we start showing the results, GTmetrix depends on various criteria to get you results. You should notice its Timings and Waterfall. You can learn more about it here.
We tested it both in CDN and without CDN.
Here’s the with and without CDN results.
The results appear in pretty complicated. For example, without CDN results in Mumbai, India is slightly better than with CDN. Again, don’t get convinced negatively seeing the results. You should have to look deeper inside the Timings and Waterfall section. As we mentioned before that our pages were totally RAW, non-optimized. Actually there were a lot of JS/CSS blocking dilemmas.
If you are good at optimizing the WordPress site, then you will see the difference. Although there are a few good optimization plugins out there. We like WPRocket.
Here we are sharing some screenshots of the slowest and fastest load time data.
Here are the GTmetrix videos
Google Page Speed Insight Test
We tested on Google PSI and the score we got without optimization is pretty good. It was 76/100. It could be more than 90 out of 100 if the site was optimized. The things we noticed are First Contentful paint, First Meaningful paint and First input delay.
The First contentful and meaningful paint appeared within 600 milisec. That’s fast! The speed index showed 2.9 sec. Good!
Here are the results
In Google Page Speed Insights, you will actually get the page speed suggestions. Try to complete the opportunities which will increase the score.
Another thing is Google AMP. It will make your mobile version faster. You can check out this plugin.
WP Engine Hosting Security
They take the security very seriously that you don’t need to worry even in a little bit. Cause WP Engine blocks every bad request coming to your way. And most importantly that bad requests won’t be counted as a visit. So if somebody wants to DDoS you, that should be no worries for you.
Other than blocking threats, WP Engine secuirty experts are always ready to neutralize attacks by making a quick patch of any affected plugins.
Plus, there is always a backup has been made every day. If a bad thing happens, you can easily restore it with the previous backup anytime.
WP Engine’s support is AWESOME. They respond within a minute. Yey!
You need to select the “Live chat” option from the top tab. You can start a ticket as well. Plus, you can directly call them. Although, not all plan subscribers will get phone support opportunities. Check out WP Engine hosting plan.
WP Engine Pricing
WP Engine is expensive but premium tier WordPress hosting. The site performance will tell you, practically.
There are 4 hosting plans – Startup, Growth, Scale, and Custom.
For instance, In Startup, you need to pay 35 USD(if you want to pay monthly). In this plan, you will able to host 1 Website. You will get 10 GB cloud storage, 50GB bandwidth, 25000 monthly visits, and other features. This plan is good for small websites like personal blogs, new digital agencies, etc.
You can visit the WP Engine website for other plans pricing and details.
WP Engine has a 60-days money-back guarantee. So feel free to test this hosting. We hope you will like it.
If you are not sure about which hosting is right for you. You can read our hosting suggestions.
WP Engine is for you if you are looking for a premium-level hosting service. It has better technology to scale your website performance, valued countable visits stopping bad requests, faster CDN, super-responsive tech support and many more.
We are impressed. One thing could bug you is its price. BUT when you get better service, price shouldn’t be the issue at all.
Let us know about the WP Engine service below in the comment box.