After seeing so much hype with WP Engine and my desire to have a faster website I decided to leave my UK hosting company and join the WP Engine crew. I signed up for the 1 year deal which you get 2 months free. While this hosting is $25 more a month than my previous host I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Does it live up to expectation? Below is my detailed WP Engine review so you can make up your own mind.
Be sure to check out my post on best WordPress hosting companies as well.
I have never migrated a website over to a new host and I didn’t trust myself to do it myself. I contacted WP Engine to see if they offered any services. They referred me to Foliovision who offer this migration service at a base rate of $199. While I’m sure I could have figured this out myself I just don’t have the time nor did I want my website to have any downtime. Foliovision offer a zero downtime and with the Foliovision Full Functionality Guarantee. But they also offer pre and post move health checks and moving absolutely all content, as well as providing you with an audit of any broken links and/or site speed issues we discover while moving your site.
They are experienced WordPress migration service in the world, creating the first Typepad to WordPress service back in 2008. FYI, they migrate from all CMS (Drupal, Joomla!, Typepad, MoveableType, Typo3, SBI, etc) including handrolled CMS to WordPress with zero data, content or comment loss.
They are also the publishers of the easiest to use and most feature rich WordPress video plugin, FV Flowplayer 5.
I let them move my website over so I could spent my time elsewhere. I found their service very professional and had no problems. Highly recommended if you’re unsure on the migration process and want a hassle free move with no downtime.
WP Engine Speed Test
WP Engine prides itself on speed so I went ahead and tested the speed of my website before the migration process. I used the WP Engine tool to see how much faster my website would be if I moved to WP Engine. You can see the tool over here. According to the tool I could potentially reduce my site speed by 1.8 seconds by simply switching to WP Engine meaning my speed could be 1.6 seconds.
To test this further I tested my speed using Pingdom . I also took 3 tests of each to gain an average speed. Here’s my results before moving to WP Engine.
Pingdom: I used the same location – New York
Average speed = 3.49 seconds
Speed tests after the migration
I used the same method as above and tested my website 3 times using the same services from the same location and took an average of the speed. Here are my results: (Note: I re-tested results after a certain time period and updating the following stats.)
Average speed = 660 MS
Using the speed from before I was hosted with WP Engine 3.49 seconds – 660ms (new speed. WP Engine has increased my website speed by 2.8 seconds! This faster than what they predicted using this tool over here. In fact, after testing different locations I’m getting even faster speeds in Texas.
My WP Engine results
I took data from my analytics for one week before I moved to WP Engine and one week after using WP Engine. Here’s my results:
I didn’t see much difference in my bounce rate but this could be for various reasons such as the intent of the user rather than the speed or it could be due to the design of my website etc. The biggest gains I saw was with traffic and pageviews. Both had increased over 50% for the week I moved to WP Engine vs the week before I didn’t. During this time Google released Penguin 2.1 which I saw rank increases for. I think this could be the biggest factor in these results, although I’m sure WP Engine’s speed helped users clicking around my website longer.
With that said, I think this is the most powerful piece of data I have for the benefits of moving to WP Engine. The red arrow shows the time I moved to them and the time spent it took Google to crawl my pages. Why is this important? If you’re an SEO you might already know this but if not check out this article.
After about 1 week of being on WP Engine I decided to try their CDN. Again, I signed up for 1 year and got 2 months free. I tested the page you are reading now with Pingdom in Amsterdam. Here’s my results taking the average once again.
Average speed = 2.86 seconds
Average speed = 1.77 seconds
Due to the CDN my website now loads 1.09 seconds faster!
With the CDN results along with the speed results simply by moving hosting companies I have been able to increase the speed of my website by 3.13 seconds simply by moving to WP Engine.
Commited to speed
During the migration process I started getting emails from WP Engine.
As part of the normal security and performance scans that WP Engine runs on our customer sites, we also scan for plugins that may be on our disallowed plugin list, and adversely affecting site performance and / or security.
We just scanned your WordPress installation ‘leehughes’ and discovered [w3-total-cache], [broken-link-checker], which is/are on our disallowed list and will result in sub-optimal performance for your site.
Our policy about plugins we don’t allow is here: http://support.wpengine.com/disallowed-plugins/.
We’re sending you this email to request that you remove [w3-total-cache], [broken-link-checker] from your site within the next 7 days. In 7 days, we’ll automatically remove those plugins from your site, and we want to give you plenty of time to find and test suitable replacements. For many plugins, we have suggested replacements.
If you have any questions, please let us know in a support ticket http://wpengine.zendesk.com.
This is a nice feature, with so many plugins for WordPress it’s hard to know which ones will effect your website. I have written about this in my speed up WordPress post but it’s good to know that now my hosting company will do the checks for me. After I removed the said plugins I got this email:
Last week we sent you an email notifying you that during our normal system scans we discovered the plugin(s) [w3-total-cache], [broken-link-checker] on your WordPress installation ‘leehughes’. It is on our disallowed plugins list, and requested that you remove it in 7 days.
Awesome! You’ve removed it. The entire WP Engine Technical Team thanks you for being proactive, and for helping us keep your site secure and running extremely fast.
Thank you for choosing WP Engine,
-The WP Engine Technical Team
I’m currently in the process of testing their uptime and will update this image when I have more data. This is currently how WP Engine is performing. No downtime.
WP Engine Staging Area
Without a doubt one of my favourite features of WP Engine is their staging area. This isn’t talked about in many WP Engines reviews which is pretty surprising because it’s such an amazing feature. What the staging area will allow you to do is download your whole website to a new staging area. Search Engines are automatically blocked so you don’t have duplicate websites and you’re free to play around with your design, add new features or what ever you wish.
It’s as simple as pressing the copy site from LIVE to STAGING button. You’ll then have a copy of the website so you’re free to test and add features etc. Once you’re ready to make the new website live, all it takes is a click of a button – copy site from STAGING to LIVE. You’ll get something like this
Plus an email confirming that’s everything worked:
The deploy of WP install ‘leehughes’ has completed. Here’s a quick link to your site http://leehughes.wpengine.com/.
From start to finish, the deploy took 64.50 seconds.
Thank you for using WP Engine’s platform feature ‘Deploy From Staging’.
No downtime and no errors. I seriously love this feature!
WP Engine are pretty famous for their support so I decided to test this as well. I used the typically support ticket system and also the live chat. I found the support ticket system much slower than the live chat for obvious reasons. My first ticket took around 2 hours for a reply with a enthusiastic staff member, he has very helpful and he quickly answered my question.
Thank you for contacting WP Engine. Most caching plugins do not cooperate with our custom caching environment. As a result, we can’t have them running in parallel with our solution.
While the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin is disallowed, another possible option is EWWW Image Optimizer Cloud. This plugin will compress and optimize bigger images. Unfortunately, this particular plugin is not free. It will utilize the servers from Ewww to help with compression and uploading of images. I have included the link for it here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/ewww-image-optimizer-cloud/.
Unfortunately, since EWWW Image Optimizer plugin is disallowed, we won’t be able to address the error that you’re seeing. In fact, even if we could get the plugin to function, whenever our maintenance scripts see these on the filesystem, they are automatically removed from your install.
As far as minification of your .js and css, we recommend the Autoptimize plugin. Please be sure to read through all documentation before you activate this plugin. A majority of the time, Autoptimize works very well, but there are a few plugins and themes that do not like minification. I have included the link for it here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/autoptimize/.
I hope that this information was helpful. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know!
Nick C. | Customer Support Specialist
WP Engine – Finely Tuned WordPress
My second support ticket didn’t get answered for over 24 hours. But again when it was responded to I was greeted with a knowledgeable member of staff who gave me advice on how to increase the speed of my website further.
The live chat is the best option for immediate support. I was connected with a staff member within seconds. Check the times they operate live chat. This is the easiest and quickest way to get support.
WP Engine Pricing
While not the cheapest WordPress hosting the world, you pay for what you get. At noted above I was able to reduce my load time by 2 seconds simply by moving to WP Engine. I have spent a long time trying to get the fastest website you get but at some point I had to conclude that I could only take it so far with shared hosting.
Pricing starts at $29 a month with a big jump to $99. But if you pay attention to how site speeds effects conversions then you know the rewards of having a faster website out-weight the costs.
I’m sure you’ll be able to do the maths required to see how much more you could be earning on your website if you switched to a faster WordPress hosting company.
Other benefits of WP Engine
While WP Engine are famous for the speed they offer they also offer security features, nightly backups and will even fix your website for free if it has been hacked. What you are getting with WP Engine is peace of mind that your website is in good hands and safe.
Automated Upgrade Protection
New feature from WP Engine
Our automation loads your site just like a browser, and ensures that everything is working normally. If that’s so, we take a snapshot backup point of your site as-is. Then we perform the WordPress core upgrade. Once the upgrade is complete, we reload your site and automatically test it to make sure everything is on a basic level running normally. If all the code comes back in working order, awesome. Your site is upgraded, and you didn’t have to lift a finger.
However, let’s say there is a code conflict that would ordinarily summon the white screen of death. The upgrade failed, but we don’t want to leave you in a failed state. Your site has to stay online, remember?
What happens next? We *immediately* downgrade you to the WordPress version you were on previously and your site is back, it’s online and serving your visitors and customers like always.
I’m very happy that I convinced myself to give WP Engine a try a 2 second increase in speed straight is amazing. I’m now working on more tests, website re-design and trying to reduce the servers requests made to try and get my average sped under 1 second for New York location. I’m also testing page-views, SEO and conversions on this website. I’ll post the results of these tests after the data is complete.