Hello WP Engine, Goodbye Hosting Headaches

affiliate links picThere are so many things that can go wrong when you have a website. Losing data that isn’t backed up, getting hacked and figuring out how to fix it, hosting outages with no explanation or apology. Honestly, I was over it. Sure, I used to make money off of helping people with these problems, but I don’t have the time for that anymore and I’ve seen enough things go wrong that I don’t have time to deal with these headaches with my own site.

So I made the switch. I am officially hosted at WP Engine

I started talking to them last year after I’d heard really positive reviews from other bloggers. I set up my personal site there and gave it a few months to see how it went.

Without further ado, my thorough WP Engine review.

My Favorite Things About WP Engine

One of my very favorites? Getting emails like this:

We’ve just finished updating your WordPress site to version 3.8.2. Everything should have gone well, and your site should be all souped up with the new WordPress 3.8.2 goodness. Awesome!

No further action on your part is required, everything is running smoothly. We just wanted to let you know that your site has been automagically updated and you didn’t have to do a bit of work. Super awesome.

Instead of emails like this:

PHP, the web programming language, has several different versions and we will be phasing out PHP version 5.2 in the near future as it has been unsupported by its creators for several years now. You are receiving this email because your account was found to be using PHP version 5.2.

If you’re not certain of your sites compatibility with PHP 5.4, you can quickly and easily test it by changing your account to PHP 5.4 single using the outlined steps below. If, after changing your PHP version to 5.4 and your site looks normal and operates without any errors then your site is compatible. If you update to PHP 5.4 and you find your site showing errors or a blank white screen that is a good sign that something in your site is not compatible. Most commonly these are plug-ins or themes that need to be updated. Switch the PHP version back to 5.2 and login to your admin panel and check for any available updates. If none are available you will need to check with the plug-ins/theme developer to see if they have compatibility with PHP 5.4.

It is strongly encouraged you check your sites plug-ins/themes/3rd party scripts for any updates in the next 7 days to avoid any downtime or issues with this process.

Yeah, your eyes started to glaze over with that second email, right? Those were the kinds of emails I used to get from my host. And the time it would take me to decode how all of this applies to my site was not minimal. I have a lot of balls in the air and I don’t have time to deal with my site running anything except perfectly. I definitely don’t have the time for a crisis.

Sometimes WordPress updates can cause a crisis, which is why I happily let WP Engine test it out and then manage it for me without having to lift a finger. Sweet.

And while we’re talk about crises? My blog, and many many others, started to have outages. A lot of outages. An unacceptable number of outages. We didn’t get emails, we didn’t get apologies, we didn’t get a discount for our hosting fees. Want to talk to customer service? Good luck. I have yet to have any kind of problem with WP Engine. And if I do, I have people, real people, I can talk to. I can’t even mention them on Twitter without them popping in to say hi. They’re really on the ball. And I’ve visited their headquarters, which happens to be in my hometown, so I saw for myself that they are all right there just waiting to help.

Then there were many stories of people whose blogs would get a traffic spike and then go down unless they were moved to a more expensive hosting plan. WP Engine customer service is hands on enough that they can DEAL with a traffic spike, make sure you’re covered, and only talk to you about switching plans if it looks like this new traffic is going to be a regular thing. If you think you’re going to get a spike or you see you’ve gone viral, you can call them and they will actually answer the phone and help you. Shocking, right?

Got plug-ins? Sometimes a new plug-in or an update can cause crazy problems on your site. Not only does WPEngine backup your site for you daily, you can also request a backup before you do anything new to make sure you can go back and fix it should anything go wrong.

WP Engine Backups

Hacking is one of those horror stories. Malware put on your site without you knowing it, or bringing your site down all together, and then you’re footing the bill for hours of repair. WP Engine guarantees you won’t get hacked. And if you do, they fix it for free. WIN.

Biggest Drawbacks

So let’s be straight, nobody’s perfect. If you have a pre-existing site you’ll have to migrate hosts. Which can be tricky and time consuming on your own, or take some more cash out of your pocket to have someone else do for you. (I used The WP Valet. More on them in an upcoming post.)  

Your biggest issue is likely to be email-related. WP Engine does not host email accounts through your domain (aka [email protected]) but they do give you simple directions to set it up for free or for a small fee with Zoho or Google. 

They also have a list of disallowed plugins. Though for me, this is a perk not a drawback. You never know if a plug-in is going to mess with your site. And it’s really better to keep your number of plugins low. Many of the disallowed plugins are just not necessary anymore because WP Engine does so much for you. You no longer need a caching plugin to speed up your site load times, for example.

For those of you with bigger sites, the main concern may be the size of your plan. The smallest plan is for 25,000 visits a month. The next one up is 100,000. If this is an issue for you, I’d suggest shooting them an email to see what your options are.

Leaving the Cheap Hosts Behind

You know that saying “you get what you pay for?” It’s very true with hosting. Sure, my old host was really cheap, but I didn’t get anything except hosting. And with the outages, it wasn’t like my hosting was always doing what it was supposed to. (Oh, and can we talk about how it’s really cheap with your first sign up and then goes up on renewal? Or requires years of commitment at a time to get a good rate?)

WPE_affiliate_promo_6_15Making the jump from $4 a month to $29 a month is not small. And yes, I am paying for my new hosting out of my own pocket. This is not a sponsored post. I made the change because I needed a host that had my back and once my blog bank account had the necessary funds, I made the plunge. My blog priorities are lined up pretty clearly and it was easy to put this on my list once I looked at it that way.

Oh and HEY LOOK AT THIS save some serious money if you sign up by June 15th. I’m jealous. Perhaps I should’ve waited to sign up?

You can get full info on what’s available in their plans here.

I see someone ask about hosting about once a week these days. It’s obvious there’s a lot of dissatisfaction out there. So give it some thought and if you have questions you can definitely leave me a comment or send the kind folks at WP Engine an email. 

This is not a sponsored post. My personal site was provided by WP Engine, but my new hosting for the blog and my migration were all paid for out of pocket.

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