WP Engine is one of the first web hosting providers dedicated to WordPress. At the time, companies like GoDaddy and Hostgator offered unreliable support for WordPress despite its ever-growing popularity and importance. If something went wrong with your site or you needed help implementing a particular plugin or feature, there was no guarantee that a web hosting provider would provide assistance.
Despite WordPress being touted as easy to use, it's not...unless you know how to use it. In other words, there's a steep learning curve to get started and if something goes wrong, who can you depend on for help? The WordPress software itself is free. And web hosting providers assume no responsibility for maintaining software that their customers install.
WP Engine was a game changer because they assumed responsibility for software nobody else wanted to support. There are thousands of themes and plugins for WordPress and many of them are still poorly coded and abandonned by their authors. A poorly designed or unsupported add-on could break a site--rendering it inaccessible or even worse vulnerable to attack by hackers.
Features and Limitations
WP Engine pre-installs and configures various plugins to enhance the speed and security of their web sites. And they automatically backup web sites What's more, the company offers security monitoring and (DDoS) protection to prevent attacks.
Tech geeks generally dislike WP Engine because they feel that their prices are too high.
Most of the features offered by WP Engine can be added to any WordPress site for free, regardless of where its hosted. And the lowest WP Engine plan starts at $25 per month and you are limited to 25,000 visits per month. Meanwhile GoDaddy and Hostgator offer unlimited traffic for only a couple bucks per month.
So why does WP Engine cost so much?
The true cost of low prices
Many web hosts entice new customers with really low prices--usually in the form of a steep one-time discount along with additional discounts if you pre-pay for years of service.
But after the initial invoice the price goes way up. Admittedly, these companies usually make it pretty clear that the initial price is a discount (and they list the regular price along with the new-customer price.) But, people are often blind-sided when the real price kicks in.
I suspect it's because many customers pre-pay for two or three years of service at a really attractive price; Years later, when the renewal payment is due, there is some serious sticker shock.
Moreover, super-cheap providers tend to offer mediocre or abysmal service. You can hope for the best. But if you pre-pay for years of service to get a good deal, you're taking a gamble because the standard-money back guarantee only lasts for 30 days.
Discount providers--that rely on really low prices to attract customers--tend to be the worse.
Unlimited web hosting
When customers write bad reviews for a web host, it is usually due to unexpected costs or mismatched expectations.
Common complaints for "unlimited" web hosts are as follows:
My server is slow and I was told to upgrade to a more expensive package.
I was told that my site is receiving too much traffic and I need to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
I was told that I have too many files (or the few files I uploaded are too big) so I need to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
Traditional web hosting providers promise "unlimited web traffic and storage," but that is usually an empty promise. Even if you comply with the restrictions in your terms of service agreement, a discount provider can (and will) kick you off if your web site exceeds their expectations--whatever they may be. (Or they can force you to upgrade to a much more expensive and complicated service plan).
WP Engine has clearly defined usage limits. (e.g. 20, 000 visitors per month.) And paying a premium for their service means they have even less of an excuse to screw over their customers.
Many people use GoDaddy and Hostgator without incident, but if you Google "GoDaddy sucks" you will find thousands of stories from extremely disappointed customers.
"You can talk to an expert" to help figure out what kind of plan you should get for your site.
Also, they do not accept PayPal.
$25 per month (paid annually)
$95 per month (paid annually)
$241 per month (paid annually)
Contact sales department to negotiate price.
Millions of visitors
100GB to 1TB storage
Auto migration (move your existing WordPress site to WP Engine automatically)
Enhanced Security -- Web Application Firewall (WAF), CloudFlare, DDoS mitigation -- $30/month
Automatic WordPress updates
HTTPS/SSL Certificate (Let's Encrypt)
Threat Detection and blocking
Plugin security scans/monitoring (Get an alert if you have an unsafe plugin.)
Access Genesis Framework and StudioPress themes for free. (on the "more plans" there is a link to "browse theme"...include that link in the review.)
Ownership transfer (Great for agencies that need to pass web hosting account ownership to clients)
Activity Log (See what's happening on your site, at a glance. Great for sites that have multiple users.)
Dev, Stage, Production
GIT and SFTP connections
It really irks me that WP Engine only offers 24/7 support through their web site. They claim its to more easily identify customers. But that answer doesn't sound very satisfying, especially considering how much more expensive their service is compared to everyone else. Meanwhile they have a 1-877 sales phone number shown on ever page of the site.
Many computer geeks are offended by the idea that someone would run a web site without knowing anything about the technology that drives it—just as a car enthusiast might whine about people who don't know anything about car engines.
Yet, most of us rely on car mechanics. So why shouldn't we get someone else to maintain our web site?
If you have a deep understanding of how WordPress and web servers work, there's really no good reason to use WP Engine. I certainly wouldn't.
But there was a time when I was a newbie and I felt completely lost all of the time. At one point, I had a web site promoting a new business, but the site was unresponsive because it was under a DDoS attack (or something)—I'm still not really sure. Nobody could load my site or it would would load very slowly to the point of being unusable. I read articles. I asked for help on forums. And I even paid someone to look at my server and figure out what was going on. But nobody was able to help me--not even my web hosting provider was able to help because it wasn't really their responsibility.
I had generated modest interest in my company and a few sites wrote about it. There were a lot of people trying to access my web site, but they couldn't. My business never really recovered from those days of downtime. Every time some googled my product they found comments about my technical problems which in terms raised issues about my credibility. After a few months I gave up and moved on. It was a really painful and frustrating experience. In the years since that event I've never really experienced anything like it and that's true for most people.
But, if I could go back in time, I would gladly pay $25 a month to have prevented my business from failing due to a technical problem I was unable to fully understand or resolve.