Wondering what is the best WordPress hosting platform for web designers or online stores (WooCommerce)? What’s the fastest wordpress hosting out there or the best WordPress host for multiple sites?
What if I told you one of my clients saw an 184% increase in like for like e-commerce sales within week 6 of moving hosting platforms?
What if I told you the technical support is available within 4 minutes or less (from the UK) and can help you with virtually any aspect of your wordpress site? Plus they’ll diagnose and fix virtually any hosting or wordpress related issue! I don’t have to go through long winded support calls, just a straight connection via live chat with WordPress experts that have helped me out time and time again with all aspects of wordpress hosting – ranging from basic things like adding caching exceptions for e-commerce through to diagnosing PHP function errors due to plugin failures.
If you’re really serious about owning and running a successful WordPress WooCommerce website you’ll need a managed host with daily automated wordpress backups, hosting that’s fast, secure and has a testing environment (so you won’t break it when updating) as well as a support service that is literally second to none! Look no further than WP Engine.
This is my WP Engine review, based on real world experience. Having recently suffered speed issues and a host of server related file permission errors and not to mention many hours spent identifying and fixing said issues – I decided to look for a new WordPress specialist hosting provider. This is when I googled “fastest wordpress hosting” and discovered WP Engine.
I started out with a single site basic package to test performance an get a feel for how they work. My first experience of WP-Engine was with using their brilliantly user-friendly Site Migration Plugin which made moving a client website with over 12 GBs of files over to the new WP-Engine hosting account a piece of cake. To sum the whole process up in one sentence…
Migrating with WP Engine Site Migration plugin was seriously easy to do – the whole step by step process took 3 minutes to setup and the transfer was complete within 30 minutes.
Once migrated over there were no permission errors, the entire site functioned perfectly without any plugin failures and I didn’t need to touch the database (usually running find and replace queries is par for the course). The speed difference even before I had enabled server caching and CDN (content delivery network – for loading static content through servers around the world) was shocking, 9 seconds went down to 4.1 seconds when tested with GT Metrix, then the speed improved down to 3.6 seconds once I had enabled caching.
Learn more – Move your site to WP Engine in less than 30 minutes.
I was increasingly spending more and more time working on the administrative duties of running WordPress websites – backing up, database housekeeping, fixing malfunctioning plugins so one of the key selling points for me was the one click back ups and staging site creation.
To sum up the key bonus points of hosting my businesses with WP Engine:
Service and Support
A big fat 5 out of 5 stars for this, I can’t explain the relief I have knowing that I get 24/7/365 technical support from people who actually know what they’re doing. I’ve been downright frustrated with hosting companies that employ outsourced tech support from people who at best are incompetent and at worst have literally no idea what they’re talking about and give poor advice. Every person I’ve spoken with on support chat has been on point and concise, it’s literally the best specialised WordPress hosting support I’ve experienced and I’ve used a lot of hosts over the years. I’ve hosted on dedicated servers through 1and1, Names.com, Crazy Domains, GoDaddy and a collection of smaller, lesser known outfits – none of them have come close to the service provided by WP Engine.
Automated Backups for WordPress
Not unique to WP Engine, but the execution and the reliability of it all is second to none (just check out their page on “automatic wordpress backup and disaster recovery on WP Engine“). The back ups are seamless and run daily or you can apply one manually at any time of the day for as many times as you need (this is limited on most hosts). The backups are comprehensive and cover all files and the database, think of it like Time Machine for mac and you can restore backups at any time.
This is a massive selling point for anyone running a WooCommerce online store – customer data and sales are backed up daily and if the site fails for whatever reason you can partially restore the files and database so as not to overwrite dates tables relating to customers, sales and transactions.
Staging Sites – a spare website incase you break something
Most hosts do not have the ability to create a second cloned website for testing and in the past I’ve had to use programs such as MAMP to create virtual servers for testing WordPress sites (which can be complicated to setup) – enter WP Engine staging sites.
WordPress, being an open source platform, requires regular updates to maintain security and with these updates come plugin conflicts (amongst a myriad of other issues). Without the addition of a staging environment for testing these conflicts can break your website and put your shop and your business out of action.
Is it easy to use?
Creating a staging site was a breeze, simply go to the WP Engine menu on the top left of your WordPress admin screen, select staging and click “Copy site from live to staging” – in a matter of minutes you’ll have a fully cloned version of your website in which to run and test plugin updates or to diagnose issues without the need to put up a “Down for Maintenance” holding page. Simples!
Will pushing the staging site live overwrite data such as sales on the new site?
The best bit about having a staging website is you can partially restore files and database elements to the production website. You have a choice of picking and choosing which parts of the site to restore – this is essential for woocommerce sites that make sales daily, it’s simply a case of deselecting database entries that relate to sales and customers/user data and clicking the big red “Deploy site from STAGING to LIVE” button (if you’re unsure, ask their brilliant tech support who’ll happily guide you through the process). My explanation doesn’t do it justice, you’ll be surprised at just how brilliantly simple this is in practice, and you won’t even have to touch the database as it’s all done through the built in WP Engine menu in your website WordPress admin panel.
It’s fast. SERIOUSLY fast. About the fastest WordPress host out there – a quick google reveals this to be fact. WP Engine’s optimisation and caching happens on the backend, behind the scenes – so is super efficient. Moving from the most expensive package available on GoDaddy over to WP Engine’s cheapest single site package saw a 4 second drop in load time.
WP Engine automatically compresses content, shrink CSS and Java script, and more. There’s no plugin and the only settings to configure is enabling caching and CDN (both single clicks of a button). WP Engine takes care of everything, leaving you free to focus on running your website and creating awesome content 🙂
If you’re selling products abroad you’ll need hosting that will keep up with long distance sales; with a NetDNA powered CDN (or content delivery network), WP Engine serves your website all across the world and ensures that your visitors always have the shortest route on the internet to reach your website. So instead of someone from Australia attempting to reach your web server all the way in the UK, WP Engine’s global network of servers will find their closest server and load your site from there.
WP Engine scans and repairs hacking attempts on their client’ websites. They employ layers of security measures to ensure your site doesn’t get hacked in the first place, and then they’ll monitor your site for hacks. If it still gets hacked, they’ll fix it for free.
You can get all the above from $29 per month, which given the level of support alone is excellent value – that’s not taking into account all the unique features such as staging site, automated/unlimited backups and the fastest wordpress loading times this side of a $500 per month dedicated server. Isn’t your business worth $29 a month?
For transparency the above article contains affiliate links, but this review is genuine and I am in the process of moving all my e-commerce clients over from a dedicated 1and1 server and a few smaller independent hosts that were originally set up by my clients.