What Is WP Engine?

Insights on Managed WordPress Hosting

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••• ¬†WP Engine

WP Engine is a leading web host in the managed WordPress host category used by many business owners.

Managed Hosting means the company takes care of all the security on your behalf. Companies like WP Engine actually guarantee the security of your site so if you're hacked, the hosting company will cover the clean-up costs, which can be thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the site.

As Austin Gunter, a former developer marketing manager for Wordpress, put it during an 2013 interview, "Many times, hosting is an afterthought and the decision gets made based on how cheaply it can be purchased. Cheap or shared hosting can leave you hanging when you get a lot of traffic or someone tries to hack the site.

"With a managed hosting company, you get enterprise-quality servers that are fast and scalable, and it means that you as the business owner get the benefit of having enterprise-level system administrators running the servers. You can expect to pay more for this sort of quality, but the alternative is paying a low monthly fee for a slow website that doesn't impress your customers."

Initial Steps

The first decision to make is what software you want the site built on. At this juncture, WordPress powers 30 percent of the Internet, rating higher over competitors like Joomla, Drupal, and Magento. WordPress's content management system (CMS) has transcended powering personal blogs and now helps to create digital experiences for enterprise companies.

WP Engine works with both as well as for developers who require tools to build blogs and full-scale websites and applications on WordPress. You can fully customize your theme and branding and use the plugins of your choosing on WP Engine.

The next step should be to go with a WordPress-exclusive hosting company or a Managed WordPress Host. That means a company that specializes only in WordPress, so they've built their technology from the ground up for performance and security, like WP Engine.

You need to search for a host that automatically creates backups of your site every day, and doesn't charge you for the pleasure, as some will. Then look for a company that has a staging area, and an option for version control. Your developer and designer will thank you for that.

WP Engine has its own backups that get created nightly. Even if you work with them, WP Engine staff would recommend that you opt for redundant backups, like Backup Buddy, to further cover yourself.

If your site is hosted elsewhere but you want to work with WP Engine, as long as the site is WordPress-based, you can migrate it over to their servers with ease. WP can assist for a flat fee, though many people choose to migrate on their own or have their developer handle it.

Important Features to Focus On

Support is probably the feature that will make the biggest difference in your hosting experience. When you need help with your site, you want to talk to tech-savvy people who can solve your technical issues quickly, and are patient to help you figure things out. Since you're hosting on WordPress, make sure the support team is comprised of WordPress experts, so they can fix not just the servers, but the site as well.

According to WP Engine, it offers numerous support engineers per customer, and each one has years of WordPress experience. The CMS offers support via customer service software Zendesk by WordPress experts. Most tickets are answered within 30 minutes to get you back up online. The Business Package, which many companies opt for, includes phone support and the opt-in for a dedicated account manager to provide familiarity with the same person who can answer questions.

The company claims to guarantee security, protecting sensitive data. WP Engine also says its EverCache technology, which combines proxy servers, database, disk caching, and content delivery networks, is fast and scalable, above its competitors.

This is important when considering the choice of a web host and how it could affect the SEO of an individual site. Google takes site speed into account with their search algorithm because they have found that every additional 100ms of page-load time mean a 20 percent drop in traffic. The longer your site takes to load, the more visitors will abandon the site and go about their day. You want a host that is capable of serving pages in 1.5 seconds or less. Business owners who migrate to WP Engine says it sees their sites load an average of 2x-4x faster, and notice an immediate increase in their search engine results.

Uptime Percentages

This ties into the uptime percentages that web hosts frequently display. Uptime is defined as is the measure of the uninterrupted time that a hosting system experiences. Hosts usually advertise somewhere between 99 percent to 99.999 percent uptime. Assuming a 365-day cycle, 99% uptime actually means several days of unscheduled downtime, or not scheduled maintenance, for your sites. That means 99.999 percent brings your site down to only a few hours of downtime for that year. That's the difference between paying for a shared host and paying more for a managed host that will give you at least 99.99 percent uptime.

To get to 100 percent uptime would require tens of thousands of dollars a month in hosting and system administration time. The intersection between cost and uptime is where most business owners find themselves, and that's why a managed host is again the choice for more business owners. They can pay five or six times more than a shared host would cost and get a slice of enterprise hosting that would otherwise cost tens of thousands a month.