Why I Switched to WPEngine for Hosting My Website
There are so many WordPress hosting companies out there, finding the right one these days is a difficult task.
Which hosting company is best? Do I need to pay more? What's the difference between this company and that one?
Want to listen? There's an audio version below
While those questions are all good ones, and questions I've asked myself, this post is not about that. Ha! However, I will address those questions briefly.
Today, I want to talk about why I've switched hosting companies three times in as many years, and why I think WPEngine is where I'll stay (and grow) for years to come.
When you're first getting started online, web hosting is one of your biggest expenses. I mean, a new domain is anywhere from $0.99 to $15 (ish), and hosting normally starts at $50 a year (or more). So, choosing the right hosting company is pretty important, and you should do at least a little research before plopping down some serious cash.
That said, when I first got started, I chose the cheapest solution possible.
And I regretted it.
I won't tell you all the tales about bad support and site outages, but I will tell you that in many ways, and even when it comes to web hosting, you get what you pay for. Don't buy the cheapest hosting, or you'll get everything else that comes with that.
Which hosting company is best?
I don't have an answer for this question, but I have a couple of recommendations. The best hosting company is likely to be the one that has servers in the country where most of your site's traffic comes from.
I go into more detail about how to find the right hosting provider in my course 8 Weeks to Exit – check it out!
My suggestion is to avoid any hosting company on this list. EIG is a major conglomerate, and everyone I know who's hosted with one of their subsidiary brands has hated the experience, myself included.
Do I need to pay more?
No, not necessarily. You don't need to pay lots of money to get great hosting.
I host almost all of my websites with GreenGeeks and I have no complaints. Like most companies, GreenGeeks has hosting plans starting at under $5/mo, but with them, you have the advantage of hosting your sites on servers that are powered by green, renewable energy.
But, as of this moment, GreenGeeks does not have a managed hosting solution with the performance I want for ellorywells.com.
What's the difference between this company and that one?
One big difference between hosting companies is how the support is handled and where it comes from. Find out who has support in your home country, and think about using them. Both WPEngine and GreenGeeks have 24/7 support that's located here in the United States, where 90% of my traffic comes from.
If you're still having trouble making a decision, look at this list, and if one of your options is listed under “Subsidiary Brands” (ex: Bluehost, FatCow, HostGator), avoid them.
NOTE: Yes, like many people, I used to recommend Bluehost. But I stopped immediately when I noticed a drastic decline in their technical support and the friendliness and knowledge of their support.
Why I Chose WPEngine
Ok, so paying $4 a month for hosting is one thing, paying $29 a month is another matter entirely!
Ya, you're right. However, I didn't make that jump overnight and without a reason, and without a stepping stone along the way.
My last 5 years of website hosting looks like this:
I started with iPage, hated it, and switched to Bluehost within just a year. I stayed with Bluehost until reliability (website up time) went to crap and the support was worse. When I realized I knew more about the tech stuff than their tech support team, I was done.
However, before I left Bluehost, I upgraded to their Cloud Business plan in preparation for being on Smart Passive Income. I also added an SSL and a dedicated IP address to improve my User experience around e-commerce.
After continued outages, no increase in speed, and support that was still letting me down, I switched to some private-labeled cloud hosting. I saved some money, but I had to manage all of the technical aspects myself. However, after repeated bad experiences with Bluehost, I was used to fixing my own issues and troubleshooting things that went wrong.
Finally, after switching hosting plans 3 times in 18 months, you'd think I'd get it right!.
After switching and STILL experiencing multiple outages and STILL having my site go down, which I didn't think was supposed to happen with cloud-based hosting, and after my site speed never really got that much better, I decided to keep an eye out for alternatives.
Ok, So Why Did I Chose WPEngine?
I first noticed the speed of WPEngine when I logged into the WordPress dashboard of one of my clients who uses them for hosting. Every page seemed to load faster than what I was used to.
However, hers was a new site with just a handful of posts and pages, and my site has been around for years with hundreds of each. It's no wonder hers would be faster, right?
True, so I did a speed test on a published page with similar content, and she still won; her site was faster.
Was it an exact or perfect test?
No, but I was getting convinced.
Before I move on, I'll tell you EVERYTHING is faster with WPEngine. Navigating my WordPress dashboard is faster. Pages and posts load faster. Images upload faster. Backups backup faster… you get the idea.
When things are stored in the cloud, they should never have connection issues. The whole meaning behind “cloud hosting” is that your website should be stored on multiple servers, so no single problem could cause a site to go down.
Well, my sites continued to go offline with cloud hosting.
WPEngine does one thing; they provide managed hosting for websites built with WordPress. They don't have different options, they don't mess with other CMS platforms, they just host WordPress sites.
And they do it really well.
Since signing up for the Personal Plan and moving my site over, I haven't had a single issue.
If you choose to host your site with WPEngine, one thing you'll have to adjust to is having another administrator poking around in your WordPress installation. However, this is a good thing.
By having access to your website (the “managed” part of “managed hosting”), WPEngine's tech team can monitor for issues and disable plugins that might be causing issues. They also have a list of disallowed plugins that they know either interfere with what you're paying them for, can cause security issues, or can slow down your site. All bad things, and all areas where I was willing to relinquish control for improved performance.
Lucky for me, they only had an issue with one plugin that I was using, and I'd only activated to check something before I made the migration.
The last thing I'll brag about is the quality and responsiveness of their support.
One thing I always look for in any company I use is the option to have chat support. I don't have the time to sit on hold waiting for a company to pick up the phone, and email support is just annoying. With WPEngine I rarely wait more than 60 seconds to get a support agent via their chat box. I guess the paying $29/mo for service instead of $2.99 pays for more than just servers.
In some areas of my business, I've gone without support because I could do whatever needed to be done myself. However, there are still times when support is needed, and having to wait 18 hours to hear from someone or wait 45 minutes on hold is unacceptable.
Poor support is one of the reasons I left iPage in 2013. And, poor support is one of the reasons I left Bluehost in 2016.
The Downside of WPEngine
I bet, at this point, that this post has seemed like a paid ad by WPEngine, but I promise it's not. While I do have an affiliate relationship with the company, I only set that up AFTER I'd told a dozen people about how much I was enjoying them.
That said, the last thing I want to mention about WPEngine is the cost.
Hosting plans start at $29 a month, and that's not cheap, especially when compared to the $3.95/mo that the other company I use and recommend (GreenGeeks) charges.
However, people who get good performance and are satisfied with a shared hosting plan likely don't need something like WPEngine.
For example, most shared hosting companies, although they boast “unlimited” space and bandwidth, really don't like it when you start pulling in large amounts of traffic and data. ElloryWells.com isn't even THAT big, but I still use 10-15x more bandwidth than my clients' sites.
WPEngine also charges for every installation of WordPress you have. I had a members subdomain, a separate installation for my landing pages, and yet another for my training program, 8 Weeks to Exit.
Now I have one.
I consolidated EVERY installation into one and set up a tiered pagination system so I wouldn't have to pay $70 a month for hosting.
All in all, I'm very happy with WPEngine. Even though I'm paying more for web hosting than ever before after the speed boosts I'm saving $50 a year for CDN costs, and with their included SSL I'm saving another $73 a year. In the end, I think my costs only increased by about $6 a month, and I'm 100% ok with that.
Who do you host your site(s) through? Why did you choose them?