From the last couple of days, I have been planning to expand ShoutMeLoud with few new things, and I was considering to move to a Webhosting company, which can give me more control + complete peace of mind. Earlier ShoutMeLoud was hosted on a private VPS, which was well-optimized, but I missed the lack of control.
For example, I wanted to integrate a forum and few other sub-domains, to expand SML, but technical limitations always stopped me. After doing lots of research, reading tons of reviews, and hearing great stuff about many web hosting companies, I decided to opt for managed WordPress hosting.
It was a tough call for me as these types of hosting are costlier, and after looking at all the possible options, I decided to opt for WPEngine. They are recommended as one of the best-managed hostings by many known brands, and they earned the trust.
Here I’m sharing my experience of moving ShoutMeLoud from private VPS to WPEngine, and it will give you some important details about WPEngine hosting too.
Why Did I select WPEngine?
Of all the reviews I referred to, I learned that they were really good at what they do. They ensure that your WordPress website remains up, your pages will load blazingly fast, and they will take care of each and everything like website backup, site security, CDN and so on.
To be honest, their deal is mind-blowing when it comes to features they are offering, and people who wanted peace of mind, WPEngine sounded like the perfect choice.
There are a few things that you should know before you also make a decision to move to them:
One of the biggest reason I was holding myself to move from current hosting to a Managed WordPress hosting is because of price slab.
Earlier, I was paying $49/month for my private VPS, whereas on WPEngine is costing me $249/month, because of my traffic. This is like $200/month expense increase and total $2400/year increase in yearly expense.
Again, I always believe in “Quality comes with a price“, and for complete peace of mind, the $200/month extra is not much.
And also, I found this coupon “WPE20off,” which was giving me three months of hosting for free and letting me save $750, which is a huge saving. Anyways, I didn’t use the coupon, because of my credit-card limitation of $2000, and also, I didn’t want to put all the money on a hosting, which I’m trying for the first-time. But, after moving to them, I felt I should have made a one-year payment, and saved my $750. To give you an idea, here are some of the notable features that I got with WPEngine Business package:
- Unlimited storage + unlimited data transfer
- Daily backups: You don’t need to worry about using any premium solution or manually backing up your blog.
- No caching plugin: This is the best part about WpEngine, as you don’t need to worry about caching. Caching is done at the server level, and you don’t need plugins like Super cache or W3Tc.
- International data-centers: I already explained that your hosting location matters for geotargeting your website. WPEngine offers U.S; U.S and Japan-based datacenters. Asian users can take advantage of Japan Datacenters.
- Complete security: Tired of your Website getting hacked? WPEngine implements multi-level security like Firewall, malware scanning, and one click restore will ensure you never sit idle, even if something goes wrong.
- Free CDN: Content delivery network ensures that your blog loads faster than ever, and WPEngine offers free CDN.
- Dedicated I.P.: With the business plan, you get free dedicated I.P., and we have already discussed why dedicated I.P. is important.
These are few of the many features offers by WPEngine, and if you want to know all other features offered by them, check it out on their pricing page.
My convincing point for moving to WPEngine was using unlimited plugins. I’m a plugin lover, and I love to try, test, use a new plugin, and write about it. Moreover, from long I wanted to shift my ad management to WP Advance ads plugin, and WPEngine powerful hosting environment, looked like the perfect solution to me. To ensure that, customer get outstanding experience, they don’t allow certain plugins, including any cache plugin.
The reason they disallow certain plugins because some of these plugins take too much time to execute an operation or uses 3rd PARTY API, which will make your WordPress blog load slow. Here is a complete list of disallowed plugins and alternatives. Here are few plugins which I removed after moving to them, and also alternatives that I’m using now:
- Google XML Sitemap > Better Google XML Sitemaps
- Smush.it > Image optim on Mac
- Broken link checker > Integrity
I also removed few plugins, as these features are offered by default on WPEngine:
- WP Missed schedule
- No post revisions
- WP Db-manager
- W3 Total cache
60 days money back guarantee:
Even if something goes wrong, or your experience with WPEngine is not up to the mark, you can ask for complete money refund within 60 days of sign-up. That gives me enough reason to trust them, and host ShoutMeLoud with them. At the time of writing, it’s been more than a week, and I had no issues so far.
My overall experience with moving WordPress site to WPEngine?
I will keep this part short, and useful for people who are looking to move their WordPress site to WPEngine. I will share a detailed review after using WPEngine for one more week.
Before signing up with them, I installed a plugin to check if there is any incompatible plugin out there. This plugin showed me disallowed plugins, and I disabled all of them. And, I ended up signing up for the monthly professional account, and signing up process was very straight forward. Infect, within 5 minutes of signing up, I had my WPEngine Login with me.
May 2016 Update: You can use WPEngine Automated migration plugin to migrate your site from current hosting to WPEngine. Will add a tutorial about it soon.
And I started preparing for the migration by following my earlier tutorial.
- I cleaned up the database and reduce the size.
- Got rid all unnecessary plugins and files.
- Started taking the backup of my WP-content folder.
My WP-content folder is almost 2 GB on Size, and it was taking ages with my internet speed to take backup, so I asked their support team to help me with moving WP-content folder from my old server to new WPEngine server.
Within 38 minutes, I got a response from one of the support member ( Ben Moore), which was not very pleasant, but I was happy to know they were helping me with the migration.
And, I gave them a go and waited for a response. In between, I realized that I used to play with Shell commands years back, and I can use ssh and sFTP to do the transfer myself. If not, WPEngine support is as it is helping me.
So, I opened my Mac Terminal, ssh’d into my old hosting, Zipped WP-content folder, sFTP into my WPEngine account, and copied my zipped file from old hosting to new WPEngine account. I have already shared a complete tutorial for the same:
Earlier, I didn’t realize, that I don’t have ssh access on WPEngine, and I will not be able to decompress the .tar file.
So, I opened a ticket and asked their support team to decompress the folder, and move the content to my WP-Content folder.
Once, they moved the file, all I needed to do was to move the database, and update the database info into the WP-config file. You can refer to my earlier guide on How to move WordPress host with zero downtime for better understanding.
WPEngine offers staging feature, which will let you see how your website will look before making it live. (I will cover this part in detail, as staging feature will also be use to making changes on your site before making it live).
Once, everything looked fine, I updated the ‘A’ record of the domain, and within minutes I was hosted on WPEngine. You can use a ping service like this to monitor if A record has been reflected globally or not.
One of the major complaints with WPEngine is their slow support, and lack of24-hourr support. I had a Skype conversation with one of their community Manager “Austin Gunter”, who told me that they are now working on 24*7 support, and also live chat support is underway.
Update: Live chat is live now.
More over, there is something good about WPEngine support, and that is: Your issues will be taken care by people who love and understand WordPress, so a faster resolution is expected.
At the time of writing, their support timings are from 9am-6pm CST, so it may not be so perfect for people who are living on the other side of the world. You might like to use a time-conversion service like this, while contacting support.
Quick suggestions for WPEngine team:
WPEngine is growing as a WordPress hosting brand, and certainly, they look promising. Though, by the end, a customer-centric company is the only one which survive in long-haul. They should work on expanding their support time. Also, being a complete WordPress centric hosting, a free migration will be a great bonus.
Overall, after running ShoutMeLoud on WPEngine for more than a week, I believe it’s a complete value for the money. I still have to configure settings like CDN and start adding new sub-domains, which is on local production site. I have not seen any downtime or slowness issue so far, and the dashboard is blazing fast.
Moreover, I keep adding more plugins without worrying about site slow-ness (Key is to use well-coded WordPress plugin), and most important I can focus on content development and promotion, without worrying about various hosting related issues.
Overall, if money is not an issue and you looking for a managed hosting solution for your WordPress blog, WPEngine is a good choice. It may not be for everyone (Due to high-pricing), but it’s for people who are facing hosting issues with growing traffic and looking for a hassle-free solution. I will be sharing more details/tutorials in coming days, for now, you can check out WPEngine, and subscribe to the Email newsletter for more updates.
I would love to hear your experience with WPEngine so far?
Also, if you have additional questions related to their hosting, feel free to ask me via comments.