Saturday, May 25, 2013

WP Engine Review - Is It Worth It?

There are plenty of WP Engine reviews from people who have large WordPress sites with massive following, but what about people who are just starting their blogs? Is WP Engine still worth the splurge?

WP Engine is hosting my first ever WordPress blog,, and I thought to share my experiences.

I've been using Blogger for ages and I love it. It wasn't until SiteBuildIt that I understood why one shouldn't keep business blogs in Blogger, Tumblr, or any other freely hosted services. Free blogging services are great for hobby blogs and diaries, but when it's about your business, you'll want the full control over your site and possibilities for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

I first thought I'd just get $2.99 hosting from GoDaddy and press that "Install WordPress" button, but I had read some horror stories.

Horror stories of business blogging

Pat Flynn's sites were attacked in February and he lost $12,000 as a result.

In 30x500 community, sites have been down when people have had traffic spikes. If your blog is down during a traffic spike, it's a lost opportunity. So many people wanting to read what you have to say and none being able to see the page. And when people try to fix the problems, anything can happen. Just couple of days ago I heard how someone got all his images corrupted because he tried to improve his blog uptime and security.

On top of that, WordPress sites are hacked all the time. You'll wake up one morning and all your articles are gone.

That's how I found WP Engine too. I read a tweet by someone laughing at the hacker who was trying to break in to her business blog that was hosted by WP Engine. And after reading about their services, I was ready to give WP Engine a try.

What did WP Engine promise that got me interested?

Top security and uptime. They are experts in what they do and they have set up a multi-level protection system to make sure your data is safe and always available. They'll even promise to fix your blog, if someone really is able to do any damage to it! With them, your blog should stay up even when there's massive traffic.

Automatic backups. This was a biggie for me. After working so many years in IT industry I know how important backups are. There are services and plugins for doing this, like and Backup Buddy. But they cost money too and making different services work together is always extra work that keeps me from doing my business.

Service. Whenever you have a problem, just make a ticket. At first I thought "Gee, running a blog is so easy that I probably won't be needing this much but it's nice to have". But… I was so wrong.

My first experience

Setting up the blog was super easy. I bought the domain from GoDaddy and just followed the instructions on linking the domain to my new WordPress blog and I was online. What a happy moment!

Then my problems started. I broke up my WordPress installation within the first hour. The whole thing just stopped working and my blog didn't load. I was just hacking along to customize my theme so I was pretty dumbfounded. At first I thought I'd just revert back to the default theme and load my custom theme again, but to my horror the WordPress remembered the changes I had done.

WP Engine backups saved me. On the very first day, just after couple of hours after getting my blog up, I used a backup to restore my blog back to normal. I hated WordPress from all my heart.

Next, I needed support

One of my readers contacted me to say that my comments form is broken. I soon found out that I wouldn't be able to find the fault on my own without reverting to the default theme. As I had spent so much time customizing my theme I didn't want to do that. So, I contacted the support.

Pretty soon, I got a happy mail from the support telling me that the support person had reverted my blog to the default theme and it was obvious that the theme was to blame. All my customizations were gone!

WP Engine offers manual backup points, but I hadn't taken one before contacting support. They also take automatic backups once every day. Unfortunately, I had just published a post and it wasn't in the previous backup. Now, I click the "manual restore point" always before contacting support.

After that grim first acquaintance, the support has never failed me since. And I've contacted them more than my share. It seems I'm getting into problems with WordPress all the time. It's embarrassing - I've been dealing with software all my life!

When I started with WP Engine, I thought the security and uptime would be the things I'd need the most. But now I know it's the support. I would have wasted countless of hours trying to solve my WordPress newbie problems myself. Now I've been able to concentrate on my business.

Then, I got some traffic spikes

The traffic that I get using 30x500 methods is not similar than I get to my other sites. I've never had this type of traffic profile before. Here's a snapshot from Google Analytics:

Just look at that! Crazy. And… I'm happy to say that WP Engine had no problems with this spike, hundreds of people rushing to the site at the same time.

Are there any downsides?

WP Engine does not host your mailbox. So you'll need to set up the mail addresses and mail forwarding using some other service. I'm using free ZohoMail to forward mails to my Google mail.

The search engine indexing is off by default. It's just a single check box that you need to uncheck. But it's a kinda important checkpoint if you are doing business online. I only found out when I installed the SEO plugin and my site still doesn't show in Google like it should.

Well, do you recommend WP Engine?

Yes, I happily recommend WP Engine. I know there are cheaper options, but what kind of business you are running if you can't afford $30-$100 to the maintenance and security of your most important business assets!

In addition, it makes me happy to support small online companies instead of large giants. More power to us small guys!

WP Engine has a 60 days money-back-quarantee and they are currently running a campaign where you can get several free months if you pay the whole year's hosting at one go.

Isn't it time to stop reading review and get back to business? Visit WP Engine and get your blog posts out to the world!

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