In the past year or two a new breed of web hosts has emerged that focus specifically on hosting WordPress web sites. Some of the key players are WP Engine, FlyWheel, Pressable, Synthesis and Page.ly. These web hosts tend to be a little more expensive that the typical shared web hosting plans you can get through companies like Bluehost, Hostgator, Siteground etc. Whereas a Bluehost plan will cost you around $6/month, premium WordPress hosting starts around $25/month. If you’re used to shared webhosting and nothing has ever gone wrong for you, the price of a premium host seems a little steep, and indeed I was a little skeptical in the beginning too. I had never experienced firsthand any major problems with my current webhosts – no hacked sites or any outrageous downtime. So I really didn’t have much motivation to move to a premium host. But after I had the opportunity to try WP Engine’s service I quickly became a convert for many reasons, including the fact that my site ran significantly faster and the support was excellent. So these days, for my business clients, I always recommend a premium WordPress host and my host of choice is WP Engine.
Full disclosure – I am an affiliate of WP Engine and if you click the links in this post and sign up with them, that will result in me receiving a little extra cupcake money. If you want top notch hosting but are philosophically opposed to me eating more cupcakes you can certainly sign up without using my link and get the same exact price and service.
The reason I am an affiliate is because I use WP Engine every day (this site runs on WP Engine), as do several of my clients, and I love it. I recommend it to all my clients running an actual business on WordPress. I have also heard great things about FlyWheel, but I don’t have much experience with them firsthand. As with any decision you make for your business, do your research to pick the right solution for your situation.
So what I really want to address here is why I think premium WordPress hosting is worth even considering. Why pay $25/month when you can pay $5/month, right?
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you get what you pay for” and this can definitely be the case with web hosting. Now don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of sites still hosted on shared hosts like Siteground and they do a great job and are a good choice for many bloggers.
But sometimes it’s hard to assess the value you could be getting when you haven’t experienced it yet. Because nothing had gone wrong for me as yet, I wasn’t sure what I would get from premium hosting that I wasn’t already getting. The answer is a lot. For those of you that have lived through the hacked sites, the poor support etc, you’ll be ready to jump on board a lot faster. Here are just some of the reasons to consider a premium WordPress host.
Raise your hand if you have had any of these experiences:
- Your website has been hacked, you don’t have a backup, and nor do you have an in-house security team to clean it up for you. Your web host says it’s not their job to clean it up.
- Your site runs slowly and you call your host (Godaddy and Network Solutions are the biggest offenders here) and they throw their hands up and tell you that WordPress is inherently slow, it’s not their job to troubleshoot it blah blah blah. Basically, “it’s not me, it’s you”.
- Your site was featured on StumbleUpon or suddenly received a large amount of traffic, crashed the server and your site went down just as it finally got the attention you’d been working for!
- Someone else’s site on the server you share space with got featured on StumbleUpon and the server crashed taking your site down with it (that’s right….with shared web hosting it matters who your server neighbors are, but you have no control over that).
I haven’t experienced any of these problems on WP Engine.
What happens when you pay $25+ /month for premium WordPress hosting is the following:
- Your hosting company is now a team of WordPress experts, so if you have a question, they will not blame WordPress or give you any lame excuses.
- They optimize their servers for security so you have extra peace of mind. While nothing is ever 100% hackproof, they do everything they can to get out in front of possible security issues, and if your site were to get hacked, they will fix it for you at no additional charge.
- They optimize their servers for speed and scaleability, so your super popular site with spikes of high traffic, will run just as fast and consistently as any other.
- Your backups are done for you on a daily basis,AND you can create ‘restore points’ in your backups at any time.
- Do you know what Memcache, Hyper DB and other fancy technical terms like that mean? No, exactly… we regular folk don’t know what we don’t know about optimizing web hosting and servers. But WP Engine knows and we reap the benefits of their expertise.
- You get access to a staging area – a duplicate of your site you can create with one-click where you can test out plugins, themes, code changes etc without affecting your live site.
- They don’t outsource tech support -they are based here in the US.
- They answer support tickets super fast.
- They are transparent about all their processes, their reasons for running things the way they run them, any server issues etc.
- Even if you don’t use cheap shared hosting, but are on a VPS or dedicated server, you would then need someone on tap who understands how to run a server because you won’t get support from your host. With WP Engine, you get the benefits of a high performance server, without the hassle of managing it yourself.
These are just some of the major benefits you’ll get with WP Engine and other premium hosts.
Now when you use a WordPress-only host like this, things work a little differently than they do at typical inexpensive web hosting companies. So there’s a mini-learning curve that happens when you switch:
- You can only host WordPress sites on WP Engine so if you have non-WP sites you will still need another host.
- They do not host your email, so you can use Google Apps or your current webhost for that.
- While a lot of shared hosts allow you to have tons of sites under one account, WP Engine doesn’t work the same way. You’ll pay more for multiple sites.
- They also maintain a list of disallowed plugins, so there may be some plugins you currently use that you won’t be able to use any more, such as WP Smushit. This irks some people in the beginning but the reason they carefully curate plugins is so they can maintain a secure, fast environment. They know which plugins hog resources or cause problems so there is always method behind the madness. Typically they suggest an alternative, or you don’t even need the plugin because it’s something they are already doing on their end.
So you might hit a few teething problems in the beginning but overall you’ll find that your site is going to perform better all-around.
Premium WordPress hosting may not the right choice for everyone, but if you’re running any kind of business that relies on your website you should definitely consider upgrading to premium hosting.
Convinced yet? If so, sign up here.
Do you use a premium WordPress host, if so, which one? Leave your thoughts in the comments.