As a web developer, I've had experience with many different types of hosting providers. They varied from the dirt-cheap $3.95/mo variety to the more expensive dedicated server setup.
There is not a “right” option that is going to work for everyone. But if you want to avoid pain and suffering in regards to future blog/website growth, there are a few things you will want to look for in a website host:
- Reliability: How often will visitors see a “your site is down error”?
- Performance: Will my web site's load time take a big hit with this hosting provider for my blog?
- Ease of Use: What tools will I have access to hosting my website here?
- Reviews: What do others say about this website host?
- Lock-In: If I wanted to switch hosts, how easy will it be to transfer my site?
Unless you are willing to increase your budget, you most likely will go with a shared hosting provider. This means your website will be hosted alongside other websites on the same server.
Now, if you are starting (like Money Stir), you probably don't get a shit ton of traffic. In these cases, going with a cheaper host might make sense. Knowing that transferring to a new hosting provider can be a major PITA, so even in that case, I would think hard if saving a few dollars is worth it.
After considering multiple host options at different price points, I decided that WPEngine provided everything I was looking for from the list above. They are also quite a bit more expensive than other options at $35/mo to host Money Stir on their lowest website hosting plan.
Long-term wise, I think WPEngine's pricing structure gets very expensive when you start to get more traffic. But I wanted my first host to be reliable and easy to work with, without many of the problems cheaper hosts encounter.
I did consider going with SiteGround as well, but I decided against that option until my website traffic increases. Once I start to get a high volume of regular traffic, I'm considering going with SiteGround Cloud Hosting, which currently starts at $80/mo. This would probably make the site faster and give me more flexibility to host other websites.
What I Like About WPEngine
The great thing about WPEngine is they are focused on managed WordPress hosting. This means you know they have optimized every layer of their data structure specifically for WP. This includes their caching layer, which improves website speed and ensures everything works as intended with the WordPress core.
They also cater to all types of users, from developers to people who don't know anything about code. This means you don't have to try to navigate a complex control panel. But it also means you are somewhat limited in what you can do.
These are the top benefits I've experienced using WP Engine:
- Automatic Backups: They will make a daily backup of your database and code once per day. This can be a huge deal if you accidentally break your site or if it ever gets hacked.
- Dev + Staging Environments: If you want to make large code or plugin changes to your site in an environment outside of your live site, you can easily spin up the Dev and/or Staging environment. I found this extremely useful when launching a new theme. You can even move the database and/or files between environments, which provides flexibility when deploying large changes (make sure you know what you are doing when transferring a database to live).
- Git: As a web developer, I love using a code repository to track changes and revert to versions of the code at different points. It makes pushing up code changes easy.
- Caching: They have a custom page and object cache layer that appears to be very effective. Caching will make your site much faster.
- CDN: All of their accounts now support a global CDN. This will increase performance as static files, like images/JS/CSS, are served from servers closer to your visitor. This type of service would cost you extra money and partly justifies the higher hosting costs going with WP Engine.
- StudioPress Themes: By hosting with WPEngine, you get free access to some of the StudioPress Premium themes. I used StudioPress and the Genesis Framework as the first theme on Money Stir.
- Auto Upgrades: WPEngine will automatically upgrade the WordPress core with the latest updates. Especially with security updates, this could prevent your site from getting hacked.
When you click your site after logging into WPEngine, this is what you will see:
On the left, you have each of your environments. This is where you can access all the features for each environment.
There are “Copy from” and “Copy to” buttons that allow you to transfer code and/or the database from each environment on the top right.
Final Thoughts on WPEngine
So far, I'm thrilled with WPEngine's hosted WordPress solution. It is easy to use, and more importantly, the site is fast.
WPEngine is a great host to go with, especially if you don't have too much traffic yet. However, as I outgrow their Startup plan, I will most likely transfer to a different hosting provider. The cost goes up exponentially as you go up in plans, and I think there are more cost-effective options out there when you have a significant amount of site traffic.
If you want to signup with WPEngine, I would appreciate it if you used my affiliate link. Using my affiliate link will save you 20% off of the first month of hosting with WPEngine, and I would greatly appreciate the support.
Who do you host with? Are you happy with their service?