WP Engine WordPress Hosting Review – Does it Make a Difference? Is it worth it?

WP Engine WordPress Hosting Review – Does it Make a Difference? Is it worth it?

WP Engine WordPress Hosting Review

A lot of cheap web hosting services for your WordPress website will offer, at most, a decent, passable, and highly insecure service. However, if you’re after a concierge, performance-oriented, WordPress optimized solution, WP Engine has all the specialty tools you’ll need.

Among the first third-party solution providers for tailor-made or managed WordPress website hosting, WP Engine’s services remain by far the most popular. Since their WordPress-specific web host services aren’t cheap, you may be asking if this optimized hosting platform is value for money before you can make an investment.

WP Engine caters only to WordPress websites with managed hosting plans for a fast loading, secure, and fully supported WordPress blog with optimization tools. To find out why this platform trumps over all other managed and traditional hosts, read this conclusive review and learn how WP Engine makes the difference.

About WP Engine Managed WordPress Hosting

WP Engine is a versatile WordPress host solutions provider and a leader in managed hosting plans with over 150,000 clients worldwide. Terming itself a VIP hosting service specifically for WordPress, WP Engine offers a robust, hassle-free hosting platform that’s not only hacker-proof but also supported by world-class customer care specialists.

WP Engine Homepage

WP Engine’s specialty is managed WordPress hosting, boasting an impressive client list that includes National Geographic, Yelp, PBS, Asana, among other digital space heavyweights. Brands such as SoundCloud, HTC, Balsamiq, and FourSquare rely on WP Engine for their heavy consumer traffic webpages.

As an ideal hassle-free premium website hosting for your WordPress blog, WP Engine offers daily backups, automatic caching, security updates, a one-click staging area, and restore points. With their high-end hosting services, having this prolific platform supporting your website is like having a firm full of WordPress experts at your disposal.

WP Engine is the managed hosting solution for WordPress website owners who’d rather not deal with their site’s overly technical sides. On top of that, all WP Engine plans come with free add-ons, including the premium Genesis Framework that offers over thirty-six high-quality WordPress themes by StudioPress.

Hosting is leased from Google and amazon web services, meaning that unless these two giant e-commerce sites go down, your WordPress website should suffer any outage time. WP Engine explicitly offers WordPress configures cloud access for faster staging environments, security protocols, and server-side caching.

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Why Consider WP Engine?

WP Engine is possibly the best WordPress hosting service for managed plans, and that’s if your focus is optimized value over price. Time is money, as the adage goes, which serves to justify the relatively costly plans on this platform, evidenced by super-fast page loading speeds, little downtime, and stellar online security.

Third-party services blended by WP Engine include:

  • Top security SSL connections.
  • DNS servers that connect your hosting service to your domain.
  • An integrated global Content Distribution Network or CDN.

On top of that, WordPress users have at their disposal a knowledgeable, resourceful and available customer support team as part of the hallmark of WP Engine’s operations.

The question in your mind right now is ‘How do these attributes make WP Engine better than the rest, and are they worth the cost?‘ some of the advantages that keep this WordPress specific hosting optimization platform on top include;

A Premium Managed WordPress Environment

WP Engine is the largest and most popular managed WordPress hosting site, and its customers are sourced from over 150 countries worldwide. The platform hosts a wide variety of WordPress websites, and according to their advertisements, their services are utilized by more than 5% of all websites online daily.

While the plan specifications of WP Engines managed web hosting include shared hosting, it’s not the same as entry-level hosts that cram multiple websites on a low specifications server. With WordPress optimization, you’ll get shared hosting that’s well resourced, comparing to any of the best available premium hosting services.

Many ongoing and necessary tasks for running a secure, stable WordPress blog are available in this high-performance hosting environment. If you need more server accommodation, higher bandwidth allocation, and better security than a general, low-cost hosting service can provide, WP Engine is a strong alternative.

Not only does WP Engine excel in sophisticated optimized features, but the team is always creating new hosting features that are updated regularly throughout the platform’s entire infrastructure. The managed hosting service rolls out integrated features for WordPress 4 with tools to match, pioneering innovation in general web development best practices.

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Choice of StudioPress Genesis WordPress Themes

You now have access to StudioPress’ Genesis Framework that carries an extensive WordPress theme portfolio. WP Engine acquired the development company in July 2018, and you’ll get a gift of 35 selected StudioPress themes for your WordPress website.

StudioPress Premium WordPress Theme

The StudioPress themes cover many categories that enable your website to be created as a café site, a blog, an e-commerce store, an agency website, plus other online portfolios. You can select a splendid theme using a simplified process on WP Engine, and you have the flexibility to use external themes on your website or blog.

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Automatic WordPress Software Updates

Your WP Engine hosted and managed WordPress website will be kept updated, ensuring you’re using the latest and most innovative version. The hosting solution provider tests all updates before offering them for download instead of making a direct application to your website, which can cause hitches if there are unresolved code bugs present.

WP Engine Upgrade Core

You can defer installing future core software updates for 30 days so as to test beta or new versions of WordPress before they are automatically applied to your blog site. WP Engine leaves plugin updates for you, flexibility not offered by many managed website hosting service providers.

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Automated WordPress Website Backups

WP Engine doesn’t just keep your website updated but also backed up, thanks to automatic WordPress backups. In the instance that your website crashes for one reason or another, WP Engine has your WordPress databases, themes, core files, and plugins stored for restoration purposes.

WP Engine Backup Points

There is also a feature to manually create a complete backup of your WordPress website through the WP Engine user portal. It’s recommended that you manually back your site to the hosting platform’s server before changing themes or installing plugins, so you’ll have a restore point to roll back on should anything go haywire.

After backing up your WordPress site, you can use the WP Engine portal to download these backups as compressed Zip files for your safekeeping.

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WordPress Development and Staging Environments

When you are displaying your WordPress website’s live content using WP Engine, you’ll use the optimized hosting platform’s production environment. To efficiently set up your website and fluent content workflow, you will use the development environment for creation before moving to the staging environment.

WP Engine Staging Dev Environment

In the WP Engine staging environment, you can share your website’s content with testers, clients, or other team members. After staging, your content is ready to go live, and you’ll push it to the production environment using processes that are straightforward and assisted by the WP Engine user portal interface.

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Create Transferable WordPress Websites for Clients

Since you have three environments to work with on WP Engine, you can easily create WordPress website content that’s transferable to clients. Working with the transferable environment, you can make sites that can be grouped or ungrouped and which don’t count towards your WP Engine hosting plan.

Add Transferable Site

Transferable WordPress websites on WP Engine will block unauthorized access with password protection and only be made public after the transfer has been completed. A new transferable website can be made using an existing site on your WP Engine account, or you can start a fresh WordPress installation.

WP Engine Transfer Environment Button

This ability to quickly create and transfer sites using existing themes, settings and plugins saves time and money, especially if you’re a developer creating multiple client websites regularly. A demo link is initially issued to a client, and once they’re happy with the site, the rest of your transferable WordPress website is handed over to them.

To set their site alive, your client will need to open a WP Engine account and register an active hosting plan. The transferable environment, adopted from Flywheel WordPress, which was merged into WP Engine, appeals to developers as a viable website building tool.

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WP Engine GeoTarget Tool

You can display variations of content for your WordPress website content consumers based on their geo-location or geographic location. The GeoTarget feature on WP Engine detects the location of a visitor to your site based on their IP or internet protocol address and displays the content predefined for that country or region.

To specify the content available to visitors based on geo-location, the GeoTarget plugin uses shortcodes to define the post, widgets, or pages to be displayed. You can also target your WordPress website visitor with relevant content using code that prompts functional actions customized to their location or with zip codes if they live in the US.

Similar features can be enabled using the translation and multilingual WordPress plugins, especially seeing as GeoTarget is a paid add-on. However, this feature has been designed to operate on the WP Engine’s caching technology and ensures your site can handle multiple content versions without suffering performance inhibitions.

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Technical Details of WP Engine Managed Hosting

WP Engine is the specialized WordPress hosting solution that offers cloud-based and shared managed plans that illustrate optimal support standards as well as extended storage allowances. There’s a significantly comprehensive range of features provided that make it easy to incorporate to manage your WordPress website better.

The technical details of WP Engine managed web hosting for WordPress websites involves:

  • Caching of Websites: While regular web caching is offered, WP Engine has an option for object caching which is used in providing receipts for database queries.
  • Global CDN or Content Delivery Network: At no extra fee, your WordPress-managed hosting plan includes MaxCDN access.
  • PHP: WP Engine is able to switch between PHP versions such as 7.2 and 7.3
  • HTTP 2.0: The WP Engine MaxCDN and all servers use HTTP 2.0
  • SSL Encryption: You can import or purchase an SSL certificate through your WP Engine user portal, or you can use the free Let’s Encrypt version.
  • SFTP: To edit and upload files, you can create multiple FTP accounts to use for secure access to your WordPress site.
  • Server File Manager: Except for the FTP access to WP Engines storage servers, there isn’t an online server file manager.
  • Access To Database: To access the website database on WP Engine, use ‘phpMyAdmin’ to log in through a browser.
  • Email: WP Engine managed hosting plans don’t provide an email service.
  • Website Management: Depending on your managed plan, and despite the ability to defer updates for 60 days, WP Engine automatically updates your WordPress website software. Website themes and plugins aren’t updated automatically.
  • Plugin Restrictions: Your WordPress website’s performance can be affected by the disallowed plugins on WP Engine, which include optimization, caching, and backup plugins.
  • Security: WP Engine scans websites for security issues, including malware, for which detection is relayed to the customer support team for action.
  • Clean Up For Post Hack Instances: WP Engine retains the services of clean-up firm Sucuri to fix your WordPress website after being hacked.
  • Data Centers: The managed web hosting platform for WordPress sites has partnered with Google’s Cloud Platform and AWS or Amazon Web Servers for extensive server locations in the US, Australia, Asia, Europe, and Canada.
  • Staging Sites: Through the WP Engine user portal, all managed hosting plans offer development, staging, and production environments that also facilitate the seamless transfer of content.
  • Website Migration: You can effectively migrate your WordPress website to the WP Engine optimized hosting platform with a plugin at no extra cost.
  • Analytics: The user dashboard on WP Engine displays your website’s traffic data as well as storage space and bandwidth allocation usage.
  • Checking Uptime: WP Engine monitors the back-end of your WordPress site for downtime issues that may affect your site’s overall health. Downtime is monitored at the front end, and comprehensive action is taken on the detection of such a performance issue.
  • Customer Support: WP Engine offers a 24-hour live chat support channel on every managed hosting plan. Except for the startup plan at entry-level, phone support is available for all other plans, while top-tier plans enjoy a 24/7 ticket support service.

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WP Engine Customer User Experience

The level and quality of managed web hosting service and the stellar support make WP Engine a premium WordPress specialized and dedicated host. Founded by Jason Cohen in 2010, WP Engine offers cutting-edge technology that companies like Microsoft and SoundCloud rely on.

WP Engine offers customers a few perks, like access to the Genesis Framework by StudioPress, which enables you to build unique, powerful themes for your WordPress website. Every managed web hosting plan by the trendsetting platform comes with over 35 StudioPress themes valued at over $2,000.

While there aren’t any more additional freebie plugins or themes, some external plugins are expressly forbidden on WP Engine. Since the hosting platform handles your WordPress website’s object caching as opposed to allowing caching plugins, some third-party themes or plugins can interfere with performance.

Installing WordPress

Creating a WordPress website is straightforward once you’ve logged into your WP Engine user portal. You can start an installation using an existing site on your account, copying its themes and plugins, or you can create a fresh WordPress website installation.

WP Engine Installing WordPress

WP Engine gives you the flexibility of creating WordPress websites very quickly, particularly if you regularly develop sites for clients. With the click of a button, you are able to apply starter configurations, preferred plugins, and themes, and it only takes a couple of minutes to have your site online and running.

Your WordPress website can take the WP Engine subdomain Uniform Reference Locator or URL. Choosing a domain for your site is also easy, and you can then connect it through the user portal to your hosting account.

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Installing a StudioPress WordPress Theme

WP Engine Installing StudioPress Themes

You get over 35 premium website themes courtesy of StudioPress and their Genesis Framework. The theme file can be downloaded through the WP Engine user interface and then uploaded onto your WordPress site’s dashboard.

Every WP Engine theme has detailed instructions to help with your new WordPress website’s quick setup and launching. There’s an automatic-enabled obligatory configuration plugin with which you can create website installation cache and staging areas.

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WordPress Website Management

WP Engine General Settings

Your WordPress dashboard features links to the WP Engine support tools and user portal from where you can access many of this platform’s optimized management features for your website. You can activate the free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate on the user portal, import your own, buy one from the platform, or create SFTP user accounts while enabling CDN.

The purpose-built control panel on WP Engine is user-friendly, making it easy to manage your WordPress site as opposed to other shared hosting platforms that use low-cost cPanel.

Every day, WP Engine will automatically backup your WordPress website, but you can defer these or create manual restore points using the web hosting service’s UI. Before launching your site, as you are working to develop all the features, you recommend using password protection from this premium platform.

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WP Engine Web Hosting Performance

Your WordPress website can accommodate simultaneous visitations by content consumers without the deterioration of performance, such as decreased load times. WP Engine is the premium managed web hosting service best known for fewer downtime instances, guaranteeing users a tough-to-emulate 99% website uptime.

Your WordPress website hosted by WP Engine is bound to grow, and malicious parties may take an unhealthy attraction to your commercial activities. The premium managed hosting platform institutes security measures to curb hackers’ inconvenience and risk losing customer’s financial and personal data.

Apart from offering free SSL certification, other security initiatives include;

  • Limiting file writing access to your system from other sources as well as detailed logs whenever a file write happens
  • Automatically searching for malicious plugins and disabling them
  • Encrypted and logically separated site backups for restoring your site in the event of data loss
  • Immediate handling of threats identified and routine scanning for integrity vulnerabilities

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Loading Time Test Results

Depending on the type and amount of content a website displays, the loading time will vary on the WP Engine hosting service. To conclusively obtain website load time test results, a feature-rich WordPress site featuring all the premium plugins and a multipurpose theme runs against one built using a lightweight StudioPress theme.

Lightweight-Themed Website Loading Time Test Results

WP Engine Twenty Twenty Theme

By default, new WordPress installations carry the lightweight Twenty Twenty theme, meaning that over one million users employ it on their websites. You can use the Pingdom service, a loading time test solution provider, to monitor both websites for 30-minute loads over the duration of a week.

WP Engine Pingdom Twenty Twenty

Test results for the basic-themed website of 164.52 kb size, and after nine requests, consists of parameters like 94/100 performance grade and 246 milliseconds of loading time. Your lightweight-themed WordPress website that WP Engine hosts will load very fast, at 0.246 or a quarter of a second.

These impressive WP Engine loading time metrics can’t compare to Dreamhost, Bluehost, or HostGator hosting plans, although their shared plans have lower costs. WP Engine can also hold its own against managed hosting platforms under the same price bracket for a no-frills WordPress website with a default 20:20 theme.

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Seven-Day Speed Test Results with a Multipurpose Theme

Avada is a multipurpose WordPress theme that’s feature-rich, has multiple website demos, and popular, as evidenced by over 600,000 sales up to date. The high level of functionality with such a theme can slow down a website’s loading time, and we’ve used it as a subject for testing WP Engines’ capacity to handle heavyweight sites.

WP Engine Avada Theme

After installing the Avada WordPress agency website demo, Pingdom was given half-hour interval loading time test results over a seven-day period. You’ll find test result metrics that include a performance grade of 87/100 alongside a 929ms loading time initiated by 52-page requests where each has a size of 4.99 MegaBytes.

WP Engine Pingdom Avada Homepage

With a much larger file size than that of a 20:20 themed lightweight website, the Avada WordPress site still loads impressively with WP Engine. However, these tests are relegated to those users with the Avada theme demo site, so you can also test a blog post published on such a site.

Compared to the 929 milliseconds loading time of the agency homepage demo site, a full-featured WordPress blog post averages 776ms. The blog post scored a performance grade of 82/100 and had a size of 2.11 MB for the 61 requests recorded.

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Site Speed Test Results Summary

WP Engine is a super-fast managed hosting platform dedicated to WordPress websites, as evidenced by the loading times for lightweight and feature-rich sites using the Pingdom show. Your website’s loading times are quick by selecting this host, whether using a basic theme, a StudioPress option, or multipurpose features like Avada.

You can also choose various testing locations around Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia for your WordPress site speed monitoring when hosted by WP Engine. An impacting factor that you’ll notice with your tests is loading times will differ slightly depending on how far the page request visitor is from the testing location.

That’s why WP Engine includes a CDN with every managed hosting plan to mitigate, to a degree, this distance loading time distraction or latency caused by the round trip time data response for WordPress pages. Select a data center nearest to the region that most of your site’s visitors are located, as site data loads faster when the server is closer.

On average, your seven-day report for the tested pages will reflect load times similar to;

  • WordPress site with basic Twenty Twenty theme; Median loading time of 246ms, performance rating 94 or grade A
  • WordPress webpage with multipurpose Avada theme: Median loading time of 929ms, performance rating 87 or grade B
  • WordPress blog post on Avada theme: median loading time of 776ms, performance rating 82 or grade B

The better site performance offered by WP Engine helps increase website content consumers, improving Search Engine Optimization or SEO for an enhanced user experience. With considerations to data privacy laws for regional website hosting, faster loading WordPress pages will result in higher traffic being driven to your content, growing conversion opportunities extensively.

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Load Impact Performance Testing

Multiple visitors simultaneously using your WordPress website will impact the loading time and other performance parameters, whether or not the WP Engine service is hosting your site. You can perform a Load Impact or K6 performance analysis tool that simulates multiple page requests to review how your site will hold up under the pressure of many simultaneous users.

WP Engine Load Impact Testing

A simulation of 199 virtual visitors using your site simultaneously can be achieved after five minutes, and the Load Impact calculator records response time at similar regular duration intervals. The multipurpose Avada theme on a WordPress website tests that there’s no significant impact in performance with the 199 users.

When put through the Load Impact test, budget hosting service with shared plans display performance glitches with only 50 simultaneous users.

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Uptime Test Results

One of the factors that can initiate negative performance on your WordPress website is downtime or periods of server unavailability. By extension, downtime makes your site appear untrustworthy and unprofessional, which results in a negative reputation and missed opportunities for you.

WP Engine Uptime

WP Engine guarantees WordPress hosted users an uptime of not below 99.95%; otherwise, you can ask for credit on your monthly payments. You can monitor your website on a premium managed web hosting plan over eight days of testing to see if the level falls below their exceedingly high standard.

You can run tests on both an HTTP and an HTTPS WordPress website for response time and outages monitoring, for which results will hold at 99.96% uptime. Within a five-day period, you’ll note that response time averages between 385 and 452 milliseconds with 4-minute outages for each site.

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Support for WordPress Website Monetization

All online activity is either designed to inform, advertise, provide exposure or sensitize consumers to products and services, but the ultimate goal is monetization. WP Engine offers support for monetizing your WordPress site or blog by installing the Google AdSense audience targeting plugin to your WordPress site.

The platform also lets you join affiliate programs and run their banner ads on your website for click-through commission earnings. You can also earn from referrals on links for products recommended on your website or blog post, such as the Amazon marketplace.

WP Engine assists with plugins to segregate content and handle payments with memberships and subscriptions on your WordPress website. You have tools to add functionality for selling products online with WP Engines plugins like protected downloads, shopping carts, or shipping calculators.

Sponsored posts on your website will earn you commission as you raise awareness for products, services, or ideas to your readership base.

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Pricing Details

WP Engine has four predefined managed web hosting plans for WordPress websites and blog posts, alongside a customized option for large-scale websites with millions of requests. Apart from a free SSL certificate, every plan consists of free StudioPress themes, and you have the opportunity to upgrade the number of sites under your account.

WP Engine Pricing

The predefined WP engine managed plans offer options are categorized as;

  • Startup or Personal Plan: One premium WordPress site for $25 every month featuring 10 GB storage space, 50 GB usage bandwidth, and capacity to accommodate up to 25,000 visitors.
  • Professional Plan: 3 premium WordPress websites for $49.17 every month, featuring 15 GB storage space, 125 GB bandwidth allocation, and a 75,000 visitor limit.
  • Growth Plan: 10 WordPress websites for $95.83 per month with 20 GB storage space, 200 GB bandwidth, and accommodation for 100,000 users.
  • Scale or Business Plan: 30 WordPress websites for $241.67 for a month, offering 50 GB storage space, 500 GB bandwidth, and a user capacity of 400,000 visitors.

Adding WordPress websites to your plan will cost $20 per month for each site installed, but they’ll all be sharing the available resources, including storage allowance and bandwidth. Besides support for a WordPress multisite which assists website developers, another paid extra includes the GeoTarget location-based site version feature.

WP Engine has you covered if your requirements are more than what is offered in the predefined hosting plans. The customized solution is aimed at large mission-critical enterprises that require a dedicated environment that will guarantee performance.

Besides unique features like launch readiness assessment and customized onboarding, a WP Engine dedicated hosting package offers solutions that accommodate more than a million visitors to your WordPress site per month. You’ll need between 100 GB and 1 TB of local storage space as well as 400 GB of bandwidth or more every month for a plan that supports up to 25 websites or blog pages.

Since similar hardware and software supports all predefined hosting plans, equal levels of performance can be achieved throughout WP Engine, whether your plan costs $25, $240, or is a customized dedicated hosting plan. Traffic levels, the features provided by your plan, and how your site is configured will impact your WordPress website’s performance.

Although the WP Engine managed website hosting plans aren’t cheap, they provide these features to give your WordPress site sufficient growth space. Thus, the platform is best suited to serious e-commerce or other business sites that can generate profit that justifies these plan costs.

What about Overage Fees?

Overage fees are the costs charged when your WordPress websites go over your WP Engine hosting plan regarding visitor numbers or bandwidth allocation. Whether your website or multisite is on the startup, growth, or scale plan, you’ll incur $2 for every 1,000 extra visitors.

WP Engine won’t throttle you or cut access to your WordPress site when you get traffic spikes, as these are advantageous to your commerce unless yours is a closed-user website. As a customer, the managed hosting platform sets expectations for the service guaranteed despite receiving unlimited or excess customers to your website.

However, continuous overage charges will suggest that it’s time to upgrade your WordPress website hosting plan with WP Engine.

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Any Hidden Costs in WP Engine’s Pricing?

The WP Engine signups are above board, with no hidden costs; something other competitors in the web hosting space could benefit from emulating. Regardless of how long your commitment is, the charges quoted for each hosting package remain the same, except for the discounts regularly advertised beside each price tag.

There are no extravagant add-ons either on WP Engine, except for analytics data and location-based consumer targeting once you’ve picked out your package plan. No add-on will be installed to your site by default; this may lead to extra charges at checkout, but WP Engine lists those available add-ons for your selection.

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Final Thoughts

Your WordPress website may have outgrown its entry-level hosting service, and it’s time to switch to WP Engine for an optimized, secure, and high-performing managed plans solution. WP Engine is known for fast load times, stable, reliable serves, top-notch online security, three levels of production environments, and a bevy of technical tools alongside cutting-edge customer support.

Whether yours is a small business site, a personnel support website, or a staple e-commerce marketplace, WP Engine is the WordPress specialist. Using their performance intelligence feature, you can access real-time analytics on your site’s effectiveness, which allows you to make optimizing tweaks based on the data.

Written by
Suresh Patel
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