Romega Digital manages a bunch of WordPress sites (around 75 as I write this), and we are constantly creating new WordPress-driven sites for our clients. Over the years, we’ve tried several different providers and server setups for hosting those sites — including managing our own servers. There were good and bad in each setup, but all resulted in a lot of work for me and the rest of the staff. In 2015, we signed up for WP Engine hosting, and it has CHANGED MY LIFE (that’s only barely hyperbole).
WP Engine is managed WordPress hosting. Their engineers specialize in WordPress, which means they are experts in security and performance for the web’s favorite content management system. Since making the switch, we have seen a marked decrease in downtime and security issues. And I’ve definitely spent less time managing each WordPress install.
So how do I love WP Engine? Let me count the ways.
New installs in two clicks
As an agency on WP Engine, we have access to all the sites we manage in one dashboard. It’s easy to click into each install to get details like WordPress version, SSL status and storage and traffic info. Plus spinning up a new install is as simple as clicking “New Install” and giving it a name. WP Engine handles all the details like database creation that were previously done manually.
Easy (and free) SSL!
Adding an SSL security certificate has always been easy on WP Engine – just click “Add SSL”, fill out some info and approve payment. (This is way easier than what the guys on our app side have to deal with.) And JUST THIS WEEK, they have started offering free SSL certificates through Let’s Encrypt. WP Engine sites with SSL / HTTPS also get HTTP/2, which can improve site performance and boost search engine rankings.
Instant staging environments
Sometimes I need to make a change to an existing site, but I want the customer to be able to review and give feedback before the change is live. WP Engine offers a one-click process to clone a site to a “staging” environment where I can make as many changes as I like without fear of messing up the real site. I can even clone the changes back to the live site if I want.
Caching — storing a version of a page so it doesn’t have to query the database, speeding up load time — is a common way to improve site performance. I know from talking to the SAI Digital engineers that caching is important but kind of a pain to set up. So I’m really glad WP Engine handles that for me, with caching automatically enabled for all installs. And if a particular part of a site needs special caching considerations — such as an ecommerce site’s shopping cart — the WP Engine support team is always happy to help customize those settings.
Nightly and on-demand backups
Often when I teach a client how to manage their new WordPress site, they express unease over the possibility of messing something up to a point that they can’t undo it. Because WP Engine has automatic, nightly backups (and it’s super simple to roll back to one of these checkpoints), I can assure them that the worst they could ever lose is a day’s worth of work. Plus, I can initiate a site backup at the click of a button, which is helpful when it’s time to update WordPress core or plugins. Which brings me to…
Focus on security
WordPress is an extremely popular content management system, so it’s a favorite target of hackers. The WordPress team is constantly putting out patches as security vulnerabilities are found, so it’s important to keep the software up to date. WP Engine does the heavy lifting for this, regularly updating installs to the latest security patch level. Or, I can initiate an update with a single click from my WP Engine dashboard. Another great security feature from WP Engine: if I suspect a site has been attacked or compromised, I can request a free security scan and cleanup.
Code deployment via Git
All our projects at SAI Digital are in a revision control system called Git. Code is stored in a central repository, and multiple developers can “check out” the code to work on it, then push their code back to the repo. This keeps everything in sync, and ensures we have a backup of the latest version of a project at all times. Because WP Engine supports pushing code via Git, making our code changes live is simply a matter of typing a command into our computer’s terminal.
Top-tier customer support
With so many sites to maintain, problems are going to arise from time to time. When that happens, it’s important that I be able to get them resolved quickly. WP Engine’s customer support team is among the best I’ve seen. With their live chat feature, I can usually get problems solved in minutes. And even when that problem is 100% my fault, they are always patient and understanding.
I really cannot stress enough how much the move to WP Engine has improved my WordPress workflow. Everything from creating new sites to maintaining old projects has become so much easier, and I know the support team at WP Engine has my back if anything goes wrong.