My Transition from Private VPS to WP Engine

Hello, my name is Brian Jackson. I currently run and operate two websites. One is a popular IT blog http://theitbros.com and the other is my personal portfolio site, http://brianleejackson.com Thanks to Jean, I won a free year of hosting with WP Engine. I was looking for a new WordPress host and have had my eyes on WP Engine for quite a while.
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Hello, my name is Brian Jackson. I currently run and operate two websites. One is a popular IT blog http://theitbros.com and the other is my personal portfolio site, http://brianleejackson.com

Thanks to Jean and WP Mayor, I won a free year of hosting with WP Engine. I was looking for a new WordPress host and have had my eyes on WP Engine for quite a while.

Email Hosting

The one thing that is a little different with WP Engine is that they don’t host your email. So keeping that in mind, I actually use Office 365 for email and had to setup my DNS records with my DNS registrar as opposed to the webhost.

Migration

The migration process is very easy. In fact it is really no different than migrating a WordPress blog to another server running Cpanel. WP Engine has excellent tutorial articles here: http://support.wpengine.com/migration-process/ I had my site transferred, DNS propagated and was up and going within 30 minutes, with no downtime.

Speed

The speed really is incredible. I give them mad props on the speeds that they produce. Previously I was on a private VPS with 2GB ram, etc… a pretty nice machine. My personal site was getting about 2 second load times. After migrating to WP Engine, without tweaking anything, and also without any caching plugins, I instantly jumped to 939ms! See picture below. You can’t beat their speed.

wp-engine-speed

Support

I had one simple question which I asked their support, and it was answered within 15 minutes. Since then I have received two automated messages just to check up on me to see if I need help with anything. Even though they are automated responses, they actually create/open tickets just to see if I need help. That is beyond the support I have received from any other provider. Nobody else would even think about opening a ticket or asking if you need help.

Also, they update your WordPress installations for you when there are new versions.

We’ve just finished updating your WordPress site to version 3.5.2. Everything should have gone well, and your site should be all souped up with the new WordPress 3.5.2 goodness. Awesome! No further action on your part is required, everything is running smoothly. We just wanted to let you know that your site has been automagically updated and you didn’t have to do a bit of work. Super awesome.

backup-points

Backups/Restore

The process for taking a backup in WP Engine is so simple I could train my dog to do it. You literally go into the WP Engine dashboard (the one in the picture is the newly redesigned beta) and click on Backup Now. It emails you once it has finished. It usually takes about 30 seconds. And then you also have a simple restore button if something goes wrong. Really nice for quickly backing up before a plugin upgrade.

Plugins

The only plugin I wasn’t allowed to use was my Google XML Sitemaps. At first I was a little disappointed as I have been using that for years and love it. But after following their recommendation of switching to BWP Google XML Sitemaps, I was pleasantly surprised and it is no longer a problem.

Cons

The only con I can really come up with is their pricing. I wish it was a little cheaper. But you can’t really complain with the great speeds and support they are providing.

Conclusion

I really can’t recommend WP Engine enough. If you want to know your site is in good hands and have a good night’s sleep without worrying about downtime, then I recommend switching! And no, I wasn’t paid for this post 🙂

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4 Responses

  1. I really like your “writing voice” Brian, very simple and straightforward, backuped with real personal experiences in migration to WP Engine, not just just copy – paste.
    Thx for your insight on WP Engine, after your post I’ll surely plan to give it a try on one of the future projects, a bigger ones, of course, money argument 🙂

  2. Thank you ivica72! I have been working on my “writing voice” for years now 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the review. I do agree they are expensive. But I do have to say that after this year is over, I will be investing and staying with WPEngine. I have literally not had one single problem, no downtime, etc… I will skip a couple coffees a month if I have to, to make up for it, and know that my blog is up and running smooth. I am in the middle of re-designing my personal blog right now to be more SEO/AdWords focused. About to do the “30 blog posts in 30 days” challenge. Thanks for posting my review Jean and congrats on growing your site. I always forward your newsletter around the office when there are good tidbits 🙂

  3. Hello,

    I recently switched to WP Engine as well, and just signed up for Office 365 for my email. Since I can’t set up my MX records through WP Engine, I need to use my domain registrar, which is Hostgator. However, their instructions are unclear as it appears you need to select them as your hosting provider in order to add the TXT file and MX records.

    Can you provide the steps you used for how to set up Office 365 with your DNS registrar as opposed to WP Engine?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.
    -Craig

    1. Hey Craig, even with Hostgator you should have a separate DNS interface for managing your domain name records.
      I found these:
      http://support.hostgator.com/articles/hosting-guide/lets-get-started/domain-names-buy-sell-manage/i-purchased-my-domain-name-from-hostgator-how-do-i-log-into-that-account
      http://support.hostgator.com/articles/hosting-guide/lets-get-started/domain-names-buy-sell-manage/how-do-i-manage-the-domain-i-bought-from-hostgator

      So your A record is pointed to WP Engine for the hosting part, and you can then simply add the TXT file and MX records that 365 gives you.

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