In the last few years the concept of managed WordPress hosting has really taken off. Providers like WP Engine, Pressable, and Pagely started the concept, and regular, old-school hosting companies like Media Temple and Liquid Web have jumped on the bandwagon. If you’ve never heard of managed hosting, it’s a service where the hosting company provides both hosting services, and also manages many of the technical aspects of running a website. This extra management typically includes backups, updates, and some security checks. Many services also offer speed and performance increases.
If I have managed hosting, do I need a maintenance service?
If you’re site is on a Managed WordPress hosting account why would you even need maintenance and security services? This is a question we get frequently and it’s a very good one. Let’s take a look at our core Essential Support services one by one to detail the differences. We’ll use WP Engine as our main comparison, as they are perhaps the most popular managed hosting company, and the one we see the most often at Cinch.
WP Engine offers a very robust backup solution, with daily backups and a 40 (I think) snapshot list. They are very easy to access and allow you to either restore or download a backup. Their backups are very good and while we’ve never run into any issues, it’s always good to periodically test if your backups are good.
Our backups are equally solid. We test them on a regular basis, both for downloading and restore / migration purposes. Our backups are stored on redundant cloud server systems, and we keep at least the last 90 days of snapshots. We also offer real-time backups which track every change. Not mission critical for most websites, but for e-commerce and high trafficked sites, real-time backups are a true benefit.
Keeping the site software is important for both security and features. WP Engine will keep WordPress Core software updated, but not your plugins. I’m sure they have good reason to leave plugin updates to their customers, but if they don’t check and update regularly, a site could be vulnerable. All of our support plans include both WordPress Core and plugin updates. And while it’s rare a plugin update will break something, we can easily roll back and test if something does go awry.
Site security is a multi-faceted issue that needs to be tackled on a few different levels. For example, if an administrator uses a weak log in password, no amount of server security will prevent a hack. But WP Engine does maintain very secure servers, and they perform security scanning and cleanups. In terms of our service, we perform daily scanning and cleanups are included.
Uptime monitoring is a service that checks if your site is online and alerts when it goes down. While it’s not uncommon for a site to go down for a minute or two on occasion, frequent down time can be consequential. WP Engine does not include monitoring but does recommend a few available services. Uptime monitoring is included with all of our support plans. Our service will not notify you directly however. We get notified of any downtime and will notify you if we notice frequent issues.
Staging / Development Environments
All of our support plans include staging / testing environments, as does WP Engine. A staging environment can be helpful when testing out new features for your site, or troubleshooting a plugin issue.
We perform a one-time plugin audit at our customers request. We will go through each and every plugin with you over the phone to determine what they are, what they do, and wether or not they are needed. It’s often the case that plugins get added at some point, never used, and remain as overhead for a website. This audit is designed to clean up and streamline your website. I’m not familiar with how much time a WP Engine support person will spend on any single project – but this is a thorough and deliberate process. If anyone has done this with a WP Engine support tech, let me know in the comments.
Ah, our famous 30-minute fixes… while WP Engine does have 24/7 support, we feel our willingness and ability to understand your site and perform nearly any task you need really sets us apart. We have many customers that host with WP Engine, but still rely on us for our awesome support.
So, do you need a WordPress support team like Cinch if you’re using managed hosting?
If you add up the cost of our service plus hosting, WP Engine starts to look like a pretty good deal. It becomes less compelling the further up their plan list you go. The real question is how much hands on support you need. We have many customers who host with WP Engine and also value our fantastic support team.