In whole, I’ve been fairly pleased with WPEngine. They’re service is based on Linode, which I’ve always liked, the only difference is that by using WPEngine, I have some sysadmin folk to take care of the servers. Coming from a sysadmin background myself, this is both a joy for me and a pain in the ass for me. The sysadmin in me wants to have absolute control over the server and before WPEngine, I did. I had most of my clients running on VPS’s from a third-party. I had nginx setup as a load balancer, and three nginx webservers backed by a load balanced mysql server. The setup was great, it could handle the needs of all the growing clients and had plenty of room to grow. What I didn’t like, was the time that I had to put into maintaining these servers and researching how to tweak them for performance and the like. I needed the time I was spending on these servers to go and actually sell the product. So the decision was made to go to WPEngine.
As I said, WPEngine has been great for the most part. Where I have had issues is when a glitch comes up with the e-commerce software I use, in such a way that I can’t fix it through SFTP. Trying to get help through WPEngine is rather frustrating during these times. Typically there answer is, “contact their support.” Well funny enough, I am on their support team.
In the latest incident, I was upgrading a client’s store to the latest version of the software, which I have multiple clients on already, and during the one-time upgrade routine the site just quit and threw a nginx “Bad Gateway” error. This could mean a number of things but in this instance, I felt like there was some sort of time limit being reached as this client has a large number of products. I contact support and I get the typical response, contact their support. The thing about this upgrade though, is that I ran this same upgrade on the same site in their staging environment without issue.
After several back and forth emails I was getting very frustrated so I decided to take the matters into my own hands. I purchased a $20 VPS from VPS.Net and in about 30 minutes I had setup a LEMP environment, synced the files and imported the database. It took another 5 minutes or so for the upgrade routine to run. I then dumped the database and imported it back into WPEngine with the updated files. And like magic, it worked.
I understand that support can’t always be easy, hell I’ve lived it and the easy way out is to pass the buck. What makes support great is when the support technician recognizes that there is a fault with their product and actually tries to correct it for you, or at least gives you a work around.
I’ll be staying with WPEngine, as I still believe they have the best and most stable platform around and is well worth the money I pay.