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WPX Hosting Review

WPX Hosting Review

WPX Hosting Review 1

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links ahead, because why not!. My reviews & opinions are always honest and legitimate and I will never falsely recommend a product or service just for affiliate clicks. If you have a problem with this, just do not click the links.

I have been considering moving on from Siteground when my yearly hosting expires (read my siteground review) and decided to give wpx hosting a try, so here is my wpx hosting review.

Wpx hosting seem to have almost too good to be true reputation, with positive reviews everywhere and they boast that they have superior WordPress performance and support compared to all other WP hosts, and the reviews do seem to concur, especially this one.

So wpx hosting have quite a reputation to live up to and I have quite high hopes and expectations from them here. However the same was also true of SiteGround, it is very hard to find negative reviews, yet my experience with their customer service and support has very rarely been positive.

1. The website migration

Since I provide website migration services myself and ran a web hosting company for 16 years, I have obviously done hundreds of website migrations over the years and I know how to do it with my eyes closed. But anytime a host offers free migration, I will ask them to do it for me to test their migration skills, customer service skills, WordPress knowledge and overall competency.

Sadly this was a #fail from the get-go, as they refused to do the free migration based on the fact that I also wanted to change the domain name during the migration, citing that it was a complicated and time-consuming process. If I wanted them to do the migration then I would have to pay $98, so I declined and did it myself.

I have done the domain name change many times, not only for clients, but it is the standard process I use when testing out hosts, which involves cloning my own site over to a sub-domain, which of course involves changing the domain name.

Now granted if you were a noob and you were doing this for the first time and thus tried to do this manually, then yes it could be a complicated and time-consuming process. But as any WordPress professional (or host) should know, there are plenty of tools that will do the job for you with little to no extra effort.

WPX Hosting Review 2

I generally use All-in-One WP Migration, which allows you to change the domain name when you perform the backup, which automatically changes all references of the old domain in the database to the new domain. So when you restore your backup at the new location, it is running on the new domain. I have also used ManageWP to do the job on several occasions as well.

Amount of additional time/effort required : 0
So I found $98 to be rather expensive just to switch the domain name, which I can only assume is down to lack of knowledge on how to do it efficiently.

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A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another

The second issue I had was the 301 redirect from the old domain to the new domain. Again this should have been a really simple process.

The usual process is as follows:-

  1. add the old domain as an alias to the new domain
  2. add 301 redirects into your .htaccess file from old domain to new domain.
  3. update dns for old domain (if moving to a new host)
  4. Re-generate your letsencrypt SSL so that it includes the domain alias. This is required for https redirects to work.

You may be asking, why didn’t you do the SSL before updating your DNS? Well, unfortunately, the way lets encrypt works (has been implemented at most hosts) requires that your domain is already pointing at the hosts server first, as the SSL registration process first checks the DNS, and if it points elsewhere, it fails.

This is obviously a massive PITA for migrations or if you use cloudflare or Sucuri as it also breaks the 3 monthly renewal of letsencrypt. Hosts really need to disable the DNS check on their letsEncrypt implementation to make it more reliable.

Now with almost every host I have used, you generate the letsencrypt ssl within cpanel, and it includes all domain aliases by default. But WPX hosting control panel did not do this. As a result, the redirect failed, because as soon as anyone hit the old domain over https, they got a security alert from the browser about an invalid ssl certificate, which stopped the redirect from ever happening.

I had to contact wpx support to get this fixed and I had a hard time making them understand what the root cause of the problem was and how to fix it. At one point they decided to install “Really Simple SSL” plugin on my site to redirect http to https, which they thought would fix it.

I then had to explain that no plugin would fix this issue since it existed outside of WordPress and was nothing to do with http to https, which was working just fine without the plugin.

This worryingly showed a general lack of knowledge about hosting, ssl, browser security and WordPress. All things that a host and self professed WordPress expert really should know inside out.

So first impressions were not great and so far and thus do not give me any compelling reason to think that wpx hosting’s support will be any better than SiteGround when I need to use it.

2. The Website Performance

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Once again my expectations were high based on what I have read. But after running some tests with gtmetrix and pingdom, sadly I did not see any significant performance improvement compared to Siteground.

When I asked wpx support about this, they told me that I needed to use W3 Total Cache to get the best performance on their servers.

This was rather annoying, as I specifically do not use W3TC because it doesn’t play well with the DIVI theme I use on my sites, and I have to keep disabling it to make the DIVI builder work properly. But I disabled my normal caching plugin and enabled W3TC instead, and performed my tests again.

With the following tests below I am using WPX-Cloud on the WPX site and Cloudflare on the siteground site, so both are using a CDN.

With W3TC + WPX-cloud enabled there is a small improvement of about 0.5s, which is certainly nowhere near the 3 x speed improvement they claim, although the TTFB is considerably better, but this is mostly down to cloudflare which generally makes TTFB worse.

Bear in mind also that gtmetrix tests the “fully loaded time”, which includes all external resources that load asynchronously too (google maps, font, facebook pixel etc), so can be misleading as these load on the client side and thus will always load at the same speed regardless.

Winner: wpx hosting

WPX Hosting Review 5
SiteGround gtmetrix score
WPX Hosting Review 6
Siteground TTFB
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WPX gtmetrix score
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wpx hosting TTFB

Next I tested with pingdom tools, which doesn’t count the asynchronously loaded resources, which was giving an average just below 1s for wpx, compared to Siteground which more consistently between 1-2s. So the difference is just under 1s on average.

However I did 2 tests a 2 different times of day, and got different results. During the day, Siteground was better, at 2AM GMT, wpx was better.

Winner: Siteground

WPX Hosting Review 9
Pingdom score for wpx hosting
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Pingdom score for Siteground
WPX HostingSiteGround
GTMetrix Pagespeed4s4.44s
TTFB31ms1s
Pingdom Score0.76s1.88s

In both cases you can see that wpx hosting does have a better performance grade and TTFB, but is it enough to warrant changing hosting provider?

I contacted wpx hosting and sent them these scores to see what they would have to say and asked if they had Memcached or Redis or any other caching tech on the server which would enable to me to achieve the superior performance they boast of.

Here are some of the responses I received, which I found a little odd.

To be more objective I tested the website directly from London where the location of the server is located.


You can see that the test shows a load time of 1 second for the homepage despite the external resources taking over 400 ms load time: http://take.ms/dfHLh / https://tools.pingdom.com/#5a2c0eb825800000

Another test : https://tools.pingdom.com/#5a2c10014ec00000 shows again that all the resources spcifically from the server are loading without any issues, again only the external resources are taking up load time.


Svetlozar T.
Senior Technical Support at WPX Hosting

My tests were also done from London, so not sure how his tests could be more objective than mine, but Svetlozar insisted they were and refused to budge on this or explain why.

Also, he seemed proud of the fact that his Pingdom test took 1s (500ms longer than mine), and kept pushing this fact. I had to point out to him twice that lower response time is better and thus his scores were worse than mine and not better, but he absolutely refused to accept this.

I also had to explain that you cannot simply do 1 test and base everything on this result, as the test results fluctuate a lot. You have to perform multiple tests and look at the average score. He also refused to accept this or discuss frther as well, so I decided it was probably time to quit and cut my losses at this point as I was beating my head against the proverbial brick wall.

Based on the responses I received, I felt that they do not fully understand how to do performance testing or how to interpret the results nor do they understand the difference between gtmetrix and pingdom.

Test 2

I also went ahead and cloned over a 2nd site for testing (zenmsp.uk) just to give them the benefit of doubt.

On Siteground, it is using Siteground’s own Supercacher plugin and no CDN. This is only because the theme originally had issues with W3TC and I am unable to use CloudFlare on this domain for other issues I won’t go into.

On wpx I used W3 Total Cache with their recommended settings plus their wpx-cloud. So I really expected wpx to win this one.

Average score after 10 tests

WPX: 3.87s

Siteground: 4.14s

So yes wpx won by a mere 0.27s (270ms), which is an insignificant amount. I think if I switched the Siteground version to W3TC and used cloudflare, it would beat this score by a more significant amount.

I have given wpx the opportunity to look at the site and have a go at improving the performance, so I will report back if anything happens.

Resource Limits

One thing many people do not take into consideration is resource limits. While a hosting may seem like a good deal when you just look at the price and quotas, this is often marred by resource limits which would cripple a busy site quite quickly, causing you to need to upgrade. This is a tricky tactic a lot of hosts use.

I asked wpx support about the resource limits imposed per site, and this is the reply I got back.

All websites are separate from each other and they do not share resources nor can affect another.

The number of simultaneous server processes is 3 php processes per site. The plan you are on (the Business plan) has 128 MB memory limit per website and 1 dedicated CPU for the whole plan. 

Ani D

If you are only hosting 1 small site, this will suffice. But if you were hosting multiple sites as the plan allows, then these limits are very likely to cause performance problems.

Modern sites using themes/builders like DIVI, wpbakery, beaver builder etc all require 128MB as a minimum, so imagine if you have 5 sites all fighting for that same memory.

So busy sites, eCommerce sites, resource heavy sites etc will need something better.

3. Control Panel

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Pretty much every host out there uses cpanel these days, I have not come across one for a long time that doesn’t. Which was something I found appealing about wpx hosting initially, as they have their own in-house control panel instead and frankly I hate cpanel, the UI is awful.

Sadly the appeal soon wained once I started using it and realised how limited in functionality it was, it was also painfully slow, most actions such as adding a domain or email took several minutes.

Okay so they only do WordPress, and they are clearly targeting non-technical customers and agencies who want a fully hand-held, managed solution, so they do not need all the functionality of cpanel, which is fair enough, and if you are one of those types of customers, you will probably love it. But if you are more technical like me and want the ability to do things yourself, you will find it a very lacking and probably get quite frustrated having to constantly contact support.

4. Pricing

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If you have multiple small websites, then i’d say the wpx pricing is very reasonable. At $24.99 for 5 sites on the business plan, that is only $5 per website +tax. The bigger plans are cheaper per site. Frankly If you are not willing to spend a measly $5 per website on hosting, then you deserve crappy/slow hosting.

If you only have 1 small website, then $24.99 may seem expensive compared to other hosts, but then those hosts are not offering the same level of support and management.

WPX hosting claim that they will fix any issue with your site or remove malware completely free of charge. This is worth the price all by itself and is what “managed hosting” should be. Sadly I cannot confirm or deny whether they deliver on these claims, but given the caveat with the free migrations, I must admit to being a bit skeptical.

Every plan includes all the following features, which is pretty good to be honest, as not a lot of hosts offer some of these features.

High-speed, custom CDN  Unlimited Site Migrations*  Unlimited SSLs
24/7 Fast-response Support  Staging Area  Email  Manual Backups
DDoS Protection  Malware Scanning & Removal  PHP 7.X  HTTPS/2
30 Day Money-Back ● 28 Day Automatic Backups
99.95% Uptime Guarantee
1-Click WordPress Installations ● USA + UK Hosting locations

If you only have a single website, then I would be inclined to recommend GetFlyWheel instead, as their TINY plan is cheaper at $15 and in my experience, the service is almost flawless and the performance is better as it is not shared hosting, plus they also offer a fully managed service.

Comparison

Here is a comparison between 3 plans I have setup for the purpose of hosting multiple sites for clients. They are all roughly around the same sort of pricing. Although SiteGround is considerably cheaper for the initial period, the price below is the renewal price.

 WPX HostingSiteGroundGURU
PlanBusinessGrow BigReseller
Price$24.99 pm (£14.30)£14.95 pm£19.95 pm
Accounts11Unlimited
Sites5
CPU1CPU total20,000 cpu seconds per day30% cpu per account
Processes3 per site20,000 per day50 per account
RAM128MB per site∞ (not sure I believe this)1GB per account
SPACE 10GB 20GB 100GB
DATA 100GB1000GB
EMAIL 0
WAFyesyesyes
DDOS Mitigationyesno 
Stagingyesnono
Auto BackupsDailyDaily4 hours
Manual Backupsyes$19.95 per backupyes
White Labelnonoyes
Site isolationyesnoyes (by using separate accounts)

Summary

If the performance and support of wpx hosting had met expectations, then I would have certainly say it is easily worth the extra cost for a fully managed service with high-quality support from WordPress experts and would have transferred all my sites.

But sadly they did not live up to their own hype and my expectations were not met, and I certainly did not get the feeling of dealing with WordPress experts and the performance improvement was not that significant. Sure they are faster than the average generic host, but not faster than other WordPress optimised hosts I have used.

While it did feel they would probably be more helpful dealing with WordPress issues and support, in general, especially with the claim to fix any issue for free. I did not feel as though the level of competence or knowledge was any better than Siteground which could result in the same bad advice and mistake being made that I have experience with siteground.

Another annoyance was that they seemed completely unwilling to accept the possibility that the client might actually know what they are talking about and might possibly know more than them, which was quite arrogant.

PROS

  • you get a fully managed, hand-held hosting service
  • they are probably more willing to help you rather than tell you “not our problem” as other hosts do.
  • you get all those other features thrown in which most hosts do not offer.
  • simple control panel for non techies
  • CDN is effortless and also seems to include load balancing
  • Pre-configured W3TC

CONS

  • performance not as good as claimed
  • support not as good as claimed
  • control panel very limited if you want to do things yourself
  • No WordPress tools to do things like reset your admin password, clone site etc, which Siteground has.
  • No white label domains, so your clients will see you are using wpx.

If you do need a fully managed WordPress solution, then you do need more than just managed hosting, as they of course only manage the hosting and not the website itself. So you may want to look at Managed Service Providers like ManagedWordpress UK or hire someone like me 🙂

PS. I did move away from Siteground, and chose GURU as my new host. You can find my review here.

WordPress Hosting Reviews

WordPress Hosting Reviews

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For websites and clients that need the best possible speed and performance for WordPress and are prepared to pay extra for it, I tend use FlyWheel, who are up there with the best of the best when it comes to WordPress hosting.  But for those small, simple, low traffic sites this can be a bit pricey, so I have been on the hunt for another hosting provider that had decent performance for WordPress without costing an arm and a leg.

I was originally running my  WordPress multisite installation on my Windows server hosted with Hostek, and while I generally got  pretty decent performance and gtmetrix scores, I knew  it could be better due to the fact that PHP and WordPress do not run as well on Windows, and need the likes of Litespeed on Linux to get the best performance.

Here I will be posting my results with the various hosting providers I have tried. Bear in mind that I have played dumb for the most part in order to test out their skills, support and knowledge, I have not told them I am an ex-hosting provider or have 30 years IT experience

One thing to note, which I have found to be true of every single host I have tried who claims “Managed WordPress”, it is nothing of the sort. At best all they do is set WordPress to auto-update, which is a feature now built into WordPress anyway, and if you are lucky also have some intrusion detection with some WordPress specific rules. The likes of WPEngine and FlyWheel do provide more features and security, but I would still not really call it managed.

Proper managed WordPress, is the service I provide, where your entire website is managed and maintained, plugins, themes, security, backups and monitoring.

 

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I used to have my own site hosted with GoDaddy back in 2016 when I was first converted from CFML to WordPress, and while it was OK, the performance, in general, was no better than my Windows server, and often worse. I also had various recurring issues with not being able to upload files via the WordPress admin or via FTP. I can only assume that this was due to GoDaddy’s intrusion detection being overzealous and blocking legitimate activity.

 

This then brings me to the other major issue, GoDaddy support. Whatever problem I had, they would always default to the conclusion that the problem was at my end, and getting them to even look into a problem was a painful process, and getting them to accept the issue was at their end even harder still. Getting through to support was time-consuming. They got rid of ticket support and switched to phone only support, which meant sitting on the phone for ages in a queue, and some things are impossible to do over the phone, such as provide long complex URLs, or screenshots of your issue. They did eventually introduce live chat, and brought back ticket support for Pro members, but It was quite normal to have to chase them and wait days or even weeks for a response.

 

I wouldn’t exactly say that GoDaddy is cheap compared to a lot of other hosts who offer the same, and for what you get it just doesn’t seem like good value for money.  Their so-called Managed WordPress hosting really isn’t anything of the sort. As with all the other hosts who claim to offer “managed WordPress”, all they actually do is automatically update the WordPress core and nothing else, the WordPress knowledge and support seemed very limited.

 

Those issues aside, there are some good things with the GoDaddy system. They have a very neat Pro member system which allows existing GoDaddy client to assign control of their hosting and domain names over to you for management. As far as registering and managing domain names goes, I cannot really fault them, all that side of things seems to work fine.

 

Overall I would only recommend GoDaddy for very basic sites, with low resource usage, where performance and speed is not critical. If you have a resource heavy these that needs serious caching and speed enhancements to make it load quickly, then GoDaddy is not for you.

 

 

 

PROS

CONS

  • Simple Interface for  WordPress hosting, good for non-technical folks
  • GD Integration with WordPress is nice
  • GoDaddy now own and integrate with ManageWP
  • GoDaddy Pro account is useful for managing clients
  • Performance is fine for very basic sites
  • Uptime was good
  • Slow & Unresponsive Support
  • No way to access support tickets
  • Poor Troubleshooting skills
  • Intermittent http/ftp issues
  • Oblivious to own Firewall rules & policies

 

 

HostMedia

 

hostmedia.co.uk

 

HostMedia are one of those El-cheapo, seems too good to be true hosts with hosting that costs only £1. They are quite well known in my old ColdFusion/Lucee circles, and I already had an account with them that I had used to test out their Lucee hosting a while, so I thought I would give them a try with WordPress.
Sadly my experience with this company to date has been less than brilliant. Nothing really worked properly from the outset, and I always had to open tickets right from the get-go to get anything working.

 

What should have been a simple 5 minute job of resetting a password, turned into a 2 day fiasco of wrong passwords being reset locking me out of my account.
Issues with the control panel not working as expected to whitelist IP’s, not being able to remotely access databases and having to explain to support staff how tcp/ip and telnet work and that if you cannot connect via telnet then any amount of password resets are not going to help. Even worse when they do not know the issue is actually caused by one of their own standard operating procedures.

 

Almost every time I used live chat I was asked to open a ticket, so that seems pretty pointless.

 

A lot of companies, especially hosts these days outsource their support to India, especially the cheap ones, as it is the only way they can afford to have a 24/7 helpdesk. Which is fair enough, I have done the same thing myself, but the key when doing this is ongoing performance reviews and quality control, which is clearly where HostMedia needs to invest some time based on my experiences.

 

I can certainly see that that for a non-technical customer who is not able to diagnose issues themselves or understand when they are being given wrong advice, simple problems could drag on for days while you get sent on a wild goose case and end up having to pay someone else (like me) to fix the problems for you.

 

I did finally manage to get a copy of my site running, and upon testing the performance, it was intermittent. Sometimes it was better than my Windows server, sometimes it was worse. Again their so-called “Fully Managed WordPress Hosting” was nothing of the sort, there was very little WordPress knowledge and not a lot of support and nothing being managed.

 

I gave up after 1 week.

 

I would put HostMedia up there with 1&1 Internet. they are cheap as chips, and you get what you pay for. Ideal for folks that only have a token website, but really do not care about their website uptime or support, and just want it as cheap as possible.

 

 

 

PROS

CONS

  • CHEAP
  • Support is quite fast and responsive at least
  • Pointless Live Chat support
  • Sub-par email support
  • Too many things broken by default
  • Intermittent performance and reliability

 

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My SiteGround review turned out to be far more indepth, so I have turned it into a separate post HERE.

 

Krystal

 

krystal.co.uk

 

I had high hopes with Krystal as they have very good reviews and I have seen several recommendations in forums I use, but sadly things did not go too well.

 

I signed up for their AMETHYST plan, which should have been sufficient as this is more resources than my site currently uses.

 

When I tried to setup a WordPress site, there was no option to have a temporary URL for testing prior to migrating DNS. The only option is to use your hosts file for local testing, but  their installer is not able to setup WordPress if your domain name is not already pointing at their server. So the only way to install WordPress is manually via FTP.

 

I noticed they offered free migration, so I thought I would test out their migration skills and get them to migrate my site for me. They failed miserably at this and all they managed to do was to setup a default WordPress install, the rest I had to do myself.

 

As far as the performance goes,  things did improve on that front. On testing my site with GTMetrix I was getting slightly better performance even without using Cloudflare. By tweaking the settings and enabling Cloudflare I managed to increase the score a few percentages and also shave 3 seconds off the load time.

 

 

Sadly this is where the benefits stopped. I had nothing but problems on the WordPress backend with Divi builder timeouts and 503 errors. So rather than diagnose it myself, I decided to test out Krystal’s troubleshooting skills. Krystal support told me it was because resources were maxed out and I needed to upgrade to a plan with more resources and that this was a common problem with DIVI. Now I know this is not true since DIVI runs quite happily on 128MB, and I have been running with a max setting of 256MB for the last year with no problems, on multiple DIVI sites. The AMETHYST plan has 384MB, so should be more than enough.

I did, however, go through the motions, and upgraded to the Topaz plan which gives 768MB RAM. But surprise surprise, it made no difference, and I still had the same problems.

This was not the end and Krystal continued to try and push me down the upgrade path, telling me that my site still needed more resources. I suspected they would have pushed this until I had my own dedicated server, so I decided to quit while I was ahead.

WordPress Hosting Reviews 16I checked the resource usage stats, which clearly showed my site was not maxing out at all.

I then did my own troubleshooting and found the cause of the problem, it was, in fact, the minify setting in W3TC, which was causing problems on this server for some reason. Disabling this got rid of the 503 errors and timeouts.

PROS

CONS

  • Responsive support
  • Better than average server performance
  • 60 days money back guarantee
  • Poor migration skills
  • No temp URL for testing
  • WordPress installer did not work
  • No PHP.ini editor
  • Poor Troubleshooting skills
  • Pushy upgrade tactics
  • Quite lowly resource limits