If you’re looking for WordPress hosting for your blog or agency that offers outstanding performance and service delivered with a personal touch, Flywheel is worth checking out. Flywheel has a small product catalog comprising only six options.
Among them is an option to come up with a bespoke plan based on your own unique requirements. It makes it easier to choose the right plan than when you’re bombarded with an endless array of alternatives. Hosted on the Google Cloud platform, Flywheel provides hosting in several server locations around the world.
Flywheel was recently acquired by WP Engine, which is known to be the best-managed WordPress hosting company, making the flywheel’s infrastructure even more powerful.
Flywheel’s plans are centered on managed WordPress hosting. The sometimes bewildering range of options other providers offer won’t confront you. Here you will deal with just two categories of products: managed WordPress hosting and The Growth Suite.
They target the former freelancers, bloggers, and small businesses who want to harness the features of WordPress without having to deal with the more technical side of things. They aimed the latter category at agencies, giving them the tools they need to manage their clients and revenues.
As with almost every other hosting provider, pricing for Flywheel’s plans depends on the billing cycle you choose. If you commit to annual billing, you will pay slightly less than you would with monthly billing.
Pricing for a single WordPress site
The least you can pay for Flywheel hosting is the $13 per month (billed annually) Tiny plan costs. For this, you will get hosting for just one WordPress site and be allocated 5 GB of storage and 20 gigs of bandwidth. I will cap your monthly visit capacity at 5,000.
This pricing feels a little exorbitant when compared to the entry-level plans other managed WordPress hosting providers offer.
SiteGround’s StartUp costs just about a dollar more yet offers twice the storage space, twice the monthly visits, and unmetered bandwidth. This is without mentioning the discounted pricing of $6.99 SiteGround is currently offering.
A2 Hosting offers the same deal as SiteGround but is a little cheaper. On the other end of the scale, we have the likes of Kinsta and WP Engine, which range between $25 and $30 per month. So while Flywheels managed WordPress offering is fairly priced, it is not the most affordable on the market.
But not to forget, running on a google cloud platform, the flywheel is known to provide the fastest WordPress hosting experience.
Pricing for over one WordPress site
What if you want to host for over one website? Your next option with Flywheel will be the Freelance plan. If you make a year-long commitment, this plan will cost you $96 per month, or more accurately, $1150 per year.
For this, you will host up to 10 websites, have up to 100,000 visitors every month, and store up to 20 GB of data. If this sounds like a good deal, you need to check out SiteGround’s GrowBig and GoGeek plans, all of which are much cheaper.
With the GrowBig plan, you will pay $70 less per month and be able to host many websites you want. Though your visits will be capped at 25,000, you will have an equivalent amount of disk space at your disposal. The GoGeek plan goes for a discounted price of $14.99 per month (the regular price is $39.99) and offers twice the disk space.
You will also get hosting for an unlimited number of WordPress websites and an allowance of up to 100,000 monthly visits. And instead of transfers capped at 200 GB, you will have unmetered bandwidth.
Custom pricing and overage fees
Flywheel’s pricing is clearly not the most competitive in the managed Word press hosting market. However, they have a trump card up their sleeve; their Custom plan. As the name suggests, you simply tell them the features you would like or can do without, and they will devise a plan specifically to suit your needs and budget. Most other hosting providers will offer you a range of fixed plans and force you to squeeze yourself into the options.
Whenever you experience a welcome surge in website traffic thanks to a successful social media campaign or a random viral video clip, you don’t have to worry about your site becoming unavailable or depressingly sluggish. Flywheel will simply allocate your site extra resources to deal with the overload.
Of course, this is not free; It will require you overage fees when your renewal is due. For every additional 1,000 visits you get above your limit, they will require you to pay $1. If you consume storage above your allocation, you will pay $1 for every extra gig you consume.
Tests to establish the load time of sites hosted on Flywheel were done on the Pingdom platform with two websites; one with a light theme and the other with a feature-rich theme.
With the former, it recorded an average speed of 524ms over the course of a week. While this load time is impressive, it is significantly slower than what several other managed WordPress hosts recorded.
When the same site was hosted on WP Engine, it produced an average load time of just 259ms. On Kinsta, the average speed for the feature-light website was 307 milliseconds. When the test was conducted on a heavier website, an average load time of 1.83s was noted.
While Flywheel’s speeds are not the most impressive, they offer a wealth of information on their website on how you can optimize your web pages’ load times. There are tips on how to compress your images using plugins or free online tools, and tricks on how to leverage browser caching.
To ensure fast load times, WordPress websites hosted on Flywheel will use the HTTP/2 protocol (since they also provided CDN), which improves significantly on the speed of the previous HTTP/1.1.
Will the load time of your Flywheel-hosted website drop as more people try to log in to it simultaneously? A test carried out on the Load Impact service showed that performing a site hosted on Flywheel didn’t drop when up to 250 virtual users logged into it at the same time.
Server locations on three different continents give you faster reach to your audience members who are overseas. Flywheel has data centers in Canada, Australia, the UK, Belgium, and the United States. Visitors logging onto your site from these locations will experience better speeds than if they had to wait for files from a server in one location. This is because it will store copies of your website in whichever of the five locations you wish.
To make the load times even better in different locations worldwide, Flywheel offers a free Content Delivery Network (CDN) with over 30 nodes spread globally. Working in tandem with FlyCache, Flywheel’s very own caching engine, the CDN boosts WordPress site performance considerably.
Google cloud performance benefits
One advantage of operating from the Google Cloud Platform is the ‘Auto-Healing Technology’ that Flywheel can apply to WordPress websites. This means that if your site has an issue with PHP, for instance, it will rectify it by itself instead of incurring downtime while waiting for technicians to troubleshoot it.
Another benefit Flywheel customers will reap from being hosted on a cloud-based platform is that they won’t suffer downtime because of a sudden spike in traffic. Neither will such a surge in traffic compromise the performance of their websites. The cloud platform will deal with such spikes by availing additional resources to the site so that operations continue seamlessly. However, you will be charged overage fees whenever you exceed the limits of your plan.
One of the glaring omissions on Flywheel’s website is any form of an uptime guarantee. Several hosting provider’s competitors have advertised such guarantees; A2 Hosting promises customers 99.9 percent uptime. Not that Flywheel-hosted WordPress sites will be prone to downtime. A test conducted on such a site over seven days found the site did not suffer any downtime.
You get all the essential support channels with Flywheel that you would expect from any hosting provider. You can call or log into the live support chat if you need urgent help. There is also a fairly efficient ticket resolution system and you can always ask questions by email.
Note, however, that to get help from Flywheel’s techies on the phone, be an Agency or custom plan subscriber. This means you have to be spending at least $242 per month on hosting. Even if you can afford this plan, you won’t have the luxury of calling support any time you have an issue. Call within their office hours (9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday). This also applies to being assigned a dedicated account manager.
Flywheel is among the few hosting providers that offer unlimited free site migrations. While many of their competitors tempt prospective customers with free site migration, they usually limit this offer to one website. If you wish to move to another site or two, they will require you either to pay for the migrations separately or subscribe to a more costly plan.
If you would rather not chat with a support agent or wait for your support ticket to be resolved, you can dive into Flywheel’s vast knowledge base and find an article that can help. Useful information on everything from creating a demo site to billing queries is available here. The articles are laid out well and categorized, and there is a handy search tool to help you get what you’re looking for directly.
With Flywheel, you have less cause to worry about hackers using vulnerabilities in outdated plugins to breach your site. Regardless of which plan you subscribe to, your plugins will update regularly automatically.
They will also apply both minor and major WordPress updates for you. While some hosting providers will need you to subscribe to a more expensive plan to offer you daily backups, Flywheel tacks automated nightly backups onto every plan.
It will store your site data for up to 30 days. However, you can download a copy of the files you want for longer storage. And when you need to apply the backed-up data, you can take advantage of Flywheel’s one-click restore to get your site back up.
All Flywheel plans come with SSL certificates provided by a third party. This secures communications between visitors’ browsers and your site. Having the HTTPS denotation on your URLs will also help it rank better in Google search engine results pages.
SFTP protocol is an improvement on the conventional file transfer protocol that offers better security when transferring files to your site. If your site falls prey to hackers, Flywheel promises they will clean it up at no extra cost.
Speaking of SFTP, Flywheel’s version allows you to manage all your website file transfers from one SFTP login. This means you don’t need to memorize passwords for all the sites you’re working on.
One feature of Flywheel’s hosting that has earned it praise from many quarters is the admin dashboard from which customers can manage their websites. It is sleek and intuitive and provides a wealth of useful tools for both website owners and developers. Creating new WordPress websites and administering accounts is made very easy by the Flywheel dashboard.
Potential Flywheel customers looking for a one-stop hosting solution will be disappointed to learn that they will have to do their domain registration elsewhere. Competitors like DreamHost not only offer to do your domain registration, they will give you the first year of registration for free.
You will also have to look for email hosting from a third party, as Flywheel does not provide this. With competitors like A2Hosting offering free unlimited email accounts with every plan, such a limitation does Flywheel no favors to attract customers.
Tools for developers
One of these is a staging area, which you can quickly and easily set up to safely test additional features on your site. You will have a password to log in to this sandbox so that they protect it from unauthorized access. This will also keep your site from being picked up and indexed by search engines before you’ve finished working on it.
Another feature available with all plans that can come in very handy is the ability to give collaborators access to the control panel. This means if you’re part of a development team, you don’t have to meet physically to change your site or Flywheel account. This is a welcome bonus given the prevailing pandemic. Besides adding team members and sharing access to the Flywheel dashboard, you can manage several sites from the same dashboard.
Developers will also be grateful for the WordPress website blueprints Flywheel avails. This feature allows you to develop templates based on a certain theme and plugin settings that can quickly create new websites without having to start from scratch. You can therefore cut down the time to deployment for new websites by building them off your ready-made foundation.
Another tool geared at developers is the SSH Gateway. Using this tool, you can manage your websites through a command-line interface. Editing files, installing and configuring scripts are just some tasks you can accomplish using this feature. You will also have access to WP-CLI, which allows you to change themes and plugins as well as create posts from a command line.
Want to quickly prepare a demo site to show off to a prospective client to support your bid? You can easily create a copy of an existing site using Flywheel’s site cloning tool. The demo site will be available to you for up to 14 days.
Performance Insights is a nifty add-on that Flywheel provides at an extra free. It provides you with data on performing your website along with recommendations to improve it if it is below standard. This will come as monthly reports containing metrics such as load times and time to the first byte.
If you wish to enable these reports, you will need to pay an extra $25 per month. And for every additional website you need to receive this data for you will be required to pay an extra $2. However, there are free WordPress tools you can use for this.
It usually does the free WordPress website migrations offered with all Flywheel plans in 24 hours. If you need the process to go faster, you can pay for the service. It will cost you $49 for a single website, but it will complete the process in a third of the time.
Among the many tools, developers will find of great use with their Flywheel subscription is the local WordPress development tool. This feature brings together several pre-launch tools and enables collaborative work on websites. Using this environment you can send clients URLs of sites still in development to clients or collaborators. Before you go live, you can use the image optimizer to improve your site’s load time.
- All plans include a staging area
- It takes daily backups with all plans
- Frequent, free plugin updates
- Free migration of existing sites to the Flywheel servers
- Offer the option of a customized plan
- Option of choosing data center location for better performance
- Backed up data is downloadable
- Host of features geared towards developers
- Products limited to managed WordPress hosting
- You can’t upgrade to the latest version of PHP
- No email was provided on any of Flywheel’s plans
- To enjoy phone support you have to subscribe to a $242-per-month Agency plan
- Domain has to be registered elsewhere
- No uptime guarantee
- Load times are decent, but you can get better from other providers.
Flywheels managed WordPress hosting may not be the cheapest in the market, but it offers incredible value for money. It comes with a sleek, easy-to-use dashboard that allows you to manage all your websites and accounts with minimal hassle.
Developers delighted with the way it set the environment up to ease their operations. Whether it’s a sandbox to test new plugins, creating a demo site for a client presentation, or a blueprint to decrease development turnaround time, Flywheel has it all. Even access to a command-line interface to ease file management. And when the work is complete, handing over the site to the client and billing them is a breeze.
In terms of performance, you get above-average speeds and close to 100 percent uptime. The speeds Flywheel offers are not the best, even among managed WordPress hosting providers. But they are good enough not to jeopardize potential conversions or hurt your Google SERP rankings.
With your site on the Google Cloud Platform, you won’t need to worry too much about performance and security. Besides the free SSL, you can look forward to intelligent IP blocking among other security controls. And if your site’s breached, they will clean it up for you.
The first of Flywheel’s shortcomings is what they don’t offer. Get your domain registered elsewhere before coming to them for hosting. You will also need to get your company email from Gsuite or any other provider. Several Flywheel’s competitors not only offer these services but offer them for free. You also have to have built your website on WordPress, as this is the only type of hosting you get with Flywheel. If you’re willing to live with these limitations in order to get the juicy developer aids Flywheel offers, this could be the host for you.