If you are looking to take a load off when it comes to managing your WordPress website, the managed WordPress options provided by the guys and gals over at Flywheel may be exactly what you have been looking for.
Generally speaking, managed WordPress hosting provides a better experience overall for webmasters of all levels. If you can afford the cash to splash on a little more convenience, reliability and great customer service… then it is definitely worth thinking about. The only question left remaining is, which managed hosting provider should you go with?
While there aren’t as many dedicated managed WordPress hosting providers as there are shared hosting providers, it is still a decision that requires careful thought.
This is why we have reviewed Flywheel’s service and weighed up the pros and cons. All you need to do is have a read of this review, weigh everything up, and make your decision.
What’s Unique About Flywheel?
Flywheel’s unique aspects lie in their features. They are one of only a few hosts to offer features such as a Google Cloud platform and a few others that we will mention below.
Flywheel also has a valuable library of resources such as a WordPress and design blog, an e-book library packed full of free guides, and free email courses.
Who is Flywheel Right For?
Flywheel is one of the more popular WordPress managed hosting providers… and it is easy to see why! As you are about to find out, they offer a great range of features for all types of customers—from individuals to full-blown agencies—that help to propel websites to lofty heights.
The way we see it, Flywheel is ideal for those who can afford it.
Simply put, if your mind is set on creating the best website you can make, then Flywheel is the perfect fit.
Flywheel boasts some pretty good technical specs that power the service and keeps it running smoothly. Their system architecture consists of multiple layers:
- Caching Layer—Powered by the Varnish cache server that is optimized to run WordPress and the Flywheel hosting environment. It improves website loadtimes significantly.
- Web Server Layer—Flywheel uses the Nginx web server. Those in the hosting industry know it to be the go-to choice when it comes to serving static files and especially fast with PHP-related tasks. Nginx also handles all WordPress’ rewrite rules. It’s no wonder it’s so widely used.
- PHP Layer—There isn’t much to say here. They run PHP-FPM (PHP FastCGI Process Manager) for PHP. It allows your website to scale, too. A perfect solution if you have great ambitions.
- Database Layer—Like most hosts, Flywheel is powered by MySQL. MySQL is nearly three decades old. Its wide use is due to the fact that it’s a brilliant tool and is accompanied by great performance.
These are the major technical components that power a site running on a Flywheel server. The results are incredibly fast, secure, and reliable WordPress installations that keep websites running on them at the top of their game.
What We Love About Flywheel
So, to the pros—here are some of the things that we really liked about Flywheel.
A Robust Managed WordPress Hosting Solution
Flywheel is a robust, trustworthy, and focused host that provides a performant managed WordPress hosting solution. These are not just buzzwords, either—their service seriously is something that needs to be seen to be believed.
The company serves a reliable WordPress hosting solution for anyone and everybody, from experienced designers and developers to beginner webmasters who want to launch their website on a platform that will get them off to the best possible start.
Instead of trying to be a “Jack of all trades” company, Flywheel is laser-focused on niching down and providing a comprehensive WordPress hosting service. Optimized servers, expert staff who know WordPress inside-out, and solutions to suit all clients—they have it all.
30-Day Money Back Guarantee
Flywheel provides its plans with no long-term commitments or contracts. Because of this, their money back guarantee—while there—is a little restricted.
- Monthly customers can get a refund within 72 hours of purchase or renewal; and
- Annual customers (i.e. customers who subscribe to and pay for a subscription for 12 months or more up-front) can get a refund up to 30 days after purchase or renewal.
This is a little more restricted than most hosting companies’ refund guarantees.
Still, though, it’s there.
Free Website Migration
All new customers can take advantage of a free website migration.
This offer is open to customers subscribed to any of their plans, it doesn’t cost you a penny, and the process is handled by Flywheel’s team of expert staff members. It is available on either single or group sites (i.e. multiple sites) without any extra charges.
If you need your site migrated fast (within 8 hours fast!) then Flywheel offers an expedited migration for a small fee of $49.00. If they don’t migrate it within 8 business hours, the migration is free.
Flywheel Uses Google Cloud Platform
Flywheel recently partnered with the Google Cloud Platform to provide enterprise-level infrastructure for all their customers. Whether you are running a small site or operating a large business, everyone has access to Google’s enterprise-level cloud platform.
The next era of WordPress hosting, GCP has been fine-tuned to create a scalable powerhouse platform that is faster and resilient than anything that has ever been seen before. Featuring:
- Auto-healing technology
- Instant-scaling technology;
- A free CDN; and
- Sandbox staging,
“Traditional” Non-GCP Data Centers Available
Don’t want to use the Google Cloud Platform? That’s fine!
Flywheel operates data centers all over the world for a truly global reach. Whether your target market is based in North America, Asia, or all the way down in Singapore, your website will never be physically stored far away from the people who matter.
For those of you with a global target audience, Flywheel’s content delivery network ensures a great user experience no matter where someone is visiting your site from.
You can choose which data center to base your site from, too. Current data centers include:
- New York;
- San Francisco;
- Frankfurt; and
1-Click Staging Environment
There’s arguably no worse development practice than carrying out changes, updates, and tests on a live website that is pulling in traffic.
Aside from the fact that a little mistake could bring your entire site down, carrying out changes live can have a negative impact on user experience and your site’s SEO. It’s just not worth the risk.
This is why Flywheel offers a free, simple staging environment. A staging environment is a testing ground — a copy of your website where you can make all the changes you want. This won’t affect your public, live website. The nice thing is, when you’re happy with the end-result, there’s a function to easily “push” or copy those updates to the live site.
Flywheel supports Multisite on their Freelance, Agency, and Custom plans.
Multisite is an (admittedly complicated) WordPress feature that lets webmasters create and manage a network of WordPress sites, all on a single WordPress installation. It has been available for some years and is now stable enough to use. It’s useful for webmasters who wish to manage multiple websites all under one dashboard.
Not all hosts offer it, so it is great that Flywheel does. There is an asterisk, though: all your sites added together cannot exceed your plan’s limits. So, if you have a plan with 20 GB disk space, for example, then each site on Multisite does not have 20 GB disk space.
Good Ease of Use
Flywheel’s backend is a perfect mixture of beauty and functionality. It has clearly been made with both developers and designers in mind, providing an aesthetically pleasing place to work whether you are coding a new feature or implementing a new design.
Tedious and technical processes become visually appealing and the overall signup and site management process are simple and efficient.
No Sharing of Servers
With a Flywheel managed hosting plan, your website will be hosted on its very own VPS at a basic level.
This means that your resources are your own; there is no chance of another website on your server suddenly eating them all up with a resource-intensive process and temporarily ruining the user experience on your own website.
Flywheel is the only managed WordPress hosting provider to offer dedicated VPS’ for all their customers on all their plans.
Nightly Backups Stored Off-Site
All plans come with automatic nightly backups. It doesn’t matter what size your sites are either. Unlike many hosting companies, Flywheel will perform these regular backups for free and without any silly restrictions.
If that isn’t enough for you, you can also take security “snapshots” whenever you want (i.e. immediately prior to a big update or website update) for added peace of mind.
These backups are stored off-site and can be restored at any time by each website’s webmaster.
Free SSL Certificate
Flywheel provides a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt. This can be installed simply and easily through the Flywheel control panel. This SSL certificate provides a layer of security and inspires confidence in people who are visiting your site.
More and more internet users are becoming aware of the importance of cybersecurity and are starting to figure out what they need to be looking out for. SSL certificates are one of the first things that a visitor will check your site for and if you don’t have one, you instantly look less credible.
Aside from SSL, there is no need for additional security plugins because Flywheel handles all security at a server level.
If any problems—malware or otherwise—are detected then Flywheel will remove it for free.
What We Didn’t Like About Flywheel
There were a couple of things we didn’t like about Flywheel. In contrast to all the positives above, though, then these aren’t a massive problem.
Well, it is if you are a developer. If not, this section isn’t all that bad.
No SSH Access
Flywheel does not offer SSH access to the websites that are hosted on their servers. For some developers, unfortunately, this will be a big negative. There is a reason for this, though; Flywheel is not restricting SSH access without a proper purpose.
Due to the managed security service and process implemented on Flywheel’s servers, they can only provide access via SFTP. There is also the option of accessing databases through the Flywheel Database Manager.
Not having access to SSH isn’t a blanket ban on SSH processes, though. Flywheel will, in most cases, carry out something you want to do via SSH for you, on your behalf. All you need to do is contact Flywheel support and let them know.
No Native Git Access
Flywheel does not offer built-in Git deployment. If you want to use Flywheel alongside GitHub, you will need to use a DeployHQ account. Again, for some developers, this will be an unnecessary convenience, but it is workable.
In fact, using DeployHQ is exactly how Flywheel deploys their own getflywheel.com website. If they’re doing it, so can you!
DeployHQ lets you set up manual and automated deployment. It supports Git, Mercurial, and Subversion code repositories. It can be used to deploy to many destinations including FTP/SFTP, Amazon S3, and more.
No SSL Certificates for Sale
Flywheel only offers Let’s Encrypt’s Simple SSL certificate. This is fine for most websites.
If, however, you are operating multisite, need a wildcard, EV certificate, or multi-domain certificate, then you will need to provide your own SSL certificate from a third-party provider; Flywheel does not offer SSL certificates for sale.
This is a slight inconvenienc.
Flywheel will help you install your own third-party SSL. All you need to do is buy one (probably for a cheaper price than what you would pay a hosting company for an SSL certificate, actually).
We’re not going to beat around the bush—Flywheel is more expensive than most other hosting providers. Managed WordPress hosting plans generally are. You get what you pay for, though. Flywheel blows virtually every other shared hosting provider, and most other WordPress hosting providers (managed and unmanaged) out of the water.
There are simply very few better alternatives.
Flywheel offers three plans plus a Custom plan which is a bespoke solution for enterprise-level customers.
This basic-level plan packs a bit of a punch with a respectable 5 GB in disk space, 50 GB in bandwidth, and up to 25,000 monthly site visits all for $23 per month.
It comes with everything that you need to manage a basic website. It is worth noting that you cannot use multisite (the plan is limited to a single website) and you can’t use third-party SSL certificates.
The Starter Plan will cost you:
- $25.00 per month when subscribed month-to-month rolling; or
- $23.00 per month ($275 per year) when subscribed for 12 months.
Their mid-tier plan allows up to 100,000 visits per month, 20 GB in disk space, and 200 GB in bandwidth that can be spread across up to 10 different websites.
This plan comes with everything including third-party SSL certificates and multisite. It is aimed at smaller agencies or individuals who have a growing client list and need a little more “oomph” with their website whereas the Starter Plan is aimed at smaller blogs and landing pages.
The Freelance Plan will cost you:
- $115.00 per month when subscribed month-to-month rolling; or
- $105.00 per month ($1,265 per year) when subscribed for 12 months.
Their top-tier plan allows up to 500,000 visits per month, 50 GB in disk space, and 500 GB in bandwidth that can be spread across up to 30 different websites.
A few of the extras include dedicated clusters, SSO integration, and a dedicated account manager.
The Agency Plan will cost you:
- $290.00 per month when subscribed month-to-month rolling; or
- $266.00 per month ($3,190 per year) when subscribed for 12 months.
Flywheel doesn’t stop there, though. It is possible to host a WordPress site with millions of visitors on their Custom plan with bespoke pricing to reflect your needs.
Payment Methods Available
All plans can be paid for using either PayPal or traditional credit or debit cards. Your choice has no impact on eligibility for a refund.
Flywheel Final Thoughts
It’s safe to say that we are very impressed by Flywheel.
With a hosting provider as reliable as Flywheel that has their level of tech and system architecture, site uptime and loadspeed will never be a problem. For the record, though, their uptime is near a perfect 100% and page loading speeds are one of the fastest in the industry.
It goes without saying that we recommend Flywheel hands down.
Whether you are a newbie webmaster, designer, or full-blown agency who is looking for a managed WordPress solution, Flywheel is perfect for you.