WP Engine have been our recommended WordPress web host for over a year now. We haven't found any other hosting company who can rival their speed and performance, reliability and uptime, one-click backups and restores, in-built security and rapid support.
However I have always been disappointed that they don't offer free website migrations. A lot of hosts will migrate your website to their servers for free, and it has always been a shame that WP Engine don't do this.
Earlier this summer I was pleased to discover that a free WP Engine website migrations tool is now available. In my opinion, this fills the main gap in their service. The tool is already saving us a great deal of time and money compared to migrating websites to WP Engine manually. I have used the tool to move a few WordPress websites to WP Engine recently, so I thought I'd write this post to explain how it works.
How does the free WP Engine website migrations tool work?
WP Engine provide detailed instructions on how to use their free website migrations tool. Here's a brief summary to give you an idea of what is required:
- First, you create a WP Engine account, or add a new 'Install' to your existing account.
- Next, log into the WordPress admin for the website that you wish to migrate to WP Engine. Go to Plugins > Add New and install the WP Engine Automated Migration plugin. This is available free on the WordPress plugin repository.
- Once you have activated the plugin, go to the plugin settings page and enter the following information:
- Your email address.
- The WP Engine temporary URL (e.g. https://yourdomain.wp.wpengine.com).
- The SFTP server name, user name and password (available from the main page for the Install in your WP Engine account).
- You can now run the migration. You'll receive an email when it is complete, and you can test that everything is working correctly by visiting the WP Engine temporary URL (e.g. https://yourdomain.wp.wpengine.com).
- When you're satisfied that everything is working, you go back to the plugin settings page and re-run the migration - this time with the live URL (e.g. https://yourdomain.com). This will update all the links on the website so they point to your actual domain rather than the temporary address.
- The final step is to update the DNS settings for your domain to point to WP Engine. This is the same process for any web host and isn't specific to WP Engine.
- Voila! Your website is live on WP Engine.
Tip: If you're not sure if you made the right decision to move to WP Engine, run a Pingdom speed test before and after the migration. This allows you to check how quickly the website loads on your old host and WP Engine. Every website I've ever tested has loaded significantly faster on WP Engine. Run about 5 tests and take an average for the most reliable results.
How technical is it?
A lot of WordPress website migration tools are very technical to use, even though they claim not to be. This applies to the popular Duplicator plugin and Infinite WP's terrible Install/Clone WordPress plugin (I'm speaking from personal experience - and they wouldn't even give me a refund when their plugin didn't work!). These tools require a lot of information to migrate a WordPress website, for example database details which non-technical users won't know.
The WP Engine website migrations tool is the simplest tool I have used to move a WordPress website. All you have to do is install a plugin on the site you wish to move and copy in the website URL (address) and SFTP details. These are easily available from your WP Engine account, so non-technical users shouldn't have a problem with this.
The website migration to WP Engine usually works first time. If anything does go wrong, WP Engine have a live chat service and support ticketing system to help. I did have a problem with one of the WordPress websites I was trying to migrate, so I did a live chat and they were really helpful.
But it's not perfect...
The free migrations tool makes it easier to move a website to WP Engine than it has ever been before. However a lot of hosting companies will move a website for you free of charge. WP Engine are being a bit lazy in making you use a tool - albeit a very good one - to do the work yourself. I would like to see WP Engine offering free manual migrations for their customers. This would make their service even better.
I would still recommend WP Engine over a hosting company that will migrate your website for you. Their free migrations tool is good and given that they are the best hosting company in other ways, I think they still come out on top. You only need to move your website to WP Engine once, so this shouldn't be the deciding factor.
Signing up to WP Engine
If you signed up to an annual plan with WP Engine before 30th September 2015, you can get your first 4 months free. To get this discount, you need to sign up to WP Engine and use the code FASTSITE.