Disclaimer: This history is slightly abridged.
It’s been almost a year since we moved our website to Pagely from another hosting provider, so we wanted to share our experience and do an in-depth review. We’ve seen some other Pagely reviews out there, but as most of you already know, our reviews and recommendations are super thorough and data-driven.
We don’t talk a whole lot about how products or services that we review make us feel, we talk about how they have (or haven’t) made our lives better. The mission of this article is to help you determine the pros and cons of hosting with Pagely. We will not fail.
What is Pagely?
For those of you who don’t already know, Pagely is a web host that specializes in hosting WordPress, and they do a damn fine job of it. They’re the only WordPress host I know of that has their entire platform built on top of Amazon Web Services, which is the same platform that Netflix and Amazon.com use, as well as thousands of other popular brands.
A platform that can meet the demands of millions of people streaming the latest episode of Orange is the New Black at the same time is a great starting place when building out a web host.
From there, Pagely has built a proprietary server stack that specializes in delivering a fast, secure experience for WordPress websites. When we heard they had moved to Amazon, that definitely caught our attention. As we learned more about their server stack and how it made WordPress fly, it was something we had to try out.
So we did.
Pagely Review: Our First Impressions
The first thing we did was setup our main website on a staging server at Pagely. Spinning up a new site on Pagely couldn’t be more simple. After a few quick clicks the site credentials are emailed directly to the account owner.
After WordPress was installed and we migrated our files and data, we did some initial benchmarking of our site performance, and we didn’t believe the results we were getting. We saw more than a 200% increase in performance without changing a thing. We were in such disbelief that we setup another staging server just to be sure the results we were getting were consistent.
The results stayed true.
Our first impressions were quite literally off the charts. We hadn’t seen performance like that on any other host we had tested, so we were extremely excited.
Real-World hosting Tests
A staging environment is nice, but we still hadn’t put Pagely to the true test. We needed to see how Pagely held up when we started sending somewhat significant traffic to it.
Now we don’t have massive site traffic, but we do alright. We definitely generate enough to make premium shared hosting plans feel a strain, so we were anxious to find out how our Pagely VPS would do once we hit it with a firehose of site visitors.
The exact same results we were getting on our staging site held up when we set the site live.
Our site response time with our old host was right around 600ms before we switched to Pagely. That’s not slow by any means, but it definitely could have been better.
After the Pagely switch, we cut the server response time in more than half. Beyond that, take a look at the steadiness of the response time after our switch. With our previous provider, there was no consistency at all. We would see variances of several hundred milliseconds, which sounds like a silly thing to worry about, but when you consider that on mobile devices or slower connections, those numbers increase exponentially.
Why We Care About Web Performance
Believe it or not, site performance isn’t important to us because we feel like we need to win a race. I’ll admit that it’s fun to put ourselves up against some of the leaders of industry and consistently beat them, but that’s not the reason having a fast website is so important to our company.
There are three main reasons that we obsess over the performance of our website:
- We hate wasting time
- Our site visitors are busy and we don’t want to waste their time
- A slow website means frustrated visitors, which means lost money
When I say that we hate wasting time, I mean we like to be efficient when we work. If we browse around the dashboard and have to wait for page lists to load or images to upload, we’re wasting time, which means we’re wasting money.
As part of our Pagely review I put together a quick screencast to show you what it’s like to use WordPress on a Pagely hosted site. I haven’t altered the playback time in any way. What you see, is exactly what we experience every single day.
Pagely has delivered a really nice experience when it comes to using WordPress. As important as front end performance is, the ability to use your website without getting frustrated may be just as important. We work on our website every single day, and I don’t want to live in a world where every click becomes a waiting game. I can’t live in that world.
Web Hosting Reliability
OK, we’ve established that Pagely is fast. That’s awesome, but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle that matters when it comes to finding a great web host.
A fast website that’s only online four hours per day isn’t exactly what I’d call helpful. Your website should be working for you 24/7. That’s essentially why websites exist, so you don’t have to be answering the phone at all hours of the night.
That’s why we take uptime very seriously. Probably even more seriously than performance. If our website is doing work for us, that means we can
continue to be lazy spend more time building our business and improving our service.
Here’s a six month uptime report from our previous host
Fourteen hours of downtime over a six-month period isn’t the end of the world. In fact, compared to a lot of hosts we’ve tested it’s well above average. Even so, over the course of a year, you lose more than a full day of revenue. You may as well take your Christmas bonus and use it as campfire starter.
[Tweet “Website downtime means lost money. How many sales are you willing to lose because of cheap hosting?”]
The chart below represents six months with Pagely. There’s one blip on the radar but it didn’t even last long enough to be measured. We also had one day where response times got a little bit out of whack, but they returned to normal levels in a hurry.
Here’s a six-month uptime report from Pagely
That unchanging baseline with zero outages is something I’ve never experienced with any other host. I have super high expectations of hosting providers, and when it comes to performance and reliability, Pagely has exceeded them all.
Pagely’s approach to security was the first thing that caught my attention years ago. I read an article on their site “Securing WordPress. There’s More to It Than Marketing Hype” and I knew right away they were serious about keeping WordPress and their platform secure, because they showed their work.
They walked through their entire approach to security and the amount of detail they provided made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It was a hell of a lot more than I had seen from any other managed WordPress hosting provider. I know I mentioned I wasn’t going to talk about feelings in this Pagely review, but I lied. Sorry.
The technical details of their security have changed a lot in the last three years, and now they have a product called PRESSARMOR that keeps their platform (and my websites) secure. It’s clear they have a solid commitment to WordPress security, and we’ve never had anything even close to an issue in that regard while hosting with Pagely knocks wood.
This is where I’m going to get a little bit nit-picky. There are some things I’d like to see from Pagely going forward, but for most “normal people”, the things I mention will probably never be issues.
I’d like to see a more robust staging system. This is one area where I feel like WP Engine has an edge. The ability to quickly spin up a clone of your production website, make a few small changes, and then send those back to your live site is definitely a nice thing to have. We use a more elaborate deployment system at our company so this probably wouldn’t impact us or our workflows, but I know that a lot of customers love it and would use it regularly. It would be a great feature to add at some point for site owners who want to make small changes without going full cowboy.
Easier File Access
This will only apply to the VPS products at Pagely, as their lower plans allow SFTP access, but for now, the only way to access files on a VPS server is by using shared key authentication. It’s super secure, which is great, but it’s not the most user-friendly to setup, and I cringe at the idea of a non-developer trying to access their files. Now there’s a good chance that this is a conscious decision in favor of security, but if there were a way to make accessing files a little bit easier while maintaining security, that would be an awesome bonus.
Pagely is a premium product and has a price to match. With plans starting at $64 per month, they’re priced at the top end of the managed WordPress hosting space. Their platform is built for and marketed to pro bloggers, small/medium business, and Enterprise clients. If your website having issues means you’re losing money, you’re a good candidate to host your site at Pagely.
I don’t fault them at all for their pricing. They sell a premium service and the results speak for themselves. If they were selling hosting plans for $399 a month and had 94% uptime and sloth-like page load times, I wouldn’t be a happy camper. But that’s not the case at all. In our experience, Pagely delivers on all of their claims in a big way. Hosting has become something I don’t even think about anymore, which may be the most valuable benefit of all.
If keeping your website online with screaming fast performance is on the top of your priority list as a website owner, I’d highly recommend giving Pagely a look. If you feel inclined to share our Pagely Review with your friends or family, we hope you won’t ignore the inclination 😉
P.S. That means we really want you to share this!
Have any of you hosted on Pagely? Have you written your own Pagely review? What’s your experience been like? Do you have any questions about Pagely? Hit us up in the comments for some juicy hosting conversation.