2019 October 2nd
Flywheel provides managed WordPress hosting solutions for commercial use and high-traffic websites. It aims to provide ready-to-go services so agencies and businesses can focus on their projects.
Wondering if Flywheel is a right fit for you?
In this Flywheel review, we tested what the provider has on offer.
What is Flywheel?
Flywheel is a managed WordPress hosting provider with a very simple mission - it aims to provide hassle-free WordPress hosting solutions for business. That includes both freelancers and high-traffic websites like online stores.
And in the summer of 2019, Flywheel has been acquired by WPEngine - one of its biggest competitors. So, in this Flywheel review, we're going to see how good this provider really is, and how well does it compare to the rest of the competition.
To begin with, let's have a look at the plans and features Flywheel offers.
Features Flywheel Has on Offer
Being managed WordPress hosting service, Flywheel tuned its services for the platform to work smoothly.
To provide a quality experience, the provider not only offers premium features but also has some restrictions. That includes automatic backups, content delivery network, and built-in caching.
You can also use a demo site to test Flywheel before purchasing.
Flywheel built-in premium tools
One of the best things we noticed in this Flywheel review, is that the provider includes all of the essential features with all of its plans. Unlike using many other hosts, there's no need to buy expensive upsells to get the best experience with Flywheel.
To keep your site secure, free automated nightly backups are included. Flywheel takes backups every night to ensure you have a copy of a functioning website in case something breaks. It promises to store backups safely with Google Cloud Storage and allows 1-click restores.
You can also take snapshots before any change you make and restore any time.
Talking about changes, Flywheel has 1-click staging as well.
Before any big or small changes, you can test how will it affect your website. You can transfer changes in one click from the live website to the staging environment and vice versa.
Customizing what to transfer is also possible - it can be themes, plugins, databases, or everything at once.
For the performance, Flywheel has built-in content delivery network (CDN) service and a caching tool.
Caching tool also improves speed. It saves static content of your website into the visitors' browser.
This way, if the visitor opens your site again, contents of the page can be loaded directly from the browser, rather than making requests to the server. That improves page loading speed a lot.
CDN works as a performance and safety guarantee.
It creates a network of servers that can deliver your website contents from locations, closer to your visitors. And the closer the server is to the visitor - the faster the page can load.
Also, if anything happens to one server - a bunch of others is ready to jump in and save you from downtime.
Another thing that's able to improve page loading speed is the possibility to choose one of 10 server locations in the US, Singapore, Canada, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or London.
So if you target audience in a specific location - it's best to host closer to them.
Flywheel demo sites
Flywheel offers demo sites to help you run a test before committing to them.
And because Flywheel offers services a bit different from others - it's normal to be uncertain. The demo site will let you test Flywheel interface, functionality, and control panel so you know what to expect. You'll also be able to use all the features to tweak your site. Though going live is not possible.
You won’t be needing any billing information for this. So, sign up for free and utilize the premium plan and decide for yourself.
Flywheel plugin restrictions
Flywheel claims to optimize WordPress so well that some of the 55,000+ WordPress plugins become completely unnecessary and even damaging.
So, Flywheel restricts the usage of some plugins so they don't break your site.
It even has a list.
- Flywheel completely restricts the use of backup plugins - it motivates the decision saying, that the backup system is already built-in.
- You won't be able to use caching plugins as well. The reason is the same - Flywheel has a caching tool built-in.
- Security plugins are off-limits too. Flywheel claims that they have server-level security measures pre-installed.
- It won't be possible to make good use of related posts plugins. The provider wants to protect you from poor performance these plugins tend to cause.
- Link checker plugins are not allowed for the amounts of server resource they are accused of stealing.
This may be a downside for some. Especially if you are used to some of the plugins and they work for you.
However, by restricting some of the plugins, Flywheel claims to have your best interests in mind.
Flywheel customer support
Flywheel has a variety of customer support options from WordPress experts.
You can choose from 24/7 live chat, ticket, and with more expensive plans - phone support. Flywheel also has step-by-step guides and even a library of ebooks.
Talking about chat support - it's fast. The times I checked it, they replied instantly and were polite and friendly.
Email support takes longer to reply - 18 hours to be exact. And it's not exceptional - some providers can take a few days to reply, others respond in 20 minutes.
So while it's not bad, Flywheel email support could and should be faster.
So all in all, customer support is efficient and pretty fast. Also, you get phone support with more expensive plans that allow solving problems even faster.
Flywheel promises to be up for 99.9% of the time and keeps its word. During the time of our testing, it hadn't gone out even for a second, scoring 100% uptime.
But the situation with response time is worse. It averaged at 1006ms. And this kind of result is a straight way to increase your bounce rate. It takes 1 whole second for a website to even start loading. Not to mention loading itself.
Not wanting to believe the result, we also ran another test on a fully working site with regular traffic levels, caching tools and CDN on. It showed us what you can actually expect from Flywheel.
With 50 virtual users and testing from the US, the response time of Flywheel averages at around 200ms and keeps stable.
Testing from South Korea with the same 50 virtual users, the result is naturally worse. It averages at 400ms. But in no case, that's a bad result. It is still lower than the industry average of 550ms.
All in all, with the right optimization Flywheel has built-in, the provider should be well above average. And if you do have any problems - contacting the support is a way to go.
Flywheel has 4 plans, the cheapest of which costs $23/month and can go all the way up to $266/month. The fourth plan is negotiated personally - the price depends on your needs. With all the plans you have 2 options - pay monthly or yearly. The price when paying monthly goes up by around 10%.
So what do you get with each plan?
- The Starter plan for $23/mo is best for beginners as it gets you 1 site suitable for 25k visits/mo and 5GB storage.
- With the Freelance plan for $105/mo, you'll be able to host up to 10 websites with 20GB storage and 200GB bandwidth.
- The Agency plan for $266/mo allows up to 30 websites, 500k visitors/mo, and 50GB storage space.
For the pretty steep pricing, the numbers of data you get do not look impressive. But keep in mind that you'll only use around 1GB of storage for your initial WordPress site, with 4GB left free.
You can compare the plans in the table right here:
|Disk Space||5 GB||40 GB||50 GB||Custom|
|Bandwidth||50 GB||200 GB||500 GB||Custom|
|How many domains allowed?||1||10||30||30+|
|Customer support||Ticket, live chat||Ticket, live chat||Ticket, live chat, phone||Ticket, live chat, phone|
|Free automated back-ups||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Keep in mind, that domain name is not included. So that will also add somewhere from $1 to $20 per year if you are not choosing an established domain name.
Flywheel Review - the Verdict
From this Flywheel review we can say, that it is a reliable provider. Flywheel has excellent uptime and great features to ensure the smooth functioning of your website. That includes built-in features like free backups, caching tools, CDN, and 1-click staging built in.
However, Flywheel restricts the use of some WordPress plugins. Server response times can be disappointing without optimization tools applied as well.
But all in all, Flywheel has more than enough professional tools to make your website fast and secure.
- Demo Website
- Great uptime
- Many professional features
- Steeper pricing
- Plugin restrictions