My Experiences with Media Temple Premium WordPress Hosting
I’m a fan of Media Temple (MT).
I even signed up to be an affiliate (so if you end up going with MT, you can provide me some coffee money. Not that I’ve seen a single sale yet, so not even sure if they pay out.)
After years of being disappointed with many different hosting providers, I eventually shifted all sites to Media Temple (their VPS plans).
I liked the support, the large knowledgebase, and the clean usable admin interfaces.
And then they sold to GoDaddy.
Web developers wept.
I’m pleased to say that nothing has changed since then, and MT rolled out Premium WordPress Hosting. Is this a GoDaddy initiative?
I thought I’d give it a go (as there are often big discounts). I have some lower trafficked sites that I’m paying too much for. A yearly subscription is $348 (at time of writing), but they were running a 50% off so I got 12 months of hosting for $174.
The Control Panel
Plesk or Cpanel this ain’t.
Media Temple (MT) have a clean and simple custom-built control panel.
- You can add up to 3 WordPress sites.
Each of these can have 2 staging servers. A staging server is effectively a WordPress site that only you can see. You can test your theme changes, if they look okay, you can then migrate them to the live WordPress server.
- You can clone a site (i.e. duplicate it).
- You can import a site.
- You can restore from backup.
Daily backups are automatically provided by MT.
- You get Secure FTP (SFTP) access.
Note that you must use an SFTP client (normal FTP does not work).
- You can have Secure Shell (SSH) access if you want.
This allows you to open a Terminal window directly onto the server – not that there’s much at all that you can do in there.
- You can access phpMyAdmin
phpMyAdmin has always been the goto tool for allow web access to your MySql database that WordPress runs on.
- You can add/remove email addresses
Email is integrated into the MT control panel, and appears to make use of the gridserver email services on MT.
That’s about it.
My first reaction:
- No access to logs.
- No way of seeing what’s going on with the server (like software versions, uptime, load, etc.)
This is a locked down shared hosting environment, so if you are an advanced user, you won’t be installing anything fancy on the server.
The default WordPress install came with a number of plugins:
- Jetpack (popular suite of plugins from wordpress.com).
- Akismet (default WordPress plugin – spam protection).
- Site Stager (from MT). This allows access to the site staging functionality. You can migrate changes to and from your staging server.
- MT Mail – Allows access the Media Temple mail from within the WP admin.
There were also some extra themes, and an extra dashboard setting to Limit Login Attempts.
An important aspect of MT’s implementation is blacklisting plugins.
A quick scan through showed a number of plugins that are part of my other WordPress sites: broken-link-checker, backwpup, w3tc, etc.
I get why they did this.
Some plugins may duplicate functionality that is already part of the MT package (such as backup and caching plugins). Others are viewed as being too resource heavy.
However some of these plugins offer more fine-grained control than the MT offering. It does seem a little heavy-handed.
One Support Request Later
Like another developer, I managed to get myself a big ugly old error message.
It seems like I messed something up when setting up the zone file for the new domain. Then it all went pear-shaped and I needed to contact support. They did get it resolved, but it was next day before I could carry on.
It’s very easy to setup an email address.
This gives you access to MT’s web-based email system:
This is from within the WordPress admin itself (via a custom plugin from MT).
After searching Media Temple I found this:
We implement four layers of caching throughout the stack as well as high performance SSD-backed storage. We rely on Varnish, Memcached, PHP APC, and storage L2 caching to maximize performance by minimizing calls to the disks.
Wow, nice jargon.
On the WordPress dashboard is an option to “Flush Cache”. I’m not exactly sure what this does.
To test this I setup a site that was identical to another site that I host on a Media Temple VPS.
The only difference being that on the VPS I am running W3 Total Cache (which you cannot use on the WordPress Hosting).
I then used tools.pingdom.com to test response times for the same page across each host.
|Test #||MT VPS||MT Premium WordPress Hosting|
The results speak for themselves. I realize this is a fairly simple test, but it’s been quite time consuming to setup, and I think I’ve seen enough.
My Conclusions: Low Price = Low Quality
I’m disappointed. This is not premium.
I’ll be sticking with my Media Temple Dedicated Virtual (VPS).
If you want a small WordPress site, then maybe it’s best to setup with WordPress.com. If you are into your own customized WordPress solution, then you probably want the power of a fully open solution.
You know, where you can add your own plugins, experiment with caching, etc.
Dedicated wordpress hosting options (many companies have them) just don’t satisfy. Shared hosting environments do tend to have inconsistent performance.
BUT! They are cheap. For a VPS you really are starting at about $1000 per year, and it’s upward from there.
Did I Save You Some Money?
I think I just wasted $174 as I will not be transferring my site over.
I’ve worked hard on performance and I wouldn’t like to see that go down the tubes, so I think I will end up cancelling my nice shiny new hosting plan and go eat some muffins instead.
Update: I didn’t end up cancelling the plan. MT reached out to me (they must actually read their Twitter), and wanted to resolve all issues. So that’s nice, and the kind of thing that keeps me with them.
Update 2: Based on the comments feedback, I am going to test out Flywheel soon. What’s unusual is their billing plans are based on number of unique visits to your site per month.
Update 3: (Late 2016) – Flywheel now offer free SSL. That’s a game changer right there. MT charge USD75 per year (yes per year) for their SSL certificates. I’ve cancelled my MT wordpress premium (but kept my VPS).
Update 4: (Dec 2016) – Flywheel have bought Pressmatic’s local WordPress (mamp) environment and are giving it away for free. Which is awesome as I was just about to BUY the Pressmatic product. See more about it here.
See more: Media Temple: Premium WordPress Hosting