My Experiences with Media Temple Managed WordPress Hosting
Note: this post has been updated to reflect the new MT Managed WordPress Hosting in 2017 (previously covered the old MT “Premium WordPress” hosting).
In the war of WordPress hosting – it seems like Flywheel are winning. Even though their prices seem a bit steep to me – their performance is winning new customers.
Media Temple rolled out a new Managed WordPress platform in 2017. I took it for a test drive.
NOTE: I had the biggest shock of all, when my phone rang about an hour after ordering the service. It was a strange number so I suspected some kind of scam.
To my surprise it was a Media Temple staffer – checking how I was going! I was a bit freaked out – but suitably impressed. MT has taken a bit of criticism over the last few years regarding support.
We chatted for a bit. I asked about SSL certs and a few other things… then I carried on. I only ordered a $20/month plan – so wasn’t expecting that.
- All your sites are automatically updated to the latest version of WP (you can choose to delay updates for 30 days).
- SiteLock security and malware scanning comes free (this is a good feature – I use it on all my VPS hosted sites).
- You get a free SSL certificate for each site (note the fine print – you have to start paying from year 2).
All plans come with unlimited data transfer and free SSL per site for first year.
|Plan||Price||Monthly Visitors||Storage||No. sites|
Getting Set Up
The onboarding process lets you add a new site, or import a site from another hosting provider, or migrate from Media Temple Grid.
The Control Panel
Media Temple (MT) have a clean and simple custom-built control panel.
And some extra tools:
- Each site can have up to 2 staging sites.
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 choose WP themes directly from here
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.
Migrating a Site
I tried to do the automatic migration from another installation but it didn’t work. They required FTP and WP credentials – but there was nowhere to enter the full FTP filesystem pathname. I suspect this is why it didn’t work.
So I had to do a manual migration (instructions here).
It was ugly. Uploading image files via sFTP was ssssllllooowwww…. (of course I could have setup SSH and used a secure copy which would have been quicker).
I hit a snag. The default MT install had crazy table prefixes. Where as my original site just had the standard ‘wp_’. So I now had two sets of tables in the database.
So I needed to replace the existing table prefix in the wp-config.php file with the one from my previous host…
The default WordPress install came with a number of plugins:
- 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 was also a bunch of other plugins (Contact Widgets, WP101 Video Tutorials, Ninja Forms, GoDaddy Email Marketing Signup Forms, and a thing called Beaver Builder).
I don’t know if this is because I used a wizard rather than a clean install… but I’m not a fan extra “fluff” on an install.
I deleted most of these.
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.
This was tricky. The default (mt) mail plugin did nothing. Apparently the bottom level plan I had chosen didn’t come with email. I would need to purchase a Google Apps for Work account…
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 (actually this very site you are on).
I then used tools.pingdom.com to website speed tests for the homepage across each host. I ran the test from the Dallas, Texas location.
|Test #||MT VPS||MT Managed WordPress Hosting|
This is impressive. My tests on the previous MT WordPress hosting were poor (way slower than VPS).
These times are faster in almost all of the tests – making Managed WordPress a serious contender.
My Conclusions: Getting Better, But Shop Around
This is a lot better than their previous offering (which was buggy and slow), and prices are competitive.
The migration process (for me) was messy, and I didn’t appreciate all the extra plugins being loaded on default. But the performance gains are very impressive.
As can be seen in the older comments below – a lot of people preferred Flywheel over the previous MT WordPress. However this
Managed WP or VPS?
This presents a dilemma for me. Customization and control of the VPS? Or the minimal admin time of a managed WordPress?
It may depend on how many visitors your sites get – given that the Managed plans are capped by visitor number (as are other wordpress hosts).
Update 1: Flywheel now offer free SSL.
Update 2: Flywheel 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