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.

Important Features

  • 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).

Prices

All plans come with unlimited data transfer and free SSL per site for first year.

Plan Price Monthly Visitors Storage No. sites
PERSONAL $20/mo. 250,000 50GB 2
PRO $60/mo. 500,000 200GB 10
ELITE $240/mo. 2 million 500GB 50
EXTENDED $499/mo. 5 million 1TB 100

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:

 

  1. 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.
  2. You can clone a site (i.e. duplicate it).
  3. You can import a site.
  4. You can restore from backup.
    Daily backups are automatically provided by MT.
  5. You get Secure FTP (SFTP) access.
    Note that you must use an SFTP client (normal FTP does not work).
  6. 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.
  7. You can access phpMyAdmin
    phpMyAdmin has always been the goto tool for allow web access to your MySql database that WordPress runs on.
  8. 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…

Default Install

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.

Blacklisted Plugins

An important aspect of MT’s implementation is blacklisting plugins.

Buried in the documentation is a list of WordPress plugins that are not allowed on your site. If you try to add them, this is what you see:

disabledplugins

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.

Email

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…

Caching

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.

Given that caching plugins are disabled, it would be nice to have some more details about this. There are no options to minify or combined CSS and Javascript (something that some caching plugins do), so this will need to be handled differently.

Performance

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
1 1.35s 1.28s
2 848ms 798ms
3 1.17s 908ms
4 1.44s 1.72s
5 1.09s 706ms

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).

Source: Media Temple Managed Wordress Hosting.

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

muffins

Hi, I'm James, and for the last decade I've made a living by making my own blogs and websites.
Updated: February 23, 2017

10 Comments

  1. Hello,
    I’m from Brazil and I’m the mediatemple one year. The service has been falling every month.
    I want to change hosting provider, but mediatemple does not give me access to any form of backup as Cpanel or another.

    I was wondering how I can move my wordpress mediatemple without losing data to another VPS server that will buy.

    Can anyone help me?

  2. Yesterday we have a 30 minute outage on Media Temple WordPress Premium and the did not update the status page for the first 15 minutes.

    Then we had another outage during dinner.

    Nothing is worse, than have to talk to customers and tell them that you have no idea what is going on, and they you have no way to fix anything.

    I am talking to flywheel today and we will probably start moving the 300 or so WP sites we manage to them.

    My recommendation, if it has to be up all the time, get dedicateds at Rackspace with 24 monitoring and engineering, but that cost $100s per month per domain. Hope flywheel turns out to be a good one.

  3. Would like to chime in and say that I too have been having major issues with MediaTemple on my WordPress site. Over 10+ support requests the past 2 months and 1) the site is either goes down for no reason other than “our clusters are having issues at the moment but are being fixed” or 2) here’s a link to some Google’d article, “help yourself”

    Anyone considering MediaTemple for WordPress needs to stay far far far away. They’ve only gotten worse since GoDaddy bought them out.

    Currently in the process of switching providers, they’ve done nothing to help me with my site.

  4. This is just GoDaddy’s WordPress hosting for developers re-skinned under the Media Temple brand. Look at your URLs generated for FTP, SSH, etc. Take a good close look and your IPs, reverse lookup and you’ll see it’s all Arizona (at least as of 4/30/2015 it is). I okay with this, I understand what I’m getting. I’m getting Media Temple support and a combined user interface with my other Media Temple services (like grid). So I’m okay with it, but it’s really GoDaddy’s WP hosting and not Media Temple.

    • I suspected that it was a GoDaddy initiative as it doesn’t really fit with the original MT brand. However this is interesting.

      It also looks like they’ve improved things somewhat since my original review.

  5. You are absolutely right.

    After 10-years with mediatemple, I migrated all my WordPress sites to Flywheel.

    Far better speed and better support, albeit only on weekdays.

    Last straw was mediatemple surreptitiously installing plugins and themes on my sites without my permission. I too wept when they were bought by GoDaddy.

    • Interesting. I will say that I’m still very pleased with VPS hosting on MT. A few months back I migrated to their latest DV.

      Out of the box it runs nice and fast with no other tweaks.

      Let me know how you get on with Flywheel.

      I just took a look – their prices seem rather steep – particularly the limitations on monthly visits?

      • I’m researching WordPress hosting, too, and have set up and account with Flywheel. There definitely are visitor limitations, but fortunately, they consider a visit to be a unique IP in a 24 hour period. So, whether someone visits one page or spends all day visiting a hundred of your pages, it still only counts as on “visit.” It’s NOT pageviews they are counting, so that’s cool. Also, they make it clear that they won’t hut you down if you get spiked, so that’s nice.

        Also worth noting is that it’s free to set up and account with Flywheel to try them out! As far as I can tell from my experience, you get two weeks (or is it ten days? Something like that.) to develop your site. At that time, if you publish it, you pay for it. If you don’t, it just gets deleted, but you don’t pay anything. I have had an account for a few months and have spent a bunch of time messing around, but have never published anything so I have never paid anything. I like that. Of course, I suppose one could also copy all of the code used and all that stuff and just restart the project with a bit of a headstart for the next two weeks (or whatever).

        Anyways, just wanted to put this out there.

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