Hosting Review: MediaTemple Premium WordPress Hosting
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This is a commissioned review of Media Temple’s premium WordPress hosting, based on one month of independently testing the product. The findings and opinions in this review are entirely our own and have not been altered in any way by Media Temple or anyone else.
We tested Media Temple’s premium managed WordPress hosting. From Media Temple’s website, this includes the following:
- 20GB SSD storage
- Includes 3 WordPress installs
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Integrated email
- Custom control panel
Several features are responses to existing offerings in the managed WordPress hosting space.
Several of the features above are responses to the existing offerings in the fiercely competitive managed WordPress hosting space, dominated by players like WP Engine and Pagely:
- The 3 WordPress installs is a major departure from the norm that the cheapest hosting plan comes with only one install. In theory, this makes MediaTemple hosting much less expensive per site than other managed WordPress hosts, despite the similar monthly cost for a single account.
- The promise of unlimited bandwidth (and, more importantly, the lack of any specific monthly page view cap) departs from the bandwidth and page view caps of other managed WordPress hosts, which can drive customers with significant site traffic into higher pay tiers.
- The integrated email offering addresses other managed WordPress hosts’ lack of email service. (Setting up an “@yourdomain.com” email without this service requires you to forward email through your domain registrar to a separately hosted email account.)
The base price point is $29 per month, the number that most managed WordPress hosts seem to hover near. Media Temple does offer various monthly and yearly discounts as sign-up incentives.
Unlike other managed WordPress hosts, Media Temple’s WordPress hosting currently has only one pricing tier—there are no “Starter” and “Pro” plans.
We went through the process of creating a test WordPress installation, which you can check out here.
The initial site setup went smoothly. I particularly liked the one-click WordPress install process, which does make it simple to create a new WordPress install from scratch.
Media Temple also has a truly awesome “Import site” option that allows you to do a quick, dead-simple site migration with just WordPress login and FTP credentials. I tested it and it works! We made our test site using an old-fashioned SFTP file upload and phpMyAdmin database import, and those worked just fine as well.
Issues: This is more a point of preference than anything, but opening up the WordPress admin after the install, I did wonder about the wisdom of having the Jetpack plugin preinstalled. Many people love Jetpack, and preinstalling it seems like a nod toward accessibility for less experienced users; but we also find it to be a bit of a jumble, and it’s probably not something we’d install by default.
The Media Temple admin has lovely, spacious design.
The Media Temple admin area has lovely, spacious design almost throughout, which makes the site fun to be on. Some corners of the hosting admin don’t comply with the flat design style of the rest of the site and aren’t quite as pretty as a result, but there’s still no equivalent to a crowded, 2005-era cPanel experience.
Issues: Only very minor thoughts here, as well. At times, the design can feel a bit too spaced-out and elegant: on some forms, for example, I’d enter one piece of information, like my username, and have to scroll down to enter the password.
I found that the interface took some initial getting used to.
I also found that the WordPress admin interface, in particular, took some getting used to, although it was easy to use once I did. I’ve had this problem with other managed WordPress hosts, as well: I sometimes find the “managed” experience so scaled-back (especially relative to a cPanel) that it can be difficult to locate the few things there are left to do.
Overall, our experience with site administration was good: the site loaded quickly, and admin changes took effect promptly. It’s also cool to be able to administer up to three sites from one admin panel; Media Temple’s competitors only make this available in their higher pricing tiers.
We hit some snags during a day of heavy administration.
Issues: We did hit some major unexplained snags during a day in which I was trying to finalize my changes to the test site. The site continued to perform well in browsers that were not logged in; however, it slowed to a crawl—and, indeed, became impossible to load or administer—in logged-in browsers. The problem did recede after around an hour and a half, and the site is now quick and efficient to administer.
We don’t know why this happened. We chose the test site theme specifically to be unwieldy and inefficient—it’s an overstuffed e-commerce theme packed with features and, we’re pretty sure, unnecessary database queries, and it caused our shared hosting account to grind to a near-halt when we tried to build a site with it a few months back. So it’s possible that the theme was hitting the server with so many unnecessary queries over several hours of heavy site administration that Media Temple temporarily throttled our account, while preserving the (non-logged-in) user experience with a lot of caching. Whatever the case, you wouldn’t want your site to be difficult to administer like this very often.
Media Temple’s tech support line is always available, and I was generally the first person in line; most waits were less than two minutes, and none was longer than ten.
I loved Media Temple’s hold music—definitely a first.
I loved Media Temple’s hold music—definitely a first in my book. You can switch between five stations using your keypad, and most of the stations are playing what is to my ear very good music: classic reggae, good mainstream jazz (not elevator music), and more. During the one longer wait I experienced, I briefly forgot I was on hold and not just listening to music on my phone.
My interactions with Media Temple staff were overwhelmingly positive.
Tech support staff was almost always friendly and eager to help, and my interactions with Media Temple staff were overwhelmingly positive.
Issues: One support tech was a noteworthy exception to the friendly norm. He was perfectly content not to help me; when I said, “So you can’t help me?” he just said “Correct.”
More substantively, I had one tech support experience go awry. A technician mistakenly deleted an install I’d planned to use—he thought, for good reasons relating to my poor communication, that it was a junk install—and then had trouble restoring a backup. Doing so took a support ticket and a full 24 hours, although the install was ultimately recovered intact.
The Media Temple techs are relatively new to managed WordPress hosting.
The tech mentioned that the WordPress hosting interface was new, “not as intuitive compared to our previous services,” and “a bit different from what we are accustomed to from our grid services.” The overall conclusion I drew is that the Media Temple techs are relatively new to managed WordPress hosting, and are still in the process of learning otherwise fairly routine procedures like restoring from backup.
The hosting passed our load tests with flying colors.
We load-tested our test site using a tool called Siege. Overall, the results were excellent, particularly compared to the test site on standard shared hosting we used as a comparison. (Test both sites for yourself to see how they perform in your browser! Media Temple site here, shared hosting site here.)
We simulated 10, 25, 50, 100, and 250 concurrent page loads. The Media Temple hosting shone throughout. Some noteworthy specifics:
- The “Successful” and “Failed” transactions (as summarized in the “Availability” statistic) show that Media Temple successfully handled 100% of incoming requests at 100 concurrent requests and below. Even with 250 concurrent requests it properly handled more than 80% of them. The shared hosting served virtually no one successfully at 50 concurrent requests and up.
- The “Response time” metric shows that Media Temple responded in less than a second on average when given 100 or fewer concurrent requests. The shared hosting started around two seconds and scaled rapidly from there.
- Even under the heaviest load, Media Temple responded to requests in an average of 5 seconds—versus more than three minutes for our shared hosting.
Any of these load tests corresponds to very high site traffic: 100 concurrent requests means a huge number of site visits in a day. Combined with the lack of bandwidth and page view restrictions, this suggests that Media Temple’s WordPress hosting is well-equipped to handle your site traffic until you start scaling like crazy.
New to managed WordPress
Media Temple’s premium WordPress hosting is brand-new.
Media Temple’s premium WordPress hosting is brand-new, and this means a range of things. On the plus side, customers stand to benefit from energetic promotion and penetration pricing, and can hope to get in on the ground floor of a steadily growing and improving service with a large, focused development team behind it.
On the negative side, Media Temple’s support team doesn’t appear to be as comfortable with its WordPress hosting as other managed hosts’ would, and this carried consequences (described above) during the setup process.
Media Temple history and GoDaddy acquisition
Media Temple has existed for almost two decades, and through most of that time has maintained a reputation as a high-quality premium hosting provider, especially targeting web designers and developers.
In October 2013, Media Temple was acquired by hosting giant GoDaddy.
In October 2013, Media Temple was acquired by hosting giant GoDaddy. GoDaddy is the biggest player in the hosting space, and has a checkered reputation for serving low-quality shared hosting to millions drawn in by its ferocious advertising. What’s more, its outspoken founder and controversial ad campaigns have, in the past, upset many people not bothered by its products themselves.
A Media Temple FAQ from the time of the merger assures readers that GoDaddy is contractually obligated to respect its pricing, operations, and ways of doing business, all while giving Media Temple the capital needed to provide great service to more customers. Media Temple’s move into managed WordPress hosting definitely speaks of a large marketing and development budget. However, the worry remains that GoDaddy will seek profits by acquiring a respected brand and lowering its costs until the service starts to suffer.
Fast, performant, and scalable. Media Temple did great in our speed tests, and this makes a really cool combination with the lack of hard bandwidth and page view restrictions. It’s pretty exciting to see a $29 managed WordPress hosting account that actually lets you scale off the original purchase.
Much cheaper per install than other managed WordPress hosts. Media Temple operates at the same base price as its main competitors, but it’s alone in allowing you three site installs for that price. If you’re administering multiple sites, this makes Media Temple multiple times less expensive than the alternatives. And if your sites get appreciable traffic, Media Temple’s current lack of an upsell to a higher pricing tier makes its hosting even more affordable by comparison.
Easy administration and the “Site import” tool. Media Temple’s doing some things really well in its site admin. The overall admin experience is good and intuitive. We were also really impressed by the “Site import” tool, which just works—this is amazing and, to our knowledge, not offered elsewhere.
Just getting into WordPress. From our experience, the support staff is relatively new to WordPress, and the WordPress hosting infrastructure itself is new—meaning the possibility of difficult user and/or support experiences. We experienced one tech support hiccup that might have been nerve-wracking if we’d been working on an actual site, and also an unexplained period during which we couldn’t administer the site. Media Temple can be expected to iron out these issues as it gains experience, but they’re something to think about, particularly if you’re not especially tech-savvy yourself.
Uncertainty after acquisition. Media Temple’s move into the WordPress space speaks to the upside of its acquisition by GoDaddy: lots of infrastructure and a large budget to work with. However, it remains uncertain whether the brand will maintain quality over time given the financial and strategic pressures that acquiring companies often exert.
Good for you if…
- You want fast, high-quality managed WordPress hosting that’s much more affordable per install than the competitors, and won’t spiral in price as your site grows.
- You administer a small portfolio of sites and would like them all in one admin for one affordable price.
- You’ve got some WordPress knowledge to work with the relatively new staff and infrastructure.
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