|Flywheel standout features|
|Performance||Fast and reliable hosting|
|Average response time||Approximately 15ms|
|Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)||Free SSL certificate from LetsEncrypt.org|
|Secure Shell (SSH) and Secure File Transfer Protocol(SFTP) access||Yes, included with all hosting packages|
|Support||24/7 support via email or live chat|
What Are the Pros and Cons of Flywheel?
If you’re looking for managed WordPress, consider Flywheel. WordPress is the main product Flywheel offers, and it provides a wide range of sizes and value-added features to help make your WordPress site the best it can be. Yet all of this is offered at a lower price point than most competitors, and you do get what you pay for.
Pros of Flywheel
- Daily backups: These are included with every plan, turned on automatically, and kept for 30 days.
- SSH access with universal SFTP: Flywheel’s “Universal SFTP” means that if you have multiple sites, you can use one login to access all of your sites.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN) included: Flywheel accounts all include built-in integration with Fastly at no additional charge.
Cons of Flywheel
- Limited WordPress migration: Flywheel offers “free” migration, but after a bit of digging, it turns out this is a Flywheel-supplied WordPress plug-in versus migration with a support technician.
- Less server for your dollar vs. the competition: Flywheel’s price points do not do much to differentiate Flywheel’s competitors, and in general, it seems like you get less server per dollar.
- Limited phone-based support: This type of support is only available at the highest pricing tiers.
1. Built-in CDN (via Fastly)
Having a CDN means your site will load quicker and more reliably. A CDN takes the static parts of your website (images, style sheets, text content) and copies them to a network of servers that deliver your content from a server close to whoever is accessing your site. This speeds up load times and adds some reliability if, for instance, your main server is down.
Fastly is a well-known and well-respected CDN going shoulder-to-shoulder with Akamai, CloudFlare, and others. Flywheel offers this at no extra cost — a huge boon to your site — as even the most basic Fastly plans have an associated cost.
2. Staging sites
Flywheel’s inclusion of a staging site is a welcome feature, adding a lot of value for no cost to you. With a staging site, you can put together new content and changes for your site, and preview them all without ever going live. That way, your site looks exactly how you expect it.
Some hosting providers make this a paid feature (for example, Nexcess), but I was pleasantly surprised to see this was included at no charge.
3. Nightly backups
Backups are essential for anything mission-critical. As the expression says: one is none, two is one. Flywheel’s hosting includes 30 days of nightly backups, so you can rest assured if you need to restore to a previous point in time, you can do so.
4. Blazing fast response times
When testing my site, I got some of the fastest time-to-first-byte (TTFB) times I’ve seen among hosting providers. Webpage load times can vary widely depending on the amount and complexity of content on a given page, so I use TTFB as a metric for how fast a hosting provider is. How quickly those first few bytes reach a web browser is solely the responsibility of your hosting provider, and the quickest providers start with a fast time to when your browser gets its first bytes.
This is probably due to a combination of the Fastly CDN sitting in front of your site and Flywheel’s own FlyCache, a custom WordPress caching engine that integrates with the CDN to, in Flywheel’s own words, “make WordPress sites fly.” I suspect that’s why I was getting such fast TTFB times.
5. Value-added features
Flywheel has many more value-added features that all deserve a small mention, but there are too many to list here. These are the ones that stood out to me and why:
- Free basic SSL via Let’s Encrypt: This feature is table stakes for most hosting providers these days, but Flywheel is very upfront about that this is basic SSL provided through Let’s Encrypt — a free SSL provider in its own right.
- All-in-one SFTP: If you have more than one site, this lets you access them all with one SFTP login rather than multiple ones, and it is a nice touch to ease management difficulties.
- Free migration tools: Flywheel advertises “free” migration, but actually, a WordPress plug-in migrates you. It does offer white-glove migration but at an added charge.
What Are Some Good Alternatives to Flywheel?
Because Flywheel’s main specialty is managed WordPress, all the recommended alternatives also provide WordPress hosting. These comparisons are based on how well the alternatives handle managed WordPress first, weighing additional features after. The pricing below reflects its managed WordPress hosting, specifically even if the hosting provider has packages at a lower or higher price.
Additionally, many of these providers have introductory prices available for a period, after which the price renews at the regular rate. Pricing below reflects this regular rate.
This is how Flywheel compares to other managed WordPress hosting providers that the team here at Digital.com recommends:
Frequently Asked Questions About Flywheel
Who owns Flywheel?
What kind of support does Flywheel offer?
Where are the Flywheel servers located?
- Iowa, U.S.
- Montreal, Canada
- London, U.K.
- Belgium, Europe
- Sydney, Australia
What are the best alternatives to Flywheel?
How I Rated Flywheel
When reviewing Flywheel, I wanted to give it a fair shake against its competitors, especially those that offered either managed WordPress or something else that hosts WordPress. I compared feature sets among hosting providers and calculated how much you get for your dollar in each instance.
What struck me the most when reviewing Flywheel was that its pricing structure and features don’t differentiate it much from the competition. While all of its features land quite well, and the speed is very good, Flywheel doesn’t offer as much bandwidth or storage per dollar as its competitors. Flywheel’s price is lower than competitors, but you get even less than what you pay for.
Comparing FlyWheel vs. Nexcess, for instance, you pay nearly twice as much per gigabyte of storage on Flywheel. And this is comparing a $13 versus a $20 per month plan; for $7 more, you get three times the storage and 100 times the bandwidth. This is a real surprise to me in an era where storage and bandwidth are generally the least expensive parts of web hosting.
For those looking to save money by purchasing a cheaper hosting alternative, it’s not unreasonable to do a bit more DIY work and purchase direct server hosting (without the managed part) and save nearly 90% of your cost per month. For those who specifically need managed WordPress, there are better options at a slightly higher price point. But if you don’t fall into either of those two categories, then Flywheel may be the web host for you.