WPMU Review—Managed WordPress
(reviewed by an actual customer—me.) NEW for 2021.

by Doc Kane

by Doc Kane

Updated: May 12, 2021

  • Overall Rating: 4.875
  • Support: 5/5
  • Ease of Use: 4.5/5
  • Reliability: 5/5
  • Value: 5/5
  • Price: Hosting, 10 USD a month | 24/7 Hub Membership Support, ~20 USD a month
  • Test Drive: Yep. 7 Days. Great if you're migrating a site, but not so helpful if you're starting from scratch, I suppose.
  • Affiliate Program: WPMU Dev has a referral program once you're a customer, but not a full-fledged affiliate program.

Managed WordPress Hosting Can Change Your Life.

Early last year, I had no idea what managed WordPress hosting was and how it would dramatically increase my productivity and reduce the stress of working with a website. Wow. What a difference a year makes.

With fast hosting, easy site migration, a suite of professional plugins to help you optimize your site, hustle in email subscribers and beef up security, WMPU is a true competitor in the managed WordPress space. What really helps them knock it out of the park for me, though, is their world class support. And when I say world class, I really mean it.

In this deep dive into my experience with WMPU Dev, I'll walk you through what it has been like using their service from top to bottom. The good and the bad, what works well, and what doesn't seem to work at all, and why I choose to stick with them, and quite literally chat with them at least twice a week. But first off…

In a nutshell, managed WordPress hosting is when your host provider manages the day-to-day upkeep of your WordPress website. This includes everything from updating plugins to ensuring your site is up and running smoothly and safely.

2. Is Managed WordPress Worth It?

If you're a solopreneur expecting to generate any income from your website or blog, and have the time to dedicate to your small business, then, in my opinion you should be considering managed WordPress. If you're running a small business without an in house WordPress expert, I'd say you'd also be in a good spot to consider this sort of service as well. In both of these scenarios I can almost guarantee you will recoup your investment in bundles of time, sanity, and (surprisingly) money you'd have to spend on consultants in the first month or two of using such a service. That said, if you are just starting out, and in the beginning stages of registering a domain name without much of an idea as to how you would populate your website, you're likely better off hosting your first efforts on a shared/grid server. This is exactly what I do with all of my sites until I'm ready to migrate them over to WMPU. Those sites live at Media Temple, and it is what has enabled me to keep nearly 100 domain names alive and kicking for decades without too much overhead.

WPMU Review, Nihon Hustle

3. How Good is WPMU Support?

A week or so ago when I first got the idea to write this review of WPMUDEV, I decided to reach out to their support team to see how many live chat sessions I had held with them since first signing up with them for their HUB service last year. The answer 112 times. I have spent so much time chatting with their support team, that I feel as though I'd be pretty comfortable at one of their company picnics in Australia. That is, whenever they start having company picnics around the world again. And, of course, if WPMU ever even held a company picnic in the first place. Folks?

Anyway, the point is I've needed to spend a lot of time with these cats, and I know a thing or two about websites and how they kinda come together. I'm far from a developer, but these days, I'm a pretty darn good WordPress implementer. And, still I am often chatting with their 24/7 support team who come at me from all sorts of countries and time zones, helping me dodge and weave through every conceivable problem one might run into.

I've talked with them incessantly about website speed issues (and a lot as of late, as I prepare all my sites for Google's Core Vitals update—yay), image compression, broken fonts, and missing pages, the accidental deletion of entire pages, WordPress migration issues, hosting problems… the list of things I have sought help for is so numerous, I really can't even think of them all. But, seriously… 112 times. Already this week, I think I'm nearing 120 because of a weird mismatch between the compression statistics I was seeing on the back end of WordPress as I was editing, and what was being displayed in the WMPU Dashboard on the hosting side of things. I'll get to that a bit later in my wish-they-were-doing-better-at-these-things section.

Oh! I just remembered something crazy important. CSS. I don't know anything at all about CSS. Or, APIs… yet. But, the WPMU support team does. And, they will help you find the right CSS to get magical things that you don't know you'll need (you will need this help at some point), and they will put it in right where it belongs, because well… that's what Managed WordPress Support is all about.

I haven't touched FTP in months. No need for CPanel. Updating their premium plugins, my Elegant Themes' Divi theme… everything is a single click away. Oh, wait. You can auto enable that as well. So, I really don't have to do that either. Except for WordPress core updates, which… I'm pretty sure I can set to automatically run as well, but haven't figured it out as of yet.

So, how is the support at WPMUDEV? Stellar.

Building websites is hard work. My secret weapon... the tool that helped me launch 40 websites in 2020 was and remains, WPMU Dev. These cats have helped with every conceivable WordPress problem, from adjusting sidebars, to full on coding concerns that I don't have to touch. They actually log into my site and do the work for you. They are a God-send. For just under thirty bucks a month, their hosting and HUB service can't be beat. Fast hosting. Premium plugins, and LIVE 24/7 support. They'll even migrate any site you already have for free. Me and 917,692 website owners can't be wrong. Right?

4. How Much Does WPMU Dev Cost?

All WPMU Dev pricing valid as of May 12, 2021

WPMU Pricing is divided into two containers: hosting and Hub Membership. You can pair them together as I do now, or use the HUB Membership as an a la cart offering as I did until the tail end of 2020.

WPMU Membership pricing has three tiers: Personal, at $19 USD a month, Freelancer, at $39 USD a month, and Agency, at $99. USD a month.

WPMU Hosting cost is as follows. There are four pricing tiers for hosting: Bronze, at $10 USD a month, Silver, for $25. USD a month, Gold, for $50. USD a month, and Platinum, for $100. USD a month. 

All plans offer a 30-day money back guarantee. And, if you're curious as to what plans I use, I use the Agency HUB Membership plan, and the Bronze hosting plan. Because I use the Agency membership plan I'm able to host three sites for free. Not a bad deal.

5. What Does WMPU Dev Membership Include?

Membership to the WMPU Dev HUB provides WordPress developers, small creative and marketing agencies, and even freelancers and bloggers like me with an unbelievable array of goodies. Here are a few of my favorite. There are literally pages upon pages of information about their plugins, and HUB functionality. So, feel free to explore. 

My favorites on the WPMU Agency plan: 

 

  1. Unlimited 24/7 Live support. Pretty much a livesaver. There is not a single problem I have tossed at them they have not been able to solve.
  2. Unlimited WordPress Sites. I have 56 registered and operating with them. So, that means I can ask them questions about any one of these sites, at any time. 
  3. Automatic site backup.
  4. Auto update of plugins, themese, etc.
  5. Superb security.
  6. The Smush plugin for image optimization.
  7. The Hummingbird plugin for speed.
  8. Their CDN.
  9. The SEO Crawler Pluin (which has dramatically impacted my organic SEO Results. 

6. How's the Uptime?

Ah, uptime-schmuptime. I'd love to meet the marketer who pushed uptime as relevant. He should be given a crown. For ever it seems people seem to think this is critical. Unless you're running a website with a huge volume of traffic where having your website go down for a minute or two is going to result in the prevention of a tremendous amount of cash from entering your all-to-mighty pockets, you shouldn't really be thinking about up-time. Every hosting provider touts their 99.999% uptime guarantee. Of course, they guarantee it, because it's the easiest thing in the world to guarantee. Imagine if any bread baker on the planet said to you, “We guarantee this bread is going to be tasty!”  You'd be like… um, sure. It's bread. All bread is tasty.

Instead of being distracted by the silliness of up-time (even my grid service at MediaTemple is largely up instead of down), focus on support (we covered that already), and performance. Now that, is a different metric.

7. WPMU vs. Kinsta vs. GoDaddy vs. Everyone!! 

Okay, so real numbers. This is the sort of thing that can really make your head spin if you're not schooled enough in what makes one web host better than another, and, frankly I think it's the sort of thing that we can focus a little too much on at too early a stage in choosing a managed WordPress provider. All upper tier hosts provide migration services of some sort, so if you were to start with one, and end up unhappy with their performance capabilities, you can always switch to another managed WordPress host with relative ease. I migrated three sites from Media Temple to WPMU Dev with the click of just a few buttons and some really nice hand-holding by their support team. I had a hiccup with one site that cause a two day delay, but that was my error. The other two sites transferred to WMPU intact and buzz-ready within a few hours. It was magical.

But that's migration… we're here to talk about performance, right? Time to First Byte (TTFB), Max Parallel Clients, Geo Optimized TTFB, load speed. Yeah… um, I don't really know much about those things. What I do know is, how these acronyms translate into the actual user experience when viewing a web page. In other words, when you load a page, do you say to yourself… “when is this damn thing going to come up?” Or, do you watch the page first load without text, then have it appear as though a wizard finally granted it the ability to fly into view? Do the images load a wee bit too lazily? This is what we're talking about when we're talking about comparing web hosting based on performance, and after my switch from Media Temple to WPMU, my speed scores went through the roof. Not only as a viewer but as an implementer when using Divi to actually make content for the page.

For the real nuts and bolts, though if you want to see how WPMU Dev performed against nine other Managed WordPress hosts, including:

Go Daddy
WP Engine
Flywheel
Cloudways
Hostgator
Siteground
Kinsta
and Bluehost

… you can check out their surprisingly candid reviews of them against each of these competitors. Oh, and in case you're curious… they didn't win. On everything, that is. But, then again… since I'm guessing most of you reading this review are most likely not trying to scale a multi-million dollar business, your main concern should be support. The good hosts are all pretty damn fast.

Got three minutes? See how WPMU can help you save time, and money with your WordPress website.

8. Backups. Or, How Not To Lose Your Shirt. (That says shirt, not… sh#%… come on now.)

Backups. If you went to college in the 80's like me, then you probably learned how to navigate a computer right around the time you were learning how to write really long research papers. You were also saving files on floppy disks (not actual floppies, but 3×5 disks we all still called floppies, because well… sometimes it takes a while for a familiar phrase to disappear into the ether). Anyway, if you were writing papers back then, learning how to use a computer, and needing to remember to save over and on those clunky disks, well you likely forgot more than once to do just that. And, one day, you probably forgot to save just before the guy next to you tripped over the cord and unplugged the machine causing you to lose that 10 page paper you were working on. After wanting to kill both yourself and the errant traipser, you likely cemented in your brain to never, ever, ever, forget to save. 

And, so here we are. It's 2021, and I am still save documents every few seconds. When designing a website, usually Divi has me covered with it's autosave function, but I still find myself checking that green little check mark in the bottom right corner of my text module, closing the module and saving the page… just in case. 

Such was the case with backups. Now, remember, I have something like 56 sites with WPMU. Only three are currently hosted with them. The rest are still over at Media Temple. What that means is for those 53 sites, I have to set up their Snapshot Plugin to backup those sites at some sort of interval that makes my son-of-an-insurance-underwriter brain (yes, I have that problem as well), not swell up in fear that I'm going to lose all of the hard work I've put into building out these sites for twelve months. It took a bunch of time to do, and because there is a 10GB restriction on the server space I'm able use on non-hosted sites, I was having to constantly go in and delete automated backups. These days, since those sites are relatively dormant, I realized it was much smarter to just create a single backup and let it sit. Problem solved. 

But!

With Nihon Hustle, TheBaker.com, Maplopo, those sites require constant backing up given all the content resting on the sites. And, for that, I simply rely on… well, nothing, really. I don't have to worry one iota about it. Because WPMU backs up everything on these three hosted accounts for me each and every night. I imagine many a managed WordPress host does the same. Regardless. WPMU does it for me. It works. I can rest easy at night, even if I screw things up royally somehow. Which is very possible. 

So, no more sweaty installs of the Updraft or VaultPress plugins, no duplicate backups to my Google or Dropbox accounts that eat up my space over on those services. Just a single backup for every one of my 53 sites using the WPMUDEV dashboard HUB, and the three that are hosted. And I am set.

But what about the things WPMU doesn't do so well…? I did promise that earlier, didn't I? Okay, let's take a look.

9. Of course, not everything is rosy. What I'm not in love with currently—WPMU Dev Cons.

As with everything in life, nothing is perfect. And, while WPMU is about as close as they get to perfect, there are indeed a few things I think that would be nice to see improved upon. I should preface this though, by saying these are in no way deal breakers, and I'm not going anywhere. I like the service I have with WPMU. But (!) if they could nail down a few of these other preferences I have, then… well, I'd likely be sold for the duration of things. So, what's not perfect?

Well, for one, there are some odd-ball discrepancies between what I see on the back end of Divi while developing, and what I see on the hosting side of things. For example, since I'm often working on optimizing the site to meet Google's damn core web vitals metrics, of which Divi is a bear, I'm often reliant on my Smush plugin for images, and Hummingbird for all other sort of caching. So, when I log into the hosting HUB and see that nothing is active, that's a bit concerning.

It also causes me to fire up a chat with their lovely support folks, but in the end it seems the fix is simply to clear the cache. But, I always clear the cache. Well, there is apparently another area where you can clear the cache and it's… here. Well, please fix that. I don't want to be worried about what is and isn't being cleared.

There are synching issues, apparently. There should be a good way to make this clear to users though. WPMU does have a blog, and a community center of sorts, but who really looks at that stuff on a regular basis. Perhaps a dash message could be more helpful. Or, better yet, an actual fix. I've rung in about this several times in the past, so it must be somewhat common.

Okay, so gripe number two. And, this is quite minor, really. But, I mentioned Google's Core Web Vitals. This is a BIG deal for many WordPress site owners because many of us use page builders which… um, are not performing so well with this latest scrutiny by the Google Gods. So, it's pertinent, right?

I have found that many of the reps at WPMU, while (God bless them), are a bit unable to offer much actionable advice with regard to this. Most feedback returned to me is general in nature, and often includes links to more research. That's fine, and I'm a learner. But, what I would really love is the sort of things I put together in this infographic. Do this. Don't do that. Oh, you're using Divi? Definitely don't do that!

Which brings me to gripe number three: Divi.

Divi is the world's most popular WordPress theme. Not the most popular by marketing standards… it IS the most popular theme in use: over 750,000 websites use Divi. That's quite a population of theme users. And yet, I've not run into anyone at WPMU who is a Divi expert.

Most of them are more than qualified to help because their knowledge is platform agnostic. But, there are specific references I often need to make that are a bit tedious over time… simple vocabulary I need to articulate to get past the initial greetings… modules… sections… rows…

Now, some of this might be rather rudimentary to them, but to me (a regular guy trying to run a small business website), I have no idea as to whether this stuff is common knowledge to them. I've even started to ask… “Are you kinda familiar with Divi?” At this point, folks have been replying that they're good at troubleshooting… at hacking (for lack of a better word). So, this gripe, while third, is probably my biggest.

WPMU has had for some time now a coming soon section within the HUB a Divi preset option for speed. Okay, well, let's get it done already. It's been awhile. And, I know it's a big pain in the rear-end. As an outsider, I have no idea as to priorities, etc. Sure. I get it. But, actually, I might be a little familiar with the dev side of things.

For years, I worked with a dental SaaS company in Chicago—RevenueWell (they are awesome, by the way!) Anyway, for months, and months, and… maybe at least a year or more, we were hounded by dental offices to create appointment confirmations.

On and on it went. Offices requested the feature. We said: “It's coming! … we promise.” The wait was agonizing. One of our founders, Alex Nozdrin, made a Bruno Ganz video mockup of the whole thing for our sales director  (they were popular a few years back…), to hammer the point home.

This was something customers were shouting for, but weren't getting. He understood that, of course. But dev, budget, and a slew of other things, I imagine get in the way. Communication makes the wait possible, but it often doesn't trickle down to the customer base.

So, WPMU folks.

Would it be possible to ensure your team is a bit more educated on the most popular WordPress theme in the world? Especially when it comes to Managed WordPress hosting? Please? Pretty please?

Okay. Enough of that. 

Let's talk about security and wrap this puppy up. Because many unscrupulous web hosts line up to convince you that their security package will protect you from evil-doers overseas, while it is them whom we should be concerned about. Read on, my friend…

WPMU Reviews on Reviews.io

10. Avoiding Shady “Security” Packages and the Benefits of Integrity.

A number of years ago I housed all of my domains on a service named after a color. A rather sky-like hue… nice and comfortable and, well… blue-ish. I like blue.

And yet, despite my affection for this rather comfortable color, and the affordability of this firm's domain hosting, their apparent appreciation of me and my nascent desire to start a business online, turned out to be (in my opinion) false. The proverbial snake in the grass.

Have you ever heard of SiteLock?

I'm all too familiar. And it cost me years and far too much money to free myself from Google's website blacklist. Promising ventures, crushed by what I would agree appears to be a rather insidious scam. In addition to this particular website host, I've found there are a number of questionable plugins that propose to protect you from malware, but seem to allow for the injection of it instead.

This sort of junk does not exist with WPMU.

And, I cannot emphasise enough that if you have the money to afford a reputable managed WordPress provider, like WMPU (it ain't that much), you'll save far more in aggravation and money by investing in such a service.

PLEASE. If it is $3.99 a month. If it is “super-cheap!” if it is touted everywhere by every G-Damn affiliate marketer out there, it is likely specious. Beware.

On that note. If you've never heard of WPMU, if you're more familiar with other domain providers because you read about them everywhere… ask yourself, why is that?

It's likely because they have a stellar affiliate program. An affiliate program that pays out between $50. and $75. per referral. Not bad, right?

Sadly, WPMU has a crappy affiliate program. If you happen to click on any of the links I've shared here, I get a membership “credit” of sorts. They have some sort of insane points program that will eventually, if I recommend a gazillion people, result in free WPMU Hub Membership. That's it. No, $75. per referral like the hosting providers you see over, and over, and over ad infinitum. Just a measly credit toward membership.

It's so damn insignificant, I don't even think about it. If I ever reach the lifetime membership, I'll be happy, but it'll likely be so damn long by the time it happens, that I will have forgotten about it. Which means…

Give it a try. I have hardly anything to gain. You have everything to gain.

This ridiculously long post took me hours to write. I'll pretty much get nothing out of it. Perhaps some traffic. That's cool.

The real winner is you.

Test out WPMU's Managed WordPress hosting.

Get your website humming.

Work side-by-side with their awesome support team.

And, lift your online dreams off the ground.

Oh! And, if you're ever wandering around Japan looking for someone to say “hey” to, please reach out. I'd love to hear from you.

Cheers,
Doc

P.S. All reviews on Nihon Hustle are, and always will be unpaid, and unsponsored. I am an affiliate for WPMU, though, as stated above, and proudly so. This review is to share my experiences with you, warts and all. Good luck with your business building!

 

11. The Verdict—TL;DR

Building websites is hard work. My secret weapon... the tool that helped me launch 40 websites in 2020 was and remains, WPMU Dev. These cats have helped with every conceivable WordPress problem, from adjusting sidebars, to full on coding concerns that I don't have to touch. They actually log into my site and do the work for you. They are a God-send. For just under thirty bucks a month, their hosting and HUB service can't be beat. Fast hosting. Premium plugins, and LIVE 24/7 support. They'll even migrate any site you already have for free. Me and 917,692 website owners can't be wrong. Right?

Doc Kane in Japan

About Me

Howdy, all, I'm Doc. I live in the beautiful port city of Kobe, JAPAN with my wife Reiko. Together we co-founded the Japanese literature translation firm, Maplopo. Nihon Hustle grew out of my desire to help others interested in working with, or starting, a business Japan—or anywhere else in the world!

We all wear different hats and my job is to help you find the one that fits you best. Thanks for reading, and go get 'em!