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Flywheel review

Premium managed WordPress hosting for modern web designers and developers

21:9 Hero
(Image: © Flywheel)

Our Verdict

Flywheel managed to raise WordPress hosting to another level, creating an easy-to-use interface with a wide variety of useful features. Although it isn’t one of the most affordable options on the market, it represents extremely good value for money.

For

  • Excellent 24/7 live chat support
  • SSL is included in each and every plan
  • One-click installs
  • User-friendly interface

Against

  • Limited hosting options
  • No free domain
  • Not one of the more affordable hosts

Flywheel was founded in 2012 by three friends: Dusty, Rick, and Tony, of which all three have a background in web development. As they stated, experience of working in the industry has taught them that hosting can often be a “total headache” and therefore they took on the mission of making the web hosting experience as pleasant as possible. Their headquarters are located in Omaha, Nebraska and from their humble beginnings to this date, they have managed to open ten global data centers. Two of those are in the US, and one each in Canada, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Japan and Singapore. 

Right from the start they have focused on one type of web hosting, that is managed WordPress hosting, and have brought their services to perfection. In addition, they offer a variety of features, all selected to make things easier for web designers and developers. One of the founders, Rick, declares with pride: “Flywheel is the company we wish existed when we were in your shoes.”

Flywheel’s official blog seems quite professionally done and visually attractive while wrapped in cool colors, mostly blue. Articles are simple yet well written, being of just sufficient length and filled with fitting pictures. The six most popular articles are highlighted, and if you scroll down below, you’ll find an e-book library, which is something we don’t see often enough. The topics of all e-books are related to web design, WordPress and the company itself. Importantly, all are available for registered users only and are free of charge.

There is a video workshop as well, related to the topics mentioned above, that can be downloaded for free, and it is optimized both for Windows and Linux. Again, since it is not something we see quite often, it deserves praise. It’s also important to point out that Flywheel’s blog seems active and articles are updated on a weekly basis, at the very least.

Pricing

Flywheel offers several managed WordPress plans to fit your web hosting needs (Image credit: Flywheel)

Plans and pricing

Since Flywheel is specialized in providing premium managed WordPress hosting services, the prices are considerably higher compared with competing providers. The least expensive plan, Tiny, starts at $14 a month and it’s recommended for “small, simpler installs.” This will provide you with one WordPress site, 5GB disk and 20GB bandwidth, which is fairly decent.

All plans come with SSL certificates, managed plugin updates and performance insights, and if none of suggested plans fits your needs, you are invited to make a custom-built one.

There is no free trial, but there is a money-back guarantee policy which varies depending on whether you choose a monthly or an annual plan. If you choose a monthly one, you’ll have the right to a refund in the first 72 hours after your purchase. For an annual one, you’ll have 30 days to decide whether Flywheel is a right option for you or not.

Flywheel offers only two payment method options:  credit cards (MasterCard of Visa) and PayPal.

Ease of use

Choosing a plan with Flywheel is a straightforward experience, since all of them are listed next to each other, together with their most prominent features. However, if you want to go down to the tiniest details, you are able to choose an option to compare all features in a rather transparent fashion. Inside a table you’ll get information about platform features, workflow tools and support, where everything included in the plan will be check marked. At the bottom of the page there is a related and very useful FAQ section.

After selecting a desired plan (or making a custom one, which is always an option), you can proceed with creating your account, by providing them with your email address, choosing a username and generating a password. To complete your profile, you’ll have to add further (although quite regular) personal information and select a profile picture, if you so desire. As an alternative, you are able to sing in using your Google account. 

As for data centers, you’ll be able to choose between five locations (the US, the EU, the UK, Canada and Australia), but they are not further specified. 

It’s important to note that if you decided on an annual plan, you’ll be getting free hosting for two months, which can be a tempting offer. 

Dashboard

This is Flywheel's dashboard where you can create a new site and manage your add-ons (Image credit: Flywheel)

As you will surely notice, the Flywheel’s dashboard is refreshingly simple and beginner-friendly, yet stylish and very pleasing to look at. 

If you desire to transfer a pre-existing site (or a number of them), you’ll get that free of charge and with the support of Flywheel’s team. The only thing you need to do is fill out Flywheel’s secure migration form and wait for support agents to transfer your site from your old hosting provider to Flywheel.

Flywheel uses their own customized control panel, so it does lack some features of standardized ones. However, it is intuitive enough and designed with developers and designers in mind, so it won't make much difference to most users. The panel provides site tagging capabilities (useful for those hosting multiple sites) and 2FA, a two-factor authentication. The WordPress installation is just click away, so you can start editing the template and adding content to your site without delay. 

Performance

We used GTmetrix to measure the performance of our Flywheel site (Image credit: GTmetrix)

Speed and experience

When speed is concerned, GTmetrix test of Flywheel’s main website showed less than successful results. This is surprising for a relatively respectable host, but Flywheel failed the test regarding several criteria. The time it took for its page to fully load was a whopping 19.6 seconds, more than double of the average of 8.1. In addition, it took 213 requests as opposed to an average of 88, which isn’t something we can easily overlook. Flywheel promises an “impressive load time on every site”, however the results we obtained don’t go well with that claim. 

However, the uptime test running on Flywheel’s main website for a whole month showed more encouraging results. No downtime was recorded at all, and only a few oscillations in response time. Although Flywheel doesn’t offer any uptime guarantees, the score of 100% is better that we expected and certainly promising.  

Support

Flywheel's support site is a bit different than a traditional knowledgebase (Image credit: Flywheel)

Support

When it comes to support, Flywheel offers more than few rather enthusiastic promises beginning with a statement: “The perfect support software didn't exist, so we built it ourselves!” Even more, they describe their customer support as quick, helpful and available 24/7/365 regardless of time zone or working hours. Moreover, in addition to expert advice, their agents are supposed to offer personalized human answers, instead of robotic auto-responses of a questionable quality. 

After putting this to the test, we can confirm that they are likely to hold on to their promises, as the response we’ve got was relatively quick (we waited a little over 15 minutes after submitting a ticket), informative, useful and courteous.

Ebooks

Your plan gives you access to over 30 free e-books (Image credit: Flywheel)

Instead of a more traditional knowledgebase, they offer a variety of self-help services: a section with help articles, over 30 free e-books and plenty of videos, which deserves praise. 

As for support contact methods, in addition to live chat which is available at all times, they offer email ticket help and telephone. Unfortunately, the latter is exclusively for customers paying $250 or more per month.

The competition

Even when the WordPress hosting is concerned, Bluehost seems to be one of the most popular options worldwide. Although, unlike Flywheel, Bluehost doesn’t specialize in a specific type of hosting, they offer a variety of well-rounded plans at affordable prices of which all of them include a free domain registration. 

Although EU-based, Hostinger is yet another competitor known for having some of the cheapest plans out there, including managed WordPress hosting. Flywheel on the other hand, offers premium services at higher prices, but with one of the most helpful customer support systems we’ve encountered so far. In addition, they provide free migration for multiple pages, while Hostinger offers only one. 

Both Flywheel and Hostgator and US-based providers, but while Flywheel specializes in one specific type of hosting, Hostgator strives to be a jack-of-all-trades. They both offer a newbie-friendly approach, useful self-help materials and capable customer support. However, if it all boils down to pricing, Hostgator will definitely help you save up some money.

OVH is an EU-based experienced provider offering a great deal of hosting options, including VPS hosting and dedicated servers. While, obviously, OVH is a much larger company than Flywheel, when support is concerned, Flywheel did a much better job. The latter offers several types of excellent support which will provide much needed encouragement even to complete newbies.

Final verdict

Although Flywheel is one of the more expensive WordPress hosting options in the business, there is no doubt that they offer a level of quality which will get you your money’s worth. If you are a web designer or developer wanting to create and manage multiple WordPress sites with ease, you should take your chance with Flywheel. If that is not the case, both Bluehost and Hostgator are excellent alternatives.