Generally speaking, it seems like a good idea to “get along” with industry peers, no matter what business you are in, at least in the spirit of friendly competition. Especially in the case of online services, you never know when you may want to partner up with the competition — or even acquire another company out there (exception: GoDaddy).
In the case of Flywheel, however, they are PISSED at us, apparently.
“Tons of False info on Flywheel on your comparison page” blared the subject line of a multi-part email thread sent by Donovan Roehr, one of Flywheel’s Sales reps. “Virtually everything you said Flywheel doesn’t have we actually do offer. Would love if your team didn’t use false information when trying to sell against us.”
Wow, okay that sounds serious. As much as we enjoy competition, I’ve always been passionately anti-defamation.
Rewind a few years and Flywheel was one of a short list of managed WordPress hosting providers starting to get their name out there. We can’t be the only one, though, who has noticed a downtrend in Flywheel’s network performance over the last year or two. In fact, in the past year Flywheel has become one of the top sources for new LittleBizzy clients, along with GoDaddy, WP Engine, and SiteGround. Part of this might be due to the fact that Flywheel has grown a lot bigger in the past few years, but from talking with our clients it’s also directly related to the poor performance they’ve noticed. (In contrast, it seems that both SiteGround and WP Engine customers have noticed performance IMPROVEMENTS in the last year or two…)
The emails continued (selective, includes notations):
“Dedicated VPS/Site, we never do shared hosting and only do dedicated VPS hosting on every single plan.”
This is simply not true; a large number and perhaps even a majority of domains that are hosted on Flywheel reside on a shared server. It doesn’t really matter if multiple customers are sharing a server between 1000+ websites, or a single customer is sharing a server between 10+ websites, it is still technically “shared” servers and not dedicated computers.
“Dedicated IP Address, this is always a dedicated IP only to each customer and to each and every plan they purchase with us.”
Perhaps true, but we clearly mention “per website”.
“Remote Daily Backups, we were the first managed WP host to always offer that. We have for over 5 years.”
Like some other “managed” WordPress hosts, Flywheel does not publish information on their datacenters; in fact they go so far as to block the server IP address and other data from PHP and WordPress scripts. They are widely believed to still use DigitalOcean, as they did several years ago, however unless they confirm this it’s impossible to know whether their backups to the AWS cloud is in fact “remote” or part of the same datacenter where they host client websites. A recent test indicates that a few of our recent Flywheel clients were in fact on the Vultr cloud. For now we’ve updated our chart to say “YES” for this category rather than “NO”.
“Optimal Datacenter, yes always for all customers.”
This one’s an outright lie. Even on their own FAQ page, it clearly states that, “The majority of Flywheel’s servers are located in New York City, and by default, that’s generally where we’ll put your site unless otherwise specified.” Obviously, hosting a site in New York would be an extremely poor choice for a company from somewhere like Singapore, especially when this is apparently done without the knowledge of Flywheel customers.
“PHP 7 + MySQL 5.7, yes we have been only using that for new servers for over a year.”
Perhaps true, but we already said your customers can opt for this by request. In contrast, LittleBizzy guided every single one of our clients onto PHP 7 and MySQL 5.7 in the last year, without exceptions. Obviously this may have been easier for us due to our smaller size compared to massive hosting companies, but the truth remains.
“Those are the false claims I have noticed so far… Just wanted you to know that so you could adjust it. It is illegal to advertise false information about our company.”
Uhh, mmkay Flywheel.
I get it, Flywheel. When we link to a Pingdom speed test showing that your homepage takes nearly 10 seconds to finish loading, it doesn’t exactly reinforce your marketing message of a performance-driven platform.
But before this whiny, unsubstantiated rant, we actually thought maybe you were one of the better options out there. Besides LittleBizzy, you are likely the only WordPress host out there that offers free migration on every single incoming domain, which is impressive. Unfortunately, you seem to have embraced the likes of GoDaddy or WP Engine as growth models for your business – SCALE! SCALE! SCALE!… regardless of server quality or website stability – instead of complementing the technology and uniqueness behind WordPress, and allowing your sales to grow more naturally through satisfaction.
I personally responded to Flywheel’s emails explaining each point on our comparison chart: Yes, every single website on our network runs PHP 7 and MySQL 5.7. Yes, every single website on our network gets its own dedicated VPS server. Yes, every single website on our network comes with free remote backups, meaning that data is not stored in the same server cluster/datacenter as the websites they are supposed to be securing. Etc, etc, etc.
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
— Mark Twain
Apparently Flywheel had believed that we only offered some of these features on a per-case basis (like 99% of other web hosts do, and like they themselves do) instead of across-the-board for every single website that joins our web hosting! After confirming our environment to them, and requesting them to re-clarify if anything in our comparison chart was inaccurate knowing this, Flywheel refused to respond further, and slunk back off into their hole of ambiguity.
A very fine lesson: instead of getting angry at other quality services in the market, figure out how to outshine them. In fact, sometimes it just comes down to launching a comparable feature that is working elsewhere, right?
This is why we love transparency — because when you put quality first, being transparent can only help!