How to Use the WP Engine Tab in Your WordPress Installation

If you host with my own hosting service (only available to my clients) or with WP Engine directly, you get a nifty little tab in your WordPress admin area labeled WP Engine.

But…what can it do? Will it solve world hunger? Finally instill peace on the moon? And how much can I break my website if I use it?!

We’ll answer these questions (only the last one) and more with this quick and dirty, handy-dandy…

Guide to the WP Engine Tab in WordPress

First thing, hop into the tab itself. Here’s where to find it:

screenshot of where to find the wp engine tab in WordPress
Let’s start with General Settings.

Clicking the General Settings sub-nav item, or just the word WP Engine itself, takes us to the primary screen we’ll be discussing today. This is a place where you can quickly tweak some features that come along with WP Engine hosting, and some of what make it such a beautiful hosting experience.

Looking for information on the Staging Tab? Click Here

Dynamic Page & Database Cache Control

What is caching anyway?

caching
storing a page in a way that doesn’t require a trip to the database or running all of the PHP required to render the page every time a user visits the page

WordPress is a content management system. That means you can login and update content like pages and blog posts. That information is stored in a database. Additionally, the front end of your site uses what WP refers to as a “theme”. It’s the files that make up how your site looks, functions and loads. Normally, when someone visits a WordPress site, the browser has to ask the server to run the PHP necessary to render the page. PHP talks to the database to get the information, and then sends everything back to the browser so it can make the page appear on your screen.

Caching bypasses all of that. It runs all of that stuff once, and then saves it for some amount of time so that most users to your site will see your pages loading much more quickly.

Sometimes though, such as after you’ve made changes to CSS files or in other situations, you won’t see things updating as quickly as you’d like.

That’s what this section is for, purging the cache.

Just click Purge all Caches and your job will be done.

Oh, and if you ever do make changes such as to your CSS or other files and you are seeing them being applied immediately…it’s probably because you’re logged in. Best to double check after logging out, in an incognito window, or in another browser where you aren’t logged in to make sure what your visitors see is the same as what you’re seeing.

This section also allows you to Reset File Permissions, useful if you’re seeing errors on the front end of your site or having trouble updating or uploading plugins.

CDN Control

I would think it might be useful to actually have the controls here, but that’s not possible at the time of this writing. However, if you’ve already configured your CDN via the WP Engine dashboard, it’ll let you know here. If you haven’t, you can follow that link to see how, or if you’re a client of mine, just ask!

CDNs are, basically, a way to offload image delivery to another server in an attempt to speed up your site.

Display Options

If I’ve built your site, many of these options won’t really matter anyway, as I turn off the “WP Admin” bar by default. However, in this area you can control whether WP Engine’s admin bar stuff (ie, quick access to some of the functionality found on this page) will appear at the top of /wp-admin pages.

You can also turn off the news feed they add to this page via the “WP Engine has your back” News Feed setting.

Web Server & PHP Error Log

So you’re having trouble with your site and are the type of person who feels comfortable with a piece of well crafted written word such as this, eh?

123.45.67.890 clicknathan.com - [02/Aug/2016:06:36:28 +0000] "GET /sitemap-pt-cn_webdesign-2016-06.xml HTTP/1.1" 301 178 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Baiduspider/2.0; +http://www.baidu.com/search/spider.html)"

Well, then you likely know more than this little tutorial was aimed at teaching, but this is the spot to more or less track down errors when all other attempts have failed.

Advanced Configuration

With great power comes great responsibility! These tools can greatly enhance… or completely break… your website, so exercise caution and don’t be shy about contacting support if you have questions.

It’s written right there, so I won’t repeat it. Oh hell, yes I will, if you don’t know what you’re doing here, do nothing! You don’t want your website to end up like poor old Uncle Ben do you?

Finally, the User Portal and Support System links will take you to WP Engine’s Dashboard (how-to here). You’ll need a login, so if you’re a client of mine and you don’t have one yet, just shoot me an email.

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