WP Engine vs Bluehost (2020): Which Hosting Service Is Better?

Choosing which web hosting company to use for your website is critical and involves more than simply looking at pricing. Two of the most popular hosting companies today, WP Engine and Bluehost, offer contrasting plans with unique features and perks. As a premium managed WordPress hosting service, WP Engine promises top quality performance. Bluehost, on the other hand, is well-known for their affordable shared hosting plans. Here’s how to decide which hosting to get for your specific needs.

WP Engine vs Bluehost Web Hosting Comparison Chart

Web HostingWP EngineBluehost
 WP EngineBluehost
PriceCheck Hosting PlansCheck Hosting Plans
Free DomainNoYes
Host Multiple DomainsYesYes
Traffic TiersStartup: 25,000/mo
Growth: 100,000/mo
Scale: 400,000/mo
Custom: 1,000,000+/mo
Shared: Light
VPS: Moderate to high
Dedicated: High
Storage TiersStartup: 10GB
Growth: 20GB
Scale: 50GB
Custom: 100GB – 1TB
Shared: 50GB to Unlimited
VPS: 30GB – 120GB SSD
Dedicated: 500GB – 1TB (Mirrored)
Monthly BandwidthStartup: 50GB
Growth: 200GB
Scale: 500GB
Custom: 400GB+
Shared: Unmetered
VPS: 1TB – 3TB
Dedicated: 5TB – 15TB
Hosting InterfaceWP Engine Client PortalcPanel
Unlimited Email AccountsNoYes
Content Delivery NetworkMax CDNCloudflare
Free Site BackupYesYes (Choice Plus and above)
Free Site RestoreYesYes (Choice Plus and above)
Backup on DemandYesYes (Choice Plus and above)
Premium Themes35+ StudioPress ThemesNo
Site TransferFree$149
Operating SystemLinuxLinux
Money Back Guarantee60 days30 days

Features

WP Engine focuses solely on WordPress while Bluehost caters to other platforms.

WP Engine vs Bluehost Web Hosting Features
You get free StudioPress premium themes with WP Engine.

Easily the biggest difference between WP Engine and Bluehost is the scope of web hosting services they offer. WP Engine focuses purely on WordPress, so it’s an easy skip if you’re planning to use a different CMS. However, that’s its strength, too, since that means they’re experts on the platform and they’ll optimize everything to get your WordPress-based website running smoothly. Meanwhile, Bluehost provides support for other CMS such as Magento, Joomla, etc., though it offers managed WordPress hosting as well.

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Bluehost entices would-be website owners with a free domain name on sign up, though it should be noted that it’s only free for the first year. You’ll be paying market price for the chosen domain afterwards. Still, this makes Bluehost friendlier if you’re looking to get your first website. They also provide unlimited email accounts, subdomains, parked domains, and more for their non-basic shared hosting plans. You also get free site backup and restore but only for select tiers, while it’s auto-included in all WP Engine plans. 

WP Engine includes 35+ StudioPress themes to give your website a professional look, which is particularly helpful if you don’t have much experience with WordPress themes. Bluehost provides themes only with its managed WP hosting solutions. WP Engine uses a custom control panel that can take some getting used to, though it’s pretty comprehensive and a bit easier to navigate than the standard cPanel used in Bluehost.

Speed

WP Engine is faster than Bluehost.

 WP Engine vs Bluehost Web Hosting - WP Engine Speed
Website load time (blue line) remains fast and consistent on WP Engine even when traffic increases (green line).

One of the main benefits of WP Engine’s sole focus on WordPress is simply speed. They optimize their servers for the resource-intensive WordPress platform, resulting in improved performance, enhanced security, and dedicated support. As such, sites hosted on WP Engine load much faster than those on Bluehost, as they’re stored on servers that need to be more flexible to accommodate various CMS. 

Shown on the chart above is a server quality test that measures how fast a website on WP Engine loads as more visitors visit it. You’ll notice that the load time hovers consistently between 250-300 ms, even as traffic goes from 1 to 100 visitors. Here’s the same test done on Bluehost:

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WP Engine vs Bluehost Web Hosting - Bluehost Speed

Even with minimal traffic of 30-40 visitors, Bluehost takes roughly twice as long as WP Engine to load a website, hovering near 526-580 ms. While that’s still a reasonable speed, load time sharply increases after 50 and more visits. It climbs up to a minute and higher, which is painfully long and will negatively impact a site’s SEO, not to mention drive visitors away. After all, when was the last time you waited for a webpage to load for more than 3 seconds without getting impatient?

Note that this comparison only pits the cheapest plans from both companies, it still indicates the relative speed and performance you can get when choosing either. Page speed directly impacts a site’s traffic and conversion rate, which is critical for income-generating websites. WP Engine’s optimized servers severely outperform Bluehost’s, though you can expect better speed and response time from their dedicated hosting plans. 

Reliability

Both WP Engine and Bluehost have excellent uptime, but WP Engine responds to server requests better.

WP Engine vs Bluehost Web Hosting Reliability
WP Engine (left) and Bluehost (right) can guarantee a 99.99% uptime for your website.

No web hosting company can get very far without ensuring a near 100% uptime for hosted sites. Both WP Engine and Bluehost have come very far indeed to be considered among the top hosting companies today, and they can guarantee that your website will remain accessible throughout the year. While the charts above show once again the faster response time of WP Engine, they also confirm that Bluehost is just as reliable.

Still, WP Engine has another advantage over Bluehost when looking at server processing speed. Though it’s based in Austin, Texas, WP Engine has servers located in North America, Europe, and Asia/Pacific, while Provo, Utah-based Bluehost only has NA servers. This can partly explain the edge in speed that WP Engine provides their customers. Moreover, their web servers are able to respond to and complete server requests faster. On a benchmark test, WP Engine completed 99.63% of requests with a median processing time of 145 ms, while Bluehost only completed 90.67% at 200 ms. 

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Plans and Pricing

Bluehost offers more affordable hosting plans than WP Engine.

WP Engine vs Bluehost Web Hosting - Bluehost Pricing
A huge part of Bluehost’s success can be attributed to its budget-friendly hosting solutions.

Starting at just $3 per month for its cheapest shared hosting plan, Bluehost is undoubtedly easier on your pockets. WP Engine’s cheapest hosting plan costs ten times as much at $30 per month. However, note that Bluehost’s promo price only applies to the first term and will renew at their standard rates. You can sign up and get up to three years of the discounted rates, but every year after that will cost normal. Still, the cost difference compared to WP Engine is still considerable.

Bluehost offers different tiers for their shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting solutions to offer greater flexibility to customers. Their shared hosting plans feature unmetered bandwidths and unlimited storage which can be ideal for brand new and growing websites. There are constraints on these allowances to ensure that websites only utilize resources consistent with normal operations. 

Meanwhile, WP Engine has three well-targeted hosting plans for small websites, growing businesses, and larger enterprises. Your current or perceived monthly traffic can be used to point you towards the optimal hosting plan, and you can use add-ons to customize as needed. Trying out WP Engine’s services come with a longer money-back guarantee of 60 days compared to Bluehost’s 30 days, allowing you more time to evaluate whether its premium services are worth it.

Verdict

Bluehost is better for smaller websites while WP Engine is ideal for WordPress-based sites with moderate to high traffic.

While WP Engine easily has the overall edge based on the points of comparison above, Bluehost’s affordability and flexibility is a weighty consideration. As can be expected, the best web hosting service between the two will depend on your particular needs.

WP Engine excels at everything WordPress, making it ideal if you’re committed to sticking to the platform and nothing else. Because of its pricing, it’s not recommended for websites that aren’t targeted at gaining a lot of traffic, as its real value comes from the speed and reliability it provides to well-visited sites. Small businesses and scalable enterprises will be better able to utilize its managed WordPress hosting services, especially when they only focus on a single online destination, and they’ll also be more capable of handling costs and overage fees. 

Bluehost provides a more flexible hosting solution that can help new website owners to build their sites from the ground up. It’s perfect for individuals looking to put up a personal blog or a website for professional use. You can gradually move to higher tier plans as your traffic increases, which will become necessary as shared hosting has specific limits. Businesses and larger entities can take advantage of its dedicated hosting plans for high-traffic websites, especially if it’s non-WordPress based. 

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