WP Engine vs Flywheel (2020): Which Managed WordPress Hosting Is Better?

WP Engine and Flywheel are two of the top managed WordPress hosts today, offering topnotch hosting services optimized for the popular CMS. Unlike other web hosting providers who simply tack on “managed WordPress hosting” to their products without actual server-side enhancements, WP Engine and Flywheel are both the real deal. Here’s a comparison of their speed, reliability, and pricing to help you decide which company to trust your website with.

WP Engine vs Flywheel Web Hosting Comparison Chart

Web HostingWP EngineFlywheel
 WP EngineFlywheel logo
PriceCheck Hosting PlansCheck Hosting Plans
Free DomainNoNo
Host Multiple DomainsYesYes
Traffic TiersStartup: 25,000/mo
Growth: 100,000/mo
Scale: 400,000/mo
Custom: 1,000,000+/mo
Tiny: 5,000/mo
Starter: 25,000/mo
Freelance: 100,000/mo
Agency: 400,000/mo
Storage TiersStartup: 10GB
Growth: 20GB
Scale: 50GB
Custom: 100GB – 1TB
Tiny: 5GB
Starter: 10GB
Freelance: 20GB
Agency: 50GB
Monthly BandwidthStartup: 50GB
Growth: 200GB
Scale: 500GB
Custom: 400GB+
Tiny: 20GB
Starter: 50GB
Freelance: 200GB
Agency: 500GB
WebsitesStartup: 1
Growth: 10
Scale: 30
Custom: 30
Tiny: 1
Starter: 1
Freelance: 10
Agency: 30
Hosting InterfaceWP Engine Client PortalCustom
Unlimited Email AccountsNoNo
Content Delivery NetworkMax CDNFastly
Free Site BackupYesYes
Free Site RestoreYesYes
Backup on DemandYesYes
Premium Themes35+ StudioPress Themes30+ StudioPress Themes
Site TransferYes (plugin)Yes
Operating SystemLinuxLinux
Money Back Guarantee60 days30 days

Features

Flywheel handles site migrations themselves while WP Engine provides a plugin.

WP Engine vs Flywheel Features
Flywheel offers site migration as a free service.

After WP Engine acquired Flywheel in 2019, the services and value add-ons provided by both companies have gotten quite similar. You get automatic daily/nightly backups, on-demand backups, and free site restores. Both also include the Genesis Framework as well as free StudioPress themes, which are a lot of value if you’re starting a brand new site. And of course, both perform server-side optimizations specific to WordPress.

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Perhaps one of the most notable differences when signing up is that Flywheel offers to take care of your site migrations for free. They’d do it even if you haven’t paid a cent yet, too, just to convince you to switch hosting. They’ll move a copy of your site, with your permission of course, so you can compare speed and performance on the current host versus Flywheel. The process can take a few business days but it’s great for site owners who prefer professionals to handle their site migration. It can be expedited, though Flywheel charges a fee.

Meanwhile, WP Engine only lets you migrate your websites yourself, but they make it hassle-free with an automated WordPress plugin. Once installed and activated, the plugin will copy your site’s content and database to WP Engine. There’s a complete walkthrough of the process to ensure a smooth transition. Those who have developers or can hire them will no doubt find this easy to follow.

Like most managed hosting providers, WP Engine and Flywheel have their own custom control panels that let you access settings and manage your sites. Flywheel’s backend is a bit more user-friendly, though both are easier to navigate than the standard cPanel interface. 

Speed

WP Engine is faster than Flywheel.

 WP Engine vs Flywheel - WP Engine Speed

The most noticeable benefit of putting up a website on managed hosting providers like WP Engine and Flywheel is improved site speed. Because of the server tweaks they perform such as server-level caching, they can guarantee super fast loading times for WordPress web pages. Add in the global CDN they include in their hosting plans (for free) and your visitors won’t be greeted by blank or incomplete pages when landing on your site. 

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Still, WP Engine comes out ahead in the speed department. It was able to load a test page in 250 to 300 ms even as the site’s traffic steadily went up from 1 to 100. It’s a key metric that other shared hosting providers struggle with, as they can be speedy on the first few visits but get bogged down at high traffic levels. Flywheel manages to perform well on this load impact test too:

WP Engine vs Flywheel - Flywheel Speed

You can see its page loading times hover around 360 ms to 480 ms, which is still pretty zippy compared to other hosts. There’s a bit more jitter though the consistency is there. The important thing is Flywheel can deliver loading times less than a second, which is crucial in SEO and ensuring site visitors won’t simply hit the back button. 

Reliability

Both WP Engine and Flywheel have excellent uptime and security features.

WP Engine vs Flywheel Reliability
WP Engine (left) and Flywheel (right) have a 99.9% uptime for the entire year.

The other substantial benefit of choosing a managed hosting solution is that they hold server uptime and security as top priorities. Both WP Engine and Flywheel can deliver a 99.9% uptime for your website thanks to robust infrastructure and focused security features for WordPress. They utilize Google Cloud Platform to dynamically address traffic surges and spikes. Flywheel also has an “auto-healing” technology that will start fixing your site in case it crashes or fails in any way. WP Engine has a similar automatic site recovery feature.

Given its focus on larger enterprise-grade solutions, WP Engine takes its security measures further. They have more data centers in every continent, providing better redundancy and scalability. Their platform protects against malicious behavior and they implement multiple layers of mitigation and control.

Furthermore, WP Engine has a list of banned WordPress plugins in order to better protect their servers from possible issues and vulnerabilities. Since they perform caching and backups server-side, plugins that do those are unnecessary and preemptively disallowed to prevent conflicts. Other plugins in the list are intensive on databases or otherwise have a negative effect on performance.

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Customer support is a crucial factor in reliably hosting. You’ll be glad to know that it’s a high priority for both WP Engine and Flywheel. They’ve got a dedicated customer service team standing by that you can talk to via chat or phone call. 

Plans and Pricing

Flywheel has a more affordable starting plan than WP Engine.

WP Engine vs Flywheel Plans and Pricing
Aside from Flywheel’s Tiny plan, WP Engine uses a similar pricing schedule.

Ever since WP Engine’s acquisition of Flywheel, both companies have normalized their hosting plans and pricing schedules to be near identical. WP Engine’s Startup, Growth, and Scale plans are the counterparts of Flywheel’s Starter, Freelance, and Agency plans, respectively. Their monthly fees, visits per month, local storage, bandwidth allocations, and number of websites are exactly the same. Both also charge overage fees of $1 per 1000 visits above their plan’s limit. 

Their only difference is that Flywheel reintroduced their Tiny plan for those who want a single small website hosted. As such, Flywheel is a bit easier to ease into, since you can try hosting a small site first to try out the quality of their servers. Once satisfied you can move to a bigger plan for your other websites. 

Other than that, you can look at their branding and plan-naming for some reference on which to choose. WP Engine has a much more corporate look and appeal, indicating that they’re targeting business websites and enterprises by providing a “WordPress digital experience platform.” Meanwhile, Flywheel definitely has a more casual approach and friendly aesthetic, which is encapsulated in their byline “Thoughtfully built for busy creatives.” 

In case you’re not too confident about moving your site(s) to either one, WP Engine offers a 60-day money-back guarantee while Flywheel only has a 30-day refund policy for annual plans.

Verdict

Flywheel is better for smaller sites and companies while WP Engine is more apt for larger businesses.

WP Engine and Flywheel are quite evenly matched and you won’t even be able to use their pricing to recommend the one that’s more affordable. Still, Flywheel‘s lowest tier sounds perfect for those who want to try managed WordPress hosting and see what all the fuss is about. Flywheel’s branding and marketing also clearly targets web professionals with varying numbers of clients. You’ll likely find their services better suited for small businesses and agencies managing client websites.

On the other hand, WP Engine is clearly aiming at offering WordPress as an enterprise-grade CMS rivaling traditional platforms such as Drupal and Joomla. Organizations with several online portals as well as enterprises developing them for clients will find WP Engine more suited for their needs.

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