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

Comparing hosting services is difficult since there are so many features, capacities, and other factors to consider. The difficulty increases when it’s between top hosting companies like WP Engine and SiteGround. While it’s pretty easy to take WP Engine off the table if you’re putting up a non-WordPress site, you’d want to take extra time making your decision if that’s going to be your CMS. Here’s our take on which web hosting wins out between these two.

WP Engine vs SiteGround Web Hosting Comparison Chart

Web HostingWP EngineSiteGround
 WP EngineSiteGround 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
Startup: 10,000/mo
GrowBig: 25,000/mo
GoGeek: 100,000/mo
Storage TiersStartup: 10GB
Growth: 20GB
Scale: 50GB
Custom: 100GB – 1TB
Startup: 10GB
GrowBig: 20GBo
GoGeek: 40GB
Monthly BandwidthStartup: 50GB
Growth: 200GB
Scale: 500GB
Custom: 400GB+
Startup: Unmetered
GrowBig: Unmetered
GoGeek: Unmetered
WebsitesStartup: 1
Growth: 10
Scale: 30
Custom: 30
Startup: 1
GrowBig: Unlimited
GoGeek: Unlimited
Hosting InterfaceWP Engine Client PortalSiteTools
Unlimited Email AccountsNoYes
Content Delivery NetworkMax CDNCloudflare
Free Site BackupYesYes
Free Site RestoreYesYes
Backup on DemandYesYes (GrowBig and above)
Premium Themes35+ StudioPress ThemesNo
Site TransferYes (plugin)Yes (plugin)
Operating SystemLinuxLinux
Money Back Guarantee60 days30 days

Features

WP Engine only offers WordPress hosting while SiteGround welcomes other platforms.

WordPress is easily the most popular CMS today, which is why WP Engine chose to specialize on it.

As mentioned, WP Engine specifically provides managed WordPress hosting only. Considering how popular the CMS is, it’s no wonder how WP Engine continues to grow over the years. You can be certain that they’re indeed experts on the platform, favoring them heavily if your site(s) runs on WordPress. On the flip side, SiteGround provides flexibility in platform choice. They welcome websites created with Drupal, Joomla, Magento, Wix, etc. 

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Both WP Engine and SiteGround provide free daily website backups and you can restore them at any time free of charge. WP Engine keeps backups for 40 days while SiteGround limits this to the last 30 days. On-demand backups can be done on any WP Engine plan with one click while SiteGround only makes this available on their GrowBig or GoGeek plans. On the other hand, SiteGround lets you create as many email accounts as you wish, while WP Engine doesn’t offer any email services.

If you’re transferring a site from its current hosting, both WP Engine and SiteGround provide a migration plugin that will automate the process for WordPress sites. However, it’s still a self-service feature though you’ll be able to get assistance if anything goes wrong. SiteGround does offer a paid migration service for $30/site if you’re not particularly confident about website transfers yourself. If you’re creating a brand new website, WP Engine provides free StudioPress themes to get you started with premium designs. 

Speed

WP Engine is faster than SiteGround.

 
Website loading time (blue line) on WP Engine stays consistent even as traffic increases (green line).

The highly specialized nature of WP Engine’s services create subtle but significant advantages such as overall speed and server quality. WP Engine configures their servers for a single platform, so they’re able to maximize settings and tweaks for WordPress to achieve optimal performance. WordPress is quite resource intensive, so other hosting companies such as SiteGround still need to make allowances for other CMS platforms in order to cater to them.

In a load impact test measuring how fast a test site loads as more visitors pour in, WP Engine posted consistently fast times, averaging to 280ms. This is reassuring for website owners who expect continuous traffic to their sites, as WP Engine shows its servers can handle the stress of large numbers of concurrent requests. Below is the same test performed on SiteGround:

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Interestingly, after an initial spike the response time of SiteGround’s server stabilized, resulting in an average of 513ms. Even disregarding the early hiccup, it’s still clear that WP Engine can deliver pages faster. This can be further impacted by the content delivery networks (CDN) each hosting company uses. WP Engine includes the premium max CDN plan, while SiteGround only gives the base Cloudflare plan.

In addition, WP Engine has more server locations in every region in the world, contributing to speed due to physical proximity. In Europe, WP Engine’s servers are in London, Belgium, and Frankfurt while SiteGround also has three: London, Frankfurt, and Eemshaven. In North America, WP Engine has servers in Montreal, Oregon, South Carolina, and Iowa, while SiteGround has theirs in Iowa only. SiteGround has two data centers in the Asia/Pacific location, Singapore and Sydney, while WP Engine set up infrastructure in Tokyo, Sydney, and Taiwan. 

Reliability

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

WP Engine (left) and SiteGround (right) both have 99.99% uptime.

Site uptime is critical for any website. You’ll find that both WP Engine and SiteGround guarantee excellent uptime, at least 99.99% within the span of a year. Downtime can sometimes be unavoidable, but both hosting companies have teams on standby to ensure that disruptions last no more than several minutes. 

Both also employ stringent security measures to protect their servers and the websites in them from malicious attacks. WP Engine issues free SSL certificates to each page and uses a dynamic proprietary system to detect and block suspicious behavior. They enforce complex passwords on all WP sites, and manage core updates and patches automatically. There’s also a list of plugins they ban from hosted sites due to security holes.  

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SiteGround meanwhile protects their data centers with real-time server health checks, smart firewall rules, 24/7 system monitoring, and even an AI that blocks brute force attempts and other malicious traffic.

Plans and Pricing

SiteGround has more affordable pricing than WP Engine.

SiteGround is excellent for website owners on a limited budget.

Even comparing the non-promotional pricing of WP Engine and SiteGround, you’ll save a lot more by going for the latter. WP Engine’s cheapest hosting plan costs $30 per month, roughly three times more than SiteGround’s $11.95. The savings go up even more when you take advantage of the promo price of $3.95 for, say, the first three years. Comparing their next tiers of hosting plans widens the price gap even more, making you wonder why anyone would choose WP Engine’s expensive services.

However, that’s exactly the question you need to answer yourself in this comparison. Looking at the traffic thresholds for each hosting company’s plans shows that WP Engine targets sites with much higher traffic, as their infrastructure and specialization enables them to provide more resources. Going over bandwidth limits will result in overage fees, so it’s important to get the plan suitable for your perceived traffic. Also, WP Engine is confident in charging extra for its WordPress expertise, shouldering the burden of managing CMS needs and to-dos.

SiteGround offers unmetered traffic, indicating no visits or bandwidth limits for your website, but they do impose constraints on accounts based on CPU cycles. Essentially, once you go over the monthly allowed usage, sites in your account can be temporarily suspended. There are ways to prevent sites from consuming too much resources than they’re allotted, but it requires significant backend experience that new website owners will likely have no idea about.

Verdict

SiteGround is recommended for low traffic and new sites while WP Engine is only recommended for high traffic sites.

Given the large difference in cost and smaller gap in overall performance and features, we recommend SiteGround for those with small and even moderately big websites. Though it’s slightly slower in terms of loading time, SiteGround offers excellent uptime and you’re not limited to WordPress-based sites only. You’ll find excellent value from SiteGround’s services considering how much you’ll save from their hosting plans.

WP Engine is simply better if you already have a successful website that needs even more resources. You’ll benefit from having all WordPress related optimizations and updates taken care of server-side while you focus on creating content and enhancing your site’s customer-facing side. Starting a new website hosted on WP Engine can be a good idea if you’re already decided on investing a lot more to get the site bigger, faster.

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