WP Engine Review

How fast is WP Engine? Blazing. But there’s more than just speed.

The chart on this page shows the stats a site as we migrated his site from Host Gator to WP Engine. Host Gator was recently bought out by the huge conglomerate that owns BlueHost (as well as others). Recently, Gator said they were “upgrading” their servers but soon after we had slower load times. Hmm.

[box type=”tick”]It’s not just a question of speed. WP Engine is managed hosting. That means they take care of things so you don’t have to. Backups? Done. Security. Taken care of. Upgrades. Boom. [/box]

Let’s look at just a few comparison factors from our HostGator to WP Engine hosting move.

WP Engine for fast WordPress hosting.

Looks like a mountain peak … and a valley. That’s what speed looks like.

Average Load Time

  • HostGator: 2 to 4 seconds (used to be a steady 2 seconds, but lately it was up to 4)
  • WP Engine: 0.3 seconds (that zero-point-three!)

The site we moved is a wedding photography site which has a large slideshow on the home page with several photos–and it still loads super fast! I thought maybe it wasn’t loading properly as it just seemed too fast to be accurate. Nope, seems to be working fine. Whoa.

Cost Per Month

  • HostGator: $4
  • WP Engine: $29

This usually ends the comparison for most people: premium hosting costs quite a bit more. But if you calculate that you lost a single client over the course of a year and that meant you lost, for simplicity’s sake, $1,000. The cost of losing that client just outweighed the cost of the difference in hosting. By a long shot.

Annual cost difference

  • Gator: $4 x 12 = $48
  • WP Engine: $29 x 12 = $348
  • A difference of $300
[box]Does your site make any money? Would you lose money if someone went to a faster-loading competitor? If not, no worries, stick with Gator.[/box]

Feature Comparison

If you’re looking at HostGator, you’re most likely talking about shared hosting. This means your site is on a server with loads of other sites. Gator features are easy to sum up: cost. Sure, at WP Engine, you’re also not on your own dedicated server, but they have other features that make them stand out from the crowds.

WP Engine Features

  • Speed: they run built-in caching programs (so you don’t have to–in fact, you’re not even allowed to, which is a good thing)
  • Daily backups: everyday. They’re easy to restore, too. Like one button easy. No shared host can offer something like that. Even good backup plugins aren’t as easy.
  • Security: they actively search for malware to protect your site. It’s probably not you who finds a hacked site (or worse, a potential client), but they find it before it gets to you.
  • Upgrades: they will upgrade your WordPress core install for you. Just like that. Some plugins, too (but not all–which is a good thing).
  • Staging site: you can work on a new version of your site completely separately from your live site. Then move it over. Easily.
  • WP and only WP: they only host WordPress sites. That’s it. Nothing else. Think about it, they know (and love) their stuff.
  • No email: I actually consider this a feature. They don’t provide email hosting. Do you know what a pain email hosting is? Trust me, it’s a pain. Let someone else host your email.

So it comes down to how important your WordPress site is to you. Speed, uptime, security, backups (and restoration points!), and features that you just aren’t going to get at a shared hosting company. Yes, it costs more–but you get more. A lot more.

WP Engine Issues

  • Revisions: I just realized that revisions are turned off for sites hosted at WP Engine. Hmm, they mention that revisions can slow down sites (which I completely believe–and it’s a problem), but revisions can be very useful. Seems like you can request them to be turned on if you’d like.
  • Control Panel: most hosts have something of a Control Panel (or cPanel) where you can get under the hood of the files, features, and other goodies of the host. But this isn’t a regular host. You can’t (and shouldn’t anyway) install other apps or dig too deep in there. Probably a good thing … but if you like to tinker, look for a host with a cPanel.
WP Engine for fast WordPress hosting.

WP Engine for fast WordPress hosting.

P.S. If you’re wondering what that dip is around Sep 1, we moved to WP Engine, but there was an issue with the fancy photographer theme we were using, so we moved back to Gator. WP Engine’s support team took a look and figured it out and we were rolling in a few days.

Another site example of load time cut in half.

This one from Lunar Pages to WPE.

Even a fast-loading site got a boost from WP Engine speed.

Even a fast-loading site got a boost from WP Engine speed.


About the Author:

I've done the big corporate thing. I've done the creative writer thing. Now I'm happily in the middle. I like to help small businesses who are interested in "working their website before their website works them." I'm also interested in creating beautiful sites with powerful WordPress themes. Google+


  1. Tim September 20, 2013 at 8:53 am - Reply

    hmmm, this is pricy. and in addition the business and pro have limits on sites. Clients will need to weigh options on this one.

    • Bradley Charbonneau September 23, 2013 at 9:14 am - Reply

      It is pricy so it’s really for sites that (1) know they already have the traffic and (2) that traffic is earning them money and (3) if their site were faster it might earn them more money than the difference in this hosting costs. But for first timers and sites that aren’t earning money and don’t care as much about speed, something like Host Gator is usually just fine.

  2. Write Every Day Challenge September 20, 2013 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    […] WP Engine Review (Sep 19) […]

  3. HostgatorvsBluehost October 10, 2018 at 4:49 am - Reply

    GeoCities going down, WoWI also started my first site hosted with them, just goes to show nothing is permanent and that like anything you have to work at it.

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