SiteGround vs. WP Engine

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Author Scott Whatley
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Our duel today is SiteGround vs. WP Engine. First off, we’d like to say a good job to you if you’ve narrowed your choice of Web-host down to these two. They are both high performers with great customer support, even though pricing might leave a lot to be desired for some people.

The point is, you’re unlikely to go wrong with either of these hosts as they top our rankings for a reason. But you aren’t just here for a monologue on how great both of your options are, are you?, You’re here to decide the best host for you. You’re here to see which host is the best.

And that, my friend, is exactly what we are going to give you.

Both hosts will be going head to head under some of the most important metrics to consider when choosing a host: security, performance, pricing, ease of use, customer care, and a lot more.

After comparing both of them extensively, we’ll now give you our expert advice on the best host for your needs. And how come we have expert advice? Well, we are experts and there’s also the small matter of the fact that we purchased both plans precisely to compare them.

What’s more, even if you don’t agree with our verdict for WP Engine vs. SiteGround, you’ll be armed with all the data you need to make your own informed decision.

SiteGround vs. WP Engine Overview

SiteGround Overview

SiteGround is a web hosting company founded in Bulgaria, with over 1.8 million websites hosted on its servers globally. SiteGround provides a plethora of hosting services, with dedicated, cloud hosting, email hosting, and domain registration. SiteGround employs over five hundred people on a full-time basis and has offices in Sofia, Stara, Madrid, Plovidov, and Magara.

SiteGround has five data centers in four countries spread across the world, and they are in Singapore, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US.

In recent years, SiteGround has become the gold standard in web hosting, excelling in almost all conceivable sections. With great customer support, amazing flexibility, great performance, and great hosting features, SiteGround comfortably sits at the top of most totems.

The fact the host is also one of the only three hosts officially recommended by WordPress is also something that must be considered (you can find out why it’s one of the few hosts to be recommended by WordPress in our SitegGround Review). However, all this comes are great cost and pricing is a code that SiteGround hasn’t yet been able to crack. That isn’t too much of a problem for us, though. If you want the best, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that you will be required to pay top dollar.

WP Engine Overview

The WP in WP Engine stands for WordPress, and that tells you all (or most of) you need to know about the services that WP Engine offers. WP Engine is a managed WordPress hosting service. If you don’t know what managed WordPress hosting is, today is your lucky day.

Managed hosting means that the hosting company takes care of all the technical aspects of the hosting for you, and users only need to worry about the basics and content creation. One of the most important duties of WP Engine is managing the security of your site, and that is something that they excel at (We covered in-depth this subject in this comparison, but even better in our WP Engine Review article). With great security, simply unbelievable performance and top-notch customer service, WP Engine has slowly but steadily climbed up our rankings.

However, like SiteGround, WP Engine isn’t exactly the poster host for competitive pricing. Like we said earlier, though, that should matter little. If you want top-notch service, you should be prepared to pay top dollar.

Popularity: Does it Really Matter?

Most people like going for popular names and brands. The rationale behind this behavior is that since something is popular, it must be quality.

Our reviews have shown that it can be exactly the opposite of that; Many of the most popular hosts on the market today do not even crack the first half of our ratings when it comes to performance. That goes to tell you exactly how important popularity is. So if a host is popular, it’s most likely proof of an amazing marketing strategy rather than a proof of great hosting.

Regardless, we have to decide the most popular host between SiteGround and WP Engine. If popularity stats are important to you, then you should go with SiteGround. The host offers a wider range of plans and has more websites hosted with it than WP Engine, so SiteGround is the easy winner of this one.

Not that it matters in the long run, though. What matters then, you might be prompted to ask. Well, one of the first things you should pay attention to is performance.

Performance Comparison

When you buy a hosting plan, you’re basically buying a promise – a promise that visitors will be able to access your site as quickly as possible and that your site will be online for a vast majority of the time. Performance measures the extent to which promise is fulfilled by a host. We’ll be measuring performance by looking at the uptime and speed of the two hosts.

SiteGround or WP Engine for Uptime?

So to measure the uptime of SiteGround and WP Engine, we did the only reasonable thing: we purchased a plan from both hosts, set up a dummy account, and began testing.

Over our three months testing period, our site with SiteGround had an uptime of 99.99%. That is the closest to perfect that any host can promise, and we were quite impressed, even if not 100%, it’s still better than any other SiteGround Alternative we’ve tested. WP engine, on the other hand, comes close with an uptime of 99.98%. Of course, 99.98% is admirable, but 99.99% is still better.

SiteGround UptimeWP Engine Uptime
Last 7 Days100%100%
Last 30 Days100%100%
Last 3 Months99.99%99.98%
Last Year99.99%99.98%

We don’t like to judge the quality of a host’s uptime on the statistics we measure alone, though. Why? Uptime is fickle, and a host with a great uptime today can have hours of downtime the next day. What isn’t fickle, though, is an uptime guarantee. These guarantees ensure that users have a path of recourse if uptime gets terrible.

Uptime Guarantee Policy

SiteGround has an uptime guarantee of 99.9% on an annual basis. That means if uptime falls below the 99.9% mark, users will be compensated as contained in the service level agreement. The agreement states that for uptime not below 99.00% but below 99.9%, users will be entitled to a month of free hosting. For every 1% of hosting below 99%, customers are also entitled to a free month of hosting.

Not one to be left behind, WP Engine also has a slightly higher uptime guarantee at 99.95%. Customers who experience downtime are entitled to compensation of 5% of the monthly hosting fee for each hour of downtime experienced.

However, excused downtime (scheduled and emergency maintenance periods), will not be calculated as downtime. That is one condition that both SiteGround and WP engine share.

SiteGround’s Speed vs. WP Engine’s

If your website were to slow down for a second, your conversion rate stands to be reduced by 7%. If you run a blog, here’s another amazing statistic for you: 40% of internet users say that they wouldn’t re-visit a site with speed problems.

Speed, then, isn’t just some feel-good metric that doesn’t matter either way. While you can take some steps from your end to make sure that your page loads as fast as possible, the real responsibility lies with your host and the server that your website is on.

We Tested their TTFB

We already have two sites with WP Engine and SiteGround, so it was easy to set up our speed testing tools and get going. For SiteGround, the average response time (that is, the time to the first Byte) was an incredible 421ms. In fact, it was only as high as 421ms because we took other locations outside the US and Europe into account. Within the US, the average speed was as low as 49ms.

WP engine didn’t perform badly either, recording an average global speed of 478ms. Like with SiteGround, speed within the US and Europe was really low, with response times as fast as 60ms.

SiteGround TTFBWP Engine TTFB
New York49ms141ms
Los Angeles208ms222ms

This tells us what we expected, in a way. Both hosts have amazing stats and this comparison is going to be really difficult.

Full Page Load Speed

Even full-page load speeds were amazing. We calculated an average full load speed of 718ms for SiteGround, which means that most times, wherever you are in the world, your site loads within a second. That’s more than a lot of hosts can say, if we are being honest.

Perhaps we recorded this sort of speed because our dummy site wasn’t image-heavy? We don’t know. We do know that an average load speed of 718 is amazing, though. WP engine’s full load speed was slightly slower than SiteGround, coming in at 920ms. Customers should keep in mind that the page load speed of both hosts is significantly lower within the US and Europe.

Stability: Load Impact Test

Using load impact, we sent up to a hundred virtual users to both sites to check whether speed would suffer during a traffic spike or not. We are glad to announce that both sites actually posted really stable speeds. We don’t think users will have any cause to complain about the speed with either host.

Ease of Use

No one says that managing a website should be a walk in the park, but no one says that it should be extremely difficult either. Of course, managing databases, setting up themes and templates and updating core software aren’t the easiest tasks, but even at that, some hosts just have systems that are easier to use than others. Since everyone likes intuitive interfaces that make the job of hosting easier, it’s safe to say that the best hosts are always very easy to use.

So, that brings us to the next question. Which host is the easiest to use between SiteGround and WP engine?

Here is where it gets a bit difficult. Since WP is optimized for WordPress hosting, WordPress users may find it to be easier to use than SiteGround.

Interface Comparison

SiteGround makes use of the industry-standard user interface, which is cPanel. cPanel is great for a number of reasons. The first is that a lot of well-known hosts use it, like HostGator or InMotion for example, so someone coming over from another host will most likely be able to be easily acclimatized to the user interface.

cPanel is also great for beginners, so new users will have less of a difficult time navigating the terrain of the interface and accomplishing most tasks. WP Engine, on the other, doesn’t fancy such basic shenanigans. WP engine has developed its own user interface which is if we are being honest here, it is actually quite simple and easy to use.

So on one hand, we have cPanel, and on the other hand, we have a proprietary interface which WP engine claims have been optimized for WordPress actions. We used both interfaces, and while WP Engine’s interface was great, we felt more at ease with the traditional cPanel. Sorry, WP engine.

Free Website Migration

What of free site migrations? What policies do these hosts have regarding that?

Well, SiteGround has a free site migration policy. The only problem, though, is that it doesn’t apply to basic plans, and it only applies to one site on higher plans. So if you are going to move your site to a lower-tier plan, you had best get a professional to help you, or better still watch a tutorial video.SiteGround does offer professional migration services on basic plans and a single site can be migrated for $30.

How does WP Engine see free site migration? Roughly the same way as SiteGround, for the most part. WP Engine offers a free WordPress migration plug-in, though. The plug-in does most of the heavy lifting, leaving users with a minimal workload.

You will have to go through a few tutorial articles to get a hang of it, though, so it is not as seamless as you may think. In an industry where most sites offer free and hassle-free site migration for at least one site, this haphazard site migration policy that both hosts under review have is simply not good enough.

How difficult is it to offer at least a free site migration? Not very difficult, we’d imagine. SiteGround and WP Engine do not seem to agree with us, but that’s not a deal-breaker for us, especially since most of the hosts offering free migration services do not perform so well in other areas, take for example our SiteGround vs. HostGator comparison (where HostGator makes the transfer process very easy, but it’s not performing as good as SiteGround in more important aspects).

Apps Integration, Installation and WordPress Optimization

SiteGround, like most hosts we’ve reviewed, is great with a lot of Content Management Systems, and users have access to applications like Joomla, Magneto, and Drupal.

It’s a bit simple for WP Engine, though. You can only host WordPress sites on WP Engine, so there is no need to have access to other kinds of Content Management Systems. WordPress is pre-installed on all its plans, so it is easier for WordPress users to build their sites and get going. Of course, WP Engine offers a large selection of WordPress themes and templates. There is also a large collection of WordPress optimization plugins that help make the hosting experience better.

Domain Registration & Free Domains

SiteGround and WP Engine do not offer free domains, unfortunately, but you can register one when signing up with any of their plans for decent pricing. We say decent because when we compare the domain Registration prices of SiteGround and NameCheap we can certainly see they could do better, but you can host with SiteGround and use a domain from some other Domain Registrar if you’re after saving those extra bucks.

Staging Environments

Both SiteGround and WP Engine offer staging environments. While WP Engine offers it on all plans, SiteGround offers it only on certain select plans.

Money-Back Guarantee Policy

It’s simple: a product with a long money-back guarantee carries less risk than one with a short money-back guarantee. Long money-back guarantees ensure that you have enough time to check out a host and see whether what is advertised is truly what you get.

Most hosts offer a thirty-day money-back guarantee on their shared hosting plans, and SiteGround follows suit. As usual, Domain name and Domain privacy fees are also non-refundable and this guarantee doesn’t cover renewal fees. Dedicated hosting services, paid support or even third-party services aren’t covered by the money-back guarantee.

WP Engine offers double of what it’s competitors such as Siteground or FlyWheel, with refunds guaranteed over the span of 60-days for new customers. Better still, since WP Engine allows monthly payments, prospective users can but a month’s plan and check out WP engine’s performance for themselves.

WP Engine vs. Siteground: Customer Support and Reliability

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a web host is the quality of customer care offered. Many times, the difference between a great hosting experience and a terrible one is the quality of customer support offered. If you were to run into problems, you’d want to have the backup of a responsive and customer support infrastructure. If not, solving problems or answering basic questions can easily turn into a nightmare.

Most hosts have three main customer support channels and they are the phone support, ticketing channels, and live chat support. SiteGround has these channels too, and we were especially impressed with the live chat channel.

WP Engine doesn’t believe in toeing the company line, but even at that, we were somewhat surprised to discover that the host only offers live chat support on basic plans. To have access to phone support, you have to pay for a higher-level plan. That is, to put it mildly, disturbing. WP Engine apparently believes that customer support is a privilege and not a right, which is amazing, to say the least.

Our Experience with the Support for both WP Engine and SiteGround

SiteGround Support Test

When we tried connecting to SiteGround live chat support, we experienced little to no wait time. That was a first for us, and we were mildly surprised because SiteGround is a large company, and if there’s one thing large companies are known for, it is definitely not quick customer support. SiteGround continued to surprise us with the quality of help that was rendered. What’s more, SiteGround’s customer care is like the Micheal Jordon of customer service. When you connect to a live rep, you get an actual bio about them detailing their names, pictures and even their hobbies.

Do we think any host’s customer support can beat that of SiteGround? No, not particularly. We stand to be corrected though, but as of today, we don’t think we’ve reviewed any that comes near.

WP Engine Support Test

WP Engine, despite the obvious failure of not having phone support on basic plans, actually has great customer support. Wait time, on an average, rarely exceed 2-3 minutes, and the reps that we spoke to were almost always WordPress experts. This is great because we’ve found that most customer support reps we speak rarely have great advice on WordPress configuration and optimization. That wasn’t the case with WP Engine, though. Unfortunately, we were not able to check out the phone in option because we didn’t buy a higher-tier plan for our testing.

Before we forget, both hosts maintain really great knowledgebases with articles on almost any aspect of hosting. In fact, for most users, contacting live rep should be a drastic measure, not a common one.

SiteGround Security vs WP Engine Security

We don’t think that any host (at least any of the ones that we’ve reviewed so far) has a lack of security features. Of course, all hosts have firewalls, security protocols and all of that. The question though, is how much of that is offered for free? If, by some misfortune, a customer’s site got affected by a bug, would there be restores from backed up files?

SSL certificates

First off, SiteGround covers the basis of free security by offering an SSL certificate for free on all plans. That’s the bare minimum, but seeing that many hosts don’t provide as much, SiteGround does deserve some praise. WP Engine follows suit to, kick-starting a policy in 2016 to provide free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates on all hosting plans. There’s also the added advantage of the HTTP/2 protocol, something that HTTPS automatically enables on WP Engine’s platform.

Extra Security Features

SiteGround has an isolation technology that ensures that if a website hosted on the same server as yours has a problem, you don’t have the same problem. There is also two-factor identification enabled, so you can have an extra level of security from hackers and the likes.

SiteGround has partnered with in creating the SG site scanner, a defense system that end users can use for threat detection and in-depth analysis of defense and firewalls.

Coincidentally, WP Engine also has sort of the same agreement with Sucuri, a web security firm. Therefore daily malware scans are run in partnership with the firm. WP Engine also maintains an updated firewall that works hard to keep out threats. The most important security feature, perhaps, is the fact that WP Engine runs daily backups on all plans. What’s more, if your site gets hacked, WP Engine will actually clean it for free.

That isn’t the end though, at least not for SiteGround. The host has a new and exciting security feature called HackAllert that monitors your website and notifies when hacks happen so that you can solve the problem before Google finds out and tells everyone that your site isn’t secure.

If your site has been hacked, SiteGround advises you on how to solve the problem and sometimes even helps you out if you don’t have the skills to do it yourself. SiteGround also runs a powerful Intrusion prevention system called 1H hawk which identifies brute force attempts and actually shuts them down before they can cause any damage. Concerning backups, SiteGround runs daily backups as far back as theory days and in case of an attack, they can be restored easily with SiteGround’s backup tool.

SiteGround vs. WP Engine: Plans and Pricing

There are three things that you must take into consideration before choosing a host for your site. These three things are the performance, customer support, and pricing. All others can be ignored to some extent as they more or less depend on the three most important features. Now, our analysis isn’t to find the cheapest host. Our analysis is to find the one that offers the most value for money.

Each WP Engine and SiteGround have 3 Different Plans

SiteGround offers three tiers of Shared hosting which are the StartUp, GrowBig and GoGeek plans. WP Engine offers the same level of plans as well with the StartUp, Growth and Scale plans.

Cheapest Plan Comparison

The first Wp Engine Plan, which is the startup one, comes with 25k visits per month, 10GB of storage, 50Gb of bandwidth per month and one website. It is priced at $35 per month.

It compares directly to SiteGround’s Startup plan (coincidence that they have the same name ?) which comes with one website, 10GB of space, unlimited bandwidth, free Cloudflare CDN, free SSL certificate, free daily backups, and unlimited emails. At a special price of $3.95 per month on initial purchase and renewal at $11.95 per month, SiteGround is way cheaper than WP Engine, despite the fact that SiteGround is more expensive than most other hosts.

SiteGround StartUpWP Engine StartUp
Websites Allowed1 Website1 Website
Storage10GB SSD10GB SSD
Customer SupportExcellentGreat
Daily BackupsFreePaid
Unmetered TrafficYesMax 25k Visitors
Pricing$3.95 with discount$35 with discount

Medium-Priced Plan Comparison

The next WP engine plan, which is the Growth plan, allows for up to a hundred thousand visitors per month, 20GB of storage, 200GB of bandwidth per month, and five sites. The Growth plan requires a monthly subscription of $115.

The comparable SiteGround plan is the GrowBig plan and it comes with all the features of the StartUp plan plus unlimited websites, free SSL wildcard for one year, 20GB space, all 3 levels of the Supercacher, staging environments for WordPress and Joomla, 30 backup copies and free restore. The plan costs $5.95 per month for new customers while renewal costs $19.95 per month.

The main difference between both plans is the fact that while SiteGround offers unlimited websites, WP Engine is having absolutely none of that communist shenanigans. Despite this, WP Engine is even more expensive, asking customers to pay over a thousand dollars a year for its services. Too expensive for only five websites, in our opinion.

SiteGround GrowBigWP Engine Growth
Websites AllowedUnlimited5
Storage20GB SSD20GB SSD
Customer SupportExcellentGreat
Daily BackupsFreePaid
Unmetered TrafficYesMax 100k Visitors
Pricing$6.45 with discount$115 with discount

High-End Plan Comparison

The most expensive WP engine plan, which is the Scale plan, can be purchased for a whopping $290 per month. It can support up to 400 thousand visitors per month. With local storage of 30GB, 400GB of bandwidth per month and 15 websites, it could be argued that this plan packs some serious muscle.

It goes head to head with SiteGround’s apex plan, which is the GoGeek package. The GoGeek plan comes with all the features of the GrowBig plan plus unlimited websites, 30GB space with a traffic capacity of 100,000 per month, priority support, one-click Git repo creation, and PCI compliance. It costs about $11.95 for the initial purchase and $34.95 for renewal.

We expected WP Engine to at least provide unlimited websites with their highest plan, but we were wrong. We do see the rationale, though. If you’re using a managed WordPress solution, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to run more than 10 websites – that is if you actually run-up to that number. Despite that, WP Engine is still too expensive for what is offered.

SiteGround GoGeekWP Engine Scale
Websites AllowedUnlimited10
Storage30GB SSD30GB SSD
Customer SupportExcellentGreat
Daily BackupsFreePaid
Unmetered TrafficYesMax 400k Visitors
Pricing$11.95 with discount$290 with discount

WP Engine vs. SiteGround for Freebies and Extras

Let’s take a broad look at the important features of both hosts and see if there are any particularly exciting features.

  • SiteGround has reseller hosting options
  • Free Cloudflare CDN
  • SiteGround supports Weebly website builder
  • SiteGround offers SSH access with all their plans
  • One-click staging servers
  • Unfortunately, SiteGround doesn’t offer a free domain name
  • A free WordPress Migration Plugin
  • SiteGround is optimized for WordPress and Joomla
  • Let’s look at WP engine and check if the host has anything special to offer us

WP engine is a managed hosting option so they regularly give advice and monitor plugins to determine the safe ones and the ones likely to bring up trouble during installation.

  • A 60-days money-back policy
  • Complete access to the Genesis framework and 37 WordPress themes at zero extra costs.
  • Automatic WordPress backups
  • WpEngine has a Geotarget tool that allows you to customize the content that your visitors see based on their geographical location. This can be very helpful for targeted advertising.

Major Differences Between SiteGround and WP Engine

It strikes us as odd for two hosts who offer somewhat different services to have so little differences. SiteGround and WP engine matched up in almost every section of our comparison. However, no matter how similar, the truth is that differences must be found.

  • WP engine offers a 60-day money-back guarantee, while SiteGround’s is 30-days.
  • SiteGround offers reseller web hosting, while WP engine doesn’t offer the service
  • SiteGround accepts integration with other content management systems, while WP engine only works with WordPress based servers.
  • WP engine is way more expensive than SiteGround.

WP Engine vs. SiteGround: Our Winner

It was a close one. So close that it really could have gone either way. But, for this comparison, SiteGround wins because of great performance, even better customer support, and great value for money.

SiteGround vs WP Engine? SiteGround wins this one for sure.

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