WP Engine vs. Bluehost: Deciding the Best Host for WordPress
It’s a battle between two WordPress hosting giants, but only one can be the winner of this matchup. While Bluehost is better suited for beginners, WP Engine has more developer-oriented tools. Both do very well in terms of performance, so you’ll have to read on to find out which of the two is best for you.
Both Bluehost and WP Engine offer managed WordPress hosting services, but there are some major differences between them.
For example, WP Engine focuses entirely on WordPress, so it can’t be used with any other CMS (content management system). Bluehost, on the other hand, has regular shared hosting plans that are cheaper and more flexible. It’s just as easy to install WordPress on Bluehost, but if you want to use a different CMS, you can.
In addition, while Bluehost uses a traditional shared hosting infrastructure, WP Engine is entirely cloud-based. Your resources are completely isolated from other users with WP Engine, so you can expect better performance and uptime, even during peak traffic. Unfortunately, these perks don’t come cheap.
Don’t have enough time to dive into the full comparison? Here’s a summary of our research:
Since there were pros and cons with both services, I decided that Bluehost vs. WP Engine was a dispute best settled in practice. So, I signed up with both hosts and rated them for performance, ease of use, customer support, security, and more using our step-by-step testing and reviewing process we’ve come to rely on for all our hosting comparisons.
I’ll tell you right now that even though Bluehost and WP Engine look similar, they are actually built for entirely different users. You’ll have to keep reading to find out which provider is best for you.
Users are less patient than you might think. If your website takes longer than 2 seconds to load, some of your visitors are guaranteed to jump ship. For every additional second after that, you’re losing more and more of your audience. Where do they go? Back to Google and over to your competitors.
This issue is even more pressing if you have an online store. When potential customers wait for your site to load, they don’t know exactly how much longer it’ll take. It could be milliseconds or… it might never happen. Besides, the “back” button is right there.
And if a website doesn’t load properly, can you really trust it to handle your payment information? As the website owner, you might use a third-party payment processing portal to better secure your customer’s data, but most of them don’t know that. Instead, they associate slow speeds with unreliability, and they decide to take their business elsewhere.
Regardless of the kind of website you want to build, it has to load quickly. For that, you need a web host with decent performance. I’ve put both Bluehost and WP Engine to the test so you don’t have to. This is how they did:
Full Page Load Time
First, I used GTmetrix to test the full page load time for both hosts. In other words, I wanted to see how long it would take for a visitor to load the test websites created for this WP Engine vs. Bluehost comparison. The results were pretty surprising.
Bluehost scored a very impressive 1 second result, and although there was some variation between multiple tests, the average was still outstanding. Even with a more complex website, you can expect Bluehost to deliver consistently high speeds.
WP Engine was actually a bit slower overall, as its fastest score was 1.1 seconds. Given its infrastructure, I had expected it to perform far better than Bluehost, but the tests said otherwise. Don’t get me wrong: WP Engine is still very fast compared to the industry average. For instance, Wix only scored a measly 8.5 seconds during a similar comparison against Bluehost, so things could definitely be a lot worse.
Now, keep in mind that in order to test these hosts, I signed up for their cheapest plans. You can get better performance if you’re willing to pay for a more expensive package. I also created a fairly simple website, so you can expect the full load times to go up a decent amount once you add in more media. Still, both hosts are very likely to stay well under the 2-second mark with most regular websites. So far, so good.
Time to First Byte
TTFB is the time that passes between the moment when a user clicks on your website and the moment when the user receives the first byte of data from your server. It doesn’t measure the time it takes for your website to fully load, but rather how long it needs to “get going”, so to speak.
When I measured TTFB for Bluehost, I got a perfect 100 score. This tells me that Bluehost’s servers are well optimized and that they’re not too crowded with requests. It also shows me that Bluehost doesn’t have unreasonable caps on CPU and RAM usage, which would otherwise increase TTFB and decrease its score.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for WP Engine. It got a considerably lower score on the same test, which means that its TTFB was much higher. Coincidentally, WP Engine’s TTFB score is almost identical to that of WordPress.com, a service that has far worse infrastructure.
That said, it’s important to understand that TTFB is not as relevant a metric as full page load time. Since WP Engine got a great score on GTmetrix, I’d say that you don’t actually have to worry about its mediocre TTFB. If your website loads quickly overall, who cares how much time it takes for the connection to be established in the first place?
Plus, there’s one more important thing to consider. So far, I’ve measured the two hosts’ performance for single requests. In reality, however, multiple visitors will try to access your website at the same time, and that’s when things get tricky. Let’s take a closer look.
Load Impact Test
What happens to your website’s loading speeds during a traffic spike? That’s what I wanted to find out when I ran a load impact test on both Bluehost and WP Engine. So far, Bluehost was definitely in the lead, but in this test, it fell a bit short.
As you can see, Bluehost’s response time is up to 1 second, and the full page load time is up to almost 5s. This isn’t too bad for 200 concurrent visits, but it certainly isn’t a match for WP Engine’s stellar result.
It turns out that WP Engine performs best under pressure. I put it to the same test as I did Bluehost, and the full page load time stayed well under 1 second, with an average response time of 0,05s. That’s extraordinary and puts WP Engine even above GreenGeeks, a company that managed to take us by surprise during a similar load impact test. You can read more about its impressive results in our GreenGeeks vs Bluehost comparison.
If you expect your website to get a lot of traffic, WP Engine is definitely more suitable. Then again, it’s also far more expensive than Bluehost, so if you want to host a small to medium low-traffic site, Bluehost makes more sense.
Or, for a cheaper alternative, you could try DreamHost – a provider officially recommended by the WordPress foundation. You can find out more about it in my Bluehost vs. DreamHost comparison.
There’s no point in talking about loading speeds if your website isn’t online in the first place. Depending on the type of site you want to host, consistently high uptime can make a crucial difference in terms of conversions, sales, and brand authority. So, can you expect WP Engine and Bluehost to deliver in this respect?
I tested both for the duration of several months, and I kept a record of my website’s uptime in order to properly compare the two hosts. Rest assured, the results were more than satisfying with both Bluehost and WP Engine.
Over the course of several months, my website was online for 99.98% of the time with Bluehost. For WP Engine, the average recorded uptime was 99.99%, which is even better. All in all, the difference is too small to count. Both hosts are super reliable and have an uptime record that is well above the industry average.
WP Engine vs. Bluehost: Which Host Has Better Performance Overall?
As much as I’d love to call a clear-cut winner here, the answer actually depends on what you need. For a low-traffic website, Bluehost has outstanding performance, so there’s no real reason to pay up to ten times more with WP Engine. Even with a decent number of concurrent visits, Bluehost can still deliver your website in a reasonable time.
That said, I’d recommend WP Engine for very popular or complex sites because it’s better prepared to handle traffic spikes. Not only is WP Engine built on top of the world’s fastest cloud infrastructure, but it also automatically scales your CPU and RAM to keep your website running at all times. It’s painfully expensive, but if you have a massive online store, for example, WP Engine is worth the investment.
Pricing and Value
You can put two hosts side-by-side and compare their baseline prices, but this doesn’t give you a very accurate picture of which provider has better value. Sure, one host might less expensive than the other, but it could be missing some essential features. If that’s the case, you might end up paying more than you initially signed up for, which isn’t great.
To avoid surprises, you have to dig a little deeper. But don’t worry: when it comes to WP Engine vs. Bluehost, I’ve already done the research for you. I wanted to know not only which host is cheaper, but also which of the two gives you more bang for your buck.
|Hosting Type||Bluehost||WP Engine|
|Shared Hosting||$2.95 - $13.95||Not Available|
|WordPress Hosting||$9.95 - $49.95||$17.50 - $169|
|Cloud Hosting||Not Available||Custom Quote|
|VPS Hosting||$18.99 - $59.99||Custom Quote|
|Dedicated Hosting||$79.99 - $119.99||Custom Quote|
|eCommerce Hosting||$6.95 - $12.95||Not Available|
Now, both Bluehost and WP Engine offer managed WordPress hosting, so I’ve focused on these plans for the most part. That said, Bluehost has something that WP Engine doesn’t, which is affordable regular shared hosting. If you’re a beginner, this would be a good place to start, so let’s turn to the Basic plan first.
Bluehost Basic: The Best Choice for Beginners
Bluehost’s Basic shared hosting plan gives you everything you need to build, launch, and host a small website. At $2.95 (with this special offer), it’s roughly ten times cheaper than anything WP Engine has to offer, and it includes a generous 50GB of storage in addition to unmetered bandwidth.
Most of the essential features are there too. You get cPanel to easily manage your domains and websites, there’s a one-click installer for WordPress and dozens of other CMS (content management systems), and a free domain is included for one year if you buy at least one year of hosting.
The one thing that’s missing is the automatic backup service, which you have to buy as an add-on if you opt for the basic plan. Alternatively, you can create your own backups using cPanel. It’s pretty easy to do, and it can help you save lots of money in the long run.
Although Bluehost doesn’t advertise this on its main page (which it totally should), you also get 5 free email addresses @yourdomain for the Basic plan. With WP Engine, for example, email hosting is not included in any of the plans, so you have to buy it separately from a third-party provider.
All in all, Bluehost Basic is a super cheap way to get online quickly. There are plenty of beginner-friendly features to help you get started, and if you ever need more power for your site, you can upgrade to Pro.
To learn more about Bluehost’s shared hosting plans, you can jump over to our Bluehost hub page.
But if managed WordPress hosting is what you’re after, you should take a closer look at Bluehost’s WP Pro plans. Let’s do that now.
Bluehost WP Build vs. WP Engine Startup
At $9.95 per month, Bluehost’s WP Build plan is roughly three times cheaper than WP Engine’s Startup. It supports one website and about 20,000 monthly visits, which is a decent place to start for a blog or online store. You also get 20GB of storage, a free SSL certificate, and access to over 200 global servers through the integrated CDN.
|Hosting Plan||Bluehost WP Build||WP Engine Startup|
|Web Storage||20 GB||10 GB|
Another big plus is the Jetpack Personal license, which is included for free in Bluehost’s WP Build plan. Jetpack is an essential WordPress plugin that can help you built, monitor, and secure your website. Over 100 premium themes are included with the Personal license in addition to automatic daily backups, automatic WordPress updates, spam and DDoS protection, site analytics, and more.
Remember how Bluehost fell behind a bit on the load impact test? That was on the Basic shared hosting plan. With WP Build, your website is hosted on a server optimized specifically for WordPress. Several layers of caching are activated by default, and auto-scaling is enabled to help your site handle traffic spikes with ease. All in all, a fantastic package for just a slightly higher price.
Things Get Expensive on WP Engine’s Side
Meanwhile, WP Engine’s Startup plan can get expensive quickly. It also supports a single WordPress website, but you get only 10GB of storage, and your bandwidth is capped at 50GB per month. If you need more bandwidth, it’ll cost you extra, and you’ll eventually be forced to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
On the other hand, there are a few advantages too. For one, you get the Genesis Framework and 30+ premium StudioPress themes for free. Forget all about basic website builders like Wix or Weebly. With Genesis at hand, you can create a beautiful, fully functional site in a matter of minutes, while SEO and security are already built-in.
Since WP Engine focuses entirely on WordPress, all of its servers are optimized for this CMS. You also get access to the host’s premium CDN service and its proprietary caching plugin, Evercache. Plus, if you ever need help optimizing your website, there’s 24/7 customer support, and the agents are more than willing to assist.
But what if you want to host more than one website? That’s when it gets interesting.
Bluehost WP Grow vs. WP Engine Growth
Bluehost’s WP Grow is three times more expensive than its Build plan, so there’s a pretty big jump in terms of pricing. Are the extra features worth it? Absolutely. You get three times the number of monthly visits, double the storage space, and an even better Jetpack license. Jetpack Premium alone is worth the added cost.
|Hosting Plan||Bluehost WP Grow||WP Engine Growth|
|Web Storage||40 GB||20 GB|
And that’s not all. Bluehost’s WP Grow includes an SEO kit that can help you save hundreds of dollars you’d otherwise spend on an SEO specialist. You’ll have to get your hands a little dirty to perform the optimizations yourself, but the results are more than worth the effort.
Another great addition with WP Grow is the Blue Sky ticket support. Blue Sky is the company’s WordPress tech team, so if you opt for the Grow plan, you can expect specialized WordPress support. You can only ask questions through tickets, but in my experience, response times are decent and the agents are very helpful.
Bluehost Only Support One Website
The one major downside with Bluehost’s WP Grow plan is that it supports just one website. If you want to host more sites, you have to open multiple accounts, which can be inconvenient and time-consuming, especially for a web developer.
This is not the case with WP Engine, whose Growth plan supports up to ten websites. The plan is, once again, considerably more expensive than Bluehost’s equivalent, but this time, the difference is actually worth it. Plus, there are lots of other useful features for developers that Bluehost doesn’t have.
To give you just one example, WP Engine has an ownership transfer system in place whereby you can ship a website to your client with a couple of clicks. Billing is also transferred to the client, while you stay on as a collaborator for further updates. Git is already integrated, and each website comes with three separate environments for better workflow. The process is simpler than learning how to migrate a website yourself, so it doesn’t get much better than this for WordPress devs.
Bluehost WP Scale vs. WP Engine Scale
Bluehost’s WP Scale would be my go-to plan for a high-traffic online store. It’s still limited to a single website, but you get up to 200,000 monthly visits, 80GB of storage space, and several extra tools to help you set up and manage a large eCommerce business.
|Hosting Plan||Bluehost WP Scale||WP Engine Scale|
|Web Storage||80 GB||50 GB|
A Jetpack Professional license is included for free, so you get Elastic Search and PayPal payment integrations at no additional cost. You also have access to unlimited video compression, so you can embed media without slowing down your site. If you opt for a decent plugin like WooCommerce, you can basically have your store up and running in under half an hour.
Blue Sky support is available through both tickets and live chat on the WP Scale plan, so the tech team has your back at all times. If something goes wrong in the middle of the night, you can quickly get in touch with customer support and have your online store back up as fast as possible.
Assess Your Requirements
On the other hand, WP Engine’s Scale plan is almost six times more expensive than Bluehost’s. It includes up to 30 websites, 50GB of storage, 500GB of bandwidth, and up to 400,000 monthly visits. It’s a massive improvement compared to the Growth plan, but it’s only worth considering if you’re a web developer or agency.
Otherwise, if you only need to power one website, Bluehost’s Scale plan is more than suitable. Even if you have thousands of visitors per day, your website will continue to run smoothly, and you’ll save lots of money.
For a large online store, Bluehost’s WP Scale plan is the perfect solution. But you don’t have to make a huge investment from the get-go. Start with a cheaper plan, and upgrade on a need-to basis.
More Power: WP Engine Custom Plans
If your website gets more than 10,000 visitors per day, Bluehost’s WP Pro plans won’t do. You can upgrade to VPS hosting, but Bluehost’s virtual machines are self-managed, so you’ll need some technical know-how to use them properly. Or, you’ll have to hire someone to do it for you.
With WP Engine, things are a bit simpler. Without having to switch to a different type of hosting, you can contact customer support for a personalized plan. It’ll cost you a pretty penny, but you’ll be able to include as much bandwidth as you need, more CPU and RAM, extra storage, and tons of other add-ons like high-availability servers.
For a beginner, these plans are virtually useless. However, if you’re building a massive website or eCommerce platform, it’s good to know that WP Engine has the necessary server power to back it up.
Which Is Cheaper, Bluehost or WP Engine?
If you want to host a simple WordPress website or small eCommerce store, Bluehost is by far the cheaper option. You don’t even need to buy a managed WordPress plan to get started. You can opt for one of the regular shared hosting packages, and go from there.
If, on the other hand, you have a complex or high-traffic website, you’re better off with a hosting environment that is specifically optimized for WordPress performance. For a single site, Bluehost is once again a better option in terms of pricing and features. There’s a good reason the company ranked so high on our list of top 10 best cheap hosting providers of 2020.
That said, WP Engine is more advantageous for web developers who want to host more than one website at a time. In addition, it gives you plenty of tools – such as the Genesis Framework and three separate dev environments – that can improve your workflow and help you save time.
Bluehost has budget-friendly shared hosting plans that are more than suitable for small to medium websites. Plenty of storage space and bandwidth is included in all plans, in addition to useful tools like a one-click installer for WordPress and the Weebly website builder.
Ease of Use
While building and testing websites for this Bluehost vs. WP Engine comparison, I got the chance to work closely with both platforms, so I rated them based on their user-friendliness. While both did pretty well in this category, it was clear to me that the two providers serve very different audiences.
Here’s what I mean.
Bluehost Is More Beginner-Friendly
Bluehost is built entirely around ease of use. Whether you go with a regular shared hosting plan or you opt for managed WordPress, you’ll notice that Bluehost’s dashboard keeps things very simple. Essential functions like domain and website management are easy to find, while activating an SSL or CDN can be done with a couple of clicks.
A website builder isn’t included by default, but you do get a one-click installer for WordPress, and you can easily download Elementor or BoldGrid from the WordPress interface. Both of the latter are free, and they have neat drag-and-drop interfaces that can be used to quickly customize a theme without writing any actual code.
There’s also a super useful checklist to remind you of important things you should do before you launch your site. From connecting your domain to installing a theme, adding content, optimizing your pages, and securing your site, everything is covered.
All in all, Bluehost makes it very easy for anyone to create and host a website. Even if you have no experience with web hosting whatsoever, you won’t encounter any difficulties while you work.
WP Engine Is Developer-Oriented
I wish I could say that WP Engine is just as easy to use, but my experience with it was a different one. Yes, WP Engine’s dashboard is clean and simple to navigate, but there are hardly any tools to help beginners get started. Even connecting your domain can be a bit tricky, because instead of using nameservers like everyone else, WP Engine uses cnames.
You can get in touch with support, and they will explain the process to you in detail, but overall, everything takes up more time than it should. Plus, if you’ve never done this before, you might need a while to find the information required to point your domain to WP Engine. The host doesn’t offer domain registration, so you’ll have to use a third-party provider whether you like it or not.
It’s not that WP Engine is very complicated, either. In fact, it can make a developer’s life much easier – for instance, by letting them create website templates that they can then use to serve multiple clients without building everything from scratch. For beginners, however, Bluehost is definitely a better option.
If there’s one category where WP Engine is in the lead, this is it. Its plans are jam-packed with features specifically designed to make WordPress websites faster and more secure. The things is, while most of these tools are useful for developers, they’re not as essential for website owners. And if you don’t need them, why would you pay extra for them?
That’s basically what Bluehost vs. WP Engine boils down to. So, to help you decide which of the two is more suitable for your needs, I’ve put their features side-by-side below.
With WP Engine, all plans benefit from the same impressive set of features. These include:
- The Genesis Framework (website builder, built-in security, SEO, and more)
- 30+ Premium StudioPress themes
- Automatic WordPress updates and backups
- The possibility to host 10+ websites starting with the Growth plan
- Three separate dev environments for each website
- Easy billing and ownership transfers
- Free SSL certificates
- Free CDN (content delivery network) for improved global performance
- Preconfigured server-side caching for faster websites
- Auto-scaling during traffic spikes
- Managed website security
- Expert WordPress support
Bluehost includes some of the same features, but you can only host a single website per account. Here’s what you can expect:
- Jetpack license (Personal, Premium, or Professional – depending on the plan you choose)
- Free domain for the first year
- Automatic WordPress updates and backups
- Built-in high availability, so your website is almost always online
- Staging environment that lets you safely test changes on a clone of your website
- Malware scanning and removal
- Free SSL certificates
- Free CDN
- Several layers of caching for faster websites
- Expert WordPress support (on the Grow and Scale plans)
- SEO tools (on the Grow and Scale plans)
As you can see, Bluehost gives you everything you need to host a single WordPress website, including several performance and security tools that other hosts almost never offer for free.
The features that are unique to WP Engine – such as the Genesis Framework or the ability to host multiple websites on the same account – are mostly developer-oriented. They’re worth the asking price, but only if you actually need them.
When your website unexpectedly goes offline, all the features in the world won’t come to your rescue. Instead, you’ll need prompt and effective customer support in order to quickly bring your site back up and minimize your losses. Can Bluehost or WP Engine offer this kind of assistance? I tested them both to find out.
|24/7 Support||Via Phone||Via Chat|
Bluehost Is There 24/7
Although expert WordPress support is only included in some WP Pro plans, Bluehost has regular 24/7 customer support through live chat, phone, and tickets on all plans. No matter when you need assistance, an agent is always there.
Whenever I tried the live chat service, for example, it never took more than a couple of minutes for an agent to respond. In an industry where more and more hosts outsource support to busy third parties in India, this was a breath of fresh air. Bluehost’s support agents were knowledgeable, polite, and eager to help. Exactly what I wanted to see.
That said, you shouldn’t expect support to help you optimize your site, unless you have access to the Blue Sky service included in the Grow and Scale plans. Even then, the scope of support is mostly limited to issues that you might have with Bluehost’s platform. It’s a fairly standard policy with most web hosting services.
If you want to learn even more about the company’s award-winning customer support, don’t hesitate to check out our in-depth Bluehost review.
WP Engine Has Better Support for WordPress
WP Engine is a fully managed WordPress hosting provider, so its customer support representatives are trained to work specifically with this CMS. Not only will your website be monitored 24/7 for security and performance purposes, but you’ll also be able to get more extensive help with optimizing your WordPress installation.
The issue with WP Engine is that support is not always available. You can get in touch through live chat, phone, and tickets, but only during working hours, which isn’t a fantastic setup. There is a vast knowledge base with guides that cover lots of platform-related issues, but if you don’t like to DIY, it can take some time before you get in touch with an agent.
Aside from this, I have no complaints. The tech agents I talked to were courteous and prompt. For instance, when I needed help to connect my domain, an agent walked me through the entire process, and sent me a useful link for additional information. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Search Engine Optimization
There are many ways to get more people to your website, but not all of them are equally effective (or affordable). For example, paid advertising can generate a few leads, but most of your visitors will come from organic traffic, rather than paid ads. And the best way to increase your organic traffic is to improve your website’s SEO.
The kind of website you want to build doesn’t really matter here. Whether you have a blog, a business presentation site, or a small online store, you need SEO to get the word out about your product or service. The good news is that both Bluehost and WP Engine are excellent SEO hosts.
The Basic Ingredients for Good SEO
For starters, both Bluehost and WP Engine have outstanding performance, so your website won’t be penalized by search engines for loading too slowly. Your bounce rate is also likely to be lower, and this can further improve your ranking in SERPs (search engine results pages). Plus, you get a free SSL certificate with both hosts, so you’ll rank higher than competitors who don’t use encryption.
But, of course, that’s just the basic prerequisites for good SEO. To push your website higher is SERPs, you’ll have to optimize on-page and off-page elements like your sitemap, meta data, headers, and content. Doing this on a regular basis can turn into a massive chore, which is why some web hosts have tools to simplify the entire process.
Bluehost vs. WP Engine: Free SEO Tools
Bluehost, for example, has its proprietary SEO toolkit, which you can get for free if you opt for the WP Pro Grow or Scale plan. It’s a complete solution that lets you quickly optimize every page or blog post that you publish. Coupled with the Bluehost Marketing center, which gives you essential information on your visitors’ behavior, the SEO toolkit can bring in lots of organic traffic for a very low cost.
The only downside is that the tools are only included in the two most expensive WP Pro plans. You can buy the kit as an add-on on any other plan (including regular shared hosting), but this will increase your overall costs a bit.
On the other hand, WP Engine has SEO tools built into the Genesis Framework, which is included for free in all of its plans. You also have a site analytics section integrated into the main dashboard, so you’ll be able to get reliable feedback on any changes you’ve made. All in all, a fantastic and easy-to-use solution.
So, is one host better than the other for SEO? It’s hard to tell. The fact that WP Engine has SEO tools on all plans is definitely a plus, but then again, WP Engine is a lot more expensive than Bluehost. You can buy Bluehost’s SEO toolkit on a low-cost plan and still spend less than you would with WP Engine. It’s pretty much a tie.
You put a lot of work into your website, so it’s important to secure it properly against attacks. Don’t go around thinking that your site is too small for hackers, because there’s no such thing. If you’re online, you’re vulnerable. And so are your visitors.
That said, both Bluehost and WP Engine go to great lengths to keep your website safe, so you’re in good hands. For instance, WP Engine has fully managed security, which means that you don’t have to do anything to secure your site. Monitoring and scanning is performed at the level of the server, and if your website is ever hacked, you can ask customer support for help to clean it up.
You also get a free SSL certificate on every plan, so your visitors’ data and connections are encrypted by default. Daily backups are included too, which means that if a disaster ever strikes, you can quickly restore a previous, working version of your site.
Different Security Levels
On the other hand, the level of security you get with Bluehost may vary depending on the plan you choose. If you opt for WP Pro, you’ll have access to all the security tools you need through Jetpack. Daily backups and malware scanning are included even on the Personal plan, as are automatic software updates.
But it gets a little tricky if you go with a regular shared hosting plan. These give you a free SSL certificate – which is very good – but that’s about it. If you want automatic backups and proper security, you have to buy them as add-ons, and they can increase your overall costs by quite a bit.
With that in mind, I have to hand the victory over to WP Engine for this category. Don’t get me wrong: both hosts cover the basics. But if security is critical for your website, WP Engine is a better option. Bluehost’s WP Pro plans come close, but there’s no managed security service, so it’s ultimately on you to keep your website safe with the tools you have at your disposal.
Most website owners start with an affordable shared hosting plan and scale up as their business grows. Save for specialized solutions like DigitalOcean or WP Engine, you can expect this system to be present at almost every hosting provider, including Bluehost. Here, there are four shared hosting plans to choose from and once you need more power, you can switch to a WP Pro plan for better optimized servers and auto-scaling during traffic spikes.
Bluehost also has VPS and dedicated server solutions, but these are self-managed, so you need to be able to setup and maintain your own VM (virtual machine) in order to use them. Or, you have to hire someone who can help. From this point of view, WP Engine is better.
Unlimited Web Hosting Resources
With WP Engine, you can add as many resources to your account as you need. You never have to switch to a self-managed server, and since your website is hosted in the cloud, it’s easier to scale up or down as needed.
The downside with WP Engine is that it’s very expensive. You can get a massive VM to host your high-traffic websites, but it’ll cost you a small fortune. Plus, there’s no real entry-level plan to match Bluehost’s regular shared hosting packages. WP Engine is pricey from the get-go, and this can be a major downside for most website owners.
Overall, both Bluehost and WP Engine have decent scalability, but the winner in this category actually depends on what you need. If you want to host one or several low-traffic sites, then Bluehost is more than sufficient. Otherwise, you might want to go with WP Engine’s managed cloud hosting over Bluehost’s self-managed VMs.
WP Engine vs. Bluehost is a matchup that goes back and forth between the two hosts. It’s a lot of information to digest, and you might lose sight of the bigger picture in the process. So, I’ve put together these key differences to help you make the right choice:
- Regular vs. High-Traffic Websites. Bluehost is the perfect provider for beginners. It’s cheap, easy to use, and consistently fast, but it’s not as stable as WP Engine when it comes to high traffic.
- Developer Tools. Bluehost gives you everything you need to build, launch, and host a website. Its WP Pro plans offer a lot of value for your money, especially since a Jetpack license is included for free, but there aren’t a lot of tools for developers.
- Pricing. Bluehost has cheaper managed WordPress hosting, so if you have one website, it makes more sense. This provider also offers regular shared hosting, so you can start even smaller if you’re working with a tight budget.
- WP Engine has fewer tools for beginners, but it has the cloud infrastructure to support websites with thousands of daily visits. It’s the best choice for massive or very popular WordPress sites.
- WP Engine gives you the option to host multiple websites on most plans, and its tools are primarily developer-oriented. You pay more, but you can streamline your development process and drastically improve your workflow.
- WP Engine is expensive. Period. Its plans are packed with valuable features, and you do get the Genesis Framework for free, but unless you’re monetizing your website, WP Engine is likely not worth the asking price.
At the end of the day, Bluehost and WP Engine are both outstanding hosts for WordPress websites, but they serve different needs. Bluehost is more beginner-friendly – both in terms of pricing and through its features – while WP Engine is more developer-oriented.
Bluehost vs. WP Engine: Our Pick
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Bluehost vs. WP Engine is a super tight matchup. While Bluehost does significantly better in categories like pricing, ease of use, and customer support, WP Engine has slightly better performance and is better equipped for developers and high-traffic websites.
Here’s a quick summary for each aspect of this comparison:
- Performance: Bluehost and WP Engine have excellent performance for low- and medium-traffic sites. However, WP Engine is more stable during traffic spikes.
- Pricing and Value: Bluehost’s WP Pro plans are significantly cheaper than WP Engine’s equivalents. You get everything you need to host a single WordPress website, so it doesn’t make sense to pay extra for WP Engine unless you’re a developer.
- Ease of Use: WP Engine has some great features for developers, but Bluehost is overall easier to use, especially if you’re a beginner.
- Features: WP Engine’s plans are packed with high-value features, but most of these are not as useful for regular website owners. If you don’t need to host multiple sites, Bluehost has everything you need at a lower cost.
- Customer Support: WP Engine has slightly better support for WordPress, but agents are only available during working hours. Bluehost is there 24/7.
- SEO: WP Engine has SEO tools built into the Genesis Framework, which is included for free in all plans. With Bluehost, the SEO toolkit is offered on most plans, but not on the entry-level ones.
- Security: Both Bluehost and WP Engine have strong security features on their best plans, but if you opt for shared hosting with Bluehost, you’ll only get an SSL certificate for free.
- Scalability: With Bluehost, you have the advantage of low-cost shared hosting plans that you can use for starter websites. WP Engine, on the other hand, is best used for complex or high-traffic sites because its advanced plans are fully managed.
At the end of the day, choosing between Bluehost and WP Engine is all about your specific needs. That being said, since WP Engine is more developer-oriented, most users will have an easier time with Bluehost. That’s why Bluehost is the winner of this comparison, although WP Engine comes very close.
If you’re still on the fence when it comes to WP Engine, you can learn more about the company and its services by reading our detailed WP Engine review right here. Otherwise, we encourage you to check out our comparisons hub for more information related to other top web hosting providers.
Whether you want shared hosting or managed WordPress hosting, Bluehost is your best bet. It’s cheaper than WP Engine, and it gives you everything you need to build and host a professional WordPress website. On top of that, there’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you’re not taking any risks.