Since its release in 2003, WordPress has become the most popular content management system in the world, powering approximately one-third of the web. Just like all other content management systems, WordPress has its own server requirements that should be met in order to guarantee great user experience for visitors and administrators alike.
Over the years, many web hosting companies have attempted to convince the owners WordPress sites to use their services, promising fantastic performance, flawless security, automatic updates, and many other enticing features and perks. Today, there are far more web hosting companies that specialize in managed WordPress hosting than we can name here, but we’d like to compare the two leaders in managed WordPress hosting: Kinsta vs WP Engine.
But with more similarities than differences, choosing between the two leading managed WordPress hosting services is far from easy, especially if you want to choose the best hosting for your needs. To help you make the ideal choice, we’ve created this Kinsta vs WP Engine comparison, pitting the two services against each other and comparing them based on five key metrics: features, performance, security, customer support, and pricing.
That said, we can tell you right away that both Kinsta and WP Engine are fantastic choices for anyone who would like to host a site built on WordPress and never worry about any of the potential issues that are associated with hosting WordPress in a shared web hosting environment.
Kinsta vs WP Engine: Selecting the Best Managed WordPress Hosting
If you’re reading this article, you’re most likely familiar with the two hosting companies, Kinsta and WP Engine. It’s time to get to the meat of this Kinsta vs WP Engine comparison and compare the two managed WordPress hosting solutions based on their features, performance, security, customer support, and pricing. As a website owner it is important to understand which features are most important to you, and select Kinsta or WP Engine based upon that criteria. Kinsta vs WP Engine is a tough comparison, as both have extremely strong features, similar performance, comparable security, customer support, and of course, pricing.
Kinsta is built with scalability and flexibility in mind, and it offers its customers plenty of features that greatly simplify the day-to-day management of WordPress sites. To start with, the web hosting provider employs a dedicated migration team whose job is to move any site to Kinsta without causing any downtime. Kinsta will even go as far as to assign a temporary domain name to ensure a smooth transition before going live.
Online presence has become an integral part of doing business and losing it can be just as devastating as losing a physical location. To give its customers total peace of mind to focus on their own key competencies, Kinsta performs regular uptime checks every 2 minutes and creates a full site backup at least once a day, making it possible to always effortlessly roll back to the latest working version and quickly recover from a security incident, user error, or poorly executed feature upgrade.
Kinsta provides a centralized dashboard, called MyKinsta admin, that takes on a fresh approach to traditional web management tools such as cPanel, phpMyAdmin, and others. From adding a new site to deploying a staging server to viewing detailed site analytics, MyKinsta admin greatly simplifies otherwise fairly complex tasks, allowing administrators to accomplish more in less time.
Regardless of which Kinsta subscription plan you choose (more about them later), you can always purchase optional add-ons to customize your plan to fit your needs. The available add-ons include Cloudflare Railgun, Elasticsearch, Redis, or Nginx reverse proxy, just to give some examples.
Because Kinsta is built by developers for developers, you can change PHP versions based on the requirements of your favorite third-party plugins, and you have access to all the tools and software you might need to update plugins, configure multisite installs, and much more, including WP-CLI, SSH, and Git.
Just like Kinsta, WP Engine offers all the features you would expect from a provider of managed WordPress hosting, such as automatic WordPress updates and daily backups, and it even throws a few cherries on top. One welcome surprise is the fact that it includes free access to one of the most popular WordPress frameworks, the Genesis Framework, as well as multiple premium themes built using the framework.
The Genesis Framework makes it easy for novice developers to quickly create professional WordPress sites that look and feel as if they were designed by an agency. All sites built on the framework are secure, fully compatible with mobile devices, and highly optimized for search engines.
WP Engine is great for freelance web developers and agencies alike because it gives them the ability to create development, staging, and production instances and transfer sites to their clients’ account when they are ready to launch. Thanks to the Page Performance feature, WP Engine users can instantly see which parts of their sites could be improved and which are already performing flawlessly.
Depending on which plan you choose, you can also gain access to more advanced developer tools, including SSH Gateway, Cloudflare’s Global Edge Security, or New Relic’s Application Performance Monitoring.
All in all, WP Engine doesn’t fail to meet the expectations of even the most demanding WordPress users. It offers all the features developers need to create WordPress sites capable of handling large amounts of traffic, and we have yet to talk about its fantastic performance.
Kinsta has 18 data centers around the world, and it’s powered by Google Cloud Platform, which gives it its fantastic scalability. Each site hosted on Kinsta is fully containerized, which means that it runs in its own isolated environment that includes all the necessary software resources, such as PHP, Nginx, or MySQL.
Its container-based architecture allows Kinsta to seamlessly handle sudden surges in traffic and scale resources accordingly. According to Kinsta’s own tests, sites with around 500,000 monthly visitors and over 50 WordPress plugins can expect anywhere between 15 and 81 percent page load speed improvement.
Kinsta partnered up with KeyCDN, a high-performance content delivery network (CDN) headquartered in Switzerland, to ensure excellent performance from every location around the globe, not just those that are close to its data centers. KeyCDN has presence in all regions—Africa, Australia, America, Asia, Europe, and South America—delivering and catching content from 35 points of presence.
WP Engine’s CDN provider, MaxCDN, has points of presence only in 19 locations, with some regions being absent, but it compensates for it by partnering with not only Google Cloud Platform but also AWS. The combination of two leading cloud computing platforms gives WP Engine the flexibility to scale and thrive in high-traffic conditions, which is exactly what so many agile companies love about this dynamic managed WordPress service.
Virtually all independent performance tests confirm that WP Engine is slightly faster than Kinsta. The difference isn’t massive in New York, but it becomes far more pronounced in Melbourne and other testing locations where the average internet connection speed is lower compared with the rest of the world.
Being the most popular content management system in the world, WordPress is a frequent target of hackers, spammers, and malware creators. To ensure that your website won’t become yet another victim of a cyber attack, you need to select a hosting solution that takes security very seriously and implements sufficient active and passive security measures to stop attacks dead in their tracks.
Both Kinsta and WP Engine, of course, understand the importance of security and go out their way to protect their customers from the latest cyber threats. From continuous uptime monitoring to DDoS attack detection to hardware firewalls and SSL support, you can expect all key pillars of cybersecurity to be in place no matter which of the two managed WordPress hosting providers you choose.
However, there’s something very important only WP Engine offers: its strategic partnership with Cloudflare, a company that provides CDN services, DDoS mitigation, internet security, and distributed domain name server services. With customers such as Zendesk, Discord, LogMeIn, or DigitalOcean, there’s no doubt that Cloudflare knows how to guarantee a more secure and reliable internet experience.
Another important difference that we shouldn’t forget to point out in this Kinsta vs WP Engine comparison is that Kinsta charges a $100 fee for cleaning an infected website while in the migration process, while WP Engine is happy to get rid of malware for free. Perhaps Kinsta doesn’t have the same sophisticated tools as WP Engine so more manual work is needed, but that’s hardly an acceptable excuse.
4. Customer Support
Kinsta is known for its expert customer support team, which is made up predominantly of actual WordPress developers and seasoned Linux hosting engineers. While many other web hosting companies either hire just about every Jill and Joe that applies to become a member of their customer support team or they outsource their customer support to a third-world country, Kinsta hires not even 1 percent of people who apply.
Most importantly, it doesn’t matter if you’re a small business that’s just starting to attract its first customers or an established international corporation with customers around the world because every Kinsta client gets to chat with the same customer support team members.
Kinsta offers customer support via its online messaging system, which is available in the MyKinsta dashboard. The web hosting service, however, doesn’t offer phone support because it claims that support work requires careful thought and focus investigation, and argues that an online messaging system with support for two-way sharing of screenshots, links, code snippets, and videos is the best way how to solve most customer support issues.
We don’t know if WP Engine shares the same philosophy with Kinsta when it comes to phone support, but it does provide 24/7 phone support for escalated customers. According to WP Engine, 90 percent of all customers support issues are resolved during the first session, which says a lot about the expertise of WP Engine’s customer support staff, which includes more than 600 employees across six office locations worldwide.
WP Engine goes beyond standard customer support by offering pre-selected consultants and agencies to help its customers turn their ideas into reality.
The most affordable Kinsta plan costs $30 a month, and it’s suitable for a single WordPress site with 20,000 visits. If you have a site with 1.5 million combined visits, you can expect to pay around $900 a month, but Kinsta is ready to host agencies and enterprise clients of all sizes—all you have to do is ask it to create a custom plan for you.
One thing to keep in mind is that customers who pay less than $300 a month only get backup retention of 14 days, while those who pay $300 get 20 days, and those who pay more than $600 get 30 days. A similar thing happens with the number of PHP workers per site: those who pay less than $200 a month get only 2, while those who pay $900 get 10.
It pays off to pay annually with Kinsta because you then get 2 months of service for free. All new Kinsta customers can try the managed WordPress hosting service risk-free for 30 days thanks to Kinsta’s money-back guarantee.
WP Engine has a pricing structure that’s very similar to Kinsta, with prices starting at $35—$5 more than Kinsta. 24/7 phone support is available for customers who pay at least $115 a month, but all customers get access to 24/7 chat support and can use WP Engine risk-free for 60 days.
Those who prepay annually get 2 months for free, so it’s possible to save $580 by getting 2 months free with annual prepay of WP Engine’s Scale plan, which costs $290 a month. Since WP Engine has just three plans plus a custom plan for large businesses and mission-critical sites, it’s arguably more straightforward than Kinsta, but that’s not to say that Kinsta’s plans are confusing.
Who is Kinsta?
Founded in 2013, Kinsta doesn’t hide the fact that WP Engine inspired it to become one of the leading managed WordPress hosting providers in the world. With an infrastructure that’s built from the ground up for performance and scaling, Kinsta positions itself as a WP Engine alternative for WordPress users who are dissatisfied with the performance and availability of their sites.
Kinsta employs many veteran WordPress developers, and it relies on their in-depth knowledge of the content management system to deliver reliable WordPress hosting that doesn’t fall into any of the traditional hosting categories because its entire architecture is built on the Google Cloud Platform, a suite of cloud services powered by the same infrastructure that Google uses for its end-user products, such as YouTube and Gmail.
Kinsta has offices in Los Angles, London, and Budapest. Its international presence gives it access to top WordPress talent and helps attract like-minded clients who are looking for a better WordPress hosting solution. It’s also worth mentioning that Kinsta runs a fantastic affiliate program, allowing Kinsta affiliates to earn $50 to $500 after every signup based on the type of plan they refer.
Who is WP Engine?
WP Engine is three years older than Kinsta, founded in 2010 by Jason Cohen. According to Cohen, WP Engine is built around four core pillars: performance to track and shape website traffic, integration with leading e-commerce engines like Shopify, web developer tools to tie in developer applications, and intelligence products to bring together performance monitoring with Google analytics.
Recognizing that diversity is a necessary prerequisite for creativity, WP Engine is proud that 40 percent of its C-Suite is female, 30 percent of its employees don’t have a college degree, 29 percent are non-white ethnicity, and 8 percent identify as LGBTQ. Considering how inclusive WP Engine is, no wonder that it has managed to attract some of the brightest minds in the industry.
WP Engine cares about the satisfaction of its customers, and it has many prestigious awards to prove that it’s doing a great job. For example, the hosting provider received a Stevia Award at the 2016 International Business Awards and, 2017, the Entrepreneur of the Year award awarded by Ernst & Young in recognition of entrepreneurship.
Who Wins: Kinsta or WP Engine
We were pleasantly surprised with both Kinsta and WP Engine and their managed WordPress hosting services. However, there can be only one winner of this Kinsta vs WP Engine comparison, and it’s WP Engine. Offering better performance, security, and customer support, WP Engine remains the best managed WordPress hosting service available today. In time, we believe that Kinsta can surpass it, which is ultimately great news for all WordPress users because healthy competition always leads to better products.
Other Managed WordPress Alternatives to WPEngine
Kinsta and WPEngine are great hosts, but if you’re looking for an alternative with a similar managed WordPress offering, we recommend you read the following comparisons:
WPEngine Alternatives: See the top 10 alternatives to WP Engine’s premium managed WordPress platform.
Flywheel vs WPEngine: Flywheel is another great managed platform to host your WordPress website. See how they compare to WPEngine.