Demand for reliable WordPress hosting is growing. At the time of writing this article, the free and open-source content management system is used by 34.0% of all websites. But comparing various hosting services can feel like swimming against the current because most of them make identical lofty promises without giving potential customers any tangible reasons to believe them.
Fortunately, there are some exceptions, and this WPEngine vs SiteGround comparison proves it. Both WPEngine and SiteGround are popular hosting providers with many loyal customers around the world, and they are both great for hosting WordPress websites of all sizes. However, one is a WordPress-focused hosting service, while the other is a more traditional hosting service that supports multiple different kinds of content management systems and even offers a free website builder.
In today’s comparison, we explore what WPEngine and SiteGround have in common, point out the major differences between them, and explain what each of these two successful hosting providers can offer you for your money so you can make an educated decision and launch your WordPress site without stumbling.
WPEngine was founded in 2010 with a single goal: to become the best WordPress hosting company in the world. WPEngine knew that achieving this goal would require it to maintain a sharp focus on WordPress and offer a unique value proposition in combination with attractive features and stellar performance.
Since its inception, WPEngine has managed to raise a massive amount of money from its investors and establish itself as a leading WordPress hosting company. It now offers fully managed WordPress hosting services aimed at everyone from small and medium businesses to agencies to large enterprises.
Comparing to SiteGround
Compared with WPEngine, SiteGround is basically a traditional web hosting company that offers a broad range of hosting services, covering everything from shared hosting to managed WordPress hosting to dedicated servers and more. Despite this, SiteGround is officially recommended by WordPress.org, which has a lot to do with the fact that it emphasizes quality over affordability.
If you’re planning to launch a WordPress site, you will most likely be interested in the three managed WordPress hosting plans offered by SiteGround: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek. To make this WPEngine vs SiteGround comparison as fair as possible, we will be comparing the most expensive managed WordPress hosting plan from SiteGround, which costs $14.99 a month and renews at $39.99 a month, with the least expensive plan from WPEngine, which starts at $30 a month.
SiteGround vs WPEngine Feature Comparison
There are many ways how managed WordPress hosting can make your life easier, which is why we’ve decided an entire section to our WPEngine vs SiteGround feature comparison.
The chances are that you already have a WordPress website that you would like to move either to WPEngine or SiteGround to enjoy better performance, more helpful customer support, or increased security.
The good news is that there are many free WordPress plugins available to help you move an existing WordPress site with as little downtime as possible, and WP Engine has even created its own migration plugin to allow its users to easily migrate their WordPress sites to the WP Engine platform.
The plugin works with all versions of WordPress, and all you need to do to use it is provide your WP Engine SFTP credentials—the plugin will take care of the rest for you. Because the plugin maintains the existing link structure, you won’t have to spend hours and hours optimizing your WordPress site for search engines all over again. If you experience any problems while migrating your WordPress site using the plugin, you can contact WPEngine’s customer support and ask for help.
SiteGround also has a migration plugin, called SiteGround Migrator, and it works much like the migration plugin provided by WPEngine. However, SiteGround additionally offers one free expert site migration for new customers, which is something many other web hosting providers charge over $100.
SiteGround understands that there are many WordPress users who are stuck with their existing hosting providers because they fear that something could go wrong during the transfer of their website to a new hosting provider. By offering one free expert site migration, SiteGround gives these users a very good reason to finally make the switch.
A staging environment, sometimes called a stage, is a mirror of the production environment, and it’s used for testing purposes. A staging environment can be extremely useful when upgrading a WordPress website to a new version or implementing large-scale design or feature upgrades because it makes it possible to easily test everything before rolling out the changes to actual users. If you’re a business owner and depend on your WordPress site for customer acquisition, then having access to a staging environment is a must.
Both the WPEngine Startup and SiteGround GoGeek plans give you the ability to work on your WordPress website in a protected staging environment before you deploy it to production. Both hosting services make the process extremely intuitive by providing access to staging directly from the admin control panel.
Speaking of admin control panels, WPEngine has developed its own custom admin panel that makes all important features available at a glance and shows you how much storage you’re using and how many visitors you’re getting. If you want to add another WordPress site, all you need to do is click a single button and fill in a few details.
Such a high level of integration wouldn’t be possible if WPEngine focused on more content management systems besides WordPress, which is why SiteGround uses cPanel, a popular admin control panel that provides a graphical interface and automation tools designed to simplify the process of hosting a website.
Many experienced users actually prefer cPanel over custom admin control panels because they find it instantly familiar and know how to use it. To beginners, cPanel, with its broad array of options, can feel overwhelming. To make it more user-friendly web hosting providers sometimes apply custom themes, but not SiteGround. We don’t see this as a deal-breaker, but it’s something to keep in mind if you intend to manage your WordPress site yourself.
WP Engine Admin Dashboard
SiteGround Admin Dashboard
Email hosting has become a common web hosting feature that most people take for granted. It may then surprise you to learn that WPEngine doesn’t offer email with hosting plans. Instead, the company expects its customers to spend money on a separate email service, such as SendGrid or Mailgun. (We have used both SendGrid and Mailgun over the years, and recommend SendGrid, if you’re trying to decide between the two.)
“There are many reasons why you may want to use a 3rd party email provider to send email from your WordPress site, such as if you are having deliverability issues on our platform, or if you are sending newsletters or other bulk email,” WPEngine explains the decision not to include email hosting.
“Being a WP Engine customer means having many aspects of managing your site taken care of for you as you sleep—one part that we require your involvement on is using a 3rd party mail provider if you’re looking to send mail in bulk.”
That’s bad news for freelancers and small businesses that would like a professional email address that includes the domain name of their website. SiteGround, on the other hands, offers an easy and secure email solution with built-in spam protection and simple email management straight from cPanel.
We leave it up to you to decide if spending money on a web hosting service that doesn’t include email hosting makes sense. This WPEngine vs SiteGround comparison is here to equip you with the information you need to have to make the right decision. We just want to say that WPEngine seems to be confident in understanding what its customers want, and its success indicates that the company isn’t wrong.
Analyzing WordPress Performance on SiteGround & WP Engine
Over the years, WordPress websites have earned a reputation for being somewhat sluggish. In most cases, the performance issues of WordPress websites have very little to do with WordPress itself. Instead, they are typically caused by slow hosting, third-party plugins, or bad configuration.
To offer great performance to visitors from around the world, both WPEngine and SiteGround have data centers in multiple geographical locations, including North America, Europe, and Asia. They also feature in-house catching technologies: WP Engine has EverCache, while SiteGround has SuperCacher.
Caching reduces the number of requests per page by creating static versions of web pages and serving them to visitors instead of processing the same pages over and over again for each visitor. According to WordPress developers, it can improve performance several hundred times over for fairly static pages, so it’s great that WPEngine and SiteGround customers don’t need to worry about implementing third-party caching solutions.
In independent tests, both WPEngine and SiteGround have achieved fantastic performance, with WPEngine boasting slightly faster load times, which are important for SEO purposes. That said, SiteGround still managed to achieve an average load time of around 500 ms, which is a good result that many lesser hosting companies would be thrilled to achieve.
All SiteGround customers who would like to achieve an even faster average load time can enable Cloudflare CDN for free and benefit from its global content delivery network services, DDoS mitigation, and internet security technologies. WPEngine also supports Cloudflare CDN, but it charges its customers $19.95 a month to use it.
With Cloudflare CDN, the uptime of your website, which is the percentage of time it spends online, should be extremely close to 100%. However, both WPEngine and SiteGround have such rock-solid infrastructures that you actually don’t need to spend money on a content delivery network to enjoy fantastic availability. Over the last 6 months, WPEngine and SiteGround achieved an uptime of 99.9%, which translates into just a few hours of downtime over six months of service.
WPEngine vs SiteGround Website Security
Because of its popularity and complexity, WordPress has become a popular target of hackers, and recent WordPress security statistics indicate that most WordPress installations are vulnerable to vulnerabilities which can be detected using free automated tools.
That’s why both WPEngine and SiteGround include proactive security monitoring to protect their customers. WPEngine checks for certain request patterns from specific locations and blocks them automatically, relying on constantly evolving rules. The company claims that it blocks around 200 million malicious requests every day, and we have no reason to doubt its claim.
Despite how impressive WPEngine’s security system is, it still isn’t anywhere near as impressive as SiteGround’s, which involves a proprietary AI whose purpose is to protect customers against brute-force attacks. The AI monitors all SiteGround servers at the same time, analyzing the gathered data in real-time and learning from it. SiteGround’s AI now protects against repeated logins, DDoS attacks, blacklisted user agents, and more.
In addition to proactive security monitoring, WPEngine and SiteGround make it incredibly easy to install free SSL certificates provided by Let’s Encrypt, a non-profit certificate authority run by Internet Security Research Group that provides X.509 certificates for Transport Layer Security encryption at no charge. Websites that don’t support SSL are penalized by most major search engines, and users have learned to avoid them as well.
In addition to free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt, both WPEngine and SiteGround also offer premium SSL certificates with Extended Validation, which is the highest form of SSL Certificate on the market, typically used by medium and large businesses.
Just because WPEngine and SiteGround do a lot to protect their customers doesn’t make backups any less important. Yes, there are many fantastic WordPress backup plugins out there, but it’s still best when backups are taken care of directly by your WordPress hosting provider of choice. We’re happy to report that the Startup plan from WPEngine, as well as the GoGeek, includes automatic daily backups. Of course, you can also back up your WordPress site manually at any time and restore backups straight from the admin control panel.
We feel that this WPEngine vs SiteGround comparison wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention one security feature implemented by WPEngine that many people don’t know about: disallowed plugins. Because WPEngine aims to be a complete WordPress hosting solution, it has implemented many features that are typically provided by third-party WordPress plugins. This allows it to greatly increase the security of its customers without depriving them of the features they love. You can find a list of all disallowed plugins here.
WPEngine & SiteGround Hosting Plans and Prices
WPEngine hosting plans start at $35 a month, which is considerably more compared with popular hosting services like Bluehost, and it’s also more than what SiteGround charges for its entry-level plan. However, it wouldn’t be fair to compare WPEngine’s entry-level plan. Called Startup, with SiteGround’s entry-level plan because the two plans target completely different customers.
WPEngine’s entry-level plan is actually much closer in terms of price to SiteGround’s most expensive plan, called GoGeek. The Startup plan from WPEngine includes 25,000 visits a month, 10 GB of storage space, 50 GB of bandwidth, Genesis Framework, 35+ premium StudioPress themes, 24/7 chat support, staging environment, PHP 7.3, LargeFS, CDN, automated SSL certificates, SSH gateway, and other features.
SiteGround’s GoGeek plan includes 30 GB of web space, 100,000 monthly visits, advanced 24/7 priority support, unmetered traffic, unlimited MySQL, SuperCacher, staging environment, PCI-compliant servers, one-click Git repo creation, and other features.
WPEngine’s Startup plan costs $35 a month and comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee. Unfortunately, the plan allows you to host only one WordPress site. SiteGround’s GoGeek plan costs $14.99 a month for the first term and renews at $34.95 a month. The plan allows you to host unlimited websites, but it comes only with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
WPEngine also offers the Growth plan for $115 a month and the Scale plan for $290 a month. The former plan is aimed at growing businesses, while the latter plan is suitable even for relatively large enterprises. WPEngine also offers custom plans with managed onboarding and fastest support response, and these are best for large businesses and mission-critical sites.
With SiteGround, you can go beyond the GoGeek plan and upgrade to dedicated hosting or managed cloud hosting. Dedicated hosting allows you to rent your own physical server and customize it exactly to your needs. This type of hosting is more difficult to manage than shared hosting or fully managed hosting, but it can give your site a major performance boost. Managed cloud hosting can be seen as a compromise between dedicated and shared hosting, offering great performance and flexibility at relatively affordable prices.
Finally, SiteGround offers custom-made enterprise hosting solutions crafted specifically to meet the needs of each and every business. SiteGround’s enterprise customers can enjoy enterprise-level support with custom onboarding and personal account managers accessible through direct personal phones, e-mail, Slack, and Skype.
Rating WP Engine & SiteGround’s Customer Support
Over the years, WPEngine has successfully established a reputation for offering excellent customers service. But unless you’re ready to spend money on one of the two more expensive plans, you should expect to receive customer support only through the 24/7 live chat channel—not phone or customer support tickets.
The good news is that WPEngine’s customer support staff always goes well beyond their core responsibilities, helping customers solve problems related to third-party plugins and so on. What’s more, they are always extremely polite and friendly to chat with, and you won’t ever find it difficult to understand their English.
SiteGround GoGeek customers have it better than WPEngine customers who spend the same amount of money on the Startup plan because they can receive customer support 24/7 helpdesk via phone, live chat, and the ticketing system. What’s more, customer support requests from those who are paying for the GoGeek plan are given priority over customer support requests from customers on the entry level StartUp plan.
Just like WPEngine, SiteGround employs friendly and knowledgeable customer support staff who are always happy to help with problems large and small. There are many independent reviews of SiteGround’s customer support online that praise it even more than we do here, so there’s nothing stopping you from verifying our claims. And the same goes for WPEngine.
Pros and Cons of WPEngine & SiteGround
Below is a brief summary of the most important pros and cons that we’ve talked about in this WPEngine vs SiteGround comparison.
|WPEngine Pros||WPEngine Cons|
|First-class managed WordPress solution.||Relatively expensive.|
|Separate staging area.||Doesn’t include email hosting.|
|Custom control panel.||Doesn’t offer a migration service.|
|Award-winning customer support.||Restrictive when it comes to plugins.|
|Proactive security monitoring.|
|SiteGround Pros||SiteGround Cons|
|Affordable WordPress hosting.||Slightly worse performance compared with WPEngine.|
|Separate staging area.||Offers only a 30-day money-back guarantee. (WPEngine offers a 60-day guarantee.)|
|Includes secure email hosting.||Uses a stock cPanel.|
|Offers one free site migration.|
|Plenty of hosting options to choose from.|
|Proactive AI security monitoring.|
Who is best for WordPress hosting, SiteGround or WP Engine?
Comparing WPEngine vs SiteGround isn’t easy because they serve very different customers. WPEngine focuses exclusively on managed WordPress hosting, offering startups and established businesses alike the performance and scalability they need to grow and thrive on the web. SiteGround, on the other hand, is better suited for solopreneurs and freelancers because it allows them to choose from a much broader range of hosting services, most of which are priced extremely competitively.
Both WPEngine and SiteGround are relatively expensive when compared with popular hosting providers like Bluehost, but that’s only because they prioritize quality above everything else. Even though there are some areas where one is better than the other, and we’ve talked about them in great detail in this article, it wouldn’t be fair to pick a winner. Instead, we want to conclude this WPEngine vs SiteGround comparison by saying that you can’t go wrong regardless of how you choose.
If you go with WPEngine, you get to enjoy a premium WordPress hosting experience that has been crafted from scratch to satisfy the needs of even the most demanding WordPress users out there. If you go with SiteGround, your web hosting options won’t be limited only to WordPress, which is great if you have no previous hosting experience and are not sure what exactly you would like your website to accomplish.
If you enjoyed this WPEngine vs SiteGround comparison, see our other related hosting reviews: