WP Engine are the biggest managed WordPress hosting company out there, so they definitely deserve a place on your shortlist. But are they the best option for you and your site?
In this WP Engine review, I’ll help you to answer that question by sharing my experience of setting up and hosting a couple of WordPress sites on their entry-level Startup plan — currently priced at $20/month if you pay yearly ($30/month when paid monthly).
I also share the results from my performance tests to give you an idea of how fast your site might load if you choose WP Engine, how well it will handle traffic spikes, and what sort of uptime you can expect.
You’ll also get a good overview of the WP Engine features and see how they compare to other options in the premium-managed WordPress space.
Let’s start by looking at the pros and cons of WP Engine…
WP Engine Quick Facts:
🚀 Fast load times for our test sites
💸 $20/month (when paying yearly) entry-level plan is relatively affordable (for managed hosting)
🧑🎨 Comes with nine premium WordPress themes
💻 Very easy to use
➡️ View the WP Engine plans
Table of Contents
- WP Engine Pros and Cons
- WP Engine Summary
- WP Engine Features
- WP Engine Performance
- WP Engine Review Summary
- WP Engine FAQs
WP Engine Pros and Cons
✅ $20/month (if you pay yearly) is a good deal
✅ Fast load times for basic and complex sites
✅ Handles spikes in traffic without issue
✅ Useful set of tools and features
✅ Nine premium WordPress themes
✅ Easy-to-use account dashboard
✅ Excellent global data center and CDN coverage
✅ Google Cloud Platform-powered hosting infrastructure
✅ Daily automatic site backups
✅ 60-day money-back guarantee
❌ Not the cheapest premium managed host (that’s Nexcess) but cheaper than other options (e.g., Kinsta)
❌ Some features (extra security and managed plugin updates) are paid extras
❌ No telephone support (live 24/7 chat only) on the entry-level plan
WP Engine Summary Table
The table below shows a summary of the most important WP Engine details.
|Starting Price:||$20/month (if paid yearly, $30 if paid monthly).|
|Entry-Level Startup Plan Allowance:||One WordPress site, 10 GB storage, 50 GB bandwidth, and 25,000 monthly visits.|
|Lightweight Theme Average Load Time:*||292 ms.|
|Heavyweight Theme Average Load Time:*||936 ms.|
|Speed Compared to Rivals:||Not quite as fast as Kinsta in my tests when using a heavyweight theme but faster when using a lightweight theme. Faster than some other premium managed WordPress hosts and much faster than cheaper shared hosting.|
|Uptime Test Results:*||100% uptime in my seven-day test (with 99.95% service availability guaranteed).|
|One-click WordPress Installation:||Yes.|
|Free Premium Themes:||Yes. Nine premium themes from StudioPress.|
|Support:||24/7 live chat only on entry-level plan; live chat and telephone support on higher plans.|
|Data Centers and CDN:||Sites are hosted on Google Cloud servers with data centers around the world with Cloudflare CDN integration as standard.|
|My Thoughts on WP Engine:||Good value premium managed WordPress hosting that’s easy to use and fast enough for complex sites and handling spikes in traffic. Good global coverage in terms of data center locations and CDN points of presence.|
Plans and Pricing
|Price:||From $20/month||From $40/month||From $77/month||From $194/month|
|Storage:||10 GB||15 GB||20 GB||50 GB|
|Bandwidth:||50 GB||125 GB||200 GB||500 GB|
|24/7 Support:||Chat only||Chat and Phone||Chat and Phone||Chat and Phone|
WP Engine vs the Competition: Entry-Level Plans Comparison
WP Engine are competitively priced for managed WordPress hosting, but they’re not the cheapest.
To see what you can get elsewhere, here are the entry-level plans of some of their main competitors.
|Price:||From $24 a month||From $13 a month||From $15.83 a month||From $2.99 a month††||From $25 a month||From $20 a month|
|Storage:||10 GB||5 GB||15 GB||10 GB||200 GB||10 GB|
|Bandwidth:||100 GB a month||20 GB a month||2 TB a month||Unmetered||Unrestricted||50 GB a month|
|Visits:||25,000 a month||5,000 a month||Unrestricted||~ 10,000 ¶||Unrestricted||25,000 a month|
|More Info||More Info||More Info||More Info||More Info||More Info|
These are the lowest prices available at the time of writing and are usually available by paying yearly rather than monthly.
* SiteGround StartUp plan.
† WordPress.com Business plan (which supports plugin and theme installs).
†† $2.99 a month is an introductory price, and renewals cost $19.99 a month.
¶ Not a limit, but what SiteGround recommends this plan is suitable for.
WP Engine Features
With relatively affordable prices and competitive features, WP Engine are a good choice for most site owners.
If you sign up with them, I doubt you’ll regret it.
However, if you’d like to know more, read on for information on the key features, performance test results, and other reasons to consider WP Engine.
Fast Load Times
As you’ll see in the performance section, WP Engine are a fast host.
Whether you want to host a site with a basic design or a more advanced one, WP Engine will deliver fast load times.
Spikes in traffic aren’t a problem for WP Engine, and in our load handling tests, there wasn’t a noticeable impact when multiple virtual users were accessing the test sites at the same time.
Considering fast load times can improve conversion rates, increase search engine visibility, and generally enhance user experience, the benefits should make the extra investment easier to justify.
High-Quality Hosting Infrastructure
Like Kinsta (note: here’s our in-depth Kinsta review), WP Engine use the Google Cloud Platform to host sites on their managed WordPress hosting plans. Thanks to this, you can choose to have your site hosted in a range of locations around the world.
This, combined with the WP Engine Cloudflare CDN, means that no matter where your visitors are in the world, your website files should be nearby, reducing load times.
WP Engine have their own caching system, EverCache, which also contributes to the fast loading times they can deliver.
As you can see in the performance section of this WP Engine review, this premium hosting infrastructure resulted in fast loading times for my test sites.
But don’t just take my word for it, WP Engine have also published results from the HTTP Archive’s Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX), which measures the performance of millions of live sites. The results show impressive performance statistics for the sites hosted by WP Engine.
WP Engine have lots of security measures in place to keep your site safe and secure. However, their premium security service, Global Edge Security, is a paid extra, which costs $45/month.
Free Premium Themes
Unlike most other premium managed WordPress hosts, WP Engine give you nine premium StudioPress WordPress themes to use.
As premium themes like these tend to cost around $60 a year, this could save you the equivalent of a few months of hosting costs.
User-Friendly Customer Experience
Hosting your WordPress site with WP Engine is very easy.
The setup process only takes a few clicks, and you can have your new site online very quickly.
If you already have a WordPress site, you can move it to WP Engine using their migration plugin.
You can’t register a domain name for your site through WP Engine, so you’ll have to do that somewhere else, such as with a company like Namecheap.
Connecting your domain name to WP Engine is pretty straightforward, and if you need any assistance, the support staff is available 24/7 via live chat.
Once you’re up and running, the WP Engine account dashboard provides easy access to all of the tools and features of your plan, including backups, the different environments, and allowance usage levels.
WP Engine compare well to other premium-managed WordPress hosts regarding user experience.
However, if you’re looking for an even easier process for getting a new site online, I’d recommend the WordPress.com Business plan. You can register a domain name through WordPress.com, and it will be automatically connected to your site. Plus, there’s less to manage in your dashboard. Overall, there’s just a bit less to do and take care of compared to WP Engine and most other managed WordPress hosts. You can read more about this in the ease of use section of our WordPress.com vs. DreamHost comparison.
Another important perk of managed WordPress hosting is daily automated backups of your site.
To keep your site content extra safe and secure, WP Engine backups are stored offsite on Amazon S3 and are encrypted in transit and once they get there.
I’m pleased to report that using the WP Engine backup system is very easy whether you’re manually creating a backup or restoring a partial or full backup to the same site or another environment (such as development or staging) on your plan.
Managed Plugin Updates
WordPress users have been able to set plugins and themes to be automatically updated when a new version is released for a while now.
However, WP Engine have a tool that takes care of plugin updates and uses visual regression testing to check that the new version hasn’t broken your site.
If an issue is detected, the update will be automatically rolled back, reverting your site to its prior state. Unfortunately, Smart Plugin Manager is a $10/month paid extra.
Smart Plugin Manager is definitely a useful feature, but it is relatively expensive compared to the cost of the entry-level Startup plan.
Tools & Other Features
WP Engine have a few other notable features that are worth mentioning, including:
- Local — A local WordPress development tool that integrates with your WP Engine hosting environment.
- Multiple Environments — Each plan includes a live, staging, and development environment for safe testing and site building.
- One-click Staging — Easy creation and deployment of test sites.
- Transferable Sites — Create sites and then transfer them to clients when they’re ready to go live.
- Site Monitoring — A paid extra ($5/month) that keeps an eye on your site and alerts you to potential issues.
- Git and SFTP Support — Use version control and file transfers when working on your site.
The only way to contact the WP Engine support team on the entry-level Startup plan is via the 24/7 live chat channel.
The more expensive plans include phone support, too, but I found the live chat service to be responsive and helpful enough.
WP Engine Performance
Knowledgeable support staff, a secure hosting environment optimized for WordPress, and fast load times are the main reasons for choosing WP Engine and other premium hosting providers.
As we’ve seen, WP Engine deliver on the first two, but what about site speed?
To find out, I set up two WordPress sites hosted by WP Engine. I installed a lightweight theme that a blogger might use on one and a heavyweight theme that’s ideal for business sites on the other.
I then set Pingdom to monitor the speed of those sites for seven days, taking a reading every 30 minutes.
Here are the results…
Lightweight Theme Load Time Test
I used the free and popular Twenty Twenty-Three WordPress theme for the lightweight site speed tests.
I created a basic blog post made up of an image and text, then recorded the load times in Pingdom.
After seven days, Pingdom recorded an average load time of 292 ms.
Heavyweight Theme Load Time Test
For one test, I set Pingdom to monitor the homepage, and for the other, a blog post.
Pingdom recorded an average load time of 936 ms for the homepage of this site.
For a blog post on the same site, the average load time recorded by Pingdom was 766 ms.
Load Time Test Results Summary
Here’s a summary of my Pingdom tests of the sites hosted by WP Engine:
|Theme||Page Size||Average Load Time|
|Lightweight Theme Blog Post||120.55 KB||292 ms|
|Heavyweight Theme Homepage||3.49 MB||936 ms|
|Heavyweight Theme Blog Post||589.84 KB||766 ms|
WP Engine vs. The Competition
I was pretty happy with the WP Engine performance compared to the competition.
WP Engine weren’t the fastest when hosting the site using the heavyweight theme — that honor goes to Kinsta (see below table for this comparison – plus read our in-depth Kinsta review here). WP Engine were faster than Nexcess and WordPress.com.
However, WP Engine were the fastest in the lightweight themes tests, coming in at over twice as fast as WordPress.com.
|Lightweight Theme||394 ms||358 ms||603 ms||292 ms|
|Heavyweight Theme||889 ms||959 ms||1.02 s||936 ms|
I’ve tested low-cost, shared hosting plans in the past from companies including Bluehost, GoDaddy, and HostGator, and WP Engine are much faster.
So if you’re wondering if it’s worth paying extra for premium managed WordPress hosting from a company like WP Engine, the answer is an emphatic yes if site speed is important to you (which it should be).
Load Handling Test
My test sites don’t receive any traffic. So, while the results above are helpful when comparing WP Engine to the other premium WordPress hosts I’ve tested, they don’t tell the full story.
To find out how sites hosted by WP Engine perform when receiving visitors, I used the paid Loader.io service to simulate multiple users accessing my test sites.
Loader.io recorded the sites’ response times (not load times) while the test was running to see what impact those virtual users had on performance. Loader.io also looked for any site errors that occurred while the test ran.
I ran the test multiple times, increasing the total number of visits (clients) per test until I reached a number that caused errors to be detected by Loader.io.
The site using the heavyweight Avada theme and the Digital Agency demo could handle up to 500 virtual visitors accessing the site over one minute. The visitors weren’t accessing the site at the same time; instead, they were distributed over the minute the test lasted for.
After running multiple tests where I increased the number of clients accessing the site over the one-minute period, I found that 500 clients per one minute was around the point when either the response times started fluctuating a lot, or errors occurred.
Sometimes the site handled 500 clients (green line) per minute, with the response time (blue line) remaining stable and no errors occurring:
And sometimes it wouldn’t, with the response time (blue line) fluctuating and errors being detected:
Being able to handle up to 500 visitors per minute is a good level of performance. Considering there are 1,400 minutes in a 24-hour period, your site would have to receive 720,000 visits per day on average to exceed the demands of this test.
Although, if your site has busy periods during the day where the visits are concentrated into just a few hours, or visitors are carrying out complex interactions on your site, such as making purchases, your results may differ.
However, WP Engine should be suitable for regular sites in most cases.
As mentioned earlier, independent monitoring found that live sites hosted by WP Engine performed very well compared to other hosts.
WP Engine Uptime
WP Engine guarantee 99.95% service availability, which is slightly higher than the 99.9% offered by most hosts. However, Pingdom recorded 100% uptime for my two test sites over a seven-day period.
WP Engine Review Summary
WP Engine are a user-friendly and performance-focused managed WordPress host. They’re pretty competitively priced, too.
Therefore, they’re easy to recommend.
But are they right for you?
Well, if you value ease of use, and high performance is important to you — and it should be, considering site speed is important to your visitors and search engines like Google when determining where to rank your content — then you won’t regret signing up with WP Engine (if you do, they have a 60-day 100% money-back guarantee).
Are WP Engine the best premium managed WordPress host out there?
Well, they’re definitely one of the best, if not the best.
As we’ve seen in this WP Engine review, they’re fast (although not quite as fast as Kinsta in the heavyweight theme load time test), good value (although not as affordable as Nexcess), and very easy to use (although not as easy as WordPress.com).
Therefore, if your site is worth the investment of managed WordPress hosting, WP Engine are an excellent choice. If you’re still unsure, our WP Engine, Flywheel, and Kinsta comparison is worth checking out.
WP Engine FAQs
Here are some common questions you might have when deciding whether or not to sign up with WP Engine.
The entry-level WP Engine plan currently costs the equivalent of $20/month if you pay yearly or $30/month if paid monthly.
WP Engine is more expensive than shared hosting mainly due to better performance. This means your website will be faster and able to handle more visitors. This helps improve SEO, conversion rates, and overall user experience. WP Engine is competitively priced compared to other premium managed WordPress hosts.
WP Engine is worth the money if ease of use, fast load times, high levels of uptime, and expert support staff are important to you. WP Engine plans also include nine premium themes.
Yes. You can set up a new WordPress site in just a few clicks. Your account can be easily managed from a user-friendly dashboard.
No. You will have to register a domain elsewhere, such as with Namecheap, and then point it to your site.
WP Engine has data centers worldwide thanks to using the Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services as part of their hosting infrastructure. Wherever your audience is, there’s a good chance you can host your website nearby for faster load times.
Yes. In our tests, Pingdom recorded impressive load times for WP Engine.
Flywheel, Kinsta, Liquid Web, and WordPress are the best alternatives to WP Engine. They’re similarly priced, provide good levels of performance, and are WordPress hosting experts.
Yes. In our tests, WP Engine were much faster than Bluehost and other shared hosts, including DreamHost, GoDaddy, HostGator, and SiteGround.
Used/using WP Engine? Thoughts and experiences? Let us (and other readers) know in the comment below!