WP Engine is the biggest managed WordPress hosting company out there, so it definitely deserve a place on your shortlist. But is it 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 its entry-level Startup plan — currently priced at $20 a month if you pay yearly ($30 a 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 with other options in the premium-managed WordPress space.
Let’s start by looking at WP Engine’s pros and cons…
WP Engine Quick Facts:
🚀 Fast load times for our test sites
💸 $20 a 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 a 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.
|$20 a 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:*
|Heavyweight Theme Average Load Time:*
|Speed Compared with 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:
|Free Premium Themes:
|Yes. Nine premium themes from StudioPress.
|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
|From $20 a month
|From $40 a month
|From $77 a month
|From $194 a month
|Chat and Phone
|Chat and Phone
|Chat and Phone
WP Engine vs the Competition: Entry-Level Plans Comparison
WP Engine is competitively priced for managed WordPress hosting, but it’s not the cheapest.
To see what you can get elsewhere, here are the entry-level plans of some of its main competitors.
|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
|100 GB a month
|20 GB a month
|2 TB a month
|50 GB a month
|25,000 a month
|5,000 a month
|~ 10,000 ¶
|25,000 a month
These were 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 is a good choice for most site owners.
If you sign up, 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 is 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, 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 (here’s our in-depth Kinsta review), WP Engine uses the Google Cloud Platform to host sites on its managed WordPress hosting plans. Because of 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, your website files should be nearby, reducing load times.
WP Engine has its own caching system, EverCache, which also contributes to the fast loading times it can deliver.
As you can see in the performance section of this 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 has 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 has lots of security measures in place to keep your site safe and secure. However, its premium security service, Global Edge Security, is a paid extra, which costs $45 a month.
Free Premium Themes
Unlike most other premium managed WordPress hosts, WP Engine gives you nine premium StudioPress WordPress themes to use.
As premium themes such as 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 its migration plugin.
You can’t register a domain name for your site through WP Engine, though, so you’ll have to do that somewhere else, for example with a company such as Namecheap.
Connecting your domain name to WP Engine is pretty straightforward, and if you need any assistance, support staff are 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.
The user experience compares well with other premium-managed WordPress hosts, but, 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 with 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 one 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 has 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-a-month paid extra.
Smart Plugin Manager is definitely a useful feature, but it’s relatively expensive compared with the cost of the entry-level Startup plan.
Tools & Other Features
WP Engine has 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 a 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 a premium hosting provider.
As we’ve seen, WP Engine delivers 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:
|Average Load Time
|Lightweight Theme Blog Post
|Heavyweight Theme Homepage
|Heavyweight Theme Blog Post
WP Engine vs. The Competition
I was pretty happy with the WP Engine performance compared with the competition.
WP Engine wasn’t the fastest when hosting the site using the heavyweight theme — that honor went to Kinsta (see below table for this comparison, plus read our in-depth Kinsta review here). WP Engine was faster than Nexcess and WordPress.com.
However, WP Engine was the fastest in the lightweight themes tests, coming in at more than twice as fast as WordPress.com.
I’ve tested low-cost, shared hosting plans in the past from companies including Bluehost, GoDaddy and HostGator, and WP Engine is much faster.
So, if you’re wondering if it’s worth paying extra for premium managed WordPress hosting from a company such as 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, 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 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 a 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 with other hosts.
WP Engine Uptime
WP Engine guarantees 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 is a user-friendly and performance-focused managed WordPress host. It’s pretty competitively priced, too.
Therefore, it’s easy to recommend.
But is it 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 such as 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).
Is WP Engine the best premium managed WordPress host out there?
Well, it’s definitely one of the best, if not the best.
As we’ve seen, it’s 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 is 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 may have when deciding whether or not to sign up with WP Engine.
The entry-level WP Engine plan currently costs the equivalent of $20 a month if you pay yearly or $30 a month if paid monthly.
WP Engine is more expensive than shared hosting, mainly because of better performance. This means your website will be faster and able to handle more visitors. This helps to improve SEO, conversion rates, and overall user experience. WP Engine is competitively priced compared with other premium managed WordPress hosts.
If ease of use, fast load times, high levels of uptime and expert support staff are important to you, then yes. 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’ll have to register a domain elsewhere, such as with Namecheap, and then point it to your site.
By using the Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services as part of its hosting infrastructure, WP Engine is able to have data centers worldwide. Wherever your audience is, there’s a good chance you can host your website nearby for faster load times.
Yes. In my 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 was 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!