This review is an apples and oranges type of comparison. We are going to compare SiteGround and WP Engine to show which one is best. This isn’t quite a parallel comparison though because they each serve very different clients and have very different services.
SiteGround is a little more traditional in terms of offering shared hosting, VPS, dedicated servers and so on. WP Engine offers different plans based on monthly traffic, storage and how many sites you can create. SiteGround is a cPanel-based host that allows you to install scripts, like WordPress, while WP Engine is WordPress exclusive and is entirely geared towards this CMS.
Perhaps the only thing similar about them is that both are somewhat more expensive than their competitors, but they really give you what you pay for. These are premium hosts that treat their customers right, so it largely depends on whether you want a premium host with great features, or a specialty host dedicated to the most popular CMS on the Internet.
Let’s dive in and cover what they offer and what is both good and bad about both of them.
SiteGround (Grade: A+)
- SiteGround is a master when it comes to customer support. I can’t think of another host as transparent and fast as SiteGround in this respect. They are available at all hours, 24/7, whenever you need help. This includes phone, live chat or email tickets. This is one of SiteGround’s priorities.
- Both live chat and phone calls are answered immediately. There’s no holding or waiting. Within seconds you’ll be connected to an experienced staff member to answer either sales or technical questions. Email tickets are slower, but not by much. It only takes 10 minutes (often less) to get a response. They overstaff to balance even the busiest shifts.
- SiteGround has gone the extra step to make support a little more personal. While chatting online or sending an email ticket, you can access the staff member’s profile. This shows you their name, a picture and their technical experience.
- Whether due to overstaffing or enhanced training, the support staff doesn’t rush through the conversation or put you on prolonged holds. It feels like they are servicing you and only you. This is incredibly rare in the hosting industry and it’s a testament to SiteGround as a premium service provider.
Uptime and Speed:
- You get a guaranteed uptime of 99.99%, but most people find it’s actually closer to 99.995-99.999%. Aside from just using the best hardware available, SiteGround is highly innovative when it comes to tech. They built proprietary Linux Containers and have an in-house Server Monitoring program that constantly checks servers and predicts future problems, which are corrected long before they happen.
- SiteGround uses numerous software hacks, like NGINX and Cloudflare, along with top-notch SSD servers with all of their plans. Whether shared or dedicated, you’ll find this hardware is about 1,000x faster than disc-based servers.
- SiteGround gives you the ability to choose between several different data centers. As you might already know, proximity is important when hosting your website. If you live in America, do you think your website will be faster if it’s hosted in Chicago or Singapore? Obviously the former. Aside from Chicago and Singapore, you can also choose from Amsterdam or London. This allows you to host domestically, or branch out if you have an international website.
- Hacking isn’t just dangerous, it’s a hazard that slows down every website on the server. Brute force hacking sends thousands to millions of requests in an attempt to break a server. SiteGround battles this threat with their in-house AI that removes up to 500k-2m requests per hour. This means the vast majority of brute force requests don’t even reach the server.
Plans and Resources:
- Tired of fake “unlimited” bandwidth? So is SiteGround. That’s just a vague marketing term that makes it sound like you can accept billions of visitors every month, but that’s obviously not true. Most shared hosts only offer a small amount of true bandwidth and then force you to upgrade your plan.
- SiteGround gives you a rough estimate of how many visitors you can take per month with each plan. For example, their entry-level StartUp plan is good for 10,000 visitors per month. Each plan tells you explicitly what you are receiving.
- You’ll find a few plans for each service (shared, VPS, cloud, etc), but not so much that it feels bloated. It’s the perfect amount of choice.
Scripts and cPanel:
- Does “Standard cPanel” sound bad to you? Standard is a word we usually steer away from, but it’s actually good here. Many hosts have their own homebrew administrative panels that are clunky, buggy and just a mess. Getting the original cPanel is good because it’s simple and there’s tons of documentation to help if you have any problems.
- SiteGround uses Softaculous as their script installer. This program includes over 300 scripts for the biggest CMS programs like WordPress, Prestashop, Drupal and so much more. A script installer allows you to add the program to your website within a few clicks.
- If you have any problems with the scripts themselves, you’ll find that SiteGround is very educated on these programs. Come to them with your problems and they will find a solution.
- Really the only thing I hate about SiteGround is their price. Their StartUp plan is a reasonable $3.95 a month initially, but then it jumps to $11.95 a month when the trial period is finished. That’s a significant increase, so make sure your website is generating enough buzz or revenue to justify the cost.
- There are setup fees for the bigger plans, like VPS and dedicated hosting. However, outside of this, they are very good about not sneaking extra fees into their plans.
- Please be mindful that these prices are high when compared to similar shared hosts. WP Engine is a specialty host, so even their lowest price is much higher than this. Again, this is apples and oranges.
WP Engine (Grade B)
- This isn’t a host for WordPress newbies. You won’t be able to take advantage of the wealth of features here. If you are a developer, advanced user or regularly test, modify or produce themes or plugins, then you’ll love everything WP Engine has to offer.
- WP Engine gives you a separate staging area to test your newly developed or installed plugins or themes. This ensures that you can test them out without fear of destroying your current website. Go ahead and play around, really push the software to its limit and see what each plugin or theme can do.
- Comes with three separate environments for building, staging and producing plugins. There’s also Git and SFTP connections to keep developers happy. One-click staging makes it simple to rapidly test changes to see if the software is still working right after a change, or if something must be modified.
- The WordPress experience is managed. WP Engine will install major updates, test small ones to see if they are worthwhile before recommending them and their resources are all geared towards making the best of WordPress.
Plans and Resources:
- There are currently four plans to choose from with WP Engine. This eliminates shared, VPS, dedicated and other common options. Instead, your options are based on how many resources you want (along with extra features that may only be available to larger plans).
- Like with SiteGround, there’s no phony unlimited bandwidth here. You are told exactly how much bandwidth you get along with a rough estimate of how many visitors you can accept per month. The entry-level plan, StartUp, is good for 25,000 visitors, has 50GB of bandwidth and 10GB of storage for $35 a month.
- Larger plans will give you a significant increase in resources. For example, the next plan up gives you 200GB bandwidth, and the third plan gives you 400GB. This ensures you’ll always have all the resources you need as your site grows in popularity.
- While features change between each plan, all of them come with the Genesis Framework for rapid WordPress development and deployment, separate environments for development, StudioPress themes and so on. Even the smallest plan has some very advanced features.
- WP Engine is staffed entirely by WordPress experts. These are people who live, eat and breathe WordPress, so they’ll be more than equipped to deal with the vast majority of problems. From something small like a plugin not installing correctly to a major bug that is destroying your website, the support staff is there to help.
- Was your website hacked? WP Engine will fix it for free. They consider it a lapse in their own security and will work on your website at no extra charge. That’s just reassuring and actually very nice of them to do.
- There is 24/7 live chat and phone support so that you can easily reach an expert with your problem. This ensures you can get help at any time.
- WP Engine might be an expert, but they are incredibly expensive. Even compared to their direct competition of WordPress specialists, WP Engine is one of the most expensive hosts you can find. However, they do give you a lot of features and extras, so this will likely be worth it for development teams.
- The price jumps a lot from one plan to the next. The StartUp plan is $35 while the next plan up is $115 per month. Yes, you get more resources, but that’s a huge jump in price. It only goes up from here.
- Another gripe is the number of websites you can host. The StartUp plan only allows for one single website. The next plan up only allows you to host five websites. That’s it. Other hosts would offer unlimited domains for a fraction of the StartUp price.
- The customer support is great, don’t get me wrong, but entry-level users can’t take advantage of the 24/7 phone support. You only get access to the 24/7 live chat support. This should be good for most people, but why can’t you talk to someone after paying $35 a month? That seems crazy.
- You only get 24/7 phone support with the next plan up. This means you have to pay $115 a month for this feature. SiteGround gives you 24/7 support for less than $12 a month.
- You know when you’re around an expert and they always point out when you’re wrong? WP Engine sometimes feels like that.
- In an effort to secure the best WordPress environment, they can be restrictive about which plugins and themes they allow you to install. Those that aren’t deemed good enough, or potentially harmful, often aren’t allowed. Some might see this as a good thing while others will see it as policing and annoying.
It’s hard to compare WP Engine and SiteGround because they serve very different people. If you’re just an average user looking to start your first website (or maybe your second or third), then I have to go with SiteGround. SiteGround might be expensive compared to other similar hosts, but they are cheap by comparison and their services are made for all types of users.
However, if you’re a WordPress expert with a development team, then WP Engine is by far the best host. They truly are specialists in this field and give you features that SiteGround simply doesn’t offer. You have more room to explore your creativity along with increased safety if your coding doesn’t go perfectly.
In general, I find that SiteGround is better overall. This premium hosts gives most users all the features they need at a reasonable price. You also gain access to WordPress and 300 other scripts. However, if development is your thing, then WP Engine has some very attractive features that cannot be ignored.
Just consider your needs and experience and it should be easy to see which is best for you.