WordPress Hosting vs WP Engine – How Do They Compare?

So you’ve decided to go with a free blogging platform – what now? Where should you host your blog? You have a few options, but you need to decide which one is right for you.

There are two primary types of blogging platforms: free and premium.

The former is widely known as WordPress and was initially designed for blogging. It is a completely free platform that encourages users to build their own websites with a simple drag and drop builder. WordPress is commonly used among hobby bloggers who don’t expect to generate millions of views per month.

WP Engine is a premier WordPress hosting service that was designed with performance in mind. As the name would suggest, WP Engine optimizes WordPress sites to provide faster page loads and enhanced functionality.

Let’s examine the differences between WordPress Hosting and WP Engine so you can choose the right hosting package for your needs.

Features

When it comes to features, WP Engine features a number of perks that WordPress does not have, which is why it is considered superior to the latter. These include:

  • Super-fast SSD storage
  • Free daily backups
  • Free Domain Privacy
  • Free SSL Certificates
  • Free WordPress 4.0+
  • Free daily WordPress updates
  • Free WordPress Migration service
  • Free WordPress themes (including child themes)
  • Free WordPress upgrades
  • Free premium support
  • Free Domain Reactivation

WordPress users, on the other hand, are limited to what the platform provides out of the box without paying for additional features. For instance, WordPress does not currently offer free SSL certificates or private hosting, and basic features like backups and staging areas are only available to registered users who pay for a premium account.

Performance

Performance is one area where WP Engine definitively excels over WordPress. It uses multiple CPUs for loading pages, handling traffic, and optimizing content.

WordPress handles traffic using a single dedicated server, which explains why it can perform so poorly during peak hours. For example, if you have a huge spike in activity every day at 3 p.m., your site could become unresponsive as a result.

The dedicated server method of operation also explains why WordPress is so difficult to scale. If you decide to go down the route of a content management system (CMS) and install WordPress on a virtual server, you need to invest in high-performance hardware in order to keep up with the demands of thousands of active users.

The scalability problem is one of the main reasons why so many people choose to host their blogs on WordPress.com rather than using the open-source platform to launch their site. The latter is relatively difficult to control and can become unreliable as you try to scale up your site’s performance.

Cost

One of the primary reasons why people choose free blogging platforms is because of the low cost involved in maintaining a website. WordPress is one of the cheapest content management systems, particularly when you compare it to other platforms like Shopify and Squarespace.

Shopify, for example, is a popular eCommerce platform that can cost you $29/month plus shipping. That comes out to just over $400 per year, not including profit sharing – which can be a great investment if you plan on monetizing your blog. But if you’re just blogging for fun, you might not want to invest in a fully-fledged eCommerce store just yet.

Speaking of eCommerce stores, Squarespace’s standard plan starts at $16/month plus shipping, which is affordable for recreational bloggers but perhaps a stretch for small businesses that require more complex features.

Security

The level of security that you get with a CMS directly correlates to how much you’re willing to pay for it. If you want a safe, reliable blogging platform, you have to pay for the privilege. WordPress does not provide any sort of encryption out of the box, which is why you have to purchase a premium SSL certificate from a reputable company like Let’s Encrypt for a very affordable $2.95/month with wildcard support (more on this certificate later).

Even then, you’ll have to manually install the SSL certificate on your server in order to use it.

If you do decide to go with WordPress, here’s a good rule of thumb: always run a free SSL certificate validation tool like https://www’trustseasy.com/ before you upload your public key to the WordPress site. This will ensure that your blog will automatically validate the authenticity of any website that links to it. A simple Google search for your website’s URL will reveal any known hacking attempts or security breaches – something you should never, ever do if you want to keep your blog safe.

Support

One of the drawbacks of choosing a free platform is that you’re out of luck if you need technical support. WordPress does not provide any sort of support other than what you can find on Google, and even that is not guaranteed to be available 24/7.

If you want to blog safely and securely, you have to go with a premium CMS like WP Engine that provides premium support twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week via live chat. This is one area where you definitely get what you pay for – it’s the good, the bad, and the ugly all in one.

Interface

The last thing you want is a clunky user interface when you’re trying to write a post. WordPress offers a simple and clean dashboard that allows for fast site setup and even faster blogging after that. If you’re looking for a platform that provides an easy-to-use drag and drop builder, you should choose WordPress.

For those who are familiar with building websites, WordPress offers a plethora of customization options. You have thousands of free and premium themes to choose from, allowing for complete website design direction without needing to pay a developer.

If you’re still deciding which blogging platform is the best for you, you should try out both to see which suits your needs. If speed is a concern, especially during peak hours, go with WPEngine. Otherwise, if you just want to write and publish your content, choose WordPress.