SiteGround vs. WP Engine – why you shouldn’t use either in 2021

SiteGround-vs-WP-Engine

Thinking of using SiteGround vs. WP Engine?

Think again because both hosts have taken a turn for the worse.

SiteGround went completely downhill in 2020 when they increased prices, reduced support, and replaced cPanel with Site Tools. Meanwhile, their servers have gotten much slower and when testing a GrowBig plan using an Astra Starter Site on stgrndserver.com, it had very slow load times and TTFBs. To top it off, they have strict CPU limits (which are very common) where they will send you a warning and take down your website in just a few days until you upgrade. I left SiteGround after using them for over 4 years and stopped recommending them on my blog.

WP Engine has also gone downhill, but this was quite a few years ago. After their influence from EIG and GoDaddy, their servers have gotten slower and support has gotten worse. When testing WP Engine’s speeds using the exact same Astra Starter Site as the one installed on SiteGround, they loaded slightly quicker, but were still very slow compared to other hosts. With WP Engine being so expensive for 1 WordPress site on their lowest plan, it’s not worth the cost.

I encourage you to join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased hosting feedback. When it comes to SiteGround vs. WP Engine, hardly anyone recommends them.

I do not use affiliate links in this article to SiteGround or WP Engine since I don’t recommend them. I do use affiliate links to Cloudways which is who I recommend in the alternatives section since they are significantly faster (view my GTmetrix report), cheaper with monthly pricing, and are who most people recommend in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group. I encourage you to join the group and do your own research!

SiteGroundWP Engine
SpeedVery SlowVery Slow
CPU LimitsTakes Down Website Overcharges
SupportAveragePoor
EIG + GoDaddy InfluencedNoYes
DashboardSite ToolsCustom
FeaturesManyLimited
Free Migrations?$30/SiteNone
UptimeGreatGreat
SecurityGreatAverage
Server Locations620
PricingHigh RenewalsHigh From Start
TrustPilot Rating4.8/53.6/5
Facebook FeedbackRecently PoorPoor
SummarySiteGround has gone downhill in recent years with slower speeds, reduced support, and CPU limits that make you upgrade. History of price increases with high renewals. I left them in 2019.WP Engine also went downhill in terms of speed and support. They are influenced by EIG + GoDaddy and if you exceed CPU limits, they will overcharge you. Here are some better alternatives.
AlternativesCloudways or WPXCloudways or WPX

 

1. Speed – Testing SiteGround vs. WP Engine Servers

I installed the same Astra Starter Site on SiteGround’s GrowBig plan and WP Engine’s Startup plan then measured results in multiple speed testing tools. WP Engine was much faster than SiteGround with an average 274ms TTFB  while SiteGround’s was 1164ms (890ms difference).

SiteGround’ SG Optimizer plugin and WP Engine’s built-in caching were not used during these speed tests since I was strictly measuring the speed of their servers.

SiteGround Reports

SiteGround TTFB GTmetrix

SiteGround TTFB KeyCDN

SiteGround WebPageTest

SiteGround Server Response Time

WP Engine Reports

WP Engine TTFB GTmetrix

WP Engine TTFB KeyCDN

WP Engine WebPageTest Report 1

WP Engine Server Response Time

However, both WP Engine and SiteGround were relatively slow in Pingdom tests (WP Engine loaded in 1290ms while SiteGround loaded in 2280ms). Pingdom was set to run at 30 minute intervals for 7 days which means these were the average of 336 individual tests. Other hosts like Cloudways DigitalOcean and Vultr HF were much faster than SiteGround and WP Engine.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

Put it all together and here’s what you get:

SiteGround-vs-WP-Engine-Speed-Test-2020

SiteGroundWP Engine
ServerGoogle CloudGoogle Cloud + AWS
Caching3 Levels via SG Optimizer on GrowBig+Server Caching via Dashboard
CDNCloudflare (Free)StackPath (Paid)
PHP Version7.4 + Ultrafast PHP7.4
Hotlink ProtectionYesYes
StorageSSDSSD on Growth+
HTTP/2YesYes

Conclusion: WP Engine is faster than SiteGround, but neither are considered “very” fast.

 

2. CPU Limits – Both Are Very Strict

SiteGround and WP Engine’s CPU limits can be a nightmare.

If your website(s) consume too many resources, SiteGround will take down your website and WP Engine will overcharge you. Be careful because this is much more common than you think.

SiteGround measures this based on resource usage while WP Engine counts visits. You can see the exact SiteGround CPU limits on SiteGround’s features page (look under the server section).

When I had CPU overages on SiteGround, even after optimizing my site for lower CPU and getting 100% GTmetrix scores, it still forced me to upgrade from a $14.99/month GoGeek plan to a $120+/month cloud hosting plan. The only way I was able to “fix” high CPU is when I left SiteGround and never had issues again. It’s a SiteGround ploy to make you upgrade your plan.

SiteGround’s CPU Limits:

SiteGround-CPU-Resources

WP Engine’s Overage Pricing:

WP-Engine-Overage-Pricing

WP-Engine-Blackmailing

 

3. Support – Where SiteGround And WP Engine Went Downhill

Both SiteGround and WP Engine’s support have gone completely downhill.

More recently throughout 2020, SiteGround decided it would be a good idea to disable live chat, hide the support button inside the dashboard, and put a big disclaimer on their support page telling customers they cannot provide support unless it’s caused by a malfunction in SiteGround’s systems. So basically, their support has become unhelpful and entirely useless.

WP Engine’s support went downhill years ago, but it’s still bad. They ask you a bunch of unrelated questions before getting an answer (hopefully) and aren’t very helpful. At this point, SiteGround and WP Engine’s support are almost identical – neither support is great at all.

SiteGround Bad Support

 

4. EIG + GoDaddy Influenced – WP Engine Is Controlled

SiteGround is an independent company, but WP Engine is influenced by GoDaddy and EIG.

Back in 2018, the same private equity firm who invested in GoDaddy (Silver Lake) also invested in WP Engine. To top if off, Lisa Box (a key person at EIG) is now in charge of corporate development at WP Engine. All these influences from terrible companies are never a good sign.

Lisa-Box-WP-Engine

 

5. Dashboard – Site Tools vs. WP Engine’s Custom Dashboard

SiteGround and WP Engine have their own custom dashboard.

SiteGround’s Site Tools was released in a rush just after cPanel raised prices. While SiteGround brags about how good Site Tools is, many customers don’t agree. Hristo is constantly saying how “nothing will be missing” and that “it will be more secure than cPanel.” But tons of things are missing and SiteGround is using customers as beta testers while they fix bugs. Shameful.

WP Engine’s dashboard isn’t much better, but at least they’re not changing things constantly and everything works like it should for the most part.

SiteGround Site Tools:

WP Engine Dashboard:

WP-Engine-Dashboard

 

6. Features – Who Has More?

SiteGround has more features than WP Engine.

For speed, SiteGround has their SG Optimizer plugin (which can easily replace top plugins like WP Rocket) and all the features from Site Tools. However, key features like staging, advanced caching, and Ultrafast PHP are only available on higher plans as shown on their features page.

WP Engine’s dashboard lets you do basic functions but doesn’t have nearly as many features as SiteGround’s SG Optimizer plugin or Site Tools. Not only do they not have their own cache plugin, but they have a large list of disallowed plugins which will probably create roadblocks.

SiteGround-Essential-Features

WP-Engine-Features

 

7. Migrations – Do They Offer Free Migrations Or Tools?

SiteGround offers migrations for $30/site with a Migrator plugin while WP Engine offers no migration service but has an Automatic Migration plugin. At least SiteGround offers a service (it used to be free, but after they started raising prices and cutting costs, they made this a service).

SiteGround-Website-Transfer

 

8. Uptimes – Will You Have Downtimes?

Visit WP Engine’s Downdetector profile to get an accurate estimate of their downtimes (SiteGround doesn’t have a profile). After using SiteGround for more than 4 years, the only “downtimes” I had was when during CPU overages (not necessarily downtimes). Otherwise, I don’t recall any. Testing this wouldn’t give you accurate results since you can only test 1 server.

WP-Engine-Downdetector

 

9. Security – Is SiteGround vs. WP Engine More Secure?

SiteGround’s security is better than WP Engine’s.

The security features on SiteGround’s features page is more robust than WP Engine’s security. SiteGround providers ongoing security patches, LXCs, power and hardware redundancy, and server monitoring. WP Engine provides disk write protections and limitations, firewall, and a few other security measures. While WP Engine had a security breach in 2015, SiteGround has no security breaches I’m aware of. Between more features and no breaches, SiteGround wins.

SiteGround-Security-Features

 

10. Server Locations – WP Engine Has 16 More Data Centers

WP Engine has 16 more data centers than SiteGround. SiteGround heavily concentrates 3 of their data centers in Europe which means there are few choices outside there. With WP Engine, you can at least select a data center that’s likely closer to your visitors. Of course, a CDN helps.

SiteGround Data Centers:

SiteGround Data Centers2
Council Bluff, Iowa (US)Frankfurt (DE)
London (UK)Singapore (SG)
Eemshaven (NL)Sydney (AU)

WP Engine Data Centers:

Google Cloud Data CentersAWS Data Centers
IowaVirginia
South CarolinaOhio
OregonOregon
MontrealMontreal
BelgiumIreland
LondonLondon
FrankfurtFrankfurt
NetherlandsSignapore
TaiwanSydney
Tokyo-
Sydney-

 

11. Pricing – Both Are Expensive With Different Structures

SiteGround is cheaper initially but gets very expensive once it’s time to renew (renewal prices are about 2.5x the intro prices). SiteGround also has a history of price increases which they did in 2018 and 2020. Which means if you sign up for 1-3 years, you really don’t know what you’ll be paying once time to renew. You also have to pay for at least 1 year upfront with SiteGround.

SiteGround-Renewal-Prices

WP Engine is expensive from the start especially since you can only host 1 website on their cheapest plan. WP Engine only has slightly higher renewal prices and you can choose to pay monthly, but you get 4 months free if you pay yearly. Expensive initially, but upfront about it.

WP-Engine-Pricing

SiteGroundWP Engine
Low Plan$6.99 - $14.99/month$25 - $30/month
Mid Plan$9.99 - $24.99/month$95.83 - $115/month
High Plan$14.99 - $39.99/month$241.67 - $290/month
Higher Plan$80/monthCustom Price

 

12. TrustPilot Rating – Who Has The Better Rating?

SiteGround definitely has the better TrustPilot rating but that’s mainly because their support tells customers to leave them a good review. WP Engine doesn’t do this to my knowledge. Many complaints about WP Engine are related to overage billing, bad support, downtimes, and prices.

SiteGround-TrustPilot-Reviews

WP-Engine-TrustPilot-Reviews

 

13. Facebook Group Feedback – What Do Unbiased People Say?

I echoed the general consensus from groups like the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group.

WP Engine has been terrible for a while and SiteGround has been going downhill fast. SiteGround used to be rated #1 in Facebook polls, but since their price increases and declined support I haven’t seen them #1 in any polls at all. If you search SiteGround or WP Engine in Facebook Groups, you’ll mostly see complaints. I encourage you to do your own research!

SiteGround-CPU-Limits

 

14. Summary – The Winner Of SiteGround vs. WP Engine

When it comes to SiteGround vs. WP Engine, I wouldn’t use either (just trying to be honest).

SiteGround can be decent for 1-3 years while you get the lower intro prices, but don’t expect great support and be prepared to deal with CPU issues especially if you run heavy plugins like WooCommerce, WPML, or most page builders. But I would leave them once it’s time to renew.

WP Engine is never good. If you’re going to pay $25+/month there are much better, faster options available who have better support and don’t overcharge you for false visitor counts.

SiteGround Plans

 

15. Alternatives – I Recommend Cloudways

Since I don’t recommend SiteGround or WP Engine, then who?

Cloudways DigitalOcean is who most people are moving to in the WordPresss Hosting Facebook Group. I use them and have a killer GTmetrix report. They were #1 in most recent Facebook polls with a 4.8/5 star TrustPilot rating, excellent support, and were #1 in my speed test comparing 16 hosts. Their DigitalOcean plan starts at $10/month with no higher renewals.

Switched-from-SiteGround-to-Cloudways

WPEngine to Cloudways Migration

What happened when I moved from SiteGround to Cloudways:

Cloudways Shoutout

They were also #1 in most recent Facebook polls:

Step 1: Sign up for Cloudways using promo code OMM25 to get 25% off your first 2 months.

Cloudways Promo Code

Step 2: Add a server.

Launch Server on Cloudways

Step 3: Choose a server (I recommend DigitalOcean or Vultr HF), data center, and server size.

Launch Vultr High Frequency Server

Step 4: Request a free migration or use their Migrator plugin.

Cloudways Free Migration Request

Enjoy the faster load times.

Cloudways Shoutout

Other people who migrated:

Conclusion: SiteGround and WP Engine aren’t good anymore. Use Cloudways instead.

Cheers,
Tom

About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis 2017Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

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