I was hosting with WP Engine for almost 4 years (2014-2017). In addition to four of my own sites, I also host four client sites. The performance & security has been excellent, but I’ve recently decided to re-evaluate some of the existing services I use.
SEE ALSO: My comprehensive WP Engine review
WordPress hosting is constantly evolving, with lots of new players entering the game, as well as many existing ones rising to the forefront. One such company I keep hearing great things about is SiteGround. If their service lives up to its reputation, then you certainly can’t be their price.
For comparable performance, I can pay $11.95/mo. (promo price) instead of the $82.50/mo. I pay with WP Engine. That’s a savings of about $70/mo. ($840/yr.). Even after the first 3 years of SiteGround’s promotional $11.95/mo. price, I’m only paying $29.95/mo. I’ll still be saving about $52/mo. with SiteGround.
More on the cost savings below.
So, I just purchased SiteGround’s GoGeek plan for 3 years. I’ve transferred most of my 8 sites, and so far, I’m happy with the decision. In this article, I’ll cover the following topics related to why I switched, including both pros & cons of WP Engine vs. SiteGround.
Table of Contents
Migrating Sites to SiteGround
Because WP Engine does not allow many of the popular backup & migration plugins on their platform, I decided to manually migrate each site to SiteGround. It’s a bit more involved, but honestly, not all that bad.
Check out the complete tutorial on manually migrating WordPress to SiteGround.
Cost was the main reason I decided to switch to SiteGround. Aside from hearing great things about their platform, I couldn’t stop thinking about the difference in cost between WP Engine & SiteGround.
I’m very well aware of the saying, “you get what you pay for,” and in my experience, this is often very accurate. So I went into my decision cautiously.
What features do I really need?
However, I also thought about what I really needed from a WordPress host. What kind of performance do I need? How often do I contact support? Site security? Backups?
The truth is that most of the sites I’m managing are fairly small sites with limited traffic. Security and backups are still definitely a priority, but in terms of performance & support, I didn’t really need much.
Once I came to that realization, it was time to crunch the numbers on cost.
SiteGround let’s you lock in their promotional price for up to 3 years. Let’s look at what I’m currently paying at WP Engine vs. what I’ll be paying with SiteGround for the next 3 years.
- Current WP Engine Cost: $82.50/mo.
- New SiteGround Cost: $11.95/mo.
- Monthly Savings: $70.55
- Yearly Savings: $846.60
- Total Savings over the next 3 years: $2,539.80
After 3 years, when the SiteGround promotional price expires, I’m still saving quite a bit.
- Would-be WP Engine Cost: $82.50/mo.
- Standard SiteGround Cost: $29.95/mo.
- Monthly Savings: $52.55
- Yearly Savings: $630.60
For any small business running a handful of smaller sites, this is a fairly significant cost savings.
Now, all this is for naught if SiteGround’s platform doesn’t provide decent performance, and at least the minimum required features I need.
Let’s take a look at performance.
I have not run any official performance tests, but from what I’ve experienced so far, SiteGround’s performance is at least on par with WP Engine’s… if not, a little better.
WP Engine uses a proprietary caching solution they call EverCache®. They don’t provide much information on the specifics, but it does a good job. My performance was always pretty decent on their platform.
SiteGround’s GoGeek plan includes their WordPress SuperCacher. They describe this as using 3 levels of caching:
- static content cache via NGINX
- dynamic data cache via NGINX
- database cache running on Memcached
In terms of the websites themselves, I haven’t noticed any difference in performance.
However, with SiteGround, all of my WP Admin areas appear to be running faster than on WP Engine. For anyone updating their site frequently, this is a nice perk.
Support was the one area where I was consistently disappointed with WP Engine. Being a more advanced WordPress user, I always felt like I knew more than the support rep with whom I was speaking.
SiteGround’s support team has been slightly better, in terms of their WordPress expertise.
SiteGround’s support has been considerably better in the following areas:
- Chat support wait time: I’ve used their chat feature about 10 times, and have not waited more than 30 seconds for an agent to respond. That’s a pretty incredible response time.
- Willingness to help: WP Engine did a decent job of helping resolve my issues, but SiteGround really seems to go the extra mile. They offer to take care of everything for me. For non-technical users, this makes a huge difference.
- Human touch: You never get the generic greeting or scripted response. You always feel like you’re dealing with real people who genuinely care about solving your issue.
Jerry from Web Hosting Secret Revealed summed it up well:
My request was attended to in 30 seconds and my questions were answered in less than 3 minutes. Note that you can learn more about the person you are chatting with by viewing the staff’s profile. In this example, I was chatting with a cool dude named Nikola N. The human touch in SiteGround’s live chat system enhanced the overall experience.
Read Jerry’s full take: SiteGround’s live chat support reviewed »
Feature Comparison (Pros vs. Cons)
As I switched to SiteGround from WP Engine, I had a feeling I’d be losing a few features. But I did my homework, and for what I needed, everything was still there. Here’s a quick look into the feature comparison between them.
They both offer…
- Free SSLs via Let’s Encrypt
- Unlimited staging sites
- WordPress-specific caching & performance
- Automated backups (30 copies)
- PHP 7 (see: why you should switch to PHP 7)
- Included CDN (WP Engine uses MaxCDN; SiteGround uses Cloudflare)
- Complete database access
- Git & SSH available
- ~100k visits
- 24/7 phone & chat support
- Multisite support
- Unlimited sites (WP Engine limits you to 10)
- PHP 7.1 & 7.2 (WP Engine will probably add this soon)
WP Engine offers…
- an easier SFTP setup, by default
- a smoother admin interface
- additional account management features in the admin
- a few site stats, not available as easily with SiteGround
Here’s a simplified version of SiteGround’s features & pricing:
Important note about SiteGround’s use of cPanel
One big difference between the two is this: WP Engine uses a completely custom admin panel, whereas SiteGround uses cPanel. I found this a little misleading with how SiteGround markets their service as “managed WordPress hosting.”
Technically, you don’t need to use a custom admin panel, specifically designed for WordPress. But I assumed that a “managed WordPress” product would not use cPanel.
For the entry-level user, or anyone who has no idea how to manage a server, the cPanel interface is overwhelming. It’s manageable, but WP Engine’s interface is considerably more user-friendly for a non-technical user.
Please keep this in mind if you decide to switch to SiteGround. Their support team will be able to help you out quite a bit, but if you like to manage some things on your own, be prepared for more of a learning curve.
I’ve had my sites on SiteGround’s platform since July 2017, and am still very happy with my decision. The amount of savings is HUGE for me right now, and I even feel like I’m getting a slightly better overall experience.
There was definitely some additional time spent getting everything migrated & set up, but once you take care of everything, it’s pretty much smooth sailing from there.
I’d love to hear feedback from both WP Engine & SiteGround users? Are you currently a customer with one or the other? Have you used both platforms? Please me know in the comments.