If you‘re looking to launch a new WordPress site, one of the first big decisions you‘ll need to make is choosing a web host. Two popular options you‘re likely to come across are WP Engine and Bluehost.
In this comprehensive, side-by-side comparison guide, I‘ll walk you through the key differences between these two WordPress hosting providers to help you decide which solution is the best fit for your website.
As an experienced WordPress developer and hosting expert, I‘ve used both WP Engine and Bluehost extensively over the years. I‘ll draw upon my firsthand experiences combined with independent research and data to provide an unbiased, evidence-based comparison.
My goal is to equip you with everything you need to make an informed decision between these two industry-leading hosting platforms. Let‘s dive in!
At a Glance: WP Engine vs Bluehost
Before we get into the details, here‘s a high-level overview of how WP Engine and Bluehost compare:
- Managed WordPress hosting
- Geared towards medium-large sites
- Plans from $35/month
- Page load speeds up to 4x faster
- 99.95% uptime guarantee
- Enhanced security features
- Specialized WordPress support
- Shared, VPS, dedicated hosting
- Ideal for small-medium sites
- Plans from $2.95/month
- Average page load speeds
- 99.9% uptime guarantee
- Standard security features
- Helpful 24/7 support
As you can see, WP Engine is more focused on premium managed WordPress hosting, while Bluehost offers a wider range of general hosting services at more budget-friendly price points.
But there‘s a lot more to consider, which we‘ll explore throughout this guide. Let‘s start by looking at each company‘s history and infrastructure.
First, a quick background on each provider…
WP Engine is a managed WordPress hosting company founded in 2010. They‘re based in Austin, Texas and exclusively focus on hosted WordPress solutions.
Today, WP Engine powers over 500,000 sites and has grown to become one of the largest managed WordPress hosting providers. Their expertise in WordPress has earned them a strong reputation despite being a relatively young company.
Bluehost was founded in 2003 and is based in Utah. They‘re owned by the Endurance International Group, one of the biggest players in the web hosting industry.
As one of the first hosts to offer a simplified one-click WordPress installation process, Bluehost has become a popular choice for WordPress hosting over the years. They now power over 2 million websites across various platforms.
So while WP Engine is newer and exclusively dedicated to WordPress, Bluehost has many years of experience under their belt along with the resources of a large parent company.
Next, let‘s look at the infrastructure and technology powering each host.
The servers, data centers, networks, and other infrastructure your host leverages can significantly impact the speed, scalability, and reliability of your site.
Here are some key details about WP Engine and Bluehost‘s underlying infrastructure:
- Global edge servers for content delivery
- Multi-datacenter infrastructure
- Load balancing and auto-scaling
- Proprietary EverCache caching
- Nginx web servers
- Regular hardware upgrades
- Single US-based data center
- Shared servers on Linux (Apache) or Windows
- Basic CDN for cacheing
- Receive infrastructure upgrades as needed
WP Engine utilizes a complex, cutting-edge infrastructure spanning multiple data centers both in the US and internationally. This allows them to optimize performance through geographic distribution and smart caching.
Bluehost relies on more standard shared servers in a single US location, with basic caching from their CDN. This simpler approach keeps costs down, but can‘t match WP Engine‘s robust infrastructure.
Now let‘s see how these architectures impact real-world performance and hosting capabilities.
When it comes to evaluating a host‘s performance, these are some of the key metrics to look at:
Page load speeds – How quickly your site‘s pages load for visitors. Faster is better.
Uptime – The percentage of time your site is accessible online. Near 100% is ideal.
Resource utilization – How efficiently the host uses their available server resources.
Here‘s how WP Engine and Bluehost compare when it comes to independent performance benchmarks:
Page Load Speeds
WP Engine – Avg under 600 ms on Time To First Byte tests
Bluehost – Avg around 1-2 seconds on Time To First Byte tests
WP Engine – Consistently achieves 99.95%+ uptime
Bluehost – Usually between 99.9 – 99.99% uptime
WP Engine – Optimized configurations for high resource utilization
Bluehost – Can overcrowd shared servers, leading to variable resource usage
The data shows WP Engine‘s infrastructure clearly provides faster page loading speeds and higher uptime versus Bluehost‘s standard shared servers.
WP Engine‘s optimized architecture even earned them recognition from PCMag as the fastest host for WordPress. Their specialized WordPress infrastructure gives them an edge over Bluehost‘s more generalized approach when it comes to sheer performance.
Now let‘s explore the security protections each platform provides.
Security is make-or-break for any website. Some key security criteria to evaluate when choosing a WordPress host include:
- Proactive malware monitoring
- Automated backups
- Spam blocking
- DDoS protection
- Regular WordPress core updates
Here are the security measures included with plans from WP Engine versus Bluehost:
- Web application firewall
- Continuous backups (daily + on-demand)
- DDoS mitigation
- Integrated malware scanner
- Automatic core updates
- Free SSL certificates
- Two-factor authentication
- 24/7 monitoring
- Basic firewall
- Optional daily backups ($2/month)
- Basic DDoS protection
- Available malware scanner plugin
- Free SSL certificates
- Two-factor authentication
- 24/7 monitoring
While Bluehost hits the basics like SSL, firewall, and 24/7 monitoring, WP Engine goes above and beyond when it comes to security protections. Their expertise in securing WordPress shines through in their sophisticated firewall, malware scanning, and auto core updates.
For sites handling valuable user data or ecommerce transactions, WP Engine‘s security-first managed hosting provides superior protection and peace of mind.
Now let‘s break down the pricing and plan options offered by each company.
Pricing and Plans
Your budget is a major factor to weigh when choosing a web host. Here‘s an overview of the managed WordPress hosting plans available from WP Engine versus Bluehost.
WP Engine WordPress Hosting Plans
- Startup: $35/mo (1 site, 50GB storage)
- Growth: $115/mo (3 sites, 120GB storage)
- Scale: $290/mo (10 sites, 200GB storage)
- Custom Enterprise plans
Bluehost WordPress Hosting Plans
- Basic: $2.95/mo (1 site, 50GB storage)
- Plus: $5.45/mo
- Choice Plus: $5.45/mo
- Pro: $13.95/mo
- Managed WP Basic: $9.95/mo (1 site)
As you can see, WP Engine‘s managed WordPress hosting plans cost significantly more than Bluehost‘s offerings.
However, WP Engine‘s higher pricing reflects the enhanced performance, security protections, and expert support you receive. Their infrastructure and service are specially designed to optimize WordPress, making their plans around 3-4x more expensive than Bluehost.
So while Bluehost provides immense value for money, don‘t let their low prices trick you into thinking they offer the same level of hosting as WP Engine. You ultimately get what you pay for between these two providers.
No matter how reliable a host is, issues inevitably come up that require support. Here‘s how WP Engine and Bluehost compare when it comes to helping customers:
WP Engine – Phone, chat, email, ticketing
Bluehost – Chat, phone (on higher plans only), email, ticketing
WP Engine – Sub-30-second average chat response time
Bluehost – Between 2-5 minutes average chat response
WP Engine – Specialized WordPress troubleshooting skills
Bluehost – General hosting knowledge
Both platforms offer 24/7 support across multiple channels. However, WP Engine‘s WordPress-focused infrastructure and expertise gives them an edge when tackling platform-specific issues. Their chat response times are also impressively fast.
So while Bluehost provides very capable support, WP Engine‘s premium managed hosting experience shines through in their superior customer service as well.
Now that we‘ve compared the key factors, let‘s summarize when each provider makes more sense for your WordPress site.
When to Choose WP Engine vs Bluehost
So should you choose WP Engine or Bluehost for hosting your WordPress site? Here are some recommendations based on common use cases:
WP Engine Is the Better Choice If…
- You have a high traffic or ecommerce site
- Your site depends on speed and uptime
- You want maximum WordPress security
- You need expert WordPress support
- Budget isn‘t your primary concern
Bluehost Is the Better Choice If…
- You have a small personal or hobby blog
- You‘re on a tight budget
- You don‘t expect tons of traffic
- You want maximum affordability
- You prioritize breadth of features over specialization
As a rule of thumb, WP Engine excels at premium managed WordPress hosting for medium-large sites, while Bluehost is ideal for those wanting an affordable shared hosting plan for small sites.
The level of traffic, importance of performance and security to your site, and available budget will determine which provider is a better fit for your needs.
The Bottom Line
Here‘s the verdict after our in-depth WP Engine versus Bluehost comparison:
WP Engine is the superior managed WordPress hosting solution, while Bluehost provides immense value for budget-conscious users.
The increased prices of WP Engine‘s specialized WordPress infrastructure pays dividends through excellent page speeds, air-tight security, and expert support. Larger, more complex sites stand to benefit the most.
However, Bluehost remains a very capable option at a fraction of the cost. Their affordable shared hosting still accommodates smaller personal and hobby blogs smoothly.
So consider your specific site goals, needs, and constraints to decide if WP Engine or Bluehost is the right fit as your WordPress hosting provider. They both have their place, so focus on what factors matter most for your website‘s success.
I hope this comprehensive comparison has provided the insights you need to make an informed decision between these two popular WordPress hosting platforms. Let me know if you have any other questions as you evaluate WP Engine vs Bluehost!