WP Engine is not worth the money

by Nate Hoffelder

After a decade of running The Digital Reader, Nate is a veteran web publisher with experience in design, maintenance, recovery, and troubleshooting. What little he doesn't know, he can learn.

May 4, 2024

For the longest time now I have recommended one of 3 WordPress hosting companies. If you are on a budget, try PeoplesHost.com; their service is great for the price. If you have some money, Siteground.com has a lot of great features not found elsewhere. And if you have a lot of money, WPEngine.com has a gold-plated first-rate service which makes their high price tag worth it.

In the past month or so I discovered that these recommendations were rather out of date in at least one regard. WP Engine used to have a gold-plated service; they don’t any more. I recently learned that WP Engine no longer offers the site optimization features they used to have years ago. While their service is still quite reliable, their high price tag can no longer be justified by what they can do for you.

This has apparently been true for a while now, but I only noticed after I got into a discussion about hosting companies on Reddit. One commenter challenged me on the point about WP Engine’s optimization features, so I went and tested an old client site (it had been retired but was still in good shape, making it an ideal test subject).

I tested that client site using Lighthouse, and then I tested it again after I installed the caching plugin WP Rocket.  The site loaded considerably faster with the plugin than without.

This is especially interesting to me because WP Engine used to not allow you to install caching plugins. They used to control which plugins you could install (they didn’t want badly written or resource-hungry plugins slowing down their server).

But more importantly, without that optimization WP Engine charges a premium price for what is now mid-grade service. Seriously, there is little to recommend WP Engine over a budget host like PeoplesHost.com; just about the only feature which WP Engine and PeoplesHost doesn’t is staging, and that isn’t really that useful to the non-techy (and tech-inclined users can get by just fine without it).

If you have a site hosted on WP Engine, I would not necessarily urge you to move to another host. But if you are looking for a new host, I also would not tell you to move there. There are hosting companies which offer a better value, including Siteground.com.

Hi, I'm Nate.

I build and fix websites for authors, and I am also a tech VA. I can build you a website that looks great and turns visitors into fans, and I can also fix your tech when it breaks. Let me fight with tech support so you don’t have to.

My blog has everything you need to know about websites and online services. Don’t see what you need. or want personalized help? Reach out.

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  1. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

    Are you familiar with Namecheap? I moved to them back in 2018 and they’ve mostly been fine, but some things are a PITA, like SSL renewals, and my site occasionally and randomly goes down for 5-10 minutes for no good reason. I’m looking for a WP-specific host that keeps things simple.

    • Nate Hoffelder

      I do know Namecheap – I have my domains registered there. They are kinda weird about which domains they will allow you to register (they have a secret set of rules). That weirdness would keep me from using their hosting.

      I usually recommend PeoplesHost.com to my clients. They are a good fit for most.

  2. Jort

    “no longer offers the site optimization features they used to have years ago”

    What are you talking about?

    • Nate Hoffelder

      There was a point in time where I could tell clients “you’re on WP Engine, and they do most of the optimization features for you”.

      That is no longer true.

      • Jort

        Which optimization features? I’ve been on WPe for a long while and I don’t recall them ever doing many of the things that wp-rocket covers.

        While all the other optimizations that I’ve made note of throughout my time with WPe are still there(cache control headers are set, gzip is already enabled). For as long as I’ve been with them, Autoptimize was recommended to me by their support to implement further optimization that they didn’t handle(like minification and ensuring css loads before js).

        Genuinely interested if I’m missing something and need to go back and ensure I’m covered

        • Nate Hoffelder

          TBH this was like 5 plus years ago. Due to the pandemic and life in general, I last reconsidered my opinion of WP Engine in 2019 (I’ve been busy responding to other stuff, so only the companies with actually shitty reputations caught my attention).


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