The Best WordPress Hosting – WPEngine, Page.ly or Media Temple?

 
 

One hour of site downtime costs the average medium-sized company $100,000. Even if your site’s not in that category, its performance is still critical for your business.

Site stability and speed are confirmed Google ranking factors and no site owner wants to deal with the enormous amount of stress and hassle that a flaky provider brings into play.

Fighting your way through the blizzard of promotional offers from hosting providers can be tough though; there’s a lot of noise out there and very little signal.

In this article, we’ll cover three of the top WordPress hosting providers and put them up against each other in terms of features and speed to help you pick the best one for your business needs.

best-wordpress-hosting

Before we get into our comparisons, let’s start with some background on the approach we took in testing.

Setting Some Ground Rules

The purpose of this post is to help you make an informed decision. With that in mind, we purchased real licenses and executed real-world tests in a live environment to provide you with honest and accurate information.

Testing Strategy

Each WordPress site used was an identical install of WordPress 4.3.1 with the standard Twenty Fifteen theme. The content on each site remained constant throughout the experiment. The sites did not have any caching plugins or speed optimising plugins installed on them.

Evaluation Criteria

Hosting companies typically bombard potential users with endless lists of features and options to try and attract your business. For the purposes of this piece, we’ve boiled these down to the following evaluation criteria:

  • Cost: We’ve taken the entry-level package from each hosting provider. The monthly charges are listed in each provider section below.
  • Bandwidth: This refers to the amount of web traffic each package will be capable of handling.
  • Space: The physical storage space available on the server.
  • Sites: The number of sites you can run on the package.

Tools Used for Testing

Each install was tested for page load times using GTMetrix and Pingdom.

Caveats Regarding Testing

It’s important to note that there is no one magic test that will hold true for all scenarios and in every environment. Our assessment consists of graphical page load times computed at low usage levels. Your mileage may vary.

Let’s move on to the testing!

1. WP Engine – www.WPEngine.com

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WP Engine’s Personal Plan Basic Features

  • Cost: $29/month
  • Bandwidth: 25,000 unique visitors/month
  • Space: 10 GB
  • Sites: 1

wpengine review wordpress hosting

Background and Further Features

Headquartered in Texas, WP Engine provides Enterprise-level hosting with a focus on speed, security and functionality. They also have a trendy office in London based inside Second Home, in Shoreditch.

For the purpose of this test, we chose to go with WP Engine’s Personal plan – the cheapest managed WordPress hosting plan that the company offers. The company has a 60-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with their services.

The plan comes with:

Most of the hosting providers do not offer CDN options on their base service packages. CDN costs an extra $19.95 per month on WP Engine’s Personal plan and is included free of charge on the rest of them. The Personal plan also does not offer dedicated IPs.

One of the best features of WP Engine is that they will ‘un-hack’ your site for you free of charge if their built-in security falls short.

Excellent as most of WP Engine’s offering is, it does have some downsides too. For starters, they don’t offer email hosting. Instead, they suggest that customers use Google Apps services or Zoho Mail.

Secondly, the host has a list of disallowed plugins which you cannot run on their servers. They provided well-reasoned explanations for items on this list, but you should review the entries carefully to make sure parts of your current setup aren’t going to cause problems.

Installation and Configuration

WP Engine’s install options didn’t give us any trouble. The user interface is easy to navigate and we were able to complete the installation process successfully in minutes.

GTMetrix Test Result + Analysis

WP Engine GT Metrix results

WP Engine GT Metrix results

  • Server location: Vancouver, Canada
  • Minimum response time: 0.75s
  • Maximum response time: 1.30s

According to GTMetrix’s Page Load results, the load time decreased over the span of time tested. There were no abrupt variances in the speed to be seen which makes WP Engine relatively stable as compared to other hosting providers.

Pingdom Test Results and Analysis

Testing Location Load Time 1 (ms) Load Time 2 (ms) Load Time 3 (ms)
Stockholm, Sweden 785 776 859
Amsterdam, Netherlands 771 777 797
Dallas, Texas 248 228 365

WP Engine’s load times were exceptionally stable across the different testing locations. US response times were extremely low in the 0.20s to 0.25s range for Dallas, Texas.

2. Page.ly – www.Pagely.com

pagely wordpress hosting

Page.ly Business Plan Basic Features

  • Cost: $64/month
  • Bandwidth: 10 GB
  • Space: 10 GB
  • Sites: 3

Background and Further Features

Page.ly was created in 2006 by a team of six in Arizona. This incredibly fast hosting provider is run by Joshua and Sally Strebel and is, in its own words, the world’s “largest and most trusted managed WordPress web hosting provider”.

Page.ly is a managed hosting provider which means that once you have it up and running you’ll never have to upgrade anything – everything should be taken care of for you behind the scenes.

The core features on offer by Page.ly remain constant across all four of their hosting plans. We went with the entry-level Business plan. We should point out here that Page.ly’s entry-level package is noticeably more expensive than our other options. Here are the standout features:

Page.ly’s PRESSARMOR feature brings a comprehensive security architecture to the table that extends across application, hardware and network security. The hosting provider offers CDN services under the label PRESSCDN.

One of the most outstanding features Page.ly offers is its automatic WordPress core and plugin updates. Though there are pros and cons to this approach, there’s certainly a lot to be said for having this part of the general admin burden taken off your shoulders as a site owner.

Installation and Configuration

To register with Page.ly, we selected the Business plan and entered our details. We received an email from them almost instantly with account details. Hosting the temporary link with Page.ly only took a few clicks.

Page.ly automatically installs WordPress on your site along with a few popular plugins that users can activate at their own convenience.

GTMetrix Test Result and Analysis

Page.ly GTMetrix results.

Page.ly GTMetrix results.

  • Server location: Vancouver, Canada
  • Minimum response time: 1.10s
  • Maximum response time: 1.24s

The GTMetrix result for Page.ly showed incredible stability with a variance of only a few tenths of a second! Not only does this hosting provider offer low page load times but stability also looks rock-solid.

Pingdom Test Result and Analysis

Testing Location Load Time 1 (ms) Load Time 2 (ms) Load Time 3 (ms)
Stockholm, Sweden 460 461 491
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1010 481 493
Dallas, Texas 630 359 223

Page.ly showed solid speed results during the experiment. Not only did it give notable speed in the United States (Dallas, Texas) but also in Stockholm, Sweden.

3. Media Temple – www.MediaTemple.net

Media_Temple wordpress hosting

Media Temple’s Personal Plan Basic Features

  • Cost: $20/month
  • Bandwidth: 400,000 unique visitors/month
  • Space: 30 GB
  • Sites: 2

Background and Further Features

The Media Temple package we went for was the Grid Server package (priced at $20/month). Media Temple technically falls under the category of a shared hosting provider and does not make great play of any particular page load times or speed optimisation strategies. SSD database storage comes as standard however. Some of the other highlight features include:

Let’s take a quick look at the installation procedure before moving on to the results.

Installation and Configuration

Media Temple’s setup is user-friendly and their customer support is available 24/7. The website itself is easy to navigate and we were able to get WordPress up and running using its built-in installer with just a few clicks.

GTMetrix Test Result + Analysis

Media Temple GTMetrix results

Media Temple GTMetrix results.

  • Server location: Vancouver, Canada
  • Minimum response time: 1.18s
  • Maximum response time: 1.60s

When we tested our Media Temple hosted site on GTMetrix, we found that there was some variance at the beginning when the test servers were situated in different locales. Media Temple performed almost twice as fast in the United States (Dallas, Texas) as compared to the other areas.

Pingdom Test Result + Analysis

Testing Location Load Time 1 (MS) Load Time 2 (MS) Load Time 3 (MS)
Stockholm, Sweden 1620 1160 1320
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1320 1250 1130
Dallas, Texas 631 688 365

The Pingdom tests conducted for Media Temple revealed that this hosting provider performs almost twice as fast in the United States as compared to the other two testing locations. If you’re based outside the United States, this is probably an area you’d want to double check for yourself.

Feature Comparisons

We’ve gathered together the standout features of each provider so you can compare the offerings at a glance.

WPEngine vs Pagely vs MediaTemple – Feature Comparison

Features WP Engine Page.ly Media Temple
Automatic upgrades Yes Yes Yes
Backups Yes Yes Yes
Advanced security Yes Yes Yes
GIT support Yes No Yes
SSD-based storage Yes No Yes
Unlimited data transfer Yes No No
File access/SFTP Yes Yes No
WP-CLI Yes  No Yes

WPEngine vs Pagely vs MediaTemple – Speed Comparison

WP Engine Page.ly Media Temple
Avg. loading time (ms) 607 527 1085
Min. response time (ms) 233 451 655
Max response time (ms) 806 661 1367

Final Verdict

Looking back over our experience testing the three providers, Media Temple was at the bottom of the list of options tested. That isn’t to say it couldn’t do a decent job for your site, but our other two contenders came out on top.

WP Engine and Page.ly performed substantially better in both tests that we conducted. Both have their respective strengths and weaknesses.

wordpress hosting wpengine review

WP Engine is a feature-rich hosting provider which will take care of all of your site’s needs. Page.ly, on the other hand, offers extraordinarily stable page load times that you’ll struggle to match elsewhere. Both are very strong candidates for your business.

We use WP Engine for our own website and for our clients’ websites. We love the built-in backups, one-click staging area and Sucuri integration in particular. Their support has been great for us too – with fast connection to the live chat and 24/7 telephone support. Therefore, if we were to recommend one of these providers, it would be WP Engine.

Conclusion

In this article, we compared three of the best hosting providers based on features and speed tests to determine the best provider. WP Engine and Page.ly both performed exceptionally.

At the end of the day, the best hosting provider for you depends wholly on what features you’re looking for. Some people will want a wider list of features than others, in which case WP Engine could well be the best choice. Others will be obsessively focusing on site speed and stability where Page.ly performs strongly.

Tradeoffs are inevitable in choosing a hosting provider so we encourage you to sign up for a demo account and kick the tires yourself.

We’re curious to hear your thoughts on the providers profiled. Have you tried any of them with your own web sites? Any recommendations to share? Get in touch in the comments and let us know.

Image Credit: reynermedia

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We are a team of WordPress experts who help businesses maintain and manage their websites. We take care of the updates, hosting, backups, content and all the other bits you don't want to worry about!

 

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