Cloudways vs WP Engine (Which One Is Worth Your Money?)

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Recently, I was quite shocked how poorly managed WordPress hosting from WP Engine performed against much cheaper plan from DreamHost, so I wanted to give WP Engine yet another chance.

In this post, you’ll find out how it compares to Cloudways, another well-know and respected hosting provider that allows you to choose your own server and install as many applications as you like.

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What is Cloudways?

Cloudways is not actually a typical web hosting service where you choose your plan based on your needs and pricing.

With Cloudways, you start with choosing the cloud provider. Currently, you can use Digital Ocean, Vultr, Linode, AWS or Google Cloud.

Source: cloudways.com

What I like most about Cloudways is the fact, that hosting charges are already included in the price so you don’t pay anything extra for the cloud provider you choose.

So if you choose Digital Ocean’s server that would normally cost you $6, you’ll pay only another $4 on top of that.

Digital Ocean server pricing

For this extra payment of just $4, Cloudways gives you many tools and services including:

  • optimized stack
  • managed security and backups
  • dedicated firewalls
  • unlimited staging
  • built-in advanced cache and CDN
Cloudways pricing including charges for Digital Ocean server.

Simply said, for additional $4, you’re covered and you don’t have to set everything up manually like you would have to with bare server purchased directly from Digital Ocean.

Without Cloudways, it’s all up to you and your team of administrators.

What is WP Engine?

In my opinion, there are two categories of web hosting providers.

The first category is a dirt cheap shared hosting where you can get your WordPress up and running for as low as few dollars monthly, but that’s usually only the introductory price that will go up after some period.

The second category is a managed WordPress hosting where you pay considerably more, but you have the top-notch service included.

WP Engine undoubtedly belongs with its services to the second category. It’s a very popular hosting provider that focuses on managed WordPress hosting.

If you want their industry-leading speed, security, and stability, you will have to pay for it, but for anyone serious about their blogs, that’s definitely what I recommend.

Source: wpengine.com

Cheapest plans to compare performance

To compare performance of Cloudways and WP Engine, I opted in both cases for the cheapest plan available:

  • Cloudways’ cheapest plan costs $10 per month with Digital Ocean server included.
  • WP Engine’s cheapest Startup plan is for $30 monthly, but you can get 2 months for free if you switch to annual prepay

This should be quite obvious. Based solely on price, you should (in theory) get 3 times better performance with WP Engine, right?

Well, let’s see the results.

Testing and results

With the help of All-in-One WP Migration plugin, I exported the latest version of this website and imported it to both Cloudways and WP Engine WordPress installations.

I wanted to test the speed and potential failures when loading one of my longest post with plenty of resources.

Below is the scenario I created for this test. For five minutes I will send up to 50 virtual users to request How to Start a Blog article to see how both servers can cope with a sudden surge in HTTP requests.

K6.io test scenario

As you can see, the test will start with just five virtual users, goes to ten and fifty, then back to twenty a finally to ten users.

Here’s what happened.

Cloudways results:

Cloudways had no HTTP request failures and performed with 63ms of response time.

WP Engine results:

WP Engine had 973 HTTP request failures and performed with 125ms of response time.

Here’s the comparison of both hosting providers:

It’s quite obvious that as the number of users grew, WP Engine was not able to cope with increasing number of requests and started failing between 3min 20s and 5 min 10s timeframe.

Also WP Engine was able to deal with only 8.9K requests while Cloudways managed 500 more.

Cloudways wins when it comes to response times as well (lower number is better).

Conclusion

Last time I demonstrated how cheaper DreamHost easily beat more expensive WP Engine.

But I wanted to believe that it was just a glitch so I tried it again now with Cloudways.

As you can see, even Cloudways managed to beat WP Engine which is three times more expensive.

To conclude, if you’re trying to find the right hosting for your WordPress website, Cloudways might just be the ideal provider for you.

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Jan Zavrel

Jan Zavrel is an author, teacher, online entrepreneur and Evernote Certified Consultant who runs multiple projects focused on productivity, fitness, web development and passive income. He is also active as an instructor on Udemy and Skillshare. His books are available via Amazon.