DreamHost vs WP Engine (Can David beat Goliath?)

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Both DreamHost and WP Engine are well-known and respected providers of quality WordPress hosting services.

In my opinion, DreamHost belongs to the mid-tier group of WordPress hosting along with Bluehost and SiteGround.

By the way, those three providers are officially endorsed by the authors of WordPress, so mid-tier does not mean anything wrong.

Source: wordpress.org

On the other hand, WP Engine along with Kinsta, Pressable and Flywheel (recently acquired by WP Engine) are considered the top-notch managed hosting providers so you expect only the best performance and customer support.

To answer the question from the title – Yes, David can beat Goliath. In this post, I will show you something quite shocking for myself.

DreamHost is cheaper, yet it performed far better than considerably more expensive WP Engine plan.

Let’s see what happened.

Pricing

I bought the basic managed hosting plans from both providers.

DreamHost offers his managed hosting under the DreamPress brand and the cheapest plan costs $12 for the first three months, after that you’ll be charged $19.55 monthly.

Source: dreamhost.com

WP Engine starts at $24 for the first month, after that you’ll be charged $30 monthly.

Source: wpengine.com

So when comparing the cost of hosting, you’ll pay $10 (33%) more per month for WP Engine.

It doesn’t mean that WP Engine is not worth it, until you check the performance you are getting for your money. Keep reading…

Performance

To make the comparison fair, I used All-in-One WP Migration plugin, exported the current version of this website and imported it to both DreamHost and WP Engine WordPress installations.

Then I chose one of my longest post here and tested both hosting plans with K6 service.

I created a scenario where I would test a variable number of virtual users. These users would execute as many requests to my website as possible for 5 minutes.

The number of virtual users gradually grows from 5 to 50 and then goes back to 10.

The results were quite shocking. I didn’t want to believe that WP Engine performed so badly so I tested its hosting twice with very similar results.

Here’s how DreamHost performed:

DreamHost performed exceptionally well with no HTTP failures and great response times.

Here’s how WP Engine performed:

WP Engine delivered bad results. I was very shocked with the number of HTTP failures so I repeated the test with the same results. Response times were also quite slow.

Here’s the comparison of both:

As you can see, DreamHost beats WP Engine in all metrics, especially HTTP failures and response times.

Here you can see the biggest difference between response time of WP Engine (199ms) and DreamHost (14ms). That’s more than 10x less!

Here’s the peak of WP Engine’s number of failed requests per second (17) versus no failed requests of DreamHost.

Conclusion

With managed WordPress hosting people are willing to pay more because they expect far better services for their money, primarily performance and technical support.

In this post, I demonstrated how cheaper DreamHost easily managed to beat more expensive WP Engine which is considered the top-tier hosting provider.

After this experience, I can wholeheartedly recommend DreamHost’s DreamPress managed hosting plan.

I’m not saying that WP Engine is a bad service, but for $30 per month, they should really improve their performance and address the issues with frequent HTTPS failures.

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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.