HostGator and WP Engine are two WordPress hosting companies that have some similarities and differences. HostGator is a large company that has a wide range of plans which includes the ability to install WordPress. WP Engine comes is a smaller company with a narrow range of plans which all come preinstalled with WordPress.
1. Company Info
HostGator is a much larger company than WP Engine and they have been around for a while, but they do not specialize in WordPress. WP Engine is a smaller hosting company who has been around for a few years and only offers WordPress hosting.
HostGator was founded in 2002 they have over 500 employees and they are located in Austin and Houston, Texas. They have over 400,000 customers and have over 9,000,000 domains. They have datacenters in Provo, Utah; and Austin and Houston, Texas.
We have run successful WordPress sites with them for many years.
WP Engine was founded in 2010, they have over 25 employees, and they are located in Austin, Texas. They have over 10,000 customers and they have over 110,000 installations. They also have 6 datacenters spread throughout the world.
WP Engine has some of the best performance of any host, let alone WordPress host.
2. Plans and Pricing
HostGator and WP Engine handle plans differently. At HostGator you will get a much more affordable plan with a lot of features. At WP Engine you pay more for a set number of premium features.
- Hatchling plan – $3.96/Mo. unlimited diskspace, bandwidth, emails, databases, and 1 domain
- Baby plan – $6.36/Mo. unlimited diskspace, bandwidth, emails, databases, and domains
- Business Plan – $10.96/Mo. unlimited diskspace, bandwidth, emails, databases, and domains. Free SSL & IP and Toll Free Number
- Entry plan – VPS Level 1 – $19.95/Mo. 10GB space, 250GB bandwidth, unlimited domains, email and databases.
- Top plan – VPS Level 9 – $219.95/Mo. 231GB space, 3150 bandwidth, unlimited domains, email and databases.
- Entry plan – Basic Dedicated Server – $174/Mo. 500GB RAID-1 space, 10TB bandwidth, unlimited domains, email, and databases, 5 free dedicated IP’s.
- Top plan – Pro Dedicated Server – $374/Mo. 1TB RAID-1 space, 10TB bandwidth, unlimited domains, email and databases, 5 free dedicated IP’s.
Discounts for paying upfront
- For shared hosting plans you can get a $1 removed from your monthly payment by signing up for two years or $2 removed by signing up for three years.
- For VPS plans, the first month is reduced which gives you a varying discount.
- For dedicated, the first month is reduced which gives you 20% off the original price.
- Personal – $29.00/Month for 1 WordPress install, 25,000 visits/Mo., 10GB storage, and unlimited data transfer.
- Professional – $99.00/Month for 10 WordPress installs, 100,000 visits/Mo. 20GB storage, and unlimited data transfer
- Business – $249.00/Month for 25 WordPress installs, 400,000 visits/Mo. 30GB storage, and unlimited data transfer
- Premium – Custom plan and price – Unlimited WordPress installs and visits per month.
Discounts for paying upfront
- Pre pay for one year and get 2 months of your hosting for free.
3. Control Panel and User Experience
HostGator and WP Engine have two very different control panels. HostGator uses cPanel which is a widely used control panel. WP Engine uses a custom control panel which works well with their service.
At HostGator hosting accounts come with cPanel, the most common hosting control panel in the industry. One of the main benefits to using a host with cPanel is it’s so widely used, that if you come from or go to a new host with it, you will already know your way around it.
The user experience of cPanel at HostGator is easy to get used to. They could use a design update, but otherwise you can find your way around pretty easily.
The control panel at WP Engine is very minimal and gives you all essential tools to running a WordPress site. You won’t get access to other types of CMS’s or platforms. Also, the ability to create databases is not available on the fly is not available. Though, you can set up staging environments for upgrades or redesigns.
The user experience of the the control panel is easy to use because everything is located inside the main menu.
4. Installing and Managing WordPress
HostGator and WP Engine both have different methods for this. HostGator uses Fantastico, QuickInstall, or the manual method for installation. Management can be handled using their hosting tool. WP Engine comes with WordPress preinstalled, so there is no guesswork in setting it up. Management is minimal and concise with essential tools available.
Installation at HostGator is fairly simple and to-the-point with two one-click installers, Fantastico and QuickInstall. Fantastico is a 3rd party application that installs lots of different platforms in a few clicks. It’s not kept up to date as much as QuickInstall. QuickInstall was created by HostGator to expedite the process of installation even more while keeping versions up to date and managing the process on their own.
I prefer to install WordPress manually because it gives you much more control over the database creation and a couple other aspects of the installation.
Managing WordPress with HostGator is great. You get plenty of tools to use like FTP, File Manager, phpMyAdmin, MySQL Databases, QuickInstall, and Fantastico.
WP Engine comes with WordPress preinstalled, so you won’t ever need to worry about installation. They also handle migration, upgrades and staging. Just ask them and they will help you out.
Managing WordPress is very simple because they only have WordPress related tools. You won’t find any extra tools to clutter your control panel.
HostGator and WP Engine have very similar performance stats. HostGator loses out to WP Engine in speed and reliability, but only by a little.
I have data stretching back for about four years. The site that I got the data from has an average response time of 923ms and an average uptime of 99.72%. Comparable to other hosts this is very fast and reliable. Comparable to WP Engine it’s pretty slow.
The data I have for WP Engine stretches back for around 2 year. The site the data came from has an average response time of 600ms and an average uptime of 99.95%. This is the fastest and most reliable host we have on record. That’s stretching across all hosts, platforms and websites.
6. Technical Support
You get 24/7 support from HostGator and limited support from WP Engine. HostGator is there for you on live chat, phone, and ticket system. WP Engine can be reached by phone (for emergencies only) and by ticket system.
HostGator is a step a head of WP Engine in this department. You’ll get quicker responses and it’s easier to pick a method that works best for you. For instance, I like using live chat a lot so it’s really helpful to that you can start a chat session with one of the technicians and troubleshoot a problem within minutes.
Phone support is great. Since it’s 24/7 you can call anytime and get help instantly. I have always gotten problems resolved without having to send the issue to a level higher in the department.
The ticket system works well. You will get a response within 20-30 minutes. Answers are right on point and help you troubleshoot problems efficiently.
Unfortunately, the most trouble I’ve had with WP Engine was with their ticket system. It took them a day to respond to a ticket that was a day old. And, I had to tweet to them before I got a response. The response was actually very well thought-out and on-point, but the delay made me feel like I was unimportant.
I haven’t used their phone support so it’s not fair to comment about it. It’s not 24/7, so that’s one negative fact, but other than that, I can’t make any assumptions.
In this comparison HostGator wins. Though WP Engine does have superior performance, HostGator has better plans, management options, and technical support.
Steven Johnson, a WP Hosting Reviews senior editor, works from Atlanta and covers all things related to WordPress and Hosting.
He graduated from Georgia Tech in Chemical Engineering, has managed hosting companies and now builds WordPress and Joomla Websites for small to medium companies full time.