WP Engine vs Blue Host for WordPress Hosting

WP Engine is a managed WordPress host. Blue Host is Endurance International’s web hosting company. It offers all sorts of plans that include shared hosting, reseller hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated hosting and managed WordPress hosting. For our study, we focus on the managed WordPress hosting of WP Engine and Blue Host. We look at the key differences between the managed WordPress hosting of WP Engine and Blue Host.

Datacenter – WP Engine vs Blue Host

WP Engine makes use of the Google Cloud Platform for managed WordPress Hosting. It allows you to pick a Google datacenter from one of the nine locations. Currently, WP Engine hosts the WordPress sites on one of the following GCP or Google datacenters:

  • United States – 3 datacenter locations in US East (Virginia and Ohio) and US West (Oregon).
  • Canada – 1 datacenter location in Montreal.
  • Europe – 2 datacenters in Europe East and one in West.
  • Asia – 2 datacenter locations in Taiwan and Tokyo.

All these datacenter locations are on the GCP environment. Google’s cloud hosting instances are used to power WordPress sites.

For Enterprise plans, WP Engine offers you an option to host at Amazon’s AWS datacenters as well.

In comparison, we know that Blue Host operates its own data center in Utah. However, it is very difficult to find information about Blue Host’s US based data centers. On a similar note, for the WordPress hosting plans, it is unclear as to what sort of hardware configuration is in use. Does Blue Host use a cloud based data center? We have no information that is available about the nature and scale of Blue Host datacenter.

Control Panel – WP Engine vs Blue Host

WP Engine uses a custom control panel to manage the WordPress hosting accounts. It is called WP Engine’s User Control Panel. The rationale behind a custom control panel is to improve security and reduce bloat. Most commercially available hosting control panels are known to add bloat on the server. There are significant security vulnerabilities that could impact these control panels.

Blue Host offers WordPress hosting through CPanel. Now, CPanel is the defacto standard control panel of the web hosting world. But, for managed WordPress hosting customers, you will seldom see CPanel being used.

As far as control panel is concerned, WP Engine’s user control panel ought to be lightweight and more secure control panel.

Unlimited Hosting – WP Engine vs Blue Host

WP Engine is a tight host that prescribes strict limits. These limits are based on the number of visits that happen to the site every month. So, you can select a plan that could support anywhere between 5,000 to 400,000 visits a month. You can even request for a custom plan. For higher traffic sites, WP Engine offers Enterprise dedicated plans. You could choose to host on Enterprise plans on Amazon’s AWS datacenter locations.

Blue Host is very liberal when it comes to WordPress hosting on higher plans of ‘Choice Plus’ or ‘Pro’. It allows you to setup unlimited sites and even offers unlimited disk space to support the marketing strategy. The fine print, though, lies in the strict limits that are in place on Blue Host WordPress plans:

  • Maximum database size of 5 GB.
  • Maximum 150 mySQL concurrent connections.
  • Max Database Tables – 5000

These database limits on the WordPress plans ensure that you get resources that are inline with the money spent. The 150 mySQL limit is quite liberal for the price charged by Blue Host. On average, a standard WordPress install creates 12 database tables. So, the max database table limit of 5000 looks very liberal for the price charged.

Costs – WP Engine vs Blue Host

WP Engine costs are higher than Blue Host. The basic plan starts at $27 a month and it can go up all the way to $232 a month for supporting 400,000 visits to the site. Blue Host offers WordPress hosting in annual plans or triennual plans. Costs on Blue Host can be anywhere between $35 a year to $200 a year. The cost difference is absolutely gigantic. But, you need to understand that proactive support and less crowded servers will add to costs.

What we can state is that WP Engine has managed support that is available round the clock. It is more suitable for business websites. If you cannot afford downtime, you ought to be on WP Engine. Blue Host is more like a shared hosting provider that seeks to provide a good platform for small sites. If you can manage with delayed support responses and average performance metrics of your website, you could be happy with a shared host like Blue Host.

Backups – WP Engine vs Blue Host

WP Engine allows you to take automatic backups every night. Backups are generated daily and restore points are created daily. You can restore your website to any restore point available in your user control panel. WP Engine stores backups for 60 days. You can also take manual backups any time. Such backups are also stored on Amazon S2 buckets. You can restore from these backups through restore points.

Blue Host offers automatic backups on the ‘Choice Plus’ or ‘Pro’ plans only. Choice Plus subscribers get free backups every night for the first year. Pro subscribers get automated backups till your subscription lasts. All automatic backups on Blue Host are offered through Code Guard. However, it may be a good idea to check Code Guard’s storage offerings and storage plan on this page.

Emails – WP Engine vs Blue Host

WP Engine does not host emails on its servers. For emails, you will need to consider buying email hosting separately. Blue Host does offer email hosting as part of the WordPress hosting plans. Blue Host operates shared hosting servers on CPanel control panel. The shared hosts, normally, run emails and websites out of the same server.

The same server email and web hosting functionality do offer cost savings. But, in our experience, emails are best left to be handled by professional email hosting companies. There is too much that goes on in ensuring better email deliverability. Also, email hosts need to be on top in curtailing spam and email phishing attempts. Established email hosts like Google and Microsoft should be prefered for business emails.

For email hosting, we do agree with WP Engine’s approach. It is best to segregate emails and websites on different servers.

PHP Version – WP Engine vs Blue Host

The latest version of PHP is 8.1. Blue Host supports PHP version 7.4. It has not yet migrated to the PHP version 8 or 8.1. Blue Host intends to migrate the server infrastructure to PHP version 8 in 2022.

WP Engine is already using PHP version 8.

mySQL Version – WP Engine vs Blue Host

WP Engine uses mySQL version 5.6 and 5.7. Blue Host is on the mySQL version 8.0.27. The latest mySQL version in General Availability is version 8.0.29.

WP Engine is usually slower in updating database and PHP versions. There is extensive testing involved in checking the impact of database and PHP upgrades on the complete infrastructure.

Summary

WP Engine and Blue Host, in our opinion, are suitable for altogether different target audiences. WP Engine is a business host. If your site makes money, you may be better off in keeping the servers less crowded than a normal shared host. You may also like to get proactive customer support, and complete hardening of the WordPress servers.

Blue Host is suitable for people who are just starting up on something new. Lesser costs at the time of inception of business may save you some money on the way. You could check your Blue Host experience and even decide to upgrade your shared WordPress hosting account to a dedicated server. Remember, there are substantial cost differences between WP Engine and Blue Host. For peace of mind, I will choose WP Engine over Blue Hosting for a business website.

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