Why Choose GridPane Over WP Engine?
Both WP Engine and ourselves here at GridPane are 100% focused on WordPress hosting services, but we each have fundamentally different business and pricing models. We occasionally get asked by prospective clients how we compare with each other and so we’ll seek to explain the key differences here, as fairly and accurately as possible.
If you’re looking to understand the differences between GridPane and WP Engine to decide who is the better choice for your business, you’re in the right place.
WP Engine is a managed WordPress hosting provider that charge a premium for their hosting services. They’re one of the first and largest providers in the space, and they host approximately 1 million websites. They primarily serve the lower to mid-end market of the managed WordPress hosting space and are a popular choice for SME’s. Over the years they’ve had 6 rounds of funding and received hundreds of millions in investment. This being the case, it’s safe to assume that shareholder return on investment (ROI) is a top priority.
GridPane gives you the power to create your own managed WordPress hosting service. Instead of renting strictly limited resources directly from a host, you can provision and manage your own enterprise-capable WordPress servers through our SaaS platform. We primarily serve WordPress agencies and developers.
GridPane has received a seed round of funding, including a strategic investment from Automattic. We’ve also retained 100% control of the business and its direction, and so we’re able to invest in the areas we know are important.
WP Engine rents a small slice of one of their servers, which they themselves rent and install their own software stack on. All plans come with strict restrictions on bandwidth and visits. The “managed” part is a somewhat misleading term as in practice all it really means is that they host it on a stack that’s been built for WordPress, with a few automated services such as daily backups. “Managed”, according to user reports, does not mean that if your website has a critical error or goes down, or even if the server goes down, they will automatically become aware of it and take care of it for you. Their platform comes with a nice UI with many one-click options for managing your websites.
GridPane allows you to provision your own servers from providers such as DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, AWS, UpCloud, and essentially any quality VPS provider that you wish. You choose and control your infrastructure, you can use our software and control panel to manage your websites and servers, and our support team is available 24/7.
WP Engine bases their pricing on arbitrary metrics that aren’t entirely clear and can result in overage charges if you go over these set limitations. The page visits metric in particular has resulted in many public complaints and coupled with their high-pressure sales environment, the solution to many problems their users face is to pay extra by upgrading to a higher plan. By restricting “visits” and server customization options such as PHP workers, many people are forced to upgrade to higher-tier plans that can cost far more than should otherwise be required. This is one of the main reasons many agencies are switching from WP Engine to GridPane.
GridPane’s pricing model is straightforward. We have 3 set plans that are designed to help you at different levels of your hosting venture’s journey. The more sites and servers to your account, the more you’ll benefit from the higher-tier plans. There are no preset server or site limitations on any plans, and there are no restrictions or arbitrary limits on pageviews or bandwidth. Your servers can handle what they can handle, and your pricing is predictable.
WP Engine pricing starts at $30/month for 1 regular site, and $115/month for 10 sites that can include multisite networks. They also offer a couple of things with their plans that we at GridPane don’t include. One of those is the option to use the Genesis Framework and any of the Studiopress child themes on your websites. The other is a CDN. Both of these are great features but with the money you’ll save using GridPane you’ll easily be able to afford to license Genesis, and BunnyCDN is both excellent and incredible value for money if you need a CDN. Cloudflare is of course free, but not as performant.
GridPane includes many features that WP Engine doesn’t include, such as Openlitespeed, full root access, server customization options, hourly backups, offsite backup options, DNS integrations, multiple WAFs at no extra cost, one-click multisite at no extra cost, and a one-click WP Ultimo integration. Our Panel plan is $100, Developer is $500 and we have agency and enterprise options available.
We both have 24/7 support, and as we’re both dedicated to WordPress, we can each offer a much higher level of WordPress specific support than companies who are generalized and serve many different markets.
The main difference is that we have no incentive to ask you to increase the size of your server resources as that isn’t how we make our money. GridPane is completely independent from your infrastructure (IaaS) provider.
We allow you to customize your servers to meet your website’s requirements and we can advise you on how to fine-tune your servers vs upgrading them. You’ll also get your servers at “cost” (we don’t add any additional markup on them), and the average $10-$20 VPS can easily handle a TON of traffic.
WP Engines support is limited by the restrictions of the platform, so you if need more PHP workers, more “views”, or anything that doesn’t fit the mold, your only option is to upgrade your plan. That is the only course of action their support will be able to offer. GridPane doesn’t suffer from those restrictions.
Stack and Performance
WP Engine runs on an Nginx stack built for WordPress, and their performance is superior to that of your average shared hosting account. They keep their infrastructure and most of their server stack a secret, but we know that it’s built on Nginx and includes a form of object caching. They have a strictly regimented one-size-fits-all service, and so are more geared towards the average (simple), WordPress website.
In fairness, this approach does cover a lot of ground. However, if you’re hosting eCommerce, learning management systems, or multisites, forums, membership sites, or even regular high traffic sites, getting the performance you need may cost serious $$$$.
GridPane is the only platform to offer multiple stack options. Our developer accounts give you have the ability to customize your server stack with either Nginx or OpenLiteSpeed, and MariaDB or Percona for MySQL 8. Our out-of-the-box defaults are ideal for most WordPress websites, but you can further customize them to meet your specific requirements as needed. Need to tweak your PHP workers for a WooCommerce or LMS website? No problem at all. On WP Engine there are no such options and you will likely have no choice but to increase your resources by purchasing a higher plan.
As far as performance goes, let’s just say that we will happily put any of our server stack options up against ANY managed hosting company any day of the week. Both ourselves and WP Engine have thrown our hats in the ring for Review Signal‘s annual testing and come out with top tier honors in the top-of-the-pyramid enterprise category (although WP Engine failed to get awarded “Top Tier” the first time they entered, they were able to later earn Top Tier with their $5400/month(!) plan).
Which Service Is Right For You?
If you only have one or two websites with relatively low traffic (and you expect it to stay at less than 25,000 total visits per month), WP Engine may be the better option for your business.
If you’re a WordPress agency or developer and you’re looking to grow your monthly revenue from your hosting offering, GridPane is purpose built to serve your needs. Not only will you save a considerable amount of money each month, you’ll have a lot more flexibility and capability for hosting different types of websites, and the backing of our support team and knowledge base.
Are you looking to build a high-end hosting service and add a steady, predictable stream of recurring monthly revenue to your WordPress business? We’d love to assist you on that journey.
Smash Your Hosting Problems Once & For All
WordPress pro’s from all over the world are moving their most important, high-traffic websites to GridPane. Why not take us for a test drive? You can get started today for free!