WPEngine vs Kinsta – Which Managed WordPress Host is Best?

The industry of web hosting is ever-expanding. The amount of companies constantly appearing to vie for your attention can be staggering. There are always a myriad of special offers and advertisements promising you the best hosting on the market. So, how do you pick which one is right for you?

The easiest way to deal with this torrent of information is to stay informed. If you can take a bite-sized look at the particulars of two companies side-by-side, it can often be very helpful in deciding which one best suit your needs.

In order to save you the trouble of sifting through all the info yourself, we’re going to break it down and take a good, focused look at a couple good web hosts, in order to help keep you up on what the industry has to offer you.

Today, we’ll be looking at WPEngine and Kinsta. These two vastly different companies are focused mainly on WordPress-optimized hosting. Both hosts aim to bring you an experience dedicated to giving you quick, effective WordPress hosting, but which one does it better?

We’ll start by taking a look at WPEngine.

What is WPEngine?

Many companies offer WordPress-oriented services, and they do it with varying levels of dedication and effectiveness. WPEngine aims to offer the most versatile and powerful experience when designing your WordPress site.

Their pricing and plan structure is based around a myriad of different features which you can use to make your site unique. Even other hosts which offer the same kind of WordPress focus as WPEngine tend to fall short in comparison to some of their feature sets.

That being said, there’s never been a hosting company that was perfect, and WPEngine definitely comes along with its own shortcomings. In order to give you a focused idea of what WPEngine has to offer, we’re going to start with the advantages that they bring to the table.

The Pros of WPEngine

  • Optimized for WordPress. WordPress is a fairly straightforward and optimized program, and it can be used effectively with Shared or VPS plans from other websites. That being said, however, WordPress sites can quickly become very complex and difficult to run effectively if you use a large number of plugins and other complexities which can slow down the performance. WPEngine’s services are optimized to be a powerhouse in dealing with even the heaviest WordPress sites.
  • StudioPress Themes Available. WPEngine has mobile-responsive premium themes available through StudioPress. These themes allow your WordPress site to offer a variety of different digital experiences, powered by the Genesis Framework. These themes feature built-in search engine optimization and security features.
  • Launch Readiness Assessment. The WPEngine team of experts can perform launch-readiness assessments to determine how ready your site is to be launched. This is a huge plus for people just getting started, since they may not know every factor that goes into designing a functional website. The assessment is performed through testing code compatibility and staging the site.
  • WPEngine offers location specific content features, which allow you to keep your content and ads specified toward a wide variety of users. The versatility and attractiveness for advertisers makes this feature very attractive for bloggers or people looking to reach a wide audience.
  • Good Customer Support. WPEngine offers an extensive customer support network, from a wide range of learning resources on their website, to 24/7 live phone and chat support, WPEngine is there to support their customers all the way along.
  • Global Data Centers. WPEngine has servers based in the US, Europe, the Middle east, Asia, and Africa. Having data centers based around the globe means that you will always get the best performance for your area when working through WPEngine. Other hosts may only have local data centers, or some distributed around their home country. Having them spread across the world makes WPEngine a very competitive host in terms of performance.
  • WPEngine has a wide range of partnerships with other services, which offer a wide range of various innovative capabilities. Partnerships include Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and more. All of their partnered content is designed to be optimized with WordPress, giving you unprecedented advantages compared to less-connected companies.

As you can see, there’s a lot to like about WPEngine’s hosting. Their customer support and global presence bring a lot of resources to the table. Having this as a specialized option for your WordPress hosting can be very nice, as it gives you the attention and capabilities of a big-name company, and delivers it in a specialized package designed for WordPress-powered sites.

Of course, as I said before, no host has ever been perfect, and WPEngine is no exception. In order to round out our foray into WPEngine’s capabilities, we’re going to need to take a look at how they come up short compared to some of the competition.

The Cons of WPEngine

  • Less Versatility Compared to Less-specialized Companies. Since WPEngine is optimized for WordPress, you won’t get much use out of it if you aren’t using WordPress to power your website. Likewise, many of the more attractive features are moot if you are not planning to load up your WordPress site with a large number of plugins or features. WPEngine also requires the installations on their platform to be relatively uniform, which limits your options even further.
  • In order to offer all the attractive, specialized features available, WPEngine has a lot of qualities which makes them different from their competition. These differences can often make dealing with WPEngine somewhat complex, especially if you’re used to using more standardized platforms.
  • Some limitations on WordPress capabilities. The plugins and features you use on your WordPress website must be predictable, and regular. You can’t have a lot of newer or innovative programs running on your site, and even your traffic patterns should be relatively regular as well. This might not be a big deal for people not looking to experiment with their platform, but if you want to make changes at whim, this might be a deal-breaker for you.

If what you’re looking for is powerful WordPress optimized hosting with big-name resources and affordable pricing, WPEngine is a very attractive option. Despite some issues which they may have with limitations and complexity, they remain a very viable option for WordPress powered websites, even if you’re new to the whole web design thing.

It’s important to note that according to WPEngine’s own stats, 30% of websites on the internet are built with WordPress, and 27% of the top 10k sites by traffic use WordPress as well. This really highlights the attractiveness of using WordPress to power your site, which in turn highlights the advantages that WPEngine has to bring to the table.

But that’s not all she wrote. There’s another company we have to take a look at before we can make any decisions. This other company is also based around WordPress-based hosting, and they also have an attractive set of features designed to make them the best WordPress hosting service on the market.

What Is Kinsta?

Kinsta was founded in 2013 with the aim to become the best WordPress hosting platform across the globe. The team is made up of experienced WordPress developers who are dedicated to bringing an impactful, meaningful, and powerful presence to the WordPress hosting community.

They offer a huge variety of WordPress-based plans. They have starter packages suitable for startup bloggers and hobbyists, as well as powerful enterprising accounts designed for big companies to manage huge amounts of simultaneous data.

Compared to other hosts which focus on other areas and niches, Kinsta’s WordPress hosting is very competitive. They have a lot of glowing customer reviews, as well as a roster of recognizable clients, such as Tripadvisor.

Overall, Kinsta can seem like the best option hands-down for WordPress hosting. That being said, it’s always a good idea to take a focused look at exactly what a company has to offer you.

We’re going to take a look now at some of Kinsta’s pros and cons. There’s a lot that Kinsta brings to the table, and a lot of both good and bad publicity about them around the net. In order to get down into the specifics of how we’re going to make our decision, we’ll start off with some of the advantages that Kinsta has to offer.

The Pros of Kinsta

  • 30-day money-back guarantee. Kinsta offers a refund if you cancel their hosting services within 30 days. There’s always some fine print to go along with these guarantees, so it’s a good idea to take a look at their website and see for yourself if you’re getting what you bargained for. The guarantee itself is fairly standard when it comes to web hosting companies, but it can be nice for clients looking to minimize their risk.
  • No downgrading or upgrading penalty. Kinsta won’t penalize you with extra charges for changing your mind about what you want with your plan. Upgrading to a higher plan as well as downgrading to a smaller plan will not incur any extra fees or costs besides the actual difference between the two plans if you’re upgrading. This is nice because a lot of companies can get into the habit of gouging with little fees for everything that their customers do.
  • 2 free months included with annual plans. When you sign up for an annual plan rather than a monthly plan, you will receive two free months of WordPress hosting free of charge. Along with the discounted rates they offer with longer commitments, this is a very nice feature, especially for people looking to save some money while still getting high quality WordPress hosting.
  • No fixed-term contracts. Kinsta doesn’t limit their plans by time periods. This is an excellent feature for people with volatile business models, frequent website migrations, and finicky clients. Knowing that you can get out of a contract with less hassle is always a boon when you have better things to worry about. This is an especially cushy factor when you consider the powerful features and technology that come along with Kinsta’s WordPress hosting.
  • Prorated refunds. When you get a refund from Kinsta, they prorate the refunds so that you don’t get screwed out of refunds for services already rendered. If you only received hosting for part of a pay period, you will only be billed or refunded according to the amount you paid, rather than truncated into a larger pay pigeonhole. Again, this is a nice perk for those who feel they may require a refund at some point.
  • Daily backups. Kinsta WordPress hosting manages daily backups of its content, so you never lose any of the important stuff that happens on your website. A lot of other WordPress hosting companies provide backups less frequently, or only with specific plans, but Kinsta WordPress hosting includes the backups with all of their plans. This means you never have to worry about large amounts of your data being lost.
  • Staging Environments. Kinsta provides staging environments with its plans. This allows you to see and test changes to your website before taking it live, and make sure you have exactly the kind of online presence that your business needs. Again, many other web hosts provide similar staging features, but it’s nice to have them included as a free feature in all of their plans. This means that no matter what scale of service you go with, you will receive the advantages of having a staging environment. Just one of the many ways in which Kinsta shows they care.
  • Killer WordPress optimization. Kinsta has some of the best WordPress hosting out there, with killer uptime stats and state-of-the art hardware optimized to bring breakneck speeds to your WordPress site. Their customer reviews and opinion pieces about their performance are generally glowing in this category. I tend to believe the masses when they tell me that a host has amazing performance. Some people seem to have had some issues with small amounts of downtime, but these seem to be more the exception than the rule.
  • Nice Dashboard. Although Kinsta doesn’t seem to use the industry standard cPanel interface, their UI is very intuitive, and has all the information and tools at your disposal that any web developer would want. Although you won’t learn any industry-standard skills when you familiarize yourself with the interface, you will notice that the features and streamlined look make it a very capable interface, nonetheless.

There’s a lot to like here. Kinsta brings a lot of the same power and versatility to the table as WPEngine, with the added twist of eco-friendliness. A lot of these qualities are very attractive, but they won’t mean much of we don’t round out our experience by taking a look at some of the cons.

The disadvantages that Kinsta has aren’t particularly damning, but its always good to make sure you know what you’re paying for, in case there might be an unforeseen deal-breaker.

The Cons of Kinsta

  • No domain registration. Although Kinsta offers very powerful WordPress hosting that tends to blow a lot of other hosts out of the water, they don’t offer their own domain registration services. This is fine for customers who are used to dealing with their domain registration separately from their hosting services.
  • No email hostin Again, Kinsta unfortunately doesn’t include email service hosting with their plans. This is more or less a standard for WordPress hosts, who like to dedicate more of their resources toward things that WordPress sites really need. Still, it can be a bit of a pain if you want an email to go along with your website. If you’re used to getting your email services hosted through your web host, this might be a bit of a big deal for you, but its more likely that this simply won’t be too much of an issue.
  • Somewhat restrictive. Like many other managed WordPress hosting services, Kinsta places some restrictions on the types and numbers of plugins that you can have installed on your website. This is a bit of a necessary evil, as it allows Kinsta to regulate their hosted WordPress sites in such a way as to guarantee the kind of speeds and uptime that they’re known for.
  • Price structure. Some people whoa re used to using shared plans may be a bit taken aback by the price structure used by Kinsta. You have to keep in mind that these prices are for cloud-based and dedicated servers, and that the prices are still very competitive compared to other companies. The feature sets and tech are still very powerful for all their plans, even in spite of their price point.

Just like with WPEngine, there are some things here which stand out as a net disadvantage compared to some of the competition, but there’s nothing here too severe as to make Kinsta noncompetitive.

On the contrary, their state-of-the-art technology and eco-friendly attitude make them a very competitive option, even compared to WPEngine’s commanding presence in the WordPress hosting world.

So, now that we’ve taken a look at all the different advantages and disadvantages which these two companies bring to the table, what are we left with? In order to really hit home with our assessment, we’re going to see how these two hosts compare side-by-side in a few different categories.

In order to get the best cross-section of what we’re working with, we’ll be looking at functionality, support, and price.

Functionality

For both companies, we have very capable hosting power optimized for WordPress-based sites. Obviously, this is nothing special in and of itself. Each company has something special to offer in this category, with WPEngine giving a hugely versatile and world-wide experience designed to meet your WordPress needs no matter what your experience level or location in the world.

On the other hand, we have Kinsta, who also has extremely powerful hardware and speeds which even outperform WPEngine in a lot of contexts, despite lacking the same global presence. To boot, Kinsta also promises to offset the economic impact of their hosting services through the purchasing of wind power credits.

It really depends in the end if you are eco-friendlier or more oriented towards going with a recognized brand. We’re going to give this category to Kinsta, as they have very comparable power in terms of their actual hosting services, while retaining that special appeal of the eco-friendly angle that WPEngine simply doesn’t have.

Support

Both companies have stellar customer reviews for their service. Kinsta offers support through email as well as ticket system. WPEngine offers 24/7 phone and chat support, in addition to a sizable online learning resource designed to get users acclimated and supported on the platform.

The first thing we’ll notice is the lack of phone support for Kinsta. This is a definite disadvantage, especially considering the wait periods and impersonal nature of ticket and email support. Kinsta also doesn’t have nearly the same learning resources offered to their customers compared to WPEngine.

We’re going to give this one to WPEngine, due to their varied avenues of access for customer support, and the added plus of their learning resources.

Price

This is the real make-or-break moment for a lot of potential customers. There’s no point in springing for the best options available if you break the bank in doing so. In order to really tie in the value of the pros and cons we’ve been going over, we’re going to put WPEngine and Kinsta’s price structures side-by-side and highlight a few key areas of interest in terms of price.

  • WPEngine offers “startup” plans from $35 per month, “growth” plans from $115 per month, “scale” plans from $290 per month, and custom plans for people that need even more scale and reliability.
    • The prices may seem a bit steep compared to Bluehost’s but the functionality is much more versatile. The “startup” plan gives you 25,000 visits, 10GB storage, 50GB in monthly bandwidth, and 1 website. It also throws in the Genesis Framework, StudioPress Themes, and support options I mentioned earlier.
    • The “growth” plan bumps this up to 100,000 visits, 20GB storage, 200GB monthly bandwidth, and 5 sites.
    • The “scale” plan is a whopping $290 per month, and includes 400,000 visits, 30GB storage, 400GB of bandwidth, and 15 websites.
    • They also have a “custom” plan for people who require much more powerful websites. This bumps the visits into the millions, the storage into the 1TB area, the bandwidth above 400GB per month, and up to 25 websites.
  • Kinsta offers WordPress hosting plans ranging from around $30 per month all the way up to $900 per month for their enterprising plans.
    • You can also contact their sales team to set up a customized plan made just for you, in case you need even more power compared to their higher-end plans.
    • Their Starter plan, at $30 per month, includes 1 WordPress install, 20,000 visits, 5GB of space, and free SSL and CDN. This is a fairly standard set of features for a basic WordPress plan.
    • The Pro plan bumps this up to 2 WordPress Installs, 40,000 visits, and 10GB of space for $60 per month. The plans continue to scale up like this, and the prices themselves are a little steeper than what you would expect from another service. Just remember that you’re paying for the extra quality.
    • Their Business plans graduate in much the same fashion; ranging from $100-$400 per month, and ranging from 5 to 40 WordPress installs, 100,000-600,000 visits, and 15-40GB of space.
    • Their most expensive Enterprise plans go for either $600 or $900 per month, and include up to 80 WordPress installs, 1,500,000 visits, and 120Gb of space.

WPEngine seems to have better prices off the bat when you scale up to the bigger plans, but Kinsta definitely has a wide enough range to cover anything that your website might need. Kinsta doesn’t mention their bandwidth allocations on their pricing page, but their visits vastly outpace the allotments espoused by WPEngine, especially at higher price points.

Honestly, overall, this category is a tie. It really comes down to how much power you need for your website. It’s important to note, though, that Kinsta ends up as the obvious front-runner for large scale projects.

The Verdict

These two websites both perform very well under scrutiny, and have a dedicated customer base and sparkling online reviews to back up their promises of perfect WordPress hosting. Determining which is better will really depend on the type of website you want to create and what kind of business your online presence is going to supplement.

If you’re small-scale and inexperienced, the vast learning resources and versatile support of WPEngine is an obvious choice for you. This is especially true considering their competitive price points at lower scales.

On the other hand, the more high-end or eco-conscious customers will definitely find Kinsta an attractive option, especially considering the power of their server tech. In the end, you’ll have to make your own decision, as both of these companies seem to have brought their A-game.

As always, feel free to let us know any tidbits we may have forgotten, or special experiences which may have changed your mind!

Happy hosting.

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