There are a lot of companies out there offering managed WordPress hosting now, but the question is, who’s the right company for your needs?
I’ve been working with WPEngine, Flywheel and GoDaddy managed WP hosting for a few years now, so here’s my analysis of the companies and why they would or wouldn’t be a good choice for you. All three of these companies have multiple levels of plans, so I’ve selected the plans most comparable for a typical small business website.
Summary of Managed WordPress Hosts
Let’s get right to it, the following is a summary table comparison of the different hosting companies. I’ve put together not just the information that these companies list publicly, but also the information they don’t tell you – such as real wait times, and how many sites are actually on your server.
|1 website||1 website||1 website|
|Deluxe – $10/month||Tiny – $15/month||Personal – $29/month|
|Failed migrations||Free migrations||Free migrations|
|1 click staging site||Upgrade for 1 click staging site||Upgrade for 1 click staging site|
|No local environment||Local desktop environment integration||Git integration|
|Fixed backup schedule||Scheduled + 1 click anytime backup||Scheduled + 1 click anytime backup|
|N/A||Downloadable backups||Downloadable backups|
|N/A||Malware scans & removal||Malware scans & removal|
|100,000 monthly visitors||5,000 monthly visits||25,000 monthly visits|
|15GB storage||5GB storage||10GB storage|
|Unknown bandwidth||250GB bandwidth||Unlimited bandwidth|
|Multiple server locations||Multiple server locations||Multiple server locations|
|N/A||Free SSL||Free SSL|
|NO PCI-DSS compliance||PCI-DSS compliance||PCI-DSS compliance|
|N/A||CDN extra $10/month||Free CDN|
|Offers many other services||WP only||WP only|
|Add delegate access to entire GoDaddy account||Add extra users per site||Add extra users per account (with various permissions levels)|
|Phone support (5 – 20 min wait times) Chat is sales only||Email, chat & phone support (15 min/email, chat during business hours, 0-10 min/phone)||Chat & phone support (0-10 min/chat & phone)|
|5,000 – 75,000 sites per server||30 – 100 sites per server||30 – 100 sites per server|
|strictly limit processing time||don’t limit processing time||loosely limit processing time & plugins|
|99.9% uptime (down < 5/hours/year)||99.99% uptime (down < 1/hours/year)||99.99% uptime (down < 1/hours/year)|
Plans & Companies
Each of these 3 hosting companies offers multiple levels of plans. I picked the second to lowest for GoDaddy as it is most comparable to the other two companies starter plans. All of the plans are for 1 website, and the prices don’t reflect any starter offers or yearly plan discounts.
GoDaddy Deluxe – $10/month
GoDaddy has recently been doing a big push towards WordPress. More than half of their new sites are WP and they are making a lot of changes behind the scenes towards that end.
A big difference I’ve noticed about GoDaddy’s managed WP plans is that they are actually doing something about their servers. In the past when you’ve purchased a cPanel hosting account from them you never got server improvements. What that meant is your cPanel account never got any software upgrades, even after software versions were discontinued. If you wanted to upgrade you had to buy new hosting and move everything by yourself. This is very different than quality cPanel hosting companies like SiteGround which regularly upgrade their servers & software without you needing to worry about anything.
With GoDaddy’s managed plans, I’ve seen dashboard upgrades, some new feature roll outs, and they are actually doing some server maintenance.
Since this service is new and still being defined, a lot of the changes mean every couple months you have to completely relearn their dashboard and features.
Flywheel Tiny – $15/month
Flywheel has a very easy to use interface, and has rolled out a few enhancements to it, but nothing that would make you completely relearn it. They are putting a lot of investment into more customer service and improving the development experience.
They have branded themselves as a company for designers & developers, and they are really continuing that trend with agency friendly plans that come with dedicated IP addresses and adding on new & useful features. They do listen to customers and add informational ebooks and features accordingly.
WP Engine Personal – $29/month
WP Engine was the first to come out with managed WP hosting and it shows. Their dashboard has had almost no changes in the past year, and they invest their money on hardware and customer service. You do pay more, but you are getting better customer service for it.
Frequently for clients on WP Engine, I don’t even try to diagnose any issue, I just contact support and let them do the work for me. Then I just fix whatever needs fixing.
Both WP Engine and Flywheel offer free migrations. These migrations typically complete in a few hours. Flywheel does have an option to pay extra to guarantee completion of your migration in a fixed time window. Honestly, the free migration frequently completes in this window, so I’ve never paid extra.
I’ve done a number of migrations on all three of these companies and GoDaddy is the only company I have problems with. GoDaddy has improved greatly their migration process, it now works about 50% of the time (yes, that’s a huge improvement). If there is anything non-standard about your site setup, it will fail. If everything is standard, it will probably work. But be prepared to do some database updates after the move.
1 Click Staging & Local
All three of these offer relatively easy to use staging sites. GoDaddy gives you some randomly generated sequence as your staging site, while the others give you a nickname that a human could actually remember. Some cPanel companies are even starting to offer staging sites, so expect solid improvements in this area across all decent companies.
Godaddy doesn’t want you doing anything with your local machine.
Local by Flywheel
Flywheel has gone beyond just staging to actually having an application for your desktop. You can run a full website server on your local machine and work on your sites there. It’s very easy to use and allows you to test out a lot of features.
Go check out Local by Flywheel, the application is free to download even if you don’t have them as your hosting company.
WP Engine & Git
WP Engine includes git functionality. There’s a bit of setup required which is going to be daunting to anyone who isn’t a developer. However, their customer service is friendly and will help you – but if you aren’t a developer I don’t recommend attempting it.
Flywheel and WP Engine both offer 1-click backups anytime you’d like as well as nightly backups. And with another click they will pack up your entire backup so you can download it.
GoDaddy only offers once daily backups. You can’t control when the backup happens nor can you download it.
They all offer 1-click restore of any backup you’d like. With Flywheel & WP Engine you can use the downloaded backup to selectively restore what you’d like. With GoDaddy, you don’t get this flexibility (many of us have complained and they claim to be working on it).
Malware Scans & Removal
GoDaddy offers this on a higher level plan, and they do some monitoring of your site (although not very well) on Deluxe. Mostly they will send you a nasty gram if they find something on your site and threaten that you need to do fix it yourself or else.
I’ve found “removal” services to never actually get everything cleaned out. This means if there’s a problem you’ll need to get it cleaned out by someone who knows what they are doing.
When it comes to malware prevention, you need to take things into your own hands and get a security setup.
Visitors, Storage, Bandwidth & Locations
On Flywheel the 5,000 visitors is a soft limit, they don’t actually do anything to your site if you hit this, but if you are going over expect them to contact you about upgrading your plan.
GoDaddy and WP Engine both have options to charge you extra if you go over your monthly visitors.
Storage limits are all pretty fixed, however, very few small business websites actually need more than a couple GB.
For Bandwidth, if you have a small business website with only a couple GB of content, you are unlikely to have an issue with any of them.
Server locations, they all have options for choosing the best server location for yourself. If you move your server it generally requires a little work on your part with updating your DNS.
SSL & CDN
GoDaddy requires a plan upgrade to get a free SSL.
WP Engine and Flywheel both offer very easy setups for their SSLs (seriously, 5 min or less).
Cloudflare CDN is included with WP Engine, the others will require an extra charge and some setup.
GoDaddy is the only one here who offers other services. GoDaddy is known for their jack of all trades, master of none. So you can get a lot of other services all from the same company. And their phone support does generally know something about them all.
Allowing others access to your site
Frequently you’ll want to add at least one other person to give them access to your account.
A GoDaddy delegate gets access to your whole GoDaddy account. That includes domains, WordPress, cPanel, email, SSL, everything. You can decide if they are allowed to use your stored billing information to buy services for your account.
Flywheel add users
Flywheel allows you to add users to each of your websites. These users will only have access to the individual sites you give them access to. They will not have access to your billing.
WP Engine allows you to add users to your account and get a bit of control over what they can access and what permissions they have.
A lot of people mistake needing to contact customer service with problems.
That’s not remotely true.
The more sites you have and the more complex your needs, the more you should be contacting customer service. And customer service should then solve whatever your need. That’s good service.
GoDaddy came out with GoDaddy Pro and their customer service for those of us with a Pro account is vastly better. However, those of you without a pro account should still expect to wait for customer service. They do have chat support, but I’ve found it’s only really available for sales, not technical support.
Flywheel handles most of their support via email tickets. They are investing a lot of money into their customer service and expanding their phone & chat hours. Typically emails are handled pretty quickly. If you need urgent support, they have an emergency email address.
WP Engine has chat support 24/7 and typically connects you in a couple minutes to a human. Their humans are generally quite knowledgeable and can solve your problems. Since chat support is always available, I don’t call them.
Sites per Server & Limits
This is a huge difference between these companies.
On GoDaddy, you are looking at tens of thousands of sites per server. That means they need to strictly limit the resources and types of plugins you can have. This also means that frequently your server may run a little slower, especially when editing on the backend.
Flywheel and WP Engine have a lot fewer sites per server (under 100), this means that you’ve got a lot more resources available. Flywheel even lets you run 3rd party backup plugins without objection, WP Engine doesn’t.
The Bottom Line
Which managed WordPress hosting company is right for you really depends on what’s important to your business.
- If what’s most important is keeping everything in one location and you don’t need the best service, GoDaddy has all of the website services you will likely need.
- If cost is your number 1 concern, GoDaddy is the least cheapest.
- If what’s most important to you is customer service, then WP Engine.
- If you’ve got more demanding website needs then either WP Engine or Flywheel.
- If you want all of the features included, WP Engine.
- If you want an SSL included (but not CDN), Flywheel.
- If you need PCI-DSS compliance, Flywheel or WP Engine.
- If you’d like more resources & better service, but not spend quite as much, Flywheel.
- If you want a company that is a trailblazer, Flywheel.
- If you want the original managed WP company which is well established and very solid, WP Engine.