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WPEngine vs Hostgator – Speed Comparison Test and Migration Tips

Are you looking to improve your websites speed? I have found out the easiest and surest way to do so is to upgrade my hosting(shocker!). This post will show the exact speed increase I experienced going from HostGator to WPEngine and compare both services. Plus if you don’t want to change hosts but want a faster WordPress site I share the procedure I have developed for my team to use to speed up our sites on HostGator or similar shared host.

Several months ago I was struggling with slow load times on my main case study site hosted on HostGator and I was looking for options to improve my speed.

I had done my usual tricks to improve the sites speed including my wordpress speed best practice guide below which my VA’s complete on all my sites to speed them up as much as possible…

I seriously thought about 5 options to speed up at least 2-3 of my most important sites…

(note some of the links below are affiliate links)

In order from worst to best (in my opinion – I have not used all)

  • HostGator VPS
    • Simplify billing having both my bigger and smaller sites all at the same business
    • My Opinion – Unless you require a VPS the speed benefit simply does not justify the price.
    • $44.92 per month for 2 sites
  • WebSynthesis
    • Lot of marketing extras
    • My Opinion – I want a host to focus solely on being the best possible host not on adding in marketing help to justify the price.
    • $147/month 5 sites
    • Highly scalable with Amazon Cloud Computing and offers free migration support
    • My Opinion – Definitely a very interesting offer, the ability to only host one site for $64 above 25k visitors per month makes it a potentially expensive option with several sites. The free migration would make it an easy option.
    • $64/month but only for 1 site
  • MediaTemple with CloudFlare
    • Least expensive
    • My Opinion – A great next step from a shared BlueHost or HostGator account if you don’t want to spend more per month
    • $20/month for multiple sites
  • My First Choice – WPEngine
    • Best all around option for speed, ease of use and scalability
    • My Opinion – WPEngine is not the cheapest but based on looking at the options and reviews it seemed to be the fastest option and was also solely focused on providing the best possible wordpress hosting experience.
    • $99/month for 10 sites and 100k visits per month (the 100k gets chewed up faster than Google analytics tells you it will)

Based on the basic summary above I chose WPEngine to host my most important sites.

Want a Faster Site Without Moving Hosts? Here is the Procedure My Team Uses on My Sites…

Here is the Google Document showing my Speed, Security and Monetization control document which achieves a 50% increase in speed for most sites I have used it on.



How to Migrate from Hostgator to WPEngine

To be honest, my VA handled all of this and it was done in under 24hrs and his feedback was that it was very easy. The only downside to the move is that WPEngine restricts a lot of plugins that we have typically been using to speed up our sites since they have built in tools to handle what the plugins used to do. So that change took a little getting used to.

WPEngine spells out the entire migration process here

WPEngine vs Hostgator – How Much Faster is WPEngine?

The case study site was built on a Genesis Theme – Education. It looks great but can be a little on the slow side to load.

To compare the website speed I ran the migrated site and live site through 3 tests several times and compared the results.

3 of the tests provided times to load the site which is shown below…

WPEngine vs HostGator Speed Comparison

WPEngine was approximately 4x faster/

The 4 tests used were…

Here are screenshots of the results…

Google Website Page Speed Tools

Hostgator - Google Website Page Speed Tools


Hostgator - Google Website Page Speed Tools


Pingdom Website Speed Test

Hostgator - Pingdom Website Page Speed Tools


WPebgine- Pingdom Website Page Speed Tools


Website Page Test

Hostgator - Website Page  Test


WPengine - Website Page  Test



iWebTools- Hostgator


iWebtools- WPengine


Interesting Note…

How many different WordPress Hosting Services can Yoast Provide a Testimonial For?

When I was going back to the different hosts to write this post it seemed like Yoast was providing a testimonial for a bunch of them (well a bunch = 2).

He is clearly an expert when it comes to wordpress and here are his wordpress hosting recommendations in his own words from his site – Yoasts WordPress Hosting recommendations

Websinthysis testimonial

Websinthysis Yoast Testimonial testimonial Yoast Testimonial

Have You Had Experience With Any of These Hosts?

About the Author Jon Haver

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Haver, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

Josh Escusa says February 17, 2014

Nice breakdown. I’m seeing load times of about 6 seconds for my niche site challenge with Tung. The difference of 600 visitors a month to 6000 added about 2 seconds of load time. This definitely could be hurting my user experience, so I may take your advice and make your recommended switch to WPengine.

    Jon Haver says February 17, 2014

    Hi Josh, hostgator is fine to start with but yah it sucks when it feels like it is holding your site back. Congrats on the number of visitors…sounds like the project is going well!

Brad says February 17, 2014

You locker is broke. I tweeted your post but I didn’t get to see what was locked up. And even though I used the twitter link on the locker, it still shows 0. You can see the tweet here:

can you email me the procedure?

    Phil says February 17, 2014

    I experienced the same!

    Jakub says February 17, 2014

    The locker is always broken, if you access the page through rss/email or anything what ads a tracking code to the url. Just clean it to and it will work

      Jon Haver says February 17, 2014

      Thanks for letting me know, I have removed the locker until I can be sure it will work for everyone coming from RSS/Email.

    Jon Haver says February 17, 2014

    Sorry about that Brad, I sent you an email and have taken the locker down.

Phil says February 17, 2014

Would be interesting to know if this helps to increase visitors or conversions. So does it help to raise earnings in the end?

    Jon Haver says February 17, 2014

    Hi Phil, I was hoping to be able to report on that but there was enough other factors, seasonality, algo changes at about the same time any impact was small in comparison. I did notice an immediate increase in conversions but I can’t say if that was due to the seasonality o the niche or not.

Al-Amin Kabir says February 17, 2014

Hostgator baby plan is still ok for some of my sites! B|

    Jon Haver says February 17, 2014

    Hi Al-Amin, nothing wrong with starting out on HostGator. I still have sites on it even though they are starting to really frustrate me 🙂

Winston says February 17, 2014

Another great analytic comparison Jon. Complete with all the evidence.

I noticed that Yoast (from the link above) recommended WestHost, which I’ve never heard of before. Do you have any experience or know anything about them?

    Jon Haver says February 17, 2014

    Hi Winston, thanks that is what I go for…let the data show the results not my opinion (whenever possible) 🙂

    I have not tried WestHost.

Leo says February 17, 2014

wpengine is a little pricey for most of websites. HG is still ok now before my sites get much larger traffic.

    Jon Haver says February 17, 2014

    Hi Leo, I agree if I wasn’t getting traffic I wouldn’t make the switch.

winston says February 18, 2014

You mentioned in an earlier reply you’re getting frustrated with HG. If you were to open new hosts now, but only have smaller, low traffic sites, which hosts would you recommend?


Fran says February 18, 2014

Hi Jon,
Looks good, Hostgator are still fine for most of my sites but I’ve been considering switching for a couple of my more important sites for a while. Hostgator have had a lot more down time for me lately so are frustrating me a bit too. As always you get what you pay for an some sites simply aren’t worth expensive hosting to start off with. I use a couple of other low cost hosts too such as bluehost (I know, basically the same company as hostgator these days) and dreamhost.

So apart from the obvious benefit of a speedier site for your users, it will be interesting if you could advise how this has affected things such as your bounce rate, average time on site and also your serps rankings once you have had time to evaluate. Everyone always says how important a fast site is for seo which makes sense but I’ve never seen anything to quantify google giving you better serps for faster hosting.

Best, Fran

Curt says February 18, 2014

I’ve been following your maintenance method since you dropped it in an earlier post, and it’s been very helpful, thanks.
Definitely going to have to check out a more robust hosting solution for some sites when they pick up again – will be sure to use your aff links.

jmschechter says February 19, 2014

I was surprised to see that you left off (formerly They are rock solid, reliable, accessible and fast – definitely worth a serious next time you do a comparison.

Matthew Allen says April 8, 2014

What happens when you reach your 100k visitor limit on the $99 WPEngine plan? Do they just charge you more for that month?

John Parker says April 16, 2014

I think it’s all about how this website is built i had a bad experience with WPengine because they don’t allow access to certain things…. If you know what you are doing you can make a site on a cpanel interface faster in my opinion.

Geoff Akerlund says May 27, 2014

I am confused by this statement: “My Opinion – Unless you require a VPS the speed benefit simply does not justify the price.” Are you implying it is fast or slow? The Hostgator VPS is the 2nd lowest cost service you listed. I have been having speed issues with WPEngine recently and am considering switching to a VPS (with W3 Total Cache and CDN)

Vitaly says January 2, 2015

Which HG plan did you use?

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