WP Engine vs Flywheel: which one’s better?
In this WPEngine vs Flywheel comparison, I’m going to compare the two providers and find out how they fare against each other. I will thoroughly analyze both providers’ pricing, ease of use, performance, extra features, security, and customer support.
WP Engine and Flywheel are two well-known providers when it comes to managed WordPress hosting. So it’s no surprise you might be stuck between the two.
Simply put, WP Engine is pretty darn good at what it does. It is one of the most popular managed WordPress hosting providers. It is quite business-oriented with its hosting approach and the additional tools it offers.
Alternatively, Flywheel seems to focus on the same exact things. So I was intrigued. After all, a relatively affordable managed WordPress cloud hosting provider is not exactly easy to find.
So let’s take a look at the complete comparison of WPEngine vs Flywheel and find out how the two providers stack up against each other.
WPEngine vs Flywheel: general info
WP Engine and Flywheel are both WordPress-exclusive web hosting providers catered to personal and business users. Both hosts come from the same company but are two independent products with slightly different offers. Regardless, the two have excellent performance and some great advanced features. But where WP Engine pricing starts sky-high, Flywheel also has a more affordable plan.
This article is pretty detailed, so you can either grab a cup of coffee and settle in, or if you’re in a rush, feel free to grab a one-way ticket to the final verdict.
|Pricing:||from $13/mo||from $22.50/mo|
|Ease of use:||A native hosting management panel||Custom control panel|
|Performance:||100% uptime and 371ms response time||100% uptime and 489ms response time|
|Security:||Free SSL, daily backups, malware removal, and traffic monitoring||SSLs, daily backups, server monitoring, plugin management|
|Support:||24/7 live chat and phone (starting with the Freelance plan)||24/7 live chat and phone|
WP Engine and Flywheel actually have pretty similar pricing. The only notable difference here is that Flywheel has a much cheaper entry-plan at $13.00/month. Its priciest plan, however, goes all the way up to $242/mo. Meanwhile, WP Engine’s price range is from $22.50/month to $217.50/mo.
Now that we know the biggest pricing difference lies with the entry plans, let’s see if there are any similarities.
Both WP Engine and Flywheel allow you to host 1 website and include a free SSL certificate and CDN in their entry plans. Despite the few similarities, the differences are very noticeable too.
- Startup ($22.50/month) - 10GB storage, 50GB bandwidth, and can support up to 25,000 monthly visits.
- Tiny ($13.00/month) - 5GB storage, 20GB bandwidth, and can support up to 5,000 monthly visits.
If the price point difference didn’t give it away, now it’s very clear that WP Engine provides more in terms of, well, every resource.
It’s almost unfair to compare the two when, after further inspection, it appears that the second Flywheel’s plan (Starter ($25.00/mo)) offers practically the same as Startup. However, it’s nice to know that Flywheel gives you a cheaper option if you’re a first-time user looking to get a feel of managed hosting specifics.
So you get to choose what fits your needs best. If a small personal site like a blog or portfolio is what you’re after, then Flywheel’s Tiny is for you. But if you’re after bigger storage and bandwidth, WP Engine’s Startup looks better.
Regardless, like most good things in life, promotional prices are also temporary. The renewal rates apply to every payment that follows the initial:
|Provider||Plan||Billing period||Total initial price||Total renewal price|
|WP Engine||Startup||1 year||$270||$300|
You might notice something off, and you’re right. It’s not a typo Flywheel really keeps the same rates with no additional renewal increase. And that is not something I see too often.
Now that we know some, it’s time to know more. Where does the best value-to-money ratio hide with each provider? Is it the entry plans, or is there more to it?
WP Engine has 4 managed plans priced from $22.50/mo to $217.50/mo with an annual billing period.
And depending on your needs, some plans will be better than others. For example:
- If one website is all you need, the Startup ($22.50/mo) plan will give you more than enough resources to run a powerful small business website.
- In case you're a website builder or a designer selling the prepared websites to your clients, Scale ($217.50/mo) is the best choice. By hosting all 30 websites, the price per site would drop to $7.25/mo.
The choice entirely depends on your needs and plans for the site. You know the saying - "One man’s trash is another man’s treasure."
The cheapest WP Engine’s plan is Startup. By choosing an annual billing cycle, the plan will cost you $22.50/mo, or $270 in total. After the first year, the price increases up to $300 per annum.Check WP Engine Pricing Now
Flywheel, similarly to WP Engine, also has 4 managed plans to pick from. Their prices range from $13/mo to $242/mo with an annual payment.
Unlike WP Engine, Flywheel here takes a chance to suggest to you which plan is the best. And while that is true, to some extent, I’m still a firm believer in personal preferences.
To me, personally, two plans stand out the most:
- Starter ($25/mo)– you get double the storage and 30GB more bandwidth than with Tiny, for less than double the price. The number of monthly visits increases 5 times too. However, if you plan to have a small website with little traffic (portfolio/personal blog), Tiny could be sufficient enough, as both plans only host one site.
- Agency ($242/mo) - is great for selling built and designed websites to clients. By hosting 30, each site’s price would drop to $8/mo for each.
The best value with Flywheel lies under the Agency plan. Even though it is the priciest, the cost per site is the lowest, only $8/mo. Overall it’ll cost you the advertised $242/mo and $2900 in total with an annual billing option. There are no increased renewal prices.Check Flywheel Pricing Now
So far, it seems that WP Engine and Flywheel are priced very similarly. With an exception of Flywheel’s cheapest plan, making the provider significantly more affordable. Also, Flywheel does not increase its renewal rates, which is a bit of an easter egg in the hosting world.
However, WP Engine offers a better money-back guarantee of 60 days. Whereas, Flywheel only gives you 30 days to cancel your subscription and get your money back. Additionally, Flywheel also lets you cancel monthly subscriptions within 72 hours of purchasing them. WP Engine, meanwhile, appears to completely omit this information.
Overall, while WP Engine and Flywheel share many similarities, Flywheel comes out slightly ahead in this round of Flywheel vs WPEngine. Not only does Flywheel have a cheaper entry-plan, but it offers better value for money, too.
Hosting management: ease of use
When it comes to ease of use, WPEngine vs Flywheel seems to continue their head-to-head race. Both providers have their own custom dashboards that let you easily manage all aspects of your website. Plus, they also provide some nifty tools to make website development easier and more convenient.
It’s also worth noting here that both platforms are mainly aimed at businesses and professionals. And their tools and functionalities reflect that. Nevertheless, the two providers are still straightforward to use, even for beginners.
Dashboard and control panel comparison
WP Engine and Flywheel are entirely unique in their custom dashboards. However, there is one similarity - both providers use their dashboards as hosting management and a site control panel simultaneously.
WP Engine’s control panel is comprehensive and intuitive enough that you can quickly master it. Meanwhile, Flywheel’s control panel is cleaner but requires a fair bit of navigating to get to what you want.
With WP Engine, the dashboard has quite a few items, but they’re all neatly arranged and rather instinctive. You’ll find all the features necessary to manage your hosting account on the left side menu. This includes tools, user management, and billing. On the right, you will find various analytics — such as the number of sites you own, the storage you’ve used, and the number of visits to your website.
Once you choose a site to manage, slightly to the right of the account management menu, you’ll see 3 environments (Production, Staging, and Development) with their separate menus. This is where you manage your site's settings.
Each environment has an identical menu with options like SSL, Domains, CDN, and many more. Yet all environments are managed independently from each other.
Flywheel also merges its dashboard and the control panel into one interface. However, each website can be managed separately with the assigned tools.
Unlike WP Engine’s control panel, where everything visible on one page, Flywheel requires you to navigate through the menu on the top right. There you can manage your hosting options and choose a specific site to manage.
Once you choose the site, the control area is very well organized. From here you can reach all the necessities like:
- Plugins – here are all your installed plugins. You get notifications if some of them need to be updated.
- Performance - is a paid feature ($2/mo). It analyzes your site and offers insights for improvement.
- Stats - shows the number of visits to your site.
- Backups - here, you can download or restore one of the 30 most recent auto backups. Can manually manage backups too.
- Advanced - can find CDN, caching, and staging settings. Also, you can get SSH and database access.
Both dashboards are modern, intuitive, and straightforward. However, I’m giving WP Engine a small advantage since it is ever so slightly easier to use.
Website development and workflow
Both WP Engine and Flywheel are very agency-oriented and offer advanced tools to enhance the website development experience. These tools/functionalities are meant to make it easier for you to build, develop, and improve your site.
WP Engine offers 3 environments for this very purpose: development, staging, and production.
- With development, you can create a copy of your site and use it for development or building.
- Under the staging, you create a clone of your live website. This is to allow you to test various changes and new features on the clone so that your live website is not affected.
- Once you’re satisfied with the changes, you can push them to production — the live version of your site.
These environments give you the perfect opportunity to play with your site as you’d like without worrying about it breaking.
Flywheel, too, has a staging environment. It serves the purpose well - one click, and you have a working copy of your site to try all the tweaks and changes. Another click, and you can push these changes to live. It’s really as easy as it sounds.
Apart from that, it also offers blueprints and cloning. With blueprints, you can save themes and plugins as a custom configuration for a later date. Cloning, on the other hand, lets you create a copy of your entire site. You can then transfer the clone’s ownership to a client.
Overall, both WP Engine and Flywheel have excellent tools/functionalities in this regard. Especially considering the fact that most providers don’t allow staging.
All things considered, WP Engine and Flywheel come with some excellent functionalities when it comes to ease of use. Both have very organized and intuitive native panels that are easy to use. The fact is, there’s no clear winner here, as the dashboards are easy-to-use and additional tools are very similar.
WPEngine vs Flywheel performance
Performance vise WPEngine vs Flywheel had a match down to the last second. Both providers were impressively fast, with an unmatchable uptime of 100%. Even the traffic they’ve handled was the same. Although, Flywheel did load slightly faster with a better average response time.
Uptime and response time
For this WPEngine vs Flywheel uptime and response time comparison, I’ve monitored contenders over a different period. WP Engine was examined over 2 months, and Flywheel - 2 weeks.
In those 2 months, WP Engine experienced no outages resulting in a perfect 100% uptime.
I must say that I’m very impressed with WP Engine’s performance. The provider has a 99.95% uptime guarantee — which is higher than the industry standard of 99.9%. But it surpassed even that.
The average response time, however, could be slightly better. An average response time of 489ms is by no means bad. But it is scraping the market’s average of 600ms slightly too close for my liking. Especially when it looks like the curve is mostly circling around 0.5s response time.
Now, looking at Flywheel, the results are very similar, if not slightly better. Just like WP Engine, Flywheel has a 99.95% uptime backed by the SLA agreement. And identically to WP Engine, Flywheel surpassed it with a perfectly round 100% uptime. Not even one outage throughout the examination period.
Flywheel’s average response time was at a very impressive 371ms. If it wasn’t for one significant jump at the beginning of the examination, this result would be even better. The line is mostly between 300ms and 400ms.
So it seems, while both providers had an identical uptime of 100%, Flywheel had just a bit of an upper hand with its lower average response time. This is a little surprising, as both WP Engine and Flywheel use the same server providers.
To test both WP Engine’s and Flywheel’s performance in a real-life setting, I examined their fully built website’s loading time.
And before I go any further, I must note that:
- Both have the same themes installed (Astra theme with a Startup template);
- Both providers are hosted and tested from the US.
If your target audience does not reside in the US, both providers run data centers in numerous other locations. With WP Engine, you can choose from 20 locations. Alternatively, Flywheel provides you with 7.
Now to objectively evaluate the results I specifically concentrate on these measures:
- Time to First Byte (TTFB) - the time it takes for the server to react to the request. The best time is under 200ms.
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) - the time in which the largest (heaviest) file (image, video, etc.) loads. The best time is under 2.5s.
- Fully Loaded Time - when the website is fully loaded. Anything longer than 3 seconds is poor performance.
WP Engine had very good results, with its LCP being 938ms, which is even less than half the recommended time. Very good so far.
And the good news kept on coming. The Fully Loaded Time stands at 1.1s, so you don’t have to worry about those awful 3 seconds looming over your head.
As for the TTFB, it stands at a very speedy 140ms. This means that the server is very powerful and quick to recognize the given requests.
If we look at Flywheel now, the results are even better. Its LCP and Fully Loaded Time are the same at only 881ms. Simply said - impressive.
But what is even more impressive is the TTFB - barely 68ms. Not even half the time of WP Engine’s TTFB. Great reflexes indeed.
Both providers were extremely fast, with Flywheel ending up just a smidge faster. The biggest difference can be seen in the TTFB - WP Engine’s being at 140ms, and Flywheel’s at 68ms. Knowing that both providers use the same type of servers, I’m curious to know what they’re feeding Flywheel ones.
Stress testing results
As a last attempt to find a significant difference between the two, I tested the amount of traffic each provider can handle.
I started the test by sending 50 virtual users to each website. And for clarification, 50VUs is a big number. That many visitors on your site each minute for a month could round up to 50 000 monthly visits.
So if the provider couldn’t pass the test with that many users, I lower the number by 5 until I get a pass. Before the test, let’s remember that both providers specify the suggested number of monthly visits in their plans. And that’s a pretty solid guideline on what to expect.
WP Engine’s first pass was with 30VUs. This would roughly sum up to 30 000 monthly visits.
What’s very pleasant to know is that even with such traffic, the server’s response time (blue line) remained very stable. Surprisingly enough, the time even seemed to quicken the more visitors (grey line) joined in. I can confidently state that the server is very responsive, fast, and capable of handling the traffic.
Flywheel, identically, handled 30VUs on the site.
Even though the response time (blue line) wasn’t flat as a water surface, it still remained very stable regardless of the increasing number of visitors (grey line.) The average response time may be slightly higher than WP Engine’s, but Flywheel has just as powerful servers as WP Engine.
In sum, both WP Engine and Flywheel have handled the same level of traffic. Neither has slowed down or experienced any failures.
Overall, both providers offer rock-solid performance: extremely reliable and fast. But, I must go with Flywheel here as it has a better response time and is slightly faster.
When it comes to security, both WP Engine and Flywheel take it seriously. Both providers include all the necessities - free Let’s Encrypt certificates, CDN integration, malicious traffic monitoring, multi-factor password authentication, and daily backups.
Those are quite well-rounded security measures that each provider takes. Not much else is needed, really. But here are some additional features that WP Engine offer for an extra cost:
- While WP Engine has a propriety firewall free of charge, it also offers some additional services for a pretty penny. Global Edge Security is a paid add-on that offers DDoS mitigation, managed Web Application Firewall, protection from OWASP top-10 vulnerabilities, and many more. All of that comes for an impressive $300/year price point.
- WP Engine also has a free SSL certificate in all its plans. Yet, if you need an advanced option, RapidSSL wildcard certificates that cover both domains and all subdomains are available for $199.
Additionally, both providers are very serious about third-party plugins and what they can do to compromise their security measures. WP Engine and Flywheel both even have a list of plugins they do not recommend you use. And in all honesty, that’s great. Why would you willingly compromise your site’s security?
Overall, both parties have some great security options. But, it’s a shame that quite a few of WP Engine’s security options are priced so steeply. However, more than just basic features can be found in both providers’ plans.
24/7 customer support is a must in the hosting industry, and both WP Engine and Flywheel offer this option via live chat. Additionally, you can contact the support via phone with the more expensive plans.
I usually test the live chat option whenever I examine the provider. So that’s exactly what I did for this WPEngine vs Flywheel comparison.
First, I contacted WP Engine's support and asked them about their 60-day risk-free trial. WP Engine’s support team was knowledgeable and professional... maybe a little too professional.
However, to be fair, the agent answered my question quickly. The answer was simple and informative, and the wait times for connection and responses were basically non-existent. I have almost always received instantaneous replies whenever I contact the support team. That’s all I could ask for, really.
Similarly, Flywheel’s support team replied almost immediately, too. Its agent proved to be just as knowledgeable, helpful, and experienced as WP Engine’s agent. However, here the agent seemed friendlier and was more than happy to help.
I asked about caching, and PHP8 and both answers were exactly what I was looking for. The wait time between the replies was very minimal, too. So nothing to complain about at all.
Additionally, both providers also have a wealth of articles to help you with all aspects of building and managing a WordPress website.
For WP Engine, you can find these articles under the “Need Support?”. Here, you’ll find articles on setup, troubleshooting, billing, and more.
As for Flywheel, it has two separate sections dedicated to helping you navigate the world of websites. The first one is “Help,” where you’ll find various articles covering topics such as billing, plugins, security, and more.
The other section is “Resource,” and there you will find resources on WordPress and, generally, the world of websites. Here, you’ll find various types of content like e-books, videos, and free email courses.
As a whole, I’m impressed by WP Engine’s and Flywheel’s excellent customer support. The agents answered promptly and proved to be knowledgeable about WordPress and web hosting. Plus, both providers are also chock-full of various resources to guide you along.
WPEngine vs Flywheel: final recommendation
Truly, this WPEngine vs Flywheel comparison is one of the closest ones I’ve ever seen. WP Engine and Flywheel were very close in terms of performance. But, Flywheel offers better value for money and has a cheaper entry plan.
|Price||Flywheel is more affordable with prices starting at $13/mo, in comparison to WP Engine’s $22.50/mo.|
|Interface||Both providers use custom native panels that function as a hosting management panel and website management panel at the same time.|
|Performance||Both providers were very and reliable with an uptime of 100%. However, Flywheel had a better average response time - 371ms compared to WP Engine’s 489ms. And its loading time was slightly faster.|
|Security||Both offer many tools like SSL certificates, daily backups, CDN, malware, and malicious attract monitoring. Additionally, WP Engine has a few extra options for an extra charge.|
|Support||A 24/7 live chat and phone support (only with more premium plans.) Additionally, WP Engine has tickets. Both have very speedy and professional agents, but Flywheel’s are slightly friendlier.|
Taking price and performance in mind, it seems that Flywheel is just a tad bit better. So if you’re looking for a speedy and powerful provider for your WordPress site, Flywheel has you covered.
At the same time, WP Engine is just as great of a choice. Its performance is surely impressive, and it offers a few more options when it comes to security. If you’re planning on running a business that needs that extra bit of security, WP Engine might be right up your alley.
Alternatives to WP Engine and Flywheel
WP Engine and Flywheel are great choices, but there are many viable alternatives in the world of web hosting. For example, if you are still looking for powerful managed WordPress hosting, SiteGround is a solid choice. If you don’t need managed hosting or if you’re on a tight budget, Hostinger is a great pick for you.
Just like WP Engine and Flywheel, SiteGround has a WordPress-focused approach. This means that the provider offers plans specifically optimized for WordPress websites. It includes tools like staging, collaboration tools, and speed-boosting technology to guarantee the best possible WordPress performance.
SiteGround is noticeably cheaper than WP Engine and Flywheel, with plans starting at $6.99/mo. Yet, the performance you get is just as good as it’d be with WP Engine and Flywheel. It’s a great alternative for business websites.
Hostinger is one of the cheapest — if not the cheapest — hosting companies in the market. Despite its low prices, the provider offers great performance. Plus, it also provides access to many advanced features/tools that are usually only offered by far more expensive hosts.
Its shared plan starts from $1.39/month. If you need more resources for your website, Hostinger also offers competitively-priced VPS and WordPress hosting options.
WPEngine vs Flywheel FAQs
Do WP Engine and Flywheel restrict plugin usage?
Yes, both WP Engine and Flywheel restrict certain plugin usage. Usually, those plugins either affect the performance or duplicate certain functionalities that the providers already offer.
Can I purchase shared hosting on WP Engine and Flywheel?
No, you cannot purchase the typical shared hosting either on WP Engine or on Flywheel. However, both providers offer cloud servers. It is quite similar to shared hosting, but you get very specific dedicated resources.
Do I get a personal email if I purchase hosting on WP Engine and Flywheel?
No, you do not get a personal email if you purchase hosting on WP Engine and Flywheel. Both WP Engine and Flywheel do not include emails in their plans. You will have to turn to a third-party email provider.
Can I register a domain name with WP Engine and Flywheel?
No, you cannot register a domain name with WP Engine and Flywheel. You will need to purchase it from a registrar, like GoDaddy, Bluehost, or Hostinger.