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WP Engine vs Flywheel: Which Is Better for WordPress in 2020?

Vlad Melnic
July 03, 2020

Both WP Engine and Flywheel specialize in WordPress hosting and have similar features, so how do you know which one is right for you? That’s where I come in. I’ve researched and tested both hosts, and I’ll walk you through the important differences between them.

WP Engine has recently acquired Flywheel and as a result, their offers have become nearly identical. But my tests show that WP Engine has a slight advantage over Flywheel, which is why I’ve declared it the winner of this comparison. However, both services have a lot to offer and, depending on your specific needs, Flywheel might be better for you.

Click here to see WP Engine’s best deals, or keep reading to get all the information you need to make a decision.

1. Plans and Pricing

Most Plans Are Identical, but Flywheel Has a Great Option for Beginners

WP Engine and Flywheel are two of the most competitive managed WordPress hosting services out there. Their plans are optimized for WordPress hosting, but keep in mind that they do not include domain registration or email hosting.

When Flywheel was bought by WP Engine, the two companies aligned the pricing and specifications of their Starter/Startup, Freelance/Growth, and Agency/Scale plans. From resources to features and pricing to billing cycles, there are few significant differences between same-tier plans.

Flywheel WordPress Hosting

Plan NameStorageBandwidthNumber of SitesBackupPrice Plan NameStorageBandwidthNumber of SitesBackupPriceTiny5 GB20 GB1+$15More DetailsStarter10 GB50 GB1+$30More DetailsFreelance20 GB200 GB10+$115More DetailsAgency50 GB500 GB30+$290More Details
More details

For example, with WP Engine’s Startup or Flywheel’s Starter plan, you get 1 website, 10GB of storage, 50GB of bandwidth, and up to 25,000 monthly visits. The first two months of service are free with both hosts on yearly plans. The only differences are minor, like the fact that WP Engine offers a 60-day money-back guarantee, whereas Flywheel only gives you 30 days to change your mind (or 72 hours if you choose a monthly billing cycle).

What sets Flywheel apart in this category is the fact that it also has the Tiny plan, which includes 1 website, 5GB of storage, 20GB of bandwidth, 5,000 monthly visits, and most of the features included in more advanced solutions. If you’re a WordPress beginner or hosting a small presentation website for yourself or your business, you’re better off with Flywheel’s Tiny plan.

If you need a WordPress hosting service that can support more than 30 websites and high traffic, you can design a plan to suit your specific needs with a Custom plan from either Flywheel or WP Engine.

Pricing is entirely transparent with both services, and while add-ons are available for purchase, they aren’t automatically added to your cart as with some other hosts.

2. Support

Both Have 24/7 Customer Support, but WP Engine Has a Superior Knowledge Base

Both WP Engine and Flywheel offer 24/7 support through live chat, phone, tickets, and email. I’ve tested their customer support and concluded that WP Engine has the upper hand in this category. Let’s take a closer look.

To start my live chat with WP Engine, I asked the support agent, Mayra, to recommend a plan for a small business website. She asked me about the kind of traffic I expected and then recommended the Startup plan, which suited my needs perfectly.

WP Engine's live chat support 1
WP Engine’s support agent gave me the perfect recommendation

I have tested dozens of web hosting services, so I know that it’s rare to have a pre-sale conversation where the agent doesn’t try to upsell an unnecessary feature. Mayra didn’t try to sell me a more expensive plan, nor did she propose tools that I didn’t actually need.

I also asked Mayra questions related to the plan – for example, if my visitors would be able to load my website quickly and if WP Engine would help me set up my account. In response, Mayra provided links to helpful, step-by-step articles and gave me a detailed explanation of what I could expect.

WP Engine's live chat support 2
WP Engine’s support agent gave me straightforward answers
WP Engine's live chat support 3
WP Engine’s support agent’s detailed answers helped me make my decision

When I tried to get in touch with Flywheel, I noticed that their live chat feature is only available for existing customers. I could only contact them by email, and it took significantly longer for me to get the information I needed.

As you can see below, Flywheel took more than a week to answer my questions.

Flywheel support ticket 1
Flywheel doesn’t allow live chat for non-customers, so I opened a ticket
Flywheel support ticket 2
It took Flywheel more than a week to get back to me

Finally, I was referred to another agent who was able to answer some of my questions. I got Garrett’s first reply just 30 minutes after I sent him my questions, which is not bad as far as tickets go. However, I got the impression that the answers were copied and pasted, rather than personalized.

Flywheel support ticket 3
Flywheel provided partial answers

My experience doesn’t mean that Flywheel’s live chat feature will work just as poorly, but my interaction with two of Flywheel’s support agents was discouraging, to say the least.

Both Flywheel and WP Engine have support centers that include useful guides and tutorials on all things hosting. However, Flywheel’s relatively small knowledge base pales in comparison to WP Engine’s vast collection of articles. If you have a more serious or specific problem, you’re more likely to find the fix with WP Engine.

3. Features

WP Engine’s Features Are Impressive, and Flywheel Isn’t Far Behind

WP Engine vs Flywheel becomes an even closer race when we take a look at their respective features. Both hosts include an impressive range of WordPress freebies and extra tools on all plans.

For example, with both WP Engine’s Startup and Flywheel’s Starter plans, WordPress is preinstalled and the host takes care of WordPress updates for you. You also gain access to more than 30 StudioPress themes and the Genesis Framework, a premium WordPress platform that can help you design and optimize your website.

In addition, both WP Engine and Flywheel include website staging on all plans, which allows you to create a copy of your website and test changes before they go live. No risks and no need to take down your site in the process.

If you’re a freelance web developer, you’ll love the ownership and billing transfer tool offered by both hosts. When you complete a project, you can easily transfer the website (and the costs for hosting) to your client, while you remain a collaborator in case you need to make further changes. With Flywheel, you even get 14 free days of hosting to create a website and decide whether you want to keep it or transfer billing to your client.

While WP Engine and Flywheel have their own infrastructures, both companies are partners with Google Cloud and offer cloud hosting on all plans. Among other things, this means that their services are more scalable and more reliable than most other hosts.

This brings me to one of WP Engine’s main advantages over Flywheel: the LargeFS product. LargeFS is built on the Amazon S3 storage solution and is included in all WP Engine plans. With it, you get 5GB of free cloud storage on any plan and, if you need even more space, you pay only a couple of cents per GB per month, making this an elegant and affordable solution.

If you already have a WordPress website, you can easily transfer it to either host. While Flywheel will transfer your site for you, WP Engine gives you a transfer tool for you to use yourself.

WP EngineFlywheel
Hosting TypeManaged WordPressManaged WordPress
Free DomainNoNo
Free SSL CertificateYesYes
Disk Space10GB to 100GB5GB to 50GB, more storage available on Custom plans
Bandwidth50GB to 1,000GB20GB to 500GB, more bandwidth available on Custom plans
Automatic BackupsYes, on all plansYes, on all plans
Control PanelProprietary control panelProprietary control panel
Email AccountsNoNo
Free CDNYesYes
Free Site MigrationYesYes
Money-Back Guarantee60 days30 days on yearly plans, 72 hours on monthly plans

4. Performance

Both Hosts Are Speedy and Reliable, but Flywheel Has No Uptime Guarantee

Thanks to their exclusive focus on WordPress hosting, WP Engine and Flywheel each have some impressive WordPress optimization tools. As a result, both of them boast excellent performance and uptime.

For example, most hosts use Apache servers, whereas WP Engine and Flywheel use faster and more reliable Nginx technology. In addition, both hosts use SSD storage, which can further improve the loading speed of your website.

With Flywheel, you can choose from five data centers located in the US, Canada, the UK, Belgium, and Australia. WP Engine gives you even more options, with ten data centers on four continents managed by Google Cloud. Even more servers, managed by AWS, are available with WP Engine’s Premium plans.

If you expect to have visitors from all around the globe, caching and CDNs will also affect your website’s performance. Luckily, both WP Engine and Flywheel include their proprietary, free server-side caching tool and an integrated CDN on all plans.

Flywheel’s Fastly CDN has a slight advantage over WP Engine’s MaxCDN because it caches both the static and dynamic content on your website, but overall, both do a great job of delivering your site to visitors quickly.

Most importantly, both Flywheel and WP Engine ensure that these features are installed on your account and function properly at all times.

Unfortunately, Flywheel does not offer an uptime guarantee, nor does it compensate clients for downtime. This puts WP Engine and its 99.95% uptime guarantee backed by an SLA in the lead.

Flywheel achieved an almost perfect score in our performance tests. Get all the details in our in-depth Flywheel review.

We haven’t yet had the chance to run the same tests on WP Engine. However, we discuss its performance-enhancing features at length in our expert WP Engine review.

5. Security

Free Advanced Security Tools with Both, but Flywheel Gives You More

WP Engine and Flywheel include free SSL certificates on all plans.

Backups of your website are automatically created on a daily basis with both hosts. If something breaks or your site is affected during a malicious attack, you can always restore it to a previous version with just a few clicks.

In addition, WP Engine provides a proprietary firewall, malware scanner, and protection against brute-force attacks on all plans. The host also blocks several plugins that are known to expose websites to vulnerabilities and uses disk write protection to prevent malicious code from embedding itself into the file system.

Flywheel, on the other hand, ensures that your data is encrypted both in transit and when stored. It also provides DDoS protection and, more importantly, it will clean up any malware from your website if you get hacked. With WP Engine, this service comes at an additional cost.

WP Engine Wins in This Matchup, but Flywheel May Be Right for You

Given the similarities between WP Engine and Flywheel, it isn’t easy to choose one over the other. Still, with a slight advantage in support, features, and performance, WP Engine is the winner of this comparison.

WP Engine’s Startup plan may be slightly pricier than what you would pay with regular shared hosting, but its WP optimizations and excellent set of performance and security tools are more than worth the extra dollars.

If you’re working with a tight budget or you have a small website with light traffic, Flywheel’s Tiny plan could be the right choice for you. You get fewer resources but almost all of the features included in more expensive plans.

If you’re not sure if either of these hosts is right for you, check our list of the best web hosting services.

To help you quickly compare WP Engine and Flywheel, I’ve included their most important features below:

WP EngineFlywheel
Plans and PricingMore costly than regular shared hosting, but you get a lot of value for your moneyVery similar plans and prices compared to WP Engine, with the addition of the cheaper Tiny plan for small businesses
Key Features10 to 100GB of storage, preinstalled and optimized WordPress, automatic WP updates, 35+ StudioPress premium themes, Genesis Framework, free migration tool, added storage with LargeFS, billing transfer tool, 60-day money-back guarantee10 to 50GB of storage, more storage available on Custom plans, preinstalled and optimized WordPress, automatic WP updates, 30+ StudioPress premium themes, Genesis Framework, free migration, billing transfer tool, 30-day money-back guarantee on yearly plans
PerformanceSSD storage, MaxCDN, a choice of over a dozen data centers around the world, 99.95% uptime guaranteeSSD storage, free Fastly CDN, a choice of five data centers around the world, no uptime guarantee
SecurityFree SSL certificates, automatic daily backups, firewall, malware scanner, disk write protection, additional security tools available for a feeFree SSL certificates, DDoS protection, encryption of data in transit and when stored, free malware removal, additional security tools available for a fee
Support24/7 support via email, live chat, and phone; extensive knowledge base24/7 support via email, live chat, and phone; a less impressive but decent knowledge base

FAQ

1. Is WP Engine better than Flywheel?
It depends. WP Engine and Flywheel have very similar prices and features, but overall, WP Engine has a slight advantage. For example, WP Engine lets you add more storage to your plan through its LargeFS product, which does cost a small fee but doesn’t require you to upgrade to a more expensive subscription. In addition, WP Engine has more data centers around the world, better support, and a solid 99.95% uptime guarantee.

Before you make any final decisions, you should check out our list of the top ten web hosting services.

2. Is WP Engine a good host for WordPress?
Yes, WP Engine is one of the best managed WordPress hosting services. Even with the WP Engine Startup plan, you have access to the Genesis Framework, a premium suite of tools that can help you design and optimize your WP website. You also get 35+ StudioPress themes, a free caching tool and integrated CDN, optimized WordPress installation, and automated updates and backups.

However, WP Engine does not have domain registration or email hosting, so you will have to buy these services from another provider.

To see which providers are running the best deals for managed WordPress hosting right now, check our frequently updated coupon page.

3. Who owns Flywheel?
Flywheel is currently owned by WP Engine, which explains why most of its plans have the same prices and specifications. Customers haven’t complained about any changes to the quality of Flywheel’s service since its acquisition by WP Engine.

To see the results of our performance tests, read our in-depth Flywheel review.

4. Is Flywheel cheaper than WP Engine?
Flywheel and WP Engine have virtually identical prices on most of their plans. However, Flywheel’s Tiny plan is cheaper and includes fewer resources (5GB of storage, 20GB of bandwidth, and 5,000 monthly visits) but many of the same features and tools you get with more expensive plans. If you’re looking to host a small WordPress website for yourself or your business, this could be the plan for you.

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