I have been trialling different WordPress web hosts in a quest to find the fastest WordPress hosting. This has led to some interesting results, with dramatic differences between WP Engine, SiteGround and TSO Host.
WordPress web hosts tested
I tested the speed of the same WordPress website on 3 popular web hosts:
- TSO Host's UK Cloud Hosting - this hosting company were very highly regarded when we started working with them a couple of years ago. Although they offer low-cost web hosting, they offer 'Ultimate Cloud Hosting' which was quite revolutionary when it was first launched - bridging the gap between standard shared hosting and cloud-based hosting. However if you look under the covers then you will discover that most shared hosts now work in a similar way nowadays. I included TSO Host in my testing because I have suspected that they are not as fast as they claim, but wanted to see some proof.
- SiteGround Shared Hosting - we have heard a lot of good things about SiteGround recently. They are rapidly emerging as a popular host for basic but high quality and fast WordPress web hosting.
- WP Engine Personal Plan - a managed WordPress web host based in America, but with servers in the UK as well as the US. At $29+ per month, they're not a cheap option. However they claim to make up for it by ensuring that your WordPress site is optimised within an inch of its life. They also offer benefits such as built-in caching and one-click backups and restores.
Fastest WordPress hosting - the proof
I tested the same website on WP Engine, SiteGround and TSO Host and was amazed at the difference in speed:
- WP Engine - 1.5 seconds
- SiteGround - 2.83 seconds
- TSO Host - 8.06 seconds
The above tests were conducted using the Pingdom website speed tool. I ran each test several times to make sure the results were accurate and consistent. For example 8 seconds was about average for TSO Host, but I also saw results as slow as 12 seconds!
As you can see, WP Engine is the fastest WordPress host by quite a long way. And it's not just about speed - the Performance Grade is far higher than the other two companies, indicating better quality overall. All of this will impress Google and boost your SEO.
With WP Engine, the Page Size is significantly smaller than with the other hosts. Since I was testing the same web page on all 3 hosts, this shows how well WP Engine are optimising and compressing your site.
SiteGround comes in at a very respectable second place. Although it's not lightning-fast like WP Engine, the results are pretty good.
It's worth noting a few details about my tests, which make WP Engine and SiteGround look even better:
- The website I was testing is complex and runs a big theme and several major WordPress plugins (e-commerce, events, membership). The results will be much faster for more lightweight websites - for example, we recently designed a very lightweight WordPress website which is hosted on WP Engine and loads in less than 0.25 seconds!
- I was testing a website on WP Engine's personal plan without the CDN activated, as this costs extra. If you pay for their CDN (content delivery network) then this will make your WordPress website even faster.
- I was testing on a new SiteGround account which was mostly using their default features. If you spend some extra time configuring their caching settings, CDN etc. then your website will run faster with SiteGround.
Are there any faster WordPress hosts that you haven't tested?
I would say probably not (but please let me know if you disagree!).
In this article, I have only tested 3 hosting companies. I couldn't possibly test every web host, and my intention was to provide a quick but helpful comparison of 3 popular companies that provide different types of hosting.
The fastest web hosts tend to be managed WordPress hosts as they have put the most resources into optimising their servers specifically for WordPress. WP Engine is the most popular managed web host and I think they have done a great job. Other hosts such as Page.ly and Flywheel are also pretty fast - however I prefer WP Engine because they have better round the clock support which is important as we're based in the UK whereas they are in the US. I have compared the speed of websites on WP Engine and Flywheel and WP Engine is slightly faster and has a higher performance rating.
My first recommendation is pretty obvious: don't use TSO Host if you care about speed and performance (and you should care about this)!
If you're on a budget then SiteGround are a very valid option - definitely worth looking at.
If speed is your top priority then I'd strongly recommend WP Engine - they have successfully created the optimum environment for fast WordPress hosting and your website will benefit from fast page load times and improved SEO as a result. Personally, I think that $29 per month is more than reasonable for what you get. Comparing WP Engine's prices with a basic shared host is like comparing a Mini with a Porsche - you get what you pay for.
Please note: There are affiliate links in this article. However we only recommend companies that we have tested ourselves and genuinely recommend.