Which is the fastest WordPress web host - WP Engine, SiteGround or TSO Host?

September 23, 2021

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
Test to find the fastest WordPress host
Speed tests of the same WordPress website on 3 different web host - please note that I have removed any identifying information about the website.

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 recommendations

My first recommendation is pretty obvious: don't use TSO Host if you care about speed and performance (and you should care about this)!

Whether to use SiteGround or WP Engine is a more difficult decision and depends on your priorities.

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.

23 Comments

  1. permanent plan printing
    October 31, 2017 Reply

    Hi, could you please do an updated version of this article or do these results still stand?

    • Katie Keith
      October 31, 2017 Reply

      Hi, for obvious reasons we don't have a TSO Host account any more, so I can't comment on whether they've improved since this article was written. We still use both SiteGround and WP Engine and get similar results when we migrate websites to these hosts.

  2. offdiscount
    October 16, 2017 Reply

    good post! thanks for it ! I use tsohost over 3 years and haven't any problems ,real 100% uptime ,best price for vps

  3. Yahoo Customer Service
    September 16, 2017 Reply

    You have done a great job in testing these hosting services.It really helps a lot in understanding the best services available for the users.
    Keep sharing such more.

  4. Dell Customer Service
    August 22, 2017 Reply

    Web hosting is very important as web design is responsible for attracting the visitors toward a particular website. Web designing expresses the profile of the company or an organisation. Website should be best in terms of content and design.
    Thanks for sharing the important information about the webs hosting.
    Its very helpful for us.

  5. Raphael
    June 20, 2017 Reply

    Hi Katie, it would be really useful if you could update the article with the exact hosting plans that you had at every company. I'm currently with TSOhost (Cloud Standard Plan - 2.99/mo) and I was wondering if there is going to be any speed improvement when switching to Siteground - GrowBig £3.95/mo.

    • Katie Keith
      June 20, 2017 Reply

      Hi Raphael, we had TSO Host's Cloud Hosting plan and are on SiteGround's GoGeek plan. However, I have seen similar improvements for other clients who have moved from TSO Host to SiteGround's GrowBig plan.

  6. Ben Stirling
    March 10, 2017 Reply

    Hi Katie,
    Good to see another well written article by Barn2! I was doing a search on comparisons between WPEngine and TSO Hosts - so I shouldnt have bene surprised to see this article at the top of google! Well done.

    My question is have you done any similar comparisons on dedicated hosting? Currently evaluating WPengine Premium and TSO managed dedicated servers. Quite different price points but wondering if WPEngine is till worth it? Let me know if you have any thoughts on this.

    • Katie
      March 10, 2017 Reply

      Hi Ben, glad you liked the article. You're right, this article compares very different types of host. We used to have a VPS with TSO Host (which is similar to dedicated) and WP Engine was far faster when we moved our sites over, as well as saving us many hours of sever maintenance. In my experience, so-called managed hosts still require a lot of management and TSO weren't very proactive in managing our VPS - we had to tell them when to do software updates etc. WP Engine's systems save us a lot of time (and therefore money), for example by making it so easy to create new sites, clone sites, create staging sites etc. You'd probably like my other article Why WP Engine Improves Profitability for Web Designers. Send me an email if you're interested in buying space on our dedicated WP Engine account as you can probably save money compared to going direct...

  7. oliver
    February 14, 2017 Reply

    hi,
    Katie Keith i have saw first time these kind of hosting company and glad to read about all this. sorry katie but i want to say something that the Godaddy and hostgator is also an great fast web hosting provider. i do not know why you have been not added this. Godaddy is also providing the wordpress web hosting with the fastest growing network.
    i like if you respond about this thank you Regards.

    • Katie
      February 14, 2017 Reply

      Hi Oliver, one of our clients uses GoDaddy's Managed WordPress hosting and I have to say that it's terrible! The front end of the website is several seconds faster than WP Engine and the WordPress admin is painfully slow. When we migrated to this site to GoDaddy after developing it on WP Engine, I did a direct speed comparison and was horrified with the results. So there's a reason I didn't include GoDaddy in the list! I don't have any experience of Hostgator so any info you could add would be great.

  8. Gary
    April 30, 2016 Reply

    Hi there very interesting read, I have been a tsohost customer for many years and find them great. However this week I am having major speed issues on 2 purchased themes from Themeforest, loading is between 15/20 seconds on very basic pages, they are investigating but has got me thinking if moving these away would be better. I do need UK based servers, do wpengine offer this do you know? If not have you any opinions on other UK wp hosting that outperforms tsohost?

    Thank you

    • Andy Keith
      April 30, 2016 Reply

      Hi Gary,
      Yes we found the same with Tsohost so moved away from them a few years ago.

      WP Engine offer a UK data center so you can make sure your UK visitors are getting the best response times. This needs to be set at the account level, so if you need websites hosted in different data centers then you need separate accounts for each (or alternatively, you can pay a small extra monthly fee for a 'split account').

      If you're looking for something a bit cheaper than WP Engine, then we'd recommend SiteGround. They offer a good shared hosting platform with some useful WordPress tools such as staging sites, and various caching options, and have a UK data center.

  9. Ali Akil
    January 29, 2016 Reply

    Hi, I am in a cloud hosting with siteground. I have a woocommerce wordpress online store with WPML. Can wpengine Profeccional be faster than the cloudhosting of siteground?

    thanks

    • Katie Keith
      January 29, 2016 Reply

      Hi Ali, if you have WooCommerce and WPML then your site is fairly resource-hungry and will benefit from the extra resources that WP Engine have to offer compared to SiteGround's cloud hosting. SiteGround is a good option if you're looking for budget hosting, but your site will almost certainly run faster with WP Engine - as the tests in this blog post showed (which were done on a WooCommerce website). Click here to sign up with WP Engine.

  10. Gary Box
    November 12, 2015 Reply

    Hi,

    Ineresting post! I'm currently with TSO host and have been happy with them. I've never felt that my sites were loading too slowly for my users but in trying to please Google in terms of site speed I have contacted them in the past to try and get improvements. I'm currently redesigning my main website and thinking about a change. I only use Wordpress and whilst I'm impressed with what I hear about WP Engine, $29 a month for one domain is quite a jump!

    Siteground on the other hand have great prices, their GrowBig plan would suit be best. I see they don't have a UK based server and was always under the impression that a UK based host was important if your customers were also UK based. Based on your tests am I to assume that Siteground, even with a Dutch server is better than TSO Host with a UK server?

    Thanks
    Gary

    • Katie Keith
      November 12, 2015 Reply

      Yes, our tests showed that SiteGround are faster than TSO regardless of where their servers are. That is backed up by our experience of working extensively with both hosts.

      I would definitely recommend WP Engine for business sites as they are faster than SiteGround and have better systems e.g. backups and easier to use staging sites. However SiteGround are faster and more reliable than all the other shared hosts we have worked with, so they're a good option for people on lower budgets. All else being equal, UK servers are best if your target audience are in the UK - however having servers elsewhere in Europe will only have a tiny difference on speed, compared to hosting further afield such as America which I definitely wouldn't recommend. If you set up a CDN using CloudFlare or similar then this will reduce the issue even further, by serving your content from a location close to each of your visitors - wherever they are in the world. If you use WP Engine then they have a built-in CDN for an extra $10/month but if you use SiteGround then CloudFlare is a good bet, and is free.

      We had a lot of downtime (as well as slow speeds - particularly in the WordPress admin) when we used TSO Host. Since moving to a combination of WP Engine and SiteGround just over a year ago, we have had almost no downtime or reliability issues for any of our sites.

  11. fish
    September 17, 2015 Reply

    The addresses you blacked out arent even the same lengths.... noob

    • Katie Keith
      September 17, 2015 Reply

      That's because we tested the same website on 3 different hosts using temporary URL's. You can't point a single domain name to 3 separate hosts at the same time.

  12. Alex
    June 15, 2015 Reply

    Hi,

    This test is misleading as the sites are different sizes..

    -Alex

    • Katie Keith
      June 15, 2015 Reply

      The page size varies with different hosts because of the performance measures they implement such as file compression etc. So it's not misleading and the different page sizes reflect the hosts and not the website itself.

  13. Matt Dennis
    April 25, 2015 Reply

    Why are the page sizes different in your tests? They should all be the same. Of course it takes longer to download a larger page...

    • Katie Keith
      April 26, 2015 Reply

      Surprisingly, the page size does vary with different hosts because of the performance measures they implement such as file compression etc.

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