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GoDaddy vs WP Engine: Performance Compared – Which is Better for WordPress?

WordPress Deals

Trying to choose between GoDaddy and WP Engine to host your WordPress site?

GoDaddy are one of the most well-known hosting companies out there, with Superbowl commercials, a public listing on the New York Stock exchange, and a $12 billion market cap.

WP Engine are no small fry either, though. They’re one of the oldest and largest managed WordPress hosting companies, and are also inching towards their own $1 billion valuation, with a recent acquisition of their former competitor, Flywheel.

Basically, the point I’m making by throwing around those billion dollar valuations is that these are two of the big dogs in the hosting industry, and both have put a ton of resources into building their hosting products.

The aim of this post is to help you to understand the differences between these two hosts (which are considerable), choose between them, and find the right hosting plan to suit your needs.

It’s not about picking a single ‘winner’ for every single situation, though — it’s simply about helping you to pick the best place to host your website, taking into account your budget, desired features, and how much emphasis you place on performance, etc.

Here’s What’s Being Compared

While this is a WP Engine vs GoDaddy comparison, I’m actually going to be comparing three different hosting options — one from WP Engine and two from GoDaddy.

Here’s why:

With WP Engine, everyone gets the same general managed WordPress hosting experience. While WP Engine do offer multiple plans, they all have the same basic features — the only difference is the hardware resources you get (e.g. more storage or more bandwidth).

However, GoDaddy offer two popular ways to host a WordPress site:

  1. A managed WordPress plan that offers streamlined WordPress functionality. You can only use it to host WordPress sites.
  2. A generic shared Linux hosting plan. You can use it to host WordPress, as well as other types of sites.

So, essentially, this post is kind of answering two questions:

  1. Should you host your WordPress site with WP Engine or GoDaddy?
  2. If GoDaddy are more your speed, should you choose their managed WordPress plan or their cheaper shared plan?

Let’s get started so you can make the right decision…

WP Engine vs GoDaddy: Feature Comparison

Let’s start off with a basic feature comparison of these three plans to set the stage:

WP Engine GoDaddy Managed GoDaddy Shared
WordPress Installer
WordPress Updates
Custom Hosting Dashboard
Automatic Backups
Staging Sites ✅*
Server-Level Caching
Free SSL ✅*
Free CDN

*These features aren’t available on all tiers.

From comparing the biggest features most WordPress users will want, you can tell that GoDaddy’s managed WordPress hosting plan is much more comparable to WP Engine than its cheaper shared plan, which pretty much just offers a WordPress auto-installer and not much else.

While these features aren’t must-haves to run a WordPress site, they will make your life much more convenient. For example:

  • The custom hosting dashboard lets you see important aspects of your site. For example, you can easily see which plugins need to be updated right from your hosting dashboard.
  • Automatic backups mean you don’t have to fiddle around with a WordPress backup plugin.
  • Server-level caching means you don’t have to configure your own caching plugin (though there still may be benefits to using something like WP Rocket).
  • The included CDN and SSL certificates save you from purchasing otherwise-paid services.

So, to put it all together, WP Engine and GoDaddy’s managed plans are comparable when it comes to the biggest ‘managed WordPress features’ most people want, while GoDaddy’s cheaper shared plan is much more barebones.

However, WP Engine also offer other value-added features that you won’t get with GoDaddy. The biggest example is that you get the Genesis Framework and all StudioPress child themes for free. These are high-quality, premium themes that are included at no extra cost.

You can access them from the Themes area in your WP Engine dashboard:

WP Engine included Genesis Framework

(click to enlarge)

Speaking of dashboards…

WP Engine vs GoDaddy: Dashboard/Ease of Use Comparison

Next, let’s go more hands-on and take a look at the ease of use of each platform on a day-to-day basis. By this, I mainly mean the dashboards you’ll use to manage various parts of your site.

WP Engine

There’s a lot going on in WP Engine’s site dashboard — much more than either of the GoDaddy plans.

If you’re a casual user, this can feel a little overwhelming at first. However, it’s much better to have this functionality than to not have it, and I think WP Engine’s dashboard is one of the high points of their service.

Here’s what it looks like when you manage a specific site. Again, there’s a lot going on. You get:

  • a long list of menu options on the left to access different areas
  • basic stats in the center to monitor your site’s usage
  • update alerts for the WordPress software and plugins (you can see this in the bottom-right corner).

WP Engine's main WordPress site dashboard

(click to enlarge)

Let’s look at a few of those options that you get in the left sidebar.

First, the Backup points area lets you view all of the automatic daily backups that WP Engine take. You can also:

  • manually create a backup, which is convenient if you’re about to make a big change
  • restore your site from any backup
  • download a backup to your computer.

WP Engine backup tool

(click to enlarge)

If you go to the Redirect rules area, you can set up redirects without needing to mess with your site’s .htaccess file, which is another convenient tool:

WP Engine in-dashboard redirect tool

(click to enlarge)

Another really powerful benefit is that WP Engine give you not just one development area, but two options:

  1. Staging
  2. Development

Both of these are like ‘sandboxes’ where you can safely play around with changes to your site before pushing them live.

They’re super easy to use, and WP Engine give you convenient tools that let you clone your WordPress site between different environments:

WP Engine staging functionality

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Finally, you also get a dedicated Tools area that can help you to test your site’s performance:

WP Engine in-dashboard performance test tool

(click to enlarge)

Overall, WP Engine are definitely the winner when it comes to the hosting dashboard, though it may feel a little overwhelming for casual users at first.

GoDaddy Managed WordPress Hosting

GoDaddy’s managed WordPress plans give you a custom dashboard experience that’s much more user-friendly than their shared plans. For a casual user, I think it’s also a little more user-friendly than WP Engine at first.

That is, it’s less overwhelming, but it doesn’t give you as many tools as WP Engine.

Here’s what the main dashboard looks like — you can see how it lists out updates you should pay attention to, and also lets you manage your automatic backups and other services (my test plan doesn’t have a free SSL certificate — higher tiers do, though):

GoDaddy main managed WordPress hosting dashboard

(click to enlarge)

If you scroll down, you can run a website performance check right from your dashboard, which is another really convenient feature:

GoDaddy in-dashboard performance check tool

(click to enlarge)

WP Engine also let you do this, which I showed you above.

Finally, the bottom of the dashboard gives you some details about your site and server, and it’s also where you’ll access your staging site, if you choose a tier that includes staging.

In addition, it’s where you can enable or disable the free CDN functionality that comes with your plan:

GoDaddy site detailed section in dashboard

(click to enlarge)

Going a little deeper, let me give you a look at the automatic backup and restore tool. While you don’t seem to be able to manually run a backup — which is disappointing — GoDaddy do let you restore from any automatic backup. They also give you the option to choose to restore just the files/database or your entire site:

GoDaddy automatic backup and restore tool

(click to enlarge)

In addition to what I’ve shown you above, GoDaddy’s managed WordPress plan also offers a really convenient onboarding process that can help you to install your first WordPress site or migrate an existing WordPress site from another host.

All in all, GoDaddy’s managed WordPress dashboard offers a nice, convenient dashboard for casual users.

I think power users and developers will prefer the depth of functionality WP Engine offer, but, if you’re a casual user, you may prefer the simplicity of GoDaddy.

GoDaddy Shared WordPress Hosting

GoDaddy’s shared WordPress hosting experience isn’t nearly as nice as their managed WordPress functionality.

In the main dashboard, you get a basic summary of your site, as well as links to important tools such as phpMyAdmin and File Manager. However, there are none of the WordPress-specific features you get with GoDaddy’s managed plan:

GoDaddy's shared hosting dashboard

(click to enlarge)

If you click on the cPanel link, you’ll get the ‘standard’ cPanel dashboard to manage your site’s server:

GoDaddy shared hosting cPanel dashboard

(click to enlarge)

Basically, GoDaddy’s shared plan is a fairly ‘typical’ shared hosting experience, where you’ll essentially run everything through cPanel and there aren’t any WordPress-specific features.

On the other hand, WP Engine and GoDaddy’s managed WordPress plans offer tailored dashboard experiences built specifically for WordPress.

WP Engine vs GoDaddy: Support Comparison

No matter where you host your site, there’ll probably come a time when you need a helping hand, so you’ll want a company that offers stellar support.

WP Engine Support Options

WP Engine offer 24/7 chat support on all plans. Higher-tier plans also get 24/7 phone support.

You can easily access chat support right from your WP Engine dashboard at any time:

WP Engine live chat support

(click to enlarge)

GoDaddy Support Options

Both GoDaddy’s managed WordPress hosting and shared hosting offer 24/7 support via phone, as well as live chat support from Monday to Friday.

You can’t access the live chat from anywhere in your dashboard, but they do make it easy enough to find with a dedicated Contact Us page:

GoDaddy support page

(click to enlarge)

WP Engine vs GoDaddy: Performance Comparison

To test the performance of WP Engine vs GoDaddy, I set up three identical test sites on:

  1. WP Engine’s Startup plan.
  2. GoDaddy’s Basic managed WordPress hosting plan.
  3. GoDaddy’s Economy shared Linux plan.

This is the cheapest tier at each host.

The test site is 100% identical on each host — I used the same clone copy.

Beyond that, I tried to make this a real-world test by mimicking a real WordPress site. So, the test sites are all using the popular Avada theme, as well as a full Avada demo site and some other common plugins, such as Yoast SEO.

The demo sites have a lengthy homepage with lots going on, so they should be a good test of these three hosting plans. If you’re interested, you can see a screenshot of the full page here.

Then, I’ll run ten performance tests for each hosting plan using WebPageTest. I’ve set WebPageTest up to:

  • test from Chicago Illinois
  • throttle the connection to 20 Mbps, which is around the average internet speed in the USA.

I’ll start by just sharing the raw data, and then I’ll draw some conclusions at the end of this section.

WP Engine

The average across all ten tests was 2.43 seconds.

Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 Test 5
2.121 s 2.386 s 2.623 s 2.515 s 2.624 s
Test 6 Test 7 Test 8 Test 9 Test 10
2.186 s 2.582 s 2.298 s 2.402 s 2.530 s

View the full results at WebPageTest:

GoDaddy Managed WordPress

The average across all ten tests was 2.94 seconds.

Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 Test 5
3.081 s 3.194 s 2.822 s 2.936 s 3.329 s
Test 6 Test 7 Test 8 Test 9 Test 10
3.411 s 2.602 s 2.410 s 2.951 s 2.701 s

View the full results at WebPageTest:

GoDaddy Shared Linux Hosting

The average across all ten tests was 3.02 seconds.

Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 Test 5
3.276 s 3.347 s 2.897 s 3.040 s 2.922 s
Test 6 Test 7 Test 8 Test 9 Test 10
2.985 s 2.901 s 2.934 s 2.907 s 2.989 s

View the full results at WebPageTest:

Drawing Conclusions from the Data

To make it easier to see the differences from all of those tests, here’s a table comparing the overall average speed for each hosting plan:

WP Engine GoDaddy Managed GoDaddy Shared
2.43 s 2.94 s 3.02 s

As you can see, the difference between WP Engine and the two GoDaddy plans was much larger than the difference between the two GoDaddy plans themselves.

So, if performance is of utmost importance to you, you’ll probably want to go with WP Engine.

However, WP Engine are also more expensive than the GoDaddy plans I’m testing, so you’re not getting that extra performance for free.

You’ll need to decide if you value the faster WP Engine performance enough to pay the extra money.

Additionally, if you’re on a budget and don’t care about the extra features in GoDaddy’s managed WordPress hosting plans, there doesn’t seem to be a big performance difference between that plan and GoDaddy’s cheaper shared plans.

Speaking of money…

WP Engine vs GoDaddy: Pricing Comparison

Of these three hosts, WP Engine are the most expensive, with both of GoDaddy’s plans coming in well under WP Engine’s plans.

Here’s a comparison of the entry-level tiers for all three hosts. For this comparison, I’ll use the regular pricing for the shortest billing cycle possible. However, GoDaddy offer fairly aggressive promotional discounts that apply to your first billing cycle.

For example, you can sometimes find discounts to pay just $12 for your entire first year. After that, you’d need to pay the ‘regular’ price listed below.

Additionally, you can also get a cheaper price by paying for more time up front — this is true for all three hosts:

WP Engine GoDaddy Managed GoDaddy Shared
Price per month $35 $12.99 $10.99
Billing cycle Monthly Monthly Every 3 months
Websites allowed 1 1 1
Traffic 25,000 25,000 Unmetered
Storage 10 GB 10 GB 100 GB
Bandwidth 50 GB N/A Unmetered

As the table shows, there’s a reason why WP Engine load your site faster and have a nicer dashboard — the price! Quite simply, WP Engine are a bit of a higher-tier product and a step up in price compared with GoDaddy.

Final Thoughts on WP Engine vs GoDaddy

If you’re a WordPress user trying to decide between WP Engine and GoDaddy, I think you should make one decision first:

GoDaddy’s managed WordPress plans vs GoDaddy’s shared plans.

GoDaddy Managed WordPress vs Shared Plans

Here, I think GoDaddy’s managed WordPress plans offer much better value for most people. The price difference is small, starting at $12.99 a month for managed vs $10.99 a month for shared. Plus, with the shared plan, you have to pay for three months at a time, whereas the managed plan lets you go month-to-month.

For that small price difference, GoDaddy’s managed WordPress plans offer:

  • more functionality, with key features such as automatic backups, built-in caching and CDN, and, on higher tiers, staging sites
  • a much nicer dashboard experience, with convenient features such as plugin update notifications and an in-dashboard performance tool
  • slightly better performance.

I think the only reason to choose GoDaddy’s shared plans over the managed WordPress plans is if you’re planning to host lots of different sites. On higher tiers of the shared plan, you can host unlimited websites. However, most tiers of the managed WordPress plans only allow one or two sites.

WP Engine vs GoDaddy Managed WordPress

Now for the next question — which should you choose between WP Engine and GoDaddy’s managed WordPress plans?

Here, I really think it comes down to your budget.

Taking price out of the equation, WP Engine just plain offer a higher-quality product with:

  • better performance
  • more functionality available in your dashboard, especially for power users and developers
  • high-quality server-level caching and an integrated CDN
  • free SSL certificates on all plans
  • value-adds such as the Genesis Framework and all 35-plus StudioPress child themes.

The only ‘catch’ is that you’re going to pay more for that — WP Engine’s cheapest plan is $35 a month, while GoDaddy’s cheapest managed WordPress plan costs just $12.99 a month for similar storage/traffic levels (and offers aggressive promotional discounts, such as paying $12 total for your entire first year).

So, if you’re on a budget, consider GoDaddy’s managed WordPress plans as they offer adequate value for the money.

But if you want the best overall WordPress hosting, then you’ll probably want to spring for WP Engine over GoDaddy.

For an even deeper look, check out our full WP Engine review.

Used/using WP Engine or GoDaddy? Thoughts?

By Colin Newcomer

Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer and long-time Internet marketer. He specializes in digital marketing and WordPress. He lives a life of danger, riding a scooter through the chaos of Hanoi.
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