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Kinsta vs WPEngine – Which Offers The Best WordPress Hosting?

WP Engine and Kinsta are two of the hottest names in managed WordPress hosting — which is exactly the type of hosting you should be considering if you have a profitable website to run. But which is best? And which one should you choose? Those are the questions we’ll be helping you to answer in this comparison — with the help of some real-life speed and performance tests

Both Kinsta (here’s our in-depth Kinsta Review) and WP Engine (and here’s our in-depth WP Engine Review) have feature-packed plans and positive reputations, while also sharing similar pricing strategies, which makes choosing between them very difficult — at least at first glance. However, by the time you’ve read this comparison, you’ll have all of the information you need to decide which one of the two you should pick.

To ensure you’re fully informed, we’ll not only compare the features and user experience (and of course pricing: here’s Kinsta’s pricing – and here’s WP Engine’s pricing) of these two hosts — we’ll also include the loading times of two specially set-up test sites, as well as their respective uptime and performance monitoring results. These results will show just how well each host handles multiple visitors accessing the sites at the same time, and the resulting impact this has on site speed.

Let’s dive in…

Kinsta and WP Engine Entry-Level Hosting Plans

Kinsta and WP Engine both offer a wide range of hosting plans for WordPress websites that are suitable for all types of projects — from basic blogs to large enterprise sites. So, no matter the size of your site and its audience, both hosts should have a plan that meets your requirements.

WP Engine Homepage Screenshot

However, while this guide covers the companies as a whole, for the performance testing and feature evaluation, we’ve compared the entry-level plans from both hosts. Because of this, even readers with lower budgets can get a good insight into which one offers the best managed WordPress hosting.

Kinsta Homepage Screenshot

So, with that in mind, the main details of the entry-level plans used in this WP Engine and Kinsta comparison are:

  • Kinsta Starter plan: $30 per month for one WordPress website, 10 GB of storage, 25,000 visits per month and 50 GB of CDN usage.
  • WP Engine Startup plan: $35 per month for one WordPress website, 10 GB of storage, 25,000 visitors per month and 50 GB of bandwidth.

When it comes to bandwidth allowances, the WP Engine 50 GB allowance applies to server bandwidth, while Kinsta doesn’t have a server bandwidth limit — although they do have an acceptable use policy. Instead, the 50 GB allowance on the Kinsta Starter plan applies to CDN usage.

Both WP Engine and Kinsta offer discounts if you pay annually, effectively giving you two months’ free hosting if you choose to pay for one year upfront.

Although there’s not much to separate Kinsta and WP Engine when it comes to the key features listed above, there are actually some important differences between these two hosts that we’ll now highlight.

WP Engine vs Kinsta Overage Charges

Both Kinsta and WP Engine set limits on the number of visits your site can receive and how much bandwidth it can consume. If you exceed these monthly limits, then you’ll be charged the following overage fees:

  • Kinsta: $1 for each 1,000 extra monthly site visits and $0.10 for each additional GB of CDN bandwidth used.
  • WP Engine: $2 for each 1,000 extra monthly site visits but no bandwidth overages charges.

WP Engine will never throttle customers or take their site offline if the allowance is exceeded or a traffic spike occurs. However, if you’re consistently going over your limits, they recommend you consider upgrading to a higher plan. Kinsta won’t limit access to your site for regular overages either, but, if an extreme overage occurs, then they may take your site offline until the issue is resolved.

With both hosts, you can monitor your visit and bandwidth allowances from inside your dashboard, hopefully helping to avoid any surprise overages.

Analytics Dashboard
Both hosts give you a good insight into your usage, though Kinsta do provide a bit more information than WP Engine.

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With the financial details out of the way, let’s explore exactly what each host has to offer before we get to the performance testing results.

Kinsta vs WP Engine Main Features

Some of the benefits of choosing managed WordPress hosting from companies such as Kinsta or WP Engine include faster site speed, access to expert support staff, more robust security, and useful features not usually found in cheaper shared hosting plans.

Here are some of the reasons to consider WP Engine and Kinsta, and the differences that will help you to make a final decision.

Managed WordPress Cloud Hosting

To provide you with a state-of-the-art infrastructure, both Kinsta and WP Engine now offer cloud hosting in partnership with the Google Cloud Platform. Therefore, whether you choose WP Engine or Kinsta, your website will actually be hosted on the Google Cloud Platform.

Thanks to the almost infinitely scalable nature of the cloud hosting provided by Google, your website will always have access to the resources it needs. However, you’ll always deal directly with either Kinsta or WP Engine for everything, including billing, website management, user support and more.

Although this WP Engine vs Kinsta comparison is focused on the entry-level plans from these two hosts — which both use the Google Cloud Platform — it’s worth mentioning that the top-tier dedicated hosted plans from WP Engine give you the option of using the Amazon Web Services platform for your website. One benefit of this is that you can choose from more data center locations — provided you’re prepared to pay the higher price of the more expensive dedicated plans from WP Engine.

However, for most readers of this comparison, the plans using the Google Cloud Platform should provide enough resources.

Benefits of WordPress Cloud Hosting

One good reason to consider cloud hosting is that the resources available for your website can be automatically or manually increased or scaled by your host, as and when needed.

This is in contrast to more traditional hosting, where your website may have to be moved to a higher-specification server when upgrading, potentially resulting in downtime and disruption. Not only can this migration to a higher performance server cause disruption, but it has to be scheduled in. With cloud hosting, the extra resources can be accessed by your site almost instantly — as and when needed — making cloud hosting ideal for handling unexpected traffic spikes, as well as those times when you need to move to a higher plan but don’t want to experience any downtime.

Although there are lots of good WordPress cloud hosting providers, choosing Kinsta or WP Engine means you’ll have an experienced WordPress hosting company looking after your website, while also leveraging the almost endless resources of the Google Cloud Platform.

Content Delivery Network

As well as hosting your website in the cloud, both WP Engine and Kinsta include access to a content delivery network or a CDN as part of their entry-level plans.

Enable CDN in WP Engine
Both hosts provide optional CDN integration that can be enabled in just a few clicks.

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Because of this, if you choose to enable the CDN your website files will be stored in multiple locations around the world. Then, when a visitor accesses your website, those files will be served from the location closest to that visitor. Because the files have less distance to travel than with a website that doesn’t use a CDN, your visitors should experience faster loading times. Not only that, but having your website files stored in multiple locations adds redundancy, which can reduce periods of unavailability should one data center go offline.

Enable CDN in Kinsta
Enabling the optional CDN integration with either host is very straightforward.

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With both WP Engine and Kinsta, you can enable the CDN in just a few clicks from inside your account area. Once it’s enabled, you don’t have to do anything else, and the service will take care of everything for you. When it comes to which CDN each host uses, Kinsta have partnered with KeyCDN while WP Engine use MaxCDN, although you’re free to make your own CDN arrangements if you’d prefer.

WordPress Website Migration

If you’re thinking of moving an existing WordPress website to either Kinsta or WP Engine, the good news is both hosts make it very easy to migrate your site to their platform.

Kinsta will migrate your WordPress website to their servers for free as part of their plans, including unlimited migrations if you want to move multiple WordPress websites from specific hosts, including WP Engine, Flywheel, and DreamHost. WP Engine don’t offer a migration service.

Apart from the free migration provided by Kinsta, manually transferring a WordPress website to these hosts is very straightforward. As both hosts have either an in-house migration plugin (WP Engine) or a recommended third-party tool (Kinsta), along with detailed instructions, the whole process should go smoothly.

WordPress Themes

Since the acquisition of StudioPress, WP Engine customers now get access to 37 premium WordPress themes for their websites, making this perhaps the biggest difference between Kinsta and WP Engine.

StudioPress Themes
Some of the premium WordPress themes from StudioPress that WP Engine customers can use at no extra cost.

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With prices of the most popular WordPress themes starting at around $60, and some of the StudioPress themes that are available to WP Engine customers costing up to $129, getting a theme at no extra cost can mean a considerable saving — provided you can find one that’s right for your website among the available options.

Unfortunately, Kinsta don’t have themes included in their hosting plans. However, there are still plenty of good free themes out there.

Access to Expert WordPress Support Staff

Another key feature of good managed WordPress hosting is access to expert support staff. As companies such as Kinsta and WP Engine only host WordPress websites, their support staff are highly experienced when it comes to looking after this type of site. Unlike generic hosting, when you contact Kinsta or WP Engine, you should always be connected with someone who knows how best to support WordPress users.

However, there are some differences in how you can contact the support staff at Kinsta and WP Engine that may be important to you, depending on your preferences:

  • Kinsta support options: 24/7 live chat and tickets on all plans, but no telephone support.
  • WP Engine support options: 24/7 live chat on all plans, 24/7 phone support on all plans except the entry-level Startup plan, and tickets only available on top-tier custom dedicated plans.

Despite the differences outlined above, during testing for this comparison, both hosts provided a good level of support.

Live Chat Support Channel from Kinsta
Both hosts offer 24/7 support via live chat on their entry-level plans.

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Although basic tasks such as setting up a new WordPress website, migrating an existing site, and pointing a domain to the accounts, were completed without any issues, during testing I was able to cause a few problems that required me to contact the WP Engine and Kinsta support staff.

These issues arose after creating and deleting new WordPress sites, experimenting with different migration plugins, trying out multiple domain registrars, and enabling and disabling the SSL certificates. After carrying out these sorts of activities for a while, the sites did start to experiences some issues — mainly to do with the domains and nameservers.

This presented a good opportunity to try out the Kinsta and WP Engine support staff, whom I contacted through the live chat channels available for their entry-level plans. Although some readers may prefer contacting the support staff by telephone — something that’s not available on either of the WP Engine or Kinsta entry-level plans — the live chat channels for both hosts were very responsive and the issues were resolved by the first people I connected with. Furthermore, when I contacted the support teams, it only ever took a few seconds for someone to respond.

However, if being able to contact support staff via telephone is a deal breaker, then you’ll need to choose any of the WP Engine plans apart from the entry-level Startup plan. Kinsta do not offer telephone support at all, but they do offer support via email tickets (in addition to live chat) on all plans, while with WP Engine tickets are reserved for customers on their top-tier plan.

Conversely, telephone support is available on all of the lower-priced SiteGround shared hosting plans, which you can find out more about in our recent SiteGround review.

As access to expert support staff is one of the key selling points of managed WordPress hosting, it was reassuring to see that both WP Engine and Kinsta dealt with the issues quickly and effectively.

Automated and Manual WordPress Website Backups

Another key feature of premium WordPress-focused hosting is the provision of an easy-to-use website backup tool.

Kinsta and WP Engine are no exception in this regard, as both hosts offer automatic daily website backups on all of their plans, as well as giving you the ability to manually create a site backup when you need to. However, once again, there are some key differences in how each host provides this feature.

WP Engine Website Backup Points
With WP Engine, the automated backups can be downloaded for safekeeping; with Kinsta, you must manually create a downloadable backup first.

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The backups or restore points are kept on the WP Engine and Kinsta servers, and are available through your account dashboard, with the option of downloading them for safekeeping. However, while WP Engine let you download any of the existing backups in your dashboard, with Kinsta you have to generate a separate downloadable backup. Also, with Kinsta you can only generate one of these downloadable backups once a week.

Kinsta WordPress Website Backups
Kinsta backups are stored for 14 days, while WP Engines keeps up to 40 backups in your dashboard.

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The automated backups created daily by Kinsta are stored for 14 days, while with WP Engine, the last 40 daily automated backups are available. When restoring the backups, your only option with Kinsta is to restore the entire backup, while with WP Engine you can include or exclude the database from the backup restoration. Both hosts give you the option of restoring a backup to your production site or staging environment in just a few clicks.

WP Engine Restore Backup Options
WP Engine give you the option of restoring the backup with or without the database, while with Kinsta your only option is a full restore.

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WP Engine let you create a partial backup — something that can be useful with large websites — allowing you to exclude themes and plugins, for example. This option isn’t available with Kinsta, but when you create a downloadable backup your entire site is available for download, making it possible to manually delete any files from the archive you don’t need.

WP Engine Partial Backup Options
WP Engine let you create a partial backup, while with Kinsta the closest option is downloading a full backup then deleting what you don’t need.

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Being able to easily create a backup of your website on demand (such as before updating the WordPress software or activating a new plugin) is vital, so it’s good to see that both hosts make doing so very straightforward.

Although both hosts do provide a functional backup service, when comparing their features and functionalities, WP Engine do have some advantages over Kinsta. This includes keeping your backup files for longer, allowing you to download existing backup files, and giving you more control over what your backups and restores include. However, Kinsta do give you the option of paying for the hourly backups add-on which gives you additional restore points to work with.

WordPress Staging Websites

Both hosts let you create a staging website where you can try out new plugins, customize a theme, or carry out other tasks that could negatively impact your visitors if you did them on your live site. When you’re ready, you can transfer the content of the staging site to your live or production website.

Both hosts make it very easy to transfer content between your staging and live sites. However, once again, there are some differences in how they deliver this feature that we’ll explore now.

WP Engine Staging Feature

WP Engine actually give you three environments to work with, including development, staging and production environments. One way this arrangement can be used is to work on a site in the development environment and transfer it to the staging environment, where it can be accessed by those you’ve given permission to, such as your clients or team.

WP Engine Staging Site Set up
WP Engine let you create staging and development environments for site building and testing.

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When you’re ready, you can transfer the staging site to the production environment, making it accessible to all.

When copying your staging site to the production environment with WP Engine, only the files are copied (rather than the content that’s stored in the WordPress database). However, you can copy your choice of tables from the staging site database if you want to. You can read more about how the staging feature works on the WP Engine website.

Kinsta Staging Feature

Kinsta keep things simple with just two environments: Live and staging. When you create a staging site, you have the option of restoring one of your existing backups into the staging site, giving you a clone of your live site to work on. Then, when you’re ready, you can push the staging site to the live site.

Kinsta Staging Site Creation
The Kinsta staging feature is easy to use, but isn’t as sophisticated as the WP Engine approach.

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Unlike WP Engine, with Kinsta the entire site and its database are copied from the staging environment to the live site (rather than just the website files and your choice of database tables). Therefore, if you want more control over what’s copied between environments, you may prefer the WP Engine approach to staging sites.

Transferable Sites

As well as the three environments for your main website — development, staging and production — another nice developer-friendly feature of WP Engine is the ability to create transferable sites. These transferable sites have the three environments regular sites have, but the sites are password protected — including the production environment — so that only those with the right credentials can access them.

The purpose of the transferable sites feature is to provide a space where developers can produce websites for their clients, which can then be transferred to the client’s WP Engine account when they’re ready to go live. Alternatively, the developer could purchase a credit — $20 on the Startup plan — to host an additional site on their account, making the site live and publicly available.

You don’t get this feature with Kinsta, so, if you like the idea of being able to create sites that can easily be transferred out of your hosting account and into someone else’s account, Kinsta may not be the host for you.

WP Engine and Kinsta User Experiences

As well as the features you get access to, it’s also important to look at the user experience each host provides. After all, if your choice of host makes it difficult to manage your account or create a new WordPress website, you may end up regretting your decision.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a quick look at what it’s like to use each host to create and manage a WordPress website.

Creating a WordPress Website with Kinsta and WP Engine

Thankfully, both Kinsta and WP Engine make it very easy to create a new WordPress website. Once you’ve signed up and created your account, you can enter a few details to set up your new WordPress website.

Create New Site with Kinsta
With Kinsta, you can choose which data center location your site will be hosted in when creating a new site.

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As well as choosing where your website will be hosted, you can also copy one of your existing Kinsta-hosted websites into the new site. With WP Engine, you can choose a data location when creating your account and signing up to a plan, but you can’t choose a data center location each time you create a new site. However, you can contact support and request a migration to a different location if necessary.

Create New Site with WP Engine
WP Engine also make the process of creating a new site very straightforward.

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Like Kinsta, WP Engine also give you the option of copying one of the existing sites on your account into the new site. This could be useful if you’ve created a site in the staging environment and are ready to publish it, or if you have a custom WordPress website configuration you use as the foundation for new projects.

Kinsta-hosted WordPress Dashboard
The extra controls added to WordPress websites hosted by Kinsta make clearing the cache straightforward.

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WordPress websites created with WP Engine and Kinsta are very close to the default WordPress installation. Both hosts add an extra section to the WordPress Dashboard that gives you the ability to clear your site’s cache, while WP Engine include some additional functionality that lets you enable or disable the CDN, as well as a button for copying the site to your staging area. WP Engine also add handy links to their support and documentation pages to the WordPress Dashboard.

WP Engine-Hosted WordPress Dashboard
Both WP Engine and Kinsta add an extra section to the WordPress Dashboard of websites that they host.

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One notable difference between WordPress websites hosted by Kinsta and WP Engine is that a site created with WP Engine displays prompts reminding you to create a restore point when you’re about to update a plugin, theme or the WordPress software.

Create Restore Point in WP Engine
You’re encouraged to back up your website before carrying out any updates on a site hosted by WP Engine.

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In case you were wondering, the premium StudioPress themes that WP Engine customers now get access to can be downloaded from your WP Engine account area to your computer, and then uploaded to your WordPress Dashboard.

StudioPress Theme Download
WP Engine customers can download the premium StudioPress WordPress themes from their account area.

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It’s good to see that both hosts provide you with a pretty clean WordPress installation, unlike some other hosts that add third-party plugins and themes to your site, which you may not want.

Migrating an Existing WordPress Website to WP Engine and Kinsta

As mentioned earlier, both hosts will migrate an existing WordPress website to their servers.

However, only Kinsta provide a hands-off migration service on all plans, while with WP Engine this service is reserved for customers on their top-tier dedicated plans. So, if you don’t qualify for the hands-off migration, or you’d rather take care of the process yourself, you’ll have to perform a manual migration.

WordPress Website Migration to Kinsta
The recommended free Migrate Guru plugin from BlogVault makes it very easy to move a WordPress website to Kinsta.

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Thankfully, both hosts have done a great job of simplifying the process of migrating a WordPress website to their platforms. WP Engine have their own free plugin — based on the Migration Guru tool from BlogVault — which makes it very easy to migrate a WordPress website to their servers, with detailed documentation that everyone should be able to follow.

Migration Plugin from WP Engine
WP Engine have their own migration plugin that’s supported with written and video tutorials.

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Kinsta don’t have their own migration plugin, but they recommend and fully support the use of the free Migrate Guru WordPress plugin from BlogVault. With both hosts, you also have the option of using your own choice of migration plugin instead.

WP Engine and Kinsta Account Management

Instead of using an off-the-shelf solution such as cPanel — as is often the case with web hosts — both WP Engine and Kinsta have created their own account management dashboards. Through these portals, you can create your WordPress websites, create and restore backups, and carry out other important tasks.

Kinsta Account Dashboard User Interface
The Kinsta dashboard is well designed with a nice appearance that makes it easy to manage your account and website.

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As both hosts give you a set allowance of bandwidth and visits that your site can consume and receive each month, as well as a limit on the amount of disk space you can use, it’s good to see that both WP Engine and Kinsta give you a quick and convenient way to keep an eye on these stats — especially as if you go over these limits you could be charged overage fees.

WP Engine Account Dashboard User Interface
The WP Engine dashboard is also easy to use, but perhaps not as stylish as the Kinsta control panel.

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Both hosts provide quick and easy access to your WordPress website databases via the phpMyAdmin software, although you can also connect to the database with a tool of your choice.

WP Engine phpMyAdmin Database Access
Both hosts let you work on your WordPress database via phpMyAdmin or your choice of interface.

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Both hosts have created very easy-to-use interfaces for managing your account. There really isn’t much to separate WP Engine and Kinsta in this regard — although you can update the plugins installed on your site through the Kinsta account dashboard.

Manage WordPress Plugins
Unlike WP Engine, Kinsta gives you the ability to update WordPress plugins through your account area.

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That concludes our overview of what it’s like to use the Kinsta and WP Engine managed WordPress hosting services. Both deliver an accessible user experience, although WP Engine do have a few little extras that you may appreciate, such as the prompts to back up your WordPress website before installing any updates.

Kinsta vs WP Engine Technical Details

Before we get to the performance test results, here’s some technical information about these hosts that should help you to decide whether WP Engine or Kinsta is the best option for your website:

  • Website caching: Both hosts have their own caching technology in place, with Kinsta having server-level caching and an in-house WordPress caching plugin, while WP Engine have regular website caching and optional object caching for caching database queries.
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN): Both hosts provide optional CDN access, with WP Engine plans including CDN access from MaxCDN at no extra cost, and Kinsta including KeyCDN usage on their plans as standard.
  • PHP: Both hosts make it easy to switch between different versions of PHP, but, while WP Engine support PHP 5.6 and 7.2, Kinsta users can choose from PHP 5.6, 7.0, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4.
  • HTTP/2.0: Both Kinsta and WP Engine use HTTP/2.0 on the servers and the CDN.
  • SSL: Both hosts provide free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates, while also giving you the option of importing your own certificate or purchasing one through your account.
  • SFTP: Both hosts let you connect to your server space for uploading and editing files via Secure FTP, with WP Engine also giving you the ability to create multiple SFTP user accounts.
  • Server file manager: Neither WP Engine nor Kinsta provide an online file manager for accessing server space.
  • SSH: Kinsta provide secure shell access to your server space on all plans, while with WP Engine SSH is reserved for those on the top tier dedicated hosting plans.
  • Database access: Both hosts use phpMyAdmin to provide access to the WordPress website database through a browser with the option of connecting via your preferred tool.
  • Email service: No email service on any of the Kinsta or WP Engine hosting plans.
  • WordPress website management: Neither WP Engine nor Kinsta automatically update your themes or plugins for you, but WP Engine will automatically update the WordPress software — although you have the ability to defer an update for 60 days. Unlike WP Engine, Kinsta do give you the ability to update your plugins through the My Kinsta account dashboard.
  • Plugin restrictions: Both hosts have lists of banned (Kinsta) or disallowed (WP Engine) plugins that you can’t use, including some caching, backup and optimization plugins that can affect website performance.
  • Security measures: Kinsta have lots of measures in place to keep your site secure, including GeoIP blocking, DDoS scanning, proactively stopping malicious code entering the network, and more, while with WP Engine, websites are scanned for malware and other security issues, and the support team will take action if anything untoward is detected.
  • Post-hack clean-up services: If your WP Engine-hosted website is hacked, they’ll pay Sucuri to fix it while Kinsta will fix your site for free if it’s hacked.
  • Data center locations: Both hosts let you choose from multiple server locations across the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia through their partnerships with Google Cloud Platform.
  • Staging sites: Both WP Engine and Kinsta plans include access to a staging site with one-click deployment to the live site through the user portal graphical interface.
  • WordPress website migration: All Kinsta plans include a WordPress website migration or you can use the recommended free plugin to migrate the site yourself. WP Engine do not provide site migrations on the entry-level plan but have a free plugin you can use to do it yourself. The migration tools are easy to use and work well, with both hosts providing detailed instructions.
  • Visitor analytics: Both hosts let you view website traffic and allocation usage data through their account dashboards.
  • Uptime checks: With both hosts, the front end of your site is monitored for downtime, while the back end is also monitored to keep an eye on overall site health. Action is taken if an issue is detected. Both hosts have an uptime guarantee, with 99.95% uptime guaranteed by WP Engine and 99.9% by Kinsta.
  • Support channels: WP Engine provide a 24/7 live chat channel on all plans, and 24/7 phone support is available on all plans except the entry-level Startup plan. The WP Engine 24/7 ticket support is reserved for the top-tier custom dedicated plans only. With Kinsta, a 24/7 live chat channel and ticketing system are in place on all plans, but there’s no telephone support.

You can find more information on the plan comparison page of the WP Engine website and the features page of the Kinsta website.

WP Engine vs Kinsta Loading Times

One of the main reasons to choose a premium managed WordPress host over cheaper shared hosting is the faster loading times your site should achieve.

As the tests from our SiteGround vs WP Engine comparison showed, good managed WordPress hosting is definitely faster than the best shared hosting. But is there a difference between managed hosts? And, if so, who is faster, Kinsta or WP Engine?

To answer that question, we created several test WordPress websites with each host, and then monitored their performance using the paid Pingdom service. The loading times of the test websites were recorded at 30-minute intervals, over a seven-day period.

To give you a more rounded picture of how your site might perform if hosted by WP Engine or Kinsta, our test sites recorded the loading times when using a lightweight theme, as well as when using more featured, heavyweight option.

Here are the results…

Lightweight Theme Loading Time Results

If you’re creating a simple blog, or you’d like your website to have a minimal design, then you may choose a comparatively lightweight theme for your site. One modern and popular example is Twenty Nineteen, the latest release from the official themes team that’s enabled by default on new WordPress websites.

Twenty Nineteen WordPress Theme
The free, lightweight Twenty Nineteen theme is enabled by default on new WordPress websites.

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With smaller file sizes and an absence of any fancy extras, Twenty Nineteen should load very quickly. So, let’s see how fast our test sites were when using this theme, and when hosted by WP Engine and Kinsta.

Pingdom Page Speed Results for Twenty Nineteen
Comparison of the Kinsta and WP Engine loading times using a lightweight theme.

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As you can see from the above summary, over seven days of monitoring the loading times of blog posts on the sites using the Twenty Nineteen theme, the WP Engine-hosted site was the fastest. With WP Engine, the median load time was 361 milliseconds, compared with 405 milliseconds on the Kinsta-hosted site.

With just 44 milliseconds, or 0.044 seconds, between them, though, there isn’t much to separate WP Engine and Kinsta when using a basic theme.

Pingdom Results for Twenty Nineteen with WP Engine
Loading time results for the site using a lightweight theme hosted by WP Engine.

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The images above and below show the loading times that were recorded at regular intervals over the seven-day testing period for the blog posts on the sites using the Twenty Nineteen theme.

Pingdom Results for Twenty Nineteen with Kinsta
Loading time results for the site using a lightweight theme hosted by Kinsta.

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Multipurpose Theme Loading Time Results

While Twenty Nineteen is a good option for anyone seeking a free, fast and easy-to-use theme for their website, at the other end of the spectrum you have themes such as Avada. These multipurpose themes are usually packed with prebuilt website content, powerful plugins and countless features, and the best-selling Avada theme is no exception.

Avada Theme Agency Homepage Demo
Our second set of tests monitored the loading times of a site using the Avada Agency demo.

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So, if you plan on creating a corporate website, an agency site, an ecommerce store or a blog with features such as sliders, animation effects or video backgrounds, then you’ll want to know whether Kinsta or WP Engine is better at hosting a site using a multipurpose theme such as Avada.

Avada Agency Demo Homepage Loading Time Results

To make these tests more realistic, we imported the Avada Agency demo into our test WordPress websites. The loading times of the homepages were recorded by Pingdom every 30 minutes, over a period of seven days. Here’s a summary of the results:

Page Speed of Avada Homepage
Over seven days of testing, the homepage of the site using the Avada theme loaded faster with Kinsta than WP Engine.

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As the Pingdom test results showed, the homepage of the site hosted by Kinsta loaded in 1.07 seconds, while the same page on the WP Engine-hosted site loaded in 1.19 seconds, with a difference of .12 seconds, or 120 milliseconds, between them.

Avada Homepage Loading Times
The homepage of the site using the Avada theme hosted by Kinsta loaded in 1.07 seconds.

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Some readers may notice that the size of the page being tested is different in the two sets of results, shown above and below. You’ll find more information on this in the next section of this comparison, but the variation in page size could explain the difference in loading times.

Avada Homepage Test Results for WP Engine
For the site hosted by WP Engine, the demo homepage from the Avada theme loaded in 1.19 seconds.

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Avada Agency Demo Blog Post Loading Time Results

The demo homepages of a product such as Avada do a great job of showcasing what these themes are capable of. However, not every website needs a multimedia slideshow, animation effects or an embedded video on its homepage.

Avada Theme Agency Demo Blog Post
We also tested the loading times of a blog post with a smaller file size created with Avada.

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So, to give you an idea of what sort of loading times you could expect from a more modest page created with Avada, we also measured the performance of a blog post on our test sites. Here’s a summary of the results from seven days of measuring the loading times:

Results for the Avada Blog Post
Unlike the homepage test, this time the WP Engine-hosted page loaded faster than the page hosted by Kinsta.

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This time, the results were nearly identical, with the page hosted by WP Engine loading in 1.19 seconds and the Kinsta-hosted site coming in just .02 seconds, or 20 milliseconds, slower.

As you can see, the blog and the homepage of the site hosted by WP Engine both loaded in 1.19 seconds, despite their difference in sizes. However, with Kinsta the smaller blog post loaded in 1.21 seconds, versus 1.07 seconds for the larger homepage. Both sets of tests — for the homepage and the blog posts — were run at the same time, over the same seven days.

Here’s a breakdown of the loading times of the blog post from the site hosted by WP Engine and using the Avada theme, as recorded by Pingdom:

WP Engine Avada Blog Results

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The chart below shows the loading times of the blog post from the Kinsta-hosted site from Pingdom:

Avada Blog Post Times Hosted by Kinsta

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Why the Difference in Page Sizes?

As mentioned, the Pingdom results show different sizes and numbers of requests for the pages being monitored, with the WP Engine-hosted Avada homepage reportedly being 5.14 MB, and the same page on the Kinsta-hosted site being 5.08 MB. A similar difference can be seen on the Avada blog post and the Twenty Nineteen theme tests.

The websites were set up in the same way, starting with a fresh installation of WordPress, then installing the themes, activating the required plugins, and importing the demo content. In an attempt to overcome the different sizes recorded by Pingdom, I also created a site on a different host, using the Avada theme, then migrated it to WP Engine and Kinsta using a site duplication plugin. But still, the Pingdom results showed different page sizes for seemingly identical sites.

Despite being created in the same way, it could be that the caching and CDN configuration put in place by the hosts, as well as the in-house plugins enabled by WP Engine and Kinsta, affected the final sizes of the pages.

Also, as the images below show, the page sizes recorded by Pingdom during the testing fluctuate. However, as this applies to all of the test sites, I think it’s fair to say that the results are relevant and do give a good insight into how fast these hosts are.

Pingdom Breakdown of WP Engine Hosted Site
The page size column shows different sizes for the page being monitored, despite no changes being made to the site during the testing period.

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Pingdom Breakdown of Kinsta Hosted Site
Again, Pingdom lists different sizes for the page being monitored on the Kinsta-hosted site.

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For the site speed testing, the websites were all hosted in the same physical location (Iowa) and the same testing location was chosen in Pingdom (New York).

Loading Impact Performance Testing

The above loading time tests were carried out on sites that didn’t receive any traffic. While these results can be used to compare the speed of these two hosts, it’s also useful to see how the test sites perform when being accessed by multiple visitors at the same time.

By using the Load Impact service, we were able to simulate multiple users accessing the sites at the same time, while the loading times of the sites were recorded. In our custom tests, the number of virtual users accessing the sites increased over a ten-minute period until there were 250 simultaneous virtual users visiting the site. During this ten-minute period, Load Impact recorded the speed of the sites.

In the graphs below, the blue line represents the number of virtual users accessing the site, while the green line shows the load time of the site.

Kinsta Site Load Impact Results
The site hosted by Kinsta handled 250 simultaneous virtual users without any drop in performance.

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For more information on how this test was performed and what effect it had on the website hosted by Kinsta, you can see the results on the Load Impact website.

WP Engine Site Load Impact Results
The WP Engine-hosted site also accommodated 250 simultaneous virtual users without any slowdown.

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The results of this test are also available on the Load Impact website.

For context, our Bluehost, GoDaddy and SiteGround comparison shows the WordPress websites hosted on these cheaper shared plans struggled with less than 50 simultaneous virtual users. Although, as our recent SiteGround review demonstrated, the mid-level GoGeek shared plan from SiteGround performed well with a hundred simultaneous virtual users. So, if the WP Engine and Kinsta plans are too expensive, you may be able to find a robust home for your website with a shared hosting plan from a company such as SiteGround if you look above the entry-level plans.

Kinsta vs WP Engine Uptime

Both hosts have uptime guarantees in place, with WP Engine aiming to offer 99.95% service availability, and 99.9% from Kinsta. While the difference between 99.95% and 99.9% may not seem like much, according to this uptime calculator, over a year it equates to a difference of about four hours in guaranteed downtime between the two hosts. However, during our tests, none of the four test sites we monitored experienced any downtime from either host over the seven-day period of testing.

Kinsta vs WP Engine Uptime Comparison
None of the four test sites hosted by WP Engine and Kinsta experienced any downtime.

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Final Thoughts

At first glance, there isn’t much to separate Kinsta and WP Engine. Both hosts have similarly priced entry-level plans with comparable storage, bandwidth and visit allowances. Furthermore, websites hosted with both WP Engine and Kinsta are stored on the powerful Google Cloud Platform.

Even the results from our loading time and performance testing don’t make it easy to declare one host better than the other.

Because of this, it’s not until you start digging into the details and actually using the hosts that the differences start to become apparent and one begins to emerge as the winner.

With a more functional backup system in place, more options for using staging sites, and no bandwidth overage charges — not to mention access to the 37 premium themes from StudioPress — you do get more for your money with WP Engine.

Therefore, unless there’s a specific feature you must have access to that’s only provided by Kinsta, you should probably first consider hosting your site with WP Engine.

Used/using either of these two hosts? Thoughts?

By Joe Fylan

Joe is an experienced WordPress user who enjoys sharing the tips and knowledge he's picked up from using this fantastic platform for many years. You can find out more about Joe on his website.
Comments (policy)
  1. ewell says:

    Hi there…very details information…quick question…are you familiar with Thrive Themes WP builder… any idea how speed is affected by a robust them like that? I’m with another hosting service and my experiences have been so poor lately…I do like phone support so that eliminates Kinsta…do you have any idea how Thrive would perform for speed on WPEngine?

  2. Susan says:

    I’m confused by the speed comparison. I see that the speed didn’t degrade as users increase, but the Kinsta site appears to be 6x faster than the WP Engine site (61ms versus 359ms). Am I misunderstanding something? Are the sites exactly the same in terms of content, plug-ins, etc? Thank you in advance!

    • Joe Fylan says:

      Hi Susan,

      Sorry for the confusion!

      After looking through the documentation, I think K6 (formerly Load Impact) measures the response time of the site rather than what is traditionally thought of as the load time.

      The response time measurement looks at things like “time to first byte” and “time to receive headers”. Whereas load time traditionally refers to the time it takes for the page to load in its entirety.

      There’s some more info on this page:

      So K6 is recording things like the time to first byte in the load impact tests, while Pingdom is recording the time it takes for the page to fully load in their load time tests.

      The Pingdom load time test gives you a good idea of how fast your site will be in real terms, such as what your visitors will experience. While the K6/Load Impact tests give you a good idea of how your site will be affected when it gets busy.

      The best test would probably be to let Pingdom measure the load time while K6 is putting the site under load. But as Pingdom only records the load time every 30 minutes, this probably isn’t practical.

      I’m not sure why the times recorded by K6/Load Impact for the two hosts are so different. The sites were created in the same way, but as mentioned in the article, the caching and CDN configuration implemented by the hosts, as well as the in-house plugins enabled by WP Engine and Kinsta, could’ve affected the final sizes and organization of the pages and the way their elements loaded. This could’ve affected the response times recorded by K6/Load Impact.

      If you want to work out which host will deliver the best user experience to your visitors in terms of site speed, I’d focus on the load times recorded by Pingdom (as this is recording how long it takes for the page to load in its entirety) and focus on changes in the times recorded by K6/Load Impact (rather than the times themselves), as any changes will give you an idea of how the hosts handle loads.
      With cheaper hosts I’ve tested, the times recorded by K6/Load Impact often increase dramatically before becoming unresponsive as the site crashes under the load. This would indicate your visitors would have a poor user experience browsing your site when it’s busy, regardless of how fast the Pingdom results were when the site wasn’t under load.

      Hope that makes sense!


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