WP Engine vs. Pantheon

Top developers and over 2,500 agencies choose Pantheon.

First off, we like WP Engine. They blazed the trail for the whole idea of a WordPress-optimized host, and helped raise standards across the board. That’s awesome.

But people ask us all the time how Pantheon is different, because we’re not like traditional hosts, WP Engine included. This page is our best shot at explaining the difference all in one place.

If you’re a WordPress user looking to self-host a low traffic site, and you are ready for a premium provider that will support you on WordPress admin/plugin questions, etc, then WPEngine may be your best choice. They make it pretty easy to get up and running and they provide good support for WordPress application users.

However, if you’re a professional developer and you build custom websites, or you have an enterprise-level project that needs to scale beyond what a shared or single VM can deliver, then Pantheon is likely your best choice. Simply put, Pantheon is ideally suited for professional developers and enterprises while WP Engine is great for WordPress users.

Site Performance: Infrastructure Matters

The majority of WP Engine websites run on shared hosting—the most common and economical kind hosting. In such an environment, your site runs on the same server as tens or hundreds of other WPE sites. The “noisy neighbor” effect of this setup makes your site vulnerable to security exploits and poor performance caused by other sites that share your infrastructure. Even under ideal circumstances, you can run into resource limits pretty quickly.

WordPress sites on Pantheon don't share resources (or risks) because our infrastructure, running on Google's Cloud Platform, eliminates single points of failure and noisy neighbor problems. WordPress site running on Pantheon benefit greatly in terms of performance and reliability. They can scale smoothly with unplanned traffic spikes. Automated load balancers shift resources across a distributed platform, and if traffic grows, your site doesn’t need to migrate to a different architecture.

WordPress Hosting - response time in seconds

  • GoDaddy .43
  • WP ENGINE .42
  • Pantheon.26

(Shorter is better).

Not all hosting is the same. Make sure to compare benchmark data on different providers.



With Pantheon, you get lightning fast hosting, great uptime, and advanced caching with Varnish and Redis. We obsess over every detail in our stack to give you the best possible performance.

WordPress Development Tools and Workflow

Every site on Pantheon comes with pre-configured Dev, Test, and Live environments, all connected by version control. Each environment has the same architecture and performance characteristics as the live site. Develop in Dev, then integrate current content and code in Test before pushing to Live.

WP Engine offers developers a staging environment that is not an exact replica of their production environment. Hardware and specs are different from staging to production, so when you’re testing your site, you can’t be sure it will actually perform the same in production. Equally important, WP Engine does not offer a development environment, meaning users lack a space to create and collaborate with teammates.

Dev, Test, Live is a generally accepted development best practice. Missing one of these three environments means that developers aren’t adequately equipped to release quality code. Plus, using this best practice workflow accelerates your development cycles, so you can make improvements faster, and prevents any go-live surprises, so you can deploy with confidence.

Pantheon is the only platform that lets you use both version control (like Git push) and direct development on the sites. Developers familiar with local development using version control can push their changes to the platform. Those who prefer working online can work directly in a development environment. On Pantheon, WordPress development best practices are the path of least resistance.



Pantheon’s development tools are second to none. And Pantheon’s Dev, Test, and Live environments means no more developing on an isolated server and wondering if it’ll work in production.

Expert Support: Pantheon Has Your Back

Support matters. The support team at WP Engine has strong accolades for supporting users of WordPress while Pantheon’s support team has a great reputation working with developers and site architects.

Like all traditional hosts, WP Engine have to handle downtime tickets across multiple data centers, many server configurations (shared hosting, VPS, etc.) and various stack configurations. This complex infrastructure makes it difficult to quickly diagnose issues, bogging down the entire support process. It also makes it cumbersome to get to “the right person” on the support team who can help you.

Pantheon is a multi-tenant platform-as-a-service. All of our client websites run on the same underlying platform infrastructure. Our customers with 100M visitors/month run on the same infrastructure as our customers with 1,000 visitors/month. We help clients troubleshoot site performance issues quickly because we don’t have to worry about variations in environments. Not only does our software proactively handle most performance issues, our support team is staffed with WordPress experts who are ready to handle questions around the clock.

WordPress Hosting Infrastructure — Virtual Machines vs. Containers

While the majority of WordPress hosting providers use servers or virtual machines, container-based infrastructure is gaining in popularity. Containers have a number of benefits, including:

Wordpress Hosting Infrastructure
  1. Very fast provisioning
  2. Simple, high availability
  3. Smooth scaling
  4. Machine-precision consistency
  5. Better performance



Rest easy knowing that Pantheon’s team of WordPress experts is always available to help. You get unlimited access to our world-class customer success team and proactive monitoring of your site.

Traffic Limits and Overage Charges

Many hosting providers organize their plans based on a maximum amount of monthly visitors, sessions or page views. The definitions can get a bit obscure when you read the fine print. What exactly is a visit? Does content syndication count as a page view?

Most Pantheon plans include Overage Protection. We will work with you to make sure you are on the right plan to handle your website’s traffic at optimal performance. Our Overage Protection on Performance plans and higher, means you'll never get a surprise bill because you had a big month. Harsh Agrawal from ShoutMeLoud summarized his WP Engine experience well.



Pantheon is the only elastic hosting provider for WordPress. Our horizontally scalable infrastructure and finely tuned stack makes us the fastest, most reliable, and most scalable hosting available.

WP Engine announced a potentially cool search solution almost a year ago. So far, all you can do is fill out a form to express interest, but it doesn’t appear to be generally available.

At Pantheon, search is built into our platform and delivered as a service. We make Apache Solr—a robust enterprise grade search engine—available to WordPress sites across our platform at the Professional plan level and above. We manage a cluster of Solr servers, 100% solid state drives that store all indexes, and we optimize all aspects of the search stack so you can focus your time on optimizing results pages and filters. No administration necessary—it’s simple to setup and easy to configure. And yes, we provide isolated indexes for each Dev, Test, and Live environment.

Pantheon Is for Professionals Who Take Websites Seriously

Unrivaled speed, uptime, and scalability make Pantheon the best place to host WordPress sites. Professional developers, agencies, and large organizations standardize on Pantheon because our elastic scalability leaves managed hosting in the dust, and our cloud-based development tools make it easy for web teams to collaborate with baked-in best practices.

Learn why professional WordPress developers choose Pantheon.

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Pantheon runs over 200,000 websites. We’d love to host and manage yours too. All you need to do is create a free account and then migrate your site. We’ll make it easy to get up and running on Pantheon—Migrate today for free!

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