December 13, 2019

iThemes Security vs Wordfence – Comparing security plugins

iThemes Security or Wordfence – confused about which to pick?

I would be.   

On the one hand, you have Wordfence – one of the popular names in WordPress security. Currently at 3+ million active installations!

But holding its own is iThemes Security. With user-friendly execution and diverse features, it’s not one to be underestimated.

So what do you do? Well, let’s break it down!
In this article, we compare the two in detail on various parameters.

And hopefully, by the end, we’ll have the ideal plugin picked out for you!

iThemes Security vs Wordfence – Overview

iThemes Security

iThemes Security Pro

This plugin is easy-to-use and completely beginner-friendly. In their own words “ You shouldn’t have to be a security professional to use a security plugin.”

And so to simplify things, it comes with a complete security dashboard. This dashboard allows you to monitor statistics about your site security, all from one location.

It also lets you add multiple websites into the mix. iThemes Sync, an add-on plugin, helps you manage security for all your sites from the same dashboard.

Finally, it also hands you a security grade report. The report contains an overall evaluation of your site security, along with what can be done to improve it. Which is great, because it’s one less thing you have to think about.

Overall, it is the ideal plugin for people who love convenience and ease of use while still making sure their site is well protected. 

Wordfence

Wordfence

Wordfence is a comprehensive security solution with advanced features. Even better, it’s built with WordPress in mind.

For example, it comes with an Endpoint firewall which allows it to be more secure & completely integrated with WordPress as compared to a cloud-based firewall.

Wordfence threat defense feed is another powerful feature of this plugin. It is constantly updated based on data from the 3+ million websites that employ Wordfence.

To provide ease of use, it comes with Wordfence central – a central dashboard you can use to configure Wordfence, track security events and even manage multiple sites.

So, If you’re looking for an advanced security solution to lock down your website, Wordfence might be your pick!

iThemes Security vs Wordfence – Monitoring and alerts

iThemes Security

This plugin uses a Malware Scanner powered by Sucuri. Which includes a comprehensive 10-point checklist.

So, it not only looks for malware but also goes over website errors, out of date software and blacklist status. And all you need to do to run it is click a button.

The plugin detects if files have been changed, removed or added.  And also keeps an eye out for an unusual amount of 404s being generated, which might indicate a bot. In case of any suspicious activity, it generates email alerts immediately.

The version management option protects you from security issues caused by outdated versions. It sends out alerts, sets auto-updates and even puts up stricter security measures if the version hasn’t been updated in a while. 

Wordfence

Wordfence comes with a Security Scanner which extensively checks core files, themes, plugins. It looks for everything from backdoors to SEO spam.

This security scanner gets updated with the latest malware signatures with the Wordfence threat defense feed.

It carries out content safety checks, to see if your posts, files or comments contain any suspicious URLs. It also looks through files to seek out any changes that have been made to the original file, and automatically repairs them.

Additionally, Wordfence allows you to monitor live traffic including parameters like origin, IP address, time of day, etc.


iThemes SecurityWordfence
Malware Scanner✔️✔️
File change detection✔️✔️ + repair
Live traffic monitoring
✔️
Version management✔️Checks for abandoned plugins & themes
Content safety checks
✔️
Alerts & email notification✔️✔️

iThemes vs Wordfence – How well it protects from new threats

iThemes Security

The plugin protects against brute force attacks by limiting the number of failed attempts. It also enforces strong passwords and provides 2-factor authentication.

You can also hide the default URL of your login area to make it tougher to find.

Two features we would like to highlight here include the Away Mode and  User-Level Security.

Away mode locks down your website during specific hours when you’re not actively making any changes.

User-Level Security protects you against malicious parties getting access using WordPress User accounts, which is more common than not. You can add and delete users, change permissions or even log users out if needed.

iThemes security - backend security options

Along the same lines, the trusted devices option will allow you to add restrictions for unknown devices, notify you about logins through unrecognized emails and more. This also helps you remain protected from cookie-hacking or session-hacking.

Wordfence

Wordfence employs an Endpoint Firewall, which runs at your server, as opposed to cloud-based Firewalls. It provides better security for WordPress and prevents data leaks. This firewall is also armed with user-identity based rules which you can’t do with cloud-based firewalls. 

This firewall also gets continuously updated with new rules based on the data in the Wordfence threat defense feed. 

Wordfence Firewall Dashboard and options

In addition to that, it provides two-factor authentication to hinder brute force attacks, block countries employing suspicious activities, manual blocking and blocking accounts with compromised passwords.

FeatureiThemes SecurityWordfence
Firewall 
✔️
Two-factor authentication✔️✔️
Login security✔️✔️
Brute Force protection✔️✔️
Away – mode ✔️
Country blocking
✔️
User-level security✔️User-identity based firewall rules

iThemes vs Wordfence – Backup & recovery for hacked sites

iThemes Security

The iThemes security plugin regularly schedules backups of your database and emails them to you.

Which is fine, but for a complete backup and recovery solution, you might want to consider BackupBuddy by Ithemes.

It will allow you to decide when backups are scheduled and store your backups offsite. In case of security issues, you can easily restore your website to a pristine state.

Wordfence

If your site has been hacked, Wordfence provides site clean up as well as security auditing services. Also, Wordfence installs the premium version of the plugin as part of the service.

But when it comes to backup, you might want to look for a separate backup plugin to go along with it. You can check out plugins like UpdraftPlus, VaultPress or even Backup Buddy. Regular backups will help you eliminate the need for clean-up services in the future.

iThemes security vs Wordfence – Pricing

Both plugins come with a free version, so feel free to check those out first to get a feel of things.

Now, let’s talk about the premium versions. Ithemes security license for 1-site will cost you $80 and for 10 sites will cost you $127.

Wordfence pricing plan works a little differently. 1-site license costs $99. But, the more licenses you buy, the bigger the discount you get. For example, if you buy 10 site licenses you get a 20% discount. So you get each at $79.

But even with the discount, the total price ends up quite steep.

Here’s the thing, the price 1-site licenses don’t differ by a lot. So you can go ahead and purchase whichever plugin you prefer. But if you intend to buy more than one license, iThemes security is clearly the more feasible choice.


iThemes SecurityWordfence
Free versionAvailableAvailable
1-site license$80$99
10-site license$127$79.20 each
Unlimited sites/ 15+ sites$120$74.25 each

iThemes vs Wordfence – User reviews

iThemes Security

Average User Rating:

Positive reviews for iThemes Security

“Good plugin for security…..Using iThemes for the last few years and it helped me to secure and block a good number of attacks over my website’s.”

Jose Varghese (Via WordPress.org)

“Fantastic! An amazing Plugin! Thank you iThemes Security for creating this amazing plugin, and for giving the free version such flexibility. Highly Recommended!”


Ray (via SoftwareFindr.com)

Negative reviews for iThemes Security

“Locking Google Bot, Bing Bot, Yahoo Bot, Alexa Bot, and Rank dropped with sales!… since 6+ months my websites (which include the pro plugin) has dropped significantly due to blocking important bots…. Also, I found tons of: 404 not found (pages and posts already exist),Soft 404, 403.”

Jodyshop( via WordPress.org)

“My experience was terrible.For some reason, apparently, this plugin identified Googlebot as a threat and simply blocked it.It took me a long time analyzing my server logs to understand the problem.I do not recommend.”

Leandrocastro ( via WordPress.org)

Wordfence

Average User Rating:

Positive reviews for Wordfence

“I’ve have the Wordfence plugin (free version) on dozens of my personal and client sites for a few years. Easy to install and configure, it’s blocked many attacks and I’ve never had a site hacked that had it. “

ImagiNed( via WordPress.org)

“Wordfence is the best security plugin we have tried as it is the most compatible to our needs…..The best thing is its live traffic option, in which it can show you the visitors to your site, especially the one’s trying to hack your login page, showing its ip, and whether the one trying to access is a bot or human.”

-Arnold C ( via g2.com)

Negative reviews about Wordfence

“…. Wordfence has many complex configuration options which are geared more towards experienced security professionals…some of the security settings in Wordfence might even be impressive to some security professionals, it seemed to be built for people with some security experience or knowledge.”

Anonymous ( via g2.com)

“What I do not like much is the plugin has lots of settings and options, and it’s somewhat complicated to configure at the start.”

Raymond C ( via g2.com)

iThemes Security vs Wordfence – Which should you pick?

Both Ithemes Security and Wordfence are competent security plugins. Picking the correct one truly depends on what you want out of your security plugin.

When to pick Wordfence
Wordfence comes with top-notch security features like an endpoint firewall and defense threat feed. With the plugin improving security measures in real-time, it’s your pick if you need advanced security on your website.
Ideal choice for : mid to large business websites, sites that house sensitive data

When to pick iThemes Security
On the other hand, Ithemes security is relatively easier to use and uncomplicated while still providing good security features. So if you’re a beginner user or unfamiliar with site security, this plugin could be the choice.
Ideal choice for: personal blogs, small to mid-sized websites

Here’s a table to help you decide based on a few primary parameters:

Deciding ParametersPlugin to Pick
Ease of useiThemes Security
Better protection from new threatsWordfence
Removal of threats & backupWordfence or iThemes Security
Better detection of existing threatsWordfence
PricingiThemes Security

Recommended Reading: Here’s a list of security plugins if you’re looking to explore more options.

Which one would you consider using for your website? Have you used either of these plugins before? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this blog post might be affiliate links. When you purchase through a link on our website, we receive a small commission, at no added cost to you, which helps us run Epitrove and keep producing great content. This does not influence our recommendations; we only recommend products we work with or love. Thank you for your support!

Lavanya Deshmukh
Lavanya Deshmukh

Computer Engineer, food enthusiast and die-hard Harry Potter fan that now writes content full time for Epitrove

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