SiteGround Review

SiteGround

SiteGround Reviews – The Best Web Hosting for Startups

SiteGround Hosting is an independent web hosting company founded in 2004. They are based in Bulgaria, but serve hosting markets globally. SiteGround positions themselves as a company offering high-quality, “well-crafted” hosting solutions. Let’s check out these SiteGround reviews.

SiteGround offers a spectrum of hosting solutions ranging from shared Linux hosting (the affordable, versatile kind used by most websites) all the way to Cloud and Dedicated server solutions for large, growing websites.

They are one of the fastest growing independent (ie, not a brand owned by a larger corporate holding company) hosting companies. I heard about them via their growing event involvement in the WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and marketing communities.

SiteGround.com is recommended by many on different blogs and forums. It is also officially recommended by WordPress.org, Joomla and Drupal. SiteGround has amassed 800,000 domain names worldwide, with data centers across United States, Europe and even Asia.

Not bad, considering they started out with only one employee back in 2004, making them one of the youngest behemoths in hosting today. That’s an impressive ascent, so they must be doing something right to achieve such heights faster than many of its predecessors.

SiteGround is a hosting provider engineered for speed, built for security, and crafted specifically for WordPress. Rather than seeking to be the low-cost option in a saturated field, the brand differentiates itself with intuitive UI and an unparalleled commitment to customer service.

In this SiteGround review, we’ll walk you through SiteGround’s origin, core features, strengths & weaknesses, and viability of e-commerce websites.

Score


10/10

Starting Price

$3.95/month

Pros

There are a lot of SiteGround reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a different approach.

There is no such thing as a “best” web host. It’s all about the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise. Here are the pros (advantages) for considering SiteGround.

  • Free PCI compliance depending on the plan you select.
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Server configuration optimized for speed: RAID10, SAS HDD, MySQL on separate SSD, 24 CPU cores.
  • Priority daily backups that include the storage of 30 copies and free manual restore.
  • Free domain name during sign-up.
  • Unlimited websites and MySQL databases (Except StartUp plan).
  • Can handle up to 100,000 visitors / month.
  • Good security with power and hardware redundancy, server monitoring, SPAM prevention, anti-hack systems, and more.
  • Data centers in Europe, United States, and Singapore.

Cons

Like any web host, SiteGround has disadvantages. Remember, that like the pros, these are all in context of your goals & priorities. With that said, here are the cons that I found while using SiteGround.

  • Inflated Renewal Rates
  • No Monthly Payment Options

Speed Test

Our speed test uses the website siteground.com as the target and has been tested with the Bitcatcha server speed checker.

Location
Speed
US (West)US (East)LondonSingaporeSao PauloSydneyJapan
18 ms59 ms146 ms188 ms172 ms365 ms610 ms

Average Load Time / Uptime

Instead of using ready-made software solutions, SiteGround prefers in-house crafted solutions to ensure high-quality hosting experience.

  • SiteGround platform is built on Linux containers that provide great stability in times of unexpected traffic spikes.
  • SiteGround was the first that introduced the account isolation technology for client security.
  • They built their own proactive server monitoring system that monitors their servers every 0.5 seconds and also proactively fixes any problems without human intervention, thus ensuring amazing SiteGround uptime.

Over the same 24-month period, our SiteGround test site saw average page loading times of 542ms – or 94.14% faster than the 1052ms average load times we found from other web hosts.

That’s very good, among the quickest we’ve seen. It was also very consistent. No spikes or slow loading times whatsoever. So far, so good.

When someone types in your website’s address, that request gets sent to your web hosting server for the files. While there are a lot of variables in play with website speed, it’s primarily your hosting server’s job to send the requested files to the visitor’s browser as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

SiteGround makes a lot of promises about website speed throughout their site. And from all the tests that I ran, they live up to what they promise. One of the main factors of site speed is Time To First Byte (TTFB) – ie, how quickly the server sends the first byte of the first file in response to a request.

In addition to quick server performance, SiteGround has five major data centers around the globe – Chicago, London, Amsterdam, Milan and Singapore. This matters because the physical distance that your website files have to travel matters. And many major web hosting brands automatically assign customers to their one data center – often somewhere in the middle of the US.

That’s fine if most of your customers are in North America. However, if your audience is focused regionally elsewhere in the world, you want your website files located close to them regardless of where you are located. If you are an Australian expat building a site for the Australian/Asian market – you’ll want your website to live in Singapore not Utah.

Lastly, SiteGround does a solid job with an allocation of resources. By definition, a shared hosting server is sharing resources among several customers. So it’s critical to get the allocation right.

Many hosting companies will set very low memory limits on sites to keep a throttle on performance. As far as I can see from my installs, SiteGround allows generous allocations with up to date software. SiteGround’s performance, speed and reliability are major pros for their product.

Hosting Packages

You’ve decided your business needs a website, but when you look at the long list of web hosting providers, the venture can seem intimidating. SiteGround can help, with its varied hosting plans that are designed to not overwhelm those looking to build everything from an online journal to an online store.

SiteGround is a good choice if you have modest web needs that are likely to stay modest. Here’s a quick rundown of the hosting plans offered by Site Ground:

Shared Hosting Package

Shared Hosting

  • The StartUp plan: This plan costs $3.95 per month and can host one website and is suitable for newbies who are just starting with their website. Can handle up to 10,000 unique visits per month and has the first level of the SuperCacher plugin enabled which is static cache, 24/7 client support, free CDN, Let’s Encrypt SSL, Unlimited Emails & DBs, free site migration, free daily backup, etc.
  • The GrowBig plan: This plan costs $5.95 per month and can host multiple websites and this plan can handle up to 25,000 visits per month, a free SSL Wildcard for 1 year, 30 backup copies and free restore, all 3-levels of the SuperCacher, which aids loading time tremendously, customer support with priority, although SiteGround has insanely fast response times, GrowBig and GoGeek clients are handled with priority.
  • Their GoGeek plan: This plan costs $11.95 per month and can host multiple websites and offers even more space, can handle up to 100,000 visits per month, has all features of the other two plans plus 1-click WP staging, pre-installed git, PCI compliance and fewer accounts on the server.

All shared hosting plans come with free email accounts, free CDN and unlimited bandwidth.

  • Domain: Domain prices start from $9.95
  • Ease of Signup: Very easy, one-page sign-up process.
  • Payment Methods: Credit Card.
  • Hidden Fees and Clauses: They charge a $14.95 setup fee if you pay for their shared hosting plans monthly instead of annually. Sad face :(. You’d be better of paying 1 year upfront to avoid that.
  • Upsells: Few… Nothing too bad.
  • Account Activation: Quick account activation.
  • Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: cPanel
  • Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): Quick and easy install of popular apps and CMSs using Softaculous.

Cloud Web Hosting Package

Cloud Hosting

Site Ground hosting no longer has VPS hosting, but now boasts what it calls Cloud Hosting. The new Linux-based platform is designed to auto-scale with traffic surges, so that your site won’t go down due to a lack of resources.

The four plans start at $80 per month for 4GB of RAM, 40GB of storage, and 5TB of monthly data transfers, and max out at $240 per month for 10GB of RAM, 120GB of storage, and 5TB of monthly data transfers. You can also customize your own Cloud Hosting plan should you need more power.

Dedicated Hosting Package

Dedicated Hosting

As for SiteGround’s dedicated servers, you have a choice of a variety of CPU, RAM, RAID, and storage configurations. The plans range from $229 per month for an Entry Server to $429 per month for a high-end Enterprise Server.

You can configure a server with up to 2TB of disk space, 16GB of RAM, and a relatively skimpy 5TB of monthly data transfers (most of the other web hosts I’ve reviewed offer 15TB of monthly data transfers).

Reseller Hosting Package

Reseller Hosting

If you’re looking to get into the web hosting business, but you don’t want to deal with infrastructure matters, check out SiteGround’s reseller hosting packages. The plans, starting at $42 per year, offer sales and commission reports and credit card processing.

The servers boast 10GB of storage, unmetered monthly data transfers, unlimited MySQL databases, and free backups and email. SiteGround lets you apply your own branding to the servers you rent, and it also supplies 24/7 tech support.

Hosting Features

The primary categories we analyze for web host performance include uptime, speed, and support. After all, these three categories are the most critical to your site’s success.

However, there are also a few other areas where web hosts can set themselves apart from the competition, like in additional plan features, which can positively contribute to their overall rating. SiteGround has a few, which we’ll dive into.

High Performance Managed WordPress Hosting on All Plans

One of the special features that SiteGround plans include (which most other web hosts don’t) is managed WordPress hosting on all accounts. What does this mean?

For newbies, it means that someone actually manages the service for you in terms of speed, security, support, updates and provides enhancement tools to make your life easier. SiteGround platform is built on SSD and have an in-house crafted caching tool, the SuperCacher that is essential for the loading speed of your site.

They are also serious about security by constantly monitoring for WordPress related vulnerabilities and proactively protecting users with custom WAF rules. They take care of WordPress and plugin updates, make daily backups for free in case a random occurrence might bring down your site. (Which is surprisingly common, like when two plugins don’t play well together and you’re met with the dreaded white screen of death.)

You’ll also get access to their ‘Let’s Encrypt SSL’ and free CDN with 100+ server locations to make sure heavy multimedia files are delivered quickly (ensuring your page load times don’t take a hit either).

But that’s not all. There is also stuff for power users as well within their GrowBig and GoGeek plans such as: WordPress staging environments, pre-installed Git, WP-CLI for easy command line management options, PCI compliance for e-shops, 1-year Wildcard SSL for free, priority customer support, free backup and restore.

Free Security Add-Ons

In addition to the security options available with their WordPress managed hosting; SiteGround also provides extra security for sites of all shapes and sizes. Available tools include SpamAssassin and SpamExperts, IP address blocklists, Leech Protect, and hotlink protection.

All of their plans come with ‘Let’s Encrypt SSL’ for added security, and you can add HackAlert Monitoring (a service that checks your website daily and notifies you if it has been hacked or compromised) for a measly $1 per month.

Easy E-commerce Installation

E-commerce applications that power the web’s top sites, like Magento, can be especially difficult and problematic if you’re not technically inclined. Fortunately, SiteGround removes a lot of the hassle by making it easy to choose from 18 eCommerce applications and install your favorite one with 1 click.

They also provide multiple server locations, free CDN, PCI compliance, advanced caching solution for top site performance and great customers’ experience. As for security, client accounts are isolated from each other by a custom server solution, which means that if one account gets hacked others are not affected.

Free Transfers for Existing Websites

Just like many others, SiteGround will transfer for free your existing website from a previous host for 24 hours, in comparison this process may be paid or can take up to 30 days with other hosts.

Feature Set & Integrations

SiteGround has a strong feature set – especially if you are more technically biased. They have unlimited databases and email accounts. They do daily backups, which is a good safety net feature when your own backups fail. SiteGround also uses industry standard cPanel to manage your server and have a simple user account backend.

For starter/beginner websites, they do a free transfer, free domain name for a year, and have a free site builder. None of these features really stand out, but they do put them above many well-known hosting brands.

SiteGround does have many unique developer-oriented features though. They integrate well with CloudFlare’s CDN. At their “GoGeek” plan, they do free PCI compliance and free Git & staging areas – both of which are seriously useful to have integrated.

To reiterate, their WordPress staging feature on the GoGeek plan is seriously useful if you have a high traffic site. Setting up staging servers where you can edit a non-live version of your site and the “push” it lives can be a pain to setup – even if they are best practice. Doing “hotfixes” on a live site is simple, but not ideal.

Additionally, I like how they have a focus on the most popular content management systems like WordPress and Joomla. They don’t upsell any fake “WordPress-specific” features, but instead, show how their built-in features drive better performance for both WordPress and Joomla. They are cutting edge on the latest, greatest product integrations.

SiteGround has a free SSL that rolls out at a click of a button. This removes a big obstacle to going HTTPS / SSL with WordPress. They also have direct integrations with CDNs like CloudFlare. They’re rolling out investments in NGINX, HTTP/2, PHP 7, built-in CDN and Caching, and more.

Lastly, SiteGround offers a full-spectrum of hosting solutions. If you have a rapidly growing site, you can grow your site with them from StartUp all the way to an Enterprise Dedicated Server. Like performance, if you are focused on what your hosting can do – rather than as a raw utility and/or website cost, then SiteGround is really impressive.

Transparency and Community

SiteGround is transparent and supportive of community in an industry that is usually pretty closed off. It’s refreshing to work with a company that is straightforward and supportive instead of working with a giant company that’s short on details and long on product upsells.

They have a simple sign up process. They put an uptime monitor in their main navigation. They even put the IP addresses of all their data centers on their site so that you can test their speeds from your location without having to sign up for an account.

I like how in their Plans under GoGeek, they straight up tell you that you will have “fewer accounts on your server.” The fact that shared hosting companies have an incentive to jam as many websites on a server as technically possible is normally hushed up and never mentioned. To borrow a web developer saying, SiteGround turns that “bug” into a feature.

And like I briefly mentioned in Support, SiteGround spends a lot of time and money supporting web communities. Building and maintaining communities like WordPress and Joomla requires a lot of volunteer hours – and SiteGround does an excellent job supporting them.

They have sponsored, attended or spoke at more than 400 community events In addition, they do it from Bulgaria even with all the travel that entails. Their transparency and community support is a major pro because it indicates a deeper culture of investment in the long-term. If you’re a customer, that’s a good culture to buy from.

Global Oriented

The major feature of SiteGround is their global orientation. They are from Bulgaria, which is neither a major tech hub, nor is it a major English-speaking cultural hub. In a way, they have to be twice as good to compete in the global web hosting industry.

From their website copy and interface design, it looks like they go above and beyond to create a global look and feel that works for anyone – not just an American small business person.

They accept multiple currencies (AUD, USD, GBP, EUR) and offer multiple local toll-free lines + free country specific domains.

The hosting industry is typically very US-centric, so this change is welcome. I like how they have a dedicated Spanish language site. Their distributed data center locations are also a big advantage for businesses building an international audience, especially in Europe and Asia.

Setting Up a Website

Site Ground leverages Weebly as its website builder of choice. It’s a good move, as Weebly let me make attractive web pages without sacrificing much of my time. Weebly made it simple to add text, images, and video to my pages.

Account Add-ons & Extras

Bluehost does provide a lot of add-ons and Extras to all their products – from basic things like AdWords credits go to advanced features like Cloudflare integration. Now, I wouldn’t suggest choosing Bluehost just for these add-ons or extras themselves, but they do bring them up to par and even push them up beyond many low-cost competitors.

Hosting Resources

Bluehost offers unlimited hosting resources. This means that you can host unlimited files, and use unlimited bandwidth. Remember, however, that they have certain fair usage policies.

But the fair usage policy limit is so high that you will probably find it to be the same as “unlimited”. For example, they allow MySQL size of 3Gb, and here at ShoutMeLoud we have only 400 MB of database after 8 and half years of usage!

Unless you are running an auto-script, or auto-blogging, you are very unlikely to reach that limit. They have a CPU limit, but again that’s high compared to other hosting services, and in most cases, Bluehost will transfer you to a more powerful server if necessary.

Security Features

Site Ground offers several security options, including the SG Site Scanner to let you know if your site is under attack, antispam tools SpamAssassin and SpamExperts, hotlink protection, and IP address blocklists. It scans all the links on your homepage to make sure that they’re clean. You need to sign up for the Grow plan to get an SSL certificate.

Site Ground also offers an interesting feature called Leech Protect, which lets administrators prevent users from giving out or publicly posting their passwords to portions of the site. I also like the fact SiteGround integrates with CloudFlare for better performance and security. While any site owner can easily sign up with CloudFlare, the integration means more people who had no idea this was an option are now able to benefit.

Another helpful tool is SiteCheck. This automatic software scanning tool checks your website to see if there is any malware in the code or on the site. Running it periodically is a good idea, since the last thing you want to see in your email inbox are messages from irate users saying that visiting your website infected their computers.

Fast and Free Backups

Once again Site Ground has stepped outside industry norms by creating their own backup system. They did so back in 2015 because no third-party backup solutions lived up to their high standards. They focused all their resources on two key components of backups:

  • Creating backups with minimal resource usage
  • Creating a dynamic that would allow fast restores in times of need

Upon creating this new backup/restore infrastructure they found they were able to restore 3x more data at a rate of 7x faster compared to their previous backup solution.

Support and Customer Service

Customer service is one area where SiteGround Hosting pays special attention. Which is no small feat, considering they’re processing over 1,500+ tickets, 800+ phone calls and 2,000+ chat requests each day? Over 230 people at SiteGround Hosting are engaged with customer support only to make sure clients are taken good care of and SiteGround support is provided in three languages – English, Spanish and Italian.

  • SiteGround Hosting provide support for well beyond only hosting related issues – their reps help with CMS questions as well.
  • The official client survey results released by SiteGround each year show that their client satisfaction rate is constantly scored over 96%. (2014, 2015, 2016).

Case in point: our experience was FANTASTIC. After only 11 seconds, their friendly and knowledgeable live agent connected with us. Then, we started to bombard her with different questions on how to do X and how to do Y. For example, we asked her:

  • #1 How to change name servers on domains?
  • #2 How to create email addresses on SiteGround?
  • #3 How to keep my email inbox free from spam? – She actually told us they have a software that detects 98% of the spam emails.

It was such a pleasure, that they’re one of the only web hosts we’ve analyzed to get a perfect 10 out of 10 in support. Sounds too good to be true? Even after doing a background check and surveying other sources, we still couldn’t find many negative responses to their support.

Just like your local restaurant on Yelp, the most positive and most negative reviews are generally worthless. You never know when issues are customer-caused or when someone simply encountered that one amazing/horrible employee.

I’ve had a good experience with SiteGround web hosting. But that’s very anecdotal. So, I also like to look at “proxies” for customer support. In other words, things that indicate something about the culture & processes of customer support.

SiteGround web hosting does especially well with a few of these proxies. First, they are transparent and responsive to a range of channels – including phone.

Second, they’ve invested in a mostly custom knowledge base with comments customer support monitoring.

Third, it’s apparent that they invest a lot in their employees, because their employees actually put on technical events to train developers.

Those factors plus their endorsement from high profile WordPress core contributors puts SiteGround’s customer service in the pro column for me.

Refund Policy

SiteGround web hosting has a 30-day money back guarantee for all of their shared hosting plans. SiteGround refund has a 30-day money back guarantee which gives you peace of mind that their services will meet the expectations set out in the TOS.

To the maximum extent applicable under national law and without affecting your rights as a consumer, the money back guarantee is your sole and exclusive remedy should their services fail to meet the expectations set out.

The following conditions apply to their money back guarantee:

  • Service termination requests must be posted through your User Area;
  • Initial orders for hosting services are covered within thirty days from the day they activate the service(s);
  • Renewal orders are not covered;
  • Domain name and Domain Privacy (ID Protect) fees are not refundable and may be due upon cancellation even if waived initially as part of a special promotion;
  • Cloud and Dedicated Hosting Services, Paid Support or Third Party Services are not covered by the money back guarantee;
  • Reseller packages are only covered if the complete Reseller package is canceled. The guarantee does not apply to the termination of individual accounts in a Reseller package.

Our Conclusion

Most definitely. SiteGround web hosting is perfect for those who care deeply about customer support, while not sacrificing quick page speeds or impressive uptime either. They also offer a bunch of additional features that might be perfect for you if eCommerce/WordPress is your goal, or if you’d like security to be handled by someone else.

Currently, their pricing is also on par with many other web hosts of lesser quality, so it’s the perfect time to act and take advantage.

There’s a reason SiteGround Hosting is one of the fastest growing independent hosting companies. They have a solid product and a great support. Being headquartered in Bulgaria allows them to be much more globally oriented than many US companies while offering a truly world-class product. If they would disclose and/or remove their auto-WordPress install, they would be that much better.

If you are looking for a hosting company with an international bent, a focus on solid technical features, and a full path of plans for a website that will grow, and really don’t care about SiteGround’s link schemes, SiteGround is the best choice!

Furthermore, SiteGrounds reviews have surprising number of security features also indicates that it has small businesses in mind. Small businesses are highly vulnerable to website attacks, and chances are they are not going to invest in a site scanner to look for malware or cloud provider to protect them from a denial-of-service-attack. The fact that SiteGrounds does it for them makes it a solid friend for small businesses just starting out and serves as the best web hosting for startups.