SiteGround comes up a lot in website reviews. We often wondered whether those reviews were accurate and whether it’s a web hosting company worth your time and money.
So, what better way to find out than to use the host for a while and add our own opinion into the mix?
We’re going to discuss all those things we need from a hosting provider. Fast hosting, simple user interface, good response times, ease of migration or WordPress installation and effectiveness of SiteGround’s customer support.
This is what we found.
Ease of use
What we liked
What we didn’t like
From $3.99 per month
What is SiteGround?
Let’s start with the basics, who are SiteGround and what do they offer?
SiteGround is a web hosting provider founded in Bulgaria in 2004. The hosting company now has a global presence with SiteGround servers located in London, Netherlands, Singapore, Sydney, Madrid, Frankfurt, Virginia and Iowa.
The company offers shared web hosting services, WordPress hosting, WooCommerce hosting and cloud hosting, covering most common hosting requirements.
All hosting services use the Google Cloud platform. That means a class-leading hosting provider with a global partner unmatched in terms of the support team and investment.
To make life easier for customers, the company offers website build tools, website transfer services, managed WordPress servers and a range of collaboration tools, although these all cost extra.
That’s the who taken care of, now let’s get down to the what and how.
SiteGround shared hosting speed
Speed is everything. The faster a page loads, the happier users will be. Plus, with page load times being a strong ranking factor for Google, those load times had better be good.
Even more so because the infrastructure your website is hosted on is run on the Google cloud platform! This platform is known to be one of the fastest platforms out there, when tuned correctly.
And this is what SiteGround has done - they invest significant efforts into making their technologies as fast as possible for the websites being hosted on their servers. They also make sure that their servers are not overwhelmed by many different websites.
Also incorporated into their technologies are monitoring systems to ensure that websites hosted on their servers do not overwhelm servers (for example in the case that a website has been hosted and is experiencing a spike in malicious or bot traffic).
While we use a GoGeek account, which is the fastest hosting plan they have got, we have also had experience with their other plans. which are also very very fast.
This is all done to keep your website running fast, SiteGround also uses their own built-in caching (they even have a WordPress plugin to optimize your site even further and make sure it is highly tuned), the latest version of PHP, a superfast MySQL network and SSD technology throughout.
You can also integrate SiteGround with Cloudflare CDN for even more speed benefits.
The above measures, alongside Google’s infrastructure, and you have all the ingredients you need for super-fast page load times.
Our own web performance measuring tools are the ones used by the general public, such as GTMetrix, Pingdom Tools and WebsiteSpeedTest, and our own sites set up on SiteGround give us years of working experience that the host is fast.
A more scientific approach is required though.
A recent SiteGround review over at CyberNews tested response times and found web pages loading in 711ms (LCP – Largest Contentful Paint).
That’s plenty fast enough for most people.
In our own testing, we saw no outages and our alerting system didn’t ping us once. In general, we have used SiteGround for many years at this point, to host most of our own and our client website and we have experienced almost no noticeable outage.
Suffice to say, if we rely on it for our own sites and our clients, we're more than happy with the service!
While we didn’t run our test sites long enough to generate significant stats, we know a couple of people who have, so we will bow down to their superior data collection as a result.
Shout Me Loud said their time with SiteGround was almost 100% uptime, with a single outage of less than 1 minute.
Charlie over at DevShed had a similar experience of almost 100% uptime.
So, while we cannot provide our own statistics on uptime, we know at least a couple of reliable people who can!
To help with uptime, SiteGround/Google uses persistent storage with backups for redundancy, isolated cloud hosting server infrastructure to prevent hacks or malware from spreading, distributed backups for fast recovery and redundant backups to protect your data.
All combine to deliver a resilient web hosting service!
SiteGround is so confident that they include a 99.9% uptime guarantee in their terms of service.
Not many other hosting providers write the uptime into the terms!
User Experience / Ease of use
SiteGround doesn’t use cPanel but has its own control panel. This is both a good and a bad thing.
It’s good because SiteGround has full control to customize and improve it as they see fit. It also means the customer support team has full access to it and should be very knowledgeable.
It’s not so good because it isn’t as good as cPanel or as universally used.
While far from the only control panel software out there, cPanel is widely used and lots of WordPress users know and like it. Therefore, it often requires very little in the way of training and support.
We have spent a lot of time with both SiteGround’s control panel and cPanel. While their own option is good, it is nowhere near as good as cPanel.
It is easy to get to grips with for beginners though, which is a definite plus point.
The WordPress installer is simple and will have it done in just a few clicks. Integration with SSL and other plugins is easy and it doesn’t take long to get the framework of a website up and running, which is also a positive point.
If you’re switching hosting providers, the free SiteGround Migrator plugin makes it easy. This is a WordPress plugin developed by the company to make switching your WordPress sites to them easy.
The plugin works in exactly the same way as most plugins. Find it from within your WordPress dashboard, install and activate.
Once done, open the plugin from the side menu and paste in the transfer token you got with your SiteGround hosting account.
You can also find the token in the WordPress section of your SiteGround dashboard.
Paste the token and save. Then follow the migration wizard that packages your website and uploads it to your new hosting plan.
The plugin is an excellent option but we have heard quite a few stories where it wouldn’t work. So, while this is a valuable option if you’re planning to switch, we would recommend not switching just because there’s a migration tool!
You can pay for SiteGround to migrate your website for you but it isn’t cheap and costs $30 per site.
SiteGround offers four main web hosting plans.
- Shared hosting – Shared hosting with SiteGround is the same as other hosts. Multiple websites on the same server sharing resources. There is no advertised upper limit on the number of websites on a single server, so this would be mainly for new websites.
- WordPress hosting – WordPress hosting is a step up from shared cloud hosting plans but still uses shared servers. These ones are optimized for running WordPress but you still share hosting resources.
- WooCommerce hosting – WooCommerce hosting is the eCommerce version of WordPress hosting. Still shared, hosting but this time optimized for online stores.
- Cloud hosting – Cloud hosting plans are shared but uses distributed resources to ensure good performance. It’s a scalable web shared hosting plan that grows as you need it to grow. Plans are based on hardware and data transfer.
Each hosting plan has sub-plans split into levels.
For example, the Shared hosting plan includes three levels, StartUp ($4.99/mo or €3.99/mo, GrowBig ($7.99/mo or €6.99/mo) and GoGeek ($14.99/mo or €10.79/mo).
Each includes disk space allocation, unmetered traffic, free SSL, daily backups, free CDN and other useful features.
The cheapest shared hosting plan, StartUp offers:
- 1 Website
- 10 GB shared hosting space
- Up to 10,000 monthly visitors
- Unmetered traffic
- Free SSL
- Daily backup
- Free CDN
- Free email
- Managed WordPress
- Out-of-the-box caching
- Unlimited databases
- 100% renewable energy match
- 30-day moneyback guarantee
WordPress hosting, WooCommerce hosting and Cloud web hosting all have their own variations of sub plans and can include the ability to host unlimited websites and other benefits.
Hosting plans do not include a free domain name like many competitors and there are no dedicated hosting plans at this time. It’s all a variation of shared hosting.
SiteGround Renewal Pricing
One thing to watch out for is the renewal price of web hosting plans. This is not just the case for SiteGround, but for most web hosting providers out there. This is a practice that we don't really like but is something that is prevalent in the industry - and it is fair that one is clear about this from the get-go.
The price you see is an introductory price only and will only apply to your first order. This is typical of most web-hosting providers.
SiteGround doesn't show the renewal prices and it’s only when it comes time to renew that your $3.99 a month hosting plan that you get your renewal price. We would recommend that you opt for multi-year pricing to ensure that you get the best deal.
Ideally, you go for a 3-year deal, to get the best price possible.
Transparent pricing is a hallmark of good business and this is one thing we're not too happy about. Considering how good the rest of the offering is, we find this a little disappointing.
As usual, we don’t expect you to simply take our word for how good SiteGround is.
Jeffrey L. Wilson at PCMag said:
“SiteGround's 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 a cloud provider to protect them from a denial-of-service attack. The fact that SiteGround does it for them makes it a solid friend for small businesses just starting out.”
The WPBeginner review said:
“Siteground is one of the most recommended WordPress hosting companies. They are known for their top-notch customer support, reliable, and fast hosting plans. Their WordPress optimized hosting includes everything you’ll need to create and grow a successful website or blog.”
Brad Smith at WebsiteSetup said:
“SiteGround has delivered solid uptime for a few years now. And their uptime guarantee makes sure that you’ll probably never have any major downtime issues.
Their site speed is pretty good, too. That’s thanks to their servers spread out over three continents and free Cloudflare CDN account. They also give you free SSL on all plans.
Moreover, their pricing is good if you take advantage of the longest term possible. Otherwise, you’ll end up hitting those high renewal rates sooner. Bring your own domain, too, to escape another fee.”
Matt at Digital.com said:
“Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, SiteGround makes a great web host choice as you get to enjoy efficiency, reliable uptime, flawless performance, outstanding support, class-leading security, and premium features regardless of which hosting plan you buy.”
SiteGround has quite a few attractive features that makes it well worth considering if you’re in the market for a new web hosting provider.
You can use the free SiteGround Migrator plugin we talked about earlier or pay for someone to migrate your website for you. Migration costs $30 per site, which is reasonable.
Web application firewall (WAF)
All web hosting plans benefit from a custom web application firewall designed to protect your website from attack. This is a network firewall maintained by SiteGround, so you don’t need to do a thing.
While free SSL is now expected with all web hosts, SiteGround has been giving them away for free for a long time. They use Let’s Encrypt SSL, which is easy to use and can be registered quickly.
If you like to customize your WordPress websites and don’t want to impact traffic, the staging tool may be of use. It’s available with the more expensive hosting plans and offers a safe place to test and play around with new themes and plugins before pushing them to live.
Automated WordPress installation
Automated WordPress installation is available with WordPress hosting and means you don’t even have to install the framework. Answer a couple of simple questions and the system will install it for you.
Free Cloudflare CDN
Many hosting plans include Cloudflare CDN to help speed up page load times. It can be configured automatically, but it will be up to you to check for redirects and make sure your domain name redirects accurately.
AI anti-bot system
The AI anti-bot system is available on WooCommerce hosting and helps reduce fake purchases and other nefarious bot actions from slowing down your store.
Smart caching (SuperCacher)
SiteGround has a series of caching options depending on what web hosting plan you choose. They range from NGINX Direct Delivery to a specific caching tool developed by or for SiteGround.
There’s a lot to like about SiteGround and it gets a lot of things right.
- Fair pricing on web hosting plans – Those initial prices for web hosting compare well to the competition. Even the cheaper plans still get free SSL, free migration plugin, free backups and CDN.
- Google Cloud hosting – SiteGround uses the Google network for providing services, which is designed for performance and for security. This removes the burden of investment and maintenance from SiteGround so they can excel in other areas.
- Decent user interface – Even though SiteGround doesn’t use cPanel, its own user interface is okay to use and includes the majority of tools you’ll need. Everything is logically laid out and easy to find, so should be good for beginners too.
- Caching tools – The insistence on performance is exactly what we want. We would expect Google’s own infrastructure to help you score well on Google Page Speed but there are never any guarantees. We weren’t left feeling shortchanged though.
- WAF and AI security tools – The web application firewall and AI anti-bot tools are both welcome additions. While they shouldn’t replace your WordPress security tools, they offer hands-off defence in depth.
- 99.9% uptime guarantee – While SiteGround doesn’t make a big deal of it, the company offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee in their terms and conditions. That should be reassuring enough for most users.
It isn’t all good though as your SiteGround review clearly shows.
- SiteGround pricing structure – Initial discounts is nothing new and there’s nothing wrong with that. Hiding renewal rates until after you sign up on the other hand…
- No free domain name – While a small thing, offering a free domain name is kind-of expected from a web host. SiteGround doesn’t offer one. If you do buy a domain name from them, expect to pay over the odds too.
- Reviews of SiteGround customer support are mixed – We didn’t need to contact the customer support team but spend any time online checking reviews and you’ll see a lot of user feedback with nothing good to say.
Is SiteGround any good?
Yes, SiteGround is good. If you have read this far then you’ll know we think SiteGround is an excellent web host. Sure, it isn’t perfect, but what host is? On balance, we consider them to be one of the better ones and seems to put customers first. With steady investment in its own products and development and use of the Google cloud hosting infrastructure, we think it is well worth trying out.
Is WordPress free with SiteGround?
WordPress is free with SiteGround and all web hosts. It’s a free, open source content management system (CMS) that costs nothing. The CMS powers over 40% of the internet and most hosts will provide it, because most customers want it. Many WordPress themes and plugins cost money and some value-add services with SiteGround might cost money but the CMS itself is always free.
Is SiteGround expensive?
To answer whether SiteGround is expensive or not, we need to separate cost from value. SiteGround costs more than some competitors but offers great value. It provides security, free migration plugin, lots of tools to make working with WordPress easier, caching to speed up page load times and lots more besides. So, while you may pay a little more with SiteGround, the product you get in return gives more too as our SiteGround review illustrates.
Is SiteGround easy to use?
SiteGround is easy to use. Even though it doesn’t use cPanel, its own control panel is simple to get to grips with and makes it easy for anyone, at any experience level to manage their website. Even security, SSL and web building tools are easy to learn. There are plenty of resources on the website too if you get stuck.
Should you consider SiteGround?
We hope this SiteGround review has given you enough information to make your own mind up about whether to use the company or not.
However, to answer the question, we do think you should definitely consider SiteGround.
You may pay a little more for SiteGround web hosting but you get more in return. All web hosting plans use Google infrastructure, so will always be well-maintained and managed.
Products are customer-oriented and deliver the standard of service we expect. There are also plenty of tools to help you migrate, build and manage your website that also add value.
Finally, any web host that can guarantee a 99.9% uptime has to be worth a try, right?
Have you used SiteGround? What did you think? Do you have any other web hosts to recommend? Share your thoughts below!
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