2021 January 13
SiteGround is a premium web hosting choice that comes with advanced features and performance that has little competition. It is a business option to have a fast and reliable website.
stands for “superb”. This provider is amongst the best in the market.
stands for “superb”. This provider is amongst the best in the market.
SPEED — 215ms
Superb speed, 90% faster than average
UPTIME — 100%
Extremely reliable, your website will be up all the time.
PRICING — 7.3/10
Premium, the provider is expensive but offers high-value.
2020 seems to be a year of change for a lot of providers and SiteGround is no exception.
Well... It actually started in 2019, but 2020 was the year when the switch to the brand new interface was completed. Then there was the introduction of the Google Cloud infrastructure. Then came the pricing update and even more performance boosters – SiteGround presented their own unique Ultrafast PHP setup.
In this SiteGround review, I’m going to take the provider apart piece by piece. I’ll talk about the pricing, performance, support, features, flaws, and overall value of their plans. So bear with me to find out all there is to know before making a purchase at SiteGround.
SiteGround pricing starts at $6.99/mo with the StartUp plan for one website. That’s a higher starting point than most providers but in return, you’ll get the most advanced tech and tools there is. Plus, each plan comes with free SSL, daily backups, and unmetered bandwidth.
Looking at the specs, I’d not personally choose StartUp. You see, it is hosted on the same fast servers, but tools like SuperCacher with all 3 levels of caching, staging environment, and an option to add collaborators start with GrowBig. And the difference in price is just $3.
And in comparison, GrowBig price is on par with providers like A2 Hosting – you’ll get similar features with them starting at the same $9.99 a month. On the other hand, there are cheaper options like DreamHost that offer something similar at $5/mo.
So why would you choose SiteGround then?
This is where the premium comes into play.
You see, SiteGround is using the latest equipment and technology to deliver the fastest possible performance on shared hosting servers. Even if you put a significant load on them, they won’t flinch. That’s not the case with cheaper options.
So if you’re shopping for the best service in the market performance-wise, SiteGround is definitely that.
To get the best value for your money, you’ll need to go all-in with GrowBig or GoGeek for the longest billing period possible.
I did some calculations before purchasing a plan myself.
That’s because SiteGround does the same as any other big and respectable web hosting company – advertises the cheapest pricing for one specific billing term. In this case – 12 months.
Meanwhile, once your first billing term ends, the more expensive renewal will hit. Let’s put this into a more clear picture.
StartUp costs $6.99 a month with a 12-month pre-payment. It renews at $14.99 a month.
That’s $83.88 for the first and $179.88 every other year given that the price remains the same.
3-year total is $443.64
Now, if you would pre-pay for 3 years in advance, that would be $10.49/mo or $377.64 in total. And the “special price terms” line disappears, meaning, it will renew at the same rate.
Once you know your way around these subtle terms of the hosting industry, you’ll find the best deals tucked away and hidden and not promoted as “best deals.”
But does this answer the question of whether you should or should not invest in SiteGround? No. It all depends on your needs.
What I’m getting at is that you shouldn’t buy a 10 seat minivan if you are single with no kids. Your one small personal site won’t take advantage of all the resources and features when a much cheaper host can give you a better value. Think of Hostinger or DreamHost, for example.
Now, if you need to be 3 steps ahead of the competition with a fast and easily manageable website with all the whistles and bells – SiteGround is the one.
SiteGround is armed to the teeth with features and the interface upgrade makes it much easier to use.
Don’t know how many of you can remember, but this is how SiteGround looked before:
And this is how it looks now:
That’s definitely an improvement. But having an easy to use service is not all. Features included play a major role. So what can you expect from SiteGround?
As I purchased the most advanced GoGeek plan, I’ve unlocked everything that the provider has to offer. Let’s take a look at it.
SSL is a security essential that encrypts traffic coming in and out of your site. Data like credit card details or just personal info cannot be accessed by anyone this way. Meanwhile, a professional email box means that you can have an email like this: [email protected] instead of a basic and unprofessional Gmail or Yahoo extension.
Backups are past versions of your website and you can choose which one of them to restore if needed. You know like in games you quicksave before doing something stupid and if your idea backfires, you can reload and try again? That’s how on-demand backups work.
It’s a tool that allows you to create a copy of your site, make edits on that copy, and test if they work. If everything goes as expected – you can update your live site with all the changes you made without visitors experiencing any kind of interruption.
Imagine if you get a flat tire but you can change it while the car is still driving, with no interruptions and without anyone knowing it was broken? That’s website staging.
This feature used to be quite rare, reserved only for developers. And it still is – HostGator doesn’t do it, A2 Hosting doesn’t do it, and Hostinger doesn’t do it too. I think only DreamHost has something similar at this price point.
For people that do freelance work or for agencies, this feature is a lifesaver.
For example, I sometimes create websites for other people and then want to give them tools to manage them themselves. But I have to give my account details this way. Then the client gets access not only to their website but to all that are on the account. That’s a little bit of a privacy issue, I think.
Meanwhile, SiteGround allows adding other users to your account with unique roles and privileges. So if you have 30 websites and want to give access to managing one of them to another person – you can easily do it with this tool.
At this point, I only saw Hostinger and SiteGround successfully utilize this feature. Oh, by the way – once you add your clients as users, they'll see a white-label control panel; no SiteGround branding at all.
All things considered, SiteGround really empowers its users with the tools to easily and effectively manage your website. It also makes it great for freelancers or agencies.
Finally, my favorite part of the SiteGround review – performance testing. In this part, we’ll see if SiteGround is as speedy and reliable as it is promising. Spoiler alert – it is.
For a control test, I’ve installed a new WordPress installation leaving all the configurations as they are, meaning 0 optimizations. I used GTMetrix to test the loading speed of this site.
It loaded in 0.8 seconds.
What does this mean? Well, it’s pretty much as fast as it gets by testing just an empty WordPress website. Anything under 1 second is really fast. Keep in mind, that 0 optimizations are turned on for this test.
But you won’t keep your site empty. There will be images, design elements, even videos maybe.
So for the next run, I simulated something that would work as a real website with tons of stuff on it. Additionally, I turned on SGOptimizer features – caching and image optimization.
Notice the increase in page size. It loads in 1.8 seconds.
Is this fast? Yep, that is. It’s like an A+++ in terms of speed.
For example, when a similar website simulation is tested on Hostinger, it loads in 3 seconds. Meanwhile, HostGator is slower, loading it in 5.2 seconds.
But my tests are not done and as someone said – speed is not everything.
You see, GTMetrix only tests an empty website with no visitors on it. In the best-case scenario, we want people to visit our sites. So I decided to see how SiteGround would react if I sent some bots to stress test it.
To be exact, I’ve sent 20 bots over 5 minutes to my website. And they didn’t stand a chance to slow down my site even by a fraction.
The blue line representing speed jumps up and down all the time. But it does not significantly slow down when the grey line (user count) increases.
And if you think that 20 users on the website is not a big number, try to imagine that visitors will only stay for a brief period of time – from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes. This means that some leave and others come in. 20 users at the same time would amount to thousands of monthly visitors.
Up next – reliability. I’ve set up a Pingdom monitoring tool to see how often my SiteGround site would go down in the long run.
Over 30 days, my SiteGround website was online for more than 99.99% of the time. It was down in just one instance for just one minute.
Obviously, the result is great. The closer to 100% – the better. Even if it’s not entirely possible in a period of several months or years.
At this point, you must be thinking “Oh wow so you’re telling me that these plans that are really expensive are fast and stable? That’s a shocker, glad we did all of these tests.”
But through experience, I learned to never take anything at base value. Companies lie, overpromise, and underdeliver. Testing is the only way to find out what’s true.
So what makes SiteGround this fast?
Pre-configured 3-layer caching engine as well as fast Nginx web servers with SSD drives, and the latest PHP versions are what allows SiteGround to reach fast speeds. The possibility to choose a server location closest to your target audience is also a big plus – SiteGround uses Google Cloud servers located in the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
All in all, SiteGround is currently the most powerful shared hosting service in the market. So if you are looking for speed and reliability – it might be your best shot.
SiteGround advertises 24/7 live chat support but it’s not as easy to find. Other options include ticketing and phone support.
The first problem is obvious – it’s difficult to reach SiteGround’s live chat support. At first, I even thought that it’s not available and wrote an email to inquire about it.
To their credit, my ticket was answered in a couple of hours. Which is fast.
So as I figured out, to reach the live chat support, you have to: go to Contact us, select billing, select other, type in your question, and the live chat option will show up once you click "Submit."
That is not the most convenient way, to say the least. I also noticed that some of the categories and subcategories have a live chat option, while others will send your problem directly to the ticket support.
To their credit, live chat remained available and very quick even during the time when other providers closed most of their live support teams entirely. So I guess SiteGround’s optimization works.
But to test out the actual quality of support, I decided to create a big problem.
What did I do?
What happened to my site?
As you can imagine, my site is as slow and as annoying as it can be.
Let’s ask for help.
I told the support that I have no idea what happened – so help me, please.
The response was very quick but they told me to fix everything myself. The agent couldn’t even run a speed test to see how slow the website was.
This answer wouldn’t be much helpful if I had no experience with web hosting. Basically, the response says that I’m the one to blame for the issue (and that’s completely correct).
However, I continued to plead for more help and got advice to load a backup.
Technically, that’s the easiest fix. And they are right.
Also, as I noticed in the terms of service later – if I’m the one creating the problem, I’m the one to solve it. And that’s completely fair.
So I actually did get some help – while the agents did not solve the issue themselves, they redirected me to a fitting knowledge base article.
All in all, SiteGround’s customer support is functioning very well. Regardless of how you will connect to them, you’ll definitely be guided on the right path.
To be honest, I really like the upgraded SiteGround. I admit it, it was never my favorite, but now it feels like a premium web hosting option.
In this SiteGround review, we figured that it has pretty much the best performance out of all shared hosting providers that I tested.
The control panel is as slick as it should be. And the features that come with it are brilliant.
The only thing that’s not entirely my favorite is the support. But that’s my problem – I simply expect agents to go an extra mile while in fact, they are doing their job just fine. Just look at other SiteGround reviews.
So can I recommend SiteGround? Absolutely yes. Nobody would be disappointed by the user experience and performance of one of their plans.
So if you have the cash to spend and will use all of their functionalities or just want to have ease of mind that you have the best service on the market, SiteGround is the best bet. But as always – not everybody needs these premium plans and for small personal sites – Hostinger, Bluehost, or DreamHost would offer the best value.
Thank you for sticking with me and I hope this will help you make the best decision. Good luck creating your website.