Siteground is so well promoted that it's easy to be persuaded into buying a hosting plan that appears to be great value. But what about long term viability? This Siteground hosting review will help you to make an informed decision based on fact and it's supported by my personal experience, use and testing of a number WordPress hosting companies since 1992. Enjoy!
So, is Siteground good for WordPress?
Sure it is.
If you want to read about great server technology, customer support and speed, it's all available on the Siteground Website. And there's no disputing its validity.
But I didn't write this Siteground hosting review to regurgitate what's been documented by Siteground.
I wrote it to make you aware of some of the truths and fallacies surrounding Siteground's success which, together with my personal experience, will enable you to make an informed decision about the short and long term viability of Siteground hosting before you jump in blindly.
|Uptime||★ ★ ★ ★ ★||99.9% uptime GUARANTEE with compensensation|
|Backups||★ ★ ★ ★||Daily automated + on-demand backups|
|Support||★ ★ ★ ★||Knowledge (98%); response time (97%-99%)|
|Speed||★ ★ ★ ★ ★||Excellent + QUIC technology for slow connections|
|Security||★ ★ ★ ★ ★||Account isolation + brute force protection|
|Resources||★ ★ ★||Restrictive. Competitors offer unlimited resources|
|Load Impact||★ ★ ★ ★ ★||Performs well (within traffic / resource limits)|
|Pricing||★ ★ ★||First year pricing good but renewal rates steep|
|Locations||★ ★ ★||Locations sparse to cover world population|
Table Of Contents
- Most Meaningful Recommendations.
- Least Meaningful Recommendations.
- Value For Money.
- Hosting Plans - Pricing At A Glance.
- Excellent Uptime With Guarantees.
- Scalability - Cloud Hosting
- CPU Overuse - Your Site WILL Go Down.
- SuperCacher Helps But A Properly Built Webstack Is More Effective.
- Speed Is Great Even Under Load But Cloudflare May Slow It Down.
- QUIC Enhances Speed On Slow Connections.
- Daily Backups Are Great But Restores Can't Be Reverted.
- Critical Advancements With Siteground's New Interface.
- Other features.
- Let's Wrap This Up.
Most Meaningful Recommendations
Siteground is undeniably among the top WordPress hosting providers and are officially recommended by WordPress.org.
There are many great hosting providers that meet the minimum requirements for listing on WordPress.org but the the fact that Siteground is named, speaks for itself.
Least Meaningful Recommendations
Too many of us are easily influenced by deceptive marketing and the social web.
It's my duty to bring you a fair and factual Siteground review that will help you to make a decision for yourself and not one you've been influenced to make.
Facebook polls are a great way to imbue social proof. But remember that people say what it suits them to say in the present moment!
Look carefully at the above example.
The question asked was, "Who should I go with as my managed WordPress host? I think I've narrowed it down to these two".
If you know how Facebook polls work, it's very clear that Cloudways and Flywheel were the two hosts listed on this poll.
But as you can see, other hosts were added by random users after the poll (and voting) had started. And nobody knows how many votes accumulated before the additions.
So the data is completely SKEWED!
Let's look at another example.
Digital Ocean and Vultr are not hosting providers. They're cloud infrastructures. This poll is clearly flawed.
Let's wake up and smell the coffee!
Polls and external reviews from social channels are not reliable.
At best, they're used for promotional purposes.
Every hosting company will have good and bad reviews.
Claiming that a hosting company came first in a hundred Facebook polls is about the furthest thing from the truth.
I can find just as many negative Siteground reviews as I can find positive ones. It's just a matter of looking.
"Things Don't Work, Poor Service, Rude"
"Malware Scanner Takes Site Down Multiple Times"
The point I'm trying to make is .....
Don't be misled by subjective reviews, be they positive or negative!
Value For Money
I was lured in by the prospect of reliable but cheap hosting, not giving a second thought to signing up for a GoGeek hosting plan.
Make no mistake, it's a great hosting plan. It's is often marketed by both Siteground and affiliates as a semi-dedicated hosting plan.
Well I've got news for you.
There's no such thing as semi-dedicated hosting. If you don't have your own dedicated server, it's shared hosting. Full stop.
Yes you get more resources with the GoGeek plan ...
... than you do with their GrowBig and StartUp plans.
But that doesn't make it semi-dedicated. Neither is the server less crowded nor speed any faster.
If you're looking for a Siteground WordPress hosting plan and you only have a single website, I'd recommend nothing more than the StartUp plan at $3.95 per month but then only for a maximum of a year.
I say this for three reasons:
- A lot can happen in a year. Traffic could grow exponentially and you may need to migrate to cloud hosting where you get dedicated resources.
- You get no refund for any unused part of a longer hosting contract with Siteground. If you feel that you'd like to benefit from the discount applied to a longer hosting plan but you'd like to get some reimbursement for any unused portion if things change, you should look at A2 Hosting. Weigh up your options before committing yourself.
- You can always sign up for another 1 year hosting plan on a fresh account and migrate your site to the new account. That way you won't have to pay the increased renewal cost. Furthermore, if at that time you're ready for cloud hosting, you may be better off with Cloudways because they're way cheaper than Siteground's cloud hosting.
Here's what happened with me.
I signed up for a GoGeek plan at $11.95 per month. But this is a discounted first year payment designed to hook you. The price goes up to $34.95 from year 2.
The other little catch is that you can't pay monthly. You have to sign up for a year at just under $144.
I was happy to do that, in the full knowledge that the renewal price would escalate in year 2. So 10 months down the line I got a message in my user area advising me of services that are about to expire.
And the prospect of forking out $419 for shared hosting was just crazy!
I migrated to Cloudways, reason being that I get my own dedicated server with fully dedicated resources on a Pay As You Go basis - no contracts and you pay only for the resources you use.
For the same web space that comes with Siteground's GoGeek plan at $34.95 per month, Cloudways works out at about $18 per month ...
... compared with Siteground's cloud hosting at $80 per month. Ouch!
Siteground has 4 server locations viz, Chicago, London, Amsterdam and Singapore. This enables webmasters to select a location closest to the target audience. Multiple locations also provide for greater global orientation.
The shorter the user's distance to the server, the faster the site will load because the reduced latency improves time to first byte (TTFB), otherwise known as server response and concomitantly improves contentful paint times, i.e. the perceived speed of the site and hence improves user experience.
Additionally, Google upranks sites with fast TTFB times making server location even more critical from an SEO perspective.
Cloudways has 25+ server locations.
In these cities.
Cloudways plans start at $10 per month and you'll never have to worry about latency or high renewal fees.
A2 Hosting has server locations in Arizona (USA), Michigan (USA), Singapore and Amsterdam. And while I'm on the subject of value for money, if a cloud plan is out of your budget and you really want to keep your costs to a bare minimum, you may want to consider A2 Hosting.
I just migrated a small site of mine from my expiring Siteground plan to A2 Hosting.
And It's lightning fast.
To prove it, here's a GTMetrix speed test done on the Siteground (GoGeek) server ...
Time to first byte was 378ms and contentful paint time was 800ms. Here's a Pingdom test.
After switching to A2 Hosting, I ran the same tests.
Time to first byte is 237ms and contentful paint time is 600ms. Both times are faster than Siteground. Let's see what a Pingdom test reveals.
And this isn't even a turbo hosting plan which is even faster.
At $3.92 per month, paid yearly, and an anytime money back guarantee, A2 Hosting are pretty darn sure of themselves. Price goes up to $7.99 per month from year 2 which is also reasonable.
They have all the same speed technology and great support that Siteground has!
Like I said, there are options that you need to weigh up. This is all about achieving the best value for money based on YOUR individual needs, not someone else's.
Hosting Plans - Pricing At A Glance
|Plan||Type||$ Year 1||$ Year 2+|
|StartUp (1 site)||Shared Hosting||$3.95/mo||$11.95/mo|
|GrowBig (Unlimited sites)||Shared Hosting||$5.95/mo||$19.95/mo|
|GoGeek (Unlimited sites)||Shared Hosting||$11.95/mo||$34.95/mo|
|Business Plus||Cloud Hosting||$160/mo||N/A|
|Super Power||Cloud Hosting||$240/mo||N/A|
|Entry Server||Dedicated Hosting||$269/mo||N/A|
|Power Server||Dedicated Hosting||$349/mo||N/A|
|Super Power Server||Dedicated Hosting||$729/mo||N/A|
See full list of shared hosting features here: https://www.siteground.com/go/hosting-compare-plans
See full list of cloud hosting features here:
See full list of dedicated hosting features here: https://www.siteground.com/go/hosting-compare-plans
Excellent Uptime With Guarantees
Probably the most important consideration when choosing a web host is server uptime.
Uptime is adversely affected by periodic server maintenance required mainly due to security vulnerabilities.
Siteground have gone to great lengths to minimize bot based brute force attacks and they also employ account isolation strategies to minimize risk and maintain the integrity of servers (especially shared servers) should a particular site come under attack.
My uptime over the last year hasn't dropped below 100%
Knowing that their security is impermeable, Siteground guarantee their uptime to be no less than 99.9%.
Should they not be able to deliver on their promise, Siteground will reimburse you as follows:
- 99.9% - 99.00% uptime: 1 month free hosting.
- For every 1% of uptime lost below 99.00%, an additional free month of hosting.
From personal experience, I'd say that 95% of the support I've had from Siteground has been excellent.
With the exception of a small percentage of incidents, live chat has generally been answered within a minute.
The live chat team are very proficient with onboarding, migration, WordPress and related issues such as working with the .htaccess and wp-config.php files.
More technical issues may require escalation to level 1 through to level 3 technical support which is dealt with by ticketing. If a live chat technician is unable to resolve a problem they will happily escalate such issues directly to advanced technical help.
Siteground's commitment to a first reply within 10 to 15 minutes has always been met. However, beyond the first reply, expect to wait!
I have to admit that I have had one or two poor support incidents with Siteground.
One such example was their staging environment - which is a little buggy. Every new staging environment requires customer support because SSL certificates never work properly and password protection can be finicky.
Just a heads up - I've found that the easiest way to save time is to simply install a new SSL certificate on each new staging environment you create. If you use a 3rd party SSL certificate and not Let's Encrypt, you'll need to invoke a live chat.
In one instance, things were so bad that one of their senior, level 3 support technicians, set up a staging environment as a subdomain, completely separate from their normal staging setup.
He neglected to think about password protecting the directory (as is required) in order to prevent Google from crawling it and coming across duplicate content.
It got crawled. I spent a half a day requesting Google to de-index each individual URL after blocking access to the subdomain. And still to this day, one URL still shows on a site listing and I have since deleted the subdomain making it a mission to get it removed.
But to put things in perspective, this was an isolated incident. For the greater part, they've been great.
Just be mindful that these guys are techies. They're not SEO experts. It's your responsibility to look after the greater good of your own site. This goes for all web hosts, not just Siteground.
If you want to read up a bit more about Siteground support, please visit this page:
Scalability (Cloud Hosting)
Siteground's Cloud hosting offers easy scalability. This means you can add CPU or RAM with a single click.
Another really positive feature of Siteground's cloud hosting is the ability to auto-scale based on unexpected traffic spikes.
On the flipside, however, is the cost factor.
Auto-scalability certainly contributes to the overall cost of the package so you need to carefully consider whether you need that functionality.
Comparing apples with apples, Siteground's $80 per month plan can equally as well be achieved with a $42 per month Cloudways plan.
But it's not just the pricing of the Siteground hosting plans that's important. It's about what functionality you can get elsewhere and the comparative cost.
CPU Overuse - Your Site WILL Go Down
One of the most underestimated limitations of Siteground shared hosting is overuse of CPU resources.
Siteground provides an indication of the maximum number of visits your sites should not exceed in a given month.
This is not a limitation, just a guideline.
What really counts though is CPU seconds usage.
The above illustration shows the CPU seconds allocated to a GoGeek plan.
Once you hit 100%, Siteground restricts access to your site.
Imagine your money site going down half way through the month because you had more traffic than expected!
Instead of upgrading to Siteground's cloud hosting which is expensive, you may be better off with Cloudways because you can scale your server depending on resource requirements.
And like I said earlier, if you want to keep costs to a minimum, A2 Hosting is not only cheaper than Siteground but comes with unlimited disk space and unlimited resources too.
SuperCacher Helps But A Properly Built Webstack Is More Effective
SuperCacher is Siteground's own server side caching mechanism.
It differs from site caching in that the cache / store saves information in the server's RAM after the page is loaded by a browser for the first time. Thereafter, the page is served from RAM which is faster than retrieving it from the server.
An added advantage for the website owner is that serving pages from RAM can save server resources due to less "hits" being made on the server.
While SuperCacher certainly makes sites a bit faster, it's far from the magic that Siteground's marketing would have you believe.
There are caching plugins available that far outperform SuperCacher while reducing bandwidth in the same way.
WP Rocket is one of them. It offers page caching in exactly the same way but also adds the ability to minify, concatenate and async load scripts and CSS files. This reduces requests and minimizes server resource usage. Read my WP Rocket review and setup guide for more details.
Taking this a step further, Cloudways combines multiple technologies in their server stack making the hosting platform incredibly fast and to top it all they have their own page caching plugin, Breeze, which many believe to be the fastest available.
Nginx is well known for performance and Apache for Stability. Cloudways uses them both and sandwiches varnish in between, creating a perfect combination. All the Static content is served by Nginx where after the webstack passes Dynamic content to Apache which is cached by Varnish in between. This achieves stability from back and speed from front.
There's more ...
Memcached is automatically included and activated in all Cloudways servers. This stores commonly executed database queries in RAM thereby further reducing resource usage by minimizing hits on the database.
And activating Redis (a more efficient form of caching similar to memcached) on your server boosts speed even further. Redis is a free add-on.
With Siteground, memcached can be activated in Supercacher through cPanel or the new inteface.
Speed Is Great Even Under Load But Cloudflare May Slow It Down
I've always had excellent speed from Siteground shared hosting.
But speed is relative to the number of visitors on the server at any given time.
The greater the traffic, the greater the demand on CPU and memory of the overall server.
The best way to judge a server's performance is to see how it handles traffic.
I used a tool called Load Impact to judge what happens with Siteground's GoGeek server under load.
The tool sends virtual users to a site while running the test. At the same time, it makes numerous requests from the server.
The green line represents the number of virtual users. The purple line represents the number of requests and the blue line shows the server response time.
As you can see, apart from 2 minor spikes, the server response time remained absolutely constant at an average time of 93ms and number of requests was 110,260.
Let's look at how Cloudflare affects speed.
I stopped using Cloudflare a while ago for the same reasons as I'm about to illustrate.
Now I want you to be aware that Cloudflare is a reverse proxy and CDN with a global network of data centers.
It's not a typical CDN in that your entire domain is cached with Cloudflare and content is made available through a network of edge servers around the world whereas with a typical CDN, you offload static assets onto their servers.
Siteground partners with Cloudflare making integration convenient through their interface. This saves you having to set up Cloudflare manually - which is actually a piece of cake anyway and only takes a few minutes.
Nevertheless, Siteground markets Cloudflare as an amazing speed addition and CDN. To the uninformed it seems like another feather in the Siteground cap.
But is it?
This test was performed without Cloudflare.
Take particular note of the time to first byte (TTFB), 187ms, and contentful paint time, 406ms.
I'm not going to elaborate on these metrics here and why they are of particular importance because I discuss these in depth in this post.
Now check out what happens the moment I integrate Cloudflare ...
TTFB goes up to 500ms and contentful paint time to 1.6s.
Why is that?
Quite simply because Cloudflare adds an extra request layer in rendering pathway.
I said it before and I'll say it again. Don't be fooled by clever marketing!
Test it out for yourself to gauge whether Cloudflare benefits your site.
QUIC Enhances Speed On Slow Connections
Siteground have taken their speed technology a step further by enhancing their shared and cloud hosting with QUIC technology which speeds up loading times on slow internet connections.
Quic applies to all plans on the above mentioned servers
The top 10 countries that will benefit most from this technology are:
- East Timor
- Republic of Congo
- Burkina Faso
But that's not all. According to ceoworld.biz, the USA ranks 20th in the list of countries having the fastest internet connectivity. So the benefit of QUIC technology may be further reaching than you think.
QUIC is the precursor to the next generation HTTP/3 protocol and in order to reap its benefits, websites must be deployed on the HTTPS protocol and users must be browsing with either Chrome or Opera browsers.
Those using less innovative browsers will fall back to HTTP/2.
Insecure websites offer none of these speed benefits to their users.
So how does QUIC work?
When pages load over the HTTP protocol, all requests needed to display the page are queued in line and loaded one after the other. A delay anywhere in the queue therefore slows down all requests thereafter, making pages slow to render.
HTTP/2 significantly improves speed by allowing for multiplexing of requests over the same TCP connection. The only drawback is that the HTTP/2 protocol doesn't cater for slow connections in that all requests are still sent and received over the same connection.
QUIC alleviates this because it's built on the UDP protocol which handles multiple connections at the same time, something that TCP is unable to achieve. It effectively reduces the number of handshakes required (which is already increased over the HTTPS protocol) to download resources, making it very effective over congested networks.
Even if one request fails in its entirety, all other requests can still be loaded.
Daily Backups Are Great But Restores Can't Be Reverted
If you need to restore your site from one of Siteground's automated daily backups or one of your own on demand backups (not available on StartUp plan), no problem.
But you can't revert / roll back that restore if you need to. And you may!
It may sound like a silly feature - until the day you need it! I can do it with Cloudways but it's not offered with Siteground.
Critical Enhancements With Siteground's New Interface
Siteground have recently scrapped their cPanel interface in favor of a refreshing new interface similar to what cloud hosting providers design for their platforms.
All of the same functionality is available, and more. And as per Siteground, its' not just the "skin" that's changing. Siteground expect to see a performance boost. But don't take that for granted.
All new signups will be using the new interface while existing clients will be transitioned slowly.
The new interface is not available for cloud and dedicated hosting. Nor is it available for Italian and Spanish speaking clients.
Siteground believe that the new interface will achieve some very important objectives.
- Enhanced user experience.
- Mobile friendly so the interface can be accessed using any device.
- Separation of site tools for each website under the same account. Each site will have it's own set of tools.
- Fast site creation plus enhanced onboarding process thereby enhancing the ease of joining Siteground.
- Enhanced agency and developer orientation. While a significant portion of Siteground's clients are single site users, I am sure that this move is designed to attract a greater degree of agency business.
- Agencies can now start a client's site on their own account and then ship it to them with a single click and transfer ownership with ease. This is a huge advancement.
- Ability for clients to add developers as collaborators on the site who can then handle support issues on the client's behalf. (GrowBig plan and higher).
- Provide clients with white-label access to site tools.
- Access all client sites with a single login under your account.
- Unmetered Data Transfer - All plans.
- Unlimited Number Of Free Email Accounts.
- Unlimited MySQL Databases - All shared plans.
- Unlimited Subdomains and Parked Domains.
- One Free Migration - Not On StartUp plan.
- Free, Unlimited Migrations + Siteground Migrator Plugin.
- Free SSL Certificates.
- Automatic WordpPress Updates.
- 1-Click Staging - Not on StartUp plan.
- Easy Cloudflare CDN Integration.
- 30 Day Money Back Guarantee.
Let's Wrap This Up
There's no such thing as the "best" hosting provider. I say this because:
- The level of support offered by Siteground makes it an ideal choice for beginners. It's unfortunate that the renewal pricing doesn't correlate well with beginner bloggers, most of whom have a need for keeping costs to a minimum during the growth phase.
- A2 Hosting offers a better longer term value for money proposition because their renewal rates are more attractive to beginners, their support is more than acceptable and their server speed is lightning fast. While there is lack of daily automated backups, you can perform your own on-demand backups at any time. I haven't done this personally but I imagine one can set up a cron job to handle automated backups. This is great for more experienced bloggers but not so great for beginners.
- Cloudways is absolutely ideal for everyone because users get dedicated resources together with their own server on a cloud infrastructure of their choosing. It works on a Pay As You Go pricing model and there are no contracts to tie users down. Their cloud engineers (support) are just that. They know how to manage servers and their knowledge is good. But for newbies needing some WordPress support, Siteground or A2 Hosting would probably be better options.
- WP Engine is truly managed WordPress hosting so it's great for those who don't want to worry about site optimization and prefer to concentrate solely on their businesses. But they're on the more expensive side.
At the end of the day, your choice of hosting provider must be based on your requirements and NOT on the views of those who express them in an attempt to influence you to sign on the dotted line.
It's my duty to point that out to you.
I wrote this Siteground hosting review to make you aware that you really do get what you pay for and each hosting provider appeals to a different market segment.
This Siteground review was not designed to be a Siteground vs Bluehost or Siteground vs GoDaddy type of review. I made some comparisons purely out of a need to drive home certain pertinent facts in order to keep you informed.
Siteground remains a very formidable player in the WordPress hosting arena and I will continue to pass business their way in the knowledge that my referred customers have made an informed decision.
Did you find this Siteground hosting review beneficial? Leave me a comment.
A Brutally Honest Siteground Hosting Review September 2019
Siteground remains a formidable player in the WordPress hosting niche but read this post before making any decisions.