Let's face it, there's just so much conflicting information out there, it's difficult to tell the wood from the trees. So I decided to write a completely unbiased Siteground hosting review based on my extensive use of Siteground compared with the use of 7 other WordPress hosting companies over the years.
Is Siteground A Good Web Host?
Sure it is.
Review Signal, who round up regular conversations on Twitter and turn them into hosting reviews, reckon that users place them in second spot in the shared hosting category.
If you want to read about server technology and speed, it’s 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 already been documented.
I wrote it to help you understand exactly what Siteground gives you compared to other hosts and why they’re seen as a good choice in respected WordPress circles.
For ease of reference, I’ve drawn up some quick facts that summarizes things at a glance.
|Uptime||5/5||99.9% uptime GUARANTEE with compensensation|
|Backups||4.5/5||Daily automated + on-demand (except on StartUp)|
|Support||4/5||Knowledge (98%); response time (97%-99%)|
|Speed||4/5||Excellent + QUIC technology for slow connections|
|Security||5/5||Account isolation + brute force protection|
|Resources||4/5||Servers well monitored for maximum speed|
|Load Impact||4/5||Performs well (within traffic / resource limits)|
|Pricing||3/5||High end plan renewals can be steep|
|Locations||3/5||6 Data centers|
Why Does WordPress.ORG Recommended Siteground?
Take this with a pinch of salt.
WordPress.org is a self hosted platform. The software is open source so it’s not funded by licence fees.
So where does their funding come from?
Besides donations from corporations and individuals who use WordPress to make money, all three of the above hosts donate a portion of their fees when referred via the WordPress website.
Research What You Read On The Internet
In the same way that it’s easy to misconstrue the merit of the WordPress recommendations above, so too is it easy to misconstrue the plethora of apparently benign information out there on the internet.
Don’t get me wrong. I want nothing more than for you buy a Siteground hosting plan through my link because I will receive a small referral fee for my efforts, at no additional cost to you. But it’s got to be for the right reasons.
I’m here to bring you a fair and factual Siteground review that will help you to make a decision based on the right information, not one you’ve made through sales talk.
From my own experience, I found that after hosting with Siteground for many years and eventually becoming disillusioned on a number of levels, I switched to Cloudways because I get far better value in every respect, but more about this further on.
Looking at Facebook polls, they may sometimes be helpful but you need to interpret them properly. Let me explain . . . .
This one’s been used as part of a sales pitch in some posts that I’ve read. But on closer inspection, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
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 originally listed on this poll.
But as you can see, other hosts were added by random users after the poll had started.
Nobody knows how many votes accumulated to Cloudways and Flywheel before the other hosts were added.
So the data is somewhat SKEWED!
Every hosting company will have good and bad reviews.
Posts claiming that a hosting company came first in a hundred Facebook polls is about the furthest thing from the truth.
As a matter of fact, I was able to find just as many negative Siteground reviews as the positive ones that exist.
“Malware Scanner Takes Site Down Multiple Times”
What About Value For Money
I never gave 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.
In truth, there’s really no such thing as semi-dedicated hosting.
The term was coined because the plan gives you more resources than the GrowBig and StartUp plans.
And because it’s the top of the range plan designed for high traffic sites, it comes in at a higher cost so the server is naturally less populated, hence the term semi-dedicated.
A clever piece of marketing by Siteground!
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. However, you can always offset the unused period against an upgraded hosting plan.
- You can always renew for another year.
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. The price goes up to $34.95 from year 2.
Nothing funny here, all hosts market the same way.
I was happy to accept 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.
My traffic had increased substantially and I was ready for cloud hosting which offers dedicated resources.
But like I said at the beginning of this post, Siteground’s cloud hosting is too expensive.
And the prospect of forking out $960 was just crazy!
I migrated to Cloudways, the reason being that I get fully dedicated resources on a Pay As You Go basis – no contracts and you pay only for the resources you use.
Siteground’s cloud hosting plan at $80 per month provides 40GB of storage space whereas Cloudways provides 80GB of storage for $50 per month.
New Server Locations Added And Some Removed
Siteground have recently added new data centers and now have 6 server locations viz, Iowa, London, Eemshaven (Netherlands), Frankfurt, Singapore and Sydney. 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.
By comparison, Cloudways has 25+ server locations . . .
. . . In these cities.
Clearly, there are options that you need to weigh up.
Choosing a web host is all about achieving the best value for money based on YOUR individual needs, at any given point in time.
Siteground’s Hosting Plans – Pricing At A Glance
|Plan||Type||Year 1||Year 2+|
|StartUp (1 site)||Shared||$3.95pm||$11.95pm|
|GrowBig (Unlimited sites)||Shared||$5.95pm||$19.95pm|
|GoGeek (Unlimited sites)||Shared||$11.95pm||$34.95pm|
|Super Power Server||Dedicated||$729pm||N/A|
Excellent Uptime Comes 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 on a site that I shut down recently was never 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 a short while!
With the odd glitch here and there, Siteground support is better than any other that I’ve come across.
I have a small site hosted with A2 Hosting and I’ve never had a live chat call answered in under 20 minutes. Most times I’ve had to wait for about 45 minutes.
Just be mindful that Siteground’s support 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 May Go Down
In order to maintain the integrity of their servers for ALL users, Siteground provides rough guidelines as to the maximum allocation of resources for your chosen plan.
Let’s be fair here.
Once a site starts reaching the upper end of resource allocation, it’s time for an upgrade. Overusing resources affects everyone else on the shared server and Siteground may close your site down.
Please understand, Siteground does not impose limitations. The provide guidelines.
They’re not overly concerned about a once off spike here and there. At worst you get a friendly notification. They’re more concerned about regular overuse.
The number of visits to your site is not the most important factor. What really counts is CPU seconds usage.
It may happen that you exceed the hourly CPU seconds allocation. That’s not so serious as long as you’re within the daily allocation, it will be seen as a once off spike.
At the end of the day, it’s important to understand why these quotas exist. That said, Siteground’s resource allocation is generous. Personally, I don’t like shared resources. That’s one of the reasons why I switched to Cloudways.
SuperCacher Isn’t Nearly As Good As Page Caching
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.
Sitegound invested a great deal of time, effort and money into the development of this plugin and it comes to you absolutely free of charge.
Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that it wasn’t built to be a page cache and therefore, it has it’s limitations.
For page caching, I recommend WP Rocket. It’s what I use on all my sites and together with other speed optimizations, it makes a considerable difference to user experience. Furthermore, it helps to reduce bandwidth and save server resource usage.
- WP Rocket review and setup guide for optimal settings.
Speed Is Mostly Good Even Under Load
85% of the time, I had acceptable speed from Siteground’s shared hosting.
I guess that’s why resource allocation is important.
Speed on a shared server is relative to the number of visitors on the entire 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 your 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.
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 while insecure sites cannot offer any 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 Automated Backups Are A Life Saver
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.
Strangely enough, I never thought backups were such an important feature until the day I needed to restore my site to a previous state.
The only feature that I feel Siteground (and all hosts I'm aware of excepting Cloudways) lacks is the ability to revert a restore.
That said, it's easy enough to adopt a work around.
Simply make an on-demand backup before performing a restore.
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 WordPress 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.
- Uptime is brilliant.
- Being managed, things happen in the background without you having to be concerned about data loss and security.
- Siteground's speed technology and ability to handle traffic is indisputable.
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.
If you don't yet have a hosting plan, I know you'll have one real soon.
The only question is, will it be Siteground?