Web hosting is an essential expense if you’re running any type of serious website or blog. When things are going well, web hosting is something you won’t be thinking about. But when you run into issues with your hosting, like your site being down or pages loading very slowly, it can be a major headache.
Hosting issues are not only a pain to deal with, they’re also bad for your business. If your website is down it’s not making you any money. And if the pages are loading slowly, many visitors will leave and never come back.
Choosing the right web host is important because it can have a big impact on the reliability of your website or blog, and you don’t want to waste a lot of time constantly reaching out to your host for support on issues that could be avoided.
When I launched VitalDollar.com I gave a lot of thought to the host that I would use, and I also did a lot of research. I’ve been managing my own websites for more than 10 years and I’ve used more hosts that I can count. Most of them have been ok, a few have been really great, and a few have been awful.
After looking at a lot of different options I ultimately decided to host the site with SiteGround. I’ve been using SiteGround with some of my other sites for more than 5 years, so I know what to expect from their hosting. I looked at a few other hosts, but ultimately decided that SiteGround was the best fit for my needs.
This review is based on my own experience as a SiteGround customer over the past 5 years. As I mentioned, I have several different sites hosted with them, so this review is based on my overall experience as a SiteGround customer, not just my experience with this particular website.
There are a few things I want to point out before I get into the details of the review:
- My experience is with SiteGround’s shared hosting plans. I don’t have experience with their cloud hosting or dedicated servers.
- I have had sites/blogs on all 3 of the different shared hosting plans offered by SiteGround (I’ll cover more on those plans in the review).
- I currently manage several different websites and blogs. Most of them are hosted with SiteGround, but not all of them. I do use some other hosts as well.
- I am an affiliate of SiteGround and this page includes my affiliate links. That means if you click on one of the affiliate links and you decide to purchase hosting with SiteGround I will earn a commission (at no additional cost to you). Pretty much every web hosting company has an affiliate program, so I could promote any of them. I promote SiteGround because I truly believe in their service and I use it for my own sites. Everything mentioned in this review is my honest opinion.
After reading the review if you have questions about SiteGround’s hosting please feel free to leave a comment on this post or email me through the contact page. I’ll be happy to try to answer your question if it is something I have experience with.
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Basics of SiteGround’s Web Hosting
SiteGround is a large hosting company with customers all around the world. They offer several different types of hosting including shared hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated servers. Shared hosting plans are the lowest-priced options and will meet the needs of most blogs and small websites. As I mentioned, my experience with SiteGround is only with shared hosting. They have 3 different shared hosting plans with varying features and prices.
StartUp is the entry level plan. With this plan you can only have one site (domain) on your account. It’s a great option if you’re just getting started because you can always upgrade to a higher-priced plan if you outgrow the StartUp plan.
You can sign up for the StartUp plan for just $3.95 per month. You have the option to sign up month-to-month, or you can pay upfront for 12 months, 24 months, or 36 months. I don’t recommend the month-to-month option for two reasons: 1) with the month-to-month option you’ll pay a $15 setup fee (there is no setup fee if you pay for 12 months or more upfront), and 2) because your price will increase after the first month. The $3.95 per month is an introductory price and it applies to whichever term you select and pay upfront. After that, the price will move to the regular price of $9.95 per month. If you choose the monthly option you’re only getting one month at $3.95. Personally, I pay for 12 months upfront when I am signing up for a new plan, so I get 12 months at the introductory price, which comes to a total of $47.40 for one year of hosting. Then after the first year I’ll pay the regular price. If you want to save some money in the long run you can pay for 24 months or 36 months upfront and you’ll be paying the introductory rate for that entire term. So you could get 3 years of hosting for $142.20.
SiteGround suggests that the StartUp plan is suitable for sites with up to 10,000 visits per month, which is more than enough for most new sites and blogs. The plan also limits you to 10GB of storage space. Storage space is usually not an issue and most sites and blogs will have no problems with this limit. Very large files, like videos for example, are usually not hosted on your own server anyway. You can embed videos from YouTube or Vimeo, so the video file is hosted on their servers instead of yours.
GrowBig is the next step up from the StartUp plan. The introductory price for the GrowBig plan is $5.95 per month and the regular price is $14.95 per month. With this plan you can host unlimited websites and the plan is suitable for a total of about 25,000 monthly visits. You’ll get 20GB of storage instead of the 10GB that come with the StartUp plan.
The GrowBig plan also comes with some premium features that you don’t get with the StartUp plan, like priority support, free backup restores, and SiteGround’s own caching plugin that can help to speed up your WordPress-based website.
GoGeek is the top-tier shared hosting plan offered by SiteGround. The introductory price is $11.95 per month and the regular price is $29.95 per month. You can host unlimited websites with a total of 30GB of storage, and the plan is suitable for about a total of 100,000 monthly visits.
This plan comes with the same premium features of the GrowBig plan, plus a few additional features like fewer accounts on the same server and free backups on demand.
SiteGround offers a 99.99% uptime guarantee, and you can even view their uptime right on their site. Their uptime for the past 12 months is 99.996, at the time of this writing.
As a customer who has been using SiteGround for more than 5 years I can say that their uptime and reliability is outstanding. I don’t have stats on my particular websites to show their up time, but I know the uptime is outstanding. Actually, I don’t remember experiencing any issues with downtime, although I’m sure over 5 years I’ve had a few that I am forgetting about.
Some of the other hosting companies I’ve used for shared hosting in the past suffered from frequent downtime. That has not been the case with SiteGround, and that reliability is one of the main reasons I continue to host my sites with them. I don’t have any concerns about my sites going down, and if a site were to go down I know I could get in touch with SiteGround instantly (more on that when I talk about customer service).
Page Load Speed
Page load speed is another really important factor when it comes to choosing a web host. Low-price shared hosting plans tend to load pages slowly because the hosts jam so many websites onto a server. I’ve never found a shared hosting plan that loads pages as fast as SiteGround.
Slow loading pages can be an issue if you’re using WordPress. SiteGround’s servers have been optimized for WordPress, which means your WordPress-based website or blog will perform better and load faster. For every plan except the cheapest StartUp plan, SiteGround also gives you access to their custom caching WordPress plugin that will help it to load even faster.
Again, I don’t have statistics on page load speed of my site on SiteGround versus the same page on other web hosts, but after using many different hosts over the years I can tell you that SiteGround’s shared hosting plans load pages faster than any other shared hosting I’ve used in the past.
Page load speed was a major factor when I decided on a host for VitalDollar.com. I know with SiteGround I’ll get pages that load quickly even on an inexpensive shared hosting plan. I’ve had higher-priced VPS (virtual private server) accounts with other hosts that don’t load pages as quickly as the shared hosting plans on SiteGround.
Customer Service and Support
One of the most important factors to consider when you’re choosing a web host is type of customer service that you’ll receive. No matter how great the host is, there will be times when you’ll have questions or need assistance with something. This is where the good hosting companies really separate themselves from everyone else.
I would recommend only considering hosting companies that offer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Limited support hours are a deal breaker for me. Years ago I had a few major issues during hours that my web host wasn’t accessible, and it was awful. It’s such a helpless feeling to have a website down and not be able to get in touch with your host. Fortunately, most of the leading hosts offer support 24/7, so there’s really no reason you would need to go with a host that doesn’t.
Aside from just the hours, you also want to consider the different ways that you can get in touch with the host. SiteGround offers 24-hour customer service by phone, online chat, and email tickets. Some hosts offer phone support in limited hours, only to higher-priced plans, or not at all. I very rarely use the phone for support issues, but I do like to know that I can call if I need to. I’ve had situations with other hosts in the past where I waited and waited for a response to a support ticket by email, and I had no option to call the host. That was painful because I had no idea when someone was actually going to look at my request and address the issue. Online chat is usually my go-to method for support because it’s quick and you can actually have a conversation with some follow up questions, unlike email where you may have to wait a while if you’re question isn’t answered in the first email response.
So how does SiteGround’s customer service stack up? This is where SiteGround really shines. After 5 years of being a customer I can say that their support is outstanding. First of all, you can get in touch with someone extremely fast. If you go with online chat you’ll be connected to a rep almost instantly. I don’t think I’ve ever actually called SiteGround, but they say you can talk to a rep right away by phone as well.
Even the support tickets by email are extremely fast. A few months ago I submitted a ticket and just minutes later I checked my email. I saw I had an email from SiteGround and I assumed it was an automated response just to say that they received the support request. To my surprise, when I opened the email it was actually a personal response from a rep who had already taken care of my request (in that particular case I requested to have an SSL certificate installed on one of my domains).
Not only is the response time very fast, but the support reps are also very knowledgeable. A lot of web hosts put inexperienced reps on the front line, especially with online chat, and they can only handle the most basic of issues or else they have to forward your issue to a more advanced level of support. That’s not the case with SiteGround. All of the support reps seem to be very well trained and they know how to handle pretty much any issue you may have.
So SiteGround’s support reps are fast and knowledgeable, but I would also add that they are friendly. You can ask them any question and they won’t make you feel like you’re bothering them or like you’re stupid. They’re very eager to help and it seems like they really care about doing a good job for their customers.
Of all the hosting companies over the years there are two that offer customer service that truly stands out. SiteGround is one and the other is LiquidWeb. Everything I said about SiteGround’s support could also be said of LiquidWeb, another host that I’ve used for more than 5 years. The difference is LiquidWeb doesn’t offer low-priced shared hosting. They specialize in dedicated servers and VPS accounts, so they’re working with customers who are paying a lot more for their hosting. I pay $5.95 per month for hosting with SiteGround and I get amazing service. I also get amazing service from LiquidWeb, but I pay them about $200 per month.
Managed WordPress Hosting
WordPress is easily the most popular content management system, but using WordPress does have its downsides. First, WordPress-powered websites can load a little slower than other types of sites. Second, you’ll need to upgrade to the latest version of WordPress every now and then. This is extremely easy to do (just a click of the mouse), but it still needs to be done. Third, since WordPress is open source software it is important to keep your WordPress install up-to-date or you could be at risk of getting your site hacked.
Several years ago as WordPress grew in popularity a new trend started in the web hosting industry. Many hosts now offer what is known as managed WordPress hosting. There are differences from one host to the next, but basically if you have managed WordPress hosting some of the common issues that can come up with WordPress will be handled for you. In addition, their servers are specifically set up and optimized for WordPress so your site will load faster.
SiteGround offers managed WordPress hosting on all of their plans, even the low-cost shared hosting plans. Plans on other managed WordPress hosts like WP Engine can be quite expensive, but SiteGround gives you managed WordPress hosting at very reasonable rates.
SiteGround’s servers are optimized for WordPress, they will automatically upgrade your sites to the latest version of WordPress, they offer their own caching plugin on all plans except the cheapest StartUp plan, they constantly monitor WordPress security issues to help keep your site safe, and the support reps are also knowledgeable about WordPress.
With SiteGround you get the benefits of managed WordPress hosting without the high price of companies like WP Engine.
If you have a website or blog currently hosted somewhere else, SiteGround will transfer it for you for free when you sign up for their hosting. In order to get the free transfer you’ll need to pre-pay for 12 months (or more) of service, but you also get a really nice discount by pre-paying. I’ve personally used the transfer service from SiteGround and they did a great job. I had no issues at all and it was done very quickly.
Free SSL Certificates
Several years ago you only needed an SSL certificate if you had an e-commerce site where you were collecting credit card numbers from your visitors. Now, it’s basically a necessity for every website and blog. If you don’t have an SSL certificate you run the risk of having your website marked as unsecure, which is bound to scare away some of your visitors.
SiteGround offers Free SSL certificates and they will even install it for you. They do have a guide that shows the simple process of doing it yourself, but if you’re like me and you would rather let an expert handle anything related to the sever, just contact SiteGround and they will do it for you.
SiteGround offers a wide variety of hosting options, so they have plans in all different budgets. Since the rest of this review is based on their shared hosting I will go ahead and only talk about the pricing of their shared hosting here. They have 3 different shared hosting plans: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek.
When you are looking at SiteGround’s pricing the thing you need to be aware of is the introductory price vs. the regular price. The regular price of their 3 shared hosting plans are $9.95, $14.95, and $29.95 per month. But you’ll get introductory pricing on your first invoice. If you pay for just one month, you’ll get the introductory price for the first month and then it will go to the regular price. If you pay for 12 months upfront you will get the introductory price for those 12 months, and then it will go to the regular price. If you pay for 24 or 36 months upfront, you will get the introductory price for those 24 or 36 months and then it will go to the regular price.
The longer the time period that you pay upfront, the more you save over the long run. Personally, I never buy web hosting for more than 1 year at a time, and that goes for every host, not just SiteGround. I don’t want to be locked in to one host for 3 years in case their level of service goes downhill. But if you do feel comfortable paying for 2 or 3 years up front you’ll get an amazing deal.
Throughout this review I’ve mentioned that SiteGround is superior to every other low-cost web host that I’ve used in the past in terms of website performance, page load speed, and customer support. They really give you a better product and service than you’ll get with other hosts on a shared hosting account, but you will pay a slightly higher price for it. SiteGround’s pricing compares very well to any other quality shared hosting provider when you’re paying the introductory prices, but after that introductory price expires you’ll be paying more than you would for shared hosting with most other hosts.
Let’s compare the pricing of the StartUp plan to the lowest-priced plan from Bluehost. SiteGround offers the StartUp plan for $3.95 per month as the introductory price, and then it goes to $9.95. Bluehost’s Basic plan starts at $3.95 for the introductory price and then goes to $7.95 per month. Likewise, Bluehost’s other shared hosting plans have regular prices that are lower than SiteGround’s.
My opinion is that SiteGround’s hosting is well worth what they charge for the regular price, but it’s important to note that it is higher than many other shared hosting providers. Personally, I’d rather pay a few extra dollars per month to get a faster loading site and better/faster customer service.
I’m not trying to knock on Bluehost, I actually like Bluehost and had accounts with them for many years (although not currently). Bluehost would actually be my second choice for shared hosting behind SiteGround. I just use Bluehost as an example because they are an industry leader and because their pricing is pretty low.
Overall Opinion of SiteGround’s Web Hosting
If you’ve read this entire article you know by know that I am a very happy SiteGround customer. If you didn’t read the article and you’re skipping to the end, here are the reasons why I like and recommend SiteGround:
- Servers that are optimized for WordPress.
- Fast page loads.
- Reliable servers with great up time.
- The benefits of managed WordPress hosting without the high cost.
- Very fast, very helpful customer service.
- Plenty of plans and hosting options that give you room to grow.
That being said, there are a few cons of SiteGrounds service that I want to point out in order to provide a balanced review.
First, their prices are higher than most low-cost shared hosting providers. As I mentioned earlier, I think SiteGround’s prices are more than justified by what they offer, but if you are only looking for a dirt-cheap, low-cost provider, you can find lower-priced plans elsewhere.
Second, the shared hosting plans from SiteGround do have more limitations than some other hosts. For example, the storage space is not as high as what you’ll get from most hosts. From my experience, most hosts offer far more disk space than you’ll ever need, and what SiteGround offers is more than sufficient for the vast majority of websites and blogs.