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SiteGround Web Hosting (Review) - Armchair Empire

SiteGround Web Hosting (Review)

SiteGround Hosting Review 2018

  • 9.5/10
    Features - 9.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Pricing - 8.5/10
  • 9/10
    Server Types - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Ease of Use - 9/10
  • 10/10
    Customer Support - 10/10
9.2/10

SiteGround Review Introduction

Rated as the one of the top 10 web hosting companies of 2018, SiteGround is reputable for their high-quality customer service and high availability, and judging from their website, they are undoubtedly quirkier than any other web hosting company we have come across.

Upon researching SiteGround’s description of their web hosting services, we noticed that the web hosting company prides itself in several values such as Craftsmanship, Quality, Passion, Integrity and Fun, which are all under the umbrella called “The Handcraft Philosophy”. But, how exactly do these values benefit their customers? For example, how does ‘fun’ determine the quality of service you will receive from buying their web hosting platform?

Well literally speaking, it doesn’t. However, we thought this was an interesting way to describe their web hosting services, and if this is what SiteGround prides itself on, then it would be rather ignorant of us to ignore the company’s declaration. So, rather than filling you in on the essential factors that determine a good web hosting company, we also considered SiteGround’s philosophy to further assess the quality of their web hosting services and to see if they stick by their words.

But to start with, let’s backtrack to the history of SiteGround.

History of SiteGround

SiteGround is relatively new to the web hosting world compared its competitors, as it first started its services in 2004. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ‘fun’ story to tell with regards to SiteGround’s startup, other than their journey began with four university students who had interest in all things tech – a similar story to most successful entrepreneurs.

SiteGround then went on to further their technical expertise in web hosting and created project Kyup – SiteGround’s contained cloud hosting platform, which is said to deliver top-quality cloud technology and business-orientated features to “software developers, tech professionals and geeks alike.”

With their successful sister platform underway, SiteGround soon became one of the leading web hosts, accommodating more than one million domains worldwide, while also delivering top speed solutions 99.9% of the time, all year round.

SiteGround History

SiteGround Web Hosting Services

SiteGround provides its users with six different web hosting solutions, including the two fundamental hosting services: shared and dedicated, though unfortunately there is no VPS hosting! But why?

Well VPS hosting has always been the middle ground between shared and dedicated, with many web hosting companies promising users the price of shared hosting, for the power of dedicated. However, all of SiteGround’s web hosting plans already do this, as their top-speed technology and conveniently placed data centres guarantees users 99.9% uptime at a reasonable price. In addition to this, SiteGround also covers VPS’s middle ground as their array of web hosting plans provides solutions to all types of web developers, not beginners and advanced; therefore, there is no need for SiteGround to offer VPS.

With that being said, it can be argued that SiteGround (already) abides by their philosophy, as each web hosting plan is personalised to the needs of each, individual customer, be it web developers, start-ups or web hosts alike!

Shared Hosting

Each of SiteGround’s shared hosting plan is tiered according to the amount of traffic you gage, the number of websites you host and the amount of storage you wish to use.

All shared hosting plans come with “all essential features” such as 30-day money back guarantee, unmetered traffic, daily auto backups and solid-state drives (SSDs) and although the company doesn’t appear to be the cheapest on the market, they do offer very generous discounts on a regular basis. It’s also worth noting that some of SiteGround’s ‘essential’ features, such as free SSL encryption, SSH access and unlimited email accounts usually come at an extra price with other web hosting companies. So, a great deal for savvier spenders! Prices of their shared packages are as follows:

StartUp
For Small Projects

60% OFF the regular $9.95/mo. $3.95/mo. Excl. VAT
GrowBig
For New Businesses

60% OFF the regular $14.95/mo. $5.95/mo. Excl. VAT
GoGeek
For Established Businesses

60% OFF the regular $29.95/mo. $11.95/mo. Excl. VAT

StartUp

SiteGround’s StartUp plan covers one website that draws a maximum of 10k visitors per month. The web hosting company provides users with 10GB of web space, as well as their essential features, such as free SSL certificates. Other features include SSD storage, CloudFlare, unmetered data transfers and low server response time, all of which are extremely favourable as users are guaranteed speed and stability at a reasonable rate. Again, its also worth noting that their ‘unmetered’ data transfers is also highly desirable, as SiteGround customers won’t be lured into the pretences of ‘unlimited’ data transfers which other web hosting companies offer.

The StartUp package also includes a free drag and drop builder for users to build professional-looking websites in minutes, or a free website transfer for those who want to relocate their site to a different hosting package – perfect for those who are moving away from minor hosting platforms, such as WordPress.

However, one thing we noticed is the lack of dedicated customer support for SiteGround StartUp users, as it’s stated that GrowBig or GoGeek customer enquiries are prioritised over those who choose StartUp, which (in our eyes) is not fair. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean to say that customer queries will be ignored; just the response time will be longer.

SiteGround StartUp Hosting

GrowBig

SiteGround’s GrowBig plan is said to be the most ideal shared hosting plan out of the three, as customers can host an unlimited number of sites and have free rein of development due to its 20GB web space.

At a reasonable price GrowBig customers offers a bulk of premium features, such as free backup restores and three-level caching technology on top of SiteGround’s “all-essential features.” So, users are guaranteed faster loading times and extra security for only $2 extra, which is another bargain! In addition to this, purchasers can take full advantage of the company’s award-winning customer service, as SiteGround prioritises any technical matters that occur from GrowBig customers; meaning there’s no need to worry about waiting around for a solution.

Though this plan is a perfect middle ground for those with a growing readership, if you’re looking for the advanced features, we suggest the Geeky plan instead.

SiteGround GrowBig Hosting

GoGeek

Since there is no VPS hosting, SiteGround replicates the structure of VPS hosting so GoGeek customers are allocated more space on the server for better access of resources, higher quality of service and more powerful site performance.

In short, GoGeek provides users more storage, better resources and extra services for busier sites which draw around 100,000 visitors per month. Consumers receive the same essential and premium tech, security and support features of the other two plans, as well as “Geeky features” for those that are serious about web developing.

The GoGeek plan offers several stages of developer tools, including site staging for CMS sites WordPress and Joomla and Git Integration, which is also compatible with Drupal, Magento and PrestaShop. So GoGeek developers can test, edit, backup and overall, better manage their site(s) at a much lower price than other VPS hosts on the market.

In addition to this, SiteGround also offers customers PCI Compliant Servers, so visitors can safely make transactions online. Although, SiteGround has devised a plan which is more suited to those managing an online store. However, if you want all the benefits of a VPS server, including more disk space, then it’s best to opt for a VPS plan elsewhere.

Nonetheless, not many websites use around 30GB of storage, unless your site(s) are either data, graphic or traffic heavy and if this is the case, we strongly advise you to reconsider your options.

SiteGround GoGeek Hosting

Dedicated Server

In comparison to other web hosting companies on the market, SiteGround is marked as one of the top three hosting providers about their dedicated server plans with its 5-star features, support and uptime guarantee. However, SiteGround’s dedicated server package is only suitable for Linux-based users, and not Windows, due to the rising popularity of the operating system.

Like most dedicated server plans, SiteGround offers two to three-tiered solutions to its customers, depending on the location of the data centre, which users can choose for free. Compared to SiteGround’s competitors who either won’t or cannot offer the choice of multiple data centres, users can enhance the accessibility of their website; giving them more control over the performance of their server.

For those that choose either Amsterdam or Chicago as their location, users are offered a three-tiered hosting solution, whereas those that opt for a data centre in the Asia-Pacific, a two-tiered plan is provided, instead.

With regards to the US and EU plans, SiteGround’s cheapest dedicated server plan supplies its users with an Intel Xeon E3-1230 processor, 4CPU cores (8 CPU threads), 8MB CPU cache, 4GB DDR3 RAM at the expense of $229.00 a month. In addition to this, developers are given 10TB of bandwidth and 500GB SATA 2 HHD. For those who opt for a data centre in Singapore, plans start at $329.00 and users begin with 5TB of bandwidth and 1TB SATA 2 HDD.

Plans then increase to 12 CPU cores (24 CPU threads), 16GB DDR3 RAM, 2TB SATA IIIs / RAID 10 hard disk drives with 2x Intel Xeon E3-2620 for $429.00. Although this isn’t the most cost-effective solution as others offer more advanced features, such as solid-state drives, SiteGround’s hardware services give them the upper-hand.

SiteGround monitors the server’s performance around the clock and fix any issue as soon as it’s detected, whereas other web hosting providers take more than half an hour to identify and correct a problem. Their ‘VIP’ customer service also provides further peace of mind, as their tech teams are on standby with replacement parts suitable for any server issues which may occur, yet this is worth noting as other web hosts have made accusations about SiteGrounds ‘lack’ of technical support.

Other dedicated hosting features include:

WHM & cPanel

Exim Mail Server

Private DNS Server Setup

IP Tables Firewall

Apache/Nginx & CentOS

5 Free Dedicated IPs

Free Cloudflare CDN

SSH Access

Softaculous Autoinstaller

MySQL 5 & PostgreSQL

5 PHP Versions

See Our Dedicated Plans

As well as their 99.9% uptime guarantee and extra security features, SiteGround also offers advanced services tailored to WordPress and Joomla, as well as a one-click installer for OS e-commerce platform, Magento. For a higher degree of control, the web hosting company provides WordPress and Joomla developers staging and Git repository – which is also available for Magento users – as well as a WordPress command line interface (WP-CLI) and performs automatic updates in the background, so no updates will interfere with your work.

Specialist Web Hosting Solutions

In previous reviews, we’ve noticed that in an attempt to help users save money, some editors tell readers to steer clear from specialist web hosting solutions, such as WordPress and e-commerce, and recommend VPS hosting, instead. However, some journalists forget to mention specialist hosting solutions tailor their customer support services, along with a list of other features to the needs of its users to better support their customers, and aren’t just there as a sales gimmick.

One thing we praise SiteGround for is customer care, as each specialist web hosting plan caters to the individual needs of an array of web developers, from beginners, resellers, bloggers, entrepreneurs and tech-heads. Because of this, it is safe for us to say that SiteGround successfully ticks all the boxes of their ‘Handcraft Philosophy’, meaning that they really do stick to their word!

Cloud Hosting

Like all cloud hosting solutions, users should be able to freely and effectively manage and develop their website to as much of their own accord as possible. Amazingly SiteGround has already taken the top spot for the recommended cloud hosting provider (at the time of writing), attaining five-star reviews for their hosting features, guaranteed uptime and award-winning support – and we can see why.

SiteGround Cloud Hosting

To start with, SiteGround offers users four price plans, all of which come with five terabytes of data transfer and are tiered according to the amount of central processing units, memory and solid-state drive space – so it looks like SSDs exist after all! The cheapest solution (Entry plan) comes in at $80.00 per month and offers 2 CPU cores, 4GB memory, 40GB of SSD storage. Prices then go up to $240.00, offering users quadruple the number of CPU-cores, triple the amount of SSD space and an extra 6GB of memory.

Like their dedicated server plans, SiteGround’s servers are fully managed and provide users with (better) 24/7 VIP tech support. For further peace of mind, SiteGround also offers SSH access and free Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates and advanced caching services for content management systems, WordPress, Joomla, Magento and new edition, Drupal. Daily backups are also performed in which seven off-site backups will be reserved for one week to prevent loss of data.

For more flexibility and traffic management, developers can securely customise their server to improve optimisation through SiteGround’s auto-scalable resources, HHVM (which is a massive game changer), WHM and cPanel access, MySQL 5 & PostgreSQL and IP Tables Firewall. However, the only downside to this is that SiteGround’s cloud hosting services are only exclusive to Linux users.

WordPress Hosting

Recommended by WordPress for their speed and service, SiteGround offers users WordPress dedicated resources for the same price as their shared web hosting plans – which is an excellent offer compared to some of SiteGround’s competitors. However, we couldn’t help but notice that all of SiteGround’s WordPress hosting plans match their shared hosting offers, as users can manage the same number of sites, receive the same amount of web space and traffic limits and are even categorised under the same names(!)

StartUp
For a Great Start

60% OFF the regular $9.95/mo. $3.95/mo. Excl. VAT
GrowBig
For Easy WordPress Growth

60% OFF the regular $14.95/mo. $5.95/mo. Excl. VAT
GoGeek
For Real WordPress Geeks

60% OFF the regular $29.95/mo. $11.95/mo. Excl. VAT

Despite the similarity of the shared hosting packages, WordPress hosting (evidently) supplies customers with WordPress dedicated resources. However, because of the coinciding features, we’re not too sure what to make of SiteGround’s WordPress hosting services, or even if we should consider their shared hosting services as a worthy contender. So, rather than re-list the shared hosting specifications, we focussed our attention on SiteGround’s WordPress features.

To start with, SiteGround offers users a one-click installation of WordPress or a free site transfer to save users the hassle of redesigning their website. All plans also include automatic WordPress updates and a WordPress command line interface (WP-CLI), so users can perform a wider variety of tasks.

For those who want to get to grips with coding, SiteGround’s GoGeek plans come with Git pre-installed and one-click WordPress staging, so developers can have the freedom and control to customise their WordPress sites through coding. For further flexibility and peace of mind, GoGeeky users are also offered free backups on demand, as well as PCI compliant servers, so e-commerce businesses can provide their customers better payment protection.

For greater optimisation, SiteGround’s GrowBig plans include SuperCacher which caches your site through multiple levels, via NGINX and Memcached caching for quicker loading times and distributes content securely through CloudFlare. In addition to this, users also receive speedier customer service, as, like SiteGround’s shared hosting plans, GrowBig and GoGeek customers’ queries are prioritised.

In comparison to other WordPress hosting services on the market, SiteGround is by far the cheapest and probably the most reliable, since WordPress credited their services. However, the only downside to this is the fact that their hosting is not compliant with Windows, and (as stated previously), their prioritisation of customer service. Nonetheless, it can be argued that not it’s not exactly unfair for users to pay more for better customer service, considering their features are a lot more advanced compared to StartUp customers.

Reseller Hosting

For those who are unaware, reseller hosting is a specific web hosting service which allows users to sell their hard drive and bandwidth to other people who are also wanting a web hosting solution.

Reseller customers are provided with a full list of features (the same as SiteGround’s StartUp shared hosting) which they can white label and are charged via SiteGround’s unique credit system, which is said to provide users with a cost-effective, long-term hosting solution.

To start with, resellers can provide customers with following features suitable for 10,000 visitors per month:

10 GB Web Space

Unmetered Data Transfer

Free Daily Backup

cPanel & SSH Access

Unlimited MySQL Data Bases

Free Email Accounts

5 Server Locations

Unlimited FTP Accounts

Free Cloudflare CDN

See Full List of Features

Despite SiteGround’s limited storage space, their promising list of features such as their 99.9% uptime guarantee, and 24/7 tech support means that there is no need for you to deal with the web hosting infrastructure. Better still, customers can choose to upgrade to either a dedicated or cloud plan for more advanced features.

With regards to SiteGround’s unique credit payment system, one credit is worth one year of hosting; however, users need at least five reseller credits to join which is $225.00. So, one credit is $45.00.

Though the web hosting company does offer users higher discounts the longer you choose to use SiteGround’s services; so, in this instance, the more credits you buy, the cheaper each credit is worth. Prices of which are as follows:

11+ Credits$42/credit
5-10 Credits$45/credit
1-4 Credits$49/credit

Enterprise

Enterprise hosting is a lot different from their other web hosting packages, as SiteGround customers can opt for a customised plan whereby the hosting infrastructure is purposely built for their web hosting/business needs. So, there is no set amount of resources, storage space, server, build or price for that matter. However, because of this, a personalised enterprise plan does come at a considerably high price – so consider your website’s needs before you splash the cash.

That being said, enterprise customers can discuss their business/website propositions with a site building expert for as long as they need, before they opt for a personalised plan. In addition to this, prospects can also contact the team through their contact form to specify both their budget and initial website ideas.

But, the level of support doesn’t stop there, as SiteGround assign an account manager to each customer, so buyers will be notified about the on-goings of their project, as well as any technical issues your business may face, along with the solutions to resolve them. Users can speak to their account manager for how ever long necessary over the phone, through email, Slack or Skype and can also reach out to technical advisors at whatever hour of the day if any troubling issues arise.

SiteGround Enterprise Hosting

With regards to the infrastructure, the hosting solution is scalable to manage surges of traffic effectively and are built on Linux containers; using either cloud, public or private configurations, depending on the purchaser’s hosting needs. Their team of web designers can also distribute versions of your website from different server location across the globe for better optimisation, so your site can be easily and quickly accessed from either Europe, the United States or the Asia-Pacific.

To emphasise the quality of SiteGround’s web building capabilities, the web hosting company use Greenpeace’s website as an exceptionally valued example of how their skills can cater to the complexity of any website’s needs. And if you haven’t guessed already, yes, they did build the infrastructure of Greenpeace’s website.

Domain Registrar

Like most web hosting companies, SiteGround provides its customers with a list of domains, the popular of which (.com) stands at a relatively reasonable price of $15.95 – at the time of writing.

Register a new domain starting from only $15.95/year

You can register a new domain while activating a new hosting account with SiteGround or later through your User Area. These are the most popular extensions among our users:

SiteGround Domain Names

Prices for a domain range anywhere between $14-46+, depending on which extension you choose. Though SiteGround’s domains are not the cheapest on the market, they are free if customers purchase any SiteGround hosting plan, which is less expensive than the domain itself; three times less than their StartUp shared hosting plan, in fact! For this reason, we don’t recommend SiteGround as a cost-effective domain registrar, just their web hosting plans.

Nonetheless, customers can opt to protect their personal/domain details from potential spammers/hackers for an extra 75 pence – which is, by all means, a bargain!

Website Builder

Unfortunately, SiteGround does not have their own website builder. Instead, they supply Weebly’s web building services to their hosting customers, so users can produce a professional-looking website in minutes with one of the top three website building services on the market. In fact, shared hosting customers could save as much as $20 if they chose to purchase Weebly separately, which is again, another pro for customers who are savvier with their expenses.

For ease of use, customers can drag and drop page components, such as text, photos, videos and maps without the technical malarkey and pick from an array of themes (which are optimised for mobile devices) to better represent their content. SiteGround also provides WordPress and Joomla plug-ins and CMS management tools such as WordPress staging, command line interface (WP-CLI), and Git integration plug-ins for GoBig and GoGeeky users.

Alternatively, if you’ve already built a striking website, SiteGround also offers a free website transfer with all of their web hosting plans.

So, even though they do not offer an in-house site builder, their web building services do surpass the standards of other hosting companies on the market, and for that reason, SiteGround gets a thumbs up from us!

SiteGround’s Key Features

Performance

SiteGround guarantees 99.9% uptime to all of their customers, which is brilliant if you’re after a reliable service, and even better if you’ve purchased one of their less pricey plans. However, so does every other successful web hosting company, so what does SiteGround do differently?

SiteGround Speed Technology

To start with, SiteGround sells its uptime well. It doesn’t over promise customers with 100% uptime like some of its competitors, but they do deliver as close to 100% as possible. In fact, if you visit SiteGround’s ‘Our Technology’ tab, customers can type in their domain name to check their real-time status and view SiteGround’s their monthly and yearly uptime stats, which (at the time of writing) is incredibly close to 100%. Customers can also optimise their site further by selecting any one of the five data centres located in Chicago, London, Milan, Amsterdam or Singapore; all of which are monitored under high-security measures.

With regards to SiteGround’s infrastructure, their servers are built upon Linux containers to provide users with a flexible, resourceful and secure platform, which effectively manages unexpected surges of traffic; making SiteGround an ideal hosting platform for growing or e-commerce companies! In addition to this, SiteGround also uses top of the range technologies, such as solid-state drives, NGINX and HTTP/2 enabled servers, PHP7/HHVM code base, multi-layer caching, CloudFlare CND, for a speedier service.

Protection

All accounts come with free SSL encryption (which is a good deal compared to other web hosting companies), along with other security necessities including SiteGround’s Firewall application and spam prevention solutions.

SiteGround Spam Protection

To upkeep their speedy services, SiteGround continues to securely isolate all accounts to minimise the risk of any disturbance and performs daily backups for free. If needed, users can restore previous versions within a 30-day period and back up data on demand, if they opt for a more expensive shared hosting plan.

With regards to their data centres, all five areas are bullet-proof protected and monitored by bodyguards and 24-hour video surveillance. Their DevOps team have also developed a pro-active server monitor acts on any issues that may arise, as well as an artificial intelligence system which is said to block up to two million brute-force attacks every hour.

Customer Support

We LOVE SiteGround’s approach to describing their customer experience; in fact, we think it’s the best we’ve come across.

Chat

Start Chat

Reply Time: Instantly

As soon as users hover over the SiteGround’s ‘Our Support’ tab, they immediately see the ticket, phone and chat response times, which (we think) is a great feature to have. Better still, their over-the-phone and chat service reply times are described as ‘instant’ and their ticket reply time is at an unmatchable 10 minutes, which shows they’re honest about their customer support. Though we can’t help but remain sceptical about customer service reviews, so we tested it ourselves, and to be honest – they were right.

We had a reply within seconds online, we weren’t kept waiting over the phone, and the ticket reply was seven minutes, as opposed to 10. So, maybe SiteGround “overstaffs all shifts”, after all.

One thing we don’t agree with, however, is their prioritisation of customer queries. Just because someone has paid less for a plan, it doesn’t mean to say that their enquiry isn’t as important; though, we do understand the reasons behind it. For example, opting for a dedicated server plan means more technical requirements need to be met, fixed and sustained, as opposed to those with shared plans. Plus, it’s only fair that someone who has paid more gets that extra bit of care.

Refunds

Like most web hosting companies, SiteGround offers its customers a 30-day money back guarantee on all of their shared hosting plans. However, the domain name and privacy fees are non-refundable, and renewal orders are not covered.

No money-back guarantee is offered to those who opt for SiteGround’s cloud or dedicated hosting plans and are only applicable to those who cancel the complete Reseller package, and not individual accounts.

SiteGround Pros and Cons

Future of SiteGround

SiteGround is currently testing Linux’s 4.14 release, so customers could soon witness considerable improvements to their web hosting services, including speedier performance, greater stability and higher security. This new development is said to be a long-term solution (six years to be precise), so SiteGround customers are in for a treat; depending, of course, how quick SiteGround implements this new development.

Following the Trump fiasco, developers all over the world are tightening their protection policies and increasing their security features, and likewise, so are SiteGround. Their Linux kernel developer has revealed that they too are updating their security features to create an even more secure environment for developers, bloggers and resellers alike.

Final Word

In short, we believe that SiteGround is perfect for entrepreneurs or web hosting newbies, due to their high-security features, CMS plug-ins, low prices and storage solutions.

If we evaluate their web hosting services in relation to their “Handcraft Philosophy” – which at the beginning of the review, we said we would – SiteGround ticks the following boxes: craftsmanship, quality, integrity and passion (particularly their customer support staff and kernel developers).

To elaborate, SiteGround does well to ensure that users can create their website in a safe, secure and trusted environment, due to their heightened security features including server monitoring, back up restore and free SSL encryption. In addition to this, we like the transparency of SiteGround’s dedicated customer service, as well as the fact that SiteGround makes an effort to use the finest solutions for greater optimisation.

Compared to other web hosting companies, their shared and enterprise hosting plans are incomparable. However, their dedicated server and cloud hosting plans are somewhat pricey for such limited resources. Though, the transparency of their prices is what makes the costs of their plans plausible, as users pay more for better security features, greater loading times, more flexibility for development and better customer support services.

Not the choice for you? Check out the rest of our web hosting reviews!