Given its growing popularity, studying SiteGround in detail felt like a must-do if I wanted to get closer to the ultimate goal of my ongoing quest to find the best website hosting company and to improve the world of hosting.
I spent hours on end researching the company, and after I purchased its shared hosting plan and tested it extensively can tell you this:
There are many SiteGround reviews out there, but none can top the analysis below.
The company servers constantly rank among the fastest and most reliable hosts there are, and the technical support team wins accolades all the time.
Official host of WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, SiteGround looks impressive on the surface.
But what does the raw data I collect constantly tell?
Are there any major flaws lurking under such a powerful first impression?
Let’s find out.
What Is SiteGround?
Headquartered just outside the capital city of Bulgaria, SiteGround is already a global player in the world of web hosting. With six offices around the world and data centers on three continents, this is a company with real international flavor.
SiteGround has more than 1.5 million domains acquired over 14 years. I have worked for hosting companies that have been utterly unable to scale up and meet the demands of a growing customer base. SiteGround seems to have the right ideas and the right people to grow without compromising quality.
The sustainable growth and constant dedication to technological perfection this host exhibits are impressive.
But is SiteGround good, really?
The performance benchmarks I’ve been collecting for this unbiased review give a fairly exhaustive answer to this question. The Sofia-based hosting provider might not be the fastest out there but still is very fast. Together with impeccable uptime and absolutely stunning support, the offered service is one of the best shared hosting packages you can find currently.
Here’s what the numbers say.
The Essentials – SiteGround Uptime, Speed, Support
Uptime, speed and quality support are by far the most important qualities of any hosting service.
1. Excellent Uptime – 100%
You can sniff the geekiness of SiteGround.
With five data centers spread across Europe, in the US and Singapore, and custom server architecture built by skillful in-house developers, solutions rely on technological excellence to deliver redundancy, speed and flexibility across the board.
These are not empty marketing statements.
The SiteGround web hosting servers utilize customized Linux Containers (LXC) that run on in-house tweaked kernel (the kernel is the heart and brain of Linux). Technical jargon aside, end users get three things:
- Greater account isolation – Shared hosting accommodates many users and their websites on a single physical server. Good separation between the accounts of said users boosts security and performance.
- Improved security – When the user accounts are isolated, the chances for a hacked site to infect other pages hosted on the same server diminish greatly. This is not the only component of the robust security configuration SiteGround offers but contributes big time to the overall safety of the hosting environment.
- Optimized performance – The Linux Containers use the server resources without any overhead to deliver speed and extremely reliable performance that handles traffic spikes without a hiccup.
Another proprietary technology that monitors server performance proactively contributes to the impressive uptime of SiteGround. It is a system that reacts to issues with the speed of electricity and fixes them as fast. The proactive functionality of this potent monitoring tool detects and prevents potential issues before they rear their buggy heads.
SiteGround is so confident in its infrastructure that offers compensation to anyone with more than 0.1% downtime on an annual basis. Each user can check the SiteGround server status through his or her user area.
Average Uptime 2018:
- August – 100%
- September – 100%
- October – 100%
Verdict: Very reliable infrastructure that delivers impeccable uptime.
2. Top 3 Speed
- Quick Response Time – 0.47s
- Quick Fully Loaded Time – 1.0s
- Number 1 Under Load – 0.15s
Note: If you run speed tests on my domain, results might fluctuate a bit. Even from the same testing platform, two consecutive tests normally display slightly different results. My site is hosted in Chicago, so I used US testing locations for this SiteGround review. All plugins and caching were disabled.
Website speed is measured in response time (first byte) and the time it takes to load a page fully. The latter is more important for the end user as the first byte of info the server sends does not contain meaningful information for a human reader, but slow delivery of the initial server response delays everything else.
I tested both metrics with several tools – GTMetrix, Pingdom and WebPageTest – that give a good average of the frontend responsiveness and speed of SiteGround hosting.
Then I ran the site through Load Impact to send 50 virtual users that browse pages of the site and measure the response they get while navigating around. 50 concurrent users are a very solid number for a medium shared hosting plan and present a serious test for the backend.
The response under load was stunning, with practically no spikes or bottlenecks as the virtual users piled onto the pages of my basic WordPress site. I haven’t seen anything like this on any of the hosts reviewed here on the Hosting Tribunal.
It seems that the Linux Containers really do the trick and deliver smooth, scalable performance.
The response time and the loading speed of SiteGround are faster than 95% of the sites tested with Pingdom.
Average response time 2018:
- August – 0.45s
- September – 0.45s
- October – 0.52s
Fully loaded page 2018:
- August – 0.92s
- September – 0.97s
- October – 1.11s
Response under load 2018:
- August – 0.11s
- Septmeber – 0.13s
- October – 0.20s
Verdict: The powerful backend delivers blazing speeds without any add-ons or caching.
3. Support – Stellar
The SiteGround support is mind-blowingly good!
I am yet to ask them something they don’t know and that’s not for the lack of trying on my behalf.
They are fast, courteous and knowledgeable. I was so impressed by their expertise and attitude that went the extra mile while preparing this hosting review.
What I found was stunning.
The company recruits only experienced technical support agents who undergo some serious testing before being hired… only to be trained for 3-6 months internally.
The standard thinking in the industry is that virtually anyone can do the job regardless of previous experience. Frontline support is hardly rocket science, and after a couple of weeks of training, anyone could be remotely qualified to provide semi-adequate solutions to basic hosting issues.
Over at SiteGround, the mentality is different and it shows.
After interacting a few times with the SiteGround live chat support, I was genuinely surprised by the overall level of knowledge, quick responses and eagerness to help. Hands down, this is the best technical support I have seen online. And I am not talking among hosting providers.
This is not only my impression. I can’t be making unbiased and honest web hosting reviews without including some meta-research.
The SiteGroud reviews I checked revealed that the technical support team receives growing customer appreciation throughout the years. Currently, the positive feedback of happy customers amounts to 99.7% (!!!) satisfaction rate.
In a nutshell, the SiteGround support is:
- Highly knowledgeable – With other hosts, I have encountered the occasional inexperienced agent; not here though.
- Lightning-fast – All chats I have started have been answered within 30 seconds.
- Eager to help – Regardless of the issue presented, I was met with a positive attitude and desire to solve the problem at hand.
- Ready to go way beyond basic troubleshooting – “This is beyond our scope of support!” is a popular mantra among tech support agents, but I am yet to hear it from SiteGround.
- Splendid knowledge base – There are many useful articles for basic and advanced users alike. Heck, you can even get a free e-book on WordPress optimization that has some really good advice.
If I had to point out one single outstanding characteristic in this SiteGround hosting review, it would be the amazing support team.
Verdict: The best support team there is.
The Pros of SiteGround
SiteGround is not the only company with speedy, reliable servers and top-notch support. What makes it one of the most popular hosting providers is the well-designed package its shared users receive.
1. Spectacular Multilayered Defense
You can read in some SiteGround hosting reviews that the company partnered up with Sucuri.net to create the SG Site Scanner. End users can utilize it for in-depth analysis and threat detection.
Awesome as it is, that’s not even close to the most impressive aspects of the SiteGround security systems.
The advanced account isolation and the proactive monitoring tool mentioned earlier team up with the powerful Guardian by 1H to deliver a nigh-impregnable defense system. The Guardian detects and suppresses suspicious activity within 0.5 seconds, which is orders of magnitude faster than the regular cPanel defense mechanism.
SiteGround shared hosting uses cPanel, which comes with all of its innate security features: IP blacklisting, SpamAssassin, firewall and more.
Throw in the mix great network redundancy and a robust web application firewall (WAF), and you end up with some of the most impressive online security money can buy.
2. Optimized for WordPress and Joomla
Remember when I said that SiteGround is an officially recognized host for Joomla and WordPress?
This is not just an honorary avowal but a technological reality with the interesting SiteGround WordPress solution.
SiteGround doesn’t have separate, pricier WordPress plans like, say, DreamHost or BlueHost. Instead, all SiteGround shared hosting plans are optimized for these two CMSs. They sport another in-house developed tool that caches database queries and dynamic content. Content management systems rely heavily on both, and the caching brings better performance.
(I had to manually disable the plugin to get fair metrics for this SiteGround review.)
The presence of a 1-click installer goes without saying, as it is a standard feature among the best website hosting companies. What is more impressive are the automatic updates WordPress users enjoy. Getting automatically the latest stable version saves time and increases security.
Truth be told, I feel tempted to create a separate SiteGround WordPress review in the near future because the biggest plan of the company includes some real goodies. Advanced tools like WordPress staging environment and Git repository are there to help with development, while the command line interface (WP-CLI) is available across the board.
To round up this impressive offering, the spectacular technical support of the company is trained extensively in troubleshooting this popular CMS.
Something tells me that SiteGround will rank high among specialized WP hosting providers as well, and the question “What is the best hosting for WordPress?” might get a surprising answer.
3. Free Backups
SiteGround servers create daily backups of all sites. You can easily restore an older version of your site at any moment. With the smallest plan, you’d have to do it manually, but users who opt for the bigger SiteGround packages can simply request the backup team to do it for them.
SiteGround keeps backups from the past 30 days, which is long enough to undo changes that don’t work as expected or need emergency recovery.
4. Excellent eCommerce Solutions
eCommerce applications are finickier than standard CMSs, but SiteGround has them covered as well. WooCommerce, the WordPress plugin it is, receives a performance boost and premium support.
eCommerce cannot function without a proper SSL and SiteGround provides just that. Automatically and for no charge whatsoever, the hosting company can furnish your site with a Let’s Encrypt SSL, regardless of the plan you use.
Now, when you become a serious merchant with a large volume of sales, you could upgrade to the biggest plan known as SiteGround GoGeek and get PCI compliant environment right away.
Pretty awesome, if you ask me because securing PCI compliance is not the easiest thing in the world.
5. Excellent Scalability
Speaking of upgrading plans, SiteGround provides very straightforward and logical scalability. Extra features aside, the bigger plans come with more dedicated CPU, RAM and simultaneous server processes.
Put simply, bigger plans are granted to be more powerful. They can handle larger amounts of traffic, execute code and processes faster and boost the overall performance of the site.
If your site is something you intend to develop and gain profit from, having the potential to grow and to know exactly how the next plan will impact your website is a huge benefit.
6. Affordable Hosting – Great Starting Deals
While certainly not the cheapest shared hosting out there, but the introductory SiteGround pricing is very competitive. Certainly, for the number of features and the performance you are getting, the value for money is insane.
Now, the common industry practice to attract customers with very low initial fees and then raising them upon renewal of the services can be seen here as well.
7. Universally Accessible
The five SiteGround data centers are spread over three continents, but the hosting provider also supplies its users with CDN or content delivery network for free. The partnership with one of the biggest CDN projects in the world, CloudFlare, guarantees quick access to your site from any point of the world and adds another layer of security, as CloudFlare protects against DDoS attacks quite well.
The universal appeal of SiteGround is enhanced by the fact that its support team is versed in Spanish and Italian too.
8. Simple Sign-up
The sign-up process with SiteGround is as straightforward as it gets. I’ve created accounts with the company in the past to gather data about SiteGround reviews (hint: WordPress hosting) and it’s always been a breeze.
There are very few steps to complete a purchase and register an account, which is activated automatically within minutes.
You can pay only with bank cards powered by Visa, Mastercard or Discover. This is somewhat limiting but not such a serious issue.
SiteGround is extremely open about its technology and goals. Quite unlike some other hosting providers I have reviewed, SiteGround displays all the relevant info promptly and obviously. If you check, for instance, some BlueHost reviews you or visit the company’s plan page I promise you that you will be left with a host of questions in mind.
Indeed, with an infrastructure like theirs, the people at SiteGround have nothing to be ashamed of.
10. High Community Engagement
The technological excellence and the stellar support team are not conjured out of thin air. Many of the people working at SiteGround are real geeks who are passionate about WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, site development, server optimization, etc.
It is part of the company culture to sponsor and organize events like Word Camps and to send a hefty number of employees to them.
Somewhat tied to the previous point, SiteGround seems to endorse and embrace the transparency and spirit of cooperation so typical for the open-source community.
The Cons of SiteGround
Nothing is perfect.
Indeed, while the company has many, many virtues, SiteGround has a couple of minor flaws that are worth mentioning.
1. Limited Space
You don’t really need any SiteGround hosting reviews to see the most glaring downside: all shared plans come with space restrictions.
10GB for the smallest and 30GB for the largest plan are not such low values, especially when you are getting lightning-fast SSDs but are limitations nevertheless.
In all fairness, the 10GB on the smallest plan are very hard to exhaust, given that you can host only one domain there. The 30GB on GoGeek, on the other hand, can be on the short side if you have several relatively big sites.
Keep in mind that upgrading to the smallest VPS (dubbed Cloud hosting) plan from GoGeek increases the disk space but doesn’t necessarily provide more computing resources. In other words, the largest shared plan is a lean beast that can outperform a small virtual server.
2. Hidden Setup Fee
Now, the SiteGround plans do not have a setup fee, unless you decide to pay for a short period of time like one or six months.
What leaves a sour taste is the fact that this fee is not mentioned anywhere. You may be signing up happily with the idea to test SiteGround for a single month and at the final step, a pesky setup fee appears. Quite clearly, it is intended to make you commit for a longer period.
Even though this tactic is a bit underhanded, I always advise getting hosting for at least one year, regardless of whether setup fees exist or not.
The reason is twofold. The vast majority of website hosting companies I have reviewed have renewal fees higher than the introductory price. Also, starting a website is a long-term commitment.
You cannot expect much in a single month or even six. One year is a much more realistic timeframe for achieving the goals you have, so purchasing hosting for 12 months or more makes a lot of sense.
SiteGround money back guarantee is valid for the first 30 days after signing up, but if you cancel a prepaid plan once these 30 days are over, you’ll get no prorated refund.
SiteGround Hosting Plans at a Glance
SiteGround shared hosting plans come in three varieties:
- StartUp: For just $3.95/mo you can get your first website running. Suitable for a single hosted domain, the intro plan can handle easily 10,000 unique visitors per month and sports basic WordPress optimization.
- GrowBig: Priced at $5.95/mo, SiteGround GrowBig puts in your hands all the tools necessary to expand your online presence. It can host many websites, has advanced WordPress optimization, handles 25,000 unique visitors without any problem, and allows for automatic restores from the 30-day backups.
- GoGeek: For $11.95/mo you get advanced staging environment, Git repository and free backups on demand. All GoGeek sites reside on PCI compliant servers that host fewer accounts for better performance (can serve 100,000 visitors per month) and improved security. The dedicated resources each plan has make GoGeek more powerful than the smallest SiteGround cloud hosting package (aka VPS).
Bandwidth: Unmetered across the board. Note that the number of visitors per month represents a reference to the traffic each plan can handle without any performance degradation and not a cap on the bandwidth.
Email: Free across the board, unlimited accounts.
Database: MySQL, included in all plans, unlimited.
Domain names: SiteGround doesn’t provide free domain names.
Control panel: cPanel, pretty standard.
Software installation: Softaculous 1-click installer.
Migration: Free inbound migration of one site hosted on cPanel. If you have more, contact the support team.
Payment options: Credit cards, Visa, Mastercard and Discover.
Account setup: Almost instant, fully automated process.
Other hosting solutions: The company offers enterprise and cloud hosting, also known as dedicated and VPS services; the SiteGround reseller hosting is also a thing.
SiteGround Review In a Nutshell
- Excellent uptime (100%)
- Excellent speed, fast response, handles traffic perfectly
- Top support
- Extremely secure
- Optimized for WordPress and Joomla
- Free backups
- Free eCommerce solutions
- Very scalable
- Easily accessible thanks to CDN and intuitive interface
- Inbound site and email migration
- All plans have limited disk space
- If you opt for a shorter billing cycle, a setup fee is applicable
Do We Recommend SiteGround?
This is possibly the best shared website hosting company at the moment; my meta-research confirmed as much, as mostly all SiteGround reviews I checked place the company firmly in top 3 hosting providers.
It is the perfect place for people who are making their first steps in the world of web hosting but also for experienced users who need advanced support and feature-packed hosting solutions.
Excellent uptime, very fast and extremely secure servers that handle traffic well and ready-to-use eCommerce options make SiteGround a versatile and flexible host that can accommodate the growth and development of your website with ease.
Q: Where is SiteGround located?
A: The company was found in Sofia, Bulgaria, and its HQ is still there. Otherwise, SiteGround has five datacenters and as as many international offices. As of now, there is no SiteGround India operation, but the host has servers in Singapore.
Q: Is SiteGround Better than Bluehost?
A: Quite possibly, yes, it is. As of late, Bluehost has cleared its act and delivers very good services. And while in the purely technical area Bluehost vs SiteGround are comparable, the levels of customer service are not. Bluehost has an OK support team, but the technicians over at SiteGround are simply sublime. If its positive momentum continues, Bluehost could put a realistic challenge for the title of the best website hosting provider.
Q: Is SiteGround Better than GoDaddy?
A: By far and large, SiteGround is a much better choice than GoDaddy, who has the upper hand in terms of price and nothing else. To put it bluntly, any SiteGround vs GoDaddy comparison is a serious mismatch. Indeed, the hosting giant has very sweet deals, but its cheap prices reflect the truthfully the offered service. If you want to use GoDaddy, best utilize it as a domain registrar and nothing else.
Q: Is SiteGround the Best WordPress Hosting Provider?
A: It is hard to tell who is the absolute best WordPress host, but SiteGround is definitely in the mix. Its service is robust and optimized for the popular CMS. It may lack the complexity of managed WordPress services like WP Engine, but the price is incomparably lower, so there is that. Practically all SiteGround reviews, not only mine, tout the company’s excellent WP environment and knowledgeable support because, you know, they are worth the praise. You can hardly go wrong with this official WordPress host.