SiteGround WordPress Hosting Review
If you’ve ever been in the position of searching for WordPress hosting, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of SiteGround. They have a reputation for providing fast, affordable WordPress hosting and are one of four hosts listed on WordPress.org.
SiteGround has been around since 2004. Like many successful startups, it was launched in a dorm room with a handful of like-minded individuals and a desire to build something different. Today SiteGround boasts over 400 employees and hosts over 500,000 domains.
Depending which SiteGround plan you select, one of the first things you’ll notice is that they offer several features that aren’t always available with other hosting companies. While some of these features, such as staging and nightly backups, come at a slightly premium price, other features, such as servers which are optimized for WordPress are included in all plans.
To help you better understand the different plans and corresponding features, we’re going to take a closer look at what SiteGround has to offer. To kick things off, we purchased their most expensive and feature-rich plan, the “GoGeek Plan”.
- Support: 8/10
- Min/Max PageSpeed: 554ms / 3.85s
- Reported Uptime: 99.99%
- Overall: 8.25/10
Managed or Shared Hosting
First things first. SiteGround is what we classify as a “managed-hybrid” WordPress host.
This means they offer a mix of services and features that are consistent with both inexpensive self-managed hosting and premium managed WordPress hosting.
We’ll get into some more detail when we cover the specific features but here are our primary criteria when assigning a classification:
- Typically 100% self-managed in terms of WordPress updates
- Very little in the way of WordPress or speed optimization
- Caching and CDNs are your responsibility
- Full cPanel or equivalent access
- The primary feature is low prices
- Managed WordPress updates
- Often use servers optimized for WordPress
- Sometimes offer cPanel access
- Provide additional “built-in features” such as nightly backups or staging
- Often include custom caching and CDNs
- Improved WordPress specific security
- DO NOT offer a Hack-Free guarantee
- Managed WordPress Updates
- Servers optimized for speed and WordPress
- No cPanel access and limited access to server or database features
- Custom caching and CDNs included
- Stand behind their security by fixing hacks and malware for free.
SiteGround WordPress Hosting Features
Being a hybrid-managed WordPress host, SiteGround offers a variety of features that you won’t usually find on less expensive hosting plans. Although not all of the features are included in every plan, there is value to be had at every price point.
01. Free WordPress Site Transfer
Moving your WordPress website from one host to another can be a hassle and it’s not something you want to mess up. Each SiteGround plan includes the free transfer of one existing website.
02. Full cPanel Access
SiteGround includes full cPanel access with all their plans. This means you’ll be able to manage everything from files, emails, email forwarding, hotlink protection, Cron jobs, FTP access and more.
If you don’t know what half those things are, that’s exactly why managed WordPress hosts remove access: It’s one less thing for you to mess up :).
03. Three Levels of Built-in Caching & Free CloudFlare CDN
SiteGround has developed their own caching and plugins that offer 3-levels depending on which plan you sign up for. Their StartUp Plan offers static content caching while the GrowBig and GoGeek plans offer dynamic data cache and database queries cache.
Included with every account is access to the free version of CloudFlare CDN which reduces the loading speed of your website regardless of your visitor’s geographic location. CloudFlare also improves your security posture by identifying and blocking malicious traffic.
04. One-Click Staging
Available on GoGeek Accounts only, if you’re a developer or frequently implement changes to your website, you’ll appreciate the one-click staging feature.
Staging creates a copy of your website on which you can test new code, plugins or design features. Once you’re happy with how things are functioning you can push the test site to a live environment with a single click.
05. Multiple Data Centers
SiteGround offers four data centers and customers can select from either Amsterdam, Singapore, London or Chicago. This will allow you optimize your website speed for visitors based upon your location. Note that changing geographical locations is subject to a $30 charge.
06. Backups Depending On Your Selected Plan
Backups are the lifeblood of any website. If you don’t currently have a plan for managing your backups, you should stop what you’re doing right now and get that done.
If you host your website at SiteGround you’ll have automatic backups that vary depending upon your plan type. With the more basic StartUp Plan, you’ll have access to free daily backups and the single most recent copy. Unfortunately, when it comes to backups, this is woefully inadequate. If your website is hacked on Monday and you don’t notice until Tuesday, Wednesday or later, you’ll have no clean restore point.
In comparison, the GrowBig and GoGeek plans each offer 30 days of backups. Even then, It’s a good idea to maintain a few older backups of your website in case you ever need a clean version.
Finally, the GoGeek plan includes unlimited manual restores by the support team.
07. Free Let’s Encrypt SSL
With Google’s intentions surrounding HTTP becoming crystal clear, the writing seems to be on the wall: Start thinking about switching your site to HTTPS sooner than later.
All SiteGround plans offer free Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates. Access is available through cPanel and setup is dead-simple.
SiteGround Hosting Plans & Pricing
SiteGround offer three specific WordPress hosting plans including the Startup, GrowBig and GoGeek plans. Different plans are suitable for different websites depending upon your specific needs. The biggest downside of their StartUp plan, in my opinion, is the single day backups.
Prices for plans range from $9.95/month to $29.75/month (based on annual payment). In most cases, you’ll find a first-year discount available which means you’ll pay between $3.95 and $14.95 per month on an annual basis.
Each SiteGround plan comes with slightly different resources. Resources can be a great point of reference when comparing both plans and hosts. Unfortunately, many hosting companies are somewhat ambiguous when it comes to describing exactly what’s included.
Hosting plans include 10, 20 and 30GB of storage along with unmetered bandwidth.
A common complaint in many reviews is a lack of storage space. However, If you running a website that requires 50GB of storage and receives 250k monthly visits, you shouldn’t be looking for inexpensive shared hosting.
In reality, 10GB is plenty of storage for a small business. For example, a website that posts short/medium length blogs on a daily basis and has over 1500 images (both optimized and unoptimized) will take up well under 10GB after 5 years in business (real-life example). Worry about more space when it becomes a problem. The exception here might be a photography site that includes a large number of hi-res images or something similar.
Pricing Transparency & Billing Issues
In terms of pricing transparency, SiteGround is one step better than HostGator who we recently reviewed. Although they heavily promote the discounted pricing, they at least display the renewal price on the same screen.
Note: SiteGround offers great introductory pricing as it is but on special occasions, they are known to offer even better deals like the one below from Black Friday.
One other small issue which may be nitpicking. If you want to remove a payment method, you’ll need to contact support. I believe that you should always have full control over your billing. If you want to remove or change a payment method, you shouldn’t need to contact support to do so.
SiteGround WordPress Hosting Performance
I always have high expectations for SiteGround hosting. They’ve been in the business of providing WordPress optimized hosting for long enough that they should be pretty darn good at it. Let’s see how well they performed.
How we test each hosting plan to keep the playing field as level as possible:
- The WordPress installation is a bone-stock install.
- Twenty Sixteen theme activated.
- The only plugins activated are caching plugins.
- Each test is run a minimum of 3 times at various times throughout the day.
With SiteGround we ran 2 separate test variations. The first was with all of the default SiteGround Cache settings enabled. The second set of tests was with SiteGround’s Google PageSpeed module enabled along with MemCache (Static and Dynamic cache are disabled as required).
Google PageSpeed Insights
SiteGround scored consistently well when testing with PageSpeed Insights in both scenarios. Enabling the PageSpeed module within cPanel produced slightly better results:
SiteGround Cache Plugin Settings Enabled
- Test 1 – 87/100
- Test 2 – 87/100
- Test 3 – 85/100
SiteGround Google PageSpeed Enabled
- Test 1 – 90/100
- Test 2 – 90/100
- Test 3 – 90/100
Pingdom Website Speed Test
As with our HostGator WordPress Cloud Hosting test, Pingdom produced varying results. You can see, sub-one-second page load time are virtually non-existent even after running many more tests that what is described below.
These findings seemed to be consistent with the choppy results that were present in the Load Impact results below. Final comments on this can be found in the summary.
SiteGround Cache Plugin Settings Enabled
- Test 1 – Performance Grade: 63 Load-Time: 554ms
- Test 2 – Performance Grade: 63 Load-Time: 1.69s
- Test 3 – Performance Grade: 70 Load-Time: 902ms
SiteGround Google PageSpeed Enabled
- Test 1 – Performance Grade: 79 Load-Time: 1.99s
- Test 2 – Performance Grade: 79 Load-Time: 3.85s
- Test 3 – Performance Grade: 70 Load-Time: 1.76s
Once again we used Load-Impact to test our SiteGround hosting under a light load of up to 25 concurrent users. The best way to describe these results is “choppy” — load times were all over the road map.
Support Is Good Overall
I’m going to give SiteGround’s customer support an 8/10.
Because I’ve hosted many websites with SiteGround, my customer service experience goes well beyond this review. My experiences have been positive with two notable exceptions which I detail below.
For the purposes of this review, we contacted support on two separate occasions with different questions.
Support Request #1
I submitted a ticket with a simple question about using third-party caching plugins. Keeping in mind that the GoGeek plan receives priority support, I received a reply in just over 3 minutes.
Support Request #2
Support ticket #2 was answered almost as fast as #1. After disabling all caching plugins and CloudFlare I enquired about how to speed up the site. The reply took only 5-minutes and that included them enabling CloudFlare and caching for me.
Past Issues With SiteGround
In the past, I’ve had two specific issues with SiteGround customer services. The first occurred when I forgot to cancel my hosting plan renewal (100% my fault). Within a few minutes of being charged, I contacted support and requested a refund and cancellation. Basically, I was told that it wasn’t possible.
My second negative customer support experience is one that I’ve voiced in previous SiteGround reviews. It surrounds their treatment of customers whose sites have been hacked. In essence, you’ll be on your own. Despite bragging about great security and “Unique Account Isolation” that isolates and protects individual accounts, SiteGround offered virtually no assistance when a client’s site was hacked. This is a very different response than what you’ll receive with “true” managed hosting. It’s not a deal-breaker but prepare accordingly.
Final Recommendation on SiteGround WordPress Hosting
SiteGround makes it clear that they are designed for small business and personal websites. If that’s your primary use, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them provided you have accounted for the risk of your website being hacked and inadequate backups with the StartUp plan. We’re giving SiteGround an overall score of 8.25/10. The biggest thing holding SiteGround’s score back is how they deal with hacked sites.
Despite the inconsistent speed results during our test, SiteGround still performed well overall. It’s worth noting that the inconsistent speed testing results could easily a bad few days — it’s not a problem I’ve seen very often with SiteGround hosted websites.
They also offer some features on the higher end plans that are appealing to some users (staging and Git for example) that make them a better choice.
- Speed & Uptime – SiteGround has plenty of experience with WordPress and is built on a reputation of providing above average speed and great overall uptime.
- Feature Rich – You’ll find more features available with SiteGround than many other hybrid-managed hosts.
- Fast Customer Service – Overall fast response times for customer service inquiries.
- Multiple Data Centers – Choose from multiple data centers on three continents.
- Hacking Risk – Like most hosting companies in this category, they love to talk about great security. However, they don’t seem to want to put their money where their mouth is. You’ll receive little or support if your site is hacked.
- Backups – Inadequate backups with the basic StartUp Plan. This is something you’ll want to address via upgrade or a backup plugin.
SiteGround definitely has a few weaknesses that need to be addressed. However, they performed well overall in our tests and have a good reputation within the WordPress community. If you’re currently a SiteGround customer we’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.