SiteGround review

SiteGround Review: There are many variables to take into account when selecting a web hosting service. For example, some functions appeal to a general customer base (such as pricing and storage) and more business-oriented functions (e-commerce and server location). SiteGround tackles all these issues and does so well. It offers a decent number of hosting types, many performance-enhancing tools, and excellent customer service at a reasonable price.

Although SiteGround does not have VPS, dedicated, and Windows servers, it is a high-quality web hosting service for both individuals and small businesses. This is our SiteGround review.

Getting started

Getting started with SiteGround works pretty much the same as any other host. Choose a plan, provide your details (name, physical and email address, phone number), enter your payment details (card only), and the company will activate your account within seconds.

SiteGround review

SiteGround’s web dashboard is bulkier than usual, with multiple tabs and some less critical elements (do you need SiteGround blog posts on the front page?). Still, once you’ve figured out the basics, it’s relatively easy to use. Most dashboard covers regular account management tasks (changing billing methods, adding new plans, or canceling existing plans).

Most impressive is the setup wizard, which offers three ways to create your first site: Migrate website (import an existing WordPress instance), Start a new website (install WordPress or another supported app) or Create Empty site (manually upload files or data from the website)

We have not tested the Migrate option because it is difficult to do this in a meaningful way (successfully importing our site does not mean that the process would work for yours). But we noticed that the WordPress site’s plugin got a score of 5/5 out of 62 out of 72 voters, suggesting that it works well for most people. However, the auto-installer and ‘blank site’ options are more attractive, so we wanted to try both.

SiteGround Review: Creating a website

While most web hosts offer a standard platform like cPanel to help you manage your website, SiteGround goes its way with a custom Site Tools panel. This starts positively with necessary information about your site status (IP address, nameservers, unique visitors, page views) and quick start icons for commonly used tools (File Manager, Email Accounts, Cloudflare CDN, more).

Many other tools are neatly organized into a sidebar: FTP accounts, backups, site statistics, domain management, MySQL (including phpMyAdmin), PostgresSQL, SSL management, HTTPS enforcement, password-protected URLs, IP blocking, and much more. It’s a long list of features, but that’s not all. The individual modules are usually very well designed and deliver more than you would expect.

Web-based File Managers often have trouble dragging and dropping, which might force you to open a separate panel before you can upload your files. But not here: choose a folder, drag and drop the files to the browser page, and they will be uploaded, as quickly as Windows’ file manager.

The File Manager also scores with the Edit function. This is not just a simple text box: it is React’s full Monaco Editor with syntax highlighting, a thumbnail view of the document for more effortless scrolling, and the ability to open multiple files at once. The backup panel gives an overview of all your recent automatic backups (that’s up to 30 days with shared hosting, 7 for the cloud) and allows for on-demand backups as well. If necessary, you can restore the entire backup or choose files, databases, or emails.

On balance, we still prefer cPanel. There are more features, and if you are familiar with the interface, there is less to learn. But there is also a lot to enjoy SiteGround’s control panel, and you should give it a chance.

SiteGround Review: Performance

SiteGround claims to offer ‘super-fast website performance’ through ‘the best datacenters in the world.’ Marketing spider, or simple truth? It was time to find out. After publishing a simple site on our test account, we set up Uptime.com to monitor availability and response times for two weeks. Our review site had no faults, as far as we could see (our test could miss flaws of less than 5 minutes).

The average response time was reasonably 300ms, right in the middle of the 200-400ms we usually see with shared hosting products. SiteGround’s response time range was low, with a peak of 1.32s. The best we can say is that most of the problems came in a single 24 hour period, so it’s possible we had some bad luck. For the rest of the week, the response times of our servers were relatively stable.

These results still don’t match the ‘superfast’ marketing, but they only compare the basic shared hosting plans, to be honest. They don’t tell us anything about the speeds you might see from the higher shared hosting plans, VPS, or dedicated products.

SiteGround Review: Pricing and plans

The Startup account – initially $6.99 per month, $14.99 on renewal – has ‘only’ 10GB of storage space but gives you unlimited traffic and unlimited sub and parked domains, email accounts, and databases. There’s the easy installation of WordPress and other apps, the free edition of Weebly’s website builder, and free SSL to secure your site. The plan also includes integrated Cloudflare CDN, SPAM Experts spam filtering, and automatic daily backups, features often paid for elsewhere.

The GrowBig account – initially $9.99 per month, $24.99 per month upon renewal – increases available disk space to 20GB and supports as many domains as you can host within that limit. There is a free transfer of an existing website, an Nginx and Memcache based SuperCacher program to speed up performance on busy sites, and a staging site for WordPress (test changes to your site in a different environment without affecting the production site). Staging is a handy feature, often only available in specialized managed WordPress hosting plans.

The premium GoGeek plan – initially $14.99 per month, a hefty $39.99 on renewals – gives you priority support, more resources for better performance, and a Git Repo creation with a single click. With white label support, you can design sites for others and give them access to their site management console without seeing the SiteGround name or logo.

A small potential catch is that none of SiteGround’s plans include a free domain, unlike the most competition. The shared hosting plans also don’t contain a cPanel. Management tasks are performed through SiteGround’s own Site Tools console.

The company is not even trying to compete with budget providers. If the price is your top priority, you might be better off with someone like Namecheap, whose Stellar plan gives you 20GB of storage and supports three websites for as little as $1.44 a month in the first year, $2.88 on renewal.

SiteGround Review: Customer support

SiteGround says its main focus is on customer service, and it shows many wizards, knowledgebase articles, and tutorials in the service. Customer support is available through a ticket-based system, live chat, and 24/7 telephone support. I’ve tested SiteGround’s online chat and am amazed at how quickly someone came to my rescue. I was connected to a chat employee in seconds. I asked about the differences between SiteGround’s cloud hosting and dedicated hosting and got a quick and clear answer.

I also called the phone number on a weekday morning to ask a representative how to import my WordPress.com setup into SiteGround. The representative patiently and successfully guided me through the process.

Final words

SiteGround positions itself as a hosting provider for newcomers, and especially for small business newcomers. SiteGround’s services – from the resource support functions – are designed for the mom-and-pop stores, sole traders, and independent businesses that don’t have a lot of design time or advanced web skills. Additionally, suppose you don’t expect a flow of users to your site every day. In that case, you don’t care about unlimited storage or unlimited monthly data transfers, so SiteGround’s limitations in those respects may not bother you.

8.5 Total Score
Our Verdict

It may look expensive, but especially SiteGround's shared hosting is of great value if you make use of the many possibilities.

PROS
  • Feature-packed products
  • Five data center locations
  • Speedy support response times
  • Some unusual control panel extras
CONS
  • Above-average prices
  • Non-standard control panel
  • Limited storage space
  • No free domain
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