2019 October 2nd
Site5 is a hosting provider with a long experience in this field. Priding itself in simple, no-gimmicks service with no overloaded servers and a convenient 45-day money-back guarantee, this host attempts to be straightforward and effortless to use.
However, since 2015, this company has been no stranger to a little bit of criticism. That year, after being acquired by the Endurance International Group (EIG), Site5 reviews have started to become quite negative. Many users are disappointed by the customer support and overall performance of their pages - many of them blame no one else but the group which has purchased this host.
Yet there's no better way to judge the company than to actually test it by yourself.
This is precisely what I've done. In this Site5 review, I will evaluate its shared hosting plan's performance, ease of use, the company's customer support, and plenty of other things in between. So let's get started!
What is Site5?
Site5 is an USA-based web hosting company, currently residing in Dallas, Texas. Established in 1998, Site5 has two decades of experience in the hosting field and is commonly known amongst thousands of its devoted clients. However, Site5 service list isn't too long. There are just three options:
- Shared web hosting
- Reseller hosting
- Managed VPS
As you can see, it's quite a barebones lineup. No Cloud, no dedicated hosting. SSL certificates and domains (reselling Enom and OpenSRS) are actually available - but only by purchasing together with a hosting plan.
And while browsing the website and comparing the plans, I noticed a couple of interesting Site5 features. Those would be the unmetered recourses and a free website transfer - many clients definitely are interested in such specs.
On the side note, the Site5 homepage itself is very minimalistic. The information is easy to find and there are clear explanations for the services. That creates the impression that Site5 is acting professional and can be trusted.
But let's get on with this Site5 review and see what's the actual worth of Site5 services!
Site5 has three shared hosting plans to offer: the cheapest option is hostBasic for $6.95/mo, the middle one is hostPro for $10.95/mo, and the highest plan here is hostPro+Turbo for $13.95/mo.
Here's a run-through of all three Site5 plans:
- hostBasic - starts at $6.95/mo. Offers unmetered disk space and bandwidth. This is a simple one-website plan, suitable for under 10,000 monthly visits.
- hostPro - starts at $10.95/mo. Along with unmetered disk space and bandwidth, this plan offers unlimited websites, suitable for under 25,000 monthly visits.
- hostPro+Turbo - starting with $13.95, this is an unlimited-website plan, suitable for under 100,000 monthly visits, including unlimited cPanel accounts and vastly increased performance.
Now, it's time to look at the prices. Many hosting providers do the thing where they display the fees as if they're "monthly". However, in many cases, the displayed prices are only legit if paying for a long period in advance. Let's see how it is with Site5 - for an entire period of purchase.
|1 month||Not available||$12.95||$19.95|
*The prices here do not include tax. You may be charged extra for your order, depending on your locale.
The only way to describe them is "expensive". While offering unlimited resources, the cheapest plan is still recommended for "around 10,000 monthly visitors", doesn't include anti-DDoS or malware protection and costs $107.40 a year. That's $8.95 a month, or $6.95 a month if you pay for two years in advance.
The more advanced plans cost even more but at least you can purchase a monthly plan there. Another encouraging thing came in the form of renewal prices. They will not increase - you will be charged the same sum for the same period you purchased when you first started.
Now let's take a closer look at what is actually offered. Here are all of the most prominent features and differences of Site5 shared hosting plans:
|SSL||Not included||Not included||Not included|
|Anti-DDoS protection||Not included||Not included||Not included|
|Customer Support||24/7 live chat, ticket, email||24/7 live chat, ticket, email||24/7 live chat, ticket, email|
|Free Automated Backups||Weekly||Weekly||Weekly|
|Money Back Guarantee||45 days||45 days||45 days|
Everything is fairly simple. Three plans: a regular one, a multiple website one and a multiple website one with extra speed.
No surprises or uncertainties there, which is great. However, I've been slightly puzzled by the lack of anti-DDoS protection and an SSL certificate. Luckily, both of those are supported by each hosting plan, and you can get free CloudFlare and a 'Let's Encrypt' SSL certificate free of charge, if you feel the need.
That being said, it wouldn't cost much for Site5 to include them in the packages already and it's worrying to know that there are many Site5 sites out there which don't have the important security measures applied to them.
It was also slightly disappointing to see only HDD servers being available. Surely, in the year 2018, most users want their websites to be stored in the more advanced SSD disks. Well, such is the downside when you get unlimited disk space; per gigabyte, SSDs are way more expensive and by offering unmetered storage, Site5 has to cut its expenses.
However, there are some great features to look for. For example, free assisted website transfer.
Many companies receive a fair share of criticism if they decide to charge their new customers for a website transfer. Such disapproval definitely makes sense - if you already purchased the services, it should be in the host's best interests to ensure a smooth transfer, right? Well, that's definitely what Site5 thinks. Its assisted cPanel website transfer is completely free of charge.
And most importantly, Site5 doesn't look bad with the unmetered resources.
Even the Site5 entry shared plan offers unmetered resources - both bandwidth and disk space. It is quite common for many companies to have one or more of their plans limited to a certain point. Site5 goes the other direction and doesn't have a set number on how many resources you are allowed. If the company is to believe, their servers are never overcrowded. It means that with normal usage, you won't accidentally get your website suspended at any point.
The more I looked into Site5, the more I saw how "no hassle" is embroidered in everything it does. A simple website, simple service plans, simple and generous shared web hosting resources - everything led me to believe that it's going to be a very simple experience and an easy review to write. So I bought its shared hosting plan and continued my investigations to see whether the first impressions were correct.
Site5 Customer Service
Site5 currently offers only two types of customer service: live chat and tickets.
However, you can still notice the remains of a slightly bigger operation. For example, you can find the support email, but by writing there, you get an automatic reply asking you to use a chat or go to tickets instead. And in some cases, you may be able to find a phone number in the website's header. Yet clicking it leads you to the support page, which informs you that phone service has been discontinued.
Therefore, you can see that in the past, this provider used to have way more things going on for itself. Now there are fewer options - here's hoping that they are good enough.
Generally speaking, customer service is a very important part of any host. After all, in stressful situations, when your website is down or something isn't working well, a helpful expert ready to aid you is absolutely terrific.
Therefore, it is important to test just how good Site5 customer service is. You never know when you may run into some problems. And then it would be great if someone was there to help you.
Site5 ticket support evaluation
While evaluating tickets, I look into the two main things: response times and thoroughness of the replies. Usually, tickets are reserved for more difficult technical things, so it would be ideal if the ticket support representatives would be quick and helpful.
After a little bit of testing, I've come to the conclusion that Site5 ticket support is functioning well. I've been responded to in 1 hour or less. The representatives were attempting to explain to me things best they knew how. Even though my questions haven't been exactly difficult, there were no genuine problems fixing them.
In terms of tickets, Site5 gets a check.
Site5 chat support evaluation
This one is a little bit more interesting. Live chat is arguably the most popular type of customer support, especially when it comes to hosting. It's also a brilliant test of the knowledge of the people who work for the company. A real-life conversation allows seeing how experienced the agents really are. If they're great, live chat can be an amazing experience. If not, it can turn painful.
In order to see what's what, I have judged Site5 live chat using 3 different criteria:
- Response time. This one is very straightforward. The less you have to wait in line, the better.
- General knowledge of the clients. Also quite simple. They have to know most of the important things with no problem. If they don't, what's the point, right?
- The human factor. This one is slightly more complex. The times you'll have to contact customer support may be really stressful. In that time, you may need someone who is willing not only to help you but to also feel like your problems are being taken care of and everything is fine. Very often, even the tone of the agent's text may make or break the entire chat experience. This is why I will also attempt to evaluate how are the Site5 agents dealing with stressed out customers.
So, how did Site5 chat support go?
In general, not as well as it perhaps could have. One thing that can't be blamed is the response times. Site5 chat took me 5 minutes to get contacted in the lengthiest occasion. Most of the time, wait queues were going from 1 to 2 minutes. The problems started once I got connected.
In several cases, I had the agents misunderstanding what I want to find out. Sometimes, the representative had to be gone for a minute or two to get an answer. Presumably, by contacting someone else. At the end of the day, I didn't feel that the agents were head and shoulders above me in terms of knowledge, as they should. In some cases, I even felt like they were genuinely confused by their own platform.
In one instance, I asked how many auto-installer scripts do they have. I was referred to their "QuickInstall" wizard, without being given a number. Later in the chat, the agent told me I can also use Softaculous. After inquiring "how do I install a program from there?", the representative admitted that it was what the admins have told her and she has no clue.
Honesty is great. Your own field being too complicated even for you? Not so much.
This is a case of severe miscommunication between the different layers within the company. Things like that should be incredibly rare and I do hope that by removing phone and email support services, Site5 will be able to improve their chat as time goes by.
Overall, I'd say that Site5 customer support is passable. Decent ticket service gets let down by the live chat. Yet even there, wait times will be minuscule and most of your questions - answered. Improvements have to be done but things are in no way tragic. Upwards and onwards.
First Impressions During and After the Purchase
The purchase process was as simple as you would expect. In a simple window, you can choose any of the available plans and their lengths. Immediately below you may choose to purchase a domain name or add additional services. Nothing is preselected, there are no annoying pop-ups or attempts to trick you into buying something you won't need.
You can pay for services using either a credit card or PayPal. Nothing fancy - but it's good to know that there's at least one alternative to the classical card payment method.
After a simple payment process, I found out that this was where the smooth sailing ended. I purchased the services and got told I'll need to go through extra verification. But there was no info on how I was supposed to reach them.
After consultation with the chat service, I've been receiving multiple verification emails to several of my email accounts but nothing worked. I finally ran out of options so I had to use someone else's Gmail. Only then everything finally worked. So, it took several emails and plenty of attempts but I was finally allowed to send my photo ID in, so I can be identified. Then it took a few more hours for verification, but I was in!
Difficult? Absolutely. But maybe I just got unlucky.
It was then when I finally reached the dashboard.
As you can see, it's quite modern and has a lot of information directly in it. You can easily access webmail, cPanel, and a few important shortcuts. This is actually one of the best dashboards I've encountered so far.
As for cPanel, it's actually quite confusing. Site5 appears to be using its own custom theme.
Yet sometimes, either by clicking something or a sheer accident (I honestly haven't figured this one out yet), you get to see some of this panel's different skins.
That's weird, isn't it? Clearly, this is a sign of some things not being fully right on the Site5 panel.
It's really frustrating, that by customizing the cPanel happens to ruin the comfortability of this panel. It loses the intuitiveness and some directives simply don't work.
Hope everything gets cleared up but for now, let's evaluate the performance.
Site5 offers above average performance. And, considering that plans are quite expensive, you could expect it to be way better.
But let's see how does Site5 compare to the competitors in terms of performance. As usual, I will be looking into the four main things.
- Host's speed during low upkeep (a small website)
- Host's speed with high upkeep (a bigger website)
- Server's overall uptime
- Anti-theft security evaluation
Site5 speed hosting a small website
The logic here is very simple - the bigger and more complex a website is, the longer it takes to load. Very often customers tend to criticize the provider for having slow servers when instead, it's their fault for overloading them.
So in this part, we will see how quick Site5 servers are when they have to deal with a very small, 20-line HTML website. Here it is:
And the results were fairly decent. Definitely not amazing but decent. As expected, Dallas servers do really well in the USA. UK, Brazil, Japan, and Australia performances are also under or just over the 200ms mark.
India and Singapore are once again lacking behind - but that can only be expected with server location in the US.
Overall though, there's nothing wrong with what we just saw.
Site5 speed hosting a larger website
Site5 does not include any kind of website builder with their plans, so I decided to take a regular WordPress website, fill it up with content and see how it does.
And the results were average here. With the performance as fast as 60ms in the west of the US, it doesn't get too bad in other regions as well. Except, of course, India and Singapore.
Very similar to the low upkeep performance, isn't it? That is in no way a bad thing, as it's very clear that Site5 can handle bigger websites with ease.
Sure, the speeds are in no way miraculous but at least they're stable. Don't expect something amazing but it's definitely not going to be a serious bottleneck.
Site5 overall uptime and performance
Using our advanced tracking tool, we've tracked the performance of a stock Site5 WordPress website once every minute. This way we could not only see when it's down - we also got a chance to see just how stable its response times are as the day goes by.
Here are the results from the first days of testing:
That is good. Not great but good. Speeds mostly range from 500 to 1000ms, with an odd spike going up to 2000ms.
While the speeds are not incredibly impressive, there are no 10 or 20-second delays which many providers suffer from daily. Also, there hasn't been a single downtime in a couple of weeks testing period.
Site5 Anti-Theft Protection
As always, this evaluation is conducted in two parts. Here I will find out just how easy would it be for someone to gain access to your account. In today's world, web security is incredibly important. It would be really bad if it would be your hosting company leaving gaping security holes.
We are not going to attempt and hack the provider - that would be incredibly illegal and very insensitive. Instead, we will try and test Site5 brute-force security systems. Then, we'll see if I can lure a password from the host's live chat service representative.
I've started with brute-force. The operation is simple. I've cleared my browser, changed my IP and attempted to log into my account for 20 unsuccessful times in the row. This way, by pretending to try and guess someone's password, I should be banned from obvious blind guessing.
At the 21st attempt, I finally got my password right. Site5 did not react. Instead, I was allowed in immediately. Looks like there are no obvious brute-force security mechanisms applied. Not sensitive enough to someone trying to guess your password to get suspended. Well, that's disappointing.
For my second test, I pretended to be the "rightful owner" of the account - and I demanded to get my password back, despite not providing any tangible proof that I actually own my account.
Here, an interesting thing happened. I was told to provide the agent with the last 4 digits of credit card and a ZIP code I used for registration. This is good. No way a random hacker going through accounts would have both of these things readily available. However...
After providing them, I was told there was no way I could get my password back. Because it can only be sent to an email I used while registering! It makes zero sense. If I had access to my email, I would've used it to gain access to the client area in the first place.
While many providers can send your information to a new email if you provide enough information, Site5 doesn't. Therefore, rest assured - if your email is safe, so is your hosting area. The hackers won't access it.
Sadly, if you lose your email, you are locked out as well.
NOTE - keep your important personal information secret. Also, use extra security measures to make sure your main email could not be accessed by anyone but you!
Site5 Review - Conclusion
Not everything is perfect with Site5. The features are frugal at best and the panel has random errors. With all that, the price is not even close to start comparing to some inexpensive hosts, like Hostinger. Also, the customer service options are really disappointing and it could definitely use some improvement.
However, this Site5 review shows some good things as well. In the USA, the performance is more than acceptable. Add that to very stable response times plus fairly rare downtimes, and everything starts looking quite alright.
Site5 is attempting to be very simple. Its "no-thrills" approach can be appreciated. Yet some things need to be improved in order to be the best of the best.
- Stable performance
- Decent response times
- cPanel experiences a few problems
- Poor chat support
- Expensive pricing
- Important features missing