2020 January 3rd
SiteGround has been topping all web hosting lists since 2004. Promising fast servers, flawless uptime, and stunningly perfect customer support, it has definitely gained many fans throughout the years.
And for a long time, SiteGround definitely was a leader. Gaining WordPress acknowledgment and brilliant reviews from users. Since the launch of this blog, it was topping our lists too.
But right now, you won't see the provider nearly as much. What changed?
We've been monitoring the host since the start of this blog and using it even before that. In this SiteGround review, I will thoroughly analyze the rise and fall of this hosting giant. Is it still worth all the hype?
Before heading straight to the details, check out our video to find out about Emit's experience with SiteGround:
What is SiteGround?
SiteGround is a major web hosting company with over 2,000,000 domains in its account. The company offers shared, WordPress, Cloud, enterprise, and dedicated server hosting packages. With servers spread across three continents, SiteGround can most definitely be called an ambitious company.
However, WordPress hosting is what made SiteGround popular in the first place.
Easy one-click installation, free site migration tool, enhanced security, auto-updates, and skilled customer support earned the company a well-deserved endorsement by WordPress creators themselves.
From that point on, SiteGround continues to grow and promises ease of use and top-level services. Does it deliver though? Let's find out.
SiteGround Services and Features
SiteGround has a big list of services and features offered.
- Shared web hosting for smaller sites.
- WordPress optimized hosting for fast performance.
- WooCommerce hosting for managed eCommerce experience.
- Cloud hosting for scalability.
- Enterprise-grade hosting for custom solutions.
- Dedicated server hosting for the big players.
- Reseller hosting to start your own company.
- Agency hosting for managing multiple sites.
- Student hosting for lower pricing.
Add domain names to the list and you have hosting services for all kinds of users and for every situation. Let's take a look at the main features that come with these packages.
Easy Website Building Tools
SiteGround provides two options to launch a site - first, you can start from scratch or migrate an existing site. If you are building a new site, even more possibilities are available - WordPress, WooCommerce, Weebly website builder, and any of hundreds of other apps.
All is installed using a one-click installer so even users with zero experience can have a site running in minutes.
Such apps like WordPress and WooCommerce installed on the former are defaults to all providers. The content management system is the most popular CMS across all sites. It's relatively easy to use, very powerful, and no less customizable.
Other popular options like Magento, Joomla, or Drupal are available defaults as well. What is more impressive is the Weebly site builder.
Weebly is one of the best website builders currently available. In SiteGround, it comes pre-installed. The builder is very easy to use and has plenty of functionality. You can either pick one of the stock templates or download one from third-party designers.
It's a brilliant option for complete beginners who need a site running in no time. The best part is, Weebly does not require any coding skills to build a stunning and functional site. Everything's done through a graphic drag-and-drop interface.
Website creation becomes a game-like process with such software.
SiteGround is a great option even if you have no prior development experience. Weebly is great for complete beginners, WordPress requires some knowledge, and there are more advanced options for later.
Custom Control Panel
Not a long time ago, SiteGround was using cPanel as its main hosting management interface. And it was great. Many users have chosen SiteGround entirely for the reason.
However, the provider decided to create a custom user area to adapt it to the changing needs of its customers. Related or not, the switch came the same year as cPanel increased its prices.
So is the new interface better or worse than the classic and much-liked cPanel?
Looks definitely better, I would say. In fact, it has basically the same functionality with a couple of tweaks here and there.
Take a look at a little pin in the top right corner of each function in the screenshot. It allows hiding the options you don't use to make your control panel clean and even more intuitive.
From the functionality perspective, the control panel is also easy to use and pretty handy. You'll find all the necessary configurations for domains, email, extra tools, and software easily.
SiteGround uses a custom control panel that provides the same functionality of its former cPanel. The new user area added a beautiful design and intuitive control tools.
Different Levels of User Accounts
As SiteGround switched from cPanel to custom control panel, it added a possibility to create different levels of user accounts. It's possible to add collaborators or clients to your team with varying levels of privileges.
It is a great addition if you have an agency or a bigger team of developers and designers. This way SiteGround ensures not only privacy but also security of the website. Additionally, clients can also join in and see how's the work going as well as make changes.
SiteGround's addition of different user roles makes it a frontrunner in a fast expanding hosting industry. It allows teams of developers, project owners, and designers to work together simultaneously without the need to use one account.
Speed Matters - SiteGround Knows
To make sites load faster, SiteGround includes Cloudflare CDN (content delivery network) and its own developed 3-layer SuperCacher.
Cloudflare CDN is a service that boosts not only website speed but has the potential to increase reliability. However, the sites that most benefit from the CDN are those that have audiences visiting from all across the globe.
Cloudflare CDN puts a copy of your site on its huge network of servers across all continents. This way, the website can be loaded not just from the main server but from all the servers connected to the networks.
This makes the site load from the server that is the closest to the visitor. Closer location means reduced latency and increased website loading speed.
Also, if one server goes down, another can join in and save it from downtime.
A cache is another great service that is known to increase website loading times significantly and is on the list of essentials when building a site.
SiteGround's developed tool works on 3 levels (only the first is available with the cheapest plan) - static, Memcached, and dynamic.
- Static Cache works with the static content of the website. Once a page is loaded, images, CSS, Java Scripts, etc. are put on the server's RAM. It works much faster, so once the given page is requested again, it will load significantly speedier.
- Memcached stores the caching results from the database into RAM. So once again, RAM is able to deliver those contents much faster.
- Dynamic Cache takes the whole web page into the cache - not just separate parts of it. It is able to cache dynamic parts of content such as the geographically changing backgrounds for global users that are constantly changing and put it on RAM, thus delivering fast page loading times.
When combined, both services can deliver amazing results for the users.
SiteGround understands the importance of website loading times and includes 2 premium services for its users. Cloudflare CDN makes sites load faster for global audiences while SuperCacher user the whole potential of RAM to deliver page contents fast.
SiteGround Performance Results
For this SiteGround review, I compared the provider's performance over time. During the last 4 months, I saw a gradual decline in its performance - provider averaged at 976ms response time.
However, uptime remained very impressive. Throughout a bit more than 4 months, SiteGround has only had 3 outages resulting in 14 minutes of downtime. It all evened out at a 99.99% uptime rate. Mind you, the provider has a standard 99.9% SLA.
But this is where we come to the "fall" part.
976ms response time is definitely not what users are signing up for. Our best providers average way below 500ms. And SiteGround was our top provider in the past.
Previous results were way better. We used to have response times below 200ms across most of the globe. These are the results from the time we started using the provider:
So what happened?
SiteGround used to have a policy of not overcrowding its servers. This ensured that the server performance was kept to the top of its shape. I might only guess that with huge company growth, things have changed.
Fortunately, uptime still remains stable. And response time seems to not affect lighter sites very much.
Our WordPress site with a couple of pieces of content and default theme performs very well in terms of load time. PageSpeed score is A and YSlow is B. It fully loads in 1.9s. For a basically empty site - it's a nice result.
This result shows that WordPress software that runs on SiteGround's servers is well-optimized. Hence it justifies the endorsement of the platform's creators. However, we might see MUCH better results if the server response time was better.
Imagine withdrawing that 1 second from the "fully loaded time." SiteGround would seem much faster.
Current SiteGround performance results show a stable downgrade of the host. While previously it was one of the fastest hosts, the provider seems to struggle at the moment.
SiteGround has the same pricing for both shared and WordPress plans with the cheapest one costing $3.95/mo. Other plans are $5.95/mo and $11.95/mo accordingly.
All of the plans include unmetered data transfer, intuitive control panel, unlimited databases, email accounts, as well as automated backups, CDN, and security tools.
Let's Encrypt SSLs are also included. WordPress version of shared hosting plans will include specific platform features such as automatic updates and WP support.
- The StartUp plan for $3.95/mo includes 10GB of SSD, hosting for 1 site, and level 1 SuperCacher.
- The GrowBig for $5.95/mo can host unlimited sites with 20GB SSD storage, full SuperCacher, on-demand backups, staging, and free professional site transfer.
- The GoGeek for $11.95/mo provides 30GB SSD storage, priority support, white-label hosting, and pre-installed Git.
The pricing seems a bit high for a rather small amount of resources. However, premium features like email hosting, security, and daily backups compensate well.
One thing though. The pricing you see is introductory - after the first billing period (1, 12, 24, or 36 months) you'll be charged more than double.
- StartUp's $3.95 turn into $11.95.
- GrowBig increases from $5.95 to $19.95/mo.
- GoGeek's $11.95 will be raised to $34.95.
Pretty outrageous, huh? On a positive side, there's no pricing increase whether you choose 12 or 36 months. At the same time, the monthly offer is not great - it has a $14.95 setup fee.
Also, a domain name is not included. A simple .com TLD will cost around $14.95 for the first year.
Choosing SiteGround, be aware that the prices are destined to get higher. But I do understand why it's so popular - the provider equips each plan with an unbeatable list of features, tools, and services. Enjoy the competitive pricing while it lasts.
SiteGround is a rather expensive option which will get more expensive as time goes. At the same time, it provides numerous premium services and excellent customer support that compensates that big cut off of your bank account.
SiteGround Customer Service
SiteGround has 4 main ways of getting help - knowledge base, 24/7 live chat, phone, and email support. The provider promises "almost no wait time" on live chat, 2 minutes wait time for phone support, and 15 minutes email ticket responses.
Plenty of SiteGround reviews mention its customer service. A lot of them agree that it is one of the company's key strengths. In order to see whether it is really as good as many people say, I tested the customer support myself. SiteGround, as it should, attempts to first and foremost direct the customers to their knowledge base.
The knowledge base is very thorough - you'll find both basic "getting started" tutorials and more advanced guides.
The 'Support' menu is the SiteGround site attempts to guide you to the best possible customer service option.
Once you finally choose, you will be in contact with a SiteGround customer service representative. This is how they did when I tried to test them:
Phone Service Evaluation
Depending on your IP location, you will be given a suitable phone number to call. The line I called took around 40 seconds to explain to me my initial options and only 15 seconds to connect. I was informed to be "first in line" - I don't know whether it was actually true or not but the wait times were great.
The representative I was connected with was very courteous yet not entirely knowledgeable. However, after a while, we were on the same page and everything was going smoothly. Overall, with terrific wait times and good call quality, this is a suitable option for people who like this kind of support.
Ticket Service Evaluation
The main thing I was testing here was their response time. The quicker they respond, the more suitable it is to send a ticket instead of making a phone call or logging into a chat session.
As you can see, it only took 2 minutes for them to respond. That is considerably less than their advertised 10 minute response time and overall, it's a great result.
This performance carried on throughout many months. This SiteGround review has been constantly updated - and now, the company hasn't missed a beat, responding to customer support requests with ease.
Chat Service Evaluation
While doing a SiteGround review of chat services, I had to evaluate three things. Firstly, wait time. The shorter I have to wait for the representative to show up, the better. Secondly, I was hoping that the customer service agent would be knowledgeable: there is no point in talking to someone who couldn't help.
And finally, I was evaluating human contact.
People who contact customer services are often lost, don't know what to do or have no idea what to choose. A person capable of maintaining a respectful, yet a familiar and friendly stance would be perfect. This is what I found out:
In terms of wait times, SiteGround was amazing. Less than 1-minute wait in all 10 of the chats I've had at various times of the day and week.
And the customer support agents had no issues with most of the questions, answering them with flair and ease.
You can tell that SiteGround customer service representatives are knowledgeable: they have experience of their own rather than just rely on information from the FAQ page.
And finally, I was evaluating human contact. There was plenty of it. In fact, by clicking any agent's picture, you see a bio of them - when did they start working in SiteGround, what are they like, what are their hobbies. It's a great personal touch which enriches the experience and makes you value the people who try to help you.
It also needs to be said, that during all of those conversations, I met a lot of great people who were engaging and proactive. SiteGround reviews are absolutely correct. This host gets the highest marks for its customer support in all - ticket, phone and live chat - platforms.
SiteGround gets a 100% user satisfaction rate in the customer support department not without a reason. The agents are skilled, friendly, professional, and wait times basically do not exist.
SiteGround Review - Conclusion
I have pretty mixed feelings about this SiteGround review. The company definitely still is one of web hosting leaders especially when it comes to WordPress hosting. It offers a ton of innovative tools right out of the box while other providers tend to charge extra for the same services.
Customer support is a league of its own. It's what makes SiteGround - SiteGround. Every interaction is pleasant and productive. Agents are skilled and there are no long wait times to get help.
On the other hand, SiteGround is not perfect.
In recent months, we started seeing the performance going downhill. Other users are also mentioned the same. So while previously SiteGround response times were leading the industry, the company has some legwork to do to catch up with others.
Pricing is also on the higher side. Especially if you looked at the renewals.
What still remains flawless is uptime - the company manages to average way above its own uptime guarantee.
So to conclude, SiteGround is a great company offering some of the best tools and features available. At the same time, I'm looking forward to seeing the improvements in the host's performance. For now, there are many providers offering faster web hosting and great features as well.
What are your experiences with SiteGround? Share your thoughts in the comment section down below!
- Multiple server locations
- Strong security package
- Amazing customer support
- Limited disk space
- Expensive renewals
- Decline in performance