2019 October 3rd
In 2004, the world of hosting has been introduced to a new name - SiteGround. The company was founded in Sofia, Bulgaria by a group of students and it has been successful ever since. On top of that, SiteGround has always remained independent and did things its own way - without any international organization acquiring the provider. As the results show, doing things their own way has paid off.
Currently, the corporation hosts over 500,000 domains worldwide and offers plenty of services for many different types of clients. With servers spread across three continents, SiteGround can most definitely be called an ambitious company with huge dreams and goals.
Dreams and goals to make their wide customer base satisfied and SiteGround reviews shine. Now, we're going to test their services and see how the host fares.
- Shared web hosting
- Cloud hosting
- Dedicated hosting
- Reseller hosting
- Domain names (reseller of Tucows, Openprovider, Enom)
SiteGround offers many different kinds of services. In addition to regular cheap shared hosting and domain names, there are plenty of other options. That includes quicker cloud hosting, as well as both virtual and dedicated servers. Also, SiteGround provides custom-made, bespoke servers for big businesses.
Besides that, while browsing the provider website and many SiteGround reviews, I saw some extra features - all free of charge and available for everyone. Here's what they are.
Knowledge Base and Tutorials
Completely custom written and entirely up-to-date, SiteGround knowledge base is a very useful tool should any problems arise. With 70 categories and over 1,000 articles, it also proves to be very extensive.
The same can be said about SiteGround video and text tutorials - they're up-to-date, and there's plenty of them. A new generation of web developers could most certainly use them to learn and improve.
Weebly Website 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.
Free website transfer
Jumping ships is very easy now. Assisted website transfers are quick and free of charge. That means you can easily start using SiteGround - and the entire process is very simplified.
It appears that SiteGround cares for the people who look for the easiest and safest way to set up a website. Of course, as mentioned earlier, there are plenty of plans for users of varying levels of skill.
However, there are extra features such as a free website transfer, an easy-to-use builder and an extensive tutorial base. They point to the company trying to care for newcomers and small businesses. Therefore, to test their services, it made sense to pick the SiteGround shared hosting plan.
What’s included in SiteGround packages?
There are three plans to choose from.
- StartUp - regular one-website plan with basic SSL, CloudFlare CDN, and daily backups.
- GrowBig - a medium-sized unlimited website plan. Has added protection, priority customer support, SuperCacher for increased website speed and free website transfer.
- GoGeek - the biggest shared hosting plan available. Offers more power per user, Git repository creation, staging, and increased eCommerce capabilities.
There are plenty of things worth noting about each of these plans. In the table below you will see the main features of these three options.
|Disc Space||10 GB||20 GB||30 GB|
|SSL||Included; Let’s Encrypt||Included; Wildcard||Included; Wildcard + PCI DSS|
|Website Builder||Included (Weebly)||Included (Weebly)||Included (Weebly)|
|Money Back Guarantee||30 Days||30 Days||30 Days|
As far as prices are concerned, it is a common practice among many hosting companies to display their prices as "monthly". However, these figures are usually only available by choosing the longest possible plan, like a year or two. Here's what happens when you want to buy a SiteGround plan.
As you can see, despite the price being a lowly $3.99 a month, the shortest period you'll be able to buy hosting for is 1 year. In a way, this makes sense. Hey, who wants to have a website for only a month?
Another thing you'll have to remember is that you'll be asked to pay in advance - for the whole period that you order.
These are the overall prices you would have to pay for each plan:
*The prices already have VAT included.
After reviewing SiteGround packages, we went straight ahead and bought one of its packages. Here are our first impressions about features and pricing.
Very low disk space is the first thing that draws attention: it's mentioned in many other SiteGround reviews as well. 10GB in the entry plan is okay but 20GB and 30GB in other plans are not very good. If you're looking a web hosting provider to store your files with, you'd be better off looking elsewhere. But then again - for file storing, there are plenty of other services and in my experience, even a very media-heavy website rarely exceeds even the 10GB mark.
SSL certificates are included in all plans - and the one you'll be getting with a GoGeek is also PCI-compliant, meaning you will be able to sell online and process credit card transactions. Daily backups are also included, providing you a peace of mind - should something go wrong, there will always be a recent save for you to turn back to.
In terms of DDoS protection, each plan includes CloudFlare CDN. Of course, it is available free of charge for everyone already. But it is very nice to see SiteGround make increased security easily accessible for everyone.
It is also worth noticing that every plan is using SSDs. This shows that SiteGround servers are up to date with the latest technology and that low disk space can be somewhat justified. You're not getting much - but you're getting the best.
SiteGround purchase periods are not entirely flexible. You can get a monthly plan, no problem - it's just that you'd have to pay a pretty hefty setup fee to begin with. If you wish to avoid the setup fees, plans are available for only 12, 24 or 36 months.
After your starting package runs out, you will have to pay the monthly renewal prices. They're going to be $11.95 for 'StartUp', $19.95 for 'GrowBig' and $34.95 for 'GoGeek'. Just like with the initial purchase, you will have to pay for the entire period in advance. However, with the GrowBig and GoGeek plans you will get 20% and 30% discounts respectively!
SiteGround Customer Service
Plenty of SiteGround reviews mention their 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.
However, if that doesn't work, all of their support channels are relatively easy to reach. There are three main types of customer support SiteGround currently provides:
- Live Chat
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 to. The line I called to took around 40 seconds to explain 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 terrific result.
This performance carried on throughout many months. This SiteGround review has been constantly updated - and now, in Fall 2018, 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 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 terrific. Less than 1-minute wait in all 10 of the chats I've had at various times of the day and week. A video below shows just how little you have to wait until you get connected:
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 their customer support in all - ticket, phone and live chat - platforms.
First Impressions During and After the Purchase
SiteGround claims that they only accept credit cards. However, you may contact the Sales department via Live Chat and there is a chance you may also be allowed to pay with PayPal.
SiteGround account purchase was very pleasant. In the checkout, I was offered to buy the SG Site Scanner (made by a well-known Sucuri team) but nothing else than that. During the initial contact details submission, the API recognized that I’ve chosen the UK as a country and offered (not forced), to choose a different localization to suit me best.
SiteGround reviews mention one thing which I would like to emphasize as well. That is a distinct number of data center locations made available. Two in Europe, one in Asia and one in the USA. This shows that SiteGround invests a lot to appeal to the customers around the world, as with those five locations they pretty much circle the entire world.
After I chose my server and agreed to pay, SiteGround opened a proactive chat session where the agent kindly asked for my phone number in order to clarify the setup records. The agent then manually charged the account as soon as I let him proceed with it over the phone.
The entire process took only a couple of minutes.
The agent was very polite and outgoing. He asked proactive and direct questions and kept me engaged throughout the whole conversation.
The account activated immediately afterward and I got to see the SiteGround dashboard which was very simple. It had basic information and a link to cPanel. A website builder menu was immediately available, so if I wanted, I could've started making my own website in just a few seconds.
In the menu, I was also able to manage most of the crucial services - a welcome change compared to complicated panels used by some providers.
The cPanel itself is a very typical one as well. It's convenient and simple. All the information, including nameservers, disk space and expiration time is on the left side and icons, divided into sections, are on the right.
There is not much else that can be said. The activation was fairly simple and very quick. Both the dashboard and the panel were super intuitive and easy to use. SiteGround did not blow my mind but didn't disappoint either.
Up to this point, SiteGround has been impressive. Easy-to-use interface and a spectacular customer support were the two main reasons for it. Nonetheless, the upcoming tests were the most important ones. It was time to see how does the SiteGround hosting performance stack up. This is what I'll be testing:
- Host's speed during low upkeep
- Host's speed with a website created with SiteGround website builder
- Server's overall uptime
- Anti-theft security evaluation
Some of the tests here will be going on over the course of several months. That means the review will be constantly updated to give you the latest results.
IMPORTANT NOTICE - the tools are never 100% right. They themselves depend on the servers they use. I used the Bitcacha tool to see what the packet travel speeds are like. In order to get the clearest possible results, 10 tests in quick succession have been done. The average result is posted here in the review.
Host Speed During Low Upkeep
Simple HTML websites require very little of the host's resources. In theory, they are supposed to return the best speed results. So I've used SiteGround file manager to upload a sample HTML code, which contained this (very simple) HTML website:
And this is what Bitcacha said about its response times around the globe:
The only server which had a response time over 300ms was Sydney and that is great. What really jumps out is a very even performance between the worldwide servers, as the difference between the fastest (US East Coast) and the slowest (Sydney, Australia) was only 223ms. This shows that SiteGround is well optimized for users all around the world.
NOTE - the website was set up in SiteGround Netherlands server. There are five cities to choose from - Singapore, Chicago (USA), Milan (Italy), Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and London (UK). As you use different servers, these response times would shift accordingly as well.
Host Speed With SiteGround Website Builder
Now it was time to see how optimized are the websites built with SiteGround (Weebly) website builder.
This is the website that I've made.
Now let's have a look at the website speed:
Interestingly enough, in many of the servers, the response time hasn't changed much. The only difference was the Singapore server, which was lacking behind in all of the conducted tests. Overall, you can tell that the Weebly website builder, which SiteGround uses, is well optimized and speedy enough to compare with a few lines of HTML code.
Server Overall Uptime
NOTE - This section of the review will be constantly updated with the latest information.
I've set up a web hosting uptime status tool and tracked a basic WordPress website once every minute. By doing so, I was able to check the host's overall availability.
These are the current results:
The response times? They're the best thing they can be - stable. Constantly under 400-500ms and rarely ever down, SiteGround servers inspire quiet confidence. Sure, there are hosting providers which manage to clock better response times, however, 400ms is very fast. And the fact these times hold up, no matter what, is very nice.
Previously, we've seen SiteGround servers behave much worse than they are now - therefore, we can say with confidence that this company has improved, and that's brilliant to see.
Now, let's get to the main event of this Uptime Robot test, and that is the uptimes and downtimes. We started on the 24th of July, 2017. The updates below will guide you through my trip of seeing how reliable SiteGround really is:
After 3 and a half months, there was the first solid downtime. This has started a bit of an interesting trend. SiteGround itself hasn't been shy in pointing out that their Netherlands server has been affected by various DDoS attacks. This is where our test website is located, and in the month of December, it had some troubles.
Problematic? No doubt. However, the response of the company has been really decent and I personally am really interested to see how they deal with themselves in the upcoming few weeks.
SiteGround Performance Update: September 2019
For many months in the row now, SiteGround has left its problems behind. It still has great response time of 400-500ms average and lower. Also, during the past several days it only went down for 4 minutes.
Put together, this means that SiteGround had 99.991% of uptime - way above their uptime guarantee of 99.9%, which is a great plus.
Anti-Theft Protection Evaluation
The test was conducted in two parts. At first, I logged out of my account and simulated a brute-force break-in. I tried entering my password incorrectly for 30 times as quickly as I could. That should've made the system think I was guessing the password. However, on my 31st attempt, I was allowed to login.
Some websites include a simple security system which monitors the unsuccessful login attempts and then locks out the IP address of the user. This is supposed to protect the account that's being logged into. As you can see, I was unable to trigger such a security measure here. It may very well not be used at all.
Now it was time for the second test to do an evaluation on how does SiteGround handle sensitive user information. I've used plenty of names, changed my IP addresses and went through several chats trying to get my own password without providing any tangible proof. This is what transpired:
As I was simulating a break-in, I couldn't have provided them with my own phone number. So I spun the tale even more, asking for a conversation using my "new phone number". Such an audit has revealed me that SiteGround security system consists of multiple ways of authentification.
Firstly, it's your e-mail you have used to register for the website. Then, it's your phone. Having a conversation using the same phone number you used on the day of your registration gives you a master access to the account. And finally, if that fails, you have to send a picture of your credit card and ID. This is the last thing you can do to get your account back. So, if hackers have access to at least one of those things, you can lose your account. Other than that, SiteGround representatives handle user information securely. You can rest knowing they won't give your password away just because someone said "please".
NOTE - keep your important personal and payment information safe! Regularly change passwords and don't use simple combinations!
SiteGround Reviews - Conclusion
SiteGround definitely matches its ambition with its quality. The company combines high-quality performance with an intuitive menu to offer a very good web hosting experience. It is not cheap but the price is certainly justified, there are loads of premium features included in even the cheapest of plans. If you're looking for quality, SiteGround has plenty of it.
Out of all features, however, I admired SiteGround customer service the most. In simple terms, they are a level above everyone in the business. There were some interesting links and tutorials provided for me and if I didn't find what I wanted, agents were there to help me. Wait times for live chats, phone calls and tickets were practically non-existent and the representatives were great, knowledgeable people.
To sum it up, I can say that this is a good web hosting service for many users. A few extra dollars a month will probably be worth it in the long run.
- Multiple server locations. Five datacenters in three continents and you can choose the one you want.
- SSL certificate, DDoS and malware protection included with every plan.
- Using fast SSD disks.
- Amazing customer support.
- Very limited drive space.
- Plans not very flexible.