This is intended to be a down-to-earth review aimed at a general readership, and particularly those who are new to web-hosting or who have had trouble with a previous host and are not sure who to change to. I do refer to some technical tools in order to provide a comprehensive treatment of SiteGround’s hosting, but I explain them where I think there’s a possibility of confusion. And so, on with the review!
SiteGround Hosting has been around since 2004. They position themselves as a high-quality host with a variety of crafted solutions and competitive prices for their plans.
At the starter level, they offer shared Linux hosting of a kind similar to their competitors and suitable for most websites with a variety of add-on options and plenty of free tools (see more below in the features section). For larger and more commercially orientated websites, they offer Cloud and Dedicated server solutions.
SiteGround are one of the fastest growing independent hosting companies with an accelerating involvement in the WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla communities, all of who officially recommend them along with a huge number of blogs and forums. This has helped them to reach a market share of over 1,000,000 domain names worldwide, and they now have data centers across the globe including in Europe, America and Asia. Not too shabby considering they’re up against corporate giants such as GoDaddy in a super-competitive industry.
One of the most impressive achievements of SiteGround is the enthusiasm and loyalty they’ve managed to foster among regular users as well as web pros. Reliable hosting surveys of the general public are not all that easy to find, but I’ve discovered at least two very solid sources in this area, Facebook (thank you, Tom Dupuis) and Trustpilot. The company is also specifically recommended by WordPress, Joomla and Drupal (more on that below).
1) Facebook Polls by WordPress Hosting Facebook Group
This poll has been carried out for the last two years by a Facebook Group that’s populated largely by experienced WordPress users, so they can be expected to know their stuff. SiteGround come out on top by a fairly wide margin both times.
2) TrustPilot Reviews
TrustPilot is an organization I find particularly useful because a lot of people go there just to complain, so you can be sure any strong negatives about any company you want to deal with will show up there. HostGator, for example, only scores one star there (see more in the competition section below).
SiteGround, by contrast gets a full five stars and a plethora of glowing reviews. This isn’t easy to do, and some of the biggest and best companies in the world can’t manage it. Amazon and Google, for example, come in at only three-stars.
Here’s a recent screenshot.
3) “Big Three” Recommendations
WordPress, Joomla and Drupal all recommend SiteGround. Here’s what they have to say:
Taken individually, I wouldn’t read a lot into this. WordPress, for example, recommend BlueHost, which is an EIG company (see again below) and to be avoided, but to have this level of consensus among three giants of the industry notable and fits the pattern of across the board commendations for SiteGround.
SiteGround’s support is an aspect of their service that I’ve been really happy with from the start. I’ve had issues with support with other companies both online and off, often to the point where I wouldn’t bother making contact at all except in cases of emergency, but SiteGround have turned out to be accessible, speedy and efficient.
It’s often the case with support that you’re forced through a pile of irrelevant or unhelpful documentation before you even get a chance to have your question answered. Not so much with SiteGround. What articles they offer tend to be very concise and on-point and it only takes a couple of clicks to be offered a ticket or chat option. (For example, every time I’ve filled in the form above, I’ve been given the option to chat with a support staff member).
With SiteGround, I’ve never had to wait more than a minute for a chat operative to be free, even without premium support (which I later got when I upgraded). As far as their tickets are concerned, there average contact time is an insanely low 8 minutes. Enough said.
All of my issues were dealt with within five minutes of speaking to an operative and all the operatives were helpful. Some are more friendly than others but none were ever rude and all got the job done, so I’ve never given any of them less than a five-star rating.
SiteGround’s continuing security monitoring and regular patching helps ensure your site isn’t compromised by threats. They also organize their Linux servers using a container method so that other websites don’t affect yours. Their Facebook page, which you should follow if you sign up, regularly posts reassuring security-related updates.
Here’s a breakdown of their security features from the starter package on the left to the Go-Geek package on the right. (Full package features list here.)
If you’re planning on opening a store or selling a service online, you’re covered for the basics on all packages.
Softaculous is accessible directly from cPanel and contains 18 different free e-commerce software applications.
The cPanel section—easily accessible from the My Accounts tab—might look a bit intimidating at first, simply because there’s so much on there, but that’s a good thing because it reflects a rich feature set you can take advantage of. Below is just a the top section of the panel, which shows your domain tools as well as software options. SiteGround offer a handy cPanel demo to give you a no-commitment taster of how it all works.
With increasing Internet speeds, the disparity between fast and slow sites is also increasing as are user expectations. In this context, load times are crucial. The average is about 3 seconds and you need to be on the right side of that as it’s also the time after which most visitors will give up and leave your site!
My result for this page, which has a reasonable amount of content on it including lots of images etc. is under a second and faster than 93% of sites. That’s with CloudFlare enabled but not SiteGround’s optional supercaching (and caching issues are why I got a B and not an A below). Given that, there’s likely more speed to be squeezed out, so a very respectable result.
My uptime is currently 100%, which is in line with SiteGround’s 99.99% claim. The lowest figure I could find online for SiteGround was this uptime report from inlinehostblogger.com, which at 99.97% is lower but still very respectable.
Uptime speeds are getting better across the industry, with most of the big players at 99.95% and up, so SiteGround is nothing extraordinary here, but they are clearly holding their own, so this is not an issue you’ll need to be concerned about.
The full deal features are here. Because I like to dip my toe in the water before jumping in, I usually go for starter options and that’s what I did with SiteGround. I upgraded in order to have the option of more sites (I currently run five from this account).
SiteGround are the best host I’ve used, and I think offer the best overall combination of service , features and reliability, so I wholeheartedly recommend them. They are obviously not the only decent web host out there though and you may decide to choose another. Just make sure to avoid EIG.
EIG is a large multinational hosting service headquartered in Massachussets with an apparently simple business model: achieve economies of scale and reduce competition by eating up smaller hosting companies. Below are a list of its subsidiaries ( see Wikipedia).
Probably the two best known of these are Hostgator and Bluehost, hosting companies that regularly appear in top ten and top five lists written by reviewers online. But look at their TrustPilot scores:
And here’s another big player from the list, iPage. Do you see a pattern here?
I’m not deliberately trying to diss EIG, but after I decided to leave WordPress.com because I didn’t like their pricing structure, BlueHost and HostGator were both high on my list of alternatives solely because of professional reviews (naively, I didn’t at the time think to look beyond them).
To make a long story short, I rejected BlueHost because I liked their pricing structure even less than WordPress.com’s (3-year commitment) and almost ended up with HostGator except for the fact that by some amazing stroke of luck they found my credit card purchase suspicious (because I was abroad) and wanted me to verify who I was (which their systems couldn’t manage to do). I got frustrated and left.
The reason I almost got duped was that, like most people, I Googled the reviews and saw results like this:
Wonder how they got so many good reviews…? No prizes for guessing. EIG are a huge company with lots of money and lots of reach. And some reviewers and organizations will affiliate for the highest bidder. Sad but true. As I said in my own affiliate disclaimer, there are plenty of great companies out there to promote, so there’s no need for this level of dishonesty, but there it is.
Of course, again, don’t take my word for it, listen to real people who have used these services. You’ll find them on Facebook, TrustPilot and a variety of forums, and the consensus is clear, EIG hosting companies don’t deliver where it matters. SiteGround does.
SiteGround are quickly establishing themselves as industry leader in hosting quality, particularly in terms of support and features. With so many companies racing to the bottom in terms of service and hoping to mask that fact through paid reviews and other questionable practices, they represent the straight and narrow in an increasingly twisted industry.
So to sum up:
- Full featured WordPress hosting with a huge number of software options
- The best support out there. Period.
- Performance and reliability are at the higher end of the industry. They won’t let you down.
- Less disk space on the starter plan than some competitors. This may be a consideration if you plan to have a very large site from the get-go
- All plans are 60% off for the first year. They renew at full price making them slightly more expensive than some competitors.
SiteGround are not only a safe and reliable choice but an exciting one, especially if you’re just starting out with an online presence or have had bad experiences with other hosts (as many of us have). After the first year, they may be more expensive than some of the competition but by that time, you’ll have experienced enough of them to not want to leave. Overall the best balance of price and service of any host out there.
Hope the review was helpful. Please bookmark me and come back, sometime! Cheers!