SiteGround is a privately owned company, founded in 2004. It is headquartered in Sofia, Bulgaria with offices in 6 locations and data centers in three continents. Today, the company has more than 400 employees and hosts 2 million domains, but is it the best Web host in 2019? Read the rest of the review to find out.
SiteGround Hosting Expertise
SiteGround are recommended by WordPress, as one of the best Web hosts in the World.
SiteGround offers different types of hosting, including shared, WordPress, cloud, and dedicated plans, as well as many other specialised plans. Customers benefit from free Cloudflare CDNs and SSL certificates. And their shared plans are packed with features.
SiteGround’s servers are rock solid and fast. I’ve never had a single problem with uptime from them.
Another important area SiteGround excels at is customer service, something that is sadly lacking in other Web hosts.
Below I’ll detail specifics about SiteGround hosting.
A critical factor for your Website to rank highly in Google is that it loads fast. There are tweaks you can make to your site to help with this, but, no matter how much you tweak your site, if your Web host is slow, your site will also be slow?
You are probably wondering what the difference can be.
To give you an example I had one of my other sites hosted by a very popular Webhosting company. I spent a lot of time tweaking every aspect of it to speed up its load time, yet, was still getting load times of upto 19 seconds.
That is, when someone clicked on a link to my site, or typed it in a browser, it would take 19 seconds to load.
People don’t wait 19 seconds for a page to load, they click away. You miss a visitor and Google takes notice of how slow your site is and the lack of engagement, because people close it before it finishes loading.
I moved the same site to SiteGround and instantly got load times of 3.7 seconds. That’s some improvement.
The site was hosted on SiteGround’s Singapore data center and the speed test was done against serving the page to a user in Canada. The results would have been even better, if I was using one of SiteGrounds US data centers.
What Makes SiteGround So Much Faster Than Other Hosts?
You are probably wonder, just how SiteGround can be so much faster than other Web hosts.
The difference is pretty simple, where other hosts use cheap hardware and cram it full of websites, SiteGround uses super fast servers, powered by super fast hardware and software.
Think of it this way, if you forget about the prestige factor, a Toyota Corolla is basically the same, in purpose as a Porsche. They both are a means of personal transportation. They both have 4 wheels and can take you from point A to point B in relative comfort. Both have to obey the road rules, so, as long as you are obeying these rules, driving around town, you will not be much faster in a Porsche than a Corolla.
Now, if you took these same cars to the track and raced them, the Porsche would wipe the floor with the Corolla. This is because the Porsche is built with higher performance components that the Corolla and is far more tuned for speed than the Corolla.
Now, while the Corolla is built for the masses, the Porsche is purpose built for performance.
SiteGround can be thought of like the Porsche, it uses super fast servers, optimised for speed.
SiteGround Uses SSD Drives
Rather than using standard hard drives in its servers, like the majority of cheap Web hosts, SiteGround uses super fast SSD drives.
SSD (solid state drives) drives provide a 1000x increase in input/output operations as compared to regular drives. Unlike other Web hosts, you don’t have to pay extra for this boost in speed, as it is included in every plan SiteGround provides.
NGINX – The Fastest Web Server Technology
SiteGround uses NGINX server technology. This technology is so fast and good, that Google itself uses it. It helps speed up the load time of all static content on your website. Once again, this technology is included in all SiteGround hosting plans.
For the most popular applications – WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, SiteGround have built their own caching system, based on NGINX reverse proxy.
Now, don’t worry about the slight techie lingo there, this basically means that it dramatically speeds up the serving of the dynamic content of the Websites. The SuperCacher also allows website speed optimisation through memcached.
HTTP/2 Enabled Servers
HTTP/2 is the newest network protocol, which significantly speeds up loading of websites in the browser. SiteGround is one of the first hosts to support it on all of their servers. HTTP/2 requires an encrypted connection. You may have noticed the the URL of sites you visit. Where the URl of sites used to be http://www.sitename.com, encrypted sites are https://www.sitename.com.
If you use Google’s Chrome browser, you have probably seen warnings announcing that a specific site you are trying to visit is not secure. Google gives this warning for sites that use the old http, instead of the secure https.
Google, also penalises sites that do not use the encrypted connection, so it is obviously beneficial to be able to use this.
SiteGround allows anyone to take advantage of this great protocol, by providing free Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates.
QUIC – HTTP/3 Available
With all the advantages HTTP/2 provides, technology rarely stands still. Development has continued and the next update will be HTTP/3. In the meantime, SiteGround is one of a very few Web hosts with QUIC enabled servers. QUIC is the forerunner of what will become HTTP/3, providing further speed and security improvements.
Another critical element for a Web host is customer support.
I am sure we have all experienced less than satisfactory customer support from companies; often left waiting for ages on the phone and having trouble resolving the problem.
It seems most companies, not just Web hosts go for the cheapest option when it comes to customer support, often outsourcing it to cheapest provider, not necessarily working directly for the service provider you are using. These customer service agents are provided with a script and a procedure on how to handle your requests. Often they have no specific knowledge to resolve issues, but are the first line responders in receiving help request.
Many Web hosting companies are the same. Even if they use in-house support, your first contact often lacks the knowledge, or ability to really assist you with anything other than the most basic problem.
Anything that involves slightly more knowledge, or experience has to be passed up to a higher level tech to resolve.
This can often result in a wait time of 24 – 48 hours for your issue / problem to be resolved.
SiteGround – The Best 24/7 Support In The Industry
SiteGround is renowned for providing the best 24/7, 365 days a year support in the Web hosting industry. On top of all the other qualities, this is another reason that WordPress recommends SiteGround as a preferred Web host.
I have been using Web hosting companies for around 20 years and I can honestly say that SiteGround provides that fastest, most efficient and competent support I have ever used. The support agents are courteous and professional and are able to resolve any issues quickly.
SiteGround takes Website security seriously, as it is extremely important; but you already know that.
To enhance security, SiteGround uses Linux containers and account isolation to prevent other websites on your server from affecting yours. They also apply ongoing patches and security monitoring.
Of course you should always change your generic Admin username and install a plugin like Wordfence yourself. One of the first plugins I install on a new WordPress install is Wordfence; I highly recommend you do the same.
SiteGround does their part. Their development team constantly makes sure your site isn’t affected by threats, without you having to worry.
SiteGround Plans & Pricing
SiteGround offers three main tiers of plans, the StartUp, GrowBig and GoGeek. The prices shown below are Australian Dollar prices.
Be aware that the prices shown below are introductory prices for the year, prices increase after 2 months, so if you choose GrowBig for the first year, you pay $89.40, plus GST. After the 2 months is up, the price increases to $299.40 plus GST.
This price increase can turn people off, who can stay with the same cheap priced plan on other Webhosts. Be aware though, that the price definitely is reflective of the performance and service. On the other Webhosts, you don’t really get what you pay for, as far as quality, speed, or service goes.
Which Plan Should You Use?
Note:- All prices shown above and below are in Australian Dollars.
StartUp – good for hosting 1 low traffic website that doesn’t use WooCommerce or require lots of server resources or storage. However, this plan is easy to outgrow and you may end up with CPU overages once you start getting decent traffic or run resource-hungry plugins. I would personally never use this plan, since GrowBig is only $3 a month more and comes with more features and server resources. StartUp is really only for those wanting to host a site that they have no desire to grow or earn from.
GrowBig – allows you to host multiple websites with twice the server resources of StartUp (resulting in faster load times). Also includes all 3 levels of caching (static, dynamic, memcached) which also results in faster load times. Double the storage space, on-demand backups, and staging. Definitely worth the extra cost and I believe is their most popular plan. It is also the plan I use for this Website.
GoGeek – semi-dedicated hosting and is about 4x faster than regular shared hosting plans. Good for people who want a super fast website but don’t want to pay $80/month for their cloud hosting. Priority support gets your questions answered faster, and also includes PCI compliant servers if you’re running eCommerce as well as SG-Git. A good balance between shared and dedicated hosting, but the renewal price is pretty high and not recommended for those starting out.
Higher Plans = More Server Resources = Faster Website – SiteGround’s GrowBig and GoGeek plan include more server resources which make your site load faster (a key factor in the WordPres optimisation guide). GoGeek is semi-dedicated hosting and is about 4x faster than StartUp for $14.95/month, compared to a dedicated server which runs $275/month or their cloud hosting for $80/month. If speed is important to you, go with GrowBig or GoGeek.
What About Bluehost And HostGator?
Two of the most well known Web hosts, are Bluehost and HostGator. Now, while these sites operate as seperate entities, they are both owned by the same company, EIG. EIG owns a stack of Web hosting companies, which, are all essentially the same as far as service goes. Neither of these two measure up to SiteGround, but I’ll leave it up to your own research and other sites to provide an honest review of their hosting.