Last updated: January 18, 2019
Is SiteGround the Perfect Host for Your Site?
SiteGround is a rare beast, and a hidden gem in the web hosting market. Its commitment to innovation — particularly in shared hosting — is fast making it one of the most important hosting providers that small businesses should consider. Despite minor complaints (no free domain), SiteGround eclipses its rivals on most of the features small businesses need: speed, uptime, and customer support.
SiteGround is privately owned and was founded in 2004. It’s based in Bulgaria, where it has two offices. It also has an office in Madrid, Spain.
SiteGround’s website promotes different types of hosting; it offers dedicated, cloud, and VPS plans in addition to shared hosting and WordPress. Customers benefit from the basic CloudFlare CDN plan, free SSL certificates, and free daily backups of their website data on the server. Unlike some hosts, it has made sure that its shared plans are packed with features.
So far so good. But what is SiteGround really good at? Ask any customer — like me — and support will be top of their list. From experience, I’ve also found that uptime is impressive.
Superb Customer Support
SiteGround says that 40%+ of its customers were based outside the USA in 2013. Its global appeal is partly down to its internationalization and multilingual support.
SiteGround responds to queries from customers in English and Spanish, and its website is localized for nine territories. It offers live chat, ticketing, and phone support, with a promise to send an initial response to queries within 10 minutes.
In my experience, it does meet this promise. It sometimes takes longer to get the issue resolved, but that’s generally because the issue is being passed to the right person, and the ticket sits in their queue for a little while. But in most cases, issues have been completely resolved within hours — even if they’ve been passed to multiple tech support operatives. And while you wait, you are kept updated.
If you have a more urgent problem, there’s also a live chat feature, and you can call SiteGround to speak to someone if you prefer. All support options are available 24/7, unlike some web hosts that make you wait until their office opens.
SiteGround’s Shared Hosting Stands Out
Shared hosting is the battleground where all the best hosts compete for your attention. This is one area where SiteGround has done exceptionally well in differentiating itself from its closest competitors.
Here are five reasons why I like it:
- You get a number of page views as a guide to your bandwidth, and a fixed amount of disk space on the server. So you know what you have to work with. No hazy promises of “unlimited” resources.
- If you pay more, you’re allocated a server with fewer accounts, so there’s less chance you’ll be slowed down by your neighbors.
- All shared hosting plans include managed WordPress, which is sometimes only provided as an expensive extra when you normally buy hosting. SiteGround’s managed WordPress includes benefits that mirror WP Engine‘s features, such as the ability to create staging servers, and get core updates applied automatically.
- Its self-help material is pretty good — close to InMotion Hosting for knowledgebase quality.
- SiteGround tackles slow speeds from all angles, using SSD storage, Nginx, SuperCacher, CloudFlare CDN, and HHVM.
SiteGround’s bandwidth allocations are generous, and they’re marketed in terms of visitor numbers, rather than a specific figure in GB, which helps you to make a more informed decision on the plan that you need to buy. If you’re coming from another host, just look at your existing logs or analytics and pick a shared hosting plan that will accommodate a little headroom.
Like practically every host, SiteGround does have acceptable use limits. If you host movies, image galleries, or audio files, your web site might be considered an excessive drain on bandwidth. If that happens, your hosting plan may be suspended while you upgrade your account. SiteGround is not unusual in this respect; most web hosts have this clause in their Terms of Service.
Concerned about security on your account? SiteGround uses CHROOT to prevent shared hosting customers from writing data to another user’s account on the server. The company claims that it was one of the first to do this.
Special Features for WordPress Hosting
Along with SuperCacher, SiteGround has other cool features for WordPress power users.
In 2017, it launched its own bot protection system, powered by its own artificial intelligence algorithm. When this system was switched on, I noticed a remarkable reduction in the number of alerts from my WordPress security plugins.
This system prevents the vast majority of brute force attacks on the WordPress login screen, and it also does a good job of detecting malicious login attempts. It presents a Captcha challenge to any suspicious user; any genuine user that successfully completes the Captcha won’t be blocked again. And it continually adapts to new threats.
This kind of technology is increasingly important in tackling the millions of unauthorized logins that small businesses have to deal with.
Of course, you can achieve this with a plugin for the CMS or script that you’re using. But the fact that SiteGround has implemented it means that many of those malicious bots need never hit your site in the first place.
So it’s a speed-booster for your site, as well as an important security feature.
SiteGround is one of a small clutch of web hosts that offer a choice of datacenters to shared hosting customers. It’s certainly worth taking advantage of this, and picking the right datacenter when you sign up.
SiteGround has datacenters in Chicago, the UK, the Netherlands, and Singapore. SiteGround says it’s picked these locations because they’re the most reliable. But they also offer a good global reach. Some web hosts only offer you a choice of US locations, so this is nice to see.
Remember that the datacenter you choose should primarily suit your visitors. So if you’re running a business in northern Europe, the UK or Netherlands datacenters are going to prove fastest for them.
Using CloudFlare CDN will also help you to speed up content delivery irrespective of visitor location. The basic CloudFlare plan is provided by SiteGround and integrated right into cPanel, so it’s very easy to get started. Once it’s enabled, you can use it for all subdomains by following a few additional steps in cPanel.
Of course, if you already have a standalone CloudFlare account, you can continue to use it in the way you always have. Providing your nameservers are correctly set, you’ll be good to go.
Control Panels and Self-Service
SiteGround has cPanel on all of its plans, plus WHM if appropriate. The version of cPanel you’ll use is slightly customized; SiteGround has added additional features, but the core components will look familiar if you’ve used cPanel before, or you’ve seen a host review of another plan that provides it.
In addition, it has its own customer account area, which offers detailed information about your plan and — if applicable — your server. It calls this the “User’s Area”, and it provides easy access to the support portal and ticket system.
For my cloud VPS, I can see the following information as soon as I log in:
Primary domain (which is the domain SiteGround assigns — not your own domain name)
cPanel and WHM username
FTP and email server details
CloudFlare CDN status.
Some of this information is also provided in the SiteGround cPanel, but it’s very helpful having it all in one place for reference.
You can also purchase standalone email, FTP, PHP, or MySQL hosting plans through this panel. SiteGround has a library of templates for Joomla, Magento, and WordPress. And it can register domains for you too, although this isn’t a service that it advertises prominently.
If you need to increase the capacity of your plan, or order an additional web hosting account, you can do this within the User’s Area as well.
How Does SiteGround’s Uptime Measure Up?
In my testing, SiteGround consistently exceeds its uptime guarantee of 99.9%. Over the first four months using my plan, Pingdom reported monthly uptime figures of 99.51%, 100%, 99.93%, and 99.99%.
I can’t take these as a wholly accurate measure of SiteGround’s uptime, because Pingdom only checks my site every 5 minutes. So if my site goes down for a second, Pingdom can’t record it as less than a 5-minute outage. And I’m only looking at one server, so there are bound to be variations.
But even at face value, the downtime I’ve experienced has been minimal.
If you do experience downtime of more than 0.1% annually, you’ll be compensated as follows:
99%-99.9% uptime: 1 month of free hosting
Every additional 1% below 99% uptime: 1 additional month of free hosting.
Most hosts measure downtime monthly, not annually, so beware of this slight difference.
Upgrading Your Hosting Plan
If your company outgrows SiteGround’s shared hosting plans, you can take advantage of its cloud hosting plans instead. Cloud host services model the traditional VPS, with a few small changes to the way they’re set up and managed.
Your account will be isolated when you choose a cloud host plan, and you’ll benefit from full management if things go wrong — so you don’t need to know your way around a Linux server to fix problems. Management includes auto-detection of outages, as you’ll see from this screenshot taken from my own account:
You’ll also benefit from auto-scaling on a cloud server, so your site won’t go offline if you need more resources; it’ll just be upgraded, and you’ll be billed for the difference. This is one of the nice features of a cloud server that is likely worth the extra money for business customers.
If you don’t have a lot of time to set up your own website, you could opt to use the free site builder that SiteGround provides. Just be careful: if you select the Site Builder for your account, any content you’ve created outside of the site builder already will be deleted. So be sure to only activate the site builder on a completely clean account, or if you’re happy to lose the data that’s already there.
SiteGround also offers dedicated servers, with various customizable options, including the choice of Apache or Nginx — the latter is offered for those that need the best possible speed. There’s no extra charge for cPanel and WHM, and you get 5 IPs and 5 different versions of PHP. Servers all run on CentOS.
Reseller Hosting Done Differently
Reseller hosting allows businesses to create additional revenue streams by including web hosting with their services. You could also set up your own web hosting business using these plans, and white label everything, so your users won’t ever see the SiteGround brand.
The core package includes 10 GB disk space, and the ability to host unlimited amounts of customers. But the pricing is a little unconventional.
Here’s how the credit system works:
You must buy at least 5 credits to get set up as a reseller
One reseller credit is equal to a year’s hosting for your customers; if you begin with 10 customers, you need 10 credits to activate each site for one year
Additional services, like domains, must be paid for by credit card
Resellers get discounts on space and domain registrations; the more credits you buy in one transaction, the bigger the discount will be.
So as a reseller, you don’t get access to WHM. Everything is done via your SiteGround user area.
Of course, if you don’t like this credit system (and you want more control over client accounts), you could just purchase a cloud VPS and use WHM with that.
The disadvantage is that you’d lose some of the best features of SiteGround’s reseller package, like the ability to choose each customer’s datacenter location individually.
For your customers, this kind of choice is going to be a big draw for them — so this could be a tough decision.
SiteGround Reviews by Our Community
Overall Rating from 2,020 Reviews by SiteGround Customers
Most Helpful Reviews
Matthieu Doucet pompousgamers.com
Dec 17, 2017
Kimberly Jimenez kimberlyannjimenez.com
Mar 15, 2017
Kath Dawson digitalacademycollective.co.uk
Jun 17, 2017
Steve Albin steve-albin.com
Nov 13, 2018
Zoe Zuniga mindbodycopy.com
Oct 19, 2018
Rodrigo Cuadra vitalpbx.org
Sep 27, 2018
Pamela Jessen pamelajessen.com
Sep 27, 2018
Chandra Poll the-simplifiedfamily.com
Sep 26, 2018
Frank Pereira ten12design.com
Sep 21, 2018
Wendy Cole managersofthehome.com
Nov 12, 2018
This quick overview will help you went you go to compare SiteGround to other hosting companies.
WordPress hosting: SiteGround has developed impressive security and speed features that are specific to WordPress, and offers managed WordPress on all plans.
Excellent global sites, English and Spanish technical support, and an international outlook.
Promises 99.9% uptime but strives for better, and in our experience, it delivers on this.
InMotion Hosting: Also independently owned and targets businesses, very good help material
iPage: Accessible pricing; ideal for people who want to get up and running quickly.
WP Engine: For Managed WordPress, its features are hard to beat.
One site migrated free within 24h, charge for additional sites.
Quality of Support Material on Website
Chicago, USA; UK; Netherlands; Singapore.
Money-Back Guarantee or Trial Period
30-day money-back guarantee.
$3.95/mo using our special link.
Free, but with a fee for restore. Basic and Premium options are available, but terms are complex. Restore points are automatically created when WordPress or Joomla updates are auto-applied.
Innovative hosting company, datacenter choices, service and price both great.
Reseller package complex, backup plans need reworking to make the pricing much clearer.
Room for Improvement
No host is perfect, and SiteGround’s got its flaws too. As I said in the introduction, I don’t consider these to be deal-breakers. But it pays to be informed before signing up.
Here are five things I’d like to see SiteGround improve:
- Its daily server backups are free, but they are not really usable as far as customers are concerned. You’ll need the Basic or Premium Backup Service to have a reliable backup system. And even then, you may have to pay for restores, depending on your plan terms. It would be good to see this flattened out into one or two simple backup options.
- SiteGround will only migrate one website free from your old host. After this, you’ll be billed for migrations.
- DIY migrations using WHM are not possible on its cloud host (VPS) plans because you don’t have access to the cPanel restore feature. If you have multiple cPanels to migrate, getting them all over to SiteGround is going to be expensive, since there’s a flat fee for each migration.
- Its reseller hosting, while logical, is a web of complicated credits and discounts. You need five credits to set up, and then you’ll need to assign these to your customers, and there are tiered discounts for everything else based on the number of credits you buy. It does make sense on paper, but I wonder how many serious resellers would have the patience to work this system to their advantage.
- If your cloud host plan is autoscaled, that additional fee sticks around forever unless you go in and cancel it yourself. Annoyingly, the autoscaled item is billed separately to your main hosting fee, resulting in tons of additional invoices.
These aren’t going to trouble every SiteGround user. And when a host does well on all other counts, it’s difficult to be picky.
But the backup system is one key area where I feel SiteGround could polish its offer and make it much friendlier to all customers.
Is SiteGround Right For You?
SiteGround is consistently recommended as a solid web hosting provider for small businesses. My experience is certainly good on the things that are important — uptime, support, speed, and technical capability.
With my interest in WordPress, I really like that SiteGround has invested in making its WordPress provision a cut above the rest. And I’m reassured by the fact that its technical support team is speedy.
The plan you choose will affect performance and speed to some degree. But when I’ve talked to SiteGround users, I’ve found that all plans perform well in terms of uptime and features. The customer service you get is great across the board; customers on the cheaper hosting plans appear to experience the same quality of support as those paying more.
If SiteGround is based in Bulgaria, will my website be slow for visitors in the US?
No; SiteGround gives you a choice of datacenter locations, so you can choose the one closest to your customers. You can also set up its free CloudFlare CDN to ensure that your site loads quickly.
What’s the difference between Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates and a paid SSL certificate from another authority?
SiteGround’s free SSL certificates come from Let’s Encrypt, which provides trimmed down versions of the SSL certificates you buy from third parties. It has put together a help article so you can see the difference between Let’s Encrypt and the competitors.
In short, these free SSL certificates are just validated on your domain, and not your company data. So they’re fine for basic security, but if you’re running an e-commerce store, you might want more advanced features, which means paying for an SSL certificate.
SiteGround offers an upgrade to wildcard SSL or EV SSL which are more advanced than Let’s Encrypt, and more suitable for medium to large businesses that need additional features. You can purchase either of these from your User’s Account once signed in.
Do I have to use WordPress on SiteGround?
No. SiteGround’s optimized its service for WordPress, but you can use any application that is permissible, such as the ones it provides as 1-Click installers. That includes alternative CMSs like Joomla and Magento. You may also want to use SiteGround’s site builder to create a website quickly, and without hassle.
See below for more frequently asked questions and answers!
I had to reach out to customer service personnel when I couldn’t complete a second site migration onto my cloud hosting plan. This is a limitation of the cloud VPS because the restore function that you’d expect to see is missing.
The issue was resolved quickly — within a few hours — and I was kept informed at regular intervals while the migrations were taking place.
My plan also includes auto-detection of downtime, which works perfectly. On the rare occasion that my site has gone down due to a server issue, it’s been logged and resolved before Pingdom has alerted me to the outage. That helps keep uptime solid, and reduces the amount of admin that I had to do.
If You Like This Host…
If you want managed WordPress, but you don’t feel comfortable using cPanel and FTP, WP Engine is probably going to be a smoother ride for you — albeit with a higher price tag.
What about newbies? If you need an extra helping hand, you need a web host that provides good self-help material. InMotion Hosting provides a good balance of business features and newbie help, making it easy to grow your site and your knowledge.
Most Popular SiteGround Hosting Plans
|Price||$3.95 / mo||$7.95 / mo||$14.95 / mo|
|Visit SiteGround||Visit SiteGround||Visit SiteGround|
|10GB||$42 / mo Visit Host|
|20GB||5TB||$60 / mo Visit Host|
|40GB||5TB||$80 / mo Visit Host|
|Business Cloud Plus
|60GB||5TB||$100 / mo Visit Host|
|80GB||5TB||$140 / mo Visit Host|
|Entry Server Dedicated Hosting
|500GB||5TB||$229 / mo Visit Host|
|Power Server Dedicated Hosting
|1TB||5TB||$329 / mo Visit Host|
|Enterprise Server Dedicated Hosting
|2GB||5TB||$429 / mo Visit Host|
SiteGround Frequently Asked Questions
- What is SiteGround com?
SiteGround.com is a web hosting company that offers a range of hosting services, including shared, cloud, and dedicated hosting.
The company is located in Sofia, Bulgaria. It has datacenters in Chicago, London, and Amsterdam.
- Can I choose a datacenter location?
Yes. SiteGround uses datacenters in Chicago, London, Amsterdam and Singapore. If you sign up for a dedicated hosting plan, you can choose the continent that your server is located in.
- Is there a money-back guarantee?
Yes. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can cancel your service within the first 30 days and receive a full refund.
The money-back guarantee does not cover cloud or dedicated hosting, and there are some restrictions on reseller plans. You must raise your request through the User Area to claim your refund.
- What payment methods does SiteGround accept?
SiteGround accepts payment by VISA and MasterCard. Payments must be made for one, two or three years’ service.
However, if you want to trial its service, you can also pay for one month before committing to a longer contract.
- Will SiteGround back up my website?
SiteGround stores 30 backup copies of your website at any time. Crucially, these backups are user-accessible, so you can restore them yourself from cPanel.
Many hosts don’t allow you to access their backups, so this is a good feature to have. You can also create manual backups through cPanel at any time.
- Does SiteGround offer free site migration?
Yes, SiteGround will migrate one existing website free of charge, without downtime. This includes WordPress websites.
If you need more help, SiteGround provides 24/7 support to get you up and running quickly. If you need help moving your domain to SiteGround, it has step-by-step tutorials in its help center.
- Does it offer one-click installers?
SiteGround has WordPress and Joomla! auto-installers, so you can get your site up and running within a few minutes.
It also has an automatic updater tool, a caching feature (Premium plans only), and the ability to create staging instances.
The host offers multiple tutorials, as well as free themes for both platforms. All of these resources are available via its website.
You can also access more than 230 one-click installer scripts via Softaculous.
Note that Fantastico has been discontinued by SiteGround. If you don’t want to create a Joomla! or WordPress site, you can use the SiteGround website builder to build a site using templates.
- How does SiteGround secure web hosting accounts?
SiteGround isolates shared hosting accounts from each other, which prevents malware from spreading from one shared hosting customer to the next. The company has also rolled out more than 800 custom firewall rules to prevent malicious hacks.
You should still take measures to keep your website safe from hacking, including using a strong password for your account, and taking advantage of its automatic updates for WordPress and Joomla!.
- Is Windows hosting available?
SiteGround offers Linux hosting only. It does not offer Windows hosting.
- What’s SiteGround’s uptime guarantee?
SiteGround guarantees 99.9% uptime, averaged over a 12 month period. If it fails to provide that, it will provide an account credit.
The amount of downtime will determine the value of the credit you receive. SiteGround does this proactively, so you don’t need to monitor uptime yourself. It provides an uptime calculation in its User Area for each customer.
- What control panel does SiteGround offer?
All plans come with cPanel. There are no extra fees for cPanel on any plan. Reseller, dedicated, and cloud hosting plans also come with WHM.
- Does SiteGround offer VPS hosting?
SiteGround provides cloud hosting instead of VPS hosting. Cloud hosting offers very similar specifications to VPS hosting, with the ability to scale up your plan on demand. All cloud hosting packages are fully managed.
- Is there a reseller hosting plan?
Yes, SiteGround has a reseller hosting plan with a scalable volume discount, so you receive a better price as your requirements increase. Resellers also benefit from a discount price on domain name registrations.
- Does SiteGround offer management with dedicated hosting plans?
Yes. Management is included as standard on all dedicated hosting plans.
- What programming languages does SiteGround support?
SiteGround supports many scripting languages, including Perl, Ruby on Rails, and multiple versions of PHP, including PHP 7. It also supports Python, but you’ll need to run Python scripts inside the cgi-bin folder.
- Can SiteGround provide specialised Magento support?
Yes. SiteGround has a hosting plan optimized for Magento Community Edition.
The plan includes shared hosting with CloudFlare and Railgun, free Magento install (via support or Softaculous), free site transfer from another host, and specialized Magento support.
SiteGround provides free Magento tutorials on its website.
- Which version of Linux will I get on my dedicated server?
SiteGround uses Apache/Nginx and CentOS on its dedicated servers.
- Do SiteGround plans come with a CDN?
Yes. All SiteGround plans include CloudFlare.
- Does SiteGround offer unlimited storage and bandwidth for shared hosting customers?
No. SiteGround does not include unlimited storage and bandwidth with its shared hosting accounts.
The limits it has set are adequate for the vast majority of use cases. If you hit the limit on your chosen plan, you will be asked to upgrade to the next tier.