SiteGround was founded in 2004 by a group of IT enthusiasts who also happened to be university friends. In the beginning, the friends worked from their dorm rooms. Now, the company has grown to over 320 employees and has four data centers in three continents.
SiteGround has a “Philosophy of Handcraft,” which means that it crafts high-quality, customized services to meet each client’s individual needs. In other words, the company chooses the hardware, server architecture, and software based on the needs of the client. This caught my attention back in 2014, and I conducted an interview with the company’s CEO, Tenko Nikolov. Since then, I’ve decided to track their hosting performance and run a test account at SiteGround.
Let’s take a look at the different hosting packages SiteGround offers. Then, I want to go over some of the things that I like.
SiteGround Hosting Plans
SiteGround has shared, reseller, cloud, and dedicated hosting. Let’s take a closer look at each of these plans.
SiteGround has three types of shared hosting plans. You can get the StartUp, GrowBig, or GoGeek hosting plans. The plan you should choose depends on your needs.
As the cheapest of the plans, the StartUp plan is meant for people who are just getting started with an online presence. You’ll get a free domain name, along with free setup and transfer. It also comes with a free website builder so you don’t have to worry about hiring a graphic designer if you don’t know how to create a website.
This package comes with 10 GB of web space. That is suitable for up to 10,000 visits per month. If you bring in more traffic than that, you need to upgrade to one of the other plans.
The GrowBig plan includes all of the resources you get with the StartUp plan, along with some more. Instead of just hosting a single website, it hosts multiple sites. It is also compatible with premium Joomla and WordPress integration, and it has tools to make your website run faster. Plus, with 20 GB of web space, it can accommodate up to 25,000 visitors a month. That makes it a good fit if you run a single website that gets a good amount of traffic or if you have several websites that get a small amount of traffic.
Finally, there’s the GoGeek hosting plan. This is the premium shared hosting service. This is the plan that you need to choose if you have a website or websites that get a lot of traffic. This package comes with 30 GB of web space, making it suitable for up to 100,000 visits per month. When you use this plan, you don’t have to share resources with as many people, so you can expect faster websites.
SiteGround shared hosting plans in a glance
|SiteGround Shared Hosting||Startup||GrowBig||GoGeek|
|Number of websites||1||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|SSD Storage||10 GB||20 GB||30 GB|
|James A. Pentel||$175||$25||Annie|
|Free 1 year Wild Card SSL|
|WordPress & Joomla Staging|
|One-click Git Repo Creation|
|Fewer account on server|
Cloud hosting is another option if you go with SiteGround. This auto-scalable hosting solution is also customizable. You can choose from four plans that range from 2 GB DDR3 RAM to 4 GB DDR3 RAM. They also come with 30 GB of disk space up to 80 GB of disk space, and all of the plans include 5 TB of bandwidth. In addition, you can choose between WordPress, Magento, Drupal, and Joomla integration when you go with cloud hosting.
SiteGround offers three dedicated hosting plans. Choose from the Entry Server, Power Server, and Enterprise Server. The first two come with four CPU cores and eight CPU threads. The Enterprise Server has 2 x 6 CPU cores and 2 x 12 CPU threads. They range from 4 GB DDR3 RAM to 16 GB DDR3 RAM, and all include 5 TB of bandwidth.
The dedicated hosting plans are compatible with WordPress, Joomla, and Magento. They are also integrated with Git.
If you’re a web developer or designer and you maintain customer websites, you might want a reseller hosting plan. SiteGround offers a discount if you buy in bulk, and it also provides special domain name deals. When you choose SiteGround for your reseller hosting needs, you’ll get 10 GB of web space, unmetered data transfer, and free email accounts. You’ll also have unlimited FTP accounts and a free CloudFare CDN, among other features.
My SiteGround Experience: The Good Points
Now let’s dig into what I like about SiteGround. There are many things that stood out to me during my test but I am going to point out just two plus points with SiteGround (yes, just two is enough).
Advantage #1. Premium Class Web Hosting Service
In a nutshell, SiteGround offers reasonably priced premium hosting that is fast, reliable, flexible, and secure and comes with stellar customer support.
I was initially drawn to SiteGround because it is so flexible and scalable. With so many upgrade options and so much room to grow, it’s easy to build the hosting plan that is right for you. This makes it easy for someone to start out with a small website and turn it into a huge ecommerce site that serves hundreds of thousands of customers each month.
Site speed & Server reliability
Speed is always important with a web host. You need people to be able to blaze through your site, and that isn’t a problem when you use SiteGround (see site speed test results below). The hosting company offers static caching through SuperCache, Memcached, and SuperCacher. It also uses NGINX web server technology. This technology quickly loads static content, creating sites that move faster than most of the others out there. That is a huge bonus.
You also want a host that’s reliable, and SiteGround is just that according to my test site results (see site uptime score below). SiteGround uses proactive server monitoring to detect and fix issues immediately. It also predicts problems before they occur, allowing it to prevent them. Also, because it has its own backup system, it can restore data faster than many of other hosting companies out there. This allows the servers to maintain a 99.99 percent uptime.
SiteGround Uptime record (June/July 2016): 99.95%
SiteGround Uptime record (March 2016): 99.9%
SiteGround Uptime record (February 2016): 100%
SiteGround Uptime (Sept 2015): 100%
SiteGround Uptime (May/Jun 2015): 99.99%
SiteGround Uptime (Mar/Apr 2015): 99.99%
SiteGround Uptime (Dec/Jan 2015): 99.99%
SiteGround Uptime (Sep/Oct 2014): 100%
SiteGround Uptime (Apr/May 2014): 99.99%
SiteGround Server Speed Test
We check our SiteGround-hosted site speed using Bitcacha and the host passed the test with flying colors. SiteGround scored an “A” in this test and was the second best among all the web hosts tracked by us. The test site’s response time was 52 milliseconds (ms) from United States West Coast test point, 20 ms from United States East Coast, 307 ms from London, 516 ms from Pune, and so on (see image below).
Note: Choice of server location
Most people don’t think of server location when choosing a hosting company, and that is a mistake. Server location should be on your top five when picking a hosting company. It might seem drab and dull, but server location can speed up your website and reduce your downtime. It even helps you keep your site secure.
SiteGround has data centers in Chicago, Amsterdam, London, and Singapore, and you can choose which data center you want to use. Just choose the data center based on the location of the majority of your site’s users, and your site will run at optimal performance.
Security & Customer Support
If there’s something that’s more important that speed and reliability, it might be site security. SiteGround constantly develops innovative ideas to take down hackers and other security threats. The company also sends out a “Hack Alert” every week. This alert briefs you on potential threats and lets you know what you can do to stay safe. You won’t find this with many hosts out there. In fact, only about 10 percent of hosting companies offer this type of service.
In regards to customer support, SiteGround provides support by phone, chat, and ticket and typically responds in less than 15 minutes. I tested this and found that the support team is fast and helpful. Not only that, but it’s obvious that they want to form long-lasting relationships with clients. They don’t just want to fix problems. They want to make sure that you remain a customer for years to come.
While it handles all support questions quickly, if you have a dedicated server, you get to go to the top of the line. Issues with dedicated servers are usually time sensitive, so this is really important.
Advantage #2. Smart company: Always think out-of-the-box & customer-first policy
I also really like SiteGround’s company culture. While some of the hosting companies out there are happy to maintain the status quo, SiteGround is innovative and unique. The company embraces creativity and is constantly coming up with fresh ideas. This allows the employees to come up with some unique ideas for customer problems. It also seems to make it a good place to work, which could be why the customer service team is so stellar.
You’ll also find that same innovative approach with the security team. The team has proven that it can fix problems that others can’t by thinking outside of the box. In an industry that typically embraces a paint-by-numbers approach, I really like this type of creative thinking.
Example #1: SiteGround’s take on WordPress security issues
The SiteGround security team’s innovative approach to a recent WP global brute force attack is an excellent example of the company’s admirable problem solving skills. This attack was organized, distributed and malicious, involving over 90,000 IP addresses in total. Symptoms of the attack proved to be quite problematic for users, generating an incredibly slow back end and the inability of users’ to log in, as well causing sites to intermittently go down.
The solution proposed by many other hosts in regards to this Global WordPress brute force attack entailed editing .htaccess files. However, the SiteGround team quickly realized that this solution was only a partial fix to a broad problem and had a number of serious limitations. Basically, when a host utilizes a .htaccess rule to stop attackers, hackers can actually still reach servers and make requests. Once the requests are processes and checked they are rejected but all of this processing makes a site much, much slower, even if the brute-force attempt is successfully stopped. It also renders users unable to access their sites throughout the attack, obviously a huge problem. Using a unique and innovative approach, SiteGround was able to stop hackers before they even reached servers. This solution ensured that no load was caused on servers and also allowed individuals to maintain access to their sites.
During the attack, SiteGround was able to block a staggering 15-million brute force attempts in a mere twelve hours.
Example #2: SiteGround Client Survey 2014 & 2015
SiteGround takes customer satisfactions very seriously and encourages all employees to focus on customer’s happiness. The company runs a site-wide client survey every year; the following is the survey summary for year 2014 and 2015.
SiteGround Client Survey 2015
SiteGround Client Survey 2014
Important to know SiteGround: Renewal Fees
Expensive renewal price
It’s normal for prices to go up when you renew a hosting plan. However, SiteGround’s renewal rate increases are among the highest in the industry. The renewal price is 100% higher than the signup price. However, I do think that the price increase is reasonable, given all of the features that you get when you use the hosting company. Still, it’s worth noting that you’re going to experience some sticker shock when you renew with SiteGround.
More: SiteGround User Review
I recently bumped into SiteGround user Nicholas Ho and had him to share his experience at SiteGround with us. He has been with SiteGround for more than 6 months, and the following is his review:
SiteGround Plan: GrowBig and GoGeek; User since October 2014
I have been with SiteGround (SG) since October 2014; I have a number of websites, and I have just started to develop websites for other people. I chose the SiteGround GrowBig package that also included these key features.
- It handles multiple domains and subdomains via the add-on domain feature. I love this feature because I can host all my websites and my clients’ websites using the one package. Its is not a reseller model, and it makes things easy for development.
- Knowledgeable support staff who have a good working knowledge of Joomla and WordPress CMS. Joomla support has been an issue for me in the past with other web hosting providers. The SG staff that I have received support from are all well trained on this platform
- To have technical support that suits my time zone (I live in Australia). SG offers a local Australian support phone number. A US based 1800 number is useless to me living in Australia, so I am very happy with this feature.
Plus #1: Good Live Chat Support
Before I signed up with SG, I tested their live chat facility. I was able to talk to their sales team in my time zone, and they were able to answer all my questions. Surprisingly these three features were not easily found amongst the other top web hosting companies within the shared web hosting packages.
Plus #2: Upgrading to GoGeek was smooth
After three months, I was working on multiple websites. The task of backing up, copying, restoring and reconfiguring made developing a website a very laborious and slow process. I found out that the SiteGround GoGeek package has a ‘staging feature’ that could help speed up this task, so I upgraded to the GoGeek package after a few live chat conversations. The upgrade was seamless, it required some changes with my registrant of name servers, but that is all I had to do. The upgrade took a day, and I did not lose any web traffic during the cutover since both copies were running in parallel.
I want to point out, that the ‘Killer’ feature of the GoGeek package is the ‘staging’ feature. It allows you to create multiple staging copies and is available to all Joomla and WordPress websites registered in the package. To create a staging copy is a one-click process. So far, I have used the staging feature almost every week, and it has made my life infinitely easier.
Plus #3: Staging feature is a blow away
I am constantly blown away with how easy this feature has made my life. Click ‘Create Staging Copy’ and within 2-3 minutes the copy is ready for use. I normally make changes to the staging websites that are user impacting, such as changes to the homepage or installing and test new plugins.
Once the changes are complete, I ‘Push to Live’ and within 2-3 minutes my changes are live. This feature has saved me hours of work and made the whole development process easier and less nerve-racking. The staging features allows you to create multiple staging copies of your website, and you can make copies of your staging copies to reflect each stage of the development process.
I have also used the ‘staging feature’ to restore parts of websites. The package also has a Git environment that caters for coders to have version control over their code; I have not used this feature yet.
Siteground is a fantastic web hosting partner for a web developer wanting developer features within a shared web hosting price range. The operational features that come with the hosting are great such as the super-caching feature. I have not found a comparable web hosting package on the market.
My only criticism is that finding information on their website is difficult. I had to spend a few clicks to find out about all the features in the support documentation and not the sales/marketing portion of the website.
Bottom Line: Is SiteGround Right For You?
I highly recommend SiteGround. It has extraordinary services and features. The price might seem a little high, but it’s reasonable considering what you’re getting. Still, it might not be the best fit for casual bloggers or site owners who don’t need all of these features.
However, if you need a feature-rich hosting company, this is a great choice.