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Are you in the process of choosing a web hosting provider? Then you’ve already heard of SiteGround. They’re one of the most recommended companies out there. And at just 10 years old, they’re also one of the youngest.
That’s impressive. But are all those reviews and recommendations accurate? Is SiteGround actually as good as they seem? They’re obviously doing a lot of things right, but it’s hard to know how they stack up without signing up and giving them a go.
So that’s what I did.
I’ve been using a variety of hosting providers (including GoDaddy and Crazy Domains) since 2007. In March 2017 I grabbed a SiteGround GrowBig account with my own money, and transferred one of my sites.
With four months experience using SiteGround and their free migration service, contacting support, and evaluating performance, I’ve also been studying the company in a couple of other ways:
- I’ve spent dozens of hours comparing web hosting companies when writing 5 Hosting Providers for WordPress Users Compared and other hosting-relted articles. SiteGround compares very favorably.
- In March I had a lengthy Skype call with Tina Kesova, SiteGround’s VP Strategic Partnerships at the time. She understands the web hosting ecosystem well, and explained in detail her perspective on what makes SiteGround stand out from the crowd. I’ll fill you in throughout the article.
So I feel uniquely qualified to give a detailed opinion of how SiteGround stacks up to the competition. But first, what plans do they offer?
What Plans Does SiteGround Offer?
SiteGround offer shared hosting, cloud hosting, dedicated servers, and custom-made hosting solutions for enterprise. In this article we’ll focus on their three shared hosting plans.
1. StartUp Plan
Crafted for a great web start
- Cost: $4.95/month
- Storage: 10GB
- Bandwidth: 10,000 visits/month
- Websites: one
SiteGround’s least expensive plan is designed for someone starting out with their first (single) website:
The StartUp Plan gives you all the essential hosting features you need to accommodate a “just getting started” website or an existing average-size blog, personal, or business website. The StartUp Plan works well even for smaller online shops with a reasonable number of products. You will most probably outgrow this plan if you start attracting more than 10,000 unique visits per month on a regular basis.
The StartUp plan offers the following features and services:
Free Setup and Transfer
One of the biggest barriers to changing hosting provider is the amount of effort involved in migrating your website to the new company’s servers. That hurdle can lead to endless procrastination, with you staying with a company you’re not entirely happy with.
SiteGround doesn’t want that to stop you! So they offer free setup and transfer of one website. I used this service when migrating my site from GoDaddy, and you can read about my experiences in A Review of SiteGround’s Migration Service. After supplying the necessary login details and clarifying a few questions, the migration was performed quickly and effortlessly. The entire process took just a couple of days.
Of course, SiteGround is not the only company to offer a website migration service. But they’re one of the only ones who do it free of charge—HostGator is another. Most companies see it as an optional paid add-on. GoDaddy charges $99.99 for their migration service, and Bluehost $149.99.
Free Daily Backup
We all know about the importance of computer backups, and hopefully we do something about it. Your website is one more resource that needs to be backed up, and SiteGround (together with most hosting providers) will back it up for free. That’s handy, though I recommend you keep your own backups as part of your regular website maintenance.
The rubber hits the road when you need that backup! How easy is it to restore your data? And is there an additional cost? With SiteGround it’s easy. They give you the ability to restore your backups for free. No fuss, no wait, no fee. Bluehost do the same.
But not all companies make it so easy. HostGator prefer to restore your website for you, so you fill in an online form requesting the restore, and then wait for them to do it.
Other companies charge for each restore. I was shocked to learn (the hard way) that GoDaddy charges $149.99 to restore your website. That puts a totally different spin on a “free” backup!
HTTP/2 Enabled Servers
HTTP is the future, the latest evolution of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). The new protocol’s main aim is to speed access to your website by reducing latency. And it succeeds. HTTP/2 is around ten times faster!
When both the web browser and server support the new protocol, you get that speed bump today. Recent versions of Firefox, Safari, Edge and Chrome all support HTTP/2, but what about your web host?
For shared hosting, many hosting providers don’t yet support HTTP/2. Bluehost doesn’t, HostGator doesn’t, and GoDaddy doesn’t. SiteGround supports it today.
Free Let’s Encrypt SSL
Security is an issue constantly growing in importance. Make sure your site offers secure, private connections for all users by offering HTTPS access. To do this, you need SSL.
Let’s Encrypt is a free SSL service. SiteGround set it up for you and look after all certificate renewals. Other SSL options are available, and one is included free with the higher-tier plans.
How does that compare with the competition? Well, you won’t get free SSL with any other entry level hosting plan. GoDaddy don’t include it with any of their shared hosting plans, while HostGator and Bluehost include it with their more expensive third-tier plans.
Of course, they all let you set up your own SSL solution, but at this price point, only SiteGround does the work for you. Learn more in our article Why Every Site Needs HTTPS.
Free CloudFlare CDN
A content delivery network is another way to boost the performance of your website. It takes the load off your server by storing your static resources elsewhere. That includes images and other attachments, as well as scripts and CSS files. SiteGround includes CloudFlare, one of the most popular CDNs, with your shared hosting account.
How does that compare with other providers? While GoDaddy doesn’t include a CDN with their shared hosting plans at this time, other providers (including Bluehost and HostGator) also include CloudFlare.
24/7 Technical Support
People often work on their websites outside of business hours, and commonly well after midnight. Do you relate? Hopefully you won’t need to contact support often, but when you do it may be urgent, and you won’t want to wait for an answer.
Quality 24/7 technical support is a must, and SiteGround has the best in the business.
How does SiteGround’s support stack up to the competition? It surpasses it. Learn more in the “How Does SiteGround Stack Up?” section of this review.
Choosing a web hosting provider can be an ordeal. There’s so much to consider. But you won’t really get to know your hosting provider until after you sign up. A money-back guarantee gives you peace of mind.
SiteGround offer a 30 day money-back guarantee on all of their shared hosting plans. Other popular hosting providers offer similar terms.
cPanel and SSH Access
cPanel is a popular web hosting control panel that allows you to easily access all the features of your plan. SSH is a geekier way to log into your web host. SiteGround, and all popular hosting providers, offer both.
SSD storage is one way to give your laptop a huge speed boost—it is significantly faster than spinning hard drives. SiteGround has given the same speed boost to your website by using only SSD storage on their servers. The practice is catching on, and now other hosting providers (including GoDaddy, Bluehost and HostGator) do the same.
Continue reading %SiteGround Review: Shared Hosting that Stacks Up%