Our SiteGround Review – Shared Hosting
SiteGround has been in existence for nearly 10 years now, and have become widely known and accepted in the industry for pushing the technological boundaries that make them one of the fastest, most reliable and secure web hosting providers around. For that reason (among others) you will find that SiteGround is our top recommended hosting provider. In fact, no other host we have reviewed comes close in terms of technical ability, features and performance. At the last count in 2012 SiteGround had well over a quarter of a million customers, and has recently even been recommended on the Google blog for their adoption of latest hosting technologies. They are a fast growing web host, and we suspect they will become much more widely known in the public eye over the next couple of years. Indeed, 2013 seems to have been a very proactive, and productive year for them. Not only did they employ an addition 35 employers, but they revamped their hosting plans and refreshed their website and branding. But there is more… they have sponsored 20 events globally (and counting), and given 9 talks at events such as WordCamp and JoomlaDay.
The Different Plans
SiteGround offer 3 different plans for their shared web hosting; Startup, GrowBig and GoGeek:
SiteGround Startup Plan
This is SiteGround’s basic plan that starts at just $3.95 per month. According to their website it includes:
- Free domain name
- Free setup & transfer
- 30 days money back guarantee
- 99.9% Uptime guarantee
- 24/7 technical support
- Unlimited Traffic, Emails, DBs. NOTE – SiteGround indicate that it is suitable for up to 10,000 monthly visits.
- cPanel & SSH access
- Free daily Backup
- Cloudflare CDN
- Includes Static Caching only
- WordPress & Joomla Toolkits – This allows automation of various tasks.
SiteGround GrowBig Plan
Unless you need access to SiteGround’s developer features, this is our recommended plan. Not only do you get all three levels of their awesome Supercacher, but you get the following:
- 30 days worth of backups with easy access to restore
- Unlimited websites
- One year free SSL
- Priority support
- Suitable for around 25,000 visits monthly.
It cannot be stressed enough, how great this plan is. The Supercacher uses Varnish and Memcached to cache both dynamic and static content, and works with WordPress, Joomla and more recently Magento. You can read all about the SiteGround Supercacher in detail here.
SiteGround GoGeek Plan
If you need some seriously great hosting, then you have to consider their GoGeek plan. This comes will all previous features discussed, with the following in addition:
- More powerful hardware. We discuss the different hardware that SiteGround uses later in this review, but suffice to say, you get more RAM, SSD storage for Databases and SAS storage for files.
- Less accounts on each server, meaning you can use up to 4 times more resources than their StartUp plan
- PCI compliant server for e-commerce allowing you to take credit card details on your site.
- Developer features – This is one of our favorite things about SiteGround. Automatically create staging copies of your site so you can test changes before pushing them live with a single click. Not only that, but for the more advanced developer you have pre-installed GIT, with automatic setup. There is also WP-CLI integration available, as well as Drush if you are Drupal maniac. You can read our detailed summary of all of SiteGround’s developer features here.
We currently have a subscription to their GoGeek plan, and mainly use it for web development, and sites we run for clients where up-time, ongoing development and security is paramount. The developer features are custom built by SiteGround and you will not get anything like this anywhere else. Just wow!
The Control Panel
SiteGround uses cPanel, albeit with custom styling to make it look more unique and professional. One thing we like is that the cPanel is easily accessible and integrated into their general billing client area. The cPanel sports Softalucous autoinstaller, as well as their custom installs for Joomla, WordPress and Magento. Along with the usual options, you can also access all the Developer and WordPress Joomla toolkits that we have talked so much about. Just take a look for yourself (click image to open larger version):
If something goes wrong you need to know that someone will be on hand to help you out. Accidentally deleted your site? No problem. Messed Up your WordPress install or trying to work out a .htaccess 301 redirect but cannot get it to work? No problem. SiteGround have some of the most helpful, and fast support technicians we have seen. If you sign up, just ask them a quick query… we guarantee they will respond within a few minutes minutes. It is that fast. But it is not just about speed here. They are fanatical about WordPress, Joomla, and even Magento among many other talents. They have the technical ability to help you out, and if required can be hired to carry out more intensive technical work too. Simply the best and fastest support you will ever find at a web host.
SiteGround have been very proactive over the last couple of years creating custom solutions such as SuperCacher, Developer features, or Toolkits for WordPress and Joomla. It will be exciting to see what they have install for us all next, as it seems we now have to update our SiteGround review on a regular basis just to keep up with all the new features. Here is a brief summary of our favorite features as well as links for further reading:
- WordPress & Joomla Toolkits (all plans) so you can easily Reset Admin Passwords, change your domain, fix broken permissions, configure SSL, Secure the admin page, and move delete your installation. You can see a full review of all the features here.
- SuperCacher with Varnish and Memcached (Static only on StartUp). This makes your installation extremely fast, and you can read more about it here, as well as see speed tests utilizing this technology below.
- Amazing developer features (GoGeek only) such as Site Staging, WP-CLI, Drush integration and Git integration. We have written a detailed summary of all these features, which you can read here.
We appreciate there is quite a lot to read up on, but that just demonstrates just why SiteGround is so great.
SiteGround have one of the best uptime figures going. They never have problems with their data centers, or have technicians make “mistakes” that cause downtime. If anything sets SiteGround apart it is their reliability (well, there are many things that set them apart, but lets not get distracted). A screenshot of their publicly displayed uptime figures are shown below: One of the reasons SiteGround’s Up-time figures are so great is that they have built custom server monitoring software that can automatically resolve 90% of issues without human interaction. SiteGround track their servers in realtime, not 1-5 minutes like other hosts. Furthermore, whilst other hosts can take time to react to the downtime you can see how SiteGround’s system can mean vastly less downtime. Of course, the problem with “advertised” uptime figures, is that you have no way of knowing whether they are telling the truth, or if it is just a marketing ploy.
You can see the results of our own monitoring of various sites hosted at SiteGround below:
We will be updating these figures approximately once per month, and you can see above the daily, weekly and monthly up-time figures, as well as the sample size (no. of sites we track) above. The latest snapshot was taken on the 17th June 2014. Please bear in mind that checks are made at 5 minute intervals. This means a simple 10 second downtime to reboot a server can show up as up to 5 minutes of downtime. However, this is accurate enough for our purposes.
One of the most sought after things people look for in hosting is for their site to be fast. We gave SiteGround a spin with a standard theme we got off Themeforest, which although may be a little more bloated than we are used to seems to provide a very good test to guage the speed of the server. We optimized the site using the inherent Supercacher available at SiteGround, W3 Total Cache as well as CloudFlare. We removed all third party scripts (social shares analytics) as we wanted to test just the server, not third party scripts that are loaded from other site. You can see the result of the test below. Not bad eh?
For all the features you get with SiteGround the price is pretty incredible, especially with the discount on your first invoice with our coupons.
Whilst the GrowBig plan, and GoGeek plan are more expensive that other hosts, this is because not only does SiteGround increase Bandwidth and Disk Space with each plan, but they increase CPU usage as well. This means that their GoGeek plan is more akin to a semi-dedicated solution, and even then with all the developer features and other functionality it still represents incredible value in comparison to the competition.
SiteGround Review Summary
- Great Uptime – SiteGround boast an impressive 99.99% uptime, which is impressive by anyone’s standard.
- Great Support – Not only is their support incredibly fast, but they are knowledgeable too..
- WordPress & Joomla Specialists – SiteGround have servers specifically optimized for WordPress and Joomla Sites, making them run faster with less load on the server.
- Great server security – SiteGround have developed special server software that isolates each account, so that your site doesn’t suffer when another has been compromised. Not only this, when threats occur they are extremely quick to react to ensure the security of your site by applying fixes at the server level.
- Unlimited bandwidth and clear usage policies –With all of SiteGrounds’ caching technologies and with Cloudflare CDN you will find even a busy site will have no difficulties exceeding their resource limits. Furthermore, you can clearly monitor your CPU usage on the cPanel dashboard so you always know exactly where you stand.
- CPanel – We highly recommend using a host that uses cPanel, as it is the most common administration interface for website hosting. The biggest benefit is that if you ever need to move your site to a new host it makes it incredibly easy, as most hosts will carry out the task for you free of charge.
- Free Domain – Whilst we love Namecheap to host our domains, who is going to pass up a free domain?
- Free CDN – Cloudflare is integrated at the cPanel level, so with just one click you can enjoy all the benefits of this technology, significantly speeding up your site. A Content Distribution Network distributes copies of your site to servers across the world which reduces latency as people viewing request copies locally. It also reduces the strain on the server, and has some other neat security features as well.
- Fast websites with Advanced Caching – SiteGround uses their own specially developed Caching technology that they call “SuperCacher”. This stores fully built copies of pages (rather than dynamically built from database queries), and increases the speed of your site significantly. You will need to sign up for their GrowBig plan for this at $7.95 for all 3 levels of caching, but to be honest, the GrowBig plan is worth it just for all the additional features you get with it (30 days backups, premium support, Free SSL, and all 3 levels of caching).
- SiteGround WordPress and Joomla Tools – These tools are available on all plans and you can read more about them here. In essence they allow you to carry out some simple site management tasks with a single click.
- Developer Features – Their advanced developer features are available on their GoGeek planread more about them here.
- NO Ruby on the Rails – If you are looking for Rails, their shared hosting is not the place. Sorry.
- Hosting at a Premium – You certainly get what you pay for… a high quality premium product that comes at a small additional cost. Just make sure you sign up for as long as possible to make the most of the initial discount.
SiteGround Review Final Thoughts
Our Verdict – Our no.1 Recommended Host – Highly Recommended
SiteGround is without a doubt our favorite web hosting provider. They do so much more than any other host with additional Advanced Features that it is quite frankly a “one-horse” race here. Not only that, but they are a big part of the WordPress and Joomla community regularly attending, sponsoring and giving talks at multiple events each year. Hopefully you will have reviewed all the additional articles showcasing the extra features such as Site Staging, WordPress & Joomla toolkits and the SuperCacher. Admittedly, there is much to take in, but that just reinforces how great they really are.
SiteGround is a Premium Host which has been in existence for around 10 years. They have become widely known within the web hosting industry for their excellent support, great developer features, and superior performance. They also are very active within the WordPress and Joomla communities. See all SiteGround Offers, and purchase hosting.