Site5 has been around since 1998, but the service took a massive turn after being purchased by Endurance International Group in 2015. Many of its strong points remain, including an accessible lineup of plans, excellent ease of use and solid speed. That said, some of its weak points left us wondering if the corporate head has too much influence.
In this Site5 review, we’re going to compare it to our best web hosting providers to see if it’s worth your dollar. We launched a website with the most inexpensive shared plan, installed a blank copy of WordPress and started testing. Our website was launched without Site5’s knowledge, too, so we can recreate what a normal customer goes through.
Unfortunately, that process has high and low points. Site5 excels in ease of use and accessibility and is quick enough, but the lack of essential features makes plans feel too expensive.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Easy to use
- Free automatic backups
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Solid speed performance
- Knowledgeable support
- Horrible privacy
- No website builder included
- No free domain
- Small lineup of plans
- No SSL/TLS certificate included
Alternatives for Site5
Site5 has a disjointed list of features, which though not great, isn’t bad, either. We’re happy to see many of the essential features that web hosts should include, but we’re left wanting more, especially on the pricier shared tiers.
It boils down to the lack of diversity in Site5’s shared lineup, which we’ll touch on in the “hosting types” section below. The three tiers of shared hosting are virtually the same, meaning there’s little to no incentive to upgrade when it comes to features.
Across the line, though, there are notable features, such as free migration to Site5 and automated backups. Even so, the lack of what we’d consider essential features can’t be overlooked.
Site5 Missing Features
That includes no SSL/TLS certificate, no malware scanning and no free domain. Though we’ve seen the first two omitted before, few web hosts cut the free domain from shared plans. If you’re looking for a host that provides the essentials, and much more, read our SiteGround review.
Even with so many features missing, nothing is worse than not including website builder. We’ve seen other EIG brands, such as HostGator, provide free integration with Weebly, and as you can read in our Weebly review, that’s a good thing. Though we don’t demand Weebly levels of quality from an included website builder, offering one is essential.
If that’s what you’re looking for, read our best website builders guide. Weebly ranks well in a lot of categories, but we prefer Wix. As you can see in our Wix review, it balances usability, power and price in a way that few website builders do, making it an excellent choice for beginners looking to start a website.
Site5 Features Overview
|Web Application Firewall|
|Live Chat Support|
Site5 does something uncommon among EIG brands: it makes its prices clear. Though the price is high, Site5 doesn’t mess around with multi-year shenanigans like its sibling Bluehost (read our Bluehost review). Instead, it makes it clear from the product page what price you’ll be paying.
It takes notes from A2 Hosting (read our A2 Hosting review). On the product page for each type of hosting, you’ll find the durations that each package is offered in and the monthly price for that duration. That means, for example, it’s easy to know that hostPro + Turbo is $13.95 per month if you buy two years, but $19.95 per month if you go monthly.
Though we like the transparency, the prices aren’t great. Site5 is a long way from 1&1 IONOS when it comes to monthly shared plans (read our 1&1 IONOS review). The extras Site5 includes are enticing, but there are plenty of web hosts that do the same thing cheaper, with 1&1 IONOS leading the pack.
That’d be fine if there were a lot of features, but as mentioned, essentials are missing. Malware protection, for example, is available, but it’ll run you $50 per year in addition to your monthly rate. Likewise, a free domain isn’t included with your plan, so you’ll have to factor that into the checkout price, too.
Even so, Site5 isn’t too egregious, and it has a solid refund period, too. Reseller and shared users can try the service for up to 45 days and receive a refund, no questions asked. VPS users only have 15 days, unfortunately, which is half of what most web hosts offer.
Ease of Use
Checking out with Site5 is a simple affair, especially with how clear the product pages are. The limited lineup of plans is segmented thoughtfully, so there’s no question about what’s available or what price you’ll pay to access it.
The five-part checkout process is smooth, with minimal nagging to include add-ons with your package, which is nice to see. Though similar to Namecheap in that there’s a multi-step checkout process, Site5’s doesn’t feel lengthy. As you can see in our Namecheap review, the steps while checking out with it felt unnecessary, which, thankfully, isn’t the case here.
Immediately after checkout, you’ll receive a battery of five emails, but you don’t need to look at them to log in. Like Kinsta (read our Kinsta review), Site5 directs you from checkout to your account dashboard, with no unnecessary tabbing away in between.
The dashboard is mostly the same as InMotion Hosting’s (read our InMotion Hosting review). From the main screen, you can see your services, domains and invoices, as well as your support code and account information. Clicking through the “services” tab will bring up your hosting management dashboard.
As with InMotion Hosting, and a few other hosts, it’s the best part of the user experience. It shows your disk and bandwidth usage, your billing information and your plan information. More importantly, though, it provides quick links to cPanel items, which makes it easy to add an email address or open the file manager without actually logging in to cPanel.
Though we love cPanel — you can see how much in our best web hosting with cPanel guide — it’s a dense control panel that can make finding simple items difficult. Having quick links from the main account dashboard not only makes usage more efficient, but it also makes it less frustrating.
Thankfully, though, cPanel is available if you’re willing to dig, unlike with LunarPages (read our LunarPages review). It’s the cPanel we’ve come to know and love, fit with icon-based navigation and collapsible categories. That said, there’s one important item missing.
You won’t find the Softaculous app installer in cPanel, which is what most web hosts use for installing scripts, such as WordPress. Instead, you’ll find “QuickInstall,” which is a similar interface that’s powered by MOJO Marketplace, another EIG brand.
If you’ve read our FatCow review, you know that we’re not fans of installation through MOJO Marketplace because it always seems to fail. Much to our surprise, though, the installation went smoothly this time. You’re still pestered by MOJO Marketplace to buy a theme while the installation is happening, but it’s a simple process overall.
Site5 has a straightforward lineup of plans. Only two forms of hosting are offered: shared and managed VPS. There are reseller plans, too, but they’re just shared plans bundled together for resale purposes. Though we like to see a more diverse range of plans, we’re content with Site5’s limited lineup for the market it’s aimed toward.
Shared plans, which are simply called “web hosting” on Site5’s website, are the heart of the lineup. There are three tiers available, but the differences between them are smaller than the names suggest. hostBasic is a shared plan built for a single website while hostPro is one built for an unlimited number of websites.
At the top, though, there’s a plan called hostPro + Turbo, which we assumed would have some performance benefit over a standard hostPro plan. That performance benefit isn’t detailed on the product page, so we reached out to a presales rep and asked what the differences between the plans are.
Much to our surprise, there isn’t much of a difference. Outside of the higher price tag, the only thing hostPro + Turbo offers is multiple cPanel account for the websites you’re using. The features, server specs and security are the same, so unless you need multiple cPanel accounts, hostBasic should be the same as hostPro + Turbo when it comes to performance.
Site5 Reseller Plans
The reseller plans also come in three tiers, but there are bigger differences between each. All tiers are unmetered, meaning you can sell as many packages as you want as long as you have the disk space and bandwidth to accommodate. Those specs are the difference between tiers.
The most expensive plans are the VPS ones. Site5 offers seven tiers of VPS hosting ranging from under $70 per month to over $300 per month. Like reseller plans, the only differences between tiers are the specs. All plans come with two dedicated IP addresses, cPanel/WHM and full management from Site5.
Missing, though, are managed WordPress and cloud plans. Managed WordPress plans, which are common among our best web hosting for WordPress picks, provide managed hosting that’s tailored for WordPress. That means automatic core updates, troubleshooting installation and more.
Often, managed WordPress hosting uses a cloud architecture, which we’ve seen from Kinsta, DreamHost and Pagely (read our Pagely review). That style of hosting allows the server to call upon additional resources when needed, meaning it’s very difficult, if not impossible, for your website to go offline.
The upsides in speed and security have led many web hosts to include some form of cloud hosting, so it’s disappointing to see Site5 hasn’t joined the club. If you’re looking for inexpensive cloud hosting, read our MDDHosting review.
Speed & Uptime
Our speed testing process is simple. We launch a website with the most inexpensive shared plan without the host’s knowledge, install a blank copy of WordPress and run tests with Load Impact and Pingdom Speed Test on the default hosting configuration. That means optimizations, such as client-side caching or gzip, aren’t included unless set up by the host from the get-go.
That’s an important note to make here because Site5 would likely do better if client-side caching was performed. Site5 got decent results from Pingdom Speed Test, with a score of 90 out of 100, but under the “recommendations” tab, Pingdom Speed Test suggested we add expires headers to our pages.
In short, that means caching isn’t taking place, but it should be to decrease the load time. We’re content with Site5’s performance out of the box, and it may shine even more with caching, but you’ll need to get your hands dirty to make it everything it can be.
Site5 Stress Test
Though our single-point speed results were impressive, our Load Impact test wasn’t. Load Impact, for our purposes, is a tool built to stress the resources of our website to see at what point it’ll break. That’s done by sending multiple virtual users to the website over a specific period of time and gauging the response times and number of fulfilled requests.
We’ve found that inexpensive shared plans usually break at the end when we send 50 users over five minutes. Unfortunately, Site5 broke sooner than that. Load Impact detected an elevated number of HTTP request errors when we hit around 30 users, which could mean a couple of things.
It could mean the server our website is hosted on is at its performance limit, meaning there aren’t enough resources to accommodate the number of requests flowing in from all websites. Additionally, it could mean that there’s some amount of rate limiting happening on Site5’s end.
We’re here to report our findings, not to speculate. Regardless of the reason, our testing suggests that the shared plans break under pressure sooner than many of Site5’s competitors.
Site5 Uptime Guarantee
There’s an uptime guarantee protecting your plan, though. On the product page, Site5 says it guarantees 99.9 percent uptime or your money back. It even goes as far as saying you’ll receive 100 percent of your money back.
Digging into the terms, though, it’s clear that’s not true. Shared and reseller servers will receive up to 100 percent credit, but that’s only if the uptime is below 95 percent. Above that, you’ll receive a prorated credit. VPS plans are closer to the advertised guarantee, though, providing 100 percent credit for uptime less than 99.5 percent.
Site5 has a solid list of security features, though we’re disappointed to see the lack of free malware scanning. Outside of that, the support suite is impressive, protecting your website from cybercrime, failure or any other nastiness it may come up against.
Though they may not seem so at first, automated, daily backups are the best defense for your website. In the same way you’d use our best online backup services to protect against, say, ransomware, you’ll use your website backups to ensure you can get it up and running again in case something goes wrong.
It’s not just backing up your website and downloading it locally, though. Site5 adopts the 3-2-1 rule in that it generates a nightly backup of every file on its servers while still allowing you to generate manual backups and store them wherever you want.
Plus, the storage on every server is configured in RAID 10, which provides even more redundancy. You can read our what is RAID guide to learn the specifics, but in short, RAID 10 provides the speed of RAID 0 while keeping a redundant copy of all the data that’s written to the drives.
Though redundancy is great, Site5 is lacking in other areas. For instance, it doesn’t include an SSL/TLS certificate with your plan. That certificate allows browsers visiting your website to open an encrypted connection between you and the user, which protects the data the user is transferring.
Though SSL/TLS certificates were mainly reserved for e-commerce outlets in the past, every website should have one now. In fact, if your website doesn’t have one, Google will bury it in search rankings, making it impossible to gain an audience. SSL/TLS certificates are essential for running a website, and the fact that Site5 doesn’t include one is bad news.
Malware scanning and protection isn’t included, either. Though we almost never see malware removal included, some basic form of scanning is usually offered. With Site5, you’ll end up spending $50 per website per year to stay protected.
That’s even more annoying considering EIG owns SiteLock, which is a malware scanning and removal tool. Many EIG brands include a “lite” version of SiteLock that includes malware scanning, so Site5’s omission just seems strange.
In the past, EIG brands have lost major points when it comes to privacy — read our iPage review for an example — and Site5 is no different. Privacy seems to be the last concern for EIG brands, meaning your personal information will be sold and shared as much as the corporate heads see fit.
That said, unlike Arvixe, it doesn’t seem Site5 was too hot on privacy prior to the acquisition, either (read our Arvixe review). According to a Q&A post from 2012, domain privacy was a paid service back then, and that’s still true today.
Domain privacy is when the registrar replaces the personal information in the WHOIS record with their own information, protecting you from spamming or nasty data harvesting. Some web hosts, such as DreamHost, have started including it for free, and the fact that EIG brands haven’t jumped on board yet is concerning (read our DreamHost review).
Site5, or EIG, really, reserves the right to sell and share your personal information as it sees fit. Though you can get past the logging of your IP address and browser fingerprint with our best VPN, the information you register your account with is still fair game.
That means EIG can share it with its long list of advertising partners, which includes Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Bing, WPBeginner and more. There’s no reason why some of those ad partners are present other than profit. If you’re concerned with your personal data, any EIG brand is bad news.
Like almost all EIG brands, Site5 offers two forms of contact: live chat and email. While working on the review, we talked with many support reps, asking everything from how the servers were configured to what additional security measures Site5 has.
Much to our surprise, Site5 was able to answer our questions swifty, showcasing decent knowledge of the platform and its technical intricacies. Even so, the smoothness and convenience of live chat with, say, Hostinger works better (read our Hostinger review).
There are three self-help resources, but the knowledgebase is the most helpful. As of writing, there are 560 articles covering everything from getting started to troubleshooting common issues. Though most knowledgebases are a set-it-and-forget-it resource, it seems Site5 keeps its knowledgebase up to date, covering things such as WordPress 5.0 upon release.
The number of articles doesn’t matter if they’re not helpful, though. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with Site5. Simple answers are treated simply while complex issues are treated with complexity. Site5 manages to boil topics down to a digestible format, fit with screenshots and step-by-step instruction.
Plus, there’s a Q&A section that functions like a forum. That said, the last post, at the time of writing, was from March 30, 2016. It makes sense, too, because during our testing, we were unable to find a way to ask a question there.
The answers are still live, though, which can be helpful for answering small questions that don’t warrant a knowledgebase entry. That said, we wouldn’t recommend looking to the Q&A for billing questions. EIG acquired Site5 in 2015, so it’s likely aspects of billing and privacy have been changed since.
Site5 combines some of the better aspects of its EIG siblings. It’s approachable like iPage while having the powerful interface of Bluehost. For as much as it gets right, though, it gets a lot wrong, too. The mishmash of features makes it feel balanced in some areas and disjointed in others.
You could do worse — see our HostMonster review to see how much worse — but you can also do a lot better.
What do you think of Site5? Have you used it? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.