We’ve always liked SiteGround. In addition to making our best web hosting guide, it ranked in our best web hosting for small business roundup. As an inexpensive, independent provider with an affinity for WordPress, SiteGround impresses with a solid core service. That said, it’s rough around the edges.
In this SiteGround review, we’re going to detail our experience after spending time with it. Over the course of the review, we’ll talk about features, pricing, ease of use, hosting types, speed and uptime, security, privacy and support before delivering our verdict.
Overall, SiteGround is a solid web hosting provider, with impressive features and great speed, to boot. Its dated implementation of cPanel mars the otherwise excellent experience, though, making it difficult to find essential features or support when you need them.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Transparent pricing
- Excellent included website builder
- Cheap WordPress plans
- Free daily backups
- Great support staff
- Dated cPanel
- Difficult to contact support
Alternatives for SiteGround
One reason we like SiteGround is because it packs so many features in with your plan. They aren’t stock features, either. WordPress plans come with WordPress-specific features and shared hosting plans come with tools designed for building your website. Though there are only small variations in the type of hosting, there’s a big variety of catered packages to choose from.
It’s best to find the plans on SiteGround’s website if you want to see all their features — listing them alone would require a few thousand words. For our review, we’re going to provide a cross section of the most impressive and useful features.
Starting with shared hosting, you get a website builder, but not just any website builder. Unlike GoDaddy GoCentral (read our GoDaddy GoCentral review), which feels tacked on, SiteGround sought the expertise of one of the best website builders around, Weebly (read our Weebly review).
SiteGround includes the free version of Weebly with any plan — using the domain you registered, of course — but you can upgrade to another tier if you want, too. Weebly’s business plans, for example, offer inventory management, product badges and Square integration for e-commerce outlets.
All SiteGround plans come with automated daily backups, too, which, though boring, shouldn’t be discredited. It’s still a good idea to manually backup your website, but having a catch-all is never a bad thing. If you upgrade to one of the higher tiers of shared hosting, you can set custom, on-demand backups, too.
SiteGround’s features are so good that it makes some of the expected integrations feel tame. As with other leading web hosts, you get Cloudflare integration, a free SSL/TLS certificate and unlimited email addresses at your domain. In most reviews, we’d focus on those features, but SiteGround’s robust list makes them feel like minor additions to an already excellent package.
SiteGround WordPress Features
If you’re interested in a WordPress website, SiteGround has you covered. It took the crown in our best web hosting for WordPress guide for a reason, afterall. The WordPress plans mirror shared plans, and come with the automated daily backups, Cloudflare integration and free SSL/TLS certificate. That said, they come with their own features, too.
Most importantly, WordPress plans include SuperCacher. Regular shared plans have it, too, but the application for WordPress is important. Caching is basically storing versions of your website so they can load quicker when called upon. SuperCacher caches results from database queries and dynamic data to improve the speed of your website.
Additionally, you get WordPress staging. Though a staple of website builders, staging isn’t the easiest thing to find for WordPress websites. Essentially, it allows you to test changes to your website in a private environment before pushing them to the live website.
There are other WordPress features, as well. When you sign up, WordPress is automatically installed at your domain for free, or if you have another host, you can transfer your website. SiteGround will also roll out WordPress updates to your website automatically if you want it to and direct you toward support reps who specialize in the platform.
For any expensive, managed WordPress hosting — read our Kinsta review to see what that looks like — all of that is standard fare. SiteGround isn’t expensive, though. It isn’t just impressive that SiteGround includes great WordPress features. What’s impressive is that it does so cheaply.
SiteGround Features Overview
|Web Application Firewall|
|Live Chat Support|
As we’ll get into in the “hosting types” section, SiteGround offers seven services, but they boil down to three types of hosting: shared, cloud and dedicated. To be clear, you can purchase WooCommerce and WordPress hosting for the same price as shared hosting, considering the plans are identical outside of a few platform-specific features.
SiteGround’s standard shared plans, which include a website builder, daily backups and email, aren’t too impressive on their face. Bluehost offers comparable plans for around $1 less per month (read our Bluehost review), but the extras, such as daily backups and a website builder, make the small premium worth it.
That’s not to mention the transparent pricing. Like most web hosts, SiteGround offers an introductory rate that’s much cheaper than the renewal price. Unlike, say, GreenGeeks, though, that price doesn’t change based on duration (read our GreenGeeks review).
Outside of a $14.95 setup fee that’s added to monthly accounts, you can purchase one to three years of hosting for the same monthly rate, which, as mentioned, is in the neighborhood of other top-shelf providers.
Instead of using deceit, SiteGround inspires trust. It’s clear from the moment you select a plan how much you’ll be paying when you sign up and when you renew. Instead of hiding behind an inexpensive plan only to inform you that you’ll have to purchase four years of hosting to get it — read our Hostinger review to see that in action — SiteGround lays its cards on the table.
SiteGround’s cloud and dedicated hosting aren’t bad, but the clear focus is on shared, WordPress and WooCommerce hosting. SiteGround packs so many features on its inexpensive plans that they steal the show. If you’re looking for cloud hosting, read our Dreamhost review. Unlike other web hosts, it only charges you for the resources you use.
As a safety net, SiteGround offers a 30-day refund policy for shared hosting and 15-day refund window for cloud hosting. Terms apply, such as non-refundable domain activation fees, but you’re safe for the first month. Unfortunately, refunds aren’t offered on dedicated hosting.
Ease of Use
SiteGround’s redesigned website makes it simple to find a plan and check out. From the homepage, you’re presented with shared, WordPress, WooCommerce and cloud hosting, reserving dedicated, enterprise and reseller hosting for the top navigation menu.
We like that system a lot. SiteGround makes it clear to newcomers what they should pick while keeping advanced options accessible but out of sight. It isn’t difficult to imagine someone stumbling onto the website looking for a way to start WordPress and figuring out what to do.
That carries over to plan selection. The three shared hosting types all have three tiers: StartUp, GrowBig and GoGeek. Instead of comparing the plans on a technical level, SiteGround shows what each tier is useful for. Even technophobes can understand that 20GB of storage is more than 10GB and 100,000 monthly visits is better than 10,000.
You can see the technical comparison by clicking the “compare” button below the plans, but you don’t need to. SiteGround translates the technical aspects of its service into a digestible format. You can find the information you need if you know what you’re looking for, but SiteGround doesn’t compromise the simplicity of its approach in the process.
SiteGround strikes an impressive balance in user-friendliness. It makes everything accessible, even to those who know little about web hosting, while not disrespecting anyone, unlike, say, FatCow, which panders to beginners with misleading information (read our FatCow review), or Pagely, which drowns its website copy in technobabble (read our Pagely review).
After paying and setting your login credentials, you can access your account control panel. It isn’t cPanel, mind you — we’ll get to that in a minute — but rather an area where you can manage your account details and billing information.
Most of what you’d expect is there, but SiteGround includes other areas, too. In addition to your billing information and active services, you can navigate through a version of the knowledgebase inside your account dashboard. Articles you select will open in a new tab, meaning you don’t have to backtrack to your dashboard.
Navigation is handled by the top menu, and the last option, “perks,” has goodies inside. There, you’ll find coupon codes and special offers for development tools, WordPress plugins and more. SiteGround even offers free e-books for WooCommerce and WordPress.
Head back to “my accounts” and click “go to cPanel” to manage your website. Though SiteGround is one of the best web hosting providers around, it didn’t make our best web hosting with cPanel guide. The implementation is dated and unattractive. Though it’s still functional, other web hosts have streamlined how it appears.
That said, it’s not difficult to use. SiteGround makes it clear what your IP address and name servers are, as well as the amount of data you’ve used, for example. The problem is that cPanel needs a facelift.
SiteGround’s redesigned website looks beautiful, so it’s a shame that cPanel can’t offer the same feel. You can still get around and find everything you need, but cPanel, unfortunately, feels like a compromise you shouldn’t have to make.
On SiteGround’s website, you’ll find seven forms of hosting, but there’s really only five: shared, cloud, reseller, enterprise and dedicated. Shared hosting is split into standard web hosting, WordPress and WooCommerce. Each service offers the same plans with the same specs, outside of platform-specific features.
For example, if you’re interested in building a WordPress website, you should purchase a WordPress plan instead of a standard shared hosting plan. The specs may be the same, but SiteGround includes WordPress installation, staging and SuperCacher with WordPress plans.
Shared hosting uses one server to host multiple websites, moving resources between the websites as necessary. Unsurprisingly, that makes it the most inexpensive and accessible web hosting around, despite the fact there’s some downside when it comes to speed and consistency.
All three shared flavors come in three tiers: StartUp, GrowBig and GoGeek. As expected, the higher the tier, the more traffic the server can handle. However, SiteGround also includes a set of features with each tier: “essential” for StartUp, “premium” for GrowBig and “geeky” for GoGeek.
The details of the extras are specific to the platform you’re purchasing a plan for, but, for example, the GoGeek WordPress hosting includes priority support and staging for your website.
Shared plans are where the heart of a web host lies, and SiteGround gives you enough flexibility while not evoking option paralysis. For example, InMotion Hosting has multiple service types, each with five or more tiers, making nailing down the right choice difficult (read our InMotion Hosting review).
SiteGround Advanced Hosting
If you want to move past shared hosting, SiteGround can accommodate you. Though the lineup isn’t as robust as, say, HostGator (read our HostGator review), SiteGround still provides a solid line of services for power users.
The most direct upgrade from shared hosting is cloud hosting, though, as you can see in the “pricing” section, it’s quite a bit more expensive. Cloud hosting spreads your website across a network of servers, or in the “cloud.” Because it isn’t centralized to a single location, your website will be faster and more secure.
In short, there’s a network of virtual servers your website lives on that calls upon a network of physical servers where your website is stored. The resources needed for your website, then, are scalable, meaning you have access to more power when you need it. Plus, because it isn’t centralized, one server going offline won’t take your website with it.
SiteGround offers four recommendations for cloud hosting configurations, but it’s worth it to create your own plan if you know what you’re doing.
You can configure your plan to have up to 32 cores of processing power, 128GB of memory and 1TB of solid-state drive storage. Granted, that’s an expensive configuration — $2,100 per month, to be exact — but the beautiful thing about cloud hosting is that you can add or subtract resources as needed.
If you’d rather centralize your website and have more control over the technical aspects of hosting, you can purchase a dedicated server. As the antithesis of shared hosting, dedicated hosting allows you to keep a server, and all of its resources, to yourself. SiteGround offers three tiers of dedicated hosting in one of its three data centers around the world.
You should choose the location where most your traffic comes from, so it’s important that SiteGround gives you the option. 1&1 Web Hosting, for example, offers cheaper dedicated hosting — with far lesser specs — but doesn’t let you choose the location of the server (read our 1&1 Web Hosting review).
Lastly, there’s enterprise and reseller hosting.
SiteGround lets you resell its services based on a credit system. Credits are good for one year of hosting, and you can sell them at any price you want. In most cases, reseller plans are for web designers who want to offer their clients hosting, but with the ability to white label SiteGround’s cPanel, you could just start your own web hosting business, too.
Enterprise hosting is offered for those who demand the best performance. Instead of designing a few packages to choose from, SiteGround works with you to build a service that fits your needs. Enterprise hosting is meant for large websites or networks that need custom-built solutions, so be warned that you’ll likely need to drop a pretty penny for access.
Speed & Uptime
We use two tools to measure speed: LoadImpact and Pingdom Website Speed Test. The website we’re testing is simply a domain loaded with WordPress, and nothing else, that’s hosted on SiteGround’s most inexpensive shared plan.
Testing on the nearest server in San Francisco, the website loaded in 2.98 seconds, which isn’t too impressive. That’s not SiteGround’s fault, though.
Digging into the metrics, we can see that the DNS resolution accounted for most of the loading time — 2.4 seconds, to be exact. The connect and wait times, which measure how long it takes for the browser to connect and start receiving information, accounted for a combined 280 milliseconds.
As shown, testing website speed is complicated because there are a lot of factors at play. Many of them aren’t on the host to deal with, either. From our testing, though, we can gather that SiteGround has well-optimized shared servers, earning a 96 out of 100 from Pingdom Website Speed Test for website speed, which is worthy of our fastest web hosting guide.
Pingdom Website Speed Test measures a website in isolation, though. To gauge the website under load, we used LoadImpact. It sent 50 virtual users to our domain over the course of five minutes and measured the speed of the website as the user load increased. As you can see in the graph below, SiteGround stayed resilient throughout the increased user load, which is a good sign.
As for uptime, we stayed at 100 percent throughout our testing. Thankfully, SiteGround has a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee to back that up, too. There are plenty of reasons not to trust your web host’s uptime guarantee, but SiteGround’s is solid.
According to the terms of service, if your website ever falls below 99.9 percent uptime, you’ll receive a month of free hosting. That’s only down to 99 percent, though. For each additional percent below 99 percent, SiteGround will give you another month of free hosting. As far as guarantees go, it’s the most generous one we’ve seen.
One of the greatest dangers facing shared hosting is that one malicious website can infect the entire server. SiteGround mitigates that issue, though. Each shared website has its own isolated directory, meaning that one bad account won’t infect the rest.
That’s where SiteGround starts. The security package surrounding your plan is impressive, composed of a web application firewall, AI-driven anti-bot system and automated daily backups. If you’re on the GrowBig plan or higher, you can make on-demand backups of your website, too.
Outside of your website, SiteGround provides a free integration with SpamExperts for your email. SpamExperts will scan incoming and outgoing messages, allowing you to filter through the messages you’re receiving. Additionally, it can provide insights into your email stats.
There’s a malware scanning tool, but it’s not included with shared plans. Called SG Site Scanner, it’ll scan every link that’s accessible from your website’s homepage for vulnerabilities daily for around $20 a year. It also checks your domain against blacklists to make sure everything is copacetic.
Unfortunately, it’s just scanning. It’ll let you know if there’s a problem, but it won’t do anything to fix it. Malware removal or anti-malware protection is something you’ll have to acquire on your own, which, though not necessary, would be a nice security feature to have.
That said, the current package feels well-rounded, especially with a free SSL/TLS certificate to top it off.
Privacy is usually a topic for our best VPNs, but it’s important for web hosting, too. It starts with your domain name, which is registered with a WHOIS record containing all your personal information. SiteGround offers private domain registration, but not for free. You’ll need to spend an extra $1 per month.
Private domain registration replaces your WHOIS information with dummy information. Because WHOIS files are publicly available, anyone with an internet connection can look up who owns a particular domain and, in many cases, who owns a website. We appreciate that SiteGround offers private registration, but it should be a free feature, not a paid service.
As for the personal information you provide SiteGround, it can be shared with law enforcement agencies, third-party vendors and SiteGround interests, but only with your consent (which you’ve given by using the service). Unfortunately, that’s the way things go with web hosting.
Your account dashboard makes finding help easy. Simply click the “support” tab in your dashboard menu to open a condensed version of the knowledgebase. You can search for a topic or use the recommended categories SiteGround provides. No matter which you choose, SiteGround will open a new tab with the support article.
We like that system. It’s a way to integrate support into the account dashboard while not disrupting whatever you’re doing in the account dashboard. The knowledgebase is technically in another area of the website, but the quick reference for it from where you’re already likely to be is helpful.
Otherwise, you can view your tickets in the support area, but, at least it appears, you can’t contact support. Contact options, which include phone, email and live chat, are tucked away in a small section below the condensed knowledgebase.
That’s not to say the link is helpful. SiteGround will ask you to pick a broad category to fit your problem and, in some cases, direct you to the tool you need, such as when you’re transferring a website. That said, the more open-ended categories, such as miscellaneous technical issues, require you describe your request.
In every situation but one, when we described our issue, we were met with this message: “Please provide more details about the issue you are experiencing, so that we can help you resolve it more quickly.” Mind you, we provided detail about, for example, not being able to load our test website.
Once you break through, SiteGround will give you the three support options. It’s a shame you have to jump through so many hoops because its support team is excellent. Reps are knowledgeable, friendly and responsive. Unfortunately, they’re buried behind a dated system.
The cracks we pointed out in SiteGround’s ease of use have too much of an affect here. The support is excellent, but simply laying out the contact methods would be a much more efficient way of handling requests.
SiteGround gets a lot right, and as far as inexpensive, independent web hosts go, we can’t think of many better options. Its biggest weakness is being too dated in certain areas. Facelifts for cPanel and the direct support system would go a long way toward making it even better than it already is.
Those are nitpicks, though, and easy to deal with. SiteGround is still a top-shelf provider, especially for WordPress users.
What do you think of SiteGround? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.