Table of contents
- SiteGround review: Ease of Use
- SiteGround review: Support
- SiteGround review: Conclusion
SiteGround is a web hosting company that was founded in 2004. It was the most logical choice at that time, the greatest and the most developer-friendly hosting service one could find. Now, it’s 17 years old and has gone through several changes. I wanted to see if these changes made it any better than the competition, so I signed up to SiteGround to give you a complete picture of how things are and if it is any good. I found some good things along with some not-so-good things. Stay with Cyberg with this SiteGround review if you want to know more.
Let’s start with standard features and plans. There are three plans available. The StartUp plan is the “basic,” while the other two offer unlimited websites. This is the plan I signed up for, it offers 10GB of SSD storage space, and the bandwidth is enough for 10,000 monthly visitors.
If you want to have the old SiteGround experience, the StartUp plan is not for you. It lacks the features that made SiteGround great. The two advanced plans will give you more space and bandwidth – and many more advanced features. So, the advanced plans are much better if you want those features, but they are also more expensive.
Let’s have a closer look at what these plans have to offer. One of the positive points I came across during my Cyberg review is that its plans are based on NGINX web server technology. NGINX is one of the most advanced and powerful options available on the market, so that alone gives SiteGround an advantage over its old-fashioned competitors.
SiteGround has recently stopped using the popular cPanel control panel and replaced it with its own panel – named Site Tools. That means you don’t get the Softaculous auto-installer and its library of hundreds of CMS (which stands for Content Management Systems). Instead, there’s SiteGround’s App Manager, which supports 18 of the most known CMS. So, if your choice is not on the list, you will have to install it manually.
If your choice is one of the more popular ones, likes WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, they are supported. But if you want more advanced options, like Laravel and Symfony frameworks, you need to install them manually (although Laravel is installed on all servers by default). However, if you want to go the WordPress route – which most of the market is these days – there’s nothing to worry about.
That being said, it’s still not as easy as it used to be. Softaculous gives you the option to launch a staging version of your website. So, you can try out any changes you’ve made without affecting your live website. SiteGround’s Site tool has a similar staging version, but it is disabled in the basic plan.
Now, let’s talk security tools. Having security tools give users the much-needed peace of mind needed to work in this wild jungle called the internet. Tools such as a WAF (web application firewall) and a monitoring system are included in all SiteGround’s plans by default. But, if it’s the peace of mind you’re after that only the advanced security features can provide, you’ll have to pay extra.
Oh, have you heard of Git? Yes, that popular development tool that almost all cPanel hosts offer by default. It’s also not included in the basic SiteGround plan either.
However, SiteGround’s basic options do cover all of your basic needs. Dare I say that it even gets them done very well. My problem during my SiteGround review was that it used to be the web hosting service that could do it all, and offering less is somewhat off-putting.
At least there’s still an SSL certificate available with every plan. It is a simple but crucial addition to every website that secures your visitors and their data; having it activated is a must. Even better, SiteGround’s SSL manager makes it very easy, and based on my experience, my certificate got an A score from Qualys.
But let’s see what else SiteGround has to offer.
Automatic System Backups
Another important aspect of web hosting is backups. Your website is ever-changing, and that’s why it is vital to have a robust backup system in case anything goes wrong at any time. That’s where SiteGround has your back; it automatically backs up your entire system every day and keeps each backup file for a good 30 days. Few other web hosting brands offer such services on their basic plan, and some don’t have it at all.
The bad news is that if you want to have the option to back up your website on demand, a primary feature that all other hosts do provide, you can only find them on the advanced plans.
What is caching? It’s when your web server creates copies of your website, and every time a visitor types in the URL of your website into their browser’s address bar, your web server sends them the cached version – instead of rebuilding every single page for every single visitor. This takes a massive load off your web server and allows you to serve and handle more visitors much faster.
This option was available on the basic plan during my SiteGround review, but its power was limited for that plan. So, you’ll get some basic caching, but if you want the real deal, you’ll have to upgrade to one of the advanced plans – again.
If you have a website hosted on another brand, you can use this option to migrate it to the SiteGround web servers. The migration process is simple and easy to understand. All you need to do is install a plugin on your current website and enter the generated token in the SiteGround panel.
It worked for simple websites in our SiteGround review tests, but for the more complex ones – those with many plugins, custom additions, special fields, etc. – there’s a good chance you’d run into problems.
You can choose to use the options of migrating your website through FTP, File Manager, or MySQL. You also have the option to pay extra and have SiteGround’s experts do a “Professional Migration” for you and take care of everything. It is nice to have these options but know that it’s an option offered for free by many other web hosting companies.
So, to sum it all up: the basic plan is the most bare bone plan I’ve ever seen – it is basic, alright. If you want the advanced features, you will have to buy one of the advanced plans. These plans are feature-rich and powerful, and if you want the old SiteGround experience, this is the way to go.
SiteGround review: Ease of Use
Let me be honest. Yes, I am a little picky regarding services that lock all of their excellent features behind paywalls. That’s why I was a bit harsh with SiteGround features. But the user experience was the part I was pleasantly surprised by in my SiteGround review – well, if we forget the signup process.
It manages to avoid all the common pitfalls that almost all the other self-developed control panels have. It looks modern, is visually appealing, and it’s well designed. Most common actions are easily accessible, and everything else is ordered in a sidebar.
Now, let’s break down the process.
Choosing a plan
SiteGround is transparent about the differences between each of the three plan tiers. So, while I’m not happy about them locking the good features behind paywalls, I can’t fault them for lack of transparency – unlike some other hosts we reviewed, yes, I’m looking at your HostGator.
So, make your choice based on your needs and proceed to the signup page.
Signing up and Activation
Signing up is the part I want to forget. Most of the process is generic signup, although it kept asking for more personal information than I’d like to share. But the annoying part came right after when it asked for me to verify my phone number.
I have not seen any other host asking for this, and there’s a good reason for that. Sure, it’s just a single extra step, and it seems like an easy one on paper. But, with extra steps comes extra problems. Think of it like this: what about those who have to ask a web developer to open an account for them, just because they didn’t have the time or knowledge to do so? Now they have to depend on that web developer’s phone number for all their future verification.
This is what happened to me, exactly. I was a member during my SiteGround review and had to ask a friend for their phone number. It made the process longer.
After getting verified and entering my payment details, a window popped up to tell me that there are even more steps to fill. A small charge was made to my credit card account, and I was asked to provide the sum. The problem is that it took almost an hour to finally show up in my credit card app – and that’s a short time. I’ve seen this taking much more than an hour.
Anyhow, after that, I was able to complete my signup. And after that, everything was much nicer.
Domain Connection and WordPress Installation
If you purchase your domain from SiteGround, it will automatically connect it to your hosting account. But I wanted to do this SiteGround review, so I registered my domain elsewhere. SiteGround made connecting to my domain very easy, and the nameservers were available in my main dashboard once I signed up.
WordPress installation was just as easy as well, and SiteGround’s Site Tool proved to be a useful one-click auto-installer tool.
The interface is excellent, and for any further management, from installing an SSL certificate to backup and restoring your website, you can find all of that here. Tabs are named to help you find features more efficiently – with names like Security, Speed, and WordPress, I guess you’d have no problem finding what you need.
Then there’s SiteGround’s WordPress Starter plugin. An excellent tool for beginners that can walk you through the process. From choosing a theme for your website to getting everything set up and running. It also includes a collection of some of the most popular WordPress plugins, such as Yoast SEO, Jetpack, WPForms, and more.
Uptime and Speed
All those features aside, if your web hosting server is slow, it’s more likely you lose visitors. You see, visitors don’t care about your hosting features or its ease of use. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, your website needs to be load in a matter of seconds, constantly. It’s a dire demand, but it also applies to your competitors. Faster load times mean more visitors and lower bounce rates.
SiteGround has recently started using the Google Cloud Platform. It now has data centers in the US, the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Asia, and Australia. Also, these data centers are environment-friendly, which is always a plus.
So, based on this new technology, I was expecting SiteGround – with its premium pricing – to have a better performance than almost every other web hosting company in the industry. And what surprised me the most during this SiteGround review was that it is slow.
Now, it’s not so slow that one might say it’s unacceptable, but it is consistently slower than most of the other web hosting brands we tested for our best of 2021 web hosting. It gave us an average GTmetrics load time of 2 seconds, which is not great. SiteGround also came last for its fastest speed record time, which was 1.4 seconds. And its slowest recorded speed was 2.5 seconds – which is only half a second shy of the danger zone.
Sure, it had an excellent uptime average during our SiteGround review, but that’s not enough. Many other hosting companies are faster.
So, I did what I always do to see if one could rely on the Support team or not. I contacted SiteGround regarding my performance issues, and all I got was the “Optimize your images and activate Cloudflare CDN” response. I did activate the CDN but did all of my tests without optimizing anything else. For comparison, during my GreenGeeks review, the support agent spent almost half an hour optimizing every part of my website himself.
I used GTmetrix to test the loading time of these web servers in my SiteGround review. GTmetrix has many global locations, but I used the one closest to my data center location. SiteGround has many data centers around the globe, including the Netherlands, Singapore, and a brand new one in Australia.
However, the location did not help my website’s loading speeds. As mentioned before, my website’s average loading time came at 2.02 seconds, my fastest loading time was 1.4 seconds, and 2.5 seconds was the slowest I got. This is not good, especially when you compare it to some of the other web hosting services that offer much faster loading times and are cheaper at the same time.
Keep in mind that I did all these tests on a somewhat light-weighted website. So, if your website tends to be on the heavier side of the spectrum, it is probable that you fall over the dreaded 3 seconds mark – where visitors tend to leave and never come back.
Sucuri Time Load Tester
Sucuri uses a worldwide network of testing servers, so the results are from all over the world. But it does not fully load the whole website, so the speeds measured by Sucuri Time Load Tester are always much faster than GTmetrix.
Maybe that’s why things got a little better here. The average global speed over multiple tests during my SiteGround review was 1.534. the average fastest time – which usually happens in North America, but surprisingly, in Amsterdam a couple of times – was 0.7 seconds. The average slowest time in Singapore – was 3.254 seconds (yes, it is over the mark.)
Still, compared to other web hosting services, SiteGround does a less impressive job here as well. For example, Hostinger could achieve 0.499 seconds. Less than half the time it took SiteGround.
Uptime is measured in percentage, and it tells us how much of the time our website was available during our test period. This is the test SiteGround does well. It measured 99.998% during my SiteGround review, which was over three months.
It’s also worth mentioning that SiteGround has a 99.9% uptime guarantee, as well. So, my measured results were well over the guaranteed percentage, which is excellent.
So, to summarize SiteGrounds performance, I can say that it provides excellent uptime and guarantees to keep doing so, but it lacks the speed needed for some of the more complex websites. This can become a severe issue for heavier websites.
SiteGround review: Support
Better Late than Never
Now, let’s see if the support team will be there when you need them. Based on my personal experience, and the test I did for this SiteGround review, the support team is excellent, but you need to reach them first. They’re knowledgeable, professional, and happy to help. Still, good luck reaching them.
SiteGround advertises its support as a 24/7 service, available through live chat, phone, and tickets. There’s also the option of a sales chat these days. It was not available during my SiteGround review. I could not even find an email address for my pre-sales questions. The only contact info I could find was a physical address in Bulgaria, so there was no chance of communication before signing up.
As a seasoned SiteGround user, I have to say that the support is there, but they sure have made it hard to reach. The first thing you notice is that instead of having a regular live chat button in the bottom-right corner – or any corner for that matter – SiteGround has a help center.
One might think that having a help center is better, especially for those who’d rather type their problems inside a search box instead of asking a human being. But if you are among those people, you’ve never played the annoying game of trying to contact your cellular provider – where you need to try every option in the hopes of finding a relevant one or ending up talking to another human.
And even after clicking through it and getting to a contact form, SiteGround kept asking for more details – apparently because my inquiry was not “detailed enough.”
This was annoying, especially when you know that these forms simply take the load off the support team agents and give them some breathing room.
But after some time trying, I was finally presented with the live chat option.
I had to go through these steps every time I wanted to chat with a support team agent. And the average waiting time for the support agent was another 30 minutes. Each conversation progressed relatively slowly. And it all ended up making each support interaction take up to around an hour. Not exactly what you’d expect from fast support.
But once I reached the agents, they were helpful, pleasant, and went way beyond what I expected from ordinary support. They explained everything in detail, installed WordPress for me, and even waited patiently for me every step of the way.
I even installed the wrong SSL certificate to see their reaction. The agent reinstalled it for me and took care of everything himself. That was great.
To sum up my experience with SiteGround’s support, I’d say that they are pleasant and knowledgeable, but it takes a lot of time to get in touch with them. On top of that, there are some very worrying reports all over the internet that are disappointing, to say the least, if they turn out to be accurate.
Based on people’s experience and reports, after having a few interactions with the support team, these people were deemed “Over users” by SiteGround. I don’t know how they measured this, and I have never had such problems, but it resulted in them getting banned from using SiteGround Support for a while. When I heard this, I was shocked. Instead of cancelling support for people who learned how to reach it, I hope that they hire more agents instead.
SiteGround Can be Expensive
Pricing was never one of SiteGround’s strong suites, and it still is not. Not only are its long-term contracts more expensive than most of its competitors, but the renewal prices are three times higher than the initial ones.
That’s why SiteGround is one of the most expensive web hosting options on the market today, almost as expensive as Kinsta and Liquid Web. And that’s the basic plan – good luck with the advanced plans and your bank account.
SiteGround has three payment periods; 12, 24, and 36 months. Yes, there’s a one-month “trial,” but I fell for that once, and that was enough. You have to pay an extra setup fee, which equals a few months’ worths of hosting. And if you decide to continue it after the first month, you have to sign up for 12 months. You will not get your setup fee back, and I bet that will make you feel stupid. I’m sure I did.
I even contacted support regarding this. All I got in return was an agent repeating how “transparent” they were and only willing to let me cancel the hosting entirely – within the 30-day money-back guarantee, of course. So, I was made to choose between paying a considerable setup fee or starting over again. It is a disgustingly sneaky sales tactic.
Anyway, if you want to buy one of SiteGround’s services, they accept credit cards and PayPal – but to pay them with PayPal, you have to request it from the support team. And you’ll have to generate a PayPal payment request every month manually.
Here’s a list of their services and their prices:
SiteGround Web Hosting:
- StartUp: 10GB of storage, unlimited bandwidth, and you can only host one website in this plan. It’s priced at $3.99.
- GrowBig: 20Gb of storage space, unlimited bandwidth, an unlimited number of hosted websites. Priced at $6.69.
- GoGeek: 30Gb of storage space, unlimited bandwidth, an unlimited number of hosted websites. It’s priced at $10.69.
SiteGround Cloud Hosting:
- Entry: 40GB of SSD storage space, 5TB of bandwidth, three cores of CPU, 4GB of RAM. It was priced at $100.
- Business: 60GB of SSD storage space, 5TB of bandwidth, four cores of CPU, 6GB of RAM. It was priced at $200.
- Business Plus: 80GB of SSD storage space, 5TB of bandwidth, five cores of CPU, 8GB of RAM. It was priced at $300.
- Super Power: 120GB of SSD storage space, 5TB of bandwidth, nine cores of CPU, 10GB of RAM. It was priced at $400.
SiteGround Reseller Hosting:
- GrowBig: 20Gb of SSD Storage Space, unlimited bandwidth. Priced at $9.99.
- GoGeek: 40GB of SSD storage space, unlimited bandwidth. Priced at $14.99.
- Cloud: 40GB of SSD storage space with the ability to add more, unlimited bandwidth. For $100.
SiteGround WordPress Hosting:
- StartUp: 10Gb of storage space, unlimited bandwidth, automatic backups. Priced at $3.99 – you can only host one website in this plan.
- GrowBig: 20Gb of storage space, unlimited bandwidth, automatic backups. It is priced at $6.69.
- GoGeek: 40Gb of storage space, unlimited bandwidth, automatic backups. It is priced at $10.69.
SiteGround review: Conclusion
During my SiteGround review, it had performance issues, and if your hosting needs are very complex, this is not the right one for you. But, for a basic website, the ease of use and excellent user experience can be a defining factor for spending your hard-earned money – especially if you are a beginner. Reaching support can be somewhat challenging and requires some patience, but there’s a good chance you’ll get the help you need.
- Ease of Use
- Support agents
- Challenging Customer Support Connection
- Weird Signup Process