SiteGround is a popular shared hosting provider that offers its users multiple different hosting options.
These include WordPress hosting, cloud hosting and even dedicated servers.
We’ve been monitoring SiteGround’s cheapest “Startup” shared plan for over two years now.
We paid for a shared hosting account, set up a live test site, and have been closely tracking their performance with a third-party tool to provide this unbiased, transparent review.
Overall, SiteGround ranks near the top of all web hosting companies for both uptime (99.99%) and speed (713ms). Their customer support team is knowledgeable, fast, and friendly. All plans come with a CDN, SSL certificate, and email accounts.
Here is an in-depth breakdown of all the Pros and Cons.
General Info & Hosting Overview
|OVERALL RANK:||Rated #4 out of 32 web hosts|
|SPEED:||713ms (December 2017 to March 2019 average)|
|UPTIME:||99.99% (December 2017 to March 2019 average)|
|SUPPORT:||24/7 Live Chat|
|APPS:||Supports more than 500 applications|
|FEATURES:||Unmetered bandwidth, 10GB storage, website builder, and free email|
|HOSTING PLANS:||Shared, WordPress, Cloud, Reseller, Enterprise, and Dedicated Servers|
|SITE TRANSFER:||Not Free|
|PRICING:||Starting at $3.95/mo (renews at $11.95/mo)|
Pros of Using SiteGround
SiteGround starts strong with 99.99% uptime, above-average speeds, and tons of extra features that are perfect for both beginners and power users.
1. Good Performance – 99.99% Uptime in Last 16 Months
All of our hosting reviews are based on at least 16-months of actual statistics and raw data.
SiteGround’s uptime performance has been nearly perfect over that time. Their 99.99% average puts them among the most reliable hosts we’ve reviewed (32 and counting).
Reliable uptime like this keeps website visitors happy. But more importantly, it means your site is almost guaranteed to be working around the clock so you won’t miss out when your customers want to make a purchase, either.
Here are the month-by-month results from Pingdom, our third-party tracking tool.
Last 16-month average UPTIME:
- March 2019 average uptime: 99.99%
- February 2019 average uptime: 100%
- January 2019 average uptime: 99.99%
- December 2018 average uptime: 99.95%
- November 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- October 2018 average uptime: 100%
- September 2018 average uptime: 100%
- August 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- July 2018 average uptime: 100%
- June 2018 average uptime: 100%
- May 2018 average uptime: 99.97%
- April 2018 average uptime: 100%
- March 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- February 2018 average uptime: 99.97%
- January 2018 average uptime: 100%
- December 2017 average uptime: 100%
2. Above-Average Load Time (713ms)
Site speed is easily the second most critical factor when choosing a host.
For starters, research by Google shows that 53% of people will leave if your pages don’t load within three seconds.
Furthermore, you can’t do much to fix a slow host. You might be able to compress images to lighten their weight. You might be able to load them through a CDN to take some pressure off your server. But once a slow host? Always a slow host.
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that with SiteGround. It’s above-average loading time of 713ms isn’t the fastest we’ve seen, but it does place SiteGround near the top 10 at speed.
Last 16-month average LOAD TIME:
Overall, SiteGround is pretty fast.
3. Good Customer Support Experience (2017-2019)
We’ve been monitoring SiteGround for over two years now in total, and we’ve never had any major issues with their support.
They provide a knowledge base for customers to find their own quick answers. Otherwise, you can call in over the phone or use the 24/7 live chat.
For this latest test, we opted for the live chat option and we were connected with Vladislav in less than a minute.
Unlike other hosts, there was no noticeable delay in answers. So it seemed like he knew what he was talking about and didn’t have to look up answers each time we sent over a new question.
Good experience all around.
4. Free Site Migration for 1 Website
Whenever we see web hosts come out with a “DIY migration” option, it makes us a little anxious. That’s because most of them aren’t great, and they end up putting more burden on the customer.
SiteGround might be the exception to this rule, though. They’ve created a free WordPress Migration plugin that you can upload to any site.
There aren’t any long and boring walkthroughs, either. You simply generate a token from inside your SiteGround hosting account and the plugin will quickly help do the heavy lifting.
Yes, it still requires you to do a little work. But the good news is that you can migrate as many websites as you want with this option. (In comparison, some hosts that offer “free migrations” cap it after only a few, forcing you to pay after a certain point.)
If you’d rather have some professional, hands-on help, SiteGround will throw in the free service on their higher-tier plans (GrowBig and up).
If you exceed the limits on each plan, they charge a nominal fee of $30 for each additional site.
5. Free SSL Certificate and Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Google Chrome, the most popular web browser in the world by a wide margin, has started actively warning people if the site they’re trying to reach doesn’t have an SSL certificate set up.
SSL helps to protect any information sent back and forth between the user’s device and the website, including personal details like IP addresses or credit card numbers. If left unsecured, hackers and others could easily intercept this information. So Chrome is looking out for web users’ best interest here.
In other words, that basically makes SSL certificates a requirement on all websites today. And thankfully, SiteGround throws these in for free on all plans.
The other bit of good news comes in the form of a free Cloudflare CDN (Content Delivery Network). CDN stores large files, like images, on many servers in different locations around the globe. This helps to make sure that the files are stored as close as possible to site visitors, making them faster to access.
SiteGround has servers spread out over three continents, which helps to keep loading times fast and provide a good customer experience.
6. Beginner-to-Advanced Features Available
SiteGround has a little something for everyone.
Beginners and bloggers will like that you can install popular website builders like Weebly in just a few clicks. Weebly features a simple drag-and-drop editor so you can take full control over the look and feel of your site (without having to dive into code).
Other than Weebly, SiteGround also has deep integrations with WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Each of these apps can be installed quickly and painlessly. No need for a developer to help you out.
However, if you already are a developer, you’re in luck, too.
You’ll get Git pre-installed on bigger plans, along with SSH, WP-CLI, SFTP, and phpMyAdmin. They have multiple PHP versions at your disposal. Multi-level caching is available. And you can also get access to staging environments for sites to prep or test before pushing new features into production.
SiteGround also helps out with security, using a proprietary, AI-bot prevention tool that tries to snuff out new attacks before they hit. Their data reports that anywhere from 500,000 to two million brute-force attempts are blocked on their servers each hour.
So you’re not left alone to deal with these headaches, either.
7. 99.9% Uptime Guarantee
Remember that solid 99.99% uptime average? Well, there’s a reason SiteGround doesn’t falter here – it would cost them a lot of money.
Often, when you dig into a web host’s terms of service, there’s only bad news buried in the fine print.
SiteGround surprised us in a good way. Under their Service Level Agreement, they guarantee “network uptime of 99.9% on an annual basis.” If they ever dip below that threshold, you will get compensated with free months of hosting.
Now, there are a few conditions to how the uptime is calculated. Any scheduled or emergency maintenance issues are exempt. If something you do causes the downtime (such as exceed resources, install applications that don’t work, or violate terms), then SiteGround does not take responsibility. Any major external attacks on their systems could sidestep this policy, too.
8. 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
SiteGround features a full 30-day money-back guarantee on all shared hosting plans. In comparison, their cloud, VPS, and dedicated hosting plans only come with a 15-day refund.
Like many other hosts, domain name fees and any other “extras” are usually not refunded. And this refund policy only applies to brand new customers. So you can’t get refunds on renewal plans.
Cons of SiteGround Hosting
SiteGround impressed us with near-flawless uptime and their guarantee of free service if uptime dips below 99.9%. Their loading speeds are quite good, even if they’re not the fastest out there, and they offer a variety of apps to make both beginners and advanced users happy.
However, there are a few drawbacks to consider before signing up. So here are some of the bigger issues we ran into during our hands-on test.
1. Higher Renewal Rates
SiteGround’s cheapest plan, StartUp, features a low $3.95/month advertised price on their website.
This deal looks a little too good to be true because it is. Almost every web host we’ve reviewed to date uses the same trick. They catch your attention with a low introductory rate, only to double (or even triple) the price when it’s time to renew.
For example, that $3.95/month rate jumps up to $11.95 when you renew. SiteGround’s other plans hike up to $19.95 and $34.95/month respectively.
The best solution to this is to lock-in the longest term possible (36 months on SiteGround) to take advantage of that low rate for as long as you can.
2. $14.95 “Setup Fee” for Monthly Billing
Not many shared web hosts let you buy only a month to begin. They often try to get you to sign up for at least a few months or a year.
The good news is that with SiteGround you can sign up for a single month. The bad news is that they charge you a “Setup Fee” for these plans.
Under current pricing, that means you’re paying the introductory rate $3.95/month plus a one-time setup fee of $ 14.95.
The problem, as described in the last section, is that after that first month your plan will be renewed at a higher rate.
So you might initially think you’re getting a great deal, trying out their service for only a few bucks. But the reality is that you will be penalized twice (once through the setup fee and again through the renewal rate).
Don’t bother with this one month plan, because you’ll only end up paying more in the long run.
3. Limited “Cheap” Plan
SiteGround’s pricing on their lowest plan is comparable to the competition so it seems like a good deal when you first look at it.
However, the plan features don’t line up exactly.
For example, you get one website and only 10 GB of web space to handle around 10,000 monthly visits. This plan also features unlimited traffic (or unmetered bandwidth). However, if your site is getting anywhere close to those limits, performance is going to suffer.
That means it’s good for smaller sites who might not hit those thresholds for a while. But if your site starts becoming bigger, you’ll probably have to upgrade and pay more for increased resources.
4. No Free Domain Name
Most web hosts throw in ‘freebies’ to attract new customers.
That often includes the low introductory rate and additional services like email or migrations.
A free domain name for the first year is almost always on that list, too.
SiteGround, unfortunately, doesn’t do that. If you don’t already have a domain name, they’ll charge you for one from day one, starting at $15.95/year.
SiteGround Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts
SiteGround has three shared hosting tiers. Here are the costs and highlights:
- The StartUp plan: This plan costs $3.95 per month, can host one website and is good for newbies who are just starting with a website. It can handle up to 10,000 unique visits per month, with unlimited bandwidth, 24/7 client support, free Cloudflare CDN, free Let’s Encrypt SSL, unlimited emails & DBs, free daily backups, and more.
- The GrowBig plan: This plan costs $5.95 per month and can host multiple websites. In addition to what the StartUp plan has, you also get a free SSL Wildcard for 1 year, 30 backup copies and free restore, all 3-levels of the SuperCacher, which aids loading time tremendously, and staging environments for both WordPress and Joomla.
- Their GoGeek plan: This plan costs $11.95 per month and can host unlimited websites. It has 30GB of space for up to 100,000 visits per month. It has all features of the other two plans plus priority support, PCI compliance and one-click Git repo creation.
All shared hosting plans come with a free email account, free CDN and unlimited bandwidth.
- Domain: Domain prices start from $15.95
- Ease of Signup: Very easy, one-page sign-up process.
- Payment Methods: Credit Card (there are other options available through chat)
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: They charge a $14.95 setup fee if you pay for their shared hosting plans monthly instead of annually. Renewal rates are also higher. And you have to pay for a domain name (no freebie).
- Upsells: A few… but nothing too bad.
- Account Activation: Quick account activation.
- Control Panel and Dashboard: cPanel
- Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): Quick and easy install of popular apps and CMSs using Softaculous.
Do We Recommend SiteGround?
Yes, we do.
SiteGround has delivered solid uptime for a few years now. And their uptime guarantee makes sure that you’ll probably never have any major downtime issues.
Their site speed is pretty good, too. That’s thanks in part to their servers spread out over three continents and free Cloudflare CDN account. They also give you free SSL on all plans, too.
Pricing is good if you take advantage of the longest term possible. Otherwise, you’ll end up hitting those high renewal rates sooner. Bring your own domain, too, to escape another fee.
Do you have experience with SiteGround Hosting? Feel free to leave your review – good or bad, as long as it’s honest and transparent – in the review section below.