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 cheapest “Startup” shared plan for over two years now.
We paid for a shared hosting account, setup a live test site, and have closely tracked their performance in 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 speeds (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 extra features that are perfect for both beginners and power users.
1. Good Performance – 99.99% Uptime 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. Its 99.99% average puts it among the most reliable hosts we’ve reviewed (33 and counting).
Rock-solid uptime like this keeps website visitors happy. But more importantly, it means your site’s almost guaranteed to be working around the clock so you won’t miss out when they want to buy, 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 critical factor when choosing a host.
For starters, that’s because Google’s research shows that 53% more people will leave if your pages don’t load within three seconds.
However, the other main reason is that you can’t do anything 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 713ms isn’t the fastest we’ve seen, but it does place SiteGround almost in 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 hop on the 24-7 live chat.
For this latest test, I opted for live chat and was connected with Vladislav in less than a minute.
Unlike other hosts, there was no noticeable delay between 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 curveball.
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 aren’t great, putting more burden back on the customer so the host can save a few bucks.
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 annoying walkthroughs that will take you another hour, either. You can 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 bigger 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 CDN and SSL Certificate
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.
These help protect any private information sent back and forth between your device and the website, including personal details like your IP address. Left unsecured, hackers and others could easily intercept this personal information. So they’re looking out for your best interest here.
That 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), too. These help take large files, like images, off your server to keep it blazing fast.
Plus, SiteGround uses multiple servers spread out over three continents to also make sure that your files are stored as closely as possible to site visitors to once again provide a fast experience.
6. Beginner-to-Advanced Features Available
SiteGround has a little 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. So 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 drop the ball here. It would cost them a lot of money.
Usually, when you dig into a web host’s terms of service, there’s only bad stuff buried in the fine print.
SiteGround surprised us, but in a good way. Under their Service Level Agreement, they “guarantee network uptime of 99.9% on annual basis.” If they ever dip below that threshold, you’ll get compensated with free months of hosting.
In other words, they’ll comp your monthly payment if they don’t live up to their end of the bargain.
Now, there are a few caveats with how it’s calculated. Any scheduled or emergency maintenance issues are exempt. If something you do causes the downtime (like exceed resources, install applications that don’t work, or violate terms), then obviously they’re not on the hook. And any major external attacks on their systems could sidestep this policy this, too.
8. 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
SiteGround features a full 30-day money-back guarantee on all shared hosting plans. Their cloud, VPS, and dedicated hosting plans only come with a 15-day refund for comparison.
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, too. So you can’t get refunds on renewal plans.
Cons of SiteGround Hosting
SiteGround has near-flawless uptime. Good news, considering they’ll give you free service if it dips below 99.9%.
The site speed was good (not great). Plus, there are a variety of apps to make both beginners and advanced users happy.
SiteGround isn’t perfect, though. 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 kinda is. Almost every web host we’ve reviewed to date uses the same ploy. They suck you in with a low introductory rate, only to double (or even triple) the cost 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, too.
The best solution to dealing with this problem 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 on the low end.
The good news is that you can sign up for a single month with SiteGround. But the bad news is that they hit you with a random “Setup Fee” for these plans.
Under current pricing, that means you’re paying $3.95/month for the introductory rate and another $14.95 one-time setup fee.
The problem, when you compare this to the last section, is that you’ll also get hit with a renewal rate after the first month, too.
So you might initially think you’re getting this 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 comes in right around 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 little while. But if your site starts to become big, you’ll probably have to upgrade a little faster 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 is almost always on that list, too. They usually throw in the cost of a domain for free at the beginning and only charge you after the first year.
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 Experience: 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 a 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.