Last Update | September 2021
Monthly Update - September 2021
|Hosting Plans||Web Hosting; WordPress Hosting; WooCommerce Hosting; Cloud Hosting; Reseller Hosting;|
|Top Features||Free SSL; Daily Backups; Free CDN; Free Email; Managed WordPress; Out-of-the-box Caching; Unlimited Databases; 100% Renewable Energy Match; A 30-day Money-back Guarantee; 99.7% Happiness Rate|
|Customer Support||Live Chat; Phone Support; Knowledge Base; Ticketing System|
During September, SiteGround Hosting:
- Web Hosting Summer Sale: Up to 69% off offers
During August, SiteGround Hosting:
- Became the official partner of London WestHam United Premier League Club
- Introduced PHP 8.1 BETA 1 Elephant (available for testing on all servers)
During July, SiteGround Hosting:
- Had an issue with its email services; some clients experienced issues with the login form
- Added the option for Multisite SFTP access with a single SSH key
- Reworked their DNS service to make it faster, safer, more flexible and easy to use
- Completed a 2.5-year-long software development cycle
- Added WordPress 5.8 Tatum to its services
- Introduced the “Add Collaborators” Heavy check mark feature to its StartUp plan
I am back at it again! Today, I decided to go for SiteGround Hosting and test all it offers, including features, customer support, and performance. What made me do it?
SiteGround Hosting is a Bulgarian company that entered the market in 2004. Ever since, it has been dedicated to providing exceptional services using its team of extraordinary, qualified professionals.
SiteGround Hosting provides Web Hosting, WordPress Hosting, WooCommerce Hosting, Cloud Hosting, and Reseller Hosting. With a team of over 500 employees, it serves over 2,000,000 domains worldwide. And the best part about it is that it accounts for a 99.7% happiness rate, including both clients and industry experts alike.
Sure, they promise fast services, considering their global server network and helpful support team. Their motto is ‘Crafted for easy website management.’ In other words, they intend to assist even beginners in the niche.
Still, my question is can they stand true to their promises? Let’s put SiteGround to the trial!
Getting Started with SiteGround
Once you enter SiteGround Hosting’s site, they will greet you with a background that is especially easy on the eyes. To be honest, I love such simple interfaces with no excessive details or overwhelming information.
You can instantly spot what SiteGround Hosting provides, the plans as mentioned above. Better yet, if you scroll a bit down, you can spot their other offers, such as easy and fast Website Building, smooth Website Transfer, Collaboration Tools, and Managed Solutions.
Not to rush now; I will get into details later.
First things first, I signed up for Web Hosting as the most general plan. To do so, you need to click on ‘Get Started’ in the leftmost orange button. You’ll then see the following screen.
SiteGround offers StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek web hosting plans.
All three plans come with a free SSL, daily backups, free CDN, free email, managed WordPress, out-of-the-box caching, unlimited databases, 100% renewable energy match, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The difference lies in the number of websites, webspace, and monthly visits. Furthermore, the GrowBig plan offers on-demand backup copies, ultrafast PHP, and staging. The GoGeek plan takes things to another level, as it further provides Git, white-label clients, the highest tier of resources, and priority support.
As you already know, most web hosting providers offer discounts on longer-term plans. The same applies with SiteGround Hosting, but more on that later. When I purchased a plan, they offered special prices on all three plans, regardless of the hosting period.
More precisely, they offered approximately 30% off on the first two plans and 40% off on the most expensive alternative. Still, it doesn’t have to mean it will always be like this.
I didn’t let the discount alternate my decision, as I am in for a more general approach. However, if you know what you are looking for or you are in for the longer term, you should consider pricing as well.
Now, even though their GrowBig plan is the Best Seller, I still went for the StartUp. It supports a single website, 10 GB webspace, and 10,000 monthly visits.
By going for the most basic option, I can test the quality for the primary user. After all, features can only improve with the more expensive options. So, I consider the cheapest alternative as the best ground for comparison. And it’s entirely up to you whether to invest further or not.
SiteGround is immediately transparent with its offer, which I especially like. You don’t have to dig through the plans to find out what you are getting. It’s fast and easy!
To start your hosting journey, you need to click on ‘Get Plan’ on the plan of your choosing (in my case, it’s the StartUp).
Once you do so, you’ll see the following screen.
At this point, you can either register a new domain or transfer an existing one.
SiteGround will offer you many options if you choose to register a new domain, which is usually not the case with other providers. At this point, you can find generic, country-specific, or popular domains.
Still, you will have to pay for the domain registration, as it’s not included in the web hosting plan.
As I already have a domain, I decided to avoid this extra expense and go for the second option. The only thing I was sad about is that I couldn’t demonstrate my creativity with the domain name. But you might witness that in another expert review.
Now, once you complete the second step, you’ll get to Review & Complete. Here, you need to enter your Account, Client, Payment, and Purchase Information.
If you already have an account, you can choose to log in. However, I assume you don’t, so you will need to enter your email and password to proceed with the process.
SiteGround recommends using between 6 and 50 characters, at least one letter, number, and a special character/capital letter. I love when a hosting provider includes such details, as it demonstrates their dedication to the user’s security.
I’ve also filled in the Client Information, but there’s no need to get into details, as it’s all personal info.
Continuing to the Payment section, it requires your card info, which is, once again, pretty straightforward.
You’ll need to select your plan (which I already did) in the Purchase Information section.
Then, choose a Data Center. Keep in mind, SiteGround will automatically select one for you, depending on your location. Essentially, it’s the one that will deliver the best performance and speed. However, you can change it if you have other preferences.
SiteGround has data centers in Iowa, USA, Singapore, Asia, Sydney, Australia, London, UK, Frankfurt, Germany, and the Netherlands, Europe.
The third step is to select the hosting period. At this point, you can go for 1, 12, 24, or 36 months. To be honest, SiteGround has quite an unusual pricing. In general, I am used to seeing better discounts on longer-term plans. If we put the discounts aside, that’s what SiteGround offers. The longer the period, the lower the price per month.
However, with the applied discount, the annual plan is the cheapest one, aka THE BEST DEAL. Then, the second most affordable is the 2-year plan, followed by the 3-year plan, and finally, the monthly one, which doesn’t make much sense. SiteGround mixed things up a bit, still, it might be a limited offer (even though it doesn’t say), so I won’t blame them much about it.
Back to my quest, I went for the 1-month plan. I am here to test the services out, so I don’t particularly appreciate spending my money before ensuring the provider’s quality.
Once you choose everything to your liking, the site will automatically calculate your payment.
SiteGround also offers extra services, such as the SG Site Scanner. It’s a service that performs daily monitoring and immediately notifies you of hacks or any malware. I found it especially useful, and I would recommend adding such a service to your site.
However, it was more expensive than my plan, so I decided to skip it.
If you add any extra service, SiteGround will add the expense to the balance. By adding the VAT as well, it will calculate your TOTAL.
You then need to check the two boxes and finally can click ‘PAY NOW’ to finish the registration process. Or at least that’s what I thought!
Upon registration, I received the following message, being yet another security measure.
SiteGround requires you to verify your order using the phone number you’ve previously entered. At this point, you can go for a text message or a phone call.
Even if you click ‘Verify later’ below the blue button ‘Next,’ you will not get far. The site will return you to the following screen until you verify your account using your phone number.
See, this is one side of the story, the positive, guide-oriented one. However, I must share with you the horrors I have experienced with SiteGround (it’s not too harsh of an adjective, believe me). It was a journey to create this account, and it was certainly not a pleasant one.
Let me take you a few steps back.
While creating my account, I immediately stumbled upon an issue, as SiteGround doesn’t offer services in North Macedonia, my origin country. Therefore, I couldn’t use my original address nor a Macedonian phone number.
Honestly, I tried to be creative and used the address of my friend in the UK. However, I used my phone number, believing I can verify my account using email. But that’s not the case.
Now, you must remember, SiteGround only offers phone verification. And strong security measures for sure. Well, not to say limited.
On one side, I liked their security policy as they returned me to the same verification screen repeatedly. However, if you are so strict regarding location, address, and phone, you can offer services in all countries.
You might believe this is bad, but it gets worse. I was a bit annoyed up to this point, but I got furious when SiteGroud took my money and didn’t activate my account.
Yes, you got it right. The web host occupied the domain I have entered so that I couldn’t use it for other sites nor start the registration process once again. I was not willing to pay for another account, as it was not my fault they took it.
SiteGround essentially charged me for services to which I didn’t have access. What a misery.
I tried to remain calm and decided to contact their team. Up to a degree, it was my fault I didn’t use a phone number from a country where SiteGround offers support.
Anyways, here’s how it went.
The agent was truly friendly and helpful so that he made up for my horrible experience. He offered me a refund with an opportunity to start my registration process again. At this point, I have learned my lesson.
I was happy with the solution, as the agent said the process would take up to 48 hours.
Unfortunately, it took so much more. See, I contacted customer support on Tuesday and got my money back the following Monday.
At this point, it was no longer about the money. I was so angry, as my domain was occupied. I couldn’t use my email, nor any other information in this regard, as SiteGround has reserved my account. As funny as it sounds, it was there, and I couldn’t access it in any way.
After a week, I finally got my money back. SiteGround closed the order and canceled the verification so I could start the process from scratch.
Not to repeat all the steps from before, I managed to create an account. I used credentials from an associate just so that I can log in. FINALLY, I got it. SiteGround was undoubtedly my most challenging registration up to date. So, learn from my mistakes.
I clicked ‘Proceed to Customer Area.’
Setting Things up at SiteGround
Once you log in to SiteGround, you will find the main Menu right beside the logo. All is neat and well organized, which I love about the hosting service.
If you scroll a bit down, you will also find a comprehensive guide to get you started. More precisely, SiteGround points out eight steps with do-follow buttons to complete guides:
- Install or Mitigate WordPress
- Point Your Domain
- Use a temporary URL for your site
- Transfer Domain
- Change The Domain Of Your Site
- Create Email Accounts At Your Domain
- Transfer Email From A Previous Host
- Set Up Your Email On Phone Or Desktop
Say you want to point your domain. If you click the blue ‘Point A Domain,’ it will take you to the following screen.
Essentially, SiteGround transfers you to their Help Center, the Tutorials tab, being beneficial.
Now, let’s dig into the Menu as the best way to see what SiteGroud offers to you as the end client.
I’ve already covered Home.
Next, in the Websites tab, you can find Websites and Collaborations.
As you can spot, I have a single website, ‘testtesting.club,’ the domain I have transferred. However, I cannot manage it. So, I clicked on Complete.
If you click on ‘Add New Site’ or the orange button ‘New Website,’ you’ll get to the same screen.
To speed up the process, I have selected ‘Skip & Create Empty Site.’ I am all about testing, so essentially, I will not even use this site.
Once again, SiteGround offers the add-on SG Site Scanner.
I clicked ‘Finish,’ and I could finally manage my site.
If you click on ‘Manage Site,’ you will find the following screen.
You can find and edit Pinned Tools, Site Information, and This Month Statistics for your site in the Dashboard.
First things first, here’s what SiteGround offers regarding tools if you click on ‘Edit Pinned Tools.’
It automatically pins Install & Manage WordPress, Email Accounts, File Manager, and SiteScanner.
However, you can also Pin More Tools for your Site, Security, Speed, WordPress, Domain, Email, Statistics, and Devs.
In the Site section, you will find FTP Accounts, MySQL Manager, and PostgreSQL Manager.
Backups, SSL Manager, HTTPS Enforce, Protected URLs, and Blocked IPs are part of Security.
SuperCacher and Cloudflare CDN fall within Speed, while Staging Copies, WordPress Migrator, WordPress Autoupdate, WordPress Search & Replace are within WordPress.
You can find Parked Domains, Subdomains, Domain Redirects, and DNS Zone Editor in the Domain category. Email Forwarders, Email Autoresponders, Email Filters, Email Authentication, and Spam Protection are part of Email.
Statistics consists of Traffic, Error Log, and Access Logs, while Devs contains Git, Cron Jobs, PHP Manager, SSH Keys Manager, and App Installer.
You can find all these categories on the left, right below Dashboard. You can click on each feature, after which SiteGroud will redirect you to more details regarding it.
For instance, if you click on FTP Accounts under Site, you will see the following screen.
Now, let’s get back to the Menu. In Websites, you can also find Collaborations, which looks something like this.
As you can see, I have no active collaborations. To add one, you should follow the link.
SiteGround allows you to add collaborators or clients to your sites and manage the access rights of your clients by creating custom roles. In turn, the custom role will define the set of tools that your clients will see and have access to in their sites’ management interface.
The Services tab consists of Hosting and Domains.
Here, you also have the option to get a ‘New Hosting Plan,’ Shared Hosting, or Cloud Hosting.
The Billing tab includes your Billing Details, Payment History, and Renewals.
Once again, I like the transparency of SiteGround.
In Renewals, you can also choose to change your hosting plan once the term ends.
Referrals display the Referral Program, My Referrals, and Become Affiliate options.
SiteGround adds up to three months of free hosting to one of your web hosting accounts, depending on your account’s plan, for each new referred customer.
All you need to do is share the referral link. You can do so by sending it to your friends directly, posting it on your website, or sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, and any other communication channel you see fit.
In My Referrals, you can track your completed referrals or check for missing referrals.
If you have referred a client to SiteGround, but you do not see the award applied to your plan(s), you can fill in their form for missing referrals.
So, worry not; your efforts will not go unawarded with SiteGround.
If you have a well-established presence, you can earn commissions just by spreading the word about SiteGroud’s services with their Affiliate Program.
SiteGround offers a great collection of banners so that you can choose one and place it on your platform. They pay weekly, and you don’t need a minimum amount of realized sales to receive your contribution.
At last, SiteGroud offers the Marketplace. Here, you can find Domain Services, Hosting Services, and Partner Perks.
In Domain Services, you can purchase a Domain Name or Add Domain Extras, Domain Transfer, or Domain Privacy.
Hosting Services consist of Web Hosting, WordPress Hosting, WooCommerce Hosting, and Cloud Hosting, along with additional services, such as Hosting Relocation or Dedicated IP.
Finally, you can browse perks by category.
Here, you will find WordPress Development Services and Other Partner Services.
WordPress Development Services include WP Tech Support, Fixmysite.com, and WP Buffs.
Other Partner Services include OptinMonster, WPForms, Tusant, Satchmo, Envira Gallery, Weglot, Castos, and Iubenda.
That’s more or less all about the Menu. Now, I’ll dig a little bit into My Account to see what SiteGroud offers in this regard.
You can set up Owner Profile Details, 2-Step Verification, Language, and Data Management in Login & Profile Settings.
Two-step verification adds an extra layer of security to your Client Area.
When it comes to languages, you can choose between English, Spanish, and Italian.
Also, if you wish to request immediate deletion of your profile, you can do so from this page.
SiteGroud automatically deletes your profile and data 24 months after you no longer have active services.
In Notification Preferences, you can adjust email and SMS notifications.
SiteGround offers four themes in Appearance.
You can also Manage Users, which I explained to you before, and Create or Manage the SSH key for multisite SFTP access.
Performance, Speed, and Uptime
Sure, some hosting providers struggle with uptime and speed. But I cannot say the same for SiteGround, as it ranks near the top of all web hosting companies regarding these qualities.
On average, SiteGroud maintains 99.99% uptime, which is extraordinary. Essentially, your site will be up at all times. So, worry not; you will not disappoint a visitor or miss out on a customer.
SiteGround also comes with above-average load speeds. More precisely, it offers two specific features regarding speed, SuperCacher, and Cloudflare.
SuperCacher increases the number of hits your site can handle, thus dramatically boosts your website’s loading speed. There are three different caching options for maximum optimization of your websites, NGINX Direct Delivery, Dynamic Cache, and Memcached.
SiteGround states that a website using NGINX Direct Delivery, Dynamic caching, and Memcached can handle 100 times more hits than a regular website without any caching.
In turn, Cloudflare CDN speeds up your website when you have geographically dispersed traffic across multiple countries and continents. It also analyses which of the traffic you get is legitimate and which is malicious, thus protecting your site.
Level of Support at SiteGround
Up to this point, I had several interactions with the support team of SiteGround. While I was amazed at some points, I was also disappointed at others. Let me explain.
First things first, you can get help on SiteGround using the question mark in the top right corner.
If you click on ‘View Help Center,’ the site will transfer you to the following screen.
SiteGround offers Tutorials, Knowledge Base, 24/7 Live Chat, Ticketing System, and Phone Support within the Help Center.
You can start browsing the Knowledge Base. Still, if you cannot find a solution to your problem and need advanced technical help, you can always count on their team.
You need to click on ‘Contact Us’ to get help from SiteGround’s experts. Here, you will select a Category, one from the following:
- Transfer or set up a new site
- Site is down, slow or displaying an error
- SiteGround tools and services
- Can’t log in or access my website
- Billing and account management
I went for the Billing and account management. As per usual, I will request a refund. I’ve seen and reported all I need to. So, it’s time for the final test – will SiteGroud be friendly enough to return my money?
At this point, I have chosen Cancellations & Downgrades, as it best explains what I need their support team to do with my account.
Next, choose the service.
I have a single plan, so it was a no brainer.
I clicked on Cancel Service, after which SiteGroud asked the question – when?
You can cancel the service at expiration or immediately, and I chose the later.
I then pursued to request a refund using this form. Let’s see where it will get me.
See, I was pleasantly surprised at this point. SiteGround immediately offers a refund, which I was unaware of. The company specifies it might take between 7 and 21 days to see the refund in my bank statement. This is what I like – transparency!
With the first refund (explained above within registration), I had some issues. However, now, SiteGroud has made up for it. Everything is well-explained, simple, and fast. Good job!
Now, you are surely wondering, "Where is the live chat"?
Well, SiteGroud recommends the best channel for your particular inquiry, depending on the information you have provided. In my case, they went for a form, as there is not much to be discussed.
However, they will offer you the Live Chat and Ticketing System options if you need some assistance.
The Live Chat feature connects you with a support agent. I am here to tell; they are especially friendly and knowledgeable. Once the conversation ends, you can also leave feedback, which further bounds them to remain professional and helpful at all times.
The Ticketing System provides you with a simple form to report your issue. Here, you need to enter Category, Topic, Subject, and Website. Then, you can fill in the Inquiry details.
At last, you can follow the link ‘Call Us.’ SiteGround will display a phone number if you choose this option depending on the country you’re loading the site from. However, a 1-time access code will be required for identification, so keep this in mind.
Right next to Contact Us, you can find Support History. It consists of all the tickets you had over the course with SiteGround’s support team.
What I like especially about SiteGround is contacting live chat, even if you are not logged in to an account. You can find the Sales Chat option in the top Menu on their official page. Once you click on it, a window will open in the bottom right.
Fill in the information, and you will be connected to an agent.
Security and Backups
One thing I especially like about SiteGround is its CEO, as he is a lawyer by education. Essentially, it means he understands the different privacy and security challenges present online and offline. So, I can say with certainty, SiteGround offers superior security features.
As mentioned, you can find Backups, SSL Manager, HTTPS Enforce, Protected URLs, and Blocked IPs in the Security category within the Dashboard. You can install Let’s Encrypt, Let’s Encrypt Wildcard, Premium Wildcard certificates, or import one.
All SiteGround’s servers use the latest PHP 7 version with the latest security fixes and have installed ModSecurity. The company is running Apache in a chrooted environment with suExec and Intrusion detection/prevention systems.
SiteGround also provides easy-to-use and hassle-free auto-updates for the WordPress core version and the plugins. They keep the versions of all the software providing database services, including FTP, SMTP, IMAP/POP3, HTTP, and HTTPS, up to date with the latest security patches.
Better yet, the web host continually monitors for vulnerabilities in the most popular applications and modules. If possible, they develop virtual patches in the form of WAF rules.
Furthermore, SiteGroud understands that backing up your data is essential for the security and uptime of your site.
SiteGround offers access to 30 backup copies of your site for each day of the past month in the shared hosting plans. In addition to these automated backups, you can also purchase single backups with StartUp or create up to 5 on-demand backups with the GrowBig and GoGeek plans.
SiteGround keeps manual and automated backups for 30 days after creating shared hosting plans and seven days for the cloud. The first system backup occurs after six hours have passed from the site creation.
Specific Features of SiteGround
Over my review, I have specified many reasons why someone, whether a beginner or an expert, should go for SiteGroud. Now, let me put it all together. What makes SiteGround a superior web hosting provider?
- Fast adoption of the best technologies
- Powerful solutions built in-house
- Constant security monitoring and prevention
- Officially recommended by WordPress
- Trusted by clients and industry experts alike
- Round-the-clock, proficient, and friendly help center
- Platform powered by Google Cloud
- Tools and services for seamless site-building
Testing SiteGround hosting took me longer than I expected, as I had some issues with the registration. Apart from it, I can say that SiteGroud is indeed a quality provider. It offers Web Hosting, WordPress Hosting, WooCommerce Hosting, Cloud Hosting, and Reseller Hosting. So, it can serve clients with different needs and preferences.
I like SiteGround’s user-friendly interface. Even if you are a first-time user, they will provide you with all the necessary information when you need it. The entire site is packed with tips, guides, and how-tos. Furthermore, the Dashboard is also simple, as well as feature-packed.
Going on, SiteGround has exceptional speeds and uptime. Its team has also put lots of thought and effort into security, so rest assured, you will get the best performance possible.
One thing I don’t like about SiteGround is its limited resources. For instance, Shares Hosting plans come with up to 40GB SSD Space, which is not that plenty, if you ask me. Also, they might lure you in with the introductory prices and discounts, then increase prices at renewals. So, make sure to keep an eye on this.