Why I Moved To Siteground Hosting and Why It Is The Only Host I Recommend

Updated June 29th, 2019
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Hosting a big decision and I don’t take recommending a host lightly. There is no shortage of BIASED hosting reviews on the internet because hosting companies pay out commissions for any referrals a reviewer sends to them.

In this Siteground hosting review, I’ve tried my best to include as many UNBIASED opinions as possible. The best ones I’ve found are in the form of advice given from one site owner to another on social media. Below you’ll find lots of social media posts for your reference and further reading before you make your hosting decision.

This post is also a beast (over 5,000 words) because I didn’t want to leave any stones unturned.

The first few paragraphs explain why I decided to move all my sites to SiteGround.

I’ve used many hosts over the years. I built my first website on HostGator back in 2008. When I started building lots of websites (20+ per month) I moved my operations to BlueHost.

When clients wanted me to host their sites I did so using an InMotion reseller account.

When the hosting budget for my own sites wasn’t an issue I moved my sites to WPEngine because I thought they were the best. And they are great, but they’re also expensive.

Now I’m on Siteground and they are the best, but don’t just take my word for it. See what others have to say.

Siteground is consistently the #1 recommended host in Facebook groups and polls. The best FB group, in my opinion, is the WPLearningLab FB Group (I may be biased, since it’s my group), but I believe that we have some of the best and most helpful members in the WP community in that group. If you haven’t joined yet, check it out here.

A poll in my FB group revealed that Siteground is heavily favored as the best host around.  See the screenshot below and view the poll here (you have to be a member of the group to view it on FB).

The WPHosting FB group (private group) has run the same poll for three years and Siteground is number 1 in 2016, in 2017 and in 2018. They’re also ranked #1 in this Facebook poll and in this one. I can go on all day.

Even in the WPLearningLab Facebook Group (join here if you’re not part of yet), Siteground is consistently recommended when someone asks about better hosts (see the poll here).

Siteground is the only host I actively promote and it’s the only host I currently use.

I believe that Siteground is so good because they do not cut corners on their security, servers and customer support. Moving to Siteground helped my site load at around 1 second, down from 4-5 seconds on WPEngine. You can find lots of reason to switch when you see their StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek comparison chart and they’ll even migrate your site for free (with zero downtime). And like any respectable company, they have a 30-day money back guarantee.

Between this site and the WPLearningLab YouTube channel nearly a half-a-million people read/view my content every month. So I have to make sure when I recommend a host (and use a host) that they are the best. I believe that Siteground is the best.

But I may be biased…and they offer me a commission for every person I refer through affiliate links on this site. It doesn’t cost you more to buy through my affiliate link, but the commission they send my way does keep the lights on, feed the kids and allow me to keep creating awesome WordPress content!

For some of you, that’s all you need to know and you want to get a Siteground account right away.  Go here to get it done.

For others, you want to know more. Read on my friend!

Affiliate Disclaimer – you can assume that all links to Siteground on this page (and on this website) are affiliate links. If you purchase a hosting package after clicking one of those links, Siteground will send me a commission. It doesn’t cost more to you, but it helps keep the lights on over here.

1. Why I Use Siteground Hosting

There are at bunch of reasons why I use Siteground hosting. All of the reasons below can be found on various Siteground feature pages and on social media. I’m just compiling them for you here. We’ll be going into more detail on most of these points.

  1. The server response time is REALLY fast (the biggest reason)(check your site’s time to first byte here)
  2. Migrating a site from EIG/Godaddy and even WP Engine leads to immediate speed improvements
  3. Siteground average load time is 1.3s (screenshot further down the page), giving most people instant speed improvements
  4. They are consistently rated #1 in social media polls
  5. Their shared hosting is great, but the semi-dedicated plan is much faster and doesn’t break the bank
  6. They’re recommended by WordPress
  7. The WPLearningLab Facebook Group ranks them #1
  8. They use Solid State drives on their servers
  9. They use PHP 7 (checks your site’s/server’s PHP version here)
  10. They use HTTP/2 servers (checks yours here)
  11. In Siteground you can activate Cloudflare in one click via the cPanel (view demo)
  12. Support for WordPress is amazing (tickets usually answered in <10 min)
  13. They do free migrations for GrowBig/GoGeek (for one website)
  14. They provide free Let’s Encrypt SSL (lots of hosts do this now)
  15. They are great for eCommerce hosting
  16. Daily backups done automatically (I’m not a huge fan of this, but lots of people like it)
  17. Automatic WordPress updates
  18. They constantly release new security updates
  19. My site uptime is 100%. This isn’t unique to SiteGround, I saw 100% uptime on other hosts as well.
  20. They are super helpful in WordPress-related Facebook Groups
  21. They have 24/7 phone support, email support and live chat.
  22. They have a 30-day money back guarantee. This also isn’t unique to Siteground, but it’s definitely nice to have.

2. Top Notch Support

When things go wrong and you don’t know what to do, having a great support network is critical. That’s true for life in general, not just websites.

I don’t know what Siteground support can do to help you through major life events, but they can do nearly anything to help you fix your site.

Whenever I email support through a StartUp account I have they respond within less than 15 minutes. It’s even faster with GrowBig and GoGeek because they have priority support tickets.

On GrowBig and GoGeek, they’ll even migrate your site for free if it’s hosted elsewhere.

3. Great Security

To keep all accounts isolated, Siteground employs Linux containers. This prevents problems on other sites from spilling over into your account and your sites. They also provide Linux containers like pretty every other host does.

Here’s where Siteground sets itself apart again: they are proactive. The only other host I’ve seen this level of proactivity from is WPEngine. A few years ago the httpoxy vulnerability was making a comeback, leaving many hosts open to being hacked, but Siteground patched it nearly half a decade before it was a major problem. Here’s their blog post.

Here’s the list of current security features from their plans page:

4. Why Is Siteground So Fast?

With many hosts, the time to first byte (TTFB) is a serious problem. The hosts I’m referring to are EIG hosts and GoDaddy. The reason is that they overload their shared servers with too many users which slows things down for everyone.

Even though I’m using the Siteground shared hosting, the server response time is much faster than WPEngine. The time to First Byte would have been under 200ms if it wasn’t for the SSL certificate, which takes a while to load no matter where your site is hosted.

WPEngine vs. Siteground - Time To First Byte

If you weigh that against the much higher cost at WPEngine, SiteGround is a smoking deal.

Average load times on Siteground

I know what you’re thinking, a host isn’t the only thing that affects site load time. And you’re right, there are oodles of factors. But consider this, no matter how well you optimize your site, if your host is slow, your site is slow.

Having a fast host on your team is key to fast page speed.

To check the server response time of your current site (if you have one) go to http://www.bytecheck.com/ and type in your URL then click the yellow arrow. This will show you the Time To First Byte (TTFB).

Here’s one from a site hosting in InMotion. It’s not an EIG company, but it’s servers are slow. Response time is 2.7 seconds:

Compare that to this website that you’re currently on (below). it is hosted on SiteGround and the response time is 0.5 seconds:

The host packages cost the same, but clearly they are not built the same!

SiteGround Speed Technology

Your next question is probably, what makes Siteground so fast? Well, it’s not magic, it comes down to investment in solid infrastructure.

When other hosting companies (look up any EIG host) are cutting costs and destroying user experience, Siteground is investing for the future.

Here’s what the Siteground Speed Technology includes.

  1. Solid State Drives (SSDs) on all plans (what is an SSD?)
  2. NGINX web server technology to speed up loading of static content (what is NGINX?)
  3. Geeky SuperCacher – a custom-built caching mechanism that dramatically speeds up the serving of the dynamic content of sites using NGINX reverse proxy
  4. custom-built caching mechanism with every account (provided by Cloudflare CDN) makes your website load faster in any part of the world by caching its content and distributing it over multiple data centers (what is a CDN?)
  5. HTTP/2 enabled servers – HTTP/2 is the newest network protocol, which significantly speeds up website loading in the browser (more on HTTP/2)
  6. PHP7 for faster and more secure PHP execution (more about PHP7)
  7. HHMV technology – available only to SiteGround cloud hosting users (more on HHVM)

SG Optimizer + Supercacher – Custom-Built Super-Speedy Add-ons

These two mechanisms work cache your content in three different ways: static, dynamic, and memcache. They purge the dynamic cache when updates are made to your content. You can also configure force SSL on the server.

Since Siteground caches your site, do you need other caching plugins? The answer is probably. Here’s a quote from the Siteground documentation.

“…most caching plugins include other functions that your website can benefit from. The point here is to make sure that if you need to use more than one caching systems concurrently working on your website – they will not be all doing the same thing.

For example, our SG Optimizer will store cache for your website directly in the server’s memory. In comparison, other WordPress caching plugins will use a file-based caching method storing the gathered cache in a separate directory inside your application.

Pulling the cache directly from the server memory is considered to be much faster and more reliable than the common file-based caching method.”

Siteground optimizer is great for caching, but “Caching plugins” like WPRocket, W3 Total Cache or WPSuperCache help you with many other things. Getting a perfect score in Pingdom or GTMetrix will take the help of one of those plugins.

Here’s an SG Optimize tutorial in case you want to know more about it.

5. Free PCI Compliance & Free SSL

The big one on this list, in my opinion, is the free PCI compliance in the GoGeek package. With people (and law makers) becoming more and more fed up with the lax approach to privacy online, there are going to be some major changes coming soon.

And if you accepting credit card payments on your site then you need to be PCI compliant (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). PCI compliance prevents credit card fraud by passing all purchase through various filters and requiring each payment to meet 12 requirements.

The Free Let’s Encrypt SSL is something that every host is offering now that Google has pretty made it required (see what I mean in my YouTube video here).

A shopping cart is essential for an eCommerce site and Siteground helping you install it for free is an added bonus. They support all the shopping carts listed on this page (which is all the major ones). You may also find their merchant account solutions info page useful.

6. Siteground Integrates The Latest Technologies

The best and most recent example of this is PHP7. When PHP7 first came out Siteground was at the forefront of making it available to its clients. Now most hosts have the latest PHP version available, but it took a lot longer for them to get it.

Why does that matter? Speed and security.

Check out this chart:

As the PHP version increases, so does the number of requests per second your site can handle. In other words, the faster your site will be, especially in high traffic situations. HHVM, is even faster than PHP7. Siteground also offers HHVM, but only for cloud hosting clients.

If you want to find out what PHP version your site is using, simply install this plugin. You will see the PHP version on the main admin dashboard (see screenshot below). You can delete the plugin right after.

Here’s the best part, SG Optimizer plugin does the PHP version updates for you. First, it checks to make sure your themes and plugins are compatible with the latest version. If they are, it updates the PHP version.

Normally, updating the PHP version requires manual steps, that’s why few people do it. Even though PHP7 was released in 2015, still only 32.5% WordPress websites use it. This chart is right from WordPress.

7. Cloudflare CDN 1-Click Activation

Enabling Cloudflare is super simple using Siteground’s 1-click process. They have a full tutorial here.

Cloudflare Plus is an option for everyone who wants an extra dose of awesome and the $12/month price tag is within budget.

In case you don’t about Cloudflare, it has a lot of great features. The one that Siteground takes advantage of the CDN (content delivery network). On a website without a CDN all the images and media resources are loaded from your server when someone visits your site. This takes your server bandwidth and CPU.

If you activate the Cloudflare CDN your media resources will be loaded by one of Cloudflare’s 152 datacenters around the world. When a visitor requests media on your site it will be shown to them by the datacenter closest to the geographical location, which helps with faster loading. It also doesn’t use any bandwidth or CPU on your server, so your site can remain lightning quick.

WordPress recommends using a CDN in their optimization guide and Siteground makes it very easy.

4 Data Centers on 3 Continents

At the time of this writing, Siteground has 5 data centers in the United States, Europe and Asia: Chicago, London, Amsterdam and Singapore.

Every new Siteground hosting package is able to choose which data center you want your sites to be stored on.

The best choice is the one closest to your visitors, but I know how some clients are. They may only care about the one closest to them.

Siteground’s data centers have redundant storage, which means your sites should stay online even if there are problems in the data center. Bluehost doesn’t have this technology and they had a big problem when there was a network outage.

Hostgator had a similar issue years ago when there was fire near their headquaters and the fire department told them to shut down their servers. I had my sites hosted with them at the time.

Both Bluehost and Hostgator have moved to better technologies. But wouldn’t it be better if your host took proactive steps to make sure this doesn’t happen? Also, both Bluehost and Hostgator are owned by EIG, so steer clear of them.

8. Solid Uptime (99.99%)

Siteground guarantees uptime of 99.99%, but so far I’ve found it’s close to 100% (as if 99.99% isn’t close enough).

I use WebARX to monitor uptime (and block malicious attacks). This screenshot shows the last 7 days of 100% uptime for this website.

I’ve WebARX data from other sites when I didn’t have them on Siteground and their uptime was not 100% and wasn’t even at the 99.99% level they promote.

Here’s a site hosted on InMotion:

9. They’ll Migrate Your Site For Free

To get a free transfer you need to get a GrowBig or GoGeek plan. The StartUp plan does not include a free transfer, but you can pay for one if you want. Or you can watch one of my two migration tutorials on YouTube and get the job done yourself this afternoon (tutorial 1, tutorial 2).

Here’s what’s included in a Siteground website transfer:

If you want to take advantage of the free transfer here’s a Siteground help page to get you going in the right direction.

10. WordPress Recommends Them

Siteground is one of the few hosting companies recommended by WordPress itself; you can see the short list here. Unfortunately, they also recommend Bluehost which is an EIG company (see point #15 for more info on EIG), so the WordPress recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt.

Just for fun, Drupal, also recommends Siteground as a hosting provider, but they recommend lots of others as well.

Just for more fun, Joomla, used to recommend Siteground, but don’t any more. They also have Sitelock listed as a recommended partner. EIG owns part of Sitelock and a boat-load of people have had very bad experiences with Sitelock, including me. Check out this YouTube video and pay special attention to the comments.

11. Don’t Touch These Guys With A 10 Foot Pole

If you’re new to website hosting you probably haven’t heard of EIG. They are multinational conglomerate that buys hosting companies. Then, to squeeze as much profit as possible out of them, they immediately cut support staff and put more accounts on fewer servers. This equals a bad experience. What makes it even worse is they start pushing Sitelock on their customers.

Siteground is NOT AN EIG company. And no matter which host you choose, make sure they’re not EIG.

It might sound like I have a bone to pick, but I don’t. I just know they DO NOT treat their customers well and my job is to guide you in the right direction to make sure you have the most success possible with your website(s).Here’s a list of companies EIG owns (these are the ones you should avoid). The list is alphabetical and you’ll notice that BlueHost and HostGator are on there.

You’ll also notice a lot of people recommending those hosts. Either those people don’t know how low quality those hosts are now or they don’t care about the people who buy accounts there; they just want the referral commission.

Either way, steer clear.

One final note on this topic. BlueHost and HostGator and probably the other hosts owned by EIG didn’t start out bad. My first sites were built on BlueHost and HostGator over a decade ago. Back then they were independent, fast, secure and had great support.

When EIG bought them everything went down hill. Like most big corporate acquisitions, EIG wanted to make their money back as fast as possible. The easiest way for them to do that is cut back on servers and staff and push SiteLock onto unsuspecting customers. Here’s a recent experience of mine with BlueHost and SiteLock (YouTube video).

If EIG ever buys SiteGround, I will move all my sites to a non-EIG host the same day.

12. Top Rated On Social Media

Why does this matter?

Because these are the most unbiased reviews you’ll find. This is just WordPress users sharing their opinions with no reward of any kind.

Here are a handful of polls that I found trying to determine the best host. I’m sure there must be some that don’t vote Siteground as #1, but I haven’t found them yet…

If you join the WPLearningLab, WP Hosting and Speed Up WordPress Faceboook groups you will consistently see people saying the same thing.

The WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group ranks SiteGround as the #1 host.

13. Siteground Hosting Plans – StartUp, GrowBig, GoGeek

As with lots of online products and services, the big difference between the plans is the number of websites you can host and the amount of server resources.

With the Siteground Startup hosting plan you can have one website. But even if you ever have just one website you’ll need to upgrade to a bigger plan if you starting getter more than 10,000 visits per month.

The GrowBig hosting plan offers more server resources which means faster load times and you can handle more traffic without reduced user experience.

Features you can get (depending on your plan) include:

  1. WordPress Autoupdate
  2. WordPress Advanced Security
  3. WordPress Special Cache
  4. One-click WordPress Staging
  5. SG-Git for WordPress repo creation
  6. Anti-Hack Systems & Help
  7. Proactive updates and patches
  8. Free Auto Daily Backups
  9. Priority Support
  10. Free Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates
  11. PCI Compliant Servers
  12. Multiple PHP Versions (7.2, 7.1, 7.0 and 5.6)
  13. Free SSH and SFTP Access

See a full comparison of all the Siteground hosting plans.

As it should be, the bigger (more expensive) the hosting plan the better your site performance will be.

Here’s a breakdown of the server specs for each plan:

14. Cloud Hosting

If you are looking to move a larger site with lots of traffic to Siteground then the Cloud hosting plans may be what you need. Especially if you’re getting more than 100,000 visits per month, since that’s the limit of the shared plans.

The big benefit of Siteground Cloud Hosting is your site uses and receives server resources as needed. With the entry level cloud hosting plan (it’s actually called Entry) you will 2 CPU cores and 4GB of RAM. That doesn’t mean you’ll use all those resources all the time. But if traffic spikes on your site those resources are always available, which means your site won’t go down when you need it up the most (ie. during traffic spikes).

Compare all the Cloud hosting options here.

There are 4 levels of Cloud hosting all the way up to 8 CPU cores and 10GB of RAM for $240 per month.

All Cloud hosting plans included Isolated Resources. It means your site is located on unlimited servers in the cloud, not just one server as in the regular plans. So your site is unaffected by other sites in the cloud. On the shared hosting plans your site will be affected if someone on your shared server is using too many of the server resources.

Cloud hosting also comes with HHVM which is even faster than PHP7 (learn more about HHVM here) and it can be activated in SiteGround’s cPanel when using their Supercacher tool.

If you need more resources than the cloud can offer, you can move to a dedicated server.

15. Dedicated Siteground Servers

Although no one wants to pay out the wazoo for dedicated servers, everyone who has a website should have the goal of getting so much traffic that you need a dedicated server. If you’re not building a site to get traffic, then what are you building it for?

Dedicated servers are the highest end of Siteground’s host offering. They start at $229 per month and go up to $729 per month. You can see the specs below.

If your site is getting 10,000 visitors a day or more you should be shopping around for dedicated servers.

A couple things to note.

The Enterprise Server recently went up in price by $300 per month. I don’t know for sure, but anyone who got in at a lower price point may have been grandfathered in a lower price. If the price continues to increase then getting in early may be a good thing.

When getting dedicated servers you also have the option of choosing your location. Currently, you can choose from the United States, Europe and Asia. The servers in Asia are more expensive add the Entry Server plan is sold out (see below).

16. Awesome, Unbiased Feedback On Facebook and Twitter

If you are on the fence about getting a Siteground account make sure you read through these conversations. If you do, you’ll start to see a pattern and your hosting decision becomes a no-brainer. Some of these posts are in private groups, so to see them you’ll need get into the group (it’s free). I’ve also included some of the below as images.

Here’s a compilation of some Siteground customer feedback on Twitter:

I hope you’ve found this Siteground Hosting review useful. I tried to make it as unbiased as possible by using my own experience and feedback/advice on social media. If you have any questions at all please leave a comment down below and I’ll respond as soon as I can. Also feel free to join the WPLearningLab facebook group, we’d love to see you there!

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4 Comments

  • same here!! Transfered all sites to siteground. Just the level of WP security was so worth it. Was so tired of getting hacked.

    Reply
  • Awesome man 🙂

    I was thinking of changing my ccurrent host to WPX Hosting 🙂
    But it looks like you have changed my mind

    Reply
    • I’ve never heard of WPX Hosting, it may be great as well. But I’ve encountered a lot hosts and few rank up there with Siteground.

      Reply

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