A good web hosting service is the foundation of any website. Get your web host wrong and you’ll be continuously plagued by issues like site speed and security that will cost you badly in terms of time and money.
If you are starting your web business for the first time, it is absolutely imperative that you get off to a great start with the right web host.
If you are unhappy with your current hosting provider, you can always switch to a different web host. But don’t worry! Changing your web host doesn’t mean that you have to spend more time and money. And, it doesn’t even have to be a complicated affair.
I Needed a New Web Host
After my previous experiences with JustHost, TMD Hosting, Dreamhost, Hostgator, Inmotion and Bluehost, I needed a web host who really stood out from the crowd and was yet affordable. I also needed a web host that had:
- A good reputation
- Server reliability with good uptime scores
- Server upgrade options
- Speedy delivery of web pages
- An easy-to-use control panel
- Site backup features
- Clear account suspension policies
- Good security features and most importantly :-
- Solid support
My search narrowed down to 2 options – SiteGround and WP Engine.
WP Engine was a little too expensive but SiteGround was well within my budget.
Now I also had a peculiar problem. I had a couple of sites and I wanted one of them to redirect to the other. I’m a marketing guy and the technicalities of doing a site transfer just looked plain intimidating to me.
I couldn’t afford to mess up the process and lose all my data, SEO and backlinks that I had built up over the years.
Hiring a professional to do the job would be a extra expense and I was trying to keep costs down.
So I had a chat with SiteGround’s customer support executive, Pavlin, and he put me at ease right away with my quandary.
Here’s a gist of the conversation I had with Pavlin.
As you can see, that casual conversation with Pavlin instantly put my mind at ease. Unlike other hosts, I didn’t have to go through a ton of tutorials to move my website and do a redirect or hire an expensive professional to get the job done.
SiteGround Review : Why It Became My Choice of Web Host
Before I made my decision though, I also considered these factors.
Nobody wants to deal with a web host that promises to deliver one thing and then delivers something else when the deal is done.
Its annoying when your web host ASKS YOU TO READ their long winding policy document when things don’t work the way they promised. Hostgator was one such host that kept blocking my website repeatedly stating that I was having too much traffic! – when it wasn’t the case.
Unlike Hostgator, SiteGround comes with high recommendations – from none other than WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
In all, SiteGround comes with some pretty powerful recommendations. So that felt like a good start.
Live Setup Assistance
One of the biggest benefits of signing up for SiteGround is that they do all the work for you when you sign up. That’s HUGE.
SiteGround’s in-house experts do a free auto-migration as well as WordPress setup! In fact, if you have any specific software issues, they even do an investigation to help to fix those issues.
And mind, you all of this is FREE. Anybody else would charge you a heck of a lot of money for this service.
The SiteGround team really makes the effort to serve you. I believe it is by far the most cost-effective solution for a newbie who doesn’t know the ropes of getting started with his new website. It is also a huge time saver for anyone migrating their already existing website or business.
Server Reliability and Uptime Scores
Having a 24×7 operating web host is crucial to any online business. Whatever your choice of web host is, they need to be operating on a powerful server with stable network connections. 99.5% and above is usually the recommended uptime score while anything below 99% is simply unacceptable. You can find uptime information by reading reviews or track them yourself with free online tools.
SiteGround offers 99.99% uptime guarantee. That means you should have no more issues like internal server errors, bad gateways, connection failures, and website down screens ever again.
SiteGround makes this possible with top of the cutting edge LXC (Linux containers) technology, pro-active server monitoring and an efficient CHROOT account isolation technology on shared servers so that no single account can affect others.
In all, this met with my second most-important criteria – reliability and great uptime scores.
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Server Upgrade Options
Shared web hosts are quite powerful these days. If your WordPress blog has up to 25K unique visitors, a shared web hosting plan should be ideal. However, if you expect your website to grow (which you should!), you’ll need a web host that offers room to grow.
SiteGround lets you start off with a small plan if you are a newbie and gradually work your way up as your business expands. This image displays just the shared hosting package.
If you’re on a shared hosting plan, and want to test your code changes and new plugins but not on the live site, you can choose the GoGeek plan that lets you create a staging site to test them out before going live.
You can move up to the Cloud Hosting Plan if you have a large website, get heavy traffic or need the option to auto-scale your resources to avoid crashes during traffic spikes.
If your business needs more processing power, memory capacity, disk storage, and powerful security features, there’s always the dedicated server plans.
Backlinko’s Brian Dean talks about page speed as one of the 200 factors that Google uses in its ranking algorithm. Search Engine Land also agrees. Although this is not a 100% proven, the fact remains that there may be a Google penalty for slow sites.
That aside, slow page speeds also has a very dramatic effect on user experience. A slow loading website will send precious traffic away from you to your competitors. It goes to say that your conversions will also dry up. Therefore speed is a crucial factor for anyone running a web business.
SiteGround’s Shared Web Hosting Plans offer excellent features for speedy load times. The bigger the plan, the better the resource allocation. I also paired it up with KeyCDN and a few plugins to get great speeds on my site.
See my blog speeds before optimization:
And see them now:
How SiteGround Delivers Speedy Performance
4 Data Center Locations – SiteGround has 4 data centers located across 3 continents USA, Europe and Asia Pacific. In each location, they use the most extensively tested configuration to ensure your visitors get the quickest access to your web pages.
SSD Storage – Files and databases on all the shared hosting plans are stored on cutting edge SSD. Compared to regular drives they offer 1000x increase in input/output operations.
Customized Server Setup – SiteGround’s unique platform is built on Linux containers but they use a customized CentOS to ensure that each website on the shared platform gets unmatched server performance.
Free CDN – Having a CDN is absolutely crucial today, in the light of so many malicious attacks on websites. Even WordPress recommends it, so its wise not to ignore it.
SiteGround integrates the most popular CloudFlare network so you can mirror your site to more servers as well as keep that malicious traffic away. Setting up CloudFlare in Siteground is easy – all done from the Control panel.
HTTP/2 Enabled Servers – HTTP/2 is the newest version of the protocol that helps websites load faster. If your website visitor uses a HTTP/2 ready browser to visit your website, faster load times are guaranteed.
SuperCacher – SiteGround also offers a premium in-house caching service (FREE on GrowBig and GoGeek Plan) to drastically boost page speeds. The GrowBig Shared Hosting Plan that I use (currently $5.95/month) offers 3 levels of caching and that option is available if you want to aggressively improve page speeds.
Server Response Times
Now one of the issues I noticed with my Google Page Speed Insights report is the Reduce Server Response Time issue. This is the clearest sign yet that your server (hosting) is slow. I had this issue with Hostgator as well as Bluehost. Google recommends a server response time less than 200ms. Mine was 1.2 seconds on Bluehost.
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User Friendly CPanel
A user-friendly control panel is also a very, very important factor when choosing a web host. I found the going really tough when I signed up to Dreamhost for one of my websites. The experience of doing simple server changes is a nightmare and I don’t like using FTP because of security risks.
Thankfully, SiteGround puts me in the more familiar place with its easy-to-use CPanel that has everything I need in one place. One more off my check-list.
Site Backup Features
There are times when a website crashes. It can happen for any number of reasons. Maybe you got hacked; perhaps the server had a hard disk failure. Whatever the reason, you web host needs to ensure that daily backups are taken so your data is safe when such incidents happen.
SiteGround offers a free daily backup of your website and should an emergency arise, you can contact support to have the latest copy restored. The GrowBig plan offers 30 backups for free, but should you need more, you can buy a premium backup and restore service too.
This gives you more freedom to choose your backup options and restore data at your convenience. No need to rely on support.
Account Suspension Policies
Now one of the big problems I had with Bluehost was frequent account suspensions. The second big problem – support. Tirelessly waiting for support to address the site blockages cost me a lot in terms of time and money. If there are CPU overages (that is, your website has exceeded the resources limit included in your plan), your website will get temporarily suspended. But in my case, it wasn’t the case.
The good news with SiteGround is that I can check my resource usage status to find anomalies or quickly reach support for added help on a problem. I haven’t encountered this situation yet after moving to SiteGround – so far, so good.
I’m also taking some extra precautions to make sure that doesn’t happen. I have picked up a plan that can handle my traffic and I have enabled hotlink protection in Cloudflare. I don’t use resource-heavy plugins like a chat plugin and I make use of the AWstats in my CPanel to identify if there are any high executions. Wordfence is a plugin I am still considering, but with these checks in place, I should be good.
Security Protection Against Downtime, SPAM, Hacks & Data Loss
Downtime, SPAM, Hacks & Data Loss are dreaded situations that inevitably happens to everyone running an online business. Bluehost issued an apology when their Utah servers took down VPS, Dedicated and Shared Hosting websites that were served out of that facility. Although such things happen rarely, it still means a huge business loss for you and your business cannot afford such mistakes.
SiteGround has a number of checks and systems in place to prevent that.
To Avoid Power Outages – For instance the company has multiple power feeds, own power generators, and enterprise-class UPS technology in place for avoid power redundancy.
To Prevent Hardware Problems – In the event of a hardware problem, they can instantly replace any damaged part thanks to their policy of keeping on-site parts for every model. Heck, they even have whole servers on standby for emergencies.
To Minimize Downtime – One of the hottest virtualization technologies – LXC is used by SiteGround to scale up resources when there are sudden spikes in traffic. So if you experience unexpectedly high traffic, the chances of downtime are minimal.
Security When One Account is Affected – SiteGround’s Unique Account Isolation feature keeps all accounts on a shared server separate from each other. That way, if one hosting account is compromised, it does not affect other accounts on the machine. This makes even shared hosting accounts as secure as dedicated ones.
Server monitoring – This is another important area where SiteGround’s record is impressive. They make use of the fastest automatic monitoring system by Guardian 1H to ensure outages are fixed in less than a second after they have started. The standard reaction times are as much as 5 seconds. And another source of comfort – they also provide 24×7 human monitoring.
Anti-hack systems – SiteGround also has anti-hack systems in place. Rules are continuously added to their Web Application Firewall to protect customers from possible attacks. Proactive patches and updates are added regularly to ensure the server software gets the highest security.
SPAM protection – When it comes to protection from SPAM, SiteGround offers one of the most advanced spam solutions available in the market – SPAM Experts. This tool makes it easy to manage spam filters and quarantine zones to protect incoming and outgoing mail. This service is available on all shared hosting plans.
So when I consider how detailed they plan their protection against downtime, SPAM and other outages, its hard not to be impressed. I know I can trust my business to be protected from various vulnerabilities that are becoming so common today.
If a web host offered all of the important features I mentioned above and then threw in average support – just strike them off the list.
JUST STRIKE THEM OFF.
I’ve been through the tech support teams of JustHost, TMD Hosting, Dreamhost, Hostgator, Inmotion and Bluehost. Inmotion and TMD Hosting support teams were adequate but couldn’t help me at all when I had some technical issues with my site.
Bluehost has a good support team, but good luck getting to them. They do not have a ticketing /email support system. You either call or live chat. If you go for the latter, they make sure to leave you waiting in the queue for at least 20-30 minutes every single time.
And then, when you do get a customer support executive, you find that he/she is already chatting with someone else and keeps you waiting endlessly for a reply. One time, I had a support executive give me replies for problems I wasn’t even facing. I had to tell the poor fellow multiple times that he was probably meaning to send that reply to another customer before he eventually realized his mistake.
When you’re having a bad day at the office, you need good support to help you sort out your problems. Or, your bad day gets WORSE!
Customers are not a ticket number to be closed out ASAP. We are people investing our hard earned money in web hosts to keep our businesses running. When we have concerns, we expect support to be understanding and assure us that the problem can be fixed quickly. We don’t deserve a support team that tells us to read the following link to figure out why a 404 error turned up.
My Experience with SiteGround Support
My first interaction with SiteGround’s support was fantastic. I truly felt like a special customer when I spoke to the executives there. The guys I interacted with were pleasant and friendly. They even checked out my website and complimented me on my logo design.
Its important to be thoughtful and nice when you’re in this business and I’ve never felt more valued as a business customer than with SiteGround. For that, SiteGround gets my complete respect. (See what other customers are saying about SiteGround)
Now SiteGround also promises amazing 24×7 tech support with super fast resolutions for critical issues – in under 5 minutes. In my interactions with them, I can only say that I have no hesitation that they will be true to their word. There were some minor issues that I needed ironed out with my sites and they were super helpful.
I had Pavlin help me with my website migration and he guided me with the whole process in just under 15 minutes. He said he’d take care of the cPanel migration so that my web transfer would be seamless and all I had o do was sit back and relax. Woah!
And true to his word, the site was up and ready the next day. That’s 5-star customer service for you!
In case you were wondering, SiteGround also offers phone, live chat, and ticketing system to answer your queries. And if you require premium support, you can get the highest level of technical assistance on priority as well.
Other Variables – eCommerce Features
Now I don’t have an eCommerce site, but if you do, then you should be pleased as punch that they have the following eCommerce features in their shared hosting packages.
Free Shopping Cart Install – SiteGround offers free installation of a shopping cart of your choice from popular shopping carts including Magento, osCommerce, PrestaShop and more.
Free Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificate – You can also install security certificates by the open certificate authority CA. These are easy to configure and automatically renew year after year.
Premium Wildcard SSL Certificate – If you want, you can also buy a premium SSL certificate to protect your site visitor’s identity. With SiteGround, this is free for the first year.
Free PCI Compliance – With the GoGeek plan, you can also enjoy the benefits of complete PCI compliance and security to prevent credit card frauds.
So that’s a roundup of the features that convinced me to consider signing up for a SiteGround account. What completely tilted the balance in their favor was the fantastic customer support service.
The support executive did not have to sell anything or convince me. There were no marketing gimmicks involved.
Just notice the chat conversations below.
“As a new addition to our growing family, WE will be happy to do a free website transfer for you”
“And as bluehost use cPanel, WE can instead do a full cPanel transfer for you 😉 This will migrate everything: site content (files and databases), emails, email addresses, and so on”
“WE can easily redirect one of the domains to the other one by using a standard redirect.”
“So once WE have everything transferred here, WE can easily help you do a redirection and it will be working like a charm”
In all these statements, SiteGround said one thing “WE will do ———- and ————- for you”
These statements promise ACTION, they promise RESULTS and they promise DELIVERANCE.
Confidence in Your Web Host
How many web hosts can give you such a guarantee. Even with Bluehost, I had to go through a ton of tutorials to set up and transfer my websites. With SiteGround, I know my websites are in good hands. I have great confidence in their abilities. I know I can focus on my other business tasks while they are transferring my websites or when I’m faced with some technical problems.
If you are a newbie, stop struggling with tons of tutorials and finding your way around setting up a website all by yourself. Get yourself a SiteGround account and let them do the work for you.
If you are in the process of migrating web hosts, don’t waste your time watching tutorials, then taking backups and doing the transfer manually. You’ll be worried sick if you’re doing it correctly and whether your SEO and backlinks will be intact at the end of it all.
Instead just leave all the work to SiteGround – they are experts who will do the entire job for you for FREE.
As Pavlin put it so nicely in our chat…
Pavlin I.: You can sit back and enjoy your day!
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With SiteGround, a good CDN and a well optimized WordPress theme, I have transformed my page speed numbers from dismal 65-75 speeds to 85-92 page speeds – not just for desktop, but also for mobile.
SiteGround was a refreshingly wonderful change after moving from Bluehost where I was facing continuous downtimes, a slow website, and terrible support. I can pretty much guarantee that you will be happy with SiteGround for hosting your WordPress websites.
I know I am.
If you found all this information too much to digest, here’s a quick look at what you get with SiteGround’s Plans.
- Free SSD (1 year) with easy 1-click setup.
- HTTP/2 enabled servers & PHP 7 support
- 30 Free Backups and easy restore options
- Unlimited Disk Space
- Free Cloudflare CDN with 1 click installation
- Free website migration with no downtime
- Easy WordPress installation
- 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
- 24×7 Support
If you want a web host that offers blazing fast website performance, the best technological tools, great customer support and cheap and affordable WordPress hosting, I recommend SiteGround without any hesitation.
They have some great discounts on all their plans as you can see below! Click the image to get started.
Was my SiteGround review helpful to you? If you have any questions or want to share your experiences, feel free to drop in your comments. I’d also love it if you could share your user ratings below so others can benefit as well!