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Honest SiteGround Webhosting Review – Is SiteGround Worth it in 2021?

SiteGround is one of the web’s most popular webhosting services and is currently hosting over 2 million domains.

SiteGround is an officially recommended host by WordPress.org and their name frequently pops up in “best hosting” lists, but do they deliver on their promises? And is their service still worth the money in 2021? (Spoiler: we think not!)

In this honest SiteGround Webhosting review I’ll cover exactly what you get with SiteGround, explain some changes they made to their service last year, and suggest some alternatives if you decide SiteGround is not the host for you.

If you want to give SiteGround a try for yourself, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on all shared hosting plans. You can sign up here.

What is SiteGround?

SiteGround is a web hosting company based in Bulgaria that offers shared, cloud, WooCommerce, and managed WordPress hosting as well as reseller and enterprise hosting services.

Founded in 2004, the company now has four offices in Europe and America and more than 500 employees.

SiteGround has six datacenters across the USA, Europe, Asia, and Australia and powers part of its infrastructure with Google Cloud. All the data centers are green-friendly and offer multi-layered security.

SiteGround Hosting Plans

SiteGround offers 3 shared hosting plans, all of which offer managed WordPress services including auto-updates of WordPress core and plugins, plus specialist support.

Scalable cloud hosting is also available for websites that need more resources, and white label reseller hosting is an option for individuals and companies that build or manage sites for multiple clients.

SiteGround also offers bespoke hosting for enterprises with personal account managers and custom-built architecture.

You can compare the features and limits of the different SiteGround hosting plans in the tables below:

SiteGround Shared Hosting

 StartUpGrowBigGoGeek
Price$6.99/mo.$9.99/mo.$14.99/mo.
No. of websites supported1unlimitedunlimited
Web space10GB20GB40GB
Monthly visits10,00025,000100,000
On-demand backupsNoYesYes
Speed-boosting cachingNoYesYes
Staging environmentNoYesYes
Add collaboratorsNoYesYes
EmailFree unlimited accountsFree unlimited accountsFree unlimited accounts
Additional hosting features  Add white label clients, use additional server resources, ultra-fast PHP implementation, priority support

All accounts include unmetered traffic, free WordPress installation, free WordPress migrator plugin, WordPress auto-updates, free SSL, automatic daily backup, free Cloudflare CDN, and unlimited databases.

SiteGround Managed Cloud Hosting

 EntryBusinessBusiness PlusSuper Power
Price$80/mo.$120/mo.$160/mo.$240/mo.
CPU cores3459
Memory6GB8GB10GB12GB
SSD space40GB60GB80GB120GB
Data transfer5TB5TB5TB5TB

All cloud hosting plans are fully managed, include guaranteed resources, and can be scaled up automatically or on-demand.

It’s important to note that these prices are “promotional” and will renew at a significantly higher price. At current rates, StartUp increases from $6.99 to $14.99 a month, GrowBig increases from $9.99 to $24.99 a month, and GoGeek increases from $14.99 to $39.99 a month.

There’s no way to “lock-in” the lower rates. Indeed if you want to sign up for a period of longer than 12 months, you’ll be charged a higher monthly rate.

SiteGround Hosting Features

SiteGround offers some useful features and services to those who are considering moving web hosts or setting up a new site. These include:

Site Building Tools

SiteGround comes with the option of one-click WordPress installation or free Weebly drag-and-drop site builder.

Website Transfer

SiteGround offers a professional website transfer service but it’s important to note that this is not included in the cost of hosting. Website transfer costs from $30 per site.

They also offer a free WordPress migration plugin so you can transfer your site yourself. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that some other hosts will transfer your site to their servers for free.

Managed WordPress Services

All SiteGround managed WordPress hosting plans include WordPress installation, automated updates of WordPress core and plugins, advanced caching and expert WordPress support.

However if you’re looking for managed WordPress services, be sure to look carefully at what is offered, as you don’t get the continual monitoring and security and developer tools that some managed WordPress hosts offer.

Collaboration Tools

SiteGround offers a suite of tools to aid in collaboration and client management. The hosting management interface comes with user roles and access rights and on the GrowBig and GoGeek hosting plans you can add individual logins so collaborators can build or maintain your site for you and contact support.

You can also transfer websites directly to another SiteGround customer and give clients white-label access to site tools so they won’t see the SiteGround name or logo anywhere.

Google Cloud Platform with SSD storage

All SiteGround customers that signed up after 1 January 2020 are hosted on the Google Cloud platform with SSD persistent storage and 100% renewable energy match.

Technical Solutions Built In-House

SiteGround builds its own technology solutions in-house to ensure maximum security for their hosting clients including custom SSL integration and AI software to prevent brute-force attacks.

SiteGround Site Admin

We don’t write hosting reviews without actually trying out the service so of course, we have a site set up on SiteGround to perform tests and show you what things look like from the back end. You can also visit our site running on SiteGround at http://wp-testsite2.com/

SiteGround user area

This is what you’ll see when you first log in to SiteGround. There are some videos showing you how to set up a WordPress site and use the SG Optimizer plugin, as well as some links to common tools such as checking for malware, enabling dynamic caching, backing up your site, making staging copies of your site, etc. Some of these tools are only available to the more expensive plans and will prompt you to upgrade if you’re on the basic plan.

There are also links to a domain name marketplace, referral program, billing area, a services section where you can add a new hosting plan or domain.

The most useful tab of the client area is the “Websites” tab, which includes links to your site tools and WordPress tab as well as optional free and paid extra services you can add such as SSL, CDN, and website scanner.

SiteGround websites tab

From this screen, you can also access a collaboration area where you can add users who will have access to your site tools (this is only possible on GrowBig or higher plans.)

The WordPress kit includes useful shortcuts for managing your WordPress site. All of these tools are also accessible through the main site tools interface

SiteGround WordPress kit

Finally, in “Site Tools” you’ll find most of the settings and tools you need for managing your site. This is SiteGround’s alternative to cPanel, which they started phasing out in 2019.

SiteGround site tools

Here you can see information about how much disk space and inodes you’re using, site analytics, file manager, ftp accounts, MySQL, backups and security settings, caching and Cloudflare settings, WordPress tools, domain tools, email, error and access logs, and development tools.

I have to give credit where it’s due – I find the SiteGround site tools to be very intuitive and easy to use. Some users were upset at the move away from cPanel, but many hosts have made the same decision since cPanel announced changes to their license pricing structure from 2020.

If you go into your WordPress dashboard, you can also access the SG Optimizer plugin, which has various settings to speed up your site and a link to a speed test.

SG optimizer plugin

SiteGround Support

SiteGround offers 24/7 support via live chat, phone, and a helpdesk ticketing system.

While this may seem sufficient, in practice help is only available via live chat or telephone initially. Tickets can only be raised by a customer support agent if they decide your problem is complicated enough to be escalated to senior support.

For most support needs, this system works well. Indeed, if you take a look at independent review websites like Trustpilot you’ll see that most of the reviews praise their excellent customer support (whether these reviews are genuine or not is a matter for debate).

However, it’s where the issue is a little more complicated and can’t be so quickly resolved that the support system falls down.

Blogger Shawna Newman explained to me that she recently had a problem adding one of her SiteGround-hosted sites to the Ezoic ad network, causing her site to be down for 24 hours and then displaying an anti-bot captcha on all her posts.

She added:

“I just wanted to warn anyone who has Siteground that you first have to contact the senior tech support to disable their anti-bot captcha…You can’t submit tickets like you used to be able to do with Siteground. Your options are to call or to do a live chat. What a waste of time! I have a second site I’m adding to Ezoic next week, so I asked they go ahead and make the same fix for that site. Senior support dude tells me I’ll have to have a completely different ticket created for that…which, of course, means waiting on chat AGAIN.”

Conversations on social media indicate that these problems with support are far from an isolated issue.

SiteGround support has gone downhill

There’s also an issue during busy times as all the support agents may be occupied. For example, I noticed a comment on the official SiteGround Facebook page for a customer who had been waiting for chat support for over 30 minutes because all agents were busy with a high number of requests due to a Black Friday promotion. However, with no option to email about her issue she had no alternative but to wait.

There have also been reports from users that they have been blocked from live chat support because they use it too much.

SiteGround Performance and Speed Tests

Around 5 months ago I wrote a detailed comparison of SiteGround and WPX hosting including speed and performance tests, and I’d encourage you to go and read that post to see the full details of the tests.

To summarize my findings from the tests, the SiteGround site performed pretty well in general.

However, when submitted to a high traffic load, the performance of the SiteGround site was noticeably affected.

In summary, for small sites that don’t have large levels of traffic, I found the speed of SiteGround hosting to be comparable to other hosts. However, for sites with significant traffic, it’s worth considering an alternative that performs better under a high load.

I ran both test sites through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if there was any difference in speed between the two sites at the time of writing this review (both sites are an exact clone of each other).

The site hosted on WPX Hosting got a score of 34 – not exactly dazzling, but perhaps expected as I purposefully used an image-heavy “slow” theme.

Google PageSpeed test for site hosted on WPX Hosting

However, the exact same site hosted on SiteGround performed even worse with a score of only 15.

Google PageSpeed test for site hosted on SiteGround

I also ran both sites through GTmetrix with similar results – the site hosted on WPX hosting achieved a B rating, while the SiteGround site performed significantly worse and just scraped a C.

GTmetrix test for WPX hosting site
Site hosted on WPX Hosting
GTmetric test for SiteGround site
Site hosted on SiteGround

Remember, these tests were performed using the recommended caching settings and optimization plugin.

I can’t say for sure whether the speed of the site has declined since I previously performed tests or if the server was just having a bad day, but this certainly doesn’t bode well for the current speed and performance of SiteGround hosting.

In fact, SiteGround comes bottom of the list for performance of major hosting providers according to a study of 5.2 million web pages by Backlinko.

Performance of major hosting providers

SiteGround Pros and Cons

So now we’ve given a basic overview of what you get with SiteGround, so is it still worth considering as a web host in 2021?

Let’s start with the pros:

  • Established company with a great reputation – SiteGround has been in business for over 15 years and has earned itself a reputation of providing great service.
  • Flexible hosting plans – SiteGround offers plans for everyone, whether you just need to host a single small site or you have complex requirements. Plus, you can scale up easily as your business grows.
  • Easy to use – SiteGround gets top marks for ease of use from their customers and the managed WordPress services can save you a lot of time and help to keep your site secure.
  • Several server locations – SiteGround has datacenters all over the world and you can choose the one that’s closest to the majority of your site traffic.
  • Unlimited traffic – While some hosts monitor your site’s traffic and will ask you to upgrade your hosting or even disable your site when you reach certain levels, SiteGround allows unlimited traffic for all plan levels.
  • Collaboration tools – if several people are working on your site or you build or manage sites for clients, the collaboration tools offered by SiteGround can be useful.
  • Free and efficient backup system – SiteGround includes automatic daily backups and offers on-demand daily backups, and they’re easy to restore if needed.

And now some cons, or why you might want to consider using an alternative to SiteGround:

  • Expensive – there’s no denying it. SiteGround’s plans are very expensive when you consider them to similar plans from other web hosts. SiteGround has already increased their prices twice in the last 2 years.
  • Rates increase after renewal – even worse than the high rates is the fact that the price increases so dramatically at renewal time. While this practice is not uncommon in the hosting industry, many of the negative reviews of SiteGround state how shocked they were to receive a renewal bill as high as 3x what they originally paid
  • Small limits on webspace and inodes – the cheapest SiteGround plan offers only 10GB of space and 150,000 inodes (files and folders), which will quickly be outgrown for large sites or those hosting many files.
  • Inefficient support – while SiteGround was previously praised for their excellent quality of support, it seems the service has gone downhill in the last year, particularly because they have withdrawn email support.
  • No free site transfer service – some other hosts will transfer your site to their servers for free. SiteGround expects you to do this yourself or charges extra if you want them to handle it.
  • No domain included – it’s common for shared hosts to include a domain for the first year of hosting. While this can easily be purchased elsewhere, it seems a bit mean to include it when the hosting isn’t exactly cheap in the first place.
  • Lackluster site speed and performance – judging from both our own speed tests and anecdotal evidence from recent online reviews, SiteGround does not seem to offer the speed it promises, at least not for cheaper account plans.

Conclusion – Is SiteGround Still Any Good in 2021?

While SiteGround has delivered solid performance and reliability over the years, their support has gone downhill in the last year and the service is not as good as it used to be.

SiteGround hosting packages are also more expensive than similar hosting packages offered by other hosts and price increases can be a shock when it comes to renewal time as you can see from this Facebook comment (one of many) in response to their “Happy New Year” post.

SiteGround Facebook comment

For these reasons, we believe SiteGround no longer offers good value for money.

We don’t use it for hosting our own sites any more and we no longer recommend it for shared or managed WordPress hosting.

SiteGround do offer advanced caching and speedboost options for the more expensive plans. However as we have only tested the basic account, we can neither confirm or deny the quality of the services or the value for money for the more expensive shared hosting plans or the cloud hosting plans.

If you’re looking for affordable, reliable shared or cloud hosting for your WordPress site, or WooCommerce store, we’d suggest using one of the SiteGround alternatives listed below.

SiteGround Alternatives

So if you’ve decided SiteGround is a no-go after reading all that, which web host should you choose instead?

We recommend three web hosts, all of which we’ve tested and use ourselves, and that offer high performance and good value for money for running WordPress sites.

We use WPX Hosting to host Kikolani and have been very happy with the service. You can read our full WPX Hosting review and explanation of why we chose it here. WPX offers great speed and performance and excellent support starting from $20.83 a month. See WPX hosting plans here.

WPX Hosting

Flywheel is another host we recommend for great speed and support. Flywheel is a fully managed WordPress hosting service aimed at freelancers and agencies that starts at just $15 a month. Check out their hosting plans here.

Flywheel

For enterprises and large sites with high traffic levels where performance is critical, you need the best of the best. In this case we’d recommend Kinsta for hosting. Kinsta is more expensive than some other managed WordPress plans, with hosting starting at $30 a month, but their support, security, and speed are second to none. You can find out more about Kinsta here.

SiteGround Hosting FAQs

Is SiteGround a good hosting company?

SiteGround is a highly recommended host and they’re certainly not the worst out there but their plans are expensive for what you get and there are better options available.

Why is SiteGround so slow?

SiteGround’s servers aren’t as powerful as other hosting providers so sites hosted with them can be slow and sluggish. To speed up your SiteGround site, make sure you’re using the recommended settings for caching and the SG optimization plugin and contact support for further recommendations. If you don’t see improvement, you may want to consider moving to a faster web host.

Which SiteGround Plan is best?

GrowBig is the plan that offers most value for money and is the cheapest plan for hosting more than one site. However, at $24.99 a month after the first year, there are better value for money options with other web hosts.

What is the fastest hosting for WordPress sites?

Kinsta, Flywheel, and WPX Hosting all perform well in speed tests and offer good value for money.