I started a WordPress blog in 2013 and at that time I was a complete newbie.
I was one of those who didn’t know what WordPress is and whether I need to buy a domain for a blog or not.
So I did what most of the people in my situation would do.
I looked at the people who had popular blogs and copied them.
…. and that turned out to be a mistake!
One of the popular blogs in my niche was using GoDaddy for hosting the blog and I thought – if it’s good enough for it, it should be good enough for me.
So, I went ahead and bought a domain name and hosting from GoDaddy.
Things went well for quite a few months, but when my traffic crossed 50K+ page views a month, I started facing issues. I was getting emails from my readers that my site was often down.
To cut the long story short…
When I started facing issues, I did a lot of research on hosting and moved to SiteGround.
And I have never faced any issues so far.
In this article, I will cover all the important things you need to know about shared hosting and how SiteGround performs in these areas. While I am a fan of Siteground, it’s not perfect – and I will also mention the areas that need improvement.
If you’re in a hurry, here is the condensed summary of it:
|What I Liked||What I Don’t Like|
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What is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting means that there are limited resources that are being shared by multiple sites.
Imagine having multiple applications open on your laptop.
What happens when one application starts to take up a lot of processing power?
The rest of the applications either become really slow or worst – stop altogether.
Something similar happens with shared hosting.
Since there are limited resources being shared among multiple sites, you’re not likely to face issues when your blog is in the growth stage, but when it gets a lot of traffic, you’ll need hosting with more resources.
Don’t get me wrong.
Shared hosting works perfectly for new or low (or even mid) traffic blogs.
And above all, it’s not expensive.
SiteGround – The Best Shared Hosting on the planet
SiteGround is a relatively new player in the world of hosting, which has long been dominated by players such as GoDaddy and a host of EIG companies (such as HostGator, Bluehost, BigRock, and iPage).
SiteGround is an independently owned hosting company based in Bulgaria with data centers in four countries (US, UK, Netherlands, and Singapore).
It uses state-of-the-art infrastructure which includes the following:
- Multiple failover options including multiple power feed, own power generators, and enterprise-class UPS technology
- On-site replacement of parts as well as whole spare servers at hand, installed, plugged and ready to go in a matter of minutes to dramatically minimize any downtime
- Accounts on all SiteGround shared servers are isolated from each other. This ensures that if there is one vulnerable hosting account, it will not affect the rest of the accounts on the same machine.
Based on the performance tests done by Review Signal, SiteGround is among the top performance shared hosting in 2018.
With more than 5500+ reviews, it’s rated the best shared hosting company by review signal (way ahead of the next best hosting company).
SiteGround is also one of the hosting recommended by WordPress itself, which is a huge validation of it’s performance and ease of use.
SiteGround Shared Hosting Plans
SiteGround offers three shared hosting plans:
- StartUp: Best for low traffic sites or new blogs/sites. This plan allows hosting only one site.
- GrowBig: Best when you want to host multiple sites which have low or medium traffic. Based on my experience, it can manage 50K+ page views a month (with the use of caching and CDN – covered later in this article).
- GoGeek: Best when you want to host multiple sites with high traffic. Based on my experience, it can manage up to 1,50,000+ page views (with the use of caching and CDN – covered later in this article).
I started with their StartUp plan for one of my new blogs and then upgraded to their GoGeek plan (2 months later).
As of now, I host 10+ sites on their GoGeek plan, including CraftOfBlogging.com.
When you signup for SiteGround, they offer a generous discount (60-70% off on monthly cost). However, this goes away at the time of renewals.
So if you can, signup for 3 years to get a maximum discount out of it.
You would notice that SiteGround offers Web hosting and WordPress hosting. These are exactly the same and only difference is in the name. I even confirmed it with the SiteGround chat support.
What makes SiteGround Worth It?
SiteGround comes with a lot of great features that makes it a high-performance platform for website hosting.
This article will not just be the praises of SiteGround. It’s great, but it’s not perfect and I will also cover the areas that can be better.
But first, let me tell you the things that make SiteGround worth it.
Coming from GoDaddy, the support from SiteGround was such a pleasant change.
I had wasted hundreds of hours with GoDaddy support staff, often with no resolutions, but with SiteGround, it all changed.
SiteGround has chat support that is sufficient in most of the cases. Their support engineers are knowledgeable and quite helpful.
In my time I have been with SiteGround, I have reached out to support for 50+ times, and they have always been able to sort issues for me.
They either guide you with each step or point you in the right direction with an existing tutorial. In some cases, they even did the work for me while I waited on chat.
I am not a techie and often reach out to support. Below is one of the many chats where they helped me get the issues sorted.
Free One-click SSL
With SSL becoming the new norm, SiteGround makes it super easy to install an SSL certificate.
All you have to do is click a button (and if you can’t figure that out, just reach out to their support and they will get it done for you).
With GoDaddy and Hostgator, installing an SSL certificate meant shelling some bucks to first buy it, and then banging my head on the technology wall to install it.
Free 1-Click CDN
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) allows you content to be delivered to different people in the world using the server closest to them.
For example, if you have your site hosted in the Singapore server of SiteGround and someone from the US visits it, then the request to fetch the site goes from the US to Singapore.
A CDN has a network of servers which allows you to serve your site from the server that is closest to the visitor.
With SiteGround, you can enable Cloudflare CDN with a single click.
While CloudFlare is a free service, configuring it yourself can take some time and effort. But with SiteGround, it’s all super easy.
Free Daily Backups
All shared hosting plans from SiteGround come with free daily backups.
With Growbig and GoGeek plans, you also get a 1-click restore, which means that in case something goes wrong with your site, you can easily use the latest backup to get back your site with a single click.
With GoGeek, you also get back-up on demand. This can be useful when you’re making some changes on your site and want to take a backup just in case something goes wrong.
Note: I am paranoid about backups and I take backup of my sites in three different ways. While the backup service of SiteGround is amazing and has not failed me, I still recommend you still use one more way to back up your site.
Free Site Transfer
For GrowBig and GoGeek plans, you get a free site transfer to SiteGround.
This means that if you already have a site somewhere and you want to shift that site to SiteGround, you can request them to do this for you.
They will ask you some details – such as the domain name and the cPanel username and password – and do it for you.
Once the site transfer is done, they will guide you with the next steps so that your site is completely migrated and is using the servers from SiteGround.
And in case you’re using the StartUp plan or are out of the free transfers, there is a free migrator plugin by SiteGround that is super easy to use and migrates your site with a few clicks.
Staging is something you use when you want to create an exact clone of your site. This is often done when you’re making changes to your site (such as changing themes or testing plugins) and don’t want the live site to be impacted.
With the GoGeek plan in SiteGround, you get a one-click staging feature.
Once you have made the changes in the staging site, you can migrate from the live site to the staging site (and make the staging site live).
Optimized for Higher Performance
SiteGround shared hosting uses a number of tools and infrastructure to make sure you get blazing fast sites on any plan you choose.
These are available on all the shared hosting plans, which means that even if you’re on their lower tier plan, you still get the same high-quality tools/infrastructure powering your site.
Let me quickly cover some of the things that makes SiteGround hosting blazing fast.
All the shared hosting plans of SiteGround are powered by SSD (Solid State Disk) hardware.
This will make your sites load faster and perform better.
Note: Lately, SSD has become a norm in the hosting space and you’ll find a lot of the hosting companies use SSD for shared hosting.
Nginx Servers (instead of Apache)
SiteGround uses Nginx (pronounced as Engine X) servers instead of Apache.
Nginx is a reverse proxy web server that is used to serve dynamic website content and control server load. It can manage the traffic on your website better than Apache servers as it can distribute the load and serve the content faster.
Bottom line – This will help your site load faster and perform better.
SuperCacher is developed by SiteGround exclusively for its customers. It’s a caching mechanism that helps speed up your sites.
It’s an in-house tool by SiteGround that uses a caching mechanism based on NGINX reverse proxy.
When Supercacher is enabled, your site can handle a lot number of hits without using a lot of resources. This is the reason I say that you can get any of the plans from SiteGround and it will handle 2-3 times the number of page views as specified in your plan.
HTTP/2 enabled servers
HTTP/2 is a technology that allows a server to serve multiple files simultaneously (as compared to serving it one after the other).
Bottom line – your site loads faster.
SiteGround is among the first hosting companies to adopt the HTTP/2 technology on their servers.
And here are the results form Web Page Test when using SiteGround and doing some optimization (such as using CDN and caching).
And another one from GTMetrix:
Content To Educate and Help Users
SiteGround has a lot of supporting content and informational articles that will help you solve most of the issues yourself. All you have to do is search on their site (or do a simple search on Google).
And in case you don’t find what you’re looking for, reach out to their chat support and they will guide you in the right direction.
What is Not So Good (Or Can be Improved)
Now that I have covered all the great things about SiteGround, let me also talk about a few things that can be improved.
It’s Expensive on Renewal
Compared with other hosting plans from other companies, SiteGround is definitely on the higher side.
A good thing is that you get some initial discount when you sign-up for shared hosting, but renewals are expensive.
For example, their StartUp plan will cost you $47.4 for one year when you sign-up, but it will be $143.4 when you renew it a year later. That’s a huge jump and makes SiteGround one of the expensive shared hosting plans.
In case you’re using SiteGround’s GoGeek plan, your renewal cost is going to be ~$35 per month. At a similar cost, you can get the next level hosting by WPX. If you less than or equal to 5 sites, you can choose their business plan (~$25 a month) and it can handle up to 1 million page views for you.
No. of Executions (CPU Seconds) Can Become a Limitation
When you first look at the shared hosting plans by SiteGround, you will notice that they mention the number of unique visitors each plan can handle:
- StartUp – ~10,000 unique visits monthly
- GrowBig: ~25,000 unique visits monthly
- GoGeek: ~100,000 unique visits monthly
And if you use caching and a CDN, you’re plan is likely to handle three times more traffic then mentioned.
I find this a fair thing as SiteGround is quite upfront in what it can handle, and with proper setup of caching and CDN allows a lot more pageviews.
The reason it can accommodate more page views is that it tracks the number of executions and the CPU seconds usage (and not the actual page views as it suggests).
Here is what SiteGround has to say about what is an execution:
A simple example of an ‘execution’ is when a visitor opens your website and your index PHP file is loaded. This counts as one execution. The more visitors your website has, the more executions it will generate. Please note that this is valid only for dynamically generated content. If you open a picture or an HTML page a new execution will not be generated on the server. Executions are counted for the following scripting languages – PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, etc.
So every unique visit that makes the index PHP file loads counts towards and execution and takes up CPU seconds.
But I wanted to be absolutely sure about this, so I reached out to the SiteGround support and asked about CPU usage and its relation with the unique visits.
The number of executions and the CPU seconds usage is going to be a limitation when you have a badly coded site with no optimizations – such as CDN and caching.
Caching ensures a new execution does not happen and the user is served from the cached data only.
Below are the CPU seconds usage limits for each shared hosting plan:
- StartUp – 300,000
- GrowBig: 600,000
- GoGeek: 800,000
Here are some suggestions by SiteGround on how to reduce the CPU seconds usage.
But what if your site suddenly gets features on a popular site and gets tons of referral traffic or goes viral on social media.
If that happens and your CPU cycle usage is exceeded, SiteGround will send you a warning email (once it uses 90% of the CPU cycles), but at the same time, you may find your site slowing down, or even worse – down.
It would be better if SiteGround keeps my site running and sends me a bill for extra usage. That would ensure I don’t lose out on any extra surge in traffic or my website isn’t down while I am promoting it. Autoscaling is a feature that is available with cloud hosting in SiteGround, but it’s not there with shared hosting plans.
Buying Domains From it Can be Expensive
SiteGround is primarily a hosting company. You can also buy domains from it but it can be expensive.
Instead of buying a domain from SiteGround, get one from NameCheap and then buy hosting from SiteGround.
All you need to do is change the name servers of the domain and point it to SiteGround servers. If you don’t know what this means, just ask their support and they will guide it (it takes less than a minute to do this).
If you have a really high traffic site, I recommend using the managed WordPress hosting by Kinsta. You can read my Kinsta Review here.
While no hosting is ever going to be perfect, SiteGround is the best-shared hosting that offers performance as well as ease of use.
Even if you’re completely new to WordPress and site hosting, you can easily get started with it in minutes. Even if you already have a blog or a site and are looking for better performance hosting, consider moving to SiteGround.
With SiteGround you get two very crucial part of hosting – amazing performance and great support.
The only real drawback you may find is that it’s slightly more expensive than some of the other hosting providers, but if you take their hosting for 2 or 3 years, you get locked in at the discounted price.