Sunday 27th May 2018

Siteground Review

Overview

Overall rating:

7.8/10

Price:

$3.95

Uptime (Jan 18):

100%

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Overview

Overall rating:

7.8/10

Price:

$3.95

Setup:

6 hours

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Overall

We like Siteground – in particular, we like their transparency, features and customer service.

  • We maintain a test hosting package with Siteground which we performance test on a minute-by-minute basis. Their uptime is among the best but response time is average.
  • All shared hosting accounts benefit from SSD storage (which is still more unusual than you’d think). Siteground upgraded all of their server hardware for shared hosting accounts in 2015.
  • There are a number of restrictions set on your account, from script executions per day and server-side processes to CPU usage and inode restrictions (to their credit Siteground gives more detail about these restrictions than most of the other web hosts we’ve reviewed). You can read more information below (under ‘restrictions’)
  • They don’t offer a free domain name with shared hosting packages (which is unusual however they’re also less expensive than many web hosts which do offer a free domain) – .com registrations are $14.95 and domain privacy is $1 per month
  • Unlike a number of web hosts they support HTTP/2 for all shared hosting accounts and they offer free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates (you need HTTPS if you want to take advantage of HTTP/2)
  • Siteground offer free website migrations for new customers (unlike other hosts which either don’t offer the service or charge a premium for it)
  • They restrict your account to 10 simultaneous server-side processes but this metric, available in your cPanel, is not affected by, nor does it include, HTTP connections made by visitors to your website (more about this below)
  • They offer a 99.90% uptime guarantee and they also offer some generous compensation terms if they fail to honor the guarantee
  • They offer a 30 day money-back guarantee on all shared hosting accounts (Hostgator offers 45 days, A2 Hosting offers ‘anytime’ and Dreamhost offers 90 days)
  • Their shared hosting accounts renew automatically for the same term and at a significantly higher cost (more information below)
  • Siteground includes CloudFlare – a ‘content delivery network’ – as standard across all accounts.
  • They make a free daily backup of your website files, database and email (again, a lot of hosts charge a premium for this service) and they will also restore where required
  • The offer live chat, phone and ticketing support and their live chat in particular is well resourced and very responsive (even technical questions were handled with relative ease)
  • We loved some of the more advanced features included in the GoGeek package eg a staging area for WordPress installations (it allows you to maintain separate development and production areas to test changes before you publish them) and git integration.

Features

8/10

service

9.5/10

Performance

6.5/10

Cost

7/10

Host overview

Performance: January 2018 (to date)

Response Time:

1597ms

Uptime:

100%

Average uptime for all hosts in January 2018 (to date) is 99.80% while average response time for all web hosts in January 2018 (to date) is 1,254ms.

Cost, setup and website migrations

Looking at cost, and like most web hosts, the price you’re advertised isn’t the price you pay when you proceed through checkout.

The entry-level ‘StartUp’ package is billed at $3.95 per month but requires you pay 12 months in advance. Unlike a lot of web hosts, they don’t vary the monthly rate depending on whether you subscribe for 12 months, 24 months or 36 months – it’s set at $3.95.

If you want to subscribe for 12 months the annual cost will be $47.40 (which is on average quite cheap for the service on offer).

It’s worth noting that your hosting package will automatically renew at the higher rate of $9.95 per month at the end of your term and it will be payable over the same term you initially subscribed under (the annual renewal cost for a 12 month subscription will be $119.40.

Your monthly rate will increase to $9.95 per month in month 2 (based on this we recommend you lock in the introductory rate for as long as possible by subscribing at least 12 months in advance).

If you want to subscribe monthly then you can start on a trial basis paying $2.95 per month and a $14.95 setup fee (we weren’t willing to pay this).

Another major advantage to Siteground is they offer free website migrations. Some hosts eg Bluehost, charge a premium for this service (Bluehost charges $149.99). You can migrate your website after signing up.

Their site migration service doesn’t just transfer your website but all of your email accounts too (providing your previous host uses cPanel).

Setup was relatively; their nameservers were easy to locate, we took advantage of the 1-click WordPress installation and everything propagated within 6 hours.

Restrictions

When we first login to a cPanel we immediately proceed to the homepage sidebar. It’s the one place where you are likely to gain an impression on how transparent the host is with limitations on server usage.

Siteground didn’t disappoint and provides more detail in their admin panel and their help and price comparison pages than any other web host we’ve reviewed.

The most important restrictions Siteground set relate to CPU usage and script executions.

  • CPU usage for ‘StartUp’ hosting accounts is limited to 20% and for a period of no longer than 20 seconds
  • Each ‘StartUp’ shared account is also restricted to 10,000 CPU seconds per day (or 1,000 per hour or 300,000 per month).
  • Each ‘StartUp’ shared account is also restricted to 10,000 script executions (eg requesting an index.php file) per day (or 1,000 per hour or 300,000 per month)

What does this translate to? Well, Siteground believes your resource restrictions will capably handle up to 10,000 visits per month.

If you reach 80% of your allotted script executions or CPU seconds Siteground will send you an email detailing what you need to do to reduce them. This could involve anything from blocking resource intensive IP addresses or implementing caching.

The restrictions are reset each month and don’t apply to static content (eg HTML content), they only apply to dynamic script executions eg loading an index.php file (if you’re running WordPress it applies to you).

There’s also a minimum 30 minute interval for cron jobs (a cron job is just a scheduled task performed at a specific time) and a restriction on database queries (they must take up no more than 10% of server resources).

All WordPress installations rely on database queries.

Providing you’re not a heavy user it’s unlikely these restrictions will affect you, however it’s worth keeping them in mind when evaluating Siteground’s service.

You’ll also see a ‘running processes’ metric in the sidebar of your admin panel when you first login:

Running processes - Siteground

We initially and naively thought ‘running processes’ was a synonym for what web hosts typically refer to as entry processes (or rather the number of simultaneous script executions they’ll permit at any one time).

It’s not, this metric only refers to the number of active processes on the server-side particularly as it relates to cPanel, email accounts, FTP accounts, multiple login sessions to cPanel from different browsers, etc. It is not affected by HTTP connections made by your visitors.

You can view specific processes by clicking the ‘full process list’ link underneath.

We couldn’t find any specific restrictions on I/O (input/output), however there are a few other restrictions you should note:

  • Siteground advertises that they offer unlimited databases
  • The maximum database size is 500MB
  • The maximum table size is 250MB
  • SSD storage for the ‘StartUp’ plan is restricted to 10GB and 150,000 inodes (it’s great that they utilise SSD drives; the inode restriction is lower than other cheaper and more expensive web hosts). Inodes are like meta data for file; 1 inode broadly equals 1 file (it’s not quite as simple as that however that explanation is sufficient for the purposes of making a buying decision).
  • You’re restricted to hosting only 1 website
  • Bandwidth is advertised as ‘unmetered’ (this means they don’t monitor it). It’s worth noting they state in the terms of service that this only applies to web pages (eg, HTML page or PHP pages) and not to the upload or storage of video, pictures or music files.

They also state the following in relation to bandwidth:

“While we do not meter traffic, the maximum availability at any time will depend on current traffic usage and the technical specifications of our equipment”

Backups, guarantees and security

As far as backups are concerned, the StartUp package offers a single website backup per day. These backups aren’t available in your admin panel (unless you subscribe to the premium backup and restore option) and you’ll likely have to pay if you require a restore. The GoGeek package – the most expensive package – includes 30 backups taken over 30 days and unlimited professional restores.

Siteground offers a 30 day money back guarantee (30 days is fairly standard however a number of hosts, eg Hostgator, Dreamhost and InMotion, offer superior guarantees). As is the case with most web hosts, renewed services and domain names are non-refundable.

Siteground also offers a 99.90% uptime guarantee (advertised as 99.9%) and the compensation they offer for failing to honor the guarantee is more generous than any other host. If uptime in any given month is 99.90% – 99.00% then they’ll give you one month of free hosting (they’ll also give you an additional month of free hosting for every 1% of uptime lost below 99.00%.

Compensation is limited to the duration of your term and Siteground lists a number of events in their terms of service agreement which do not factor into their calculation of downtime eg DDoS or scheduled maintenance.

Like most hosts, they don’t accept third party reports on server performance (it has to be based on their own internal records).

The admin panel

Siteground offers you simplified access to essential website information in their admin panel and combines it in a very user-friendly way with cPanel.

Siteground’s cPanel installation offers everything you would expect from a standard cPanel installation including

  • DNS management with freely editable zone files
  • Options to review web stats and account usage data
  • Access to softaculous, from which you can run scripts to install a large number of popular applications (eg WordPress, Joomla, Magento etc)
  • Email management eg create mailboxes and setup autoresponders and spam filtering
  • Security options like hotlink protection and IP blocking

All Siteground shared options also offer a variety of ‘WordPress services’ as standard.

  • They provide an auto-update option to ensure your WordPress installation remains updated with the latest stable release
  • They provide access to SuperCache as standard for all shared hosting accounts
  • They provide a WordPress – and Joomla – staging area for GoGeek customers
  • They also allow GoGeek customers to integrate with Git repositories

Siteground promises that SuperCacher can increase by 100x the number of hits your hosting account can handle (if you’re using static and dynamic caching and memcached). It does this by serving cached versions of static content like JavaScript and CSS files.

It also allows you to purge your cache if you’ve made an update you want to deliver from the server.

More expensive options allow you to cache dynamic content on your website.

Siteground Customer Service

  • Live chat: yes
  • Ticketing support: yes
  • Phone support: yes

Siteground does offer ticketing support, however they do go out of their way to make it difficult to find (it’s available under support in their admin panel however it’s located right at the bottom of the linked-to page under the heading “REQUEST ASSISTANCE FROM OUR TEAM”).

They are lightning fast at responding to tickets though; lightning probably doesn’t describe it, we weren’t waiting for more than 8 minutes before a very comprehensive response was fired back.

Their live chat is equally impressive; all of the questions we had – irrespective how technical – were answered (albeit never to the extent we hope but we always ask questions no web host likes to answer).

All in all, they’re one of the best hosts for customer service we’ve reviewed.

StartUp - Monthly Term

Price

$3.95

Bandwidth:

Unmetered

Storage:

10GB

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StartUp - 12 Month Term

Price

$3.95

Bandwidth:

Unmetered

Storage:

10GB

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StartUp - 24 Month Term

Price

$3.95

Bandwidth:

Unmetered

Storage:

10GB

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StartUp - 36 Month Term

Price

$3.95

Bandwidth:

Unmetered

Storage:

10GB

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