An honest take on SiteGround hosting and domain services
Siteground is a hosting company that’s been kicking around the web since 2004. They’ve brought a lot of refreshment to a stale industry and I’ve used them personally for a number of websites. Here’s my experience…let’s dive in.
My background with hosting companies
Not all hosting companies are created equally.
I want to give you a transparent run-down of my experience with SiteGround hosting. But first, let me provide a little background on my experience with the interwebs and hosting companies.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve used countless hosting companies. Some of these experiences made me want to weep and/or go full-on Braveheart on somebody.
Here are some of the perils I’ve faced with other companies (NOT SiteGround):
- Losing my entire website overnight. The reason? “Sorry, but the machine hosting your website died.”
WTF? It died? Did you have a funeral? Did you bring flowers? How could you let this happen?
- Incredibly slow response time. Basically, my site took forever to load. Remember what it was like with a dial-up modem? Picture that, but slower…and without the robot sounds.
- Virtually unreachable and infuriating “support”. Not many things make me want to find the nearest cliff and jump. But terrible support is one of those things.
Ok. Now on to SiteGround. Luckily, none of what I’ve described so far has been my experience with this company. I’ve been extremely satisfied. But it may or may not be the right fit for you, so please read on.
What to expect for set up
SiteGround has a relatively frictionless process for signing up new users. In the past, it could take up to two days for me to actually get an account up and running.
With SiteGround hosting, I was able to not only set up an account, but build a basic website within 2 hours of entering my credit card.
Part of what reduced that set up time: SiteGround also acts as a domain registrar. Basically, that means that you don’t have to searching for your .com name elsewhere and then connect it with your hosting account. It’s all in one place.
And that leads me to…
What do I LOVE about SiteGround hosting?
Free domain name
This might not seem like much to you, but I love this little bonus. Anything that you start online could very well die off. Honestly, you might just be acting on an impulsive idea for fun. And that’s great.
I once created a site called, “Bronamer”. It was essentially a database full of bro names…like “Barack Brobama”. It was awesome. And it didn’t last.
Getting a free domain name with your hosting plan lowers the cost of entry. This means you are more likely to act on an impulsive (and perhaps doomed to fail) idea.
But it only takes one of them to get traction…
Ridiculously affordable monthly pricing
If the free domain name wasn’t enough to sell you on SiteGround, the monthly pricing will be. Plans start from $3.95/mo.
Seriously. It used to cost thousands of dollars every month to host your one website. Now, it’s possible to get started for less than the price of a latte.
One click WordPress Install
I build 90% of my websites on WordPress. It’s an amazing content management system. For newbies: WordPress basically lets you build and manage a website without writing a single line of code.
The old method of installing WordPress required users to work with MySQL databases and install the software manually via FTP. If those acronyms set of your geek alert, don’t be alarmed.
SiteGround let’s you install the entire WordPress platform with one-click. The process literally takes 5 minutes or less to complete.
This is one of the reasons why I was able to set up my site so quickly – you know the one I mentioned building within 2 hours of my sign up.
And you can too…without having to write any code.
If you already have a website hosted elsewhere, this is huge. SiteGround will help you move your site from your current web host over to their machines…for free.
Migrating a site is tricky if you haven’t done it before. It’s easy to lose pages along the way. Paths to images break. Children cry. It can be a mess.
The support team at SiteGround is usually able to migrate a site within 24 hours or less and they keep you posted with progress along the way. When I took advantage of this service, the team worked quickly and everything transferred over without a hitch.
Fast & reliable servers
I’ve never experienced any downtime with SiteGround. From what I can tell, they make system performance a priority. They also publish their uptime stats publicly, which is a nice touch.
The most basic SiteGround plan should give you more than enough speed to power your website, blog, even a small e-commerce store. If you are planning on attracting millions of visitors (and why not?), you’ll need to upgrade to a bigger plan. But the cheapest plan will still give you PLENTY of runway.
This is a small thing to point out, but honestly, it goes a long way for me. SiteGround posts real photos and short bios of their team members. It shows that they aren’t hiding out on some island somewhere in the South Pacific, giggling evil giggles while they collect your hard earned cash monies.
It sends a clear signal to customers: hey, we’re real human beings who are in this for the long-haul.
Exceptional Customer Support
Remember, this is one of the things that will make me jump off a cliff, so I’m sensitive to support issues. With SiteGround, they will even give you a phone call during the set up process if you so desire.
I’m not big on phone calls, but it was nice to know that a real human being was available to help me get started with my hosting plan.
What about SiteGround makes me a little grumpy
I’m keeping it real here. As much as I love SiteGround, there is no perfect hosting company. Here are a few of the things that haven’t been less pleasing.
Auto upgrade billing
This may not even be a thing anymore. But when I signed up for SiteGround, about 30 days later I had a notice that my card would eventually be billed automatically for some premium support options.
To their credit, they sent multiple warnings to my primary email address, and it was ridiculously easy to cancel those additional services. I just would have preferred that these additional services not be a default.
Clunky backend interface
Most people probably don’t care as much about the admin panel once they’ve set up WordPress. In my case, I needed to do some extra customization. I found the backend navigation kind of clunky and difficult to navigate. The navigation makes sense in it’s own special way, but it took my longer to figure it out.
Extra steps for FTP set-up
FTP is what lets you transfer files from your local computer to the website. Again, if you’re going to be spending most of your time in WordPress, this probably won’t apply to you.
I was frustrated by the extra steps required to configure my FTP client. I use a free program called FileZilla. Usually, all I have to do is add a new user for FTP and then use those credentials to access everything through FileZilla. But with SiteGround, there were a few extra steps. I guess it’s to make things more secure, but it was a little annoying.
Which hosting plan is right for you?
SiteGround offers three different shared hosting plans:
The good news is that you can upgrade/downgrade at any time based on your needs. In other words, just start small and once your site grows in terms of traffic and popularity, you can upgrade to a larger plan. This limits the financial risk to you upfront, but also accommodates new growth.
You could go with the Startup plan (super cheap at $3.95/mo). That will serve your needs fine just for one site.
But the “GrowBig” plan (next one up) will let you host unlimited domains on the same plan. So if you know that you want to launch more than one website, you might as well grab that plan from the beginning (it’s slightly more at $7.95/mo).