You’ve decided your business needs a website, but when you look at the long list of web hosting providers, the venture can seem intimidating. SiteGround can help, with its varied hosting plans that are designed to not overwhelm those looking to build everything from an online journal to an online store. SiteGround doesn’t have all the features offered by Editors’ Choices DreamHost, HostGator, or Hostwinds, but it’s a good choice if you have modest web needs that are likely to stay modest.
Shared Web Hosting Packages
SiteGround doesn’t offer month-to-month shared hosting options. Instead, you sign up for one-, two-, or three-year contracts, or get your feet wet with a one-month trial. If you want more time to play with features, but don’t want to commit to a full year, HostGator‘s month-to-month options are a better choice. SiteGround’s other hosting tiers offer month-to-month plans.
SiteGround lets you choose which data center you want to host your website: United States (Illinois), Europe (Amsterdam), Asia-Pacific (Singapore). If you are concerned about data privacy or retention laws, you can choose to use a European data center. If a significant portion of your users are Asia-based, you can choose to use an Asia-Pacific data center. Or you can just default to a US server. I can’t imagine a lot of businesses will need this feature, but it’s a surprisingly advanced option for a newbie-focused provider.
The StartUp plan (starting at $9.95 per month) includes one website, 10GB of storage, network traffic suitable for 10,000 visitors a month, unlimited emails, and support for web performance and security service CloudFlare (more on this later).
The GrowBig plan (starting at $14.95 per month) is intended for slightly larger sites, with support for multiple websites, 20GB of storage, network traffic “suitable” for approximately 25,000 visits a month, unlimited emails, CloudFlare support, one year free SSL certificate, and the ability to keep up to 30 backups.
The GoGeek plan (starting at $29.95 per month) plan is intended for still-larger sites, with support for multiple websites, 30GB of storage, network traffic “suitable” for approximately 100,000 visits a month, unlimited emails, CloudFlare support, a free SSL certificate for one year, the ability to keep up to 30 backups, and a Git repository. SiteGround also offers GoGeek customers accounts on better hardware with fewer accounts (meaning you are sharing better-performing hardware with fewer other sites), as well as a PCI assessment to make sure your site is compliant.
SiteGround has solid shared hosting plans, but they aren’t as good as HostGators’s offerings. The Editors’ Choice for shared web services has unlimited monthly data transfers, unlimited storage, unlimited domains, and the option for users to select a Windows-based server (Sitgeground only has Linux-based shared servers).
Cloud Web Hosting
SiteGround no longer has VPS hosting, but now boasts what it calls Cloud Hosting. The new Linux-based platform is designed to auto-scale with traffic surges, so that your site won’t go down due to a lack of resources. The four plans start at $80 per month for 4GB of RAM, 40GB of storage, and 5TB of monthly data transfers, and max out at $240 per month for 10GB of RAM, 120GB of storage, and 5TB of monthly data transfers. You can also customize your own Cloud Hosting plan should you need more power.
If you’re in the hunt for traditional VPS hosting, check out Hostwinds, the category’s Editors’ Choice, which offers a fine virtual private server package.
Dedicated Web Hosting Packages
As for SiteGround’s dedicated servers, you have a choice of a variety of CPU, RAM, RAID, and storage configurations. The plans range from $229 per month for an Entry Server to $429 per month for a high-end Enterprise Server. You can configure a server with up to 2TB of disk space, 16GB of RAM, and a relatively skimpy 5TB of monthly data transfers (most of the other web hosts I’ve reviewed offer 15TB of monthly data transfers).
Unfortunately, Siteground only offers Linux-based dedicated servers. If you want a Windows option, I suggest taking a look at Hostwinds, PCMag’s Editors’ Choice for dedicated web hosting. It not only has a choice of Linux and Windows operating systems, but also 32GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and unlimited monthly data transfers.
WordPress Web Hosting Packages
Like several of its competitors, SiteGround offers WordPress hosting. In fact, SiteGround oversees your installation with optimized managed WordPress hosting, a service that grants your website enhanced security, automated daily backups, page caching, staging, and automatic content management system updates. It also offers one-click installation, a free domain name, and a free account transfer. The plans are similar to the company’s shared hosting plans in regards to price. In fact, you’ll need to sign up for one-, two-, or three-year contracts.
SiteGround’s base WordPress tier, StartUp ($9.95 per month), offers a skimpy 10GB of storage, a mere 10,000 monthly visitors, and the ability to host just one WordPress site. GrowBig ($14.95 per month) ups the storage to 20GB and monthly visitors to 25,000, while letting you host unlimited WordPress sites. The top-level plan, GoGeek ($29.95 per month), builds upon GrowBig with its 30GB of storage and 100,000 monthly visitors. All plans come with unlimited email and monthly data transfers. SiteGround also offers numerous free WordPress themes.
On the other hand, 1&1, the PCMag Editors’ Choice for WordPress hosting, has no such visitor caps. It also boasts unlimited monthly data transfers and a larger storage option (250GB). That’s not to say that SiteGround’s managed WordPress hosting is bad; it’s a fine service. However, 1&1 has the better all-around offering.
That said, once you’re logged into SiteGround’s WordPress set up, you can create posts, pages, and galleries as you would with any other self-hosted WordPress site.
If you want to set up a non-managed WordPress site, you can do that, too. I clicked on the WordPress icon in the advanced control panel to go to the WordPress page in Softaculous, SiteGround’s third-party application library. It launched a wizard that walked me through the installation. SiteGround also let me enable the Clef plugin, which gives users the ability to log in to WordPress with their phones instead of a username and password. These are advanced features that I am surprised and pleased to see here.
Reseller Web Hosting
If you’re looking to get into the web hosting business, but you don’t want to deal with infrastructure matters, check out SiteGround’s reseller hosting packages. The plans, starting at $42 per year, offer sales and commision reports and credit card processing. The servers boast 10GB of storage, unmetered monthly data transfers, unlimited MySQL databases, and free backups and email. SiteGround lets you apply your own branding to the servers you rent, and it also supplies 24/7 tech support.
Still, Hostwinds goes the extra mile with more generous specs in a variety of server categories. As a result, Hostwinds is the Editors’ Choice for reseller hosting.
Setting Up a Website
SiteGround leverages Weebly as its website builder builder of choice. It’s a good move, as Weebly let me make attractive web pages without sacrificing much of my time. Weebly made it simple to add text, images, and video to my pages. For more information on this simple site builder, please read our Weebly review.
I could’ve also set up the site from the get-go with ecommerce software, such as PrestaShop, CSCart, or Magento. The control panel has the icons for these platforms under AutoInstallers, making them easy to find. Or you can go to Softaculous and pick one of the 30 options available, including ZenCard, Showare, OpenCart, and Axis, to name a few.
I used Magento to create an attractive store using its drag-and-drop store builder. If you only need a shopping cart, that’s no problem, or if you want to focus only on invoicing and billing, there is an app for that, too.
SiteGround offers several security options, including the SG Site Scanner to let you know if your site is under attack, antispam tools SpamAssassin and SpamExperts, hotlink protection, and IP address blocklists. It scans all the links on your homepage to make sure that they’re clean. You need to sign up for the Grow plan to get an SSL certificate.
SiteGround also offers an interesting feature called Leech Protect, which lets administrators prevent users from giving out or publicly posting their passwords to portions of the site. I also like the fact SiteGround integrates with CloudFlare for better performance and security. While any site owner can easily sign up with CloudFlare, the integration means more people who had no idea this was an option are now able to benefit. Bluehost is the only other web hosting provider we’ve seen that offers CloudFlare accounts.
Another helpful tool is SiteCheck. This automatic software scanning tool checks your website to see if there is any malware in the code or on the site. Running it periodically is a good idea, since the last thing you want to see in your email inbox are messages from irate users saying that visiting your website infected their computers.
Website uptime is one of the most important aspects of a hosting service. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services.
For this testing, I used a website monitoring tool to track our SiteGround-hosted test site’s uptime over a two-week period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings my website and sends me an email if it is unable to contact the site for at least one minute. The data revealed that SiteGround is quite stable.
SiteGround’s main focus is on customer service, and it shows in the services many wizards, knowledgebase articles, and tutorials. Customer support is available through a ticket-based system, live chat, and 24/7 telephone support.
I tested SiteGround’s online chat and was amazed at how quickly someone came to help. I was connected to a chat representative in a few seconds. I asked about the differences between SiteGround’s regular web hosting and optimized WordPress hosting, and received a prompt and clear response.
I called the phone number on a weekday afternon to ask a representative about how to import my WordPress.com setup into SiteGround. The representative patiently and successfully walked me through the process.
SiteGround lets users cancel within 30 days of when their credit card was charged. It’s tolerable, but I prefer DreamHost‘s lengthy, 97-day money-back guarantee.
A Web Host Holding Your Hand
SiteGround is clearly positioning itself as a hosting provider for small businesses. SiteGround’s services, from its limited features to support resources, are designed for the mom-and-pop stores, sole proprietors, and independent businesses that don’t have a lot of time or fancy web skills. If you aren’t expecting a flood of users to your site each day, you don’t really care about unlimited storage or unlimited monthly data transfers.
Furthermore, SiteGround’s surprising number of security features also indicates that it has small businesses in mind. Small businesses are highly vulnerable to website attacks, and chances are they are not going to invest in a site scanner to look for malware or cloud provider to protect them from a denial-of-service-attack. The fact that SiteGround does it for them makes it a solid friend for small businesses just starting out. When their sites have a bit more traction, however, they should consider moving to Editors’ Choices Dreamhost, HostGator, or Hostwinds for more advanced features and beefed-up storage.