SiteGround review – Is it the best hosting in 2021?

1. Overview

 


SiteGround Logo
Founded in 2004, SiteGround is one of the few hostings officially recommended by WordPress.
They offer Managed WordPress hostings for customers of all sizes. You can start with their lowest plan, and once your blog starts to gain more traffic(10 000+ monthly visitors), you can easily upgrade to their higher package. Today SiteGrounds hosts more than 2 million domains and is one of the few hostings officially recommended by WordPress.

2. Beginner-friendly WordPress and WooCommerce setup

 

SiteGround has implemented a couple of features which makes them ideal for beginner bloggers.

  • One-click-install offers a very straightforward  installation process, the user doesn’t have to worry about downloading, installing, and configuring WordPress manually. SiteGround takes care of everything and so the site setup is much faster.

     SiteGround WordPress one click install

  • WordPress Starter is a unique beginner-friendly plugin. Once WordPress is installed via the automated installer, the user has this plugin at his disposal. The plugin allows the user to choose from a collection of professional site designs and add components such as an online store, contact forms, portfolios, and more. All the selected features are automatically installed on the website, turning the standard default WordPress installation into a beautiful and fully-functional website in minutes, no technical knowledge required.

     

SiteGround WordPress Starter Plugin

3. Speed

 

CDN

A CDN(Content Delivery Network) is a distributed group of proxy servers and their data centers in various geographic locations that collaborate to provide high availability and performance by distributing the service spatially relative to end-users.

The CDN

  1. caches the page content
  2. auto-minies images
  3. blocks malicious traffic
  4. reduces SPAM

SiteGround partnered with Cloudflare to provide a free Content Delivery Network (CDN) service to our customers.

SiteGround and Cloudflare data centers

 

The Cloudflare network has more than 200 locations in more than 100 countries and is growing. Your page will be loaded from the nearest one to your visitor.

Caching

Siteground developed an advanced website optimization solution called SuperCache.

It contains 3 caching levels

  • NGINX Direct Delivery – The main benefit of the NGINX Direct Delivery is that the static files(images, JavaScript files, CSS files, and plain HTML documents) on your page are loaded from the SSD(Solid State Drive) instead of the server’s memory. The SSD has a much faster access time than the web server’s RAM. The NGINX Direct Delivery cache is automatically flushed every 3 hours.The additional benefit of this approach is that the hosting managed to free up a lot of RAM space for dynamic content caching. Much more dynamic content is possible to be stored in RAM this way and for longer periods, resulting in a higher dynamic-to-cache ratio.With the NGINX Direct Delivery, SiteGround started serving the caching headers for the static files. This approach optimizes the way the site is using browser caching and CDN caching. No additional configuration for the CDN is required
  • Dynamic Cache – As mentioned above, the site’s static content is stored in the SSD, and the dynamic content(for example, pages loaded from the database) is stored in the web server’s RAM. This means that only the first visitor of your page needs to load the entire content from the database. The next visitors will get the dynamic content from the web server’s RAM, which is much faster. The Dynamic Cache option is offered by all plans.
  • Memcached – Memcached is SiteGround’s implementation of the popular Memcached system. This option is ideal for websites that rely heavily on database queries. It stores data and objects in the web server’s RAM, reduces the number of times the database needs to be queried and speeds up the database calls, API calls, and site rendering. The Memcached option is offered by all plans.

SuperCacher settings panel

Railgun –  Sometimes, the content of a website is not possible to cache because of its nature. For example, The New York Times is powered by WordPress, and it is essential for them that the readers view the most up-to-date content. For situations like these, Cloudflare implemented advanced speed features whose goal is to make the connection between the nearest Cloudflare Data Center and SiteGround servers as fast as possible.

Imagine that the first reader in your local area(using the same Cloudflare Data Center as you are) visits the New York Times page at 10:00AM. He is the first, so no optimization is happening.

Let’s say at 10:05 AM you also visit the New York page. We can assume that in 5 minutes, not that much changed even on The New York Times site. Let’s assume that the difference between your version and the first visitor’s version is 2%. And exactly, this is what the advanced Railgun algorithms are utilizing when handling your request. Only a small portion of the changes need to be requested, and in the end, this makes the connection between your local Cloudflare Data Center and the SiteGround hosting super fast.

 

Connection with Railgun

 

Railgun is stating that utilizing this advanced caching mechanism, their usual compression rate is 99.6%(this would take down a 100k page to 400 bytes) and that the usual speedup is more than 700%. Usually, the compressed data is so small that the response fits in a single TCP packet.

Railgun is offered for free in all plans.

QUIC

 

QUIC stands for “Quick UDP Internet Connections.”

The Internet Protocol evolution looks something like this.

  1. HTTP
    2. HTTP/2
    3. QUIC
    4. HTTP/3

One of the advantages of HTTP/2 over HTTP was that it allowed sending multiple requests simultaneously to not wait for each other to be fulfilled. However, all these requests are sent over a single TCP connection, and if it fails, the whole site loading is negatively impacted. HTTP/2 works well in areas where there are no problems with the connection and results in faster loading. However, in areas where the quality of the connection is bad, this is still an issue, which QUIC tries to solve.

QUIC solves this problem by sending different requests using independent connections for each request. This way, even if one request fails, it does not affect the rest of the requests. As TCP does not allow independent handling of multiple connections, QUIC changed the underlying protocol it uses with UDP, which did the trick quite nicely.

SiteGround is one of the first web hosts to offer QUIC to users.

The HTTP/3 protocol exists only as a draft at the moment.

 

Google Cloud

Google Cloud SiteGround

In 2020 Siteground started to move part of their infrastructure to Google Cloud. The first Google Cloud Locations are in Iowa, USA; Eemshaven, Netherlands; London, UK; and Singapore.

The main advantages of Google Could are

 

  • Easier scaling and resource management
    The web hosting provider minimizes the risk for its sites’ downtime by providing resources and equipment redundancy. This job is much easier in Google Cloud, where the infrastructure is built on top of virtual machines instead of metal servers. Launching a new virtual machine is a faster and efficient process than replacing a faulty metal server.
    Scaling resources such as CPU, RAM, and storage is also much easier.
  • State-of-the-art network for faster sites
    Google maintains one of the fastest and most powerful networks, which means that using their service will result in high speed for the clients’ websites. One can also hardly think of another global network that is better maintained. In general, network connectivity problems are among the top reasons for server downtime. With the Google network, the risk of such issues is further minimized.
  • New data center locations
    Working with Google Cloud gives SiteGround the opportunity to add new locations outside the regions they currently operate quickly. SiteGround is planning to add new locations outside the regions they currently operate. The current locations are in the regions where most of their customers are hosted — the USA and continental Europe.
  • 100% match with renewable energy
    Google matches 100% of the energy consumed by its global operations with renewable energy and maintains a carbon neutrality commitment. This includes Google’s data centers and Google Cloud.

 

Ultrafast PHP

The SiteGround DevOps team developed a new PHP setup, which is recommended for well-visited Sites.

  • Faster page response: up to 50% drop in the TTFB (time to first byte), which will make your pages load faster than before.
  • Increased server capacity: the host node will process about 20-30% more requests, which means it will handle traffic spikes even better than before.
  • Lower server memory usage: up to a 15% drop in the memory usage, which again vacates server resources for handling more of your traffic faster.
  • Expected overall performance improvement: currently, the Ultrafast PHP averages 30% faster than the old setup.Ultrafast PHP settings panel

The Ultrafast PHP option is available for websites hosted on GoGeek and Cloud plans, as these are the sites that are most likely to benefit from the performance improvements it brings.

 

4. Security

 

Real-time server health checks

The SiteGround DevOps team developed an advanced server-monitoring system.

Some of its features are:

  • lightweight
  • checks the server status every 0.5 seconds
  • detects current issues and fixes them immediately
  • can foresee and prevent a multitude of problems automatically

Smart patches added to WAF.

The overall security of the application is managed at the server and firewall level. The security team is watching out for emerging threats and software vulnerabilities in the most popular CMSs and their plugins. They add dozens of rules each year, and they can protect the sites even before the official developers release a security update.

Artificial Intelligence against malicious traffic

The so-called brute-force attacks by botnets are a serious global issue that very few companies can handle effectively. SiteGround developed an extremely efficient AI solution that stops between 500,000 and 2 million brute-force attempts per hour across SiteGround servers before they could reach the customers’ sites. The solution not only prevents unauthorized access but also saves the hosting resources.

24/7 system administration team

SiteGround’s philosophy is to proactively apply solutions and policies that can prevent downtime and security issues. SiteGround employs an extremely experienced team of system administrators ready to step in immediately if the system requires their action.

5. Backups

 
The Backup tool lets the user create backups and restore old versions of the site. The user can restore the whole website or just parts of it, like files, databases, emails. On a shared hosting plan, the user gets access to 30 backup copies for each day of the past month. With the Cloud plans, users can restore from up to 7 days back.

SiteGround Backup Panel

 

6. Email accounts

With every SiteGround hosting plan, the client gets an unlimited number of free email accounts at his domain name.

For each email account, you create, you can manage its settings from the Manage Email Accounts section.

 

  • StartUp – 2000MB per email account
  • GrowBig – 4000MB per email account
  • GoGeek – 6000MB per email account

 

 Siteground Email Panel

 

7. Customer service

Siteground’s support team is famous for being fast, friendly, and helpful. Every year, our customers confirm this fact with close to 100% satisfaction rates. SiteGround hosts this site, and all my questions so far were always answered literally within 5 minutes. The support team was always well-prepared with a friendly and helpful attitude.

 

 SiteGround Customer ServiceSiteGround Customer Service Panel

 

 

8. Solutions for developers

SiteGround provides a list of solutions aimed specifically at developers.

Custom PHP Versions (7.4, 7.3,7.2 …) – Apart from the default PHP version, the customers can choose between multiple PHP versions for each of their sites.

Free SSH and SFTP Access – The free SSH is developed in-house to allow secure account-restricted access. It gives the customer a secure encrypted connection to the account to manage easily large files and even databases. It is beneficial to administrators and web developers looking to enable direct secure access to their hosting account on the webserver. With SSH enabled, the customer can also take advantage of SFTP for secure file access, transfer, and management.

MySQL & PostgreSQL Databases – With each plan, an unlimited number of PostgreSQL and MySQL databases is offered. The developer can easily create and manage them through phpPgAdmin and phpMyAdmin.

Ftp accounts – With SiteGround, the user can create FTP accounts with specific rules on what the people connected to the website can upload and download. Adding and removing FTP accounts is easy, as well as changing their passwords.

Other Supported  Technologies – It is possible to use a variety of PHP libraries, PHP encoders, image galleries, and others. The most popular ones are ImageMagick, GD library,ionCube, SourceGuardian, CURL, Zlib, .htaccess, Smarty Templates, php.ini, Zend Optimizer, Mod_rewrite.

Staging – Staging allows creating a copy of the live site on a separate staging environment with a single click. The developer can test any new code and designs on the staging copy before pushing those changes to the production site. Moving from staging to live takes only one click and automatically creates a backup of the live site if the developer needs to reverse the changes.

Pre-installed Git – Git is pre-installed on the GoGeek servers. The developer can use it to create repositories of the website, which he can access, download, and edit in multiple local branches using Git. SiteGround also developed a unique SG-Git interface that allows the developer to create reports of the most popular applications (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, PrestaShop) through a visual interface.

9. Plans

SiteGround has a 30-day money back guarantee for all managed hosting plans and 14 days money back guarantee for the cloud hosting plans.


SiteGround Plans Screen

 


SiteGround Custom Managed Hosting Configuration

 

 

 

10. Conclusion

 

As you have probably guessed, we can genuinely recommend SiteGround and we believe it is the overall best hosting for someone who wants to start a blog or an online business.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission