Latest posts by Ahmad Imran (see all)
- Blogging with Chromebook – Can it Handle Everything? [2017 Update] - June 8, 2017
- SiteGround WordPress Hosting – 2 Years On [2017 Update] - May 17, 2017
- The Challenge of Consistent Blogging: 3 Reasons, 3 Remedies - May 14, 2017
This blog is hosted on the SiteGround’s server for over 2 years now.
Last year, I wrote about my first year’s feedback with you about the SiteGround’s shared hosting performance. This year, it is the second episode. Two years on.
April 2015 to April 2017.
No influence, no fluff and no wishy-washy either. How it felt on a day to day basis and my overall view of the service are all I am going to explain in this article.
Don’t forget that I am an ordinary person when it comes to website development and hosting etc. My views are purely based on my experience and should not be taken and professional judgement on technical matters.
In the following paragraphs, you will know about the 7 key areas which are important to me as a blogger and how did SiteGround perform in those areas.
The next revision of this article will be in May 2018, to cover 3-years feedback with you. That is if things remain well and I continue with their service.
So let us dive in and understand how I see them as WordPress-specialised web hosting service for a common user like you and me.
Table of Contents for Quick Navigation
- Features to Price Ratio
- Performance Reliability and Peace of Mind
- WordPress Knowledge and Expertise
- Additional Features Offered by SiteGround
- SiteGround Help and Support
- Interface, User Experience and Future Growth
- SiteGround WordPress Hosting Experience – Verdict After 2 Years
At the time of updating this article, SiteGround offers 3 main packages for managed WordPress hosting in your first year with them.
Remember it is the first year prices that you see on their page. At the time of your renewal for the second year and beyond, these prices will jump up.
I have been on their GoGeek plan mainly due to its additional features such as cache, staging, premium backups and 30 GB of disk space (more on them later). You can review your circumstances and perhaps go for a StartUp or GrowBig plan to start with but if your budget allows, my recommendation would be to consider “GoGeek” plan.
My 2 years of experience with the GoGeek plan has been excellent.
Features wise, there are plenty to mention but I will not bore you with a long list.
See a summary of comparison between 3 different WordPress hosting packages by SiteGround. As a common user I never felt to be dealing with a service which is limited in offering and constrained in capabilities.
Speed wise, my website is generally fast.
Note that there are multi factors which contribute to your site speed so make sure that before blaming a slow server or hosting in general, there are other things you have checked as well. Site speed should always be looked in wider context as there are multi-factors contributing to it.
I found that if I configure my website well including running a set of well-coded plugins and configuring the site’s cache, I am in the good books of website speed tests such as Google PageSpeed Insights, GTMetrix and Pingdom etc..
17.05.2017 Update: I have recently updated my blog to the https:// secured protocol through SiteGround’s free “Let’s Encrypt” service. Although the process has been smooth, I have noticed that there is a slight reduction in my site loading speed due this change (redirect from unsecured http:// to a secure https:// site).
I aim to work with the SiteGround’s support team and reviewing my cache settings to overcome this issue. I will update this section accordingly. The figures shown above are from the last year. Before this https:// move, my average loading speed was between 2 to 3 seconds for most of the pages on my blog.
It is a huge topic and beyond the scope of this article to talk about site speed and its dependence on quality of the host and server environment only. Of course my theme (Avada) plays an important role along with the choice of plugins that I use on my website.
Generally, SiteGround offered a solid set of features and associated performance in this time without many dips and slow-periods in performance or site speed.
The down-times were minimal and never exceeded more than a few minutes which only happened occasionally. I have not done any specialist checks on my site’s down-time but I am comfortable enough to say that my site was up for more than 99.9% of the time. See how SiteGround achieves excellent uptime standards for their users.
In the second year with SiteGround, this excellent performance came at a price of approximately £20 per month paid as full and in advance. I believe that it is an excellent value for money.
So in your country and currency, work out exactly how much it will cost you in the first year and then going forward if you go with SiteGround. It is best to know your pocket and expenditure at this stage because it is not a matter of few months.
If you stick with SiteGround as they treat you well, you may end up paying them for the rest of your life. So choose them wisely and take your time.
Features and performance are good as long as they serve you well consistently.
Making promises and selling a service is one thing but to fulfil the promises and deliver consistently is a different story.
In my two years with SiteGround, I have not found SiteGround to fall short of their promises and my expectations. The service has been rock solid and robust. I have not encountered any heavy or peak times where everything just gets sluggish and slow due to busier periods of the day.
Now I am not a pro and I have definitely not tested their server to the “nth” degree either. I am telling you my experience of managing and running a WordPress website with approximately 10,000 monthly visitors. So treat these findings in the light of this scenario.
Before joining SiteGround, I have run my website with a different host for about 10 months or so. I am not going to mention any name here but I can easily say that I can feel a difference between choosing “any cheap” hosting and something more reputable, reliable and trustworthy as SiteGround.
Make this decision carefully.
It is best to take your time, do your research and then start with the right choice for hosting your website online.
It is one of the most important decisions you are going to make in your WordPress blogging journey.
Have a read of this article by WPBeginner which explains the benefits of Managed WordPress Hosting.
In my case, I was new to WordPress and I was new to blogging, it was a no-brainer for me to go with someone who specialises in WordPress and takes a lot of stress and worries away from me by dealing with common WordPress issues efficiently.
The former works out to be more expensive for my pocket (in 2017) and the later ticks almost all boxes.
2 years on, I can confirm that the SiteGround’s systems and support are highly WordPress-friendly. Yes they might not be as WordPress-savvy as WpEngine but frankly speaking, I never felt any lacking from the SiteGround in my case.
It feels right when they say that “we love WordPress”.
The WordPress script (installation), its updates and even issues with plugins and themes are just easy to resolve with SiteGround. If something falls outside of their remit, at least you have a guidance and instruction through their support on how to resolve the issue and who to talk to (such as your theme developer, plugin author or checking your CDN settings etc.)
There is no doubt that WordPress is easy and anyone can do that but never forget that to do it “properly” with attention to detail, you will get stuck at some stage and you will need some support. It is those times when you feel you have made a good choice by choosing your host who has WordPress knowledge and can help you resolve your problems.
SiteGround offers a few additional features which I found to be extremely useful.
I will only cover the 2 significant ones here that helped me massively. I am not going to cover the SiteGround’s own cache system through their SG Optimizer plugin here as I have my reservations about their cache handling.
1) SiteGround’s Staging Tool for GoGeek Plan Users
I didn’t realise how important “staging” was when I started blogging.
I have written a detailed article on WordPress Staging with SiteGround but in principle, it is making a clone of your live site in a separate location to work on it. Once you complete your testing or making changes, you push this staged copy back to live environment.
You effectively take the risk away that if anything goes wrong, your live site and visitors will not feel the impact. This is an extremely useful feature which is available for free for GoGeek customers and comes pre-installed with your WordPress installation.
I have used it many times and can only praise about it.
I can’t even think about having a major upgrade on my live site without first taking it into “staging” mode and testing everything before pushing the change live for public.
Something which sooner or later you will feel a need for.
If you want to know more, here is the official SiteGround’s page telling you more about this tool.
2) Daily Premium Backup and Restore
Although I use Automattic’s VaultPress plugin and system for my daily backups, SiteGround offers me free premium backup facility on a daily basis as a part of the GoGeek plan.
It is an extra peace of mind that in case of an emergency, my site is duly backed up by two different services. Yes it sounds an overkill perhaps but as your blog grows and brand matures, a reliable and fool-proof backup system is a must-have.
For me, having my backups on two entirely different systems is a huge peace of mind.
You will need it sooner or later.
This is a big one and should not be ignored. You need to have a reasonable amount of faith and understanding of the help and support which your host is going to provide going forward.
There are three main avenues of help and support within SiteGround that I have personally used.
1) Help and Support Documentation
Sometimes you just want a good and clearly structured document to read and understand about a common WordPress or server related issue. I found SiteGround’s knowledgebase and tutorial documentation to be excellent and clearly written for majority of us to get the best results out of them.
Have a look yourself, I am including three commonly asked questions (situations) and how SiteGround has given us clear instructions to deal with them.
- How to use Webmail with SiteGround?
- How to transfer WordPress?
- How to access Control Panel (CPanel)?
2) First Tier Support (Phone and Live Chat)
The concept is brilliant and the attitude is right. This help line is available to give us a peace of mind that we can speak/chat to real people within a minute to discuss our problem.
I love it because I feel secure that in case of a problem, I will not be waiting for working-hours restrictions and email replies potentially costing me hours and hours of disruption.
With SiteGround, I can always talk to a first tier support member within minutes. It is a 24×7 instant support structure which I admire SiteGround for. Brilliant work.
However, I have also found that this level of support can frequently be limited in their knowledge and understanding to resolve relatively complicated issues.
Fair enough and this is understandable. I have a massive respect for the support staff at this level as I have always found them to be helpful, courteous and willing to resolve your problem.
But when they can’t resolve the issue fully, we have the third option then.
3) Second Tier Support (Ticket System)
This level of support activates when you either raise a ticket for your problem or the first tier support member has raised it on your behalf.
Now someone more senior and technical will look at your matter and the best bit is that it is fast too. You normally get a response back in 15/20 minutes. If the solution needs longer, they still reply within 15/20 minutes and confirm that someone is looking at your issue currently.
Can’t praise it enough.
“In my two years with SiteGround, I have always found the 2nd tier support to be excellent and knowledgeable”
One point for completeness though.
While 8 out of 10 times your problem will be solved, there is also a possibility that occasionally, you are replied back with no clear-cut solution provided. However a further explanation of the problem is given and nature of the issue is explained to you.
You can perhaps investigate further and provide more information to them to resolve your issue or alternatively, go to the relevant party where the problem belongs to (theme or plugin developer etc.)
In summary, SiteGround’s support structure is efficient.
It is very likely that you will not be disappointed. In fact, once you taste the luxury of this level of support, it will be difficult for you to match this elsewhere.
Their website is clean and easy to use.
The control panel and admin panels are neatly laid down and easy to understand. And that creates a pleasant user experience of the service. I have never had any issues locating information or required pages on their website or admin panels. Everything seems to be thoroughly thought-through and designed with an average consumer in mind.
We all know that blogs grow and one day you will need to step up your hosting due to increase in traffic and engagement etc.. SiteGround offers enough plans and resources to cater for this growth.
As an example, my next step would be to jump on the Cloud hosting at some stage. I can see that the prices seem logical and options sound plenty. Another peace of mind that I am in safe hands with plenty of choices.
It just feels comfortable with SiteGround.
At the end of two year with SiteGround, I am well happy to continue with SiteGround. I have just renewed my hosting for the third year with them.
I have found SiteGround’s WordPress hosting to be reliable, great value and solid foundation for new bloggers and website owners who want to start or continue their online presence.
2 years is not a very long time and I am sure that SiteGround has more tests to pass. If they continue with their ethos and keep refining the user experience of their customers, they will be in the forefront of the industry in managed WordPress hosting.
If you ask me for my advice after two years with them, I will recommend you to go with the SiteGround.
Keep an eye on this article which will be updated again in May 2018 with my 3-year experience of the service.
And in the meanwhile, don’t hesitate to ask if there are any questions in your mind.
Have you had any experience with the SiteGround and more specifically, hosting your WordPress website with them?
If so, come up and share your feedback with us.