Having a good hosting company for your website is crucial. The right hosting company can help you grow your online presence, while the wrong hosting company can mean disaster.
I learned this the hard way in the first few years of running Entrepreneur Campfire (the website you’re on right now). I hosted my website on the cheapest plan of a local hosting company and found my site completely down after getting a spike in traffic one day.
The worst thing was that support was only available during working hours, so I could only get my site back up 12 hours later.
These days, I’ve become more savvy and picky about the hosting companies I trust my websites with.
While I used to pick a hosting company based on price (cheaper = better), now I tend to go for value instead.
This was one of the biggest things that drew me to move over to SiteGround once my contract had expired with my previous hosting company. After reading raving reviews about SiteGround, I pulled the trigger and have been with SiteGround for 2 years since.
I started with the GrowBig plan, and then upgraded to the GoGeek plan almost a year ago.
(I will be moving from SiteGround to another hosting company soon… more on that at the end of the post.)
Today, I’ll be sharing all the ups and downs of my experience with SiteGround in the last 2 years. With this, I hope you’ll be able to discover the best parts and the worst parts of using SiteGround to make your own decision on whether you should sign up with them.
So if you’ve been thinking about hosting your website(s) with SiteGround, I hope you’ll find this review useful.
Let’s start with what I liked most about hosting with SiteGround.
The Best: Things I Liked Most
Really good support
This is probably SiteGround’s most winning feature. Its customer support is one of the best, especially when it comes to technical support.
It’s useful especially if you are a beginner and need some hand-holding.
Depending on which plan you are on, it usually takes a few minutes to resolve simple issues and less than 3 hours to solve more complex ones.
Support is online 24/7 a day and you’ll usually be served instantly or within a few minutes.
(If you need a lot of support, I highly recommend going for the GoGeek plan. GoGeek users get priority support!)
Caching is a practical way of making your website load faster by serving cached version of your website to your visitors. SiteGround includes its own in-house developed caching tool known as the “Supercacher” for its GrowBig and GoGeek users.
You only have to switch this on to gain the benefits of caching for speeding up your site!
When it comes to picking the location of your server, the closer you are to your readers, the faster your site will load for them.
While some hosts don’t have any data centers in Southeast Asia, SiteGround has one in Singapore. This makes it a naturally good choice for my websites which serve an audience primarily based in Malaysia and Singapore.
Almost zero downtime
As I mentioned earlier in this article, downtime is a bummer. If you depend on your website to make money for you or bring in leads, every hour (or even minute) it is down means money wasted and opportunities missed.
That being said, my experience with SiteGround in this aspect has been excellent so far. SiteGround’s servers are looked after 24/7, and I’ve not experienced more than 10 minutes of down time in total in the last 2 years.
The Good: Useful Nice-to-Have’s I Liked
Native Cloudflare Integration
Cloudflare is a content delivery network (CDN) that helps distribute your content in different countries. With a CDN, your content can be delivered to audiences far from your server country without too much delay.
SiteGround integrates with Cloudfare natively through cPanel. So you won’t need to install Cloudflare on your site separately. You can choose between free and paid Cloudflare plans.
Managed PHP is above 7.0
Having a higher PHP version means you’ll able to load your site scripts faster. This means your website will load faster and it is easier to work with more heavy-duty plugins like Elementor.
The Ugly: What I Hate Most
CPU seconds and inodes limitations
While SiteGround has a lot of really cool features compared to other hosting companies, it comes with one really bad feature that most companies don’t have: CPU time and inodes limitations.
Once you hit these limits, your site goes down.
But, what are CPU times and inodes?
According to SiteGround, CPU time “is the average time a script started by your account takes to execute on the server”.
An inode, on the other hand, “is a record in a disk table, which contains information about a file or folder such as its size, owner, device node, socket, pipe, etc., except data content and file name. The number of inodes on your account equals the number of files and folders you have on it.”
CPU time is usually counted by your number of visitor, you plugin executions and… unfortunately, bot activity (good and bad), to your site.
From my experience, you’ll usually need to some site optimisations to keep this number down. Usually this involves blocking spam bots, limiting cron jobs and using a heartbeat control plugin.
I found this problem to be easily solved by contacting support and having me guide me through what to do.
The bigger problem for me personally were the inodes limitation. It is fine if you have a few sites, but I manage a number of sites and found myself hitting 80% of the inodes limits on my GoGeek plan with just 12 sites.
So if I were to create more sites, I’ll definitely hit my inodes limits and will be forced to upgrade to their next plan, which is an US$80/month cloud hosting plan. Even when my bandwidth and storage limits are far from hitting the limits.
The Bad: Not Dealbreakers, But Not So Nice
While the starting rates for first-timers start at US$3.95/month, once the deal period is over, you’ll be billed the full price at US$11.95/month for the cheapest plan (Startup). If you host more than one website, you’ll need to start at US$19.95/month (GrowBig) and US$34.95/month (GoGeek).
For our weak currency, this can be pretty pricey!
My Verdict: Good Hosting, but Be Wary of its Limitations
Overall, SiteGround offers pretty good hosting services for a pretty decent price. For sites with a lot of Malaysian readers, SiteGround provides good performance with a combination of Singapore server + Supercacher + Cloudfare CDN.
The servers are pretty much online all the time and support is excellent and always online (24/7).
It’s perfect for beginners who run between 1 – 6 websites with a combined monthly page views of below 100,000.
The biggest drawback with SiteGround are their CPU time and inodes limitations. While CPU time can be optimised, inodes are far harder to reduce if you run more than 10 sites.
Migration to Cloudways: Why I Did it and Why I Don’t Recommend it For Everyone
Last month, I made the difficult decision to move away from SiteGround to Cloudways.
The main reason for this was because I had plans to build out another 3 – 5 more websites. Staying with SiteGround would mean going from a US$34.5/month GoGeek plan to an US$80/month cloud hosting plan.
For websites I’m not even making money from yet, doubling my hosting costs to give me more inodes allowances just didn’t make sense.
Other than that, I’m also planning to launch some software which SiteGround won’t be suitable for.
While I’m moving to Cloudways, it doesn’t mean it is the best hosting solution for most people.
The main thing is that Cloudways is pretty technical. While support is pretty responsive, they don’t do the handholding for beginners as well as SiteGround does.
If you don’t know how to use SSH, FTP, or PHP, you’ll run into a lot of problems with a hosting solution like Cloudways.
Getting Started with SiteGround
It’s pretty simple to get started with SiteGround. All you need to do is pick a plan and follow the instructions.
But, which Plan Should You Go For?
SiteGround offers 3 plans for shared hosting:
If you have just 1 website and less than 10,000 visitors a month, go for the Startup plan.
If you have a few websites (2 – 6), and a combined visitor count of less than 25,000 visitors, GrowBig will fit you well.
For heavier duty users with more websites (8 – 12) and visitors, the GoGeek plan might be the best fit.
Do note that the pricing displayed are the promo rates for first time sign-ups. You will be charged the full rate on your second bill.
Startup plan Special Price: US$3.95/monthStartup plan Regular Price: US$11.95/month
GrowBig plan Special Price: US$5.95/monthGrowBig plan Regular Price: US$19.95/month
GoGeek plan Special Price: US$11.95/monthGoGeek plan Regular Price: US$34.95/month
My advice is to go for a 3 years plan with the promo rate to take full advantage of the reduced hosting fees. This is something I wish I did!
P/s: If you need help with setting up your site, don’t forget to check out my guide on how to create a website for under RM300!
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