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GURU is another host which I am seeing recommended more often on my WordPress groups, as usual with lots of positive feed and great reviews on Trustpilot, but nowhere near as much as the likes of SiteGround, which is easily the most popular recommendation. So in my quest to find something better than SiteGround, Guru were next on my list.
In this review I am using their £19.95 reseller plan.
Note: I decided to stick with Guru, so I will be updating this review of their services over time.
Since I provide website migration services myself and ran a web hosting company for 16 years, I have obviously done hundreds of website migrations over the years and I know how to do it with my eyes closed. But anytime a host offers free migration, I will ask them to do it for me to test their migration skills, customer service skills, WordPress knowledge and overall competency.
I submitted a request for free migration and sent them a link to the backup which I had shared via one-drive. Unfortunately, they won’t accept links to backups you have done yourself and insisted I give them access to the site instead to do their own backups. I found this a bit weird, as it just makes the job more time consuming for them, but I provided a temp login and waited
3 days passed and still nothing, so I chased up the ticket only to be told they were too busy and it probably wouldn’t be done until next week now , which would have been another 5+ days. So I decided to do the migration myself instead as i wanted to get my performance tests done.
I have since submitted a few other sites for migration to see how long it actually took. I used my own site this time, which is a multi site network consisting of 7 domains, and a few regular sites.
They completed the migrations successfully, however it did take them between 6-9 days for each site, which is pretty slow, when you consider I can migrate a site in under 1 hour. So I wouldn’t rely on them if you need the migration done urgently, and you would definitely need to plan this well in advance of your old hosting expiring if you wanted to take advantage of the free migration.
Guru use Blogvault to do their backups and migrations, which failed to do my multisite, and they had to resort to doing it manually. I usually use All-in-one WP Migration to do my backups and migrations, and it has not failed me yet, including on this site. This tells me my backups solution works better than BlogVault 🙂
I also want to mention this very useful ‘website preview’ option they have. I have used numerous cpanel hosts, but it is not a feature I have seen before, so it may be a custom module they have developed.
This module creates a temporary sub-domain for you (or your client) to access and test the website prior to making DNS changes. Presumably, it creates a bunch of rewrite rules to achieve this, although they are not created in the .htaccess file, so I assume it is done at the litespeed level.
So far it has worked 100% and allows full testing of the website, and does not cause the WordPress redirect to kick in. This is certainly a much easier solution than having to explain to clients how to mess about with their hosts file to tests the site.
The other major benefit with having this testing URL, is that you can even run it through pagespeed tests as well so that you can also tweak the site before making it live.
In their KB, guru recommends using the LiteSpeed cache plugin. I have tried this before on other LiteSpeed hosts and have never achieved very impressive results compared to other caching plugins, but on Guru’s servers, it has so far matched the performance of W3 total cache, with less effort.
Bear in mind that the tests below were not done during peak times, when servers will be more busy.
SITE 1 : Mamma Mia Pizzeria
I performed 10 tests on the site using LiteSpeed, W3TC and LiteSpeed+Cloudflare. Only 6 tests on Pingdom as the variance is much less, and you have to wait much longer between tests as pingdom block you if you do too many too quickly. I have compared against my old host Siteground, where I am using Cloudflare as standard as all sites are slower without it.
Average GTMetrix PageSpeed
Pingdom Load time
Average GTMetrix PageSpeed
Pingdom Load time
As you can see the difference between LiteSpeed Cache and W3TC is insignificant, LSCACHE wins by a fraction, although I have only use dthe default basic config and not tweaked the advanced settings.
So considering how much simpler LSCACHE is to use, with minimal configuration, I would likely stick with this plugin, plus it will likely achieve better performance once I start playing with the advanced settings.
Using Cloudflare provided no speed improvement whatsoever and was in fact slower. The big difference is the TTFB which is 3.5 x slower using Cloudflare. So the only advantage of using Cloudflare here would be for the DDOS protection.
When compared to Siteground, the TTFB is about is almost 3 x faster and according to pingdom the page speed is almost 1s faster.
SITE 2: michaels.me.uk
The loading times when compared to Siteground are not very different, but once I enabled cloudflare this took 200ms off. Guru’s TTFB once again is about 3 x faster than Siteground.
Average GTMetrix PageSpeed
Pingdom Load time
Average GTMetrix PageSpeed
Pingdom Load time
During my initial migration my tickets were opened in the early hours (past 1AM) and were responded to within 2.5 hours. If this was during peak hours, I would be fine with that, as that is when they are busy. But I would rather expect responses to be quicker at this sort of time when most customers are sleeping and things are quiet.
Subsequent tickets I have opened thus far have been responded to much quicker and I have had no issues.
The few times I tried the live chat I got no response or it took a very long time, but I have since been told that they were having some issues with the live chat on those days and that this is not normal. I have not any such issues since then.
Apart from the time it took for the migrations, overall I have been happy with the service/support so far. All my questions have been answered and my issues dealt with.
On one of the sites I migrated, the Litespeed cache was not working, and threw an error claiming it was disabled when it wasn’t. They resolved this problem for me without any blagging or excuses or attempts to blame me or my other plugins.
So the experience so far has been quite refreshing compared to the type of responses I have grown accustomed to with Siteground, which were usually unhelpful, arrogant and condescending and would usually make every effort to refuse to help and make it “your problem”.
I have my fingers crossed that guru staff are more observant about their customer’s technical skills and respond accordingly rather than treating you as an incompetent muppet by default.
Based on my experience of the service and the support thus far, I determined it is significantly better than Siteground across the board, and so have decided to make the switch permanent and have migrated all my sites to guru.
Guru have WAF (Web Application Firewall) protection on all their cloud servers by default, which monitors and protects against known attacks and intrusions.
On the reseller account I can create a separate cpanel account for every customer/site and thus isolate them from each other.
Guru also does not allow remote access to mysql by default, requiring you to use SSH. This is a PITA if you need to use external tools which do not support SSH, such as manageWP, but is good from a security perspective, as attackers simply cannot even try to hack into your databases, which otherwise affects server performance with all the daily hack attempts that occur.
In addition, they do not allow plain un-encrypted FTP, it is FTPS only. this is good.
When I was with siteground, the letsencrypt ssl renewal would regularly fail (silently), leaving my site broken until I noticed. I would then have to contact siteground support, get blagged and told the issue was with my site, have to argue with them and try to convince then it was an issue with letsencrypt and try to get them to fix it.
With Guru, the auto renewal happens in advance of the expiry date, giving you time to take action if it fails. When it did fail, it sent me an email to tell me why so that I could fix it. In every case it was due to no longer active aliases or sub-domains.
The first time it happened I did not realise I could fix it myself via cpanel, so contacted guru supported, and they simply fixed it without any blagging.
Here is my pros and cons list, almost all of these trump Siteground, who do not offer the same.
Fast Servers + caching
no direct access to database backups
Support are helpful and not condescending
No staging option
Very reasonable pricing
Performance boost option
Four-hourly Off-site Backups, hourly on pro plans.
£1 for first month, so cheap to try them out
multiple cpanel accounts/cages
Free on-demand backups
More RAM per site than other hosts (1GB)
port free subdomains for services e.g. cpanel.yourdomain.com webmail.yourdomain.com
Notifications if ssl renewal fails
I have been told they are working on a staging option, which is great, and if they added a few other useful features in Cpanel, they would be pretty much perfect in my books.
Password/IP Protected Files/folders manager
Collaborator Access (temp logins)
Force HTTPS : Redirect all requests made to your site over HTTPS
I know these things can be done manually, so these are feature requests of convenience.
UPDATE: MAY 2019
Well, it has been nearly 3 months, and I still have no complaints. There have been no major problems, all my sites are running fast and support so far has still been great.
They have responded to tickets in a timely fashion and have solved any issues I have had without passing the buck or fobbing me off, and I have not smelt a whiff of bullshit 🙂
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links ahead, because why not!. My reviews & opinions are always honest and legitimate and I will never falsely recommend a product or service just for affiliate clicks. If you have a problem with this, just do not click the links.
Wpx hosting seem to have almost too good to be true reputation, with positive reviews everywhere and they boast that they have superior WordPress performance and support compared to all other WP hosts, and the reviews do seem to concur, especially this one.
So wpx hostinghave quite a reputation to live up to and I have quite high hopes and expectations from them here. However the same was also true of SiteGround, it is very hard to find negative reviews, yet my experience with their customer service and support has very rarely been positive.
1. The website migration
Since I provide website migration services myself and ran a web hosting company for 16 years, I have obviously done hundreds of website migrations over the years and I know how to do it with my eyes closed. But anytime a host offers free migration, I will ask them to do it for me to test their migration skills, customer service skills, WordPress knowledge and overall competency.
Sadly this was a #fail from the get-go, as they refused to do the free migration based on the fact that I also wanted to change the domain name during the migration, citing that it was a complicated and time-consuming process. If I wanted them to do the migration then I would have to pay $98, so I declined and did it myself.
I have done the domain name change many times, not only for clients, but it is the standard process I use when testing out hosts, which involves cloning my own site over to a sub-domain, which of course involves changing the domain name.
Now granted if you were a noob and you were doing this for the first time and thus tried to do this manually, then yes it could be a complicated and time-consuming process. But as any WordPress professional (or host) should know, there are plenty of tools that will do the job for you with little to no extra effort.
I generally use All-in-One WP Migration, which allows you to change the domain name when you perform the backup, which automatically changes all references of the old domain in the database to the new domain. So when you restore your backup at the new location, it is running on the new domain. I have also used ManageWP to do the job on several occasions as well.
Amount of additional time/effort required : 0 So I found $98 to be rather expensive just to switch the domain name, which I can only assume is down to lack of knowledge on how to do it efficiently.
The second issue I had was the 301 redirect from the old domain to the new domain. Again this should have been a really simple process.
The usual process is as follows:-
add the old domain as an alias to the new domain
add 301 redirects into your .htaccess file from old domain to new domain.
update dns for old domain (if moving to a new host)
Re-generate your letsencrypt SSL so that it includes the domain alias. This is required for https redirects to work.
You may be asking, why didn’t you do the SSL before updating your DNS? Well, unfortunately, the way lets encrypt works (has been implemented at most hosts) requires that your domain is already pointing at the hosts server first, as the SSL registration process first checks the DNS, and if it points elsewhere, it fails.
This is obviously a massive PITA for migrations or if you use cloudflare or Sucuri as it also breaks the 3 monthly renewal of letsencrypt. Hosts really need to disable the DNS check on their letsEncrypt implementation to make it more reliable.
Now with almost every host I have used, you generate the letsencryptssl within cpanel, and it includes all domain aliases by default. But WPX hosting control panel did not do this. As a result, the redirect failed, because as soon as anyone hit the old domain over https, they got a security alert from the browser about an invalid sslcertificate, which stopped the redirect from ever happening.
I had to contact wpx support to get this fixed and I had a hard time making them understand what the root cause of the problem was and how to fix it. At one point they decided to install “Really Simple SSL” plugin on my site to redirect http to https, which they thought would fix it.
I then had to explain that no plugin would fix this issue since it existed outside of WordPress and was nothing to do with http to https, which was working just fine without the plugin.
This worryingly showed a general lack of knowledge about hosting, ssl, browser security and WordPress. All things that a host and self professed WordPress expert really should know inside out.
So first impressions were not great and so far and thus do not give me any compelling reason to think that wpx hosting’s support will be any better than SiteGround when I need to use it.
2. The Website Performance
Once again my expectations were high based on what I have read. But after running some tests with gtmetrix and pingdom, sadly I did not see any significant performance improvement compared to Siteground.
When I asked wpx support about this, they told me that I needed to use W3 Total Cache to get the best performance on their servers.
This was rather annoying, as I specifically do not use W3TC because it doesn’t play well with the DIVI theme I use on my sites, and I have to keep disabling it to make the DIVI builder work properly. But I disabled my normal caching plugin and enabled W3TC instead, and performed my tests again.
With the following tests below I am using WPX-Cloud on the WPX site and Cloudflare on the siteground site, so both are using a CDN.
With W3TC + WPX-cloud enabled there is a small improvement of about 0.5s, which is certainly nowhere near the 3 x speed improvement they claim, although the TTFB is considerably better, but this is mostly down to cloudflare which generally makes TTFB worse.
Bear in mind also that gtmetrix tests the “fully loaded time”, which includes all external resources that load asynchronously too (google maps, font, facebook pixel etc), so can be misleading as these load on the client side and thus will always load at the same speed regardless.
Winner: wpx hosting
Next I tested with pingdom tools, which doesn’t count the asynchronously loaded resources, which was giving an average just below 1s for wpx, compared to Siteground which more consistently between 1-2s. So the difference is just under 1s on average.
However I did 2 tests a 2 different times of day, and got different results. During the day, Siteground was better, at 2AM GMT, wpx was better.
In both cases you can see that wpx hosting does have a better performance grade and TTFB, but is it enough to warrant changing hosting provider?
I contacted wpx hosting and sent them these scores to see what they would have to say and asked if they had Memcached or Redis or any other caching tech on the server which would enable to me to achieve the superior performance they boast of.
Here are some of the responses I received, which I found a little odd.
To be more objective I tested the website directly from London where the location of the server is located.
Svetlozar T. Senior Technical Support at WPX Hosting
My tests were also done from London, so not sure how his tests could be more objective than mine, but Svetlozar insisted they were and refused to budge on this or explain why.
Also, he seemed proud of the fact that his Pingdom test took 1s (500ms longer than mine), and kept pushing this fact. I had to point out to him twice that lower response time is better and thus his scores were worse than mine and not better, but he absolutely refused to accept this.
I also had to explain that you cannot simply do 1 test and base everything on this result, as the test results fluctuate a lot. You have to perform multiple tests and look at the average score. He also refused to accept this or discuss frther as well, so I decided it was probably time to quit and cut my losses at this point as I was beating my head against the proverbial brick wall.
Based on the responses I received, I felt that they do not fully understand how to do performance testing or how to interpret the results nor do they understand the difference between gtmetrix and pingdom.
I also went ahead and cloned over a 2nd site for testing (zenmsp.uk) just to give them the benefit of doubt.
On Siteground, it is using Siteground’s own Supercacher plugin and no CDN. This is only because the theme originally had issues with W3TC and I am unable to use CloudFlare on this domain for other issues I won’t go into.
On wpx I used W3 Total Cache with their recommended settings plus their wpx-cloud. So I really expected wpx to win this one.
Average score after 10 tests
So yes wpx won by a mere 0.27s (270ms), which is an insignificant amount. I think if I switched the Siteground version to W3TC and used cloudflare, it would beat this score by a more significant amount.
I have given wpx the opportunity to look at the site and have a go at improving the performance, so I will report back if anything happens.
One thing many people do not take into consideration is resource limits. While a hosting may seem like a good deal when you just look at the price and quotas, this is often marred by resource limits which would cripple a busy site quite quickly, causing you to need to upgrade. This is a tricky tactic a lot of hosts use.
I asked wpx support about the resource limits imposed per site, and this is the reply I got back.
All websites are separate from each other and they do not share resources nor can affect another.
The number of simultaneous server processes is 3 php processes per site. The plan you are on (the Business plan) has 128 MB memory limit per website and 1 dedicated CPU for the whole plan.
If you are only hosting 1 small site, this will suffice. But if you were hosting multiple sites as the plan allows, then these limits are very likely to cause performance problems.
Modern sites using themes/builders like DIVI, wpbakery, beaver builder etc all require 128MB as a minimum, so imagine if you have 5 sites all fighting for that same memory.
So busy sites, eCommerce sites, resource heavy sites etc will need something better.
3. Control Panel
Pretty much every host out there uses cpanel these days, I have not come across one for a long time that doesn’t. Which was something I found appealing about wpx hosting initially, as they have their own in-house control panel instead and frankly I hate cpanel, the UI is awful.
Sadly the appeal soon wained once I started using it and realised how limited in functionality it was, it was also painfully slow, most actions such as adding a domain or email took several minutes.
Okay so they only do WordPress, and they are clearly targeting non-technical customers and agencies who want a fully hand-held, managed solution, so they do not need all the functionality of cpanel, which is fair enough, and if you are one of those types of customers, you will probably love it. But if you are more technical like me and want the ability to do things yourself, you will find it a very lacking and probably get quite frustrated having to constantly contact support.
If you have multiple small websites, then i’d say the wpx pricing is very reasonable. At $24.99 for 5 sites on the business plan, that is only $5 per website +tax. The bigger plans are cheaper per site. Frankly If you are not willing to spend a measly $5 per website on hosting, then you deserve crappy/slow hosting.
If you only have 1 small website, then $24.99 may seem expensive compared to other hosts, but then those hosts are not offering the same level of support and management.
WPX hosting claim that they will fix any issue with your site or remove malware completely free of charge. This is worth the price all by itself and is what “managed hosting” should be. Sadly I cannot confirm or deny whether they deliver on these claims, but given the caveat with the free migrations, I must admit to being a bit skeptical.
Every plan includes all the following features, which is pretty good to be honest, as not a lot of hosts offer some of these features.
High-speed, custom CDN ● Unlimited Site Migrations* ● Unlimited SSLs 24/7 Fast-response Support ● Staging Area ● Email ● Manual Backups DDoS Protection ● Malware Scanning & Removal ● PHP 7.X ● HTTPS/2 30 Day Money-Back ● 28 Day Automatic Backups 99.95% Uptime Guarantee 1-Click WordPress Installations ● USA + UK Hosting locations
If you only have a single website, then I would be inclined to recommend GetFlyWheel instead, as their TINY plan is cheaper at $15 and in my experience, the service is almost flawless and the performance is better as it is not shared hosting, plus they also offer a fully managed service.
Here is a comparison between 3 plans I have setup for the purpose of hosting multiple sites for clients. They are all roughly around the same sort of pricing. Although SiteGround is considerably cheaper for the initial period, the price below is the renewal price.
$24.99 pm (£14.30)
20,000 cpu seconds per day
30% cpu per account
3 per site
20,000 per day
50 per account
128MB per site
∞ (not sure I believe this)
1GB per account
$19.95 per backup
yes (by using separate accounts)
If the performance and support of wpx hosting had met expectations, then I would have certainly say it is easily worth the extra cost for a fully managed service with high-quality support from WordPress experts and would have transferred all my sites.
But sadly they did not live up to their own hype and my expectations were not met, and I certainly did not get the feeling of dealing with WordPress experts and the performance improvement was not that significant. Sure they are faster than the average generic host, but not faster than other WordPress optimised hosts I have used.
While it did feel they would probably be more helpful dealing with WordPress issues and support, in general, especially with the claim to fix any issue for free. I did not feel as though the level of competence or knowledge was any better than Siteground which could result in the same bad advice and mistake being made that I have experience with siteground.
Another annoyance was that they seemed completely unwilling to accept the possibility that the client might actually know what they are talking about and might possibly know more than them, which was quite arrogant.
you get a fully managed, hand-held hosting service
they are probably more willing to help you rather than tell you “not our problem” as other hosts do.
you get all those other features thrown in which most hosts do not offer.
simple control panel for non techies
CDN is effortless and also seems to include load balancing
performance not as good as claimed
support not as good as claimed
control panel very limited if you want to do things yourself
No WordPress tools to do things like reset your admin password, clone site etc, which Siteground has.
No white label domains, so your clients will see you are using wpx.
If you do need a fully managed WordPress solution, then you do need more than just managed hosting, as they of course only manage the hosting and not the website itself. So you may want to look at Managed Service Providers like ManagedWordpress UK or hire someone like me 🙂
PS. I did move away from Siteground, and chose GURU as my new host. You can find my review here.
Back in 2017 I decided to give SiteGround a try due to all the great reviews they have on TrustPilot and elsewhere, so I thought it was a safe bet, but sadly the opposite turned out to be true. I have also since learnt how untrustworthy Trustpilot is.
I was given wrong advice right from the outset, the hosting plan they had recommend based on my requirements didn’t support what I needed and right from the outset I was told I needed to upgrade, which I did. But the cloud server had nothing but ongoing problems since day 1, there was always something breaking or not working. I was never able to put any clients or my own sites live on this server as I could never trust it.
Like beating your head against a brick wall
I spent weeks arguing with support over custom DNS servers because they kept insisting that this requires something to be installed on the server in order to set custom DNS which is why they insisted it also requires me to transfer my domain name to them.
Having run my own hosting company for many years, I know exactly how custom DNS works as I have done it myself, it is simply a case of registering the name server with the domain registrar as a DNS server. Domains do not need to be transferred, nothing whatsoever has to be installed to achieve this and even if it did, this has no relation to a domain transfer,
I had to give up this discussion, as I was talking to a brick wall, and could not get past the mindless canned responses.
I also had problems with my tickets, emails and logs etc, all having wrong times on them due to an incorrect setting in PHP, and again spent weeks arguing with them over this, with them insisting the issue was at my end and that everything on the server was correct.
Sadly you are not allowed remote access to their cloud servers, otherwise, I could have just fixed it myself, so you have to rely on them to fix things, which they won’t do if they refuse to accept there is an actual issue. Finally, after much arguing, and telling them exactly where to look and what to do, I proved to them that the issue was on the server, and they finally fixed it. But no apology for all the weeks of time wasting and the issues they had caused me through their incompetence.
The final straw was when they just decided to block certain ports on the firewall without any warning, completely breaking my billing system and email. They did not inform me they were doing this and completely failed to diagnose that they were the cause, again blaming me, denying that there were any issues or changes at their end. When I finally proved it was their own firewall that was the cause, they once again just fixed the issue with complete apathy.
This is just 3 of the worst issues, there were numerous others.
Canned response hell
SiteGround deliver a neverending stream of insincere “canned responses” to give the impression that they care, but when something goes wrong, and their actions or lack thereof are damaging your business or causing you downtime, they simply do not care and just continue to deliver their canned responses like mindless robots. After you have contacted them a few times you can quite literally predict everything they are going to say word for word, that is how rehearsed and predictable it is.
Everything I put on the SiteGround server was broken almost the whole time, had I actually put any clients live on this server I would have probably lost them all due to the constant downtime. I ended up sticking with Hostek, who have always been consistently reliable.
Needless to say, I never got to the point of actually testing the performance of WordPress or their server.
When I tried to cancel my account, I just received more canned responses and a total refusal to refund the months I had left, despite all the endless problems which they had caused me to cancel in the first place. Although since writing a review on Trustpilot, they did refund my last 2 unused months.
Their support ticket system is also a nightmare. When they reply to your ticket, you do not get the actual reply via email, you just get a notification telling you they have replied, and you then have to login to your account to read the reply. This is annoying at best and a massive time wasting inconvenience at worst. If you are not in front of your computer, it means that you cannot deal with the ticket or even see the response to see if it is urgent or needs your attention unless you are able to login to your account from your phone.
I signed up and immediately had a problem with my account, which would not activate, and I had to contact them to get it activated manually.
I use “All in One WP Migration” plugin to move sites from one host to another, it works well and I have used it on multiple providers and sites. When I tried to use it on SiteGround , the file upload kept freezing and was not getting much further than 2-3% on each attempt. When I contacted SiteGround support, they decided (as usual) it was a problem with the plugin and blatantly refused to help. I did advise them I have used this plugin many times with no issues, but they did not care. I told them that this would not bode well for my review of their service, they did not care about that either and simply said “that is my choice”.
So I deleted and reinstalled WordPress from scratch via their Cpanel to give it another go. This time around the default install was giving a bunch of PHP errors right from the outset, but I tried the migration anyway to see if it would fix the issue. Good news is that the “All in One WP Migration” plugin worked just fine this time.
Sadly this did not fix the PHP errors, and they remained, so I opened another ticket with SiteGround to see if they would actually provide any support this time. I waited a day, no response, so I logged in only to find no sign of the ticket I had submitted. So I tried again and opened the ticket a second time, this time I took a screenshot of the ticket prior to submitting and the subsequent confirmation page, just in case. Again my ticket vanished, with no response. I then sent them a tweet complaining about my tickets vanishing and tried a 3rd time, fully expecting them to deny that any tickets had even been submitted.
My third ticket did receive a reply, and as sure enough, as expected, they did completely deny that I had submitted any other tickets, even when I provided the screenshots as evidence. They also tried to blame the errors on my theme and plugins, despite the fact that the errors were there on the default install, before I had even uploaded my site or any themes or plugins.
So far, it is still a big #FAIL for SiteGround support.
Considering how consistently bad my experience has been with Siteground, the number of good reviews is very surprising. I can only assume that the average, non technical customers simply believe all their excuses and lies or they have done a very good job of filtering out negative reviews.
I am going to keep this site hosted with them for a while and see if things improve, or until they screw up so badly that I have to move it. So I will be updating this review as and when required.
UPDATE : July 1st 2018
The way SiteGround have some of the features in their CPANEL configured is very bizarre and will be downright inconvenient for anyone hosting multiple clients. One of those is how they needlessly restrict FTP users. With other hosts, you can create an FTP user using any domain in your account, so when you host multiple clients, their FTP login will be their own domain, E.G. [email protected]
Siteground, however, restrict you to only being able to use your primary domain for all FTP users. The primary domain is the first one you setup when you created your account. So if the first website you setup was your own, probably not a big deal, as it will your own domain used for all logins.
But if the first website you setup was for a client, that clients domain name will now be used for every other client’s FTP user ([email protected]). No matter how many ways I tried to explain to them, they just didn’t get why it would be an issue. Luckily in my case, I am not very likely to be giving out FTP access to my clients as I manage everything for them.
They also have a lot of features in cpanel which simply do not work or are disabled, so why have them there at all?
One of the most outrageous features I found was the manual backup, which they charge you $19.95 to use. I have never come across any other host that charges you to perform backups of your site.
On top of this, the cpanel account backup is disabled if you are using over 5GB of space. This means if you want to move to another provider, you cannot make use of the cpanel backup.
Update January 2019
It has now been 10 months that I have been using SiteGround, and while the performance and up time have been fine, sadly I still cannot say the support in any way lives up to its reputation. There have been a few instances where the support has been good, but it is very hit and miss. Sometimes I get helpful staff who know what they are doing, fix problems and are polite, other times the responses are still unhelpful, ignorant and full of attitude.
On the plus side, I haven’t really noticed the annoying canned responses, so maybe they have stopped with that.
In a recent incident, I opened a ticket as I have been having random issues on multiple sites for several weeks with http errors caused by timeouts when uploading images, even tiny 28k images. It will often take 10-20 attempts to get it to upload.
I received a typical unhelpful response from SiteGround support, they made one attempt to upload an image and because it uploaded successfully for them, they completely dismissed the fact I have been having this issue for weeks on multiple sites, and decided everything was fine, and closed the ticket.
I have also had several occasions where their letsEncrypt SSL has stopped working for unknown reasons or did not renew the SSL properly, thus breaking the site. All I get from is the same useless response.
It is unlikely for such issues to reoccur in the future, as everything is properly configured now.
However, in case you encounter the same or similar issues, please post a new ticket via the User Area > Support tab, so we can investigate further and assist you.
On one occasion they claimed the problem was not at their end and told me it was an issue with my site and that I would need to hire a developer to fix it and tried to refer me to codeable, who they obviously make comission from. This was of course compete nonsense and I solved the issue by deleting the existing ssl and creating a new one. I wonder how many other customers they say this to, causing them to spend money on something they do not need.
When my hosting comes up for renewal, I have decided it is time to move on, currently I am testing out some other providers.
UPDATE: I have now moved all my hosting to GURU and so far am very happy, the support and service has been great so far, everything has been superior to SiteGround.
Fast and responsive Live Chat
Good WordPress features such as 1 click staging, GIT integration, automatic updates and SG caching
Performance of shared hosting is good when you have all the caching enabled.
Reasonably cheap (until renewal time comes, the the price triples)
Unreliable and untrustworthy advice
Cloud hosting completely unreliable
Too many canned responses
Poor troubleshooting skills
Completely uncaring & apathetic attitude of staff
Inability to take responsibility for their own mistakes
I have had several websites hosted with flywheel for over 1 year now, and I literally have no complaints about this provider. I have not had a single problem with the sites or the service or the support.
The only issue I ever had was that the speed was not as good as it should have been, and when I queried this I discovered that some performance settings were not enabled for some reason. So what I have learnt over this last year is that you do need to have some technical knowledge to ensure you are getting the best out of the service, as you need to know what tests to run and what questions to ask, even with a host as good as flywheel .
Because flywheel is a dedicated WordPress host, they do not have any hosting control panel since they do not do anything except WordPress. Therefore they provide a set of simple tools just for your WordPress site, such as setting up staging sites, enabling password access etc. To be frank, it is pretty idiot proof and is obviously aimed at non-technical folks.
They also do not support or allow anything other than WordPress. This can obviously be very annoying and inconvenient if you wanted to install another app on your domain, like WHMCS or PHPBB, instead, you have to get more hosting elsewhere and use a sub-domain.
You also have to get your email hosting elsewhere as well, but I suspect that if you are using flywheel then you probably want a more robust email solution as well, such as GSuite or office365. The bundled email that you get from hosting providers really is very basic and provides no business continuity.
Last year Flywheel acquired Pressmastic (now called LOCAL by Flywheel), which creates a local WordPress dev environment (using virtualbox) and syncs it with your live Flywheel sites. You can pull your live sites down to local and vice versa. This obviously makes it very simple to maintain a separate dev and live environment.
Excellent support and customer service
Excellent speed with no plugins or configuration required.
Advanced security using Sucuri
Everything just works
You can easily generate a staging site from your live site, although you only get this on the $28 and above plans.
You can get a 1 click backup of your entire site (minus core files), which will send you an email with a link once it is complete.
You can setup free staging sites for your clients for 1 month.
You can change your primary domain, and your entire site and all links and references get automatically updated.
Ability to assign collaborators. So if you are the website owner, you can temporarily give access to designers and developers to work on your site or staging site.
LOCAL by Flywheel
You cannot host anything other than WordPress.
No 24/7 support. Although you can escalate tickets and get someone out of bed. They now have 24/7 support and are aprt of wpengine
Price. As with all the dedicated WordPress hosts, it seems quite expensive with limiting quotas on bandwidth and disk space. Plus you have the added cost of needing to get your email hosted elsewhere too.
You can only use multisite on the personal plan or above and it costs an extra $10
I have prior experience with Siteground and it was not a pleasant one. They screwed everything up to the point where I would probably have lost all my clients had I actually transferred everything over to their servers.
As I continue to see articles everywhere praising SiteGround and how great they are, I thought I would give them another try. Everyone deserves a 2nd chance and maybe I just had some very bad luck last time.
SiteGround are a generic host and are considerably cheaper than the likes of Flywheel or WPengine, and run cpanel like every other host. They do however optimise their servers for WordPress and also have a few custom features available in their control panel, such as git controls, staging sites, site move, domain name change, which you do not get with other hosts at this price range, so I really want them to not screw up this time as I want to like them.
So I signed up with SiteGround for a GrowBig account and kept my fingers crossed, but had an immediate issue.
I was not able to access my account, it seemed to be stuck in some perpetual setup mode, telling me I could not set it up or manage it because my domain already existed. So I left it a few hours to see if it would complete, but alas the issue was still there. So I had to contact support even just to get my account activated. Not a good start so far.
They also still have that incredibly irritating support ticketing system where they do not actually send you a reply, they just send you a notification that they have replied, and you have to log in to your account to view it. This is so incredibly annoying, inconvenient and time-consuming and I hate it when companies do this.
If you are out and about on your phone, then it means you cannot read the reply until you are back in front of a real pc, at least not without a lot of hassle. As a result. this type of system also encourages the use of weak passwords, as customers will resort to using a password that is easy to type and remember so that they can login via their phones to read tickets.
Once activated, I setup my spare domain and replicated the site over.
I performed multiple gtmetrix tests on the site with various caching and performance enhancements enabled, and compared them to flywheel. The results of these tests are below.
Obviously, I cannot give any opinion on long-term performance, reliability and support yet, but I do plan to transfer at least one site over to them for a long-term test and will update this article accordingly in a few months. I have so far had a site running for a couple of weeks without any issues.
Considering the performance is better than any other host I have tried, they are pretty good value for money.
Their own in-house caching system, which clearly makes a big difference based on my tests.
1 click staging
As with flywheel, a simple solution to setup a staging site for testing. Although it is only available on the most expensive plan, which at £7.95 is still less than 1/2 the cost of flywheel.
Can use Multisite on any plan
SG-Git – Create a git repository from your site, very handy if you are getting custom work done.
Every decent managed WordPress host will auto update your WordPress core. Even though this option is built right into WordPress itself these days.
SiteGround also has the option to auto-update your plugins as well. I haven’t seen this option anywhere else.
Being a traditional host, you can host more than just WordPress.
Multiple sites/domains allowed on same plan.
The endless stream of rehearsed and ostensibly polite canned responses for me just comes across as very apathetic and disingenuous. They also have that typical problem with not reading communications properly before replying and have a tendency to be condescending and give completely wrong advice.
Potentially low resources This 1 simple site caused my inode usage to go up to 20%. So despite the fact that you can host unlimited websites, in reality, I don’t think you could host many before you have consumed your inode quota.
An irritating and time wasting ticketing system
Cheap pricing is promotional and is only for first year. After this it quadruples and is not such a good deal anymore.
For the purpose of this test, I used the site zenmsp.uk, which is the most resource intensive theme (the Fox) and is the slowest loading of all my sites and took the most tweaking to get it to load quickly. This site takes 6-10 seconds to fully load on a regular server/host.
As you can see from the results, on pure performance alone, SiteGround does actually manage to win the challenge by a hair and beats flywheel by shaving about 0.4 seconds off the loading time.
Bear in mind though that with flywheel everything is out of the box and done by them automatically on the server, and doesn’t require any plugins or any other caching or performance tricks.
In the case of SiteGround I did have to manually enable all their caching features, install a special SG plugin and enable their supercacher options, and the fact that you have to do this in order for the caching to work was not clearly documented.
Still I must say I was quite surprised by the results, considering that Flywheel is a dedicated WordPress host and SiteGround is generic host who will have many hundreds of customers per server, I was not expecting them to win.
When enabling CloudFlare via the SiteGround console, it only redirects the www subdomain through Cloudflare and not the primary domain due to the way they integrate with cloudflare. I also noticed, as you can see in the results, that the speed was actually slower with Cloudflare enabled, the same is true with flywheel as well. So obviously CloudFlare cannot improve on the caching provided by the hosts.
If the price is your deciding factor, or keeping everything in one place (multiple sites, domain names, email etc) then SiteGround wins hands down.
If customer service/support & reliability is more important, and you have the budget to pay for it, then flywheel wins, as the performance difference is negligible enough not to be noticeable based on these tests.
GT Metrix Reports
No other changes or tweaking has been made to the site other than to enable the available speed/caching features. So we are literally only looking at overall performance achieved by the caching/options provided by the host.
Since Cloudflare did not offer any improvements, there is not really and file minimising applied to this site. For the record, I have tried W3TC and other plugins, but this theme tends to break when CSS and JS files are minimised or combined.
Siteground + google pagespeed
Siteground Plus Google Pagespeed caching enabled. All other options must be disabled.
Siteground + Supercacher
Siteground with Supercacher plugin enabled and all caching options switched on
Siteground, default setup, simple and dynamic caching enabled.
For websites and clients that need the best possible speed and performance for WordPress and are prepared to pay extra for it, I tend use FlyWheel, who are up there with the best of the best when it comes to WordPress hosting. But for those small, simple, low traffic sites this can be a bit pricey, so I have been on the hunt for another hosting provider that had decent performance for WordPress without costing an arm and a leg.
I was originally running my WordPress multisite installation on my Windows server hosted with Hostek, and while I generally got pretty decent performance and gtmetrix scores, I knew it could be better due to the fact that PHP and WordPress do not run as well on Windows, and need the likes of Litespeed on Linux to get the best performance.
Here I will be posting my results with the various hosting providers I have tried. Bear in mind that I have played dumb for the most part in order to test out their skills, support and knowledge, I have not told them I am an ex-hosting provider or have 30 years IT experience
One thing to note, which I have found to be true of every single host I have tried who claims “Managed WordPress”, it is nothing of the sort. At best all they do is set WordPress to auto-update, which is a feature now built into WordPress anyway, and if you are lucky also have some intrusion detection with some WordPress specific rules. The likes of WPEngine and FlyWheel do provide more features and security, but I would still not really call it managed.
Proper managed WordPress, is the service I provide, where your entire website is managed and maintained, plugins, themes, security, backups and monitoring.
I used to have my own site hosted with GoDaddy back in 2016 when I was first converted from CFML to WordPress, and while it was OK, the performance, in general, was no better than my Windows server, and often worse. I also had various recurring issues with not being able to upload files via the WordPress admin or via FTP. I can only assume that this was due to GoDaddy’s intrusion detection being overzealous and blocking legitimate activity.
This then brings me to the other major issue, GoDaddy support. Whatever problem I had, they would always default to the conclusion that the problem was at my end, and getting them to even look into a problem was a painful process, and getting them to accept the issue was at their end even harder still. Getting through to support was time-consuming. They got rid of ticket support and switched to phone only support, which meant sitting on the phone for ages in a queue, and some things are impossible to do over the phone, such as provide long complex URLs, or screenshots of your issue. They did eventually introduce live chat, and brought back ticket support for Pro members, but It was quite normal to have to chase them and wait days or even weeks for a response.
I wouldn’t exactly say that GoDaddy is cheap compared to a lot of other hosts who offer the same, and for what you get it just doesn’t seem like good value for money. Their so-called Managed WordPress hosting really isn’t anything of the sort. As with all the other hosts who claim to offer “managed WordPress”, all they actually do is automatically update the WordPress core and nothing else, the WordPress knowledge and support seemed very limited.
Those issues aside, there are some good things with the GoDaddy system. They have a very neat Pro member system which allows existing GoDaddy client to assign control of their hosting and domain names over to you for management. As far as registering and managing domain names goes, I cannot really fault them, all that side of things seems to work fine.
Overall I would only recommend GoDaddy for very basic sites, with low resource usage, where performance and speed is not critical. If you have a resource heavy these that needs serious caching and speed enhancements to make it load quickly, then GoDaddy is not for you.
Simple Interface for WordPress hosting, good for non-technical folks
GD Integration with WordPress is nice
GoDaddy now own and integrate with ManageWP
GoDaddy Pro account is useful for managing clients
HostMedia are one of those El-cheapo, seems too good to be true hosts with hosting that costs only £1. They are quite well known in my old ColdFusion/Lucee circles, and I already had an account with them that I had used to test out their Lucee hosting a while, so I thought I would give them a try with WordPress. Sadly my experience with this company to date has been less than brilliant. Nothing really worked properly from the outset, and I always had to open tickets right from the get-go to get anything working.
What should have been a simple 5 minute job of resetting a password, turned into a 2 day fiasco of wrong passwords being reset locking me out of my account. Issues with the control panel not working as expected to whitelist IP’s, not being able to remotely access databases and having to explain to support staff how tcp/ip and telnet work and that if you cannot connect via telnet then any amount of password resets are not going to help. Even worse when they do not know the issue is actually caused by one of their own standard operating procedures.
Almost every time I used live chat I was asked to open a ticket, so that seems pretty pointless.
A lot of companies, especially hosts these days outsource their support to India, especially the cheap ones, as it is the only way they can afford to have a 24/7 helpdesk. Which is fair enough, I have done the same thing myself, but the key when doing this is ongoing performance reviews and quality control, which is clearly where HostMedia needs to invest some time based on my experiences.
I can certainly see that that for a non-technical customer who is not able to diagnose issues themselves or understand when they are being given wrong advice, simple problems could drag on for days while you get sent on a wild goose case and end up having to pay someone else (like me) to fix the problems for you.
I did finally manage to get a copy of my site running, and upon testing the performance, it was intermittent. Sometimes it was better than my Windows server, sometimes it was worse. Again their so-called “Fully Managed WordPress Hosting” was nothing of the sort, there was very little WordPress knowledge and not a lot of support and nothing being managed.
I gave up after 1 week.
I would put HostMedia up there with 1&1 Internet. they are cheap as chips, and you get what you pay for. Ideal for folks that only have a token website, but really do not care about their website uptime or support, and just want it as cheap as possible.
Support is quite fast and responsive at least
Pointless Live Chat support
Sub-par email support
Too many things broken by default
Intermittent performance and reliability
My SiteGround review turned out to be far more indepth, so I have turned it into a separate post HERE.
I had high hopes with Krystal as they have very good reviews and I have seen several recommendations in forums I use, but sadly things did not go too well.
I signed up for their AMETHYST plan, which should have been sufficient as this is more resources than my site currently uses.
When I tried to setup a WordPress site, there was no option to have a temporary URL for testing prior to migrating DNS. The only option is to use your hosts file for local testing, but their installer is not able to setup WordPress if your domain name is not already pointing at their server. So the only way to install WordPress is manually via FTP.
I noticed they offered free migration, so I thought I would test out their migration skills and get them to migrate my site for me. They failed miserably at this and all they managed to do was to setup a default WordPress install, the rest I had to do myself.
As far as the performance goes, things did improve on that front. On testing my site with GTMetrix I was getting slightly better performance even without using Cloudflare. By tweaking the settings and enabling Cloudflare I managed to increase the score a few percentages and also shave 3 seconds off the load time.
Sadly this is where the benefits stopped. I had nothing but problems on the WordPress backend with Divi builder timeouts and 503 errors. So rather than diagnose it myself, I decided to test out Krystal’s troubleshooting skills. Krystal support told me it was because resources were maxed out and I needed to upgrade to a plan with more resources and that this was a common problem with DIVI. Now I know this is not true since DIVI runs quite happily on 128MB, and I have been running with a max setting of 256MB for the last year with no problems, on multiple DIVI sites. The AMETHYST plan has 384MB, so should be more than enough.
I did, however, go through the motions, and upgraded to the Topaz plan which gives 768MB RAM. But surprise surprise, it made no difference, and I still had the same problems.
This was not the end and Krystal continued to try and push me down the upgrade path, telling me that my site still needed more resources. I suspected they would have pushed this until I had my own dedicated server, so I decided to quit while I was ahead.
I checked the resource usage stats, which clearly showed my site was not maxing out at all.
I then did my own troubleshooting and found the cause of the problem, it was, in fact, the minify setting in W3TC, which was causing problems on this server for some reason. Disabling this got rid of the 503 errors and timeouts.
It is well known that we, the consumers, trust recommendations coming from peers or fellow consumers much more than we trust what businesses are telling us about them. Therefore the businesses selling social proof are very powerful and they can easily manipulate our thoughts on any brand.
Yelp even won a court settlement recently, giving them permission to legally manipulate ratings. Both Yelp and Trustpilot claim that they don’t manipulate the truth, but when you take a closer look at the services they are selling, you get a completely different picture.
There are quite a few sites online that allow you to write reviews on any company, but the majority of worthwhile ones are paid services geared towards businesses collecting product reviews on their e-commerce websites, so members of the public cannot just go and write a review about the company, the rest are business directory websites like yelp.com. So when I discovered trustpilot.com a few years ago it seemed like there was finally a useful and transparent review site.
Trustpilot may have started well back in 2012 when it was run by just a couple of guys, maybe they even had honourable intentions to keep the site honest, we will never know. But once thins is for sure, even if that was was the case then their standards have declined and any good intentions left by the wayside in favour of profit.
While they do have checks in place to stop business owners reviewing their own company, or multiple reviews from the same IP address, that is nothing else in place to stop fake reviews.
Trustpilot’s service has degraded so much that they are themselves now being reviewed on other review sites for their untrustworthiness.
The compliance team pushes the boundaries of incompetence and dealing with them severely tests your fortitude.
From my own dealings with them over the years, I can confirm that I have experienced what I would consider unethical and biased practices from their so-called compliance team which has defied common sense.
They have on multiple occasions blocked negative reviews at the request of the recipient and have then refused to reinstate them unless I have removed literally every negative word from the review, or have requested outlandish and usually unattainable evidence.
They show complete unwillingness to check facts or evidence when provided, even if it is something as simple as clicking a link and looking at a web page to verify companies trading names.
Most consumers will simply get so frustrated with these vexatious and convoluted tactics, they will give up, which is clearly the intent as this puts Trustpilot in the position that they can blame the consumer for not following through.
If a company is using Trustpilot’s free service then it seems as though they will happily allow defamatory or fake reviews to be posted unabated, and will gladly ignore any requests to get them removed or make it as difficult as possible.
in fact, if you read the feedback on the sites above, business owners are claiming they are being blocked by TrustPilot from reporting defamatory or fake reviews.
The only way around this seems to be by using their paid service, after which you receive the opposite treatment and they will go out of their way to remove negative reviews without question and will even refuse evidence from the customer proving the reviews are legit and will not make any effort at all to verify details you send them.
As if this was not bad enough, Trustpilot will also happily allow malicious and defamatory posts against you personally.
According to Trustpilot’s own guidelines, “1.1 You can write a review on Trustpilot about a company if you have had a buying or service experience with that company,”
But it seems they do not follow these guidelines, and if you have a personal web page or a blog, then a vindictive business owner can post whatever malicious and defamatory lies they like about you and Trustpilot will not care.
So what does this mean to the consumer?
Unfortunately, since Trustpilot allow reviews to be manipulated, this means that the scores and ratings you see for any company may not be reliable, so if in doubt, you should not rely solely on this as your only source.
They do have processes in place to stop the same person leaving multiple reviews under different names, and knowing how to get around this will be beyond the ability of the average person who is not very computer literate. So this does mean that fake positive reviews are less likely.
One solution to verify a company that seems too good to be true is to check other directory sites such as yell.com, yelp.com, freeindex.com etc which they may not be monitoring. Also social media, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. Companies who are in the habit of removing negative reviews will usually not allow posts on their Facebook page without moderation, or will quickly remove anything negative, so this is easy enough to test. No company can remove other people’s tweets though, so check their timeline and do a search for specific phrases.
If you post reviews on Trustpilot, then I would also suggest doing so anonymously to avoid vindictive retribution from malicious business owners.