Hosting Review: SiteGround 1

 

Hosting Review: SiteGround 2

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.

 

Second Chance

Fast forward to April 2018, and I decided to give SiteGround another chance with their shared hosting and did a “Flywheel vs SiteGround” speed comparison.

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.

 

Hosting Review: SiteGround 3

 

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]

 

Hosting Review: SiteGround 4

 

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.

 

Hosting Review: SiteGround 5

 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.

 

 

PROS

CONS

  • 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
  • Annoying ticket system
  • Have to pay for backups
  • cpanel backup disabled after 5GB
Managed WordPress Hosting & support
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