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An extremely well laid-out admin interface
The simplicity of the tools actually help new users learn
Pared-down admin UI foregoes some tools
Expensive compared to the functionality
Database size limitations may become an issue on large sites
While the lack of shiny buttons may not appeal to some power users, SiteGround does a great job of making the process of launching and managing a site intuitive. But all this refinement comes at a price.
SiteGround positions itself as the hosting service of choice for web professionals. In simpler terms, it’s the host for web geeks. When a company goes to the extent of using the word “geek” in the name of its top-of-the-line service, you know they’re serious about this market segments. Yet when you start using the service, you’ll find a very refined experience that would appeal to newer users as well.
The Web Hosting options available from SiteGround include the following:
All of SiteGround’s services run on CentOS. This Linux distribution is derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), one of the most popular distributions for running business-class services and applications. While Ubuntu has grown quite popular in recent years, Red Hat is still very much the norm in the enterprise. And CentOS is built directly from the source code of RHEL, so it’s a rock-solid base up which to host your website.
SiteGround does a great job of making the process of launching and managing a site intuitive. But all this refinement definitely comes at a price.
The 30 GB provided at the GoGeek level is average for a top tier of service for web hosts who meter storage, though there are plenty of providers out there that don’t. But the fact is that for most averages sites, or even small collections of sites, 30 GB is sufficient to store the content management systems and content. You may run into constraints if you’re hosting a lot of media like high-resolution images, audio, or video, but for the typical “text-and-graphics” type of site 30 GB will keep you in business for a while.
However, in addition to the raw disk space limit, there are also server-level limits on databases to be aware of. GoGeek provides the highest of these with a max limit of 500 MB on database tables, and 1 GB for the database overall (the other two are less at 250 MB table/750 MB database for GrowBig and 250 MB table/500 MB database for StartUp).
SiteGround doesn’t meter bandwidth either. However, it does include a Suitable Number of Monthly Visits “guideline” for each one of its plans. However, it’s likely this is derived from the server class for each tier, as accounts for each level of service are assigned specifically to servers of that level.
For example, GoGeek servers double and quadruple (respectively) the computing resources available when compared to the other two service levels. However, they will only permit a maximum of 30 simultaneous processes at any given time. Based on these two things working together (or rather, against one another), SiteGround estimates 100,000 hits to the website over the course of a month as the number that can occur before performance begins to suffer.
Signing up for SiteGround is a simple three-step, wizard-style process. You begin by selecting your level of service from one of the company’s website pages.
Next, select the domain you want. If it’s available, you’ll move on to the next step in the process; otherwise, SiteGround will let you know.
On the last screen you’ll enter your contact and payment information. You’ll also have the ability to choose any desired options for your level of service. Once your payment is confirmed, you’ll get a link directly into your account management panel.
Compared to some other providers, the landing page for your SiteGround account is sparse, consisting of just a banner with either a prompt to transfer an existing website or (as shown above) a nice message, some helpful tips, and recent blog posts.
All your actual tools are available from the main menu, as follows:
The listing for your first site within the Websites section shows a Complete button, and this deserves some attention. You created a site by signing up for your account in SiteGround, but you’ll need to go through another short wizard to actually configure that site.
The first step gives you three choices. You can create a new website as shown in the above image and select an application (such as WordPress) to install there. Alternately, you can transfer an existing site to SiteGround’s hosting. Or you can skip this altogether and just create a blank site. Finally, the last step offers you the chance to select applicable add-on services.
Once you make this choice, you’ll also have a chance to select applicable add-ons. Then click Finish, and you’re all set.
The advanced options, which is to say the site-specific options, are available once you’ve finished configuring your website. From there, the Site Tools button will be available once you select a site from the Websites tab within the Websites menu item.
You’ll land on a dashboard for the site, with some Pinned Tools at the top, Site Information including IP address and name servers, and This Month Statistics including unique visitors and page views.
The main features of SiteGround are not so different from those of other web hosts. What sets this provider apart is how well all the various tools are presented and organized.
The main selection of tools is available in the left-hand menu, as follows:
The Site Tools screen also contains a handy Tool Finder, which you can use by clicking in the search box (or typing Ctrl+k) and entering the name of the tool you want to find.
The main administrative functions are contained in three different parts of the SiteGround admin interface. Information related to you (as the owner) and your account are in the Login & Profile screen, which lets you change your contact info and password.
Billing information is located under the Billing option in the main menu, as noted previously.
Finally, users are assigned on a site-by-site basis in the Users tab on the site’s details. Users you set up here can either be Collaborators, who can work on the site but not access email options, or (on GoGeek plans) Clients, who will see a version of the Site Tools without the SiteGround name associated.
SiteGround’s support options include searching the knowledge base and submitting a support ticket. The Help Center screen (accessible by clicking the ? icon in the upper-right of the page header) shows knowledge base articles arranged in an FAQ-style format, while above there is a search box as well.
The Contact Us tab is where you’ll submit help requests (i.e. tickets). You’ll first choose a category such as Technical Assistance, then a sub-category like WordPress Assistance. You’re then presented with a form you can use to submit the details of your request.
The main features of SiteGround are not so different from those of other web hosts. What sets this provider apart is how well all the various tools are presented and organized. Web hosting is a complicated undertaking, and in an effort to make sure all the bases are covered, it’s easy for providers to assemble a hodge-podge of administration tools that’s tough to navigate.
Not so with SiteGround. All the tools in the admin, whether at the account level or site level, are logically organized. It’s easy to understand how to jump between them as well: account tools follow a 'main menu item, then tabs' flow, while site-level tools are in the left-hand menus and sub-menus. Once you’re accustomed to moving between these two contexts, jumping to the item you want is a piece of cake.
The non-sale price for GoGeek at $34.95/month is expensive. For a service that limits you to 30 GB of storage, you’d expect to be showered with extras for this kind of investment. And there are some perks, but not the kind that demand such a premium.
The biggest advantage SiteGround has, as mentioned above, is their extremely refined and well-designed admin interface. To be fair, this is a big advantage to newer users. But as seen with some other providers, using this kind of custom interface often means there are some tools that just haven’t been integrated yet. If the admin had the expanse of tools available to, say, cPanel, then the additional cost would be worth it for power users as well. But as it stands, savvy web builders will become quickly accustomed to the jumble of items available in cPanel, while they’d need to continue paying the premium for SiteGround’s admin well beyond that point.
SiteGround serves as an interesting contrast to a2 Hosting, a provider with similar capabilities but a different outlook. Where a2 gives you more tools than you could ever hope to use (well, almost), SiteGround gives you the ones you’ll most likely need, rather than confusing you with the rest.
As a result, it stacks up as almost the opposite. Where a2 came off a little pricey for new users who weren’t paying for a refined experience, SiteGround likewise might be expensive for power users who want all the gadgets. Of course, there are always technically adept people who still want a simple experience without all the bells and whistles, and that’s who SiteGround is best suited for.
It's best for technical users looking for a simple interface.
SiteGround would make an excellent starter web host for those new to the site building game. Their admin tools make it not only quick and easy, but intuitive to get your site up and running. And managing it won’t be a burden that takes up too much of your time, a big risk with newbie site admins.
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