SiteGround Review

SiteGround Screen Shot
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Pros: Cost-effective, functional service

Cons: No real customer support other than an ineffective knowledge base

Bottomline: Cost-effective, functional, yet with shady terms and lack of customer support, it’s likely not worth it

Ouch!

SiteGround is a full-featured web hosting provider boasting many different characteristics. Among these are 24/7 “customer care,” 99.9% server uptime, a free domain name, as well as unlimited bandwidth, disk space, and email accounts. They appear to provide all of this at a very affordable price. In this review of their shared web hosting, we will determine if SiteGround provides a foundation for these features with a quality service and effective customer support. SiteGround’s “5 years” of experience and “70 dedicated professionals” should hopefully validate these claims.

Features and Pricing

Since SiteGround provides “unlimited” web space and bandwidth, like some other hosts, they have chosen to provide a single, all-inclusive web hosting package with various billing cycles ranging from 1 month to 36 months.

They include all of the features that one would expect from a web host. Any features beyond the standard package can be added at extra cost. These add-ons include private SSL (for having a dedicated security certificate), the ability to host more than one website under the one account, a dedicated IP address, SSH access, among other things.

They provide certain e-commerce specific features including free shopping cart software, a shared SSL certificate, the ability to accept PayPal payments, and merchant accounts. This offering is very convenient. Sometimes it is necessary to obtain these services individually. This offering is consistent with many hosts, yet it is nice nonetheless.

SiteGround does provide a free domain name with their hosting. Also included is the allowance for the hosting of unlimited parked domains and subdomains, while add-on domains require an extra fee.

Like many hosts, SiteGround also provides numerous open-source scripts that can easily be installed for free.

At the time of writing, SiteGround was offering a 40% discount, reducing their “regular” price of $9.95/month to $5.95. This deal may very well be a consistent offering.

Terms of Service

There are several things that stand out within the SiteGround terms. One thing that presents itself after initial review is that legal actions must be handled within the court system of the Republic of Panama.

Like many web hosting companies, SiteGround maintains very large legal documents to govern the use of their services. This includes a 13,000 word Terms of Service document; a nearly 13,000 word Reseller Hosting Program terms of use document, and then several smaller documents covering their Acceptable Use Policy, promotions, affiliate program, templates, etc.

Like many web hosts, SiteGround does qualify the unlimited nature of their service. Similar to others, SiteGround specifies that “Unlimited use applies to your use of web pages only” and not the storage of other files (specifically movies, pictures, or mp3 files). Whether or not the use of the space and bandwidth is acceptable is really at the discretion of SiteGround. They are able to provide it as unlimited as they are well aware that webpages specifically do not require many resources. If your site’s purpose is to serve photos (likely in the range of several thousand) or video content, you very well may not be able to benefit from this “unlimited” nature. In that case, it may be necessary to purchase a dedicated hosting plan.

SiteGround states that although they back up data themselves once per week, this is for internal purposes (in case something were to happen on their end). It also appears that any movie, music, zip, among other file types, are not backed up. Therefore, even if something does happen with the SiteGround service, these files might not be restored. It is therefore important to maintain regular backups as a customer. They may provide backups to the customer as a service, but there may be a charge for this.

Regarding payment, it is stated that “invoice are due immediately upon receipt” and that an interest fee of 1.5% will be assessed on unpaid invoices, yet it is not explained how often this interest will be applied.

Renewal of shared hosted automatically takes place 15 days prior to the expiration date for terms of one year or longer, or on the date for terms less than one year.

If the credit card on file expires, SiteGround is no longer responsible for a customer’s data or domain name. If a card is declined, there will be a $1.00 service fee.

Customers should be very careful with a dedicated IP address in regards to spam email. If an IP address is blocked due to spam coming from that address, a $100 “block removal fee for each affected block” and an hourly fee of $100 will be assessed to this issue.

Billing disputes must be made in writing and must be received by SiteGround no later than five days after the invoice due date. There are also provisions in place that if a customer issues a chargeback against SiteGround before notifying them and after the “Dispute Deadline,” two $50 fees will be assessed, and a customer’s domain may be locked during this until the fees are paid.

For shared hosting there is a money back guarantee that allows customers to submit requests in writing to terminate hosting and be refunded all prepaid fees (except setup and domain fees).

SiteGround is willing to issue credits due to service interruptions, yet there are some limitations, including that a customer must request the credit within 3 days, can receive one credit per disruption, and can only receive it if the account is not past due.

If a customer chooses not to re-register their domain name, SiteGround reserves the right to register it for themselves and then sell it. SiteGround can also take ownership of unpaid domain names.

If SiteGround believes that a customer does not have “sufficient technical expertise” and requires “excessive ongoing technical support”, they reserve the right to terminate the account.

It is possible to terminate services through their website, and a customer must acknowledge an email verification for the termination to occur. It will then take five days to process and for any refund to be issued. Customers are apparently responsible for fees during this five day period.

Then they go on to state that termination of shared hosting must be requested within 30 days prior to the expiration of the current term and “before a renewal invoice is due.’ Otherwise there will be a $24.95 “Early Termination Fee”.

There may very well be more issues with their terms, yet these are some that stood out.

Control Panel

SiteGround has a Customer Area component to their site that serves as a gateway for managing services. The presentation is very user-friendly and it links to areas providing account management, billing access, support, and the addition of services.

The industry standard cPanel is utilized by SiteGround to allow customers to effectively manage their websites. It is easily accessible via the My Account section of the Customer Area.

For those new to hosting, cPanel provides a setup wizard that guides individuals through the setup of their account settings (e.g. email account).

SiteGround Screen Shot: Control Panel

I noticed that within cPanel, SiteGround links to a site builder application. It provides some very generic looking templates, almost tacky in nature. There are some site builders that generate very appealing pages, but this was not one of them.

Also integrated into the cPanel control panel interface is a “Google Apps Manager” allowing customers to easily setup a component of Google Apps under their domain name.

Customer Support

Upon signing up, I didn’t receive a welcome email. Often this includes important information regarding the account. I needed to setup my domain to point to the hosting so I needed to find out the nameservers.

There is no support number stated, but I thought perhaps that their sales number might have support options, which it does.

SiteGround has a very clear phone menu system that guided me through finding this information on the website.

I then wanted to obtain some information that may not have been so readily available, so I decided to ask about how to set up custom error pages (available through cPanel).

I placed another call around 2 PM on a Saturday. After dialing the option for Technical Support I waited as the subsequent options did not match my issue. The system then played some music as if it might be transferring me to a representative, but it just repeated the options and then disconnected me after I did not select one.

I tried calling again and dialing 0 to speak with a representative but that disconnected my call.

It appears that SiteGround does not offer technical support (other than guided prompts) by phone. That can be quite frustrating, especially when other options aren’t effective.

I went to the Contact Us page on the site, clicked to “Contact the Technical Support Team through our HelpDesk” only to be directed to the knowledge base system with no real option to contact the support team. The “HelpDesk” (self-serve knowledge base) provided me with several categories of issues. I tried searching for “custom error page” and I received no results. I tried picking the “Other Technical Issues” category and it didn’t provide me the option of contacting the support, even though issue specific categories did.

I ultimately found the SiteGround customer support to be completely inaccessible for my issue. I couldn’t even find an email option, let alone a live chat system.

In order to cancel an account, it appears as easy as clicking a button in the billing system. Upon doing so, it informed me that I would receive an email with a link to confirm this. The link then took me to a live sales chat (as there do not appear to be support chats) in which the representative questioned why I was canceling and if there was anything he could do for me.

The chat operator’s name appeared to be Eastern European. I have replaced it with “John” here. That may be evidence of outsourcing the live chat.

[START CHAT]

Kyle Summers: ?Question: Hosting account cancellation for example.com account?OID 123456?Immediate cancellation?Refund Due: No?Reason: I am not happy with the quality of service you offer.: Support is rather inaccessible.??———————
John: Hello Kyle
John: Welcome to SiteGround.com Hosting Services!
John: Allow me a moment to check your account please and I will gladly assist you further
John: As we strive to keep long-term relationships with all our customers and their feedback is of much importance to us, may I please ask for the difficulties you have encountered with our services and I will gladly assist you and find the best solution for you
Kyle Summers: I find support to be rather inaccessible and we have obtained a solution elsewhere. I would like to cancel the account please.
John: Fully understand you sir, and if you are still willing to elaborate your issues I will gladly give you a step-by-step walk to the correct category in the ticketing area to reach the Support Team
Kyle Summers: No, that is okay. Please cancel the account.
John: Sure, allow me just a moment
John: I can confirm that your account is fully canceled now
John: We are very sorry to lose you as a customer
John: Goodbye for now and I wish you all the best

[END CHAT]

I didn’t consider this to be a terrible hassle, but depending on the level of frustration the customer has gone through before this step, it may very well be pushing their tolerance.

Conclusion

SiteGround offers hosting for a very cost-effective price, yet they don’t support it very well. For any customer that is not 100% confident, they will never need to place a support call, it is likely the wrong choice. The legal terms set forth in their myriad of documents seem a bit discouraging as well.

Price: $5.95

Disclosure: Clickfire has an affiliate advertising connection with SiteGround

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Kyle is a skilled web developer who writes web hosting reviews and host vs. host comparisons.

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