Why We Chose SiteGround’s WordPress Managed Hosting

By Robert Abela on November 12th, 2014 in WordPress Tips

SiteGround has proven to me over and over again that they are not just the typical WordPress hosting provider who advertise “the best support and infrastructure” as many do, but they really mean what they say and can be a business partner who cares about your business and website as much as you do.

To start off with, this is not the typical WordPress hosting provider review where I will try to convince you that SiteGround are the best WordPress hosting provider that you should go for, I will leave that for others to do. I rarely promote plugins, services or anything else since we are not an affiliate marketing website, although we do have the random affiliate link here and there.

But when I promote something, I do it because I like and use the product or service myself and I know how important it is to spread the word around. Therefore anything you will read in this post, and other reviews on this WordPress security blog are genuine thoughts.

SiteGround Hosting Provider Performance

One of the major deciding factors when choosing a hosting provider is performance. You want your WordPress blog or website to be lightning fast because we have all read that a slow website has a negative impact on your visitors and sales. So far I have been more than happy with SiteGround’s performance, but I will not be ranting much about it myself. I will leave that explanation to someone who knows more about hosting providers performance*, who clearly found out that SiteGround is one of the top players in terms of performance, especially when it comes to WordPress managed hosting.

Though I would still like to mention something myself when it comes to WordPress performance and speed optimization. SiteGround have their own proprietary WordPress caching technology, which is done at infrastructure lever rather than on your WordPress and it does work pretty damn good. Apart from boosting the speed of your WordPress, SiteGround SuperCacher technology also enables you to run a very busy website on a smaller plan, since most of the content is served from their caching infrastructure rather your own VPS, thus allowing you to save some much needed cash.

Hosting WordPress with SiteGround – How It All Started

In 2013 I attended the first European WordCamp in Leiden and while strolling through the sponsors’ booths I noticed that SiteGround were offering one year free WordPress hosting, no strings attached. I had never heard of SiteGround before but WP White Security was finally taking off and it was time to move from the generic cheap hosting to the next level without spending a lot, hence this was a perfect opportunity.

I applied for the one year of free hosting and moved the website during the WordCamp weekend. SiteGround also provide free WordPress migrations, worth a try. What SiteGround didn’t know is that they will be dealing with someone who is into WordPress security. Nothing wrong with security people, I am one of them. But typically we tend to be a bit demanding when compared to the typical Joe. We want to know the ins and outs of everything, we ask a million questions and would like to change this and that rather than sticking to the standard setups.

Dealing with SiteGround Support

Practising what we preach here at WP White Security, I like to separate operations. I do not want to have my domain, DNS, website and mail server hosted with the same hosting provider for several security reasons. With such approach we immediately had some problems with the website, which in all fairness was not SiteGround’s fault, as explained below.

Upon transferring the website I noticed that emails generated through website forms were not being sent. After contacting SiteGround support I found out that the issue was because my domain was not hosted with SiteGround. I understand their security policy and it makes sense for the typical Joe whose website is hacked at least once a month; they do it to restrict spammers from operating for example through a hacked website. What I really appreciated is that after explaining my situation, they understood that I know what I am doing and made an exception for me.

Superior Level of Support

I must say that after going through my first support ticket, they had me! I was happy that I am not dealing with a robot, or with someone who is just there to send canned responses and is unwilling to listen to your real problem. I am dealing with experienced people who care about their customers’ business, who are there to be a helping hand during my maintenance weekends, and not just to host my website. Of course till this day I opened several other support tickets with them and must say I was never let down, even though when in most of my tickets I was asking for exceptions rather than help.

I have also noticed that when I open a support ticket and a support personnel with whom I have dealt with before is in, my ticket is automatically assigned to him or her. Such proactive approach is really vital because when you speak with someone who dealt with your problems before, like a doctor he knows your history hence can be of better assistance. And this does not happen by coincidence, it is indeed the way their support works.  I confirmed it with one of the founders whom I met during this year’s WordCamp.

Specialized WordPress Support from SiteGround

From time to time I had issues where I wasn’t sure if it was a WordPress issue or a hosting provider issue. I am sure you are familiar with such scenarios. In such cases getting started might be difficult, especially when many hosting providers will shut the door for you by stating that it is a WordPress issue, hence it is not for them to deal with. SiteGround were very smart in tapping this market, and indeed they are providing specialized WordPress support, which again I have experienced myself as well.

As most probably many of you know we develop WordPress security plugins. Being a bit presumptuous especially when it comes to our plugins, we like to test them on our live website even when they are in their very early stage of development. This led us into a couple of issues, some of which has rendered our website useless. Next stage was to contact SiteGround support and considering these were self-inflicted problems and not necessarily related to the WordPress core, SiteGround support still helped us solve all our issues.

Actually, when we were not sure what was the source of the problem we got in touch with SiteGround support and they did help us troubleshoot some of the development issues. Did we overdo it? Could be, but SiteGround support was always available and very helpful.

Getting Personal with SiteGround WordPress Hosting

This year I went to Europe’s WordCamp which was held in Sofia, SiteGround’s home turf. SiteGround was one of the main WordCamp sponsors and many people appreciated it, especially the free booze at both the pub crawl and the WordCamp party. SiteGround also opened their office to everyone during the WordCamp week, so anyone who was in Sofia could make use of a comfortable office with a reliable internet connection, pool table, table tennis, car simulator, free fruit and much more.

The thing that struck me most when visiting their office is that every SiteGround employee whom I met was happy for being part of SiteGround, and had intentions of continuing to work there to improve their skills and grow with the company. Should this make a difference to you? Yes because if the company is fair with its employees, and provides them with benefits that strictly speaking they shouldn’t be providing them with, then the probability it that it does the same with its own customers, as explained in the below section.

SiteGround Going Out of Their Way to Help

During my visit to SiteGround’s office we at WP White Security were in the middle of launching our new premium edition of the WordPress activity log plugin WP Security Audit Log, hence I was doing some tests. During the tests I noticed a plugin problem which was only reproducible on SiteGround servers.

While I was speaking to Daniel Kanchev about this issue, he immediately provided me with a test server on their infrastructure so I can replicate the issue without disrupting my live site, no questions asked, no obligations. This helped me track down the issue much faster. Once WordCamp was over I had another problem with our shopping cart. I contacted Hristo Pandjarov, another SiteGround employee with whom I have shared a few beers during the pub crawl and he immediately stepped in to help. Unfortunately during the troubleshooting Hristo couldn’t be at the office for a few days and rather than letting me wait, he handed over the issue to Daniel who troubleshot the issue and provided me with all the necessary information, even though I was dealing with a commercial plugin.

Renewing my Subscription with SiteGround

In the middle of all this my one year free subscription with SiteGround was about to expire, so these guys have gone out of their way to help someone who never gave them a single penny! When I asked about it they said that if their customer has a problem, then it is their problem. Other customers might have the same problem so they are into solving any issue they have the chance to put their hands on. Therefore SiteGround people do not simply do a job to make you happy there and then, they want to retain you and grow with you as a customer, while at the same time improve their own infrastructure. That is a very proactive approach.

So as they proved to me SiteGround will help you solve any WordPress and hosting issues you will encounter. And support is a very important factor because from time to time you will definitely encounter an issue, it is normal. Of course they had me from day one but after getting personal with SiteGround, they had me even more. So when it was time to renew my subscription, I did not even think for a second if I should do it or not. I didn’t even look at the price before I renewed. By the way I would like to personally thank Daniel Kanchev and Hristo Pandjarov for going out of their way in helping me solving all the issues and for being exceptional guys!

Why You Should Host Your WordPress with SiteGround?

There are several factors one has to consider when choosing a hosting provider, mainly price, performance and support. As per the review I referred to earlier on, SiteGround definitely has the right infrastructure and even proprietary technology that guarantees a good performing speedy WordPress website or blog. In terms of price, I just checked (had never checked before) some other WordPress hosting providers and I can confirm that SiteGround are very well priced as well.

Support? Well as you have seen from my own personal testimony SiteGround has got outstanding support, and in my opinion that is what matters most, more than price and performance. Prior to starting WP White Security I worked as a systems administrator for a multinational software company for about 10 years. As part of my job I was building, maintaining and constantly upgrading their web farm, which included hundreds of servers and other devices such as load balancers, IDS, WAFs etc. After all these years I have one tip for you when it comes to hosting providers; you can have the best performing web server at the best price, but unless the hosting provider has good and understanding support, you have got nothing! The day your website, aka your main shop is down and income stops, or you encountered problems only support can save the day for you. Think of support as an insurance worth paying.

* For more information on SiteGround’s performance and how it compares to other predominant WordPress hosting providers refer to this comparison documentation: http://reviewsignal.com/blog/2014/03/26/managed-wordpress-hosting-showdown-performance-benchmarks/

Other WordPress Managed Hosting Options

The above is a reflection of my experience with SiteGround and hence why I do wholeheartedly recommend them. Though there are many other options and I am sure many of them are quite good. If you would like to get an idea of what is available on the market, I recommend you to read WP Kube’s eight best options for managed WordPress hosting. WP Kube writers have extensive experience in WordPress hence you are definitely following some good advise.

WordPress Hosting, Firewall and Backup

WP White Security is hosted on A2 Hosting, protected with BBQ:Block Bad Queries Firewall and backed up with BlogVault online WordPress backup service

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