Out of all of the blog posts here at From This Day – our post comparing these two popular hosts gets the most traffic! After a few emails from people wanting to know the outcome, we realised our conclusions are overdue.
The story so far. We were previously with Heart Internet using a reseller account but were won over by a plethora of magic tricks up Siteground sleeves and so decided to take the plunge and try out some new hosting.
Starting Out With Siteground
Siteground recommended a package which was sold as the equivalent to the reseller account which we were using at Heart. It was called a “GoGeek” account which comprised of a single webspace, one login and one control panel to place as many sites as required in a subdirectory. Once we saw what was under the hood we were a little uncomfortable and wondered about possible ramifications to our clients. We spoke to several customer service staff at Siteground to ensure it met our needs. This was a very different set up to Heart’s and initially didn’t seem as neat as we would have liked! But, with all the outlined benefits it seemed to be worthwhile to at least give it a try despite the unfamiliar set up. The account came with a free year which we expected to be plenty of time to assess the service gradually without jumping in head first. So the process began of slowly migrating our sites over beginning with the most simple and towards the end migrating the more complex e-Commerce sites. Siteground customer service were responsive, we were stunned and amazed by the quick chat response 24/7 and the quick escalation of any of the more complex issues. Many of the staff seemed to go above and beyond what would usually have been expected and so this was a breath of fresh air!
During the course of the migrations and as we developed new sites, we had plenty of time to assess the suitability of the hosting.
Some of the holy grail options turned out to be either false or with caveats for example:
Others turned out to be as good as we hoped they would be!
We were very happy with the server performance to begin with, the SSD drives made a huge difference and were delighted to utilise some of the benefits for my clients. However, as we started to get near migration completion we found some of the other features of this shared space quite limiting. Individual control for each account wasn’t possible for several features, like spam filter levels for example. Siteground also blocked IPs for emails at the drop of a hat which meant we often had clients calling with email issues. There is also a strict limit on “processes” which became apparent as we added in our more complex sites. This was particularly easy to breach if more than one person was updating our sites – we all started getting errors. Although this didn’t affect front end, it did impact on development time. This increase in support we had to provide our own clients, and frustrations during development in the end just negated any monetary savings.
Time to Upgrade
It wasn’t long before we felt the need to upgrade to a reseller level account or in Siteground terminology – a cloud based account – at which point the costs are more comparable to Heart. Having been uncertain about Sitegrounds previous track record of incorrect information we double and treble checked before agreeing to upgrade. The customer service representative assured us there would be no interruptions of any services during the transition. However, it caused issues on ALL our sites email accounts, including several busy commerce shops. It was a major stress, at a highly inconvenient time for both us and our clients, we lost days of development and if we didn’t have such lovely understanding clients this would have dented their trust. Siteground credited us with 1 month free once they checked up on the original communications, a drop in the ocean when compared with the near heart attack on that dreaded morning! This new Cloud based hosting solution gave me individual account control, and rectified the issue with the blocked IP’s which was an added unexpected bonus. But we were also surprised that during all of the support calls about this very issue noone had suggested this as a solution.
Siteground – A Conclusion
The thing we love about Siteground is also the very thing that we find frustrating. The Customer Service. It’s amazingly responsive but just sometimes misinformed. At times this has caused real issues and large workload increases, and at other times I’ve felt like its been a real lifesaver.
Despite all of the irritants and instances of misinformation at times, we do like the overall service and the fact that the support is always manned to the max. We remember the feeling of sending off a support request to Heart feeling like the message was getting lost in a big black void and that literally never happens with Siteground. Unfortunately, we have felt that Siteground sales staff have mis-sold, or misinformed on a few occasions simply to close the deal.
But What About Heart?
Heart are also a good hosting company and they may well have managed to rectify their downtime issues since we were with them. The prices between them are not much different. There are features we miss about Heart such as longlife URLS – being able to purchase a URL for 10 years as opposed to the 2 year max with Siteground, and we did prefer Hearts nice clean backend interface.
Overall we are happy we made the switch and are sticking with Siteground! If you are considering either of these hosts I would suggest that you double check any offering from Siteground, and review their packages carefully as getting started on the wrong package can cause a lot of disruption.