SiteGround vs Bluehost. A feature by feature comparison of two of the most popular webhosting companies.
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If you’re looking for a web hosting company for your business, then you’ve probably heard of SiteGround and Bluehost. These are two of the biggest web hosting players that have made hosting affordable and easy for many small businesses.
Shared web hosting is the most affordable option for most SMBs for hosting their website. And these two are amongst the most popular web hosting companies.
Both offer fast, reliable and safe hosting. But while Bluehost focuses on keeping prices low, SiteGround focuses on providing high quality support, speed and reliability.
How should you choose between the two?
Let’s compare SiteGround and Bluehost on multiple features, including price.
Quick comparison between SiteGround and Bluehost for their most popular hosting plans:
|Server||Uses Google Cloud Platform servers for fast speed|
Uses NGINX speed server to serve sites faster
|Uses own servers|
|SSD Storage – up to 1000 times faster than traditional hard disk drives||Yes||Yes|
|Free SSL Included?||Yes||Yes|
|Number of websites allowed||Unlimited|
|Storage included in the plan||20 GB||Unlimited|
|Bandwidth included in the plan||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Number of sub-domains allowed||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Control panel||Siteground custom control panel||Cpanel|
|WordPress Installer||One-click install||One-click install|
|Support for staging - build and test your site on staging before moving to production||Included||Included|
|PHP support||Included||Latest version supported|
|Caching||Out of the box||Included|
|Price for 1 year – first time||$7.99/month|
|Price for 1 year – second year onwards||$24.99/month|
|Support offered||24x7 – response time is less than 10 minutes on chat||24x7 – response time can be in hours|
A few things stand out:
- SiteGround is more expensive than Bluehost
- Bluehost offer more space compared to SiteGround
- Bluehost gives automatic backups while SiteGround gives on-demand backups in the comparable plan
You may be thinking that Bluehost is the better option since it’s offering more features compared to SiteGround.
- SiteGround has faster servers compared to Bluehost due to Google Cloud hosting and use of NGINX servers
- SiteGround support is faster and better compared to Bluehost support
A fast loading site generally ranks higher in Google search. Users prefer a site that loads fast compared to one that loads slowly.
Quick and reliable support is critical when there is an issue with your site, which is bound to happen with every website.
Bluehost is meant for smaller businesses and people just starting with online business. It’s cheaper and easier to use due to CPanel.
Bluehost is a great hosting option for businesses that do not critically depend on their website such as a restaurant. It’s also a good option for new online businesses as you can save some money, specially second year onwards.
If you’ve a serious online business, you want support on hand just in case something goes wrong. This is where SiteGround shines and scores over Bluehost.
With that said, let’s dig in and see how Bluehost and SiteGround go head to head. You can also check out my detailed SiteGround review.
Checkout SiteGround plans.
Which is faster: SiteGround or Bluehost?
Website speed, i.e., how fast a website loads is very important for two reasons:
- Fast sites do better in Google searches. It’s well known that Google prefers to rank pages that load fast. So a fast loading site will do better in search results than a slow loading site. Since Google search is the most important source of traffic (visitors) for most online businesses, it’s important to host your site on a fast server.
- Faster loading pages deliver better user experience. Most visitors will leave a site if it’s slow to load. According to a Google’s research, 53% of people will leave a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Keep in mind that the page load time depends also depends on the page content.
SiteGround uses Google Cloud servers that are faster than average Bluehost servers. SiteGround also uses a CDN to deliver your websites to speed up page loading.
A standalone CDN service can cost you several dollars per month so this bundled CDN is a great add-on. NGNIX, SSD storage and a superfast Cache also help in improving your site’s performance.
Bluehost includes CDN in its shared hosting plans. But it lacks a purpose built cache that SiteGround offers. However, Bluehost does use top of the line servers with SSD and NGNIX.
Let’s see how Bluehost and SiteGround stack up against each other on speed. The time needed to load a page depends not just on the server speed but also on the page content. If the page has lots of images, unnecessary code or makes too many server calls, it will take more time to load.
So we use TTFB or time to first byte as the benchmark for measuring server speed. It shows how fast a page starts loading, i.e., how fast the user’s browser receives the first byte of information from the server.
Theoretically, both heavy and light pages should have the same TTFB if the servers and network conditions are same.
I tested three websites hosted on SiteGround and three hosted on Bluehost. Here are the results:
SiteGround average TTFB: 73ms
|Siteground TTFB||93 ms||68 ms||57 ms||73 ms|
|Bluehost TTFB||774 ms||389 ms||336 ms||500 ms|
As you can see, SiteGround servers are faster than Bluehost servers, even accounting for variation in websites structure and content.
But Bluehost is still good enough for most small websites. The much lower price of Bluehost makes it a better option if you are just starting your online business.
Check out Bluehost plans.
Who has a higher uptime, SiteGround or Bluehost?
Uptime or availability is a critical performance metric to consider when selecting a web hosting provider. It measures how much downtime you will get in a month or year.
If your business is totally online, you want as high uptime as possible. If the website is not critical to your business, you can live with a lower uptime.
Server uptime depends on the quality of IT infrastructure and support. A good IT infrastructure includes fast and reliable servers, robust network, strong security and sufficient bandwidth. Proactive maintenance ensures that servers are optimally loaded, are well maintained and will not go down frequently.
It does not mean the servers will never go down – no web hosting company can guarantee 100% uptime – but a good infrastructure ensures server and website outages are minimized.
Both Bluehost and SiteGround claim 99.99% availability. There is not much difference as both live up to their promises.
SiteGround support is better than that of Bluehost
It’s critical to get fast and reliable customer support to keep your online business running in case something goes wrong. This is where SiteGround excels and scores over not just Bluehost but most other web hosting companies.
I compiled data from independent review sites where customers rate and review hosting companies. SiteGround’s average rating over the last three years was 4.7 out of 5, whereas for BlueHost it was a measly 2.4.
SiteGround has been one of the highest rated web hosting companies for several years when it comes to customer support. It has been voted the #1 web host multiple times because of its outstanding customer support.
The fastest way to get support from SiteGround is to get on live chat. Their chat support responds within minutes. Their support agents are knowledgeable and helpful. If for some reason, you can’t get on chat, you can raise a ticket and get answer to your questions within minutes.
Bluehost, on the other hand, lags in customer support. They do offer both chat and ticket based support but the response times are much higher.
The slower response is main reason for difference in ratings of the two companies. Bluehost’s support team is as good as SiteGround’s. You will get your issues resolved but it will take longer.
If you have a large online business, the longer wait time at Bluehost can cost you a lot of money compared to SiteGround.
Bear in mind that while SiteGround offers faster support, its rating has gone down a bit in last 1-2 years. It’s quite natural for a web hosting company to see a drop in support levels as the number of customers increases. SiteGround has been the fastest growing hosting company in the last 3 years. That growth seems to have taken a toll on its customer support.
Which has the better user interface, SiteGround or Bluehost?
Bluehost uses cPanel interface which is the standard in hosting industry. It’s fast and easy to use, not requiring any prior knowledge of managing a website.
SiteGround used to offer cPanel earlier but has now switched to a custom panel they developed internally. While not complex, it can take some time to get used to compared to cPanel.
Both companies have extensive articles in their knowledge base in case you need to learn about the interface and controls.
Both provide 1-click installation for WordPress.
Creating and managing email ids is a breeze with both Bluehost and SiteGround. You can access emails through the webmail interface or connect your email account to popular clients like account to Gmail and Outlook.
Both SiteGround and Bluehost have recently revamped their dashboard areas to make it easier to launch and manage your sites. If you use WordPress, both companies have an easy and smooth process for installing and managing WordPress.
SiteGround manages the WordPress versions on your site to ensure you always have the latest version running on the site. You can also manage the PHP version running on the site to make sure your WordPress and PHP versions are in sync.
Both companies provide same tools for managing MySQL database that powers WordPress websites.
Overall, it’s a close contest between Bluehost and SiteGround when it comes to user interface, with Bluehost having a slight edge due cPanel.
Bluehost versus SiteGround: Which one offers better tools for WordPress websites?
Since almost 80% of small business use WordPress for their websites, it’s important to compare WordPress tools offered by Bluehost and SiteGround.
Setting up a new WordPress website is super easy with both Bluehost and SiteGround. Both offer a 1-click WordPress installation.
Once you log into your account, follow these steps to setup your WordPress site:
- Go to cPanel/Site management tools
- Click WordPress from Autoinstallers tools
- Enter your domain name, select administrator user id & password and click the install button
Your new WordPress website is ready. I wrote a detailed post about how to create a WordPress website.
SiteGround automatically installs a cache plugin especially built for speeding up WordPress sites. This is an excellent value-add from SiteGround.
If you want to build a test version of your site before making it live, you will need a staging area.
Bluehost offers Staging area on all plans, even the cheapest Starter plan. SiteGround offers Staging only with higher plans.
Staging is an important tool as it allows you to try out changes to the site before making them live. You can see how the changes affect the site and can stop potentially costly mistakes from making it to the live site.
SiteGround offers managed WordPress hosting meaning it manages the version of WrodPress that runs on your site. This means you don’t need to manually update WordPress on your site every time there is a new release.
While this is an excellent service, it has its drawbacks. If your theme or any of the plugins are not compatible with the new WordPress release, your website may break.
In any case, you will need to manually update the theme and plugins on our site so upgrading WordPress is not that much of an extra work.
Overall, both Sitegraound and Bluehost offer excellent support for setting up and managing WordPress sites. Bluehost, with much cheaper plans, is a better option for those on a budget while SiteGround is better for those looking for performance.
How Bluehost’s Backup and Security features compare to that of SiteGround?
Backup and security are important for business continuity. An up to date backup ensures that you can restore your site to the last functioning state in case of a problem.
All SiteGround plans include free daily backups so you don’t have to worry about creating periodic backups. Bluehost offers backup for Choice Plus and higher plans.
A secure website is essential for worry free operation. While no hosting company can guarantee security of your website, both Bluehost and SiteGround offer tools to secure your site.
Both offer free SSL certificates you can install with one click on your site. SSL certificates secure the connection between your site and users’ browsers to safeguard the data in transit. SSL certificates also improve the search ranking of sites.
Should your website come under attack, both Bluehost and SiteGround offer additional paid services to clean up and restore the website.
Again, there is not much to choose between these two hosting providers.
Ok. Enough of me talking about siteGround versus Bluehost. Let’s look at what real users (their customers) think of SiteGround and Bluehost?
I compiled data from several customer review sites to see what customers are saying about SiteGround and Bluehost. I am quoting from reviews written in the last six months on G2Crowd and TrustRadius:
“For Low-Budget Or Low-Traffic Websites, Bluehost is a contender”
“Bluehost is a great hosting option – especially for smaller companies”
“Great beginner and intermediate website hosting”
“Fast and reliable hosting for your business”
“When WordPress recommended this I should have listened from the beginning of my courier”
“Great for WordPress Hosting”
So, which one is better – SiteGround or Bluehost?
The choice is clear:
If you are just starting online or have limited budget, go for Bluehost. They are the best budget host.
If you are looking for performance, high touch customer support and have a little extra to spend, go for SiteGround.
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