SiteGround and Bluehost are popular web hosting providers, each offering a range of hosting services. SiteGround is known for its strong performance, excellent customer support, and user-friendly interface. It's a top choice for small to medium-sized websites. Bluehost, on the other hand, offers affordable hosting plans and is officially recommended by WordPress. It's a solid option for beginners and budget-conscious users. Your choice between SiteGround and Bluehost will depend on your specific needs, budget, and the features that matter most to you.
Before we look into some of the features that make these hosts different and why you may choose one and not the other, let's first quickly have a brief overview of the two.
SiteGround is a reputable web hosting company known for its exceptional performance and top-notch customer service. Founded in 2004, it has steadily built a strong reputation in the industry. SiteGround offers a wide range of hosting services, including shared hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated servers, catering to websites of all sizes and types.
One of SiteGround's standout features is its impressive loading speed and reliability. They use cutting-edge technology, such as SSD storage and a global content delivery network (CDN), to ensure fast website performance. Additionally, SiteGround provides a user-friendly interface and an in-house developed caching system for optimal website speed.
Customer support is a cornerstone of SiteGround's service. They offer 24/7 support through various channels and have a reputation for quick and knowledgeable assistance.
While SiteGround's services are not the cheapest on the market, their quality and performance make them an excellent choice for individuals and businesses seeking reliable and high-performance web hosting.
Bluehost is a well-established web hosting provider known for its budget-friendly hosting solutions and reliability. With a user base of over 2 million websites, it's an officially recommended hosting service by WordPress.org. Bluehost offers a range of hosting options, including shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting, catering to various user needs.
They provide users with a free domain for the first year, a user-friendly control panel, and a one-click WordPress installation, making it a popular choice for beginners. Bluehost boasts solid uptime and decent customer support, though some users have reported slower page loading times on shared hosting. Overall, Bluehost is an attractive option for individuals and small businesses seeking affordable web hosting services.
We knew performance is something everyone would consider when buying hosting, and that's why we invested in numerous tests on SiteGround and Bluehost. For each host, we created a similar website and ran tests on its heavy landing page with many images. We ran 28 tests on each host, although we only used 21 of them.
How did we do it and why did we use only a portion of the test results?
For each each host, we ran GTMetrix test four times for seven different global locations, adding to 28 tests. However, we discarded the first test for each host, just taking the precaution that none of the hosts got an undue advantage as a result of any cached content. Then for the remaining 21 tests, we ran a global average for each host to come up with the graphic below.
SiteGround came in at position 4, posting a load time of 2.5 seconds, while Bluehost took a place at position 9, with 3.3 seconds.
Before we shelve this section, let's check out the two best performers. WPX came on top of the pack as the best performer with a load speed of 1.47 seconds. Rocket.net, which came in second, was a fraction of a second slower than WPX, posting 1.65 seconds. These two are the only ones that pulled a load speed of less than 2 seconds.
Why performance is important
Website performance is crucial because it significantly impacts user experience and overall success. First, fast-loading websites engage visitors and retain their attention. Slow-loading pages frustrate users, leading to higher bounce rates and decreased conversion rates. Users expect near-instant page loading, and, therefore, poor performance can harm a site's credibility.
Second, website performance influences search engine rankings since search engines like Google consider speed as a ranking factor.
As we're already aware, the hosting server influences page load speed, meaning you need to know a host's server performance details before making a purchase decision. In this review, we share with you the results of the tests we conducted on SiteGround and Bluehost's servers. We used Kevin Ohashi's WP Performance Tester plugin for the tests, and the results are presented in the graphic below.
In the WP Performance test, SiteGround once again beat Bluehost, coming in at position 3 compared to Bluehost's position 8. It's not like SiteGround beat Bluehost in just one segment of the test. It actually beat Bluehost in all three categories, clearly indicating that SiteGround is a better performer.
There is more to say about server performance, particularly regarding our WP Performance test. You can learn more about this in the 10 Best WordPress Hosting article, where we go into the finer details of why we chose Kevin Ohashi's plugin for our tests.
Before purchasing hosting services, it's crucial to thoroughly assess the features on offer. Your choice can significantly impact website performance, security, and scalability. Factors like server type, bandwidth, storage, customer support, and security measures should align with your website's requirements. A careful evaluation ensures a hosting solution that suits your needs and budget.
Therefore, let's quickly go through some of the features SiteGround and Bluehost have for you.
Hosting Features (Critical Performance Features)
There are hosting features you cannot overlook if you're keen on excellent website performance, and these are the critical performance features. While some of them are listed below as subheadings, we'd like to look at a few that aren't on the list, doing so for each host separately.
SiteGround Performance Critical Features
If the test results in the above graphics are anything to go by, SiteGround is a better performer than Bluehost. SiteGround storage is SSD and employs caching for improved website load speeds, which, according to them, propels the speeds to 5 times the typical speed. SiteGround has implemented an in-house PHP setup, fully optimized to catapult site load speed to 30% faster. This is further spiced up with optimized MySQL that's capable of handling request influxes, thus enhancing speed.
Bluehost Performance Critical Features
Bluehost offers several performance-centric features that make it a reliable web hosting choice. Its SSD storage ensures faster data retrieval, while a free Content Delivery Network (CDN) enhances site loading speed. With scalable resources, you can handle traffic spikes, and their robust server architecture guarantees high uptime. Additionally, Bluehost's dedicated support and resource protection ensure optimal website performance and security. Bluehost also employs server-level caching, ensuring that your web pages are fed to site visitors faster.
Backups and Staging
Backups and staging are critical components in hosting and data management. Backups act as a safety net, ensuring that valuable information is protected against accidental deletions, hardware failures, or cyberattacks. They provide a means to restore data to a previous state, maintaining business continuity and preventing data loss.
Staging environments, on the other hand, are indispensable for testing and development. They offer a controlled, separate space to experiment with new features or updates without affecting the live website or application. This minimizes the risk of introducing errors to the production environment and guarantees a seamless user experience.
Together, backups and staging are fundamental for safeguarding data and optimizing the performance and reliability of hosted services. Therefore, this review would be incomplete if we failed to look at how SiteGround and Bluehost performed in terms of backups and staging.
SiteGround Backups and Staging
SiteGround offers daily automatic backups with all their plans. They also allow you to create discretionary backups using their readily available tools.
For the development process, they've got a reliable and efficient one-click staging solution in their GrowBig and GoGeek hosting packages, this is only for WordPress websites.
Bluehost Backups and Staging
Bluehost also has a working and reliable hosting management system that allows for daily, weekly, and monthly website backups. The backups are stored for a reasonable 30 days, although they warn that these backups aren't guaranteed, more or less telling you to take care of your own backups or purchase the CodeGuard backup tool.
Bluehost offers one-click staging, although, at the time of writing this review, it wasn't readily accessible to logged-in users. To use it, navigate to their control panel, where there is a link for the feature. Once you locate it, setting up a staging environment is very simple. It took us about a minute. Nevertheless, it'd be a disservice if we failed to mention that Bluehost's one-click staging lacks one-click staging to go live.
Uptime and Reliability
Uptime and reliability are paramount for hosting service providers as they directly impact customer satisfaction and business success. High uptime ensures websites and applications are consistently accessible, fostering trust and customer loyalty. Reliability minimizes the risk of data loss or service disruptions, vital for businesses reliant on online operations.
Let's see what SiteGround and Bluehost have to offer in times of uptime and reliability.
SiteGround assures customers of 99.9% uptime, fastened on a commitment to reward you with a whole month of free hosting in case your website goes down. Aware of external threats that have the potential of sabotaging the uptime, SiteGround has put in place a strong security architecture meant to further their Google Cloud services. SiteGround gives you 24/7/365 server administration to curb any issues that may result in downtime. They've got smart WAF and distributed content backups for your websites and applications.
Bluehost has a good uptime of 99.99%, although they don't offer an uptime guarantee. Whatever their reason for not offering the guarantee, Bluehost has received accolades from users for its reliable uptime. Whenever issues arise, Bluehost has a team that works round the clock to resolve the issues within the shortest time possible, approximately 15 minutes unless it's really a complex issue. And just to ensure your website remains live almost all the time, Bluehost sends out alerts to you in case of any downtimes.
SiteGround has up to 11 data center locations spread across different US locations and the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, France, Australia, and Singapore. In addition to that, they also boast 170 global CDN network spots on different continents.
Bluehost neither says much about its data centers nor its server locations. Nevertheless, information in the air has it that they've got 6 very secure data centers in the US, Europe, and Asia. Although there have been claims of convergence of servers by its mother company Endurance International Group, there hasn't been any indication that Bluehost is utilizing the many data locations that EIG owns across the globe. Therefore, at the time of this review, Bluehost was solely responsible for hosting the websites you host with them.
Ease of Use
SiteGround leaves no clutter on its user interface. Their user interface is very lean, only containing what really matters to you. Their dashboard is pretty simple to use and presented in quite an intuitive design, structure, and typography. The beauty of it is that SiteGround gives you some leeway for customizations, allowing you to inject your personal touch into the interface.
Bluehost's public user interface appears to be a little cluttered, although not so bad that it'd be hard for you to figure things out. Their dashboard, on the other hand, has a modern look that's very easy to use. Everything you need, from hosting management to domain management, security setup to billing, and site management to advanced settings, are all available and easily accessible.
SiteGround has a name for good customer support, always available 24/7/365 to answer your questions and offer support through calls, chats, and tickets. Although they talked about chats, we couldn't get it. We, therefore, came to the conclusion that they didn't have chat support at the time of writing this review. Consequently, we wrote to them through a support ticket, which, sadly, they responded to after 18 solid hours. Although the test result is quite anecdotal due to the manner in which it was conducted, it says a lot about the host. We can't conclusively dismiss SiteGround on matters of customer support since users gave it an 8.56/10 rating on customer support in a research we conducted later.
Bluehost performs very well in terms of customer service, with many users applauding it for its quick response. And, in our test for speed of customer support, Bluehost didn't disappoint, responding to our questions in about a minute. While Bluehost took us through a bot before being transferred to a customer support agent, everything rolled so fast that we didn't feel like we were kept waiting for long.
Real User Reviews
We couldn't wrap up this review without sharing the views of those who actually use SiteGround and Bluehost. Sometimes it isn't easy getting such reviews. Our case was a bit easier because we've got a mailing list of hosting service customers, and quite a sizeable number of them use either SiteGround or Bluehost.
What did we do with our mailing list? We sent out emails to them, requesting them to share with us their reviews and experiences with their respective hosts. We sent more than 1,000 emails and received quite an encouraging number of responses.
Let's see what we found out.
SiteGround's performance, as you can see, was way better than that of Bluehost. The graphic is ordered using overall user experience, with SiteGround scoring 8.49/10 against Bluehost's 5.83/10. In all the 7 categories of customer reviews, SiteGround beat Bluehost in 6, with Bluehost carrying the day only in pricing.
Even as we talk about SiteGround and Bluehost, it's worth mentioning the topmost performers - Rocket.net and Kinsta. Rocket.net achieved an amazing performance. You see that the lowest score it got was 8.57/10, a feat that none of the other hosts managed. Following right behind Rocket.net was Kinsta, with 7.05/10 as its worst performance. The host performed its best under customer support in which it managed an excellent 9.53/10.
We reckon that some people don't like navigating to different web pages because they love to keep a continuous flow of their reading. With that in mind, we chose to share a couple of reviews for SiteGround and Bluehost here, but, of course, share links to the review pages so that you can read more at your convenience.
SiteGround Sample Reviews
The level of support they provide is truly impressive. Additionally, I appreciate the user-friendly interface of their proprietary cPanel.
11 to 50
They are committed to excellence and have fast servers but their customer support is hard to access. It used to be easy and that is a disappointment. I am also very disappointed they are dropping Spam Experts’ excellent anti-spam software which was a main reason I started using them years ago. They also dropped cPanel. Always trying to save their money but not passing on the savings to the customer.
Employee/Owner of Agency
4 to 10
I'm giving Siteground overall 9/10 just for the issue they had a few month ago when the hosting was down. Their support is a top notch and always willing to help as well as the hosting itself is easy to use and navigate through.
Employee/Owner of Agency
11 to 50
Should you be interested in checking out more SiteGround reviews, please click here.
Bluehost Sample Reviews
Bluehost has been a good hosting provider. They offer good options for creating staging sites, they also offer good options for backing up your site and they have good pricing for the value they provide. Customer service is pretty nice with an option for chat support that can be nice when you don't have time or availability for a phone call.
Employee/Owner of Agency
2 or 3
8 years for a couple of sites related to our non-profit. Basically ok performance/search/functionality but always a little convoluted getting to a decent design. Our company had a name change (and new URL) and working with support was adequate but seemed to be quite a bit more complicated than I'd hoped.
Web Host User
Making own & friends website
4 to 10
CS live phone call is quick. Somewhat technically limited when trying to learn how to solve the issue myself in the future. They seem to prefer WP sites, and when WP rolled out the latest big update, they added WP/PHP code to every site I have. More than 50% of my sites are native code or React based. This caused a lot of issues for my clients.
Employee/Owner of Agency
11 to 50
For more of the Bluehost reviews, simply follow this link.
We've come to the end of this review, thanks for hanging on throughout. To have come this far, you're probably asking yourself which host we'd recommend between the two. We saw in our performance tests that SiteGround posted the faster load speed, further affirmed by the WP Performance Tester, which gives a clearer picture of a host's actual server performance. And it was clear that SiteGround beat Bluehost in all the 3 categories we tested under WP Performance Tester. Both have some great features that every user would purchase. To put it straight, we recommend SiteGround because it's outperformed Bluehost in all our tests and users agree with the results of the tests.
There is more that we share in our 10 Greatest WordPress Hosting article, which will shed more light on these two hosts and more.