What You'll Learn in This Post
Hosting for Blogs
I have worked with the same small hosting company for over twenty years. And even though they were always responsive and exceptionally helpful, it was time for a change.
Finding hosting for blogs is typically a very simple and straightforward process. Find a hosting provider that meets your needs, and enter your credit card.
However, if you have every moved a website from one hosting company to another, you know what a headache it is.
Consider it somewhere between buying a new mattress (way too many choices for something you need, but don’t want to think about) and getting wisdom teeth pulled (even with anastasia, it is dreadfully painful).
So why was I looking to move?
It really came down to two main reasons.
First, I was paying twice as much for less features.
Many hosting companies now offer secure http at no additional cost. Mine charged $99/year for this service. And although I wasn’t sell anything on my website, there is evidence that Google favors secure websites in their ranking algorithm.
Second, I noticed that they were slow to update their server. On more than one occasion I had to ask them to update the server due to errors I was seeing when I redesigned my website.
But where do I go?
I did quite a bit of research for several days. My goal was to find a hosting provider that I could be happy with for another twenty years.
Two companies seemed to sift to the top. BlueHost, recommended predominately by bloggers. And SiteGround, recommended predominately by those in tech.
With so many bloggers favoring BlueHost over SiteGround, I thought it would be helpful to share my process of elimination and why I eventually choose SiteGround as my new host provider.
There were six main areas I considered when comparing services.
1 – Pricing
2 – Features
3 – Uptime
4 – Security
5 – Website Speed
6 – Customer Support
Bluehost offers a basic introductory package for $3.95 per month, which includes 1 website, 50GB of web space, and unmetered bandwidth.
SiteGround also offers a basic startup package for an introductory price of $3.95 per month. It includes unlimited websites, 10GB of web space, unmetered bandwidth, and is recommended for sites with 10,000 or less visits per month.
Here is a side by side comparison.
* initial price offer
First, I liked that SiteGround offered a 30-day trail period.
I also liked that they gave me all the details as to the differences between their plans (see bottom of page for more details).
Keep in mind that higher plans = more server resources = faster website. SiteGround’s GrowBig and GoGeek plans include more server resources, which translates into a faster loading site. GoGeek is semi-dedicated hosting and is about 4x faster than SiteGrounds’ Startup.
In addition, I appreciate the fact that the price offered by SiteGround is the price they offer. I visited BlueHost several times while writing this article, and each time the prices quoted fluctuated.
If you indeed decide to use BlueHost, don’t sign up on your first visit. Abandoned signup forms will almost guarantee a lower price in an attempt to get your business.
I have often read where people assume that bandwidth is equivalent to traffic. It is not. As far as I can tell, BlueHost list no where on their site how much traffic each shared hosting package can handle.
Bandwidth specifically deals with the amount of data you can upload and download. And both offer unmetered bandwidth.
Unlike BlueHost, SiteGround simply indicates which plan best visits which website based on site visits.
Another noticeable feature, is that I can host multiple websites within one SiteGround server package. I currently have 4 small to mediums size sites running on my SiteGround server, using approximately 3.5 GB of space.
Although 50+ GB space would be nice, I can’t imagine that I would ever need it. My job is to make sure my website is lean and images load fast to enhance both my visitors experience and get ranked in search engines.
As a blogger our goal is to drive traffic to our site. Once successful, we will need to make sure our servers can handle the additional traffic.
The last thing we want is for our server to crash when a post goes viral.
If you have a sudden jump in traffic, your site will need more CPU power. This is where cloud hosting comes in handy.
Cloud hosting is based on an innovated technology that uses multiple servers to accommodate your website files and software. It means that your website is hosted on numerous machines instead of a single server. This will insure your website is up and running even if one or more servers encounters a problem.
Cloud hosting also comes with HHVM, which is even faster than PHP7. Originally designed by programmers at Facebook, it is an open source virtual machine that executes programs like PHP even faster.
The benefits of cloud hosting include performance, reliability, scalability, and security.
When researching cloud hosting for both BlueHost and SiteGround, I had to dig deep to uncover the differences.
SiteGround cloud hosting plans start at $80/month. They use LXC technology with dedicated resources and your own machines. It is technology that is proven to be the most reliable.
SiteGround servers can be scaled up to 16 CPU cores and 16 GB of RAM, which is quite a lot of power, rivaling dedicated plans. They even offer the ability to temporarily autoscale your CPU and RAM to compensate for traffic spikes.
BlueHost also offers cloud hosting, starting at $8.95/month.
Okay, I like a good deal as much as the next gal, but something doesn’t add up here. So I reached out to my tech friends to uncover the difference.
There had to be a bigger difference than a dedicated IP address and daily backups. And there is.
BlueHost “cloud hosting” uses a shared network of VPS resources. VPS is a copy of a physical machine. This technology has proven to be unstable and does not have the ability to add resources on the go.
Instead of having multiple machines in multiple locations to circumvent problems, they continue to pull resources from just one source.
So we are definitely comparing apples and oranges here.
SiteGround cloud hosting is an easy winner for popular sites. They offer a lot more stability, power, and as-needed scalability.
Uptime refers to the amount of time your server is up and running. With today’s technology almost all host companies guarantee 99.99% uptime.
SiteGround uses several outstanding uptime technologies.
If you have ever experienced internal server errors, bad gateways, connection failures, or other messages these are indications that you site is down or lagging.
Although I have never experienced server downtime with SiteGround, I am certain both hosting companies offer equivalent satisfaction.
Speed is what attracted me to SiteGround above all else.
Why is speed so important? Two reasons.
We know that the longer it takes for a website to load, the greater the percentage of those who give up and leave. When it comes to websites, instant gratification means less than 2 seconds, faster if possible.
We also know that Google prioritizes websites that load faster. Although the size of my webpages and images are within my control, I still rely on my hosting provider to guarantee highly efficient servers.
SiteGround uses a combination of some of the fastest web hosting speed technologies, including SSD hardware, NGINX servers, Super Cacher CMS, CDN, HTTP/2 for faster loading, and PHP7.
BlueHost list very limited information on their “blazing fast servers.” I did find they use PHP5, which is obviously not as fast as PHP7. I am not saying they are slow, but I like the comfort of knowing that SiteGround has a team dedicated to speed.
SiteGround uses Linux containers and account isolation to prevent other websites on their server from effecting yours. Plus they have ongoing security patches and security monitoring.
Just like their obsession with speed, they are constantly making sure your site isn’t affected by threats. As a matter of fact, they are one of the few hosting companies that actually spent time highlighting security features when I was looking for a new hosting service provider.
Outside of offering SSL, I was unable to find anything on BlueHost site regarding security.
Great customer support is a nice-to-have, until you need them. Then it becomes critical.
When deciding on which hosting service to choose, I wanted a fast reliable customer support team that was easy to work with.
SiteGround offers 24/7/365 live chat, a ticketing system, and a toll free number for support. I can even study the support tech’s skills, work experience, and user ratings.
Since starting with SiteGround, I have chatted with support multiple times.
The average wait time has always been under 2 minutes and their technical knowledge has been outstanding. (Every encounter has been a 5 out of 5 stars).
Unlike most hosting companies, they have multiple tiers of technicians, each specializing in a different area.
Twice my question ended up being too technical for the support person I was chatting with. After assisting me the best they could, they created a technical ticket for my request.
Both tickets were addressed within 10 minutes and completed in less than 1 hour.
BlueHost offers the same features, they have friendly support staff, and the chat box was easy to navigate.
Although I do not know of the technical expertise of BlueHost, I was disappointed that I had to wait 5 minutes before they even answered my chat and answered my questions.
Why I Choose SiteGround
1. They use the fastest speed technology
2. They use PHP 7 (check your site – Display PHP Version)
3. They use HTTP/2 servers (check your site – HTTP/2 Test)
4. They have the fastest reported server response times (check your server – Page Speed Insights)
5. They offer CDN services with all accounts
6. They allow for automatic PHP updates
7. You can also choose to have WordPress updated automatically
8. They will migrate your existing website for free
9. The offer automatic daily backups for all accounts
10. I usually get 100% uptime, but 99.99% is guaranteed
11. All plans come with free Let’s Encrypt SSL
12. They are constantly releasing new security updates
13. Customer Support is amazing!
14. Recommended #1 by independent polls in multiple WordPress related Facebook groups
15. Their GoGeek plan comes with more server resources, unlimited hosted websites, and even faster support
Performance, reliability and excellent support systems made choosing SiteGround easy.
BlueHost may have previously led in performance, however, that’s no longer the case. In recent years, SiteGround has invested heavily in superior speed, security and customer service. All of which has helped them become ranked as my No.1 web hosting company.
If you really want a great blog and a server you can rely on for years to come, I highly recommend SiteGround. In my opinion, they are the best hosting for blogs out there!