Unsurprisingly, I do not own a web host (i.e. a server and its associated technologies) and I had to use the services of a hosting provider. Finding the perfect company for my needs was no easy task. Given the importance of quality web hosting to ensure my website remains accessible and safe at all times, I didn’t rush my decision. After thorough investigation, I decided to entrust SiteGround with my website.
The starting point
Let me summarize and state again the main decisions I took concerning my website, and by extension my web host.
It all started when I launched myself into the podcasting adventure (see The CogitActive saga). While a podcast could stand on its own, i.e. without website, having one is strongly encouraged (see Where to start?). I wanted total freedom with my site, therefore I opted for a self-hosted website (see A website for your podcast). Among the different things involved with a self-hosted website, I had to decide on a platform, that is a software to build my site. Given its powerful features, scalability and ease of use, I picked WordPress as my content management system (CMS) platform. This decision had direct impact on the technology required for my web host (from the server types to the software that are run on them). Still, as I didn’t need top-of-the line hosting right from start, I chose to go for a shared hosting plan.
Finally, yet importantly, I wanted to keep my domain name and my web hosting separate (see Self-hosting: a hard egg to crack). I have already registered my domain name with a registrar, namely Gandi.net. As registering domains and hosting are two different functions, I didn’t wait
24 to 72 hours (for my domain name to be fully available) to move to the next step.
The shared hosting offer
SiteGround offers three shared hosting plans: StartUp, GrowBig and GoGeek. The first, also the least expensive, is for people starting out with their first website. The second tier plan, their best seller, can cope with multiple websites or a single site with more traffic. The third plan, which is a semi-dedicated solution, is for high-end, resource-intensive websites.
By and large, GrowBig is the recommended plan. It comes with additional features; some being essential (e.g., free backup restore). Similarly, the geeky advanced features that come with the GoGeek plan are very impressive. In particular, the staging feature allows creating a copy of your website in a different environment to test safely new designs, code or whatever. However, there is noticeable price difference between these plans: GrowBig being about twice more expensive – GoGeek three times – than the StartUp plan. Let me be reasonable, here.
Here is how SiteGround describes their StartUp plan:
The StartUp plan gives you all the essential hosting features you need to accommodate a just “getting started” website or an existing average-size blog, personal, or business website.
Indeed, it is suitable to accommodate approximately ten thousands visits monthly, which fits with my current traffic. As for now, except for my great-aunt Aunty (see What is a podcast?), I have mainly crawlers coming to my website(s). Its allocated resources are largely suitable for my needs and if I start to outgrow this plan I can easily upgrade it. Besides, it comes with the same essential features as the other plans, including some amazing ones: free Let’s Encrypt SSL, free Cloudflare CDN, free CMS install, free daily backup, 24/7 support.
Granted, the StartUp plan has only 10 GB of storage space (compared to 20 or 30 GB for GrowBig or GoGeek, respectively), but this is more than enough to run a website with WordPress. Moreover, you can have only one website (unlimited amount with the other two plans). Still, you can have unlimited subdomains. This allows you somehow to have several different websites (see A domain name) as long as they remain underneath the same domain name.
The only real deal breaker is the absence of free backup restore: the restores are paid on the StartUp plan (free on the other two plans).
– Emendation –
SiteGround performed a massive upgrade to all their hosting plans (probably to celebrate their 15th anniversary). They now provide the restore option free to all users, including those hosted on a StartUp plan.
March 28, 2019
Source: More Features for All Our Plans
“Wait! What about the other plans?”
“What other plans?”
“The (managed) WordPress Hosting plans!”
“But they are the same StartUp, GrowBig and GoGeek plans, aren’t they?”
“Not exactly; they include WordPress installation, automatic updates, advanced caching and expert WordPress support.”
“Nice, but this kind of managed services comes at a price.”
“Actually, SiteGround isn’t a managed host strictly speaking. Yet, they include benefits that mirror (real) managed WordPress hosting.”
“Okay. That sounds cool. How much does it costs?”
“They are priced exactly the same as the other plans. Yet, you can expect plenty of optimizations in terms of server resources and performance.”
“So why do without it?”1
Without further ado, let’s get started
As already stated, I didn’t wait
24 to 72 hours after registering my domain name to head over to SiteGround2 and click on the GET STARTED button bellow the WordPress Hosting offer. The signup process was quick and easy.
It was (and still is at the time of writing) a three-step process. Now, because I have chosen the StartUp plan and clicked on the GET PLAN button, this helps and skips Step 1 (Choose Plan). As for the second step (Choose Domain), I already had one (see above). Therefore, I just typed it before to click on PROCEED. This brings me to the next and final step: Review & Complete. I filled out my Account Information (e-mail and password), as well as my Client Information (i.e. address), and provided my Payment Information. Below was the Purchase Information section.
In this section, I had to review my selection (StartUp plan) and decided on a period for my hosting package (12, 24 or 36 months). It is generally unwise to accept long-term contracts. However, the special price ($3.95/mo. instead of $11.95/mo.) only applies to sign up. It is very tempting to go for 36 months up front; still, I opted for 12 months. Today, I wish I had chosen differently.
There was another critical item to decide on in this section: the Data Center. You can choose between four different locations: Chicago (USA), Amsterdam (Netherland), London (UK) and Singapore. Keep in mind that your best option is to choose a server that is located near your potential visitors. Putting aside my great-aunt Aunty, I selected Chicago.
Still in the Purchase Information section, but under Extra Services, there was an upsell – SG Site Scanner.
SG Site Scanner
SiteGround advertises it as a
monitoring service that checks your website daily and immediately notify you in case of hack or malicious code injection. Sucuri – one of the leading providers of website security solutions – powers this premium malware detection and early warning system.
Security matters! Still, I could not find any well-argued opinion in favor of SG Site Scanner (previously called HackAlert). On the contrary, most recommendations were to secure WordPress with free security tools instead. Besides, SiteGround has already many security measures implemented and a
What about the few advising to go for it then? Better safe than sorry, right? Especially for such a nominal fee!
I wish I had an expert opinion (not necessarily mine) to share with you. I could not find any. Anyway, this service should be free.
To finish, I confirmed that I had read and agreed to the Terms of Service and clicked on the PAY NOW button. That is it.
My account was successfully created!
I immediately received a Welcome Aboard e-mail with some information to help me get started with my new hosting account.
To be continued…
1 For those who were wondering, this was not a conversation with my great-aunt Aunty, but with my geeky little bird. ^
2 This is my referral link to SiteGround. I will get up to 3 months free hosting for every person who has signed up through this link. Your support is highly appreciated. ^