SiteGround vs Bluehost: Which Should You Choose for Your Hosting Needs?
Maybe you’re thinking about building a website, and you’re trying to determine which hosting company will best serve your needs. Perhaps you’ve already created one or more websites, and you’re considering a change in hosting services. As we compare two of the top contenders in the industry, SiteGround vs. Bluehost, we’ll dig deep into the world of website and WordPress hosting services to create a comprehensive comparison between the two.
Both companies have been in the business of web hosting for enough years to prove that they know what they’re doing. Bluehost was founded in 2003 and SiteGround in 2004. Additionally, SiteGround and Bluehost are two of the three hosting companies officially recommended by WordPress, a popular CMS and website building tool that currently powers more than 30% of the entire web. Eighty percent of SiteGround’s domains are built using WordPress hosting.
Keep reading to learn why we’ve chosen SiteGround as the best choice for hosting your Shared, WordPress, or Cloud websites.
SiteGround vs. Bluehost: Popularity Does Not Indicate Quality
Just looking at the numbers, especially that of Google Trends, Bluehost is more popular than SiteGround; however, SiteGround has been steadily closing the gap.
As a company, Bluehost has been so successful that EIG acquired it in 2013. It was at that point, however, that Bluehost began to falter. Like many other hosting companies after EIG acquisition, Bluehost started receiving an excessive amount of bad reviews, leading to a substantial drop in popularity and growth.
Despite this, over the last three years, Bluehost has continued to experience a growth of 5-10% over previous years. SiteGround, on the other hand, has made tremendous increases, often more than doubling the number of sites hosted from year to year and experiencing a four-fold increase in size over the last three years. If growth continues at the same pace, SiteGround could easily pass Bluehost in the number of sites hosted by the end of 2019.
SiteGround vs. Bluehost: Good Support is a Must
Having a responsive and experienced support team is an important consideration when choosing a hosting provider, especially for beginners. Let’s face it … sooner or later, you will need some level of support.
All users need customer support to deal with the day-to-day problems associated with websites, including security, downtime, and server connectivity. According to Twitter users and several review sites comparing the two hosting providers, SiteGround easily comes out on top. They’re fast in their response times, have highly qualified representatives, and have included some unique features to assist and support their clients.
SiteGround and Bluehost both offer 24-hour phone support, live chat, and email (ticket) support. SiteGround, however, consistently provides a faster and more helpful overall support, as well as, WordPress hosting specific support. Twitter users and survey respondents alike frequently berate Bluehost’s inability to provide the support they need. Additionally, when speaking with Bluehost support, too often, the solution to a problem is an upsell of products and services. SiteGround, on the other hand, boasts of a 100% satisfaction rating.
SiteGround purposely overstaffs their support team to ensure users receive an answer as quickly as possible. Additionally, they provide “Advanced Priority Support” to those who choose their GoGeek hosting plan.
SiteGround provides tutorials and webinars. They also have a massive knowledge base of helpful information on their site. Bluehost has a lot of useful information on their website, as well, including tutorials, a comprehensive knowledge base, and an active members’ forum. BlueHost also offers marketing services focused on content creation, web design, and SEO.
What about Support for Beginners?
Individuals who are new to building and hosting a website often lack technical expertise and need a hosting service provider who understands their needs. Both SiteGround and Bluehost offer the support new users need when setting up a website.
SiteGround takes it a step further, however, providing a setup wizard which launches a new website with just a few clicks. The wizard is easy to use — even someone who lacks technical proficiency can build a website using their wizard.
Website Building Tools
Having the right website building tools can be crucial for beginners. These tools make it easy to get a website up and running with minimal effort.
SiteGround and Bluehost seamlessly operate with numerous Content Management Systems (CMSs) such as WordPress. Bluehost provides a 1-click SimpleScripts installer that makes it easy to get various CMSs up and running, enabling you to experiment with various CMS options.
Both SiteGround and Bluehost offer a free “drag and drop” site building tool powered by Weebly. Bluehost provides other options in the Mojo Marketplace, as well.
Uptime: If Your Site Isn’t Up and Running, It’s Useless
Everyone wants their website to be up and running 100% of the time; however, various factors can affect a website’s uptime, including hardware failure, hosting company power shutdowns, and server maintenance. Downtime impacts your website’s credibility, causes your site’s Google rank to drop and results in lost sales, all affecting your business’ bottom line.
Both SiteGround and Bluehost advertise 99.99% uptime guarantees. Despite these guarantees, Bluehost has struggled to maintain an uptime of even 98% per month; whereas, SiteGround’s average uptime exceeds 99.99%. Not only are SiteGround’s servers highly reliable, but they also have their Pro-active Server Monitoring feature which identifies a problem and fixes it. It also identifies potential future issues with the server and takes appropriate action to prevent the problem from occurring.
SiteGround vs. Bluehost: Features
Both SiteGround and Bluehost have features, benefits, and capabilities that provide value to users. Both allow you to enable CloudFlare, a popular CDN. Bluehost’s backend, however, is filled with persistent upsell pitches and promotions to purchase tools you may or may not need.
Neither SiteGround nor Bluehost has bandwidth limitations. This means you can get all the traffic you want without having to worry about a forced upgrade to overcome traffic limitations with either hosting option.
Both SiteGround and Bluehost offer cPanel-based solutions that have many common features such as email accounts, a file manager, FTP accounts, and PHPMyAdmin. Bluehost provides a custom hosting dashboard, as well. Their cPanels come with one-click installers for popular scripts (such as WordPress, Weebly, and Joomla) which is especially helpful to beginners.
Bluehost’s entry-level (Basic) plan provides more storage than SiteGround’s Higher Plan; however, SiteGround’s Entry Level plan offers 10 GB. Ten gigabytes is generally more than enough for most projects unless you plan to upload a lot of HD images and heavy videos.
|Entry-Level/Startup Plan||10 GB||50 GB|
|Middle Plan(s)||20 GB||Both are unlimited|
|Higher Level Plan||30 GB||Unlimited|
It should be noted, however, that SiteGround uses SSD which can drive up the cost but provide more speed than the traditional hard drive.
Both offer more functionality than your average WordPress hosting provider, including lots of value-added features that will make your life easier.
Most hosting features are accessed through SiteGround’s cPanel dashboard. Features include:
- Free SSL certificates, making your site more secure with HTTPS via Let’s Encrypt (more on security later in this article)
- Hosting of unlimited sites on all plans except their StartUp plan
- Faster site loading with a built-in caching system
- Faster global page loads with Cloudflare CDN integration
- 10-30 GB of website storage (varies by plan)
- WordPress core software has automatic updates
- Modern technologies (including HTTP/2 and PHP 7.2)
- Easy staging sites for testing (GrowBig plan only)
There are many similarities in the feature offerings of both SiteGround and Bluehost; however, Bluehost’s custom hosting dashboard is more user-friendly. The cPanel dashboard can be accessed, as well. Other features include:
- Free SSL certificates, for a more secure site with HTTPS via Let’s Encrypt (more on security later in this article)
- Hosting for unlimited sites on all plans except their Basic plan
- Faster site loading with a built-in caching system
- Faster global page loads with Cloudflare CDN integration
- Unlimited bandwidth and storage on most plans (50 GB storage limit with their Basic plan)
- Modern technologies, although it only supports PHP 7.0 compared to SiteGround’s PHP 7.2
- Provides WordPress staging sites for testing
- Automatic WordPress core updates
WordPress and other Content Management Systems
There are a lot of benefits in choosing a web host with managed WordPress plans, including better security and overall performance. That’s why WordPress is the most commonly used and chosen CMS. WordPress hosting is certainly beneficial — with servers that are optimized for WordPress and tools that enhance productivity.
Both SiteGround and Bluehost have streamlined the process of creating a new WordPress site. Both provide a user-friendly wizard tool that pops up on your first visit, making it especially easy and beginner-friendly.
Let’s compare the availability of some of the main WordPress features on both SiteGround and Bluehost.
|Automatic Plugin Updates||Possible||No|
|Automatic System Updates||Possible||No|
|Staging Area/Sandbox||Yes (with GrowBig and GoGeek Plans)||Yes|
|In-house Caching System||Yes (Super Cacher)||No (need to install a plugin)|
SiteGround offers many premium features free of charge, features that will cost a premium when purchased from other plugin developers, such as GZIP compression, lazy image loading, HTML, better browser caching and many others. Bluehost offers packages containing features such as these, but you’ll have to pay for them, with plans beginning at $20 per month.
SiteGround and Bluehost both support Joomla and Drupal; however, SiteGround also provides CMS-specific features such as super cachers and Drush enable servers that improve performance.
Bluehost offers a free domain name with all their plans; whereas, with SiteGround, you’ll be required to purchase through a third-party such as GoDaddy. SiteGround and Bluehost allow unlimited subdomains and parked domains; however, Bluehost’s Basic Plan limits users to 5 subdomains and 25 parked domains.
SiteGround offers unlimited email accounts, but limit the maximum storage of each account. Bluehost limits their Basic plan users to 5 email accounts with 100 MB storage. All other Bluehost plans offer unlimited email accounts and unlimited storage space.
SSH Access and Git Repository
SiteGround has developed its own SSH access system. They also allow users to set up a Git repository. Bluehost offers SSH, as well, but not a Git repository.
FTP and SFTP Accounts
SiteGround and Bluehost allow users to create unlimited FTP accounts. SiteGround does the same for SFTP accounts; however, Bluehost limits SFTP to the main FTP account only.
SiteGround vs. Bluehost: Backups … Better Safe Than Sorry
From cybercrime such as hacking to a broken site because of a software update or human error to a site infected with viruses or malware, so many things can go wrong. Therefore, having a recent backup that can be restored quickly is a lifesaver.
SiteGround provides daily automated backups of your site for the past 30 days. Typically, in around two minutes, a backup can be restored anytime with just one click from the cPanel. Their GrowBig and GoGeek plans also offer a Backup on Demand System — a one-click on-demand backup of your entire system — which is great when you’re preparing for an update or preparing to make significant changes to your website.
Bluehost, on the other hand, only keeps a daily, weekly, and monthly copy of your website. Their basic backup has limited functionality, such as no individual file restores. Further functionality can be purchased as an upsell (included with their Prime plan) through a third-party vendor called CodeGuard.
SiteGround vs. Bluehost: Security Options
Both hosting providers work hard to keep their platforms safe and secure. SiteGround and Bluehost both provide free SSL (via Let’s Encrypt), HTTP/2, SFTP, and SSH access. SiteGround uses PHP 7.2; whereas, Bluehost falls behind, supporting PHP 7.
Both companies sell security add-ons. SiteGround offers SG Site Scanner (for just over a dollar per month) which scans your site for malware and performs blacklist monitoring. Bluehost offers SiteLock (for approximately $30 per year) to achieve the same functions.
SiteGround has taken additional steps to provide safety against multiple web threats and malware. They have developed an anti-bot AI to protect their customer’s websites against brute-force attacks. This AI system also frees up server resources for customer use. After monitoring all servers, the AI system analyzes the data and then automatically takes action to stop malicious bots. The AI checks for:
- Failed logins
- Simultaneous connects to different URLs
- Already known DDoS weaknesses
- Multiple request types associated with DDoS attacks
- Ongoing updated list of blacklisted user agents
SiteGround offers Secure Account Isolation, which isolates a user’s shared accounts from other accounts on the same server. This increases every customer’s website security from threats by other users on the same server.
Bluehost, on the other hand, relies on a third-party, Cloudflare, to protect its customers from DDoS attacks. They also provide password-protected directories, spam protection, and an option to blacklist IPs.
SiteGround and Bluehost are both in full compliance with the GDPR (General Data Protect Regulation), a law passed to protect the privacy and personal information of people living in the European Union.
SiteGround vs. Bluehost: Speed Optimizations
In today’s fast-paced world, no one likes to wait for a page to load. So, which hosting provider will give you the speed you want?
SiteGround provides QUIC speed technology, also referred to as HTTP/3, enabling websites to load faster even when internet connections are very slow. SiteGround was one of the first hosting companies to provide this technology which offers increased performance and security.
Bluehost falls short in this area, being much slower in terms of new features and updates.
In SiteGround’s 2017 customer survey, customers had a satisfaction score of 97% for uptime, 97% for security, and 93% for speed, with an overall customer satisfaction rating of 95%. This score has increased yearly for the past three years, proving that SiteGround consistently works hard to improve the quality of their product and services.
Various review sites have conducted performance tests for both hosting companies. In these tests, SiteGround consistently provides faster page loads.
Time to First Byte
Time to First Byte (TTFB) is how quickly a host’s server delivers the first byte of data in response to a request. TTFB enables testing of speed and quality of the servers independent of front-end issues. The delivery speed of the first byte is not affected by website type, size, or other similar factors. This makes it an excellent method to determine the quality of the host’s servers. In tests, SiteGround recorded a TTFB of 308s; whereas, Bluehost’s TTFB was 401s. Faster than Bluehost by 0.1s, SiteGround was the apparent winner.
The physical distance the data has to travel effects TTFB. Since SiteGround has four major data centers across the world, the distances are minimized, causing a lower TTFB. (More on server locations later in this article.)
Speed Tests: SiteGround vs. Bluehost
Let’s compare speed tests between the two hosting companies.
|SiteGround Tests||Bluehost Tests|
Speed and Server Locations
SiteGround allows users to change the server location of their websites. This means that users can speed up their website by placing their website’s files on a server that is strategically located near their target audience. Websites hosted on SiteGround can change their server location with just a few clicks from the account panel, as well as choose the server location at the time the site is created.
The other option, although more costly, is to set up a CDN (content delivery network) which stores your files across multiple servers located in various parts of the world, which then serves your traffic from the nearest server.
Bluehost doesn’t allow users to designate server locations, even at the time of purchase.
SiteGround vs. Bluehost: Server Locations
In the previous section, we’ve already discussed how server locations can impact speed and how having more data center locations can be advantageous for users. We’ve also mentioned that SiteGround will allow you to select the server location that you want to use to increase the speed of website loading.
SiteGround has four major data centers located around the world.
- Chicago, US
- London, UK
- Amsterdam, NL
- Singapore, SG
Bluehost is not so open with the location of their data centers. They have two verifiable locations listed on their site, sister sites both in Utah, Provo and Orem. They are believed to have data centers in other locations around the world, which may include Mumbai, Shanghai, and others.
Server Quality Test
Reviewers comparing SiteGround and Bluehost performed a server quality test. Using the Load Impact App and identical sites with the same content, theme, number of images and requests, the reviewers tested how servers reacted to a large number of concurrent visitors. The server response time on the two hosts was quite different.
SiteGround’s server response time was consistent and solid, with an average response time of 650 milliseconds. Even with 50 concurrent users, SiteGround had no real hiccups.
On Bluehost, however, the results left much to be desired. As the traffic increased, the response time did as well. Even with as little as ten users, the server response time varied widely between 1,000 milliseconds and 3,500 milliseconds. Bluehost’s performance was highly inconsistent from one second to the next. At one point, with as little as twenty concurrent users, the response time topped out at 10.61 seconds. Compare that to SiteGround’s maximum of 1.6 seconds with fifty visitors and the choice of which host provides the best server response is a no brainer.
|Server’s Location||Dallas, TX||Ashburn, VA|
|Hosting Server Location||Chicago, IL||Provo, UT|
|Maximum Response Time||1.6 seconds||10.61 seconds|
|Minimum Response Time||669.9 milliseconds||915.53 milliseconds|
|Average Response Time||650 milliseconds||Varied|
|Test Results||Load Impact Test Results||Load Impact Test Results|
Based on these test results, SiteGround’s servers responded with more than twice the speed of Bluehost’s servers.
Domain Name Server
A domain name server, also referred to as a DNS, helps a browser locate your website files. You want to have a responsive DNS to improve website speed and to have better security against attacks. Tests on DNS speeds of both hosting companies revealed that SiteGround’s DNS is slightly faster than Bluehost’s DNS.
SiteGround vs. Bluehost: Migration Options
Migrating a website from one host to another can be difficult, especially if you’re a newbie and have never done it before. Despite the hassles, slow website performance, poor support and want of more hosting features lead many site owners to move their files from one hosting service to another.
On their GrowBig and higher plans, SiteGround will professionally transfer one website free of charge; whereas, customers on their StartUp plan will have to pay $30 for each site that needs to be migrated. SiteGround offers its proprietary migration plugin to WordPress users to make transfers easier. The WP migration plugin helps to seamlessly transfer a WordPress site with just a few easy clicks.
SiteGround’s tool will help you to:
- Install WordPress, Weebly, Drupal, or Joomla. If you need to create an eCommerce store with WordPress, you can have SiteGround install WooCommerce
- Migrate the existing website
With Bluehost, you can choose to transfer the site yourself or take advantage of their professional migration services. For $150, Bluehost will migrate up to five websites, 20 email accounts, and all associated files and databases. This service doesn’t include the transfer of domain name registrations. Bluehost does provide a Domain Name Transfer Utility to assist you in the transfer of your domain to hosting. Bluehost doesn’t currently offer migration support for Reseller, VPS or Dedicated Server Accounts.
SiteGround vs. Bluehost: Plans and Pricing
When it comes to pricing, Bluehost costs less than SiteGround, especially at the highest level plan where the price can vary between the two by as much as 100%. Additionally, Bluehost offers a free domain name with each hosting plan.
As you look at pricing, you’ll want to compare their promotional, “let’s get you in the door,” pricing that covers the first year followed by the full price you’ll pay after the first year. This way you won’t be surprised by a price increase after the first year. Both hosting companies require you to pay for a minimum of twelve months at a time.
Let’s look at the promotional pricing first.
|Highest Level Plan||$11.95/month||$5.95/month|
SiteGround’s basic (StartUp) plan features a single domain and 10 GB of storage space. Bluehost’s basic plan features one domain and 50 GB of storage space (Bluehost’s lower $2.95/ month pricing requires that you sign up for multiple years to receive that price).
Now, let’s look at the full price you pay after the initial first twelve months.
|Highest Level Plan||$34.95/month||$14.99/month|
Let’s look at each of their plans a little closer.
SiteGround’s Plans and Pricing
Pricing is listed as both “promotional pricing / subsequent years”.
|Price per month||$3.95 / $11.95||$5.95 / $19.95||$11.95 / $34.95|
|Web Storage Space||10 GB||20 GB||30 GB|
|Number of Sites Hosted||1||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Free Included Domain||No||No||No|
|30-day Money Back Guarantee||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Specification of Server allowed||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Changing Server Location||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free Site Backup||Daily||Daily||Daily|
|Free Backup Restore||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1-Click CMS Installer||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Built-In Caching System||Level Static Caching||Dynamic Caching||Database Query Caching|
|SFTP And SSH||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Bluehost’s Plans and Pricing
Pricing is listed as both “promotional pricing / subsequent years”.
|Price per Month||$2.95 / $7.99||$5.45 / $10.99||$5.45 / $14.99||$13.95 / $23.99*|
|Web Storage Space||50 GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Number of Sites Hosted||1||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Free Included Domain||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|30-day Money Back Guarantee||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Specification of Server allowed||No||No||No||No|
|Changing Server Location||No||No||No||No|
|Free Site Backup||No||No||Every day (CodeGuard Basic)||Every day (CodeGuard Basic)|
|Free Backup Restore||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|1-Click CMS Installer||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Built-In Caching System||no||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|SFTP And SSH||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
* Bluehost’s Pro plan also includes a dedicated IP and access to 2 SPAM experts. It also provides higher performance due to a lower server density.
SiteGround and Bluehost both provide a Let’s Encrypt Wildcard SSL free of charge. This means that multiple websites and subdomains are easier to set up and maintain because they can be encrypted using just one certificate.
SiteGround vs. Bluehost: Which did we choose?
The obvious winner for us is SiteGround.
Yes, SiteGround is higher priced. However, when you look at all the benefits gained in all the other categories — features, performance, uptime, reliability, and support — SiteGround repeatedly outperforms Bluehost. We feel it’s the best choice for hosting your Shared, WordPress, and Cloud websites.
Bluehost does offer more data storage and lower prices; however, their performance can be subpar, and there are many complaints concerning the support they provide.
SiteGround’s performance is extraordinary. They have a ton of hosting features, and their support is innovative and responsive. SiteGround also offers:
- Impressive and consistent uptime percentages
- Automated backups
- Impressive security options which include an AI system that analyzes data and takes automatic action to stop malicious bots
- Servers located across the globe
If you’re looking for a hosting and/or WordPress hosting provider, we believe you’ll be happier with all the benefits, support, and service you’ll receive with SiteGround.