Almost 2 years ago to this day I became aware of a hosting company named SiteGround, they approached me to become one of my hosting sponsors for WPLift. I had never heard of them before but the person I spoke to seemed nice and told about how they were starting to tailor their service offering to cater to WordPress users more. They offered WordPress staging and their own caching plugin for WordPress which was designed to speed up WP sites. In those 2 years since then, SiteGround have really gone on to making a name for themselves in the WordPress community - they sponsor a lot of WordCamps and have generally got involved a lot more in our community.
I have always hosted my websites on my own dedicated server as I like to have complete control over everything - I can install things when I like, reboot it, add new sites and so on. A few months ago, SiteGround approached me and asked if I would like to move WPLift over to them, I had read good things about larger sites being moved to SiteGround so I thought I would give them a try and I'm really pleased with how things have gone so far.
In this post I'm going to talk a little about my experience so far with SiteGround, if you would like to try them out yourself, WPLift readers can get a 60% discount using this link.
As part of their service, SiteGround offer to move your existing WordPress site over to their servers for free so I thought I would take advantage of this to save me the hassle. I was assigned a WordPress expert from their support team named Hristo, who would handle the move and also help me with any WordPress tweaks which would speed the site up. I handed over my website details and they began the transfer, I would estimate the move to a couple of hours - there is a lot of content on WPLIft, large database ( over 800 posts now!) and lots of images in different sizes.
Once the move was complete, they set about looking at WPLift and seeing if there were any speed improvements that could be made. One thing he noticed was the plugin I was using to redirect affiliate links had placed 800+ 302 redirects in my .htaccess file, he recommended moving over to the free redirection plugin and using http headers to handle these. He moved over the affiliate URLs to this new plugin for me which I'm much happier with so check out that if you need a good plugin to handle your redirected links.
Next he installed SiteGround's own Super Cacher plugin which offers 4 different levels of caching :
- Dynamic Cache - Dynamic caching is the second layer of site performance improvement. It creates copies of your website's dynamic content and stores them in the server RAM.
- Memcached - The Memcached technology speeds up database calls, API calls and page rendering by storing data and objects in memory to reduce the number of times a database is queried.
- HHVM - HHVM is a PHP execution engine created by Facebook. It's designed with speed in mind can be few times faster than the regular PHP 5.5. For example, tests show that a default WordPress backend works 10 times faster when using HHVM.
You can set these options from within your SiteGround control panel :
You can also control some Cache options from within the WordPress plugin.
Another recommendation that Hristo made, was that I switched from using .PNGs for my featured images to .JPGs as these were larger file sizes and the difference in quality is not that much, which I have done - this brought my homepage size down from around 1.5MB to around 800k now. Before I moved to SiteGround, my homepage was taking 1.5 seconds to load, with the move to SiteGround and tweaks mentioned, it now loads in under 1 second, typically about 500ms.
Pretty good improvement ?
WordPress Specific Hosting Features
So what do you get if you decide to switch over to SiteGround? Here are what I think are the most important features for WordPress users.
- Free Migration - Let the SiteGround experts handle the move for you, saves you the time and hassle - they will make sure your site is working perfectly on their system.
- Automatic Updates - They update core and plugins for you.
- Daily Backups - You are allowed 30 days worth of daily backups stored on their system.
- WordPress Super Cacher - As mentioned, this does greatly speed up your site.
- Multiple Datacenters and Free CDN - You can choose from 3 continents to physically host your site and use their free CDN service.
- WordPress Staging - Test changes to your main site in a staging area before you deploy them to the live site.
- WP-CLI Enabled - Use SSH command line to manage your site.
- GIT preinstalled - Interface for Git repo creation.
Plans are available from £2.75 per month for the startup plan, up to £9.75 per month for the GoGeek plan which is good for 100,000 visitors per month. You can get these prices by using this link for WPLift readers.
Before I sign off I just wanted to mention a little about their customer support - this is a hugely important part when considering any host. If there is a problem with your site, you want it dealt with professionally and as quickly as possible. I'm pleased to report that every time I have submitted a support ticket, I have received a reply with about 10 minutes which is an amazing level of support. Each time the problem or question was dealt with, with no problems at all. I have used the ticket system each time, but if you need a reply even faster you can phone them or use live chat.
Now that I have a few month's hosting under my belt with SiteGround, using them to host WPLift and WPLift Support I am very happy to personally recommend them to our readers. SiteGround as a company understand WordPress well and have a lot of WP experts working for them, which you can see from the custom WordPress features that they offer. Their caching plugin works amazingly well so it should be able to speed up most WordPress installations you can throw at it.
If you are stuck using a shared host like Godaddy or similar and are not happy with the speed or service then I recommend you take a look at SiteGround - let them handle moving your site over and I guarantee you will be happier there.