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Siteground vs Bluehost

OK, I’ll be honest… I spend waaaaay too much time making (even simple) decisions. This has been the case when deciding what camera to buy, what gym to join, or even what dessert to choose.

But when I was deciding what hosting should I go for, I took this to the next level. I spent afternoons looking at storage limits, hosting features, server locations and prices.

Almost every time I found myself asking the same question: SiteGround or Bluehost?

To be fair, that wasn’t an easy choice, as both hosting providers have their perks. To save you from sleepless nights trying to figure out what’s the best provider for you, I’ve summarized my research and learnings here.

I’ll also let you know what my choice was (and why).

Let’s start!

SiteGround vs Bluehost: Who Wins in 2019?

Starting at $11.95, SiteGround is a rounder solution than Bluehost (starts at $8.99). SiteGround’s support is more responsive, their performance is superior and come with an advanced set of features (e.g. staging area and speed optimization options).

Check out this summary table to quickly compare these two providers:

SiteGround Bluehost
Popularity Medium High
Ease of use Great Good
Hosting features A lot Some
Speed Great Disappointing
Uptime Great Good
Server locations 4 1
Site migration First included Paid extra
Scalability Good Good
Security Secure Secure
Support Great OK
Prices Medium-high Medium-low
Conclusion SiteGround’s performance is impressive, comes with a lot of hosting features and responsive support. However, they are a bit more expensive. Bluehost offers more storage and lower prices. But their performance is weak and their support not the greatest.

SiteGround vs Bluehost – Which one is the most popular?

Founded in 2003 in Utah, Bluehost powers more than 2M websites and employs over 750 people. It hasn’t stopped growing since they first started. EIG, a company who owns many more web hosting services, decided to buy it in 2010 – and many say this was when things started going south.

bluehost shared hosting

SiteGround was founded in 2004, has over 400 employees and hosts more than 2M domain names. This Bulgarian company has managed to become one of the most popular shared hosting services in recent years – will see why below.

SiteGround Hosting Homepage

If this were a (Google Trends) popularity contest, it’d be over quickly; Bluehost is way more popular than SiteGround.

SiteGround vs Bluehost google trends

SiteGround vs. Bluehost at Google Trends

But more often than not, popularity and hosting don’t mix well. Many hosting giants (like Bluehost) tend to have issues managing high volumes of customers. This ends up hurting their performance and the quality of their support (lesson here: don’t bite off more than one can chew.)

So, popularity aside, let’s keep reading to figure out which is the best choice.

Round 1: Ease of use – Which one is more straightforward?

SiteGround and Bluehost offer cPanel-based solutions with a lot of common features (e.g., FTP accounts, a file manager, email accounts and PHPMyAdmin). You can even enable CloudFlare (a popular CDN) easily with both providers.

Buehost dashboard upgrades

Bluehost Upsell cPanel section

In my opinion, SiteGround’s approach is a bit cleaner. Bluehost’s backend is intuitive and easy to use, it’s a custom cPanel version. However, it’s cluttered with constant upsell pitches and promotion of (paid) tools that you most likely don’t need (e.g., AppMachine, Weebly, ConstantContact, etc.) – this can get confusing.

Another thing that annoys me from Bluehost is that they are a bit shady with their prices and try to push you to register for longer periods of time (3 years).

Winner: Both have an easy-to-use system and they are pretty intuitive. If I had to pick a winner, I’d choose SiteGround as Bluehost feels a bit salesy and their pricing can be confusing.

Round 2 – Hosting features

There are many features you should take into account while checking out a hosting provider. But in my experience these are the most relevant for shared hosting:

Storage – How much space you’ll need?

This is always an essential factor to take into account. You’ll need to choose a hosting plan with enough storage for your project(s), and a little bit extra.

SiteGround Bluehost
Entry level plan 10GB 50GB
Middle plan 20GB Unlimited
Higher plan 30GB Unlimited

I have to say that 10GB is plenty for most projects, unless you are planning to upload loads of HD images and heavy videos.

Winner: Bluehost’s entry-level plan (Basic) offers already more storage than SiteGround’s higher plan. If you need a lot of space, Bluehost is a better option.

Sidenote: SiteGround uses SSD as their storage drives. These are more expensive but also faster than traditional hard drives (e.g., the ones Bluehost uses). Similar to comparing a Ferrari with a coach, the former won’t fit more than 4 or 5 people but will be way faster than the bus.

Bandwidth – How many visits will you get?

This refers to the amount of traffic that your website will be allowed to receive. More often than not, hosting providers try to limit your visitors, so you are forced to upgrade.

Winner: Good news here. Neither SiteGround nor Bluehost have any bandwidth limitations – so get as much traffic as you can.

Backups – Be safe!

Anything that can go wrong, usually will. Having recent backups that can be quickly restored is a lifesaver. A reliable backup system has prevented me from getting fired on several occasions.

SiteGround has your back! They keep a daily copy of your site for the last 30 days. And you’ll be able to restore to a previous backup in seconds. You’ll also find a (generic) cPanel tool to download security copies of your site.

SiteGround advanced backup options

SiteGround Backup System on Demand

But I am a huge fan of their Backup on Demand System – only available on the GrowBig and GoGeek plans. With one click you can quickly back up your entire system (e.g., before an update) and restore it even faster if needed.

 

Bluehost’s approach isn’t as cool as they only offer a backup add-on (at $3 extra a month) for the 2 lower plans – that add-on is included for free with the higher plans. They even seem to have removed the cPanel feature to create backups manually, that’s unacceptable for me.

Winner: I really dislike Bluehost’s attitude here, it feels like they are trying to blackmail you so you buy their (expensive) backup premium service. So no doubt, the point goes to SiteGround.

Domains, Subdomains & Parked Domains

With SiteGround you’ll be allowed to create as many subdomains as you need. You’ll also be able to park unlimited domain names with all your plans. However, they don’t offer a free domain name upon registration, you’ll be requested to pay for it (or purchase it elsewhere) – domain names (.com) start at about $16 per year.

bluehost free domain name

Bluehost plans offer a free domain

Bluehost does offer a free domain name with all their plans. Be aware that the subdomains and parked domains are limited with their entry plan to 5 and 25 – there are no limitations with the higher plans.

Winner: Since Bluehost offers a free domain name with all their plans, this point is for them

Email accounts – Receive and send emails

SiteGround comes with unlimited email accounts, however, the maximum storage per account is limited for each plan to 2GB, 4GB and 6GB. You can set up forwarders and aliases for your accounts. Their cPanel comes with 3 emails clients to manage your accounts: Horde, RoundCube and SquirrelMail.

siteground create email accounts

SiteGround email accounts

Bluehost is pretty much the same – it even offers the same webmail clients. The only difference is that Bluehost limits the entry-level plan (Basic) to 5 email accounts and 100MB of storage. The rest of the plans offer unlimited accounts and space.

Winner: Pretty similar, SiteGround offers unlimited accounts with all their plans but limits the storage. Bluehost limits the accounts and space for the Basic tier. In my opinion, both are equally good. We have a tie.

FTP & SFTP accounts

Both SiteGround and Bluehost allow you to create as many FTP accounts as you need. Using SFTP is not a problem with SiteGround. SFTP is also allowed with Bluehost, but only for the main FTP account.

Winner: Again, pretty equal, so one point for each.

SSL & HTTP/2

To enhance security and improve your SEO rankings, having an SSL enabled (https) and running your site over HTTP/2 is a great help. So hosting providers that offer these out-of-the-box, are one step ahead of their competitors.

Winner: Both SiteGround and Bluehost offer free SSL (via Let’s Encrypt) and HTTP/2. Nothing to complain about here!

Git and SSH access

These technologies make it easier for programmers to deploy and keep track of the changes – especially when working in teams.

SiteGround has developed their own SSH access system, so you can get admin access to your account – very convenient for managing big files. On top of that, you can set up a Git repository to enable version control over your projects – best practice among pros.

bluehost ssh key generator

Bluehost SSH key generation

While Bluehost offers SSH too, sadly the Git repository isn’t available with their shared hosting.

Winner: This round goes to SiteGround!

WordPress – SiteGround vs Bluehost

Most of us use WordPress as the chosen CMS. Having servers optimized for WordPress and tools that enhance productivity can be terrific. Let’s check the main WordPress features you get with both hosting providers:

Feature SiteGround Bluehost
Easy install

Yes

Yes
Automatic system updates Possible No
Automatic plugin update Possible No
In-house caching system

Yes

SuperCacher

No

Need to install a plugin

Staging area * Yes

(GrowBig and GoGeek plans)

No

* This is like a sandbox area where you can try out your code changes without affecting the production site.

Winner: SiteGround clearly wins this one.

Let’s do a features recap:

  • Both providers are equally good at: bandwidth, email accounts, FTP and SFTP accounts, SSL & HTTP/2.
  • Bluehost is more generous with the storage.
  • And SiteGround outperforms Bluehost regarding: backups, Git & SHH access and the WordPress features.

Winner: The features section point goes to SiteGround too.

Round 3 – Speed

A slow hosting is boring and disappointing. Moreover, your visitors (and Google) won’t like it. So let’s see which one is faster: Bluehost or SiteGround?

Test SiteGround Bluehost
Pingdom test 1

(New York)

0.895 s 5.02 s
Pingdom test 2

(San Jose, CA)

1.22 s 5.51 s
Pingdom test 3

(Stockholm, Sweden)

2.10 s 5.46 s
GT Metrix test 1

(Dallas)

1.5 s 4.5 s
GT Metrix test 2

(London, UK)

1.6 s 4.1 s
GT Metrix test 3

(Vancouver, Canada)

1.1 s 5.1 s
Webtest page 1

(Phoenix, AZ)

2.214 s 7.501 s
Webtest page 2

(Los Angeles, CA)

1.691 s 5.274 s
Webtest page 3

(Orlando, FL)

1.653 s 4.958 s
StatusCake *

Average Load Time

1.442 s 2.320 s

* StatusCake checks the average load time for a couple of (equal) test sites I have.

** We used the natively integrated SiteGround caching system, Bluehost doesn’t provide one.

> More about SiteGround’s speed

Sidenote: I carried out several speed tests using the same site in both hostings, under equal conditions and from different locations. I used the following tools: GT Metrix, Pingdom, Webtestpage.org and StatusCake.

Test results:

 

Winner: SiteGround, as you can see in the table above, performed way better than Bluehost. This important point goes to SiteGround.

Round 4 – Downtime

Along with the hosting speed, the uptime is the most critical performance metric. Some shared hostings are down every other moment, and as you can imagine this is not good for the user experience. Search engines like Google also dislike service interruptions.

A good rule of thumb is aiming for at least a 99.95% of uptime.

Every time I check my stats, I am impressed by SiteGround’s uptime. In my experience, they offer the best results for the shared hosting industry.

siteground vs bluehost uptimeBluehost vs SiteGround: Uptime test

I had many issues with Bluehost’s uptime in the past, actually I wasn’t happy at all. But I have to acknowledge that in recent times, they seem to have improved.

Winner: Despite Bluehost’s improvements, SiteGround still offers a tiny bit more. So this point is for them.

Round 5 – Server location

One of my favorite things about SiteGround is that they have more than one data center location. They have servers in the US (Chicago), the UK (London), The Netherlands (Amsterdam) and Singapore.

4 global locations, pretty cool huh?

sitegorund data centers

SiteGround’s Data Centers

When researching Bluehost’s website not much information is found about their data centers. If you dig a bit deeper and ask their support, they’ll let you know that their servers are, somewhere, in Utah. Not sure why, but they are a bit cryptic about this.

Winner: 4 locations for SiteGround and 1 for Bluehost. This is a clear win for SiteGround.

Round 6 – Site migration

Migrating a website from one host to another can be a pain, especially if especially if it’s the first time for you.

SiteGround will migrate 1 website for free. After, you can request a migration too, but you’ll need to pay $30 per site migration. They also offer a migration plugin for WordPress users, which doesn’t always worked for me.

Bluehost doesn’t offer migration services unless you pay (about $150). For this price, they’d migrate up to 5 sites and 20 email accounts.

Winner: Another clear win for SiteGround.

Round 7 – Scalability

It’s important that your hosting can grow with you. It won’t be fun if your site gets successful overnight and your hosting provider fails to accommodate your traffic increase.

If the SiteGround GoGeek plan isn’t enough for you, they have a couple of options you can check out:

  • SiteGround cloud hosting: This starts at $80 a month. This is a more flexible solution than shared hosting, as you can add more resources (e.g., storage, RAM memory, etc..) with just 1 click. Ideal to cope with traffic peaks. Be aware that the bandwidth is limited to 5TB – but this is a lot.
  • SiteGround dedicated servers: For those needing even more resources, however, this isn’t cheap – starts at about $270 a month. The storage, RAM memory and the processing power are the main upgrades here.
  • SiteGround Enterprise hosting: If your needs are so big that you need a tailored solution.
  • Reseller plan: If you are a developer yourself and maintain your client’s websites, you may be interested in their reseller plan.

Bluehost also offers a variety of alternatives to the classic shared hosting:

  • Bluehost Cloud Hosting: Similar plans to the shared hosting, their price starts at about $10 a month – this is suspiciously low if you ask me. The good thing here is that you can add more resources as you need them – be aware that this will increase your bill.
  • Bluehost VPS: Their VPS plans offer SSD storage and more processing power. They start at about $30 a month.
  • Bluehost dedicated server: For about $120 a month you’ll have your own server. This is only suitable for large projects that need a performance boost.

Winner: Both Bluehost and SiteGround offer similar advanced solutions (e.g., dedicated servers). Another tie!

Sidenote: Being 100% honest, I’ve never had to use anything other than shared hosting. So I can’t tell how good or bad Bluehost and SiteGround’s advanced solutions are.

Round 8 – Security

SiteGround comes with SSL, SFTP and SSH access, all these are important security-wise. They also use PHP 7 by default (apparently it’s a more secure version), monitor the traffic to block brute force attacks and update their security rules every week. They sell SG Site Scanner too, an add-on that will scan your site looking for malware – it costs $1.50 extra a month.

bluehost sitelock offer

Bluehost’s SiteLock plans

Being honest, Bluehost offers a similar approach with SSL, SFTP and SSH access. They don’t share much else about their security protocols, but they do offer SiteLock – an external security solution that starts at about $30 per year.

If you research online, there’s a lot of chat about Bluehost sites being hacked. However, this could be because they host thousands of websites, often set up by beginners.

Winner: As far as I know, both providers make efforts to keep their platform safe.

Sidenote: I am not a security expert, so if this is a really important issue for you, please contact one.

Round 9 – Support

For me, support is really important, probably the most important aspect when choosing a hosting provider.

SiteGround offers 24-hour support via phone, email (ticket) and live chat. Their support has always been friendly to me, given a solution and been really fast. As far as I can recall, they provided the best support I’ve ever had from a hosting company – I know a bold claim, but I stand by it.

Bluehost's support

Bluehost support section

Bluehost support isn’t as cool. In my experience they are slower, not as useful and try to push for upsells – this is usually an issue among big hosting providers. You can reach them all day via phone or live chat.

Winner: As you could anticipate, Bluehost support can’t compete with SiteGround. One more (crucial) point for SiteGround.

Round 10 – Prices & Plans

Judging prices is very personal. Some don’t mind paying a bit extra if they get more quality, and others prefer cheaper alternatives with (perhaps) less quality.

A piece of advice? Don’t go cheap with your hosting.

Generally speaking, SiteGround pricing is slightly higher. However, I believe they offer a better service and performance. SiteGround shared hosting plans:

SoiteGround privves vs Bluehost Prices

SiteGround’s pricing page: the big and visible price is only for the first year

  • StartUp for $11.95 a month: Hosting for 1 website, 10GB of storage, no bandwidth limitations, 24-hour support and their in-house caching system.
  • GrowBig for $19.95 a month: Hosting for unlimited websites, 20GB of space, unlimited bandwidth, advanced caching system, staging and on-demand backups.
  • GoGeek for $34.95 a month: Same as the previous plans, priority support and Git repository pre-installed.

These are the prices for the Bluehost shared hosting:

blueshotst shared hosting price

Bluehost’s pricing page: the promotional price is highlighted here too

  • Basic for $7.99 a month: Host 1 website, 50GB of storage and unlimited bandwidth.
  • Plus for $10.99 a month: Unlimited websites, unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth.
  • Choice Plus for 14.99 a month: Same as the Plus plan with the advanced backup solution.

Check this pricing guide for more information.

Bluehost vs SiteGround: Comparing their prices

SiteGround Bluehost
Entry Level plan $11.95 / month $8.99 / month
Middle plan $19.95 / month $12.99 / month
Highest plan $34.95 / month $25.99 / month
Cloud Hosting $80 / month $9.99 / month
Dedicated Server $269 / month $119 / month

Sidenote: Be aware that both companies offer significant discounts for the first year.

Winner: Difficult call. Overall Bluehost is cheaper, but it’ll depend on your needs. It may be that SiteGround is the cheaper choice for you and saves you money in the long run (e.g. less developer fees). However, point for Bluehost.

SiteGround vs Bluehost – Which one is the Winner?

SiteGround is a better option than Bluehost. Their shared hosting comes with more reliable support, higher performance and advanced features (e.g. staging or on-demand backups). Bluehost can’t match SiteGround’s WordPress expertise and features either.

Let’s recap! That was an impressive 9 – 3 to SiteGround, which has especially scored high for hosting performance (speed and uptime), support and server locations.

I would recommend SiteGround if you:

  • Need the best performance – speed and uptime with SiteGround are great.
  • Want your hosting provider to have their own caching system.
  • Prefer having responsive, quick and friendly support.
  • Don’t want constant upsell pitches.
  • Want to have more backup options.
  • Require advanced hosting features (e.g., staging area or a Git repository).
  • Want to have several server locations (e.g., USA, Europe and Asia).
  • Don’t mind paying for your own domain.
  • Don’t need a lot of storage – under 30GB.

Go for Bluehost if you:

  • Need loads of storage.
  • Want to have the domain name included – costs about $10 per year.
  • Want the cheaper deal.
  • Don’t need the best performance.
  • Are willing to be patient with their support.

What did I choose?

I don’t mind the extra price to have better support and performance. That’s why I have several websites hosted with SiteGround. And for now, I am not planning to migrate them to a new hosting provider.

I hope this guide was useful and helped you decide what your best option is. If you still have questions, leave a comment and I’ll try to help you.


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