SiteGround StartUp Review: Is Their Cheap, Entry Level Hosting Even Good?

Siteground startup review

SiteGround’s StartUp plan is only good for hosting 1 single low-traffic website. If you get decent traffic or are running any high CPU plugins, StartUp probably won’t have enough server resources and you could end up getting CPU overages. But if it’s a small site using lightweight plugins, and you don’t need the features that come with GrowBig/GoGeek, StartUp is easily the best hosting plan you can get for $6.99/month with the promo price.

Just know you can buy GrowBig for $2/month more and get way more stuff… about 2x as many server resources (number of servers is the #1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide), staging, on-demand backups, and you can host unlimited websites on your account… instead of 1. You can see all this on their StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek chart. StartUp is good, but I would do GrowBig if you’re serious about your site – the speed alone is worth it.

Then there’s the GoGeek which is about 4x faster than most shared hosting plans. Smaller/starter websites should probably do GrowBig, websites with more visitors and higher CPU consumption should do GoGeek or cloud. My review will help you choose a plan, but also show you how to make the most out of their speed technology through PHP 7.3, Cloudflare, and SG Optimizer. I also have a guide on how I got 100% GTmetrix scores.

If this is a website(s) you care about and are expecting to make money from – do yourself a favor and pony up the extra $2/month. I currently pay SiteGround $80+/month for an upgraded version of their cloud hosting BUT… it’s an investment. This is primarily why my Pingdom report and GTmetrix report have near 100% scores on both with <1s load times.

Before paying for a higher plan because you want speed improvements, follow my guide on how I got 100% GTmetrix scores which will not only improve load times and scores in GTmetrix/Pingdom, but also reduce the resources needed on your hosting account, which can save you some money.

Why Choose SiteGround StartUp?

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for SiteGround with my affiliate link I will donate a good chunk at no expense to you. Each year I donate $3k to GoFundMe campaigns (2018 was to feed the hungry in Denver, 2017 was to Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey). Your support helps and I genuinely appreciate it. I try to make my reviews unbiased and backed by evidence in the form of Facebook polls, tweets, and real conversations. If you don’t want to use it, here’s a non-affiliate link to SiteGround. Either way I truly believe they are a stellar WordPress host and your site will run faster/smoother… do your research on Facebook groups + Twitter and you’ll find most people say the same.


SiteGround Facebook Polls

Join the WordPress Hosting and WordPress Speed Up Facebook Groups to see what real, unbiased people are saying, since hosting is the #1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide.

SiteGround was rated the #1 host in 26 Facebook polls and got me amazing results in GTmetrix/Pingdom (click through my pages). Their speed technology is far superior than EIG, Godaddy, and most other hosts, and uses PHP 7.3, NGINX, SSDs, HTTP/2, Cloudflare, and SG Optimizer plugin for WordPress. This usually results in significant load time improvements.

2019 hosting poll

View Poll


StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek

You can see a full comparison chart on SiteGround’s features page


StartUp ($6.99/mo) – StartUp is good for hosting 1 low-traffic website that isn’t running high CPU plugins, but lacks server resources. All SiteGround plans come with tons of great features: email hosting, free Let’s Encrypt SSL, automatic daily backups, free WordPress + shopping cart install, 99.99% uptimes, and an easy-to-use cPanel. All plans include fast, core speed technology including NGINX, Cloudflare, SSDs, HTTP/2, PHP 7.3, SG Optimizer, and 4 data centers). SiteGround is one of the first hosts to implement new technology for speed and uptimes (eg. newer PHP versions), and you can check their Facebook page to stay updated. As with all plans, support is top notch. All plans include features for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal.

GrowBig ($9.99/mo) – host multiple websites with about 1.5x more server resources than StartUp and comes with staging (to test new plugins, designs, code) then launch it on your actual website with 1 click. This makes the extra $2/month completely worth it in my opinion. You also get on-demand backups so you can take one anytime you want, and a free website transfer. It comes with more storage, database resources, and email features. You get advanced caching with all 3 levels (static, dynamic, memcached) with the SG Optimizer plugin.

GoGeek ($14.99/mo)semi-dedicated hosting comes with about 4x more server resources than regular shared hosting plans. And yes, this makes a big improvement in speed and time to first byte. GoGeek has more storage, email, and database limits. Comes with PCI compliance to prevent credit card fraud on eCommerce sites and Git for repo creation. Priority support will answer your questions lightning fast. I usually get mine answered thoroughly in <10 minutes.

eCommerce Features – all SiteGround plans come with eCommerce features like a free Let’s Encrypt SSL. PCI compliance with GoGeek, and if you don’t feel comfortable installing a shopping cart on your won, SiteGround’s team offers to do this with the purchase of any plan.


Automatic Updates – have SiteGround make automatic updates in your cPanel to WordPress core, plugins, Joomla core, extensions, etc. I have this enabled and haven’t had any problems.

Siteground wordpress autoupdates

WordPress, Joomla, Drupal Features – SiteGround has features for each one in their cPanel: free install, transfer, autoupdates, and advanced security are just a few features for each CMS. When SiteGround says they have advanced security, their team is literally on their game.

WordPress features…


WordPress tools in cPanel…


Joomla features…


Joomla tools in cPanel…


Drupal features…



StartUp Has Less Server Resources Than GrowBig/GoGeek

If you have a slow website, go to features page and scroll down to ‘We Allocate The Resources You Need’ near bottom of the page. You’ll see that GrowBig and GoGeek are much faster than StartUp since you get more server resources. This is the MAIN difference between plans…


Here’s how many server resources come with each plan…



SiteGround StartUp Is Good If…

  • You only need to host 1 website
  • You don’t require priority support
  • You don’t need a lot of server resources/plugins
  • You need less than 10GB of web storage
  • You have has less than 10,000 visits/month
  • You don’t have lots of (high resource) plugins
  • You’re having technical issues with your current host
  • You want a free Let’s Encrypt SSL (but don’t need a premium SSL)
  • You want automatic updates, backups, free domain, and email features
  • You want SiteGround’s core speed technology and Cloudflare’s free CDN
  • You want secure hosting with actual 99.99% uptimes and spam prevention
  • You want a hosting company with a support team that will actually help you
  • You’re running a hobby website, but for serious websites go with GrowBig or GoGeek


Upgrade To GrowBig/GoGeek If…

  • You want a free website transfer
  • You want more server resources for faster load times
  • You have multiples websites and need 20GB+ of web storage
  • You want priority support to get tickets answered immediately
  • You use a lot of WordPress plugins (or high resource plugins)
  • You want to create staging websites (GoGeek is needed for this)
  • You want Pre-installed Git or SG-Git for WordPress repo creation
  • You need a premium wildcard SSL or PCI compliance for an eCommerce site
  • You want advanced caching, even though plugins like WP Rocket are better
  • You run a business website and rely (or are planning to rely) on it to making a living


<1s Load Times + 100% Uptimes

Yes, I actually use SiteGround…


And my site loads in <1s second (view Pingdom report)…


Here’s my GTmetrix report


It also has 100% uptimes in Uptime Robot


I was originally with Godaddy and Bluehost but was disappointed in both. My website didn’t load fast and I was getting internal server errors all the time. Since migrating to SiteGround I could see a noticeable difference in my Pingdom scores, but also by clicking through my pages (give it a try)! I never have to worry about my website getting “randomly” shut down anymore.

I have used SiteGround StartUp, GrowBig, GoGeek, and am currently on their cloud hosting. My site still loaded in 1s on StartUp but I rely on it to make a living (and needed better performance) so I upgraded. I wouldn’t write my SiteGround StartUp review if I didn’t use it.


Tips For Improving Speed On SiteGround

Upgrade To PHP 7.3+ – higher PHP versions make your site faster. If you’re just moving to SiteGround, PHP 7+ should be activated by default. But SiteGround is great at releasing newer versions. When they do, be sure to test them in the PHP section of your SiteGround cPanel.

Php speed



Cloudflare – in your SiteGround cPanel, activate Cloudflare with 1 click. Cloudflare is a free CDN with 250+ data centers and will help offload resources to their data centers, putting less stress on your own server. A CDN is also recommended in the WordPress optimization guide.

Cloudflare data centers

Siteground cloudflare activation

SG Optimizer – SiteGround’s SG Optimizer plugin (for WordPress) uses server-side caching which is faster than the file-based caching used with most cache plugins. It also has many features outside of caching, like minification, lazy loading, etc. I personally use SiteGround for caching, then WP Rocket for everything else (see my tutorial), which was rated the #1 cache plugin in many Facebook polls. Your cache plugin has a huge impact on your load times and CPU consumption – I recommend trying SG Optimizer, WP Rocket, or Swift, but only use 1.

Optimize Imagesimages can be optimized in 20 ways, but the most common are these 3 items in GTmetrix. Serve scaled images means resizing large images to be smaller. Specify image dimensions means adding a width/height to the image’s HTML. Optimize images means losslessly compressing images using a plugin like Imagify, Smush, or ShortPixel (all are good).

Blackhole for Bad Bots Plugin – a common issue is spam bots hitting your site, which is a waste of server resources. The Blackhole for Bad Bots Plugin blocks them automatically which will save resources for real visitors. There are no settings – just install it and you’re good.

Optimize Plugins – this means deleting unused plugins, disabling unnecessary plugin settings that cause ongoing resource consumption (eg. statistics, backups, etc), avoid high CPU plugins, and only using lightweight plugins. I also recommend installing the Heartbeat Control plugin.

SiteGround Load Times
My WordPress site loads in <1s on SiteGround, but I’m not the only one. Here’s a chart comparing the average load time of websites running on some of the most popular hosts…


Core Speed: NGINX, SSD, HTTP/2 Enabled Services
SiteGround’s core speed technology is great no matter what hosting plan you choose. All shared plans include SSD (solid state drives) which provide 1000x higher input/output operations compared to regular drives, plus you get NGINX servers which are preferred for faster server speed. HTTP/2, PHP7, and HHVM can also be activated in SiteGround’s cPanel.


SiteGround’s Support Actually Helps You

You won’t be waiting 30 minutes for someone to help you (like Bluehost). SiteGround’s support usually responds to tickets in about 10 minutes with priority support. But even if you don’t have priority support they are SUPER helpful and knowledgeable about WordPress plugins, Joomla extensions, etc. For the few times I’ve had to contact SiteGround they always took the time to dig into my website and actually solve the issue. It makes a huge difference.

I usually get a response within a few minutes of submitting a ticket…


Chat support can usually solve your issue within 5 minutes…


Tickets are usually answered within 8 minutes…


SiteGround has awesome feedback about their support…



cPanel Demo

Here you can take SiteGround’s cPanel demo for a test drive. They have a WordPress installer, autoupdates, staging, Cloudflare, mail options, and plenty of other features that make your website run smooth and load fast. This includes tools for WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal…



Praise On Twitter From Current SiteGround Customers



Conclusion: StartUp Is Decent But I Would Do GrowBig

SiteGround’s StartUp plan is good for “hobby” websites but if you’re running a business website that you rely on to make a living, I would definitely go with GrowBig or GoGeek.

GrowBig is $2/month more and will make your site load faster, plus you get priority support and other features. And if you want an even faster website with semi-dedicated hosting, GoGeek is even better. Regardless, if you’re currently using one of the terrible hosts in that Facebook poll, you will be happy you migrated. I’m on their cloud servers but that is $80/month ONLY because I’m obsessed with website speed (and rely on my website to make a living). Unless you really need this, one of their shared hosting plans will be fine. I hope you found my SiteGround StartUp review helpful and if you have any questions, leave a comment.

People usually migrate because their speed technology can improve load times by multiple seconds. You’ve seen my GTmetrix and Pingdom report, here’s what other people are saying:








View SiteGround StartUp / GrowBig


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main differences between StartUp vs GrowBig or GoGeek?

Higher plans include more server resources which make your site load faster. GrowBig+ can also host multiple websites and has extra features like staging, more storage, advanced caching, and on-demand backups. Check their Features page for a side-by-side comparison of each plan.

Will my website be OK on the StartUp plan?

StartUp is usually only good for new websites with low traffic which aren't running any resource-hungry plugins. I wouldn't recommend it for medium to high traffic sites, WooCommerce sites, or those running lots of resource-hungry plugins. For these sites, I would use GrowBig or GoGeek instead otherwise you will run into CPU overage issues.

What does SiteGround mean by less than 10,000 visits/month?

It's a rough estimate of how many monthly visitors the StartUp plan can handle, however this is usually not accurate. This depends on how many resources your site consumes, which plugins you're running, and whether your website is optimized for speed.

How should I configure the SG Optimizer plugin?

Run the latest PHP version, or choose the Managed PHP Version option in the Environment Settings. Next, test every setting in the Environment and Frontend Optimization tab and keep them enabled if they don't mess up your site. Optimizing images is important, but there's more to this than what's in SG Optimizer's settings (you also want to serve scaled images). Don't forget to enable Cloudflare's CDN in SiteGround.

What's the best way to migrate to SiteGround?

GrowBig and GoGeek come with a free migration, otherwise using SiteGround's Migrator plugin to transfer everything yourself.


Check Out My Other SiteGround Reviews






  1. SiteGround is actually providing good services, I am using their web hosting for two years and never faced any major problem. I would love to continue using their service.

  2. Thank you Tom, this article has really helped me decide between StartUp and GrowBig plans. Unless you don’t use resource intensive plugins or need immediate technical support, StartUp should be fine.
    Using W3 total cache instead of the Super Cacher is another reason why you can opt for StartUp instead.
    Also, i think it would be super helpful if you can add notes about their domain services too.

    • Yep, if it’s only 1 website with low resource usage, StartUp is good. SiteGround made some big improvements to their SG Optimizer plugin with new features, but it still doesn’t have all the functionality that comes with other cache plugins like W3TC, WPFC, WP Rocket, Swift, etc.

      What domain services are you referring to? Privacy Protect and maybe their Site Scanner?

  3. Great article, Tom! A lot of useful information I was looking for. I noticed that the StartUp plan does not offer free hosting migration. “GrowBig and higher plans at SiteGround come with one free professional website transfer, while StartUp plans can pay an additional fee for the service.” (Siteground website). I wonder how much they charge for this service.

    • Ah yes they changed that recently and I need to update the article to reflect that. Thanks for pointing it out. I don’t think it’s too much and in my opinion, is still worth it.

      • Hi Tom, I wanted to know that if I create a website with the StartUp Plan, can I purchace a GrowBig plan and continue with it in the future (after a month on StartUp Plan is over) ?

        • Hey Saniya, I would reach out to their sales team and ask. They might give you a 1 month trial, or ask if you can upgrade for the difference in cost. Just be sure you are still getting the Black Friday or promo price and they aren’t charging you for the non-promo regular price.


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