SiteGround vs. Bluehost – why you shouldn’t use either

SiteGround vs. Bluehost

If you’re deciding between SiteGround vs. Bluehost, I wouldn’t use either.

Most affiliates will tell you otherwise because they want commissions, but both have a long list of cons you should be aware of. There are much better options available at a similar price point.

SiteGround has gone downhill since their price increases, low quality support, slower TTFB, CPU limits, and high renewal prices. Many people are leaving SiteGround for these reasons which can be seen in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group. They used to be good, but now they are slow and expensive. You can visit stgrndserver.com to see a live Astra Starter Site I setup on SiteGround’s GrowBig plan (click through the pages to see how slow they load or run your own speed tests). SiteGround had one of the slowest load times and TTFBs in speed tests.

Bluehost was never good. They’re owned by EIG and only promoted by affiliates who want commissions. Their servers have always been slow, it can take hours to reach support, and they have similar CPU limits as SiteGround. They also have a long history of downtimes. They may appear cheap at first, but you have to pay 3 years upfront to get their advertised prices (a trap you don’t want to fall into). Bluehost was faster than SiteGround in tests, but they’re still slow.

 

1. Speed – SiteGround vs. Bluehost Performance Tests

Who is faster – SiteGround or Bluehost?

In this speed test, I signed up for SiteGround’s GrowBig plan and Bluehost’s Plus plan, installed the same Astra Starter Site, then tested them in multiple tools from various locations. No caching (e.g. SG Optimizer) or CDN were used on either site to give each host a fair opportunity. This test is meant to strictly measure the speed of their servers without cache plugins or CDNs.

Bluehost was surprisingly faster than SiteGround in speed tests, but neither performed well. When averaging TTFBs from multiple speed tools and locations, Bluehost’s TTFB was 824ms while SiteGround’s was 1164ms (a 340ms difference).

You would think SiteGround performs better since they use Google Cloud servers, but they didn’t. Both SiteGround and Bluehost had poor load times, TTFBs, and server response times.

SiteGround Reports

SiteGround TTFB GTmetrix

SiteGround TTFB KeyCDN

SiteGround WebPageTest

SiteGround Server Response Time

Bluehost Reports

Bluehost TTFB GTmetrix

Bluehost TTFB KeyCDN

Bluehost WebPageTest 1

Bluehost Server Response Times

The Pingdom test compares all 16 hosting plans tested. This ran for a period of 7 days at 30 minute check intervals, meaning 336 tests were done on each site. In this test, SiteGround had an average load time of 2280ms while Bluehost averaged 1560ms. That’s a 720ms difference.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

A graph showing all reports:

SiteGround-vs-Bluehost-Speed
View all 16 hosting plans tested

Conclusion: SiteGround is slightly faster than Bluehost and is especially true when configuring their SG Optimizer plugin with optimal settings. However, neither are fast.

 

2. Speed Features – Which One Has More Optimizations?

SiteGround also has more speed features than Bluehost.

The main speed differences are that SiteGround uses Google Cloud servers, SG Optimizer plugin, and Ultrafast PHP while Bluehost uses in-house servers, no caching plugin, and PHP 7.4.

SiteGroundBluehost
ServerGoogle CloudIn-House
Caching3 Levels via SG Optimizer on GrowBig+None???
CDNFree CloudflareFree Cloudflare
PHP Version7.4 + Ultrafast PHP7.4
Hotlink ProtectionYesYes
StorageSSDSSD
HTTP/2YesYes

SiteGround’s SG Optimizer Plugin Is The Biggest Difference
Most of SiteGround’s optimizations are found in SG Optimizer which can replace top cache plugins like WP Rocket. SG Optimizer is built specifically for SiteGround’s hosting, comes with nearly every single feature in WP Rocket, and uses server-side caching which is faster than the file-based caching by other cache plugins. Below are my recommended SG Optimizer settings.

SG Optimizer Plugin

SG-Optimizer-SuperCacher-Settings-150x150
Supercacher Settings
SG-Optimizer-Environment-Settings-150x150
Environment Optimization
SG-Optimizer-Frontend-Optimization-Settings-150x150
Frontend Optimization
SG-Optimizer-Media-Optimization-Settings-150x150
Media Optimization

 

3. CPU Limits – Your Website Could Be Suspended

Both SiteGround and Bluehost have strict CPU limits.

This means your hosting plan only comes with a certain amount of server resources. If you exceed them, SiteGround and Bluehost reserve the right to throttle your resources (and they usually will). With Bluehost, you usually get 503 service unavailable errors. With SiteGround, they will send you an email warning you of CPU overages, then take down your site until you upgrade or wait until next month for your limits to reset. It’s a common issue with SiteGround.

SiteGround’s CPU limits can be found on their terms of service and features page (hover over the “server resources” section and you’ll see how many server resources each plan comes with).

StartUpGrowBigGoGeek
Simultaneous Server Processes102030
Simultaneous Connections From Single IP101520
CPU Seconds1000/hour, 10000/day, 300000/month2000/hour, 20000/day, 600000/month4000/hour, 40000/day, 800000/month
Average Execution Time Per Day2 seconds2 seconds4 seconds
Shared Service CPU UsageNo more than 20% for a period more than 10 secondsNo more than 20% for a period more than 10 secondsNo more than 20% for a period more than 10 seconds
Server Memory Per Process768 MB768 MB768 MB
Inodes150,000300,000450,000
Minimum Cron Job Interval30 minutes30 minutes30 minutes

Bluehost’s CPU limits can be found on their user agreement page:

All Bluehost Shared Hosting Plans
Inodes200,000
Database Tables5000
Database Size10GB
Database Usage5GB In Single Database

What Causes High CPU?
High CPU is often caused by increased traffic or heavy plugins like WooCommerce, WPML, or Elementor. If you use these, I suggest skipping shared hosting and go straight to cloud hosting. I wouldn’t use SiteGround’s cloud hosting since it’s $80/month and you can still have CPU issues.

CPU Limits Are Why I Left SiteGround
I ultimately left SiteGround in 2019 when I went from paying $14.99/month on GoGeek to $180/month for their cloud hosting because I continued to get CPU overages (even though my site was completely optimized and I wrote a popular tutorial on reducing CPU). Like many others have reported, I firmly believe SiteGround’s CPU limits are a ploy to get you to upgrade and no matter what you do, you will be continuously forced to upgrade to more expensive plans.

SiteGround Cloud Hosting 503

 

4. Support – Neither Are Great (Anymore)

SiteGround used to have great support, but not anymore.

There has been a large increase in complaints about SiteGround’s support in Facebook Groups about disabling live chat, pushing upgrades, and not doing anything “outside the scope of work”. Still, you can usually reach SiteGround’s support in minutes while with Bluehost, it can take hours. While SiteGround’s support is better than Bluehost, it’s definitely not what it used to be.

SiteGround Support Feedback

SiteGround added a huge disclaimer about what falls inside their scope of support:

SiteGround-Support-Disclaimer

 

5. Dashboard – SiteGround Site Tools vs. Bluehost cPanel

SiteGround uses their own dashboard called Site Tools while Bluehost uses cPanel.

You know what to expect with cPanel, but you’re not sure what you’re getting with Site Tools until you try it. SiteGround seemed to be in a rush to build Site Tools once cPanel raised their prices and there have been many bugs reported in Facebook Groups. Site Tools is still pretty user-friendly, but you should really take a look yourself before committing to it. It’s hit or miss.

SiteGround Site Tools:

Bluehost cPanel:

Bluehost cPanel

 

6. Features – Who Has More?

For speed features, SiteGround won.

But when it comes to overall features, SiteGround and Bluehost are very similar. Two key differences are that staging is available on SiteGround’s GrowBig plan which starts at $9.99/month, while staging is only available on Bluehost’s WP Pro plans which start at $19.95/month. However, you get a free domain at Bluehost no matter which plan you choose.

SiteGroundBluehost
# Of SitesUnlimited on GrowBig+Unlimited on Plus+
Free DomainNoYes, 1 Year
SSLFreeFree
BackupsFree DailyFree Daily
StagingOn GrowBig+On WP Pro+
Email HostingYesYes
GITOn GoGeekNo
Banned PluginsNoNo

 

7. Uptime – Bluehost Has A History Of Outages

Bluehost has a long history of outages and even wrote an apology letter in 2016 when they had a major one. You can also check Bluehost’s outage history on Bluehost’s Downdetector profile.

SiteGround doesn’t have a Downdetector profile and uptimes tests aren’t fair since you’re only testing 1 server. As for my own experience, the only time I had “outages” on SiteGround are when I exceeded CPU limits. But this isn’t considered an outage, it’s them taking down your site.

Bluehost-Downdetector

 

8. Security – SiteGround Is Proactive, Bluehost Is Vague

SiteGround has much better security than Bluehost.

SiteGround constantly releases security patches on their servers and firewall, but Bluehost is somewhat inactive. While SiteGround uses Linux containers and account isolation, Bluehost advertises things like automatic WordPress updates. Even though they claim to use best practices, Bluehost is too vague about their security technology to actually prove this is true.

And if you want privacy, stay clear of SiteGround. When they moved all their customers to Google Cloud servers without warning, people were furious as shown on SiteGround’s blog.

As always, Hristo is quick to defend himself.

SiteGround Google Cloud Concerns

 

9. Data Centers – Both Have 6

Both SiteGround and Bluehost have 6 different centers.

With SiteGround, you get to pick your data centers during checkout. With Bluehost, they automatically assign you a data center (so there is ultimately less control when using Bluehost).

SiteGround Data CentersBluehost Data Centers
Council Bluff, Iowa (US)Provo, Utah (US)
London (UK)Orem, Utah (US)
Eemshaven (NL)Mumbai (IND)
Frankfurt (DE)London, UK (EU)
Singapore (SG)Hong Kong (CN)
Sydney (AU)Shanghai, Mainland (CN)

 

10. Migrations – Neither Bluehost Or SiteGround Are Free

SiteGround offers $30 per migration, Bluehost offers “free migrations on qualifying accounts.” From my experience and what I’ve seen in Facebook Groups, Bluehost charges $150/migration. At least SiteGround has a migrator plugin, but the bad reviews are because of failed migrations.

SiteGround-Website-Transfer

 

11. SiteGround vs. Bluehost Pricing – High Renewals, Traps, Unethical Billing

SiteGround and Bluehost both have introductory prices and renewal prices.

You get the initial price for 1-3 years, then it roughly doubles once it’s time to renew. While Bluehost’s renewal prices are about 2x the intro price, SiteGround’s renewal prices can jump by 2.5x. That means after 1-3 years, the $9.99/month GrowBig plan will jump to $24.99/month.

Bluehost Encourages 3 Years Upfront – Bluehost makes you pay 3 years upfront to get the best price. With SiteGround, you at least have the option to pay 1 year upfront while still getting the low intro price, but that also means SiteGround’s renewal prices would kick in after just 1 year.

SiteGround Increases Prices – SiteGround is brutal about price changes. They increased them both in 2018 and 2020. After SiteGround moved to Google Cloud servers in Feb, 2020, a blog commenter asked whether they would increase prices – they said they have no plans to! But just 3 months later, they did. So while neither SiteGround or Bluehost will warn you of price increases, SiteGround will tell you otherwise. The renewal prices on their website might jump significantly by the time your 1-3 year contract ends, and you will end up paying the higher one.

Poor Billing Practices – if you dig through each of their TrustPilot reviews, both have reports of unfair billing practices. The most common is when they change the prices on their website and you end up paying their new prices instead of the ones you first saw (don’t say I didn’t warn you). They are also unlikely to give you a refund once you’re billed the yearly, upfront renewal prices. As long as you’re in a contract, they will hold you to those agreements, so read it very carefully!

SiteGroundBluehost
Entry Plan$6.99 - $14.99/month$3.95 - $7.99/month
Middle Plan$9.99 - $24.99/month$5.95 - $10.99/month
Higher Plan$14.99 - $39.99/month$6.95 - $14.99/month
Cloud Hosting$80/month-
Dedicated Server$269/month$79.99 - $119.99/month

SiteGround pricing:

SiteGround-Plans

Both have high renewal prices which you can see at checkout:

SiteGround-Renewal-Pricing

StartUp ($6.99/month) – limited on server resources (slower speeds) and likely can’t handle high CPU plugins, WooCommerce, or lots of traffic. Doesn’t come with much storage, staging, free migration, and can only host 1 site. I would only use StartUp if you’re just starting your site.

GrowBig ($9.99/month) – host unlimited sites with about 1.5x more resources, more storage, staging, on-demand backups, and advanced caching when using their SG Optimizer plugin. For their intro prices, GrowBig has the best value and is their most popular WordPress hosting plan.

GoGeek ($14.99/month) – GoGeek comes with about 4x more server resources than regular shared hosting plans. These server resources should make your site load faster and are the main reason to upgrade. GoGeek also comes with priority support, but their regular support is already fast. Personally, I would only upgrade if you want more resources as it gets expensive.

Bluehost pricing:

Bluehost Pricing

Bluehost Shared Plans – Bluehost’s shared hosting plans all come with the same amount of server resources. The main difference is the features. Of course, nearly all “extra features” Bluehost offers has almost nothing to do with hosting (themes, email, marketing credit, Google My Business). If you want a faster Bluehost plan, choose their VPS or dedicated hosting options.

Bluehost Pricing

 

12. EIG – Bluehost Is Run By Shareholders

EIG owns over 80 different hosting companies and Bluehost is one of them.

EIG is well-known for their overcrowded servers, bad support, frequent outages, and doing anything to cut costs (they are a publicly traded company with shareholders to please). That’s why you’ll see companies like Bluehost and EIG buyouts (e.g. HostGator) run into the ground.

Why you should avoid EIG:

  • They have shareholders to please (profits over people)
  • The cut costs by packing too many people on the same server
  • They “streamline” support by firing staff and making customers wait forever
  • They are known for acquiring decent hosting companies and making them worse
  • They don’t invest in new technology that makes their infrastructure faster or secure
EIG Facebook
EIG Twitter

 

13. Affiliate Biasedness – Mainly Promoted For Commissions

Both SiteGround and Bluehost have very attractive affiliate programs with high commissions. I would know, I used to be a SiteGround super affiliate and referred nearly 3,000 people to them.

For the record, I stopped recommending them once they made all their bad changes.

All these affiliates started promoting SiteGround with Facebook polls and migration results I took screenshots of. But if you search SiteGround in Facebook Groups and look at recent posts, it’s almost all complaints. Bluehost affiliates have always been salesy. Search “how to start a blog” in Google and 7/10 articles refer you to Bluehost with an affiliate link. Look out for traps!

How To Start A Blog With Bluehost

 

14. TrustPilot Rating

Bluehost has a 1.5 star TrustPilot rating with complaints about malware, 500 errors, deleting email accounts, bad billing practices, incompetent (or no) support, downtimes, and broken sites.

Bluehost TrustPilot Review 1

SiteGround has a 4.8 star TrustPilot rating mainly because their support staff funnels customers to TrustPilot after a good experience. SiteGround’s complaints are usually about slower speeds, unfair billing practices, CPU issues, their cloud hosting, and reduced support.

SiteGround-TrustPilot-Reviews

 

15. Facebook Group Feedback – Do People Recommend Them?

We’ll be looking at recent activity here. There are plenty of affiliates who still promote SiteGround and how they were rated #1 in 30+ Facebook polls, but that’s the monster I created and times have certainly changed. Here’s what people now say about SiteGround vs. Bluehost.

What people say about SiteGround:

SiteGround Bad Support

SiteGround Corruption In Facebook Groups – Hristo (the SiteGround community manager) is an admin for the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group. Which means if you post something bad about SiteGround, they will likely ban you from the Group. A similar thing happened when SiteGround cancelled my affiliate account after I started pointing out the bad things about them, while making it clear they won’t accept me back. Suite it yourself – I’m posting the truth.

WordPress Speed Up

Hristo Pandjarov

What people say about Bluehost:

Bluehost-Managed-WordPress-Hosting

Where to get truly unbiased hosting opinions

 

16. Summary – The Winner Of SiteGround vs Bluehost?

Who wins, SiteGround or Bluehost?

I would choose SiteGround if security, features, SG Optimizer, and support are more important. Keep in mind their hosting has been changing rapidly and you will be forced onto those changes.

I would choose Bluehost if you want cPanel, can deal with downtimes, and are on a tighter budget. Keep in mind support is poor, security is average, and there can be malware issues.

However, both SiteGround and Bluehost have their own set of problems.

 

17. Cloudways: A Better Alternative To SiteGround And Bluehost

I don’t recommend SiteGround or Bluehost, so who do I?

DigitalOcean on Cloudways is who I use and you can view my GTmetrix report. They were #1 in speed tests, highly recommended in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group, and have a 4.8 TrustPilot rating. While they start at $10/month, it’s monthly pricing with no high renewals. I recommend signing up for a 3-day trial and cloning your site to see the speed difference. They do free migrations, were #1 in most recent Facebook polls, and uses advanced caching (Varnish, Redis, memcached). Support is excellent if you look at TrustPilot reviews. I wrote a detailed review about them and have a promo code that saves you 25% off your first 2 months: OMM25

Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 
Step 1: Sign up for a Cloudways free trial.

Cloudways-Homepage

Step 2: Use promo code OMM25 to get 25% off your first 2 months.

Cloudways Promo Code

Step 3: Add a server.

Add-Server-To-Cloudways

Step 4: Choose a server (I recommend DigitalOcean or Vultr HF), data center, and server size.

Vultr-High-Frequency-Option

Step 5: Request a free migration or use their Migrator plugin.

Cloudways Free Migration Request

Step 6: Go to Servers → Manage Services and enable the following:

Cloudways-Services

Step 7: Go to Settings & Packages and upgrade to PHP 7.4, MariaDB 10.3, and install Redis.

Hosting-Speed-Optimizations

Enjoy the faster load times.

Cloudways Shoutout

Other people who migrated:

Cloudways Response Times
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report

Untitled
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom Report

Cloudways-Facebook-Review

+1 for Cloudways

 

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ Is SiteGround or Bluehost faster?

SiteGround uses Google Cloud servers which should theoretically be faster than Bluehost's shared hosting, and also have an SG Optimizer plugin that will significantly improve speeds. SiteGround was also faster in TTFB tests.

✅ Is SiteGround good for WordPress hosting?

SiteGround has gotten expensive for the value of their WordPress hosting when you can get faster speeds for a cheaper price on other cloud hosting providers. Their support has also gone downhill with no more cPanel and strict CPU limits.

✅ Is Bluehost good for WordPress hosting?

Bluehost's WordPress hosting is cheap but it's not the fastest, nor do they have great support. If you have a few extra dollars to spend each month, you're better off using a faster host with better support.

✅ Is SiteGround or Bluehost cheaper?

SiteGround is cheaper upfront but is more expensive than Bluehost once you reach their renewal pricing. You can get up to 3 years of hosting for their promotional price, then you will need to pay the higher renewal prices.

✅ Which one is better for WooCommerce sites?

SiteGround uses Google Cloud servers which can better support WooCommerce sites since they require more server resources and extra plugins, WooCommerce scripts, styles, and cart fragments. You will need a more powerful server to handle this. Consider skipping shared hosting completely and go with a faster host like Cloudways.

Cheers,
Tom

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