I Stopped Recommending SiteGround: Censorship, Questionable CPU Limits, SG Optimizer Doesn’t Address Core Web Vitals

Siteground review

Back in 2019, I left SiteGround after paying about 4x in upgrades to fix CPU limits (and they started having TTFB issues).

Since moving which instantly fixed both, I shared my experience on my blog. I was totally not prepared for SiteGround’s reaction.

It started with terminating my affiliate account. Then they sent a cease & desist letter referring to a non-disparagement clause in their TOS which I’ve seen other affiliates get threatened for. They police several Facebook Groups like WordPress Hosting + WordPress Speed Up which their community manager and affiliates are admins for. They use this to ban people who speak out about them, promote their service, and frequently don’t disclose they work for SiteGround.

The SiteGround Optimizer plugin has many compatibility issues which support blames on third-party themes/plugins. It also does a poor job with core web vitals (see comparison table).

In November, 2021, SiteGround’s DNS was also blocked by Google for 4 days which they blamed on Google/Amazon (saying there was no blocking on their end). Yet, they came out with a “fix” 2 days later. And you must use their DNS to use SiteGround’s CDN, so good luck with that.

SiteGround isn’t the company they once were. Not just because of their declined service in multiple areas, but because they have to cover up their mess with lies, threats, and censorship.

 

1. Censorship

How hard is it to post a bad SiteGround review without getting flagged, banned, or sued?

View the screenshots and you can decide yourself.

Siteground affiliate program terms and conditions
SiteGround’s affiliate TOS includes a non-disparagement clause in section #9
Siteground cease desist letter
They use this to threaten people who say negative things about them
Siteground legal
Source: Reddit
Hristo admin of wordpress speed up
SiteGround’s community manager and affiliates are admins for several major Facebook Groups
Siteground bans in facebook groups
SiteGround bans people who speak out about them
My siteground trustpilot review
Bad TrustPilot reviews are flagged
Siteground optimizer flagged reviews
Bad reviews for SiteGround Optimizer are flagged for no legitimate reason

This is the reason you don’t see more bad SiteGround reviews and why they’re glorified in Facebook Groups. It’s complete deception and I will never support any company that does.

 

2. Slow TTFB

Backlinko’s 2019 TTFB test showed SiteGround had the slowest TTFB of all hosts tested.

Backlinko ttfb test

When SiteGround moved to Google Cloud, they originally used one of Google’s lowest tier machine families (N1). Yet on their blog, they said “using [Google’s] service will result in high speed for our clients’ websites.” Another false claim since their TTFB actually got much slower.

Google cloud machine families

SiteGround later moved to N2 in 2020 and is still using this machine family to date. While N2 is an improvement, it’s still a “balanced” machine family and isn’t as fast as the C2 machine family used on Kinsta and Elementor’s Cloud websites (although I don’t recommend those either for other reasons). SiteGround will deny their TTFB is slow, but independent people say otherwise:

Siteground fluctuating ttfb

Siteground slow ttfb

Siteground slow ttfb left

 

3. CPU Limits

If you’ve been with SiteGround long enough, you’ve probably run into issues with CPU seconds are were forced to upgrade.

It certainly appears something is fishy considering countless people who originally had CPU limits on SiteGround moved away and they were fixed instantly (including myself). You can find SiteGround’s CPU limits on their hosting page when you hover over the “server resources” tab.

Siteground cpu limits

Most hosts throttle your bandwidth which makes your site slow and can cause 503 errors. But on SiteGround, you have to upgrade (to add resources) or they will send you an email warning and eventually take down your website. You can wait it out, try to fix it, upgrade plans, or leave.

  • Wait it out – your website will continue to be down until your CPU seconds are reset.
  • Fix it – follow my guide on reducing CPU, but there’s no guarantee you can actually fix it and SiteGround will never blame it on their own service. They’ll probably tell you it’s an issue with caching, scripts, bots, cron jobs, or plugins. Make sure you check error logs too.
  • Upgrade – upgrading to GrowBig/GoGeek may fix it, but never upgrade to SiteGround’s cloud hosting. It’s been seen time and time again that people who upgrade to their cloud hosting still face CPU issues. When you get warnings on GoGeek, it’s 100% time to move.
  • Leave – Vultr HF, LiteSpeed, and Rocket.net are all great options to reduce CPU. Vultr HF and Rocket.net use NVMe storage (and only about 10% of traffic actually hits your origin on Rocket who offloads most of it to Cloudflare). LiteSpeed is more efficient than Apache and NGINX. Many hosts use Redis which uses memory more efficiently than memcached.

Siteground cpu usage limits

Siteground cpu limits joke

Siteground cpu limits

Siteground cpu limits leave

Siteground cpu limits database full

Siteground cpu limits attacks

Siteground cpu dance

 

4. SG Optimizer Lacks Features With Compatibility Issues

SiteGround Optimizer is good for caching (dynamic, file-based, memcached, Cloudflare full page caching). But it is not good for core web vitals.

That’s why if you use SiteGround Optimizer, you should only use it for caching then use a separate plugin like FlyingPress to handle everything else (make sure file-based caching is only enabled in 1 plugin). Perfmatters also addresses most lacking features in SiteGround Optimizer.

SG Optimizer WP Rocket FlyingPress
Server-side caching x x
Delay JavaScript x
Remove unused CSS x Inline Separate file
Critical CSS x
Preload critical images x x By number
Exclude above the fold images By class By URL By number
Lazy load background images x Inline Helper class
Fetchpriority resource hint x x
Lazy render HTML elements x x
Add missing image dimensions x
YouTube iframe preview image x
Self-host YouTube placeholder x x
Host fonts locally x x
Font-display: swap x
Preload links x
CDN (beyond Cloudflare) SiteGround CDN StackPath BunnyCDN
CDN PoPs 14 60 93
CDN Tbps N/A 65 80
Dynamic caching x x
CDN geo-replication x x
CDN image optimization x
CDN image resizing for mobile x x
Documented APO compatibility x x

There are also constant compatibility issues which support constantly blames on other themes/plugins (you can check the support threads yourself). In other words, it’s not stable.

 

5. Their Cloud Hosting Is Awful

I’ve used it…

It’s overpriced, slow, and doesn’t fix CPU limits. I even added more CPU/RAM and was still getting CPU issues (plus my site wasn’t crazy fast after doing it). There are way better cloud hosting options than SiteGround. So once you outgrow GoGeek, I would leave immediately.

Siteground cloud hosting cpu limits

 

6. Google Blocked SiteGround’s DNS For 4 Days

Here’s SiteGround’s response when their DNS was blocked from Googlebot for 4 days.

In classic SiteGround fashion, they claimed no responsibility by saying “there is no blocking on our end.” But then 2 days later, they came out with a fix. SiteGround never advised customers to move to an external DNS. Many websites dropped in rankings or even disappeared from Google completely, resulting in a lot of lost time/money for customers. Feel free to look it up on Twitter. And to use SiteGround’s new CDN, you have to use their DNS. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?

 

7. High Renewals + Price Increases

In the old days, SiteGround’s prices were cheaper, you could get the cheaper intro price for 3 years, and they included a free migration.

They raised prices twice (once in 2018 and in 2020), you only get the intro price for 1 year, and migrations now cost $30. Prices got higher and the value of their service dropped significantly.

Upon renewal, monthly pricing increases from $6.99 to $14.99 (StartUp), $9.99 to $24.99 (GrowBig), and $14.99 to $39.99 (GoGeek). Yearly, that’s $179.88, $299.98, and $539.98. So if you’re on SiteGround’s hosting now, expect a large bill once your renewal prices come into play.

Siteground renewal pricing 1

In case you can’t read it, it says:

The special initial price applies for the first invoice only. Once your initial term is over regular renewal prices apply.

Here was my bill for their cloud hosting (can’t believe I was paying this):

Siteground cloud hosting receipt

 

8. Declined Support

I laughed when I noticed SiteGround’s support was some of their top Autocomplete results because they’ve made it overly difficult to find. Not even a phone number of their site anymore.

SiteGround’s support has gotten worse because:

  • It’s more difficult to reach.
  • Unwillingness to help fix CPU limit issues.
  • They added a long “scope of support” disclaimer.
  • They previously disabled live chat for people who use it too much.
  • They cut off entire countries from support when they got too busy.
Siteground support google autocomplete
SiteGround hid their support, so now people people are using Google

 

9. Harder To Transfer Away From Site Tools

Whether you like Site Tools or not, it ain’t cPanel. And if you decide to leave SiteGround, your new host may charge you to migrate everything from Site Tools.

It was released weeks after cPanel increased prices and there were many complaints of bugs and missing features. It also didn’t roll out to some clients until over a year later.  SiteGround is quick to replace something when they increase prices – but expect you to stay when they do it.

 

10. Attempted To Limit # Of Websites

In another attempt to increase their bottom line, SiteGround limited the number of websites you can host on each plan. This backfired and made a lot of people leave them. Although they eventually reversed this, it’s just another sneaky thing they tried to get customers to pay more.

Siteground unlimited websites

 

11. Removed Service In Unprofitable Countries

Good business decision or bad ethics?

SiteGround suspended accounts from many Asian areas: India, New Zealand, Singapore, Philippines, and others.

This hurt a lot of affiliates – it was sad to see so many members of the Bloggers Passion Facebook Group (mostly Indians) hurting financially after SiteGround canceled their affiliate accounts. Even if you don’t do affiliate marketing, consider how it affected other people’s lives.

 

12. Forcing Customers To Use Big G

A while back, SiteGround moved customers to Google Cloud without warning.

Many people were hesitant to host their websites with one of the biggest data harvesting companies in the world. But SiteGround pulled out their excuses on how they follow GDPR, their information is still protected, blah blah blah. The bottom line is they didn’t give a warning (or an option) not to use Google Cloud. This isn’t what they signed up for, but there’s no choice.

Siteground google cloud concerns

 

13. TrustPilot Reviews Are Funneled From SiteGround Support

SiteGround is a classic example of why you shouldn’t always believe Trustpilot reviews. Even though they have a 4.7/5 star rating, most reviews are solicited by their own support team. This is pretty standard, but it’s also why you should take most TrustPilot ratings with a grain of salt.

Siteground trustpilot review

 

14. Saying Goodbye

Well SiteGround, we’ve made a lot of money together over the years, but your company has gone completely downhill in so many ways and I honestly hope the near 3,000 customers I referred to you leave like I did. You’re honestly full of shit and I’m done sending you customers.

Siteground total affiliate commissions

 

15. SiteGround Alternatives

Here are a few better options than SiteGround (aff links):

  • Rocket.net – look at their specs and have a conversation with Ben Gabler (that’s all it took for me). They average a <100ms global TTFB which you can measure in KeyCDN. Their free Cloudflare Enterprise is superior than Cloudways/Kinsta with full page caching, smart purging, and built their data centers in the same ones as Cloudflare (Ben was StackPath’s Chief Product Officer so that makes sense). Just to give you an idea, their plans start at $25/mo with 32 CPU cores + 128GB RAM + NVMe SSDs + Redis. No PHP worker limits because only about 10% of traffic actually hits your origin. Everything is free (no paid add-ons) and their powerful stack makes scaling affordable with plenty of resources. I asked Ben to create a coupon OMM1 to make your first month $1. Compared to Kinsta, they use about 16x more RAM, 32x more cores on staging sites, and up to 25x more monthly visits. Top performer on wphostingbenchmarks.com with a 4.9/5 TrustPilot rating too? Take 5 minutes to compare specs and see for yourself or see my Rocket.net review.
Keycdn performance test cloudflare 1
Cloudflare free (no full page caching)
Rocket. Net keycdn performance test 1
Rocket.net Cloudflare Enterprise + full page caching
Rocket. Net top tier wordpress hosting benchmarks
Top performer on wphostingbenchmarks.com by Kevin Ohashi
Rocket. Net ben gabler testimonial
Spend 5 minutes talking with Ben Gabler

Vultr High Frequency – I was previously using Cloudways Vultr HF and this was a big upgrade from SiteGround’s cloud hosting. Also uses NVMe + Redis Object Cache Pro but Cloudflare Enterprise and their Breeze plugin need some work. Can also get expensive between the CPU/RAM, add-ons, email hosting, etc. That said, here’s 30% off 3 months.

Siteground alternative 2021

Siteground alternative 2020

Siteground to cloudways shoutout

LiteSpeed – NameHero if your visitors are in the US/EU or Scala / ChemiCloud if they’re somewhere else. All have great TrustPilot ratings and include more CPU/RAM than similar hosts like Hostinger or A2, for example, if you view NameHero’s specs page. LiteSpeed is not only faster than Apache/NGINX but can handle more concurrent connections which means less chance of CPU limit issues. Plus, the LiteSpeed Cache + QUIC combination is probably the fastest/cheapest setups you’ll find for shared hosting.

Litespeed vs nginx vs apache
Credit: LiteSpeed

 

What’s Your Experience With SiteGround?

I’m genuinely curious, leave me a comment and let me know.

If SiteGround works for you, by all means keep using them. But even if they’re service was good, there’s no way I would support a company who acts like the police, makes a mess, then covers up their tracks with misinformation. The hosting/affiliate marketing space is bad enough as it is.

Someone’s gotta stand up to them even if it means threatening to get sued. Luckily, all the screenshots are right there for you to see.

Cheers,
Tom

Does SiteGround have a slow TTFB?

There have been numerous complaints about SiteGround's slow TTFB in Facebook groups, but many of these posts are deleted since many FB groups are moderated by SiteGround.

Why are SiteGround's prices so high?

SiteGround increased prices twice, once in 2018 and once in 2020. They have also made several changes to cut costs and increase their bottom line, such as disabling live chat and moving priority support to GoGeek. SiteGround is simply trying to increase their profits.

How do I fix CPU usage limits on SiteGround?

Disable WordPress heartbeat, block bad bots, looks for slow queries and error logs, configure a solid cache plugin, offload resources to CDNs, and be careful when using WooCommerce and slow page builders on shared hosting. However, many times you can't fix CPU usage on SiteGround and they tell you to upgrade while holding your site hostage.

What happened to SiteGround's good support?

SiteGround hid their support in the dashboard and added a long scope of work disclaimer to reduce the level of support compared to what they used to offer.

Is SiteGround a good choice in 2022?

My opinion is no. The company is going downhill and the amount of complaints about them in Facebook Groups has increased. They call their changes improvements, but independent forums say otherwise.

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178 thoughts on “I Stopped Recommending SiteGround: Censorship, Questionable CPU Limits, SG Optimizer Doesn’t Address Core Web Vitals”

  1. So, who do you suggest has comparable pricing and server space to GoGeek? I have been with SiteGround for over five years and am tired of the shenanigans. Now they have implemented this “inode” limit. Seriously? How do you advertise that you can have as many websites on GoGeek as you want yet limit inodes? If 1 inode = 1 file, it is impossible to have unlimited websites. SiteGround is pulling a bait and switch here, and someone should put together a class action lawsuit and force them to clean up their act.

    Reply
    • NameHero (i.e. Turbo Cloud plan) and Cloudways Vultr HF are usually 2 good alternatives to SiteGround. But if you’re already paying $25/mo with SiteGround, I’d definitely look into Rocket.net. Most hosting companies say unlimited but have strict limits in their TOS that prevent you from hosting too many sites. Unfortunately, this is common in the industry and isn’t just SiteGround.

      Keep in mind most “premium hosts” like Rocket.net and even Cloudways don’t offer email hosting, so if using them, you would need to use a third-party service like Google Workspace.

      Reply
  2. siteground has simply down staffed and makes you beg to submit a ticket to a skilled technician now. everything has to be done on online chat and mostly all they do there is tell you is go hire a web developer .

    we used to love their email tickets but you’ll be lucky if the high security of the chat operators allows you to even make a ticket now ………….they’ll keep you chatting for an hour even to prevent it its insane stupidity frankly .
    because the ticket system most issues could be solved in email tickets far quicker but they make you double the work now.
    never mind the fact that so many companies are less than half the price for better service.

    site ground tricks you by making the first year low but then read the small print the increase after that is exponential. Weve just moved to a hosting company charging less than half and doing twice as much for it with a proper support ticket system.

    Reply
  3. Hey Tom,

    Thought I’d share this excellent tool for checking out the TTFB performance of a website: (i.e., hosting company)

    https://speedvitals.com/ttfb-test

    Prior to using the above tool — and to ensure an accurate reading — I highly recommend performing two sets of tests: The first set (3 tests) with CDNs and caching plugins disabled; the other set (3 tests) with CDNs and caching plugins enabled.

    Note: As the tests are repeated, the TTFB results get better, so for benchmarking purposes I recommend using the average value of the 3 TTFB tests performed for each set.

    Target TTFB = 200ms or less.

    Cheerio!

    Reply
    • Thanks! Yes I plan on mentioning SpeedVitals more in my articles for benchmarking and that way of testing TTFB looks like a good way to do it (and sorry for the late response, I’ve been hiking in the mountains the last few days).

      Reply
  4. Hey Tom,

    Great article. But why bash another company, much less target a company representative?

    Every company or service has its Pros and Cons, wouldn’t you agree?

    We use SiteGround and, while everything is not perfect, we’re happy with their services.

    Please be careful, your article is borderline defamatory.

    Cheerio!

    Reply
    • Hi Generosus,

      I appreciate it, and I guess my response would be: because it’s true. How am I supposed to write a good review about a company that covers up their mistakes with censorship and cease and desist letters? I’m personally willing to put everything on the line if it means telling the truth.

      • DNS blocked by Google: sourced (SiteGround denied responsibility)
      • History of TTFB issues: sourced (SiteGround denied it)
      • Censorship: sourced multiple times
      • SiteGround Optimizer lacking core web vitals optimizations: is my table not correct?
      • CPU limits: sourced (search non-SiteGround moderated FB groups)
      • SiteGround was using Google Cloud N1 servers and now use N2: sourced on their own blog
      • Price increases: public knowledge
      • Declined support: somewhat opinion-based I guess
      • SiteGround CDN has 14 PoPs: look at their data center page
      • Price cuts (no free migration, now only 1 year of intro price): public knowledge

      Who is lying here, me or SiteGround?

      Reply
      • Hey Tom,

        We meet again. Great reply (and great articles by the way, I read them all and have helped us tremendously).

        Concerning your key points, you are 100% correct, but what you’re experiencing is probably the result of management changes, company policy, competition, culture (yes, culture), unanticipated growth (or shrinkage), and new internal goals. It happens. Let’s hope their changes are working for them and helping their bottom line. After all, that’s what a free market and competition is all about.

        For us, the key traits of a good hosting company are (in no particular order): TTFB, Price (generous discounts for loyal customers instead of exorbitant last-minute price increases), Timely and Efficient Support, Features, and Flexibility (i.e., ability to combine their services with 3rd party suppliers – which is quickly becoming more difficult to achieve).

        That said, we’re up for renewal with them soon and are seriously considering migrating to another hosting company (one that includes webmail) that meets the key criteria you’ve shared via your articles. Any suggestions? Must admit, SG’s webmail service (unlimited accounts, included in their plans) is superb. If you know of an alternative host that includes it (or a low-cost add-on service), please let us know.

        Again, thanks and keep those articles coming! :)

        Cheerio!

        Reply
  5. I have seen your articles, you have a vast amount of knowledge. Now as you are always talking about the drawback of different hosts and all. Could you please recommend a host for us. I am very satisfied with your blogs. Help me out

    Reply
    • I generally recommend NameHero for shared hosting or Cloudways / Rocket.net if your budget’s higher. Of course, it depends on many things like which server location you need, budget, etc.

      Reply
  6. I just switched to cloudways hosting and it’s working fine.. however when I go to update the cache with the wp rocket plug-in… it just crashes the CPU… Any solution or alternative?

    Reply
    • Try tweaking the preload settings and automatic cache clearing. They have helper plugins for this. Only preload important sitemap URLs, increase the preload crawl interval, and ideally use a cron job to control cache clearing. Otherwise, WP Rocket will clear the entire cache when you take specific actions.

      Cache logged-in users, separate mobile cache, and remove unused CSS features are also common causes for this. Try increasing remove unused CSS batch size (using another helper plugin) but I would use Perfmatters or FlyingPress for removing unused CSS. I already switched to FlyingPress and recommend it over WP Rocket.

      Reply
  7. Wow, I’m glad I read this. I was going to move to SiteGround in the next few weeks. I’ll have to rethink now.

    Reply
  8. 100% agree, Siteground sucks.
    It seems that Every single WordPress group on facebook is controlled by Siteground or has them as a sponsor, and they delete all negative comments.
    There is one WordPRess hosting group where they will ban you for saying anything negative about siteground.
    Most reviews are just affiliate link clickbait.

    read my review/story here: https://michaels.me.uk/siteground-review/

    Reply
    • Yep, careful or they might threaten to sue you too! Check their affiliate TOS. Already happened to me. I’ll be publishing screenshots on their censorship attempts soon so more people know. If they put more effort into improving their hosting instead of shutting people up, maybe they would actually be better.

      Reply
  9. I cant believe you didnt mention thier inode scam, I have 3 years left on my plan with them and am leaving.
    I went to dream host which has unlimited inode

    Reply
    • Most shared hosts have very limited inodes which usually become a problem when you bundle web/email hosting together.

      Even hosts advertising unlimited inodes (bandwidth, or whatever) typically have hard limits in their TOS/hosting agreements. Is this what you’re referring to? Not that I agree with it but this is common practice with what I’ll call “mainstream hosts.”

      Reply

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