SiteGround and BlueHost are among the most famous names in the web hosting industry. Known for their excellent infrastructure and reliable support, both advertise themselves as expert WordPress hosting platforms.
If you are keen on Siteground vs Bluehost wordpress performance comparison, we have a live case study of the best WordPress hosts available, but here I am going to offer to your attention a more detailed, in-depth comparison of the features, strong sides and weaknesses of each company.
SiteGround was founded back in 2004 in Sofia, Bulgaria, where the HQ remains to this day. The company hosts over 800,000 domains in five data centers; three of their data centers are located in Europe, one in the USA and one in Singapore.
BlueHost is one year older than SiteGround. Founded in 2003 in Provo, Utah, it provides hosting for over 2 million domain names. The company has data xcenters in USA and India. Owned by the omnipresent EIG, it has many partners and sister companies.
Naturally, monthly fees are a main point of consideration when choosing a web host.
Generally speaking, shared hosting is a very affordable solution, but different companies have different pricing structures
SiteGround: It has three shared hosting plans: StartUp, GrowBig and GoGeek. Their monthly costs are $3.95, $5.95 and $11.95, respectively.
One thing to notice here is that if you opt in for a monthly payment, there would be a one-time setup fee of either $14.95 for StartUp or $24.95 for the other two plans. You can avoid this set up by signing up annually or more
This looks like a hidden cost that aims to push you to pay for a longer period but it is the case with most other hosts.
Paying for one or two years doesn’t bring the price down, but the SiteGround fees are on the low end of the spectrum anyway.
Bluehost: It has four shared hosting plans: Basic, Plus, Prime and Pro. The advertised price of the first is $3.95; somewhat bewilderingly, Plus and Prime both cost $5.95, while Pro is $13.95.
These advertised monthly fees are valid only if you prepay for three whole years.
Although advertised as monthly prices, with BlueHost – you cannot pay monthly. All their shared plans must be purchased for minimum one year. If you decide to pay for single year, the prices look quite differently: $5.45 for basic, $7.95 (for Plus and Prime) and $18.95 for Pro plan.
Neither of the companies offers prorated refund if you cancel your services before the term you’ve paid for is over. Both have a 30-day money back guarantee, which is the industry standard and gives (more or less) sufficient time to test their services.
Bottomline: In the Siteground vs Bluehost pricing comparison, despite some questionable pricing practices, SiteGround is the clear winner. BlueHost’s prices are competitive only if you commit for three years from the start.
Plan features can be overwhelmingly many if you don’t know what your site needs.
All talks about monthly fees are meaningless without knowing what you get in exchange.
Let’s see what features SiteGround and BlueHost have to offer.
SiteGround: It limits the hosting space. The allocated storage is 10GB, 20GB and 30GB across the three plans, which is reasonable but still limited.
On the other hand, there is no limit of the databases you can deploy, the monthly bandwidth and email accounts. Only the StartUp plan restricts the number of hosted domains to one, while the other two can host as many as you need.
When it comes down to WordPress and Joomla hosting, the two bigger plans have an advanced proprietary caching technology. The smallest includes a more basic version of this caching plugin.
SiteGround allocates certain resources to each site according to the plan it is on. They scale as the plans grow, allowing for more computing power and better performance.
Bluehost: All BlueHost plans but the smallest offer unlimited storage space and bandwidth, and don’t restrict the number of domain names that can be hosted. The Basic plan comes with the very generous 50GB of space, though.
All shared hosting plans are equipped with a fully functional cPanel configured in the stylish colors of the hosting company. If you go for any plan but the Basic, you’ll get $200 for marketing and advanced spam protection, and the two biggest plans add daily backups.
I am struggling to point out a clear winner in this category, as both companies have very strong sets of features. All the same, unlimited disk space and the marketing boost sound slightly more appealing and I’d give BlueHost the upper hand.
The features provided are only as good as the infrastructure behind them. It has to be powerful enough to deliver the promised goods quickly and reliably.
SiteGround: All SiteGround servers run on SSDs and are configured by in-house developed technology. Custom kernel tweaks and the usage of Linux Containers boost performance across the board.
This is clearly visible even before you launch your site, as their backend is lightning fast.
Additionally, the servers are HTTP/2 compatible and support PHP 7, 7.1 and older versions, Ruby on Rails, Perl, Python and other standard applications. There are some more advanced features as well, among them an in-house developed SSH, CURL, ionCube, SourceGuardian and SmartyTemplates.
PostgreSQL and MySQL are the database options.
All shared accounts are equipped with CDN. CloudFlare is an official partner of the company and helps with speed, security and reliability.
CloudFlare is inching ever closer to fulfill their mission and protect the entire internet.
BlueHost shared servers run on regular HDDs and support all standard Linux-compatible technologies: SSH access, hotlink protection, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby on Rails, DHTML.
PostgreSQL and MySQL databases are available.
BlueHost servers have dual quad CPUs and work with CloudFlare.
SiteGround looks like a very friendly company for absolute beginners, but the people behind it are extremely tech-oriented and that shows. Their hosting solutions offer some really advanced features resting on a world-class technology, easily outshining the offering of BlueHost.
Advanced security solutions become more and more needed.
Cyber security is a growing concern all across the internet. Shared servers in particular are among hackers’ favorite targets for a number of reasons. Providing strong defenses is essential for the wellbeing of every hosting company and its clients.
Let’s see how SiteGround and BlueHost have addressed potential risks.
SiteGround has unique account isolation, promising that potential injections of malicious code would not spill over to other sites or accounts.
Their shared environment is monitored by the advanced 1H Guardian Server Monitoring, which is leaps and bounds faster and more thorough than the standard cPanel monitoring.
SPAM Experts protect all plans, which enjoy daily backups as well. Hardware and network redundancy solutions are also in place, in case the infrastructure gives up, while network firewalls filter all traffic.
BlueHost have secured their datacenters with backup power circuits and operate over multiple 10Gbit connections that can handle severe loads and even DDoS attacks.
Web Application Firewall guards this powerful network infrastructure.
All BlueHost accounts are protected by a two-factor authentication, while account holders are provided with a six-digit code to prove their ID when contacting support.
One downside of BlueHost security is that the two smallest plans are not backed up regularly.
Both companies take security seriously, but I have the feeling that SiteGround have done more on technological level to ensure safe operations, while BlueHost doesn’t go much beyond the industry standards.
6. Performance: Speed and Reliability
Speed is essential for end user experience and customer retention.
Speed and uptime are the main focus of our ongoing WordPress comparison. And while the case study is focused primarily on the CMS, server speed and uptime are telling about the companies as a whole.
I have deployed a tool that monitors uptime and pings the test sites from different places around the globe.
The average response time of the site I have with SiteGround is 0.39 seconds, which is seriously fast. Generally, any page that responds and loads quicker than 0.8 seconds can be considered as super-fast.
BlueHost responds to pings in 0.85 seconds, which is still a very, very good result.
However, pings and basic speed tests tell only half the story as they are generate a single, isolated response from the server. And while the difference in average response time is not that great (both hosts score above average), the picture changes when the servers are under stress.
I sent 50 virtual users to simulate real-live usage of the test sites. These virtual users put load on the server and reveal how it would allocate resources to handle traffic once you have a fully functional and – fingers crossed! – successful website.
The test with virtual users showed several key things:
First of all, the SiteGround servers responding reliably throughout, without great fluctuations as the virtual users were growing in number. This indicates good resource allocation and very good reaction to increased traffic. The average response time was the mesmerizing 0.777 seconds, with the biggest spike reaching 1.75 seconds.
Both of these metrics put SiteGround among the fastest servers I’ve tested.
Now, BlueHost’s response was also reliable until the users approached 40. At 37 virtual users the response time increased significantly and remained high until the end of the test.
Consequently, the average response time from the test was the disappointing 12.9 seconds, which is a very poor result.
I must point out that the minimum response time BlueHost had was 1.22 seconds, which is almost twice slower than SiteGround’s average. (For comparison, SiteGround’s fastest response was 0.646 seconds; tell me about stable performance.)
As far as reliability is concerned, so far both hosts demonstrate impeccable 100% uptime.
We run regular tests in our WordPress case study, but so far SiteGround outperforms BlueHost by quite some margin.
7. Support and Knowledge Base
Technical support and online learning centers are two factors that contribute heavily toward smooth end user experience.
All things technical are bound to malfunction at one point or another. Having the necessary resources to solve the problems is what really counts.
I contacted the support of both companies multiple times while preparing the WordPress case study and this head-to-head comparison. Almost invariably my queries were answered promptly, politely and in great detail.
High quality customer service is one of the strongest assets of modern hosting companies.
What sets SiteGround apart from BlueHost is their superior knowledge base. It is very detailed and well-structured into separate sections so that you can find the topic of interest with ease.
BlueHost’s learning center is also quite rich, but the topics could be organized better. I’d say that SiteGround provides better support options, but this is a very close call.
From everything I’ve seen so far, SiteGround has one of the most comprehensive shared hosting solutions.
BlueHost is a solid company, but their plans seem to lack the cutting edge technology the Bulgarian web host boasts.
Indeed, both companies have built a very good reputation and certainly will continue attracting new fans, but if I had to choose my first web hosting provider it would definitely be SiteGround.
The company devises solutions to optimize their infrastructure constantly and seems to invest heavily into future-proof technologies.
Another huge plus in my eyes is the fact that they have handled growth and expansion remarkably well. Some five years ago they had 300,000 domains. Now the number has nearly tripled without compromising their services and support, which is truly impressive.
I have seen only too many times hosting businesses growing quickly only to implode for a number of reasons. At the end, it is their users who pay the price for mismanagement and corporate greed. So far, SiteGround has steered well clear of this trend. Clear winner: SiteGround.