In this SiteGround vs Bluehost comparison, we’re going to pit these two powerhouse services against each other to see which comes out on top. Over five rounds, we’ll try to determine if SiteGround’s excellent feature list can beat Bluehost’s unparalleled usability so you can find the best service for you.
SiteGround ranked on our list of the best web hosting providers, and for good reason. Between its no-nonsense pricing, excellent speed and many features, it’s an ideal choice for almost any website. That said, it was nearly knocked out of contention by Bluehost in our best web hosting for WordPress guide.
This comparison takes place in a vacuum, though. We’ll pull in other providers throughout the piece, but we’re focused on how the competitors stack up against each other. If you want to see how they perform in the real world, read our SiteGround review and Bluehost review.
Setting Up a Fight: SiteGround vs. Bluehost
The comparison will take place over five rounds: features, pricing, ease of use, speed and uptime and security and privacy. At the beginning of each round, we’ll specify what we’re looking for, then proceed to see how well each provider satisfies our criteria. At the end, we’ll provide our thoughts and declare a winner.
Whichever service wins three or more rounds will take the crown overall. That said, it’s usually not that straightforward, as you can see in our DreamHost vs. Bluehost comparison. Though we try our best to find the optimal choice for most situations, we can’t find the best option for all situations.
The service you go with will depend on what your website needs. Because of that, we recommend reading through each section completely so you can understand why we declared the winner we did. In some rounds, the better choice is clear, but others are more nuanced.
Features are the cornerstone of any good web hosting service. When picking between providers, it often comes down to the extras you get because the differences in pricing and speed are minimal. This round will address which features are included with your plan, as well as how useful those features are to growing your website.
When it comes to goodies, there’s no service is quite like SiteGround. While Hostinger edges it out by a hair, but almost all other providers fall short (read our Hostinger review). No matter which type or tier of hosting you purchase, SiteGround ensures that you have the essentials to keep your website functioning while adding a few extras for the particular service you’re using.
For example, the managed WordPress plans have a long list of WordPress-specific features, including staging, Jetpack, SuperCacher and managed updates. Though nothing special for a WordPress-focused web host such as Kinsta (read our Kinsta review), SiteGround’s low price point makes the WordPress features shine.
Non-WordPress users aren’t left in the cold, though. SiteGround, like many web hosts, includes a website builder, but it’s not a mediocre addition like we saw with 1&1 IONOS (read our 1&1 IONOS review). Rather, you have access to Weebly, which is probably the best website builder you can buy, as you can read in our Weebly review.
Outside of building tools, the essentials are accounted for, including automated daily backups, a free SSL/TLS certificate, Cloudflare integration and unlimited email addresses at your domain. SiteGround includes everything, and it includes it across all plans. Though specific features are present on certain tiers, the essentials span the range.
Bluehost is as excellent when it comes to features. Out of the web hosts Endurance International Group owns, Bluehost is the most feature-rich, unlike, say, iPage (read our iPage review). That said, you often have to pay extra for those features, putting Bluehost at a slight disadvantage for this round.
Many of the same features are present, though. With Bluehost, you can still use Weebly with your domain for free, and WordPress users still get staging. Plus, the control panel is built for WordPress, making it easier than ever to manage your website.
The goodies are equal, but the essentials aren’t. Though Bluehost offers daily backups, domain privacy, an SSL/TLS certificate and spam prevention, it doesn’t offer all those features across plans. To get CodeGuard, which is a daily backup tool, domain privacy and SpamExperts, you’ll need to upgrade to the most expensive shared plan.
That said, many of the essentials are included across tiers, which most of Bluehost’s EIG siblings can’t boast (read our FatCow review for an example). All users get daily backups and a free SSL/TLS certificate, which is more than enough to satisfy us for this round.
Round One Thoughts
This round is one of the closest we’ve had in our comparison articles because Bluehost and SiteGround go blow for blow with their features. Bluehost puts up a barrier for some features, but they’re not essential to running a website. Though we tried our best to avoid it, this round is going to have to be a tie.
Web hosting is unusual when it comes to pricing. Though in, say, our VPN reviews, we look at the price alone, there are more factors to consider with web hosting, namely transparency. The industry is notorious for misleading and deceptive pricing, meaning this round will not only consist of the price you’ll be paying, but also how clear that price is through checkout.
SiteGround isn’t as transparent as, say, DreamHost when it comes to pricing, but it’s better than most (read our DreamHost review). As is the case with almost all web hosts, there’s an introductory rate that you’ll pay for the initial term, meaning your monthly price will jump when it comes time to renew.
Unfortunately, there’s no dodging that, but SiteGround helps ease the burden. Unlike with Arvixe, your monthly rate doesn’t change depending on duration (read our Arvixe review). That means no matter if you buy one, two or three years of shared hosting, you get the same discounted rate for your initial term.
Though SiteGround’s rates aren’t as low as Hosting24’s (read our Hosting24 review), they’re in line with what we’d expect. That said, the WordPress plans are the same price as the normal shared plans while being managed, which makes SiteGround much more attractive than a pricey managed WordPress web host, such as Pagely (read our Pagely review).
If you try the service and decide it’s not for you, there’s a 30-day refund window, but it only applies to shared hosting and its variants, such as WordPress and WooCommerce. Cloud plans only get a 15-day window and dedicated hosting doesn’t get one. The shorter period is a letdown compared to InMotion Hosting’s 90-day refund policy (read our InMotion Hosting review).
Glancing through both product pages, you’d be forgiven for thinking Bluehost and SiteGround cost the same. While certain plans line up, Bluehost’s misleading pricing model means you’ll often end up paying more. As with SiteGround, there’s an introductory rate that’ll save you money on your initial term, but that rate isn’t static.
The shorter the duration you go with, the higher the price. The rate advertised, and the rate listed above, is only if you purchase three years of hosting. Shared packages are only offered in one, two and three-year durations, and a dollar is added to the monthly price as you step down.
Plus, multiple add-ons are preselected at checkout, which makes your hosting package even more expensive. The final rate isn’t clear until checkout, either. When put together, you’re often paying much more than the competition, despite the advertised monthly rate looking similar to those offered by other web hosts.
As for a refund window, Bluehost offers you 30 days like SiteGround. It’s not impressive compared to InMotion Hosting or A2 Hosting (read our A2 Hosting review), but it’s difficult to complain when SiteGround offers the same duration.
Round Two Thoughts
Rates, refund windows and durations are evenly matched for Bluehost and SiteGround. The difference comes down to how clear the price is. Bluehost makes you commit to checkout before clarifying that shorter durations cost more, while SiteGround is clear throughout the process, making this round straightforward.
Ease of Use
Though there’s configuration that needs to be done, you won’t be accessing your web hosting control panel on a daily basis. It often works in the background, and though that’s true, it doesn’t excuse a poorly designed interface. This round, we’ll look at how easy it is to manage your hosting package, as well as how simple it is to get through checkout.
As mentioned, SiteGround is clear throughout checkout about the price you’re paying, which helps ease of use a lot. Choosing a hosting package is simple, too, with a side-by-side comparison of features for each tier of hosting. That said, the dated control panel puts a damper on the otherwise seamless experience.
The checkout process is simple, unlike Namecheap’s, which subjects you to a painfully long checkout (read Namecheap review). Once you’re done, you can access the control panel, which allows you to view your account details, update billing information and purchase additional services.
It’s in desperate need of a facelift, though. Even budget web hosts, such as WebHostingBuzz, manage an intuitive and inviting interface, while SiteGround just feels dull and drab (read our WebHostingBuzz review). The functionality is there, but a pretty face doesn’t hurt.
Once you find cPanel — it’s a bit of a process, as you can read in our review — the experience ticks up, but only slightly. cPanel is just as dated, despite being as usable as any other implementation. The same verdict applies with it: SiteGround doesn’t limit your functionality, but more effort in the design would help.
Bluehost struggles more when it comes to checkout because of the misleading pricing and preselected add-ons, but the control panel is so excellent that the grueling process is more than made up for. After paying for your account, you’ll set your password and proceed to the control panel.
If you’re using one of our best password managers, though, you’ll have issues. We used LastPass to generate a secure password, but copying and pasting it wouldn’t work (read our LastPass review). It seems that on the password creation screen, you can only type in your password, which is ridiculous considering how useful and widespread password managers are.
Thankfully, those issues are quickly forgotten once you hit the control panel. Bluehost uses a modified cPanel to mix your billing and hosting management into a single interface, and it works so well that Bluehost earned a spot on our best web hosting with cPanel guide.
That said, WordPress users will find the control panel the most useful. Bluehost allows you to manage many aspects of your WordPress website from the control panel, including plugins and themes. Plus, you can set up staging for your WordPress website without logging in to the WordPress back-end.
Round Three Thoughts
Bluehost stumbles through checkout, while SiteGround is rock solid. You’ll only need to endure checkout once, though, and Bluehost has the clear edge once the payment has been processed. Though SiteGround has the same functionality, Bluehost shows that a modern interface can go a long way in usability.
Speed and Uptime
Of all the areas we look at with web hosting providers, speed and uptime is perhaps the most important. We use two tools to gauge a web host’s speed: Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact. Between them, we can see not only how quickly the website loads, but also how well it performs when multiple users are trying to access it at the same time.
SiteGround is one of the fastest web hosts we’ve tested. It earned a 96 out of 100 from Pingdom Speed Test, largely thanks to SuperCacher. That in-house caching tool significantly cuts down on load times, which is especially useful for database-driven websites, such as those using WordPress.
As you can see in the chart above, SiteGround had a long load time, but most of that was because of DNS resolution, which just means the domain provider we were using — in this case, GoDaddy (read our GoDaddy review) — was slow. The “wait” metric, which is most important, accounted for little time.
Moving on, we used Load Impact to send 50 virtual users to the server over the course of five minutes. As the users pile up, we want to see the web host return little to no HTTP errors and maintain a consistent response time. As you can see in the graph below, SiteGround was up to the task.
SiteGround also has the most generous uptime guarantee we’ve seen. You’re guaranteed 99.9 percent uptime, down to 99 percent. If you fall in that range, you’ll receive a month of free hosting. Every percentage point below that also awards you a free month of hosting, which is excellent.
Bluehost performed well in our speed test, too, but not as well as SiteGround. It scored a 94 out of 100, with twice as much time given to the “wait” metric. Though not as good as SiteGround, Bluehost is faster than most web hosting providers, meaning you can achieve optimal performance with it as long as you follow our how to improve website loading times guide.
Like SiteGround, it was a lot of caching going on, though it seems SuperCacher performs better, if only slightly. You can improve your load times on a platform such as WordPress by installing an additional caching plugin (read our beginner’s guide to using WordPress to learn how).
We ran the same Load Impact test on Bluehost as we did on SiteGround, but with much different results. Bluehost had a high number of HTTP errors throughout, suggesting there are too many users stuffed onto the server. For much of the time, our website had a 0-millisecond response time, meaning the user couldn’t access it.
That combined with the uptime guarantee, or lack thereof, ends this round on a low note. Bluehost cites the “complexity” of shared hosting as a reason not to guarantee uptime. As we said in our review, though, if other web hosts can offer an uptime guarantee, a web host of Bluehost’s caliber should be able to, as well.
Round Four Thoughts
Though the Pingdom Speed Test results for both providers are evenly matched, SiteGround has a clear edge when it comes to the uptime guarantee and our Load Impact test. You can get similar speed with Bluehost, but you’ll probably need to upgrade to a more expensive plan to see similar load handling to SiteGround.
Security and Privacy
Our fifth and final round will look at the security features SiteGround and Bluehost include, as well as how concerned they are with protecting your privacy. Between those two areas, we can see how well each web host not only protects your website from threats, but also how it protects you.
SiteGround has an excellent list of security features, especially for shared users. One concern with shared hosting is that a bad apple can infect the lot, with malware moving to other websites on the server. SiteGround uses isolated directories for each of its websites, though, meaning one infected website won’t spoil the rest.
Plus, a great security package is included. The trifecta of security features are present, meaning you get daily backups, malware scanning and a free SSL/TLS certificate. There’s a web application firewall, AI-driven anti-bot system and SpamExperts, too.
SiteGround says it won’t “sell, rent, share or otherwise disclose personally identifiable information for commercial purposes in any way.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that. Though SiteGround collects standard information from you, that information isn’t used for profit, which a lot of web hosts can’t say (read our HostGator review for more on that).
Bluehost has a solid list of security features, unlike its EIG siblings. It includes free daily backups across plans, as well as an SSL/TLS certificate. Many of the server-side security features are unclear, though, despite our attempts at clarification.
We asked several times about a web application firewall, distributed denial-of-service attack prevention and server-side malware protection. Though most web hosts include those features, Bluehost dodged the question. We’d like to believe those features are present because they usually are, but we can’t say for sure.
The privacy is much more concerning, though. As mentioned, Bluehost is owned by EIG, which is bad for privacy. Domain privacy costs extra and your personal information is treated as an asset rather than sensitive data.
Round Five Thoughts
SiteGround is better on security and privacy than Bluehost, despite Bluehost including more than its EIG siblings. Though Bluehost isn’t bad in most regards, its privacy is abysmal, pushing SiteGround into the winner’s chair in this final round.
With three wins and one tie, SiteGround is our champion. The first few rounds saw a close battle between the two, but as the comparison continued, it became clear that SiteGround was superior. Though not leaps and bounds better, it has enough slight advantages to be an overall better web host.
What killed Bluehost, though, was its privacy. As you can see in our web hosting reviews, all EIG brands lose massive points for privacy, which is a bummer considering Bluehost is a solid option otherwise.
Do you agree that SiteGround is the better option? If not, why do you like Bluehost? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.
The post SiteGround vs Bluehost: Going to the Mattresses in 2019 appeared first on Cloudwards.