A few months ago I moved a few of my sites away from Hostgator to SiteGround, as my Hostgator subscription was expiring. It has now been more than three months since I began using SiteGround as the hosting service for five of my small WordPress sites. This period of use has given me enough time to experience the pros and cons of SiteGround hosting.
SiteGround offers an in-house caching mechanism called SuperCacher, which makes your WordPress blog load blazingly fast. SuperCacher technology offers caching at three levels:
- Varnish Static Cache
- Varnish Dynamic Cache
These caching mechanisms are pretty impressive and make Siteground hosting stand out.
Apart from this, SiteGround also offers:
- Free SSL Certificate
- PHP 7.x support
- SSD Hard drive
Despite the excellent hosting quality offered by SiteGround, this one limitation could make you rethink the possibility of purchasing a hosting package from them.
CPU seconds per account – SiteGround’s biggest limitation
If you are running a medium traffic WordPress site, or any other site that is dynamic, you may or may not face issues based on SiteGround’s constraints. If you consider purchasing a hosting package from SiteGround and investigate their plans, you will notice that their plans are suitable for X number of visitors.
Here is a screenshot of all of the shared hosting plans offered by SiteGround:
- StartUp: Suitable for ~10,000 visits monthly
- GrowBig: Suitable for ~ 25,000 visits monthly
- GoGeek: Suitable for ~ 100,000 visits monthly
SiteGround states that the suggested number of visitors does not impose an upper limit, and should not be seen as a limitation. This is partially true, as SiteGround does not use a per-visit calculation to determine your hosting usage. But, they do use CPU seconds to calculate the usage.
What is a CPU cycle on SiteGround Hosting?
According to the official SiteGround knowledge base:
A simple example of an execution is when a visitor opens your website, and your index PHP file is loaded. This counts as one execution. The more visitors your website has, the more executions it will generate. Please note that this is valid only for dynamically generated content. If you open a picture or an HTML page, a new execution will not be generated on the server. Executions are counted for the following scripting languages – PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, etc.
Because 21% of the websites in the world are powered by WordPress which uses PHP, every single visit for WordPress users means one CPY cycle. So relating this to “Suitable for X visits monthly” does impose a limitation on WordPress users, i.e., 21% of all websites in the world.
My sites went offline on SiteGround
I mentioned earlier that I have five WordPress sites running on SiteGround. Following are the monthly traffic stats for all five blogs:
- CallingAllGeeks: 61K page views last month
- WPFreeSetup: 3K page views Last month
- WPHostingDiscount: 3.5K page views last month
- Other two sites: Approximately 1K page views last month
In total, my SiteGround hosting account GrowBig, which is suitable for 25K visits/monthly, received about 68K page views. Note: All the sites are running on WordPress CMS. For the last two months at the end of my billing cycle, I have gotten a CPU usage warning email from SiteGround.
Here is the first email that I received when my hosting used 90% of my allotted CPU Usage:
In the following 48 hours, I received another email saying the following: “Important: Web Services on callingallgeeks.org is limited due to overage!”
Dear Harsh Agrawal,
We would like to inform you that your account callingallgeeks.org exceeded the monthly allowed number of CPU seconds per account, and your web service is limited for the calendar month. The limit will be removed automatically at 00:10 a.m. CDT on the first day of the next calendar month and service will be fully restored.
In short, my websites were temporarily suspended until the start of the next calendar month.
SiteGround customer support to the rescue:
If something similar were to happen for you as a SiteGround customer, do not lose heart, as SiteGround’s customer support is excellent. In my case, I pinged the SiteGround customer support and informed them of the issue, and they gladly added 20K extra CPU seconds to my account. My sites were up after a few hours of downtime, which is somewhat comforting.
Additional steps to reduce the CPU cycle:
SiteGround has this resource page that shows how to reduce the CPU executions on your hosting account. Here are a few things that I did to lower the CPU cycle:
- Added Cloudflare CDN
- Enabled SuperCacher (Guide)
- Checked my AWStats using SiteGround cPanel, and blocked leechers and spammy I.P. addresses
Because of my engineering background, it was relatively easy for me to get all of this accomplished. At the same time, it caused me to ask myself the question, “Should I recommend SiteGround to new bloggers?”
An experienced blogger can take action to optimize his or her WordPress and hosting services, but this is not something everyone is capable of doing. Moreover, SiteGround’s CPU seconds usage limit is far too low. Because we live in a world where a site can go viral anytime, SiteGround’s CPU seconds usage is a very significant limitation which every user should be aware of before purchasing hosting from SiteGround.
As an end user, I love SiteGround because of the technology enhancements they are running. SuperCacher is a great technology, especially for blogs or websites running on WordPress CMS. They have also recently introduced HHVM technology for their cloud hosting, and they seem to be one of the more progressive hosting companies around. At the same time, their CPU seconds usage is so significant a limitation as to render SiteGround a service that is not recommended for any growing blog or website.
Until the time when SiteGround reconsiders their CPU usage limits to the extent that they at least impose an acceptable level, I suggest that you buy hosting from alternative sites such as Bluehost or InMotionHosting. (Both of these hosting services have higher CPU cycle usage limits.)
I will be updating the ShoutMeLoud recommended WordPress hosting page to reflect the necessary changes.
Let me know if you have ever faced similar issues to mine when using SiteGround’s hosting services. Would you recommend SiteGround’s shared hosting to other users? Use the comments section below to tell us why or why not.