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SiteGround StartUp review: Small-scale hosting done well

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £43
Year 1, inc VAT

A powerful, flexible hosting plan for smaller sites, with plenty of hand-holding for those who need it


  • Excellent back-end dashboard
  • Bundled CDN
  • Accessible dev tools


  • Slightly pricey from second year
  • Under-populated ad installer

SiteGround was founded in Bulgaria and provides hosting via several Google data centres dotted around the world. These include four in the US, one each in Singapore and Australia, and four in Europe, of which one is in the UK. Alongside running its own domain registration and web hosting service, it provides the necessary infrastructure for, which allows Joomla users to set up a hosted Joomla-based site in a similar manner to the WordPress-based offering at

It offers both Linux-based shared hosting, which we’re reviewing here, and dedicated WordPress hosting. Beyond this, cloud hosting starts at £72 a month including VAT, and there’s a reseller hosting option. There’s considerable overlap among the various plans where both features and pricing are concerned, but comprehensive comparison charts can help when identifying the best tier for your needs, and there’s an online chat feature if you want to talk things through.

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SiteGround StartUp review: What do you get for your money?

SiteGround’s StartUp plan lets you host a single website, with unlimited data transfer and a free domain name. You have 10GB of space to play with, email, an unlimited number of databases of up to 1GB each, and the ability to create as many subdomains as you want. It starts at £3.59 a month including VAT (£43 full year cost), renewing at £14.39 per month from year two (£172 full year cost).

The StartUp tier is designed for sites generating around 10,000 hits a month. That’s not a limit or cap, but an indication of suitability. Beyond that, GrowBig, with 20GB of space and an unlimited number of hosted sites, can accommodate around 100,000 visits, and GoGeek, with 40GB of space, is designed for sites attracting up to 400,000 hits.

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SiteGround StartUp review: Setting up your domain

SiteGround has one of the friendliest onboarding routines we’ve encountered. Splitting the process into eight steps, it gives direct access to help pages on setting up WordPress or Weebly sites, transferring an existing WordPress site, pointing or transferring a domain, creating email accounts, and transferring email from a previous host. Not all of these will be necessary – particularly if you’re setting up a new domain – but we appreciated not having to navigate an unfamiliar help system the first time we encountered a new provider.

You can of course skip all of this, and instead click to create a new site. The process walks you through adding your domain, then installing an application, migrating an existing website, or creating an empty site. SiteGround has its own Migrator plug-in for WordPress that’s designed to clone an existing site to your new web space. This is free to use, but the team can also manage the process for you, for €30 (£26), and it usually completes in 24 hours “unless there are external factors involved”.

You can optionally add a Site Scanner to your package, which checks URLs against domain blacklists, lets you disable all file uploads to your site, and maintains a 30-day history with malware information, all for €29.88 (£26) in your first year after an initial 30 free days, renewing at twice that price from year two.

The host’s clear, well constructed back end comes into its own once you’re up and running. You can pin your most frequently used tools to the top of the dashboard, which also shows a graph of your visitors and page views. Other functions, like backup and managing FTP accounts, are hived off into logical subsections, which makes it easy to find what you want without being overwhelmed by options.

The dashboard is one of the most extensive and flexible you’re likely to come across, with more advanced options, like setting up cron jobs, generating SSH keys and creating a Git repository, neatly tucked away in a Devs section.

Each account lets you create an unlimited number of email accounts that you can access via webmail or your own installed client. Daily backups are included, and so is SSL, with certificates issued via Let’s Encrypt.

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SiteGround StartUp: Managing your site

As with other hosts, SiteGround has an application installer that simplifies the task of setting up new web apps like Drupal, phpBB, or MediaWiki. When you install WordPress, you can optionally include SiteGround’s own three-step WordPress Starter wizard that walks you through the process of choosing a theme, adding common extensions for features like contact forms and galleries, and optimising the site for SEO and growth. Two other SiteGround plug-ins link your site to the host’s own performance optimisations and beef up security. 

The range of apps on offer is a fairly conservative 13, but WordPress appears twice on the list – once on its own and once combined with WooCommerce. This compares poorly with, say, the 125 offered by GoDaddy and the 400 apps and scripts you’ll find at InMotion Hosting, but at least the most common options are covered, and there’s nothing to stop you installing other apps manually.

By default, sites are set up to use PHP 7.4, which reached end of life in November 2022. If you leave your domain set to Managed PHP, SiteGround will update the version itself when it considers a more recent build to be a better option, but you can opt for various builds between 7.3 and 8.2.1 yourself if you prefer to take manual control. Likewise, while PHP’s default variables and extensions will be the best choice for most users, you can configure each personally – and easily – through the dashboard, which once again demonstrates the power and flexibility of SiteGround’s back end. If we were customers, it would go a long way towards keeping us loyal.

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SiteGround StartUp: Additional features

If you’re using SiteGround’s nameservers, you can enable its CDN with caching servers across five continents. There are two options to choose from – one free tier running to 10GB of traffic per month for your primary domain, and a €7.19 (£6.30) option with unmetered bandwidth across all domains – and although it’s not difficult to find free CDN services elsewhere, bundling it with your other domain administration makes a lot of sense.

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SiteGround StartUp: Should you buy it?

The StartUp tier’s first year price – £43.06 – is excellent value for money given the features you get in return. It’s easy to recommend. However, the £172.66 you will be paying in year two and beyond is less appealing when compared to, say, GoDaddy’s Economy plan at £115 from year two, or InMotion Hosting’s Power tier, which is almost the same price (£177) but allows you to host an unlimited number of sites.

To do the same with SiteGround you would need to opt for the GrowBig plan, which SiteGround tells us is its best-selling plan. This costs £287.86 a year from the second year onwards, but for large-scale web publishers you can divide it down to an infinite degree thanks to the unlimited bandwidth and websites you can host. It also benefits from enhanced server resources, 30% faster PHP, and the ability to create up to five instant backups that you can quickly restore if your live site tweaking goes too far. We would like to have seen more web space included at that price point, but the bundled 20GB should be enough for most users, who makes it a plan we’re still happy to recommend on the basis of that excellent back end.

Indeed, looking beyond the specs, there’s plenty that ought to appeal to more ambitious users here, and the control panel – Site Tools – is a particular high point, making features more accessible, and options understandable.

SiteGround’s comprehensive offering is underpinned by the first class Site Tools control panel, and some handy extras, like an integrated CDN and easy access to developer tools, all of which helps to justify the slightly high prices in the second year and beyond. It has successfully struck a balance between hand-holding where required and giving more advanced users the features they need to fully exploit the potential of the hosting plans on offer.

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