Best Web Hosting? Why I Left Bluehost for SiteGround
After over 3 years as a loyal Bluehost customer, I’m done.
Like your favorite “done” cliche kind of done. The fork has been stuck and towels are being thrown all over the place kind of done.
Up until the last several months, I’ve been a happy & loyal Bluehost customer. In the past, I found them to be helpful, receptive, and available the vast majority of the time. I was one of those people who went out of their way to brag about Bluehost to anyone who’d listen.
So what happened to make a former Bluehost Bandwagoner jump ship and then write a post about it?
I’m so glad you asked.
4 Chats + 1 Phone Call + 5.5 Hours = Zero Help
A couple of months back, I started noticing my sites were crawling. And the WordPress admin panel was even worse. This has happened in the past, but usually a quick call or chat with Bluehost quickly pinpointed and resolved the problem.
But at some point over the last year or so, things began to deteriorate with Bluehost. At least in my eyes.
There’s nothing like making a person wait for hours and get no resolution to their problem to turn a happy, paying customer into a frustrated, angry ex-customer. And that’s what happened here with me and Bluehost.
To make a long story short, over the span of one week, I contacted Bluehost support 5 times using both chat and the phone number, wasting over 5.5 hours, and getting no resolution.
My sites were still crawling.
In Their Expert Opinion…
Over the course of those 5 useless contacts with support, I was told…
“It’s probably one of your plugins.” (Nope. All checked.)
“Everything looks fine here.” (Pingdom shows that’s not true.)
“You should clear your browser cache.” (And that will fix your server?)
“If you upload images, that will slow things down.” (What???)
Remember, this is after waiting in excess of 40 minutes to get help each time. And, often waiting 10 or more minutes between typing my question and getting any sort of response from the chat support rep.
Every so often I’d type, “Hey it’s been 12 minutes, are you there?”
And anyone who has used Bluehost’s chat support knows what the (eventual) reply was.
Say it with me…
“Please be patient, as I am assisting many customers at once.”
Translation: “Shut up and wait longer. You’re not that important to us.”
So after all that time, my site was still slow. It wasn’t the plugins. And it certainly wasn’t due to the 6 images I’d uploaded that month.
Not once in these 5 contacts with support was I given even an acknowledgement that there may be an issue on the server. All I heard were ridiculous excuses that were all somehow my fault… and that I’d already checked and eliminated as causes.
Having had every last ounce of optimism or loyalty for Bluehost beaten out of me (by Bluehost), I found myself unwilling to make any further effort to work through this problem with these people who are supposed to be providing me with at least decent service in exchange for my money.
Out of time.
Out of patience.
Out of here.
My Search For The Best Web Hosting
I enjoy being a loyal customer. I really prefer dealing with the same companies over a long period of time and feeling like I have a relationship with them.
But there’s a limit. When a company no longer shows any desire to help fix problems for their customers, it’s pretty obvious. My problem didn’t matter to Bluehost. I can take a hint.
And so the search began for my new host. What would the best web hosting for me look like?
1: Great Customer Service
When something isn’t working right, I want to be able to get in touch with a human fairly quickly. Not wait 40 minutes to talk to someone who has no desire to help me. I wanted a host with responsive support chat and toll free number with customer service reps who were attentive.
I don’t need to have the fastest site in the world, but I do expect it to be at least average or better so I’m not losing visitors because they click away when my site won’t load at various times throughout the day. So, yeah. Average or better speed is big.
3: An Easy Move
Since I tend to be a loyal customer, I’ve never switched hosts before. And while I consider myself to be technically adequate, I have no clue how to transfer everything myself. So moving my 4 sites correctly is both vitally important and way over my head. I wanted someone who could do it for me. Preferably cheaply or free.
Where Did I Land?
This isn’t a review site, so I’m not going to show you feature comparisons between 5 hosts with green checkmarks and red X’s. I’ll just tell you where I landed and why.
I chose SiteGround.
And before you read any further, you should know that all the SiteGround links in this post are affiliate links, so I’ll make a small commission if you buy through them.
If I’ve angered you in a past life, or you’re opposed to affiliate programs for some reason, that’s fine. Just go to the main site instead of clicking my link.
Being an affiliate does NOT have anything to do with my choice of host. All hosts have affiliate programs. It also has nothing to do with any of my comments about Bluehost or SiteGround.
After looking around, reading some reviews, and exploring the details of several hosts’ plans, SiteGround stood out as the best web hosting for me because of what I learned in my research. Specifically…
Normally, I don’t pay much attention to most online reviews. A lot of hosting reviews are basically bogus affiliate link stuffing articles. I understand being an affiliate for something you believe in, but I also think it’s scummy to review 8 hosts in 8 different articles, and give them all 4 to 5 stars just so they can make affiliate sales from all 8 hosts.
That doesn’t give you a real review. So you have to filter those out and look for good reviews that share their honest opinions of the service.
The reviews I found that seemed legit all spoke highly of SiteGround. The common areas they consistently scored high in were server speed and support (both speed and quality).
When something is over my head technically (particularly something as important as hosting), I don’t guess. I ask the experts.
So my go-to tech expert took a look inside my WordPress Admin, ran some tests, and told me point blank that there was nothing on my end that would cause my severe speed problems. In his opinion, there was no doubt that the speed problem was on Bluehost’s server.
When I told him I was sick of getting the runaround from Bluehost’s support, and asked if he had a recommendation for a new host, he immediately told me to check out SiteGround.
He cited the fact that they specialize in fast WordPress sites, have outstanding support, and will move your old site for free.
And that was good enough for me. After some additional reading on their site, I signed up.
The rave reviews of SiteGround’s support aren’t an exaggeration. It’s freakin’ amazing. From the first pre-sale chat, it was clear this was going to be a totally different support experience than I’ve been used to.
When you use their support chat, you wait seconds, not hours. You never get told that you need to be patient because they’re serving several customers at once. You don’t wait 10 minutes between your question and the answer. And when the answer does come, it actually solves your problem.
(The exact opposite of what I’ve experienced with Bluehost over the last year or so)
Existing Site Transfer
The only snag in my whole “Dump Bluehost for SiteGround” saga was that the cpanel backup on Bluehost’s server was corrupted, so SiteGround couldn’t download it. But once we generated a new one, the transfer process went quickly and seamlessly.
They transferred 4 websites, all my data and settings, my email addresses (including forwarders), and all emails from the Bluehost server within 36 hours of downloading a good copy of my backup. Not bad!
Literally the moment my site went live with SiteGround, it was loading visibly faster. Dramatically faster.
My next speed test was to log into my WordPress Admin, which with Bluehost was like waiting for grass to grow. But with SiteGround? Bam! It loaded faster than I can ever remember it loading.
And my last test was Pingdom’s Speed Test. If you haven’t used it, it’s a great free online speed test that shows you how fast your site is, which processes take the longest to load, and it rates you as compared to all the other sites in the world.
With Bluehost, my last Pingdom message was, “Your site is slower than 97% of all tested websites.”
After fully switching to SiteGround, here’s my message…
Pretty dramatic swing. And for affordable, shared hosting… I couldn’t ask for more. I’m a happy camper.
Limited vs Unlimited
SiteGround doesn’t offer “unlimited” storage and bandwidth like Bluehost, but it has very generous limits that are more than reasonable. And when you weigh in performance and support, I didn’t hesitate for a moment to make that trade.
I’d rather have a high limit with a fast host who helps me when I need it than unlimited storage with a horribly slow host who I wait hours to get bad support from. Easy decision.
SiteGround costs slightly more than Bluehost for the plan I needed, but just by a tad… and based on my experience so far compared to Bluehost, they could raise their price tomorrow and I wouldn’t complain.
What’s it worth to have a fast site and get knowledgeable support in seconds vs lousy support that takes hours? If your livelihood depends on it like mine does, it’s worth a TON.
Plus, you can start with SiteGround at a great promotional rate of $3.95 or $7.95 a month depending upon how big of a plan you need.
I’ve only recently switched to SiteGround, but so far the speed of my site, the speed and quality of support, and the overall vibe of the company is night and day compared to my experience with Bluehost.
If my experience so far is any indication of what it’s like to be their customer, then I can see myself staying with them for a very long time.
Check out SiteGround for yourself and see what you think.
Who’s your host?
Have you had any of the same experiences I shared in this article?
Tell me about it down below 🙂