Best Web Hosting? Why I Left Bluehost for SiteGround

best web hosting

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.

Not anymore.

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

best web hostingA 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???)

Pure genius.

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.

I was…

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.

2: Speed
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.

best web hosting 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.

Why 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…

Reviews
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).

Personal Referral
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.

First Impressions
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.

Support
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!

The Speed?
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…

best web hosting

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.

You can see the various plans SiteGround offers here.

Cost
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.

Summary

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 🙂

About Gary Korisko

Gary is a battle-tested sales and marketing pro, copywriter, coach, and business strategist who teaches how to create worthwhile work on Reboot Authentic. Connect with Gary on Google+ and Twitter.

24 Replies

  1. Terry S.

    Yep, same experience with same host, which is why I left too — but that was 8 years ago, and they had the same “high ratings” they still boast about.

    Switched to Hawk Host, a friendly Canadian host, and they’ve been wonderful to me. I need a lot of hand-holding, since I’m terrible when it comes to the tech side of a website. I know just enough to be dangerous, and can quickly get myself into more trouble than I can get out of on my own.

    Even though support is now via a ticket system, they respond quickly and efficiently, and it’s fixed. The owner can often be seen in the trenches along with his staff answering questions in the forums and taking care of support tickets.

    The stats I got from Pingdom were as follows (right before I started this post):
    Perf. grade 91/100 — Requests 26 — Load time 1.57s — Page size 1.0 MB
    Your website is faster than 80% of all tested websites

    Rates are similar to the SiteGround rates given in your article.

    1. Great support really does make a huge difference. Sounds like you have that with your host, Terry. That’s excellent.

  2. Hi Gary

    I’m happy to see happy Sitegroud customers. I am already a Siteground customer, on a VPS, and everything is going well.
    And your 37 % faster could even be improved optimizing your site(s), when hosted on Siteground, you can get very high on pingdom tests! (I read you are happy, my meaning is that it’s not because of SG that your results are not 85%)

    I enjoy their support very much, and what made me decide is that they are WordPress and Joomla experts, and I met a security expert working there during a WordCamp. This same person also gave a session on security at WPSessions.
    For me it shows they are really into high quality.
    Also, they are praised by people around the WordPress community, by some serious developers etc… and that is so valuable, imo.
    And when you read their blog, you just feel part of a family!

    About Bluehost, I was helping a friend then hosted there, and one day (without any problem), the database was replaced by another one from about 3 weeks before. I know because I had done WordPress and extensions updates, and suddenly it was back to previous versions, and latests posts were not there, even in drafts. The worse is when I wrote to the support and explained this, their reply was “we don’t offer WordPress support”… what!!!? imo, they had a failure on the server where our DB was, and only had a 3-weeks old backup!! (and hoped it would go unnoticed).
    Some say it’s because they have been acquired by “Endurance International Group” (as many other sister companies such as Hostmonster and Hostgator, to name a few), I can’t say anything else about them as I have no more experience, but I would avoid any of those.

    And a lot say “but I trust this marketer and he recommends Bluehost”, yeah, $$$$ for them if you sign up!

    Anyway, all good now for you 🙂
    Cheers!
    Patricia BT
    Patricia BT recently posted…Scott, we will miss you a lotMy Profile

    1. I don’t have a problem with “marketers” getting a commission for suggesting products. I used to be a Bluehost affiliate, but I can’t in good conscience promote it anymore based on my experiences. Thanks for joining in!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Best Web Hosting? Why I Left Bluehost for SiteGroundMy Profile

      1. yes sure, I do the same (sorry if I was not clear) and I also only promote “ethically”.
        I was talking about people who were disappointed by Bluehost after following a link from someone “reknowned”, someone they trusted, but who is not even using BH as a host.

        1. Yes. There are some of those, aren’t there ? 🙂
          Gary Korisko recently posted…Best Web Hosting? Why I Left Bluehost for SiteGroundMy Profile

  3. I can only echo your sentiments in regards to BlueHost Gary. I had them for one, long year with nearly the same experiences you describe. As a WordPress developer, my experience BlueHost made me move my consulting site to WPEngine with stellar results. However, I also had to move my demo multisite install and choose InMotion Hosting. To tell you the truth, I haven’t worked with it enough to provide a solid thumbs up but I can say it is far better than BlueHost. I have worked with SiteGround way back in the day (2004) when they were a lot smaller. Good to know they are still a viable option. If my experience with InMotion goes sideways I’ll definitely give it a second look. Congrats on the move!

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Mike. Good to hear from you!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Best Web Hosting? Why I Left Bluehost for SiteGroundMy Profile

  4. Hey Gary! I’m on Bluehost right now and want out for all of the reasons you mention above. I’ve been with them for years, so it’s not my first choice to go but they’ve been such a disappointment lately. You’re the second person to praise SiteGround today … should I take it as a sign? 🙂

    One question: what was the transfer like? Did you have downtime? How was it scheduled?
    T.O. Weller recently posted…The One Thing You Need: Don’t Start Your Quest Without It!My Profile

    1. Actually, T.O., it was pretty slick.

      You keep your current account with BH and sign up with SG. Depending upon how busy they are it takes 1 or 2 days usually (I’m told) to do a full cpanel back up and restore.

      When your backup is successfully on SG, you point your domain (or domains) to SG’s DNS server and it propagates within 2-3 days. During that time, you don’t want to publish anything new.

      Once it’s fully propagated, (connected to the new host) you’re live and you can cancel your old host. When all was said and done, I think ALL of this took 3.5 days behind the scenes in my case.

      But the process is seamless to your visitors. They shouldn’t see any outages if you time it well. Pretty easy, really.

      If you decide to make the switch and have any more detailed questions, message me directly. I’m happy to help if I can!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Best Web Hosting? Why I Left Bluehost for SiteGroundMy Profile

  5. Hey Gary,
    After about 4 years with BlueHost, I left them recently too … for SiteGround! The last straw was a guest post. the blogger was adding my bio and told me “by the way, your site doesn’t seem to be working right now.” No bueno. I was just over it. I was so over my site not being up all the time, and waiting f-o-r-e-v-e-r for help. I don’t think I’ve ever waited to chat with someone at SG. and they’ve always helped me, even when I ask stupid questions cause I’m tech-ignorant 🙂
    Corinne Kerston recently posted…Want to Know How to Get Traffic? 8 Bloggers Share Their SecretsMy Profile

    1. Sounds pretty much EXACTLY like my experiences with both hosts, Corinne… and I’m learning we’re probably not very unique in that regard. I’m hearing from TONS of frustrated former Bluehosters. Thanks for sharing that!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Best Web Hosting? Why I Left Bluehost for SiteGroundMy Profile

  6. Hey Gary,

    Short store: I switched. My site is fast now.

    Long story:
    Thanks for writing this! My website just launched in early January. There isn’t all that much there yet. But it still took forever to load! “Slower than 86% of websites tested.” If I was a visitor, I wouldn’t have waited for it to load. Sheesh.

    Bluehost was unhelpful and told me the same “If you upload images it will slow down your site.” Yeah. Thanks. Except, all of my images are optimized to be less than 100kb, most less than 70kb. That shouldn’t be slowing things down!

    And I’m a painter… I kinda need images!

    So anyways, I was in the middle of trying to decide what to do, and thinking my tech-ignorance was to blame… When your blog post came riding into my mailbox on its white stallion, brandishing the sword of truth!

    After an afternoon spent on research. I signed up with SiteGround.

    When I went to change my nameservers, the BlueHost site actually wouldn’t allow me to enter the new IP. I could enter IP just fine for nameservers pointing toward other websites, but the second I entered a nameserver for SiteGround (or other hosts not affiliated with BlueHost… I checked) …

    Are you ready for this?

    … The input boxes for the IP disappeared. Yup. Kinda Sleezy.

    I had to spend an entire morning waiting in que to ask BlueHost to enter the information for me.

    Anyways. Site’s been transferred. It is really fast now, and I haven’t even activated SuperCacher yet. 🙂
    Jessica recently posted…OB or Midwife? Choosing the Right Prenatal CareMy Profile

    1. HUGE difference, isn’t it? 🙂 Glad to hear it!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Best Web Hosting? Why I Left Bluehost for SiteGroundMy Profile

  7. I’ve heard a lot of bad reviews about Bluehost before, but now, with your bad experience, I would never try them, even it’s better than a few others.

    In my opinion, I will stay with A2 Hosting, (www.a2hosting.com). It is a good web hosting for WordPress as providing a great website speed with its caching system and optimization. The website I’m working with (above, in my URL), is using A2 Hosting with Amazon CloudFront, and has a good website speed with capable to handle a lot of visitors. A2 Hosting isn’t expensive, and since I know the site, there is zero downtime at all.
    Annette Riley recently posted…Best Gaming Laptops Under $1000My Profile

    1. I’m not familiar with A2, but it sounds like they have a similar setup as SiteGround. Thanks for sharing!
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Best Web Hosting? Why I Left Bluehost for SiteGroundMy Profile

  8. I’ve had my fair share of nasty chat with Bluehost back in 2012, when I wanted to host some websites on an US server. First, everything was fine, but after a while the server started to get slow. This problem repeated itself several times, and after some consideration, I’ve chosed a hosting from Ireland.

    A hosting that worked properly until last month, when the cloud hosting provider crashed badly. It wasn’t a problem from the initial server, but from the cloud server provided by 123reg, which had their servers hacked and down for two days. And the hacked again.

    For the moment, I will not change the hosting. But I might consider some new servers for some of my websites.
    Linda March recently posted…How to Wear BanglesMy Profile

  9. I’ve been with Bluehost since 2009 and I hate them. I also have a Hostgator reseller account and I hate Hostgator too. Both are owned by EIG Hosting Companies. Soon I plan on switching over to BigScoots. I’ve heard nothing but good things about that hosting company.
    Shelly recently posted…Doritos Taco Salad RecipeMy Profile

    1. Yeah, it’s not been good since the acquisition, has it? I was rooting for them, too. It’s a shame.
      Gary Korisko recently posted…Best Web Hosting? Why I Left Bluehost for SiteGroundMy Profile

  10. Great post. Thanks for sharing this post

  11. I am using Dreamhost and Hostgrator and found no major issues till date.
    Praveen recently posted…Outlook: How to Add Grid Lines Between Emails in Office 365My Profile

  12. Hey, Gary. I used a Long time a Bluehost, and i can not promote it anymore based on my experiences.V currently used Intotion hosting and in my opinion is a good web hosting

  13. Awesome post. It is very informative and it is really interesting to increase our conversation rate. Thanks for sharing, it will be useful to everyone.

  14. Thanks for that! It’s just the answer I neeedd.

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