SiteGround Or WP Engine As The First Hosting For A Small Website For A Service-Based Business

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WP Engine or SiteGround for service based business - title

I wrote this article using the email correspondence with one of my readers. He asked me to share my insights about which hosting would be a better option for him – SiteGround or WP Engine. It’s going to be his first hosting for a small website (read more details below).

When writing this article I modified the text of our emails a bit to make it smoother. Also I added some more information that I think would be useful. Also I added links to my other articles and affiliate links to the hosts I recommend. I changed the name of my vis-a-vis to Ben to keep the private information.

By the way, here’s a disclosure: There are some affiliate links on this page. In other words, I get paid if you click on the links and make a purchase. All such links open in new window/tab; no software/program will be installed to your computer. (This is a standard notice required by hosting companies.) Besides, my recommended hosts are here.

 

Hi Michael / Raah

I came across your site after reading multiple confusing reviews elsewhere. Your content is great, and easy to understand (I’m not a techie).

I’m having a basic website (no e-commerce and not a lot of pages) developed for my UK service based business, but most of my clients (hopefully) will be in USA and Canada.

Issues I’m thinking about include that I want high speed, no ongoing hassle (don’t want to worry about renewing SSL or backups, GDPR).

I thought I’d decided on Siteground, and then your quiz pointed me to WP Engine.

I’m having my (WordPress) website externally developed, but envision handling ongoing hosting maintenance etc. myself. Therefore, excellent user support would be good.

I also would like to have a free SSL and I don’t want to bother about remembering to renew it.

By the way, I have 4 domains (e.g. xyz.com, xyz.EU, xyz.co.uk, xyz.net). I want to point them all to xyz.com, and have one website there.

So, do I go for Siteground or WP Engine?

Thanks!
Best regards,
Ben

 

Hi Ben,

Before all, don’t go with Bluehost. This is sort of a trap for unaware people. The host is not a scam but from several perspectives it could be called so. Have a look at the comments for article (Ctrl-F for Bluehost)

As regards SiteGround and WP Engine.

I have short reviews on both hosts here: for SiteGround and WP Engine.

WP Engine has the following greatest advantages compared to SiteGround in your situation:

  • WP Engine can cleanup your website for free unlimited times if it gets contaminated with malware or hacked. This is the greatest vivid advantage of WP Engine against SiteGround.
  • WP Engine has a staging area on all plans (whereas SiteGround has not a staging area on its cheapest plan, only on GrowBig and GoGeek plans). Also WP Engine has more options for developers.
  • When comparing the performance of the cheapest plans of WP Engine and SiteGround, WP Engine is faster (but it’s much more expensive as well). Whereas WP Engine’s cheapest plan and SiteGround’s GoGeek plans are comparable as regards speed (it’s my expectation, I don’t’ have reliable speed statistics on that).

SiteGround‘s greatest advantage is that it’s much more affordable for the first billing period, if you pay for a long period (from one year up to three years).

As regards SiteGround’s support, I think SiteGround’s support should be enough for your needs. Both WP Engine and SiteGround support are great, although I slightly favor WP Engine support as it focuses on premium segment users whereas SiteGround serves masses of much cheaper shared hosting users too.

SSLs are renewed automatically – no problems with that on both hosts.

Hosting maintenance is quite easy with SiteGround’s infrastructure and its support. Yes, it’s easier to maintain your website with WP Engine, but the difference is not worth paying more for WP Engine just for this factor alone, at least on this stage when you don’t know the specifics of your website.

Backups are well-maintained by SiteGround automatically (daily, 30 days), so not a big difference with WPE from a result point of view.

So, if you were developing your website yourself, I’d suggest WP Engine as it has easier infrastructure for this task. But since you have a developer, this is not a real advantage to you. As regards further maintenance, SiteGround is not considerably worse than WP Engine. SiteGround’s support is good enough to help you if you have issues with the tools or whatever else.

If you are concerned about security threats and dealing with possible issues, then WP Engine is of course the preferable choice as it covers all security risks for you (fixes it if anything goes wrong). SiteGround has NOT the option to fix your website for free if anything goes wrong (hacking, malware contamination).

As regards speed, this can be a bit tricky. Because depending on a website the speed can be different. For example, a small and lightweight website can be faster with SiteGround’s cheapest plan, whereas a heavy-weight weight e-commerce site can be significantly faster on WP Engine.

From this perspective, I’d suggest going with the most affordable SiteGround plan (Startup plan). And if the speed is not good enough then upgrade to GrowBig or maybe GoGeek. It should be enough for most websites from speed point of view. And it still costs less than WPE for the first billing period.

After the first billing period (a year or more) you will understand what server resources you need for your website to run fast. You will also get experience in managing your site. And you will be able to either continue hosting with SiteGround or find a cheaper alternative (or vice versa – go away from a shared hosting and take the premium one which makes a lot of sense if your business goes well).

The point is that SiteGround is very affordable (compared to WP Engine) for what it offers. But SiteGround becomes quite expensive AFTER renewing (especially if you use GoGeek plan). And instead of renewing it may make sense to move to another host.

I suggest US location as it’s better choice if you are going to have both US and UK clients. The internet connection between North American continent and UK is great. Although WP Engine has its own CDN which help to improve speed, this advantage depends on a kind of a website you have. In many ways CDN does not give a considerable speed boost. But it also depends on how a website is built.

Pointing your different domain to your website has nothing to do with the hosting in fact. You can do it with your domain registrar very easily. And by the way, it’s recommended to have your domain registrar and your hosting in different. This diversification gives a great freedom in case of misunderstanding, conflicts or issues with your host.

After all, SiteGround is ideal and very affordable option for getting the first experience with hosting (i.e. for the first billing period). And if you can cope with security risks of being hacked, I’d suggest going with SiteGround.
And if it looks too much hassle with SiteGround, then WP Engine is a more solid choice of course.

Hope it helps. Feel free to let me know if you had additional questions.

Kind regards,
Michael

 

Thanks Michael – I really appreciate the advice. Thanks for highlighting the EIG issue.

I will go with SiteGround to start with then.

WP Engine sounds a slightly safer bet, and I will move to that in future. Until then, what is the likelihood of being hacked / other security threats / possible issues? Presumably, that is rare, and I can take the risk and pay for that help if / when I need it?

Also, as a UK company, is there any extra GDPR risk if my data is hosted outside the EU compared to inside the EU?

Also, I’ve just seen that in the SiteGround signup process, there is the option to sign up to SG Site Scanner (£15.60/year Excl. VAT SG Site Scanner is a monitoring service that checks your website daily and immediately notifies you if your website has been hacked or injected with malicious code).

This seems to fill one of the gaps between SiteGround and WP Engine – this seems worth signing up to – do you agree?

Best regards,
Ben

 

Hi Ben,

Here are my thoughts and advice:

> Until then, what is the likelihood of being hacked / other security threats / possible issues?

The risk is quite low if you don’t do any risky things. I suggest reading this article. Don’t stress out if something looks too technical there. The part that you will understand and apply will already put your site in the safest part of the Web.

Also I suggest installing a BulletProofSesurity plugin – BPS (free one is very good and in most cases is enough). You can read about this free plugin in my article here. It will give you a good protection from hacking attempts.

> Presumably, that is rare, and I can take the risk and pay for that help if / when I need it?

If your website is properly coded and if you keep up the good hygiene with your website and install BPS or an alternative firewall plugin, then the risk is quite low. In case of contamination it depends on how severe it is. Sometimes it’s enough to restore a backup. But sometimes you need to use a professional service like Sucuri (I write about it here) to clean up your website from contamination. It’s quite expensive ($200 per year). But again, the risk of hacking is low if you apply what I’ve said above.

Actually, if the contamination happens and simple actions like restoring a backup, scanning and removing a suspicious code does not help or not possible or your developer or a hired specialist can’t do much, then it makes sense simply to move to a hosting that will take care about removing contamination and keep your site clear (WP Engine is one of these hosts). But the risk of it is pretty low.

> Also, as a UK company, is there any extra GDPR risk if my data is hosted outside the EU compared to inside the EU?

No, no greater risk. And don’t stress much about it at all. This thing is aimed at corporations above all and I have not heard a single case yet when a small business was in trouble with GDPR. Just add Privacy policy / Cookie policy pages, perhaps some other pages – just see how a bigger company from your niche does it and repeat it. This is the simplest and quite safe steps you can do without over-complication.

> SG Site Scanner

This does not replace the clean-up and this does not replace protection (e.g. BPS plugin). The scanner just notifies you that you are under a threat (like the doors are open in your house). If you are concerned, you can use a free Sucuri scanner from time to time. SG Scanner is basically an automated version of it. There’s also a free Sucuri plugin if you want to dive deeper in it. Usually this is needed if you very concerned or if you have already had problems with security and you want to have to watch your site closer after recovery. But in most cases just scanning from time to time (e.g. after new plugin installs etc) is enough.

Kind regards,
Michael

 

Michael,
Perfect – thanks. I’ll follow the link to SiteGround from your site.
Best regards,
Ben

 

Glad to help, ben.
Thank you for using my link! 🙂
Feel free to contact me any time.
Kind regards,
Michael

 
P.S.: Here are the links for further information and my affiliate links to the mentioned hosts and security products that I recommend:

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