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Shared Hosting Showdown - Arvixe vs. Dreamhost vs. Siteground Header

Shared Hosting Showdown – Arvixe vs. Dreamhost vs. Siteground vs. Cloud(Amazon/Google)

Which shared hosting provides the most bang for the buck? *Spoiler Alert*- it’s Siteground, hands down.

Why siteground? Well, let’s consider these 5 important criteria when selecting a host.

  1. Reliability
  2. Affordability
  3. Support
  4. Ease of Use
  5. Security

First, a little background – you can skip to the next heading if your in a rush but I think this is important for you to know. When I first launched Elevate Creative, I was operating on a shoestring budget; so I set out to primarily find an affordable web host.  After reading reviews, pcmag top hosts list, comparing features and pricing, I went with Arvixe. And for the first three months, I was extremely satisfied.  Then I started getting downtime notifications from my monitoring service. So many in fact, it felt like my site was down more than it was up. Support tickets went unanswered for weeks at a time and loyal Arvixe customers took to the web and twitter to voice frustration.

Elevate Creative Shared Hosting Showdown - Arvixe Butchered on Twitter
Angry posts continue to this day on twitter – #arvixe

So what happened to Arvixe? – This is the important part – Not long before I purchased hosting, Arvixe was acquired by EIG. If you aren’t familiar with EIG, suffice it to say they own most of the hosting companies you’ve heard of like: Bluehost, HostGator, A Small Orange, iPage and others. (here is a complete list if your curious) A quick web search will guide you quickly to steer clear of any of their hosts because of deplorable support and poor hosting. Interestingly, their companies are overwhelmingly the ones include in review sites. If you really want to know the quality of a host, take to twitter, reddit, and other corners of the internet and see what people have to say. So now you know, on to the good stuff:

Reliability

This is naturally the first consideration when selecting a host and something you would think is the primary goal of every hosting company. After all, if your site isn’t up and viewable to the public, what’s the point. Truth is, many hosts are more concerned with collecting hosting fees, even if they lose the customer after the first installment (not a great business plan for longevity if you ask me). Others lack the infrastructure to spread the load of traffic surges or continue operating in the wake of power or service outages. So Reliability is more than just uptime, it is systems redundancy

Elevate Creative Shared Hosting Showdown Siteground Server Uptime Dashboard
Siteground Server Uptime Dashboard

After my experience at Arvixe (who had an uptime guarantee by the way, earning me a measly account credit of $8 for hours of downtime) I set out to find more reliable hosting. Many companies offer uptime guarantee’s but require you to monitor your site and email them about any downtime on a monthly basis for any restitution. Only a few automatically credit your account for any downtime. Siteground goes a step further and includes a server status statistics gauge in your dashboard. In this category, Siteground is my pick bolstered by their transparency. I had similar reliability & uptime with Dreamhost, and AWS but they lack the dashboard.

Affordability

We all have a budget and in my search for the best host, I found that some of the most expensive hosts weren’t necessarily the best. In fact many of the more expensive hosts offer fewer features overall but leverage tailored services for a specific platform, like wordpress.

Others try to differentiate themselves with bundled deals like an included domain name or free SSL certificate. Do yourself a favor and just buy a domain name separately. Google domains offers affordable pricing with domain privacy included. As for SSL certificates, I looked for a host who was offering support for Let’s Encrypt because I don’t need a more stringent certificate. This ruled out Inmotion and left dreamhost and siteground.

Dreamhost wins this category, especially when you consider scaling up to a VPS when your site outgrows the bounds of shared hosting. That being said, the margin is slim and Siteground has much stronger performance in other areas.

Another consideration is that cloud services, like  Amazon’s AWS, charge based on usage, which means that your costs could potentially skyrocket if you encounter an unexpected spike in traffic.

Support

Inevitably you are going to need to contact support at some point and when that time comes, a timely, competent response makes a world of difference.  Also stemming from my experience with Arvixe, this point was particularly important in my consideration. I scoured forums and identified a few hosts with solid street cred when it comes to support. No surprise, it is the three included in this post: Dreamhost, Inmotion, and Siteground.

I can personally vouch for Dreamhost and Siteground but haven’t had any experience with Inmotion. I give siteground a slight edge over dreamhost just because it is easier to access in your dashboard. Additionally, siteground migrates your site over from another host for free (they even endured my pains with Arvixe as the Arvixe server frequently timed out during the transfer process and forced them to start again).

Ease of Use

Up to this point, Dreamhost and Siteground have been on the same playing field. This is where Siteground pulls ahead of both dreamhost and Amazon AWS/Google Cloud. First, dreamhost’s custom baked control panel is not as intuitive as they make it sound, especially if you are used to cPanel. If you like doing everything from the command line anyways, this is a mute point because both offer ssh access.  For the rest of us, Sitegrounds dashboard and cPanel is much more user friendly.

Amazon AWS/Google Cloud really shouldn’t even be listed for comparison in this section because you have to be extremely competent to use them. We’re talking about installing and configuring everything (and I mean everything, linux, apache, php, mysql.) Sure, you can leverage a Bitnami package or a docker image but lets be honest, this is advance stuff. Not to mention the security risks you assume running your own virtual server (which if you miss something and your machine ends up in a botnet, your monthly usage bill might make you cry into your pillow at night). Which leads us to the next category:

Security

There is really no comparison here, Siteground takes the cake. Just recently I got an email informing me that Siteground had added firewall rules blocking a vulnerability discovered by Sucuri in a popular wordpress plugin. Many times, Siteground provides a solution before a patch is even issued by software developers.

They essentially wrote the book on shared hosting security, developing and implementing account isolation technology when others thought it was not feasible. Why does this matter? Without account isolation on a shared server, if your neighbor’s site is infected with malware, your site can be compromised as well. As a result, your site could be blacklisted by Google and the path back to the trusted web can be a long one.

In Summary

In my experience and research, Siteground meets or exceeds the performance of the best web hosts in every category I listed. Sure there are other great options but it is my honest opinion that you will get the most with Siteground.

In full disclosure, I do earn a referral bonus for each customer referred from this site but I wrote this article only because I am confident you will love Siteround as your host. That being said, the bonus does help pay the bills and feed my family, so please us the links on this page if you decide to purchase from Siteground or go to https://www.siteground.com/go/showdown Thanks!