SiteGround Site Tools – is it Worth for Hosting?
You might have seen attractive titles like “Create your blog in 5 minutes” or “Install WordPress in 5 minutes” all over the web. After using WordPress, you will realize all those titles are useless created with a single intention of promoting affiliate links. WordPress is a complex content management system that will throw error if any single component stop working. From hosting point of view, cPanel is the standard tool available for years. Many hosting companies like Bluehost, HostGator and SiteGround (earlier) use cPanel hosting. Among them SiteGround moved from cPanel to Site Tools interface starting from 2019. In this article, we will explain whether this move will help you if you are looking for migrating or creating a new hosting account with SiteGround.
Related: Review of SiteGround Cloud VPS hosting.
SiteGround cPanel to Site Tools
SiteGround became very popular among bloggers due to their superior customer support capabilities. With the growth, they have moved to Google Cloud and migrated from cPanel to a new Site Tools interface. We are using SiteGround for the past 4 years (from 2016 to at the time of writing this article in 2020). Our account was scheduled for migration during June 2020 which was successfully completed now. With this experience, we will compare what you will get and what you miss with Site Tools.
- For new users – if you are a new user looking for SiteGround hosting, we highlighted points that you will not find in the offering page.
- For migration to SiteGround – if you are looking for migrating to SiteGround, we assume you are already using cPanel or similar setup. We have mentioned points comparing cPanel and Site Tools to help you to decide whether migration is worth to consider.
#1 – FTP Setup
cPanel will allow you to have a single FTP account and access all websites on your account. This is very helpful when you manage multiple websites like client websites. You can download content and upload files using single FTP account. In contrast, you need individual FTP account for each website in Site Tools account. Let us say, if you have 10 websites in a single hosting account. In this case, you need to create 10 FTP accounts to access each site independently. This will be super annoying for managing multiple websites.
In addition, FTP accounts in cPanel have an option to delete the directory when deleting the account. For example, you can delete a subdomain or subdirectory containing thousands of file with single click by deleting the associated FTP account. This option is not available with FTP accounts in Site Tools.
#2 – Database Download
Normally you can download the database in a compressed format from the backup. This was the previous setup in SiteGround cPanel also. However, with the new Site Tools you have to download the database only through phpMyAdmin interface. The problem is that, you need to follow lengthy process instead of single click download. In addition, you have to choose the compression format and select the tables when downloading the DB from the account. This could be a complex technical job for normal users who expect to download the compressed DB with single click from backup.
#3 – Subdomains and Subdirectories
Site Tool treats each subdomain as a different site. Though you can access subdomains using the main domain’s FTP account, subdomains will have their own /public_html path. Below is how the cPanel and Site Tools setup works for subdomains:
- cPanel – account/domain/public_html/subdomain/files
- Site Tools – account/domain/subdomain/public_html/files
We have many subdomains including a separate one for serving media files. With the above setup change, SiteGround guys duplicated the entire subdomain content from cPanel setup to Site Tools setup. That means we have 14K+ images available in two different places under the same account occupying storage space. We have to manually delete the old files left over due to Site Tools migration.
#4 – Migration Issues
In addition to duplication of subdomain files, after migrating to Site Tools, we found there are huge files dumped on the account. These are the copies of the entire cPanel account files. As a customer, we have to waste the time in discussing with their representatives to confirm the purpose and delete these file.
Though junk files will not be an issue for new customers, you are preparing to struck with SiteGround’s Site Tools. The biggest advantage with cPanel is you can do the cPanel to cPanel migration. This will take less than 30 minutes without any downtime when changing the hosting company. Now, you need to manually prepare for the migration since no other hosting company can help you with Site Tools. Migration will be an easy task for smaller sites. However, it will be a huge task for importing/exporting large number of files from old hosting to new hosting account.
#5 – Caching Updates
SiteGround offers three levels of caching – static, dynamic and memcached. Site Tools interface offers static caching through NGINX cache delivery (with SuperCacher) while remaining caching and optimization options are available through SG Optimizer plugin.
Earlier, there were options in SG optimizer plugin for disabling GZIP compression and browser caching. Now, the static cache in Site Tools automatically includes GZIP compression and browser level caching. This will be a headache when you have an additional caching plugin on your site that offers same functions. In our earlier article, we have explained this with using WP Rocket on SiteGround site. Since WP Rocket also does this GZIP compression and browser caching automatically, you will end up having two plugins doing the same task. Because of this situation, many caching plugins may not work with SiteGround setup and you will be forced to use SG Optimizer that does not offer complete functionalities.
In recent days, the plugin is also updated with many features like DB optimization, DNS prefetching, Google font optimization, WebP generation, etc. These are clearly functions of an independent plugins and you have to look for different plugins when moving out of SiteGround.
#6 Accessibility Issues
cPanel offers a beautiful way to check server usage by viewing the CPU and RAM usage. You can easily set filter for anytime and find the spikes. This is an easy way to check the server log to understand what caused the spike. In Site Tools, you have to go to “Services > Hosting > Manage > Stats” tab to get the statistics. In general, you have to navigate through different screens for each activity which you were doing with single click before.
Continuing the accessibility issue, previously you can simply click on “Support” tab and create ticket in your hosting account. Unfortunately, you have to navigate through multiple screens with the new interface for creating a ticket. Though this is not part of Site Tools, it is annoying to follow the lengthy process. You have to click on the question mark on the top right corner, then go to help center, click on contact us and finally create a ticket.
The biggest problem is that there are no ways you can revert back to cPanel interface and you need to get adjusted with Site Tools.
#7 – Support Quality
In addition to the accessibility issue in raising support ticket, following are some of the challenges you will face with latest SiteGround support system.
- You will not have any option to attach screenshots.
- System will force you to chat or call. When you chat, most of the time the representative will create a ticket and ask you to wait for the response from next level. This is utter waste of time.
- Most of the support colleagues are not completely aware of Site Tools features.
We had two staging sites created before the migration, which we could not see in Site Tools. After creating ticket, we got a response mentioning the team is working on it. It took many hours to get a second response and they could not resolve the issue at all. We have to manually update the content as restoring of staging site was not working. We agree it could be one of the case between the migration. However, in summary, gone are the days you can praise SiteGround for customer support. Nowadays, it is no more different from any other EIG hosting company.
We still use SiteGround and do not find any difficulty after the migration time. Some of the options in Site Tools are also easy to find and use. However, if you are used to work with cPanel interface managing multiple websites then Site Tools is not a good solution for your need. In addition, you have to stick with SiteGround for long term as moving out of Site Tools need manual effort. Therefore, think twice before creating new hosting plan with SiteGround. And we do not recommend migrating your websites using cPanel hosting.