SiteGround’s New Client Area and SiteGround Site Tools have been announced by SiteGround just before the end of July 2019. Some customers love these changes, others hate them.
Taking into consideration the fact that I’ve been with SiteGround (with just a few breaks) since the year 2016, I decided to test SiteGround’s New Client Area and Site Tools.
Before you start using Site Tools, you have to register your SiteGround account.
I have my own account which I created in June 2016, but the thing is that new customers get access to the New Client Area and SiteGround Site Tools much faster than those registered before August/September 2019. All previously created accounts will be switched to new tools in the coming weeks.
In order to get access to the tools faster, I decided to create a new user account.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Preparing A Hosting Account
The first of my steps was to go to SiteGround’s WordPress hosting offer and choose one of available packages.
Since I was going to create just a temporary account for testing purposes, I opted for a StartUp package.
In the second step of registering SiteGround account, you should choose whether you want to register a new domain name with SiteGround or you have registered one before.
In the third step, you need to type in some of your personal information and your credit/debit card number, and choose a data center location for your account.
Next, you have to verify your identity using an SMS message or a phone call.
You also need to activate your account by clicking a link in an email which you will receive very shortly after verifying your identity.
SiteGround New Client Area
After you successfully create your account, you’ll be able to access SiteGround’s New Client Area.
(Unsuccessful) Migration To SiteGround
Now, you can start creating your new site or migrate an existing one.
I was going to migrate my existing blog from another hosting provider so I chose the second option.
After reaching this stage, I downloaded and installed the plugin.
Then I copied and pasted a migration token.
And after a while I got such an error…
If you get the same error in the future, you will have two options – contact SiteGround support and tell them to do the migration for you or use BlogVault.
The second of these options is described in details in the article about the best hosting providers.
Creating A New Site
Since I needed that site just for testing, I decided to create a new website on that domain.
In such case, I came back to my.siteground.com, clicked 3 dots -> Server Details, and checked my server’s IP address.
Then, I changed DNS settings by copying and pasting that IP address into my Cloudflare account area.
Then, I purged Cloudflare’s cache.
And my domain was pointed to SiteGround server.
Furthermore, I’ve noticed that WordPress was not installed on that site.
The first sign – an image above (no posts and no content on homepage).
The second sign – an image below (404 error on wp-admin).
In order to make sure that WordPress was not installed on that site, I decided to check whether public_html directory contains any files.
So, I went to the New SiteGround Client Area (my.siteground.com) -> Websites -> Site Tools.
Then, I clicked File Manager.
And there was only 1 file in public_html directory.
So I was right.
There was a need to install WordPress.
Fortunately, I have found such an option in the menu on the left very quickly.
I wasn’t going to create any WooCommerce site so I chose just WordPress.
As you can see below, I decided to install WordPress with Starter plugin.
After a while, WordPress installation confirmation appeared.
And this is how my blog looked like after WordPress was installed.
After I’ve logged into my admin area, I saw such an invitation:
Then, I got a wide variety of free WordPress themes to choose from.
I determined this theme with some demo content to be interesting:
In the next few steps, there are options to install some extra tools. It is your choice whether you’ll install them or not.
After completing installation process, my blog looked like this:
By the way, I noticed that there was one spam comment “installed” with the content 😉
And my WordPress dashboard looked this way:
Fortunately, there was a button at the bottom of that page which allowed me to bring old dashboard back.
And fortunately, that button worked.
However, when you look at the pictures above, you can see that there were no green padlock at the top of the screen. It looked like there were no SSL certificate installed on my blog.
In order to manage SSL certificates in SiteGround Site Tools, you should go to tools.siteground.com -> Security -> SSL Manager.
In my case, it turned out that there was an SSL certificate installed.
In such case, there’s only one reason why web browsers do not show padlock in the address bar – links of your content (which are stored in the database) include just http instead of https.
There are two ways to solve this issue.
The easier solution is to go to SiteGround Site Tools -> Security -> HTTPS Enforce, and switch a toggle in the HTTPS Enforce column.
After that, the SSL certificate for my blog worked fine.
What’s interesting, this solution didn’t work fine in some cases in the past.
Fortunately, it has been fixed with the release of SG Optimizer 5.3.2.
By the way, you should know that using an HTTPS Enforce option in Site Tools is the same as using this option in SG Optimizer in your WordPress dashboard.
After configuring secure connections in a proper way, I started testing speed of the platform.
The first test – TTFB measured by KeyCDN.
The biggest surprise – there’s only 1 not-green value in this test!
For comparison, I can show you the same test conducted on alivebetter.com domain on the same day.
This blog was hosted on Vultr server with Cloudways on that day.
It’s quite interesting that any cloud hosting could achieve similar or even worse results than the cheapest shared hosting from any provider…
Before I go to overview of SiteGround Site Tools, I will show you a few more speed tests of this platform.
But first, take a look at the list of plugins installed on that site.
There were no optimization plugins installed except SG Optimizer.
And here’s its configuration:
So let’s go to the tests results!
According to WebPageTest, Time To First Byte of my blog was graded for an F. Bear in mind, however, that I hosted that test blog on the cheapest package available (StartUp).
My Polish blog has slightly worse TTFB than an English one probably because it is an addon domain for alivebetter.com.
My SiteGround account will be transferred to the New Client Area and Site Tools in the coming weeks. After that change, TTFB of both blogs should be equal.
And here’s one more test of TTFB of my temporary WordPress installation.
All values except just one have a green background!
SiteGround Site Tools Overview
In this section, I will guide you through the Site Tools developed by SiteGround.
Let’s get started!
When you go to the dashboard (tools.siteground.com/dashboard), you’ll see a few pinned tools among other elements on the screen.
If you click a small icon on the right, you’ll be able to edit those tools.
You can pin and unpin the tools according to your needs. It’s worth to pin the tools which you will use the most often.
There are more than 30 tools to choose from.
File manager is a very important feature of SiteGround. It allows you to browse and edit your files without logging into your WordPress dashboard.
These days, there are many hosting providers which do not offer this feature.
Here, I will show you how you can edit .htaccess file using SiteGround File Manager.
If you’d like to access your website using FileZilla or any other FTP software, you will have visit this tab first.
You can use your New Client Area login and password as an FTP credentials. If they didn’t work, you can create a new FTP account and use these data.
Before switching to the New Client Area and Site Tools, every SiteGround customer was able to host more than one site on one hosting account by adding another domain as an addon domain.
There was one directory containing a “main” website, and the other sites have been stored in subdirectories of that one site.
Truth to tell, I didn’t like this feature from the beginning of my blogging career, but still there are companies offering such strange solution.
I’m glad that SiteGround finally implemented various apps for various websites.
Here, you can install any application which is available on the list.
Below, you can manage your MySQL and PostgreSQL databases.
But truth to tell, there is nothing to do on a daily basis.
Automatic daily backups constitute a very important feature of every hosting provider.
Using these backups, you can restore your previous files, databases, and emails.
The screen below was taken a few days later after creating my new SiteGround account in order to show some results.
SSL Manager allows you to manage SSL certificates of your sites.
This tool has been shown earlier (before speed tests).
HTTPS Enforce allows you to configure https connections properly.
This tool has also been shown before speed tests.
Now, I will quickly review 3 remaining site tools from this category.
With this tool, you will be able to limit your visitors access to any page of your website.
In order to allow someone to access restricted area, you will have to create and send them their username and password.
If you needed to block any IP address from accessing your website, you can do it using this tool.
SiteGround partnered up with Sucuri in the first quarter of 2017. At that moment they started offering their customers Site Scanner which is a very effective malware detection and warning system.
Cloudflare is one of the best Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) in the world. It not only improves loading speed but also increases its customers’ sites security level.
I recommend everyone visiting cloudflare.com, registering an account, and activating at least free version of the service.
Certainly, it’s possible to activate Cloudflare through SiteGround Client Area. However, my solution will save you a lot of time if you needed to move your site to another hosting provider anytime in the future.
Caching feature allows you to improve loading time of your website.
On the Caching tab, you can clear the cache in order to “push” your new content to your visitors as quickly as possible.
Install & Manage
Install & Manage tool was presented to you in earlier part of this article.
Therefore, I will go now to the next features of the New SiteGround Site Tools.
Staging is a really useful feature if you want to test any changes (such as a new theme, plugin etc.) on your site, but you are afraid of breaking it down. In such cases, you can create a staging copy of your site, try some changes, and then update your live site if everything works great.
In case if that plugin wasn’t able to move your site, the best option to do the migration is to use BlogVault.
As you probably know, updating all the software associated with blogging is really important.
Fortunately, these days WordPress autoupdates are provided by almost every major hosting company. Additionally, SiteGround provides a feature which allows you to update your WordPress plugins automatically.
Alternatively, if you want your themes and plugins to be autoupdated, you can use a Companion Auto Update plugin.
Since not all of the Site Tools are useful on a daily basis, I will skip some of them and will show you the most important ones.
This tool allows you to create a redirect from one URL to another one. It might be useful if you had an article with any URL address and then you decided to remove it or change that URL. In such cases, it’s worth to create a 301 redirect from an old URL to the new one.
Alternatively, you can use Redirection plugin.
Email Accounts is a tool which is useful for those who want to have a brand-name email address (an email address with @your_domain_name.extension suffix).
Traffic tool shows you some statistics about your incoming traffic.
I’ve created this SiteGround account for the purpose of writing this article, so my statistics did not contain any data.
PHP Manager allows you to change PHP version used on your site.
There are two settings to choose from.
Option 1 – you can choose manually which version of PHP you want to use.
Option 2 – you can choose Managed PHP option from the list. This option is just an automatic mode. SiteGround stores some data about compatibility of various themes and plugins with particular PHP version. If you choose an automatic mode, your themes and plugins will be regularly analyzed and you will be using that version of PHP which is the best fit for your software installed.
This is how a home page of SiteGround’s New Client Area looks like.
Websites tab shows you the full list of your sites hosted on that one account.
On the Services tab, you can manage your hosting account.
You can also check the number of files and the amount of free space on your hosting account.
Amongst the most useful and interesting tools there are also Domain Services.
Here, you can purchase your new domain name, transfer your domain to SiteGround, and add privacy to it.
With Hosting Services, you can check the offer of SiteGround hosting.
There are also perks such as coupon codes for a few useful premium services.
SiteGround’s New Client Area & Site Tools – Quick Summary
SiteGround is one of the best hosting providers in the world. This company has been established in the first quarter of 2004.
Of course, there are opponents and advocates of such movement, but removing cPanel is a very good decision made by the company. All the biggest brands in the hosting industry (such as Kinsta and Cloudways) have their own admin panels.
With a very good prices and service quality, SiteGround is on a good way to become even bigger brand than they are. 🙂