Even after SiteGround’s CDN 2.0, is it better than Cloudflare APO? My opinion is no.
It has 109 less edge locations, no HTTP/3, barely optimizes images, and you still have to use SiteGround’s DNS to use it which has proven unreliable after Google blocked it for 4 days. This resulted in large ranking drops and customer websites getting completely deindexed in Google.
Why risk it?
SiteGround just wants you to pay them instead of Cloudflare (hence, they discontinued it). It’s the same reason you saw hosts building their own control panel after cPanel increased prices.
Do you really think SiteGround’s CDN is better than Cloudflare, a CDN developed in 2009 with 3,217 employees and 192 Tbps data transfer speeds? I’ll run some tests shortly, but I doubt it.
- You have to use SiteGround’s unreliable DNS
- 176 PoPs
- Anycast routing
- Lacks image optimizations
- Lacks HTTP/3 and other features
- Unlimited/unmetered CDNs still have limits
- Test TTFB in 40 global locations
- SiteGround’s products have compatibility issues
- Conclusion: Stick to Cloudflare APO or FlyingProxy
1. You Have To Use SiteGround’s Unreliable DNS
You have to use SiteGround’s DNS to use their CDN. Here are the issues:
- SiteGround’s DNS got blocked by Google.
- SiteGround originally said “there is no blocking on our end.”
- They eventually admitted the problem, but blamed Amazon/Google.
- They eventually “implemented a fix” but never advised people to move their DNS.
- Customers lost Google rankings and some sites got deindexed from Google completely.
The question is, why wouldn’t you just use Cloudflare’s free DNS? It performs great on dnsperf.com. But hey, if you want to trust SiteGround with your Google rankings, go for it.
Status Update: We are glad to inform you that we have implemented a fix for the Google bot crawling issue experienced by some sites. Websites are already being crawled successfully. Please allow a few hours for the DNS changes to take effect. Thank you for your patience!
— SiteGround (@SiteGround) November 12, 2021
The lack of responsibility you are taking here is incredible. If this was simply Google’s fault, surely other hosts would be facing issues? Clearly something has changed on your set-up that has caused an issue. Are you aware just how damaging this is to many of your customers?
— Kim Snaith (@ichangedmyname) November 10, 2021
You should be advising people to move to an external DNS to resolve the issues if it is causing them massive losses in business. I have just sorted our connectivity issue in around 25 minutes by moving to googles DNS. If you had let us know 4 days ago, we wouldnt be £20k+ down!
— Jon Bunce (@thejonbunce) November 11, 2021
If you move to your Google Search Console > SETTINGS > CRAWL STATS you will, if unlucky like me, see something like this :-( pic.twitter.com/ocBEkWKsaw
— Tristan Haskins (@trishaskins) November 12, 2021
2. 176 PoPs
Cloudflare has 285 PoPs while SiteGround uses Google Cloud’s network with 176 PoPs.
Obviously the geographic distance from these edge locations and users plays a big role with metrics like latency and TTFB. While both have more PoPs than most CDNs, Cloudflare still wins.
3. AnyCast Routing
SiteGround’s CDN 2.0 uses Anycast which routes traffic to the closest data center and is specifically good when dealing with high traffic volume, network congestion, and protecting against DDoS attacks. It provides higher availability if a node is attacked, overloaded, or fails.
4. Lacks Image Optimizations
SiteGround Optimizer and SiteGround’s CDN do a poor job optimizing images.
One of the biggest disadvantages is they can’t resize images for mobile to improve mobile LCP. They don’t support AVIF, preloading LCP images, adding missing image dimensions to prevent layout shifts (CLS), and they can’t lazy load background images. This is why I recommend using Perfmatters on SiteGround, but resizing images for mobile is usually something your CDN does.
Cloudflare Mirage + Polish support many of these optimizations while others are usually done by your caching/optimization plugin. Bunny Optimizer also supports dynamic image resizing.
|SiteGround Optimizer||SiteGround CDN||Optimole||Cloudflare Mirage/Polish|
|Price||Free||$7.49/mo||Free 5,000 visits/mo then $19.08/mo||$20/mo with Cloudflare Pro (or included in several Cloudflare Enterprise integrations)|
5. Lacks HTTP/3 And Other Features
Cloudflare has a plethora of settings/features not found in SiteGround’s CDN:
- Bot protection
- Rate limiting
- Page/firewall rules
- Signed Exchanges (SXGs)
- Better image optimization
- …among other features (especially on higher plans like Cloudflare Enterprise)
6. Unlimited/Unmetered CDNs Still Have Limits
Just like “unlimited” hosting storage, unmetered bandwidth doesn’t mean unlimited.
SiteGround doesn’t list CDN bandwidth limits, so take this with a grain of salt. RocketCDN advertises unlimited bandwidth but isn’t, since your account will be canceled at some point.
Most CDNs are either usage-based (BunnyCDN + QUIC.cloud’s CDN) or have bandwidth limits (Cloudflare Enterprise on Cloudways + FlyingProxy). SiteGround needs to be more transparent.
7. Test TTFB In 40 Global Locations
SpeedVitals recommends testing your site a few times to make sure resources are cached and served from the CDN’s closest data center. I typically use the results of the 3rd SpeedVitals test.
8. SiteGround’s Products Have Compatibility Issues
Any time SiteGround launches a new product or revamps something, do yourself a favor and wait to use it. It’s usually full of issues which they usually deny, so I wouldn’t trust their opinion.
- Their DNS was blocked by Google.
- SG Optimizer plugin has ongoing compatibility issues.
- Site Tools had a lot of bugs/missing features when first launched.
- When migrating to Google Cloud, even Backlinko reported TTFB issues.
9. Conclusion: Stick To Cloudflare APO Or FlyingProxy
Or if you’re open to a faster host, I use Rocket.net’s Cloudflare Enterprise.
|SiteGround CDN (Paid Plan)||Cloudflare + APO||FlyingProxy||Rocket.net Cloudflare Enterprise|
|Image optimization||Very limited||Mirage + Polish||Mirage + Polish||Mirage + Polish|
|Smart routing||Anycast||Argo (paid feature)||x||✓|
|Load balancing||✓||Paid feature||✓||✓|
|Bandwidth||Unmetered||Unlimited||100GB||Unlimited (only hosting plan limits)|
|Price||$7.49/mo||$5/mo||$10/mo||Free with hosting|