HostGator starts at $2.75/month and promises a 99.9% uptime. But is it better than Bluehost and GoDaddy? Read on to see if this web host is good for you.
HostGator has earned the reputation of being an easy-to-use web host for novice webmasters. Keep reading to see if HostGator is right for you.
WHO IS HOSTGATOR GOOD FOR?
HostGator is a popular option for individual users and small businesses with modest web hosting needs. In fact, 72% of HostGator’s clients are companies with fewer than 50 employees.
Their main product is shared web hosting, in which your website shares space on a single server with other sites. Think of it like renting a room in an apartment – your website is just one of many occupants on the server.
This explains why shared hosting is popular with small businesses: Sites with lower traffic can operate sufficiently with less space, and at a lower cost.
If you demand more from your web host, HostGator also offers VPS (virtual private server) and dedicated server hosting. Both provide a level of control and performance that large business and enterprise clients require.
Full root access and high-level customization are needed for a site that regularly accommodates six-figure numbers in traffic. For sites at or near that level, HostGator’s VPS and dedicated hosting plans are better choices than shared web hosting.
Although they’re best known for shared web hosting, HostGator has come a long way in offering other hosting services for larger clients with more complex needs. We cover HostGator’s main web hosting products below.
SHARED WEB HOSTING
HostGator’s primary offering, a three-tier shared hosting plan, comes with the following services and tools:
|Hatchling Plan||Baby Plan||Business Plan|
|Single Domain||Unlimited Domains||Unlimited Domains|
|One-Click Installs||One-Click Installs||One-Click Installs|
|Unmetered Bandwidth||Unmetered Bandwidth||Unmetered Bandwidth|
|Free SSL Certificate||Free SSL Certificate||Free SSL Certificate|
|N/A||N/A||Free Upgrade to Positive SSL|
|N/A||N/A||Free Dedicated IP|
|N/A||N/A||Free SEO Tools|
Why Use Shared Web Hosting?
Shared web hosting is the best option for those with a smaller budget or who are new to website maintenance.
Prices reflect the promotional rate for the 3-year billing cycle.
Cloud Hosting differs from shared hosting in that it utilizes multiple virtual servers instead of one physical server. HostGator’s Cloud Hosting plans offer the following:
- Hatchling Cloud
Single domain, 2GB memory, 2 core CPU, SSL certificate, $4.95/month
- Baby Cloud
Unlimited domains, 4GB memory, 4 core CPU, SSL certificate, $6.57/month
- Business Cloud
Unlimited domains, 6GB memory, 6 core CPU, SSL, Dedicated IP, SEO tools, $9.95/month
Why Use Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting is great for webmasters needing flexibility and scalability. Because you can utilize parts of multiple servers as needed, you’ll be prepared for any high traffic spikes that occur.
Prices for Cloud Server Hosting plans reflect the promotional rate for the 3-year billing cycle.
As your WordPress website continues to grow, you may want to consider transferring it to one of HostGator’s WordPress-specific cloud hosting plans.
- Starter Plan
1 site, 100k visits/month, 1GB backups, SSL certificate, $5.95/month
- Standard Plan
2 sites, 200k visits/month, 2GB backups, SSL certificate, $7.95/month
- Business Plan
3 sites, 500k visits/month, 3GB backups, SSL certificate, $9.95/month
Why Use WordPress Hosting?
WordPress Cloud hosting offers faster load times and protection against WordPress-specific attacks, making it a great option for added stability and security.
Prices for WordPress Hosting plans reflect the promotional rate for the 3-year billing cycle.
VPS, or a Virtual Private Server, hosts your website on one physical server that’s been divided into several smaller virtual servers. These smaller virtual servers each act as their own dedicated server.
- Snappy 2000
2GB RAM, 2 cores CPU, 120GB disk space, 1.5TB bandwidth, $29.95/month
- Snappy 4000
4GB RAM, 2 cores CPU, 165GB disk space, 2TB bandwidth, $39.95/month
- Snappy 8000
8GB RAM, 4 cores CPU, 240GB disk space, 3TB bandwidth, $49.95/month
Why use VPS hosting?
If your site is outgrowing the shared hosting platform, consider VPS for better customization, performance and security. However, VPS is less adept at handling traffic surges than Cloud Hosting.
Prices for VPS Hosting plans reflect the promotional rate for the 3-year billing cycle.
DEDICATED SERVER HOSTING
Clients using dedicated server hosting have an entire physical server at their disposal. HostGator’s Dedicated Server hosting can be used with Linux or Windows OS.
- Value Server
4 core/8 thread Intel Xeon-D CPU, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Unmetered bandwidth, $118.99/mo
- Power Server
8 core/16 thread Intel Xeon-D CPU, 16GB RAM, 2TB HDD or 512GB SSD, Unmetered bandwidth, $138.99/mo
- Enterprise Server
8 core/16 thread Intel Xeon-D CPU, 30GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Unmetered bandwidth, $148.98/mo
Why use Dedicated Hosting?
Typically used by enterprise-level clients, dedicated servers offer maximum performance and security. Choose from HostGator’s managed or semi-managed server support options.
Prices for the Dedicated Server Hosting plans reflect the promotional rate for the 3-year billing cycle.
Additional Tools & Services
HostGator offers a variety of helpful tools and services for their users. While many of these add-ons are free, some cost extra. Which are worth the cost? We cover HostGator’s extra tools below.
HostGator’s own Website Builder includes 100+ mobile-friendly and customizable templates, website analytics and a free SSL certificate.
The Website Builder comes free with any of their shared web hosting plans. If you aren’t on a shared web hosting plan, you can pay separately for the Website Builder.
Worth the cost?
Paying for the Website Builder separately may be worth it if you’re inexperienced with designing websites and want some more time and flexibility in deciding how your website will look.
Those needing to have their website up and running quickly may want to opt for professional web design services elsewhere.
Backing up your website data is an important preventative measure that protects against human error, unexpected problems from updates, hackers, malware and more.
HostGator offers free weekly backups as a courtesy, but protection isn’t guaranteed. CodeGuard provides daily automatic backups of your website.
Worth the cost?
If you need more security or have frequent website changes, you may want to opt into CodeGuard’s daily backup service.
The backups will cover up to 5 websites, unlimited files and databases and can perform up to 3 restores per month.
SiteLock Website Security, available for purchase during checkout on HostGator’s website, is a cloud-based service that claims to protect your site from various threats.
SiteLock’s protection services offer daily scans to detect malware, bot attacks and other vulnerabilities. Better yet, the scans are automated.
Worth the cost?
Reviews of SiteLock are mixed. Those new to website security like the peace of mind it offers. Experienced webmasters insist that it doesn’t offer services you can’t do yourself.
Take some time to review standard protection procedures for a website to understand if it’s something you feel comfortable taking on yourself.
If you like working within Google’s office and productivity products (Gmail, Calendar, Drive, etc), you can opt into HostGator’s G Suite integration.
Available on your cPanel, G Suite integration on HostGator offers business email address, video and voice calls, 30GB of online storage and more.
Worth the cost?
This comes down to personal preference. If you love G Suite products and have existing data on their platform, it makes sense to integrate it into your HostGator cPanel.
When registering a domain, some personal information is required to complete the transaction. HostGator’s Domain Privacy service prevents that information from being publicly available.
Their Domain Privacy Protection claims to protect against identity theft, scammers and even email spam.
Worth the cost?
Buying domain name privacy may not offer full protection from companies selling your domain info. Plus, hiding your domain information may turn off customers who value full transparency.
PROS & CONS OF HOSTGATOR
A simple registration process, easy-to-use platform, tutorials and forums make HostGator a great option for novice users.
- 24/7/365 Support
Reach HostGator by phone, live chat or email to get your questions answered at any time.
- Multiple Hosting Options
Shared hosting is perfect for newbies, but HostGator also offers Cloud, WordPress, VPS, Dedicated and server hosting.
- 99.9% Uptime Guarantee
Uptime is the amount of time your website is running as expected. 99.9% uptime means your site may be down ~90 seconds daily – a reliable industry standard.
- 45-day Money Back Guarantee
A big plus for those who take their time to decide, HostGator’s 45-day grace period is more than the typical 30 days.
Site or domain migration, drag-and-drop website building, 52 open-source scripts, plus an SSL certificate – all for free.
- One-Click Installations
Install popular web applications like WordPress, Joomla, Wiki, Magento, Drupal, and more with just one click.
- “Unlimited” Offerings Are Conditional
“Unlimited domains” doesn’t apply to the Hatching plan; “unlimited bandwidth” doesn’t apply if you violate their Terms of Service.
- Expensive Domains
HostGator doesn’t offer a free domain upon signing up, and domain registration costs more on HostGator than other sites.
- Pricing Isn’t Straightforward
HostGator’s low monthly price seems appealing until you realize the discount is only valid for the 3-year billing cycle.
- Some Features Limited
Daily backups are not free on HostGator, as well as updates to core files, plug-ins or themes, and some security measures.
Getting Started with HostGator
HostGator makes the process of signing up fairly straightforward. After you’ve chosen the appropriate plan for your needs, clicking “Buy Now” will guide you through the registration process.
The exact info required during the registration process will differ depending on which product you’re buying, but the main registration steps are as follows:
- Choose a new domain name or enter one you already own.
- Confirm your hosting plan of choice and your billing cycle.
- Choose a username and security PIN.
- Enter your billing info.
- Opt into or out of HostGator’s additional services.
- Enter a coupon code if you have one; if you’ve clicked on a special offer, the coupon code will be entered automatically.
- Review order details and submit.
After registering on HostGator, you’ll receive a welcome email that includes login information for cPanel. cPanel is the interface on which you can make changes to and manage the settings of your website.
In cPanel, you’ll have designated sections for My Account, Billing, Hosting, Domains, Support, and Marketing.
cPanel’s features and add-ons come with tutorials and how-to videos to help acquaint you with the interface. HostGator’s support team can assist you with any cPanel issues you encounter, and you have community support forums at your disposal.
While many users have had a positive experience with HostGator, they offer 24/7/365 support should you encounter any issues.
Toll-Free: (866) 964-2867
Local: (713) 574-5287
Fax (Billing): (281) 476-7800
Fax (Abuse): (281) 476-7801
HostGator’s 45-day money back guarantee requires you to first cancel your service by filling out a cancellation form. Then, follow these steps:
- Receive an automatic reply confirming your request.
- Receive separate cancellation confirmation email (up to 48 hours later).
- Reply to the cancellation-confirmation email and ask for your refund.
- Get written confirmation from HostGator stating the amount of your refund.
- Allow up to 15 days for your credit card or PayPal account to show the refund.
Complaints about Customer Service
While HostGator boasts 24/7/365 support, many users have reported issues with response time and communication.
Reviews from sites like Consumer Affairs and Hosting Facts mention customer support taking days longer than expected and customer service agents failing to communicate with other internal agents if the support required more than one person.
Alternatives to HostGator
The web hosting market is full of options to accommodate a wide variety of needs and preferences. We cover the main pros and cons of some of HostGator’s main competitors below.
InMotion is another popular web hosting service. Like HostGator, they offer 24/7/365 customer support via email, telephone, and live chat. They also offer free site migration.
InMotion sets itself apart in their money back guarantee. If you’re not happy with their services, InMotion will return your money for up to 90 days after signing up – twice as long as HostGator’s guarantee period.
An advantage of InMotion is their all-SSD infrastructure. Solid State Drives operate much faster than traditional hard drives, and you can expect better performance for your site, especially during peak network times.
If you’re a WordPress user, then Bluehost is another great choice. Like HostGator, they offer managed WordPress and WooCommerce hosting plans.
Bluehost offers daily backups, even for the lowest-tier shared hosting plan. However, they state on their website that the backups aren’t guaranteed, and that users are encouraged to perform additional backups on their own.
Still, daily backups are better compared to HostGator’s weekly backups. Because of that, we think it’s a good alternative choice for those considering a different provider.
GoDaddy is probably the most popular web host provider in the world. They have 17 million customers and 6,000 employees worldwide.
GoDaddy has decent speeds and good service uptimes. They offer rock-bottom promotional prices for their 36-month plan, and they’re comparable to what you’d find on HostGator or Bluehost.
GoDaddy acts as a one-stop shop for many webhosting needs, especially if you do e-commerce. They offer SEO optimization, social media management, and local listings management. You can also get a business line that goes to your personal smartphone.
HostGator is a good choice for small businesses and those new to web hosting. However, you’ll need to be wary of rate hikes. Prices jump back to their normal rate when you renew your service, which can be almost double the promotional rate.
Still, they do offer a 45-day money back guarantee, so cancellation is an option if you’re not satisfied. Their round-the-clock customer service and a 99.9% uptime guarantee shows that their service is reliable.