“We have been a paying customer for HostGator since August 2017.
We are monitoring HostGator’s shared hosting servers for Uptime and Performance through our website hostingpill-hg.website.
This review of HostGator is based on actual testing done on their servers.”
If you’ve looked around a few lists of top hosting providers, you may have come across a certain name: HostGator.
HostGator is not the largest hosting platform, but it is on the larger side.
What is HostGator?
It’s been in business since 2002—which, for the hosting world, means it’s pretty well established—and it’s gotten big enough to have international offices in addition to its HQs in Austin and Houston.
In 2012, HostGator was acquired by Endurance International Group (EIG), which also owns another major hosting provider—Bluehost.
We don’t know the final number of subscribers HostGator has, but it surpassed 200,000 customers way back in 2009.
With that and the fact that in 2015 EIG purportedly had over 4 million subscribers between its subsidiaries (of which Bluehost and HostGator are probably the biggest), it’s probably safe to assume HostGator has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, if not millions.
Outwardly, things look good for HostGator. Their website’s home page names some of the web hosting awards they’ve gotten (from PCMag, and more), which sure makes them look good.
Of course, the internet is a big place, and it’s not too difficult to get positive comments for yourself if you know how to play the game.
Does HostGator really measure up to its praise online?
Keep reading to find out!
Cons of HostGator
Bad news—HostGator does have some notable problems.
Luckily, they’re pretty straightforward: the pricing is a little complicated and is a bit costly in some respects, and I wish security were more comprehensive by default.
The first problem with HostGator we should look at is price. Don’t worry too much: it’s not that HostGator is overall overpriced.
More specifically, some plans on HostGator could be cheaper, compared to the plans of competing services.
This is especially true if you’re not interested in committing: the low prices offered are for commitments of three years.
Although this is common among hosting providers, HostGator is on the worse end.
That being said, I don’t think this is a tremendous downfall. If you’re looking to save money, HostGator isn’t something you should immediately discount.
If, however, you’re looking for a specific type of hosting—such as WordPress hosting—then HostGator might not be at the top of your list.
Compounding with the flawed pricing is HostGator’s security add-ons.
Where other platforms might offer more of a selection of security features for certain packages automatically, HostGator has some separation from its plans.
It’s kind of a burden, especially considering that hosting packages from other providers are sometimes much less of a hassle and at lower cost.
But all of that is pretty simple: the quirks of the pricing structure also cause some of the pros, so let’s get to some sunlight!
Pros of HostGator
As stated, the quirky pricing structure is a cause for some benefits. Shared web hosting, despite being pricier than competitors for the first year, has a renewal price on the lower side.
This is very significant, and I can’t find many parallels to this in other services.
Other than that, I have found their customer support to be solid, and their user interface to be simple and easy to use. Most importantly, they gave great uptime, even if their other security tools are pricey or lackluster.
Overall, HostGator hits off a lot of pros that even out the cons pretty handily.
Pricing of HostGator
Price is typically the first thing we look at—and when there are so many hosting providers out there to choose from, you can afford to be frugal.
So here are the facts: for shared web hosting (which is the most basic and usually the most popular), plans start at $3.95 a month.
These three tiers—the Hatchling, Baby, and Business plans—are pretty well-priced with the discount, but not too much of a burden normally.
I would prefer them to be cheaper, of course, but for shared hosting, it’s on the upper end of the normal price range.
In any case, with the discount WordPress hosting starts with $5.95 a month and continues to $9.95 a month. These discounts are 40-57% off, which tells you how expensive they are normally.
Frankly, WordPress hosting is a little overpriced on HostGator.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting is currently discounted at 70% or 73% off, and including the discount comes in between $19.95 and $39.95 a month.
Finally, dedicated servers start at $119 and end at $149 a month. Although this is also with the discounts, these are actually pretty good prices for dedicated servers.
If you’re looking to save money but still want a dedicated server, HostGator might be one of your top picks.
One other issue: while other sites tend to show prices as “discounts,” they really are just the prices for the first year of service.
Afterwards, they rise when you renew. With HostGator, however, the discounts I keep talking about are the typical, limited time only discounts you’d see in a store.
And, to get them, you’d have to commit for three years of service. So, if you want to buy only one year of service for the cheapest shared hosting tier, you would have to pay $5.95 a month. Which is indeed a bit hefty.
Nonetheless, after the first year, the monthly prices are not that much relative to the market.
GoDaddy, for example, raises the monthly price to $7.99 a month for its entry level plan after the first year of use; HostGator’s Hatchling plan rises to $6.95.
So hey, don’t be too alarmed by what seem to be slightly inflated prices. (See the comparison of HostGator vs Godaddy)
One last thing—HostGator has a 45-day money-back guarantee for its shared hosting plans.
This is significantly longer than the typical 2-week or month-long guarantees from competing sites, and should give you enough time to really understand whether you want to stick with the service or not.
As most people will be looking at shared hosting, I’ll say that HostGator’s pricing is pretty reasonable—only WordPress hosting seems abnormal to me, and the 45-day refund policy is pretty solid.
So pricing isn’t the cheapest out there—but maybe there are some great things you get in return, right?
Well, let’s get into that.
Note: we’re mostly talking about shared web hosting features since they’re the most popular.
Hatchling, the first tier, comes with one domain and unmetered bandwidth. Baby gets unlimited domains, and Business gets a free dedicated IP, free SEO tools, and a free upgrade to positive SSL.
This might sound a little bare to you. Shouldn’t there be a longer list of features, even for Hatchling?
Well, HostGator is organized a bit differently.
There are a lot of features that apply to every hosting plan, and a lot of features that you pay to add on regardless of your plan.
Examples of add-ons include some security tools (more on this in the security section) or SEO tools. However, some of the things made available to every hosting plan are pretty incredible.
Every hosting plan also gets access to 52 free scripts that can be instantly installed—okay, now things are sounding better.
Even more impressive, every plan gets a $100 Google Adwords offer, and a $100 Bing Ads Credit. Well, wow.
Finally, to put icing on the cake, every hosting account comes with a free SSL certification.
This is a big one: even Hatchling plans get an SSL certification, which is something usually reserved for second or third tiered packages on competing platforms.
All of this is in addition to the other basic tools that come with hosting accounts—email accounts, for example.
Oh, except even HostGator’s Hatchling plan includes unlimited email accounts—pretty impressive, especially compared to GoDaddy’s single email account for its first tier.
Frankly, this is a really solid takeaway. HostGator is overall as well-featured as any other major hosting provider.
However, its unusual pricing structure allows you to allocate tools with more flexibility, and get some features for a lower cost than you would otherwise.
In this sense, HostGator makes up for its outwardly pricier products.
If HostGator doesn’t have the most ideal prices, then it better make up for it, right?
Having solid customer support is essential, especially with hosting.
Luckily, HostGator does fine. It has valuable on-site documentation and educational material, as well as several options for directly contacting representatives.
Insofar as educational and informational resources go, HostGator has everything condensed into one support page.
This is a bit unusual; many sites have a FAQ page, a knowledge base (or a combined version of those), and a separate page for certain tutorials or resources.
It’s not a bad thing—although I hate the design of the support page, it certainly is much more useful to have everything conveniently centralized. And sure enough, they have a great selection of video tutorials as well as articles.
Again, it looks outdated, but it looks like they have enough to keep anyone well covered without having to contact a representative.
But if you did want to contact customer service representatives for help, you would have three options: 24/7 phone support, email support, and live chat.
It is common for hosting companies to provide all three, but many also only provide two of the three. That HostGator has all of them is a good sign.
As you can see, the “actual” response did not take long at all either.
Testing as a guest/ordinary visitor on the website really gives you a good indication of the customer service: if anyone can get a solid live chat, then the resources you get once you become a paying customer are likely guaranteed to be good.
All in all, HostGator’s customer service is as good as any, even if there isn’t a whole lot to run home raving about.
Ease of Use
Pricing, features, and customer support—now that we’re getting a clearer picture of HostGator, we should discuss the user experience.
Overall, I would say HostGator is about as easy to use as any other hosting platform. The UI may not be the most beautiful (in my opinion), but it is certainly explicit.
There aren’t many unknown buttons—for the most part, everything is self-evident when navigating the c-panel, dashboard, or website builder.
Ultimately, pretty much every big hosting service has essentially the same user interface, with the main differences being in aesthetic (and maybe layout) but not functionality.
If HostGator is too difficult to use, you can access customer support. I think it unlikely that most people will find it difficult; the learning curve is no steeper than any other mainstream hosting platform.
Security and Reliability
Overview of security—uptime, security measures, etc.
HostGator’s website unfortunately does not offer any obvious overviews of security. To find out more, you’d have to go digging for it. Luckily, we’ve done most of that for you.
First up: this article details some of the security measures HostGator says it uses to protect its servers. The gist is mainly protection from DDoS attacks.
If an hacker, or even a blackout, causes you to lose your site, HostGator offers a service called CodeGuard: it’s a daily automatic backup to the cloud.
CodeGuard can extend for up to 5 websites, 1GB of storage, unlimited files, and can be used to restore your sites 3 times a month.
However, it also starts at $1.67 a month, which is unfortunate: other platforms include daily or weekly backups in some of their packages automatically.
Next, HostGator has something called SiteLock, which is basically a malware scan. It is free! Nope, just kidding. It starts at $1.94 a month, if you commit for a 3-year plan. This is, like CodeGuard, a little unfortunate.
These are serious drawbacks, but I do have some good news: HostGator has great uptime.
In February and April it went down for one minute—two minutes over two months!—and in October the site went down for 4 minutes.
Of course, there’s that ugly figure for August 2017—87 minutes of downtime for a month is truly not ideal. But hey—maybe it’s an outlier, and a year later, it hasn’t happened again.
If you’re reading this past September, you can check the latest uptime figures here.
The takeaways for security are as follows: HostGator gives some protection from hackers to all its servers, but it may not be particularly elaborate.
Nonetheless, uptime with HostGator is generally great, and barring August 2017 it’s probably the service with one of the top uptimes in our tests.
The security add-ons are a nuisance, however, and should be either reduced in cost or partly incorporated by default into hosting plans.
Do We Recommend HostGator?
With all analysis said and done, where does HostGator stand?
Apart from the crowd, for one: both its flaws and its pros are unusual relative to the competition.
Its pricing structure is a bit weird, with a lot of add-ons that are default tools in other platforms, and a lot of default features that are only for upgraded tiers in the rest of the hosting world.
HostGator’s security on one hand seems a little sketchy, with little said about its protocols or digital infrastructure. Yet, it has excellent uptime—perhaps some of the best in the business.
On top of that, HostGator is easy to use and has solid customer support. All in all, it’s not much more expensive than other services, and especially not in the long run.
In my opinion, HostGator gives you a lot and it doesn’t ultimately force you to pay for that much, at least not beyond the range of the mainstream.
In some instances, you may even be paying more cheaply for certain things, such as for SSL certificates.
So with that in mind, the pros far outweigh the cons: yes, I definitely recommend HostGator.
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