HostGator Review: How Does This Web Host Stack up?
Hosting is the backbone of every website. It all starts with hosting, and if you choose the wrong provider, you may find yourself locked by the decision. For that reason, it is essential to choose wisely, and that’s why you read reviews like this.
In our HostGator review, we will dissect this affordable hosting company and their plans. We will tell you our point of view, and some reasons why we think it’s a good solution for your website. Read on to find out more!
HostGator has been around since 2002. It is one of the older companies in the industry. HostGator is also one of the biggest ones, with 8+ million domains hosted.
In 2012, Endurance International Group (EIG) purchased HostGator. This mammoth company owns dozens of known and not so well-known hosting providers. Besides the Gator, they bought BlueHost, iPage, HostMonster, and others.
There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but users sometimes prefer smaller companies and don’t like seeing their hosting provider getting sold to a multinational conglomerate. This is honestly one of the biggest gripes we’ve heard about HostGator.
HostGator’s base is in Houston, Texas. However, they also have data centers in Provo, Utah. More than 800 employees are at your service, making sure all servers stay up no matter what.
Both locations have the highest security standards, for maximal uptime. Besides physical security and restricted access to servers, they have HVAC, UPS backups, diesel generators. This protects servers from natural disasters, including fires, floods, and even hurricanes.
Of course, the technology they use is the latest. Plus, it’s continuously updated, providing their users the best possible service. We will get to that later in our HostGator review when speaking about their plans.
HostGator Hosting Options
Before we dive into HostGator plans, let’s discuss a few things every one of them has in common.
- First, HostGator offers free site migration. This is excellent news for all of you who are looking to transfer a website from the old host you no longer like.
- Second, HostGator has a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Their security systems, backups and layers of infrastructure redundancy make sure your site stays up. If the uptime goes below the guarantee, you will get free hosting credit for the next month.
- Third, HostGator is very user-friendly. You won’t have any issues with the interface if you are not technically inclined. One-click installations will allow you to get started within minutes. The dashboard is well organized and self-explanatory. They even simplified the site building process, with their Website Builder. This HostGator review has a separate section dedicated to the Gator Builder.
- Fourth, all HostGator plans are scalable. If your site ever needs more, you can easily switch to a better plan, or even upgrade tiers.
- Last but not least, HostGator received plenty of awards over the years. Big name sites like WP Beginner, HostingAdvice and even PC Mag have nothing but praise for this provider. That really says a lot.
- There is one major con though, at least when compared to the competition. HostGator doesn’t offer free domain names with their plans, which slightly adds to the cost. The only exception is their Gator Website Builder.
HostGator offers different types of plans for various purposes. These are shared, WordPress cloud, VPS and dedicated servers. We will break them down one by one in detail:
HostGator shared hosting plans are generous, to say the least. They offer unlimited storage, and unmetered bandwidth, plus a free SSL certificate.
An SSL is essential, even if you don’t have a store on the website. Not only that it builds trust in your brand, but it is also a ranking factor. Google will show HTTPS websites above HTTP, which will help you attract more traffic. Unlimited bandwidth means traffic is never a problem with HostGator.
Instant Backups option will save you from a lot of trouble. In a click, you can backup and download the cPanel account. If something unpredictable happens later, restore it to the previous state, nice and easy.
Also, HostGator doesn’t tie you down with contracts, even on shared plans, and you can cancel at any time. This is a great option and combined with a generous guarantee, makes trying HostGator risk-free.
Lastly, HostGator offers $100 credit for Google, and $100 for Bing. That will give your site a kick start, and boost its presence through ads even before it gets ranked.
There are three shared plans, all super affordable and providing great value:
- Hatchling – *$2.75/mo – single domain, no parked and addon domains, no private SSL.
- Baby – *3.95/mo – unlimited domains, parked and addon domains, private SSL allowed, dedicated IP available.
- Business – *$5.95/mo – everything from Baby + free dedicated IP, upgrade to Positive SSL, SEO tools, anonymous FTP and more.
*when paid annually
In 2015 HostGator launched WordPress Managed Hosting plans. For those of you who are not familiar with the term “managed” hosting, it is a better, care-free alternative of shared hosting (other groups have it as well).
Your provider will take care of the updates, WordPress upgrades, and backups. If something goes wrong, you can always contact them to help you and restore. Automatic backups with one-click restore will allow you to take care of everything yourself if you don’t want to wait.
Installing WordPress on HostGator is a very straight forward process. Please watch the short video below if you need help installing WordPress.
WordPress plans also have automatic malware removal, unmetered storage space, free SSL, and $100 of Google AdWords credit.
But, unlike shared hosting, WordPress servers are specifically optimized for this CMS. That ensures maximum performance, safety, and speed. And it’s not only about the hardware, HostGator has WordPress experts managing the servers. Rest assured, your website is in professional hands.
You can expect site(s) to load in one second less than with shared plans. This doesn’t sound like much, but trust us, this stat alone will tremendously improve conversions.
The speed is a result of WordPress servers having multiple caching layers, as well as CDN, and are low-density. Cloud architecture ensures visitors will always get the closest possible server. This will result in 2.5x performance improvements.
Speed is becoming more and more important to both search engines like Google as well as website users. If your website loads slow, know that it can lead to users leaving before they even fully arrive.
WordPress Hosting Options
- Starter – *$5.95/mo – 1 site, 100k visitors, 1 GB daily backups, 2x Relative Compute Power.
- Standard – *$7.95/mo – 2 sites, 200k visitors, 2GB daily backups, 2x Relative Compute Power.
- Business – *$9.95/mo – 3 sites, 500k visitors, 3GB daily backups, 5x Relative Compute Power.
*when paid annually
VPS Hosting Plans
Virtual Private Servers are the middle ground when it comes to hosting. VPS hosting is somewhere between high-end and expensive dedicated servers, and affordable, but performance-lacking shared hosting.
They will give your site scalable resources, making them withstand traffic spikes, but won’t drain your wallet too much. With VPS, you can start small, and see how the site behaves. If you need more, just upgrade with a single click. Also, because VPS is fully-managed, you don’t need a high level of technical skills to run your site.
Every HostGator VPS plan gives you full root access to customize the servers to your desire. Additionally, they have various layers of network security mixed with several bandwidth providers, to ensure your site stays up. RAID 10 redundancy system will keep your site alive, all the time. And, HostGator does free weekly, off-site backups of your whole website.
All HG VPS plans have unlimited domains and subdomains, as well as emails, databases, FTP accounts. Everything is on the latest hardware, ensuring performance.
VPS Plans Include:
- Snappy 2000 – *$29.95/mo – 2 CPU cores, 2 GB RAM, 120 GB storage, 1.5 TB Bandwidth, 2 IP addresses.
- Snappy 4000 – *$39.95/mo – 2 CPU cores, 4 GB RAM, 165 GB storage, 2 TB bandwidth, 2 IP addresses.
- Snappy 8000 – *$49.95/mo – 4 CPU cores, 8 GB RAM, 240 GB storage, 3 TB bandwidth, 2 IP addresses.
*when paid annually
Lastly, in our HostGator review of options we have top of the line dedicated servers. These will cost you the most, but they provide the ultimate experience.
You will have the whole server just for your site, for maximum performance no matter what the conditions are. Dedicated servers are Ideal for large websites and businesses that attract large amounts of traffic, and have a lot of data.
HostGator offers both fully and semi-managed dedicated servers. Fully managed will give you more freedom. With the fully managed option HostGator will do all backups, updates, migrations, optimizations, and patching for you. Semi-managed have CentOS, Ubuntu, Windows, or Debian. Fully-managed have CentOs or Windows as operating system options.
All HostGator dedicated servers have three dedicated IPv4 addresses, RAID-1 configuration, DDoS attack protection. They utilize a fully redundant network for maximum data integrity. You will also get full root access, and 24/7/365 premium support from the HostGator team. Also, all in their US-based tier-3 datacenter.
Dedicated Sever Plans Include:
- Value Server – *$119/mo – 4 CPU Cores / 8 Thread, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD, Unlimited Bandwidth.
- Power Server – *$139/mo – 8 CPU Cores / 16 Thread, 16 GB RAM, 2 TB HDD or 512 GB SSD, Unlimited Bandwidth.
- Enterprise Server – *$149/mo – 8 CPU Cores / 16 Thread, 30 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD, Unlimited Bandwidth.
*when paid annually
Website Speed and Uptime Tests
With the increased emphasis on website speed these days it is something I wanted to test. When testing the site response time, or load time for one month we averaged 933 ms per load. This isn’t bad, but more so in the middle of the pack.
I also made sure to review the uptime results. In the past 30 days of monitoring the website uptime I have seen an average of 99.98%, which is nearly perfect. If your website isn’t up, it’s simply useless. Uptime like this ensures that when your users go to the site it will be live.
HostGator Review: Gator Website Builder
HostGator didn’t stay immune to the trend of drag & drop website builders. On this site we’ve already covered many WordPress website builders. They introduced their own, called Gator Website Builder.
If you need something to set up your site in no time at all, and especially if you already host it on HostGator, GWB is all that you need. It is simple to use, yet functional and has enough options for any website type. Store and blog options are bit limited though, at least when compared to the more established builder competition available. However, it’s a new product that may grow into something great over time.
As noted, Gator is drag & drop, which means it’s very beginner friendly. Everything you create through this builder is responsive, ready for mobile devices. You will have hundreds of templates for different purposes. You can create blogs, stores, portfolios and business websites.
But Gator Website Builder is not just about setting up the site. It also has excellent tools that will keep you going.
The full analytics suite will give you an insight into visitor’s minds, telling you what needs improvements. Plus, you will have advanced social media tools. With them, you can include Instagram feeds, but also Twitter and Facebook, keeping your site’s visitors engaged. And for your business purposes, Gator supports the full Google Suite.
There are three plans, all of which come with a free domain for the first year, unlimited pages, unmetered storage, and bandwidth. Furthermore, you will get $200 worth of ad vouchers, and a free SSL certificate, among other features mentioned above. Here’s what separates them:
- Starter – *$3.84/mo – no priority support, no eCommerce features
- Premium – *$5.99/mo – priority support, no eCommerce features
- eCommerce – *$9.22/mo – priority support, and full eCommerce features (Inventory management, Shipping & tax calculator, Coupons…)
*when paid annually
Considering the size of this hosting provider, and the number of domains it hosts, HostGator has good support.
If you have premium plans, that have priority support, you won’t wait too long. They are a little slower for weaker plans, but you will eventually get your answers after waiting a bit.
Still, their support staff is very knowledgeable and willing to help. You can reach them around the clock via chat, email, ticket requests or phone (depending on the plan).
We suggest you to check out HostGator knowledge base, even if you don’t host on their servers. It is full of quality information, completely free, and will solve many problems webmasters face in their day-to-day.
Another thing I highly suggest doing before choosing any hosting provider is reaching out to their support before purchasing a plan with them. This allows you to test the waters and get an idea of what to expect. In the past I personally did not like HostGator’s support. However, more recently I think they’ve made some significant improvements.
Last in our HostGator review is the generous 45-day, 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. This is more than most other hosting providers, with 30 days or less being the standard in the hosting world.
Forty-five days is more than enough to try all of the HostGator features, and see for yourself how it works for you. We think that you will like HostGator and continue the service for years to come.
HostGator Review: Conclusion
I personally believe that HostGator is a solid option for those wanting to start a WordPress website. However, they are not my first choice. I personally think there are a few hosting companies that have more knowledgeable support and better overall plans. HostGator isn’t far off from them though, and worth a shot if you like their plans and support. I would recommend that if you are just starting with a new website for the first time that you consider getting a WordPress managed hosting plan over a shared plan. In the long run you will have a quicker, more secure website.
Our final score for HostGator is a solid 8.5 out of 10 stars.
I hope that you found this HostGator review helpful. Have you tried out HostGator for yourself? If so, we would love to hear your own HostGator review below in the comments.