Hostgator Review

HostGator has been around for a while, and after using it for a while you'll see why: it's easy to use, fast and very affordable. With a variety of plans to choose from, HostGator may just be the right fit for you.

obr
By Jacob Roach
— Last Updated: 02 Aug'18
2015-01-22T10:02:18+00:00
Table of Contents Rating
Features
95%
Excellent
Pricing
95%
Excellent
Server Types
95%
Excellent
Ease of Use
95%
Excellent
Security
83%
Good
Support
80%
Good

Excellent
Visit Hostgator


HostGator is one of the most prolific web hosts in the business with a full suite of plans for budgets low and high. It’s commitment to simplicity makes it ideal for newbies, but power users will still find plenty of options to mess around with.

A dated support center makes servicing your site alone a bit of a chore. However, excellent direct support channels easily compensate for this issue. While no web host is perfect, HostGator gets pretty close. Read on to see how it stacks up against our other best web hosting providers.

Alternatives for HostGator

  • “Green” web hosting
  • cPanel
  • Inexpensive shared plans
  • Excellent support
  • Difficult to navigate knowledgebase
  • Expensive plans outside of shared hosting
  • No cloud hosting
  • Very easy to use
  • Best WordPress hosting provider
  • Multiple hosting options
  • Useful help center
  • Bad customer support reputation
  • CPU throttling

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Competitive prices
  • Many hosting options
  • Reworked cPanel
  • Three points of contact

Weaknesses:

  • Paid security services
  • Dated knowledgebase

Features

95% - Excellent

No matter what plan you go with, HostGator offers plenty of options to add value. The built-in marketplace includes both free and paid add-ons for building your site, securing it and making sure your visitors feel protected. Additionally, there are options for those moving from other hosts and those just starting out.

First, you must bring your website to HostGator. For customers who already run a website, it offers free migration services within a couple of days. Simply order hosting and request migration and Hostgator’s staff will do the rest.

Since HostGator uses cPanel, migration should mean you won’t lose anything. Most major web hosts use this platform meaning HostGator can make a complete copy of your old account (including emails, etc.) and port it over to your new one.

If you’re just starting out, you can use HostGator’s website builder. All plans that use the website builder include hosting so you don’t need to pay a premium on top of your base plan. The most inexpensive option will get your feet wet with six pages, while the more expensive plans add unlimited page count, Google Analytics and ecommerce tools.

If you already pay for hosting, no worries. You can use the basic, six-page web builder plan for free with any hosting plan.

Inside the marketplace is where you can find a lot of the extras for your site. Some plans already include items in here, such as SiteLock and CodeGuard. However, tools like Constant Contact, SSL certificates and SEO audits are nice to see.

You can also install WordPress, Joomla and more in there as well as access thousands of premium themes. Themes are served via the Mojo Marketplace, so there’s a good variety to choose from.

Basic features like one-click installs and an integrated website builder are nice to see, but expected from a major web host. Extra services like CodeGuard and SEO audits make HostGator stick out with a variety of tools all under one roof.

HostGator Features Overview

Server Types

Shared Hosting
VPS Hosting
Managed WordPress
Cloud Hosting
Dedicated Hosting
Reseller Hosting

Usablity

FTP Access
SSH Access
cPanel
["cPanel"]
Root Access
Daily Backups
Website Builder

Services

SEO
Marketing
Website Design

Security

Domain Privacy
SSL Encryption
Malware Removal
Web Application Firewall
Two-Factor Authentication
DDoS Protection
sFTP

Support

Email Support
Telephone Support
Live Chat Support
Tutorials
User forum
Knowledgebase
24/7 Support

Pricing

95% - Excellent

Plan:Price per month:
Web Hosting$3.95
Cloud Hosting$4.95
WordPress Hosting$5.95
Reseller Hosting$19.95
VPS Hosting$19.95
Dedicated Hosting$119.95


HostGator has a plan for just about any budget. While those looking for peak performance won’t find the rates and configurations of Pagely (read our Pagely review), most users can find what they’re looking for here.

The most inexpensive plan comes in at $1 per month more than rival BlueHost (read our BlueHost review) for a three-year term. The extras, such as SiteLock monitoring and backups, cost less at HostGator though. With everything included, HostGator comes in about $70 cheaper. The advertised rate is higher, but the actual cost is less than its leading competitor.

The savings are more apparent when it comes to HostGator’s cloud hosting plan. HostGator is not only $2 cheaper per month for a 36-month term, but the extras still show the same price disparity relative to the competition. All included, the value is immense, coming in at over $150 cheaper.

WordPress hosting is where the biggest savings are, though. HostGator’s plans come in at a fraction of the cost for similar ones at WP Engine and InMotion (read our InMotion review). It also includes SiteLock and daily backups which easily pay for themselves.

Reseller hosting is a bit of a mixed bag, simply because there isn’t much to compare HostGator to. Still, these plans are intended to make you money through your own business and, for that, HostGator leaves plenty of meat on the bone.

HostGator Pricing Compared

VPS plans, while pricey, are still much cheaper than HostGator’s competitors. The most inexpensive plan grants you a dual-core CPU, 2GB of RAM and 120GB of drive space. Ordering a similarly specced VPS at DreamHost (with half the disk space) is $10 more per month (for more on this, read our DreamHost review).

The dedicated options are more expensive than offerings seen at 1&1 (read our 1&1 review). However, the configurations explain why. Each of the servers is outfitted with Intel Xeon processors and plenty of RAM to support the load. Additionally, you can choose either Linux or Windows with full root access.

Pricing at HostGator is very competitive, offering different tiers for any budget. Unlike smaller hosts, the pricing scheme makes sense, with a clear gradient in both price and performance. Savings on extra features drive down the initial cost of hosting, making HostGator an excellent value.

Server Types

95% - Excellent

HostGator is one of the most accommodating web hosts there is, with plans for nearly any need or budget. It features everything from dirt-cheap shared plans to stacked, dedicated ones, with everything in between.

The basic “Web Hosting” plans are built on a shared architecture. That means you are placed on a server with other users. Due to the volume of users that can be put on a single server, costs are greatly reduced.

Unfortunately, so is performance. No single user has a set amount of resources on a shared server, so those resources ebb and flow as different users need them. At some points, performance could be great and at others, it could be garbage.

We tested the speeds of shared servers using Bitcacha, a tool that queries a site but doesn’t actually load any content. It’s a better test of raw server response than running a simple speed test as two sites on the same server could have vastly different results depending on their content.

In the U.S., we received an average response time of 45.3ms. This is a benchmark speed, sitting slightly below A2 Hosting’s 52.5ms response and slightly above iPage, which sat at 43ms (read our iPage review).

Once international servers were factored in, HostGator received an overall speed of 173.8ms. This is actually quite impressive considering Arvixe clocked in at 280.6ms and Pagely at 273.1ms. However, it still falls slightly short of speeds at SiteGround (read our SiteGround review) which ranked at 146.5ms.

It should be noted that this is only a snapshot of shared response times and, depending on the content of your site, your speeds may vary. However, it’s still a good benchmark when comparing the overall performance of one web host to another.

Shared servers are just a small part of HostGator, though. For a little more, it offers cloud hosting as well. This spreads your website across many low-density servers, improving both speed and uptime.

It’s like being on many different shared servers with far fewer users on each. Resources aren’t fought over as much, and a single website is far less likely to crash the server.

HostGator offers cloud hosting plans specifically tailored to WordPress, too. Essentially, these plans are the same as the cloud hosting plans with the exception of free backups, multiple caching layers, a free CDN and website traffic limits.

While the limits are disappointing, they work in favor of speed and uptime. If all users have traffic limits with a shared architecture, the risk of a single site crashing the server or eating up all of the resources is far less likely.

HostGator Reseller Plans

If you’re looking to make a little extra money, HostGator offers one of the best reseller plans out there. You get free website transfers for your first 30 sites, 400+ brandable video tutorials, cPanel and billing software included.

HostGator doesn’t limit resellers. You have all of the tools you need to start a business, with extra products like SSL certificates, domain registrations and more.

However, where performance really jumps are the VPS plans. A virtual private server takes a set amount of resources from a physical server and hosts your website with that. Instead of dynamic resources like on a shared server, you get a set amount to yourself.

At HostGator, you get full root access to your VPS, with plenty of disk space and bandwidth across all plans. If you want the speed and reliability of a dedicated server without the price tag, a VPS is for you.

If you need all of the bells and whistles, a dedicated server may be better suited. HostGator has options for those looking to get in cheap and those trying to get the full package. All servers are U.S.-based with a 24/7 support specifically for dedicated plans.

HostGator is really the benchmark for other hosting companies with its variety of plans. Just about every type of web-hosting service is offered, with all options packed with features and different tiers. No matter what hosting you’re looking for, you can find it at HostGator.

Ease of Use

95% - Excellent

Signing up and using HostGator’s services is one of the simplest experiences we’ve had with a web host. An up-to-date website design and reworked cPanel make finding what you need a breeze.

HostGator lays out its site to give you all of the information you need without bombarding you. It strikes a balance between DreamHost’s minimal design and A2’s (read our A2 review) extreme attention to detail. Inexpensive plans give you information about support, while expensive ones dive into the specs of the server.

Unlike any other web host I’ve seen, HostGator has a single page to compare all plans on. Here, you can see a short list of features included in every plan, as well as the price. This is a huge timesaver for those who are just learning about web hosting.

Once you sign up for an account, you’ll have access to HostGator’s reworked cPanel. This is, by far, the best implementation of cPanel I’ve seen. The homepage is the classic cPanel look, with large icons separated into categories.

However, a sidebar will show you more categories for support, billing, marketing and more. It’s like DreamHost’s control panel, but with the options of cPanel.

Included in the sidebar is HostGator’s marketplace. You can find different plugins and themes, professional services like SEO audits and other website essentials like SiteLock and SSL certificates.

What’s great is that it’s laid out in a proper ecommerce fashion. Instead of navigating to separate tabs to find each item needed, everything is in one spot, categorized and clarified with pictures and descriptions.

HostGator’s process is intuitive, with a modern design and accommodation not just for those looking to buy, but those who need to manage as well. Catering to both is something seldom seen in the web-hosting world and it’s nice to see that HostGator gets it right.

Security

83% - Good

HostGator delivers the security measures that should be expected for a web host of its size. SiteLock is the main attraction, with some plans including it for free, and others as a low-cost addon. The inclusion of cheap SSL certificates is nice, but free would be preferred.

SiteLock is a third-party protection and removal service for websites. It’s partnerships with multiple other hosts makes it an obvious inclusion for HostGator.

However, you won’t find it with all plans. Shared and cloud hosting come with no included security, even a basic detection plan. These plans are well priced, but some basic security inclusions would be nice to see.

True value for security comes with WordPress plans. You get both SiteLock and CodeGuard included for free. The SiteLock plan features both malware detection and removal (a perk over the aforementioned plan) and CodeGuard will backup your site daily.

If you want to learn more about WordPress backup and the general use of the CMS, check out our three guides. 

SSL certificates can be purchased during checkout for your site. Many hosts like DreamHost, for example, offer free versions of SSL certificates that don’t offer the same level of security as paid ones.

HostGator skips this step and instead just offers high-quality Comodo certificates. For ecommerce sites, this is essential and the cost is well worth it. However, with more and more browsers cracking down on non-secure sites, a basic, free certificate would have been a welcome inclusion.

Support

80% - Good

HostGator has every method of contact you could need, with video tutorials, forums and articles to help in a pinch. While the support portal doesn’t feature the same modern design as the rest of its services, the process is still just as intuitive.

You can contact HostGator via phone, live chat or email. While many companies are nixing email or phone support, it leaves the methods of contact open, with all forms available around the clock. HostGator even lists the addresses of its four different offices if you needed to snail mail something in.

When opening a ticket or live chat, HostGator will first try to direct you towards an article within theknowledgebase to solve the issue. This lowers the burden on support staff so those that need it have someone available.

Articles are, thankfully, helpful. While the dated design makes skimming the page difficult, each piece is laid out with step-by-step instructions put up front, and clarifications later. None get too wordy or technical, while still containing information pertinent to the issue.

Finding the article you need is a bit tricky, though. HostGator doesn’t list out what’s available. Instead, you can use the recommended articles when opening live chat or email, or just use the search bar at the top

For me, this system works great. However, I do understand that some may want to browse available articles to see if their issues can be solved. This isn’t the best implementation, but it’s far from broken.

For those who need a more visual approach, HostGator has a massive list of video tutorials. You’ll need Flash player in order to view the videos, so Chrome users may have some issues. Updating the tutorials to send users to a YouTube page would be much more effective.

Video tutorials are dated, but still very helpful. Information is given in a very matter-of-fact way, with full screen capture to aid the process. Again, in this case, HostGator’s system isn’t broken, but could use some retooling.

Support streams are great at HostGator, with routes for any users. A dated design makes DIY support a bit of a chore. If you can get past that, articles and videos are still very helpful. While not everything is perfect, this area is still a win for HostGator.

The Verdict

HostGator hits every major point a web host should, with competitive prices and comprehensive plans in every bracket. The ease of use is second to none, with both newbies and power users catered to thanks to an excellent implementation of cPanel.

Security features are all available, but the price hike is disconcerting. While still cheaper than BlueHost, some basic, free tools for protecting your site would be a welcome addition. Still, this small con is easily overlooked with the benefits of the service.

Are you going to try out HostGator, or will you be checking out our other web hosting reviews? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.

Hostgator Review

Our favorite web hosting provider.

HostGator has been around for a while, and after using it for a while you'll see why: it's easy to use, fast and very affordable. With a variety of plans to choose from, HostGator may just be the right fit for you.
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