HostGator and GoDaddy are two of the biggest names in web hosting. They’re neck and neck, but for different reasons. HostGator shows some strong attributes but struggles in other areas, while GoDaddy could use slight improvements across the board.
GoDaddy houses almost 10 times as many sites as HostGator, and that can’t be a mistake. In this HostGator vs. GoDaddy comparison, we’re going to help you determine which is the best option for you. Over five rounds, we’ll pit the two services against each other, declaring an overall winner at the end.
As you can see in our DreamHost vs. Bluehost comparison, though, these things are often more nuanced than that. If you want to read more on our competitors, check out our HostGator review and GoDaddy review.
Setting Up a Fight: HostGator vs. GoDaddy
As mentioned, our comparison will take place over five rounds. Those rounds are features, pricing, ease of use, speed and uptime and security and privacy. The astute among you may notice those rounds correspond to the criteria in our reviews, minus a couple of sections. That’s intentional, but we’re not skipping important aspects of the services.
It’s hard to say that hosting types are as important as speed, for example, so we’ve condensed a few sections into other areas. The only exception is support, which, for the most part, isn’t a big deal. HostGator and GoDaddy offer decent support, just not on the level of, say, Hostinger (read our Hostinger review).
Five rounds means there’ll be a clear winner, too. Each round is worth one point, and whichever service has three or more points will win the match. Though that’s a great way to quickly see which of the services we prefer, we recommend reading through each section to see why we chose one service over the other.
Features are increasingly important to web hosting. For instance,the free ad credits of iPage don’t stack up to the LiteSpeed servers of Hosting24 (read our iPage review and Hosting24 review). This first round will not only look at the features GoDaddy and HostGator offer, but it’ll also look at how useful and important those features will be to your website.
HostGator is owned by Endurance International Group, and if you’ve read our Bluehost review, you know that means there are a lot of features. Everything from Google G Suite integration to CodeGuard to SiteLock is offered, but many of those additions are hidden behind paywalls.
The shared plans, for example, only come with a few extras. You have $200 in ad credits for Bing and Google and access to all the installers through the Softaculous app installer. Though we’re not complaining about ad credits, things like solid-state storage, LiteSpeed server software and caching will help drive traffic more than $100 in Google ads.
That said, the managed WordPress plans solve many of the shared ones’ issues. Though HostGator didn’t make our best web hosting for WordPress guide, there are a lot of excellent features, including CodeGuard daily backups and SiteLock website security. The plans are fully managed, too, meaning you won’t have to worry about updates.
If you want to go with something more straightforward than WordPress, HostGator offers two website builders, though one is clearly superior. The Gator website builder, which HostGator developed in-house, is usable, but it won’t be making our best website builders guide, as you can see in our Gator review.
A website builder that made that guide, though, is Weebly, which HostGator also offers. The free version of Weebly is included with every shared plan, and though it’s limited in the number of pages and media you can use, it’s full-featured otherwise. Be sure to read our Weebly review to learn more.
Though they differ a lot in other areas, GoDaddy and HostGator are similar when it comes to features. Like its competitor, GoDaddy has many features, but you’ll need to spend a lot to access them. We understand reserving some features for expensive plans, but many of the essentials are behind a paywall.
GoDaddy doesn’t offer daily backups, malware scanning or an SSL/TLS certificate with its shared plans, unless you’re willing to pay extra. Backups are $3 per month, a certificate is $7 and malware scanning is an additional $6. You could be paying twice as much as your hosting package in add-ons alone.
That seems cash-grabby, especially compared to Namecheap, which includes those features and makes the packages cheaper (read our Namecheap review). Even worse is the lack of a website builder. Like HostGator, GoDaddy has its own website builder. As you can read in our GoDaddy GoCentral review, it’s not the best, but it’s not bad, either.
You can’t use the website builder unless you purchase a specific plan, though. It’s not included with your hosting, and considering web hosts such as A Small Orange integrate with Weebly for free, GoDaddy’s omission feels greedy (read our A Small Orange review).
That said, like HostGator’s, GoDaddy’s managed WordPress plans are impressive. They come with all the features the shared plans lack, but you’ll be paying a pretty penny to get them. The cost is so high, in fact, that it’s probably better to go with a host such as Kinsta for WordPress (read our Kinsta review).
Round One Thoughts
HostGator and GoDaddy are unimpressive when it comes to features, especially on shared plans. There’s a clear difference between them when it comes to the included website builder, though. HostGator gives you two options for free, while GoDaddy hides a single option behind a paywall.
That said, if you’re not interested in using a website builder, that difference doesn’t matter. It’s important to us, though, so we’re giving the win to HostGator.
It’s easy to look at the prices of providers to see which is cheaper, but, unfortunately, web hosting is more complex than that. As you can see in our Arvixe review, web hosting services use a lot of shenanigans to make the price appear lower than it is. This section won’t only look at the value of each service, but it’ll also look at how transparent the service is about pricing.
HostGator, like many of its EIG siblings, isn’t clear about pricing (read our HostMonster review for another example of that). The rates look excellent when you’re glancing at a product page, but checkout tells a different story. The price listed is only if you purchase three years of hosting upfront.
Though offering discounts for multi-year plans isn’t unheard of, HostGator punishes you for going with a shorter duration. It offers between one and year years, as well as one, three and six-month terms. Going with the latter durations more than doubles the price, though. The most inexpensive shared plan, which normally costs less than $3, for example, jumps to almost $11.
Compared to cheap host, such as 1&1 IONOS, HostGator is overpriced, but it appears that way with even reasonably-priced web hosts, such as A2 Hosting (read our A2 Hosting review and 1&1 IONOS review). Plus, discounts only apply to a year or longer. If you’re interested in the three or six-month plans, you’ll still pay the same price as you would with a monthly plan.
That said, the refund window is generous. You get 45 days to change your mind, and though we’ve seen longer windows from DreamHost, A2 Hosting and InMotion Hosting, HostGator provides more time than most (read our InMotion Hosting review).
GoDaddy has bad pricing, too, not only because its product page is deceptive, but also because it punishes those who want to get a shorter duration. For example, the cheapest shared plan is $3 per month if you buy three years, but it renews at $8 per month. Those rates are standard for cheap shared hosting, but if you get a three-month duration, the price jumps to $11 per month.
Suffice it to say that GoDaddy doesn’t specialize in cheap web hosting. The plans are expensive, lacking in features and confusing. Even compared to A2 Hosting, the plan lineup is dense, and with such a strange segmentation of features, it’s difficult to know which plan you should buy.
We prefer SiteGround’s lineup. As you can see in our SiteGround review, it balances a lengthy lineup of plans by ensuring the essential features run between them. As mentioned, GoDaddy doesn’t do that, which leads to more tiers between types of hosting and a more confusing checkout process.
Plus, the refund policy is horrid. GoDaddy offers the standard 30 days to get your money back, but reading the fine print reveals that window only applies if you purchase a year or more of hosting. If you go with a shorter duration, no matter the type of hosting, you only get 48 hours to change your mind.
Round Two Thoughts
We don’t love either provider when it comes to pricing, but HostGator annoys us less than GoDaddy. Though we’re still not fans of deceptive pricing, HostGator isn’t too offensive. GoDaddy, on the other hand, is nearing Arvixe levels of deceit. That combined with the terrible refund policy pushes HostGator even further in the lead.
Ease of Use
Though rounds one and two have been evenly matched, round three shows a departure for these two hosts. Neither is difficult to use — read our FatCow review for an example of a web host that is — but one clearly has the edge. In this round, we’ll look at how easy it is to get through checkout and how simple it is to manage your website.
HostGator was one of the first EIG brands to implement the spruced-up control panel we’ve seen from Bluehost, HostMonster and JustHost (read our JustHost review). As was the case when we reviewed those services, the control panel is excellent, but getting there is a hassle.
There are two reasons for that. The first is that there are separate logins for HostGator and the Gator website builder, despite the fact that you can use Gator with your hosting package. Plus, HostGator doesn’t send you from checkout to the control panel. Rather, it sends you multiple emails, one of which has your login information, so you have to tab away to find where to log in.
The generated password is just that: generated. Sending it over email is concerning, too, as you can read in our email security guide. The fact that emails can be sent over an unencrypted connection if the handshake fails means your login information could be exposed, which is something we had issues with in our LunarPages review.
Issues during checkout are quickly made up for by the control panel, though. HostGator uses the same modified cPanel we’ve seen with Bluehost, which made it on to our best web hosting with cPanel list.
The most relevant information is displayed first, with some of the niche options relegated to the dark corners of the interface. That makes the control panel excellent for newbies who are getting their sea legs with web hosting while also allowing power users to access the options they need.
GoDaddy isn’t inherently difficult to use — it uses cPanel, the website and dashboard are modern and there are plenty of options for power uses — but it has a lot going on. As a domain-registrar-turned-web-host, GoDaddy hasn’t fully moved to accommodate its customers on the hosting side, making for a confusing and clunky experience.
As mentioned, the lineup of plans is dense, making it hard to find what you need. The navigation doesn’t help, either. GoDaddy has multiple product pages for each line of service, with different ways to access each. Those methods aren’t consistent, though, so tabbing to a particular type of hosting could present you with a new lineup of plans or a different product page.
It’s a mishmash of services that don’t work together, which makes the overall experience clunky. That’s mirrored in the control panel, which puts a heavy emphasis on the domains you have registered rather than your hosting. Standard options we’ve seen from a provider such as Site5 aren’t present (read our Site5 review).
The only saving grace is cPanel, which you can access by clicking “manage” next to your hosting package. It’s a bog standard version of cPanel, which is better than nothing, but we’ve seen services such as WestHost take the familiar look further (read our WestHost review). cPanel is an upside, but getting there may be more hassle than it’s worth.
Round Three Thoughts
HostGator has a few missteps during sign-up, but we’ve seen that with even enterprise-focused web hosts, such as Pagely (read our Pagely review). Its control panel, on the other hand, is second to none. GoDaddy has even more issues during sign-up and only provides the standard version of cPanel for your troubles.
Speed and Uptime
Our speed testing consists of two benchmarks: Pingdom Speed Test and Load Impact. We launch a website using the most inexpensive shared option available, install a blank copy of WordPress and gather numbers from our benchmarks. Between the two, we can see not only how fast the website responds for an individual user, but also how it handles being under load.
During this round, we’ll compare the results we gathered from HostGator and GoDaddy during our reviews, as well as discuss what uptime guarantee, if any, is in place.
HostGator performed poorly during for Pingdom Speed Test. It was awarded 83 out of 100, which sounds decent at first, but it’s important to remember that the site we’re testing has no content on it, so we’re expecting scores of 90 or above. Issues with a normal website can be solved with our how to improve website loading times guide.
Digging through the data, we noticed that most of the time was attributed to DNS resolution and the SSL handshake. The “wait” metric, on the other hand, didn’t account for much. This number notes how long it takes for the server to start sending data, making it the most direct number to use when talking about web hosting speed.
Load Impact was better, but not by much. It sent 50 virtual users to the server over five minutes, and HostGator had a good amount of variability in response time. It’s not on the level of GreenGeeks (read our GreenGeeks review), but we’ve seen more consistent performers.
That’s saved by the uptime guarantee, though. HostGator guarantees you’ll have 99.9 percent uptime, and, thankfully, it’s not just marketing. If your package falls below 99.9 percent uptime, HostGator will give you an entire month of hosting for free. That’s true for all services but dedicated, which uses a separate agreement where you’ll receive prorated credit.
GoDaddy performed much better than HostGator for Pingdom Speed Test, but it still wasn’t as fast as Hostinger or Pagely. It scored a 90 out of 100, taking little time to connect to the server and resolve the DNS requests. The wait time was longer, but that can be improved with compression and caching.
Load Impact wasn’t great, though. GoDaddy could barely keep up with the modest load, resulting in a high number of HTTP errors. Those errors suggest there are too many websites hosted on the shared server and not enough resources for them. As the graph below shows, most of the virtual users had a response time of 0 milliseconds, meaning the website didn’t load.
Fifty users isn’t a lot, and though we expect a few errors as the test is nearing the user count, GoDaddy broke before 15. That means having a handful of users on your website could render it unusable for anyone else who wants to connect.
Like HostGator’s, GoDaddy’s uptime guarantee is 99.9 percent, but it’s much more specific. You’ll only receive a 5 percent hosting credit if your uptime falls below 99.9 percent. Plus, the guarantee doesn’t cover maintenance, no matter if it’s scheduled or not, email outages or outages relating to certain programming environments.
Those are just a few examples. The terms of service says downtime is solely determined by GoDaddy, so it’s always up in the air whether you’ll receive credit. There’s a guarantee in place, but we wouldn’t suggest relying on it. Given how many stipulations are placed on the guarantee, it’s unlikely GoDaddy ever pays out.
Round Four Thoughts
This round is tough. GoDaddy is the faster web host out of the box, but HostGator’s load times can be improved by using faster DNS servers. Plus, HostGator was able to keep up with the users during our Load Impact test and GoDaddy wasn’t. Between the uptime guarantee and everything else, HostGator takes its fourth win.
Security and Privacy
EIG, which owns HostGator, has one of the worst privacy policies we’ve seen. It collects all the information it can and uses that information for the sake of profit with advertising partners such as Facebook, Google, WP Beginner, Verizon and Bing. That combined with the lack of free domain privacy makes HostGator one of the most privacy-unfriendly web hosts out there.
If you’re concerned with protecting your personal information, you should go with a provider like DreamHost (read our DreamHost review). That said, HostGator’s security features are plentiful. All plans come with a free SSL/TLS certificate, and given EIG’s list of website security partners, it’s easy to get additional services, too.
Still, you’re missing malware scanning, daily backups and a web application firewall. Though those features are on some of the pricier plans, those using the cheapest shared hosting will have to pay an extra fee. If you can’t afford it, we recommend backing up your website manually using our best online backup services.
As for server-side security features, it’s hard to say what HostGator offers. Like all EIG web hosts we’ve encountered, the support reps we talked to about the security features were secretive. We could speculate that HostGator is using ModSecurity and BitNinja, but it’d be just that, speculation.
GoDaddy isn’t much better when it comes to security or privacy. Your information is still collected and sold to advertising partners, but we can’t say with certainty who they are. More offensive, though, is the lack of free domain privacy considering GoDaddy built its name on domain registrations.
Domain privacy, if you’re unaware, replaces the information you register your domain with. Because the record is publicly searchable, it’s a prime target for data harvesting, spam and, sometimes, stalking. We’ve seen some services, such as Midphase, include it for free, so there’s no reason GoDaddy can’t (read our Midphase review).
Security is a mirror image of HostGator. Everything is offered, but you’ll need to pay extra to get it. We also can’t confirm any of the server-side security features, so though we suspect things such as distributed denial-of-service attack protection are present, we can’t say for sure.
Round Five Thoughts
Ignorance is bliss and, unfortunately, that’s the best we can muster for this final round. We’re not jazzed with the privacy or security of either service, but we know, with certainty, the list of partners HostGator has. While GoDaddy could have that same list, but we can’t say for sure, which is enough for it to squeeze one win in.
With four rounds under its belt, HostGator takes down GoDaddy handily. That said, many of the rounds were close, which explains why GoDaddy and HostGator sit next to each other in our web hosting reviews. For being competitors, they’re awfully similar.
Though HostGator is the winner between the two, it isn’t the greatest web host out there. We recommend reading our best web hosting guide to see providers that’d wipe the board when compared to HostGator or GoDaddy.
Do you agree that HostGator is the better option? Is there something you like about GoDaddy more? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.