Hostgator has been around for a long time, and it used to be king of the crop in the shared hosting space. Over the years, and after a controversial buyout from EIG it’s reputation has gone downhill a little, but it’s still one of the leading shared hosting providers. In this review I will discuss its benefits and drawbacks, compare it to its competitors, and provide quantitative measurements of its performance. I have used Hostgator in the past for multiple projects and small websites, although nowadays I host those on a Liquidweb VPS, which is pricier, but offers more benefits for my needs. If you are running a larger number of sites, or a small number of higher traffic sites, you might want to consider a VPS or cloud solution.
So without further ado, on to the review!
Performance Metrics and Key Decision-Making Factors
HostGator offers shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers, and WordPress hosting. For this review, I will focus on their shared hosting plans as they are the most popular among beginners and small businesses. Key decision-making factors for shared hosting are uptime, speed, customer support, and price. Here’s how HostGator measures up:
- Uptime: HostGator guarantees a 99.9% uptime. In my experience, they have consistently maintained this standard, however there have been instances in the past where my website suffered downtime for several hours during peak periods.
- Speed: Site loading speed is crucial for user experience and SEO. Unfortunately while Hostgator is cheap, it’s far from the fastest solution out there. While this is okay for smaller sites, if you are heavily reliant on SEO or expect heavy traffic, shared hosting in general may have issues here with cheaper providers, including Hostgator.
- Customer Support: HostGator offers 24/7 live chat and phone support. Back in the day this support used to be excellent, however since their acquisition the support teams knowledge and response times have gone downhill.
- Price: HostGator’s shared hosting plans start at $2.75 a month (Hatchling Plan), which is insanely cheap for small businesses and individuals. This does increase to $8 a month after the first billing period, for all their hosting plans they offer deep first billing discounts, and tend to hide the renewal costs. The “first billing period” discount also compels you to sign up for an annual plan, so be warned they will try and lock you in.
Features and Benefits
HostGator has a solid set of basic features, you’ll find a lot of hosts offer similar benefits here:
- Free domain registration for the first year.
- Free SSL certificates for all domains hosted on their servers.
- One-click WordPress installation and easy-to-use website builder.
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth on all shared hosting plans.
- 45-day money-back guarantee.
While Hostgator is a great budget option, that discount does come with some drawbacks.
- HostGator’s shared hosting plans do not include free daily backups. You’ll need to purchase their CodeGuard backup service separately.
- Many users have reported security issues with Hostgator, I myself had a WordPress site hacked on Hostgator.
- The renewal rates for their hosting plans are higher than the initial promotional rates.
Comparisons to Competitors
HostGator’s major competitors include Bluehost, SiteGround, and A2 Hosting, some of the popular options include:
- Bluehost: Similar in price and performance, Bluehost offers a more user-friendly interface and includes free daily backups. However, their customer support can be inconsistent.
- SiteGround: Known for excellent customer support and faster loading times, SiteGround’s pricing is slightly higher than HostGator’s, but one of the better cheap hosting options.
- A2 Hosting: With a focus on speed optimization, A2 Hosting provides slightly faster loading times, but at a higher price point than HostGator.
HostGator is a relatively reliable, affordable, and user-friendly hosting provider that offers a decent balance of features and performance for small businesses and individuals. While I wouldn’t recommend it as business hosting, or hosting for something important, If you’re starting a new project or looking for a cost-effective hosting solution, HostGator is a solid choice.
If you need greater security, speed, performance, and functionality, you might want to go with a premium managed WordPress hosting provider such as WP Engine, which is a little more costly, but still cheap compared to a VPS or cloud hosting.