HostGator Review: A Powerful Web Host, or Another Average Web Host?
Web hosts are a dime a dozen these days, and claiming to be “powerful” — as far as web hosts is concerned — is very bold. Founded in a Florida dorm room in 2002 by Brent Oxley, HostGator is undoubtedly one of the biggest web hosts today. The giant web host has gone through a lot of stages since it was founded. It was acquired by EIG in 2012.
If experience with web hosts is anything to go by, it is clear that popular isn’t necessarily synonymous with quality. In this review, we will be doing a quick breakdown of HostGator to show you what we think about the giant host with over 400,000 customers.
An Overview of HostGator Plans
HostGator has evolved from the early days. Below is a quick overview of the main plans they offer:
Basic Web Hosting: HostGator’s most basic web hosting plan starts with the “Hatchling” plan at $5.56 per month and can cost as much as $11.96 per month with their “Business” plan. All the basic plans come with unlimited bandwidth. The hatchling plan is limited to a single domain name, however.
Cloud Web Hosting: The cloud hosting plan starts with the “Hatchling Cloud” plan (2 cores, 2GB memory) at $7.16 per month. The most expensive cloud hosting plan is the “Business Cloud” plan (6 cores, 6GB memory), which costs $11.67 per month. All cloud hosting plans come with unlimited bandwidth and storage. The Hatchling plan is limited to one domain name.
Managed WordPress Hosting: With many competitors, like WP Engine (read our review), sprouting up to take over the WordPress hosting space, HostGator introduced their WordPress hosting plan with better features at a fraction of the cost. Their WordPress hosting starts with the “Starter” plan (1 site, 100k monthly visits and 1GB backups) at $7.96 per month. The most expensive plan is the “Business” plan (5 sites, 500k monthly visits and 5GB backups) at $14.36 per month.
Reseller Hosting: HostGator also has reseller hosting plans that start at $24.95 per month with their “Aluminium” plan (50GB storage, 500GB bandwidth and unlimited domains). The most expensive reseller plan is the “Diamond” plan (200GB storage, 1,400GB bandwidth and unlimited domains) that costs $99.95 per month.
VPS Hosting: Their VPS hosting starts with the “Snappy 500” plan (.5 core, 512MB RAM, 25GB storage and 500GB bandwidth) that costs $19.95 per month. The most expensive VPS plan is the “Snappy 8000” plan (4 cores, 8GB RAM, 240GB storage and 3TB bandwidth) that costs $159.99 per month.
Dedicated Hosting: Their dedicated hosting starts with the “Basic” server (4GB RAM, 500GB storage and 10TB bandwidth) that costs $174 per month for the first term. The most expensive plan is their “Pro” server (16GB RAM, 1,000GB storage and 25TB bandwidth) that starts at $374 per month. They have both Windows and Linux servers.
Pros of Using HostGator
Pricing: HostGator plans aren’t too expensive, and their plans are indeed affordable for the rates they offer as they claim — at least compared to competitors. HostGator has also improved in terms of being upfront with how much it actually costs to use their services. You will need to pay several years in advance to take advantage of some of their low prices, but this fact is clearly communicated on their website
45 Days Money Back Guarantee: HostGator also stands out with their 45 days money back guarantee. If you’re worried that you might not be satisfied with their services, this gives you extra assurance.
Addons and Bonuses: HostGator is a leader when it comes to bonuses and addons. Perhaps this is due to their massive size and how long they’ve been in business. Most new users enjoy addons such as credits to use for advertising on major ad networks, one click installs to make it easy to setup a website, integrations with major website builders such as Weebly and the option to add extra addons during the checkout process.
Good Support: Customer support is one of the major factors to consider when deciding on a web host. Most major web hosts try to limit access to support. That’s not HostGator. They offer 24/7 support through every major channel — including phone, live chat and email. They also have good support and you are likely to have your issues resolved by knowledgeable agents.
Free Migrations: If you’d like to move your site over to HostGator from other web hosts, you can count on them to assist. Their free migration service makes this process seamless. That said, many major web host offers free migration as well.
Easy to Use: At the end of the day, not everybody who wants to use a web host is a tech savvy web developer. HostGator easily counts as the web host for the average web user; they have a very simple and clean control panel (using the default cPanel), unlike the heavily-modified and confusing one used by their major competitors. They also have lots of tutorials and documentations that make it easy for you to solve most issues on your own.
Multiple Payment Options: This is worth highlighting on its own. HostGator allows you to pay through Credit/Debit Card and PayPal, so you can be rest assured as far as payment security is concerned.
Uptime: There are generally mixed reviews about HostGator’s uptime, with some reporting a perfectly fine experience while a few others have reported to the contrary. The good news, however, is that you can take advantage of their 99.9 percent uptime guarantee if you are not satisfied with their uptime.
Speed: There have been a few complaints about HostGator downtimes in the past. In fact, some of their downtimes have been widely reported in the media. Things appear to be much better now, and their cloud hosting seems to be in a league of its own as far as speed is concerned: It is one of the fastest web hosts out there.
Cons of Using HostGator
Upsells and Cross Sells: I’m a little torn on this one, and I’ll tell you why: when most people sign up for a web host and see the advertised rate, they expect that to get them covered and expect to be sold nothing else. HostGator does upsell and cross sell, but they are for essential services such as site monitoring, SSL certificate and backup. Depending on who you ask, this could be a con or a pro.
Backups: Another reason why I included the upsells and cross sells as a con is because of the backups; most web hosts give you automated backups by default, but it is part of HostGator’s addon offer that you have to pay extra for. At the time of this review, site backups cost $19.95 annually. You might as well factor that into your cost for hosting with them.
First Time Pricing: While HostGator attempts to make this clear, it is still hidden below their pages where most users are unlikely to see it. Their advertised prices for most plans are for the first term only; once it is time to renew you’re likely to pay more than you paid initially.
John Stevens is a copywriter, web developer and web hosting enthusiast. He recently co-published a guide on how to start blogging. You can reach him via Twitter (@hostfacts).