HostGator is a major hosting provider that boasts that they have a hosting plan for practically any customer. However, are they the right web hosting provider for you, especially compared to competitors like Bluehost?
In this HostGator hosting review, we’ll take an in-depth look at the company offerings, their pros and cons, the payment options, and some common questions before giving our final verdict.
As their name implies, HostGator is primarily a web hosting company. For those who aren’t familiar with these businesses, this means that they own and run servers that can host websites and related services. This ranges from housing a basic WordPress site to allow people to become a reseller as a HostGator business partner.
Our HostGator hosting review focuses on the services they offer.
Depending on your web hosting plan, you might share space on that server with multiple other sites. That’s common for smaller sites, but if you need something else, they can lease you practically any number of dedicated servers that you can run with almost no restrictions.
HostGator runs its servers out of a Tier 3 data center that holds the physical servers.
This is more than sufficient for most people’s needs. A Tier 4 data center, the only thing better, is a setup that has redundancy for every component and extreme fault tolerance. That is, frankly, better performance than most people or businesses need.
Ping times, which are also known as latency, is how long it takes for a request to go from a device to a server, then back again with the requested information. HostGator has a consistent ping time between 600 and 700 milliseconds, which is less than half of the time needed in years past. That’s a significant improvement for their server architecture.
This is important because a host’s speeds are one of the few things website owners can’t easily control. You can optimize a site as much as you want, but if the host is slow, the site will always be slow. HostGator’s speeds aren’t quite the fastest on the internet, but they’re more than good enough for most websites.
Most sites have functionally unlimited disk space and HostGator can add more to servers as necessary. People usually don’t need more than a few gigabytes at most, but the lack of tight limits on space is a feature that makes things much easier for people.
HostGator is a good choice for new website owners because it’s designed to be approachable and easy to understand. Coding websites have gotten significantly more complicated over time, to the point that many people now use builders instead of coding the websites directly.
They also offer several additional services for customers, including managed migration and support for getting sites set up. This isn’t technically an automated service because it often needs human involvement at some point, but it’s easier than migrating things yourself.
This is rather rare for a hosting service, at least among the cheaper plans. HostGator doesn’t have a fixed limit on the bandwidth your site can use. Instead, each hosting account is largely allowed as much data use as necessary, consistent with the style of the site.
Remember, HostGator will start asking questions if you begin using excessive amounts of data on a cheap plan. What defines an appropriate amount of resources depends on things like your company and the services you provide, but it’s hard to use enough traffic to meet these limits.
A better way to think of this is that HostGator has no specific limits on overall bandwidth usage, but extreme amounts of resource consumption for short periods can cause issues. It’s usually possible to alleviate any problems in this area by changing a few settings.
HostGator operates out of a Tier 3 data center, which means it has more than a 99.9% uptime guarantee for all of its plans. For context, this data center is allowed about 1.6 hours of downtime per year to perform maintenance and deal with emergency issues.
This isn’t as special as it sounds at first. Tier 3 data centers are quite common because many larger customers hesitate to accept the lower standards of Tier 1 and Tier 2 facilities. Tier 3 is where you get far more backups and reliability, and most people are willing to eat the extra cost there.
One potential point of concern here is that HostGator shares space in their data center with other companies. This isn’t a major risk because the facility still tightly controls who can go in and out. Furthermore, sharing the data center helps keep costs down. People with particularly tight security needs may want to consider alternatives.
HostGator promises 24/7/365 customer support. This is not the same thing as fast customer support because you may need to wait on hold to get help. However, it does mean that customer support is always available, regardless of when you have the issue.
We mentioned this above, but HostGator support occasionally has response times slower than some people prefer.
This is mainly an issue for businesses, although some companies can get priority support for faster resolution. Personal sites are usually fine even if they’re offline for a little while, making this more frustrating than genuinely problematic.
HostGator, in the past, has had some issues with overall site performance and server uptime. They’ve ironed out a lot of this by switching to proper Tier 3 data centers, but performance problems can happen if other people start eating up too much of any shared resources.
This is, obviously, much less of an issue for anyone renting dedicated servers. In those cases, you have no true competition, so any issues with site performance are probably in the coding and the software, not the hardware or its internet connection.
The move to Tier 3 data centers helps a lot with this. They have backups for essentially everything, so while you may experience the occasional problem, they can fix hardware issues quickly.
HostGator charges a fee ($25 at the time of this review) to either restore data from a backup or copy the material to restore it yourself. That’s not a huge amount of money, but given how largely automated the process is, it could stand to be a lot cheaper.
Many competitors include features like these in their standard plans, with no extra fees required. HostGator is something of an outlier in this regard.
Some people prefer this setup because they can pick and choose which services to have, and that can mean a lower cost over time. Other people dislike this because it means the price for the full service is much higher than the website suggests.
HostGator is a shared hosting service that provides courtesy backups, and that’s good. However, those backups only work well for smaller sites. While they have functionally unlimited storage, any shared web hosting site of more than 10 gigabytes, or over 100,000 inodes, might not get an automatic backup.
You can use the HostGator cPanel system to create some backups, but again, that’s limited at best. Ultimately, this is a major problem for some companies with large amounts of content on servers.
The one good thing here is that most servers function on a RAID 1 setup, which mirrors data on two hard drives to help prevent problems from drive failure. That’s not the same as having an off-site backup, but it’s far better than having nothing at all.
HostGator’s pricing varies heavily depending on your plan. They’re mainly a budget-focused hosting company, emphasizing low fees for relatively small sites. Frankly, they’re not a good choice for creating a huge media site like YouTube, which requires far more resources than HostGator’s users can access.
Most of HostGator’s prices also rise after the first term of the plan and will go up later. The site itself clarifies the discount, with introductory prices usually being 50%-75% off. In other words, many of these costs will more than double later. The same thing often happens with competitors like Bluehost, so make sure you read the fine print.
This is HostGator’s basic hosting plan, where you share space on one of their servers with as many other people as HostGator finds reasonable. The lowest plan covers a single website, including a free SSL certificate and a domain to go with it, as well as one-click WordPress installation and cPanel site transfers for experienced users.
Unlike some other companies, HostGator offers unmetered bandwidth on even the cheapest plans they offer. Most of this has to do with the power and performance of their servers, and the exact limits are outlined in their Terms of Service. Broadly, you won’t have a problem as long as the amount of data and bandwidth you use is normal for your business or type of website.
HostGator does not define specific limits for data and bandwidth in their Acceptable Use Policy, except for the note that activities cannot consume resources in ways that affect their network’s performance.
Shared hosting can seem like a bad decision for some businesses, but the truth is that most company websites don’t come anywhere close to needing all of one server’s resources. Remember, everyone else has to follow these same rules.
For context, most servers can handle about a hundred requests from visitors per second, and some can handle over a thousand if the requests are simple enough. Most websites don’t have enough simultaneous traffic to impede a server over extended periods.
Higher levels of the shared hosting plans include unlimited domains and, at the business level, useful upgrades like additional SEO tools, a dedicated IP address, and improved SSL content. A shared hosting plan at HostGator is a good choice for nearly any small website.
Prices for shared hosting start at $2.75/month for the introductory plan. This is the lowest-cost plan HostGator offers, and it’s suitable for one website that already exists. It includes a free transfer for WordPress/cPanel sites, but you may need help for other sorts of transfers.
The mid-tier plan increases to $3.50/month but allows for unlimited websites. This is otherwise the same as their introductory plan and a good choice for people who want a host for several sites but don’t need other help.
The Business tier is the last option for shared hosting, and it’s good for small businesses that don’t need to store sensitive information or run stores. This plan is about $5.25/month but includes additional security measures and SEO tools to help performance.
All versions of their shared hosting include basics like an SSL certificate for better site security. You can also get a free domain here.
Here are some common questions people have about HostGator.
HostGator compares favorably to most of the competition, but it isn’t so uniquely special that it’s fundamentally a better choice than other good options. For more information on this, see our other web host reviews.
HostGator does have an AI-powered website building tool. This is suitable for basic sites and stores, but it’s not the same as hiring a professional developer to code a unique site.
They’ve been in business since around 2002 and have extensive experience hosting different types of sites. They’re not as good for heavily media-focused sites but can handle regular sites and stores with no trouble.
Yes, HostGator is a good choice for hosting a WordPress site. They have additional security and support that many other hosting providers don’t.
HostGator has a 45-day money-back guarantee for hosting fees on most of its plans. They’re mainly a budget company, so this isn’t a ton of money, but it’s a nice gesture towards user-friendliness. It’s also much longer than many of their competitors, who usually have guarantees ranging from 7 to 30 days.
HostGator is an impressive web hosting service. While it’s not the largest in the business, it generally has solid uptime and reasonable costs for personal users and small businesses. Large companies may find the prices for dedicated hosting a little steep, though.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a good choice for most users, and you can feel reasonably confident when getting hosting services from them.