Tooltester is supported by readers like yourself. We may earn an affiliate commission when you purchase through our links, which enables us to offer our research for free.
But it doesn’t mean it’s perfect for everyone! And in fact, there could be advantages to choosing another provider like HostGator.
So which one is really ideal for your project? Well, it depends on what kind of hosting you need. Without further ado, let’s put these two against each other to see who comes out on top.
SiteGround vs HostGator Overview
SiteGround and HostGator offer unlimited traffic. SiteGround limits storage, and starts at $17.99 a month for 10GB, then $29.99 for 20GB and $44.99 for 40GB. Storage is unlimited on all three HostGator plans ($8.95 – $16.95 a month) but there are fewer features. All prices are discounted for the first term.
Siteground Vs Hostgator at a Glance
|Ease of use||Excellent||Poor|
|Domains, subdomains and parked domains||Good||Good|
|FTP, SFTP, SSH Access and Git||Excellent||OKish|
|SSL & HTTP/2||Good||Poor|
Siteground Vs Hostgator: Who’s More Popular?
SiteGround, launched in 2004 in Bulgaria, currently hosts around 2M websites. Not bad for a company started by a group of university students.
HostGator, which is 2 years older than SiteGround, also benefited from a massive early growth, and was then acquired by EIG, the Endurance International Group. HostGator currently has 800,000 customers worldwide.
A word or warning, EIG is pretty much considered a bad guy in the world of web hosting. It’s a huge conglomerate, and they own dozens of hosting companies including Bluehost and iPage. All their acquisitions tend to follow a similar and unfortunate pattern:
- catchy low prices for the first 12 months
- poor support
- tons of features sold as extras.
But let’s not be prejudiced and see if HostGator stands a chance against our favourite SiteGround, starting with the ease of use.
Ease of Use
SiteGround’s backend is pretty great. It was completely redesigned in 2019, giving a modern and intuitive feel. The hosting is managed via their own interface which they also let you customize it to your needs, by showing or hiding specific sections.
A great plus: the team management features are above par here, as SiteGround lets you create user profiles with specific permissions. If you manage one or multiple big sites, it can be a real hassle to exchange login information, but SiteGround makes it as easy as pie.
I also like how, with the top tier, you get the option to use a white label dashboard. The SiteGround branding won’t be present, so if you have clients, you can make it look like you built it yourself.
SiteGround’s user admin panel
HostGator isn’t much harder to use, and their backend is equally suitable for beginners. If you’ve ever used the classic cPanel, you won’t have problems managing your site either. The only thing with cPanel is that it looks somehow outdated, but at least it’s not confusing.
There is, however, one major con: the constant upsells, ads and extra paid add-ons. I’m not certain what to call them, but they sure make the user experience painful.
Registering with HostGator isn’t unlike checking out with a low-cost airline. You have to opt out of so many options and keep a good watch over the sneaky packages they try to add.
Let’s now get into the technical details, limitations and caps you will get with each of these providers..
With SiteGround, there are three plans, which give you 10, 20 or 40GB of storage. Their terms and conditions do not seem to limit the number of files you can store on your site. If there is one, it’s probably a soft limit, and set really high (some providers use it to ensure they don’t end up hosting file sharing websites). Be aware that SiteGround’s shared plans will also limit the number of sites that you can host – 1 for StartUp and unlimited for GrowBig and GoGeek.
Note, however, that the 20 GB and 40GB options will be shared with all your websites, as you can host unlimited websites with these two plans.
Things are much more straightforward with HostGator, as all their plans come with unlimited storage. There is a hidden cap at 200,000 files (which they call inodes). It’s still very generous, and as previously mentioned, mostly in place to stop users from using their sites for file sharing.
Winner: Since HostGator comes with unlimited storage, they get this one.
Winner: Both are super generous here, so that should be one point each.
One of the most important and overlooked parts of being online is backing up your website. It’s useful for disaster recovery, but also for cleaning up small mistakes. Good news then, because SiteGround takes that security measure pretty seriously.
You get daily backups, plus the option to restore anything from the past 30 days with every plan. With the mid and higher tier, you get even more options, including the ability to restore on demand. My only nitpick is that you can only restore the backups, and not download them on your hard drive, and you are limited to 5 on-demand backups.
With HostGator, it’s the opposite: I only have complaints. They keep a measly one weekly backup for you, and have the nerve to charge you $25 if you need to restore it.
If you need more options, you need to purchase an add-on which will cost you, at least, $30 a year. This is utterly unacceptable, and should be a dealbreaker for most users.
Winner: Easy pick, SiteGround offers the best backup features, and without the needs to purchase anything else.
Domains, Subdomains & Parked Domains
With SiteGround, you’ll have to purchase a domain name yourself, as it’s not included in their plans. It costs around $18 a year (for a .com domain), or you could look for cheaper alternatives with Namecheap, for instance. On the plus side, you can create unlimited sub-domains and domain names (unless you’re on the entry plan, which only lets you host one website), but remember each plan allows for a certain number of websites.
HostGator offers a free domain the first year with its shared hosting plans. If you need to buy additional domain names, these cost $12.95 the first year, but the price shoots up to $19.99 the subsequent years. You can link one domain name with the entry plan, and unlimited domains and subdomains with the other plans.
Winner: Both are equally good (or bad) for domain names.
If you need email, SiteGround has got you covered with unlimited accounts. Plus, you can connect your email service to other services, like Gmail.
It’s pretty much the same deal with HostGator, except you have no storage limits! An important note, however, is that you can’t use it for large newsletters, as you can only send 500 emails an hour.
Winner: Both SiteGround and HostGator should offer enough for most users when it comes to adding email accounts.
FTP, SFTP, SSH Access and Git
Top-tier SiteGround hosting plans come with git-repositories installed (for version control), which developer teams may find useful.
Winner: Both are great, but since SiteGround offers Git pre-installed, they can bag this one.
SSL & HTTP/2
SiteGround gives you free registration with Let’s Encrypt for SSL. This is a nice freebie with all their plans, and HTTP/2 is included by default.
Installing SSL certificates with SiteGround
HostGator also offers SSL with all their plans, but HTTP/2 isn’t what they use, which could impact your website’s speed (more on that later).
Winner: Security is another area where SiteGround offers a bit more!
While both SiteGround and HostGator have dedicated WordPress plans (which are optimized for the CMS platform), you can still install it on a shared hosting plan in one click. I’ve tried it with both, and it’s nice and easy enough.
Then, there are specific features for WordPress users you might want to consider:
- Smart automatic system and plugin updates: so you don’t need to manually keep track of your WordPress and plugin versions. (Although there is a native solution with WordPress, but SiteGround does it better).
- In-house caching system: to speed up how fast blog pages load for your users.
- Staging area: to work on your site like a draft, without making the changes go live immediately.
Speed, Downtime and Server Locations
Okay, let’s now go down to the nitty-gritty of the very technical speed and uptime analysis. I’ll start with an easy one, which is the server locations.
SiteGround data centers
- SiteGround: covers 4 continents with servers in Iowa, Frankfurt, Eemshaven (The Netherlands), London, Singapore and Sydney.
- HostGator: all their servers are in Texas and Utah, North America. Not great if most of your traffic comes from any other part of the world.
Winner: SiteGround covers more, ahem, ground.
Now of course, when performing our web host speed tests, we calculate an average based on different locations. And these are the results we got after this years in-depth testing:
- SiteGround’s loading speed was very good: it was just outside the top four, taking around 1.56 seconds to load. When it comes to SEO and user experience, this gives you a clear competitive advantage.
- HostGator was the slowest of all web hosts: with a 2.72 seconds average page load time. It’s not terrible, to be honest, but it should also be much better.
And as you can see in the table below, these results are not one offs. Siteground has been consistently fast over the last three years. While HostGator has been consistetly slow:
|Page Load Time in Seconds|
As our study of average website load time across 4 billion web visits shows speed is really important.
A few notes on the technology: while both providers use SSD disks for storage, HostGator’s slower speed could be blamed on PHP7, which they keep by default instead of the faster and more modern PHP8.
As previously mentioned, HostGator also doesn’t have HTTP/2, while SiteGround gives it to you by default, along with dynamic caching (for WordPress). You can also integrate Cloudflare as your main CDN. SiteGround lets you do it in one click, but with HostGator there’s a little bit more elbow grease required.
Winner: SiteGround is faster, no questions there.
So SiteGround websites are much faster to load, but how reliable are they? It turns out, amazingly so. After monitoring their online time for a few years, it’s yet to drop below 99.97%. In fact, they guarantee a 99.9% uptime with potential refunds, so they do put their money where their mouth is.
Here are the results for this year’s web host reliability tests:
Meanwhile, although HostGator didn’t perform well in 2020, the last 2 years have been excellent as you can see in the table below.
Winner: When it comes to reliability, SiteGround meets their 99.9% uptime guarantee and passed our tests with flying colors. But HostGator is also fantastic, at least in recent times.
If you want to migrate your site to and from these providers, it’s possible. Saldy, SiteGround used to do it once for free, but it now costs $30 per transfer. They do have a free and convenient plugin, but this one only works if you need to migrate a WordPress site (also, I didn’t have a lot of luck when I tried it).
Winner: This isn’t an easy one, so I’d say it’s a tie.
I’ve already mentioned a few security features already, such as PHP 7, SSH and SSL, but both providers also have extra tools to keep your site safe.
In the SiteGround camp, you get traffic monitoring, which looks at potential brute force attacks against your account. They also sell an add-on called SG Site Scanner, which looks at all the files on your site and attempts to find malware issues. You can get an email notification if it does, and take the right action straight away, and it costs $1.50 a month.
With HostGator, there is also a built-in firewall designed to prevent DDoS attacks, and extra file scans will come at a cost via SiteLock. There are three tiers starting from $2.50 a month.
Winner: I don’t love how you have to pay extra for these security features here. I guess this would be a tie.
In terms of availability, both SiteGround and HostGator offer 24-hour live chat, email and phone support.
But after asking several questions to both support teams, I’m pretty confident that SiteGround’s is the winner here. In fact, their answers were so timely, useful and friendly that it’s probably the best support I’ve received from any online company. So big thumbs up here.
With HostGator, things weren’t so rosy. I’m not sure what’s going on with EIG companies’ support, but they always seem confused by my questions, and sometimes completely incapable of answering them. It also doesn’t help that the answers are slow, which makes the whole experience frustrating. My guess is that EIG outsources support for all their companies to people who don’t have an in-depth knowledge of their dozens of products, but who knows…
Winner: Worth repeating, but SiteGround support is probably the best I’ve received in all my years of testing hosting providers.
Scalability (dedicated, VPS & CloudHosting)
Now what are your options if you need to expand your operations? Can you purchase faster, more reliable hosting? And is it worth sticking with these two providers? Here are your options:
If you need dynamic hosting that remains reliable even with traffic spikes and other stresses, cloud hosting can be the way to go. It’s pricier in theory, which is why the HostGator prices below don’t really make any sense to me:
$80 / month
$120 / month
$160 / month
$12 / month
$13.95 / month
$19.99 / month
Notes about CloudHosting:
- So as you can see, the price for HostGator is shockingly low. And that’s the price on renewal: it can be 45% cheaper the first year.
- SiteGround’s prices are fairly higher than the industry standard. It’s a fully managed service, so they will help configure all the IT for you (maybe not doing that is why HostGator is so cheap)
- SiteGround also has a custom cloud option, which you can explore with their handy pricing calculator.
This one doesn’t need a table, because only HostGator offers it. The naming scheme and pricing scheme for VPS becomes:
- Snappy 2000: $29.95 a month (after renewal). 2GB RAM, 2 Core CPU, 120 GB disk space and 1.5 TB bandwidth
- Snappy 4000: $59.95 a month (after renewal). 4 GB RAM, 2 Core CPU, 165 GB disk space, and 2 TB bandwidth.
- Snappy 8000: $119.95 a month (after renewal). 8 GB RAM, 4 Core CPU, 240 GB disk space and 3 TB bandwidth.
Once again, if you’re interested in these higher plans from HostGator, don’t forget to look at the long term deals, because even Snappy 8000 could cost as little as $39.99 a month when you pay for 36 months.
Winner: HostGator has more options for scaling, and their prices are hard to beat. Whether you get your money’s worth with these advanced plans is a debate for another day..
Prices & Plans
You always have to keep an eye on the monthly prices with hosting providers, because the first years tend to be heavily discounted. This is why I’m only keeping the renewal prices here:
|Entry level plan||StartUp – $17.99 / month for 1 site||Hatchling – $8.95 a month|
|Middle plan||GrowBig – $29.99 / month for unlimited sites and 20 GB||Baby – $11.95 a month|
|Higher plan||GoGeek – $44.99 / month for unlimited sites and 40 GB||Business – $16.95 a month|
It’s worth noting that one pro of HostGator is the flexibility of their payment options. As far as I know, it’s the only provider that lets you use their service with contracts for 1, 3, 6, 12, 24, and 36 months!
Winner: HostGator’s prices are more affordable than SiteGround’s. Plus, you get more options for scaling your business with faster hosting options. When strictly looking at the price and ignoring performance and missing features (e.g. backups), HostGator offers lower fees.
So as you’ve probably gathered by now, I’m a big fan of SiteGround. Their features and technology are excellent, speed and uptime are above par, and the quality of their support never ceases to impress me. One of my favorite hosting providers along with affordable DreamHost.
But this quality does come at a cost, and there’s no denying that HostGator is designed to attract users with its low price. Which is why I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to certain users either. In short, you should:
Choose SiteGround if:
- Security, speed and SEO are important to you: you’re probably hosting a business website or personal portfolio that needs to be optimized for attracting visitors.
- You don’t need too much storage: if you’re working with video or high res photos, for instance, the 10GB limit of the StartUp plan could be a no-go.
- You are looking for an easy to use system designed to work with teams and clients.
- WordPress is your CMS and you are looking for a WordPress-expert web host.
- You would like to have a good support team for you when things are not going well (e.g. your site is down).
Choose HostGator if:
- You want affordable hosting and don’t care about the features: it’s true that most website owners don’t really care about hosting features. In that case, HostGator does the job well enough (although DreamHost is even cheaper and better-performing). If you’re planning a WordPress website, I’d also recommend that you check out some of the other cheap WordPress hosting options before you commit to HostGator.
Yes, you’re increasing the chances of something bad happening (with poor backup features and worse performance), but the setup is simple enough, and you shouldn’t need to spend too much time in their backend, where you’ll be bombarded with upselling attempts.
We keep our content up to date
19 May 2021 - SiteGround update
19 May 2021 - SiteGround unlimited sites for GoGeek and GrowBigsites allowed
14 Apr 2021 - SiteGround sites allowed
03 Mar 2021 - Domain names update
06 Jun 2020 - First published
THE BEHIND THE SCENES OF THIS BLOG
This article has been written and researched following a precise methodology.Our methodology