HostGator Review The EIG’s Shining Star?
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HostGator was founded in Florida in 2002. By 2012 their success had exploded. EIG (Endurance International Group) picked on that and acquired them for $225 million.
EIG is a massive corporation that owns brands like Bluehost, Constant Contact, iPage and HostGator. Being 100% honest, I am usually not too excited to test their products, they all seem to follow a discouraging pattern:
- Disappointing support
- Missing features
- Aggressive marketing
- Hidden fees and expensive add-ons
However, I am excited to review HostGator as their online reputation seems better than sister company iPage and their prices don’t seem too bad. I could not wait to get my hands on HostGator.
Let’s check out what HostGator has to offer and when (and when not) to use it. For a quick overview, check out HostGator's video-review below:
What Products Does HostGator Offer?
Almost everything hosting related, that’s why their catalog can be confusing at times.
- Domain names can be purchased at HostGator, although they aren’t a leading domain name registrar. For the first year a .com domain costs $12.95, but upon renewal you’ll be charged $17.99 - there are indeed cheaper options like Namecheap.
- Their shared hosting plans are meant for small and medium projects that don’t get hundreds of thousands of visitors per month. This type of service hosts different clients (websites) under the same server, similar to living in a shared house. Most likely the one you should get, at least to start with. Their prices go from $8.95 to $16.95.
- WordPress hosting: For those looking for a shared hosting that’s optimized for WordPress. These go from $12.95 for one site, all the way up to $81.95 per month. Personally, I think there are better alternatives for WordPress users (e.g. SiteGround). There are certainly cheaper WordPress hosting options.
- VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. You can think of this as a shared hosting server that has been divided into smaller sub-servers using a specific software configuration. These are great for smaller and medium sites that need a particular server configuration (e.g. need to use a different programming language). VPS plans at HostGator start at $80 per month.
- If your project gets tens of thousands of visitors per month or needs a powerful server, you’d probably be better off with a dedicated server. You’ll have your own server and won’t share its resources with anyone else. At HostGator you can get your own dedicated server starting at around $190 per month.
- You can think of cloud hosting as a network of connected servers, meaning your website won’t only be hosted on one server but several. Resources (e.g. more memory or CPU) can be added or removed according to your needs. At HostGator cloud hosting starts (too cheap?) at $10.95 a month.
- On top of these, they also offer a website builder called Gator for users looking to create their own website easily - no technical knowledge required. Although it’s not a bad product, it’s still under development and other site builders offer more at similar prices.
This HostGator review focuses on their shared hosting plans, so from now on I’ll be referring to those.
What Do Their Shared Plans Include?
The first thing to notice about HostGator pricing is that they come with big discounts for the first term. A free domain name is also included in the first year (for yearly or longer plans) Be aware that the costs at renewal are much higher. I always mention both prices so you don’t get any nasty surprises.
|Support||24 hours||24 hours||24 hours|
|Max. number of Inodes
(similar to number of files)
|200,000 inodes||200,000 inodes||200,000 inodes|
(only 1 available)
(only 1 available)
(only 1 available)
|Backup restore cost||$25 per restoration||$25 per restoration||$25 per restoration|
|First-term prices for 1-year deals||$3.95 a month||$5.00 a month||$7.25 a month|
|Renewal price for 1-year deals||$8.95 a month||$11.95 a month||$16.95 a month|
* If your inodes count goes over 100,000, your account won’t be backed up. They only keep 1 daily, 1 weekly and 1 monthly backup.
If you go for longer deals (e.g. 36 months), the first term prices drop even further. But expect a high increase when the renewal time comes around.
Are you looking for an extra discount?
If you use the code “TOOLTESTERS” during check out, you can get further discounts – from 25% up to 60% depending on the duration of the contract. Follow this link to apply the discounts.
The Hatchling Plan is interesting for those who have only 1 website, as even if its storage is unlimited you can only have 1 domain name (website) per hosting plan.
With the Baby package, you can host unlimited websites. And the Business tier is recommended for those looking to have a dedicated IP address.
Be aware that HostGator’s purchase process always tries to sign you up for the longer deals (e.g. 36 months), and pushes you to get extra add-ons (e.g. SiteLock) that you may not need.
Sadly, their default backup features are almost non-existent, they only keep a 1 weekly, daily and monthly copy of your site. If that wasn’t bad enough, they’ll also charge you $25 extra each time you ask them to restore from one of their backups – I see these as an unacceptable hidden fee. However, they offer an extra backup add-on at around $25 extra per year – sneaky.
HostGator Pros & Cons
Plenty of storage
All plans come with unlimited storage, although all your files combined should not be more than 200,000.
Hosting plans can be purchased on 1, 3, 6, 12, 24 or 36 months base.
Many programming languages
One of the hosting providers that supports more languages. PHP, Ruby On Rails, Perl and Python are all allowed.
They don’t limit the traffic your site can get.
When to Use HostGator Hosting?
HostGator’s shared hosting is for those looking for a provider that doesn’t measure the bandwidth and is generous with the storage.
It’s also a great fit if you are looking to use other programming languages to PHP. Using Perl, Python and Ruby On Rails is allowed.
When Not to Use HostGator?
Despite having an easy-to-use interface, I’m afraid it’s not suitable for larger projects. Neither for hosting-dependant projects like online stores nor avid bloggers.
Their low uptime levels and slowish speed can punish your SEO efforts and support can be, at times, frustrating. But for me, the most worrying fact is that they don’t include a backup system – sorry, but one weekly backup does not cut it for most.
HostGator Shared Hosting Details
* Even if HostGator doesn’t have specific limitations (e.g. for storage), all your combined files from your apps, emails and databases should be under 250,000 files (inodes).
HostGator Performance Tests
In order to know if HostGator’s performance is good, I’ve done a couple of interesting tests: speed and uptime.
Let’s check the results out.
HostGator Speed Test
Everyone wants (or should want) their website to load as fast as possible, and a reliable hosting provider is crucial for this. A faster website will provide better user experiences and give you extra SEO points. Read more about this in our website load time statistics study!
Unfortunately, in our most recent web host speed tests, Hostgator was the slowest provider:
Clearly, HostGator did very badly this year, with an average loading time of 2.72 seconds, that was more than double the test winner GreenGeeks, which had an average load time of just 1.29 seconds.
And as you can see in the table below, it’s not just this year. Over the last three years, Hostgator has consistently performed very poorly for speed:
|Page Load Time in Seconds|
So HostGator’s performance here is something to be very wary of.
Is HostGator’s Uptime Good?
Hosting providers have some service interruptions, for example, when they need to restart the servers to complete an update.
If those service interruptions are not often and short, no problem. But, if your hosting provider is constantly down and they take forever to be back up, you will be negatively affected – bad user experiences mean lower conversion rates and downtime also disappoints search engines.
Your uptime should be 99.95% or higher. In other words, your hosting provider should be down less than 0.05% of the time – around 4 hours per year.
In our most recent uptime tests, HostGator’s uptime was very good, with 99.98% making it a reliable web host:
You can also see how HostGator’s uptime has fared over the last three years in the table below:
To monitor uptime I use StatusCake, a tool that checks each website every 5 minutes.
As you can see, they have had impressive uptime for the last two years. However, I would say their performance in 2020 (99.91%) was not up to scratch.
HostGator Review: Do I Recommend It?
Your website will be safe being hosted at HostGator, their uptime is good, but the speed should be better. Good enough if you aren’t hosting a super serious project with them. If you do have a more professional project, I’d encourage you to check out SiteGround, GreenGeeks and DreamHost.
Even if HostGator restricts the number of files that you can have, they are pretty generous with their storage, email, bandwidth and database limitations. Probably a good option for those valuing quantity over quality.
But, and this one is big, be aware that their backup features are extremely poor, in my opinion, as bad as it gets. Personally, having a proper backup system has saved me hours of work and loads of money. Their $25 extra fee for each backup restore that you request makes me very angry.
Another downside is their support. At times, I had to wait over 30 minutes to be connected with a support agent and I always have the feeling they only half-read my questions.
By now you’ve probably realized that HostGator isn’t my favorite provider. However, I think their performance isn’t too bad – especially their speed. But let me name several alternatives you could use for several scenarios:
- A2 Hosting or DreamHost provide reliable, low cost web hosting.
- The best support is offered by DreamHost, SiteGround and InMotion.
- GreenGeeks and SiteGround performed good in my tests.
- One of my favorite shared hosting providers for WordPress is SiteGround. They just have more features than the rest: staging, built-in caching system and advanced speed optimization options.
But, if you still want to use HostGator, remember that you can try HostGator for free for 45 days.
We keep our content up to date
5 Feb 2021: Discount cupon added
9 Oct 2020: General update – worse uptime and speed than in 2019
2 Jul 2019: First review
THE BEHIND THE SCENES OF THIS REVIEW
This article has been written and researched following a precise methodology.Our methodology