HostGator Hosting Reviews
One of the biggest names in the web hosting market, and HostGator are well-known as an excellent choice for basic website hosting needs and low new customer prices. While they do offer effective VPS and Dedicated plans for those looking to scale, they aren’t as configurable as most and are less suitable for custom high-performance applications.
Shared Hosting Review
Best for Portfolio and Basic websites
HostGator’s shared hosting plans include all the necessary features you’ll need to create a website, including one-click WordPress installation, a free SSL certificate, free domain registration, and free website migration. All plans also include ‘unmetered’ disk space, bandwidth, databases and domains (on higher tiers). Which, for most, means fewer restrictions to worry about when it comes to building your site.
For those new to hosting, ‘unlimited’ resources always come with some terms and usage conditions to restrict over usage on these sorts of plans. While this won’t be an issue for most basic sites, customers will want to know that HostGator limits all accounts to 250,0000 Inodes, which is essentially the number of individual files you can host.
Plans are also limited at 5,000 database tables and a maximum of 10GB in database size (5GB each database). These limits are standard with most providers, and for those starting an eCommerce site, you may find yourself reaching these limits quickly. However, you can be assured that HostGator will notify you of this before performance is impacted, or your account is temporarily suspended. One feature new customers may appreciate is HostGator provides free access to their website builder on all plans. Providing a simple and intuitive way to create a website with little technical knowledge.
While HostGator’s plans are highly inclusive, renewal rates are more expensive than many providers on the market. Moreover, if you’re just starting and wanting to opt for one of the monthly plans, there are no discounts for these options.
If you aren’t aware of the terms highlighted by the asterisk next to the plan prices, HostGator’s advertised prices can be misleading. As the 60% discount is only applicable to the 12-month to 36-month plans. All other options priced at the regular rate and discounts are only applicable for the first term. What’s more, customers that are looking to purchase the premium website builder and any security or SEO add-ons may find themselves with an expensive monthly bill for their hosting.
Overall, there’s not much to take away from HostGator’s shared hosting plans and act as a great stepping stone for those looking to scale up to a large site. All come with all the necessary features and application support you’ll find with most hosts, and the Business plan comes bundled with additional security features that many sites will need. What’s more, customers also have access to a range of site security, maintenance, and SEO add-ons at checkout if required.
Where some customers may find themselves turned off by the plans are the higher than average renewal rates on monthly and yearly plans. However, if you’re comfortable with paying for your first 1 to 3-years of hosting up front, you can make the most of their 60% discount rates.
WordPress Hosting Review
Best for: Blogs and eCommerce sites
HostGator’s WordPress hosting plans provide a high performance, high-security platform that can be best utilized by those with sites already seeing a decent amount of monthly traffic. If you’re just starting, we’d suggest opting for one of the shared hosting plans to avoid paying for any resources you won’t use during setup.
You can expect all of the essentials with HostGator’s WordPress plans, with a free domain, SSL, email accounts, and backups included as standard. However, one of the biggest separators of HostGator from the competition is that they offer cloud-based managed WordPress hosting. Cloud hosting and WordPress as a platform are both versatile and are an ideal environment for hosting high-traffic sites.
Cloud hosting is faster and more efficient than traditional shared hosting servers, as it’s able to utilize resources across various host servers instead of only one. This efficiency also provides more scalability and redundancy for your site(s), as resources can be allocated as required with no downtime. This, combined with HostGators Content Delivery Network and pure SSD drives are the reason why they can promise 2.5x faster load speeds over their traditional shared servers.
Another huge draw to plans is HostGators “one-click scalability” function. This is a significant advantage over competitors, as you’ll be able to go into your control panel and scale up to eight cores and 8 GB of RAM in a single click. If you experience a momentary traffic spike because of a promotion or another event, your website would be able to handle the increased load even without changing plans. You should, of course, go with dedicated server hosting or another solution if you outgrow these plans.
As we mentioned in our shared review, you should expect some limitations on your overall inode count (number of hosted files) with included ‘Unmetered’ storage on all plans. However, most blogs or stores that are within their recommended monthly traffic limit shouldn’t run into any problems.
One area the plans may fall short for some customers is through the fact that they are an unmanaged solution. In that, most necessary site maintenance tasks like version updates and theme or plugin troubleshooting will have to be handled by yourself or through the normal customer support channels. While some hosts do offer this, it does come at a premium price, and HostGators included automated backups that will be suitable for most.
Speaking of price, HostGator’s WordPress plans are one of the best-priced options on the market, with plans cheaper than most competing cloud solutions. You can still expect the same discount structure here too, with discounts only available for 12-month or higher subscriptions. However, with plans starting at $14/month as standard, the platform does provide a lot of value for money, and you can still claim the 45-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.
Overall, we’d have to say HostGators WordPress plans are one of the best offerings on the market. Plans are highly inclusive, including all that you’ll need to build and grow a WordPress blog or store and providing the performance infrastructure to match. Furthermore, we’d have to appreciate that the plans are much better priced than most cloud WordPress hosting solutions.
VPS Hosting Review
Best for: High Traffic and Fast Growing sites
HostGator’s VPS plans can provide an excellent solution for most cases, leaving no stone unturned when it comes to reliability, redundancy, and performance. With only three plans to choose from and limited options in terms of configuration, some may find the plans limiting. However, HostGator does make up for this by providing generous amounts of resource allocation at an economical price.
HostGator’s VPS server plans give you full root access over your hosting environment, allowing you to customize or configure the VPS performance at your whim. Each plan also comes with plenty of dedicated resources without having to pay as much for a truly dedicated server subscription. While there’s no mention of an unmanaged option on the pricing page, at checkout, customers can select whether to include cPanel. Do be aware this does add an extra $10 to your overall bill.
Additional benefits include extra reliability thanks to several layers of included network security. Plus, the fact that each server is housed in a state-of-the-art data center: each server gets redundant power and HVAC units so that these plans might be a great choice for dedicated online business owners. RAID 10 disk configuration improves your data protection even further.
Like with the WordPress options, you can also benefit from HostGator’s one-click scalability to add resources to your VPS server as needed. This is also nice since you can pay for these resources à la carte in the short term or upgrade to a higher plan as required. Another benefit is automated weekly off-site backups. This protects your private server data every week regardless of your other data protection measures.
When it comes to pricing, HostGator’s VPS plans are about average if you purchase the annual plans with their discounted rates. However, their monthly options are pretty expensive compared to other providers on the market. This means trying out their plans for a month isn’t so cost-effective. Still, their entry-level VPS hosting option is pretty inclusive and generous when it comes to resources, especially considering storage.
All of the VPS plans come with multiple layers of security, including a free IP address table firewall, a secured VPS firewall, and centralized DDoS protection. Considering that a few VPS hosting providers don’t come with preinstalled security or firewalls, this is another point in HostGator’s favor, although some security is indeed standard in the industry.
All in all, the plans are very scalable and come with plenty of power and resources for comfort. Users that need to host multiple client websites or run an online business will find a lot to like under HostGator’s VPS umbrella. However, those who are looking for more configuration from the get-go may find the plans lacking.
Dedicated Server Hosting Review
Best for: High traffic sites, maximum resources & security
Being able to choose between Linux or Windows OS is nice, although the Windows option also comes with a Plesk control panel and WebMatrix: tools that let you create and manage your websites.
HostGator also offers managed or semi-managed solutions for the dedicated server subscriptions. The semi-managed options give you extra choices of operating system, along with proactive host health and network monitoring, plus network and host patching. HostGator also includes any hardware or operating system issues.
The managed solution includes direct support from HostGator, including any technical or configuration questions or requests you might have. It comes with extra bonuses like reactive system monitoring (like upgrading resources based on a traffic spike), along with extra automated patching and application updates. The managed offering includes an additional server optimization service for an extra fee.
All the plans benefit from 24/7 monitoring and technical support, as well as the fact that each server is hosted in a US-based, Tier-3 datacenter for extra security. An additional 500 video tutorials are available as well if you’ve never used dedicated server hosting before.
The datacenter mentioned above includes state-of-the-art DDoS protection and an IP-based firewall, just like the VPS servers discussed earlier. If you go with the managed server hosting, you’ll even get automated patching and security-related patches thrown in: one less thing for you to worry about as you run your business. Additional off-site backup solutions for data migrations are also available.
Overall, the dedicated hosting options provided by HostGator are decent enough, but their cheapest subscription and the semi-managed plan doesn’t include as much hardware as several other hosting providers on the market. A 4 core CPU and the inability to choose the data center your server will rest in are slight negatives, especially considering the asking prices. The included security baked into each subscription, however, is a nice bonus. All in all, if you’re going to spend the money here, you might as well also pick up the managed dedicated hosting for the extra goodies.
HostGator offers some of the lowest pricing on any plan with a minimum 12-month term.
WordPress Optimized Platform
HostGator’s WordPress plans provide an optimal environment for WP Sites.
HostGator Server Performance
To test HostGator’s hosting performance we used a few Pingdom reports. Over the span of a year, Pingdom’s probes (located across North America) performed daily checks, on a basic website (less than 100KBs) hosted on HostGator’s shared server environment. Additionally, there was no throttling added to these checks, so slower response times can be expected for 3G or 4G connections.
Yearly Server Performance:
Average Response Time
Data shown as monthly Uptime averages for a basic Godaady website
Server performance can affect all aspects of your site. Case studies have consistently found that customer wait times (page load and response times) directly affect everything from SEM, revenue, and traffic growth. By a lot too, here’s just one example:
For Mobify, every 100ms decrease in homepage load speed worked out to a 1.11% increase in session-based conversion, yielding an average annual revenue increase of nearly $380,000.
HostGator provides decent security for all of its hosting services, especially when you consider that some hosting providers don’t include security at all for their basic shared hosting plans.
For starters, all HostGator servers are protected from a custom firewall that defends against DDoS attacks. Regular malware and security scans are also included, although the free scan (that doesn’t come with any third-party add-on) doesn’t scan the entire website very well and doesn’t come with ways to remove viruses. It does notify you that the virus is there, allowing you to take action on your own.
This does mean that, at a bare level, you get at least a little protection for your shared hosting website even if you don’t pay extra for the SiteLock add-on. It’s not much, but it is something, which is more than what a few other competitors can claim!
Additionally, all HostGator users will need to create a security PIN when they create an account. This is used to verify your identity whenever you contact the support staff, and it prevents people from getting into your account via faking a login issue with HostGator’s staff.
While the automated backups included with HostGator by default are only weekly, you can also manually back up your website as you please with most plans. This is a nice touch, and it allows you to take charge of your data protection instead of having to pay extra or rely on your provider’s employees.
It’s also a huge selling point that every one of HostGator’s hosting plans comes with free SSL certification. Many other hosting providers don’t include this as a default, and especially not for the lower-priced subscriptions. VPS, shared, WordPress, whatever… all get an SSL certificate no matter what.
SiteLock Security: available as an upgrade for most plans and included with WordPress hosting plans by default. This includes automated malware removal and further defenses against malicious attacks. It’s particularly good for WordPress users, given the platform’s targeting by hackers in recent years. It can be added to any hosting plans for an additional fee.
IP Address firewall: VPS and dedicated servers only. This protects your IP address from malicious attacks and solidifies these choices as ideal picks for online business owners.
Security patches: included with dedicated managed server subscriptions. These aren’t a huge deal, but they are a bit nice if you run several sites simultaneously and don’t want to have to deal with security patches in addition to your other responsibilities. Whether it’s worth, the cost will vary by user.
CodeGuard: provides regular and reliable backups for your content. Included with the WordPress hosting plans by default.
Domain Privacy: included with the WordPress plans by default, available to other hosting plans for an additional fee. It masks your personal information within a publicly accessible database to prevent anyone from getting your personal information via your domain registration details.
Customer Support Review
HostGator’s customer support is fairly robust no matter which hosting solution you decide to go with. They offer customer service along several channels, and specific service options or services are available depending on the hosting type you select. 24/7 telephone support and online web chat are enabled for all users; you won’t have to wait more than a couple of minutes when it comes to webchat support as long as you attempt communication during regular business hours. Most of the staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and there isn’t a discernible difference in the level of customer service you receive based on the subscription you have. Some hosting providers give extra support to higher tiers of subscription, which is a bit annoying.
All HostGator users can also benefit from a knowledge base, which covers a variety of tutorials and other hosting information to help you use your service to its maximum extent. Their articles cover all the major things like cPanel (which HostGator hosting plans use), domains, security, and much more.
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