Hostgator is one of the web hosts that has been getting a lot of buzz and hype on the internet today. The big question is this—is all that hype legit?
The company’s been around for years. It’s practically one of the oldest web hosting companies to date. There has to be a reason why they’ve stayed and thrived, right?
In this review we’ll go over what’s good and what’s bad about the service. We will begin with a background of the company so that you’ll know how well they have performed (or not). And then we’ll review each of their service offerings.
If you want to see some of the highlights of this review, here’s what you will find:
- Hostgator has been around for more than a decade. They have industry experience on their side.
- They are owned by EIG, which can be good or bad—depends on how you see it.
- Some of their services are a bit disappointing (to put it bluntly) however, there are hosting plans from this company that will be worth your while. You just have to know which one.
- Customer service and customer support is okay but not the best on the planet
- Managed WordPress hosting and other application hosting is above par
- Cloud hosting is also quite good—if this is the type of hosting that you are looking for then you might want to consider Hostgator.
- Note that some plans have limited features—especially the cheaper shared hosting plans.
Hosgator is one of the longest running web hosts today. They’ve been around for more than 16 years. The company was founded on October 23, 2002 by Brent Oxley.
This web host’s headquarters is at Houston, Texas. Their main lines of business include dedicated web hosting as well as vps, share, and reseller hosting services.
The company is currently owned by the Endurance International Group. It reported total revenue of $34.2 million back in 2008.
Brent Oxley started Hostgator while he was still a student in Florida Atlantic University. His venture was a big success and in 2006 the company registered more than 200,000 domains.
The company then moved their headquarters to Houston, Texas the following year. It was then listed as the #21 fastest growing companies in 2008.
Hostgator was later sold to Endurance International Group in June of 2012 for $225 million but the company’s founder still owned the buildings that were used as headquarters.
In that same year, in May, a social engineering attack was orchestrated by the hacker group UGNazi. The target was the WHMCS server, a billing software developer.
500,000 Hostgator customers credit card information were leaked due to this incident. It also exposed their cPanel info as well as their website files.
Another huge setback occurred the following year in 2013. There were frequent outages experienced that year when the EIG (Endurance International) Provo Utah data center went down several times. Hostgator wasn’t the only web hosting service that was affected—outages were also experienced by JustHost, HostMonster, and Bluehost.
Today Hostgator remains one of the most popular web hosting services in the world. The company has more than a decade’s worth of experience in providing customers with world-class hosting solutions.
2016 was a big year for Hostgator. The company won several awards and recognitions that year, which includes the following:
- 2016 Best Host to Grow With Award by HostingAdvice.com. This was awarded to them after getting a 5 out 5 star reliability rating. The award was also based on the host’s consistent response time and also on their large number of available servers.
- PC Magazine Editor’s Choice Award for Best Web Hosting of 2016, Best Managed WordPress Web Hosting of 2016, Best Dedicated Web Hosting of 2016, and Best Web Hosting of 2016.
- 2016 Best Business Hosting by WPBeginner after the company scored a 5 out of 5 rating. Hostgator outranked all of the top recommended hosting providers.
This shows us that Hostgator is a legit powerhouse when in the web hosting industry. Of course, they aren’t flawless—as you will see later as we go into the pros and cons of this web hosting service provider. But suffice it to say that Hostgator is definitely a leading figure in its industry.
Hostgator’s Hosting Solutions
The following are Hostgator’s offerings. We will go over the details of :
- Shared Web Hosting
- Reseller Web Hosting
- Application Hosting (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Wiki, and phpBB)
- Cloud Hosting
- VPS Hosting
- Dedicated Hosting
- Windows Hosting
- Domain Name Registration
Hostgator also has a few other services that are not directly related to hosting your websites:
- Website Builder
- Web Design
Shared Web Hosting
A shared web hosting service means that your website or websites will share resources with other web sites on the same server. It may be your other websites or web development projects of other developers.
Since you are sharing the computing power of a server then the idea is that you split the bill with the other customers. That’s basically how the concept goes and that is also the reason why shared hosting is usually very cheap.
In fact, Hostgator has one of the cheapest rates out there. The company offers three shared web hosting plans, which include the following:
- Hatchling Plan
This plan is the most affordable plan they are offering. When you sign up for this plan you get 1 website, unlimited bandwidth, and an SSL certificate for free. This is the cheapest hosting plan that the company is offering at $2.75 per month.
- Baby Plan
The baby plan ups the offer from the Hatchling Plan a little bit. You can host multiple domains with this plan, meaning you can host multiple websites on this plan. Just like the Hatchling Plan this one also features unlimited bandwidth and also a free SSL certificate. This plan will cost you $3.95 per month.
- Business Plan
This is the shared hosting plan that Hostgator recommends. It also gives you the chance to use unlimited domains/ host unlimited sites. It also has unlimited bandwidth.
The big difference with this plan is that it has a few more freebies other than the free SSL certificate. It also includes free SEO tools, a dedicated IP, and you can also get your SSL certificate upgraded to a Positive SSL. This hosting plan costs $5.95 a month.
NOTE: all of these shared hosting plans include a one click install feature. Each plan with include Hostgator’s QuickInstall tool. This tool is pretty useful since it allows you to create a lot of different sites really fast.
You can make a blog, e-commerce store, photo gallery, wiki, CMS, and forum site in just one click. Customers get to choose which software to use on their site since they support PHP, MySQL, Apache, Windows, and Linux.
Email Addresses: comparing these basic offerings with other hosting providers, it is interesting that at the cheapest shared hosting plans, this web host has a slight edge over the competition.
With the Hatchling Plan you already get free unlimited email addresses. With GoDaddy you only get 1 free email address and if you check out other competitors at their lowest plans they don’t offer you any (e.g. Squarespace).
Hostgator even tops the competition at the most basic offering with two more freebies: you get a hundred dollar credits each from Bing Ads and Google Adwords.
What’s the Catch? Now, this is the downside with this level of web hosting service. The shared web hosting options are cheap, right? Unfortunately the rule of thumb is that you also pay for quality service.
The higher the price you pay the better the quality of the service you get. And that is the case here. If you check out the myriad of customer reviews—some of them positive some are negative—the bulk of the complaints come from shared web hosting.
You will hear of complaints about getting their refunds, site down, slow site performance (page loads etc.), bandwidth issues, customer service complaints, and others.
Most of the time, they’re all coming from customers who signed up for the shared web hosting customers. You rarely find complaining customers who got the managed web hosting, cloud web hosting, or any of the more expensive hosting plans.
Another downside with shared hosting plans from this hosting service is that there is no free site management provided for you. For instance, Hostgator doesn’t give you any free daily backups.
Sure they will make weekly or some scheduled backups and that’s it. If you want to be up to date in case the site crashes or something, then you have to make your own backups daily.
Site security is also on you too. Sure, this web host will have their levels of security to protect their core but your websites on shared hosting plans will not have any direct defenses from malicious attacks.
You have to install plugins and other software to protect your sites on your own. You also have to update your WordPress or other software on your own too. They don’t do that for you.
If you are looking for scalability and more reliability then Hostgator offers Cloud Hosting solutions to serve that level of hosting needs. These hosting plans give you the advantage of cloud caching, cPanel, resource management, an intuitive dashboard.
The company’s cloud hosting solutions also gives you the ability to transfer all your site data to another server quickly. That is a very useful feature especially if you are running an ecommerce site or any website that relies on solid uptime.
So, how does Hostgator do that with cloud hosting? They create three mirrored copies of your sites across different platforms. That basically ensures redundancy. There’s always a copy that you can turn to and use in a separate server in case the one you’re allocated to goes down.
Why You Shouldn’t Switch to Cloud Hosting?
We don’t recommend switching to Hostgator’s cloud hosting services if you’re just starting your very first website ever. If you’re just testing the waters, then it might just be too expensive for you.
If you’re a student and you’re just testing your web programming skills or if you’re putting up a site because it’s a project or something, then better go for the shared hosting plans.
If it’s just one site and you don’t expect a lot of traffic then don’t get cloud hosting. If you expect to shut your site down when the semester ends then why choose a more expensive hosting plan?
Why Switch to Cloud Hosting?
If your website requires solid uptime then you should consider getting a cloud hosting service and Hostgator has a pretty good offer. You get to use the resources from multiple servers.
Note that when you sign up for a shared hosting plan, you only use the resources and computing power of one server. Hostgator guarantees the following to their cloud hosting customers:
- Higher bandwidth of up to 4 times than their shared hosting plans
- Sites get a speed boost up to twice as fast as the lower tier plans
- Your sites will be 4 times more scalable
- You also get free cPanel
With a more scalable site, your site will be better able to manage spikes in web traffic. That’s something you can’t get from a shared hosting plan.
During days when you have more than the usual amount of web traffic, your cloud hosting service will adjust to the demand. That means you will experience fewer downtimes and reboots. Another bit of good news is that you won’t need data migrations since everything is already mirrored.
If you aren’t that computer savvy or you don’t have any advanced coding know how, then this is the hosting plan for you. You get instant resource management features bundled with this plan to manage your site.
You will also have access to dashboard tools that give you the stats in a glance. You will see your global reach, uptimes, page loading speeds, and page usage trends. These tools give you the bird’s eye view of your site’s performance in a glance.
Your sites will also load much faster since there is a built in caching system with this type of web hosting. The servers will have multiple caching layers.
Cloud Hosting Plans
Hostgator offers 3 different cloud hosting plans.
- Hatchling Cloud Plan – this is their basic cloud hosting plan. It costs $4.95 a month. You get a 2 Core CPU, a free SSL certificate, 2 GB of memory, and it can be used for one domain (i.e. you can use this hosting plan for one website only).
- Baby Cloud Plan – this is the slightly more expensive cloud hosting plan from Hostgator and it is priced at $6.57 a month. You get to host unlimited domains. You get a boost from the usual 2 CPU cores in the Hatchling Cloud Plan to a 4 core CPU in the Baby Cloud Plan. This plan also features unlimited domains and the server where you will be hosting your site on will have 4 GB of memory. You also get a free SSL certificate.
- Business Cloud Plan – this is the most feature rich cloud hosting plan from this company. You can also host unlimited domains just like in the Baby Cloud Plan. Other features include unlimited domains, 6 core CPU, 6 GB memory, free SEO tools, dedicate IPs, and positive SSL. This cloud hosting plan will cost $9.95 a month.
What’s the Catch? Just like what was mentioned earlier, if you want to get quality service and spare yourself from all the headaches then get Hostgator’s cloud hosting services.
Obviously the big downside is the cost. At the very least you need to cough up $60 for a 12 month hosting plan for the Hatchling Cloud Plan. The cost will of course triple when you move up to the Business Cloud Plan.
Now, here’s a suggestion. If you’re just starting or you’re just testing how things are with Hostgator, you can get a shared hosting plan first. If you feel that the experience is great then you can upgrade to a cloud hosting plan.
Why Not Just Use the Money Back Guarantee?
Does Hostgator have a money back guarantee? Yes, they do have a 45 day money back guarantee. However, there is also a catch—which is why we also consider this as a downside—this money back guarantee doesn’t apply to their cloud hosting plans.
You can get a full refund if you are able to cancel the service within 45 days since you signed up. However, this policy only applies to Shared Hosting Plans, VPS Hosting Plans, and Reseller Hosting Plans.
That means you can’t just sign up for a cloud hosting plan and cancel before your 45 days are up.
For clients who are looking for more exhaustive features, Hostgator offers VPS hosting services. If your hosting needs require root access control then this might be a good option.
They have 3 hosting plans for their VPS hosting services as well:
- Snappy 2000: the allotted bandwidth for this plan is at 1.5 TB. Your dedicated virtual private server will have 120 GB of web space, 2 CPU cores, and 2 GB of RAM. This VPS hosting plan will cost $29.95 a month.
- Snappy 4000: This is the next step up in this set of hosting plans and it will cost you $39.95 a month. Your site’s monthly bandwidth allocation gets bumped up to 2 TB, plus 165 GB of disk space, 2 CPU cores, and 4 GB of RAM.
- Snappy 8000: This VPS hosting plan costs $49.95. You get 3 TB bandwidth allowance, 240 GB of web space, 4 CPU cores, and 8 GB of RAM.
A lot of web hosting companies offer reseller hosting. A reseller hosting account allows you to rent a hosting service from a larger and hosting service like Hostgator and turn a profit.
The downside is that you don’t have any control with regard to the specs and features that you can offer. Well, at least you’re not going to worry about the infrastructure. You don’t have any server maintenance to perform and you won’t have to rent a huge building to house all your equipment.
The specs are lower than what you get for VPS hosting but they are much more than what is offered for Hostgator’s cloud hosting plans. The price range is also lower compared to Dedicated or VPS hosting plans.
You can offer unlimited domains and free SSL to your clients. On top of that you can also offer a free more than 400 video tutorials that are completely brandable and a free WHMCS billing software in case your clients plan to start an online store.
Dedicated hosting is their most expensive set of hosting plans. These plans are for enterprise level or high level traffic websites. You are given unlimited bandwidth and up to 1 TB of SSD web space. Your server will have 30 GB max of RAM. Of course the cost is pretty steep ranging from $119 to $149 a month.
Pros and Cons
Here are the pros and cons of Hostgator’s services. It’s just a quick summary of what has been discussed above.
- Plans are relatively cheap especially the shared hosting plans. There are web hosts that offer cheaper options and there are hosts that offer more expensive options. They’re kind of somewhere in between when you consider the price range.
- Cloud hosting and other pricier options are really robust and reliable.
- Reseller hosting gives you plenty of features and specs to offer to your clientele.
- VPS hosting offers and their pricing plans are competitive.
- Dedicated hosting may be expensive but they give you a lot of legroom to work with. The features also help you better manage high traffic sites.
- Cloud hosting plans do not come with a money back guarantee
- The most affordable plans don’t perform that well
- The cost is a bit high with features being a bit limited especially for the shared hosting plans
- The company is owned by IEG, which has had a bad history when it comes to hosting services.
- Customer service can be a bit of a heckler since there are times when you have to wait in queue for a time. But at least their customer support team is available 24/7 and you can contact them via email, chat, and phone.
We recommend Hostgator’s premium services for their reliability and scalability. Their shared hosting services can be kind of disappointing sometimes. Customer service is okay but it needs some revamping since a company should live up to their commitments to their customers.