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HostGator Review: Eats Other Hosts for Breakfast
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It seems almost impossible to find an easy-to-use web host that won’t break the bank, but also won’t crash when your website traffic
Sometimes it seems like the only choice you have is overpaying for hosting or settling for an inferior host.
HostGator aims to hit the sweet spot by promising easy, affordable, and powerful web hosting services.
In this article, we will help you decide if HostGator can deliver a blogging product you can thrive with — or if you’d be better off purchasing a blog hosting package elsewhere.
HostGator’s Affordable Plans Can Meet Any Blogger’s Needs
You can’t go wrong choosing HostGator for your blogging needs.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve already got a large following, you can find a plan at HostGator.
- You can start a blog today on HostGator with a value-priced shared hosting plan, a tailored WordPress plan, or a simple drag-and-drop website builder.
- You’ll get a free domain and reasonable pricing — including hosted email with every plan.
- HostGator gives you 45 days to try out their hosting. If you don’t like what you see, you can get your money back.
- HostGator’s Affordable Plans Can Meet Any Blogger’s Needs
- Origins of HostGator
- Web Hosting Options
- Get Blogging With HostGator’s Website Builder
- Domain Names
- Website Performance
- Site Security
- Windows Hosting
- Customer Service and Technical Support
- Trials, Refunds, and Money-Back Guarantees
- HostGator vs. Bluehost
Origins of HostGator
HostGator has its origins in a Florida dorm room (this explains why there’s “gator” in the company’s name — the University of Florida’s mascot is the gator).
Founded in 2002 by Brent Oxley, a student at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, HostGator has since grown into a leading provider of web hosting solutions, including shared, reseller, VPS, and dedicated web hosting options.
In 2012, HostGator was acquired by the Endurance International Group (EIG), which owns other prominent web hosting companies, such as Bluehost and iPage, as well as companies that offer website and marketing software tools.
HostGator’s headquarters are now in Houston and Austin, TX, though the company maintains the following offices around the world to cater to its international clientele:
- Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
- Toronto, Canada
HostGator employs over 850 employees and supports over 8 million domain names.
Web Hosting Options
HostGator offers a variety of web hosting types, including shared, VPS, and dedicated plans.
HostGator also offers cloud and reseller hosting, as well as WordPress-specific options. (Remember, even if you don’t opt for a WordPress-centric plan, you can still host blogs regardless of the plan you choose.)
Let’s take a closer look at each option.
Shared Hosting for Bloggers
HostGator’s shared hosting options are for those seeking an all-inclusive solution for their blog that will not break the bank. When purchasing a shared hosting plan, there are three options available to you.
|Description||Shared Hosting - Tier 1||Shared Hosting - Tier 2||Shared Hosting for Business|
|Main Features||Unmetered bandwidth & storage space, 1-click installs, unlimited subdomains||Same as Hatchling||Same as Baby|
|E-commerce||SSL Certificate||Same as Hatchling||Same as Baby, plus upgraded SSL certificate, dedicated IP address|
|Marketing||$100 Google AdWords & Bing credits||Same as Hatchling||Same as Baby, plus SEO tools|
|Support||Phone & live chat, automatic backups, free site & domain transfer, 99.9% uptime, 45-day money-back guarantee||Same as Hatchling||Same as Baby|
The entry-level plan comes with support for a single domain/website, unmetered bandwidth, and a free SSL certificate.
It also includes support for one-click installs, which are useful for installing open-source blogging platforms like WordPress, Joomla, Magento, and Drupal. (HostGator leaves you free to choose whichever platform makes the most sense for your blog.)
If you need a bit more (and generally speaking, we recommend against getting the bare minimum so that you have room to grow your blog), the mid-range plan gets you support for unlimited domains and unmetered bandwidth (as well as a free SSL certificate and one-click installations).
HostGator’s recommended option is the top-tier shared plan that gets you everything in the mid-range option, but also comes with a stronger SSL certificate, a free dedicated IP address, and SEO tools. These are things that will secure your blog and improve its visibility in search engine results (more readers, anyone?).
Regardless of which option you choose, your plan comes with a 99.9% uptime guarantee. You’ll also get:
- Access to the HostGator Website Builder (which comes with over 100 mobile-friendly templates and a stock image library).
- Free website, domain, data, and script transfer if you have an existing website or blog, making it easy to get up and running again with HostGator.
- Access to 52 scripts that can be installed with just one click, so that you can add as many features to your blog as you’d like with easy.
- $100 credits to each Google Adwords and Bing Ads.
To manage your website or blog’s hosting, you’ll get access to the industry-leading cPanel control panel. This is the dashboard you’ll use for your hosting account.
WordPress Hosting From HostGator
If you are using WordPress to launch your blog (or you are looking for a new hosting option for existing WordPress sites), you might consider one of HostGator’s WordPress Cloud Hosting options.
These plans are very similar to the general use shared hosting plans, but they offer several things that are of particular interest to WordPress bloggers.
|Plan||WordPress Starter||WordPress Standard||WordPress Business|
|Description||WordPress Only - Tier 1||WordPress Only - Tier 2||WordPress for Business|
|Main Features||Average 100k site traffic, unmetered storage space, 1-click installs, unlimited subdomains, 99.9% uptime, 45-day money-back guarantee||Same as Starter except 200k site traffic||Same as Standard except 500k site traffic and 5x compute power|
|E-commerce||SSL Certificate||Same as Starter||Same as Standard|
|Marketing||$100 Google AdWords credits||Same as Starter||Same as Standard|
|Support||Phone & live chat, automatic backups & malware removal, 99.9% uptime, 45-day money-back guarantee, free site migration for 1 site||Same as Starter, except free migration for 2 sites||Same as Standard, except free migration for 3 sites|
HostGator claims that, with its WordPress plans, you will see speeds up to 2.5 times faster due to the:
- Underlying cloud architecture
- Low-density servers
- Content delivery network (CDN)
- Multiple caching layers
All of these technologies combine to provide you with faster page load times — visitors are impatient, and you want your content ready for the viewing as quickly as possible.
What’s the first step to increasing engagement and amount of time people spend on your website? Keep them from leaving due to slow page speeds in the first place!
There are three different plans from which you can choose, and the option that is best for you depends on:
- The number of blogs for which you need hosting
- The number of monthly visits you are expecting to your blog
- How big you expect your blog backups to be
Furthermore, HostGator offers its WordPress customers a specially designed interface that focuses on usability and minimizes the complexity inherent in hosting a WordPress site. (If you’ve used cPanel, you’ll find this interface to be familiar.)
You will find features like auto-backups, one-click restoration, and easy scalability in the event that you see traffic spikes.
You can also integrate your email accounts or other hosting accounts so that you can access everything in one place.
If you need help moving an existing WordPress site from your current host to HostGator, HostGator offers consultation services from its WordPress experts with selected plans.
Premium Web Hosting Options For Larger Blogs
In addition to the shared and WordPress hosting options, HostGator offers several more expensive options that typically are not a good fit for the beginning blogger.
- Cloud Hosting: Cloud hosting plans are fast, offer a greater allocation of resources, and near-instant scalability so that you can use more or less of those resources as necessary. Note: these plans are not essential unless you have substantial traffic.
- Reseller Hosting: Reseller hosting options are typically geared toward those looking to repackage the included resources into smaller, cheaper web hosting plans. The multi-account management features these plans come with work well for those managing multiple sites or blogs.
- VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting: If you have an established blog that’s growing, a VPS hosting plan is a good way of scaling up from shared without spending too much money. Having the virtual server completely allocated to your site gets you dedicated, premium resources.
- Dedicated Servers: There may be some of you out there with resource-intensive and/or highly-trafficked blogs that would benefit from being hosted on a dedicated server. Dedicated servers are like VPS options, but you get full access over the entire physical server, as well as the security this affords.
Video: HostGator features numerous video tutorials to get you going quickly.
Get Blogging With HostGator’s Website Builder
Need a website? HostGator provides a Website Builder — a DIY tool that you can use to create a site or blog. This is an option for those who haven’t decided to use WordPress.
The Website Builder comes with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface. Hosting and a domain name are included.
You’ll also get over 100 different customizable templates, analytics to see how your website is doing, and marketing ad credits to drive traffic to your new site.
You can choose to upgrade your Website Builder package to get priority support, additional social media integrations, e-commerce features, and the removal of all HostGator ads on your website.
|Plan||Website Builder Starter||Website Builder Premium||Website Builder E-commerce|
|Description||Website Builder Only - Tier 1||Website Builder Only - Tier 2||Website Builder For Business|
|Main Features||Drag-and-drop website builder with customizable templates||Same as Starter||Same as Premium|
|E-commerce||Not included||Not included||E-commerce features like shopping cart & checkout|
|Marketing||Marketing ad credits||Same as Starter||Same as Premium|
|Support||Regular support||Priority support||Same as Premium|
Building a Blog the Drag-and-Drop Way
While the website builder offers over 100 different templates from which you can choose, not all of them are appropriate for a blog.
Nevertheless, HostGator has not forgotten the needs of bloggers, and the company claims that you can add a blog to your website using the Website Builder in just five minutes.
First, pick a template for your website (which will be the same template your blog uses).
To add a blog to your website, click on the Blog button located on the left-hand side.
You will then be presented with a wide variety of options to customize how your blog looks.
Then you’ll be taken to your blog dashboard where you can start writing. HostGator provides some demo posts to give you an idea of the types of posts you can create.
And that’s it! Your blog’s live!
Up until recently, HostGator didn’t offer email with its hosting packages. However, they’ve now included email hosting with all of their hosting plans which is great news for bloggers.
Now you can get all your hosting needs with HostGator instead of having to add on an email plan from elsewhere.
Most HostGator packages come with a free domain name, but if your chosen plan doesn’t (or if you need additional custom domains for one or more blogs), you can also purchase domains separately from HostGator.
If you already own a domain registered elsewhere, you can also transfer it to HostGator.
As with all hosting providers, the performance you will see on your blog depends on the type of hosting you purchase.
However, you can ask HostGator to make small tweaks to individual options to make sure your site is performing at its peak.
The best way to ensure that your blog performs as well and loads as quickly as possible is to buy the package that suits your needs.
While you may be tempted to save as much money as possible, know that skimping on things like the necessary storage or RAM for your site will have an impact on your website or blog’s overall performance. Most readers won’t wait around for slow posts to load.
Furthermore, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your blog is fast, including:
- Use content delivery networks (CDNs) to cache your site and deliver your files to your users from the CDN point that is closest.
- Optimize your content (e.g., compress your images so their file sizes aren’t so large. You can do this with a free tool like tinypng.com).
- Monitor your site so that you know when there is the potential for an issue — rather than simply monitoring for errors, set thresholds that, if exceeded, trigger warnings so that you can scale up your resources as needed.
Blog Performance – Our Research
You don’t have to just take HostGator’s word for their uptime bragging rights. We monitor uptime and response time for hosts we review, so let’s check it out.
The most recent month that we have full data on is for December 2018. You can see that the response time in milliseconds is fairly consistent, but gets better toward the end of the month. HostGator averaged about 599 milliseconds for all of 2018. For perspective, Bluehost’s average response time averages around 477 milliseconds for its cheapest plan.
When we look at response time globally, we see overall good returns for the US, Canada, and most of Europe. Interestingly, response time for Italy lags behind its neighboring countries.
Anyone with a blog needs to take security seriously. You have worked really hard on your content — be it posts, videos, podcasts, or images.
HostGator provides its customers with a number of security-related features designed to prevent unauthorized access to your account, as well as keep your website online as often as possible.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks
HostGator is protected from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks via extensive firewalls and a large set of rules to trigger additional security events.
For example, if the first line of protection detects localized flooding, the data center will then enable network-level protections so that your blog doesn’t go down in flames when a large number of visitors try to access it.
All of HostGator’s datacenters are secured and only those with the appropriate access rights may enter.
Malware Scanning and Removal
HostGator has partnered with SiteLock to provide complimentary daily scanning of websites for malware.
If SiteLock identifies any issues, it will send you an email with its findings. You are then responsible for correcting the identified issue.
HostGator performs regular audits to ensure that its customers are abiding by security best practices.
For example, if you use a weak password, you will be asked by HostGator to fix this issue — if not, the company will terminate your access until this issue is resolved.
To prove that your website is valid and to help ensure valid data exchange between you and your visitors, HostGator bundles SSL certificates with all its hosting packages.
Video: HostGator shows you how to get started blogging quickly — and has videos to help you with almost any task.
For many bloggers, Linux-based website hosting is sufficient.
If, however, you have used Windows technologies to build your website or application, you can opt for Windows-based hosting with HostGator.
Choosing Windows for a blog server will be slightly more expensive than Linux hosting. That’s because Linux is open-sourced software that’s available for free whereas Windows server software must be licensed by Microsoft.
With a HostGator hosting package, the sky is the limit when it comes to monetizing your blog — the company places few restrictions on what you can do with your hosting package.
In addition to integrating with Google AdSense, you might take advantage of affiliate marketing — either place sponsored ads onto your blog or provide affiliate links for specific products you recommend to your users. (Remember, HostGator itself has an affiliate program, so you could certainly earn commissions to help offset the cost of hosting your blog.)
You might also dip your toes into the field of e-commerce. Whether you sell digital products (such as ebooks or audio) or physical products (such as branded swag), HostGator can support your burgeoning online store.
Video: HostGator shows you how to manage an online store.
Customer Service and Technical Support
HostGator offers its customers support 24/7.
If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns, you can reach out to HostGator via:
- Live Chat
- Support Ticket
Sometimes you have a simple question and you don’t want to go through the entire seek-customer-service song and dance. For that, HostGator offers a number of self-help resources, including:
- Question and answer forums
- Video tutorials
- Knowledgebase articles that are searchable by topic
If you need help moving your blog, website, or domain, HostGator can help.
HostGator offers free content migrations for all new accounts, as well as accounts that require a server upgrade. You must, however, complete this within thirty days of signing up or upgrading.
HostGator also offers one free domain name transfer per hosting account.
Trials, Refunds, and Money-Back Guarantees
HostGator does not offer any type of free trial, but all new accounts come with a 45-day money back guarantee.
If you are unsatisfied for any reason, you can cancel your account and receive a full refund of all funds paid.
HostGator vs. Bluehost
If you are in the market for blog hosting and you are looking at HostGator, you might have also considered HostGator’s brother company, Bluehost, as well. How do these two compare?
|WordPress||1-click install, optimized, value priced||1-click install, optimized, value priced|
|Website Builder||In-house builder free with all plans||Weebly free with all plans|
|Scalability||Can upgrade with a click||Sometimes customer support is required|
|Cost for Cheapest Plan||$2.75||$2.95|
|Response Time Average||599 ms||477 ms|
There are several things we want to say when comparing HostGator and Bluehost for WordPress-specific hosting.
While Bluehost claims that it is the most recommended company for WordPress hosting, you will find that HostGator’s offerings are fairly comparable.
If you are looking for an inexpensive hosting option, know that both companies offer solutions that fully support the WordPress platform. If, however, you are looking for a WordPress-specific option, you will find an abundance of options from both companies as well.
With that said, Bluehost does offer a premium WordPress option that, while more expensive, promises better performance for a WordPress site. If you are looking to grow your website, but you are not ready to commit to VPS hosting, this might be a good choice for you.
Winner: Tie. Both hosts offer comparable low-priced WordPress optimized plans.
Website and Blog Builder
Not using WordPress for your blog? Both companies offer options for you to get up and running.
HostGator offers its in-house Website Builder, which supports the addition of a blog. Bluehost however, partners with Weebly to provide similar functionality. Weebly’s blogging functionality, especially its drag-and-drop editor, makes it a better tool. However, Bluehost’s entry-level shared hosting plans are slightly more expensive than HostGator’s.
Winner: Tie. Bluehost offers the better-known Weebly builder for free, but HostGator’s free builder is also very slick.
Generally speaking, both HostGator and Bluehost offer the same types of premium hosting (with the exception of reseller hosting — only HostGator offers plans of this type).
This means that if you upgrade in the future, you have the option of staying with the same host.
From what we have seen, this type of upgrade seems to be a bit easier with HostGator (and in some cases, you can do this without seeing any website downtime).
Furthermore, both hosts offer some scalability within individual hosting plans, but Bluehost requires a bit more work
Winner: HostGator for allowing you to upgrade without the need to contact support.
While both companies offer similar packages at similar price points, Bluehost is a bit more expensive and appears to offer fewer discounts.
Winner: HostGator. It’s a close race, but HostGator’s cheapest shared plan is less expensive than Bluehost’s.
HostGator offers a wide variety of blog hosting options that will appeal to both rookie and veteran bloggers. The company straddles the line between powerful and affordable and sacrifices little when doing so.
As a blogger, you cannot go wrong with HostGator. The company offers a variety of full-featured web hosting packages at reasonable prices, all backed by top-notch customer service.
Contributing editor: Natalie Mootz
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