HostGator is a Texas-based web hosting company that offers shared hosting, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, dedicated servers, reseller accounts, and more. This provider keeps it simple by having only a few plans for each type of hosting and minimizing configurable options.
In our HostGator web hosting review, we discover that HostGator has real strengths that could make it the best website hosting company for your business, particularly if you’re looking for a budget option.
HostGator: Plans and pricing
HostGator splits its hosting into website builder plans, shared hosting plans, WordPress hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated servers. The first term of all plans is heavily discounted, so the headline rates always look impressive. You get between 40 percent and 75 percent off the price of your first term, but subsequent terms are full price. Plans are also cheaper the longer that you pay in advance. In this HostGator review, we list the full price, not the introductory price, as this is the price you’ll ultimately be paying.
The Gator Website Builder is a drag-and-drop website creation tool designed for beginners. It starts at $7.68/month for a two-year plan. This includes a domain name, website analytics, 24/7 support, and free SSL support. For a plan with priority support, you’ll pay $11.98/month, and a plan with support for eCommerce costs $18.44/month.
There are three shared hosting plans. The Hatchling plan costs $6.95/month if you pay three years at a time. It includes a free domain, unmetered bandwidth, unmetered disk space, and free SSL support. You also get $100 worth of advertising credit that you can use on Google AdWords or Bing. The Baby plan unlocks unlimited domains and costs $9.95/month, and the $14.95 Business plan adds a dedicated IP address and SSL certification from Comodo.
WordPress hosting is split into six different plans. The more expensive plans have support for more websites at a time, and that’s about it. The Starter plan ($9.95/month for a three-year plan) is for a single site only but includes unmetered storage space, free SSL, and $100 in Google AdWords credit.
HostGator has three VPS hosting plans. A two-core setup with 2 GB of RAM, 120 GB of disk space, and 1.5 TB of bandwidth costs $79.95/month. An upgrade to 4 GB of RAM, 165 GB of disk space, and 2 TB of bandwidth takes the price to $119.95/month. The most expensive plan, at $149.95/month, is a setup with four cores, 8 GB of RAM, 240 GB of disk space, and 3 TB of bandwidth. Your introductory period gets a massive 75 percent off the full price.
For the most power and versatility, choose a dedicated server. These are well-specced, and you can choose between CentOS and Windows hosting at no extra charge. Plans can be managed or semi-managed. The cheapest semi-managed dedicated server from HostGator has a four-core Intel Xeon-D CPU with 8 GB of RAM, a 1-TB hard drive, and unmetered bandwidth. This costs $179/month. The Power Server option ($239/month) has an eight-core CPU, 16 GB of RAM, and your choice of either a 2-TB hard drive or 512 GB SSD. Finally, you can opt for the Enterprise plan ($279/month), which has 30 GB of RAM and a 1-TB SSD.
HostGator’s shared hosting plans have a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. If you opt for the managed WordPress hosting plans, your WordPress site is cached and optimized, making load times up to one second faster, according to HostGator. You also get automatic WordPress updates, and HostGator will transfer any current WordPress site you have to its hosting for free.
When you rent a dedicated server from HostGator, you can choose for it to be fully managed or semi-managed. Semi-managed essentially means you’re on your own, as it's only with the fully managed service that you’ll get cPanel, offsite backup solutions, and proactive software patching from the web host.
Interface and in use
Buying from HostGator is a little frustrating because the website only shows the low introductory prices and hides the prices you’ll pay when you renew in the fine print. For example, when you sign up for a shared hosting plan, it automatically adds a service called SiteLock that scans your website for malware daily. It’s listed as $1.99/month, but the small disclaimer states that after 12 months, you’ll be billed $71.88 for each following year. We prefer hosting companies to be more clear with their pricing.
HostGator’s own website builder is quite powerful, allowing you to quickly build attractive pages with contact forms, social media links, and slideshows. There’s also a File Manager tool, so you can easily upload files through your browser, and the installation of popular content management software, such as Joomla, Mambo, Drupal, and WordPress, can be done through a wizard.
In our testing, we used a website monitoring tool to monitor the uptime of our website over a two-week period. HostGator did well, as our site was never unavailable. In speed tests, response times ranged between 216 ms and 807 ms, with an average time of 251 ms. This is about average, and while we’ve tested hosts that have responded up to two times faster than HostGator, it’s still fast enough that no one will notice the difference.
Your first line of support from HostGator comes from the knowledge base, which has over 3,500 articles arranged into around 20 categories. You can drill down into the subcategories you need or use the search bar. Despite the sheer number of articles, the search does a good job of returning results relevant to your query. Many of the articles include long videos that take you through exactly how to perform the steps that you need to do. It’s one of the best Help Centers we’ve seen.
If you prefer, HostGator has 24/7/365 live chat and phone support. In our testing, we never had to wait longer than two minutes to speak to an agent, and they were always helpful and knowledgeable.
HostGator has great rates on shared hosting, but if you want a similar web host with more configurability, consider Bluehost. In fact, HostGator and Bluehost are now owned by the same parent company, Endurance International Group (EIG). The two offer comparable services, but while HostGator is great for its “unlimited everything” shared hosting plans, Bluehost has a better range of options overall.
If you’re considering managed WordPress hosting, we recommend InMotion Hosting over HostGator. Whereas HostGator’s managed WordPress hosting only covers the basics, InMotion Hosting takes a more hands-on approach to helping you solve any issue that you have with your WordPress site.
We recommend HostGator, mostly for its excellent shared hosting plans. They’re super cheap and packed with features, and they performed admirably in our testing. The 24/7/365 live chat and telephone support is also great.
HostGator’s highly discounted introductory prices on VPS and dedicated servers make this host an interesting option if you have an application that you only plan to run for three years or less. The standard prices are mostly competitive, though you’ll pay extra for things that other hosts include as standard, like cPanel support on VPS plans. Overall, the VPS and dedicated server plans are fine, but we would like to see more hardware choices and configurability.
All in all, HostGator is a top web hosting service with great plans for consumers and small businesses, particularly if you’re looking for a budget shared hosting option that performs well.