HostGator has long been one of the world’s best web hosting providers, and its Gator website builder ranks among the best website builders. It offers a selection of web hosting packages targeted at beginners and those entering the space for the first time, and at first glance, it seems to be an excellent option. But as you will see in our HostGator review, things aren’t always quite as good as they seem.
HostGator review: Snapshot
Despite being one of the biggest names in the web hosting world, HostGator just doesn’t stack up against the competition. It only offers simple shared, VPS, and dedicated server hosting options, and those aren’t the only downsides.
For example, the company provides little information about its security practices, which does little to instil confidence in its services. Its price structure is deceptive, and there are too many upsells for comfort. On top of this, HostGator’s performance isn’t on par with more reliable alternatives like Hostinger.
On the plus side, HostGator does boast a beginner-friendly interface, decent customer service, and a selection of notable features. But then again, so do Hostinger and Bluehost, and they stand out as much better options for those starting their first website.
Read on for the full review.
|Pros||- Competitive introductory prices - 45-day money-back guarantee - Fast, helpful live chat support||- Excellent security across the board - Very competitive prices - Attractive native hPanel control panel||- Feature-rich hosting plans - 30-day money-back guarantee - Impressive 24/7 support|
|Cons||- Very average security features - High renewal prices - Basic VPS and dedicated server options||- Resource limitations with shared hosting plans - Lack of advanced hosting options||- Limited monthly payment options - Basic configuration options|
|Verdict||HostGator is a favorite among web hosting newbies, but its deceptive prices, poor security, and other flaws are strikes against it.||Hostinger is among our favorite hosting options, boasting competitive prices, excellent security, and leading customer service.||Bluehost has been a leader in the web hosting market for almost two decades, growing to become one of the most popular hosts for beginners.|
|View deals||Visit site||Visit site||Visit site|
HostGator: Key features
HostGator may rely heavily on its reputation to draw new customers, but despite its average security, lack of a staging environment, and absent server-side caching system, it boasts a number of neat features.
For starters, the native Gator Builder website builder is among the best we’ve seen. It enables pixel-perfect drag-and-drop building, which makes it a perfect option for those looking for advanced design flexibility.
All shared hosting plans come with basic access to the Gator Builder, which includes support for up to six pages, access to more than 100 templates, and a selection of other tools. Note that you will have to pay for a more advanced website builder plan if you would like to create a larger site.
Another attractive feature is the HostGator Marketplace, which contains a selection of third-party apps and integrations. Here, you will find everything, from search engine optimization (SEO) tools to boost your search engine rankings to integrations with platforms like Office 365 and Constant Contact.
HostGator: Key features and highlights
HostGator’s domain registration portal is also very useful, particularly for those looking to create multiple websites. Here, you can register new domains and add them to your management dashboard. Domains that you’ve registered elsewhere can be imported, enabling you to store your digital assets in one central hub.
Last, but not least, HostGator’s customer service is excellent. It offers 24/7 live chat and phone service, and the support team is friendly and responsive. We spoke with an agent via the live chat interface, receiving an answer to our questions within minutes.
HostGator: What’s new?
HostGator isn’t in the habit of releasing regular product updates. Of course, it uses the latest server management software and regularly updates this, but its shared hosting products haven’t changed for some time.
There is a press release page, where we might expect the HostGator team to add regular product updates. But the latest entry here is from 2017, over four years ago, suggesting there haven’t been any notable updates for at least this long.
There’s also a HostGator Happenings category on the company blog, but this also contains only a small number of entries. The latest notable post is from February 19th 2019, over two years ago.
HostGator offers a selection of hosting options that are generally targeted towards those entering the industry for the first time. Introductory prices for the three shared hosting plans range from $2.75 to $5.25 a month, but you will have to sign up for a 36-month plan to access the advertised prices. Month-to-month subscriptions start at $10.95 a month, and you will pay significantly higher prices on the renewal of all 12-month or longer plans.
There’s the powerful Gator website builder (from $3.84 to $9.22 a month), which provides all-in-one site creation solutions. VPS hosting ranges from $19.95 to $39.95 a month for an introductory subscription, while dedicated hosting starts at $89.98 a month. However, the VPS and dedicated server options have limited configurability and are somewhat underpowered, making them poor options.
|Cost per month||$10.95||$11.95||$16.95|
|Cost per year||$47.40*||$60*||$87*|
|Storage and bandwidth||Unmetered||Unmetered||Unmetered|
|Dedicated IP address||X||X||✓|
*Introductory prices are quoted, rates will increase significantly on renewal.
To test HostGator’s shared hosting, we signed up for a new account and created our own simple WordPress website. The vast majority of simple sites built by those using hosts like HostGator are built on WordPress, so this is a crucial test. We also monitored the performance of our site for a 14-day period, drawing conclusions about the host’s speed and reliability.
How easy is it to create a WordPress website with HostGator?
Once you’ve signed up for a new HostGator account, you will be able to begin creating your new website almost immediately. The checkout process is a little misleading, with numerous upselling attempts and deceptive pricing, but it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to work through it.
There’s a quick "Install WordPress" link on the main HostGator dashboard. This leads to the Softaculous one-click installer, which enables you to install WordPress to your hosting account in a matter of minutes.
The entire process is very simple and straightforward, and you should be able to begin creating your site as soon as WordPress is installed. Simply navigate to the WordPress management dashboard to begin.
How does HostGator perform?
We monitored the performance of our HostGator website for a 14-day period using Pingdom’s monitoring tools. The results were mixed.
On the plus side, we encountered 99.99% uptime. Over the entire testing period, our site was only offline for one minute. This shouldn’t cause anything more than a minor inconvenience.
The server response times weren’t quite as good. They ranged from 396ms to 560ms, with an average value of 464ms. While the low maximum response time was nice to see, the average sits at the lower end of the spectrum—most reliable shared hosts have an average response time somewhere in the 200ms to 400ms range.
At the same time, it’s nothing to worry too much about.
Alternatives to HostGator
HostGator is clearly one of the world’s most popular web hosting providers, but competitors such as Bluehost and Hostinger are worthy of consideration.
Like HostGator, Bluehost targets those seeking web hosting for the first time. It’s a more reliable option that’s worth looking at if you want a beginner-friendly host without too many fancy features, but it’s not an advanced option. For example, Bluehost offers no uptime guarantee, which is rare among reputable hosts.
However, you will have access to decent support, and prices start from just $2.95 a month. In addition, the Bluehost WordPress website builder and streamlined native management dashboard are attractive features. However, monthly payments aren’t available with the cheap shared hosting plans. Find out more in our full Bluehost review, and our comparison feature pitting Bluehost vs HostGator.
For us, Hostinger presents a highly attractive option. Prices start from a leading $1.39 a month, and all users benefit from a suite of advanced features including excellent security and leading customer service. All hosting is backed by excellent security tools, and the shared plans come with the native hPanel control panel, which is arguably even better than the popular cPanel.
On the downside, server resources are quite limited with the shared hosting plans, but there’s little else not to like. We’d recommend Hostinger over almost every other provider if you’re looking for a budget, beginner-friendly option. Find out more in our comprehensive Hostinger review.
|Free domain name||Yes||Yes||Yes, with high-end plans|
|One-click installations||Yes, through Softaculous||Limited||Yes, through Softaculous|
|Support||24/7 phone, live chat||24/7 phone, live chat, social media||24/7 live chat, online ticketing|
|Basic plan||$2.75 a month||$2.95 a month||$1.39 a month|
HostGator: Final verdict
HostGator may appear to be a reliable and cheap web hosting provider on the surface. In actual fact, it’s quite an expensive option that doesn’t quite compare to the competition.
For starters, its price structure is deceptive, and the checkout process is full of annoying upselling attempts. You will have to pay for three years in advance to access the advertised prices, and you can expect to pay up to triple the initial fee on renewal.
There are a few neat features that could be worth paying for, including the Gator Builder website builder and access to the HostGator marketplace, but there are also many features missing. For example, there’s no staging environment, and the company really doesn’t seem to place much importance on security.
On the plus side, HostGator makes it easy to start a new WordPress website. It features a Softaculous one-click installer integration, enabling you to connect your new site within a matter of minutes. The performance of our test site was below average, although not so terrible that it’s a serious concern.
Overall, we just can’t recommend HostGator as a viable hosting option. If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly platform, we’d suggest checking out Hostinger’s hosting solutions. If you want something a little more advanced for a business or ecommerce website, Hostwinds should have you covered: read our Hostwinds review to learn more.