As WordPress grows in popularity, many web hosts are claiming to offer specialized WordPress hosting – but in some cases, all you get is an overpriced shared hosting plan with a couple of extra perks.SiteGround is one of those hosts that actually offers a set of advanced WordPress-specific features designed not only to make your site load faster, but also to give you better security and make managing your website easier overall.
I can’t say as much for HostGator, unfortunately, which is one of the reasons SiteGround is the clear winner in this comparison as far as I’m concerned. I’ve tested both hosts to bring you the most up-to-date information on their features, performance, customer support, and overall value for money. Keep reading to find out why, no matter how you look at it, SiteGround comes out on top.
SiteGround has put a lot of effort into ensuring that your web pages load quickly no matter where in the world your website visitors are. Its features include:
CDN (content delivery network) for utilizing servers closest to your visitors’ locations
NGINX server technology to improve server response times
SuperCacher for storing static content for better speeds
HTTP/2 to help your pages load faster
PHP 7.3 for improved speed and reliability (and security, but we’ll discuss that in round three)
SSD drives for greater efficiency and faster speeds
SiteGround claims that with its SuperCacher enabled, your pages will load in around 1.3 seconds – and those speeds won’t be affected even when you have a large number of people browsing your website at the same time.
On to server response times: HostGator’s servers took an average of 1.7 seconds in one recent month just to respond to the requests made when a visitor first clicks on your website (as the graph below illustrates). SiteGround’s servers respond in around 0.5 seconds – making SiteGround over 3x faster than HostGator.
HostGator doesn’t automatically use the latest PHP version and doesn’t have speed-boosting features enabled on its servers. It does use SSD drives, but many hosting companies have moved to these now.
Both SiteGround and HostGatorhave 99.9% uptime guarantees. In the past year, HostGator’s uptime was a respectable 99.987% on average. SiteGround’s average for the same period was 99.989% – which adds up to a negligible one-minute difference between the hosts. It’s hardly a deal-breaker!
And the winner is: SiteGround. It gives you all the technology you need to achieve fast page loading speeds so you can be sure your visitors will stick around. HostGator’s performance has deteriorated recently, so if you use your website for business, it could affect your bottom line.
HostGator Has Decent Features, but Can SiteGround Compete?
What you get as part of your hosting package can be drastically different between hosts – and sometimes they don’t make it clear whether some functions are limited. For example, HostGator tells you that you get weekly backups, but if you look in the support documents, you’ll discover that these are only “courtesy” backups – and there’s a fee if you need to restore your website from a HostGator backup.
However, if you need to host large video files or want to sell digital downloads with large file sizes, HostGator has unlimited storage, while you’ll only get 10 GB to 30 GB with SiteGround.
To help you compare the features, I’ve sorted them into a table for a side-by-side comparison:
Unmetered, but with “recommended monthly traffic” (e.g. up to 100,000 on the GoGeek plan)
Daily, kept for 30 days
Weekly “courtesy” backups (there’s a fee if you need to restore your website)
Email Spam Protection
Multiple PHP Versions
Free Site Migration
✅ (except on StartUp plan)
$200 on all plans
And the winner is: SiteGround. Daily backups and a staging area (so you can make changes to your website without your website visitors being affected) push SiteGround ahead. Plus, this web host offers more features (which you can learn about in our expert SiteGround review), except when it comes to storage.
SiteGround’s Managed WordPress Features Outshine HostGator’s in Almost Every Way
Both SiteGround and HostGator have managed WordPress plans that offer free SSL certificates, provide servers that are configured for WordPress (better speeds!), and will back up your website regularly. (HostGator’s CodeGuard backups are only included in managed WordPress hosting plans.)
However, while HostGator’s managed WordPress plans have the advantage of unmetered storage and malware removal, SiteGround’s managed WordPress hosting has some really sweet features, like:
24/7 specialized WordPress support
Free WordPress migration
Staging area (so you can test out changes to your website before it goes live) – GrowBig plan and above
In addition, SiteGround offers SuperCacher tools that are unique to WordPress. The SuperCacher SG Optimizer plugin, available on the GrowBig and GoGeek WordPress plans, provides access to the plugin’s dynamic caching (for full-page caching) and memcaching (for storing common requests so they can be reused on demand). It’s one more big step to ensure your content is always readily available to your visitors.
And the winner is: SiteGround. Hands down, SiteGround has better managed WordPress features (and it’s cheaper than HostGator’s comparable plans). As long as the storage limits don’t bother you (for most users, the amount allocated will be more than enough), SiteGround is a fantastic choice for a WordPress website.
HostGator’s Security Comes at a Cost, While SiteGround’s Is Outstanding
When you sign up for web hosting, you might assume that security features are part of the package, and with some hosts, you’d be right. However, there’s a growing trend with some budget hosting companies to make you pay for the security your website needs. HostGator is, unfortunately, one of these.
It’s a little misleading when you look at HostGator’s website because it says you get malware scans as part of your package. These are provided by SiteLock, as a feature called SiteLock Lite. What the sales pages don’t tell you, however, is that SiteLock Lite only scans your website weekly, and will scan a maximum of five pages.
HostGator’s checkout process offers you the option of adding SiteLock Premium to your package, for an additional fee, of course. In fact, the SiteLock Premium add-on option is automatically checked in your basket, so you have to manually deselect it if you don’t want the additional charges. If you opt for managed WordPress hosting, however, you will get security features included.
SiteGround, on the other hand, has a “security-first mindset.” Its security features are installed in all SiteGround plans – no extra fees required. It uses anti-bot artificial intelligence (AI) systems to detect and prevent brute force attacks, uses account isolation so your website won’t be affected by issues on other websites on the same server, and frequently updates its firewall rules to keep you protected.
While many hosts wait for developers to release security patches when vulnerabilities are discovered, SiteGround works hard to develop and apply its own patches, meaning your website will be protected more quickly, thereby reducing the risk to your webspace.
And the winner is: SiteGround. Not only does SiteGround have advanced security features, they are included in your hosting plan at no extra cost. HostGator’s approach to security seems to be more of an attempt to generate more fees rather than protect its users.
Are HostGator’s Unlimited Plans Better Value Than SiteGround’s Limited Options?
When it comes to value, it’s common to assume that more = better value. This isn’t necessarily the case. For example, HostGator’s unlimited plans can seem to be a great value – but the majority of websites won’t exceed 10 GB (unless you’re hosting large files) and the additional cost for security and backups can add a lot to your hosting fees, making SiteGround a better value in most cases.
The length of your initial hosting term is something you should consider, too. For example, SiteGround’s monthly equivalent prices are not dependent on you paying for three years of hosting up front. You pay the same monthly equivalent whether you sign up for one, two, or three years.
With HostGator, however, you have to pay for three years up front to get the lowest price. Choose a one-year HostGator plan and you’ll pay more than double the advertised price – making it more expensive compared to SiteGround (even without the extra fees for security and backups).
HostGator’s managed WordPress plans are more expensive than SiteGround’s. The mid-priced plan is double what you pay for SiteGround – and even HostGator’s renewal prices are higher than SiteGround’s.
And the winner is: SiteGround. Unless you want to host large files on your website, SiteGround is much better value than HostGator. Backups are included, you don’t pay extra for security, and it’s unlikely that you’ll need more storage than is available.
SiteGround Offers Super-Fast, Unbeatable Customer Support
Knowing that there’s help available if something goes wrong with your website – and it will – is important. Customer support isn’t just about the hours that support agents are available, or by what contact options are available (e.g., phone, live chat, or ticketing). You need to know that the support is fast and efficient, too.
SiteGround has put a lot of effort into making its customer support the best. You get support 24/7 via live chat, phone, and a ticketing system. Not only can you be sure to get the support you need when you need it, even at 4 a.m., but SiteGround’s customer support is both fast and efficient:
You get a fast response when you submit a ticket support request – the fastest in the industry (around ten minutes) – and when I tested it out, I got a reply (not from a bot) within eight minutes. The average response time for ticket support for other hosts is eight hours.
You don’t have to wait for your calls to be answered – unlike other hosts who will keep you waiting for an average of five minutes before picking up.
Live chat support is quick and efficient. I was connected instantly to a support agent, and they were able to solve my issue in less than ten minutes.
HostGator’s customer support isn’t terrible – but it isn’t as great as SiteGround’s. It offers the same 24/7 support via live chat, phone, and ticketing. Live chat generally gets you the fastest response.
When I tested out HostGator’s live chat support, I was very quickly connected to a support agent who was knowledgeable and able to answer my questions efficiently. There was no long wait between responses, either.
With HostGator, in addition to the regular support options, there is also a large knowledge base and a great selection of over 500 video tutorials so you can solve issues yourself. On selected plans, you also have access to priority support.
And the winner is: SiteGround. This is a closely fought round, but SiteGround’s stellar support is hard to beat. You can be sure you will have your issues resolved rapidly. If, however, you appreciate being able to solve issues yourself, you’ll love HostGator’s video tutorial database.
Choose SiteGround for Almost Every Kind of Website
Ultimately, SiteGround has sailed easily into first place in this battle of the web hosts. It offers better value, customer support, and security – and really shines in performance.
While most websites don’t need unlimited storage, if you want to build a website full of multimedia files or you’re planning on building a digital download e-commerce website, then you might prefer HostGator. You will have to buy the security and backups you need with HostGator, though. Read our full review of HostGator to find out more.
If you’re building any other kind of website, then SiteGround is our top recommendation. Fast-loading pages and top levels of security make SiteGround perfect for personal and business websites. Just keep in mind the maximum storage you can get is 30 GB with shared hosting.
You may have found the one for you, but remember that neither of these made the list of the very best web hosts this year. Read the list before you make your final decision.
Ari is passionate about web hosting and design and has been building websites with WordPress for over ten years. When he’s not testing web hosts, you’re likely to find him trying (in vain) to train his three beagles (who are better at training him than he is them!)