It may be one of the biggest hosting companies around, but HostGator’s services just aren’t as good as they should be. I was disappointed with the support I received, and unless you sign up for many years, the plans aren’t that affordable either. To get the most bang for your buck, take a look at Hostinger, Hostwinds, or Liquid Web instead.
HostGator Must Be Doing Something Right. But Is It Right for You?
HostGator’s endless advertisement campaigns are definitely impressive, but marketers won’t give you an honest answer to the most important questions: Is this true quality hosting? Fast and reliable? And can it fit your specific needs?
I personally had a great experience with HostGator in the early 2010s, but things change. Some corporate meddling and “business optimizations” are all it takes for a great company to take a turn for the worse.
I decided to see for myself how the company fares today and signed up for the basic shared web hosting plan. Other than shared hosting, HostGator also provides managed WordPress, VPS solutions, and dedicated servers. Everything is available in English.
Long story short – you can do better. HostGator isn’t really cheap, support has been outsourced to who knows where, and the features aren’t good enough.
Read on for the nitty gritty of it all, or just take a look at some far better options. Hostinger, for example, manages to one-up HostGator in every single category.
A Little Something for Everyone
Of course, HostGator offers all the basic features. You probably won’t be surprised (or particularly excited) to know there’s support for SSL certificates, automatic backups, SpamAssassin to keep your email protected, website backup and restore, and so on.
One nice thing is that all the plans come with the free HostGator Website Builder, with more than 100 mobile-responsive designs and a media library.
Also, there are free website migrations and domain transfers thrown in to sweeten the deal.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of HostGator’s advanced features.
The cPanel control panel offers one-click scalability. This means if you’re experiencing a peak or (hopefully not) a trough in your traffic levels, you can easily increase the capacity requirements with just a couple of clicks. Not only does this ensure your performance remains consistent — you only pay for the resources you need, when you need them.
Blazing Fast Servers
According to HostGator, thanks to “supercharged cloud architecture, low-density servers, CDN, and multiple caching layers”, your WordPress website should load up to 2.5 times faster. Faster than what, you ask? Well, they’re a bit unclear on that.
However, what is clear is that your content will be managed efficiently, with dynamic content requests processed quickly via cloud hosting services.
Developer-Friendly Features (Beginners, Skip This Bit)
HostGator is definitely a beginner-friendly host, but if you’re by no means a beginner, don’t let that stop you. It also comes with all the standard advanced-level features e.g. MySQL databases with phpMyAdmin access and FTP accounts, as well as some value-added extras.
There’s support for PHP 5 and 7, Ruby on Rails, Perl, and Python, and SSH access and Cron job scheduling for optimal system management.
Generous Resource Allocations
As well as scalable resources, all the plans come with comprehensive resource quotas. As a HostGator customer, you’ll get unmetered bandwidth, unlimited subdomains, FTP Accounts, email accounts, and a minimum of 100 GB disk storage.
HostGator’s features are designed to make your life easier. From account creation to account cancellation, the processes are uber beginner-friendly. Take advantage of the one-click installers, the managed WordPress hosting, and the website building tool, which can all help you get set up without any coding experience or technical background.
Creating an Account
Creating an account with HostGator is ridiculously easy, although the pages are also surprisingly slow to load.
There are only a few steps on the online signup form and your dashboard is set up for you. It’s all done entirely from the browser and you don’t even need to confirm your account via email to finish the process.
Largely due to cPanel, the process to connect a domain and install WordPress is easy as pie. It only took me a few minutes and I didn’t need any help from customer service.
However, if you’re a beginner or you just want to ask live chat for support while you’re doing it, be prepared to wait on hold for a long time.
Click here for my step-by-step guide with screenshots.
The plans come with automatic weekly off-site backups. Okay, so it’s not the best backup policy I’ve ever seen (other hosts often include daily backup and restore). However, at checkout, you can upgrade to CodeGuard backup and restore for an additional monthly fee.
HostGator plans are compatible with all the usual applications, such as WordPress, Joomla!, Magento, and Wiki. If that’s not enough for you, you can install more than 75 open-source scripts with the one-click installer.
It’s not the most premium one-click installer out there (some include 300 – 400 apps), but all the popular programs are included.
If you’re a newbie, you’ll be pleased to see cPanel is the control panel. Sure, more advanced users may prefer a customized in-house panel, but for beginners (or people who want things to just work), cPanel is a reliable, easy-to-use, and well-recognized option.
It’s from here you’ll access your website statistics, setup your password protected directories and custom error pages.
Impressive Test Results
HostGator offers a solid, but fairly standard 99.9% uptime guarantee. While it’s not going to break any world records, it is good to see it’s backed by a full month’s credit in the event of excessive downtime.
Other third-party tests show uptime records well over 99.98%. However, anecdotal evidence from other customers often cites downtime and slow website load speeds as major issues with the service.
Never to take things on face value, I decided to run a Sucuri Page Load Test of my own. It’s important to know how fast your website is going to load, as we all know that Google recommends less than 2 seconds if you want your visitors to stick around.
As you’ll see from the screenshot, the overall performance is A+. You can’t ask for better than that. The website loaded in as little as 30 milliseconds for some locations, with the slowest locations at around 800 milliseconds. Whatever location you’re in, the page load speed is far below the 2-second rule.
Customer Service is Not HostGator’s Strong Suit
So far, this review has been extremely positive. But before you get your wallet out, take a minute to read about my experience with customer service. Arguably the most important feature of any business, with HostGator it feels like an afterthought.
Customer service is 24/7/365 by live chat and telephone, plus there’s a series of video tutorials and a customer forum. However, it only takes a couple of minutes of searching online to find customers complaining about the level of service rather vocally on Google.
I’d love to tell you my experience was at odds with online customer sentiment, but unfortunately, they were spot on. I tested three methods of customer service. Read on to see how they fared.
Sales Live Chat
Before making a purchase, I hopped on live chat to ask a basic question. All I wanted to know was the location of the servers. I was left on hold for ten minutes waiting for an agent to pick up. When they did, they were helpful and polite, answering my question in full, but ten minutes does seem excessive.
Technical Support via Live Chat
When I was setting up WordPress, I wanted to install Cloudflare CDN. Unfortunately, it wasn’t clear from the control panel whether or not this was an option.
First, in order to get technical support, you need to log in again (despite already being inside the control panel). Then, you are then at the mercy of the wait times. It was around noon on a weekday and I had to wait around twenty minutes for someone to pick up.
However, I still wasn’t out of the woods. The agent was not clear about what a CDN was, nor did they know if it was included. Again, I had to wait while they “looked into it”, which left me hanging around on live chat for another ten minutes or so.
After a disappointing experience with live chat, I headed over to the customer forum to see if this is a better way to get support. I submitted a post at around 1:00 PM on a Monday asking about customers experience with uptime, in the pre-sales thread.
A pop-up advised me the post would need to be approved by an admin before it was published. I waited for confirmation, but none came and my post was never approved, and as far as I’m aware, it was never published!
Pricing Breaks at 3-Year Commitment
HostGator displays its prices for three-year terms on the main product pages, so at first glance, the prices seem very cheap. However, if you’re looking for a month-to-month plan or any term less than one year, you’ll pay a much higher price.
There’s a generous 45-day money back guarantee, but you’ve got to watch out for the pricey (and optional) add-ons which are added to your cart by default.
When you’re ready to make a purchase, you can use any major credit card.
Cancellations & Refunds
Canceling your HostGator account is as easy as filling out an online contact form. The only issue is the multiple attempts to get you to speak to an agent. Depending on my mood, I’d say this is to get your feedback or to shamelessly convince you to stay. Either way, you can easily override it.
HostGator offers plans from $3 to $6. The price depends on which type of hosting plan you choose. You can see the updated pricing table (updated weekly) below.
Which HostGator plan should I get?
My recommendation is to start with a cheaper plan. You can always upgrade later on. HostGator can help you with the migration to a more expensive plan. The increase in visitors many times takes longer than expected and you shouldn’t pay a lot of money until the need arises. Of course, your needs may vary, and you can consult with a hosting expert from HostGator here.
How good is HostGator’s customer support?
HostGator is not ranked as one of our top web hosts. But that can also be a result of HostGator being a small, under the radar, hosting provider. There are advantages to a small hosting company – as a customer, you are more important to them. You can also check out our comparison of the most popular web hosting services here.
Do not use the site and do not enter any of your personal information.
Otherwise you will find out one year later, that their system kept your information and settled the payment method as an automatic and you will be charged for whatever package you were looking for. even though you thought you deleted your information there.
Most importantly, they do not refund? Because they want so. Because they are desperate, hunting for every penny they can steal!
HostGator has lots of great aspects. The plans are feature-packed, catering to experts and beginners, although marginally more geared towards the latter. The prices are affordable (although you need to sign up for a long term to get the best prices)
That said, the support is slow and the upsells are opportunistic.
Overall, if you want an easy-to-use host with decent resource quotas, HostGator is a good bet, with the caveat of limited customer service.