HostGator is a hosting brand with a solid reputation which propelled them to be among the top dogs in web hosting. As a matter of fact, they’ve become the go-to-host for most people looking to get an online presence.
Their most appealing features include having reliable but pocket-friendly hosting, which is exactly what most want.
But do they still deliver outstanding services that made them hugely popular?
How is the overall hosting experience for their customers?
Is HostGator the right host for your requirements?
Well, in this comprehensive HostGator Web hosting review you will learn everything about them. We are going to help you see through the marketing and make an informed decision.
If you’re still on the fence whether you should go with them, keep reading
With that said, let’s get started…
About HostGator Hosting
HostGator got launched in 2002 by a young Brent Oxley in Florida Atlantic University. Their headquarters are in Houston and Austin, Texas. With over 18 years of hosting experience, they now host over 10 million domains and have over 850 employees spread out in different offices around the globe.
Florida University’s athletic programs have mascots called Gators, Apparently with the HostGator founder being a student at the institution when starting the company, he used Gator for the name.
In 2012, the owner sold the company to Endurance International Group (EIG), for $225 million. Was it for the good or bad of HostGator’s future?
Well, you’ll get to find out more below.
What’s Included In This HostGator Review?
In this article, I have included information on their pros and cons, services such as domain services offered, all their plans, customer support, refund policies and more.
Table of Contents
Let’s take a look at what you get from HostGator in terms of advantages and disadvantages.
Services Offered By HostGator
HostGator offers full-service web hosting covering shared, VPS, Cloud, Windows, dedicated, and even reseller hosting. From small personal sites to enterprise hosting for large projects, you are covered and can upgrade easily.
For the entry-level of web hosting you get 3 shared hosting plans: Hatchling, Baby and Business.
Standard features provided across all of them are unlimited bandwidth, emails, MySQL databases, pages, and storage. In addition to that, you get free features such as integrated global CDN, domain and an SSL certificate.
But there is more to that, you’re also given tools to help you market online once you launch which include, email marketing software, $100 Google AdWords and $100 Bing Ads Credit.
The cheapest shared plan – Hatchling plan –only gets support for a single domain and anonymous FTP. To get unlimited domains and parked domains, you’ve got to purchase either the Baby or Business plan.
The best plan to go with is the more expensive Business plan, it has extras such as ability to upgrade from the provided SSL to a Positive SSL for free (you’ll get the Trust Logo® Site Seal), a dedicated IP and access to free SEO tools.
When it comes to eCommerce support, only the Baby and Business plans are ecommerce ready. All plans have a weekly auto-backups to make sure that your valuable website doesn’t get lost somehow.
Oddly enough, you’ve got to pay to retrieve the most recent backup.
HostGator offers managed WordPress hosting with WordPress specific optimizations and support that make hosting easy for any beginner webmaster.
Their managed WordPress uses a cloud environment ensuring you get the best in terms of speeds, reliability, and uptime. To sweeten the deal, emails are unlimited.
The main advantages of getting a managed WordPress plan rather than installing WordPress on a shared plan include:
- Getting automatic WordPress updates
- Access to Mojo Marketplace apps and WordPress plugins you get to install easily
- Google Analytics ready for you to analyze your site
- WordPress speed optimization with 2.5X faster load times
- Simple and straightforward WordPress Cloud Interface for management, it features great usability and gives you easy access to your various email accounts.
- Auto-backup with one-click restores for previous versions
- Your WordPress dynamic website content requests get processed faster than traditional hosting
According to HostGator, the 2.5X speed boost gets achieved by the use of supercharged cloud architecture, servers with a low capacity, caching technologies and global Cloud flare CDN.
But what about security? You get automatic malware removal.
To help you get your website online faster, you have access to templates and plugins in 20 different categories. Allocated resources for each plan are as follows:
- Starter – 1 site hosting, 1 website 100% free migration, auto 1GB backup space and 100k visits/month.
- Standard – hosting for 2 sites with up to 2 sites free migration, 2GB for backups and 200k in monthly average site traffic support.
- Business – 3 websites hosting with up to 3 getting migrated for free,1 dedicated IP, 3GB for auto- backups and 500k visits in a month supported.
Both Standard and Business get free Global CDN enabled for free.
There are two plans with the following unique resources
- Personal – 1 domain, free SSL
- Enterprise – 5 domains, dedicated IP, both free and private SSL enabled
All plans get free website transfers and unlimited subdomains, FTP accounts, email addresses, MySQL, Access Databases and Microsoft SQL.
Both plans get Windows Support for the following technologies
- Free Plesk panel which you can try live after purchase
- IIS (Internet Information Services) server
- Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
You get access to a website builder with further access to pre-built customizable templates, plugins, and Windows-based scripts.
If you desire getting hosted with more functionality, resources, freedom of customization, you should opt for HostGator’s VPS plans. They have instant resource management, 1-click scaling for extra resources and you get a platform tailored for user-friendliness.
Benefits for all VPS include full root access, RAID 10 disk configuration for mirrored storage redundancy and weekly offsite backups.
For managed VPS, HostGator offers unlimited features like domains, sub-domains, email addresses, databases, and FTP accounts. Furthermore, you get private nameservers, automated 7-day backups, and 2 dedicated IPs
For semi-managed plans, you will have to install the Apache webserver (manual install).
- Snappy 2000 – 2 Cores CPU, 2 GB memory, 120 GB storage and 1.5 TB in bandwidth
- Snappy 40004 – 2 Cores CPU 4 GB RAM, ,165 GB disk space plus 2 TB bandwidth
- Snappy 8000 – QuadCore (4) CPU, 8 GB of RAM, 240 GB storage and 3 TB bandwidth.
Just like a VPS, Cloud hosting is another excellent choice between shared and dedicated, HostGator recognize that.
Their 3 plans use the same naming as their VPS Hatchling, Baby and Business plans. With each, you get to seamless scaling on demand with only a single click. If you run rapidly growing sites which get occasional traffics spikes, these are the best plans for you.
You get Cloud hosting on multiple highly redundant remote servers using fast SSDs, free Let’s Encrypt SSL and unlimited bandwidth, emails, disk space, subdomains, MySQL databases, FTP accounts, and instant backups irrespective your plan.
They do not charge overage fees when you exceed your plan’s set limits like most hosts.
Their dashboard spots a modern look. It shows your site’s statistics including:
- page download speed,
- usage trends,
- Websites uptime, and more.
HostGator have very impressive speeds on their cloud plans.
How do they achieve it?
All plans get Varnish caching for improved load speeds, automated FailOver feature where your load gets transferred to another server if the current server goes down and data mirroring to increase availability and reliability.
- Hatchling – 2 cores, 2GB RAM and single domain
- Baby – 4 cores, 4GB RAM
- Business – 6 cores, 6GB RAM, unlimited domains
Both the Baby and business plan get a Private SSL, unlimited domains, parked domains, and add-on domains. Perks that only come with the Business plan include 1 dedicated IP, free anonymous FTP, and free SEO tools.
We went the extra mile to find out about HostGator’s Cloud hosting, the resources they state are not actually dedicated to your plan, rather they are shared. What does this mean? The resources they advertise are server specifications but not what you get with each plan.
Dedicated Server Hosting
If you’re like to avoid noisy neighbors in VPS environments and get dedicated resources, HostGator offers very affordable dedicated hosting. They provide both Linux and also Windows plans.
Standard features provided for all packages include RAID-1 configuration in either SSD or HDD, 3 dedicated IPv4 IPs, unmetered bandwidth (fair usage) and also unlimited databases.
- Value – 4 Cores 8 threads Intel Xeon CPU, 8 GB of RAM and 1 TB HDD storage.
- Power – 8 Core 16 threads Intel Xeon CPU, 16 GB of RAM, and 2 TB HDD or 512 GB SSD.
- Enterprise – 8 Core 16 threads Intel Xeon, 30 GB of memory and 1 TB SSD storage.
Alternatively, you can choose to get a custom configuration of the resources that meet your requirements.
Linux plans get a free cPanel and WHM panel for powerful management.
Windows Plans get a free Plesk Onlyx panel and WebMatrix which helps in the quick and fast development of sites.
Microsoft products support
- Windows DNS Server
- Microsoft Technologies Silverlight, Microsoft FTP Service, MVC6, RDP access, Windows DNS Server and Microsoft IIS 10.0 webserver.
- Windows Server 2016 OS, there’s no Windows Server 2019 yet
- Database options include MySQL Server, Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Express as well as Microsoft Access.
- Mail Server – either SmarterMail Server 16 with a limit of 250 users or MailEnable 10.12 (you choose)
Resellers hosting comes with easy upgrades for accommodating growth and you get complete control for dividing resources for your clients and creating different plans. You are allowed to support extra features such as SSL as well as controlling payments.
All plans get unmetered domains, subdomains, MySQL databases, email accounts, FTP Accounts and free private name servers based on your reseller’s domain.
- Aluminum – 60GB storage, and 600GB bandwidth allowance
- Copper- 90GB storage, and 900GB bandwidth
- Silver – 140GB storage, and 1400GB in bandwidth
Software tools and features you’re provided for making management quick and without any fuss include
Free WHM panel with Multilanguage support which you can use for
- Specifying limits for plans you offer e.g. storage
- Controlling account features such as DNS, password, creation, and termination of accounts.
- Implementing your branding on clients dashboards and interfaces
- Monitoring your server status
- WHMCS billing software which also you can use for client management and billing.
- Automatic weekly Off-Site data backups feature.
- 24/7/365 Server Monitoring
Who doesn’t like freebies? With HostGator, even resellers get the following free extras after signing up for a Free Reseller Club Account.
- Over 70 country code top-level domain extensions (ccTLD) for reselling with the unlimited domains you get
- Over 700 gTLDs that you can resell from a single account
Application-specific hosting is available, you get a Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP based platform to run your preferred apps. Supported applications and software include Major CMSs like Magento, Joomla, Drupal, phpBB and Wiki.
You get lots of plugins and themes compatible with such apps to perform customizations.
The best thing about HostGator’s email hosting service is that all plans get unlimited email accounts (excluding dedicated servers). Yes, you read that right, even the entry-level plan which costs only $2.75/month.
On top of that, emails come with
- Professional branding @yourdomain.com
- SMTP and POP3 support
- IMAP protocol for accessing emails on mobile devices
- WebMail for accessing and sending emails online at yoursite.com/webmail.
- Email Alias– allows setting different Mailbox aliases with a single email receipt account.
- Allow setting of automatic responders, mail forwarders and creation of mailing lists
- Email Catch – it enables you to receive emails sent to nonexistent emails for your hosting account
Managed WordPress plans have support for G Suite if you prefer collaborating using Google apps with your team.
For email protection, you get Spam Assassin Protection.
HostGator compatibility with e-commerce apps only officially supports Magento, Prestashop, and ZenCart which you can host with every plan except the Hatchling shared plan. Because of the lack of a private SSL, it’s the only plan that’s not e-commerce ready.
Apart from the above, there’s not much you get in terms of e-commerce support.
Looking for domain registration?
Want them secure and have great flexibility in managing them?
The good news is that’s exactly what HostGator provides with their domain services.
To get started with registration, there’s a domain search tool on their site to check the availability of the URL. Purchases get done on the cPanel, and for most plans the domains, parked domains, and add-on domains are unlimited.
- Domain Locking – it prevents your domain from getting snatched and locked up by others when it accidentally becomes available.
- Domain Renewal – after a purchase or domain transfer, you get auto-renewals to prevent unwanted expirations. We all forget!
- cPanel Domain Management – you get easy and quick domain management features directly through cPanel
To help you market yourself and your services, HostGator also provide Paid per Click Services (PPC) which have
Keyword Research – HostGator in-house marketing team gets you the perfect target keywords that you should use as well as keywords to avoid.
Campaign Management – they manage your online campaign and boost your campaign optimization for better marketing budget utilization.
Web Design Services
Not everybody has the time to use their free website builder or templates to create a website. HostGator’s team provides professional modern website designing and also offers premium templates for you to use at a fee. Furthermore, they create 3 pages of SEO optimized content for you to help you get started on the right foot.
For their e-commerce website design services (also paid), you get 10 pages created for you. Shipping and payment solutions get implemented through Open Cart.
HostGator’s servers are hosted in their Tier 3 state-of-the-art data centers in Provo (8,500 sq. ft.) and Houston, Texas (300,000 sq. ft.).
They are built on a fully redundant network with multiple layers of network and security to ensure the best reliability and stability, that why their hosting is very stable.
Dedicated servers get RAID-1 Configuration while VPS get RAID 10 mirrored storage. VPS plans have a guaranteed 20Mbit uplink connection.
They get professional companies such as AboveNet, Global Crossing, ATT, Comcast, NTT to take care of networks and achieve to achieve low latency and high throughput connections.
Only cloud and dedicated servers get SSD hosting. The processors used in their servers feature the best from both Intel and AMD.
Despite having multiple data centers, you can’t choose which server your site is going to get hosted on.
Ease of Use
To make your migration easier to HostGator, you get a 100% free transfer for your site, the number of sites depends on which plan you’ve bought.
To make website creation easy and painless, you get a drag and drop website builder. The builder is also e-commerce ready but very limited in what you can do and not very optimized for speeds.
Alternatively, there is a Premium Web Builder that has built-in SEO tools, Google analytics-enabled, e-commerce, PayPal, social media integration and more.
- Shared plans – 52 scripts and over 100 mobile-responsive designs
- VPS – 1000s of free templates and powerful script Installer
- Managed WordPress – WordPress templates in MOJO Marketplace.
- Windows Hosting – 38 scripts and 4500 free website templates
Installing apps is easy most take just a few clicks while WordPress features 1-click installation
As explained earlier, most plans (Linux) get a free cPanel while Windows plans get a free Plesk account for management and WebMatrix tool for fast site creation and deployment.
Why stress yourself with all the heavy lifting? Managed dedicated get perks such as:
- Free data migrations
- proactive system monitoring
- Hostgator check and take care of your server health, security, network, and full functionality,
- Software patches and updates
Semi-managed dedicated servers have very limited support, there’s no free control panel or pre-installed Apache webserver but you get command-line power management perfect for tech-savvy clients who want to customize features.
For experienced admins, tech-savvy users and pro-webmasters, there are a lot of features that give you power and flexibility to implement customizations and code in various languages.
For system management, you get OpenSSH Protocol access (using Jailed Shell), as well as Cron job scheduling on shared plans while all dedicated and VPS plans have full root access.
Developer friendly tool supported
- Free Module Installation and Streaming Audio/Video supported.
- Programming Languages: CGI, Fast CGI, PHP 5 and 7, Ruby on Rails, Perl, Python, SSL
- Programming Modules: Curl, CPAN, GD Library, ImageMagick
- Windows modules – ASP, ASP.NET 2.0 to ASP.NET 4.5, MVC 3.0 and AJAX
Performance and Reliability
When it comes to stability and reliability, HostGator can’t miss in the top 3.
They give 99.9% uptime guarantee where you get refunded a full month’s credit if the uptime dips below their promised percentage.
In terms of speeds, they don’t have the best site loading speeds in the industry. It’s not their strong point. Speeds are not terrible, but just above average. Of all their plans, their cloud hosting leads in the speed race.
If you’re looking for speed, you’ve got to ask yourself how these speeds speed will hold under a full-featured website load. Will it crumble or persevere?
Speed optimization is limited to only having PHP7.1 enabled plus built-in Apache-based content compression. If you want faster loading, you’ve got to perform manual tweaks or install speed plugins.
Speed up features for dedicated plans are paid services.
Security features offered for specific plans are also limited, even locating them on their website quite hard.
On top of the overall security implemented in their main servers, Shared plans only get:
- Hotlink Protection
- Spam Assassin protection and blocks for emails
Managed WordPress hosting get additional Automatic Malware removal.
The security suite for VPS and dedicated plans are much better. Your hosting gets secured with free IP table Firewalls and centralized DDOS protection. Other added benefits for dedicated hosting include getting Custom IPsec Security Policy as well as file change monitoring which creates alerts when file changes get detected.
Windows dedicated plans get extra protection from an Advanced Windows Firewall and access to Windows Backup Service for data security.
Site back- up and restore (for most plans), CodeGuard and SiteLock are premium security featureswhich attracts extra payments.
Customer support staff are available 24/7/365 via phone (toll-free phone), email (limited), and live chat. Interestingly, their twitter staff also helps with some support questions.
If you prefer self-help, there’s a searchable Knowledgebase with helpful articles FAQs, plus video tutorials. Another alternative is their community forum where you can share and learn from others
If you are a reseller’s you will get 400+ videos that you can rebrand with your company information and avail to your customers.
There are a few shortcomings with their support that we noted
- First, to get technical support, you must be logged in
- When you post on their forum, your query must get approved by an admin which might take time or never get done
- Their support gets outsourced, you are not going to get the best quality of support for technical questions.
- Due to outsourcing, the live chat is not swift, you’ve got to wait for an average of 5 minutes for a response
With HostGator having been acquired by EIG, outsourcing support seems to be one of the ways the company chose to cut costs, which is disappointing.
HostGator have very attractive prices for their plans, they offer low-mid range pricing. To get the lower prices, you’ve got to commit long term (1-3 years). However, monthly billing plans are available albeit at higher prices.
Unlike other providers, they don’t charge for cPanel (except for unmanaged plans), Windows hosting too doesn’t attract extra charges for Plesk, databases or Windows OS. You only pay for upgrading databases with prices/month being
- MSSQL 2017 Web Edition – $25
- MSSQL 2017 Standard Edition – $325
- MSSQL 2017 Enterprise Edition – $1025
Dedicated server monthly prices.
- Value Server – $119.00
- Power Server – $139.99
- Enterprise Server – $149.00
Cloud hosting monthly payments
- Hatchling – $4.95
- Baby – $6.57
- Business – $9.95
VPS hosting plans monthly costs
- Snappy 2000 – $9.95
- Snappy 4000 – $9.95
- Snappy 8000 – $9.95
Managed WordPress monthly fees
- Starter – $5.95
- Standard – $7.95
- Business – $9.95
Windows Hosting Plans Monthly costs
- Personal – $2.75
- Enterprise – $2.75
Shared hosting monthly costs
- Hatchling – $2.75
- Baby – $3.95
- Business – $5.95
The mains downsides with their pricing?
- Lots of upsells get added to your cart at checkout.
- Introductory prices rise with renewals
Excluding dedicated servers, all the other plans get covered by a 45-day money-back guarantee. Also, as mentioned earlier, if they don’t meet the uptime guarantee, you get 1-month credit back.
But there’s a catch with their refund policy, it states they can take up to 90 days for you to receive the refund which is not impressive.
If you made payments through check, bank wire transfer or money order, you will be ineligible for a refund. And also, the refund doesn’t cover any install fee or add-on purchased
HostGator Review Conclusion
As you’ve seen HostGator’s main advantages include having an outstanding uptime, a wide range of plans, impressive hosting for Windows and budget-friendly hosting. They cater to a demographic that’s looking for simplicity and not very much interested in optimizations and tweaks.
You should consider the information given above when signing up for HostGator plans.
Would you consider getting hosted by HostGator? Which features got you enticed by HostGator?
Leave your thoughts below in the comment section!