HostGator is one of the few names in the list of commonly used web hosts that you’re most likely to recognize. Maybe you won’t know why exactly you know the name, but you’ll at least know the name. That’s because HostGator is counted among the largest web hosting service providers on the planet and hosts over nine million websites. The Houston-based web hosting is not to be taken lightly because it also boasts partnerships with tech titans Linux and Cisco.
A little history on the web hosting service that has an alligator as its mascot, HostGator has been around for over fourteen years now and started back in 2002. The web hosting service was initially founded by Brent Oxley but was acquired by EIG (Endurance International Group) almost a decade later. EIG’s venture in web hosting wasn’t new as it also owns Bluehost, iPage, FatCow and JustHost. With two data centers in Utah and Houston, it operates a large market share in the web hosting industry.
Earlier on, I mentioned that HostGator is one of the most recognizable names in the industry, even though it’s far from being the best web hosting service, so what really is responsible for this popularity of HostGator? Is it its impressive uptime or fantastic customer support? Or maybe it’s the huge marketing budget? I’ll help you figure out why exactly HostGator is so famous and whether it is really worth it. So let’s do this the only civilized way we know of settling a debate: make a list of its pros and cons. But before that, let’s have a look at its shared hosting plans.
HostGator Hosting Plans
A quick overview of HostGator shared hosting plans show that the web hosting company offers various plans. In shared hosting, it provides three different plans: Hatchling plan, Baby plan, and Business plan. That’s cute naming, right?
The Hatchling plan by HostGator starts at just $3.96/month. Let me tell you; that’s one of the most affordable rates available on the market. However, HostGator only offers one domain name at this price. On the bright side, you get unlimited disk space, storage, and subdomains.
The Baby plan by HostGator starts at $6.36/month, and it offers unlimited domain names, storage, and bandwidth. On the other hand, the Business plan starts at $10.36/month and also comes with a dedicated IP, SSL, and toll-free number. So now we know why it’s called Business plan instead of “Adult Alligator plan” or something of the sort.
If we take a look at the cloud hosting plans offered by HostGator, we’ll get the same three plan names. Hatchling plan starts at $5.95/month and gives two cores, 2GB RAM storage, unlimited storage, and bandwidth but only supports one domain name. Baby plan for cloud hosting offers four cores, 4GB RAM storage, unlimited storage, and bandwidth as well as unlimited domain names. However, this plan is available at $6.95/month. As for the Business plan, it offers the same features as the Baby plan apart from six cores and 6GB RAM storage. This plan is available for $10.95/month.
Commenting on these plans and rates will be useless before I have talked about the speed, uptime, and customer support provided by HostGator as these are the three pillars of a good web hosting. Now let’s get to the positives of HostGator and try to figure out why it’s one of the most famous names in web hosting.
Pros of Using HostGator Hosting
HostGator has some good qualities including an easy-to-use interface, longer-than-average money return guarantee, and a few others. Let’s discuss these positives briefly.
Decent Customer Support
HostGator offers all-year-round 24/7 support via email, live chat, and phone. It did take a 16-minute delay to reach the customer support representative, but the response was friendly and knowledgeable. Truth be told, I wasn’t really overwhelmed by its level of service, but it didn’t leave a bad impression either, so I’ll give its customer support nine points out of ten.
Money Return Guarantee
Another positive is the 45-day money return guarantee. While most web hosting companies offer the standard 30-day guarantee, HostGator takes it up a notch and offers a 45-day guarantee. So that you get extra two weeks to test drive the services it has to offer before you can agree to a one-to-three year plan with it. I believe that this is a good initiative and further enhances the customer-friendly image of HostGator.
This is an extension of the positive that HostGator is a customer-friendly web hosting company, and it offers free website migration to its customers so that you can happily and easily relocate your existing site to its services without any additional costs.
If you’re considering buying a premium plan which won’t cost you as much as some of the other services, you will also get to enjoy database backups on a daily basis, free SSL certificate for website transaction processing, and an automatic malware removal service. These enhanced security features are, in my opinion, pretty cool and make web hosting relatively less of a headache than it already is.
Did I mention that HostGator is a customer-friendly service? It’s also very user-friendly for the beginners with its endless FAQ pages, tutorials, and documents to help you understand everything. Detailed and thorough explanations and easy step-by-step walkthroughs are pretty impressive, especially considering the complicated interfaces that some web hosts have.
Cons of Using HostGator Hosting
While it’s undeniable that HostGator has several redeeming qualities, these are somewhat undone by the below-average performance in the two most integral categories by which a web hosting is judged, which are speed and uptime.
HostGator is now slowly understanding that websites are only useful when they’re up and running. Its uptime is below the industry average of 99.90% and is currently at 99.81%. While that difference may not seem like much, it makes hell of a difference in the real world of the internet (yes, that’s paradoxical, I get it.)
However, the good thing is that its average uptime is on a rise because, in the next few months, it will definitely pass the industry average. Despite all that, this is below-average, especially from a company that’s one of the biggest and well-funded in the industry.
Below-Average Loading Speed
With equally disappointing loading times, HostGator very nicely rounds up the lackluster service that it is offering. With an average of 920ms, it is 10% slower than the industry average of 850ms. If you think that’s not far away, just remember that every second’s delay in loading time factors into Google’s SEO ranking algorithm and can hurt your sales. A little bit of research will show how important loading speed is for SEO these days.
Extra Charges for Backups
While HostGator proudly advertises instant backups as a feature that sets it apart, it is talking about the manual ones that you can get by default using the cPanel. If you want automatic backups, you’ll have to pay up to $15.95 every year. If you ask me, that’s not pricey, but it’s still something.
See also : How to backup your wordpress site
Standard Pricing Trick
The oldest trick in the web hosting industry is the standard pricing trick, which means that the rates look good from afar but quite the opposite when you take a closer look. Let’s be clear that HostGator isn’t the only web hosting company doing this. The first trick is offering lowest rates only for the longest terms. This means that you’ll have to sign up for a minimum of three years. If you want to take the monthly or yearly plans, the rates go considerably higher.
Another not-so-cool trick in the book is promotion pricing where you’ll only get the lowest rate for the initial term. And when you have to renew, the rates will go up and could even be double of the original ones.
Before we conclude this review, let’s take a look at the other aspects of the HostGator service. The signup process is very easy, and it offers two methods of payment: PayPal and credit cards. Account activation takes one to two days before they are fully activated, while HostGator also offers lots of extra features. For instance, with the QuickInstall service, installing apps and extensions is very easy.
There’s no denying from my side that HostGator is among the top names in the web hosting industry. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s anywhere near the best one in the industry. In fact, the big name status is because of its marketing and not because of its performance. Its speed is below average, and uptime is average. Even though HostGator is a customer-friendly host, that’s simply not enough to ignore the fact that the performance is average at best. However, its rates are affordable, and I will recommend this service for personal blogs and sites, while commercial sites should look elsewhere.