HostGator is one of the world’s best-known hosting brands and it is one of two major brands that fall under the Endurance International umbrella, the other one being Bluehost. In addition to these two flagship hosting brands, Endurance International has over 80 different hosting and IT-related brands, too.
Today, Endurance International is the world’s largest IT and web services company.
Today we will look at the brand; what they do well, what they don’t do so well, and why they are trusted by millions of webmasters worldwide.
They are the perfect company for certain types of customers. For others, not so much. Knowing the pros and cons—what they do and don’t do well—is a key part of deciding whether HostGator is a good fit for your web project.
Let’s get to it.
What We Love About HostGator
There are lots of good things to be said about HostGator. These are our favorites.
Onboarding is Quick and Painless
Whether you are starting a brand-new web project or are transferring from another web host, onboarding is a complete breeze. Often, one of the most difficult and arduous processes with a new web project is the actual starting up part.
When it comes to onboarding, hosting providers either do a good job of it—e.g. by providing lots of tools and assistance—or a bad job of it—e.g. by employing a policy of “leave the customer to get on with it”—and finding out which of these categories a host falls into can be difficult.
HostGator has plenty of resources and tools you can use to get started quickly and easily. For instance, they have Quick install scripts for all the necessities such as WordPress.
Transferring an existing site from a different host? HostGator includes one free transfer as part of their hosting packages.
Great Uptime Figures
HostGator’s uptime is very good, and so it should be—your website will deliver the best user experience when it’s consistently up-and-running. If your web host is up and down like a yo-yo, your website will be, too.
Over the past year—March 2018 to March 2019—HostGator’s uptime was a whopping 99.98%. This is impressive, however, hosting companies should always have an uptime of at least 99% to be considered serious contenders.
Anything below this can have serious ramifications for your website. Although 80%, 90%, and 95% might sound good on paper (like in school), they’re not—they constitute several days’ worth of downtime.
Here’s a list of uptime examples:
- 99.99% uptime means uptime of 364.96 days;
- 99% uptime means uptime of 361.35 days;
- 95% uptime means uptime of 346.8 days;
- 90% uptime means uptime of 328.5 days; and
- 80% uptime means uptime of 292 days.
At 99.98% in the last year, HostGator’s service has been online for 364.93/365 days, or total downtime of just under 101 minutes.
A 45-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Most hosting companies offer a money-back guarantee up to 30 days, however, HostGator goes the extra mile and provides a 45-day money-back guarantee. This gives you an extra two weeks to take their services for a spin and decide whether it’s right for you, before tying yourself into a long-term contract.
After 45 days, you will no longer be eligible for a refund.
As expected, there are a few conditions attached:
- Refunds are only valid for credit/debit card payments, cash, or PayPal;
- Refunds do not apply to dedicated servers;
- Refunds do not apply to domain name purchases; and
- Refunds do not apply to professional fees (e.g. admin fees, install fees….)
These are standard industry terms.
Everything is Unmetered and Unrestricted
Aside from the Hatchling plan—more on this later—HostGator does not set hard limits for anything.
With all HostGator plans, you get:
- Unmetered domains*—unlimited websites on a single plan;
- Unmetered databases—as many WordPress installs as you like;
- Unmetered bandwidth—never worry about running out of space; and
- Unmetered email accounts—this is self-explanatory!
*On the Hatchling plan, you can only use one single domain.
While it’s “unmetered”, you need to remember that HostGator’s resources are not unlimited. The main point is that they do not set hard and artificial limits for each plan. Instead, they look at each user on a case-by-case basis and let them use what they like, so long as their usage is fair.
The Perfect Hosting Solution for Beginners
Unlike other hosting companies that make browsing around their backend impossible—seriously, we’ve seen some hosting companies’ platforms that complicate things to the extent that reading Egyptian hieroglyphics would be easier!—HostGator’s is very simple and intuitive to use.
If you ever get stuck, there are tons of tutorials, FAQs pages, documentation, and other resources—including round-the-clock customer care—that you can turn to.
HostGator have even designed their cPanel so that it is more user-friendly and includes more options than the standard, out of the box version.
The fact that HostGator uses cPanel is a big tick in our eyes—it is open-source and the industry-standard solution for webmasters.
24/7 Customer Support
HostGator offers real customer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year through their phone, live chat, and email channels. When we reached out to HostGator’s live chat, we got an assistant to help us within five seconds of sending the request—impressive!
While we asked a pretty simple question, the customer support agent replied quickly, and this implies that he had the requisite knowledge already.
Things HostGator Can Improve On
There were a couple of drawbacks, though.
HostGator Doesn’t Have Automated Backups
While HostGator does indeed advertise that they operate “instant backups”, these are not automated and nor are they unique to HostGator; when referring to “instant backups”, HostGator is pointing to the manual, default cPanel backup options.
While cPanel backups need to be run manually, HostGator does say that they run an automated cPanel backup service.
These backups, however, are limited to accounts that are under 20 GB in size, the cPanel default limit. Furthermore, these weekly cPanel backups “…are provided as a courtesy and are not guaranteed.”
If you want automated backups, you can easily find a way. WordPress has a variety of (free) plugins as well.
HostGator also charges a $25.00 fee to complete a restore request or to send you a copy of your weekly, non-guaranteed cPanel backup.
HostGator Isn’t the Cheapest Hosting Provider
In terms of long-term value for the price you pay, HostGator is worth it (we will explore this further below). That said, if you are looking for the dirt cheapest hosting provider, HostGator isn’t right for you.
If you really are more concerned about saving $1 to $10 per year by finding a cheaper provider, these do exist… but the service level you get won’t match HostGator. We have listed this as a “con” because HostGator could mop up extra customers from their competition by being the cheapest available hosting provider… but they’re not playing this game. They don’t need to.
In terms of value for money—remember, everything is unmetered—HostGator is difficult to beat.
Expensive Domain Registration
HostGator sells and registers domains, but it will cost you. Dotcom (.com) domains, for instance, can cost as much as $15+ per year.
We would recommend that you instead purchase your domain name from a cheap domain registrar (e.g. Namecheap) and then “point” it to HostGator’s DNS so you can use it with your HostGator hosting subscription.
This is super easy to do and there are plenty of guides available online.
One of HostGator’s best features is its pricing. Why?
- They offer regular promotional pricing;
- Renewal pricing is generally lower than competitors;
- Discounts can be locked-in for the entire term of a contract;
- High-level of support even when you’ve used a discount; and
- Everything is unmetered, save for the Hatchling plan.
Currently, these are HostGator’s plans and pricing models:
As you can see, you get unlimited everything on every plan aside from the Hatchling plan where domains are limited to one—this means you can only deploy one website.
With other plans, however, you can have unlimited sites, databases, installs, email accounts… you name it.
Let’s take a look at their “Baby” plan which, at the time of writing, was 60.3% off.
As you can see, 60.3% off only applies to a 3-year subscription but these savings are insane! For a mere $142.20, you get a wholly “unrestricted” hosting plan from one of the world’s leading providers.
While the Baby plan renews after the 3-year period at $10.95 per month, this is still below the comparable renewal pricing of competitors who often charge more than triple or quadruple the promotional price.
HostGator Final Thoughts
Do we recommend HostGator? Absolutely!
HostGator is an established and respected hosting provider that has a lot going for it:
- Fantastic uptime;
- Great value for money in terms of pricing and plans;
- Everything is unmetered;
- 24/7/365 customer support through various platforms;
- An intuitive experience thanks to the use of a customized cPanel; and
- It’s quick and easy to get everything set up and deploy a site.