Best Overall Hosting Provider
So you’re thinking of starting with or switching to HostGator. It’s certainly a hugely popular hosting provider – 46% of people we surveyed knew about HostGator. You can’t really go wrong with this hosting provider, but we’ll let you in on the good and the bad so that you can make the most informed choice.
To start, here’s HostGator at a glance:
HostGator’s overall score is 4.7/5 stars in our research, which earns it a very close second place just behind Bluehost – so you’ll definitely be in good hands. Read on to weigh HostGator’s positives and negatives, and to decide if it’s the best provider for you.
Who Is HostGator Best For?
HostGator offers the very best shared plans, which is when you share a server to keep costs lower. This makes HostGator great for beginner websites and small businesses, because it handles low traffic but really well. HostGator’s great performance scores and unlimited storage and bandwidth also make it great if you want to create a blog. It scores 3.8 out of 5 for performance when we tested its blog hosting capabilities – the highest performance score out of all the blog hosts we tested.
What’s more, HostGator recieved a shared hosting score of 4.7 out of 5, with second place being Bluehost with a shared score of 4.5/5.
- Best for: It offers the best shared hosting plans on the market, along with coming in first place for small business and for blogs!
- Uptime: HostGator offers a great uptime guarantee of 99.99%
- Features: HostGator offers more features on its shared plans than most hosting providers, including free email marketing software to take your site to the next level
- Help and support: HostGator’s customer support knowledge base is a searchable treasure trove, and it offers 24/7 phone and live chat services.
- HostGator’s plans are slightly more expensive than those of other top competitors
- HostGator’s control panel and site design are a little dated, which makes for a clunky user experience
HostGator had humble beginnings in a dorm room at Florida Atlantic University in 2002 (which explains the “Gator,” in case you were wondering). Since then, the company has opened offices around the world, and hosts over 8 million domains.
|Overall Rank||#2 out of 12 hosting providers|
|Pricing||Starting at $2.75/month (renews at $6.95/month)|
|Hosting Plans||Shared, WordPress, VPS, Dedicated, and Cloud|
|Help & Support||24/7 live chat, phone, and email|
|Features||SSL certificate, unlimited bandwidth, email marketing software|
HostGator offers a pretty solid 99.90% uptime guarantee, this means that your site will experience 8h 41m 38s of downtime per year. If you’re looking for reliability, HostGator is the cream of the crop – this kind of consistency is good for any site, but if you’re looking to set up an ecommerce store it might be quite the loss. Time is money, after all!
On shared plans there’s also DreamHost that beats HostGator’s uptime with an astounding 100% uptime. And on VPS plans Liquid Web which also has a staggering 100% uptime. Otherwise HostGator stands firmly in the middle with its uptime guarantee.
What HostGator’s uptime means is that if your shared or reseller server is down for longer than nine hours per year, you’ll get a month of credit for the plan you’ve chosen.
HostGator offers five different types of hosting: Shared, Managed WordPress, VPS, Dedicated, and Cloud. HostGator knocks it out of the park with a shared plan overall score of 4.7 out of 5, because of its good prices, 45 day money back guarantee, its joint highest performance score, with unlimited storage space and bandwidth.
The VPS plans are joint first with Bluehost, and offer the best help and support of all the providers we tested. While the dedicated plan offers unlimited bandwidth, HostGator comes in third place with a dedicated hosting score of 4.4 out of 5.
Here’s a closer look at each type hosting that HostGator provides:
- Shared hosting is the easiest and most affordable hosting option, in which you share a server and its resources with other sites. Prices start at $2.75/month.
- Managed WordPress hosting is the fastest and most integrated way to host a WordPress site. This type comes with free migration, so if you have an existing WordPress site, you can transfer it over to HostGator at no cost. Plan prices start at $5.95/month.
- VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting is more expensive, but you get what you pay for – or in this case, more server resources specifically for your site. VPS is worth considering for small businesses, while personal/non-ecommerce sites won’t need to spend the extra money. Prices start at $29.95/month.
- Dedicated hosting is the most expensive type of hosting, and it’s only necessary for large ecommerce businesses. However, if that does sound like you, then the scalability and power offered by dedicated hosting is unmatched. Prices start at $89.98/month.
- Cloud hosting is a revamped form of shared hosting that promises better speed, reliability, and resources. Cloud hosting is considered more secure than shared hosting, and for these reasons, it’s a little more expensive. Prices start at $4.95/month.
HostGator has the best feature score for photography hosting, getting 4.3/5. Comparatively it’s shared hosting feature score was 4/5, coming in 8th place out of 12 providers.
Every HostGator plan comes with a free SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth. You also get a free domain for the first year (after that, you’ll have to pay to renew your domain name). These features aren’t uncommon, but HostGator stands out by also offering unlimited email accounts, sub-domains, and file transfer protocol (FTP) accounts (which allow you to transfer files from a computer to a network). HostGator also includes unlimited storage in its shared hosting plans, which most providers hold out on until you upgrade to more advanced hosting.
HostGator gives you the option to use its own drag-and-drop website builder to create your site. The builder offers a large number of templates across 20 categories, including photography, restaurants, and personal portfolios. However, while these templates are customizable, they’re not very easy to navigate – so if you’d rather not commit the time, you don’t have to use HostGator’s own website builder!
If you plan to create a website using a CMS system, you’ll be pleased to know that HostGator’s WordPress hosting option comes with convenient one-click installation. It also offers support for Joomla and Drupal, and the ecommerce platform Magento.
The standout feature on HostGator’s basic plan is the free email marketing software it provides through Constant Contact. This feature is incredibly valuable, because it allows you to build an audience through consistent newsletters and automated email campaigns. Just like strong uptime, email marketing is an asset for any site, but it’s particularly helpful for ecommerce sites.
- Bluehost vs HostGator – curious about which of our ranked top two providers wins in this epic comparison?
- Full breakdown of WordPress.org – take a look to see how you can get the most out of WordPress.org.
- How to install WordPress with HostGator – Learn everything about connecting WordPress with HostGator.
You can sign up for a HostGator plan with time frames that vary from one month to three years. The more time you commit to in advance, the cheaper your equivalent monthly price will be. For example, let’s take a look at HostGator’s most basic shared plan:
We think three years is a huge commitment, so we recommend sticking to the annual billing option – you’ll still save money, but you won’t be locking yourself in for too long. You’ll still have to pay the full twelve months in advance at the start, and most hosting providers organize their payment plans this way.
Every web hosting provider will try to draw you in with bargain promotional prices. If you see an asterisk next to a pricing plan on any provider’s website, that means you’ll be paying more than the advertised price after your first term.
In the table below, we’ve summarized both the promotional and annually billed renewal prices of each of HostGator’s plans, so you can compare:
|Hosting Type||Promotional Price Range||Renewal Price, Billed Annually|
HostGator scores 3.7/5 in our research for value for money, in it’s WordPress hosting plans, which puts it in the middle of the pack (6th place out of 12, to be exact). While it’s VPS plans get a value score of 3.1/5, making it joint 6th place with GreenGeeks (out of 11 providers). HostGator’s introductory price range is similar to competitors like Bluehost and A2 Hosting, which range from $2.95-119.99/month and $1.98-141.09/month, respectively.
Overall, HostGator offers pretty good value for money, with an overall value score of 3.5 out of 5. However, it really depends on which hosting type and plan you choose. For example, for its WordPress hosting plans HostGator scores 3.7 out of 5, which puts it in the middle of the pack compared to the other hosts we tested (6th out of 12, to be exact).
While its VPS plans get a value score of 3.1/5, making it joint 6th place with GreenGeeks (out of 11 providers). A lot of people tend to value features over money, too – of people looking to switch hosting providers, the most important factor among those we surveyed was “hosting features” at 32%. “Pricing” actually came as a second priority, at 27%.
This shows that people who already have experience hosting a website have found that you often do “get what you pay for,” and it’s worth spending a little extra for the right plan and support.
HostGator also offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, which extends beyond the industry standard of one month. The usual fine print applies, however: the refund doesn’t apply to dedicated server plans, and plans paid for by check, money order, or bank wire transfer are also ineligible.
In addition to the free SSL certificate that comes with every plan, HostGator also protects against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which occur when a large volume of fake traffic floods a web server and overwhelms its resources so that regular visitors can’t access the site. HostGator’s data centers can enable flood protection to avoid DDoS attacks. The provider also promises that its data centers themselves (i.e. where the physical servers are housed) are highly secure facilities with restricted access.
If you want to make sure your site is extra secure, HostGator offers a SiteLock security add-on starting at $1.94/month. SiteLock is a tool that scans your website for potential threats and vulnerabilities, and can also fix many of the security issues it detects. When a SiteLock scan finds anything suspicious on your site, you’ll be alerted via email and on your HostGator control panel.
There’s no doubt that SiteLock is a great tool to have in your arsenal. But heads up: promotional prices still apply here. That $1.94/month only applies when you buy a three year package, while the cheapest SiteLock plan you can buy through HostGator bills at $2.08/month for one year. The most expensive plan bills at $41.67/month for one year – although most smaller websites won’t need to worry about spending that much on protection.
HostGator scores perfect for help and support in 5 of the 8 categories we tested! HostGator got a help and support score of 4.8/5 in shared and WordPress hosting, 4.9/5 for dedicated, and another 4.9 for photography hosting.
The provider offers 24/7 live chat, phone service (toll-free), email, a knowledge base, and community center. Which is great in principle. But we wanted to know what HostGator’s support is actually like when you need real answers to real questions. So we put it to the test!
We put HostGator’s live chat and knowledge base to the test, and overall HostGator did excellently – in fact, it exceeded our expectations by 10% (up from a previous 3%). That might not sound too impressive, but it was one of only two hosts that surpassed our expectations. It outperformed both InMotion and Bluehost in the same support testing!
Where HostGator wowed us the most was with its extensive Knowledge Base, which puts you a few clicks away from all the information you need. It’s a virtual treasure trove, and you won’t need to bother with any dial tones or call transfers to access it. When we tried it out ourselves, HostGator’s Knowledge Base exceeded our expectations!
The searchable knowledge base covers everything from domains to design, and also offers forums where you can hear directly from other HostGator users.
So, how did HostGator’s live chat perform in our testing? Honestly, in the past, HostGator’s live chat didn’t live up to our expectations. In 2022, one user said:
“My agent didn’t seem to have a thorough understanding of HostGator’s products. For some questions I never got a straight answer, and at times I was even questioning the information being given to me.”
But now, in 2023, HostGator has stepped up it’s live chat game! We reached out to the live support for SEO information. In the first question about what SEO guidance HostGator offers they responded in less than a minute with plenty of information.
However, when the questions became more specific it wasn’t as useful. For example, we then asked exactly what SEO tools they offer, such as SEMrush, the response was a bit slower and just “it’s own tools.” So, we recommend either going to their knowledge base or community center for the nitty gritty answers.
HostGator’s impressive Knowledge Base was really helpful, and overall HostGator’s support ended up exceeding our expectations by 10%. When testing the Knowledge Base, we found that it had plenty of valuable information and even some handy extras – like video tutorials, search suggestions for common questions, and useful categories on the side.
We’ve dug deep into HostGator’s support, but what about its ease of use? Well, when it comes to ease of use, HostGator’s design has improved since last time. It used to have a clunky look, with very dated features; but now HostGator has had a spruce in its design, it’s way easier to use!
Moving onto the customer portal, one thing to keep in mind when using HostGator is that, like most hosting providers, HostGator might automatically include certain add-ons in your cart at checkout. This means that if you’re purchasing, say, the shared “Hatchling” plan for one year, then nonessential add-ons like SiteLock protection and CodeGuard backups might be added to your cart. This is easily undone – all you have to do is untick those boxes – and HostGator includes these items because they’re great supplements to any hosting plan. But keep an eye out to make sure you don’t unknowingly pay for any extras!
HostGator is the number one choice for shared hosting, thanks to its awesome help and support, really great performance, and generous money-back guarantee of 45 days. On top of that, lots of features (even on shared plans) makes HostGator an option we would recommend to anyone.
So, you can’t go wrong with HostGator, but it’s not the only way to go right. If you’re particularly concerned about WordPress integration, then Bluehost may be your best bet. If you know you’re ready to skip the shared plans and go straight to VPS, then Bluehost also outdoes HostGator for VPS plans, so it is worth looking into. We wish you the best website hosting experience and leave a comment below and let us know about the website you’re creating!
Website Builder Expert aims to provide you with honest data. That’s why we conduct our own research and obtain direct, personal insight. Analyses and graphics in this article are based on authentic sources cross-validated by our in-house experts.
We take great care to ensure the information we publish is reliable and accurate. However, WBE takes no responsibility for any inaccuracy in information supplied to us by users, research participants, or other entities.
Please note the insight contained within this article is for general information purposes only. We’re glad to answer any questions you may have about this article and its supporting research. For further information, please contact Website Builder Expert directly via email at email@example.com.