To make this review accurate we purchased HostGator “Hatchling” plan and set up a default website (hostingfacts-hg.com) monitor uptime and speed (since June 2015).
If there’s one name you’d recognize on our full list of web hosts, it’s HostGator.
You might not be sure why you know it, but you do.
It’s probably because the Houston-based HostGator is one of the largest web hosts on the market with over 9 million domain names hosted.
They have partnerships with Cisco and Linux.
HostGator plans are affordable, starting at $2.75/mo (36 months) and come with unmetered bandwidth and free SSL certificate. Be sure to be okay with their renewal rates which are slightly higher – $6.95/mo. While it’s not ideal, it’s the standard pricing practice in the web hosting industry.
Over a period of 10-months, we found their performance quite reliable. Their uptime was 99.98% and load time somewhere in the middle – 984ms. Below are the Pros and Cons of HostGator cheapest plan, here’s what we found:
Here’s what we found:
Pros of HostGator Shared Hosting
HostGator has a few noble qualities, including a longer-than-average money back guarantee and an easy-to-use interface for beginners.
Here’s a quick summary:
1. Uptime? Very Good – 99.98%
A website is only useful when it’s up-and-running, stable and consistent.
Luckily, HostGator was able to hit 99.98% uptime (.04% better than industry average) over the past ten months.
When we first connected our website to HostGator, their uptimes were horrible, but they have been improving ever since.
Last 10-month average uptime:
- December 2017 average uptime: 99.94%
- January 2018 average uptime: 99.98%
- February 2018 average uptime: 100%
- March 2018 average uptime: 99.95%
- April 2018 average uptime: 99.96%
- May 2018 average uptime: 100%
- June 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- July 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- August 2018 average uptime: 100%
- September 2018 average uptime: 99.95%
HostGator uptime is getting better, but it’s still below average. Here’s raw data.
2. Good Support (at least, we think so…)
HostGator conveniently offers 24/7/365 support through the phone, live chat, and email.
After a 16 minute delay, their representative was knowledgeable and friendly enough in our experience. We weren’t blown away by the level of service but didn’t walk away with a bad taste in our mouth either.
It may have taken a few minutes to receive a response, but Charles C gave extensive answers to all of our questions.
We asked him if there was a way to add spam control to our email. He gave us two recommendations, as well as guides for how to use both tools.
He even recommended one tool over the other (SpamAssassin over BoxTrapper) in his answer.
3. 45-Day Money Back Guarantee
Most of the web hosts we’ve reviewed offer a standard 30-day money back guarantee. HostGator bumps theirs up to 45 days, giving you an extra two weeks or so to test drive their offers before getting locked into a one-to-three year term.
It’s important to note that there are some restrictions and limitations which apply to HostGator’s money back guarantee. Aside from the fact that you must cancel your account within 45 days of purchase.
Here’s what you should know about getting your money back from HostGator:
- Your refund isn’t valid for dedicated servers, administrative fees, install fees for custom software, or domain name purchases. It only applies to shared, reseller, or VPS hosting.
- Refunds for orders of only $0.01 are not eligible (whatever that means).
- If you pay for your package with a check, money order, or through a bank wire transfer, you’re not eligible for a refund. If you want to make sure you are eligible to receive a refund, be sure to pay for your HostGator subscription with alternative payment options, such as a debit card, credit card, PayPal, or cash.
4. Enhanced Security and Free Migration
HostGator will happily assist you with relocating an existing website over to their services for free (only applies a period of 30-days after initial sign-up).
If you’re thinking about shelling out the big bucks (joke – they’re not that expensive) for any of their premium plans, you’ll also enjoy automated daily database backups, automatic malware removal and a free SSL certificate for processing website transactions.
HostGator is also protected against DDoS attacks.
5. Very User-Friendly for Beginners
HostGator is very user-friendly for beginners (which is nice, considering the utilitarian interfaces of some web hosts read like a foreign language).
They also have endless tutorials, FAQ pages, and documents to help you at every turn, with detailed explanations and simple step-by-step walkthroughs.
Cons of HostGator Shared Hosting
Even though HostGator has a few redeeming qualities, they fall a bit short in some of the most important categories (like uptime and speed).
Here’s how they fared in our tests:
1. Not Fast Enough. Just Below Average…
HostGator displayed mediocre page loading times.
Over the last eight months, their average was 984ms, which is a bit (10%) slower than the industry average of 890ms.
That ain’t good. Especially when speed is factored into Google’s organic search (SEO) ranking algorithm and has been proven to hurt sales with each delayed second.
This is why site load time is one of our core metrics for ranking web hosts we review.
Again, not a great showing considering there are smaller web hosts will less experience delivering FAR better page loading times.
Last 10-month average load time in 2018:
- December 2017 average speed: 988ms
- January 2018 average speed: 1,002ms
- February 2018 average speed: 1,019ms
- March 2018 average speed: 992ms
- April 2018 average speed: 897ms
- May 2018 average speed: 994ms
- June 2018 average speed: 969ms
- July 2018 average speed: 933ms
- August 2018 average speed: 1,027ms
- September 2018 average speed: 1,014ms
2. Extra Fee for ‘True’ Backups
HostGator advertises ‘instant backups’ as one of their differentiating features on the website. Trouble is that they’re referring to manual ones which are available by default in cPanel.
Do you want automated backups to simplify your life? It’ll set you back with an extra $15.95 annually. Here’s what they say about their ‘instant backups’ on their website:
“HostGator’s automatic backup service runs once a week on a random day, and each run overwrites any previous backups. Only one week of backups are kept at a time. The terms of our backup policy vary depending on the type of hosting account.”
Shared servers are only backed up on accounts that are under 20 GB and 100,000 inodes, too. The company also claims that they provide backups as a courtesy, so they aren’t guaranteed.
They recommend that customers seek third-party backup services to protect their important data.
3. Standard Pricing ‘Tricks’
Web hosting pricing looks great from afar, but far from good when you get close.
The first trick in the book is to only offer their lowest rates for the longest terms. Meaning you’ll have to sign up for at least three years if you want the great ‘promotion pricing’ reflected on their website. If you want a true monthly option or even a twelve-month plan, your monthly rate will jump up by 50-150%.
Speaking of ‘promotion pricing’, the second trick in the book is to offer the low advertised rate for your initial term ONLY. That means once your plan expires and it’s time to renew, the rates will jump back up to their ‘normal’ pricing (which again, could be more than double of the original price).
In that light, HostGator doesn’t look like such a good deal after all.
HostGator Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts
Here’s a quick overview of the various plans offered by HostGator:
Shared Hosting: They have three shared hosting plans:
Hatchling plan: This plan starts at $2.75 per month. It supports 1 domain name, unlimited disk space and storage, and unlimited subdomains.
Baby plan: This plan starts at $3.95 per month. It supports unlimited storage, bandwidth and domain names.
Business plan: This plan starts at $5.95 per month. It supports unlimited storage, bandwidth and domain names. It comes with a free dedicated IP, SSL and a toll-free number.
- Ease of Signup: Easy signup process.
- Payment Methods: Credit Card, PayPal.
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: You cannot use more than 25% of their system resources for longer than 90 seconds at a time. Shared and reseller hosting accounts cannot have more than 250,000 inodes. Accounts with over 100,000 inodes are automatically removed from their backup system.
- Upsells: Lots of upsells.
- Account Activation: It can take up to 24 – 48 hours to activate your account.
- Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: cPanel.
- Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): They make it easy to install popular apps and CMSs in a few steps using QuickInstall.
HostGator also claims that you’ll get the following features for free with each shared hosting plan:
- Free HostGator Website Builder that includes over 100 Mobile-Friendly Templates and an Image Library
- Free Website Transfer, Domain Transfer, MYSQL Transfer, and Script Transfer
- You can instantly install 52 Free scripts on your account with a few clicks
- $100 Google Adwords Offer (If you already have an AdWords account, this offer does not apply. You can only use this credit on new Google AdWords accounts. Find more details here.)
- $100 Bing Ads Credit (This offer is only valid for HostGator users who open a new Bing Ads account. You’ll find more details here.)
Do We Recommend HostGator Shared?
Yes and no.
HostGator is one of the biggest, household web hosting names for a reason. Their uptime is strong – 99.98%, but their speed is just average – 984ms.
Having that said, they seem to have improved their services drastically since May/June 2016.
Need a better alternative for HostGator shared? Take a look at our review on their WordPress Cloud hosting.
Have you used HostGator? If so, please leave your HostGator review below. Good or bad – it doesn’t matter as long as it’s honest and useful.