Hostgator Review

Hostgator Review
Plan in review: Baby Cloud
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Review Last Updated: April 18, 2017
Summary
Hostgator service is great in every aspect based on my 2016/2017 study. As entry level plans are affordable and relatively simple to setup - it is quick to get going with your website. For this reason I think that Hostgator is suitable for people just starting out - especially beginner bloggers looking for that first WordPress setup.

About Hostgator, the company

Hostgator Inc. was founded by Brent Oxley in his college dorm back in 2002. The company grew from a one-man operation to one with hundreds of employees over the years; and was ranked 21st (year 2008) and 239th (year 2009) in Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Company.

In 2012, Brent sold the company was sold to Endurance International Group (EIG) for, unofficial figure, $225 million.

EIG, which also owns a number of other well-known hosting brands, including BlueHost, iPage, FatCow, HostMonster, Pow Web, Easy CGI, Arvixe, eHost, A Small Orange, and so on; is now the largest website hosting company.

About my 10 years experience with Hostgator

As a long time Hostgator user, I have witnessed the up and down of the company. This site was once hosted on Hostgator before I moved to cloud-based hosting WP Engine in 2011 and to InMotion Hosting two years later.

My 10 years billing history with Hostgator. Can I get a free company T-shirt at least? :)

This Hostgator review was first published in 2008. That’s 9 years ago – before Brent sold his company to Endurance International Group (EIG). Before EIG, Facebook, and Twitter are listed on NASDAQ. And way before Hostgator launched their new site design and reinvented themselves as a cloud hosting provider.

Testing Hostgator new Cloud Hosting 

Obviously, a new review needs to be done.

And that’s what I’ve been working on since March 2017.

I have signed up a new Hostgator cloud hosting plan few weeks ago and currently holding two account with the Gator – one on the old Baby Gator plan and one on Hatchling Cloud Plan.

Multiple test sites are hosted on these accounts. I am tracking these sites’ uptime and load speed using third party applications.

This review summaries my decade of experience and findings with Hostgator.

Hostgator Shared Hosting Plans

Hostgator offers a wide range of different hosting services: Shared, Cloud, VPS, and Dedicated. We will focus on their shared and cloud hosting plans in this review.

There are three different shared hosting plans: Hatchling, Baby, and Business, to fit different webmasters’ needs.

Both Hatchling and Baby Plan comes with the same basic ‘unlimited hosting’ features, except that on Hatchling, you can only have one domain hosted and are unable to purchase a dedicated IP and private SSL. For Business Plan, you get a lot more extra features on top of what you can get on Baby, including free private SSL, dedicated IP, as well as tollfree business number with 100 minutes of free talk time.

Features Hatchling Baby Business
Domain 1 Unlimited Unlimited
Bandwidth Unmetered Unmetered Unmetered
MySQL Database Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Private SSL & IP
Free VoIP Phone
$100 Google Adwords offer
Signup Price (24-mo)* $4.95/mo $6.95/mo $6.95/mo
Trial Period 45 days 45 days 45 days

 

* The price tags displayed at official shared hosting page (Hostgator.com/web-hosting) is based on 36-month subscription. I reckon that some of you might want to go with a shorter subscription period, hence the 24-month price in this table.

Hostgator Cloud Hosting Plans

Hostgator cloud hosting plans promise 2x faster server load time and 4x scalability (without any downtime and data migrations). Like their shared hosting, Hostgator Cloud Hosting comes in three different plans – Hatchling Cloud, Baby Cloud, and Business Cloud.

Features Hatchling Cloud Baby Cloud Business Cloud
Domain 1 Unlimited Unlimited
Bandwidth Unmetered Unmetered Unmetered
CPU Capacity 2 Cores 4 Cores 6 Cores
Memory Capacity 2 GB 4 GB 6 GB
Dedicated IP
PRivate SSL
Signup Price (24-mo)* $6.95/mo $8.95/mo $10.95/mo
Trial Period 45 days 45 days 45 days

 

* The price tags displayed at official shared hosting page (Hostgator.com/cloud-hosting) is based on 36-month subscription. I reckon that some of you might want to go with a shorter subscription period, hence the 24-month price in this table. 

What I Like About Hostgator Hosting

#1 reason why I like Hostgator: 100% uptime servers

Server uptime is the one thing that I stress a lot in my hosting reviews. Fancy additional features are meaningless if a site does not stay online.

And this leads us to the #1 reason why I like Hostgator so much: Server uptime.

FYI, Hostgator 99.9% uptime guarantee is backed by printed in the company’s ToS (clause 15).

If your shared or reseller server has a physical downtime that falls short of the 99.9% uptime guarantee, you may receive one (1) month of credit on your account. This uptime guarantee does not apply to planned maintenance. Approval of any credit is at the sole discretion of HostGator and may be dependent upon the justification provided. Third party monitoring service reports may not be used for justification due to a variety of factors including the monitor’s network capacity/transit availability. The uptime of the server is defined as the reported uptime from the operating system and the Apache Web Server which may differ from the uptime reported by other individual services. To request a credit, please visit http://support.hostgator.com to create a support ticket to our Billing department with justification.

Both Hostgator hosting plans I am on show outstanding results. Test sites hosted on both Hostgator Shared and Cloud hosting are tracked using Uptime Robot. The following images are previous uptime scores.

Hostgator Shared Hosting Uptime (March/April 2017): 100%

This test site hosted on Hostgator Shared Hosting has not gone down since November 2016.

Hostgator Cloud Hosting Uptime (March/April 2017): 100%

Test site hosted on Hostgator Cloud Hosting – 100%

Jun/Jul 2016: 100%

hostgator uptime 072016
Hostgator uptime for June / July 2016 = 100%. Test site hosted on Hostgator has not gone down for the past 30 days.

Mar 2016: 100%

hostgator - 201603
Another 100% uptime month for test site hosted at Hostgator.

Jan/Feb 2016: 100%

hostgator feb 2016 uptime
Hostgator uptime (Jan 24th – Feb 23, 2016). No downtime was recorded in 2016 so far.

Jan/Feb 2015 Uptime: 100%

Hostgator uptime (Jan 10 - 11 Feb, 2015) - test site hosted on Hostgator has been staying up for more than 780 hours.
Hostgator uptime (Jan 10th – Feb 11th, 2015) – test site hosted on Hostgator has been staying up for more than 780 hours.

May/Jun 2014 Uptime: 99.91%

Hostgator uptime scores for Past 30 days (May - June 2014)
Hostgator uptime scores for Past 30 days (May – June 2014) – 99.91% for the past 30 days

Sep/Oct 2013 Uptime: 99.97%

hostgator uptime score
Hostgator Uptime for September – October, 2013 – 99.97% for the past 30 days.

Pro #2: Hostgator hosting loads extremely fast

I also test Hostgator server speed and stack the results against other web hosts using a tool named Bitcatcha. Here are the speed test results I got for different test sites hosted on Hostgator.

Speed test result for site #1, April 2017 – Test site scored an impressive “A” on first test. Most other web hosts in this price range do not score above A- in Bitcatcha speed test. This result (and the few that I am going to show you below) convince me that Hostgator is back to the top of their game.
Speed test result for test site #2: A!
Speed test result for test site #3: A! (For the record, the speed test score for this site was C+ in first run; the image shown above is the result for second run.)

Pro #3: Hostgator = Most popular hosting brand among bloggers based on WHSR Hosting Survey 2015 & 2016

In 2015, I spoke to a group of ~50 bloggers and asked for their comment about their web host. There were 43 votes and 21 hosting brands mentioned in the survey. Hostgator was the most mentioned names in the survey.

The same thing happened in 2016. The survey size was 4x larger and there were ~200 respondents. Out of the ~200 responses I got, 30 of them are hosting their primary site at Hostgator.

hosting survey chart 1
WHSR 2015 Hosting Survey – 7 out of 41 votes casted go to Hostgator hosting. More details: WHSR Web Hosting Survey 2015.

 

Numbers of web hosting brands mentioned in the survey.
Numbers of web hosting brands mentioned in the survey. 30 out of 188 respondents are hosting their primary site at Hostgator. More details: WHSR Web Hosting Survey 2016 

And guess what? Hostgator users are generally happy

After two major server outage in 2013 and 2014, I did not expect so many bloggers to stick with Hostgator hosting. Some survey respondents I spoke to complained about the long wait time at live chat but generally most of them are happy with their host.

For your reference, here are the feedbacks I collected via emails.

Enstine Muki, EnstineMuki.com

“Been with them [Hostgator] since 2008 and have not had any major issues.

The Live support has become the worst thing on Hostgator. It’s becoming more and more difficult to get help either by mail or live chat. Looks like it’s the worst in the industry at the moment.”

Abrar Mohi Shafee, Blogging Spell

“People might’ve noticed HostGator has gotten very slow in live support. Previously, it was 2-3 minutes, but now it is taking 30 minutes or longer.

Just to clarify, I think, this is the consequence of data center transfer as off the owner has changed. Though I should let you know, HostGator was the company who provided the fastest live support ever. The existing customers are thinking to move from it where the new customers think they will be trapped by getting themselves in. But I think, we should give them a chance as they are gradually overcoming. The company was the gem of hosting in last few years. There has to be a tough reason for all these difficulties. But that never means they are a bad host.”

Lisha Yost, Blog and Retire

“I use Hostgator for hosting.

I have been using hostgator since 2011 with zero problems. I They have great chat support. They are super helpful any time I have a problem or question. They are sometimes able to answer technical questions not related to hosting even! The only issue I’ve run into lately is longer wait times for the chat support…

I do not plan on switching hosts, for the above reasons.”

Credit: Enstine Muki, Blogging Spell, and Blog and Retire.

More Pros: Other things I like about Hostgator Hosting

  • Total control over server resources (2x faster, 4x scalable for Cloud Hosting) – No more surprises. Your site on Hostgator Cloud Hosting will be hosted on low-density servers adn multiple caching layers. Each plan comes with its dedicated CPU and memory capacity.
  • Site backup and malware scanning at affordable price – You can now protect your sites from hackers and malware with SiteLock Monitoring at just $19.99/year. In comparison, Sucuri charges $299.99/year for its Complete Security Plan (see image below)*.
  • Good quick support – My recent experience with Hostgator live chat support is nothing but excellent (no more long waiting queue!). My inquiry was answered within the first minute and the person I chatted with are helpful and friendly.
List of some additional features offered when you order Hostgator. * I know – Comparing Sucuri with SiteLock is like comparing apple to orange. But still, I think Hostgator’s SiteLock deal is relatively cheaper (and better for webmasters who want basic site protection).

Important to Know

Alert #1: The truth of all “unlimited’ hosting

In reality, all unlimited hosting offers are limited by a long list of server usage limitation. Hostgator is not exceptional in this issue – excessive usage of Hostgator server may result in account suspension or termination.

If you read the company Acceptable Use Policy

C / a. i) [You may not] Use twenty-five percent (25%) or more of our system resources for longer than ninety (90) seconds at a time. Activities that could cause this excessive use, include but are not limited to: CGI scripts, FTP, PHP, HTTP, etc.

C/ b. The use of more than two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) inodes on any shared or reseller account may result in a warning, and if no action is taken to reduce the excessive use of inodes, your account may be suspended. If an account exceeds one hundred thousand (100,000) inodes it will be automatically removed from our backup system to avoid over-usage, however, databases will still be backed up as a courtesy in our sole discretion.

Alert #2: High renewal price

Like many other hosting companies who offer huge discounts on signup price, Hostgator will jack up the price once your bill is up for renewal (a common practice for almost all budget hosting).

For your reference:

Hostgator Plans
Signup (24-mo)*
Renewal (12-mo)
Renewal (24-mo)
Renewal (36-mo)
Hatchling Shared
$4.95/mo
$8.95/mo
$7.95/mo
$6.95/mo
Baby Shared
$6.95/mo
$11.95/mo
$10.95/mo
$9.95/mo
Business Shared
$6.95/mo
$16.95/mo
$15.95/mo
$14.95/mo
Hatchling Cloud
$6.95/mo
$10.95/mo
$9.95/mo
$9.23/mo
Baby Cloud
$8.95/mo
$13.95/mo
$12.95/mo
$11.95/mo
Business Cloud
$10.95/mo
$19.95/mo
$18.95/mo
$17.95/mo

 

* Note: All signup price based on standard 20% discount.

Alert #3: Cloud or Shared? Hatchling, Baby, or Business Hosting Plan?

Don’t get overwhelmed by the choices you get at Hostgator. It is actually a very simple choice.

Three questions:

  1. Do you need extra server capacity for the next 12 months? If yes – take Hostgator Cloud Hosting; else Shared. For starters – If you are starting a new site, just go with Hostgator Shared Hosting. Now go to question #2.
  2. Do you need business hosting features such as private SSL, dedicated IP address, and toll free numbers? If yes, go with Business Plan; else move down to question #3.
  3. Do you own (and wish to host) multiple sites? If no, then Hatchling is the plan to go – be it Hatchling Cloud or Hatchling Shared; else go with the Baby Plan.

The good thing about Hostgator plans is that upgrading (from Hatchling to Baby/Business or from Baby to Business) is free and easy.

All you need to do is to fill up this upgrading form, and the tech person at the Gator will do the job. Hence it is advisable to start at the lower level plan (Baby/Hatchling) when you are unsure, and only request for an upgrade when necessary.

So, Should You Go With Hostgator?

Yes.

It’s true that Hostgator service quality drops after the company is sold to EIG in 2012. But based on my recent experience and study, I am convinced that Hostgator is now back to the top of its game. 

Users normally select a web host based on a few key factors: company reputation, price, hosting features, room to grow, customer support, and server performance. Hostgator is simply outstanding in all these categories. 

As entry level plans are affordable and relatively simple to setup – it is quick to get going with your website. For this reason I think that Hostgator is suitable for people just starting out – especially beginner bloggers looking for that first WordPress setup.

Order Hostgator Now

For more details or to order Hostgator, visit (link opens in new window): https://www.hostgator.com/