Hostgator Review

Hostgator is officially sold to Endurance now. Can you still trust the Gators? Should you host your sites at Hostgator? Read my experience and review for answers.

Hostgator

URL:
http://www.hostgator.com
Services:
Shared, VPS, Dedicated Hosting
Price:
$5.21/mo*

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
Review Last Updated: July 14, 2016


Summary

It's true that Hostgator service quality drops after the company is sold to EIG. But based on my recent (2016) experience, I see sign of recovery. The major issue I see right now is the long wait time in live chat support; everything else at Hostgator is above average. I recommend Hostgator to those who are looking for a business hosting.

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.

As a long time Hostgator user (for almost 10 years), 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. Today, I still host a couple of small sites at my Baby Hosting account.

This review summarises my decade of usage experience and offers years of data at Hostgator. I hope you will find this useful.

About Hostgator Special Discount

First let’s talk about Hostgator discount. There are generally four different types of discounts with Hostgator. One, the usual official promo code (something like ‘SNAPPY’ or similar) that gives 20% price cut; two, the $0.01 hosting offer where Hostgator will charge only one cent on your first month hosting bill.

Both offers are NOT the best.

If you do the maths on second deal (the one-cent hosting) is actually the worst as the deal equals to ~7 or 8% price cut.

So what’s the best deal? For the *BEST* Hostgator discount, you need to wait for the company’s flash sales – which usually appears 4 – 5 times a year; offers up to 40% discount. Flash sales usually popup without early notice (hence the name Flash) and it’s very time-limited.

Promo code: WHSR25Discount, Save 25% on first hosting bill!

For those who can’t wait and wish to sign up immediately, the best deal (if there’s no flash sales) would be exclusive partner code (ie. WHSR25Discount), which you’ll get 25% price cut on all Hostgator hosting plans.

Hostgator Promo Code: WHSR25Discount
Details: Get 25% discount on first Hostgator hosting bill.

Compare Before- and After-Discount Price

Not all Hostgator prices are the same. As Hostgator’s exclusive partner, our promo code will save 25% on your first hosting bill. Here’s a quick comparison on Hostgator before- and after-price for 36 months subscription.

Hostgator Shared HostingRegular PriceAfter DiscountSavings (in 3 yr)
Hatchling Plan$6.95/mo$5.21/mo$62.55
Baby Plan$9.95/mo$7.46/mo$89.55
Business Plan$14.95/mo$11.21/mo$134.55

For best accuracy, please refer to Hostgator official website: https://www.hostgator.com/

 

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Hostgator Shared Hosting Plans

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

Hostgator offers 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.

How To Choose Between Hatchling, Baby, And Business Hosting Plan?

A quick glance on Hostgator shared hosting plans. The screen captured is price after 20% discount, you can use promo code "WHSR25Discount" for 25% price cut instead.

A quick glance on Hostgator shared hosting plans. The screen captured is price after 20% discount, you can use promo code “WHSR25Discount” for 25% price cut instead.

Do not get scared by the options you have at Hostgator – it is indeed a very simple choice. Questions to ask:

  • Do you want to host multiple domains on Hostgator? If no, then Hatchling is the plan to go with; else, take Baby.
  • Do you need business hosting features such as private SSL, and toll free numbers? If yes, then go with Business 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.

Things I Like About Hostgator

Outstanding Server Performance

Hostgator server has been performing since the last major outage in 2014. In fact, the recent uptime record is outstanding. My site hosted at Hostgator has enjoyed several months of 100% uptime – there was no outage recorded since April at this time of writing (July 14th, 2016). Please refer to image below and server test data below for more details.

hostgator uptime 072016

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

Backed by SLA 99.9% Uptime Guarantee

FYI, Hostgator uptime guarantee of 99.9% is clearly 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.

hostgator green cert

Hostgator is recognized by 3Degrees as a green web host – e-certificate shown above is dated on 2010.

Eco-friendly Hosting

Hostgator is a certified green web host. According to the officials, Hostgator’s operation is 130% powered by wind energy – this means for every unit energy used, Hostgator will restore 1.3 unit (via buying certified Renewable Energy Credits ) clean energy back to the grid.

Web Host Upgrading Options

Hostgator Shared Hosting Plans come in three flavors: Hatchling, Baby, and Business. The web host also offers VPS (up to 12 levels), Reseller, and Dedicated Hosting Plans.

There are plenty room for growth  with Hostgator – you will not have to worry about your site outgrowing your web host in future.

Hostgator Hosting Uptime 

Test site uptime is tracked using Uptime Robot and tested regularly using Bitcatcha. The following screen caps are the results.

Hostgator Uptime Score (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.

Hostgator Uptime Score (Mar 2016): 100%

hostgator - 201603

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

Hostgator Uptime Score (Jan/Feb 2016): 100%

hostgator feb 2016 uptime

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

Hostgator Uptime Score 2013 – 2015

Mar/Apr 2015 Uptime: 99.99%

Hostgator Uptime

Hostgator uptime (Mar 26th – Apr 27, 2015) The only downtime I had was on April 21st – a short 1 minute outage.

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.

Hostgator Server Speed Test

We test Hostgator server speed and stack the results against other web hosts.

My site hosted on Hostgator was pinged from 8 different locations and responses times were recorded (using a tool named Bitcatcha), the score was an average B when we checked it on February 2016. See more info in the following image.

Test Result – B, Average

Hostgator Server Speed - Response speed below 70 ms in United States, 293 ms for London, and 354 ms for Japan.

Hostgator Server Speed – Response speed below 70 ms in United States, 293 ms for London, and 354 ms for Japan.

Hostgator User Feedback & WHSR Hosting Survey Results

WHSR Survey 2015 & 2016: Hostgator = Most Popular Web Host

In 2015, I contacted a handful of bloggers and asked for their hosting feedback. There were 43 votes and 21 brands mentioned by the 36 bloggers I interviewed. Hostgator was the #1 host in term of mentions. The same happened in our hosting survey 2016. Out of ~200 respondents who took part in the survey, 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 

Surprise: 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.”

Leandro Thomas, Nomad Destination
leandro

I have been using Hostgator for just over 5 years and have been happy with them all in all. I came across them, since many other bloggers I follow use Hostgator also and recommended them. Currently I host 10 sites on a shared plan (baby). When accessing my sites they always respond well speed wise, so no complaints there.

Uptime

Their 99.9% uptime guarantee has been upheld as far as I can see – so far my site was only down 1 time for 1 hour, so it was quickly rectified. In the time it was down I received an email explaining what had happened, so I was happy with the communication.

Support

I have often heard bad things about Hostgator’s support provision. So far I have only needed to use them 4 times, so it may be harder to judge than people who have used them more often. Nonetheless, each time they responded relatively quickly and managed to resolve my issues.

One of my support requests was a billing enquiry to change my billing cycle, which they changed no problems. This was taken care of within 12 hours. 2 of them were questions about the control panel as I didn’t know how to find particular items in it – again, simple and clear explanations which were responded to within about 5 hours.  The last was an account migration, which worked out well. To this they got back to me within 12 hours. I am not aware of what their SLA’s are for response times, but for what my issues were, it felt satisfactory.

I have to say that besides the downtime I haven’t had any major issues, such as being hacked for example. This means that I haven’t been able to “stress test” their support so to speak.

Pros

In no particular order, here are a few things I like about Hostgator:

  • Simple website
  • Affordable and flexible plans at entry level
  • Helpful support provision

Cons

No webhost is perfect, so here are some things that I don’t like:

  • Control panel not user friendly enough – looks quite dated
  • No discounts for long term customers
  • VPS plans are more bang for your buck elsewhere

Who should use Hostgator?

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.

A bit further down the line, with VPS or dedicated servers I think other hosts are more suitable as they specialise more than Hostgator do. A blogger for example, relatively far along in their blogging journey would be better off with other services, offering specialised WordPress hosting. This is the only reason I would give them 4 stars instead of 5.

Credit: Enstine Muki, Blogging Spell, Blog and RetireNomad Destination.

Hostgator Hosting: Issues & Important to Know

Live Chat Support takes 15 – 20 minutes wait time

Most other hosting companies were able to respond to my live chat support request within 10 minutes. Hostgator, unfortunately, averaged 15 – 20 minutes wait time.

If you search and read around the Internet, you’ll noticed I am not the only one who are unhappy about this. Yes, the support staffs are still very knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. But the long wait time in live chat support is a big turn down. I tried to contact the support when I was editing this review and as you can see in the image below – I have to wait roughly 16 minutes in order to get someone to entertain me on the chat system.

Expected wait time: 16 minutes.

Expected wait time: 16 minutes.

To be fair, Hostgator has grown into rank #3 in Top 10 Global Hosting Market Share in 2015.

The drop in support quality could be a temporary and hopefully the company will fix this up asap. After-sales support at Hostgator used to be top notch and this was what I wrote  in 2012:

My comment about Hostgator support in 2012

And, the best part of my Hostgator experience is the customer support. The Gator folks are the best among all hosting companies that I have tried.

There are at least half a dozen of times I asked for help in the past, never once (not even once) that the customer service staffs let me down. There was once my site was hacked, the problem got fixed almost instantly. Then on another time my account was on the edge of suspension due to massive traffic surge (first page on Reddit!), I received a warning phone call at 9pm (yes, the Gators will call you – even if you live across the globe like me!) and a guy from customer support (that I forgot his name) came in rescue and solved the issue at 11pm (optimized my database and tentatively increase my CPU usage quota).

Again, on another case, I need to change my primary domain associated with my account and was too lazy to learn how to do it; I shot a question at the live chat system and my request is fixed within 10 minutes.

All discounts are only for first time bill

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

For your reference:

Plans
Signup*
Renewal (12 mo)
Renewal (24 mo)
Renewal (36 mo)
Hatchling
$5.21/mo
$10.95/mo
$9.95/mo
$9.23/mo
Baby
$7.46/mo
$13.95/mo
$12.95/mo
$11.95/mo
Business
$11.21/mo
$19.95/mo
$18.95/mo
$17.95/mo

* Note: Signup price based on promo code “WHSR25Discount”.

Conclusion: Should You Go With Hostgator?

Shoppers normally select a web host based on a few key factors: company reputation, price, hosting features, room to grow, customer support, and server performance.

It’s true that Hostgator service quality drops after the company is sold to EIG. But based on my recent (2016) experience, I see sign of recovery.

Right now in my opinion, Hostgator only comes short in term of customer support.  Everything else (price, company reputation, server performance, etc) remains above average in 2016. Hence I am maintaining my Hostgator rating at 4-star and recommend them to small business owners. The special features you get in Business plan are indeed unique and good value for money. 

Order Hostgator Now

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

 

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