HostGator Review 2017
Is HostGator a good web host? Read our full HostGator review with pros & cons, complaints, recommended use, FAQs, coupons, & more.
|Server O/S:||Linux & Windows|
|Data center location #1:||Houston, TX|
|Data center location #2:||Provo, UT|
A Quick Overview:
www.hostgator.com is a web hosting company with a long-standing reputation for being a quick and easy way to publish websites online. HostGator offers excellent technical support and customer service to clients with a well-informed staff. While not the cheapest web host, HostGator does offer a wide variety of features and services that are reliable for most web development purposes. They offer both Linux and Windows web hosting through a number of different tiered plans. HostGator is a well-known brand in the hosting industry and is one of the most popular choices for people choosing a web host due to their advertising campaigns. They have recently launched a cloud hosting platform and a managed WordPress hosting service. However, we feel that there is little fundamentally that distinguishes the HostGator plans from a typical reseller host except for their maintenance of an independent data center and the scale of their user base. There is not a lot of innovation on the platform or unique developer tools being provided. Instead, what you get is a fairly solid cPanel or Windows plan with some questionable marketing practices and often deceptive pricing schemes. Site owners taking advantage of HostGator's cheap introductory rates are often forced to migrate after the initial term is finished or pay exorbitant renewal prices.
Why choose HostGator:
- A widely recognized brand name in the web hosting industry
- Offers a large variety of hosting plans suitable for most websites
- Plans available on both Linux and Windows server platforms
- Uses cPanel (Linux) & Plesk (Windows) for domain management
- Industry standard hosting features for both advanced use & beginners
- Support for popular CMS scripts and programming languages
- A popular choice for Reseller hosting services
- Legendary customer support via telephone, live chat, & email
- Improved WordPress performance with new managed hosting plans
What are the disadvantages:
- Expensive prices and renewal rates for most plans
- Weebly website builder is pointless and outdated
- HostGator WordPress Cloud plans have no access to phpMyAdmin or cPanel
- Plans for popular CMS platforms lack additional services
The bottom line:
HostGator is a famous brand in the world of web hosting, but this is just a label attached to fairly generic data center services. HostGator has been a popular choice with site owners for 15 years, primarily due to the power of their advertising campaigns. They offer a variety of both Windows and Linux hosting plans that are relatively cheap to sign up for on new accounts through special promotions. However, they seem to take advantage of users on renewal rates, especially when there is little other choice for an established site but a complex migration to another host. The features and add-on services found on most HostGator plans are industry standard with cPanel, WHM, CentOS, and Windows. There is just not a lot of custom platform innovation or new development tools being offered. In summary, HostGator provides web hosting services as a commodity to customers, where they are basically re-branding a collection of wholesale hardware purchases and software licenses while managing the margins on client turn-over. While there are no features that are particularly outstanding on the platform, HostGator provides what site developers need in server hardware, network facilities, and data center architecture in a reliable, easy-to-use service.
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HostGator was founded by a Florida Atlantic University student named Brent Oxley in 2002. He started HostGator out of his dorm room and originally couldn’t decide on the name – either HostGator or GatorHost. Fortunately, he chose HostGator! In 2003, the company only had 112 customers. It took another year to scale the company past 1000 client accounts. However, by 2008, HostGator was ranked by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in America. HostGator moved its offices from Boca Raton, Florida to Houston, Texas to launch a new data center with 50 employees in 2006. They now have over 500 staff with offices in Canada, Brazil, and India. In 2012, Oxley announced that he was selling the company to Endurance International Group (EIG) for $225 million dollars and leaving to travel the world. HostGator, which originally started off as a small startup company out of a college student’s dorm room had grown to become part of a Fortune 500 company. The company recently launched service plans for the Indian market on the HostGator.in domain with a data center in Maharashtra. Today, HostGator is a world-wide leader in web hosting with over 9 million client domains and more than 400,000 customers.
HostGator offers a large number of data center services which include shared hosting plans on Linux & Windows, their own proprietary cloud hosting platform, five levels of reseller hosting plans, a managed WordPress solution, VPS plans, and dedicated servers. Their Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and MediaWiki hosting plans are the same as a shared hosting account with no additional features or platform optimization. However, they do have a custom Varnish Cache implementation for WordPress. HostGator offers “one click” script installation on its hosting plans using QuickInstall. Nginx can be added on their VPS & Dedicated server plans but is not part of the cloud hosting solution or managed WordPress hosting. HostGator service techs will perform a free site migration of a website when transferring from another hosting company. HostGator uses different server hardware on all of their hosting plans.
Overview of the HostGator Shared Hosting Plans
|Shared Hosting Plans:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
HostGator offers three Linux shared hosting plans based on cPanel, WHM, & CentOS which provide a fairly standard level of services for web development using LAMP scripts. All of the normal and well established tools are here, from MySQL database wizards, phpMyAdmin, and File Manager to email, FTP, Cron, web statistics, traffic analytics, etc. The platform itself is configured to support CGI, Fast CGI, PHP 5, Ruby on Rails, Perl, and Python. The Business plan also offers a single dedicated IP address and SSL certificate, which can also be used with an included VoIP application. We like the simplicity and ease of use of the HostGator shared hosting platform. The provision of $200 in Google AdSense, Yahoo!, and Bing ad credits provides extra value for website promotions. However, the $10.95 p/month renewal fee for the single domain “Hatchling” plan is excessive.
Shared Hosting – Hatchling: Single Domain + Unlimited Sub Domains, FTP, MySQL, & Email + Unmetered Bandwidth
With only support for a single domain, the Hatchling plan is intended for a website with a maximum of around 25 simultaneous users and less than 750,000 page loads per month on average, depending on how the site is configured. Since the unlimited domain plan is only $2 more per month ($1 more under renewal rates) we recommend anyone signing up for a HostGator account to purchase the “Baby” or “Business” plan instead. As multi-site hosting shares the same allocated server resources across all registered domains, the Hatchling plan could actually perform marginally better than the “Baby” account by limiting all traffic to a single database and web script running under Apache.
Shared Hosting – Baby: Unlimited Domains, Sub Domains, FTP, MySQL, & Email + Unmetered Bandwidth
The “Baby” plan is the most popular account at HostGator, though at the same introductory price ($5.95 p/month) as the Business plan, users who are going to lock-in for the full three year term are obviously better off choosing the higher value account with a dedicated IP address, SSL/TLS certificate, and VoIP. The “Baby” plan is what most people are looking for traditionally in a shared cPanel hosting account, and it is solid for multi-site development purposes. We like the suite of standardized software tools available on this plan, but with the same configurations available through other hosting companies at marginally cheaper rates, there is no clear incentive to sign up for an account.
Shared Hosting – Business: Unlimited Domains, Sub Domains, FTP, MySQL, & Email + Unmetered Bandwidth + Dedicated IP, SSL, & VoIP
The Business plan at HostGator is the best deal at introductory rates ($5.95 p/month) with a dedicated IP address and SSL certificate, but the renewal rate at $16.95 per month for the service is outlandish. This is the main problem at HostGator and appears to be a long-standing policy related to their profit margins they are not going to change. Many web development teams use HostGator as a staging environment to build sites, and then move the completed production version to another host or VPS account for launch, taking advantage of HostGator's multi-site hosting framework for sandbox use. Because it is easy enough to do that on a subdomain anywhere, it is not a strong endorsement of the service.
The pricing strategies at HostGator leave site owners with a dilemma: either lock in for three years on a platform that they have not tested before and hope for the best or sign-up for a one year account and pay the higher renewal charges for the life of the account thereafter. Consequently, we feel that this leads to a lot of “churn” in the HostGator subscriber base. Subsequently, lower quality domains and more temporary websites are apt to be hosted on the service. The company is perceived as “cheap” due to the steep discounts vs. renewal rates on hosting plans, but even the introductory prices can be higher than other companies for similar services. Since what is provided is a Linux platform running cPanel & WHM, the same as used by literally thousands of comparable web hosting companies in the industry, it is basically the ubiquitous advertising by HostGator that keeps these plans popular with new users.
Overview of the HostGator Cloud Hosting Plans
|Cloud Hosting Plans:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
|Hatchling Cloud||$4.95/mo||$12.95/mo||View Details|
|Baby Cloud||$7.95/mo||$13.95/mo||View Details|
|Business Cloud||$9.95/mo||$19.95/mo||View Details|
Because there is a lot of hype and media attention focusing on cloud computing, it is easy for companies to take advantage of this by rebranding their services using “cloud” in the name of a product and then capitalizing on uninformed consumer uptake of the service based on buzz-word marketing. In a technical analysis of HostGator's cloud hosting platform, users receive an account with more RAM & CPU resources allocated (like a VPS) than on a standard shared hosting plan, along with a guarantee of provisioning files on low-density servers for better website performance, integrated Varnish Cache support, and free use of the CloudFlare CDN. Of these features, only the Varnish Cache integration is really unique.
Many web hosting companies provide free integrated CloudFlare CDN support for all shared hosting accounts through cPanel. We don't recommend the use of CloudFlare CDN in general, because it reroutes your DNS to point to CloudFlare servers on an anonymous service that limits live development and works less than optimally with dynamic content updates. Nevertheless, CloudFlare can perform as a valuable service in some instances when it is turned on for use with a static website that is not frequently updated with new content. The main point is that when low-density servers are advertised as a major aspect of a “cloud” hosting account, this is not a great innovation. It just means that the servers will perform better because there are less websites on every machine using the same given resources.
However, the custom Varnish Cache integration is unique, and we give credit to HostGator for establishing that on the service. Many developers are using Varnish Cache successfully to improve CMS script performance in hosting some of the largest sites on the web. But compared to more complex cloud hosting platforms that scale server instances into clusters to keep high-traffic sites provisioned under all situations, all you are really getting with the HostGator “cloud” plans is a higher server resource allocation, premium hardware, less client accounts per machine, data mirroring, improved network routing, and integrated Varnish Cache with sites. The CloudFlare CDN account is already free for anyone to sign-up for and use, but you can manage the settings through a cPanel interface easily.
We would be more impressed if HostGator implemented these improvements on all shared hosting accounts and did not market them under the “cloud” buzz-word veil. Nevertheless, serious site owners and developers can go ahead and consider these plans as the new version of shared hosting, with all of the features of cPanel and the ability to host unlimited sites on the advanced accounts. One further credit to HostGator is that these plans are not significantly more expensive than the traditional shared hosting plans, and priced competitively to most other shared Linux plans in the industry. Thus, site owners can enjoy improved performance and page load speeds through website optimization using these plans for shared hosting, with the caveat being that there are also more feature-packed cloud hosting options being developed at other companies.
Cloud Hosting – Hatchling Cloud: Single Domain + 2 CPU Cores + 2GB RAM + Shared SSL + Unmetered Bandwidth & Storage
While we do not like the limit to one domain support on this account, site owners are receiving about 6x the resources made available to an average shared hosting account with the additional performance optimization tools and SSL support for less than the price on many Linux plans. Single CMS sites with complex database requirements will perform much better on this plan than under traditional shared Linux hosting platforms, making it a cheap way to boost page load speeds and site ranking with Google.
Cloud Hosting – Baby Cloud: Unlimited Domains + 4 CPU Cores + 4GB RAM + Shared SSL + Unmetered Bandwidth & Storage
At $7.95 per month under introductory rates, and the ability to host multiple websites under an “unlimited” plan, we highly recommend this account over the traditional shared Linux hosting plans. Estimate about 12x the power for just $2 dollars more per month. This is probably one of the best deals available at HostGator currently.
Cloud Hosting – Business Cloud: Unlimited Domains + 6 CPU Cores + 6GB RAM + Dedicated IP + Private SSL + Unmetered Bandwidth & Storage
The Business Cloud hosting account at HostGator provides server resources comparable to many VPS plans at only $9.95 per month with the Varnish Cache integration built in. At around 20x the power of a traditional shared hosting account, and the guarantee to host sites on low density servers with superior hardware configurations, we heartily recommend the Business Cloud account over the standard shared Linux plans, though at the $19.95 renewal rates, there are more robust cloud hosting plans available at other companies.
Our view is that in providing the same services as a shared Linux hosting plan at similar prices, these new cloud hosting plans at HostGator should be used as an immediate upgrade for all accounts on the previous generation of servers. Every developer knows that even single CMS sites regularly push against the limits of a shared hosting plan, and these cloud accounts occupy a strategic niche between the costs involved with upgrading to a VPS platform. In the $4.95 to $9.95 price range they are cost effective, but at the higher renewal rates, site owners can often lease more power on a VPS plan. In summary, while we feel these plans are more of a progressive upgrade to shared Linux hosting rather than a true “cloud” hosting solution, the superior performance provided for hosting the same websites under a multi-site framework makes them a very attractive option for CMS website owners.
Overview of the HostGator WordPress Hosting Plans
|WordPress Hosting Plans:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
|Starter (1 site)||$5.95/mo||$14.95/mo||View Details|
|Standard (2 sites)||$7.95/mo||$20.95/mo||View Details|
|Business (3 sites)||$9.95/mo||$27.95/mo||View Details|
|Business (5 sites)||$11.95/mo||$31.95/mo||View Details|
|Pro (10 sites)||$22.95/mo||$59.95/mo||View Details|
|Pro (20 sites)||$33.95/mo||$91.95/mo||View Details|
HostGator's managed WordPress hosting solutions use the same platform tools as their cloud hosting accounts for better performance over shared hosting plans. However, they do not assign a fixed amount of RAM and CPU resources to any of the particular accounts. Instead, they determine pricing by the number of included websites that can be hosted on each plan and the number of visits to each domain per month. The RAM and CPU resources are then dynamically allocated to meet the actual traffic requests each site is experiencing in real-time. We feel that the traffic criteria used for these WordPress plans at HostGator is exceedingly low, as WordPress can normally scale to meet higher traffic requirements than permitted by these plans under shared hosting when optimized. Furthermore, HostGator's WordPress plans run under Apache and Varnish Cache, not using an Nginx install. You also cannot edit the MySQL database or have access to cPanel.
Because WordPress developers consistently report much larger performance speed gains using Nginx with the CMS, along with multi-level page caching techniques, site owners who would like to implement an Nginx configuration will need to use a VPS or dedicated server plan instead. HostGator's managed WordPress hosting service uses the Sitelock CDN rather than the CloudFlare CDN, as well as the Sitelock malware tool set and CodeGuard for back-ups. As none of these are essential utilities, and HostGator limits the site traffic too much for the price of these plans, we believe that site owners will get better performance for multi-domain WordPress hosting using HostGator's cloud plans or a VPS account. However, it will take more developer work and business expenses to set up the WordPress optimization and page caching software independently on a server.
WordPress Hosting – Starter: 1 Site + 25k Visits p/month + 50GB Storage + 1GB Backups + Global CDN
Since most website owners can easily manage more than 25,000 page visits per month running WordPress under shared hosting, and many free plugins are available for caching optimization of the CMS not requiring either Varnish or Nginx, small site owners can safely pass on this plan or use the Hatchling Cloud account instead.
WordPress Hosting – Standard: 2 Sites + 200k Visits p/month + 150GB Storage + 2GB Backups + Global CDN
Similarly, we prefer the Baby Cloud plan with unlimited domain hosting and 4 GB of RAM to this plan which limits sites to 100k visits per month. With unlimited storage on the cloud accounts, site owners can host more than two websites and still not even approach using 150GB storage space on a server. For $20.95 per month (renewal rate), site owners may be able to find better performance and traffic support on a basic VPS plan with more long-term development possibilities.
WordPress Hosting – Business: 3 Sites + 500k Visits p/month + Unlimited Storage + 3GB Backups + Global CDN
The cost of this plan is essentially a trade-off between the development costs to implement a Varnish Cache solution with multi-site WordPress hosting on a VPS. At $9.95 per month (introductory rate), the price is similar to many shared or cloud hosting plans which enable unlimited sites. However, even the $27.95 renewal rate will probably be cheaper than a comparable VPS plan when the cost of hiring a developer for the systems administration and custom configuration of Varnish Cache & Nginx is added together.
WordPress Hosting – Business: 5 Sites + 500k Visits p/month + Unlimited Storage + 5GB Backups + Global CDN
The quick summary is that small business owners who want better website performance running WordPress, require a solution that is fast & easy without the need to hire & manage an independent web developer or sys admin to do the work will find this plan attractive, because most VPS packages plus developer costs will still total more than $360 per year when added together. We still prefer the cloud computing plans and a DIY WordPress approach for multi-site hosting as a better compromise.
WordPress Hosting – Pro: 10 Sites + 1,000,000 Visits p/month + Unlimited Storage + 10GB Backups + Global CDN
The Pro accounts are likely sufficient for most small business WordPress sites, and support about 33,000 page hits per day across a maximum of 10 domains. However, practically, many experienced web developers are able to optimize WordPress to support this level of traffic under even shared Linux hosting conditions at the top of the range. While most of this depends on the CPU throttling restrictions of the web hosting company, and the level of traffic spikes, at $59.95 per month (renewal rate) site owners can find much better solutions for WordPress multi-site hosting. Profitable site owners may find median value in this plan by locking in at the introductory $22.95 per month cost.
WordPress Hosting – Pro: 20 Sites + 2,000,000 Visits p/month + Unlimited Storage + 20GB Backups + Global CDN
Similarly, we feel that the $99.95 renewal rate for this plan is too much compared to a VPS plan and paying a developer to implement a Varnish Cache + Nginx solution for WordPress. The Snappy 4000 VPS plan has a similar price base, supports custom development, and also permits multi-site hosting with unlimited domains on cPanel. Site owners should be able to configure WordPress for much higher traffic rates on a VPS with a custom Nginx and Varnish Cache optimization. Use this plan as a base to govern costs when referencing other VPS options and web developer fees, or lock in site hosting for a year on this plan at less than half the price of a smartphone and use it as a transition for building a more robust long-term solution for WordPress with your business.
All web hosting is temporary. Since the business climate is always changing with new technology coming to market and innovation in service plans altering the landscape, most site owners feel uncomfortable locking into long term plans on a platform that they have not even had the chance to test before paying for. Similarly, most website owners are reluctant to go through the hassle of changing web hosts when a contract turns over, and often end up paying the higher renewal fees just to save the hassle of moving a site to another company. We feel the HostGator managed WordPress platform does not have enough features to warrant a long term investment at these costs for most business sites, especially compared with the innovation at other companies for similar plans.
While currently the optimal solution for WordPress is to custom-develop an Nginx and Varnish Cache solution on a VPS or dedicated server platforms, this can be expensive if you cannot do it yourself and need to hire a specialist. While managed WordPress hosting plans like HostGator's seek to address this problem by offering “out-of-the-box” solutions, HostGator does not yet use Nginx on these plans. However, the pricing on them is cheaper than it would be to lease a VPS and do the development work independently, making them a limited but easily accessible and quick to implement solution for WordPress sites that need to scale immediately without a lot of hassle or additional expenditure. We still prefer multi-site hosting with unlimited storage and bandwidth on HostGator's cloud platform to these plans, but site owners will not be able to install Nginx solutions on those accounts.
Overview of the HostGator Reseller Hosting Plans
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The Reseller hosting plans at HostGator are traditionally popular because they provide ample storage and bandwidth for development as well as free included licenses for CPanel and WHMCS. With the addition of a Reseller Club account, web masters and independent web professionals have access to hundreds of data center services to resell to clients. Reseller Club takes the place of a traditional Enom license for domain registration on these accounts, and may in many ways have more options available than Enom's service. While the disk space available on HostGator's Reseller accounts is small in comparison with contemporary standards, it prevents the massive overselling of resources on their platform.
Reseller Hosting – Aluminum: Unlimited Domains, Email, MySQL, FTP, & Databases + 60 GB Disk + 600 GB Bandwidth + WHMCS + Reseller Club
Many small web development firms and designers will find the Aluminum Reseller plan from HostGator more than sufficient for supporting their client base. The cost is competitive with shared hosting plans when the WHMCS and cPanel licenses are included. However, if you are not planning on using WHMCS for any client accounts, a better option may be supporting customers on an unlimited shared account and invoicing them through other services for payment.
Reseller Hosting – Copper: Unlimited Domains, Email, MySQL, FTP, & Databases + 90 GB Disk + 900 GB Bandwidth + WHMCS + Reseller Club
While it is possible to “white label” a completely independent new web hosting company using the tools provided by the HostGator Reseller accounts, most people will find it difficult to break into the industry on this basis. Consider these plans primarily for the ability to mark up bulk-rate web hosting and domain name registration services to clients in web development, graphic design services, desktop publishing, or social media marketing.
Reseller Hosting – Silver: Unlimited Domains, Email, MySQL, FTP, & Databases + 140 GB Disk + 1.4 TB Bandwidth + WHMCS + Reseller Club
Because the hosting framework, provided tool set, and other features are the same on all of the HostGator Reseller accounts, the main difference is the amount of disk space and bandwidth made available to each plan. This means that web pros can easily start with the smaller accounts, save money, and only upgrade to a higher level reseller plan if the need actually arises. There is no need to lock into more expensive reseller plans if you do not have the existing business to support it.
Reseller Hosting – Gold: Unlimited Domains, Email, MySQL, FTP, & Databases + 180 GB Disk + 1.8 TB Bandwidth + WHMCS + Reseller Club
One of the limitations of the Reseller hosting plans at HostGator is that you will not be able to offer your clients the updated cloud hosting features with improved page load speeds and performance on a shared account. In this manner, these accounts are slowly becoming outdated as cloud computing advances in the web hosting industry. However, because the resources required to develop an independent data center are simply out of range for most of the people who use reseller accounts, the primary advantage is the small or large mark-up on web services and the ability to bill through WHMCS in managing client hosting plans. The alternative is to simply sell the clients web hosting plans from Reseller Club.
Reseller Hosting – Diamond: Unlimited Domains, Email, MySQL, FTP, & Databases + 250 GB Disk + 2.5 TB Bandwidth + WHMCS + Reseller Club
Functionally, we believe that web developers will get better performance for clients using VPS and cloud hosting plans for web hosting solutions when they select the best services for every contract individually. Because Reseller Club now offers cloud hosting services as well as VPS and dedicated server plans, web development companies can repackage these products from the different companies under the EIG umbrella and mark them up for resale to clients as part of monthly maintenance or service contracts. Using WHMCS to manage the billing is automated. Alternatively, entrepreneurs can launch a complete store under a new brand for all of the web hosting and domain products using Storefront from Reseller Club.
Probably the best approach to take with a Reseller account is to integrate the domain name registration services and web hosting products made available by Reseller Club into a web development company website. Using this method, web professionals can offer services to the public as well as bill contract clients privately. Because you have the freedom to set your own prices on all of the white label products, companies can generate additional profit as well as managing all of their client sites under a single framework. In practice, however, it takes a lot of work to make this business model a success, as there are many small resellers using the same tools and offering the same products under different brands.
Overview of the HostGator VPS Hosting Plans
|VPS Hosting Plans:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
|Snappy 2000||$19.95/mo||$79.95/mo||View Details|
|Snappy 2000 – cPanel||$29.95/mo||$89.95/mo||View Details|
|Snappy 4000||$29.95/mo||$119.95/mo||View Details|
|Snappy 4000 – cPanel||$39.95/mo||$129.95/mo||View Details|
|Snappy 8000||$39.95/mo||$149.95/mo||View Details|
|Snappy 8000 – cPanel||$49.95/mo||$159.95/mo||View Details|
The VPS plans at HostGator have a completely unreasonable pricing structure. Because of this, their value depends largely on how long you pay upfront for the initial contract. Because the server hardware itself is a commodity, and there is nothing special about their virtualization platform, site owners can either save money or get severely gouged by the way they order the services. Because most people are adverse to putting a lot of money upfront for web services, and the industry changes so quickly, it is often not an option to sign up for a two or three year plan. Nevertheless, users will appreciate the ease of use of cPanel on these plans, except for the fact that HostGator charges an additional $10 a month for a cPanel license on each account. This is another billing practice that we feel is out of line with current industry standards, and adds $120 per year to every VPS account.
VPS Hosting – Snappy 2000: 2 CPU Cores + 2 GB RAM + 120 GB Storage + 1.5 TB Bandwidth + Unlimited Domains, Email, MySQL, FTP, & Databases
At $19.95 per month, the Snappy 2000 VPS plan from HostGator is seemingly a bargain. However, you can get 6 CPU cores and 6 GB of RAM under their new cloud hosting plans. When adding in the extra $10 per month for cPanel, and the huge mark-up to $79.95 or $89.95 per month on renewal, we cannot legitimately recommend this plan as a good deal.
VPS Hosting – Snappy 4000: 2 CPU Cores + 4 GB RAM + 165 GB Storage + 2 TB Bandwidth + Unlimited Domains, Email, MySQL, FTP, & Databases
Similarly, as explained above, the main trade-off for many of the HostGator plans is between the cloud hosting and managed WordPress platforms, which offer integrated “out-of-the-box” Varnish Cache deployment, and a “do-it-yourself” approach with VPS using Nginx. For MySQL performance under Apache, the cloud hosting plans are going to be optimal and most cost effective. For demanding site owners who want up to twice the performance speeds available by using Nginx over Apache in website hosting, a VPS or dedicated server is the only option at HostGator. At $29.95 ($39.95 with cPanel) this is not a good deal in the industry for a dual-core VPS currently, and the renewal rates are exorbitant.
VPS Hosting – Snappy 8000: 4 CPU Cores + 8 GB RAM + 240 GB Storage + 3 TB Bandwidth + Unlimited Domains, Email, MySQL, FTP, & Databases
The same caveats apply for the Snappy 8000 VPS plan at HostGator: the $149.95 ($159.95 with cPanel) renewal rates on the plan are too costly to recommend. VPS hosting plans with fast SSD support are available at almost every web hosting company currently, and using cPanel on the platforms is not unique. While some may see the pricing as a discount and sign up for long term contracts, we believe that the divergence in the renewal rates shows a lack of respect for customer needs and would require site migration.
In summary, site owners are faced with a dilemma using HostGator's VPS plans: either sign up for a long term contract at the lower rates, and pay a lot of money up-front to the company, or use the servers on a temporary basis and transfer to another host. We feel strongly that the high renewal rates are prohibitory to hosting with these plans.
Overview of the HostGator Dedicated Server Hosting Plans
|Dedicated Server Plans:||Introductory Price:||Renewal Price:||Compare:|
Unfortunately, HostGator uses the same predatory pricing schemes on dedicated server plans that they use on VPS accounts. We have no problem with companies charging high rates for dedicated server hardware when it is based on elite configurations like 8 or 12 core processors. However, all of HostGator's dedicated server plans are configured with dual and quad core Intel Xeon chips. We cannot stress enough that despite the fact that these are expensive plans for individual users, independent developers, and small businesses to contract, there are literally millions of these servers in production. All of the major web hosting companies receive bulk discounts on purchasing the hardware. This makes dedicated servers a commodity, and the entire data center industry is based upon that principle of competition.
The addition of value-added services at the data centers make a dedicated server plan more costly. This includes the connection to the high speed, fiber optic internet backbone connections in Tier-1 and Tier-2 companies, the experience and expertise of the hired staff who manage the servers, as well as the platform innovation in dynamic routing, traffic management, database optimization, etc. Otherwise, the hardware is made available by manufacturers at fixed prices where a single rackmount server will often cost the same or less than the monthly cost to lease the unit. Because of this, it is difficult to justify the renewal rates at HostGator that are consistently more than double the sign up costs. While some may see it as a discount for new accounts, we view this as a type of price gouging which seriously impacts the ability of companies to stay with HostGator over the long term.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Basic: Intel Xeon 2.3 GHz + 2 CPU Cores + 4 GB RAM + 500 GB Storage + 10 TB Bandwidth + Unlimited Domains, Reseller Club, & WHM
With the Basic Dedicated server hosting plan at HostGator, site owners will be better off contracting for a VPS plan with similar specifications and all of the same development options than going with this plan. The renewal rate is $95 over the introductory $79 per month cost, and more powerful VPS plans are available in the price range.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Standard: Intel Xeon 2.5 GHz + 4 CPU Cores + 4 GB RAM + 1 TB Storage + 15 TB Bandwidth + Unlimited Domains, Reseller Club, & WHM
The same applies for the quad-core, 4GB RAM Standard Dedicated hosting plan at HostGator. At $89 per month and $100 more for renewal fees, site owners simply get more value with a comparable VPS plan providing the same tools and options, or a “pay-as-you-go” cloud plan that can scale to multiple server instances if a site exceeds the server limits. None of HostGator's dedicated server plans have cloud capabilities with the ability to launch new instances of a site into server cluster arrays.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Elite: Intel Xeon 2.5 GHz + 4 CPU Cores + 8 GB RAM + 1 TB Storage + 20 TB Bandwidth + Unlimited Domains, Reseller Club, & WHM
The Elite plan is made available by HostGator with a quad-core Xeon chip and 8 GB of RAM at $108.98 per month, but the renewal cost is $229 per month. Not only is this not an “elite” plan under current industry standards, site owners can get more value with a similarly priced VPS or cloud hosting plan at other companies. The included Reseller Club and WHM accounts do make this plan one of the best values offered by HostGator in their dedicated server line, but only if you are willing to pay over $1300 per year upfront.
Dedicated Server Hosting – Pro: Intel Xeon 3.3 GHz + 4 CPU Cores + 16 GB RAM + 1 TB Storage + 25 TB Bandwidth + Unlimited Domains, Reseller Club, & WHM
Similarly, where HostGator's Pro plan requires more than $1500 per year in upfront payment to lock in the introductory price, few businesses would be wise to pay $4500 in advance for 3 years on this framework when there is so much innovation and price competition in the industry. The problem is that if you do not do that, the account will renew at $329 per month costing almost $4,000 per year when paid month-to-month. Even highly profitable sites have no need to waste money on hardware at these prices for the available configuration.
In summary, we have a high respect for data center innovation and elite hardware configurations in server technology, but do not really see this being displayed on HostGator's platform. Rather, we feel that the pricing structure takes advantage of honest customers and site owners needing a long-term dedicated hosting solution without any reason to justify it. There are no advanced tools for developers outside of the industry standard cPanel, WHM, and CentOS installs which are all pre-packaged distributions. Therefore, we would advise most businesses and independent developers to stay away from HostGator's dedicated server plans and go with another company instead.
Overview of the HostGator Windows Hosting Plans
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HostGator has been one of the few companies in the web hosting industry to maintain a Windows server platform where most of the business is based on shared Linux platforms. Windows servers also run Apache, MySQL, and PHP effectively as well as providing the option for ASP.net development. Generally it is either a need for ASP.net support or custom coded applications integrated with an enterprise Microsoft environment that require a Windows server framework. Despite the limitation to either one or five domains on the account plans, we feel that HostGator's Windows platform is competent, industry standard, and affordable for both developers and businesses to use effectively. We would not hesitate to recommend it in a sector where not many companies still offer these services due to lack of demand.
Windows Hosting – Personal: 1 Domain + Unmetered Disk Space & Bandwidth + Shared SSL Certificate + ASP.net + Plesk
The Personal Windows hosting plan at HostGator is only $4.76 per month and $7.96 at renewal rates, making it a very affordable option for single site hosting requirements. The inclusion of a shared SSL/TLS certificate guarantees that you will be able to support older Windows browsers in web development. Take advantage of this plan if your project requires support for the ASP.net platform.
Windows Hosting – Enterprise: 5 Domains + Unmetered Disk Space & Bandwidth + Private SSL & Dedicated IP + ASP.net + Plesk
With the ability to support five domains, and a renewal rate at only $1.60 over the introductory cost of $14.36 per month, almost any company will be able to afford this plan for ASP.net development. Because HostGator's VPS plans do not support the Windows operating system, there is really only the choice to upgrade to a Windows dedicated server if your sites outpace the processing and memory allocation provided by this account.
The preferential pricing given to Windows customers for these plans by HostGator is excellent. However, only professional ASP.net developers are typically using these servers for web hosting in 2016. Even then, the application instances for ASP.net apps is largely located in enterprise. We would not expect that many small business owners will choose Windows servers over the LAMP/LEMP framework for web development, and highly recommend building with open source tools.
Once you purchase a plan from HostGator, you can login to the HostGator Customer Portal, which is essentially their account management panel where you can access your hosting account and billing, or add new packages and get technical support. Below is a screenshot of the current HostGator Customer Portal at the time of this writing.
The HostGator Customer Portal is easy enough to navigate around and find what you’re looking for using the labs, icons, and menus in the GUI. Many hosts try to hide their customer support contact info (or at least make it difficult to find), but HostGator does make it easy to submit an email support ticket. Unfortunately, the phone number for tech support is harder to find. It appears they want their customers using email support. The one problem we would note is the over-inclusion of ads and special offers, which clutter the screen and are somewhat distracting from development tasks. We prefer to access sales information on the website and separate the administration tools from up-sell offers, especially when the service has already been paid for as a registered user.
Review of the Control Panel
For Linux plans, HostGator uses cPanel, which is the industry standard control panel for web server administration and domain management. The HostGator cPanel has recently been revamped to include a new customized design matching HostGator's brand. This is a great improvement over their previous control panel, which was overpopulated with ads & upgrades. You can still easily view their additional addons and upgrades via the “Website Addons” tab on the left sidebar. Below is a screenshot of the current HostGator cPanel implementation:
You can also launch a live chat from the control panel by going to Help > Live Chat on the sidebar. Although, we noted that it inconveniently asks you to fill out your existing customer information that it should already know. For example, you’re already logged into cPanel and it asks you if you are an existing customer! This is a bit redundant and could be streamlined more efficiently.
Servers: HostGator uses different server architecture for all of its web hosting plans. A quick summary of the main configurations is:
- 32 Core AMD Opteron™ Processor 6376 or Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2630 v3
- 64GB / 32GB RAM
- 4 RAID 1s
- SSD MySQL
Cloud Hosting Servers:
- 2 Intel E5-2670v3 12 Core/24 Thread 2.3Ghz 30Mb Cache Processors
- 512 GB RAM
- Internal drives: 256GB Samsung SSD
- External storage: Distributed Ceph Storage with SSD Caching Tier using 800GB Intel SSD DC S3610 Series Drives
- 16 Core AMD Opteron™ Processor 6376
- 16 GB RAM
- RAID 1
- SSD caching
- Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2630 v3, 32-Core Server Processor
- 128GB DDR4 RAM
- 7.2TB (4 RAID 1 arrays – each array has 1.8TB of disk space)
Note: Read more about CPU throttling at HostGator here.
Network: In its early years, HostGator was rated by many as one of the best hosting providers and one of the first to provide unlimited hosting services. Since it was acquired by EIG in 2012, HostGator lost some of its reputation as HostGator customers experienced an increase in downtime with several major outages. The outages were large enough to the point that many customers actually left the company. Most of the issues stemmed from outages at their Provo, Utah data center. Today, HostGator primarily operates from their newest, state-of-the-art data center in Houston, TX. Their Houston data center is huge with over 300,000 sqft of space. You can learn more about it here. In terms of actual performance, we’ve found that HostGator has had very positive scores this year. We’ve noticed decent speeds and very little downtime.
Performance: We continually test and monitor the performance of HostGator with Pingdom site monitoring tools to get a more technical measure of performance data. The results below are dynamically pulled from Pingdom:
Hosting Type Tested: Shared
Hosting Plan: Hatchling
Location Tested: North America
Description: Performance stats of the last 30 days from our HostGator test account.
NOTE ABOUT TEST STATS: Keep in mind the above data is not fully representative of all the websites hosted on HostGator. There are too many factors that influence performance stats – including the specific server the site is hosted on, the web hosting plan chosen, the optimization of the actual website, scheduled maintenance, geolocation, etc. Our tests are performed on low-end shared hosting accounts for each web host reviewed to showcase the most modest performance stats.
Helpful FAQs About HostGator
Here are some frequently asked questions you may have about HostGator:
Visit www.hostgator.com, select a hosting plan of your choice, and then follow the directions at checkout.
HostGator accepts all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, & Discover) and PayPal.
You can cancel your account at any time via the HostGator cancellation form. You can contact their billing department for help on this as well.
Some Things to Consider Before You Purchase…
As with any web host, there are some things that could be improved. We’ve discussed many of the pros for HostGator, but here’s a further explanation of the cons:
Over-Priced Plans & Renewal Rates: This one of their biggest cons. Customers looking to purchase a web hosting plan will need to lock in at the introductory discount rates or be required to pay significantly more. Many of their hosting plans in general are over-priced by industry standards, and most users are not willing to sign up for a 3 year term. We would recommend comparing prices with other companies and then considering the savings available at new account rates before you commit to a web hosting plan.
Complaints after the EIG Acquisition: After HostGator was sold to EIG, the company did start to experience an increase in issues. A simple Google search of HostGator complaints shows several angry bloggers discussing support and downtime issues. It’s possible that the company was simply experiencing growing pains after the buyout. In 2012, HostGator was the victim of a social engineering hack that granted the hackers root access to WHMCS servers. In addition to the hack, HostGator suffered numerous outages in 2013 and 2014. Nevertheless, HostGator is one of the flagship brands at EIG and we expect for them to continue to manage the company services responsibly.
Weebly Website Builder: HostGator has a partnership with Weebly, a simple website builder that provides HTML & CSS templates for theme design but doesn't require a database. You can enable Weebly in cPanel, but the free service is limited to six pages. Weebly’s premium plan costs an additional $8.99 per month, with an extra $2.99 per month to enable ecommerce features. At those prices for the included functionality, site owners are better off using a free open source script for web development. Note that HostGator has now launched their own, proprietary website builder which you can use now instead.
DID YOU KNOW? HostGator is one of the most popular web hosts in the world!
Additional Features Worth Mentioning
HostGator Design Services are available but currently this option is limited to websites that include only 5 pages of unique content and a storefront with no more than 10 items. Considering the state of web development with open source scripts like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Magento, this service hardly makes sense at all. As noted above, HostGator does have splash-screens and landing pages advertising Drupal Hosting, Joomla Hosting, Magento Hosting, etc. but they do not offer any additional features different from the shared hosting plans on these accounts, merely highlighting the use of a “one click” installer and the ability to use the scripts with the service. This is another aspect of slightly deceptive advertising at the company. At least the managed WordPress hosting plans include more of a custom-developed solution with a Varnish Cache implementation. We recommend using the popular open source CMS scripts with HostGator's new cloud hosting plans instead for best performance.
Integration of Mojo Marketplace: HostGator now has Mojo Marketplace integrated directly into their web hosting. The Mojo Marketplace application gives users quick access to themes, code, services, and scripts. The MOJO Marketplace is also part of EIG family and is used among many EIG owned web hosts.
Newly Designed Website: The official HostGator website got redesigned with an improved look and responsive design! We like the look and feel of the new site. HostGator's knowledge base still contains a lot of valuable information for website developers.
Streamlined Checkout Process: HostGator improved their checkout process to make ordering online easier than ever. Purchasing a new hosting plan from HostGator is now more streamlined and efficient. It is easy to see the different pricing options and compare between plan renewal rates over time.
New Data Center in Texas: HostGator is no longer sharing a data center with Bluehost/HostMonster in Provo, Utah. They built their own state-of-the-art data center in Houston, Texas. We hope they will continue to expand on platform innovation in cloud computing using the available talent in the region.
Launch of HostGator.in: As part of their global brand expansion, HostGator has recently launched a new data center in India (Maharashtra) and a website with their proprietary hosting services priced in rupees on hostgator.in. As Reseller Club is also headquartered in Mumbai, we hope the company will be able to achieve synergy in co-operation between the two enterprises.
New Proprietary Website Builder: HostGator's parent company EIG has just rolled out a new website builder that functions a lot like Weebly with similar pricing. The free version is limited to 6 pages, the Pro account is $6.99 per month with support for unlimited pages, and the Business plan is $15.99 per month with an ecommerce cart, discount coupons, payment processing, & Facebook integration. The company is offering hundreds of themes with the service. You can compare all of HostGator's site builder options here.
Conclusion – To Host or Not to Host?
As we reach the conclusion of our HostGator review, it’s important to keep in mind that every site is different. If you’re considering HostGator, you’ll need to determine if this web host offers the right features, pricing, and services to best suit your needs. For further information about HostGator, visit their website at www.HostGator.com. If you found this review helpful, please like and share it!
Let Us Know Your Thoughts
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