An alternate universe has a series of web hosting providers with mascots. While most mascots died off with the 90s, HostGator didn’t appear to get the memo.
HostGator came from the same era of hosts that birthed GoDaddy. As one of the oldest hosting providers available, they’ve managed to avoid some of the poor reputations that come with some aging hosting providers.
But does HostGator stand the test of time? Has HostGator aged like fine wine or shoe brandy in the back of a locker? Let’s find out in this review.
What Is HostGator?
HostGator has been around since 2002. Its headquarters was in Boca Raton, Florida, but they moved to Houston, Texas in 2007. They also have worldwide offices, which include international locations like Brazil, India, and Singapore.
HostGator is one of the largest domain providers in the world, with 12 thousand servers. HostGator handles 1% of the world’s internet traffic, making it huge compared to most providers. That traffic comes from 800 thousand customers, most of them taking advantage of shared hosting options and multitude of add ons.
HostGator sticks to its gator-themed puns by offering a “tail” about how they were “hatched” for success. If you are a fan of dad jokes, you likely will be a fan of HostGator’s sense of humor.
Its last notable customer survey was in 2009, where it boasted a 90% customer satisfaction rating. You can find this in their about section, which needs a review and update.
Newfold Digital owns HostGator, which was previously known as Endurance International Group (EIG). EIG is a company known for buying web hosts and optimizing its systems.
EIG owns Bluehost, VSPLInk, and iPage, all well-known companies in the web hosting industry. EIG doesn’t have the best reputation, so the $225 million acquisition of HostGator was met with some concern. We’ll find out how HostGator’s reputation has survived throughout this HostGator review.
Is HostGator a Good Web Host?
If you want to know whether or not you should become a user or check out another hosting provider before reading this HostGator review, take a look at who we would and wouldn’t recommend HostGator for:
Would Recommend if…
HostGator is excellent if you are a business that has significant plans down the line. This company offers excellent expandability for your site, live chat, support teams, knowledge base, a free domain name, and an email address to get you started. However, their prices and features are a bit much for those needing something simple.
Wouldn’t Recommend If…
HostGator’s website-building platform and later expansion options are great, but they aren’t the best WordPress host available for your site. If you already know your stuff and have a decent budget, HostGator is better for those who need managed hosting.
Pros and Cons of HostGator
HostGator is closer to a full-service provider than most. Here’s what makes them unique:
45-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Most hosting providers offer your standard 30 day money back guarantee. HostGator ups the ante by increasing this to a 45 day money back guarantee. However, it is only the second-best money-back offer when compared to InMotion Hosting.
Free Unlimited Email Accounts With All Plans
HostGator offers free, unlimited email addresses with all of its hosting plans. This, combined with a free domain name, enables you to avoid having to pay for small, unnecessary add-ons.
Has SEO Tools, Ad Credits, and Website Design Options
HostGator is a full-service web host, including tools that most other providers do not offer.
The SEO tools include two different versions included with the Business Hosting Plan. These include website scans, keyword ranking reports, and a monthly email. However, you can get most of this through accessible third-party sources.
Hostgator’s SEO Grow Plan is better for an eCommerce website with a 500-page analysis, a daily scan, and a more significant keyword ranking report. Their SEO Tools is an additional add-on, which is a subject we will talk about later.
You also acquire multiple ad credits for Google Ads and Microsoft. Those credits are around $150 to $100.
The features coming with HostGator’s website builder also include the following:
- A blog builder that enables you to manage and create a blog
- Professional email services through Google Workspace
- A CRM dashboard that allows you to manage a list of contacts
- Email marketing features with pre-made email templates
- The ability to link your social accounts to your site
- An app market specific to HostGator
- A Logo Builder with AI support
The app market is a bit weak, and all of these features have better versions available through WordPress. However, it will be interesting to see if HostGator can make these features take off.
HostGator does have a few issues they need to address before they can be the best web host.
No Support for Windows VPS Hosting
HostGator offers support for both Windows dedicated and shared hosting options. However, they take this option away from its VPS host plan options. For those who seek scalability with windows hosting, this leaves a bit of a gap when trying out new hosting plans.
Massive Amount of Last-Minute Upselling
While HostGator’s site isn’t known for being overly spammy, they do like to upsell. Anything that isn’t included in your package will be found by scrolling down.
Many of these features include advanced backups, SEO tools, and malware scanners. Many of these are great features, but the yearly cost of HostGator can spike up when you consider all of these additional items.
Unmetered Bandwidth Misleading to Beginners
It’s a common misconception that unmetered is the same thing as unlimited. Hosting companies all over the place like to use this terminology like it’s interchangeable. When you check out the user reviews later in this article, you’ll probably see that this misconception causes those one-star situations.
You don’t have to be unlimited to be unmetered, but you do have to be unmetered to be unlimited. That’s because unmetered connections are those that aren’t tracked, but you still have a limit to how much space you can take up.
This comes in the form of a 25% CPU capacity rule that means if you use too much of a server for too long, HostGator will tell you that you need an upgrade, or they will take your site down.
If you don’t know anything about limited connections, receiving this sort of message can be disheartening. So if you plan on transferring a domain name over to HostGator, make sure you speak to a representative and have an email record.
Poor Company Transparency
When it comes to shared hosting plans, it’s clear that HostGator’s biggest problem is transparency. They don’t like to share the details, making us guess at what they offer. This practice is something that other companies aren’t as bad with.
This can be a problem but is part of HostGator’s strategy to encourage you to speak with a customer advocate at HostGator. They hope that when you ask their team to resolve the situation you are in, they can try and make a sale.
From the interaction we mention later in this review with a live chat agent , you can see that their support team is pretty reasonable about it. They don’t feel quite as sales-happy as other providers.
But HostGator needs to work on transparency to improve security and service perceptions.
Performance – How Fast is HostGator?
Taking a look at HostGator’s speed is going to be pretty important. As one of the bigger companies on the market, they come with certain expectations.
Just as always, we ran our tests through three major speed test providers: Pingdom, GTMetrix, and Web.dev. Here’s what we found on Web.dev:
The first test we ran from Web.dev revealed a speed index of five seconds. With a 1 MB web page, that isn’t particularly great. However, we found entirely different results from our test with Pingdom:
Pingdom revealed a good potential loading speed through HostGator. This makes them a reasonably fast web hosting company. Of course, these are based on HostGator’s more popular shared hosting options.
GTMetrix revealed similar results:
It’s a bit higher at 1.5 seconds through GTMetrix, which puts HostGator at about average compared to other providers.
HostGator’s average speed was 2.76 seconds. This puts it on par with other web hosts who have similar offerings, enabling HostGator to remain competitive.
Is HostGator Reliable? (Uptime Guarantee)
Aside from performance, HostGator’s hosting service has a 99.9% guarantee, offering a one-month credit in the event their web servers fall beneath that requirement.
The credit is entirely up to HostGator, so they can choose to deny this credit based on their sole discretion. Also, regular maintenance isn’t counted among server downtime, so keep an eye on their announced maintenance schedule.
VPS and dedicated servers are under a separate network agreement. In this case, the 99.9% guarantee is replaced by a network guarantee that credits you when the server is down.
HostGator reminds users that they might need to perform administrative actions based on requests from their data centers. So like most providers, the 99.9% guarantee is situational.
Other companies like to disclose the kitchen sink on their offerings. In HostGator’s case, they can rely more on their reputation. This reliance has caused some level of confusion with how they secure your website.
This is important, as a security researcher found a series of vulnerabilities on HostGator and other similar hosting services.
HostGator Security Takeover Concerns from 2019
Paulos Yibelo, a respected bug hunter, drew attention to these potential takeover risks in 2019. Mr. Yibelo performed a CSRF attack (Cross-Site Request Forgery) that enabled him to modify data in a HostGator user’s profile.
A spokesperson for Newfold Digital (previously EIG), Kristen Andrews, stated that they have “taken steps to address and patch the potential vulnerabilities in question.” However, they did not claim to fix the problem.
By now, the exploit testing ended about a year ago. However, this lack of transparency is a trend from HostGator. With enough pressure from users, we hope that this trend will vanish.
Regardless of this concern, they still offer some solid security options.
Free SSL Certificate
A free SSL certificate (secure sockets layer) is essential to maintain the basics of website security. Even the most basic websites need this form of protection to verify site ownership, keep user data secure, and prevent hackers from hijacking your site.
HostGator includes a free basic SSL with all of its tiered plans. It also enables you to purchase SSLs separately. Here’s a look at HostGator SSL Pricing:
These SSLs come in four forms:
- Basic: included with all plans and protects your one website
- Positive SSL: Included with Business tier. It has a $10 thousand warranty. This SSL is domain-verified and best for eCommerce sites.
- Multi-Domain SSL: Security for up to 210 domains with 2048-bit signatures and 256-bit encryption
- Extended Validation SSL: Displays a green address bar, has a $1.75 million warranty, and offers business-based authentication
The existence of 2048-bit means that HostGator has the next nine years to upgrade. It is said that hackers will have the ability to break these by 2030.
This makes their basic security measures comparable to InMotion hosting. The 256-bit encryption method is also a reliable security measure.
Custom Firewall Protects Against DDoS
The second security measure it has going for it is DDoS protection. DDoS, or a Distributed Denial of Service attack, disrupts server traffic by preventing people from taking advantage of your products or services.
HostGator offers network-level flood protection for their data centers. Given that those data centers include 12 thousand servers, HostGator can redirect a UDP flood.
This giant server capacity is one of the main features HostGator has over other providers. This is what enables HostGator to remain competitive compared to other providers.
SiteLock Malware Security (Extra Cost)
At $5.99 a month, HostGator will enable SiteLock Essentials. SiteLock is a security company known for scanning your website for malware and malicious attacks.
SiteLock is not included as part of HostGator’s shared hosting plans. So you will need to purchase it separately. Malware scenes prevent user data from being stolen.
If you are an eCommerce seller or have a semi-popular website, it’s recommended you include this feature.
HostGator offers automatic daily, weekly, and monthly backups for shared hosting plans. You are also encouraged to create manual backups whenever possible.
HostGator recommends that you utilize a third-party backup system if you have critical business information stored online.
HostGator cannot handle automatic backups if you engage in one of their more extensive plans (20GB or 50GB). You also cannot make manual backups if you have 50GB of space or more.
Remember that these backup limitations are linked to “full backups,” meaning that the server would be overloaded if it was offered to larger hosts. However, HostGator does work with partial backups with larger websites.
Backups exist more as a courtesy until your website outgrows this storage allowance. So your bigger hosting plan will need more services.
HostGator offers 24/7/365 support through live chat and a dedicated phone number. They also have a knowledge base you can use to look for problems you potentially have.
The knowledge base is incredibly well organized, making it easy for you to find prospective issues. Having a robust self-service section is essential to prevent unnecessary calls.
When reaching out to WordPress tech support, I was greeted with a present customer agent willing to help me out. The customer service agent responded within seconds, so Gator live chat support is on point.
However, one bit of confusion comes from the difference between speaking with “Gator” chat and “HostGator” chat. I had to be transferred at first to fix the mess:
Gator is their platform for the website builder tool. A separate customer team manages HostGator.
The second attempt took a few minutes to connect with another representative. This isn’t long at all, so good job on the transfer.
Here’s an excerpt on a conversation we had about their Managed WordPress hosting plans:
HostGator Trustpilot Reviews
When taking a closer look at HostGator’s support teams, you’ll come across a mixed bag of reviews. At 3.5 out of 5, other sites have outpaced it regarding technical support. Almost 50% of reviews here are negative.
You’ll find that the most dramatic of these website incidents are related to a customer advocate called Erinn. Without further ado, let’s get started with some of the most dramatic responses:
Bad experiences tend to happen. If you’ve ever worked in customer service, you know that many of these come down to a lack of understanding.
If your support team runs into issues, they should address that. HostGator’s support is incredibly active on Trustpilot:
Review Response from Erinn, Customer Advocate at HostGator
Erinn is all over the place on Trustpilot reviews. Kudos to Erinn for dealing with all these challenging issues. While there are a lot users giving 5 stars, you of course have your 1 star reviews as well.
As someone who has worked in customer service, you should probably avoid the “I told you so” moment in public. But not all reviews are bad, numerous reviews with 5 stars share this sentiment:
HostGator’s support team is active on their Trustpilot site. This happens for positive, negative, and “meh” reviews. Here’s a three-star review with good customer support:
If there’s any good sign to HostGator’s customer support, it’s the activeness. Virtually all reviews have a response to them, regardless of how many stars they have.
While the quality of customer service through this web hosting provider can be a mixed bag, there is no doubt that the team is trying. We wish the best for their support team.
Is HostGator Easy To Use?
When asking if HostGator is easy to use, we need to look at two locations:
- The included site builder
- The hosting dashboard
The HostGator Control Panel – Is it Easy to Use?
Starting with the hosting dashboard (control panel). At first, it looks a bit like a disorganized desktop. However, the left side of this screen allows you to look at a navigation board to switch between different areas.
From here, you can easily switch between email accounts, security features, and special offers. You’ll find that HostGator is big on upselling, so special offers take up half the screen.
The control panel also enables you to have a test site through cPanel support. They have support for the Softalicious cPanel app installer, which is pretty easy to get to. So, HostGator doesn’t have any testing options by itself.
You can also perform an A/B test site that enables you to check what forms of websites are more successful in increasing your conversion rate. Because HostGator supports managed hosting, you’ll need to download a plugin to do this.
However, you can also choose to use the website builder:
A Closer Look at the Gator Website Builder
The website editor enables you to choose between express mode and traditional mode. Both site editors are pretty simple. It is also one of the few web hosting services that have a custom website editor. They refer to their creative side as “Gator.”
Given that HostGator is comparable to GoDaddy in size, it makes sense for HostGator to have this custom option. But HostGator’s editing options have a mobile site builder as well:
If you have any experience with Adobe Photoshop, you’ll find that this website-building tool is just as handy. It’s straightforward to use, allows you great customization, and has an interface that enables you to create a completely customizable space.
In this way, publishing your website is free provided you are willing to put a .gator.site on its end. This is similar to websites on Weebly or Squarespace.
HostGator Pricing and Plans
HostGator offers a wide variety of hosting options. They do offer Windows hosting but do not offer Windows VPS hosting.
Here’s a quick roundup of what you can expect:
HostGator Shared Hosting Plans
HostGator’s plans come in three variants. They offer low introductory pricing and allow you to pay however you wish. Here’s how they pan out.
- Hatchling Plan – $2.75 per month intro pricing for the first three years. As high as $10.95 if you pay per month.
- Baby Plan – $3.50 /mo. intro pricing for three years. $11.95 for month-to-month.
- Business Plan – $5.25 /mo. $16.95 for month-to-month.
All plans come with these features:
- One-click WordPress Installation
- Free website transfer
- Unmetered bandwidth
- $150 Google ad spend and $100 Microsoft ad credit
- Free email address
- Free MySQL transfer & script transfer
The business plan includes a free upgrade to positive SSL, free dedicated IP, and SEO tools. Both the Baby and Business plans have unlimited websites.
You’ll notice that “unlimited” isn’t used here despite them not mentioning any bandwidth limits. That’s because they don’t track your bandwidth usage and charge you for it.
Instead, HostGator will tell you that if your site exceeds 25% of the CPU usage limit, they will give you a warning and eventually take down your place. But since you get unmetered bandwidth, HostGator doesn’t feel the need to set these limitations.
This is one of HostGator’s biggest downfalls: lack of transparency.
HostGator Cloud Hosting Pricing
Cloud hosting emphasizes the allowance of using non-WordPress builders like cPanel for management. Instead of sharing small sections of a server, you take up a certain number of cores and RAM space for servers. You’ll find that these plans have similar names:
- Cloud Hatchling – $4.95 /mo. for 3-years paid upfront. Up to $12.95 for monthly payments.
- Cloud Baby – $6.57 /mo. for 3-years. $13.95 monthly.
- Cloud Business – $9.995 /mo. for 3-years. $19.95 monthly.
These plans go from 2, 4, and 6 cores or GBs of memory, respectively. All plans include local caching, unlimited subdomains, $200 search engine marketing credits, and features mentioned above.
You can have parked domains on the higher two levels with a free positive SSL upgrade and dedicated IP with the business level.
Managed WordPress Hosting Plans
WordPress specific hosting provides a bit more clarity, setting visitation limits. Unlike your previous plans, they don’t vary by different stages of alligator growth:
- Starter Plan (one site) – $5.95 /mo. (36 months paid upfront). $14.95 monthly.
- Standard Plan (two sites) – $7.95 /mo. w/ 36 months. $20.95 monthly.
- Business Plan (three sites) – $9.95 /mo. w/ 36 months. $27.95 monthly.
- Business Plan (five sites) – $11.95 /mo. w/ 36 months. $31.95 monthly.
- Pro Plan (ten sites) – $22.95 /mo. w/ 36 months. $59.95 monthly.
- Pro Plan (twenty sites) $33.95 mo. w/ 36 months. $91.95 monthly.
The extra plans are not discussed until you get to the next checkout screen. You’ll see a dropdown menu discussing the different sections:
All plans include everything in the other plans but without Microsoft credit. Instead, the main difference is in the visits per month going from 100, 200, and 500 thousand for the first three plans respectively.
All plans come with business-level WordPress hosting, enabling you to install plugins as you wish.
HostGator VPS Pricing Options
HostGator’s VPS Hosting varies in a way that’s similar to cloud hosting. However, the VPS plans HostGator offers is mainly defined by storage size differences:
- Snappy 2000 – $19.99 /mo. (paid 3-years upfront) or $29.95 monthly.
- Snappy 4000 – $29.99 /mo. for 3-years or $59.95 monthly.
- Snappy 8000 – $39.95 /mo. for 3-years or $119.95 monthly.
The pricing above assumes you request bare-metal servers with no control panel. If you want cPanel access, you’ll need to pay an extra $10 per month.
Your first two plans come with two vCPU cores. Plans also go from 2, 4, and 8GB of ram, respectively. The sizes vary by 120, 165, and 24 GB SSD (Solid-State Drives) worth of disk space. Solid-state drives enable quick loading times, creating a higher potential for fast servers.
The pricing is comparable to other web hosting companies that offer VPS server hosting. HostGator does not offer Windows VPS plan hosting and only handles Linux servers.
HostGator Dedicated Server Pricing and Plans
HostGator hosting is one of the few hosting companies that offer Linux and Windows among their dedicated servers. You can choose between the CentOS Linux operating system or Plesk, Window’s answer to CentOS.
HostGator offers managed and semi-managed dedicated servers for those who already have tech support on staff. These prices include the following:
- Value Server – $89.98 /mo. (3-years paid in advance) to $189 /mo.
- Power Server – $119.89 /mo. (3-years) to $249/mo.’
- Enterprise Server – $139.99 /mo. for 3-years in advance to $289 /mo.
The Value Server plan is the only plan that offers standard HHD servers. An HHD dedicated server is much slower than SSD but is a legacy server function with some older providers.
The Power Server plan enables you to choose between HHD or SSD. The Enterprise Hosting Plan only has SSD. Of course, performance is well beyond the hatchling plan mentioned earlier.
if you run a large series of websites, you should contact customer service to see your options. However, dedicated hosting isn’t suitable for those who run a small handful of sites.
Windows Hosting Plans and Pricing
The last two options for hosting include windows plans and pricing. Windows servers through HostGator come in two forms:
- Personal Plan – $4.76 /mo. if paying three years upfront or $9.95 monthly.
- Windows Enterprise – $14.36 /mo. for three years or $19.95 monthly.
The Windows Personal Plan comes with one domain name, unmetered disk space, unmetered bandwidth, and a free SSL
The Windows Enterprise Plan has five domains, everything above, and a free dedicated IP. If you prefer Windows servers, having this available as an option is great.
However, most people prefer Linux for servers.
This HostGator review has gone through a few key points regarding all hosting options. However, there are many alternatives that can compete with HostGator. Let’s check them out below:
• Kinsta is much smaller than HostGator based on its user count. However, one thing that Kinsta does well provides clarity.
There’s no question on where your limits are with Kinsta. When it comes to looking at shared hosting options at HostGator, its transparency is weak compared to Kinsta.
Kinsta has a smaller money-back guarantee, however. Also, they lack the same level of support due to being a smaller company.
• WPX Hosting provides fast, managed hosting that’s perfect for people looking for one thing. While they do that one thing very well, they don’t expand outside of that thing.
WPX Hosting is a much smaller company also known for having live chat, but with a much smaller amount of employees. To be a customer advocate at HostGator is to be a part of a large team.
Also, HostGator offers way more expandable options than WPX as a hosting service.
• A2 Hosting could use a major update to their website. However, they don’t seem to need that same support from their support team. A2 has way more positive interactions than HostGator when it comes to a good customer experience. This data comes from the difference in Trustpilot reviews.
A2 also boasts a wide range of different hosting options for your website. They also offer dedicated hosting, VPS, and shared hosting options. However, they don’t provide as many creative solutions when it comes to website building.
User Reviews via Twitter
If you want a good HostGator review, that’s when it’s time to ask the people. Real world user reviews of HostGator are easy to find when scouring Twitter. Below, we will get a roundup of those experiences:
When I’ve been … not that smart… I will fully admit to customer service that I know I’m the problem here. So thank you @HostGator for your kind and excellent customer service!— Mur, Magnificent Fury (@mightymur) July 26, 2021
I am very impressed for the amazing & responsive social media customer care of @Hostgator! @HGSupport, many brands need to learn from them. Someone finally cares, analyze, think & take actions. #Respect #Recommended! #ProudCustomer #Hostgator 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻— Malik Shishtawi مالك ششتاوي (@shishtawi) June 27, 2021
Oh how the times have changed.— HostGator (@HostGator) May 28, 2021
Is anyone else tired of @HostGator billing department over-charging, adding in services without permission and not fixing it!— Sasha T Bachtold (@bachtoldhomes) August 1, 2021
I’ve been a loyal customer with @HostGator for 10 years, but recently my shared server was compromised due to BF cyber attack – and company denies 2FA security. For that reason, I’ll be leaving for a more secure option. I’ve heard good things about @GoDaddy .— Deon Lundy (@dontaedeon) May 23, 2021
I don’t recommend this hosting company, to slow and takes forever to restore service, definitely, not good for business@HostGator— Ivan Gomez (@IvanNetwork) June 5, 2021
Conclusion – Is HostGator Worth It?
When asking if HostGator hosting is worth it, it 100% depends on your priorities. If you are looking for a free domain name with simple site management features that are wholly integrated, HostGator has some great options.
Their website builder is completely custom and made by HostGator. Combined with their hosting platform, they are one of the few that offers an integrated service. However, GoDaddy manages the marketing aspects of their “full-service solution” a bit better, especially when it comes to shared hosting.
With HostGator, the most exciting thing about them is that there’s a lot of potential here. That being said, putting in HostGator’s reliability and website builder with GoDaddy’s marketing abilities would make for the perfect storm.
So, is HostGator worth it? Yes, but they are best for cPanel and those who need Windows servers for their site(s).
HostGator’s data centers are in the following locations:
• Provo, Utah
• Houston, Texas
HostGator also has 23 additional data centers located throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. HostGator’s servers are PCI compliant but lack the HIPAA compliance needed to make them suitable for medical use. HostGator has not established how many of its data centers are located worldwide. However, they have a large number of 12 thousand servers among these locations.
HostGator does not offer a free version of its hosting platform. However, the website builder feature enables you to play with the editor without limits. You can also publish test sites to see if the website builder reflects the website’s design freely. You need to provide an email address to HostGator to access this building tool.
Both GoDaddy and HostGator are very comparable. They offer very similar servers and services, but GoDaddy provides a more robust marketing platform. Both websites builders are equal across many boards, making either a good option if you want a web host that offers more than hosting features.
HostGator’s website builder is perfect for beginners. Its hosting control panel is also straightforward to use. As a result, HostGator is an excellent hosting service for beginners.
WordPress’s business features are free with HostGator. So if you pay for HostGator’s services, you can install plugins, but you might need to pay for those plugins in some cases.