Imagine living in an apartment where the lights are always out, your annoying neighbors are always hogging the pool, and you have a cockroach infestation because your landlord refuses to bring in exterminators. Sounds like a real life horror story, right?
Well now imagine this same situation, just with you sitting in front of your computer and watching the virtual nightmare unfold. You are running a website on a hosting provider that is constantly going down for extended periods of time, bandwidth problems resulting in connection issues and the worst of the worst: hackers have gained access to the server and infected it with malware, targeting visitors or even your customer’s personal data.
Not so far away from what you can experience in one of those “nightmare apartment” scenarios, right? Luckily for you, we are here to help you make the right and most beneficial decision regarding your web-hosting needs.
Enter HostGator, one of the most popular and well-known hosting providers in the massive web-hosting universe. When you are making a decision to host your website somewhere, you are putting your trust in a company to not only guarantee a stable and secure environment for your web page / business to grow, but to also forge a long and healthy relationship with your site’s visitors.
HostGator was founded in 2002 by a couple college students when comparatively little was known about the complexity and rising popularity of the web. Since their inception, the company has grown massively, currently hosting around 8 million web sites or 2% of all internet domains!
Of course, everyone knows that popularity matters little after high-school (…right?), so let’s take a closer look at whether HostGator might be the right hosting solution for you.
HostGator Plans and Pricing
As one of the industry leaders, HostGator offers numerous types of Hosting, covering their bases with Shared, Dedicated, VPS, and Reseller packages.
If you aren’t fully familiar with these terms and the specifics behind them, check out HostGator’s explanation (metaphors included!) or our chart below for a better idea which type of hosting matches your website’s needs.
While HostGator offers the previously mentioned types of hosting, they also offer different tiers (plans) for different kinds of hosting. While some of the options are a bit excessive for a website that isn’t in need of significant resources (blogs and other low-traffic websites), the “Basic” plans typically offer enough performance for the everyday user. We really love the fact that they give unlimited bandwidth for their Shared hosting plans, but the potential to expand up to 25 TB for Dedicated plans should be more than enough for high traffic websites as well.
We firmly believe that HostGator’s Shared Hosting Plans are some of the best on the market, offering high value in terms of unlimited bandwidth and disk space, while not running you more than 10$ a month! VPS hosting packages are also available at an affordable price range, so if you want (or need) a little more freedom and flexibility, take a look at the “Snappy” packages starting at $19.95 a month.
As with most hosting providers, HostGator offers discounts for long term contracts, so when deciding how long to sign up for, keep in mind that the longer you commit for, the lower the monthly price!
Reliability / Speed
One of the most critical components of any hosting service is their reliability (the so-called “uptime“). HostGator advertises 99.9% uptime on their servers, with our experiences being remarkably similar. Sure, every web host on the planet claims to have these 99.9% uptimes, but that .1% is missing for a reason!
The company has their servers running out of data centers in Provo, Utah and Houston, Texas. Both facilities are advertised as highly secure and stable, something that is highly important when deciding where to host your website. HostGator also offers CloudFlare CDN as a free bonus option for customers. In case you aren’t familiar, Cloudflare acts as a proxy between your website and visitors, increasing the performance and security of your website by individually recognizing visitors based on location and assessing their requests.
As part of our review, we ran a series of reliability tests through Pingdom, resulting in some very favorable scores. The industry “standard” for page load time is somewhere between three and four seconds, but we achieved an average time of two seconds, much better than the norm.
We also utilized Pingdom’s uptime monitor, with similarly excellent scores. After running the monitor for a week, we experienced a total of only 8 minutes of downtime, total! With this at exactly 99.92% uptime, it is what they claim to offer. Certainly a welcome change from the failed guarantees and promises that plague day to day business..
For fans of the hit television series Mr.Robot, the modern security risks posed by hackers is not only a gripping television setting but also a stark reality of the internet business boom. Luckily, most hosting companies have also figured out the risks and implemented better security features and procedures, with HostGator being no exception.
HostGator has numerous safeguards against external threats including custom firewalls, mod_security rule sets and network level flood protection in their data centers. Are these steps enough to protect against unwanted intruders? Probably, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about taking advantage of their added services to protect your site.
HostGator offers some additional security features that you can install via the HostGator control panel, as well as an 80% discount on Sitelock, a very reputable and efficient website protection agent that offers real-time protection from security threats, while also giving your website’s visitors the peace of mind that you have taken the appropriate steps to safeguard their data.
While HostGator offers shared SSL certificates for all Shared and Reseller packages, a e-commerce or high traffic site will require much more security. Purchasing a private SSL certificate through HostGator or a separate 3rd party (for a small installation fee) will further ensure your website’s security, a seemingly necessary investment in today
Although HostGator has stayed relatively safe from cyber-attacks, a notable high-profile hack in 2013 occurred when a former employee was charged with installing a backdoor that gave him access to thousands of servers. Needless to say, large-scale tech companies such as HostGator have to realize that it’s important to keep strict policies in place for not only potential external threats but internal ones as well.
Today’s consumer requires 24/7-365 customer service for any potential issue that can arise. This isn’t more true than in web-hosting, as one wrong click or misunderstanding can lead to your website having difficulties, or even being down! Having an actual English-speaking human reply to your tickets is a welcome change from the automated support system that multiple companies have employed as “customer service”.
Luckily, HostGator realizes the importance of being there for its customers and offers 24/7 assistance through live chat, e-mail, and numerous international and U.S telephone hotlines.
We tested out both the ticket system and the telephone hotline, with positive results during both of our sessions. As you can see, we got a great response time on our ticket (only had to wait seven minutes at the crack of dawn!),while our telephone experience was similarly quick and pleasant, having us only wait 3 (!) minutes until we were connected with a American customer support specialist. .Once EIG purchased HostGator, there has been a multitude of complaints and bad reviews of HostGator’s customer service declining, which is certainly possible. Unfortunately, the acquisition of smaller companies by large conglomerates such as EIG usually paves the way for a decline in certain aspects of the business. In HostGator’s case, their customer service response rate has seemingly taken a big hit.
Once again, customer service is critical for any product or service and web hosting is certainly no exception. While EIG’s takeover looks like it has had a negative effect on HostGator’s customer service reputation, let us state that our own (once again, let us stress this) experiences have been largely positive.
While testing HostGator’s hosting packages, we were able to experience both the highly popular cPanel for shared hosting(meant for more day-to-day usage and beginners) and Plesk for VPS(for those with more technical knowledge).
cPanel for Shared Hosting is a breeze to work with, with a clean interface and quick installing of some nice tools such as SpamAssassin (HostGator’s own email anti-spam), and many more options to choose from when creating your website.
Our only real gripe with the HostGator cPanel interface is how littered it is with “special offers” and advertisements, especially as most of them are unnecessary to the everyday customer.
The Plesk interface was also very accessible and allowed us to become the masters of our VPS. While only really necessary for high-traffic and web-shop sites, Plesk gives full control and management over your website, allowing you to personalize and configure even the smallest detail. cPanel is also available for around 10$ extra a month, for those who do not want to deal with the complexity of Plesk when managing a VPS.
HostGator Review Conclusion
Finally, an important thing to mention concerning HostGator is the company’s acquisition by Endurance International Group in 2012. EIG is a web hosting company that has successfully bought out smaller, successful providers such as HostGator, BlueHost, and A Small Orange, forming a mini web-hosting empire as a result.
Does EIG’s web-hosting conquest create issues with quality and competition?
This is certainly a fair question to ask. Recent reviews have certainly been less than glowing since EIG’s takeover of HostGator, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that HostGator is not a viable solution for your web-hosting needs. Once again, we have numerous sites hosted through HostGator and have had very minimal issues that usually are solved right away.
Doing a couple quick searches on the Internet will give you some not so glowing reviews of HostGator’s customer service. While it seems they have certainly taken a hit in the department since EIG has taken over, HostGator still retains a significant client base (a large chunk of domains on the internet are still hosted by HostGator), a testament to their popularity and success.
With HostGator’s 45 day money-back guarantee, you really don’t have much to lose! Give them a try and let us know. Likewise, if you’ve had any positive or negative experiences with them, let us know in the comments below!