HostGator 2017 Review - The Host With The Most
Everyone has heard about HostGator, be it positive or negative they say any press is good press. In this review I take a closer look at how HostGator stacks up, and if they can hold their own in a competitive market.
The Hostgator.com website
I've been using HostGator for a little over 18 months, I have a love hate relationship with them. Starting at $3.95 monthly for your basic plan.
Boasting to be hosting over 9,000,500 domain's you could say they know a thing or two about providing a reliable hosting experience.
One of the most popular hosting providers in the market. Providing a range of hosting and domain options and add on function's.
Not the premium provider but for bang for buck, HostGator is worth a more than a glance.
Why Do People Choose HostGator for their hosting provider of choice? Affordable or more for the features and functions of the hosting provider most well known for having a Blue and Yellow crocodile as their company mascot. I hope you can find my association between HostGator's mascot and my association with crocodile's to Mick Dundee of Crocodile Dundee enjoyable.
Who on planet Earth is Mick Dundee? To understand the reference you can Google search "Crocodile Dundee" welcome to the outback!
A little introduction on HostGator.
Starting out in 2002 as an affordable solution for hosting services. They adapted to the marketplace and began adding services like domain registration and various hosting options. This is the road so many hosting providers take, but HostGator went for the friendly faced mascot approach and sticking to what they knew, affordable low cost website hosting. They didn't try to overreach in the crowded market and continued doing what they do.
November 2016 HostGator released Cloud hosting, a super fast no downtime guaranteed service targeting those needing absolutely no downtime.
The Houston based company is one of the largest providers in the market and have some impressive partnerships with companies such as Cisco and Linux. HostGator are part of the Endurance International Group, or otherwise known as EIG the company that also owns BlueHost, FatCow , IPage, JustHost, HostMonster and a lot more. You are probably asking yourself why would they have multiple hosting companies, and not just roll them all in to one super hosting provider.
Marketing strategies of the mega rich and powerful, don't underestimate the reasons why they do what they do.
I want to make it clear that this is a review of HostGator shared low cost service not the Cloud hosting they released late in 2016.
Orange is a memorable colour but obviously not enough, I actually thought just before I began writing this that HostGator's website was Orange! Checking in on my account this morning has proven one of two things, HostGator quietly changed their main domains colour theme or Im developing website blindness. This means the marketing had worked, making me associate the blue crocodile with the orange website. I got it completely wrong but it WAS orange at one point.
With all the friendly branding and all in one marketing, it is hard not to want to at least give HostGator a trial. I came across HostGator while browsing BlueHost's website I went back to my host provider's list and saw HostGator. The name made me want to enquire more and see what this company was. I saw they had some good reviews mostly 5 star, and people were saying good things about the service. I don't suggest you go looking for those reviews now folks.
If You Experience Problems with Your Hosting Do This:
- Contact Support Calmly & Explain The Issue
- Work With The Support Desk To Resolve The Issue
- Look at the Helpful Tutorial Section For Answers
- Can Your Problem Be Fixed By Using The FAQ Section
- Test To See If Your Problem Was Temporary
- Don't Argue With Customer Support
- Don't Give Negative Reviews Online
- Never Wrestle With Your Hosting Providers Mascot
HostGator has made a name for themselves, with horrible customer support. Don't abandon ship just yet there is good news, I had a good look around at my fellow web masters and marketers, to see what they were feeling about HostGator at the current time...And!
My findings were a mixed result with many having previously had a negative experience with the service, they swear not to ever give them another cent. The other's said a lot had changed with HostGator and that they are using the service to a degree and have given them another chance.
I also was feeling very negative about dealing with HostGator but had signed up for a 36 month plan, I temporarily check back in on the account and I have been surprised. The customer support has changed, I think due to the widely known poor services provided in the past. My account is still active and I have noticed some improvements on their end, considerable improvement in the help section and within the HostGator forums and overall performance of the actual hosting service. Lets not forget why we use them in the first place.
Taking into account all the negative and the recent changes for the better, I thought it was a good point to look at the company as if I was brand new. New enough to make an assumption on good and bad packages. I had an idea of what I wanted from my hosting provider, speed, security, functionality and free add on domains.
I wanted to see the description given in the meta description, of the organic search result for the HostGator website. Some sad news I couldn't find it page 4 deep, and I had a hard time finding them for the phrases I would associate with them. The funny thing when searching for the HostGator organic search result, all I found was their paid adverts and couldn't see them anywhere. They keep it real simple in their meta description about exactly what they offer, broken into simple to understand features.
They have smart marketing when it comes to their website, the customer support chat and animated mascot are amusing for a few seconds. I looked around for a knowledge base but they don't currently have one. There is a large tutorial section containing videos and walkthroughs for various technical problems. Everything is themed as fun and easy to use, the simplistic design does not however apply to the customer portal. The customer portal is quite odd that all the settings and tabs are at the top of the website, but the actual section content is at the very bottom of the website. That leaves a large portion of the in between scroll as blank with exception of some HostGator internal product offer's.
Who would of though that using a alligator as a mascot would work, honestly.
Have you ever seen a crocodile do side crunches?
Features and Functionality
Lets say you are coming to HostGators website for the first time, its bright and screams at first glance amazing deal. After you have purchased a few hosting packages you can read into this a little bit more on the wordplay, vague but
The core offerings are different types of hosting packages, each one comes with their own set of functions, all can be upgraded of course. The bundle that every plan comes with is outlined below this image here. The below image is an example of the different hosting types and monthly package prices. Also included is a great reference as to who this package would suit, Notice the difference between web hosting and dedicated hosting? Dedicated hosting provides more reliable service, performance and security.
List of Features: "Great Bundle with All Plans"
- 45 Day Money Back Guarantee
- Unmetered Disk Space and Bandwidth
- Unlimited Email Addresses
- Free Website Builder with 4,500 Templates
- 99.9% Uptime
- Easy To Use Control Panel
- 24/7/365 Customer Support
- Google & Bing Advertising Coupon
- One Click Instals
- Unlimited Domains
Lets breakdown the unlimited and unmetered myth. To the general public these are the same words, to the same people this type of unregulated usage does not exist to quote "everything has a price". I asked around in some forums and was given a very similar reply that they are the same things, and anyone offering such a deal has some kind of tap out limitation.
One feature I really do like on their page here is the Demo CPanel, that is a great idea. Allowing you to browse what the actual CPanel looks like, and seeing all the features and functions just add to the Buy Now feeling of the hosting packages.
I keep seeing the sales pitch of unlimited and unmetered for different functions, but really how can it be unregulated.
What do they mean?
Definition of Unmetered
Not metered, not charged on a meter; like internet bandwidth.
Definition of Unlimited
1. not limited; unrestricted; unconfined: unlimited trade.
2. boundless; infinite; vast: the unlimited skies.
3. without any qualification or exception; unconditional.
Technically these are two very different meanings, but in the eyes of the public they are pretty much the same thing. Do people believe in unlimited and unmetered plans? No!
What does HostGator say about this confusion? Read below.
Read point 15. Uptime Guarantee, nice little extra there if you monitor your downtime and HostGator is actually at fault. I like to get a little extra out of my hosting provider, and I read the terms and conditions and privacy statements and any relevant policy they may have. The world is moving incredibly fast towards the future and I want an idea of what the hosting company is doing with my information, and how they are preparing for future changes in technology. Something to think about.
HostGator provides a simple easy to upgrade option's for when you need room to grow. I do give them credit for the ease of the up-sells ,they have you covered in a couple of mouse clicks if you want to spend more money with them. Again smart marketing by the HostGator team.
How I Would Choose Between Hatchling, Baby or a Business Hosting Package?
The different shared hosting plans available all have different limitations, Hatchling is your basic entry level, Baby is the next step up and Business is more targeted towards larger businesses and Ecommerce stores as it is a larger plan.
You need to know what you you will be requiring from your hosting plan, what will you be hosting? how much web traffic do you expect? What kinds of content will you be using? how many sub domains and email addresses do you need? everything you need should be outlined before you begin shopping for a hosting plan. Like we say at BitPak "Get the most out of your host!".
Looking at the table you can see the variations of each plan, this will help you decide on the best suited hosting plan. This table covers a more in depth feature comparison of each shared hosting plan.
I would recommend bloggers and informational websites start with the hatchling plan, and remember upgrading when you need to is as simple as filling in a form. For businesses that sell online and take sensitive information such as credit card details and personal details I suggest the business plan. Looking at the tables and not satisfied that HostGator can accommodate your business needs? thats perfectly fine check out our reviews.
How Does HostGator Stack up to other Hosting Providers?
Taking a look at HostGator, SiteGround and GoDaddy, we outlined each one's entry level hosting plan.
Economy Hosting Plan
Personal StartUp Plan
Monthly Cost (Introductory)
Monthly Renewal Cost
10K Visitors / Mo
Free Email Addresses
$100 Google Adwords Voucher
$100 Yahoo/Bing Credit
This table i used from the HostGator website shows a comparison between GoDaddy and SiteGround with the current HostGator prices and features included. The plans being used are all entry level plans for each provider. HostGator has a good looking package, the others are ok but in terms of bang for your buck it's HostGator. We highly recommend SiteGround but depending on your own requirements.
HostGator is Eco-Friendly
Powered by wind generated energy, the entire operations is powered by clean energy and sends their surplus energy back into the grid. Certified Green web host and doing good things, this gets a big tick in my book. This feature wont increase your server speed, but it is a great contribution.
While signing up for HostGator I found they offer a million and one services, this is great for those that feel they need a million services. Looking at HostGator's website signup pages as a new customer, I can see how people get sucked in to buying all the add ons and upgrades. The actual sales journey is I'll admit kind of enjoyable, and they nearly had me upgrade to something that I did not need well played HostGator! well played.
The core features I need are:
- Website Hosting
- Zero To Minimum Downtime
- Enough Memory For My Website and Traffic
- Access To Create Sub Domains
Now they are the core things I need, everyone has needs and desires so here are my desirables from HostGator.
- Free SSL certificate
- Unlimited Email Addresses
- Easy CMS configuration
- Access to my CPanel
- Google Adwords or Bing Ads Free Money
One of the awesome things that hosting companies are doing, is to provide you with vouchers for Google Adwords and Bing/Yahoo advertising. This is great because you can build yourself a fresh website, then pay for advertising and tell the world you are ready for business. A nice little added bonus for selecting them as your hosting provider, and it doesn't hurt that it is a freebie.
Performance and Speed
I have been impressed with the performance of HostGator I don't notice any downtime, and the speed of my website's is on par with my other premium hosted websites. Everyone wants it now and the speed to be able to deliver it now, think mobile browsing fast loading.
Nothing mind blowing in the speed and performance section with HostGator, they provide a nice entry level option that you can upgrade if you want to really pay attention to speed and performance. Saying that I ran some test's and found that the plan reacted as it was created to, informational website nothing bulky no real drains on the server, steady traffic and on the hatchling plan Im happy with the results.
HostGator Data Centres
HostGator have two US data centres located in Provo, Utah taking up 8,500 sq. ft, and home base Houston, Texas covering 300,000 sq. ft. On the network page is reads "To ensure that service remains uninterrupted our data centres utilize state of the art server hardware, HVAC, electrical and network systems". Creating a workplace that is responsible for 9,000,500 websites is no small task.
These data centres are fully fitted with security systems and have around the clock access control. While not useful information maybe I have watched to many Die Hard movies, I imagine John McClane taking these guards out in a crusty off white singlet. HostGators data centres are high level facilities that have the capacity to host over 9,000,500 domains.
Are you conscious about the general security of your website? I am and you should be. Hackers are intelligent and resourceful, not thinking about the security of your website could change the ownership of that website from Yours to Theirs.
I lost a website mid December nothing of concern just a sandbox site, but still the loss was a moment of weakness. The weakness lay with me not giving a care about the vulnerability of the login panel. HostGator has a very secure server, but if you choose shared hosting remember it is shared hosting. For anyone generating a good income online and thinking about HostGator for their hosting, go for the business plan and add the add on features that you will need. Start strong and you wont go wrong.
The more premium hosting plans offer automated daily database backups, free SSL certificates, Malware removal and more. The security of the larger plans goes without saying, when you pay for peanuts you get peanuts.
HostGator doesn't position themselves as the most secure provider in the market, but they do promote security of your hosting account. Offering all the required functions to keep your website secure, but if you find yourself wanting more then you pay for it thats their stance.
That Classic Movie Line "Thats Not A Knife, This Is A Knife!"
Looking at HostGator as a large organization, you would think they have the bigger knife in any knife fight. They have average grade security measures on a standard plan, the real security is an add on feature.
- HostGator Is Protected From DDoS Attacks (UDP Flood)
- Extensive Firewall & Large Mod_Security Rulesets
- Secure Shell
- Upgrades Offered Are SMART, SiteLock and CodeGuard
The HostGator terms of service pages clearly state, that the responsibility of all content you use on your website is your own problem.
Read this snippet sourced from the privacy page of the HostGator website.
HostGator uses technical security measures to prevent the loss, misuse, alternation or unauthorized disclosure of information under our control. HostGator uses security measures including and not limited to: physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online. All sensitive information is collected on a secure server. When we ask customers or users to provide financial information (such as a credit card number) that data is protected using Secure Sockets Layer ("SSL") technology.
Shared hosting is not the most secure option, if you value total security look at another option and not shared hosting. Look at getting yourself on dedicated hosting, take a moment to look at our review of our Top 10 Hosting Reviews from the menu bar above.
I didn't want to be biased as I have had a terrible dealing with HostGator, one that if i was holding my breath waiting for the reply I would of passed away. Ive had a look around and asked some questions about the customer service of our review target, and for every one person that really likes them I have ten people that can not stand using HostGator.
I cant say all nice things about HostGator, I had some problems within the first 6 months of joining with them. This was well past the 45 day cooling off period, I also have an outstanding domain migration support ticket from mid November 2016. I have since taken the migration away from their platform, the ticket is unresolved.
They have a customer support portal where you can communicate your problems with tech staff, Ive found this to be hit and miss. They have live chat, toll free phone call or the customer support ticket system to resolve issues. I prefer chat during the day in AUS and calling support at night in AUS as the timezones are completely opposite.
I have contacted HostGator customer support a few times, and on average I would say 6 times out of 10 that the support is helpful and my problems resolved. To resolve the problems it usually takes me 4 or 5 messages back and fourth, with the end result getting a link to their helpful tutorial section. I do admit it helped with resolving my problem, and it was easy enough to communicate with the support staff.
I was in a different state of mind about HostGator in 2016, they must be glad the review is being written in 2017 a fresh new start.
HostGator takes a beating online with a known reputation for it's poor customer service. On the hostGator website they say they are "with you every step of the way". This claim is somewhat true I would say it has vastly improved towards the later part of 2016. I had several contacts with support that were unresolved and the chat timed out, none the less I just tried again. Most support workers were helpful & would transfer you to someone more technical if you had a techie problem, that was helpful as you don't want someone helping you from reading off the FAQ page.
Take a look at the image to the below on the left!
Most businesses advertise their customer reviews publicly, why do you think that the Review tab is not shown on the HostGator FaceBook page? you have 2 guesses. HostGator knows they have a bad reputation with their customer service department.
Removing the review tab on their FaceBook page stopped a lot of negative reviews from being socially public. Smart move from HostGator marketing team right there.
When I'm looking into a business I always follow their online profiles, I'll go and look at their FaceBook or their Twitter accounts and get an idea of them as a business.
Look below, where are the reviews? No reviews strange.
The Review Mystery Continues.
Taking my look into the missing HostGator review button on Facebook, and no Google reviews, I did some searching and gathered around 50 reviews. These reviews are from an assortment of sources and when compiled together, I found that a large share were not fans of the service that had been provided to them.
The people giving out positive reviews appeared organic, natural in the way the reviews were written. I also checked the negative reviews and 98% seemed legitimate, there was one that was using ALL CAPITALS and appeared quite upset.
That old saying "Any press is good press" must not resonate with the HostGator marketing team.
Ill say this I have not left a review for HostGator on any platform, this is my first review.
There are hundreds upon thousands of reviews about HostGator online, if you read this review and still need to seek more social proof then feel free to Google away. Ask yourself what is 1% of Nine million? let me get my calculator....that is 90,000. Having 1% of your customers leave a bad review is 90,000 negative reviews, consider that the other 99% are not disgruntled.
After looking back over this review I thought to myself, what do the words "Cheap and Affordable" attract? they attract people that want the cheapest price, and are on a shoestring budget (most of the time). This makes sense for such a large number of the negative reviews, the people that paid the cheapest price are upset because the cheap product didn't do what they wanted it to do.
How Did The Combined Review Count Workout?
Love Wednesdays? so does HostGator! they have a third more signups on Wednesdays than any other day of the week.
Look the customer support is not that bad, imagine you had to provide customer support to over 9,000,5000 website owners. A hard task I imagine, and they seem to have put processes in place to alleviate a lot of the steps to resolve problems. My latest dealings with support very pleasant and helpful, I think it's important to understand that with that amount of customer base there will always be an unhappy customer.
HostGator accepts payment by credit card or PayPal, I rate this as another tick in my book for ease of payment.
While the main page offers cheap affordable web hosting, the hidden fees and fine print clauses need mentioning. The introductory pricing is almost irresistible but the kicker is when that resets to standard renewal fees that are much more expensive than the intro offer. To get the sweetest deals you need to lock in a long term service plan I was the fool that signed up to a 36 month agreement but hey you know what test sites and sandbox websites I can live with that. Taking the shorter agreement for hosting plans will see you paying anywhere from 50 to 150% more than the long term agreements. This is called Promotional Pricing and that honeymoon pricing comes to an end after a specified date, then thats when the much higher fees kick in.
I found if on a shared hosting plan and you use a more than your Fair Share you get smacked with the naughty stick. What is considered fair? to read the fine print, using more than 100,000 inodes gets you removed from the backup system automatically. Yes Im that guy that gets removed from the backup system, sigh I was sitting at around 210,000 but was on a shared host. The wording I received was "You used in excess of 30% of the shared hosting resources for an extended time period, of 180 seconds in one sessions this is considered abusing the fair usage agreement".
Alternatives to HostGator
We rated it as a top performer and super fast WordPress site specific host. Our team has tested and tested different hosting providers and rated WPEngine as "the best WordPress host on the planet".
Comparing WPEngine to HostGator the price blows WPEngine out of the water, but if you want the fastest, most secure and reliable hosting for your website you need WPEngine. Spending that little bit extra for a premium provider look at WPEngine.
Our number #1 most recommended host. Having been a customer for a long time now we noticed the benefits immediately. Server security and speed two things we need for our business. The pricing adds to the reason for considering switching to SiteGround.
The support team is actually based in the US, in comparison to most hosts using outsourced virtual assistants from South East Asia with fake names/pictures.
Even though I have not had the best experience in the past using HostGator, the overall improvements made in some areas are noted and well received. I particularly like the in CPanel features and functions, some easier to use than others but still a nice bonus.
HostGator is good for entry level and those that want cheap hosting, they offer large scale hosting for what ever your need to use large scale hosting be. I recommend for anyone wanting a more premium and responsive hosting provider to look at the recommended alternatives, you can read a full review right here.. I also would like to point out I am aware alligator's and crocodile's are not the same but please just humor me.
The host with the most is not always the best choice, planning to run a forum or ecommerce store consider the resources required to run these types of websites. The larger the website or the more web traffic it attracts & drains on server resources, consider using the larger packages to accommodate this resource drain or look to the cloud. Look at the packages and understand your requirements before you sell out on the price.