I’ve been a paying customer for HostGator for the last 37 months. During that time, I’ve monitored their performance – avg. load time and uptime.
This review relies strongly on data, such as uptime, load time (speed) and customer support experience.
What is HostGator?
HostGator recently launched their new, premium hosting called HostGator WordPress Cloud.
After testing their service for 9+ months, we can safely recommend them as an alternative for the regular, shared hosting option HostGator offers.
HostGator WordPress Cloud is also ranked #1st in our overall top rated hosts list.
Differences between HostGator Shared and HostGator WordPress Cloud Hosting:
HostGator Shared (old)
- Cost: $3.95/mo
- Uptime: 99.99%
- Speed: 1,023ms
HostGator Cloud (new) – recommended
- Cost: $2.99/mo (ability to pay monthly)
- Uptime: 99.99%
- Speed: 565ms
Now back to HostGator Shared Hosting review.
If there’s one name you’d recognize on our full list of web hosts, it’s HostGator.
You might not be sure why you know it exactly. But you do.
It’s probably because the Houston-based HostGator is one of the largest web hosts on the planet with over 9 million (!) domain names hosted. They boast partnerships with tiny tech titans Cisco and Linux (ever heard of ’em?).
HostGator has been around since 2002, originally founded by Brent Oxley before being acquired a decade later by Endurance International Group (EIG) who also owns Bluehost, Justhost, iPage, Fatcow, among others.
They have two U.S. based data centers in Houston and Provo, Utah. And the company has now become a hugely successful international brand.
In early 2012, HostGator opened up an office in India to expand their international reach. Since then, HostGator has become a true Host-In-India brand.
So what, exactly, is responsible for HostGator’s massive success?
Impressive uptime? Fantastic customer support? Or a HUGE marketing budget?
We wanted to find out for ourselves and provide an honest, unbiased report that sheds light on their performance (not their advertising claims).
In June of 2015, we set up a WordPress website on their ‘Hatchling’ shared plan.
Since then, we’ve monitored their performance statistics including uptime and speedto share the results with you.
Here’s what we found.
Pros of using HostGator (shared) Hosting
HostGator has a few noble qualities, including a longer-than-average money back guarantee and an easy-to-use interface for beginners. Here’s a quick summary.
1. Uptime? Very Good – 99.99%
A website’s only useful if it’s up-and-running, stable and consistent.
Luckily, HostGator was able to hit 99.99% uptime (.20% better than industry average) over the past year.
When we first connected our website to HostGator, their up times were horrible, but they have been improving ever since.
- January average uptime: 100%
- February average uptime: 99.98%
- March average uptime: 99.98%
- April average uptime: 99.99%
- May average uptime: 99.99%
- June average uptime: 100%
- July average uptime: 100%
- August average uptime: 99.98%
- September average uptime: 100%
- October average uptime: 99.98%
- November average uptime: 99.99%
- December average uptime: 99.94%
HostGator uptime is getting better, but it’s still below average. Here’s raw data.
2. Good Support (at least, we think so…)
HostGator conveniently offers 24/7/365 support through the phone, live chat, and email.
After a 16 minute delay, their representative was knowledgeable and friendly enough in our experience. We weren’t blown away by the level of service but didn’t walk away with a bad taste in our mouth either.
It may have taken a few minutes to receive a response, but Charles C gave extensive answers to all of our questions.
We asked him if there was a way to add spam control to our email. He gave us two recommendations, as well as guides for how to use both tools.
He even recommended one tool over the other (SpamAssassin over BoxTrapper) in his answer.
3. 45-Day Money Back Guarantee
Most of the web hosts we’ve reviewed offer a standard 30-day money back guarantee. HostGator bumps theirs up to 45 days, giving you an extra two weeks or so to test drive their offerings before getting locked into a one-to-three year term.
It’s important to note that there are some restrictions and limitations to apply to HostGator’s money back guarantee, though, aside from the fact that you must cancel your account within 45 days of purchase.
Here’s what you should know about getting your money back from HostGator:
- Your refund isn’t valid for dedicated servers, administrative fees, install fees for custom software, or domain name purchases. It only applies to shared, reseller, or VPS hosting.
- Refunds for orders of only $0.01 are not eligible (whatever that means).
- If you pay for your package with a check, money order, or through a bank wire transfer, you’re not eligible for your refund. If you want to make sure you are eligible to receive a refund, be sure to pay for your HostGator subscription with alternative payment options, such as a debit card, credit card, PayPal, or cash.
4. Enhanced Security and Free Migration
HostGator will happily assist you with relocating an existing website over to their services for free.
And if you’re thinking about shelling out the big bucks (JK, they’re not that expensive) for any of their premium plans, you’ll also enjoy automated daily database backups, automatic malware removal and a free SSL certificate for processing website transactions.
HostGator is also protected against DDoS attacks.
5. Very User Friendly for Beginners
HostGator is very user-friendly for beginners (which is nice, considering the utilitarian interfaces of some web hosts read like a foreign language).
They also have endless tutorials, FAQ pages, and documents to help you at every turn, with detailed explanations and simple step-by-step walkthroughs.
Cons of using HostGator (shared) Hosting
HostGator has a few redeeming qualities. However, they fall a bit short in some of the most important categories (like uptime and speed). Here’s how they fared in our tests.
1. Not Fast Enough. Just Below Average…
HostGator followed up their lackluster uptime display with equally mediocre page loading times.
Over the last twelve months, their average was 1,023ms, which is a bit (14%) faster than the average 1,185ms.
That’s ain’t good. Especially when speed is factored into Google’s organic search (SEO) ranking algorithm and has been proven to hurt sales with each delayed second.
Website load time is more important than ever: not only does This is why site load time is one of our core metrics for ranking web hosts we review.
Again, not a great showing considering there are smaller web hosts will less experience delivering FAR better page loading times.
Last 12 month average load time
- January average speed: 1,060ms
- February average speed: 1,082ms
- March average speed: 1,064ms
- April average speed: 995ms
- May average speed: 987ms
- June average speed: 1,025ms
- July average speed: 1,005ms
- August average speed: 1,000ms
- September average speed: 1,013ms
- October average speed: 1,037ms
- November average speed: 1,023ms
- December average speed: 988ms
2. Extra Fee for ‘True’ Backups
HostGator advertises ‘instant backups’ one of their differentiating features on the website.
Trouble is, they’re referring to manual ones which are available by default in cPanel.
Want automated backups to simplify their life? It’ll set you back an extra $15.95 annually.
Here’s what they say about their ‘instant backups’ on their website:
“HostGator’s automatic backup service runs once a week on a random day, and each run overwrites any previous backups. Only one week of backups are kept at a time. The terms of our backup policy vary depending on the type of hosting account.”
Shared servers are only backed up on accounts that are under 20 GB and 100,000 inodes, too.
The company also claims that they provide backups as a courtesy, so they aren’t guaranteed.
They recommend that customers seek third-party backup services to protect their important data.
3. Standard Pricing ‘Tricks’
Web hosting pricing looks great from afar, but far from good up close.
The first trick in the book is to only offer their lowest rates for the longest terms – meaning you’ll have to sign up for at least three years if you want the great ‘promotion pricing’ reflected on their website. Otherwise, if you want a true monthly option or even a twelve-month plan, your monthly rate will jump over 50-150%.
Speaking of ‘promotion pricing’, the second trick in the book is to offer this low advertised rate for your initial term ONLY. That means once your plan does expire and it’s time to renew, the rates will jump back up to their ‘normal’ pricing (which again, could be more than double the original price).
In that light, HostGator doesn’t look like such a good deal after all.
HostGator Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts
Here’s a quick overview of the various plans offered by HostGator:
Shared Hosting: They have three shared hosting plans:
- Hatchling plan: This plan starts at $3.95 per month. It supports 1 domain name, unlimited disk space and storage and unlimited subdomains.
- Baby plan: This plan starts at $5.95 per month. It supports unlimited storage, bandwidth and domain names.
- Business plan: This plan starts at $5.95 per month. It supports unlimited storage, bandwidth and domain names. It comes with a free dedicated IP, SSL and toll-free number.
- Ease of Signup: Easy signup process.
- Payment Methods: Credit Card, PayPal.
- Hidden Fees and Clauses: You cannot use more than 25 percent of their system resources for longer than 90 seconds at a time. Shared and reseller hosting accounts cannot have more than 250,000 inodes. Accounts with over 100,000 inodes are automatically removed from their backup system.
- Upsells: Lots of upsells.
- Account Activation: It can take up to 24 – 48 hours for accounts to be fully activated.
- Control Panel and Dashboard Experience: cPanel.
- Installation of Apps and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, etc.): They make it easy to install popular apps and CMSs in a few steps using QuickInstall.
HostGator also claims that you’ll get the following features for free with each shared hosting plan:
- Free HostGator Website Builder that includes over 100 Mobile-Friendly Templates and an Image Library
- Free Website Transfer, Domain Transfer, MYSQL Transfer, and Script Transfer
- You can instantly install 52 Free scripts on your account with a few clicks
- $100 Google Adwords Offer (If you already have an AdWords account, this offer does not apply. You can only use this credit on new Google AdWords accounts. Read more details here.)
- $100 Bing Ads Credit (This offer is only valid for HostGator users who open a new Bing Ads account. Read more details here.)
Do we recommend HostGator Shared?
HostGator is one of the biggest, household web hosting names for a reason. But their regular, shared hosting option is just great for someone who is starting out – it’s not for people who are truly serious about their website.
While HostGator Shared hosting average uptime is good – 99.99%, their speed isn’t.
They’re an average host. And there are far better options for your money.
Having said, that they seemed to have improved their services drastically since May/June 2016.
Need a better alternative for HostGator shared? Take a look at our review on their WordPress Cloud hosting.
What’s good about HostGator?
- Very good uptime (99.99%)
- Good customer support
- 45-day money back guarantee
- Free migration and enhanced security features
- Extremely user-friendly for beginners
What’s bad about HostGator?
- Load speeds only averaged 846 ms (this isn’t fast enough)
- Hidden fee when it comes to backups
- Pricing gimmicks
Have you used HostGator? If so, please leave your HostGator review below. Good or bad, doesn’t matter as long as it’s honest and useful.