Bluehost and HostGator are two of the largest hosting brand in the world.
Funny enough, they are both owned by the same company – Endurance International (EIG).
Since they are so big, they have more money to invest in their servers (uptime and speed), support, features and so on.
HostGator and Bluehost both offer all kinds of services, from simple domain names, to shared hosting (what we’ll be reviewing here), cloud hosting, virtual private servers (VPS) and even dedicated servers.
A while back, we opened up our wallets, paying for hosting plans at both BlueHost and HostGator. We created simple “test” websites for bluehost – hostingfacts-bluerock-bluehost.com and hostgator – hostingfacts-hg.com.
By using a third-party tool like Pingdom to measure performance between Bluehost shared and HostGator shared we managed to gather some important data, such as speed and uptime.
So Bluehost vs HostGator – which one is actually better? Let’s find out…
1. Which One is More Reliable (Uptime)? Bluehost…
This comparison is based on 10 months worth of data.
However, the truth is that I’ve been monitoring them for over three years now.
Bluehost and HostGator didn’t always have glowing uptime performance.
But around two years ago, their tech infrastructure had a major overhaul. And the results since have been like a night and day difference.
For longer than a year, Bluehost has somehow been able to deliver borderline flawless uptime of over 99.99%. We’ve only seen a few outages, and those never lasted longer than a few moments.
We’ve reviewed over 30+ hosting companies to date, which have come out with an industry average benchmark of 99.94%. That’s pretty good, but Bluehost’s performance has blown it out of the water.
Check out the month-to-month breakdown for yourself:
Bluehost average uptime over the period of 10 months is <99.99% with only 9 minutes of downtime and 5 outages.
- December 2017 average uptime: 100%
- January 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- February 2018 average uptime: 100%
- March 2018 average uptime: 100%
- April 2018 average uptime: 100%
- May 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- June 2018 average uptime: 100%
- July 2018 average uptime: 100%
- August 2018 average uptime: 100%
- September 2018 average uptime: 100%
HostGator Shared Uptime
Bluehost average uptime over the period of 10 months is <99.97% with 2 hours of downtime and 27 outages.
- December 2017 average uptime: 99.94%
- January 2018 average uptime: 99.98%
- February 2018 average uptime: 100%
- March 2018 average uptime: 99.95%
- April 2018 average uptime: 99.96%
- May 2018 average uptime: 100%
- June 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- July 2018 average uptime: 99.99%
- August 2018 average uptime: 100%
- September 2018 average uptime: 99.95%
2. Which One is Faster? Bluehost…
Page speed is second only to uptime.
(After all, it’s tough to complain about slow loading times if your site is completely offline.)
But sluggish page speed can affect you in all sorts of ways, from driving visitors away from your site, to completely sabotaging sales.
Two years ago, if you’d asked me about the page speed for both Bluehost and HostGator, you would have gotten a confused look. Or a profane F-word.
Reason being: It wasn’t great. Like, really bad actually. Bottom-of-the-rankings bad.
However, once again, they’ve blown us away since their overhaul.
Bluehost Shared Average Load Time:
Bluehost, for instance, has consistently been the fifth fastest host we’ve reviewed (with an average page speed of 424ms). This new benchmark is literally 300% faster since the summer of 2017.
That is head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.
- December 2017 average speed: 399ms
- January 2018 average speed: 415ms
- February 2018 average speed: 463ms
- March 2018 average speed: 429ms
- April 2018 average speed: 409ms
- May 2018 average speed: 406ms
- June 2018 average speed: 467ms
- July 2018 average speed: 418ms
- August 2018 average speed: 414ms
- September 2018 average speed: 421ms
HostGator Shared Average Load Time:
HostGator’s page speeds have gotten better. But in my opinion, they’re still not quite good enough.
Over the last ten months, they’ve only been able to muster an average of 984ms. The page speed race is barely a competition in this case, because this HostGator average is nearly twice Bluehost’s score.
- December 2017 average speed: 988ms
- January 2018 average speed: 1,002ms
- February 2018 average speed: 1,019ms
- March 2018 average speed: 992ms
- April 2018 average speed: 897ms
- May 2018 average speed: 994ms
- June 2018 average speed: 969ms
- July 2018 average speed: 933ms
- August 2018 average speed: 1,027ms
- September 2018 average speed: 1,014ms
3. Which One Has Cheaper Long-Term Plan? Both
Both Bluehost and HostGator have similar plans and pricing tiers.
But let’s begin with Bluehost, first.
- Basic: The lowest shared hosting option is only $2.75 per month with our exclusive code. That rock-bottom, cheap price includes all you need for a single website, including 50 GB SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, free SSL certificate, a domain (gratis), and even five email accounts. This is hands down the best price out there.
- Plus: The second shared tier will set you back $5.45 a month. But for double the intro price, you can host unlimited websites! Storage and bandwidth are both unmetered. A free SSL certificate is thrown in. And you get almost unlimited everything, from parked domains to sub domains and email addresses.
- Choice Plus: The biggest shared hosting option actually costs the same as the Plus plan with our code — $5.45 per month. You get everything included in the Plus plan, with a few extra perks, like spam help, domain privacy, and site backups.
(Bluehost also has an assortment of VPS and dedicated servers to buy if you need something with a little more horsepower.)
There is a catch to these low prices, however.
You’re going to have to sign up for a full three-year term to take advantage. This is both good and bad news, though.
The bad news is that you better be sure you like their service before prepaying for three years. Thankfully, they provide a 30-day money-back guarantee, with some restrictions. Add-on services, like domain names, aren’t included. And they’ll deduct $15.99 for the cost of said domain name.
The good news is that you’re locking in this discounted rate.
See, most other hosting companies do the same industry-wide pricing tricks. They reel you in with incredibly low prices for the first year, only to jack the rates on you (sometimes two or three times) in subsequent years.
But in this case, prepaying actually works in your favor.
You can pay for Bluehost with all major debit or credit cards, plus PayPal.
Unfortunately, this pricing does not include free site migrations. So you’ll have to pay extra if transferring from another hosting provider.
Now, let’s turn our attention to HostGator.
Here’s how their plans and pricing breakdown:
- Hatchling: The lowest HostGator plans starts out at $2.75/month, which includes one website, domain, unmetered bandwidth, a free site migration, and free SSL certificate.
- Baby: The second tier includes everything you’d need for multiple websites, including unlimited disk space and a free SSL certificate. This one starts at $3.95/month.
- Business: The big-daddy plan will only set you back $5.95/month, but it will give you unlimited domains, bandwidth, plus an upgraded SSL certificate, dedicated IP, and SEO tools.
HostGator pricing is similar to Bluehost, where you’ll pay for a three-year term to take advantage of those low rates.
Their money-back guarantee is two weeks longer than Bluehosts at 45 days, but there are quite a few exceptions.
Basically, refunds only apply to shared or VPS hosting. No dedicated servers, or admin fees. And you have to pay through debit, credit, PayPal, or cash (yes, cash) to be eligible. Money orders, checks, and bank transfers won’t get refunds.
Unfortunately, those renewal price hikes are in full effect with HostGator.
After your initial plan expires, HostGator will raise rates (although, the full amount depends on the plan you end up going with).
4. Support Experience Is Very Similar
Like their uptime and page speed performance, Bluehost has also addressed customer response times in recent months.
They’re often lightening quick on live chat sessions now. Although, I found that their support reps were sometimes out of their depth when tested with more technical questions.
Interestingly, you can hop over to their YouTube channel to probably solve most of the common issues you’d run into.
HostGator’s customer support has also been very good as of late. It took a little while to get connected with a live chat rep (~16 minutes), but once I did, they seemed very friendly and knew what they were talking about.
A positive experience in both cases! You can no longer go wrong with these hosting giants.
6. Which One Is More “Feature Rich”? HostGator…
Let’s not beat around the bush.
Bluehost and HostGator have some deep pockets these days.
But they’ve been splashing that cash back on their customers by throwing in all kinds of nice little perks with very little limitations.
For example, Bluehost has a whole slew of spam-focused tools, including SpamAssassin, Spam Experts, and Spam Hammer, to help you prevent web spam from infecting your site. (Not to mention, free SSL certificates.)
Bluehost will even work well with CloudFlare to provide extra attention against hacks and hotlinks. They’ll even allow you to password-protect directories and add two-factor authentication to your logins.
They’re also ecommerce-friendly. You can head over to the MOJO Marketplace to setup a fully-fledged online store.
You can use Bluehost’s one-click WordPress installation, or advanced users will be happy to get their hands on cPanel access.
My biggest Bluehost gripe is the migration fee of $149.99(!).
Almost all web hosts throw this in for free — including HostGator.
I just had another web host do a site migration for me, and it took… ~20 minutes tops. We were able to do it instantly on live chat even.
So if you’re moving an existing site, keep this in mind. Or, take a closer look at HostGator (you just have to signup with 30 days after purchasing a plan). They’ll move everything from the domain, to the entire website, and even MYSQL databases.
HostGator also throws in a ton of extras, including similar malware protection, SSL certificates, and even daily backups!
HostGator also has the added bonus of a built-in website builder, complete with both e-commerce functionality and mobile-responsive design templates.
And you can get up to $200 in free advertising credits for new users ($100 to each Google AdWords and Bing).
All of these ‘extras’ make HostGator a great choice for both types of people. Beginners starting from scratch will like these ad credits and drag-and-drop website builder, while customers with existing websites will like the free site, domain, and database transfers.
It’s a solid option for both.
Conclusion: Bluehost Wins!
Bluehost and HostGator share a lot of similarities.
They’re both excellent options for both newbies and power users trying to decide where to host their online empire.
So, how should you choose?
If pressed, I’d give the slight edge to Bluehost. Here’s why:
- Near-flawless uptime
- Top five in page speed
- Best-in-class pricing
- Fast, friendly support
- And tons of security extras.
You could make the case for HostGator in a number of areas. Especially in the ‘extra’ features, like the free site migrations, backups, and website builder.
But overall, Bluehost dominates in the ‘top-three’ of uptime, speed, and price. Nearly besting each position out of over 30+ hosting companies we’ve reviewed to date.