HostGator Review: An Honest Look at HG in 2019Blue host VS Host Gator

When it comes to web hosting, HostGator is considered one of the most well-known providers.

However, like any other company, this one has conflicting reviews about it as well, which is normal since different customers have different needs and expectations.

This review will be based on my own personal experience with HostGator, and I will also give you a quick summary of reviews I read online written by other customers.

But before we get to what their services and hosting plans are all about let’s get a quick overview of this company’s history and background.

Company Background

HostGator remains privately owned to these days. Brent Oxley is the founder of the company, during his university days in 2002, and stays as the CEO. The company today hosts over 8 million domains with over 400,000 customers across 200 countries.

It started in Florida, but the quick expansion has necessitated a move to Texas in 2007. The base is in Houston with an office in Austin.

HG also has an Indian subsidiary (you cam find it at http://hostgator.in). In addition, it has also set up a Brazilian office at http://www.hostgator.com.br.

Total headcount on the payroll is reported to be in the region of 200 but it is set to become 400 in 2 years time.

The Endurance International Group (EIG) paid $225 million for Hostgator in 2012. EIG is also the owner of Bluehost and HostMonster (here is my review of HostMonster). It is definitely a legitimate hosting business, although I personally don’t think all subsidiaries are good web hosts.

HG has an interesting mix of services on offer, but they really make their name by being ultra competitive in the budget shared hosting plans.

Three shared hosting services are on offer here – Hatchling, Baby and Business – in order of the comprehensiveness of the service options and support provision.

Other than those, the company also provide reseller plans, VPS hosting and dedicated servers, alongside with an affiliate program.

HostGator LocationBBB Rating

I did look at HG’s profile on the Better Business Bureau’s official website and found that HostGator has been a BBB Accredited Business since 5/1/2008, and enjoys an A+ rating (the highest possible).

As for customer complaints, there is a total of 128 complaints against the company, out of which 63 were actually about their products and services (i.e, hosting, domain registration etc).

Thankfully, though, it seems like all these issues have been solved. Whenever I see that, it makes me feel a bit better about a company knowing that crappy companies usually don’t care about their customers and their public image, so they won’t bother responding to every single complaint.

HostGator’s Plans and Pricing

HostGator offers a wide variety of website hosting packages starting from $3.96/mo. For their normal website hosting packages, the pricing is as follows:

1. Hatchling Plan – Starting at $3.96/mo

  • Single domain
  • Unlimited disk space
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Shared SSL certificate

2. Baby Plan – Starting at $6.36/mo

  • Unlimited domains
  • Unlimited disk space
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Shared SSL certificate

3. Business Plan – Starting at $10.36/mo

  • Unlimited domains
  • Unlimited disk space
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • FREE private SSL & IP
  • FREE Toll-Free Number

To cater for the diverse needs of the market, they also add in various reseller hosting, VPS hosting and dedicated servers, for customers who required more than a standard shared hosting plan.

For a full listing on individual package, please refer to their official website.

Also, keep in mind that these prices change since they do offers deals and promotional discounts from time to time, not to mention you can find plenty of usable coupons on the web that can bring your overall cost a bit down.

What About Reliability / Uptime?

HostGator operates their data center from 4 leased facilities, all owned by The Planet, in Texas. UPS power supply, fire detection and 24/7 monitoring by in-house technical staff make sure of the security and safety for their 12,000 on-site.

The company engages with 10 separate fibre providers and use hardware from Time Warner and AT&T.

The guaranteed uptime is 99.9% (but I can’t find any stats on their website). For more regular service status updates, customers can count on frequent RSS feeds.

Back ups are performed every week at the data center for all accounts bar dedicated servers. The company imposes a fee of $15 for every backup to be restored. If you can supply the backup file, then there is no levy involved.

For a company that hosts over 8 million domains, the company is fairly transparent about its staff, resources and services.

It also manages to attract high-profile partners, too: Cisco, AT&T, Dell are just some example of the marquee companies HG works with.

More importantly, the company has a strict policy that prevents it from overselling, so you will have to stick to the capacity agreed upon. There can be an exception in the case of a VPS or dedicated server, where you would have complete control on capacity, albeit at your own risk.

Support & Customer Service

Technical support is comprehensive at HostGator, which is remarkable considering its position as a low-cost shared hosting provider. 24/7 live chat support, an FAQ, email support and toll-free phone support (for US customers only) are among the support capability offered. The company never makes clear if the support staff are locally based or outsourced.

A portal is provided to ease support and billing. Customers can upgrade their account, participate in user forums, access the knowledge base and check out video tutorials on a host of technical issues that that can potentially stumble upon.

The portal requires a different login from the one used for Cpanel. There is also a built-in online form that facilitates transfer requests quickly.

Control Panel

For all Linux plans, HostGator would include Cpanel 11 without fail, and this comes with multiple choices of themes for the users. Cpanel represents the universal access point to all the features contained in the package, like webmail, one-click backups and DNS settings (by the way, here is a good read that will help you understand better what DNS is and does) for Google Apps.

For reseller accounts, both Cpanel and WHM are bundled in together. If your plan is on VPS or their Linux dedicated server, then Cpanel and/or WHM are offered as optional. For Windows server, the bundle includes Plesk 11.x.

Users on VPS plans would be offered Virtuozzo for service administration purpose.

HG provides individual billing capability; customers are able to organize payments and download invoices.

Hostgator website screenshotExtra Stuff

The Business shared plan covers a free toll-free number for US callers. Canadian customers are charged a fee for the call. Customers who cancel their hosting plans no longer entitle to this phone support.

Alternatively, you can get in touch with the company and make arrangement for this to become a paid service. To keep your status active, you would need to have one call minimum per month.

Some of the features offered by most of their packages include osCommerce, WordPress, Joomla, one-click installs, SiteBuilder, SiteStudio, Fantastico (a range of PHP scripts) and a host of capable stats packages.

If you go for their dedicated servers plan, you have the option to allocate individual SiteBuilder accounts and templates to your clients.

An additional incentive for shared hosting services users is a $100 Adwords credit. For reseller accounts, they are given a free upgrade to an eNom domain reseller account.

The additional manual set-up is required, but the process itself is straightforward and quick and should not take you more than 2 minutes to complete.

Money Back Guarantee / Cancellation Policy

Whatever your plan (shared, reseller or VPS), if you cancel it within the 45-days timeframe, you will get a full refund. Please note that this does not apply to the dedicated servers. Additional cost items like admin and installation fees, and domain name purchased, are not to be refunded.

The company would entertain any cancellation request if it is sent through a special online form. Normally it takes no more than 2 days for the cancellation to come into effect.

If you are thinking of getting a refund, you will have to request it through the cancellation email sent out by the company – so the refund cannot be taken for granted. Your refund can be credited to a credit card or PayPal account.

HostGator Reviews by Other Customers

As always, I didn’t want to just rely on my own experience when it came to reviewing HG, so I did a little digging to see what other people had to say about the company and the services they offer.

Of course, sorting through actual web hosting reviews written by real customers and those of affiliate or people hired by the company (yes, lots of companies pay people to go around and leave positive reviews about them) wasn’t easy, nonetheless, I managed to get through.

After reading over a 100 or so reviews on sites like Cnet, I came out with a few points that the majority of reviews had in common. Here they are:

Pros

  • Established company with over a decade in business.
  • A prorated refund on cancellation. As reasonable as this policy is, it is unfortunately not a standard protocol in the industry.
  • If any plan you sign up with them turns out to be disappointing, you are able to cancel the contract and get your full refund provided this is done inside the first 45-day timeframe.
  • A good array of service packages that caters for any website.
  • The inclusion of cPanel; which is acknowledged as an easy to navigate control panel using graphical interface. Additionally, there are several useful tools that ease hosting and managing your website.
  • Competent support staff. Being Austin and Houston-based, all are native English speakers.
  • Phone support would typically put you on hold for about 6 minutes, but after the call is through, your call would be handeld with such admirable professionalism.
  • Very high uptime. For 6 straight months, I put 3 different HG servers under close scrutiny and the result is a very impressive combined downtime of just one hour. I figure other shared hosting companies can boast of such impeccable record.

Cons

  • They are not cheap.
  • No free domain – Other hosting companies may offer free domain name, but this one doesn’t. Although, individual domain names can be had for no more than $10, which is not exactly a show stopper for me.
  • The entry-level shared package really leaves much to be desired and you are entitled to just one domain.
  • It CMS script software does not seem to move with the industry trend. At a time when everyone is converging on Softaculous, HostGator still stubbornly stick to QuickInstall. This may not matter much, after all, you still get the same basics (i.e. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal) but I personally would prefer Softaculous.
  • HG was once excellence bar none in the area of customer support. But I noticed a disturbing trend from 2013; it now takes much longer to get on the chat and expect a longer response time on your ticket submitted. Overall, the customer service is still marginally good compared to the competition, but it no longer lives up to the standard where it used to occupy.

Conclusion

HostGator is one excellent story of rag to riches; a startup with 3 servers that has gone on to become the marketing leading player in its field.

This web host has been fortunate to steer clear of many teething problems that are so commonly associated with companies embarking on aggressive growth path: it is still fast, reliable and stable today.

There is no complain about support, and you may never require support with their well-designed control panel and an array of tools (included in even the basic plans) to ease the creation and customization of your website.

Although it’s not the perfect web hosting company (is there any?), it will help you get your site up and running quickly, and more importantly, it will allow you to maintain your site and keep it live without much headache and hassle.

The bottom line of this review is that I do recommend HostGator if you are looking for reliable company.

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