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Brad Smith

Hosting Reviewer

HostGator might be one of the biggest, oldest web hosting companies in the industry, but they’re still posting a solid average uptime of 99.93% over the past 12 months.

HostGator Shared review

Their basic shared hosting plans come with unlimited storage, bandwidth, free domain (for the first year), and a free SSL certificate. They also have great customer service, who connected through a live chat instantly and answered each question within a few seconds.

Unfortunately, many extra services, like backups and security, will be tacked on as additional fees. Plus, the renewal rates rise aggressively after your first term expires.

Here’s a complete look at our hands-on test, using third-party data from Pingdom to shed light on their performance.

General Info & Hosting Overview


Our Rating:

Our Verdict: 4.0

SPEED: 734 ms (April 2020 to March 2021)
UPTIME: 99.93% (April 2020 to March 2021)
SUPPORT: 24/7 Live Chat
APPS: Over 75 Apps Supported
FEATURES: Unmetered Bandwidth and Storage, Single Email Account, Free Domain 1st Year, SSL Certificate, 99.9% Uptime Guarantee
HOSTING PLANS: Shared, Cloud, WordPress, VPS, and Dedicated Servers
SITE TRANSFER: Single Free Site Transfer
PRICING: Starting at $2.75/mo (renews at $6.95/mo)

Pros of Using HostGator Shared


HostGator’s uptime performance used to be an issue in years past. But not anymore, based on our 12 months’ worth of tracking.

On top of that, their customer service was fast and friendly. They’ll help move your site over to their service for free. And beginners will like a lot of the simple, intuitive options directed their way.

Here’s a quick summary:

1. Stable Uptime of 99.93%

HostGator has posted an average of 99.93% uptime with a bit more than six hours of downtime over the last 12 months. That’s not the best uptime we’ve seen but also not the worst.

The good part is that they have an uptime guarantee which says that if they drop below 99.90%, you can receive one month of credit on your account.

Obviously, any planned maintenance or impossible-to-predict hacks aren’t factored into this guarantee. You will, however, have to reach out and ask for the credit by submitting a support ticket to their billing department within 30 days.

We’ve started to see a few other hosts pop up with uptime guarantees recently, and it means all customers win as a result. Competitors coming out and doing this helps raise the bar for the entire industry. It forces everyone else in the market to either match their guarantee and raise the standard level of service or risk falling behind.

HostGator last 12 month speed and uptime data
HostGator average uptime | See stats

Last 12-month average uptime:

  • March 2021: 99.95%
  • February 2021: 99.99%
  • January 2021: 99.97%
  • December 2020: 100%
  • November 2020: 99.99%
  • October 2020: 99.99%
  • September 2020: 99.50%
  • August 2020: 99.99%
  • July 2020: 99.98%
  • June 2020: 99.99%
  • May 2020: 99.96%
  • April 2020: 99.78%

2. Decent Load Time 734 ms

HostGator’s servers had no issues keeping our site up and live over the past year.

However what about their server speed?

HostGator delivered an average page loading time of 734 ms over the last 12 months.

HostGator last 12 months average speed
HostGator average speed | See stats

This is definitely not the fastest speed we’ve seen but it’s decent enough to get a spot in our pros section. Moreover, HostGator has improved its page loading times quite a lot. Not a very long time ago, it took more than a second to load our site.

Why is it important to have a fast page loading time?

Slow page loading times have been shown to impact your visitor’s experience directly. And that has a trickle-down effect to hitting your bottom line, too.

There are a few things you can do to speed up your site without switching hosts. But if your host is consistently slow, it means you’ll constantly be fighting a losing battle.

3. Good Support

Similar to other known providers like SiteGround and Dreamhost, HostGator provides a knowledge base, phone, email, and live chat support.

We tested out their live chat option.

We asked a simple question about their shared hosting plans and got connected to a customer rep within two minutes. The replies were fast and knowledgeable.

HostGator shared live chat

Overall it was a good customer support experience.

4. 45-Day Money-Back Guarantee

HostGator is so confident in their service that they extend the industry-average 30-day refund policy an extra two weeks or so to 45 days.

That means you can use them for over a full month and still get your purchase price back if any issues pop up.

This 45-day money-back guarantee applies to all shared, reseller, and VPS hosting packages.

The only catch is that this does not apply to HostGator’s dedicated servers, administrative fees, install fees for custom software. After combing through many Terms of Service documents by now, we’ve found that these caveats are fairly common in the hosting industry.

So, for example, if your plan included a free domain name, they’ll deduct the standard fee of $15.00 for the domain from the refund amount.

There are a few other points to make. HostGator’s Terms give them up to 90 days to actually issue a refund. No refunds will be given on checks, money orders, Western Union payments, or bank wire transfers, either.

Refunds are only available for new plans or accounts. So if you previously signed up for one, and are canceling a renewal or second attempt, you won’t get anything in return.

And last but not least, foreign currency refunds are processed based on the U.S. Dollar exchange rates.

5. Site Security Features Available

HostGator’s shared hosting plans are fairly bare-bones. You’re getting enough for one site, but not a whole lot of extras on top of it.

Fortunately, they do offer a few extra security features like the ability to add SiteLock monitoring to your site. This service will run daily, looking out for any potential site breaches or hacks and let you know instantly when they find it.

They also offer Spam Assassin on their email plans to help prevent spam from hitting your inbox in the first place.

The only downside is that SiteLock will cost you a little extra. We’ll expand on this below in the Cons, but the sticker price is $1.99/mo, billed annually at $23.88.

6. Free Site & cPanel Migrations

If this isn’t your first site, and you’re trying to move an existing one over, HostGator’s got your back.

You’ll have 30 days after sign-up to get in touch and have them help move any site files, databases, scripts, and even a domain name over for you.

This includes a full cPanel transfer. So if you happened to have multiple site installs (like subdomains for one large site), you’re covered.

All of HostGator’s shared hosting plans come with a single site (or cPanel) migration included. Different plans, like resellers, for instance, will get access to more (up to 30).

A single free site migration isn’t a lot compared to some hosts. But it’s still better than nothing.

7. Very User-Friendly for Beginners

HostGator is tailor-made for beginner bloggers or webmasters.

Their site is full of tutorials, walkthroughs, and more to help you navigate the murky world of DNS and data centers.

hostgator shared knowledge base
They also have extra features for beginners who are looking to set up a site without the hassle of hiring other people to design, build, and manage everything.

Their website builder tool, Gator by HostGator, is one of the better ones we’ve reviewed. It comes with free hosting and a domain name, so you just need to purchase a single account for all of the necessities.

The customizable templates are all pretty modern, to begin with, and you can easily customize how they look by dragging and dropping each feature. You’ll also get site analytics and a free SSL certificate to help safeguard your visitors’ personal data (like their physical location).

Gator by HostGator even comes with an eCommerce plan, so you can set up a fully-functioning online store with inventory and more, all without worrying about payment gateways, plugins, or any other messy technology. It just works.

Cons of Using HostGator Shared


HostGator’s consistently strong uptime was, frankly, surprising (in a good way). We’re also fans of their uptime guarantee.

Beyond that, their beginner-friendly approach and helpful customer service mean that there’s a lot to like about their service.

Unfortunately, we also ran into a few issues along the way while testing them out. Here are the biggest problems we found:

1. Lots of Extra Fees for ‘True’ Backups, Gmail, and Malware

HostGator’s shared hosting plans are cheap, with introductory pricing starting at only $2.75/month (for 36 months).

Their cheapest plan (“Hatchling”) comes with a single domain name, one-click installations of popular apps like WordPress, Joomla, and more, unmetered bandwidth, unlimited storage, and a free SSL certificate. Basically, all of the core features you need for a complete website.

HostGator shared additional services

However, that’s about all they provide in their default plans. All of the ‘extra’ stuff, like site backups, Gmail access, SiteLock Monitoring, and SEO tools will all cost you extra when it’s time to checkout.

It’s disappointing because many of these features are worded carefully on the site, like “available,” to make you think they’re included. Browse the other top hosts we’ve reviewed and you’ll see that many of them, in fact, do throw these into their basic pricing.

It’s only when you get to the very end of the process, when you go to enter your billing information, that you’ll realize all of these extra features will cost you, well, extra.

Gmail is the standard $5/month or $60/year per user, which is their normal pricing. But then SiteLock will cost you $19.99/year, CodeGuard (to backup your sites) will cost you $23.95/year, and they don’t even keep many previous versions of your site on file in case you run into any problems.

So while the initial plan seems inexpensive at first, it starts to become pretty pricey when all is said and done.

2. Industry-Standard Pricing ‘Tricks’

In addition to extra fees, HostGator pulls two pricing tricks that are pretty standard in the industry.

The first is advertising a low rate like $2.75/month, only for you to realize that it requires you to prepay for a full three years to actually get it. Otherwise, you’re looking at $10.95/month for an actual single month’s worth of service.HostGator Shared Price Breaks for Long Term Plans That’s just the beginning, though. Because on top of this, HostGator’s renewal pricing jumps dramatically after your initial plan expires.

So let’s say you go ahead and lock-in that low rate for three years. You’ll be getting a pretty good deal, no doubt.

The trouble starts when it’s time to renew your plan in three years. At that point, your monthly rate for the same plan jumps to $6.95/month (or $250.20 total) — more than double what you just paid for the same exact service.

Essentially, they’re preying on the fact that after a few years, the likelihood of you wanting to switch services is pretty low. So you’re locked in for a while (like a cable company or gym membership).

Lots of other hosts we’ve reviewed pull this same stunt. However, that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

HostGator Pricing, Hosting Plans & Quick Facts

Shared Hosting: HostGator has three shared hosting plan option to choose from:


Hatchling Plan Baby Plan Business Plan
Pricing $2.75/month
Renews at $6.95/mo
$3.50/month
Renews at $9.95/mo
$5.25/month
Renews at $14.95/mo
Websites 1 Unlimited Unlimited
Bandwidth Unmetered Unmetered Unmetered
Storage Unmetered Unmetered Unmetered
Email Accounts Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Other Features •Unlimited Addon Domains • Dedicated IP
• Free Positive SSL Upgrade
• Free SEO Tools

Quick Facts

  • Domain: Yes. For the first year.
  • Ease of Signup: Easy signup process.
  • Payment Methods: Credit Card, PayPal.
  • Money-Back: 45-day money-back guarantee.
  • Hidden Fees and Clauses: Introductory pricing is only available for long-term plan purchases. Renewal rates will also more than double. Extra services, like backups and malware monitoring, are all extra fees, too.
  • Upsells: Lots of upsells.
  • Account Activation: It can take up to 24 – 48 hours to activate your account.
  • 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.

Do We Recommend HostGator Shared?

Yes, we do. But there are better options out there to choose from.

HostGator’s shared hosting does offer a lot of benefits. The uptime has been solid together with improved speed. The customer service was good. And the plethora of beginner-friendly options makes it user-friendly.

However, the extra pricing hikes make it too expensive to get our 100% recommendation.

Best alternatives for HostGator:

Further reading: The 10 Best Web Hosting Services (In 2021)


Have you used HostGator before? Please consider leaving a review below — good or bad — doesn’t really matter as long it’s helpful to our visitors.

238 user reviews for HostGator

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    Maja

    5  — March 30, 2021

    Great hosting choice

    For a startup, as my business is, HostGator is a really great choice for hosting – affordable, easy and intuitive. I only wish webmail is more user-friendly. I had a small request for support so far and it was handled very quickly and efficiently. Thank you!

    Anthony

    5  — March 29, 2021

    Unbelievably easy

    I was with Verio for 20 years. I expanded my emails offering to my users, and for the pleasure of 5 email accounts they took 30 USD a month upon renewal of their 30USD a year offer! I realised a year on…. 360 bucks later.

    I then decided time to switch. Hostgator was recommended on a number of websites. So I clicked buy. Hostgator was the most painless transfer of my users, my website, billing etc. Their pricing and service are totally transparent. For a novice user like me it’s a great service. I cannot comment for pro’s but for small business HostGator is the way to go.

    Karen

    5  — March 28, 2021

    Newbie Hurdles

    I purchased Hostgator as my hosting platform because of a YouTube video I watched about creating your own website. I had no knowledge at all about how to even build my own website at this point. I then used wordpress with Elementor. I had so many problems along the way, I just wanted to start from scratch. Then I got in touch with Hostgator and the customer service was so helpful. She step-by-step talked me through the whole process, and I learned a thing or two along the way. She really spent a lot of time with me on the phone. I’m still struggling with creating my own website, but I haven’t finished learning all I need to know yet about the plugins I need, but I will. Thank you.

    L. L

    5  — March 26, 2021

    So far so good!

    I chose HostGator because of top reviews. Your company has been very accommodating. The price was right, and you provide great tech support. I purchased a new website for a future business and am currently developing it. While having designed several websites in the past, I still have much to learn. Looking forward to building relationships!

    Hillary M

    2  — March 26, 2021

    “24/7 support!” What support?

    It’s been 4 days and they still haven’t fixed an issue that is prohibiting me from launching a website for a client. I’ve had to message them every day to ask what is going on and they still haven’t been able to give me a straight answer. They just keep saying that I need SiteLock to launch and they are looking into why it’s not working. Then after my third time asking for an update, I find out they emailed my client yesterday afternoon with an update but can’t tell me what the update is because they can’t tell me information in an email if I am not the recipient (they tell me this after the last rep said they would take my email so they could update me directly). My client gets back to me today and forwards the email which says “there is a known issue with SiteLock impacting some of our customers” and that they have refunded my client and that we have to buy SiteLock directly which is way more expensive.

    I’m not an expert developer by any means but I was using BlueHost before and never had an issue launching a site. I just don’t understand what’s happening and I wish someone could help. My client is losing business because of this. Would give them one star except it’s at least a plus that someone replies to me even if they won’t help me.

    Chris

    4  — March 25, 2021

    So Far So Good

    I’m still fairly new at building a website, which has required a few online chats with HostGator customer service agents. Each time I’ve reached out for support, I’ve been pleased with the response time, attention and detailed instruction I’ve received.

    Riaan V

    5  — March 25, 2021

    All is well

    After a lengthy process (in which HostGator’s customer care helped me with great patience and professionalism), my site is up and running. I’ve had no issues from HostGator and I’m thankful for their support. I would suggest a video call with a technician instead of the chat. Thanks

    Mersudin

    5  — March 22, 2021

    Jako

    My site is active, and I am actively working on it. I want to say that I am very pleased with Hostgator. It is very affordable and easy to work with this hosting. I will absolutely continue to cooperate with you and hope for a long cooperation.
    I registered my website so quickly, and most importantly they immediately automatically offered to install the latest version of the WordPress. It is very easy to handle and therefore easy to use.

    Jack W

    1  — March 22, 2021

    HostGator Is Failing Me

    One of my web sites has been down twice in the last two months.10 days the first time and going on 14 days this time. I have been told by HostGator techs several different reasons why my site is down and no one seems to be able to fix it. It’s costing me revenue and damage to my sites Google rankings.

    Ellen I

    5  — March 22, 2021

    HostGator

    Using HostGater is easy to do. Click, Click, Click and you are ready to rock and roll! The service is extremely good and the support is fantastic. I am not a tech wiz so using HostGator has been worth the value of purchasing the package. There are many different packages out there for a hosting company but HostGator was my best choice.

    Deborah P

    5  — March 21, 2021

    website

    So far everything is good, I still don’t know how to use some of the options, but am working on that.
    It is more complicated than our previous web hosting site and I do wish it was a bit easier, but we have waded through it enough to get our information out there.

    Victor C

    3  — March 21, 2021

    Very slow

    My site is up but is very very slow to load.. What I have is a simple template and it takes almost 3-6 seconds to load, regardless of my MAC, iPhone, or any other device.

    Another thing is that when you offer “Unlimited domains” I only refer to SUBDOMAIN.. It’s very confusing on your form when we are signing up.. it should be more clear to avoid unnecessary costs.

    The customer service has been good.

    Eric C

    4  — March 20, 2021

    Good experience

    Bumped into an issue and I called the support number, easy fix. The software is easy to follow. I started a new business, and didn’t know how to build a site. Made big progress on my site with all the easy plugins software that is out there. Recommend it to any one starting out.

    Mallorie

    5  — March 13, 2021

    Fixed the problem

    My billing was hitting my bank account several times in full but a representative was able to assist and fix the issue. He provided good customer service and support. Not all companies will pay such close attention to fixing a problem that occurs on an account. I appreciate the effort to resolve the issue and to address my concerns and frustrations. Thank you.


    Response received from Erinn, HostGator (Responded March 22, 2021):

    Hi Mallorie,

    We’re so glad that our support teams were able to resolve the issue quickly and painlessly. Our apologies that it happened in the first place!

    Erinn
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Mehretab

    4  — March 10, 2021

    So far I am enjoying it!

    I am happy I chose HostGator hosting for my business. I have been hosting my content in HostGator since last year and so far I am enjoying it. The support they provide is really good and most importantly timely. I can not ask more from a hosting provider.


    Response received from Erinn, HostGator (Responded March 22, 2021):

    Hi Mehretab,

    We’re so glad to have you as part of the HostGator family! Thank you for the great review.

    Erinn
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    John F

    5  — March 10, 2021

    Hosting and tutorials

    HostGator is super. Great customer service to direct me to tutorials for web design and. Wait for it….. answers the phone very quickly to speak to an English speaking person
    Can’t praise them enough, got issues solved quickly and I’m up and building my sites again.


    Response received from Erinn, HostGator (Responded March 22, 2021):

    Hi John,

    Yea! We’re so happy that you’re happy. Thanks for the great review. We’ve passed your kudos on to our support teams.

    Erinn
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Loveymae K

    5  — March 9, 2021

    Satisfied with HostGator

    My site is live and I am satisfied with HostGator services. I have no complaints and will recommend HostGator to my network. I am working on adding more content to my website as I create them. I will definitely contact HostGator support with any questions that may come up. Thank you very much for this opportunity to share my experience with your company.


    Response received from Erinn, HostGator (Responded March 22, 2021):

    Hi Loveymae,

    Thanks so much for the great review. We’re so happy that you’re happy!

    Erinn
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Taje

    5  — March 8, 2021

    Best outcome

    With the help of the team at Hostgator, I was able to set up and migrate my hosted site from another source. Your tech support was very helpful in providing the details required to facilitate a smooth migration. I am very pleased with the way things were done. I was most surprised how responsive the team was to completing the task.

    Thank you very much for making the process a smooth one.


    Response received from Erinn, HostGator (Responded March 22, 2021):

    Hi Taje,

    Our support teams are amazing, right? Thanks so much for the great review.

    Erinn
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Ashraful A

    4  — March 7, 2021

    Good Service

    We have been with Hostgator for the last 4 years and have limited issues with hosting. Any problem has been solved immediately through live chat support. We are satisfied with their service adn renewed for another 4 years.

    Thank you Hostgator Team. Keep up the good work.


    Response received from Erinn, HostGator (Responded March 22, 2021):

    Hello Ashraful,

    Thanks so much for the kind review. We’re so pleased to hear things are going well for you.

    Erinn
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Patricia

    5  — March 4, 2021

    perfect!!

    just would be better if makes easy the process for take a Security Certificate, Any Way, all the rest is absolutely brilliant, mas website is online and I have started my business. It Is simple for the manager , and we have the possibility of having the page online on the same day, so quickly. Thanks.


    Response received from Erinn, HostGator (Responded March 22, 2021):

    Hi Patricia,

    We’re so pleased to hear things are going well for you. Thanks for the great review!

    Erinn
    Customer Advocate at HostGator