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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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. 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|
Renews at $6.95/mo
Renews at $9.95/mo
Renews at $14.95/mo
|Other Features||–||•Unlimited Addon Domains||• Dedicated IP
• Free Positive SSL Upgrade
• Free SEO Tools
- 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.
Very Good Uptime | Easy to Use for Beginners | 24/7 Customer Support
Read Bluehost review
Extremely Affordable | Top 3 Load Time | Multilingual Support
Read Hostinger review
Best Month-to-Month Plan | 97-Day Refund Period | Unlimited Bandwidth
Read DreamHost review
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.