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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.

255 user reviews for HostGator

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    Ismail

    5  — April 9, 2021

    User friendly but?

    I started using HostGator two month ago, and adapted myself to it, but experienced that loading is very slow especially where the internet in some countries, not the same, which increases more struggle.

    I would like to improve the slow part and we are good to go. Nevertheless, all so far so good!

    Sarah

    5  — April 7, 2021

    Good service

    I am developing web apps with the CodeIgniter framework for my clients. Hostgator’s services are really good. I am working with my main domain, developing a great solution.
    And they offer very useful support. Always solving problems with the chat center.

    Danut I

    4  — April 7, 2021

    As expected

    The hosting is worth the money. If you choose a cheap service then you will get cheap quality. The server response time is very slow and this was expected. If I pay more I will have a faster server. I am fine with what I have now. Hostgator offers many things for a low price but there is always a catch: speed is slow, after expiration of the cheap package you need to buy a more expensive one, and so on.

    Tammy

    4  — April 6, 2021

    HostGator Makes is Easier

    I have used HostGator several times now. From my first site to my latest and everything they are there to answer my questions. Naturally, my sites have gotten more intricate the more I learn so the new questions keep coming. I am so happy to continue using them for all my work.

    Robert J

    5  — April 5, 2021

    Designer Recommended

    I have a web designer that is still working on the final design with me.She recommended HostGator and so far I am impressed. We resolved a couple simple issues quickly.I expect my experience to be more than satisfying and trust her opinion of your service.

    Alberto O

    4  — April 5, 2021

    Active site

    At the moment my site in Hostgator is working perfectly, without any inconvenience, thanks for your interest in knowing how everything is working for us at the moment. It is a relief to have your support and advice on problems that may possibly arise. Thank you.

    Kathy P

    5  — April 4, 2021

    Very pleased

    First time using HostGator for a site that I built for a friend.

    Very pleased with features and function. Had 1 minor support question and they were quick to respond and helped me fix my error. I’ve got 7 years of self-taught WordPress experience but not a pro.

    Aima's S

    3  — April 3, 2021

    Good but still observing

    Integration process was smooth and easy.Though, there were other issues that came about which took weeks to fix as it seems no one seems to know what the issue was.But, after countless calls and holds time for 2 weeks.It was a very small issue that was overlooked in terms of memory capability with the use of elementor. ​I am very thankful for a support agent who I originally spoke with to set up the account.After weeks of talking to multiple reps, I was able to get her on the phone and she resolved the issue.

    Paul

    5  — April 2, 2021

    Been a good experience

    After a bad experience with another host I found HostGator. Everything has been top notch, easy to figure out, and my site hasn’t been banned for being on a shady host as it was in my other experience (looking at you Hostinger).

    NANCY L

    1  — April 1, 2021

    Long support wait times

    When I called several times in the past & was on hold for long periods of time. I’m not a big fan of it.Plus experience down time in the past, but it seems to beRunning better now, guess the kinks had to be worked out.Depends on what you want I’m guessing.

    Tatieara Y

    5  — April 1, 2021

    Excellent

    The services are great! As a new business owner and developer, HostGator is the best. The price is very affordable and the online help is appreciated. I needed to make changes to the domain and they were fast and handled my issue effortlessly. HostGator is the best.

    Christopher B

    1  — March 31, 2021

    Terrible

    I’ve been with HostGator for many years. The recent purchase by a large multinational conglomerate corporation has led to substantial declines in service quality, tech support, and billing services. Specifically, my shared hosting server was obviously oversold, leading to out of disk space errors on my website and very small scripts not being able to complete due to overuse. When contacting tech support through chat or phone, one is directed overseas to agents that are following a flow chart and know little to nothing about the tech side of things – I know more about the problems with their servers than they do. Even when I point them to resources that identify the specific problem, they just say the problem is on my end even though my scripts have worked just fine for years. A recurrent problem for years is they provide shared email services, but do an awful job of clearing out spammers, meaning many emails sent get blocked due to other bad actors on the shared email server. I’ve been told they can’t do anything about this and, again, I must be doing something wrong.

    Additionally, agents refuse to escalate an issue to a supervisor and instead just drop the chat/call – I bet I’ve had at least 10 communications dropped in the middle of support messages and calls just in the past few months. Finally, HostGator is unable to provide a detailed receipt that shows your credit card getting billed, which may make it impossible for you to get reimbursed for the expense by an organization. Regarding this, I was told HostGator does not have a receipt system.Really, my local neighborhood coffee shop can give me a receipt showing my credit card charge, but a giant tech company doesn’t have this capability? Needless to say, when my current contract is up, I’ll be moving hosting providers to a company not managed by this horrible corporation!

    Do not use HostGator; it’s not what it used to be!

    simon

    3  — March 31, 2021

    More trouble than I expected

    I transferred my domain from Google Domains to Hostgator – my website is in Google Sites.
    Everything I read said that this should be straightforward. However, after the transfer my website did not link to the domain. Fortunately I work for a company with excellent IT help, but even they had to spend several hours getting the domain to point to the website. The online chat was always helpful but not always successful; I was disappointed that my website did not automatically link to the domain after the transfer.
    It is now working well, so overall a satisfactory conclusion.

    Lisa S

    5  — March 31, 2021

    Loyal and happy HostGator customer

    Long time HostGator customer here, I’m very happy with my recent hosting order and all the support responsiveness.Everyone is very helpful and knowledgeable.I’m attempting site migration myself, (I know just enough to be dangerous to myself LOL) the docs are super helpful. I would highly recommend the service to anyone!

    Pal

    5  — March 31, 2021

    Great Service

    Hostgator helped me make my site go live. I had an issue with https, reached out to helpdesk via chat helped me resolve the issue. This happened twice as we changed the contents, both times they helped promptly. I have full confidence that Hostgator will help should we faceany future issue.

    Amardeep K

    4  — March 31, 2021

    Going through changes

    Taking over my husband’s investments and activities. One thing is going to have to backup and then get a new hostgator account to migrate stuff to save. I hope you guys would keep price even or renewal costs down to new customer levels would save a lot of headache.

    Rick O

    5  — March 31, 2021

    Developing website

    The performance was a little slow, but I added caching and it helped. (WP Super Cache)

    If I still have issues, I will use bunny CDN for my static pages. Traditionally, I wrote using html and css with Azure functions for backend processes. This is very cheap, costing almost nothing for upkeep. However, many people want cheaper sites that they can easily support after development.

    The reason I am trying HostGator is to see how your site compares to Azure. It is much cheaper, so I do not expect the same performance. (IE, I will need to setup my own CDN if performance is slow)

    I am giving you 5 stars because the price is really competitive.

    Note: It would be great if you supported LiteSpeed for caching.

    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.