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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 PlanBaby PlanBusiness 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
Websites1UnlimitedUnlimited
BandwidthUnmeteredUnmeteredUnmetered
StorageUnmeteredUnmeteredUnmetered
Email AccountsUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
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.

288 user reviews for HostGator

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    John L

    4  — June 23, 2021

    Hostgator helps, but new site not without challenges

    Hostgator provides many suggestions, tools and services to get my website up, but it has not been without challenges. My site did not have my SSL cert installed, so the site did not work, but with a call to HG tech support, we had it up and running.

    Roddy I

    5  — June 10, 2021

    Superb Service

    Been with several other hosts. Really satisfied with HostGator. Everyone is knowledgeable and you don’t have to wait for service. You can talk to a person at any time of the day 24/7/365. Would highly recommend HostGator to anyone seeking web hosting, etc, and offers a lot of services for the price. Thumbs up for me.

    Julien

    3  — June 9, 2021

    Works

    I had to ask chat support three times, for now, to get things going as I needed. At least one time because of a bug on their part.

    Having tried a few hosting companies over the years, I am not impressed by Hostgator’s quality of service nor quality of support. I mean it works, but it’s not great.

    The ssh shell is sometimes slow. The site’s response time (in staging for now), is not great, for a wordpress site with polylang.

    Having said that, I know it does the job, as I have many clients using them and it works flawlessly for wordpress sites for many years (some are around 7 years old).
    But it’s a bit too early to tell if it will fit my own needs as expected.

    B

    5  — June 8, 2021

    You Guys Rock

    Super Easy Setup, Extremely Affordable, You guys ROCK! I’ve used other hosts before, but HostGator by far has been the easiest setup and process ever.
    Keep up the great work. I will definitely be recommending you guys to anyone who asks for the best place to host a website
    Thanks!

    Richard B

    1  — June 7, 2021

    Trouble to the power of trouble

    16 years, few problems. Now accounts randomly disappear. They insist my password is compromised, but after 3 changes, it continues. Had to prove to them using their own logs that they had been compromised. Then they tried to extort $75 from me for restoration. I declined and recreated. Shortly after this, they restored all my accounts! And tried to bill me for it. Today was the 4th time accounts disappeared. I’m moving NOW.

    Mohammed A

    1  — June 6, 2021

    Terrible experience

    Paid to renew a domain but kept writing to me to still pay. In the end they suspended my domain. Wrote abuse(at)hostgator(dot)com and haven’t replied to me.
    Won’t recommend it to anyone. They also used inodes in their limitless hosting to cap your usage.
    My business is offline and they don’t care after reaching out to them. No company takes your money and refuses to issue service paid for. Welcome to hostgator.

    Peter

    3  — June 5, 2021

    Okay

    Hostgator is okay. The one thing I can give them is their customer service. However, the shared plan has some restrictions which are a dealbreaker for me, one of which is that you cannot upgrade your SQL server. I host moodle on my server, so that means effectively that I cannot install any plugins. They require that you pay for their dedicated server option, which is prohibitively expensive.

    Daniel B

    5  — June 4, 2021

    Exactly What I Needed

    My web designer recommended this site to me for my new, small business website. It’s very affordable, and the site works flawlessly. No issues to complain about, seems to be a solid hosting company.

    There are different packages to choose from, however I chose the most affordable one for me as I am just starting out. My package cost $98.95 for 3 years

    Abby H

    5  — May 31, 2021

    HostGator ROCKS!!!

    The best thing I can say about the complete HostGator experience is that it serves, supports and enables success. And what more could any customer ask for? Well, we could ask for patience, knowledge, understanding and a genuine desire to help us get over the hurdles and master the challenges we were faced with.
    And your people DO that, consistently, reliably and cheerfully. I am beyond words grateful for all that you design, deliver and do. My number one rule in my business is… “Make them glad they came.” And you do that. Time and time and time again. Thank you. Abby Hagyard


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded June 3, 2021):

    Hey Abby,

    We are just happy that we have the pleasure of providing you such wonderful service. Thank you for choosing HostGator!

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Stacie P

    5  — May 31, 2021

    Excellent Web Host!

    I was up and running within 24 hours of setting up. Service is reliable and customer service is fantastic. When I ran into problems with my FTP, I got a reply by phone quickly and my problem was resolved right away. I wish I found HostGator sooner!


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded June 3, 2021):

    Hey Stacie,

    You are always in good hands here at HostGator. We are always happy to help. Thank you for your review.

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Bill M

    4  — May 26, 2021

    I’m a fan

    Great value. Easy to use and set up. Haven’t been using them long, but so far, I dig it. Still figuring everything out, but I am getting there. Solid customer service. I should be able to get the site live soon. I just want to get everything in shape before I do.


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded June 3, 2021):

    Hey Bill,

    We are so glad to hear you are a fan! Thank you for your review.

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Gary

    2  — May 26, 2021

    difficult to use

    I signed up for a host gator hosting package, but due to what I consider a lack of guidance ended up with a primary domain that had http strung onto the front of my domain immediately after https:// (in other words my website url was https://httpmydomain) When trying to fix it, I received error messages. So I had to ask HostGator to fix it for me. They removed the http from the front of my domain but added com.com to the end of my domain. So I had to request another fix. All of which set me back a week which represents money lost.


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded June 3, 2021):

    Hey Gary,

    We would love to see how we could rectify this. Please send us an email at [email protected] with your primary email address and we will see what we can do to make this right.

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Mohammad K

    1  — May 21, 2021

    Stay away

    The worst hosting company. Their live chat takes 45 minutes and still doesn’t work. The cog just keeps turning. I’ve been trying to get through for 2 weeks and have given up now. They don’t have an email to contact them directly, their telephone number is in the U.S I’m in the U.K so costly. I have repeatedly asked for help by googling an email address and no reply to my emails. They just ignore them.

    Can someone from Hostgator please email me and solve my website issue and stop ignoring your customer. I will definitely be leaving and going to another provider and I was a loyal customer. Hostgator was much better when you could contact them by email as opposed to this live chat which never works or you have to wait 45 minutes continuously!


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded June 3, 2021):

    Hey Mohammad,

    We are more than happy to get someone to help out. We have received your email and we are having someone reach out as soon as we can.

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Lotan K

    3  — May 12, 2021

    Price Gougers

    Yeah, they will provide you with what you need to get a website up and running but their price gouging tactics are sneaky as hell.

    I bought a domain from them last year and got an email saying my account was going to be billed soon for auto renewal and that once I’m charged it can’t be un-done.

    So I went to my account and set that domain NOT to auto renew… yet I was still charged a month later. Apparently, according to them, I should have set my account not to auto renew, called someone, taken off all my payment methods from the account etc because once I got that very first email then the auto renewal button does nothing.
    How is that not shady?


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded June 3, 2021):

    Hey Lotan,

    It may have been because the invoice already generated. If an invoice has generated, turning your auto renew off doesn’t cancel the invoice. If you are still experiencing issues we would be happy to help. Feel free to send us an email to [email protected] with your primary email address and we will see what we can do.

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Melissa E

    4  — May 6, 2021

    Helpful Customer service

    HostGator has always provided prompt, friendly, and helpful customer service. When I had a question, they responded quickly and then often sent a follow-up email to ensure that all my questions had been answered and if the issue was resolved. Their plans are decently priced. The hosting service is dependable and online, which is needed for a usable website.


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded May 16, 2021):

    Hey Melissa,

    That is how customer service should be every time! Thank you for your review.

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    César M

    4  — May 3, 2021

    Very good support, servers have a little bit of overhead

    So far my experience with Hostgator support team has been excellent, fast and concise on many of my most technical inquiries, my only thing to complain it’s the misleading prices on the plans on their main website, and that their servers are a little bit oversold, but still maintaining a balance amount of power and space. So far a good experience overall.


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded May 16, 2021):

    Hey Cesar,

    Thank you for your review!!

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Moses

    5  — May 3, 2021

    Excellent Service

    Excellent service. Good value for money. Domain acquisition and setup process is straightforward.

    Started building my WordPress blog from scratch with no prior experience. From the process of buying the domain to setup, Hostgator is really user friendly.

    Moses


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded May 16, 2021):

    Hey Moses,

    We are happy to hear things went smoothly! Thank you for your review.

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Alejandro E

    5  — May 2, 2021

    My Review

    My experience with Hostgator has been very good. No issues presented so far. Everything has worked perfectly. I do not have any complaints and plan to keep using it for my webpage. The CPanel is well organized and is easy to understand and use. I feel very happy about the purchase.


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded May 16, 2021):

    Hey Alejandro,

    We plan to keep that good experience going! Thank you for your review.

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Esther

    5  — May 2, 2021

    Great service!

    It’s pretty normal to run into a hiccup when building a website, but the customer service was superb and my problem was fixed in less than 5 minutes! I needed SSL, which I purchased, but somehow missed the activation email. Support resent the email and confirmed everything was active before I got off chat. This was a much better experience than I’m used to in site building where support recommends hiring a developer for every little hangup.


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded May 16, 2021):

    Hey Esther,

    We are just happy we could provide you with the great service you deserve. Thank you for your review.

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator

    Kristen A

    4  — May 1, 2021

    You get What you Pay for

    Basically good hosting for the price. My main concern is that their ftp does not work with Dreamweaver, despite various articles and tutorials that say it does. uploading each individual file is a pain in the buttocks.
    Hostgator cpanel does allow you to upload files via ftp to your main directory(public_html,) but they require you to use the software that they want.
    frustrating.


    Response received from DJ, HostGator (Responded May 16, 2021):

    Hey Kristen,

    You should be able to use any type of FTP client you choose. You may want to call our live support and see if there is some troubleshooting we can do. If not, email us at [email protected] with your primary email address and we will have someone reach out and assist.

    DJ
    Customer Advocate at HostGator